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Election day 15: Cut VAT

Apr 21, 2010, 04:01 AM
Authors : Richard
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Post date : Apr 21, 2010, 04:01 AM

VAT, in the words of Neil Warren (2008 Taxation Awards Tax Writer of the Year), is ‘the nation’s favourite tax’ and for some time I have agreed with him.

In fact it seems central to the country’s tax raising and economic recovery.

I’d have to dig deep into my saved e-mails to find the first missive from the National Hairdressers Federation calling for a reduction of the rate to 5% for (well wouldn’t you have guessed it) hairdressing to save the UK’s hairdressing industry and probably I would guess car dealerships selling the open-top Peugeot 206 cc.

'We have argued for nearly 20 years that hairdressing salons are a special case and deserve a lower rate of VAT. Now through CuttheVAT, we plan to lobby government harder than ever before and win the support of the general public. Such an approach would be a major boost to the general public who use these services [not with my hair loss buddy] as well as to businesses both in the short term and the long term.'

In November 2009, we had the hotel and hospitality industry calling for 5% VAT and then a week or so ago, and perhaps a little late in the day, The Sun was reiterating this call from the Intercontinental hotel group on 15 April.

'Germany and France have both recently reduced VAT levels in the hospitality sector in an effort to stimulate more demand and create jobs. Perhaps this is an approach we should think about in this country?'

Now we have the Federation of Master Builders, the Historic Houses Association and the Royal Institute of British Architects jumping on the bandwagon and guess what they want?

Surprise, surprise, a reduction in the VAT rate to 5% for maintenance and repair work, making our homes ‘greener’ and more energy efficient and stimulating the economy – note, not their profits.

What I want to know is where are the CIOT and the ICAEW in all this?

A cut in the rate of VAT to 5% on tax advice and accountancy services would improve the state of the nation’s accounts and tax returns, providing jobs for many more practitioners, reducing costs, encouraging more people to use their services and ‘providing an economic stimulus at the same time’.

My apologies, I nicked that last bit from the builders; but then again a few things of mine seemed to go missing the last time I had some of them in (mainly my chocolate hob-nobs).

Bite the bullet guys and gals and consider yourselves lucky if VAT doesn’t go up to 20% after the election.

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