The Government is considering giving business owners the right to claim the current rate of capital gains tax even if they do not actually sell their firms until January 2009. Daily Telegraph

The option, under 'active consideration' by HM Revenue & Customs officials, would enable Alistair Darling to present his tax raising plans as only hitting future rises in business values.

If the Chancellor were to allow owners to “elect for a deemed sale”, locking in the current 10% rate and, if relevant, inflation protection, he could also look forward to a tax receipts windfall in 2009, when the CGT on the artificial sales would fall due.

Accountants said the Treasury was working on 'half a dozen' different options and it remained unclear which were the favourites.