No new business taxes
With the Apprenticeship Levy, the National Living Wage, pensions auto-enrolment and other levies set to clobber them, firms face a huge up-front tax burden. Ministers rushed to freeze taxes for individuals before the Election, but businesses are paying the price. Enough is enough.
It is astonishing that Ministers spent 2015 changing who gets to spend business rates, rather than reforming a broken punitive charging system. The coming year needs to be the one when they finally grasp the nettle and introduce real fixes.
Last year saw three big Budget speeches, with lots of tax changes and added complexity. In 2016, stop tinkering. Use the promised Business Tax Roadmap to give firms some much-needed stability on tax rates and reporting, so they can focus on sales.
Show more fairness
Companies shouldn’t feel like they’re guilty until proven innocent in the Revenue’s eyes. As well as changing the culture, Ministers should reverse the new, punitive and wrong-headed tax on payments to businesses that win cases for restitution from the taxman.
Revenue & Customs should abandon the target-driven enforcement campaigns that trip up well-meaning firms. Resources should be spent on greater support wherever possible. Enforcement should be about wilful evasion and big numbers, not punishing those who make unintentional mistakes.
These commitments would make Britain’s small and medium-sized firms more confident, productive, and profitable. At a stroke, they would reduce the burden of compliance and administration that holds them back.
Will 2016 be the year that the Treasury and the Revenue help Britain’s small firms through steady improvements, not big headlines? Time will tell.