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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.

VAT on eBay & Amazon Fees - all Change for UK Sellers

VAT Clampdown for UK Sales on eBay & Amazon

VAT on eBay & Amazon Fees - all Change for UK Sellers

According to a website1 run by a campaigning group of UK eBay and Amazon business sellers, HMRC and UK traders lost out on £27 billion in sales revenue and taxes from such online marketplaces over the last three years alone. The group has campaigned for some time against over-leniency by HMRC towards overseas traders, particularly from China, who have not been charging VAT on products, despite those products being located (often via UK fulfilment houses) and supplied within the UK. Moreover, the overseas sellers’ volumes are also often well over the threshold for registering for VAT if selling from inside the UK, yet many have continued to flout the law and seem to have been getting away with it for a considerable time. That hurts both HMRC in terms of lost VAT and tax revenue, as well as making it difficult for compliant UK sellers to compete against competitor prices that seem ‘too good to be true’.

“This abuse has grown significantly and now accounts for £1 – 1.5bn of the total VAT gap. These overseas traders are unfairly undercutting all businesses trading in the UK, abusing the trust of UK consumers and depriving the government of significant revenue.”

(Source: David Gauke MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, 16th March 2016).

Levelling the Playing Field

However, following new changes that came into effect on 1st August, that is now starting to change. While it’s not yet a perfect system to fight VAT fraud in online marketplaces and level the playing field for legitimate UK businesses, it is at least a start. Genuine private sellers using the platforms will, though, see a small increase to their costs in the form of VAT now being levied on eBay and Amazon fees, but hopefully it’s a small price to pay to make for a more fair, and legal, system overall.

VAT Changes Starting This Month

As part of the March 2016 Finance Bill delivered by then Chancellor George Osborne, UK individuals selling on eBay will begin paying VAT on eBay charges, starting on the 1st of August (2017). The VAT rate will be the standard 20% rate and will be automatically charged on eBay fees to UK sellers who have not registered as business sellers with the company. It may at first seem odd to target non-businesses, but actually this is a way to force the likes of Amazon and eBay to put pressure on those who have not registered with them as businesses when, in many cases, they should have. Such online marketplaces will also potentially become liable for the outstanding VAT on products actually sold if they do not take measures to counter (or remove) non-compliant overseas sellers.

“HMRC will also be given new powers to make online marketplaces jointly and severally liable for the unpaid VAT of overseas businesses who are non-compliant with UK VAT rules and using their platforms to sell through … These measures will provide HMRC with the tools necessary to tackle the overseas businesses who do not comply with UK VAT rules and help level the playing field for all businesses.”

(Source)

Those businesses operating within the UK will need to properly register as business sellers, in which case they will generally also need to account for VAT as a business if their taxable turnover is above the VAT threshold of £85,000 (or £70,000 if ‘distance selling’ into the UK) over the course of a year.

UK eBay sellers, and overseas sellers supplying/fulfilling orders completely within the UK, will now 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