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Tax Simplification: The Impossible Dream

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-03-07, 14:40 authored by Malcolm James
This article has six sections. The first discusses demands for simplification and the various barriers to achieving this. The second explores the possible effects of simplification on equity and certainty. This is followed in the third section by a discussion of research which suggests that taxpayers' perceptions of the tax system are often illogical and inconsistent. Section four identifies one of the most intractable barriers--that there may often be a contradiction between the collective interest of taxpayers and their personal individual interest. In order to gain support for reforms, taxpayers must be convinced not just that they will lead to a collective benefit, but also to a personal benefit. By way of example, section five examines whether the flat tax, the latest proposal to simplify the tax system that has gained widespread support by claiming that it will lead to both a collective and a personal benefit, might successfully solve the problems identified in the previous sections and deliver the benefits claimed for it. This is followed by some conclusions.


Published in

British Tax Review


Sweet & Maxwell

Publication Year



  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


James, M. (2008) Tax Simplification: The Impossible Dream. British Tax Review, (2008:4), pp 392-412

Print ISSN


Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Management

Cardiff Met Authors

Malcolm James

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Welsh Centre for Business and Management Research

Copyright Holder

  • © The Publisher


  • en

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