You are invited to take part in a survey of businesses in the face of coronavirus. It is mainly focused on the UK but businesses in every location around the world are cordially invited to take part.
The UK government has finally woken up to the fact that COVID-19 will not just impact businesses during the lockdown, but for many months after lockdown eases, possibly longer. For most of us, it is disappointing, if not stunning that this has only now entered into their minds, as evidenced by the Prime Minister’s reaction to being told of the potential unemployment problems that are likely to arise: “Christ!”, he is reported to have said.
What about the self-employed in the middle bracket?
As we welcomed in 2020 last New Year’s Eve, we never thought that by March our entire world would consist of home. All our plans would be shattered, and for many, their lives taken from them. Even as we mourn the loss of more than a thousand of our countrymen, and many thousands of our fellow citizens of the world, we fear that many more close and distant will suffer the same fate.
Novelists have imagined this strange and dystopian existence in fantasy fiction. Less than a week into our new reality, some are already struggling to cope. These novelists imagine queues for essential items, arguments and disputes, police enforcing curfews, and great suffering. Some also imagine heroic deeds, like those who have signed up as Volunteers to support their communities. Our freedoms have been drastically curtailed and our lives put on pause, though not, as in a true dystopia, by some totalitarian government, but by a virus.
A tiny organism, tens of thousandths of a millimetre big is thought to have developed in a bat and has shattered our lives within a few weeks. Tragedy has befallen thousands of people, and thousands more will suffer similarly before this is over. While we lay-people study the statistics and get ever more confused, how good is the response by government so far?
We are all having to face decisions concerning our lives which have left us confused and feeling under-informed. The economic impact has already shaken us to the core, and it is only just at the beginning. The recovery will take years. This is a brief look at the good and the not-so-good in the response.
Hillier Hopkins LLP is holding a series of seminars on Making Tax Digital. Our own Ruth Corkin and HMRC’s Heather Elliot will present short explanations and provide technical background, followed by questions and refreshments. Demand has been high and although most places are now taken, if you would like to attend, please do put your name down on our waiting list.
Making Tax Digital (“MTD”) is the latest euphemism adopted by government for shifting the burden of tax collection onto the taxpayer. We have seen the terms “Customers” replace “Taxpayers”, “Officers” and “Case Workers” replace “Inspectors”, and of course “Self-Assessment” replacing “Assessment“. We have seen friendly “Tax doesn’t have to be taxing” adverts, and “Advice” emails adding to the spin. However, make no mistake, whatever your political allegiances, MTD is among the most intrusive government projects yet devised in modern Britain.
The highlights of today’s budget were neither high nor light, but the budget did effectively do what, politically, it should have done: as little as possible. It was merely sensible. The objectives: attract the youth, make a noise about housing, give money to the NHS. For an embattled government, Mr Hammond’s speech will be generally welcomed.
The Big Issue was in relation to housing and his amendments to Stamp Duty Land Tax (first-time buyer exemption for properties below £300,000 and the first £300,000 on properties priced up to £500,000) will attract younger voters, as will the extension of railcards up to the age of 30. Of course the fiscal impact is to focus ever more burden on those in their mid-years (31 to 65) who are expected to carry the entire weight of the economy on their shoulders. But this mid-range is not what the Chancellor sees as his target for favours.
Another Budget: another opportunity to criticise government. Inevitably some will pay more to, or get less from, government. The Press have predetermined that this is a “make or break” Budget for Mr Hammond who must try to fit a large square peg into an impossibly small, round hole.
He has to meet the popular expectation of entitlement and an even stronger belief that someone else should pick up the tab. Yet, this same population has also set a course into unchartered waters known as Brexit. Continue reading “Pre-Budget 2017: No Direction Home”