Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Thursday, 6 September 2007 11:05 UK

Tax guide printed in small print

Tolley's Yellow Tax Handbook
The smaller print meant the guide could be kept to four volumes

An authoritative guide to UK tax law has been published in smaller print to try to keep its growth under control.

In 2001, Tolley's Yellow Tax Handbook managed to lay out UK tax law in 5,952 pages across two volumes.

But the growing complexity of the tax system means that, in the old format, this year's edition would have been almost 10,500 pages and five volumes.

As it is, the publication runs to a bookshelf-creaking four volumes and 9,866 pages.

2001 - 5,952
2002 - 6,432
2003 - 7,344
2004 - 7,936
2005 - 9,178
2006 - 9,806
2007 - 9,866*
Source: LexisNexis
*In smaller print size

"The complexity of the UK tax system continues to be a challenge for most businesses," said Mike Truman, Tax Expert at LexisNexis, which publishes the handbook.

Plain English

Some of the lengthening of the tax rules has come from the government's attempts to make it more comprehensible.

"They have undertaken a huge project to rewrite many of the income and company tax rules in plain English, which has also had the effect of making them longer," said Richard Woolich, Tax Partner at DLA Piper.

"Modern commercial life is also very technical, which gives rise to detailed legislation," he added.

Another complicating factor is that if the government wants to stamp out a particular measure for avoiding tax then it has to enact a specific piece of legislation to deal with it.

So as schemes for avoiding tax have become more complicated, more tax legislation is needed to deal with them.

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