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Budget predictions

03 March 2017
Categories: News

With the Spring Budget fast approaching accountancy firms are coming up with their various predictions and subjects which the Chancellor might consider addressing. 

The following is a selection of press releases from major accountancy firms:

RSM

When he delivers his Budget Statement on Wednesday 8 March 2017, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond faces a paradox. In the medium term, he may have little choice but to raise taxes, but in the short term he will be well aware that the bewildering range of tax changes introduced by his predecessor have left businesses and individuals alike suffering from tax fatigue. So what can we expect?
 
Decent economic figures may give Mr Hammond some confidence about the short-term direction of travel in the UK economy, as will January’s record tax receipts. Nevertheless, the Budget Statement will reflect the continuing need to rebalance the public finances using a combination of expenditure cuts and tax increases. However, the Government’s promise not to increase rates of VAT, income tax or NIC during the current Parliament limits the Chancellor’s ability to increase taxes in a straightforward way. It’s therefore difficult to escape the feeling that any tax increases will be narrowly focused, technically complex and somewhat hidden from sight. When the Conservatives were in opposition, those were called “stealth taxes”.
 
Whatever else he does, the Chancellor must address public concerns about social care and also tackle the perceived shortfall in NHS funding. There are arcane thoughts that this might involve hypothecation – the attribution of specific taxes for specific purposes – with part of NIC receipts specifically and visibly directed to the NHS. There are also less arcane, downright alarming really, rumours that the Chancellor may be considering a 10 per cent “death tax” to help fund social care. 
 
While the Chancellor has been careful to distance himself from the business rates debate, the imminent revaluation is causing considerable concern in the business community. Some feel that, as tax receipts are buoyant, the Chancellor could afford to give extra relief to the worst-affected businesses. With local authorities now sending out business rates demands, others feel that any further changes now would only cause confusion. During Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons this morning, Theresa May indicated that funds are being put in place with the Chancellor looking at ways to help businesses in the Budget next week.
 
It’s also beginning to look likely that the Chancellor will usher in a review of the way the self-employed are taxed, to sit alongside a consultation on the gig economy. Ways of working are changing, and the tax system may now need to move quickly to catch up. 
 
With many owners of small businesses acutely aware that income tax is paid on profits at a headline rate of 45 per cent, whereas corporation tax is charged at only 20 per cent, incorporation is an attractive means of reducing the tax bill. In marked contrast to Gordon Brown’s strategy, which boosted incorporations by offering a zero per cent starting rate of corporation tax, we may well see Philip Hammond take action to reduce the tax benefits of incorporation.
 
So what does all this mean? In summary, we expect to see progress in or finalisation of measures proposed in earlier Budgets and Autumn Statements. These will, we hope, include revisions to HMRC’s plans to Make Tax Digital, which have come in for criticism from many directions. However, there is a growing feeling that there will be relatively few completely new tax proposals from the Chancellor. Never has the prospect of a boring Budget seemed so attractive, although the prospects of that recede as Budget Day comes nearer!
 

EY

Chris Sanger, Head of Tax Policy at EY, says: “Keen to push the adage that ‘less is more’ by way of tax policy, the Government had hoped and planned that the first of its two budgets in 2017 would be a low-key affair, ensuring a smooth run-up to the triggering of Article 50. These best laid plans could be frustrated and we may see some significant announcements, not least on the thorny issue of business rates which has been the centre of intense scrutiny in recent weeks. Elsewhere, with a review of modern employment practices already underway, the taxation of the self-employed is likely to be high on the Chancellor’s agenda.”

Below is a selection of measures that EY believes the Chancellor could be considering.

Business taxes

Business rates - Chris Sanger says: “The ongoing furore surrounding the impact of the forthcoming rates revaluation has focused on the shifting of the current burden of business rates from some locales to others.  However, beyond a shift from one taxpayer to another, the revaluation locks in the significant increase in the burden that has been slowly introduced over time. Much like boiling a frog, the gradual increase in business rates each year above the rise in property values has led to the burden in aggregate that started at 41.4% of rateable value in 2010 rising to an expected 48% in the latest revaluation. 

