Here comes the Budget...

George osborneREUTERS/Stefan WermuthIt’s George Osborne’s fifth budget as Chancellor, and could be his last.

It’s Budget day — like the Oscars of the government finances, with red boxes instead of red carpets, and complicated public debt projections instead of actors.

It’s Chancellor George Osborne’s fifth budget, and with a general election looming in just a few months, it could be his last.

Here’s everything we’re looking out for:

  • Further income tax cuts – the threshold at which people start paying the basic (20%) rate of income tax will be £10,600 for the upcoming financial year. That may rise.
  • Lower taxes on alcohol and higher taxes on cigarettes – Osborne could go for a cut to beer duty, or other taxes on alcohol, but tobacco duty almost always goes up.
  • Changes to debt and deficit projections – currently the Office for Budget Responsibility sees the deficit being cut until there’s a small surplus in the public finances by 2018-19.
  • Tax breaks for North Sea oil and gas – oil and gas have been a good cash cow to tax heavily in previous years, but with plunging prices, the government is likely to be more generous with the sector.
  • Inheritance tax – according to the Guardian, the Treasury is planning to remove people leaving homes worth up to £1 million ($US1.47 million) from paying inheritance tax. The threshold is currently at £325,000.
  • Giveaways – Osborne has promised that there will be no gimmicks or giveaways in today’s budget, but given that the election is now only 50 days away, it may prove too tempting to throw some red meat to potential Conservative voters.

We’ll be watching the budget live and keeping you updated here.

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