Insights from the UK and beyond
Most Budgets have all the attraction of being slapped in the face with a wet kipper and sadly this one is unlikely to reverse the trend. As expected, from today up goes the cost of booze (4p on a pint) and fags (11p on a packet). Also for those who like driving larger less-green new cars there is a “showroom” tax coming in from 2009 that could cost them around 950 pounds.
However, for the entrepreneur there was a little cheer. After strong representations from business, Chancellor Alistair Darling has deferred the “income shifting” rules that were due to start from this April. These were a direct attack on family-owned businesses that include lower tax paying family members who take out dividends or profits but make a less significant contribution to the business. A case last year (Jones v Garnett) went against the government and it was looking to legislate to get the result it wanted. The proposals were wide-ranging and ill-targeted. A deferral will hopefully allow time to revisit this whole approach.
The working family got several name-checks in the Budget speech and this broadly amounts to an increase in child benefit (20 pounds per week for the first child) and the child element of child tax credit, but this will not take effect until April 2009.
There was no further change to the capital gains tax (CGT) regime so that from April 6 all individuals will be paying at a flat rate of 18 percent with the only hope of reducing the charge being a special entrepreneurs’ relief that has stringent qualifying conditions, but may help the smaller business to take their charge down to an effective rate of 10 percent. However, some others clearly benefit under the new regime. For example, those looking to sell a buy-to-let property after April will find that the new rules help them as the best tax rate they would get under the existing legislation would be 24 percent.
Chancellor Alistair Darling hiked up the usual “sin taxes” in his first budget.
But he also postponed a 2p rise in fuel taxes until October.
He also made a bid for the green vote with a call for a new road pricing scheme and for retailers to charge customers for plastic bags.