The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, due on 5 December, will unlikely offer any early Christmas presents, says ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) ahead of the announcement.
Looking at the Chancellor’s options, Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of tax at ACCA, says: 'The March budget earlier this year was one which resulted in lots of back-tracks when it came to tax – from pasty tax to charitable giving tax relief.
'While it’s good to see policymakers rescind their policies when public and professional opinion states they need reworking, what we want to see from the Autumn Statement is stability and clarity, an announcement to show how the Government and the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) is planning for the short and long-term future of the UK’s economy.'
ACCA looks ahead to what may be announced:
- Child benefit – ACCA is hoping there will be a rethink on arrangements as they now stand. The big issue in the New Year for many high earners is a decision regarding child benefit – should they let it go, or pay tax on it?
- GAAR – will there be any changes to the proposals? 2012 has been the year of avoidance revelations, and for ACCA this has been a clear sign that tax needs to be simplified for individuals and for businesses. Personal allowance increases – the Chancellor could use the Autumn Statement to flag up any spring-time Budget changes in the personal allowance – which currently stands at £8,105.
- Shares for employment rights – this will happen but will the bands be £2 – 50K and how will it be widened to non-UK companies? Also, how palatable will it be for the average UK employee to take shares in lieu of long held employment rights such as claiming unfair dismissal?
- Further anti-avoidance measures – the Chancellor could be looking at multinationals tax payments, further VAT avoidance opportunities which are closed. The regime for disclosing tax schemes is being updated, and we might see something more on personal service companies – although reaction to the proposals over the summer was universally negative.
- Higher rate tax relief for pensions contributions – this has been a ‘regular rumour’ for years, and the pressure on the Chancellor will be greater than ever to actually restrict relief to the basic rate of tax or reduce the annual contribution allowance even further from £50,000 to say £30,000. It has only been two years since the last major shake-up to pension’s tax though, and employers and pensions savers alike would appreciate some stability around what is supposed to be a long term undertaking.
- The RTI system is due to go live nationwide in April, and this is the last chance for the government to tweak the regulations so that the burden on employers is a reasonable one, given the aims of Universal Credit. ACCA will be looking forward to signals from the Chancellor that we will have clear guidance from HMRC on how they interpret the rules, and the penalty regime.