A hundred readers got Budget right: Changes in VAT stumped most of the quiz contestants who tried to guess what the Chancellor had in his red box

GIFTS of prophecy are not given to many - except, apparently, when it comes to readers of The Independent and Independent on Sunday's Money pages. Thousands of readers entered our Budget quiz and over a hundred got all 10 questions right.

Gifts of free prizes are given to even fewer - and only two of our crystal ball gazers will be rewarded for their endeavours.

Second out of the winners' hat was Andrew Johnson from Glasgow. His ability to read Norman Lamont's mind no doubt comes in useful in his work as a tax consultant for accountants Touche Ross. A non- smoker, Mr Johnson will be donating his prize of 20 Raffles cigarettes ( pounds 2.07 at pre-Budget prices, pounds 2.17 post-Budget) to a friend who smokes.

Dr Ian Budden of Ealing, West London, who was first out of the hat to win a case of champagne from the sponsors of the competition, the accountants Coopers & Lybrand, will no doubt be sharing his winnings.

Dr Budden, an administrator with London University, said he was disappointed by the budget - especially by the imposition of VAT on household fuel - so he may take some consolation in his winnings. 'There were no real surprises,' he said. 'It was taxation by stealth.'

Most of those who tripped up were caught out by the questions on VAT.

The racecard for the competition - the pre-Budget forecast by Coopers & Lybrand - held some good bets. Its nap was the self-assessment of personal tax for the self-employed, and it romped home - but the question was not in the quiz. But revision of the basis for taxing company cars had been rated as 3-1, and also proved to be a winner.

New rules for valuing employee benefits, also at 3-1, can be judged to have crossed the finishing line. The Chancellor codified the tax treatment of employees who are allowed to take home the company van - a charge as if income was boosted by pounds 500 - and he confirmed that a company's provision of sport or recreation facilities for use by staff would not be taxed.

Increased relief for Lloyd's 'names' had been marked as a 10-1 chance, and we own up to bowling a googly when we asked people to decide this one. In fact, extra relief was given - but it was offset by other less favourable measures and the net effect was not an extension of relief to Lloyd's members.

For the most part there can be little dispute about the judges' interpretation of the Budget itself and of the quiz answers. We brook no dispute and - in the tradition of Chancellors - proclaim our position to be unassailable.

(Photograph omitted)

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