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ICAEW Lays Out Taxpayer Priorities Ahead Of Pre-Budget Speech

by Robert Lee,, London

05 December 2003

Ahead of the pre-Budget speech next week, The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales is urging Chancellor Gordon Brown to implement tax reforms in order to avert a future pensions crisis.

In particular, the Institute would like to see the pension tax credit, removed by the Labour government in 1997, restored in order to encourage low and middle income earners to make provision for their retirement income.

"Many of the current problems stem from the Government removing the repayment of tax credits on pension funds in 1997. We would like to either see this reinstated or government contributions matching those on lower incomes," comments Eric Anstee, Chief Executive of the ICAEW.

"The proposal for a cap linked to contributions and investment growth is wrong in principle as it will discourage long term saving. It is also likely to be unfair as taxpayers could be faced with tax charges due to circumstances beyond their control. The investment limits should be by reference to the contributions made to the fund," Mr Anstee elaborated.

The Institute has also formulated a number of other ‘taxpayer priorities’ to simplify the tax system in general, including: bonuses for early filing of tax returns; shorter ‘check and sign’ tax return forms that are ‘pre-populated’ with the necessary information; postponement of the proposed merger between the Revenue and Customs & Excise; and more consultation with tax experts during the policy stages of new projects to avoid a repeat of the tax credit fiasco.

Mark Lee, Chair of the ICAEW Tax Faculty, commented that “there are no quick fixes and the answer is certainly not to try and merge the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise. That will merely divert management time and resources away from where they are needed, namely improving customer service and identifying and addressing operational issues."

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