A couple of weeks ago it was the turn of Miss Liz Hurley to get a decent slice of the limelight with the occasion of a sumptuous and lavish wedding. But we can't all be in the papers all the time.
So while the newlyweds enjoy their honeymoon, last week the lead role was handed with no less occasion, although perhaps with a little less glamour, to Mr Gordon Brown.
For the financial services industry, there are reams of detail to pore over that were not evident in those headline-grabbing verbal statements and the truth behind the headlines needs to be explored. Certainly the significant changes to the personal tax regime achieved the likely aim of headline coverage. With the reworking of rates, the changes in thresholds for income tax and the reversals of previous changes to corporation tax, there will naturally be some winners and some losers.
But despite the bold 2p statements, the overall effect of the Budget seems to have a sense of neutrality about it. There was certainly no change in the trend of complication of the tax system. But this very approach provides further opportunity for advisers to demonstrate to clients the value they can add to supporting them in managing their finances.
The Budget was interesting for its silences as well as its shouting. For inheritance tax, the absent statements were more important than the present. Consultation had been expected on increasing the reporting thresholds for 2007/8, but disappointingly, none was given. This needs to be urgently addressed, so that the compliance burden introduced last year can be mitigated. After all, as well as affecting advisers and clients, HM Revenue and Customs itself is also subjected to it.
Guidance on the treatment of gifts to bare trusts for minor children was also absent on Budget day, but two days later and we finally have the clarification we have been waiting for. HMRC have now confirmed that gifts to minors using absolute trusts will be recognised as potentially exempt transfers (PETs) rather than chargeable lifetime transfers (CLTs), and hence avoid the entry, 10-yearly period and exit charges levied on CLTs.
It is pleasing that this sensible outcome has now been reached and reassuring for advisers who can now comfortably provide advice to clients in this area.
A recent article in the Bexley Chronicle has a number of handy hints for tackling the post-wedding blues that could be equally as helpful for Ms Hurley as Mr Brown, should he be similarly afflicted with a dose of post-budget blues. For example, one might wish to consider planning a few social events for after the honeymoon so there are some things to look forward to. Perhaps after all that excitement, for Mr Brown an election could be just the thing.
Colin Jelley is head of tax and financial planning at Skandia.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the company he represents.IFAonline
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