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UK budget has perks for elderly, ‘Google tax’

50The British government’s final budget before a May election contains perks for older voters and a “Google tax” on companies that shift profits overseas, according to Sunday newspapers.
Chancellor George Osborne’s budget due to be announced Wednesday will end restrictions on the sale of annuities, allowing pensioners to swap regular retirement incomes for lump sums, the reports said. “The chancellor will set out sweeping reforms to allow five million pensioners to trade in their savings for cash,” the Sunday Telegraph reported.
The Observer said the current tax penalties of up to 70 per cent would be removed, describing it as “a highly populist move designed to woo older voters into the arms of the Tories”.
The move is an extension of reforms due to come into effect next month affecting people yet to retire, now extended to those who have existing annuities.
The Sun reported that the budget would include a 25 per cent “Google tax on firms accused of diverting profits abroad to avoid tax”, a move that follows criticism of the tax arrangements of companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google.
Plans to reform inheritance tax to allow parents to pass their homes on to children tax-free, a move to build 45,000 houses, and small cuts to alcohol tax are also contained in the budget, the newspaper said.
The Sunday Telegraph said the budget also contained “a tax cut for working people on modest incomes” and “measures to speed up house-building”.
The Treasury did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Writing in the Sunday Mirror, shadow chancellor Ed Balls of the opposition Labour party said Osborne’s budget could not make up for “five years of failure and broken promises”.
“No last minute pre-election tax cut can make up for that. As everyone knows, this Tory chancellor gives with one hand but takes away much more with the other hand,” Balls wrote.