Widen the tax band and increase tax allowances for the working class to help them cope with the rising cost of living, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants urged Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah as he prepares to deliver his annual budget on February 25. ACCA said the government should also continue introducing one-off measures, such as tax rebates and subsidised household electricity bills, in the face of a greater than expected budget surplus that it predicts will top HK$60 billion for the fiscal year between April 1 last year to March 31. Kenneth Wong, a co-chairman of ACCA’s tax committee, proposes increasing the tax band by HK$10,000 to HK$50,000, which would enable taxpayers to pay less. “The level has not been adjusted in the past six to seven years. Increasing it is to catch up with inflation,” he said. He also suggested raising the personal allowance and allowing those who employ foreign domestic helpers a deduction equal to a month of the minimum wage of the helper when they pay tax. Without referring to Occupy Central protests last year, the association said “political issues” had impacted negatively on both Hong Kong’s prosperity and social environment. But its chairman Fergus Wong said it was not necessary for Tsang to offer financial assistance to companies that may have been affected by the civil disobedience movement. Instead he said the government should introduce cash rebates for high-tech, creative industries and companies doing research and development that in the long run could boost Hong Kong’s competitiveness.