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India ahead of UK in tax laws: Study
November, 09th 2006

Most of India's laws may be based on colonial legislation, but modern India has outdone Britain in tax laws - it has more pages of tax laws than Britain, which is said to have the most complicated tax systems in the world.

A study by financial experts Price Waterhouse Coopers and the World Bank has revealed that only India has more pages on tax laws than Britain, whose chancellor Gordon Brown has earned the sobriquet of 'King of Complexity'.

According to the study, Britain has 8,300 pages of tax laws, compared with 9,000 for India. By contrast France, with a similar population as Britain's, has just 1,300 pages of tax regulations and Germany has 1,700.

Caralee McLiesh, founder of the Doing Business project at the World Bank, said that complex rules made it easier for companies to avoid paying taxes, either accidentally or on purpose.

"It is much harder to avoid tax when you have a flat tax as opposed to when you have more than 5,000 pages of tax law, as you in have the US and Britain," she said.

The report warns countries such as Britain that the "ever-increasing complexity of their tax legislation" will result in "probable reduction in their international competitiveness". It found that the number of pages has more than doubled from approximately 3,700 to 8,300 during Brown's tenure as the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

British business leaders have reportedly often complained that under Brown, it has become more difficult to do business in Britain. The Confederation of British Industry recently reported that new employment regulations had cost companies 37 billion pounds since 1998.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said: "This devastating report crowns Gordon Brown as the King of Complexity. He has given Britain one of the most complex tax systems in the world".

The Treasury, however, brushed off the criticisms, saying that overall the report underlined the competitiveness of the British economy.

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