Budget 2012: Old habits die hard

With just under a month to go before the Budget, the gravevine is already humming with rumours and pitches around what will be included in the Chancellor’s dispatch box on the day. John Stokdyk sets the scene for 21 March.

The Coalition government’s new approach to tax policy making means that a significant proportion of the Finance Bill 2012 was put into the public domain last December. Consultations launched in the wake of last year’s Budget mean that we also know some of the initiatives that should bear fruit on the 21st. A look at AccountingWEB’s tax and accounting consultation tracker suggests that a hefty basket of business regulation and tax measures will be brought forward. There are several different regulatory strands in play; if previous experience is anything to go by, they will be presented in a document entitled something like, ‘Making Britain a Better Place to Do Business’ and include detailed legislative proposals or consultation documents the following areas:

In the personal tax arena, expect to see an update on the statutory residence test and non-domicile rules consultationsFrom what Treasury minister David Gauke said last November, these are being lined up for inclusion within the Finance Bill 2013.

The consultation tracker includes a few “sleepers” that may or may not produce solid proposals, most notably HMRC’s new agent strategy and quite likely proposals to enact reforms to Money Laundering Regulations to tie in with European initiatives in this area.

The new policy approach makes life more predictable for tax advisers, at the expense of some suspense for Budget-watchers. But that hasn’t stopped the fun yet.

The Treasury has created a crowdsourcing page that allows you to submit your own suggestions for Budget measures.

But it doesn’t seem to work for cabinet ministers, so Douglas Alexander took the traditional route (an interview with the Daily Telegraph) to lobby for further cuts in pensions tax relief. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has been briefing up a storm for a cut in VAT, while the CBI has changed its tune and is now lobbying for increased spending to boost growth.

All these subjects have got tongues wagging in our Budget discussion group, as has the evergreen topic of IR35. As the rumours and pre-Budget briefings circulate in the weeks ahead, the discussion group will act as our collective notebook, so the material will be ready to hand when it comes time to sift through the actual announcements. Come and join us there if you want to help prepare for the 2012 Budget

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