Pre-Budget Special: Business Focuses on Forecasts for Economy; in the Frame: Deloitte Partner Surveys What Local Chief Executives Want Tax Partner at Deloitte Nigel Pickard Looks at What the Budget May Have in Store for Business

The Birmingham Post (England), March 16, 2004 | Go to article overview

Pre-Budget Special: Business Focuses on Forecasts for Economy; in the Frame: Deloitte Partner Surveys What Local Chief Executives Want Tax Partner at Deloitte Nigel Pickard Looks at What the Budget May Have in Store for Business


Byline: Nigel Pickard

When the Chancellor presents his Budget tomorrow , business will focus on his forecasts for the economy.

In the process of inviting Midlands chief executives and finance directors to Deloitte's Budget dinner, we surveyed them on the issues which were of most concern to their business.

They cited future trends in interest rates, foreign exchange movements and Government borrowing forecasts and the possibility of increased levels of taxation in the medium term.

Roger Bootle, economic adviser to Deloitte, acknowledges: 'The recent improvement in the global and domestic economic outlook suggests that Mr Brown played a smart hand when he gambled on growth in the 2003 Budget.

'With his predictions not outside the bounds of possibility, the Chancellor will bask in the glory of not having to change his fiscal forecasts or raise taxes.'

Although total net tax increases may be relatively modest in the short term, Mr Bootle still thinks the Chancellor's borrowing estimates for the coming years are too optimistic, which raises the prospect of significant tax increases once the election is out of the way.

On the taxation front, many structural changes have been foreshadowed in ongoing consultation and the Pre-Budget Report in December. In particular, we expect to see final proposals for changes to the UK transfer pricing regime for related companies. This is a priority for the Government in the light of recent EU case law decisions. There has been extensive lobbying from business and tax advisers on the potential compliance costs of these proposals for larger groups in relation to dormant companies.

It is hoped that some practical relief will be introduced in this area.

Again in the light of further EU case law, concern has also been expressed about the prospects of changing group relief (loss offset) rules and the taxation of UK dividends.

More details may be provided in the Budget on the Government's timetable for other aspects of corporate tax reform put on the back-burner, such as proposed changes to capital allowances and leasing. …

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