Chancellor Gordon Brown was accused yesterday of producing one of the most complicated tax systems in the world after figures showed Britain had more pages of tax laws than almost any other developed nation.
A report by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers for the World Bank found that of 20 leading economies, only India had generated more voluminous tax legislation than the UK.
According to the PWC survey, Britain had 8,300 pages of tax laws compared to 9,000 for India, while Australia in third place had 7,750.
In contrast, two of Britain's closest neighbours, Germany and France, were 10th and 13th on the list with 1,700 and 1,300 pages respectively. Lowest of all was Turkey with just 350.
The PwC report said that the high volume in the UK was, in part, due to moves to rewrite British tax legislation in more "user friendly" language.
But it warned that the extension of anti-avoidance measures by HM Revenue and Customs was making it more complicated to do business in the UK.
It said: "It is arguable that tinkering with the tax system by introduction of layer upon layer of anti-avoidance is leading to a situation where one transaction (eg borrowing in the UK) may require consideration of up to half a dozen differing blocks of anti-avoidance legislation or case law."
It warned that as the volume of legislation increased, there was a danger that it would increasingly go unread -with the risk that people and firms would fall into noncompliance by mistake.
"Ultimately, when tax legislation becomes too voluminous, compliance drops more through ignorance than deliberate evasion," it said.
Shadow chancellor George Osborne said the report was an indictment of Mr Brown's tax changes.