New Office of Tax Simplification chair to lead engagement with HMRC and Treasury

Written by Richard Johnstone on 27 February 2019 in News

Kathryn Cearns will replace Angela Knight in the tax office next month

The Office of Tax Simplification has named accountant Kathryn Cearns as its new chair to lead the independent office’s engagement with HM Revenue and Customs and the Treasury.

Cearns has extensive senior experience in both the public and private sectors, including having served as a non-executive director of Highways England and as a chair of the Financial Reporting Advisory Board to the Treasury. She will succeed Angela Knight from 18 March.

The OTS is an indenpedent office of the Treasury, set up in 2010 to identify complexities in the tax system and advise on how to reduce them.


Cearns will chair the OTS board and shape its strategy and priorities, as well as directing its engagement with the Treasury, HMRC, ministers and Parliament. Alongside the OTS director Bill Dodwell, she will provide independent advice to chancellor Philip Hammond on simplifying the UK tax system for both businesses and individual taxpayers.

Announcing Cearns’ appointment, Treasury minister Mel Stride said: “We want to ensure our tax system is as simple as possible for everyone, and Kathryn Cearns will play a vital role in helping meet that commitment.

“Her impressive track-record of leadership in the public and private sectors and strong vision made her the ideal candidate to steer the OTS through the next phase of its work.”

Stride also thanked Knight for her contribution to the OTS over the past three years, in which time it was put on a statutory footing under the Finance Act 2016. “She leaves having established the OTS as a permanent office, acting as an independent voice providing beneficial advice.”

Cearns, whose previous roles also include being a project director at the UK Accounting Standards Board (now the Financial Reporting Council), and the consultant accountant for Herbert Smith Freehills, said she was “delighted to have the opportunity to help to develop a tax system in the UK that is straightforward for taxpayers while remaining effective and fit for purpose for the 21st century”.

OTS tax director Bill Dodwell said that he and the OTS looked forward to working with Cearns. “Improving the interactions of taxpayers with the tax system and aiding understanding of taxation remain very important goals.”

About the author

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd

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