Emma Ann Hughes  

Finance Bill: What went, what stayed and what will come back

Emma Ann Hughes

Emma Ann Hughes

But if clients ask will these clauses reappear post election, Mr Cameron said advisers should warn past performance is no guarantee of what will happen in the future, but clauses dropped from Finance Bills pre-election have been re-introduced in a Finance Bill following the election. 

Mr Cameron said these have had retrospective effect from 6 April (or earlier where an announcement to legislate with immediate effect preceded 6 April) previously.

Specific examples are the ‘avoidance using tax arbitrage’ rules which were in the Finance Bill published 24 March 2005, dropped from the Finance Act passed prior to the dissolution of Parliament for the May 2005 election and reinstated in the Finance (No. 2) Act which received Royal Assent on 20 July 2005.

Another example of a measure being dropped, picked up again and back dated were changes to the transfer of business rules for life insurance which were in the Finance Bill published 30 March 2010 , dropped from the Finance Act passed prior to the dissolution of Parliament for the May 2010 election and reinstated in the Finance (No. 2)  Act which received Royal Assent 27 July 2010.

Mr Cameron said: “So we are left with a period of uncertainty. One aspect is that a lot of planning will already have been undertaken on the assumption these rules would become effective as expected.

“Our adviser helpline has already had a few people asking if this means those who have flexibly accessed their benefits can pay £10,000 into their pensions. The answer is unknown.

“Is it better to pay £10,000 and risk a tax charge or pay £4,000 and possibly miss out on some tax relief?

“Presumably, the safest course of action when planning is to assume the rules will reappear as is, monitor developments and then re-plan accordingly.”

Ultimately though as far as the clauses which have been dropped much will depend on what happens after the election. 

Andrew Hubbard, tax consultant at RSM, said: “If there is a return of a Conservative government we would expect that the clauses will be reinstated in a summer finance bill. 

“If there is a change of government all bets are off.”

emma.hughes@ft.com