Budget News

Updated 14 March 2019

Spring statement was light on tax detail, but promised

-Detail on a new allowance for commercial buildings

-Changes to the apprenticeship levy to make the apprenticeship route more accessible to smaller employers

-Confirmation that Making Tax Digital for VAT is going ahead from April 2019

-A promise that income tax returns would not move over to a digital system in 2020

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Updated 29 October 2018

Billed by the Chancellor as a ‘Budget for hardworking families… strivers, grafters and carers’.

Pledges to ‘leave more of people’s hard-earned money in their pockets’ include raising the tax-free personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher-rate (40%) threshold to £50,000 in April 2019, earlier than preannounced.

Sale of home and Capital Gains Tax – From April 2020, the reliefs on sale of a residential property will be restricted in some circumstances. The CGT-free 18 months between moving out and sale will drop to 9 months, and letting relief will apply to fewer taxpayers. Anyone who has owned a property and always lived in it as their home, moving out when they sell it, will remain completely exempt from CGT on sale. The ‘rent a room’ income tax relief for those taking a lodger into their main home remains in place.

VAT registration threshold – this will remain the same for the next two years (£85,000 of income over any 12 months). There was very little mention of Brexit, but the assumption is that UK VAT will continue – and is a significant revenue raiser.

Class 2 NICs – Meanwhile it was confirmed last month that Class 2 NICs for the self employed would not be abolished as planned. When abolition was first proposed, I among many wrote to question whether this was fair on self-employed taxpayers with a low-profit year who currently choose to pay Class 2 voluntarily, keeping up their ‘NIC record’ and protecting entitlement to state benefits. Until a way can be found to offer contributory benefits for those with lower earnings, despite the glitches Class 2 seems to be causing within the Self Assessment system, I am pleased that Class 2 and the option to pay voluntarily at £2.95 per week (rather than Class 3 at £14.65 per week) is staying put. Frustrating that there have been so many changes of mind over NICs by ‘Fiscal Phil’ along the way.

Current and new tax figures once available can be found to the right, by clicking under TAX LINKS on -Allowances and Rates-

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2017 Budgets 

Updated 22 November 2017

The second Budget of 2017. A number of surprises. Many changes are pre announced, but when some of these are then scrapped, and other changes are brought in without warning, this makes the pre announcements less useful.

This was likely to change, but hasn’t:

The Chancellor had spoken recently of a move to lower the VAT registration threshold, currently set at income of £85,000, but this has not gone ahead. This is good news for small businesses trading below the threshold, as VAT registration brings an extra time commitment and usually some extra costs. Voluntary VAT registration is open to those in business with income below the threshold.

This was not supposed to change, but has:

Class 2 NICs – the flat-rate national insurance contributions (currently £148.20 for the year) due from self-employed taxpayers with profits over £6,025 – were due to be abolished from April 2018 (announced back in 2016). This has been delayed a year so Class 2 will remain until April 2019. This is positive for those who choose, in a lower-profit year, to pay Class 2 voluntarily in order to maintain entitlement to state pension and other benefits. I am one of many who raised concerns that once Class 2 disappeared, voluntary contributions would become far more expensive. However the transfer of Class 2 collection over to Self Assessment has not gone smoothly in many cases. And the way taxpayers who do some work in other EU countries are being invoiced separately, and earlier than the usual deadline, for all or part of their contribution, is annoying.

This was going to change, then it wasn’t, now it will:

Class 4 NICs – the Chancellor announced before the March Budget that Class 4, the earnings-related contributions, would be increased. This looked likely to be an unpopular measure. In the March Budget, he made a U-turn on this, saying the rates would not increase. In the autumn Budget he has now announced that they will increase after all. (An ‘O-turn’?) Which looks likely to be just as unpopular.

This had already changed and has stayed the same since then:

Making Tax Digital had been pared down and delayed for some years. The earliest move to a new system was, and still is, rescheduled for April 2019, just for VAT returns for registered businesses.

New tax figures for this year and next can be found to the right, by clicking under TAX LINKS on -Allowances and Rates-

Next year’s single budget should be in autumn. Unless there’s another change to the schedule.

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from 8 March 2017

The first of two budgets this year.

Remember, changes announced in the 2017 Budgets will generally not show in your tax return until we prepare the 2018 return (later where changes have been pre-announced).  Your 2017 return is prepared based on the rates in force for the year to 5 April 2017. For tax allowances and rates, please click on ‘Allowances and rates’ on the right under Tax Links.

  • National insurance rates for the self employed were to be increased – however the Chancellor has changed his mind on this.
  • ISA savings limits are rising again. But taxpayers can earn at least £500 of interest tax free (£1,000 for basic-rate taxpayers). So saving into an ISA will not necessarily be more tax efficient, or earn more interest, than an ordinary deposit account, depending on circumstances.
  • Class 2 for the self-employed will be abolished from 2018. Changes to Class 2 in its final two tax years (it has moved from the NIC office over to Self Assessment) have caused some issues, especially for taxpayers who apply for forms A1 when self employed abroad.

Year-end points

  • All clients paying tax at 40% or more have the opportunity to reduce tax in the current tax year by making certain payments to a pension or to charity by 5 April.
  • All clients who are self employed should think of bringing allowable work-related expenditure forward to happen by the end of their accounting year (most often 31 March or 5 April).
  • Please keep/obtain statements of bank and mortgage interest and all charity payments made under gift aid.
  • I shall be issuing new engagement letters to clients to take us from April 2017 until the tax system moves over to the new digital regime.

Self-employed clients please also check:

  • Whether you are near the VAT threshold of self-employed income of £83,000 (to April 2017), if you are not already registered.  If income (before deducting any expenses) has reached the threshold over any 12-month period, or if this threshold will be breached within a 30-day period at any point, we need to register you for VAT immediately to avoid any penalty.