The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has always been the poor relation of the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR). The OBR has a profile – it is a pledge of reassurance to both voters and markets of the government’s commitment to fiscal discipline. When it was created, it was rapidly put on a statutory basis and the Treasury guaranteed its budget. The Treasury Select Committee was also given unprecedented powers to veto the appointment (or, if it arose, dismissal) of both the Chair and the members of the Budget Responsibility Council. All of this was designed to underline the message that this organisation is genuinely independent of the Treasury. The OTS is not only smaller (a maximum strength of 6 full-time equivalent posts and usually much less), but it is also an ‘independent office of the Treasury’. The staff is a mix of civil servants and private sector people, and its page on (onto which the OBR refused to migrate) makes clear that the “OTS is part of HM Treasury”. It has no independent budget and no separate, formal relationship with Parliament. Its mission is also interestingly restricted: “To give independent advice on simplifying the tax system, notably to […]

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