The early bird catches the worm but it was an early train to Brighton that helped me to catch some succulent morsels of post Autumn Statement analysis at a Mazars Breakfast Briefing this morning, along with a very tasty bacon roll.

Regular readers of PLMR briefings will have had the political background of George’s mini budget. Now leading accountancy firm Mazars have turned their finely tuned accountancy antennae to the detailed implications for all of our tax bills from the treasuries tinkerings.

Personal tax guru Lynn Rowland pointed out that whilst there was no Mansion Tax, there are new charges coming in to penalise “Non-Natural Persons” who own substantial properties. Whilst this conjured up images of genetically modified tax dodgers in Mayfair mansions, Lynn flagged that the new rules may slip through during the period between Christmas and New Year when no-one is looking. It is also “a good time to come clean” according to Lynn as there are new levies and charges on the way for those hiding their money in Swiss Bank Accounts.

Cutting corporation tax to 21% from April 2014, the lowest rate of any major Western economy, demonstrates that the UK is “Open for Business” according to corporate tax expert Catherine Hall. Catherine also highlighted indications that the Government was intending to crack down on unscrupulous organisations agressively marketing tax dodging wheezes. The emphasis on the reputable and ethical end of the tax advising business is now about promoting economy-boosting, legitimate tax incentive schemes set up deliberately by the government rather than finding devious wheezes to exploit legislative loopholes.

There were no surprises in the Autumn Statement for economist Mark Berrisford Smith from HSBC. He described how George Osbourne has decided that he is not going to go faster and nor is he going to go slower in his efforts to reduce the deficit, but it is going to take a little bit longer. Cutting spending by the amounts needed is, according to Mark, quite hard and its even harder when there are large chunks that you can’t touch for political reasons.

George’s decision to use the cash from the 4G auctions before they have actually happened was described by Berrisford Smith as “a trick that Gordon Brown would have been proud of.” He described how the Eurostat footnotes every year complain about the UK’s unconventional and unapproved approach to accounting for the 3G sell offs carried out by the last Government.

I left Brighton with the good news that we all have all got off rather lightly compared the Irish. In their own autumn statement our neighbours are now coming to terms with huge new property taxes and £1 extra duty on every bottle of wine. I’ll be grateful for that when opening a bottle of something fizzy to celebrate our move to new offices just 391 metres from Parliament this weekend.

By PLMR Senior Consultant Steven Gauge

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