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Government to act on bailout tax breaks

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Government to act on bailout tax breaks


I would like to thank David Jones, MP, for drawing my attention to a statement made by Alistair Darling in relation to my current anathema. Specifically, that unless Government intervenes to prevent it, banks and other large institutions that are in receipt of taxpayers money (as a consequence of large scale losses), will be able to benefit from carrying forward current losses to offset against future taxes. This to my mind would be scandalous. In a statement last Wednesday, Alistair Darling said;

To protect the taxpayer, RBS will have to bear the first portion of any additional losses over the coming years, up to a total loss of 6 per cent., or some £20 billion, on top of the £22 billion of impairment and write-downs that it has already taken. As in any insurance scheme, RBS will have to bear the first losses. After that, the Government will cover up to 90 per cent. of any further losses. RBS will also pay a fee of 2 per cent. of the value of the assets insured—some £6.5 billion—again, as in any insurance scheme. It has also agreed for a number of years not to claim certain UK tax losses and allowances, meaning that when it does return to profitability it will not be able to benefit from the losses accrued in the intervening period.

Now, whilst there appears to be a recognition that banks and other such institutions in receipt of taxpayers money could take advantage of tax breaks related to past losses, it does not go far enough. Firstly, this is just words, there is no concrete agreement, secondly, it only refers so far, to RBS and thirdly, it highlights “certain losses” and “number of years”, providing no clear definition. As we all know, if there are grey areas and money is involved, such statements will be challenged by these large institutions. This is a classic New Labour statement, high on self-righteous rhetoric and short on substance, detail and commitment. We would all be well advised to take much of this statement with a large pinch of salt.

Government needs to legislate for this issue, given every business is entitled to carry forward past losses to offset against future profits. Therefore, unless legislation is introduced, specifically aimed at those in receipt of taxpayers bailout money, to prevent the use of these tax breaks, there will be a massive outcry in the future. This will doubtless be at a time when the taxpayer is being fleeced for even more money to pay for the losses, borrowing and debt accumulated in large part as a consequence of the mismanagement of these institutions.

It is unlikely that we can rely on New Labour to tackle this issue, especially as they are unlikely to be in power when the tax breaks become a political issue, but there is no reason why the Conservatives and LibDems could not, or should not raise this issue now. The electorate demands it of our elected representatives and they must not claim ignorance when the day of reckoning comes, as it surely will.

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