Pipe bands to receive new tax break

George Osborne decided to introduce the tax break after consulations prior to Wednesday's Budget. Picture: Stuart Cobley
George Osborne decided to introduce the tax break after consulations prior to Wednesday's Budget. Picture: Stuart Cobley
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PIPE bands will now enjoy a new tax break introduced for orchestras after claims of “cultural snobbery”.

The definition of an orchestra initially appeared to rule out pipe bands and brass bands – prompting critics to brand the measure a “trumpet tax.”

But Treasury sources last night rejected claims of a climbdown and said Mr Osborne decided to widen the requirements for the relief after listening to concerns raised in the consultation before yesterday’s Budget.

“Following the January consultation, the government decided before the Budget that it would allow large brass bands and many more large musical groups to benefit from the orchestras tax relief,” a Treasury source said.

The Chancellor announced in this week’s Budget that orchestras will get tax relief at a rate of 25 per cent on qualifying expenditure from 1 April 2016.

The policy was first floated in last year’s Autumn Statement, when the Chancellor announced a consultation on possible financial help.

“To qualify, the majority of performances for which relief is being claimed must be played by a musical ensemble consisting of 14 or more performers and must include players drawn from each of the following four sections: string instruments, woodwind instruments, brass instruments and percussion instruments,” the initial consultation said.

The new wording will require performers to “play instruments from one or more of the string, woodwind, brass and percussion sections” rather than all four sections.

Michael Dugher, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, dubbed the policy the “trumpet tax” and said the government had U-turned.

“The concept of fairness cannot be followed by a policy such as orchestra tax relief which is underlined by cultural snobbery,” said the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

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