Chancellor Philip Hammond's Autumn Budget Statement, 22 November 2017

The Chancellor’s Autumn Budget 2017

This week, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond delivered his Autumn Budget Statement to the House of Commons. View his full 1 hour speech in the official UK Parliament video below, which also includes a response from Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition:

The biggest news from this budget was the Stamp Duty announcement, wherein first time buyers buying a property up to £300,000 in value will no longer pay Stamp Duty at all (saving £5k), nor pay it on the first £300,000 of homes costing up to £500,000. Money man Martin Lewis gave his take on the proposed Stamp Duty changes and answered frequently asked questions pertaining to exactly what defines a first time buyer in an interview on Good Morning Britain yesterday — here is a 5 minute clip:

Other winners included

  • The Personal Allowance, which is the amount people can earn before they need to start paying income tax, is set to increase by £350 from £11,500 to £11,850 for those earning up to £100k per annum.
  • The National Living Wage (NLW) will increase from £7.50 to £7.83 per hour from April 2018. This will affect UK workers aged over 25.
  • The Chancellor promised investment of £160m in 5G mobile networks …
  • … and a total of £550m for electric cars.
  • He also set aside an additional £1.5 billion in Universal Credit to help those on benefits.
  • £40m was set aside for a teacher training fund for under-performing schools in England.
  • NHS England is to receive £2.8BN in investment (less, though, than the £4BN NHS bosses said is needed).
  • From April 2018, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is set to replace the Retail Price Index (RPI) as the inflation measure through which business rates will be calculated. It is anticipated that this change will save businesses £2.3BN in the first three years of the change.
  • The Chancellor also abolished the very unpopular staircase tax and promised that those affected to date by the staircase tax would see original rates reinstated. Revaluations will take place every three years (previously five) after the next scheduled revaluation in 2022.

Losers included:

  • The Chancellor revised down the growth forecasts for GDP, productivity growth and business investment.
  • £3BN was set aside for helping to combat Brexit challenges.
  • For second property owners, powers have been given to local authorities to charge a 100% council tax premium on empty houses. (See our note about those getting an income from property rental below).

If you have any questions about how the Autumn Budget might affect you, or any queries about any tax or accounting issues and requirements you may have, simply contact Taxfile on 0208 761 8000, send us a message here or book a 20 minute appointment online here and we’ll be happy to help. We also offer specific tax help and accounting for landlords so do get in touch if you would like to make sure you’re claiming no more and no less than you should if you’re getting an income from letting property.

Links to more detailed HMRC information about the Autumn Budget Statement can be read online here.

The Spring Budget, March 2017

Spring Budget 2017: Key Changes Affecting SMEs & the Self-Employed

Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered his Spring Budget to the House of Commons today.

If you missed it, you can watch and listen to the entire speech by clicking the video above. For those without 55 minutes to spare, we spotlight the key changes, particularly in relation to tax, National Insurance, the self-employed and small businesses.

  • For the self-employed, Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) were already set to be abolished from April 2018. Today, to the surprise of many, the Chancellor announced that Class 4 NIC rates will increase from 9% to 10% from April 2018, increasing again to 11% in April 2019. The Chancellor said that this was to more closely align self-employed NI rates with those paid by employees, particularly in view of the new State Pension to which the self-employed will now have access.
  • Tax-free dividends for those working through a limited company will also be reduced from the current £5,000 level to just £2,000 in April 2018. Corporation Tax will then be charged above that threshold. Again, the reason cited was to bring the self-employed more in line with employees in terms of tax paid overall.
  • The National Living Wage, for those over 25, will increase to £7.50 per hour from April.
  • From April this year, the personal allowance (the amount people can earn before paying income tax) will increase to £11,500 and to £12,500 by 2020. The threshold for higher rate tax will also increase from £43,000 to £45,000 this April.
  • Up to £2,000 (tax-free) will be available towards the cost of childcare for children under 12 from April this year. So for every 80 pence you pay in childcare costs up to £10,000 maximum, the government will add a further 20 pence.
  • Those lucky enough to be able to afford it will be able to save up to £20k maximum in their ISAs from this April. There will also be an NS&I bond introduced, which will pay 2.2% interest on a maximum of £3,000 per person.
  • There will be help for businesses following business rate increases, particularly pubs, which will receive a £1,000 discount if their rateable value is less than £100k (apparently that’s 90% of all English pubs). Also businesses coming out of ‘small business rate relief’ will be helped through the transition with a promise of increases no larger than £50 per month from next year.
  • There will also be an expansion of the clampdown on tax avoidance where some businesses were converting capital losses into trading losses.

