Before Philip Hammond gave his second Budget statement of the year, many commentators were speculating that he would make changes to tax rates, possibly addressing the dislocation between income tax and capital gains tax rates, and pension rules may be overhauled.
As the Chancellor closed his address, however, there was relief that it was a quiet statement from a private client perspective. Importantly, there were no changes to the headline rates of tax, pension tax relief and the availability of a tax-free lump sum at retirement.
- The income tax personal allowance will increase from £11,500 to £11,850 from 6th April 2018.
- Progress towards achieving a higher rate tax threshold of £50,000, by the end of the Parliament, will continue, with the level of income from which the higher rates of tax will apply increasing to £46,350.
- The dividend allowance will, as previously announced, reduce from £5,000 to £2,000 on 6th April 2018.
Capital gains tax
- The personal capital gains tax annual exemption will increase by £400 to £11,700 for the 2018/19 tax year.
- Trustees will continue to benefit from half of the personal exemption, and as a result their allowance will increase to £5,850.
- The inheritance tax nil-rate band will not increase, and continues to be £325,000 for an individual.
- The residence nil-rate band, an additional tax-free amount available when a main residence is passed down to direct descendants, will increase as planned to £125,000 from 6th April 2018.
Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)
- In previous years the annual ISA contribution allowance has increased in line with inflation for 2018/2019, but this will remain fixed at £20,000, the same level as 2017/18.
- There will be no change to the standard annual allowance which remains at £40,000 for 2018/19, and no amendments have been made to the gradual reduction applied where individuals earn over £150,000 of income.
- The lifetime allowance will increase as planned to £1,030,000.
Much of the immediate post-Budget focus was on the Chancellor’s headline grabbing reduction to stamp duty for first time buyers.
With immediate effect, people buying their first home will pay no stamp duty on purchases up to £300,000. If the property purchase is for more than £500,000, however, there will be no relief and the full rates of stamp duty will be payable.
VCT and EIS
The Venture Capital Trust (VCT) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax reliefs were introduced to encourage investment into early-stage and small fast-growing businesses.
Changes to qualification criteria for companies and funds wishing to secure VCT and EIS reliefs, outlined in the Budget papers, will likely reduce the availability of these investments and ensure that only those with the highest capacity for risk end up taking advantage of the tax breaks.
The 30% income tax relief available when acquiring qualifying shares continues, along with capital gains tax and inheritance tax benefits. The focus of reliefs will be on ‘knowledge intensive’ companies and those where there is a significant risk of loss of capital that is in excess of the tax advantage available. This will help ensure that investors do not confuse these high-risk schemes with being a pension alternative.
Corporate structures have, in recent years, been used by individuals and families to provide control and flexibility over their investments. The removal of indexation relief, which adjusts the base cost of an investment to account for inflation, will increase the amount of tax due when the company comes to sell investments.
This change, combined with the dividend allowance reduction, will increase the impact of double taxation for the ultimate shareholder, and may prompt a review of whether the corporate structure remains the most suitable option going forward.
If you would like to discuss how any of these changes might affect you personally, please contact us.