Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What this budget isn't

It is not a tax-cutting budget - in fact it's almost the opposite, and in a bizarrely regressive way. The tuppence cut in the basic rate is going to cost about £9 and a half billion. This will be made up in two ways - the abolition of the 10p rate (savings of £8 and a half billion) and the abolition of empty property relief (about £1 billion). So it's a shuffle of the burden.
The tuppence cut in corporation tax will also be tax neutral. It will be made up for by the tightening of some reliefs and by the raising of the small company corporation tax rate by...tuppence.
In both these cases therefore, while the overall burden remains more or less unchanged, the prime burden has been shifted down the chain. Low earners will now pay proportionately more to fund a cut for middle-income earners. Big companies will pay a lower rate - and the shortfall will be made up by small companies.
In neither case does it look like a budget that should appeal to redistributionists.
UPDATE: Too complex for Will Hutton I fear - an article praising Brown's reduction in basic rate, without even mentioning his abolition of the lower rate. Tut tut.

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