weekly news focus: Tax

The government’s proposals to double tax relief, including the proposed abolition of foreign tax credits where overseas dividends are routed through an offshore ‘mixer’ company, met with a howl of protest from tax experts, some comparing the fuss it would cause to the trials and tribulations that followed the IR35 crackdown on personal services companies last year.

The English ICA is today sending an eight point letter to Gordon Brown setting out its objections to some of the double tax changes, which taken together with other Budget measures on ‘controlled foreign companies’ it says could be damaging to UK business.

Signed by institute president, Dame Sheila Masters, appointed last week to the House of Lords, the letter calls for clauses relating to the double tax and CFC measures be excluded from the Finance Bill due to be published on Friday.

In her address at the Chartered Institute of Taxation last night, which was rather rushed as she was under pressure to return to the House of Commons for a vote, Primarolo touched on the issue, but did not hint at any relaxation.

An Inland Revenue official standing in for her in the entertaining Question Time-style debate that followed her address said that Friday’s Finance Bill would be at least five hundred pages long, although not longer than 700 pages. Tax analysts will clearly have their work cut out.

More details of last night’s activities at the Tax institute, and of the English ICA letter on double tax to Gordon Brown, will appear on later today.

Current features on include a detailed look at yesterday’s announcement of an increase in the audit threshold to £1m – to be followed by another rise to £4.8m.

We are also running a feature looking at the efforts by accountants to get into the new field of ‘web auditing’ – although they face competition from an assortment of watchdogs.

Meanwhile, the new tax year starts tomorrow, which brings with it the start of the new IR35 regime. There are growing fears that accountants will be unable to do this as the Inland Revenue has published many of the provisions only on the internet – and many advisers do not have web access.

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