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We often refer to “smoke and mirrors” – I think this weeks pre budget is just smoke and smoke – commonly known as spin or obfuscation.

The changes to CGT are absolutely punitive for small businesses. I was with a business man this morning, who is selling his business for £140k due to retirement. Near enough his lifetimes work. Under current rules – and these will apply to him (I wouldn’t have let him leave if we couldn’t have made them apply) he pays £10,000 tax on the sale. Under the new rules, £23,000.

Shafted by Mr Darling.

And as to IHT – well despite the fan fares, and the allegations of nicking Tory policies, all Mr Darling has done abolished the need for Nil Rate Band Trusts – a fairly simple tool in a will drafters armoury, which was standard advice for most couples. Great politics – there is a well known and common work around to a idiosyncratic aspect of the tax system – so lets codify the workaround into legislation and claim it as a tax cut. It has pre election vote catching stamped all the way through it like a cheap stick of seaside rock. Sorry Mr Darling, you’ve been rumbled.

And finally, to help business on its way – powers granted to local authorities to add 2p in the £ to NNDR (business rates) for local projects. Good politics, as it saves raising Council Tax – and Council Tax payers vote, businesses don’t. So what did happen to “no taxation without representation”.

This has to be one of the most depressing budgets / pre budgets for years. Blatant vote catching politics, no thought at all.