Monday, April 02, 2012

BLOG 126


Is George Osborne very embarrassed about his budget and the resultant Finance Bill?

I ask because we were told that it would be published last Thursday. Indeed I read in the press that it was indeed published last Thursday.

But what does “publish” mean? My dictionary says, “Make generally known”. Surely “generally” means to the world at large? What does George Osborne think it means?

I buy the Finance Bill every year. I am getting old and think that in my sixties I am entitled to try to miss the rush hour, so I aim to get to my office at around 10.00.

That is what I did last Thursday. When I got in I powered up my computer and rushed to the Stationery Office website. I keyed in Finance (No 4) Bill (yes that is what it is called, don’t ask me to explain why) and when I got through to order the Finance Bill, it flashed up “Out of Stock”.

I assumed that meant that it had not yet been published. However from press articles I have read that was clearly a wrong assumption. It had indeed been published. I can only assume that Mr Osborne must have said to the Stationery Office, “Only print a very tiny number so that we can say that it has been published, but try hard to keep most tax specialists away from knowing what I really propose”. What other explanation can there be for any publication being out of stock by 10.15am on the day of publication?

I refuse to believe that Mr and Mrs Average Taxpayer were so impressed with the budget that they got up early on Thursday to be sure of getting a copy of the Finance Bill before tax experts logged on so it was unexpectedly quickly sold out.

Curiously, when I logged on to the Stationery Office website later on Thursday, they still told me that the Bill was out of stock but told me I could buy the Explanatory Notes, so ordered them. I have just received these. I left them to be sent by Royal Mail. When I ordered the Bill itself I paid an extra £10 for it to be sent urgently as soon as it was available.

I have just received the Explanatory Notes. I have yet to receive the Bill itself. I look forward to doing so. I am suspicious, as it is fairly obvious to me that George Osborne must have told the Stationery Office to keep from taxpayers the reality of what he is proposing and fob them off with HMRC’s interpretation in the hope that will dull their expectations.

Sorry George, it won’t dull mine; it will make me more suspicious.



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