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What would you do if you were Chancellor for a day?

25 January 2021: Have you ever wished you could be Chancellor for a day? Could you sort out the budget deficit in a moment? ICAEW’s Anita Monteith has found the tools online that mean you can give it a go.

Browsing the web on a dreary lockdown Saturday afternoon in January, Anita Monteith, Technical Lead and Senior Policy Advisor in ICAEW’s Tax Faculty, spotted that HMRC has some tools that mean you can try out tax changes and see what the impact would be.

Published under the snappy title, HM Revenue and Customs statistics relating to the direct effects of illustrative tax changes, you can download the tools you need to sort out the economy in text or spreadsheet format depending on your preference.

From adding a penny to the basic rate of income tax and changing national insurance contribution thresholds by £2 a week, to increasing the climate change levy or beer duties by 1% you can see what the financial implications would be.

“As we approach the Budget on 3 March, ICAEW has written to the government suggesting now is not the time for tax change, but this is a really interesting exercise,” says Monteith. “If you have an idle moment to reflect, what would you do?”

“Suppose you wanted to raise say £20bn in a hurry, what would you choose? I started with a penny across the board on income tax for just one year. It raises an easy £5.5bn. It was a bit unimaginative, but then it was Saturday.

"Encouraged by my start I then had a quick whip through some other changes and, over a coffee, managed to rake in £20.5bn. Like coffee, I can see these tools could become rather addictive.”

What would you do? Download the tools and give it a go.