As you will no doubt be aware the Chancellor delivered his Autumn Statement on 5th
December this year. The following are some of the more pertinent points arising from the Statement:
With effect from 6 April 2015 employers will no longer be required to pay Class 1 employers National Insurance Contributions (NICs) on earnings paid up to the Upper Earnings Limit (UEL) in respect of employees under the age of 21. For example, this should result in savings of £950 on a salary of £15,000 making it more attractive from a tax perspective to engage someone under the age of 21. Lower National Minimum Wage rates
already apply to those aged under 21.
Investment limits have been increased for employee share plans with a view to making employee share ownership more attractive. The Government has also proposed that, from April 2014, disposals of shares that result in a controlling interest in a company being passed to an employee ownership trust will be CGT free – a useful exit strategy perhaps.
The government intend to amend existing corporation tax provisions to ease the rules restricting the availability of relief for corporation tax trading losses when companies change ownership.
As far as business rates are concerned, the government will allow businesses to pay business rates over 12 months rather than 10 months, with effect from 1 April 2014. Also, Business rates discount of up to £1,000 in 2014-15 and 2015-16 will be available for retail properties with a rateable value of up to £50,000, and a 50% discount from business rates will apply for new occupants of retail premises which have been empty for 18 months.
Much focus was placed on anti-avoidance the main measures the Chancellor has proposed are unlikely to affect many small businesses as they apply to companies subject to the Worldwide Debt Cap, Controlled Foreign Companies, partnerships with mixed members, charities used for tax avoidance and avoidance schemes using total return swaps. However, one anti-avoidance measure aimed at preventing individuals minimising employment tax liabilities by using intermediaries has been introduced. With legislation proposed for April 2014, a thorough review of all relationships you have with smaller companies is highly recommended.
A much heralded proposal concerns owners of UK property. Some changes have been made to the Capital Gains Tax regime in the context of residential property, the exemption for the last three years of ownership for an individual’s private residence regardless of whether they live there, has been reduced from 3 years to 18 months. Any non-resident individuals will also find that they now have to pay CGT on UK resident properties.
On the personal tax front, the personal allowance has been increased to £10,000 from April 2014 as expected, but the upper threshold of the basic rate tax band has been reduced meaning that more higher rate tax will be paid. An individual on a salary of £50,000 and no other income will pay £195 less tax in the year ended 5 April 2015 than they will in the current tax year. The gradual loss of the personal allowance for those with incomes over £100,000 remains in place.
Again, there has been much talk over the transfer of personal allowances between spouses and civil partners. This is now confirmed. Basic rate taxpayer will be able to take on £1,000 of their spouses personal allowance if they make an election. Higher rate taxpayer will not be able to enjoy any of the benefit from this measure, which in any event is restricted to £200 per couple per annum. It will only be of practical use where one spouse is earning less than £10,000 and the other less than £41,865.
Care should be taken surrounding these announcements as any changes are not likely to become Law until the 2014 Finance Bill (expected to be published in Spring 2014) receives Royal Assent (probably over the summer of 2014). Any provision may be the subject of changes during this period.