“In no other tax is the rate increased merely because the government wants to get the same amount of tax. VAT rates, for example, don’t go up merely because spending falls. If the Chancellor feels the need to respond to the pressure on business rates, resetting business rates back to 41.4% would seem a good place to start. The opportunity for a more fundamental change to a different method of allocating the burden has been sadly missed in the last few years of consultation.”

Corporation tax: “With the Government already committed to reducing corporation tax to 19% this April and then 17% in April 2020 (equalling the rate in Singapore), any further drop is unlikely despite murmurs of the UK becoming a low tax haven as it looks to attract post-Brexit investment. A 19% rate will give the UK the lowest combined (national, state and city) tax rate in the G20 but does come at a time when other countries have been reducing their own rates – at 9%, Hungary’s tax rate has now overtaken Ireland as the lowest in the EU. With the US considering proposals to reduce its national tax rate to 20% or even 15%, this trend will remain at the heart of competition for investment.

“Despite the upcoming rate cuts, corporation tax receipts are predicted to grow, highlighting the importance of considering the tax base as well as the tax rate.”

Industrial buildings: “Manufacturers have long been concerned by the way the lack of relief for industrial buildings artificially increases the amount upon which they are taxed. In an environment where the UK needs to attract infrastructure and investment, the Government should now see the benefit of addressing this anomaly and provide relief with this genuine cost of business.”

Employment, self-employment and personal service companies: “With a review of modern employment practices already underway, and the Government’s proposed reform of the taxation of off-payroll working in the public sector, this is an area that looks set to see a fundamental review of its tax and social security treatment. This is a complex area, where tax rules can diverge significantly from employment law. In launching such a review, the Government should start at the ‘green paper’ stage, considering a range of issues rather than jumping straight to the conclusion.”

Property taxation: “Recent budgets have resulted in considerable changes to the UK’s range of taxes applying to property, leaving a sense within the Government that property taxation is fragmented. A broad review of taxation could look not only at stamp duty but the way property investment is taxed.”

Personal taxes

David Kilshaw, Private Client Services Partner at EY, says: “With a new Chancellor we may see a new strategy – perhaps fewer tax breaks and reliefs but more value being delivered from those that remain. Capital gains tax is also an area where the new Chancellor may see an opportunity to make his mark.”

CGT rate: “Recent budgets have introduced the concept of CGT for particular assets, such as property and private equity carried interest. The Chancellor could find this an attractive trend and perhaps have a rate for luxury assets. He may also consider the current five possible CGT rates is too many and perhaps move to a higher blended rate.”

End of the annual exempt amount?: “The annual exempt amount for capital gains tax was originally introduced alongside capital gains tax to avoid the reporting of smaller gains and the consequential need of cumbersome record keeping. In a digital society where records are easy to retain, this no longer seems to be such a difficult process. It is possible, therefore, that the Chancellor could abolish of the annual exempt amount. If he is less ambitious, the Chancellor make seek a reduction. Reducing the exempt amount by £500 would raise £20million a year.”

Tax Reliefs: “There are more than 1,000 tax reliefs and there is no doubt that they are due a spring clean. If he is to be a reforming Chancellor, he could seize the opportunity to modernise the system.

“The enterprise investment scheme would be a good area to start. Designed to encourage enterprise, the relief can often be lost by traps in the legislation. We need reliefs that do what they say on the tin. Too often reliefs carry too many restrictions. The Chancellor has made great strides to improve business investment relief, so one hopes he will continue to make reliefs more attractive.”

Entrepreneurs’ Relief: “This relief is intended to encourage serial entrepreneurs to reinvest their successes into new ventures in the UK, but is capped at £10m over the entrepreneur’s life. The Chancellor now has an opportunity to reset the approach and apply it once per investment. This would encourage those who are particularly successful to reinvest, which would benefit the UK, employees and the economy.”

Inheritance tax (IHT): “This could be the Budget in which the Chancellor decides to restrict agricultural property relief (APR) or business property relief (BPR). The latter exempts assets such as family businesses from IHT while farms are exempt through APR.

“The Chancellor may feel that abolition is a step too far so may opt for the introduction of a cap on the relief. A period of consultation around the operations of the relief and potential tax reform is also likely.”

Social care

Helen Sunderland, Health and Social Care Lead for EY, comments: “The latest figures from the Local Government Association suggest that 147 councils intend to use the rise in the council tax precept announced in the last Autumn Statement for additional funding for social care, with 75% going the full way.

