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Leader: George too comfy in flip-flops

Lack of tax consistency shows a creaking austerity policy, which doesn't do advisors any favours

06 Dec 2012 Accountancy Age

By Kevin Reed

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'MAKE YOUR MIND UP, GEORGE' seems to be the message coming from advisors and business stakeholders following the bore-fest yesterday that was the Autumn Statement.

Governments have a licence to change their mind, seemingly as the wind blows. But the chancellor's early talk of tax certainty and simplicity doesn't really stack up as we stumble towards the mid-term point of parliament.

After this year's post-Budget embarrassing flip-flops around pasties, caravans and skips, we've seen a big, though welcome, turnaround on capital allowances for plant investment.

But a government that is pushing the public hard to get a grip of their pensions then deems it necessary to lower relief on pensions – that's a mixed message. The additional rate will, of course, move back down to 45% – as if it had ants in its pants.

Meanwhile, concerns over cash accounting rules and employee shareholder schemes seem likely to fall on deaf ears.

Tax advisors moan about all the change, but change is usually a good way for them to make more money. Their underlying, key, concern is showing that the UK is attractive for investment.

On the corporate side, it seems that yesterday was a good day. However, advisors will have to earn their corn to help individuals, following some of George's decisions.

While certainty and simplicity make the most attractive aspect of any tax system, there is little chance of that ahead in the current economic climate.

We can only hope that George doesn't flip-flop his way towards more silly, and off-putting, ideas in six months' time.

Kevin Reed is editor of Accountancy Age and Financial Director

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