‘The government must stop using tax as a political football’ – says leading Liverpool accountant

All eyes were on Chancellor George Osborne this week as he announced the first Conservative budget in nearly twenty years.

Promising a ‘higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare’ Britain, the Chancellor has unveiled his plan to recoup almost half of the £37bn deficit over the next year, through further cuts to welfare, abolishing student grants and clamping down on tax evasion.

He has, however, promised to support business and enterprise, by not reducing the investment allowance for SMEs as much as previously announced, further reducing corporation tax, increasing the personal tax allowance and relaxing Sunday trading regulations.

Of course, as part of his efforts to support enterprise across the board, the conversation continues around the Northern Powerhouse, and the possible further devolution of local powers to northern cities, including Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield.

Peter Taaffe, managing partner at Liverpool-based accountants BWMacfarlane says:

“It would be great to see local decision making that can better cater for local needs, if managed properly.

“Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson and his Cabinet have already made a good fist of a challenging situation in relation to Government-imposed cuts that have affected Liverpool so badly.

“Projects like the regeneration of the waterfront coupled with the proposed regeneration of Anfield, and schemes like the ‘pound houses’ in Granby and Smithdown have already begun to turn the city around and address impoverishment in long-suffering areas; and are a heartening indication of what can be achieved if funding and policy making is devolved further. But there’s a bigger picture here too.

“Looking outside of Liverpool, the commitment made to lowering corporation tax is a promising prospect and could make us more competitive in the global economy, attracting overseas businesses to set up here that might previously have been put off by increased focus on those paying too little UK tax. However, this could make us unpopular with our EC neighbours, who are already lamenting our corporate tax regime!

On discussing the potential effects of the budget on business and enterprise, Peter adds:

“The increase in personal tax allowance pitted against cuts to tax credits appears almost to be giving with one hand and taking with the other – and the losers stand to be those who can least afford it. However, it is clearly a move to encourage people off benefits and into employment, which can only be commended. It is cheaper for the government, better for the country and better for people – that is, if they can get jobs.

“The clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance is, or course, a welcome addition to the Chancellors budget and demonstrates that he is taking steps to target corruption, contributing to a fairer society. Efforts to tackle tax evasion should help to regularise the business landscape, and help to maintain more money within the UK.”

“The less profound reduction in the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) still provides an incentive for SMEs looking to grow, but it would be great to see less volatility in the allowance year on year in order to allow businesses to plan longer term. The government must stop using tax as a political football. If you want a long-term strategy for the country, you must allow businesses to plan long-term too.”

BWMacfarlane are one of the leading, independent chartered accountancy practices based in Liverpool, with a history that can be traced back to 1926.  They provide a wide range of accountancy and business support services to organisations and individuals predominantly in the North of England.

As a single-office practice based on Castle Street, BWMacfarlane are big enough to deal with a range of complexities, yet small enough to care about the needs of all their clients, irrespective of the size of their businesses; and clients range from individuals and families to large companies and charities.

For more information, visit http://www.bwm.co.uk/ or call 0151 236 1494

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