PM-in-waiting tries a Budget balancing act
Brown daren't raise taxes - but he could still close loopholes
Sunday 12 March 2006
In 10 days' time, Gordon Brown is due to unveil his 10th Budget. And, prime ministerial ambitions very much in mind, his top priority will be his relationship with the tax-paying electorate.
"As this could well be his last, the Chancellor will look to deliver a Budget which he feels confident will help him as a new prime minister," says Ian Luder, tax partner at accountants Grant Thornton.
Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, agrees. "I think he will minimise tax rises where he can - leaving these to his successor," he says. "He will want to show he is a man of the people, and go out on a high."
The first Budget of a new parliamentary term is often an occasion to announce unpopular measures. But within the financial services industry there is a strong feeling that, this time, nasty shocks such as an increase in national insurance contributions or the standard rate of VAT are unlikely.
"Instead, the Budget could provide the Chancellor with the opportunity to pursue some of his current hobbyhorses - such as green policies and [a clampdown on] tax avoidance," says Victor Dauppe, tax principal at accountants MacIntyre Hudson.
That said, the Chancellor's spending programme and subsequent budget deficit mean he will need to boost tax revenues.
Below, we take a look at the Chancellor's options, what the tax specialists expect him to do, and what they would like him to do.
New rules demanding that accountants disclose details of tax-avoidance schemes such as onshore and offshore trusts have already been announced, and will be extended from 6 April, the start of the new tax year.
Mr Roy-Chowdhury predicts a widening of these measures to take in areas such as stamp duty and inheritance tax. Those most affected are likely to be people with comfortable incomes, rather than the super-rich.
Individual savings accounts (ISAs) and the child trust fund (CTF) could be enhanced in the Budget.
Last year, the Chancellor announced that the £7,000 annual limit for investing in tax-free ISAs would stay in place until 2010. But there are calls for this allowance to be extended beyond this date, and also to be raised.
Speculation is also rife about the Savings Gateway, a pilot scheme under which the government matches savings accumulated by those on low incomes.
"Is this going to be taken forward or quietly dropped?" asks John Whiting of accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The Chancellor may also decide to put a figure on proposed CTF payments to be made when a child reaches the age of seven.
On the question of self-invested personal pensions (Sipps), independent financial advisers (IFAs) and pension providers are desperate for the Chancellor to finalise details of any further restrictions on investors. In December, Mr Brown horrified the industry when he did a U-turn and decided that exotic investments such as holiday homes could no longer be put into Sipps.
A-Day - on 6 April - will bring about the biggest changes for years in the UK's pensions regime, including greater flexibility for those taking benefits from pension schemes. From A-Day, people can opt to bequeath part of their pension savings to their families - but the inheritance tax (IHT) implications are still unclear, and tax specialists will be looking to the Chancellor to provide answers.
Investors are nervous about changes to tax rules surrounding venture capital trusts, which back small unquoted companies or start-ups. Since 2004, VCT investors have received 40 per cent income tax relief, but this is due to end on 5 April. Many experts, including Grant Thornton's Mr Luder, expect it to revert to 20 per cent.
Draft legislation has already been published on modernising the taxation of trusts - often set up by grandparents for grandchildren.
Andrew Swallow from IFA Swallow Financial Planning warns that family trusts could be dealt a "massive tax hit".
Could Mr Brown use this Budget to push a green agenda?
Mr Whiting says: "We may see small moves towards an environmentally based tax system - such as a rise in air passenger duty."
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 Al Pacino on suffering from depression: 'It can last and it's terrifying'
- 2 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...
£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...
£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer SQL, C#, VBA, Data Warehousi...
Day In a Page
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony