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Osborne: I'll target tax dodgers
George Osborne has vowed to clamp down on wealthy property tax dodgers and seek a Sunday shopping windfall in what he said would be a Budget focused on helping those on low and middle incomes.
The Chancellor tried to play down disputes within the coalition over tax priorities, claiming the main elements of Wednesday's package were signed off by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as early as Monday.
In a television interview just days before he presents his detailed plans to MPs, he refused to be drawn on key elements such as the future of the top 50p rate of income tax which he is tipped to axe or reduce.
But he said it will be a "Budget for working people" that would command broad public support and meet his mantra that rich and poor were "in it together" when it came to shouldering the burden of austerity.
Labour said cutting the tax paid on £150,000-plus salaries showed the Government was "completely out of touch" with the reality of ordinary families and was ignoring the need to kickstart the economy. And there were signs of continued Lib Dem concern over whether Mr Clegg had secured enough for the lowest-paid people to make up for dropping the party's opposition to changing the top rate.
Moves towards exempting the first £10,000 of earnings from tax altogether are expected to be combined with a clampdown on tax evasion but there is little sign of support for his idea of a so-called tycoon tax.
"The bulk of the measures in the Budget are going to be targeted at working people on low and middle incomes. That is our priority," the Chancellor told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show. "We want to be in the front rank of economic powers and we are prepared to confront our problems to create jobs, growth and prosperity and a brighter future for the next generation."
Of measures he did confirm, one was an effort to "come down like a tonne of bricks" on wealthy people who sell properties through offshore companies to avoid paying stamp duty.
He also defended plans to introduce emergency legislation allowing shops across England and Wales to open all hours on Sundays for the duration of the Olympics and Paralympics in London, a total of eight weekends.
"It would be a great shame, particularly when some of the big Olympic events are on a Sunday, if the country had a closed for business sign on it," he said, denying it was a first step to a permanent change.