Other announcements made by the Chancellor Read more

Landlords warned over tax on Income from lettings & property investments

Buy-to-let Changes Are Coming — Landlords Beware

Landlords warned over tax on Income from lettings & property investmentsA warning and reminder to landlords: the Chancellor’s Summer budget back in July will hit buy-to-let investors’ profits once the changes kick in, so now is the time to start planning ahead. Not all landlords will be affected though; if their rental property is mortgage free or if they sell within the next 2 years these changes won’t affect them. However those landlords that are Higher and Additional taxpayers will notice their tax relief reduce by 2020. Also, investors near the tax threshold could find themselves in the next tax bracket, which could have a knock-on effect and increase their tax exposure.

So what are the proposed tax changes?

There are basically two:

  1. Firstly, the amount of tax relief landlords can claim on their mortgage interest will now be capped at basic rate and;
  2. Secondly, landlords will no longer be able to subtract their mortgage interest from their rental income before they calculate their taxable profit.

One in five landlords are expected to have to pay more tax because of these changes, however the new rules will not be phased in until between 2017 and 2021 according to the latest information.

What steps can landlords take?

There are several steps that investors can take to conserve as much profit as possible and to limit the amount of any extra tax payable. For example: Read more

George Osborne

Summer Budget 2015 – Key Tax Takeaways

The Summer Budget was announced last week and in this blog post we’ll take a look at only those changes which will affect ordinary taxpayers and SMEs.

In his opening remarks, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, promised:

A Budget … to keep moving us from a low wage, high tax, high welfare economy; to the higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare country.

So, taking each of those goals in turn …

Higher Minimum Wages

With regard to the higher wages promise, Osborne announced that there would be a new National Living Wage of £7.20 per hour from April 2016 for those aged over 25 and over, rising to more than £9 per hour by the year 2020.

Lower Tax

With regard to the lower tax promise, the Personal Allowance (the amount people can earn before paying any tax) will increase – as anticipated – from £10,600 in the financial year 2015-16 to £11,000 in 2016-17. A longer term plan is to increase this still further to £12,500 by 2020. The ultimate ambition is pass a law to make sure that those working 30 hours a week and earning the National Minimum Wage will pay no tax whatsoever, although clearly this will need further clarification in due course.

Dividend tax will also be reformed. Here the existing dividend tax credit (this reduces tax paid on dividends from shares) will be replaced by a new £5,000 tax-free allowance on income from shares from April 2016 and this will be available to all taxpayers. To offset the cost of this to the Exchequer, those with more significant dividend income will see an increase in the tax rate they pay.

Inheritance tax will also be subject to changes from 2017-18. The idea is to allow individuals to each have a ‘family home allowance’ which they can pass on to their children or grandchildren, tax-free, when they die. This allowance will be added to the existing Inheritance Tax threshold currently set at £325k and will potentially allow property up to the value of £1m to be passed down from 2020-21 (see table below). For those with estates valued over £2m the allowance will be gradually withdrawn.

This is how the effective Inheritance Tax thresholds will look in 2020-21: Read more

George Osborne

Highlights from the Chancellor’s Budget, 18 March 2015

Along with some encouraging news about the UK economy, some interesting new measures were announced in the Chancellor’s Budget yesterday and below we highlight those which we feel will directly impact the majority of UK taxpayers:

  • As widely forecast, the tax-free allowance will increase. The amount people can earn before paying tax will rise to £10,800 from 2016-17 and then to £11,000 from 2017-18. At the same points in time, higher earners will also receive a two stage increase to the threshold at which they start to pay a 40% rate of tax, with the threshold increasing to £43,300 by 2017-18.
  • The Chancellor also announced a brand new Personal Savings Allowance whereby the first £1,000 of interest (£500 for higher rate taxpayers) will be tax tree. This new allowance will kick in from April 2016 and will take 95% of taxpayers out of savings tax completely. (Fact Sheet available here).
  • Another new scheme announced was the introduction of a new ‘Help to Buy ISA’ aimed at prospective first time buyers. This fairly generous scheme means that the Government will chip in up to £50 extra per month (up to a ceiling of £3,000) when an eligible saver saves up to £200 per month towards their first home. (Fact Sheet available here).
  • In another ISA reform, savers will now be able to withdraw money from a new Flexible ISA and deposit it back later in the same financial year without losing any of their usual ISA tax benefits. £15,240 will be able to be put into this re-styled savings vehicle. Read more

HMRC’s ‘Direct Recovery’ of owed tax – straight from your bank account!

Direct Recovery of tax from your bank accountPart of the Chancellor’s recent Budget included plans to recover tax owed to the Treasury direct from the debtor’s bank account — all done directly and without a Court Order being necessary. This has been criticised widely but HMRC says that only 17,000 people in the UK per year would fall into this potential scenario and that it would only occur for those owing more than £1,000 in unpaid tax or tax credits owed. Moreover they say that they would only target long-standing tax debts from those who had received a minimum of 4 payment demands and whose bank and savings accounts combined had a minimum total balance of £5,000 or more remaining after any tax bad been directly seized. Also the debtor involved will have been issued with a final warning period of 14 days, during which the funds concerned would be frozen, before any tax was directly withdrawn.

