Budget 2014: A briefing for MPs

The Budget will be delivered on Wednesday 19 March. Every year I have more sympathy with the (very few) people who call for it to be banned. Tax policy announcements and other major developments can now happen at any time, in written ministerial statements and appearances on the Andrew Marr Show, and tax policy and administration are debated daily. There really is no need for such a fuss.

Tax professionals will be less interested in the rowdy proceedings in the Commons bear pit than the hundreds of pages of Budget documents released when the chancellor sits down. There will be a new Finance Bill on 27 March, most of which was released in draft last December for consultation.

Yesterday (14 March) the Treasury and Parliament websites linked to information on the Budget including a briefing for MPs, prepared by the House of Commons library:

Treasury: Budget 2014

Treasury: All about the Budget

Parliament: Budget 2014 statement

Parliament: Background briefing

Briefing papers “contain factual information and a range of opinions on each subject, and aim to be politically impartial”. This one runs to 30 pages. This is what is has to say (page 3) about personal allowances and the increasing number of people paying 40% income tax:

“Each of the Government’s budgets have increased the income tax personal allowance. From April 2014, the personal allowance will be £10,000, up from £6,475 in 2010/11. The threshold above which income tax is paid at 40% has fallen, however, from £43,875 to £41,865. The number of higher rate taxpayers has increased from just over 3 million in 2010/11 to 4.4 million in 2013/14. This has led some Conservatives to call for an increase in the 40% threshold.”

There is a brief but useful summary in appendix 3 of the government’s approach to tax avoidance. But there is no mention of the OECD’s work to tackle “base erosion and profit shifting”, even though the UK government is working on the project and much of the current controversy surrounds taxation of multinationals, where most commentators seem to agree that international action is required for a lasting solution.