Sudden PBR ‘sends out wrong signal’

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Tax advisers were scrambling to inform their clients of the key effects of
the pre-Budget report this week, as chancellor Alistair Darling’s shotgun PBR
took most by surprise.

‘It’s not really the way to run the tax system. It doesn’t really send the
right signals that this is important, to do it at such short notice,’ said John
Whiting, tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Tax advisers had barely two working days notice of the PBR date this year,
whereas usually the event is flagged up a month in advance. The date falls
earlier than usual to accommodate a planned, and now cancelled, early election.

The late notice means that many advisers will have had trouble booking venues
for post-PBR seminars, and key advisers may be on holiday and unable to advise
clients in the most important implications of the announcements.

Whiting said that some of PwC’s advisers would be away but that as a big firm
it would manage.

‘I have always campaigned for the PBR and Budget dates to be set well in
advance,’ Whiting said.

Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at ACCA, said: ‘It would be better if we
had all been told some time earlier.’ He added there had been hints, and that
ACCA had speculated it would be Wednesday of this week.

Roy-Chowdhury said that there was one bright side to an early PBR Ð any
consultations on major tax changes would run for longer ahead of the next
Budget, and thus be more likely to yield intelligent and well-thought out tax

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