This was probably the most political Budget I have ever had the pleasure of sitting through.
The Chancellor used it as an opportunity to announce every possible piece of good news and target accomplishments that he could, some of which were achieved via the clever interpretation of statistics or the use of new ways of measuring objectives on debt reduction. The phrase ‘there are lies, damn lies and statistics’ kept rolling around in my head as I waited patiently for any pronouncements on tax. I think I probably had to wait 20 minutes before there was anything of any interest for the tax planners amongst us.
Of course, the impending General Election was bound to promote this type of Budget, particularly in the context of the political environment that we find ourselves within, with UKIP and the SNP having gained considerable ground since the last election. We face the very real (and somewhat frightening) prospect of Nigel Farage and/or Alex Salmond having a say in the next government, so George Osbourne is fighting hard for his political life.
Being a statistician by university qualification I couldn’t help but admire the clever manipulation of data to enable the Chancellor to make such an upbeat statement, but at the same time I could see that it was somewhat disingenuous.
As such, I could understand why the Labour front bench were unhappy with what they were hearing, but I must admit that I found the sight of their sneering faces very un-endearing and we must remember that we are in a much better place now than we were five years ago.
Positivity breeds success, whilst sniping just leads to bad feeling and discontentedness. Certain members of the Labour party would do well to remember that.
On business tax the Budget was extremely thin. There were only 26 tax measures within the Budget and most of those related to savers and pensions.
Banks and the oil and gas industry were singled out for attention, the former from a negative point of view, the latter feeling much happier. The only matters of note to the majority of businesses were as follows:
The annual investment allowances limit will not be reducing as significantly as expected from 1st January 2016. It was due to reduce to £25,000, which is felt to be too low. There will be a consultation to determine the appropriate number.
There is to be a wide ranging consultation on the business rates regime. It is recognised that there are inequalities in the current system, bearing in mind the rise in internet based businesses, so there is expected to be some rebalancing here. However, the measures are to be revenue neutral, so if some businesses are to benefit then others must lose out.
Changes to the car and van benefits rules to further push businesses towards ultra-low emission vehicles.
The extension of tax incentives for the creative sector.
Further tightening of anti-avoidance measures to make the use of aggressive tax avoidance schemes even more unattractive.
If you have any questions or concerns about how the 2015 will affect you, your family or your business, please contact Brian Jukes on 02476 221046