Finance Bill a burden on business, says CBI

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THE Confederation of British Industry has written to the Chancellor complaining about the unnecessary complexity and length of the latest Finance Bill which enacts the tax rises in the November Budget.

The CBI said the 417-page bill was 'hard to reconcile' with the Government's commitment to reducing the red tape encumbering business.

Howard Davies, the CBI's director-general, said: 'The regulatory burden imposed by a bill of this magnitude hits the innocent as well as the guilty, and its complexity imposes additional costs on hard- pressed firms whose managers' time would be better spent on more productive work.'

Mr Davies said the bill, which may grow even longer, could have been subdivided. He criticised the Government for not trying to devise a more straightforward drafting procedure.

In particular, the CBI said it was concerned about the denial of relief for capital allowance claims which had not been allowed by 30 November, the day of the last Budget. It was also worried about the withdrawal of indexation relief for capital losses, with retrospective effect.

It warned too of 'inordinate compliance burdens' created by changes in the taxation of British- controlled foreign companies, which involve computing their profits on a tax and not on an accounting basis.

The CBI also said the tax on home and motor insurance would raise business costs.

The criticism that the bill is burdensome will come as a particular embarrassment to ministers in the wake of the 'bonfire of red tape' promised by the President of the Board of Trade, Michael Heseltine, when he launched the Government's much-vaunted Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill last month.

At the time Mr Heseltine said: 'Unnecessary red tape leads to higher costs and missed opportunities. We are reviewing all the rules and regulations which affect business.'