Business

Budget 2013: What we already know

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In December, we had the mini-Budget - more technically known as the Autumn Statement. Now we have Chancellor George Osborne's main Budget speech on the horizon.

What this double-header means is that many of the changes that are likely to affect our personal finances have been announced already.

So, many of the ways in which our taxes and benefits are calculated will change in April, and individuals will have had time to prepare for it.

Mr Osborne may still make further changes that come into effect immediately after the speech, which usually lasts an hour.

But here is what is known already.

Income tax

In the current tax year, which ends on 5 April, people aged under 65 can earn £8,105 a year before they pay income tax.

Known as the personal allowance, this level will increase to £9,440 for the tax year 2013-14, starting on 6 April.

This level was extended in the Autumn Statement, meaning that more lower-paid workers will not see their income taxed.

The next £32,010 earned will be taxed at 20%, with the 40% tax band starting at £41,451.

Another big change in April is that income of more than £150,000 will face a 45%, rather than 50% tax rate.

Meanwhile, at present, pensioners earning less than about £24,000 a year get a more generous tax-free allowance - £10,500 for 65-74 year olds and £10,660 for those aged 75 and over. That advantage gradually tapers off as income rises to about £29,000.

From April, those allowances for anyone already aged 65 will be frozen, and the extra personal allowance will be scrapped for anyone who turns 65 after 5 April. This controversial move in last year's Budget was dubbed the "granny tax".

Benefits and pensions

The benefits landscape will change significantly as a result of measures already highlighted by the government.

For example, a range of working-age benefits will rise by just 1% in April. That is lower than the rate of inflation and, consequently, a real-terms cut.

This affects benefits such as jobseeker's allowance - which will rise by 71p to £71 a week - employment and support allowance and income support. Maternity, paternity and adoption pay will also rise by 1% in April.

Other benefits, such as carer's allowance and some disability benefits will mirror inflation, with a 2.2% rise.

Meanwhile, a guarantee for the basic state pension means it will rise by 2.5% in April, taking it to £110.15 a week.

New rules, starting in April will affect housing benefit, which is paid to less well-off council and housing association tenants to help with rent. Typically claimants receive between £50 and £100 a week.

Families deemed to have too much living space by their local authorities will receive a reduced payment. Under the government's so-called "size criteria", families will be assessed for the number of bedrooms they actually need. The changes have been criticised as a "bedroom tax".

Changes to child benefit have already taken effect.

From January, families with one parent with a taxable income of more than £50,000 have lost some of the benefit, and it has been withdrawn entirely if one parent earns above £60,000.

Child benefit is paid at the rate of £20.30 a week for the first child, and then £13.40 a week for each child after that. This rate is frozen until April 2014.

Tax credits - including child tax credit and working tax credit - will be uprated by 1% for three years from April 2013, apart from the basic and 30-hour elements where the uprating will not apply until 2014.

Other tax issues

Changes to tax residence rules come into effect in April.

These rules will affect the tax liability of many people who go to work overseas for a time, or those who come to the UK for the first time.

The Annual Residential Property Tax will begin in April. It will be paid by companies that own high value residential properties. For example, an annual tax of £15,000 will be levied on properties valued at between £2m and £5m.

The company car fuel benefit charge threshold is changing slightly.

Savings

Savers have found it tough to get a decent return on their savings, given the economic climate and the situation that banks find themselves in.

From 6 April, the overall annual limit for Individual Savings Accounts (Isas) will rise from the current level of £11,280 to £11,520, a rise of 2.1%.

Half of this can be saved in a cash Isa, with the rest or the total amount able to go into a stocks and shares Isa.

Longer-term changes

The higher rate income tax threshold will increase by 1% a year in 2014-15 and 2015-16. That is below the level of inflation, and is likely to bring another 400,000 taxpayers into the 40% higher rate.

The annual exemption from tax of any capital gains will increase by 1% a year in 2014-15 and 2015-16, to £11,000 from 6 April, 2014 and £11,100 from 6 April, 2015.

Inheritance tax starts to be paid from an inheritance of £325,000 now. This was supposed to rise to £329,000 from April 2015 - the first increase since 2009 - but the chancellor changed his mind. It will now be frozen at its current rate until 2019 at the earliest.

For businesses

A new, optional, cash accounting regime for self-employed individuals and some partnerships with cash receipts of less than £77,000 will be available from 6 April.

This is intended to simplify the tax-reporting regime for small businesses.

Businesses will be restricted in setting certain income tax losses off against general income. From April, this will only be restricted to the greater of £50,000 or 25% of total income.

From April, workers may able be able to trade in some employment rights for shares in a business. These shares will be exempt from capital gains tax.

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