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PKF criticises 'clumsy' handling of tax policy

East Anglian accountants and business advisers PKF have accused the Chancellor of clumsy tax-policy handling following reported further changes to Capital Gains Tax.

It follows a reported announcement that £100,000 tax relief will be given to businessmen and women selling up and retiring.

Peter Harrup, Tax Partner at PKF East Anglia, said it was a sop to those who damned the Chancellor's abolition of taper relief but will do little to offset the damage to business start-ups created by the 18 per cent rate set in the Pre Budget Report.

"The latest announcement simply illustrates short-term 'on the hoof' setting of tax policy rather than considered policy designed to achieve clear economic objectives," Mr Harrup says. "£100,000 may sound like a lot but in terms of retiring from a business, it's nothing.

"By taking steps to address the relatively minor issue of the taxation of private equity profits - essentially a political move - the Chancellor has angered the business community and hit one of Britain's key economic strengths - small business entrepreneurship.

"The tax simplification achieved through abolishing taper relief was welcome but, if he truly wanted to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in the UK, the Chancellor should have extended the rules around the Enterprise Investment Scheme, to allow owner-managers to invest in their businesses free of CGT. That relief on investment of only up to £7million is currently only open to investors with no involvement in the running of the business.

"The most worrying thing is that the Government appears to be using tax policy to address political criticism. That's a recipe for economic chaos which will frighten entrepreneurs away from the UK.

"Real economic issues need to be addressed by long-term planning and policies where all the implications are carefully looked at rather than knee-jerk reactions to the latest opposition or media criticism.

"Having had a decade of prudence, the business community is rightly becoming nervous about the stream of announcements coming out of the Treasury. The question is whether the economy is being managed for the benefit of the country or the Government."

Article by BDO LLP

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