Taking Stock – Budget hurdles leader showing good form.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ tax guru John Whiting has galloped into an early lead in the TS Budget Hurdles. The hurdles, a new addition to Accountancy Age’s pre-Budget racing calendar, is a true test of a tax tipster’s mettle. No room for drug scandals or handicaps – the hurdles take into account media mentions alone. This week and next, using an arbitrary method of our own choosing, TS will record how many media mentions Budget briefers have clocked up. It is the profession’s only reliable measure of quotability. Probably. John, the early leader and a man seldom far from a newspaper tax quote, has secured an impressive seven media mentions over the past month. It is a performance that has rivals trailing in his wake. Grant Thornton’s Mike Warburton is in second place with four quotes, while Chancery Vellacott’s Maurice Fitzpatrick has three – not bad, but not good enough. So, with 12 days until the Budget, it’s hard to see how John can be dislodged from pole position. Of course, with a few snappy press releases, Mike or Maurice might make a late dash. But they have their work cut out. Meanwhile, early runners such as KPMG’s Ian Barlow or Francesca Lagerberg of the English ICA tax faculty have made little impression and it’s difficult to see them making any headway in the closing stages. However, TS will be taking media mentions in the days following the Budget into account too – so the back markers do still have a chance to catch up. Don’t miss our updates over the next couple of weeks – or the final result in the post-Budget issue of 30 March. And don’t forget to turn to TS next week for your chance to win in a pair of top Budget competitions.

Related reading