Budget Update

Here are the highlights from a fairly content free budget. The main budget is moving to the Autumn from this year.

 

TAX FREE DIVIDEND ALLOWANCE TO BE REDUCED TO £2,000
The Chancellor also announced measures to limit the rise in tax-driven incorporation. The £5,000 tax free dividend allowance introduced by George Osborne will be reduced to just £2,000 from 6 April 2018. Mr Hammond claimed that many smaller owner-managed businesses have incorporated as limited companies mainly for tax reasons. Typically the director/shareholders of such businesses have paid themselves in dividends and paid less tax than similar unincorporated businesses.

Currently, once the dividend allowance has been used the remaining dividends are taxed at 7.5%, 32.5% and then 38.1% depending upon whether the dividends fall into the basic rate band, higher rate band or the additional rate. There are rumours that these dividend rates may also be increased in future years.

Although the cut in the tax-free dividend allowance is clearly aimed at owner managed companies, it will also impact on those with substantial share portfolios. Mr Hammond reminded us in his speech that the annual ISA investment limit increases to £20,000 from 6 April 2017 and that dividends on shares held within an ISA continue to be tax free.

START OF DIGITAL REPORTING DELAYED FOR SMALLER BUSINESSES

The Government is committed to the “Making Tax Digital” (MTD) project which is scheduled to start in April 2018 with the first quarterly updates being submitted by the self-employed and property landlords in July 2018.

Many business owners, professional advisors and the Treasury select committee had expressed concerns about the timescale for the introduction of MTD. The Chancellor announced that there will be a one year deferral in the start date to 2019 for self-employed businesses and property landlords with gross income below the VAT registration limit.

CORPORATE TAX MEASURES

The Chancellor announced that the Government is committed to continue to have the lowest corporate tax rate of the G20 major trading nations.  As already announced the corporation tax rate reduces to 19% from1 April 2017 and then to 17% from 1 April 2020.

The corporation tax rate for small and medium sized companies trading in Northern Ireland will be reduced so that such companies can compete with those in the Republic where the rate is 12.5%.

The Government is also keen to continue to encourage investment in research and development (R&D) and the Chancellor announced that the R&D tax credit claim procedure would be simplified.

TAX FREE CHILDCARE SCHEME STARTS 2017

The chancellor also announced that the new tax-free childcare scheme is due to start in 2017.

The scheme will provide up to £2,000 a year in childcare support for each child under 12 where the parents save in a special account. If they save £8,000 the government will top up the account with 20% to a total of £10,000 which can then be used to pay for childcare costs.

VAT Flat Rate Scheme – Limited Cost Traders

As noted before in summary a change to the Flat Rate VAT scheme was announced in the Autumn Statement. This change comes in to effect on the 1st of April 2017.

This change is intended to target businesses on the Flat Rate Scheme who would only be reclaiming a minimal amount of VAT if they were calculating VAT as normal. Thes businesses will be classed as Limited Cost Traders. A new rate of 16.5% for the flat rate scheme will be introduced which potentially means that people will be better reverting to the standard VAT schemes.

HMRC has defined a Limited Cost Trader as:

A limited cost trader will be defined as one whose VAT inclusive expenditure on goods is either:

  • less than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover in a prescribed accounting period
  • greater than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover but less than £1000 per annum if the prescribed accounting period is one year (if it is not one year, the figure is the relevant proportion of £1000)

Goods, for the purposes of this measure, must be used exclusively for the purpose of the business but exclude the following items:

  • capital expenditure
  • food or drink for consumption by the flat rate business or its employees
  • vehicles, vehicle parts and fuel (except where the business is one that carries out transport services – for example a taxi business – and uses its own or a leased vehicle to carry out those services)

These exclusions are part of the test to prevent traders buying either low value everyday items or one off purchases in order to inflate their costs beyond 2%.

So as you can see this is definitely targeted at contractors and the like who are operating through Limited Companies with low costs.

If you are on the Flat Rate Scheme and would like some help transitioning please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be writing to HMRC on behalf of our clients who are affected and helping them transition if they need to.

HMRC reference is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-aggressive-abuse-of-the-vat-flat-rate-scheme-technical-note/tackling-aggressive-abuse-of-the-vat-flat-rate-scheme-technical-note

 

 

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