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Finance Bill 2017-19

A Bill to grant certain duties, to alter other duties, and to amend the law relating to the national debt and the public revenue, and to make further provision in connection with finance.”

That’s the Finance Bill 2017-19 in a nutshell according to the parliamentary website.  It’s a fairly brief and uninformative summary given that the bill itself is 674 pages long and covers a range of areas including personal and corporate taxation, avoidance, chargeable gains and overseas property.

The majority of the proposals won’t come as a huge surprise, having been flagged up in previous budgets. Some have even been debated in Parliament before being dropped in order to pass a slimmed down Finance Bill prior to the election earlier this year. We’ve also seen some proposals amended following the receipt of feedback. For example, whilst the bill paves the way for the making tax digital initiative, it does restrict the scope in the first instance in line with announcements made following receipt of feedback on the impacts for smaller businesses.

As far as businesses are concerned, apart from making tax digital measures, the bill will usher in changes in respect of;

  • employment and pensions
  • corporation tax
  • chargeable gains
  • disguised remuneration
  • capital allowances
  • venture capital
  • fulfilment businesses
  • trading and property businesses

Some of these changes are relatively minor and there’s also the usual raft of tweaks in respect of changing tax rates in respect of certain duties such as air passenger tax.  Other measures, including new rules on corporation tax loss relief and interest deductibility may require more in depth scrutiny, not the least because of the number of pages which they take up within the bill.  However, even here the overall scope of the measures may not come as a huge surprise having been highlighted in a Government consultation in July 2017.  At that time the Government set down the aim of the measures as:

  • To restrict the amount of loss relief available to businesses with substantial profits, and
  • To allow most carried-forward losses arising from 1 April 2017 to be used more flexibly against the total taxable profits, rather than particular types of profits, of a company and its group members

Finance, as with most other things in life, doesn’t stand still and whilst this Bill is working its way through the parliamentary process, measures which will form the core of the next Bill are waiting in the wings.  These include measures in respect of landfill tax which were dropped from the previous bill pending review.  And no doubt there will also be a number of further announcements both before and after the budget which is due later this year.

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