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Why Tax Design Matters: Some Lessons from the UK Personal Tax System

May 29 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

About the Event: 

The starting point for this lecture is the framework for designing a ‘good’ tax system proposed in
2011 by a committee of economists and other tax experts chaired by the Nobel laureate the late
Sir James Mirlees following an extensive review of the United Kingdom tax system. Although
the characteristics identified in the Mirlees report (Tax by Design) provide a coherent framework
to guide policymakers, 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. As a result, tax policy-making is as much
the art of making pragmatic choices that balance competing priorities and trade-offs as an
exercise in applying the technocratic prescriptions of economists. The lecture draws on the UK
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.

About the Speaker: 

Tony Orhnial is a retired UK senior civil servant. After graduating from the London School of
Economics and Political Science in 1970 he lectured in economics at Kingston Polytechnic (now
Kingston University) from 1971 to 1988. He then joined the UK’s tax department and worked in
various policy adviser roles until he became Director of Personal Tax in 2000. In 2005 he moved
to HM 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 UK tax policy-
making. Following his retirement from the civil service in 2008, Tony served as a (part-time)
Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee until 2018. He now acts
as a consultant on personal tax and social security policy and, on an occasional basis, as an
International Monetary Fund ‘technical expert’. Tony is in Yerevan under the auspices of the
Armenian Volunteer Corps.

Language: English


May 29
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Event Categories:


Akian Art Gallery, 434W, PAB


Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics (CBE)
+374 60 69 40 40; +374 10 32 40 40;