The Chancellor George Osborne will deliver the final Autumn Statement of this parliament early this afternoon. We look at what certain interested parties are calling for or expecting from the Chancellor’s speech.
Here’s a round-up of 5 hot topics of discussion:
- Business rates reform
Many figures in the business community have called for further reform to business rates. The Forum of Private Businesses (FPB) wants a cap on rates and the Federation of Small Businesses has asked for an extension to rate relief for small businesses. The Confederation of British Industry has suggested easing pressure on businesses by aligning rate increases with CPI inflation instead of RPI.
- Pension contributions tax relief
Although the government has already committed itself to the most radical overhaul of the pensions system in recent memory, many commentators believe there is more still to be revealed. There has been speculation that the Chancellor could lower the higher rate of pensions tax relief from 40% to 30%, with the basic rate remaining at 20%. Pensions Minister Steve Webb has also previously spoken of a flat rate of relief on pension contributions at around 30%.
- Tax breaks and incentives for exporters
The Chancellor may use this opportunity to respond to the UK’s growing trade gap by announcing new incentives for exporters. In September 2014, the value of goods imported into the UK was £6.7bn higher than the value of goods our businesses sold abroad. The FPB has proposed tax breaks for exporting businesses, either by reducing the tax bill for eligible firms or by providing an export tax credit similar to the scheme for research and development.
- Stamp duty reform
Some commentators believe that the Chancellor could move to reform stamp duty at little cost to the public purse. Currently, homebuyers are charged stamp duty on the total value of the property provided it’s above £125,000. It has been said that the Chancellor could relax the rules for homebuyers by only charging stamp duty on the amount exceeding the threshold.
- Devolution of tax powers
Some feel that the devolution of tax powers to Scotland is a dead cert for today’s Autumn Statement. Following the recommendations of the Smith Commission at the end of November, many analysts are confident that Scotland will receive the power to set and collect income tax. But could we also see a move to devolve corporation tax powers to Northern Ireland?