Interesting to meet George Osborne, shadow chancellor, a few weeks ago. (I would have posted this much earlier but have been off games with some rubbish virus.) Now that Darling’s new CGT regime is going ahead (with quite a few successful entrepreneurs selling out just in time), we asked Osborne whether he would reverse the changes. Here are the relevant extracts from Peter Curtis’ excellent summary of the conversation. The full story can be found in the current edition of the CBI magazine Business Voice. "It doesn’t strike me as a good regime and it also strikes me as a very high rate relative to our competitors," he says. But rather than outline any specific pledges, he says that he intends to consult with business before making a decision. "I’d rather do the reverse of what the government did and really engage with the business community, find out what changes to the capital gains tax regime they would like to see, and when the Budget comes look at what can be afforded. "The question is, after a brand new system has come in in April, do businesses want that to be overturned two years later? If they are clear that they want a taper relief system, we’ll look very carefully at reintroducing one."Consultation? Pah. So, maybe, in two or three years’ time, if the Conservatives have a working majority, they will ask whether you would like to pay less CGT on the sale of your company. Then there is the "what can be afforded" get-out clause. I suspect that Osborne, if he ever gets the keys to Number 11, will face so many other issues that this is one that will come well down his list of priorities. The challenge for business lobby groups is to keep the Conservatives honest on this one.
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