PAYE umbrella contractors waiting for early signs of the tax simplification the coalition promised could be disappointed, according to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

Many small entrepreneurs and freelancers, especially those working through their own limited companies, had been optimistic that change was afoot when the coalition took power in May 2010. However, far from simplifying the system, the government has actually made no fewer than 200 additional changes to the tax code in its first twelve months of office, in spite of its electoral pledge to do the opposite. ACCA is not impressed. In an interview with the business news outlet City A.M., it claims that the burgeoning changes have resulted in a “compliance headache for accountants, businesses and individuals.”

The Office of Tax Simplification was launched by Chancellor George Osborne in July 2010 to substantially simplify the tax code. The latter, Mr. Osborne claimed, had become excessively complex thanks to a decade of “meddling and intervening” by Labour.

According to ACCA’s data, however, Mr Osborne has made more changes to the tax code in one year than his predecessor ever Gordon Brown made even at his most “interventionist.” The highest number of changes chalked up by Mr Brown was 130, which came into effect after his 1997 and 1998 Budgets. He also made a slightly less “meddlesome” 120 alterations in two post-election Budgets – 2002 and 2006.

ACCA’s Head of Taxation, Chas Roy-Chowdhury, accused the government of taking two steps backwards for every one step forward through these changes, which appear to be wholly at odds with its expressed commitment to get to grips with the UK’s complicated tax system.

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