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After Mirrlees: building pathways to a tax system for today’s work patterns

Researchers: Helen Miller | Stuart Adam

Project overview

This project will address barriers to change in the current UK tax system, a system which creates unjustified differences in workers’ after tax resources and discourages certain types of investment to the detriment of the economy as a whole.

The pace with which the world of work is changing makes the need for reform increasingly urgent. New technologies are helping drive moves into self-employment and incorporation, both of which are subject to lower taxes than employment. Concurrently, concerns are growing that new technologies may replace some jobs altogether, which could mean a greater share of national income flowing to capital owners.

The Mirrlees Review (2011) described solutions that would level the playing field while protecting investment incentives. However, despite widespread appetite for reform these have not been adopted, a reflection of their unfamiliarity, the daunting scope of change required and difficulties with transition. This project will address these barriers to change by engaging a wide set of stakeholders and providing the tools and impetus necessary to put the UK on course for a tax system that is fairer and more efficient and that thereby increases welfare.

The project will design reform packages that would move the system towards the Mirrlees Review’s solutions and present these alongside discussions of how to tackle specific transition issues. Researchers will utilise both empirical evidence and new data analysis to inform policy options and identify pathways to reform, supported by an advisory group of researchers, policy makers and tax practitioners, to provide practical guidance for planning incremental reform over the medium term and build the broad support needed for change.


  • Helen Miller
    Institute for Fiscal Studies
  • Stuart Adam
    Institute for Fiscal Studies

  • Alex Beer
    Senior Consultant, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Director, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

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