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

Tax Credit Cuts Blocked by the House of Lords

House of Lords vs The Chancellor

In an almost unprecedented move, the House of Lords has backed a motion asking the government to revise its proposed tax credit cuts. This is the first time in 100 years that the lords have voted down a financial package and this is an embarrassing blow to George Osborne. The Chancellor has been asked to delay his proposed tax cuts until he comes up with a way of compensating low paid workers over the course of the first three years.

At present 9 in every 10 households receive tax credits but under the Chancellor’s new proposals this would reduce to 5 out of every 10 from April 2016. This means 3 million working families would lose, on average, about £1000 if the proposed changes go through next April.

Working Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit

There are 2 types of credit; Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Under the Chancellor’s new proposals 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
George Osborne

How the Chancellor’s 2014 Autumn Statement affects YOU!

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced his Autumn Statement on Wednesday (3 Dec 2014) in what could be seen as a mini budget. Here we focus on the key announcements, concentrating on those relating purely to taxation, as it is those which affect you, our customers, most directly.

1). First some good news: The UK is seeing the fastest growth out of all the G7 countries, and the number of people employed is at its highest point ever. This is good for all of us because it restores optimism in the UK economy, higher employment speaking for itself.

2). As we announced in a separate blog post, Stamp Duty (Land Tax) has been given a major shake-up and, for anyone buying a house for £935,000 or less, the amount of Stamp Duty which they’ll have to pay will be less, and sometimes very significant. See our separate blog post and infographic for more detail.

3). In the financial year 2015-16, the tax-free personal allowance (which is the amount you can earn before you start to pay any tax) will increase to 10,600 which is an increase of £600. So … more tax-free money in your pocket, which is good.

4). Economy flights will become cheaper for under 12s from 1 May 2015 and under 16s from 1 March 2016, because their tickets will become exempt from tax on those dates. So … a small concession, but another welcome one. Average 4-person families will save £26 for flights within Europe and £142 on flights to the U.S.

5). From 3 December 2014, spouses will be able to inherit their partner’s ISA benefits should their partner pass away. Currently this is not the case and the change will mean that, from 6 April 2015, the surviving spouse or civil partner will be able to Read more

Infographic: Stamp Duty Changes: Good News for Most!

In what, for most of us, is very welcome news, the Chancellor announced a significant tidy-up of Stamp Duty in his Autumn Statement yesterday. The changes will mean that 98% of those who pay Stamp Duty will save money — and potentially a significant amount. We believe that this is a fairer system, with the richest contributing the most and, in effect, counterbalancing the savings which will be made by those buying any property for less than £937,500.

So how will this affect you?

HM Treasury have released a rather useful infographic which, with the aid of examples, gives you a good idea of the savings you will make if the property you are buying costs less than £937,500 … or for richer people the extra you’ll pay if the property price is above that threshold.

Stamp Duty changes and their affects

So how does it work?

In the old Stamp Duty rules you had to pay a single Stamp Duty rate based on the entire value of the property being purchased. This meant sometimes hugely differing amounts of Stamp Duty being levied for sometimes similar property prices (depending on which side of the tax band threshold an individual house price fell). With the new tax bands, however, buyers will pay Stamp Duty at a rates applied to only the part of the property price falling within each tax band, rather like happens with income tax.

Here are the tax bands and the rates which apply:

Stamp Duty tax bands

You can also try the Read more

Record haul by HMRC in tax avoidance crackdown

Record anti-avoidance tax haul by HMRCBack in January we reported that HMRC had raised an extra £20.7 billion in additional revenue for the financial year 2012-13 as a result of it’s drive on tax compliance and a massive crackdown on tax avoidance by organisations and individuals alike. Now we can confirm that the financial year 2013-14 figures are in and HMRC has increased their haul to £23.9 billion in additional tax for the year – an all time record and one which represents 5% of the total tax yield for the year. This is an increase of £3.9 billion on the year before and it’s up a whopping £9 billion compared to 3 years ago. George Osborne will be doubly pleased because this year’s figure also beats the target he set in his Autumn Statement by £1 billion clear.

Of the £23.9 billion raised in these latest figures, £8 billion is derived from large businesses, £1 billion from criminals and a further £2.7 billion is the result of successfully tackling tax avoidance schemes in the courts. That leaves £12.2 billion which we 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