• Research Briefing

    The Tobin tax : earlier debates

    The American economist James Tobin first made the suggestion for a tax on currency transactions to dissuade short term currency speculation in the 1970s. Recently the idea of a more general 'Tobin-like' tax on financial transactions has been discussed, in the wake of the global financial crisis, and the desire to recover the considerable costs of public bailouts given to this sector. This note gives some historical background to the issue, while a second note (SN06184) looks at recent developments.

  • Research Briefing

    Hypothecated taxation

    Hypothecation is the term used to describe the process of assigning tax revenues to a specific end, or - in certain cases - ensuring that they are not spent on one particular end. This note looks at the case that has been made for hypothecated taxation, before looking at a number of areas where its potential use has been discussed and the very limited way it has featured to date in the UK tax system.

  • Research Briefing

    VAT on ‘labour-intensive’ services

    All Member States have limited discretion to set VAT rates under EU VAT law. Under a scheme agreed in October 1999, countries may introduce a reduced VAT rate on certain 'labour-intensive' services. Several countries have made use of the scheme, though the UK Government has shown no interest in doing so. This note discusses the development of European VAT law, before looking at this scheme in detail.

  • Research Briefing

    Furnished Holiday Lettings

    Under the Furnished Holiday Letting (FHL) rules, income from furnished holiday accommodation may be treated in the same way as trading income for tax purposes. In 2009 the Labour Government proposed to repeal these rules from 2011, rather than extend their scope to property held across the EU, to ensure compliance with EU law. In the 2011 Budget the Coalition Government confirmed a number of changes to ensure the relief was complaint with EU law while mitigating its cost to the Exchequer.

  • Research Briefing

    Tax relief for private medical insurance

    In 1990 a new tax relief for private medical insurance, paid for those aged 60 and over, was introduced. In 1997 the then Labour Government abolished this relief on the grounds of cost, and the view that it had failed to encourage take-up. This note discusses the short life of this tax relief, and recent debate as to whether it should be reintroduced.

  • Research Briefing

    Scotland Bill [Bill No 115 of 2010-11]

    The Scotland Bill was published on 30 November 2010, and is scheduled for second reading on 27 January 2011. The Bill contains provisions to give the Scottish Parliament greater responsibility for raising its own revenue, in addition the borrowing powers of the Scottish Government are extended. The Bill also changes the boundary of devolved powers by amending some of the reserved matters in the Scotland Act 1998. Some new matters are devolved, some are reserved. The Bill also proposes small changes to provisions concerning the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government.

  • Research Briefing

    National Insurance Contributions Bill: Committee Stage Report

    The National Insurance Contributions Bill increases the rates of National Insurance contributions (NICs) paid by employees, employers and the self-employed from April 2011 – and provides for the regional employer contributions holiday for new businesses. The Bill was published on 14 October and given a second reading in the Commons on 23 November. It was considered in Public Bill Committee in four sittings between 2 and 9 December. It was not amended.

  • Research Briefing

    National Insurance Contributions Bill [Bill 79 of 2010-11]

    In its first Budget on 22 June 2010 the Coalition Government confirmed that the rates of National Insurance contributions (NICs) for employees, employers and the self-employed would rise by 1% from April 2011. The Government also stated that it would legislate to introduce a three-year regional NICs ‘holiday’ for new employers. Under the scheme new businesses may qualify for a deduction of up to £5,000 from the employer NICs that would normally be due, for each of the first ten employees they take on in their first year of business. However, new businesses in Greater London, the South East Region and the Eastern Region are specifically excluded from the scheme. The purpose of this Bill is to implement these two measures.