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Autumn 2018 Budget

Autumn 2018 Budget: don’t let tomorrow’s grey clouds spoil today’s blue(ish) skies

Image credit: REUTERS/Phil Noble

We asked leading tax practitioners for their views on the Autumn 2018 Budget, announced by the Chancellor Philip Hammond on Monday 29 October. It was unusually early timing, and billed as the last scheduled Budget before the UK leaves the European Union.

The government must surely have much else on its mind, but this was not apparent from either the speech or the documentation. Brexit was but a distant land in a parallel universe; it was all rather surreal.

There were no big giveaways, but there were no big losers either. The announcement largely consisted of plenty of tinkering around the edges and was presented as addressing unfairness and looking to extract just a little bit more.

Overall conclusions from commentators suggested a relatively punchy Budget—after all, austerity is ‘coming to an end’, according to the government. Which is particularly noteworthy, given the current fragility of government, both domestically and further afield.

Nonetheless, Brexit is looming and the Chancellor was clear that the fiscal assumptions underpinning the Autumn 2018 Budget were made on the basis that a Brexit deal could and would be reached. The Autumn 2018 Budget may just about make sense in this land; it will be utterly useless in the context of a no-deal, cliff-edge Brexit. If a deal cannot be reached, another Budget may be required in the Spring—a disconcerting thought (but possibly preferable to another general election; neither option being mutually exclusive, unfortunately).

In the circumstances, the government chose to carry on regardless, and ignore the threat (move along please, nothing to see here). A politically pragmatic approach, no doubt, since the fallout from a hard Brexit is unlikely to be easily resolved without some major political upheaval. We all hope that the Autumn 2018 Budget will not be remembered as a trailer for an explosive, high-action thriller, but that’s not a judgment for today.

We have, broadly, grouped practitioners’ comments into key themes comprising of the Digital Services Tax; Other business measures; Finance and financial services: Property, energy and environment; IP, media and R&D; and Employment. As well as the headlining Digital Services Tax, other measures attracting particular interest from contributors included reforms to entrepreneurs’ relief and stamp duty (appearing under Other business measures), changes to the taxation of hybrid securities (appearing under Finance and financial services) and intangible property (appearing under IP, media and R&D).

Practitioners also commented on the raft of non-resident measures in the property sector (grouped under Property, energy and environment), and off-payroll working in the private sector (appearing under Employment). Where practitioners have considered more than one measure, these are grouped according to the primary focus of the contribution.

For coverage of the main measures of interest to businesses, see Legal update, Autumn 2018 Budget: key business tax announcements. For coverage of the implications of the Autumn 2018 Budget for a range of practice areas and sectors, see Practical Law, Autumn 2018 Budget.

A full list of contributors appears below, with links to their contributions.

Digital Services Tax 

Employment

Finance and Financial Services

IP, media and R&D 

Other business measures

Property, Energy and Environment

Autumn 2018 Budget: Other business measures Autumn 2018 Budget: Employment Autumn 2018 Budget: IP, Media and R&D Autumn 2018 Budget: Property, Energy and Environment Autumn 2018 Budget: Digital Services Tax Autumn 2018 Budget: Finance and Financial Services