Monday, March 29, 2010

Which Budget proposals will make it into the Finance Bill?

After the Budget announcements, everyone poured over the related Budget Notes which give a better indication of what will appear in the Finance Bill. And all Budget commentaries faithfully reported such additional details.

This year however there is barely any time for parliament to debate and consider the Finance Bill because of the forthcoming General Election. So we know that the Bill will only contain some of the proposed changes. What few commentators seem to have noted is that the Government has already determined certain changes which will be held back for a second post-Election Finance Bill. Twenty of the 71 Budget Notes contain the phrase:
"The Government intends to legislate these changes in a Finance Bill to be introduced as soon as possible in the next Parliament".
I am indebted to my colleague Ian Young at the ICAEW Tax Faculty who has noted that this phrase appears in the following Budget Notes:
6,8,12,13,19,20,22,30,35-37,46-48,50,57,65-67 and 69.
This leaves 51 of the 71 provisions that could appear in the first Finance Bill. This is far more than is likely to be acceptable to other main parties so some of the 51 will also be held over.

You might think that the list represents those clauses that are party political or last minute additions to the Budget. A quick review reveals this is not the case and that there is no obvious distinguishing factor.

I can only assume that this list represents the items in respect of which Parliamentary Counsel had not yet started to draft the related legislation. And that would support the argument that Counsel is given insufficient time and resources to draft tax legislation generally. Is it any wonder that so much of it is unduly complex? Or have I missed something?

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