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Expectations Ahead of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement 2018

Posted: 12th March 2018 by Finance Monthly
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Various expert Partners at Crowe Clark Whitehill, a leading audit, tax and advisory firm, share their expectations below ahead of the UK Chancellor Phillip Hammond's Spring Statement tomorrow.

Dinesh Jangra, Partner, Head of Global Mobility Solutions, calls for measures to help the UK retain and attract talent and investment: “Let there be no doubt, UK PLC will benefit immensely from the world’s best talent being here. The question is what role can the UK tax system play in encouraging this?

Regardless of what is announced in the Spring Statement, Brexit looming in the background and this is causing concerns around the UK’s attractiveness for talent and investment. With that in mind, I would like to see the UK tax system in the area of mobility (expatriate tax breaks) being reviewed to enhance UK attractiveness. The tax effectiveness of non-domicile status has been eroded over time and while we have overseas workday relief and temporary workplace relief, I question if they are enough to continue to attract the best talent to the UK. Often, employers take on the UK income taxes due in respect of employees under tax equalisation arrangements so more UK tax breaks can reduce overall employer tax costs.”

Stacy Eden, Head of Property and Construction, calls for a stamp duty cut and a freeing up of Green Belt land to reinvigorate housebuilding: “An SDLT reduction would free-up liquidity in the market, which will ultimately increase housing transactions and sales, which are currently at extremely low levels. We may even find that it raises more money. There is a broader concern that our tax system is not favourable to property investors and developers, which is not surprising given we have one of the highest property taxes amongst OECD countries.”

“I’m looking out for the Chancellor’s approach to simplifying the planning process. He could reinvigorate UK housebuilding by freeing up more areas of Green Belt land. Investing in planning departments to try and get closer to housebuilding targets is of great importance. We are currently well short of targets and this is contributing to higher house prices in certain areas.”

Rob Marchant, VAT Partner, calls for VAT reform to stimulate the residential build-to-rent market: “It may be an ambitious ask, but I would like VAT changes to encourage the residential build-to-rent market. If rental income were treated as zero-rated rather than VAT exempt, it would allow landlords to reclaim VAT on running, management and repair costs.”

Matteo Timpani, Partner, Corporate Finance, calls for Entrepreneurs Relief to be expanded: “I would like to see the government retain and even expand the reach of Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER) and other tax reliefs, aimed at rewarding enterprise for UK entrepreneurs.

Recent soundings around restrictions to Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) relief and other reliefs designed to foster growth in the UK economy can cause uncertainty among a community of risk accepting entrepreneurs, the success of which, in the mid-market, drives our economy.

The government should be careful not to underestimate how much of an incentive ER is for business owners to drive growth and ultimately create wealth and jobs for the UK economy as a whole.”

Johnathan Dudley, Partner, Head of Manufacturing, calls for clarity around pensions for SMEs: “With Brexit on the horizon and the possibility of yet another general election, what businesses really need is a period of stability and for politicians to provide some certainty.

Provided this ‘certainty’ is forthcoming, I would expect to see further changes to pensions provisions, aid for businesses to strengthen their international trade capabilities and the tightening of provisions to IR35 and tax evasion rules around employment and self-employment.

Many SMEs have invested time and effort into dealing with pension auto-enrolment duties and a relief for these businesses around payroll provision would be welcomed and well deserved.”

Caroline Harwood, Partner, Head of Share Plans and Reward, calls for clarity about remuneration in light of the Rangers EBT case: “During 2017 we saw the introduction of yet more measures to tackle remuneration structures designed to avoid tax, including a charge on all outstanding ‘disguised remuneration loans’ made to employees by Employee Benefit Trusts (EBT) or other third parties, as well as the new ‘close company gateway’.

The Supreme Court decision to favour HMRC in the ‘big tax case’ against Rangers FC brought the ‘redirection principle’ into the foreground, in ruling that payments via EBTs qualified as taxable income. Initially, the interaction between this new case law, the disguised remuneration rules and arranging such salary sacrifice into a pension scheme, was unclear.

HMRC have made statements as to how they expect these rules to interact in certain cases in the future, but formal clarification in the Spring Statement would be welcomed.”

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