|Paul Johnson is
a new entry this year
As director of the UK Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) and
visiting professor in the department of economics at University
College London, Paul Johnson has played an important role in
shaping the direction of tax policy and creating awareness of
shortcomings in the system.
Johnson has been the IFS director since January 2011 and has
worked extensively on the economics of public policy, with a
particular focus on taxation, among other topics.
On August 25 2016, Johnson was also appointed to the board
of the Office of Tax Simplification, which was established in
2010 to provide advice to the Chancellor on simplifying the UK
tax system and was made a permanent, independent office of the
Treasury in July 2015. It was put on a statutory footing in the
Finance Act 2016.
Johnson is also a member of the executive committees of the
Royal Economic Society, of the committee on climate change, and
of the banking standards board.
He has published many articles on tax and books on economics
during his career, and is an editor of the "Mirrlees Review",
the biggest independent review of the UK tax system carried out
in the past 40 years.
Johnson has been involved in IFS work that has examined the
devolution of tax powers in the UK, excise duties, sugar tax,
and issues on where tax revenues come from and will come from
in the future.
Alongside the Chartered Institute of Taxation, and Institute
for Government, Johnson has been arguing for the UK to reform
its tax policy-making process and has aired his views in
various speeches and presentations throughout the year, most
recently in an article published in The Times on
"How the tax system works matters enormously to us all. The
current system for tax policy making is not fit for purpose,"
Johnson said in a recent letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer
Philip Hammond. "Too many changes are sprung on the country in
too many fiscal events with too little sense of direction,
consultation or evaluation."
Johnson has been influential in bringing together
policymakers and taxpayers at several IFS events throughout the
year. In September 2016, the IFS hosted a conference attended
by Edward Troup, HMRC executive chair and permanent secretary,
and Jane Ellison, financial secretary to the Treasury. It
looked at corporate tax and corporate tax avoidance, and it was
attended by over 100 government tax officials and tax
The IFS also jointly hosted a BEPS conference in April 2016
with the European Tax Policy Forum entitled "BEPS and beyond",
which the former UK financial secretary to the Treasury David
Gauke said highlighted the need for "truly effective action"
that "needs to be multilateral".
Over the coming year, Johnson said that the IFS will
continue its work on corporate and other UK tax policies, as
well as developing its new Department for International
Development (DfID), examining tax policy in developing
Looking ahead, Johnson said he is intrigued to see how the
uncertain times in the UK will pan out and how the government
will adapt the tax system. "We have got a lot more uncertainty
about where tax policy, and the public finances generally, are
going to go over the next couple of years. Is it going to be
lots of smallish things and continual tax changes as we have
seen with previous Chancellors, or are we going to get
something rather different – are we going to see more
tax? If we're going to see less in the way of public spending
cuts, will that mean a world in which we look to raise taxes? I
just don't know the answer to that and I'm fascinated to find
out what's going to happen."