“However, the sector is clear that while more funding is needed, this alone will not plug the immediate or longer terms gaps driven from increasing demand, increasing costs and historic underfunding of care services.  

“The Chancellor may have some leeway on fiscal rules, so it is not inconceivable that a rise in borrowing or radical steps to raise additional cash could be considered to boost spending in this area. Timing-wise it would make sense to take any bold steps soon.

“Overall, it is unclear whether additional funding, if announced, will be from central government or from local authority revenue streams.” 

PwC

The forthcoming Budget should give more flavour of the Government’s  vision for post Brexit Britain.  The recent industrial strategy paper, emphasised a broad approach - creating conditions for businesses of all sizes and across all sectors to thrive. But the language gave clues as to priorities - with an emphasis on industries and services of the future.  The Chancellor may give more indication of  how this will look in practice.

There is almost no mention of tax in the Industrial Strategy paper but tax policy will be crucial in helping achieve the stated objectives, such as  helping businesses to scale up. So, in this the first of two Budgets this year we can expect to hear more on the public spending and the tax measures to underpin his plan.

In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced some tax cuts, including raising the income tax personal allowance and higher rate threshold, cutting the rate of corporation tax and reforms to the inheritance tax system. However, these will likely be offset by tax increases, including higher tax on dividend income, an increase in tax on insurance premiums, and a restriction on pension contributions for those on very high incomes.

Restricted by his Party’s commitment not to raise the rates of the main taxes in this parliament, the Chancellor has little room to manoeuvre - but this doesn’t stop him indicating the changes he will make in future. So what can we expect to see?

Corporate Tax

To ensure it thrives outside the EU, the UK must play to its strengths.  These include the  attractiveness of the business, legal, and regulatory environment.    There have been hints from Government that tax competition could step up depending on Brexit negotiations.

Stella Amiss, international tax partner at PwC, said:

“We don’t expect any announcements to lower the corporation tax rate beyond the 17% planned.  However, the Chancellor could accelerate the cut so it’s in place before 2020.  He may hint about further moves to increase the UK’s tax competitiveness.

“The Chancellor may look to help SMEs. One approach would be to reinstate the distinction between the main rate of tax applied to big and small businesses. He may though prefer to hold back any such measures until after the Summer - remembering he has another chance to make changes with the Autumn budget”

“We expect confirmation of pre-announced changes making it easier for UK corporates to access the exemption to capital gains tax for disposals of shares. This simplification of the rules is welcomed and together with the lowering of the corporate tax rate in April 2017, helps support improving the attractiveness of the UK. However, British business is still grappling with a large number of tax changes with the introduction of loss reform and corporate interest restriction rules on 1 April 2017. After a period of sustained changes to international tax law and continued uncertainty on where the Brexit negotiations will land, a Budget with no “rabbits out of hats” moments would likely be cheered by many.”

Business Rates

A  pressing concern for the Chancellor is a wave of criticism of the current business rates system and in particular the large increases faced by many ratepayers from 1 April 2017 after the revaluation takes effect.

A feature of the business rates system is that there is a system of Transitional Arrangements that shield ratepayers from the rises but these are meant to be self-financing, so reliefs that curtail increases in rates bills are paid for by holding back the full effect of any decreases from ratepayers who are better off.

Phil Vernon, head of rating at PwC, said:

"If the Chancellor wants to help ratepayers facing large increases, the fastest and most effective method is to adjust the thresholds of the Transition Scheme that protects ratepayers from large rises. However, he will have to wrestle with the mechanics of the Scheme as this would need to be financed by restricting reductions from other ratepayers who are expecting a much-needed decrease in their bills.

“The 2017 revaluation is unusual because the national picture is so uneven, with ratepayers in areas with lower rental values expecting a decrease in their annual rates bills while London is facing huge rises, due to a much stronger rental market. Currently, business premises under a rateable value of £20,000 (£28,000 in London) are shielded from the worst increases as the scheme limits their April 2017 increases to around 5%. Medium-sized business premises (up to rateable value £100,000) will receive protection of rises capped at 12.5%. However, business premises with a rateable value greater than £100,000 will see increases of up to 42%.

