Conservatives propose tougher regulation of tax advisory firms in manifesto

Firms providing tax advice can expect greater scrutiny and regulation should the Conservatives remain in government following the general election on 8 June

The pledge to ‘legislate for tougher regulation of tax advisory firms’ is made in the Conservatives’ manifesto, launched today, which also includes a promise to ‘take a more proactive approach to transparency and misuse of trusts’.

On the personal tax front, the party has retained its pledge to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 by 2020, while the higher rate tax band will increase to £50,000.

A one year employer’s national insurance (NICs) holiday will be made available for those who employ veterans, former wards of the care system, former prisoners, the disabled and those with chronic mental health problems.

The ‘triple lock’ of the previous parliament is abandoned, with no mention of employee’s NICs, leaving open the option of a rise.

As Theresa May had promised prior to the manifesto’s release, there will be no rise in VAT, while the party will stick to its existing trajectory on corporation tax. Currently 19%, it is set to fall to 17% by 2020.

The party also promises to ‘simplify’ the tax system, although it does not specify how it intends to do so.

Businesses with a large physical presence will be relieved to hear there will be a full review of the business rates system. There was controversy in March when two-year delay in the usual five year interval caused businesses in prosperous areas to see onerous rises in their rates, while other areas of the country experienced substantial cuts.

In a surprise move, the manifesto includes a pledge to disband the Serious Fraud Office and incorporate its activity under the auspices of the National Crime Agency.

Dominic Stuttaford, head of tax for Europe, Middle East, Asia and Brazil law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, said: ‘The abandonment of the tax triple lock is not a surprise; if elected on 8 June, a Conservative government will have the freedom both to raise taxes and restructure the tax system to meet the challenges ahead.

‘The decision to keep to the reduction in corporation tax is to be welcomed. There is also a commitment to simplify the tax system. If this is to be done for both small and large businesses that would be even more welcome. Prior to the election, the government was proposing very complex changes to the rules on interest relief and losses; it may be too much to ask for these to be put on hold.’

The Conservative manifesto can be read here.

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