News in Brief – 28 May

No way out on accruals

Opposition anger over the government’s refusal to reverse the move from a cash to an accruals basis for taxing professionals failed to halt the change, during detailed debate to the finance bill. Financial Secretary Dawn Primarolo, who rejected Conservative amendments, insisted on introducing a ‘true and fair view’ with a precise meaning that accountants understand. She insisted the key clause in the bill ‘merely seeks to put professionals on the same level as other traders.’

No climbdown on CGT relief

Conservative claims of a Treasury climbdown over capital gains tax retirement relief were rejected by the government this week. Shadow Chief Secretary David Heathcoat-Amory claimed ‘a U-turn is in prospect’ after joining in protests over provisions in the finance bill to phase it out in favour of taper relief. Financial Secretary Dawn Primarolo retorted: ‘Many business people have warmly welcomed the introduction of the new business assets taper relief, which takes over from retirement relief.’

Medical goods are gift in kind

The government will include medical equipment and supplies in the definition of gifts in kind for relief in poor countries, in another finance bill U-turn. Economic Secretary Helen Liddell said ministers would reconsider the wording of a clause on a relief which is limited to gifts related to ‘the advancement of education’.

Tax on savings 20% in Europe

The European Commission has proposed a directive to ensure minimum effective taxation of savings income within the union. The proposals give the 15 EU member states the option of introducing a minimum withholding tax of at least 20% or providing information to other member states about interest income on savings earned within their territory, the commission said.

Stately homes lose tax status

Many of the UK’s stately homes are under threat, due to the removal of an obscure tax concession. Ministers are being urged to drop the clause in the finance bill which would mean the abolition of tax relief on repairs on houses on historic estates, many of which are open to the public. The concession, called the ‘one-estate election’, was introduced in 1963 as a one-off measure, to enable expenses on repairs on an estate’s principal residence and empty properties to be tax-deductible.

Irish institute opens up

The Irish ICA is set to reveal the workings of its disciplinary committee. The institute’s council approved proposals for hearings to be made open. Complaints will be speeded up and sanctions imposed by the disciplinary process will be more widely publicised.

CIPFA makes NHS FD chief

The finance director of an NHS Trust has been appointed chairman of CIPFA’s Scottish branch for 1998/1999. John Matheson, FD of Edinburgh Healthcare, succeeded Jimmy Andrews of Glasgow City Council.

June forum on public policy

CIPFA will launch a new Public Management and Policy Association next month to serve as a forum for discussion of public policy and management issues in an independent and impartial environment. The association will be chaired by Michael Bichard, permanent secretary at the Department of Education and Employment.

Stoys warns of corporate SA

BDO Stoy Hayward has warned companies to start preparing now for corporate self-assessment. Payment of corporation tax may be accelerated by up to 15 months and Stoys advised companies with taxable profits of #1.5m or more to revise cashflow models and forecasts, and ensure tax, treasury and accounting functions are familiar with the new payment regime.

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