Meanwhile many, including the Treasury Committee, have raised concerns by stating that it is well-known that HMRC make mistakes including, for example, sometimes asking for the wrong amount of tax from people, issuing incorrect tax cards, or worse. Similar mistakes applied through the new ‘Direct Recovery’ of tax from bank and savings accounts could be seriously detrimental to people and Read more

The Chancellor’s Budget, March 2014

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has now presented his March 2014 Budget to Parliament. There was lots of talk about the economy, growth forecasts, supporting UK businesses and employment – as well as some obvious political spin bearing in mind the European and General Elections are just around the corner – however we thought we’d concentrate on the most important changes, mainly in relation to tax itself as that’s what is going to affect Taxfile customers and readers the most. So here is our snapshot:

For individuals:

  • The threshold before earnings are subject to income tax (the ‘tax-free personal allowance’) is set to rise to £10,500;
  • The higher rate of tax will kick in for earnings above £41,865 from April 2014, rising again to £42,285 in 2015;
  • The first part of the ‘Help to Buy’ equity loan scheme for those aspiring to buy a new home is to be extended until 2020 (previously 2016);
  • The Stamp Duty on homes worth over £500k is to increase to 15% for those which are bought by companies;
  • Inheritance tax will be scrapped for members of the emergency services who “give their lives protecting us”;
  • Cash and Shares ISAs will be merged into a single New ISA (“NISA”). The annual tax-free limit for the NISA will be £15k (£4k for junior equivalent) from 1 July 2014.
  • From April 2015, pensioners will no longer be forced to buy an annuity with their pension fund. They will now be able to cash in as much or as little as they want to from their pension pot.
  • From June 2014, the amount people will be able to invest into Premium Bonds will increase to £40k (from £30k). From 2015 this will rise again to Read more

PBR 2009 and the taxpayer

The 2009 Pre-Budget Report was published on 9 December 2009. The Report covers a lot of issues but we will only focus on the ones affecting self employed individuals.

According to the Pre-Budget Report 2009, the tax rates and thresholds for the year ended on 5th April 2011 will remain the same as the ones for the current tax year. The same principle will apply to National Insurance Contributions rates and thresholds in 2010/2011.

But “for the tax year 2011/12, in addition to the 0.5% increases to rates already announced at PBR 2008, the Chancellor has announced that there will be a further 0.5% increase to those rates, making a 1% increase in total from 6 April 2011. The primary threshold and lower profits limit will be increased by £570 to compensate the lowest earners.”(HM Revenue and Customs).

The Child element when calculating the CTC entitlement will increase from the current £2235 p.a. to £2300 p.a while the disabled elements will increase by 1.5%.

Also, all elements of the WTC (except the childcare element) will increase by 1.5% in 2010/2011.

The income threshold for those claiming CTC rises from 2010/2011 to £16,190.

The inheritance tax threshold will be frozen at the current level of £325,000 from the tax year 2010/2011.

For any other details to do with the Pre-Budget Report 2009 please visit HMRC.

Darling’s 2009 Budget

On Wednesday of this week Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling gave the Budget.
We would like to present you some of the main points of the Budget:
• VAT: the VAT rate, now 15%, will return back to the standard rate of 17.5% from 1st January 2010.
• Companies’ loss carry back for business: this will affect all companies making losses from carrying on trades, professions or vocations this is normally referred to as trading losses. This legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2009 to extend the ability of businesses to carry trading losses back against profits of earlier years to get a repayment of tax, due to the current turbulence of the financial markets.
• Capital Allowances (Plant and Machinery: Temporary first year allowances): This will most likely affect businesses investing in plant and machinery between April 2009 – April 2010. This legislation also in the Finance Bill 2009 will introduce a new temporary 40% first year allowance (FYA) for the expenditure on plant and machinery that would normally be allocated to the main capital allowance pool.
•Income tax: You will now be taxed a shocking 50% if you earn over £150,000
•Child Benefits: Child Benefits will be increased by £20 by 2010.
So from 2010 your eldest child would get £40.00 and any child after that would get £33.20, and guardians allowance would be £34.10.
• Child trust funds: Trust funds for disabled children would increase by £100 and by £200 for those severely disabled.
•ISA’s: This will affect the savers, as Alistair Darling made the decision to raise the tax-free ISA limit to £10,200, although those over 50 years-old will benefit this tax year. The rest of us will get this benefit the following one.
If you would like to know more about Alistair Darling’s Budget, Taxfile recommends you following this link.