Good news for punters, tax-free betting arrives.

Tax-free betting will now start on 6 October, rather than 1 January next year.

‘Rapid progress’ made by bookmakers and Customs & Excise is responsible for the early start date, according to the government. Chancellor Gordon Brown said in his March Budget that he would scrap the unpopular duty in an attempt to stem the flow of bookies moving offshore.

Bookmakers will instead be taxed on their gross profits at 15%, meaning punters will no longer pay 9% tax.

Financial secretary to the Treasury Paul Boateng, said: ‘The old tax on punters has been in place since 1966, but we realised it was not going to work in the 21st century and would result in UK-based bookmakers losing out on the global betting market.’

The day has been picked to coincide with England’s last World Cup qualifier against Greece and the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp – one of the highlights of the racing calendar.

KPMG tax chief, Ian Barlow, also chairman of the British Horseracing Boards tax committee, said: ‘This is an excellent example of government and industry working together.’

‘The internet is a reality and without this change businesses would continue to move offshore,’ he added.

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