"The Chancellor could make an immediate impact by adjusting the relief thresholds and capturing more small businesses in the 5% bracket. Targeted help for London may be an option, with the removal of the medium-band 12.5% increase cap for rateable values between £28,000 - £100,000, and extending the 5% increase limit for rateable values up to £100,000.

“Any significant amendment to the Transitional Arrangements will mean that the Chancellor may have to break one of the rules of the rating transition system, which is to remove the requirement for the scheme to be self-financing, and allocate cash from other sources to curb large rates increases."

Looking longer term, there is also a lot of speculation that the Government will announce fundamental reform to the rating system by 2022, in the form of self assessment.  

Phil Vernon, added:

“If the Government is intent on bringing in a self assessment business rate system by 2022 it will need to cut through a lot of existing red tape. The reform would effectively transfer the administrative burden onto businesses, which would need to find extra resources to conduct the assessment.

“On the plus side, the Valuation Office would make considerable saving to its running cost and this would enable it to increase the frequency of revaluations, possibly to annual reviews, which is something the industry has been calling for, and would alleviate many of the sharp increases we now see in the 2017 revaluation.”

Personal Tax

Iain McCluskey, partner at PwC, said:

“With continued pressure on available and affordable housing, the Government may look to introduce further measures to encourage older homeowners to downsize.  He may further reform inheritance tax with an even more generous regime for homes that are passed down or sold in lifetime, and potentially other tax measures that might tip the decision for downsizers towards selling.

“Healthcare has rarely been out of the headlines in another tough winter for the NHS.  Past Governments have ploughed extra funding into the NHS via national insurance rises, and we may well see this approach again.  Many other countries have a more complex social security system that splits out contributions to different areas such as state pension saving, healthcare, unemployment protection, etc.

“There has been a lot of attention around the disparity of tax treatment for workers who are self employed and those who are not. This is a big topic affecting not just the tax take but also the availability of skills and talent. An announcement from the Chancellor to review this area and think through the policy needs before making any knee jerk changes would reflect a measured response from Government.

“As a wild card prediction, Government hints about post Brexit Britain being a lower taxed economy might indicate a cut to personal tax. A penny from the basic rate would be eye catching and popular, but very expensive.  The Government is more likely to continue the policy of hiking the personal allowance and basic rate band upwards, but don't completely rule out a rate cut, or a nod to a rate cut next year if certain economic targets are met.”

Apprenticeship levy

The Apprenticeship Levy comes into force from 6 April this year. Businesses will be looking for more detail on how this will work in practice.

John Harding,  tax partner at PwC, commented:

"It doesn't matter whether a business has apprentices, as they will still be required to pay the levy  if their annual pay bill exceeds £3m. An employer with an annual pay bill of just £20 million will incur a Levy cost of circa £100,000 every year .  Many businesses think the levy is a sunk cost that cannot be recovered, but it can be used to pay for qualifying apprenticeship training."

Property

Rob Walker, head of real estate tax at PwC, said:

“You can’t rule out further tweaks to the stamp duty land tax regime.  There have been a number of changes to stamp duty in recent years, including the removal of the so-called slab system, which has cut stamp duty for those buying homes under £1m (95% of buyers).  

“But increases to stamp duty above that level appear to be gumming up the London property market, given the level of house prices. Meanwhile, the 3% surcharge on second homes is potentially impacting the availability of rental stock.

“To boost transaction volumes - and ultimately tax take - we could see a small cut, of say 1% to the 10%  stamp duty rates for properties between £925,001 - £1.5 million.”

Pensions

Pensions and other long term savings are a regular feature of Budgets.  There are  significant sums at stake, with the cost of tax relief on pensions still running to tens of billions a year despite recent restrictions.

The new Lifetime ISA kicks off in April and the Government might feel now is the time to reduce tax relief on pensions again (including implementing the £4,000 money purchase annual allowance for those who have accessed their pension flexibly, which was trailed in the Autumn Statement).  This could further align pensions with the ISA regime.  And ISAs also delay the relief until savings are withdrawn rather than giving it up-front like pensions which would greatly reduce the cost in the short to medium term.

