AS2013: Osborne’s speech largely content-free

THE AUTUMN STATEMENT is always very well-trailed.

So much so, that today my inbox was filling up with comment well before George Osborne took to his lectern, and as expected he delivered a statement with more or less no surprises. It took him about 50 minutes to say almost nothing.

Of the few interesting points, a couple – such as the proposals to impose capital gains tax on properties owned by non-UK residents and overseas companies and the taxation of salaried partners – were not fleshed out with any particular detail. Nor is there anything to explain how the suggested £9bn saved through anti-avoidance measures was arrived at.

There is nothing to address the apparent cliff-edge built into the abolition of basic rate employer’s national insurance contributions for people under 21, either. This, it seems, represents the only real eyebrow-raiser of the day.

That isn’t to say none of those proposals will work, but they have huge potential to add unnecessary complexity to the already-convoluted tax code. Not only that, but without direction and clarity there is serious danger that these seeds of good ideas are unlikely to prosper.

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