Budget 2014: 5 things we don't want from George Osborne's speech


Budget 2013

The economy is looking much more robust than it was this time last year, but that doesn't mean that tomorrow's Budget will not contain any nasty surprises.

Here are five of the potentially unpopular measures it will or could include, whether we want it to or not.

VAT hike for online shoppers
Consumers who buy items such as e-books online should find out tomorrow that they will soon have to pay more value added tax (VAT) on their purchases.

Retailers such as Amazon have previously been allowed to charge the rate of VAT where they are based - in Amazon's case Luxembourg where the VAT rate is just 3%.

But from 1 January 2015, the VAT charged on such purchases will change to the UK rate of 20%, raising some £300m a year for the Treasury. This is an EU-wide change affecting all 28 member countries.

Likelihood: 10/10

Alcohol duty increase

Taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, otherwise known as "sin taxes", are subject to automatic annual increases.

They will therefore rise by at least 2% over inflation, despite a recent Onepoll survey showing that 67% of Brits think alcohol taxes are too high. The price of a bottle of wine will go up by 12p on average as a result.

The good news for beer drinkers, however, is that only wine and spirits are expected to go up in price.

Likelihood: 10/10

Higher cigarette duty

The Chancellor can choose to increase the duty on cigarettes by more than 2% above inflation.

This year, it is widely expected that the cost of a packet of 20 cigarettes will rise by 28p and that 25g of roll-up tobacco will become 26p more expensive.

Likelihood: 10/10

Stamp duty freeze

George Osborne is thought to be considering doubling the stamp duty threshold from £125,000 to £250,000.

Estate agents are also urging the Chancellor to bring in a stamp duty "credits" scheme that would allow movers to deduct the stamp duty paid by the person who buys their current home from the amount they have to pay on their next property.

There are no guarantees that these measures will be introduced, though.

Likelihood: 5/10

CGT changes
The Budget should start a formal consultation on the government's plan to impose capital gains tax (CGT) on non-UK residents who own and sell a home in the UK from April next year.

UK residents looking to sell a main residence they no longer live in without paying CGT are also expected to have the grace period they are allowed after moving out cut from three years to 18 months.

Likelihood: 8/10