Steven Dicker, pensions partner at PwC, said:

“With full tax relief already limited to contributions of up to £40,000, and only £10,000 for the highest earners, it would seem on the face of it that there isn't much more to go for.  But total tax relief on pension contributions is still very substantial and with the ISA limit ever increasing, now might be the time that these two long term savings products move even closer together.”

Financial Services

Matthew Barling, financial services tax partner at PwC, said:

"The banking sector faces a disproportionate compliance burden from measures which could potentially hinder the ease of conducting financial services business in the UK. In that backdrop, the triggering of Article 50 provides an opportunity for the Government to consider action on a number of fronts including reducing the relative complexity of the implementation of BEPS. Given the myriad of other changes which banks will need to navigate as they adapt to a post Brexit world, there would seem to be a case for at least extending the timeframe for further BEPS implementation.

Brexit and the Industrial Strategy - how could this play into the Budget?

We expect to hear more on the Chancellor’s aspirations post Brexit and how tax how public spending and tax can be used to underpin the Industrial Strategy.

Supporting businesses to start and grow

For small business, access finance is not just about the availability of finance, but the appropriateness and creativity of what's offered.  How the financial services sector is taxed has a big bearing on this. (The financial services sector contributed £71.4bn in taxes in the year to March 2016, up 4.9 billion from 2015's estimate - PwC research for the City of London.)

Sarah Prior, tax partner in financial services at PwC, said:

“Ultimately, if banks have to pay more tax, they have one of three options 1) reduce dividends, 2) charge customers more/pay staff less 3) lend less.  Banks do not want to cut lending, but are in a challenging position.  The bank levy remains a significant cost, as does the surcharge.

“Consideration therefore needs to be given to how banks could adopt a more forward-thinking approach to lending to fast growth businesses. Loosening of regulations, which are currently time consuming and complex, would help free up more time for business to apply for funding.”

Natalie Langley, tax director at PwC, continued:

“It is not just lack of access to funding that prevents small businesses from growing, but the challenges they face in accessing talent, often being too small to be within the scope of the new apprenticeship levy.

“The Government should therefore consider broadening other incentives for small enterprises. Reliefs such as R&D tax credits, RDEC and the patent box can encourage and reward greater innovation in the UK and are of real benefit innovative businesses struggling for cash.”  

Encouraging trade and inward investment

If the Government wants London to remain competitive for the financial sector, it needs to consider the tax system as a whole.  

Sarah Prior, tax partner in financial services at PwC, said:

“A competitive corporation tax rate is all well and good, but it's counterbalanced by the UK front running and in places  ‘gold plating’  the OECD's tax reforms, such as restrictions on interest deductibility.   

“While these restrictions are not intended to impact banks and insurers, the task of proving they don't apply is one of the most onerous compliance tasks banks' tax departments have faced in recent years.

“To ensure a thriving financial services sector post Brexit, the Government needs to think whether the level and complexity of tax is consistent with that goal.  And a thriving financial services sector is undoubtedly crucial to support the industrial strategy as whole.  Sources of finance and types of finance will dry up without a buoyant sector.”

Driving growth across the country

The Government may consider that now is the time to step up tax devolution, in line with the move to more devolved government more broadly. We could possibly see the introduction of a local income tax system - Scotland has shown that this can be done and payroll systems of multinational businesses have built in the variation.  The need of local governments to protect tax revenues would likely protect intense tax competition -  but a certain degree of competition could see business re-evaluate location decisions.

Developing skills

To incentivise young people to develop skills in science, technology, engineering, maths and digital, the Government could introduce student loan discounts, whereby students would only be eligible to repay half the interest for specific courses where skills are in demand.  Alternatively, the income tax threshold for when the loan for these courses, has to start being repaid could be raised.

Investing in science, research and innovation

Sarah Prior, tax partner at PwC, commented:

“We need to look at existing tax incentives to encourage research and development through a future world lens.  They shouldn't just encourage the creation of things you can touch, but the development of  technology such as Fintech.  It's about making sure tax incentives are fit and appropriate for a digital age.”

Delivering affordance energy & clean growth

Jayne Harrold, UK environmental tax leader, said;

“The Industrial Strategy sets out objectives of making the energy market independent of incentives or Government funding. This will be exceedingly difficult to achieve, as any measures to increase taxes on the energy sector is likely to drive up wholesale prices which will likely have a knock on effect to retail prices and be deeply unpopular measure with business and consumers.

