Autumn Statement - AKA The Pre-Budget Budget

Posted on in Business Tax

Today's Autumn Statement was more of a mini Budget than usual. Presumably due to the recent pressure being applied by the opposition.

The good news for businesses is that taking on an under 21 year old won't cost you any national insurance, but only from April 2015. In the meantime, if you can't wait, you can employ anyone on up about £22k (or more than one person on lower salaries) from April 2014, and, under a previously announced measure, this won't cost you any national insurance either. Both rules will continue into April 2015, so you could arrange your workforce to cost you no national insurance at all.

It has at last been recognised that small retailers need help in competing against the Internet. Potentially, the most valuable relief is a 50% reduction in rates when re-occupying an empty property. Being able to pay rates in monthly instalments may also be helpful for some.

Despite the stated aim to simplify tax, we now have another class of national insurance: Class 3A. This is nothing to do with employment or business, but it's worth knowing that there's another route to topping up your additional state pension, if necessary.

A surprise change to the capital gains rules on homes means that the 3 year rule helping to exempt many homes from some/all of its capital gains tax, is being reduced to 18 months. This means that if you no longer live in your residence and you let it out before selling it, you can only have the last 18 months of the letting period tax free, together with the actual period of your residence. This indicates a certain amount of impatience with second home owners and the reduced tax they pay.

It's also worth noting there are now plans to make inheritance tax returns online. This will save executors a lot of time and hopefully speed up the whole process with HMRC.

HMRC might need this help too, seeing as they are under a lot of pressure to continually find more tax from new anti avoidance measures. Identifying, challenging, and retrieving this tax due isn't easy, particularly within these time frames. Expect a more aggressive attitude in certain areas.