What has the Luncheon Voucher ever done to you, Mr Osborne?

23 March 2011

George Osborne is obviously in the mood for giving his cupboards a right good spring clean but among the rubbish he has cleared out, he could be in danger of bringing to an end an historic institution of British as spam.

For, among the 40 tax reliefs he has selected to abolish in the next two years is the good old-fashioned Luncheon Voucher.

In his frenzied war on clutter in the tax system the chancellor has abolished the outmoded, obsolete and downright ridiculous.

But the poor old Luncheon Voucher looks to have lost the special tax and national insurance exemption of up to £36 a year - which has made them a favourite perk of employees for generations.

Among the absurd reliefs are Millennium Gift Aid, which the chancellor rightly pointed out we will not need again for 989 years and relief on a closed National Savings ordinary account.

A rather more esoteric collection, such as "transfers in relation to ships and vessels" and "exemption for certain assignments by seamen", is swept away along with "late night taxis" and provision of meals on cycle to work days.

Also tackled by the brutal broom of the man in number 11 is "Instruments relating to National Savings". Nope. Me neither.

This, says NS&I, "provides that instruments made or executed for the purpose of any savings committee, savings group or other body affiliated to the National Savings Committee, or the Scottish Savings Committee" are exempt from stamp duty. Well, not any more it seems.

Not to worry though, says NS&I spokesperson Gill Stephens because the products themselves have been dormant for many years: "It's just tidying up, there will not be any customer impact. Phew.

And while we are on the subject of the strange an austere, Mr Osborne has also made some changes to the Outer Space Act to boost space tourism and satellite manufacturing.

"I didn't even know there was such a thing," chuckles Mark Longley, partner of Clayton Longley accountants, "But in what is a great Budget for business this is not as silly as it sounds. Satellite manufacturing in the UK is very strong and the UK space sector is growing by 10% year."

The following reliefs will be abolished in Finance Bill 2011:

· charities – transitional relief on distributions;
· Millennium Gift Aid;
· National Savings Bank ordinary account interest;
· payroll giving 10 per cent supplement;
· exemption for certain assignments by seamen;
· instruments relating to National Savings; and
· transfers in relation to ships and vessels.

The Government intends to abolish the following reliefs in Finance Bill 2012 after a period of consultation:
· payments to mariners to be disregarded;
· grants for giving up agricultural land;
· pool betting duty payments related to safety improvement at football grounds or for

The arts;

· mineral royalties
· payments for the benefit of family members
· cycle to work days – provision of meals
· late night taxis
· luncheon vouchers
· Pools payment for football ground improvements
· Pools payment for support for games
· disregard for certain apprentices and students coming to the UK
· assistance in identifying lost or stolen credit cards
· nationalisation schemes
·  tax reserve certificates issued by HM Treasury.

And after 2012 the remainder will get the chop:
· Class 1A NICs – Exemption for prescribed general earnings;
· Class 4 NICs – Allows deduction in next tax year of losses incurred in 1989-90 or previous tax year where losses from income other than trade or profession or vocation;
· deeply discounted securities – incidental expenses;life assurance premium relief
· life assurance premiums paid by employers under employer-financed retirement benefit schemes;
· capital allowances – flat conversion allowances
· capital allowances – safety at sports grounds
· certain leases granted by registered social landlords
· disadvantaged area relief (Stamp Duty)