Chancellor Gordon Brown yesterday named December 6 as the date for what will almost certainly be his last pre-Budget report.
It came amid speculation that he will make it an occasion to stamp a new "green" bias on the British tax system and preparing the way for his coming review of public spending as well as re-visiting the forecasts he made in March.
Paul Davies, Ernst & Young’s UK head of tax, urged Mr Brown to set out a long term vision for the UK to attract and retain business and to leave the country in the state that any new Chancellor would wish to find it.
"This means providing a coherent strategy across all taxes and a culture in which businesses can thrive," he said.
Mr Davies' colleague Chris Sanger, head of tax policy at Ernst & Young, warned that this pre-Budget "comes at a time when more companies are considering whether the UK remains a competitive location".
He went on: "With tax being an important consideration, the Chancellor's statement could help to provide long-term stability and a clear sense of direction."
Simon Littlejohns, tax partner at accountants PKF in Birmingham, noted areas where Mr Brown is likely to set out proposals to preserve his legacy and demonstrate his crusading credentials against global warming.
"Though Gordon Brown has stated that he would like to bring down the basic rate of income tax, perhaps even reducing it from 22 to 20 per cent over the next couple of years, this can only be afforded if what is lost can be made up by new taxes, the most politically acceptable being green ones," he said.
"According to the Environment Secretary, David Miliband 'the Chancellor will set out the options' for green taxes in the Pre-Budget Report and we expect those options to include the VAT fuel scale charge paid by companies in respect of fuel provided for private mileage of employees to be linked to the CO2 emissions of each car from May, 2007.
Formal proposals and rates are likely to be announced following recent consultations.
"Increasing the vehicle excise duty in future years for the most polluting cars – probably linked to the CO2 emissions of each vehicle – is likely to be suggested as part of a wider consultation on green taxes on travel.
"Widely criticised for the very cautious increases announced in the Budget, the Chancellor may seek to catch up with the public appetite to tax 4x4s and suggest some quite radical increases.
"Proposed increases in air passenger duty are likely to be included in the same consultation.
"On the positive side, we would also expect to see some discussion of ways to boost the distribution of bio-fuels and other less polluting fuels – perhaps a special capital allowance for forecourt conversions."
On business taxes Mr Littlejohns expects yet more consultation.
"Although many companies are voting with their feet and either moving out of the UK, or not setting up in business here in the first place because of the comparatively punitive corporate tax regime compared with many other EU states, it is unlikely that the Chancellor will cut tax rates," he said.
"More likely is yet another consultation on corporation tax reform as simplification of tax rules is a low cost way to compete with other jurisdictions.
Another possibility is the much derided land tax.
"We may well hear further proposals and the launch of another consultation on how this new tax, the planning gain supplement, is to be implemented," Mr Littlejohns suggested.