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CBE Hosts Open Lecture on Tax Design

YEREVAN, Armenia – On May 29, 2019, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics (CBE) hosted an open lecture titled Why Tax Design Matters: Some Lessons from the UK Personal Tax System. The lecture was delivered by Tony Orhnial, a retired UK senior civil servant. He now works as an independent consultant on personal tax and social security policy and on assignment as fiscal affairs expert to the International Monetary Fund. Orhnial was in Yerevan under the auspices of the Armenian Volunteer Corps.

Orhnial started his lecture by laying out the framework for designing a ‘good’ tax system, as was proposed in 2011 by a committee of economists and tax experts chaired by Nobel laureate the late Sir James Mirlees, following an extensive review of the United Kingdom tax system.

“Real world tax policy-making is generally carried out in the context of political commitments and constraints and cultural norms, perceptions and expectations, some rooted deep in a country’s social and economic history,” noted Orhnial.

The lecture featured UK’s experience of the past couple of decades to illustrate the consequences of some of those choices and how and why they can diverge from the theoretical ideal.

Orhnial joined the UK tax department and worked in various policy advisory roles until he became director of personal tax in 2000. In 2005 he moved to Her Majesty’s Treasury as director of personal tax and welfare reform and in 2007 he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in recognition of his services to the UK tax system. Following his retirement from the civil service in 2008, Orhnial served as specialist advisor to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee until 2018.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

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