Crystal ball gazing

By the time you read this, the Chancellor’s next Budget will be less than a week away.

The media will carry rumours and leaks and journalists and tax commentators like me will be speculating on which stories might just be genuine.

At the Treasury, right up to the last minute, they will be refining the plans.

I have seen some of that process at first hand. One year, a few days before the Budget, I was asked to visit the Treasury to meet some officials who wanted my view on a proposed tax measure.

When I entered the room they put three draft Budget Day press releases on the table and asked what I thought the reaction would be for each. The documents set out three possible scenarios for a particular tax change.

What struck me was that, even at that stage, key decisions had still to be taken.

As I left, I asked if I should have signed the Official Secrets Act at some point. The official who was showing me out said “Oh, don’t worry about that, we can prosecute you whether or not you’ve signed it”.

I have never revealed what was shared with me, but I smiled to myself when a few days later I heard the Chancellor make his announcement.

I can only guess at what Mr Hammond is going to say on November 22, but if you saw my column last month you will be able to judge if my main predictions were right – further changes to align the way the employed, self-employed and those who operate through limited companies are taxed and further changes to the tax reliefs for pension contributions.

I suspect that we will also see changes to reliefs for investment in new and growing businesses and perhaps also in capital gains tax reliefs for businesses.

You will find a short, easy to read summary of the announcements on the A C Mole & Sons website the morning after the Budget.

Some of the changes are likely to take effect from April 2018 and some perhaps one or two years down the line. Some may even take effect on Budget Day itself.

If you think any of the announcements might affect you then taking advice sooner rather than later is always the safest course. The best advice is always given when there is time to talk, to think and to plan.

Paul Aplin is a tax partner with A C Mole & Sons and Deputy President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales; you can follow him on Twitter at @PaulAplinOnTax. He and fellow tax partner Amanda Gunter can be contacted on 01823 624450.