Wednesday, February 08, 2006

neutrality in tax policy

In tax policy, the existence of any boundary leads to complexity and confusion. Significant fiscal consequences may follow from seemingly trivial issues of definition and categorisation, and disagreement between the taxpayers and the relevant authorities can be costly, inefficient, and foments mistrust of the tax system. Where an agreement cannot be reached, and where the taxpayer has the requisite fiscal capacity, disagreements head to the courts of the land who find themselves resolving not only complex but also bizarre disputes. Among the latter, the UK courts have debated whether the Jaffa cake is a biscuit or a cake, the EU courts have argued whether a Mars bar is really a chocolate. And the Supreme Court of the USA was needed to resolve that famous botanical puzzle: Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable?