No surprises from an income tax perspective.
The £10,000 personal allowance comes in as expected and there were no changes to the main income tax rates. The 10% savings rate for lower incomes was reduced to 0%.
The Universal Credits scheme continues to be introduced as planned and will have a significant impact on some existing tax credits claimants.
The childcare tax allowance scheme announced last year to be introduced in 2015 has been extended so that all children under 12 of families where both parents work and earn less than £150,000 can qualify for up to £2,000 towards childcare costs (representing a 20% contribution on costs of up to £10,000 per annum per child). The current childcare voucher schemes will be phased out.
The main corporation tax rate reduces from 23% to 21% on 1 April this year and then 20% on 1 April 2015 as previously announced. At that point the distinction between the small company and main rates will disappear altogether and the current planning around associated companies will no longer be relevant.
The capital allowances annual investment allowance which was due to reduce from £250,000 to £25,000 on 31 December this year received a welcome boost when it was increased to £500,000 with effect from 1 April this year through to the end of 2015.
The changes to the capital allowances rules when businesses buy a building which take effect on 1 April should not be overlooked. These have been in the making for some time but take effect next month such that obtaining tax relief for eligible fixtures within a building will only be possible if the capital allowances position is addressed and documented as part of the purchase process. This is a significant change and could catch many businesses out, meaning they lose the opportunity to claim a valuable tax relief.
Loss making business carrying out R&D activity will be able to receive more cash back from HMRC by surrendering their R&D tax credits for 14.5% repayment, instead of the current 11%.
The £2,000 employment allowance will be available from April this year – representing a deduction from employers’ NIC contributions. Employers need to make sure they claim this when making their RTI submissions as it is not automatic.
Employment intermediaries – agencies providing self employed workers to industries such as construction, hospitality, driving and security will now have to treat all workers as employees and account for PAYE unless they can prove the individuals are genuinely self employed. Whilst welcome from an employment rights perspective for the workers concerned, this will undoubtedly add costs to the end user businesses.
Partnerships with corporate members are now governed by the Mixed Partnership rules which mean that corporate profits shares will almost always be taxed on the individual members.
The Salaried LLP member rules also come into effect, meaning that some LLP members with self employed status may become treated as employees unless certain tests can be satisfied.
Pensions and investments
A fundamental change in the treatment of defined contribution pensions has been announced. The wide ranging changes will give freedom of choice to pensioners to decide how much to take out of their pension and over what period, with no requirement to buy an annuity. Good advice is likely to be critical to ensure that the best decisions are made.
The annual contribution limit reduces from £50,000 to £40,000 on 6 April.
The lifetime limit reduces from £1.5m to £1.25m on 6 April. People with substantial pension pots should be taking advice on their options as soon as possible.
New more flexible ISA’s (NISA’s) were launched – with an annual limit of £15,000 per annum, the current distinction between cash and stocks and shares will disappear.
The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) which offers 50% income tax relief plus capital gains exemption on qualifying investments is now made permanent after its initial introduction on a temporary basis.
The above is a snapshot of measures announced today and previously announced. It is intended for general information only and no liability is accepted for any action taken or refrained from as a result of this publication. Further advice on the impact of the above can be obtained from your usual PM+M contact or from firstname.lastname@example.org