Autumn Statement – what you need to know about upcoming changes.

You could be forgiven for thinking Budget statements are a bit like buses lately – we don’t have one for ages, and then three come along almost at once. While the latest financial proclamation from the Government is known as the Autumn Statement, it is a Budget just the same, and there are some changes you need to be aware of that will be implemented in the coming tax year, which begins on April 6, 2023.

 

Not only has the highest income tax bracket of 45% remained in place, but the point at which you start paying the 45% tax will be lowered from £150,000 to £125,140 from next April, bringing thousands more people into this highest tax bracket. Estimates suggest it could be as many as 250,000 more hitting the 45% level for the first time. The Chancellor also announced that he is freezing all income tax thresholds until 2027/28 which means more people will be pulled into the higher tax bands and will end up paying more tax. This is known as ‘fiscal drag’ and is a way for the Government to increase its tax take without increasing the rates of income tax.

 

What about the help with energy bills?

Help with energy bills remains in place, but the Chancellor changed his approach by extending the term of the support to March 2024. But this additional support is less generous and is capped at £3,000 which means many people will pay more than the £2,500 which is in place until April 2023.

 

Those on means-tested benefits will receive an additional £900 to help pay their energy bills, while pensioners will receive £300 as a one-off payment, and those on some means-tested disability benefits will receive £150.

 

What else will change?

There were numerous other changes to tax allowances announced, as the Chancellor looks to increase the Government’s tax take to plug a £55 billion spending black hole. For example, the Capital Gains Tax allowance which currently stands at £12,300 will fall to £6,000 next year and then £3,000 in 2024. This will affect anyone crystallising portfolio gains outside of an Individual Savings Account (ISA) and landlords who are selling buy-to-let properties.

 

The dividend allowance, that will also reduce from the current £2,000 to £1,000 in 2023 and then £500 in 2024, means anyone being paid dividends either through their own business or as part of an investment portfolio, will see those using the full allowance £590 worse off in 2024.

 

Inheritance tax band frozen

The inheritance tax nil-rate band has also been frozen at £325,000 for the next five years until at least April 2028. HMRC received £4.1 billion in IHT receipts between April and October this year, £500m more than the same period the previous year, and we are likely to see even more money heading to the Treasury coffers via this route in the coming years.

 

There are many ways to mitigate IHT, so if you are likely to be affected by this tax – and remember, it is no longer just a tax for the rich given the price of the average UK house is now £292,598, according to the data from Halifax – then please get in touch and we can advise you on how to legally reduce this bill.

 

Some good news for pensioners

However, there was some good news for pensioners as the Chancellor confirmed that the Government would continue to maintain its manifesto pledge to keep the ‘triple lock’ on the State Pension. This means that the State Pension will rise each year in line with September’s inflation figure – which this September was 10.1%, earnings or 2.5% – whichever is highest.

 

So, pensioners will see their State Pension rise by 10.1% from April, which should take it to £203.85 per week from the current level of £185.15.

 

Contact us

There are many announcements each time there is an Autumn Statement or Budget and it can be difficult to know what the changes are, and how they affect you or your business. So, if you want any assistance to keep up with what is going on and how to protect your own or your business’s finances, please contact us and we will give you all the help, support, and information you need.

Landlords, what should you be doing now?

Changes to the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowances announced in the Autumn Statement mean that from next April, the current £12,300 allowance will fall to £6,000 and then to £3,000 in 2024. This is a major concern for landlords with rental property, as this will make a significant dent in the gains they can make on property before they pay tax.

 

It could mean that any landlord currently holding a considerable gain on a property may want to think about whether now is a good time for them to sell, especially as property values are expected to stagnate or fall, in the coming months.

 

Private residence relief

However, there are some ways you can reduce your CGT bill. If you have lived in the property at any point, you can get some relief from CGT under the ‘private residence relief’ rules. You can get relief for the number of years you have lived in the property, plus nine months at the end of the ownership whether you lived in the property then or not.

 

The example on the Gov.uk website highlights a property with a gain of £120,000 when you sell, which you have owned for 15 years. But for 7.5 years you lived in the whole property, and then rented out your property for the remaining 7.5 years. The Private Residence Relief applies for the 7.5 years you lived there plus the last nine months you owned the property.

 

This means you get a total of 8.25 years of Private Residence Relief, which amounts to 55% of the time you have owned it. So, you will not pay tax on 55% of the £120,000 gain, but you will on the remaining 45% – which means you will pay CGT on £54,000.

 

The reduction in CGT allowances could prompt landlords to sell

The more than halving of the CGT allowance from April next year means some landlords may attempt to sell some of their properties before the CGT allowance reduces. It will not be the right decision for everyone, but if a landlord is already considering this, now might be a good time to press the button.

 

Zaid Patel, director of London-based estate and lettings agents, Highcastle Estates: “With the CGT tax allowance to be halved to £6,000 from April 2023, we may see an increase in landlords selling up and second homeowners listing their properties with the hope of completing before April. Landlords, who own property as part of a limited company, will be further penalised as they’ll pay more tax on dividends.

