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.