News in brief.

– KPMG’s pension consulting division has hit out against the minimum funding requirement for pension schemes, arguing it should be replaced by disclosure of schemes’ solvency positions. The firm has told the Department of Social Security it believed the MFR was inflexible and overly complicated, and that short term adjustments only perpetuated a flawed system. Consulting and audit outsourcing services can be found at

– The Tories have announced that they would scrap income tax on savings and share dividends for lower rate taxpayers if they win the next election. Party leader William Hague described the policy as ‘the most significant structural change to the UK tax system proposed in recent years’. Hague said it would mean no one would pay income tax on their savings or dividend income until they hit the top rate of income tax. To view the full report go to

– Chancellor Gordon Brown is considering a crackdown on tax-avoiding internet gambling in his budget next month. The move could have major implications for business carried out over the internet following concern over the scope for tax avoidance through the location of a business server. In addition, the Budget could also include a reform of the betting duty if the country’s bookmakers agree to close offshore operations and relocate to the UK. Tax and budget issues can be found at

– Customs’ audit teams are being instructed to document key controls and weaknesses in importing companies’ systems before allowing them to bring goods through ports. The orders came after a National Audit Office report which found staff were uncertain about the depth to which they should carry out checks on traders prior to approving them to use simplified import procedures. Go to for more on this story

– A retired chartered accountant is set to continue his fight against Eastbourne borough council, alleging errors in the local authority’s accounts led to a miscalculation in its council tax rates. According to Derrick Prince, a former Deloittes auditor, the mistakes have cost the council tax payers an extra #25-a-year each. Prince has taken his complaints to the Department of Environment Transport and the Regions as well as the Audit Commission. Eastbourne borough council’s website can be found at

– Annual sales volumes in the retail sector showed a sharp increase in January 2001, according to the latest Confederation of British Industry survey. Of the 20,000 outlets surveyed, 57% reported growth, while 21% said sales dropped, with the biggest increases in footwear, furniture and books sales. Sales in wholesaling and the motor trades also picked up in January. The full survey can be found at

– The Commons is poised to give its formal stamp of approval to the first of a series of major tax rewrite bills. MPs are expected on Thursday next week to push the Capital Allowances Bill, the first to emerge from the re-write process chaired by former Tory chancellor Lord Howe, through all its remaining stages. The rubber-stamping follows a report from the Joint Committee on Tax Simplification Bills. For more on this story visit

– A National Audit Office report has revealed that the House of Commons has paid out nearly #10m in out of court settlements and legal costs in a dispute over the construction of Portcullis House, the new parliamentary building. The settlement was paid to Harmon CFEM Facades after the company had alleged a breach of procurement regulations. The NAO report also revealed the House was in talks with London Underground Ltd to recoup payments over #3m in compensation made to contractors after the late handover of the Portcullis site by LUL. You can find further details on this story at

– Credit card insurer, Card Protection Plan, has won a case against Customs & Excise over VAT payments. Five law lords ruled in CPP’s favour, forcing Customs to pay a settlement of #1m, with #500,000 costs. The lords ruled CPP was exempt from paying VAT as its principal business was insurance. Under tax rules ‘related services performed by insurance brokers and agents’ are exempt from paying VAT. Customs had demanded CPP pay #800,000 in VAT owing on business services carried out from 1989 to 1991. For more on the ruling and further stories on outsourcing jeopardised by Customs, go to

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