CGT: The sledgehammer comes down, the nut doesn't crack

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The Independent Online

* The changes to CGT will hit millions of small businesses and entrepreneurs in every industry in the UK.

* The pre-Budget report removed the 10 per cent rate available with taper relief to small companies when they sell business assets. In its place, it introduced a flat CGT rate of 18 per cent. This means that owners of small firms, who may have put their lives into their business and then looked to sell it to provide for their retirement, will see their tax bill rocket by 80 per cent.

* Prospective buyers of small companies are likely to lower their offers in the knowledge that some owners will be desperate to sell before the new tax rate comes in next April.

* The aim was apparently to target private equity houses in the City. The jury is very much out on whether private equity will see its tax contribution go up much anyway. They can always move elsewhere.

* For small businesses there is no escape. Mr Darling has used a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The UK's 4.5 million small firms are feeling the full weight of the sledgehammer; the nut, arguably, remains uncracked.