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Melanie McDonagh: What I’d like to see in the Budget

13 March 2014

2:47 PM

13 March 2014

2:47 PM

Every year, I sit through the Budget, and every year there are great chunks of it that pass right over my and everyone’s head because they’re arcane and fiddly. Fabulous for accountants, obviously, because it justifies their existence. What I’d like to see in the Budget but won’t, is radical simplification of the system. Not perhaps a flat system, but much, much simpler. It used to be something George Osborne talked about, but it never happened. Anthony Hilton, the Evening Standard columnist, put the case in a piece in January last year:

‘Britain’s tax regime is as much a part of the economic infrastructure as our roads, ports and airports, but at least with them the need for improvement is accepted, even if progress is slow. But how much greater would be the boost to the nation’s economic health if we had a similar commitment to tax reform, not piecemeal but going back to basic principles, to create a system simple enough and fair enough to wipe out the tax avoidance industry? 

‘We need a commission of inquiry to devise a system suitable for the 21st century, one that could build on the work done on flat-rate tax by Lord Jacobs, the Liberal Democrat peer, and Professor James Mirrlees, who made the case 15 months ago for radical tax reform in a report published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.’

So, what came of that, then?

The other bit of my wish list is for a transferable tax allowance between married couples – you know, the one David Cameron talked about? Your benefits are assessed on the basis of household income, but you get taxed as an individual. It’s ridiculous. Oh, and the allowance should go to higher rate taxpayers too.

And while I’m all in favour of lifting the tax threshold, I take a dim view of the Chancellor also lowering the point at which you start paying 40 per cent tax. So, make that less tax, please.

On the evening of Wednesday 19 March 2014, Fraser Nelson, James Forsyth and Andrew Neil will be discussing what George Osborne’s 2014 budget means. Click here to book tickets.

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