New years’ resolutions aside, perhaps the first key event in 2017 will be Donald Trump taking office as the 45th President of the United States on Friday, January 20. Whether he will be as billed during the election on taking up office, who knows?
Whilst we might expect a slightly moderated Trump, perhaps we should still expect the unexpected. From a UK perspective, the focus will no doubt be on ensuring our ‘special relationship’ continues, perhaps even blossoms. Those involved in such a task could include a cast of many, including The Queen, Prime Minister and Boris Johnson, even Nigel Farage. Investment, trade and defence along with world politics are bound to be hot agenda topics.
The Chancellor will deliver the last March Budget, but the first of 2017, along with the second Budget of the year in November, with future years seeing a Spring Statement and an Autumn Budget – a seasonal switch.
Perhaps the last March Budget will be light of touch as it will coincide with the proposed timing for the UK government to trigger article 50, our formal notice to leave the EU. In contrast, the November Budget could focus on changes around taxation as we de-couple ourselves from EU tax legislation.
Equally, the Budget may look at the broader financial implications of going it alone, as well as the need to negotiate new trade deals with EU states and also the rest of the world. In any event, our tax professionals expect to have a busy year and years ahead as they get to grips with new tax legislation and its impact on both our private and business clients.
Uncertainty will probably be a much-used word for the year ahead and whilst it is a long-standing entry in the Oxford dictionary it can thank its more recent entry Brexit for its rekindled use.
With anywhere from two to five years and perhaps even longer given to our exiting the EU, businesses can perhaps be forgiven for having concerns about the uncertainty that prevails.
The trick will be for the more successful businesses to rationalise and consider how this uncertainty might manifest itself. For businesses as a whole and not least in Lincolnshire, there is likely to be a need to consider the impact of labour and skills shortages, the need to improve productivity and also to control costs.
Given this background, we expect to see continued interest in and use of digital technology as well as robotics as businesses seek to improve productivity and gain a competitive advantage both for their business offering as well as business processes.
Certainly in our profession, we expect to see an even greater take-up of digital and cloud-based accounting offers driven by the governments move towards Digital Tax Returns.
If you asked an optimist they might predict that next year will be roughly the same as this year but a bit better, and the pessimist the same but a little worse. 2017 is as likely to be as unpredictable as this one in which we saw Leicester City win the Premiership, the vote for Brexit and Trump in the White House.