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Darling will get tougher on tax in Budget

Stronger enforcement of existing taxes and anti-avoidance measures are likely to be a central focus of the Budget, says tax specialist Baker Tilly.

Speaking at a pre-Budget briefing last week, head of tax George Bull said Chancellor Alistair Darling had little scope for further tax cuts to revive the economy and was more likely to take a tougher stance on existing legislation.

Bull said Darling would struggle to raise more revenue imm-ediately and the tax authorities would be forced through established or new legislation to increase their efforts in combating specific tax avoidance tactics.

He said: “What is going on with vigour at HM Revenue & Customs is the creation of much tougher rules – a new penalty regime and new powers – and I think we will see all those used to enforce existing taxes with much greater effect.”

In last November’s pre-Budget report, HMRC launched the business payment support service to help support businesses with cashflow difficulties. It offered firms more time to pay business taxes such as corpor- ation tax and VAT without inc- urring a penalty.

The arrangements are negotiated with HMRC on a case-by-case basis. As at March 31, over 100,000 such agreements have been registered, worth over £1.7bn in tax.

Bull says if the service is extended, HMRC is likely to get stricter as it cannot go on offering the measures indefinitely. He said HMRC is likely to question whether businesses are being sufficiently careful to put aside the cash for their deferred tax payments ahead of the deadlines they have been set.

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