March 04, 2016
The Federation of Small Businesses is calling on Chancellor George Osborne to use the forthcoming Budget to deliver fundamental reform of business rates and simplify the tax system.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is asking the Government to "clearly and consistently" back enterprise in the Spring Budget on 16 March.
The FSB's latest quarterly survey shows small business confidence is cooling and it blames "domestic policy decisions" as well as "global economic headwinds".
These domestic "burdens" include the introduction of the National Living Wage in April, pension auto-enrolment and changes to the tax treatment of dividends. In addition, it says, small firms still face an unreformed business rates system and the prospect of compulsory quarterly digital tax reporting.
Mike Cherry, FSB policy director, said: "In this climate, it's crucial that the Chancellor uses the Budget to reassure small firms and boost their confidence so that they invest, create jobs and drive economic growth. This means no new major challenges that drive up costs and burdens. In addition, Mr Osborne must deliver on his promises to overhaul the business rates regime and simplify the tax system."
Tax simplification must be a "major priority" continued Cherry; and he urged the Government to take a bold approach. "The current tax system for small businesses remains overly complex, bureaucratic and hard for businesses to navigate. Many feel either forced to pay for expensive tax advice or run the risk of failing to comply."
The FSB has commissioned accountancy firm EY to come up with a series of policy options that would result in a "far simpler, more user-friendly and 'tax-payer centric' system" that would be more cost-effective for both businesses and Government. One option, it says, is to create a simplified small business tax regime centred on a single tax payment.
The FSB is also urging the Government to deliver radical business rate reform at the Budget. It has broadly welcomed existing plans to devolve business rates receipts to local authorities but, it said, "this cannot be a substitute for far reaching reform to an outdated system."
Cherry added: "Ahead of the 2015 General Election, the Prime Minister and Chancellor both made unequivocal commitments to FSB members that they would make significant and fundamental changes to the business rates system. It's absolutely vital the opportunity to introduce a fair nationwide system is not lost."