The headlines and Parliamentary lobbies have been buzzing with rumours and position statements as interested parties push their agendas at Chancellor George Osborne ahead of his big policy speech.
Some commentators, however, are predicting a damp squib on Thursday 5 December as the Chancellor looks to batten down the hatches amid a mini-housing boom that it hopes will stimulate a feelgood factor to carry it through the next general election.
Some of proposals being bandied about so far include:
- A push from Liberal Democrat deputy PM Nick Clegg to raise the income tax threshold beyond £10,500 from April 2015
- Scrap the reduction of the personal allowance for those earning more than £100,000
- Further tax breaks for employee shareholdings - a new ‘shareholder model’ scheme that introduces tax breaks on profit related pay
- 100% tax relief for capital equipment of up to £250,000 on the annual investment allowance, which is set to end on 31 December 2014, but could be extended
- Changes to the R&D tax credit regime and the Patent Box, plus relaxation of the rules on Entrepreneurs’ Relief
- Scrap Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for purchase of properties under £500,000 and introduce non-resident Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on UK property sold by non-residents
- Crackdown on tax avoidance schemes - aimed primarily at the promoters of those schemes and possibly at the users of the schemes
- Extending the temporary relaxation of the PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) ‘on or before payment’ reporting rule, and a rethink of the relationship between RTI and Universal Credit
- Other possibilities: Curbing escalating business rates, addressing the housing crisis, alignment of tax and NICs, simplification of the employee benefits system.
The Chancellor’s statement was originally due to take place on 4 December, but was moved to the following day on 5 December via the following announcement on Twitter.
“The PM is visiting China in early Dec to strengthen economic ties so I will deliver the Autumn Statement on Thurs 5th December”
While the AccountingWEB team is not expecting any radical shake-ups, we will be watching every moment of the Chancellor’s hour-long address to find out how the proposals will affect the profession.
In addition to a live blog with our sister site Business Zone on the day of the speech, AccountingWEB will be producing a report on the impacts for small businesses with BTC Software, written by tax expert Rebecca Benneyworth.
Her report will come a week or so later, to include key information published in the form of draft Finance Bill 2014 clauses on what is now called ‘Legislation Day’. This is expected to happen on following Tuesday, 10 December, and will add some flesh to the bones of the Chancellor’s political musings. The draft legislation process is part of the government's more consultative approach to tax policy-making, but with just three working days between the speech and the release of the documentation, it looks as though for 2013, at least, we'll be creeping back towards the old pre-Budget report formula. And in spite of his commitments to transparency, will George Osborne be tempted to spring any surprises?
Whatever emerges in the next week or two, make sure to log into AccountingWEB to get top news and commentary from our experts and community members.
What do you hope the Chancellor will say next Thursday?
About Robert Lovell
Business and finance journalist