December 31 ,2015 | by Erin O’Neill

HMRC trials maps to help navigate British tax laws

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is running a trial of 'maps' to help people work their way around the complicated world of British laws and regulations.

Mainly aimed at government officials, HMRC described the initiative as a British tax law version of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. It runs up to 6,102 pages, or four times the complete works of Shakespeare.

Visualisation maps

Legislation, policy, and various tax processes are displayed through graphics in what HMRC describes as 'visualisation maps', which officials hope will make it easier for civil servants to understand their department’s work.

Inconsistencies and duplications will stand out from the estimated 50 million words of statute law, which in some cases goes back hundreds of years. Even today, around 100,000 words are added, removed, or amended each month.

‘Good Law’ initiative

These maps are being trialled as part of the ‘Good Law’ initiative, which focuses on making it easier for government employees and the public to understand complicated legislation.

Richard Heaton, a top civil servant in the Ministry of Justice, heads the initiative which was launched in 2013. As well as encouraging the use of 'plain English' for writing down laws, another aim is to open up access by putting much more data online via the legislation.gov.uk website.

Nick Birks from HMRC’s customer insight and knowledge team explained: “These tax visualisations tie into three tenets of the Good Law initiative, namely that laws must be clear, coherent and accessible.” 

Erin O’Neill

Erin O’Neill is an LSBF News Writer who reports on small business, careers, technology and education news.

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