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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 March 2006, 18:50 GMT
Predicting Brown's budget plans
Gordon Brown delivers his pre-Budget report
This will be Gordon Brown's 10th budget
Gordon Brown's budget is widely predicted to have a political rather than economic emphasis, and will probably be a lot less controversial than the Labour Party's own accounts.

The chancellor's 10th budget could well be his last and with his prime ministerial ambitions, pundits think he is unlikely to produce any unpopular rises in major taxes like income tax or VAT.

Economists believe that he doesn't actually need to raise taxes in order to meet his financial targets for the UK economy.

But that doesn't mean he won't.

There are a number of smaller tax measures expected, which could hit the pockets of many people, especially if you drive a 4X4 vehicle, invest in property, or spend a lot of time trying to avoid paying tax.

There is plenty of speculation in the press about where the chancellor might use this year's budget to raise a few billion pounds for the government war chest.

What the pundits say

Daily Telegraph columnist Roger Bootle points out that this is the first budget since the last general election, and that taxes rose by 7bn and 8bn in the last two post-election budgets.

He thinks Gordon Brown will raise taxes by up to 4bn in Wednesday's budget, with potential targets including introducing VAT on aircraft fuel and further measures aimed at oil firms or banks.

The News of the World disagrees. It thinks he will refrain from a levy on oil producers or banks in favour of increasing taxes on "gas-guzzling" cars.

The Sunday Times suggests this will take the form of an increase in car tax to 185 for cars that emit more than 185 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

Owners of gas guzzling motors could face a rise in car tax

It warns readers to expect a clampdown on tax avoidance, but says businesses will be disappointed in their hopes for any significant tax cuts.

The Mail on Sunday thinks many small businesses will be hit by a likely move to abolish the zero corporation tax rate on the first 10,000 of profits.

This could be particularly harmful for small associations like golf clubs and village groups, the paper says.

Savers will be hit by a stealth tax on property investments, says the Independent on Sunday.

Stamp duty

It says the chancellor will remove "seeding relief" on stamp duty. The relief is given so investment trusts do not have to pay stamp duty when they buy commercial property.

Sky News says the budget may well see a raising of the threshold at which property sales tax, or stamp duty, is paid. Sky said it could be raised to 150,000 from the current level of 120,000.

It also thinks Mr Brown will raise the rate of stamp duty on property purchases worth more than 750,000 to 5% and those over 1m to 6%.

There is less speculation in the press about giveaways and who will benefit from the budget.

The Observer says Gordon Brown will give greater powers to city councils, allowing them to borrow money against property assets, which can then be used to pay for big house building or transport projects.

And one of the most widely tipped tax changes, if it comes to pass, will bring a smile to all family planners.

The chancellor is expected to cut the VAT on condoms and other contraceptives, including the morning after pill.


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