“There is also the challenge of business potentially looking at whether other EU Member States are more attractive if it protects access to existing EU funding. If the Government does not find a way to replace this money the UK will become less attractive as a market for energy firms to operate in. Research & Development is a key plank of the industrial strategy and commitments have already been made to guarantee the funding in place for agri-environment or structural / investment fund projects. The Chancellor could look to give similar assurances to the energy market.” 

BKL

Chartered accountants and tax advisers BKL have made their predictions for next week’s 2017 budget. Three possible, significant changes could include tax incentives to make renting easier, a review of the tax status of ‘gig economy’ workers and unlocking the pension triple-lock. Jon Fursdon, Tax Partner at BKL, has commented on each of these predictions.
 
Tax incentives to help Generation Rent
 
The Government seems to have accepted that today’s housing market means that for many people property ownership is no longer a realistic aspiration; and for ‘Generation Rent’, rents are running at historically high levels. “The government may look at introducing ‘build to let’ tax incentives aimed
at increasing supply to the rental market by encouraging institutional investment into new-build property for letting,” says Jon Fursdon.
 
Defining the new breed of limb (b) workers
 
The growth of companies like Uber and Deliveroo has led to a rise in the category of worker known as limb (b) workers. Jon Fursdon explains: “For tax purposes these are classed as self-employed, but for many other purposes are indistinguishable from employees, so chances are there will be some
clarification on the definition of this new breed of worker. Changes could be made to ensure they get full employment rights, but also it would be a good opportunity to review their tax status, ensuring there aren’t any loopholes.”
 
Unlocking the triple-lock pension
 
MPs have previously said that the pension triple-lock should be dropped. The Budget might be a good time to float proposals for this, with the next general election not due for three years.
“Perhaps the 2.5% leg may be abolished and the pension rise instead become a “double-lock” based on whichever is higher of inflation and average earnings growth,” says Jon Fursdon.
 

Blick Rothenberg

Our experts are already looking at what the Chancellor could, should and shouldn’t do and they have their say:

Savings 

  • Should extend the Lifetime ISA to people over the age of 40 so they can still open a LISA and help save towards their retirement.  (Genevieve Moore, Partner)
  • Should extend the time that someone can contribute to a LISA to retirement age, rather than 50. (Genevieve Moore)   
  • Should reintroduce tax relief on mortgage interest, but for first time buyers only of properties under £450,000 in Greater London and £250,000 elsewhere to help off-set the cost of buying their first home. (Genevieve Moore)

Pensions

  • Should scrap the phased reduction of the pension annual allowance, people need to be encouraged to save for the future in order that they can be self-sufficient in retirement and not rely on the state pension (Genevieve Moore). This could be simplified by making the pension allowance a flat £25k and the ISA allowance also a flat £25k for everybody. Taxation is a less volatile component over the personal lifecycle. (Frank Nash, Partner)
  • Could cap the amount that can be withdrawn from pensions tax free at retirement.(Genevieve Moore)

Property / Stamp Duty Land Tax

  • Should use the tax system to boost supply of affordable housing by introducing capital taxation reliefs to incentivise landowners and developers to assist local authorities meet their affordable housing targets. (Frank Nash, Partner)
  • Should allow mortgage interest relief to landlords that supply low cost / affordable housing. (Genevieve Moore)
  • Should introduce 20% capital gains tax rate on property sales made to first time buyers of properties under £450,000 in Greater London and £250,000 elsewhere. (Genevieve Moore)
  • Should scrap SDLT and CGT/Corporation tax on the sale of land for residential development where the landowners/developers jointly work to meet Local Authorities’ targets on affordable housing numbers (per new definition). This could be extended to all land where reasonable mixed use is evident, such as shops, schools and doctors’ surgeries. No distinction between greenfield and regeneration land, but the greenbelt land should remain subject to tax. Truly redundant commercial building such as telephone exchanges, ex-airfields, mills, etc. should also be converted or developed into housing. (Frank Nash)
  • Should significantly increase the 10% threshold for SDLT from £925k to £1.5m or even £2m (i.e. to the sort of level originally regarded as ripe for a “mansion tax”. (Alan Pearce, Partner)

