SPRING BUDGET SET FOR 11th MARCH 2020

SPRING BUDGET AND CHANGES FROM APRIL 2020

Sajid Javid has set the date for his first Budget on Wednesday 11th March 2020.  The Budget is the opportunity for the Chancellor to deliver an overview of how the UK economy is doing based on a five-year forecast for the economy and public finances as produced by the Office of Budget Responsibility, an independent body.

This is Sajid’s first Budget and he will be keen to make his mark and set out his personal style for future Budgets to come.  The Conservative party will want to make plans to improve the UK economy, which has been faltering under the Brexit uncertainties.

Of course, we will not know what the full Budget will include but we do have some pointers from the relatively restrained Tory manifesto tax policies.  Against this will be the constraints set by the economy forecast as the Chancellor will need to be seen to be able to “balance the books” between taxes and spending.

Here is a reminder of the Conservative Party’s Manifesto tax policies:

Tax avoidance and evasion

The taxman has been getting tougher on tax avoidance and evasion and the policies are to get even tougher to tackle opportunities for aggressive tax avoidance with a new anti-tax avoidance and evasion law, which will: –

  • Increase the maximum prison term to 14 years for persons convicted of the worst examples of tax fraud.
  • Introduce a single Anti-Tax Evasion task force within HM Revenue & Customs to coordinate their fight across all Duties and Taxes, tackling errors and deliberate non-compliance.
  • Target specific areas of tax evasion such as the construction industry, illicit tobacco sales and multi-national companies whose arrangements avoid paying UK taxes

Business tax proposals

  • Cancel the proposed cuts to corporation tax and maintain the current rate of 19%
  • Review and reform Capital Gains Tax Entrepreneur’s Relief
  • Increase the National Insurance employment allowance for small businesses.
  • No increase to VAT
  • Increase the tax credit rate for Research and Development from 12% to 13%.
  • Implement the digital services tax.
  • Increase the structures and buildings allowance from 2% to 3% and encourage investment in physical building and equipment.
  • Maintain support for creative sector tax reliefs.
  • Abolish VAT on sanitary products (following exit from EU).
  • Reduce NICs for employers that employ ex-service personnel.
  • Conduct a review of the business rates system with the aim of reducing business rates. Cutting business tax rates for small retail businesses and for local music venues, pubs and small cinemas, was specifically highlighted. Extending business rates relief for local and regional newspapers was also noted.
  • Devolve responsibility for corporation tax to Northern Ireland and consider devolving short-haul passenger duty to Northern Ireland.
  • Create up to ten free ports around the UK.
  • Review of the apprenticeship levy.

Individual’s and Taxes: –

  • Guarantee not to increase income tax.
  • Guarantee not to increase National Insurance.
  • To increase the National Insurance threshold to £9,500 in April 2020, with a goal to ultimately increase the threshold to £12,500.
  • Introduce a 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge for non-UK resident purchasers of UK property.
  • Review and reform Capital Gains Tax Entrepreneurs’ Relief.
  • Review the tax anomaly whereby some workers earning between £10,000 and £12,500 on net pay pension schemes miss out on pension benefits.
  • Maintain the State Retirement Pension triple lock.

As always, the devil will be in the Budget detail.  There are however, some significant changes already planned from April 2020: –

IR35 and off-payroll workers in the private sector

IR35 and the related employed vs self-employed rules have been a pain in the tax man’s side since the rules were introduced in April 2000.  At last the tax man has found some leverage since April 2017 when he introduced new rules for off-payroll workers in the public sector.  The changes saw a shift in the responsibility for determining a contractor’s employment status and liability to PAYE tax and national insurance, from the worker, to the engaging public body.  The result is that many more workers engaged through their own personal service companies on public body contracts have now been forced to suffer PAYE tax and national insurance on their income.

The proposals are to introduce the same rules for personal service companies engaged by large and medium sized businesses from April 2020.  Whilst the government have launched a review of the new proposals, the very best outcome that can be expected would be a postponement until April 2021.

Businesses should still be preparing for the changes as if they will still go ahead from April 2020.

Further information can be found here: –

off-payroll workers

HMRC off-payroll workers rules from April 2020

HMRC Factsheet for Contractors

Capital Gains Tax and residential property

There are several important changes proposed from April 2020: –

Accelerated capital gains tax payment and reporting

For disposals of UK residential property that give rise to a taxable gain after April 2020, a return of the gain and payment of tax must be made within 30 days of the completion.

Restriction on Private Residence Relief

Under the current rules, where there is a disposal of a property that has been someone’s private residence, the last eighteen months of ownership qualify for relief regardless of whether someone has ‘resided’ in the property during that time.  From April 2020 this period will be reduced to 9 months and could bring unwelcome tax charges to the unwary, and perhaps the unlucky.

Goodbye lettings relief

Lettings relief applies where a residential property that qualified for private residence relief had also been rented out during the total period of ownership.  The tax charge arising on the rental period of ownership was relieved by up to £40,000 (per owner).  From April 2020 this relief will all but disappear apart from a few exceptional circumstances.

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