With just weeks before the General Election, none of us could be entirely sure what the Budget would hold.
Would our Chancellor (known to those of us in the trade as “Gorgeous George”) be buying votes or would he try not to ruffle any feathers?
All in all, it appears to be the latter, albeit with a few sweeteners to parents/grandparents of those in their 20s looking to get their offspring out of the family nest and those with savings that generate significant income.
His overall message: “steady as she goes”. Growth has been steady over the last couple of years and there was certainly nothing in this Budget that will lead to an uncontrollable boom – it was more about building on solid foundations of growth leading to a reduction of the deficit.
My main disappointment is that, despite stressing that he was backing British business, there really wasn’t anything for small business owners to be throwing their hats in the air over.
The reform of the business rates system has been long rumoured and, whilst I welcome it with open arms, reading between the lines its impact is likely to be limited and definitely not the radical reform that this outdated and fundamentally unbalanced system needs.
My other big concern is that reports of the death of the tax return were, in the words of Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated.
Whilst I can see that the change will be of benefit to those with relatively simple affairs – say just a salary and savings income that is taxed at source – even they will still need to check the figures carefully to ensure that everything is actually included and is accurate.
Given the way HMRC’s systems struggle to cope with RTI on payroll, my heart sinks at the mere thought of the errors and omissions we are going to see when they try to deal with the pre-population of tax records from multiple sources.
For those who are self-employed or have complex tax affairs, my concern is that HMRC will see this as being like PAYE and take a guilty-until-proven-innocent approach with the accompanying administrative burden increasing yet again for those of us running small businesses.
What price a delay (or six) from the target 2020 launch date?