The government has been accused of using last week's Green Budget to 'clobber business' by 'quietly slipping in proposals' aimed at changing the way stamp duty is levied. Arthur Andersen director of stamp duty Patrick Cannon said that in the pre-Budget report chancellor Gordon Brown slyly signalled his intention of modernising stamp duty from a tax on documents to a tax on transactions. 'The plans were buried deep in the pre-Budget report and contain provisions to change it in a way which will attack stamp-duty devices,' he said. 'At the moment, if a business sells on its goodwill, no tax has to be paid on it because no documentation is drawn up. This looks likely to change.' Experts believe the change to stamp duty could threaten businesses such as US credit card providers which offer low interest rates to UK customers. They will be taxed on debts they currently sell on to investors - a method that allows them to keep rates low. Green Budget analysis, pages 7, 8.
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