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

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

April’s tax reforms

One of the most significant changes in the tax year 08/09 is the adjustment to income tax bands. The 10% band is being scrapped and the 22% band is being replaced by a 20% band. The income above £41,435 is taxed at 40 %.
There will also be changes to the amount of national insurance contributions we pay.
The upper earnings limit, up to which you pay the standard rate of 11%, is being increased from £670 a week to £770 . Any earnings above the limit are then taxed at 1%. This change will affect those with weekly earnings between £670 and £770, that previously used to pay 1% on these earnings and now they have to pay 11 %.

In terms of Capital Gains Tax (CGT), the top rate of 40% is being replaced by a flat rate of 18%. But this good news is balanced by the abolition of two tax reliefs: indexation relief and taper relief which would normally reduce the investor’s gain and so minimize his or her tax.

Changes also affect non-domiciled residents. At the moment, non-UK residents who are working in this country pay tax here on their earnings in this country but not on any of their non-UK income. From today, non-domiciled residents who have lived in the UK for more than seven years will be taxed on their worldwide earnings, rather than just those in this country, or have to pay an annual charge of £30,000.

Ed Green, financial planning manager for Chartwell Private Client, warns: “On the face of it, this looks like good news as the basic rate of income tax is going down. But the reality is that the changes to your pocket will hardly make a difference. However, one area that should be of concern is for people with a personal pension. At present, tax-relief means that, for a basic-rate taxpayer, a contribution of 78p into a pension fund is made up to £1 – this will soon be only 97-and-a-half pence. The changes will also affect higher-rate taxpayers. Now is therefore a good time to put in a lump sum.[…]Another group that will be hit by the income tax changes are those on low incomes, currently paying only 10 per cent on pay above their £5,225 basic allowance. This benefits those on an income of up to £7,455.[…] Pensioners could also be particularly hard hit by the change as they will be forced to pay the higher 20 per cent rate of tax on pension income above the initial tax-free allowance, currently £7,550 for individuals aged 65 to 74 or £7,690 for those aged 75 or more. Previously they paid a tax rate of just 10 per cent for the following £2,230 of income above this allowance, but this will now only apply to savings income.(…) “(The Independent, Saturday, 8 March 2008 )

Tell us at Taxfile in what way you are being affected by these changes and whether it has a positive or a negative impact on you as a the taxpayer.