Infrastructure

  • In light of Brexit, to be ‘open for business’ this and successive governments should reinvest in infrastructure, which (apart from 1950-1960) has simply been a repair job since the 19th century. HS2 recently got Royal Assent and the Government has promised to increase house building to 220,000 homes each year, nationalising some development in the process, and there is the ‘northern powerhouse’ also. The government should ensure that the sources or capital – human and financial – remain open as a hard Brexit might limit these infrastructure plans. (Frank Nash)

Childcare

  • Should extend childcare voucher arrangements to enable employees to exchange a greater part of their salary for the child care vouchers.  The average cost of full-time childcare in the UK is just under £220 a week, but under the childcare voucher arrangement an employee can only exchange up to £55 a week of their salary (for a basic rate tax payer) leaving a large short-fall. Ideally, childcare should be tax free to all. (Genevieve More)
  • Should allow couples the option to elect to own jointly held shares for married/CPs in proportions other than 50/50 over the whole of a managed portfolio without having to elect on each new reinvestment.(Frank Nash)
  • Should abolish ATED from April 2017. (Frank Nash)

National Insurance & Income Tax

  • Could align NI and income tax rates so the least well off are taken out of paying NI. (Genevieve Moore)
  • Could increase employers NI to 15% on salaries paid to executives over £150k a year, to try and discourage corporates paying most of the wages to a few highest paid employees. (Genevieve Moore)
  • Could decrease employers NI to 10% on salaries paid to employees on the living wage to both encourage employers to pay the living wage, and help set off the cost.  (Genevieve Moore)

Corporation Tax

  • Could further accelerate corporation tax payment dates for the largest companies. (Genevieve Moore)
  • Could reduce corporation tax further to encourage business to establish in UK. (Genevieve Moore) The quid pro quo to this is that HMRC might increase the corporation tax rate for investment companies to keep the overall yield, particularly those holding fixed asset real estate. (Frank Nash)

Making tax digital

  • Could announce further developments on how this will be rolled out. (Suzanne Briggs, Director)

Rates revaluation

  • Retail businesses in Central London are hugely concerned by the rates revaluation and how they will absorb some potentially enormous increases in rates. There is increasing concern that the difference between high street and internet based companies is creating an uneven playing field. There may be some additional transitional measures, or perhaps the announcement of a consultation on how rates should be assessed on internet based businesses, which use more of the public infrastructure (e.g. roads) than their retail equivalents. (Andrew Sanford, Partner)

Motoring

  • Should freeze fuel duty and reform the current car tax system. (Robert Pullen, Senior Manager)

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

The recent deprecation of Sterling alongside rising energy costs will be likely to contribute towards increased inflation which will eat into disposable incomes. In our view, this furthers the need for fiscal policies that encourage strong sustained consumer spending as a key pre-requisite to a strong economy,” explains Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of tax at ACCA.
“In addition, the government would be well-advised to take fiscal measures to support Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and their ability to increase exports which will be crucial to the health of the UK economy in the post-Brexit era”.
In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, ACCA makes the following recommendations:
 
1. Stimulate consumer spending: pre-empt an anticipated slowdown in consumer spending with fiscal measures that protect disposable incomes and savings. On this basis, ACCA supports inflation-linked increases to the income tax personal allowance and higher rate threshold by the end of this Parliament.
2. Commission further expert advice: establish a ‘Fiscal Commission’ of employers, professional bodies, experts and academia to inform policy-making, timed to coincide with the move to one fiscal event per year from 2017.
3. Long-term approach from government is essential as Brexit approaches: re-align the assumptions of the Comprehensive Spending Review with the impact of the Brexit timetable. Decisions based on a short-term electoral cycle will exacerbate the likely uncertainty caused by the UK’s exit from the EU. 
4. SMEs are key to UK productivity: provide SMEs with the financing options to support increased export activity and further promote the activity of bodies such as UK Export Finance. Additional changes to the penalty systems relating to VAT and PAYE, to SME-focused non-payment insurance products, and to debt relief on PAYE and National Insurance Contributions for SMEs in the service sector are desirable.
5. Technological catch-up for the public sector: introduce incentives to encourage innovation in information sharing across the public sector. A lack of joined-up thinking on information and technology in public service provision risks inefficiency and waste.
 

 

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