Bet on budget measures

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The Independent Online
Speculation about the Budget is rife for the second time this year, and leading accountants are trying to advise clients on the best way to avoid any painful pinches the Chancellor may have in store.

Coopers & Lybrand has put together a table of racing odds on the likely runners in the Budget.

Readers of the Independent are invited to make their own predictions. Complete the 'Budget predictions' form below, using the Clarke Handicap table if you wish, and you could be the winner of a budget-beating case of champagne, courtesy of Coopers & Lybrand.

Answer 'yes' or 'no' to each of the 10 predictions and send your completed form to Budget Competition, the Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

Entries must be received by Friday 26 November. The first correct entry drawn from our Budget bowler hat will be rewarded with 12 bottles of champagne. The winner, who must be over 18, will be announced in the Independent on Saturday, 4 December.

Like other accountancy firms, Price Waterhouse is predicting the extension of the 20 per cent tax band, and a small increase in personal allowances.

But it believes that the Chancellor will zoom in on pensions to raise some extra tax revenues. This could mean taxing the lump sum that can be taken on retirement or restricting tax relief to 25 or even 20 per cent.

Personal equity plans will be extended to cover gilts. These PIPs - Personal Investment Plans - could be bought in post offices. Inheritance tax will be abolished in the Budget, and replaced by some form of capital gains tax charge on assets held at death. Peat Marwick McLintock believes standard and higher rates of tax are likely to remain at 25 and 40 per cent.

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