 

“This, coupled with the rise in corporation tax, will likely lead to more landlords trying to sell their properties. However, with the rising cost of living, first-time buyers will continue to find it challenging to save for a house, which may mean demand will stifle.

 

“I expect house prices to drop slightly until late 2024, when there will be a rush of buyers hoping to complete before the stamp duty cuts end. It means estate agents will struggle over the next two years and cutting the dividend tax relief while increasing corporation tax could mean estate agents may start selling their businesses or winding up during this recession.”

 

Landlords have been hit hard

Landlords have been hit hard by various changes to what they can claim and the way in which they are taxed in recent years, especially if they do not hold the properties within a limited company. For example, if someone is getting rental income of £15,000 a year but having to pay mortgage interest amounting to, say, £8,000 a year, then previously they would be able to offset the entire interest against their rental income before tax. This would mean paying tax on just £7,000 of income.

 

Now, unless they own their properties within a limited company, they are not able to offset the mortgage interest against their income before tax. So, they would pay tax on the full £15,000 of income. If they were 40% taxpayers and all their allowances had already been used, this would give a tax bill of £6,000 when they are also paying £8,000 in mortgage interest. This would leave just £1,000 for the landlord. Paying 40% on the same basis on the £7,000 of income after accounting for the mortgage interest would give a bill of £2,800 – leaving £4,200 for the landlord.

 

This is one reason that the number of buy-to-let properties being held within a limited company has reached a record level of 300,000 according to estate agent Hamptons.

 

We can help you

If you have concerns about your buy-to-let property or you want to find out if you would be better off using a limited company structure, then contact us and we will work with you to help you make any necessary changes.

 

 

Additional tax rate threshold to be lowered – take advantage with your pension contributions

The 45% additional tax rate was briefly removed by Kwasi Kwarteng, then reinstated by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, and in the latest twist, Mr Hunt announced that the point at which people would start paying this highest rate of tax would fall from £150,000 to £125,140 from April 2023.

 

This may seem a strange figure to move the threshold to, but it relates to the point at which the entire personal allowance for higher-rate taxpayers is removed once they hit the £100,000 income level. The personal allowance of £12,570 is reduced at a rate of £1 for every £2 you earn above £100,000. So, the entire allowance has been removed at £125,140. At present, you are taxed at 40% on this amount and above until you reach £150,000 when the rate rises to 45%. But from April, you will pay 45% from £125,140 onwards.

 

The unofficial 60% income tax rate

The way that the personal allowance is chipped away once you reach the £100,000 threshold means that for the money you are taxed on between this level and the £125,140, you are actually paying 60% in tax. This is not easy to follow, but it works like this:

 

You earn £101,000 this tax year. This means that you pay tax at 40% on this income. But because you lose the personal allowance at a rate of £1 for every £2 you earn over this figure you will lose £500 of your personal allowance on the £1,000 above the £100,000 threshold. So, you will also pay 40% tax on this additional £500, which gives a bill of £200. Since you are also taxed at 40% on that £101,000, the £1,000 over the £100,000 will give the taxman £400. Add that to the £200 you are paying on the relative loss of the personal allowance, and you have paid £600 in tax on that £1,000, which means you have paid 60% in tax.

 

Maximise the benefit of the tax change when it happens

While losing money in income tax because of the threshold moving to the lower level of £125,140 from April, it does mean you can benefit from higher tax relief on your pension contributions if you are pulled into the 45% tax bracket.

This is because no matter how much you pay into your pension pot, you get tax relief at your highest marginal rate. For those on the highest rate of tax, this is 45%. So, adding £100 to your pension pot will cost you £55 as the tax relief will provide the remaining £45.

 

Let us help you

If you think you will be negatively affected by this change or any of the frozen tax thresholds, or you want to take advantage of putting money into your pension and getting the benefit of the additional tax relief no matter which tax band you fall into, then please get in touch with us and we can go through the various options you have.

 

Tax year end – get your accounts ready before the rush

It’s that time of year again – the shops are playing Christmas music, there are Christmas films starting to appear on the TV, and for many of us, there is a tax deadline looming, whether that is personal or for our business.

 

This is the busiest time of year for accountants as so many people will leave their corporate or personal tax returns until the very last minute. So, if you know your business is coming up to its accounts filing date, or you have a self-assessment tax return that needs completing and filing before January 31, you need to start thinking about it sooner rather than later.

 

Do what you can to help

If you are coming up to your filing deadline, then you can really help us by sending the relevant information as soon as you can. That way, if we have any queries or you find there is something you have forgotten to send, there is plenty of time to deal with any issues.

 

Only pay the tax you owe

The best way your accountant can help you is by ensuring you only pay the tax you owe, no more and no less. We will help you maximise any tax breaks available and help to make sure you are claiming everything you can.

 

We can help you meet your obligations

Speak to your accountant and ask him or her to help you get the right information together so your accounts can be prepared in good time.