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Budget 2017 and what it means for you

November 2017


Tags: Macro Economics

Many hoped for sweeping changes in this year’s Budget, whether it was a change to the pension system, a wholesale reform of stamp duty or a generous splash out for struggling families.

What they got, after the headlines of slowing growth and cash for Brexit, was a mixed bag of policies, with nothing on many of the big issues, such as savings and social care.

So, what else was covered? And how much of it has an impact on investors?

 

Your pension

The Chancellor failed to abolish higher rate pension tax relief, as many had expected, meaning that saving into a pension still offers huge tax benefits to higher rate taxpayers who can put £40,000 a year away for retirement and still get tax relief at the higher rate.

“The lack of any mention of pension tax relief is very unusual for Budgets but very welcome. Implementing any change would have been hugely complex and required legislation in a parliament dominated by Brexit,” said Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon.

Meanwhile, the Lifetime Allowance - the total amount you can save into your pension without paying tax - is to rise in line with CPI inflation, and will be £1.03m for the 2018-19 financial year.

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Savings and investments

There's good news for those wanting to sell shares and other assets, with the government uprating the Capital Gains Tax annual exempt allowance in line with CPI inflation. It will rise from £11,300 for individuals to £11,700.

Sean McCann, chartered financial planner at NFU Mutual, said the change was a "welcome boost for investors and second property owners as it will allow them to keep more of their money when they realise their gains. It will be worth a combined £23,400 for married couples and civil partners who have the advantage of being able to transfer assets between each other without triggering a capital gains tax charge. Both spouse’s annual exempt amounts can be used in full and potential tax bills can be cut further if one of the couple pays a lower rate of tax.”  

The ISA allowance, which was increased significantly in 2017/18,  was frozen at £20,000 after the speech. However, the amount you can save into a Junior ISA or Child Trust Fund will increase in line with CPI to £4,260.

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The amount you can put into an Enterprise Investment Scheme – tax-friendly schemes investing in start-up businesses- will be doubled from £1m to £2m. The Chancellor also announced that he would consult on the taxation of trusts to make it “simpler, fairer and more transparent”.

Experts said that the £4,000 a year, which savers can put into a Lifetime ISA and which qualified for a government bonus for a home or for later life, was not high enough, and were disappointed it has not been raised,

“This seems like a missed opportunity and the current annual limit of £4,000 on savings qualifying for the Government’s 25% bonus still appears too low to significantly move the dial,” said Steven Taylor, director at PWC.

 

Income tax

Many taxpayers will end up paying less tax after a rise in the personal allowance to £11,850. The threshold for higher rate tax will rise too, from £45,000 to £46,350. Both of these changes will come into effect in April 2018, and the Chancellor says the average taxpayer will pay at least £1,075 less tax than in 2010-11.

The Chancellor also announced additional cash for HMRC to tackle tax avoidance by the wealthy, and to focus on recovering self-assessment debt more quickly.

 

Travel

Millennials will benefit from cheaper train fares with a new railcard for those aged 26-30 giving a third off rail fares. However, drivers of polluting diesel vehicles will pay a higher band of duty, which will not affect commercial vehicles, only cars. The planned fuel duty rise for April has been cancelled.

For those with electric vehicles who charge them at work, this charging will not count as a benefit in kind for tax purposes, as the Chancellor looks to increase their adoption.

There will be no increase in air passenger duty for economy class air passengers, but rates will increase for premium and first class travellers.

There’s good news for drivers who use the Severn Bridge, with tolls scrapped by the end of next year.

 

Housing

In one of the most headline grabbing announcements of Mr Hammond’s Budget, there was good news for first-time buyers. From today, they won’t have to pay stamp duty on house purchases up to £300,000. Those buying houses up to £500,000 will pay no duty on the first £300,000 of the price. The Chancellor said that 95% of all first-time buyers will benefit, with 80% not paying stamp duty 

Those with second homes who leave them empty may face hefty charges as the government will give local authorities the power to charge a 100% council tax premium on empty properties.

The Chancellor also pledged to build more houses, offering £44 billion of government support for this, as well as looking at planning reform in city centres.

For those who remain in the rental market, the Government said it would work to make tenancies more secure, launching a consultation on barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector.

 

Wages and benefits

The Chancellor announced a £1.5 billion package to address concerns about Universal Credit, with the seven day waiting period being removed and making the advance payment system accessible within five days. 

 

Cigarettes and Alcohol

Tobacco tax will continue to rise at inflation plus 2%. That could see the cost of cigarettes rise by about 6%. However, tax on most forms of alcohol will remain frozen, with the exception being what the Chancellor called “cheap, high strength, low quality products” such as white cider.

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