Spring Statement 2019

SPRING STATEMENT 2019

It was hardly surprising that today’s speech was overshadowed by Brexit.  However, Hammond did stand up and quickly said that to save time he’d put much of the content in a “WMS” (Written Ministerial Statment).  And so he did.  He waffled, frankly, about relaxing landing card rules, about the dangers of no deal Brexit and said how confident he was that we would agree a deal with the EU and get a “deal dividend” too.  It is surprising how confident he is about a deal given how lacking in confidence everybody else is. 

His speech touched on an apparently stable economy and not much else really.  It’s not the Budget, so one shouldn’t expect rabble rousing “penny off a pint” stuff.

In any case, buried in the press releases we can see very little real tax news.  The details of the new 2% buildings capital allowance are released and there’s a list of consultations and releases of mainly “Minority” interest items.   We need to have a good look at the anti-avoidance rules proposed for R&D tax credit claim and there is a confirmation that “Making Tax Digital” won’t be extended beyond VAT compliance for the time being (there was a plan to have it for all taxes by 2020).  Don’t forget the rules for capital gains when disposing of a former main residence that is rented out (and rent-a-room) are set to change next year.  And a “Digital Services Tax” is coming in 2020 with some details to digest.

Overall, it might be said that “no changes are better than bad changes”,  One can imagine a new Chancellor and even a new Government fairly soon if Brexit doesn’t get resolved.  

It was interesting to note that this is the first Chancellor’s statement of this type we can recall watching where the Chamber was not standing room only.  Spare seats were available.  Were MPs sleeping in?  Are they busy discussing Brexit?  Or are they off working out if they are eligible for an Irish passport?  The shadow Chancellor made a worthy response which talked mainly about austerity etc.  

As ever, just get in touch if you’d like to discuss it.  Here’s the “WMS” – 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/785618/WMS_final_Commons.pdf

Written by Donald Parbrook on 13th March 2019

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