July 22nd, 2013
With the dust still settling on the Chancellor’s latest budget, some of the key changes that have an immediate impact from the start of the current 2013/14 tax year are:
• An increase in the standard personal allowance (which is the amount you can earn tax free before basic-rate income tax kicks in) from £8,105 to £9,440
• A reduction in the additional rate of income tax from 50% to 45% (and from 42.5% to 37.5% for dividends)
• The removal of the higher age related allowances for individuals born after 5 April 1948 (and who therefore attain age 65 after 5 April 2013); and
• The Introduction of a £3,600 annual limit on total premiums that can be paid into qualifying life assurance policies
There is also good news for home buyers through the “Help to Buy’’ scheme, Equitable Life Victims who will receive compensation if they bought a with profits annuity before 1992 and drawdown pension users who will benefit from a 20% increase in the maximum amount of annual income they can draw each year.
There were also a number of important future impacts; most notably:-
• The decision to further increase the standard personal allowance to £10,000 from April 2014
• Further reductions in the pensions lifetime allowance from £1.5m to £1.25m and the annual allowance from £50,000 to £40,000, also effective from April 2014
• The introduction of new child care tax breaks worth up to £1,200 per child to subsidise the cost of child care for every child under five, from April 2015.
• A new single tier state pension of £144 a week in today’s terms, for anyone reaching state pension age from April 2016; and
• Also from 2016, a capping of social care costs for the elderly at £72,000.
In this article though, we are going to focus on the new tax-free childcare initiative being introduced in 2015.
Under the Governments proposed tax-free childcare initiative eligible families will be able to claim 20% tax relief on childcare costs of up to £6,000 per child from April 2015. This could mean a benefit of up to £1,200 per child, per year.
The proposed system will replace the current system of childcare vouchers which allows individuals to receive up to £243 of tax-free vouchers per month if their employer operates a voucher scheme, although not all do. Typically employees can elect to exchange salary for an equivalent amount in vouchers and, as the vouchers are received free of income tax and national insurance, this represents a significant benefit. For example, for a couple who are both basic rate taxpayers and who each claim the full voucher entitlements this can represent a saving of £1,866 per year (£933 each)
Whilst the proposed scheme will bring tax-free childcare to a wider audience not everyone will be better off:
• Self-employed individuals and employees who do not have access to a childcare voucher scheme as they will be eligible for the new scheme.
• Higher and additional rate taxpayers who joined the voucher scheme after 6 April 2011. Under the current voucher system higher rate taxpayers can only receive up to £124 of vouchers per month (this reduces to £110 per month for additional rate taxpayers)
• Couples where only one individual works – These individuals are eligible for childcare voucher schemes but not for the new tax-free childcare initiative.
• A family with two or more children, where both parents are working (and paying basic rate tax) but who spend less than £9,330 per annum on childcare (£777.50 per month). This is because the current voucher system gives both an income tax (20%) and National Insurance (12%) saving. The proposed scheme will only give tax relief at 20% meaning that, to make the same £933 saving total childcare costs would have to be at least £9,330.
From Autumn 2015, parents already claiming vouchers can continue to receive this support or switch to the new system. New parents will only have access to the latter scheme. The old scheme is more beneficial, specifically, for higher-rate taxpayers but only if they joined before 6 April 2011.
Please note that the above list is not necessarily exhaustive as we can only give a brief summary in this article. Please feel free to contact us for advice or guidance in respect of this or any other of the announcements arising from this year’s Budget.