Budget 2011: Your questions answered

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Image caption The Budget contained a series of measures that will affect people's finances

Chancellor George Osborne has delivered his Budget speech and now people are working out how his plans will affect them.

His announcements will lead to significant changes in how tax is levied, for the property market and for people on benefits.

These come in addition to the changes which come into force in April that he had already outlined.

We invited readers to ask questions about the Budget and here a group of experts answer your queries.

Q: I am delighted to hear that the Small Business Rate relief has been extended for another year. We only discovered we were entitled to it when we moved to Dorset from Maidenhead, Berkshire last year. Is it possible to claim backdated relief on the rates paid on our previous premises? Tricia Quick, Ferndown, Dorset

David Bywater, head of middle market tax at KPMG, writes: Broadly it is indeed possible to claim the Small Business Rates relief after the event, which would in effect deliver a part refund of the rates actually paid. Each local authority has its own claim form, which is relatively straightforward to complete and submit.

Q: What is the property value threshold before the new proposed stamp duty is applied, and how much is it likely to be for the more expensive properties? I am not in the 50% tax salary banding. Nicholas Burnett-Jones, Newport, South Wales

David Kilshaw, chair of private client advisory at KPMG, writes: There is a new 5% stamp duty land tax threshold applied to residential property land transactions over £1m from 6 April 2011 irrespective of your income tax band.

Q: I see that in April 2012 the amount we can earn before paying tax has increased. Is there an increase in April and if so, how much? Craig Hulland, Stoke on Trent

Kevin Peachey, personal finance reporter for the BBC News website, writes: You are correct to say that the initial level of earnings before income tax is paid - known as the personal allowance - is rising.

In April, it will rise by £1,000 to £7,475. This is one of a series of announcements that were made before the Budget by Mr Osborne.

In his latest Budget, he announced that this personal allowance would rise by another £630 to £8,105. This will push it closer to the coalition's ambition of £10,000 by the end of this Parliament.

Q: What are the increases in tax allowances for those of us over 70? Brian Tuffrey, Bournemouth

Mr Kilshaw writes: The tax allowances for the 2011-12 tax year will increase from £9,490 to £9,990 (age 65-74) and from £9,640 to £10,090 (age 75 and over).

Q: I am over 65 so already have an additional tax-free allowance, but pay tax on the small pension which takes me over the allowance. Do I get an additional allowance as a low earner? Also is the government pension rising? Audrey Tucker, Haywards Heath, West Sussex

Mr Kilshaw writes: There is no additional allowance for a low earner. State pensions will increase by 4.6% from 6 April, 2011.

Q: According to the chancellor, stamp duty will be paid on means value instead of bulk cost of purchase. What does this mean? Canh Humphries, Beckenham

Mr Kilshaw writes: The chancellor means that where a number of residential properties are purchased together, the rate of stamp duty land tax (SDLT) will be based on the average price paid rather than on the total price paid.

Under the existing rules an investor purchasing three flats from one seller for a total of £600,000 would pay SDLT on £600,000 at 4% (£24,000).

Under the new rule, the investor would pay SDLT on £600,000 at 1% as the average value of the flats (£200,000) falls within the 1% band (£6,000 in total).

Q: At what level are you liable to pay inheritance tax? Jennifer, Northampton

Mr Kilshaw writes: Inheritance tax is charged at 40% on the excess of a person's estate over the Nil rate Band, which is currently £325,000.

Q: Will these incentives for first time buyers have an adverse affect on people trying to sell their homes? I live in a two bedroom house, ideal for young families looking for their first home, but will they now be targeting new-builds leaving me unable to sell? Alan, Norbury

Andrew Montlake, of mortgage broker Coreco, writes: There are a couple of key points that should allay your fears as far as the new incentives are concerned.

First of all, new-build properties do not suit everyone's needs in terms of living space and especially location. Many simply do not want to live in a "formulaic" environment and prefer properties with more character, higher ceilings, space, and so on.

Many new-build flats are also more attractive to single applicants rather than young families. Also, there is a premium to pay for new-build properties which many are not prepared to pay.

Secondly, even if buyers did suddenly all start looking at new-builds, this scheme only has a £250m limit at present which I suspect will run out relatively quickly given the anticipated demand.

I would imagine that, especially given the lack of supply of good quality properties, if you own a two-bedroom house that is ideal for young families you should have no worries when it comes to selling.

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