Friday, April 1, 2011
Overlooked Budget paper will force Gordon Brown to apologise
One of the problems with the Budget is that there is just so much paperwork. Inevitably most people focus on the economic issues and the tax issues. Occasionally items get missed. And I think I've spotted one that has yet to be reported. I hope mainstream journals pick it up today or else it will be too late.
Hidden away on page 1420/11 of the appendices to the 2011 Budget book is a paragraph that seems out of place. The heading "Analysis of tax impact assessments" gives no real indication of the measure to which it refers. That is a review of tax policy changes that were then quickly revised during the ten year period 1 April 1998 to 1 April 2007.
This is the bulk of the period during which time Gordon Brown was Chancellor.
The text of the paragraph in question seems to have been written by one of GB's own cronies as it is much less clear than the rest of the Budget book.
A special Treasury committee is to be convened today to determine who is responsible for some of the worst tax changes introduced over the ten years in question.
If I have understood the measure correctly, those responsible, at the highest level (ie: Gordon Brown) will be called to account. They will then be required to apologise to taxpayers, to accountants, to tax advisers, to the Queen, to the House and to the Treasury Committee. They will also have to send personal letters of apology to all HMRC staff and all of their customers (ie: taxpayers). They will have to bear the cost of doing so out of their own pocket.
This measure seems designed to force GB to make a fool of himself.
I have long been critical of GB's approach to tax policy making. I disliked the short-term nature of the changes he introduced and the way he routinely had to make U-turns but was never open about this. I referenced a number of examples in 2008 when I wrote about my reasons for giving up giving tax advice after a career spanning 25 years.
I would hope the Treasury Committee will reflect on the short-lived £2,500 income disregard for tax credit purposes, the 0% corporation tax rate and the 10% income tax rate. There are plenty of other examples too.
I cannot wait to hear Gordon Brown apologise for the mess he made of the tax system during his time in office. It will take years to resolve. I am delighted to have spotted this news, on today of all days.