The Chancellor George Osborne today gave his Autumn Statement to Parliament. It was a ‘steady as she goes’ statement to support the recovery from what the Chancellor in his speech finally described as “the great recession”, acknowledging that GDP (gross domestic product) declined by 7.2% from the 2008/09 level.
State pension age will be subject to periodic increases in order to keep pace with increasing life expectancy, anticipated to be 68 in the mid 2030s and 69 in the late 2040s. The rate of basic state pension receivable is set to rise again by £2.95 from next April.
Transferable personal allowance
From April 2015, spouses and civil partners can transfer up to £1,000 of their income tax personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner provided neither partner is a higher or additional rate taxpayer. Measures will be put in place to increase the transferable amount in line with future increases in the personal allowance.
Capital gains tax
UK capital gains tax will be introduced on the disposal of UK residential property held by non UK resident individuals. This will be effective from April 2015.
The current capital gains tax main residence exemption provides for the final 36 months of ownership of a qualifying property to be exempted from tax, even when it is empty or a replacement main residence is owned. From April 2014 this will be restricted to 18 months.
The limits for ISA subscriptions are to be increased. From April 6, 2014, the individual limit will be £11,880, half of which can be saved in a cash ISA. From the same date, junior ISA and Child Trust Fund limits will both increase to £3,840.
Vehicle Excise Duty
The tax disc to evidence payment of VED was introduced in 1921, but with the DVLA and police now relying on an electronic register, it is no longer needed. At present, motorists are able to choose whether they pay VED for a twelve or six month period. There will now be an option to pay the charge by direct debit, annually, bi-annually or monthly, the latter two methods attracting a 5% premium. The changes come into effect from October 1, 2014.
The proposed fuel duty rise to take place from September 2014 has been cancelled.
Effective from April 2015, employer’s National Insurance contributions are to be scrapped for employees aged under 21.
The chancellor will cap business rate increases in England and Wales at 2% for one year from April 2014, in order to boost businesses and the High Street. Business rate relief for the smallest businesses will be extended until April 2015. From April 1, 2014, business rates will be payable over 12 months as opposed to the current 10 months.
A discount of £1,000 on business rates is to be given for retail and food and drink premises, with a rateable value below £50,000 for the two years between April 1, 2014, and March 31, 2016. During the same two years, there will also be a 50% discount offered on business rates for a period of 18 months where businesses move into retail premises that have been empty for a year or more.
Tax avoidance and evasion
The attack on tax avoidance continues. Amongst the latest targets are employees masquerading as self-employed together with other methods of disguising employment, the treatment of corporate partners and the abuse of charitable status.
Careful tax planning is always recommended for businesses to ensure they do not fall foul of the small print of the changes in legislation.