The Budget and Finance Bill process

The following Tax practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The Budget and Finance Bill process
  • The Budget timetable
  • The parliamentary stages of a Finance Bill
  • Publication of draft Finance Bill clauses (Legislation day)
  • Budget day
  • Budget Resolutions and the provisional collection of taxes
  • House of Commons—first reading
  • House of Commons—second reading and Committee stage
  • House of Commons—Report stage and third reading
  • House of Lords stages
  • More...

The Budget and Finance Bill process

The Budget is a Parliamentary event at which the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes important announcements relating to the national economy. This includes the government's plans in relation to tax for the following year, and sometimes further ahead. The majority of the measures that will take effect in the following tax year will have been announced and consulted upon in advance. There will also be new announcements on Budget day—some (chiefly anti-avoidance) measures to take effect immediately, and others which will take effect in a future tax year.

The Budget is also the precursor to the introduction of the Finance Bill to Parliament. In most years there is just one Finance Bill, although in some general election years there have been two or even three, as described below.

Income tax and corporation tax are annual taxes, meaning that they can only be charged in a year (a tax year for income tax, or a financial year for corporation tax) for which an Act of Parliament provides that they may be charged. Authorising the government to continue collecting income and corporation tax is arguably the most important function of the Finance Bill, although occupying only a couple of sentences in a Bill that will typically be hundreds of pages long.

VAT and excise duties are permanent taxes, meaning that the government does not

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