A four day week in “tax land”

For those of you struggling to sleep at night, may I recommend the latest UK Finance Bill.  According to the accountants Grant Thornton, at 686 pages, it is the longest Finance Bill in UK history.  The Finance Bill can be found here.  I am reluctant to even mention the fact that the UK Government has announced 45 tax consultations in case you stop reading.

I enjoyed Jeremy Peat’s comment piece on the UK Budget.  Jeremy comments on the 50p rate of income tax, the 40% income tax band, the economy and lending.  I particularly liked this comment: “What about incentives? Well, one effect of the Budget is to drag very large numbers of folks into the 40p tax band. Logically, I would have thought the adverse effect on the incentives of this substantially larger group would be expected to be [much] greater than any positive incentive effect from reducing the top rate to 45p for a much smaller group.”  If you are registered with the Herald website you can find all of Jeremy’s article here.

Now to the fiscal powers debate Italian style.  It is claimed that Italy’s prosperous German speaking South Tyrol autonomous province wishes to buy its financial independence.  South Tyrol has a population of around half a million and already has a large amount of autonomy. Up to 90% of tax revenue stays in the region, while the other 10% goes to Rome.  South Tyrol was occupied by Italy at the end of the WWI and annexed in 1919.  After WW2 the Allies decided that the province would remain a part of Italy, but would be granted a large amount of autonomy.  The article that I came across on Twitter can be found here.

“Devo max” for London?  An interesting article from the London Evening Standard can be found here.  I am surprised that Boris Johnson has not made more of an issue of this before now.

Last week I mentioned the report by the David Hume Institute on the debts and liabilities that an independent Scotland may be responsible for.  The report also made reference to the fact that the UK has approximately £821bn of “assets”.  I was glad to see that the “asset” side to the fiscal powers debate continued this week.  An article in the Scotsman on this issue by Jennifer Dempsie can be found here.

It seems that any new charge is automatically labelled a “tax”. My first example is from Dundee and a so called “tax on creativity”.  Members of Dundee’s licensing committee have decided to postpone implementing a controversial act that it is claimed could hinder the city’s arts scene.  The rule would have required exhibitions or public shows put on by the artists, gallery owners, musicians or publishers to be licensed from 1 April, even if they were free.  With the cost of a licence ranging from £124 to £7,500, artists said many free shows and exhibitions would simply not take place. The background to this is the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.  An article from the Courier on this can be found here.

My second example has been termed a “property extension tax” by the Daily Mail.  The Mail reported this week on how planning permission fees for property extensions will increase from £160 to £300 in Scotland.  The Mail compared this with the £150 charge in many English local authorities.

Now to the unsurprising news that charities have banded together to protest at the capping of donor tax relief that was announced by George Osborne in his Budget statement.  Two leading umbrella bodies, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Charities Aid Foundation, have set up a website calling on Osborne to exclude charities from the proposed cap.  More than 200 organisations have already signed up to support the campaign, called “Give It Back George”.  Principals of five Scottish universities are among those signatories to a letter asking the UK Government to abandon this proposal.  The campaign website can be found here.  An article on this from the Scotsman can be found here.

An article in the Herald claims that this week’s 8% rise in Air Passenger Duty (APD) will lead to a 46% growth in HM Treasury’s revenue from APD by 2016.  It does seem that APD makes the news every week.  The reason for that is how APD is at the centre of a number of debates.  The airline industry would like to see it abolished or at least reduced.  Then there is the call for it to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.  The UK Government has already signalled its intention to partially devolve APD to Northern Ireland.  Worth also noting that until recently the environment would be mentioned in the context of APD.  That though now rarely happens.  How quickly things change.  An article from the BBC news website can be found here.  If you are registered with the Herald website an article on APD can be found here.

The Guardian reports that the House of Lords Financial and Economic Affairs Committee has warned against the planned European Union financial transaction tax.  That is not a surprise.  What is interesting about this article is that it covers a possible alternative to the proposed financial transaction tax.  The alternative is the introduction of national stamp duties on share transactions, which the UK already has and which France is set to follow in August.  The Guardian article can be found here.

Now to Ireland and news that almost half of Ireland’s 1.6 million households have refused to register to pay the new €100 annual tax on residential property by the 31 March deadline.  The mass non-compliance was organised through an Internet campaign and backed by protest marches.  The levy, which also applies to foreign owners, is expected to rise sharply next year.  A report on this from the Irish Times can be found here.

Swiss authorities have issued warrants for the arrest of three German tax inspectors.  The three are accused of buying a CD containing bank client data stolen from Credit Suisse in Zurich, which led to the investigation of hundreds of German taxpayers with undeclared Swiss accounts.  The Prime Minister of North-Rhine-Westphalia has come to the defence of the tax inspectors and has said that the tax inspectors were only doing their duty.  Given the escalating war of words between these countries in this issue, I suspect that this matter will run for a while yet.  A report from Spiegel online can be found here.

Good luck to Edinburgh Rugby this weekend and also to those competing at the new look Gala RFC sevens.  I wonder if any politicians will be pictured eating hot pasties or sausage rolls at these events.  Have a good Easter weekend.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.