The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement – the Taxy bits

A summary of the main UK tax changes announced December 3rd 2014. For info on the changes affecting inheritance and pensions, please see The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement – the Sexy bits blog.

Personal Allowance – Income Tax

The personal allowance will be increased to £10,600 in 2015-16, £100 more than previously stated. The higher rate (40%) threshold will be £42,385.

ISA changes

From April 2015 the ISA allowance will rise to £15,240, following the substantial rise last summer to £15,000.

Junior ISA and CTF raised to £4,080 p.a.

Non-Domicile Basis of Taxation – Charges to Increase

Non-Doms not Dum-dums

Non-Doms not Dum-dums

Non-doms (a phrase which always makes me think of the Easter Island talking head in “Night at the Museum”) who choose to use the remittance basis and have been resident for at least 7 of the past 9 years, currently pay a charge of £30,000, rising to £50,000 once resident for 12 out of 14 years. This latter amount will increase to £60,000 (from £50,000) in 2014/15, and a new charge of £90,000 will be brought in for those who’ve been resident 17 of the last 20 years in the UK.

The Government will also consult on making the choice to pay the remittance basis charge stick for a minimum of 3 years, so that non-doms are not easily able to swap the basis on which they’re taxed from one year to another.

Non-doms might consider using offshore bonds to help mitigate their taxation, since offshore bonds are not taxed until a chargeable gain arises, and hence controlling chargeable gains can control the tax.

Stamp Duty – changes to rates 

Stamp duty will now cost less to the average house buyer. The Chancellor has introduced (with immediate effect) a banded system whereby you pay across all relevant bands, not just the highest applicable to your property. They are revised as follows:

Purchase price of property (£)
New rates paid on the part of the property price within each tax band
Tax Within the band
0 – 125,000
125,001 – 250,000
250,001 – 925,000
925,001 – 1,500,000
1,500,001 and over
£ ++++

The magic value is £937,500. Below that there is less duty to pay than previously, and above that there is more.

Interaction of Flexible Pensions and Means testing of Govt. Pension Credit

The treatment of existing pensions, both crystallised and uncrystallised, is now slightly more favourable when means-testing state benefits. The notional income factor to be applied to such benefits is now based on 100% of an equivalent annuity rather than 150%, the previously factor. However, if the income actually being drawn is greater than this, it will be the higher figure that is taken into account.

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement – the Sexy bits

OK so there wasn’t anything that really made the eyes roll this time around, but there were some pleasant confirmations and a relaxation on ISA inheritance: (see also separate blog “The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement – the Taxy bits” for the more routine stuff)…

smug pension kid

Daddy has a really nice pension!

Flexible Pensions and Death Benefits confirmed.

These changes will  have an increasing influence on the direction of estate planning, as their repercussions become more widely accepted.

On death before age 75, any death benefit will be paid tax free provided it is within the Lifetime Allowance (LTA). Thus there is no longer a distinction between “crystallised” and uncrystallised” pots for pre-75 death benefits.

On death at 75 and later, the remaining fund forms death benefits which are taxable on the recipient at his / her income tax rate, when they draw the funds.

Any individual beneficiary of a flexible pension can choose to keep their inherited pension pot in the drawdown wrapper and decide when (or if) they draw down on it. Inheritable Pensions! This IMHO puts pensions at the forefront of inheritance planning going forward.

Inheritability of ISAs

Previously, upon death of a married account holder, their  ISA money would no longer carry ISA status in the hands of the inheriting spouse / civil partner. It now does, so the surviving spouse has the benefit of continuance of that tax-free savings wrapper . This only applies to spouses (spice?) or civil partners however, other beneficiaries will receive the money without ISA status.

Whilst inheriting ISA funds from your spouse is free of inheritance tax (because of the spouse exemption) it is still going to be taxable as part of the estate on second death. So there can be instances where individuals (who are near to or already over age 55) can find it to their advantage to use a personal pension contract to receive their ISA funds:

  • You need earnings to qualify for tax relief on the contributions (although you can contribute a small sum without earnings – £2,880 p.a. net).
  • you can still withdraw the funds from the pension (if 55 or above)
  • you (usually) end up with more cash net of tax
  • the death benefits are the whole fund is payable tax free on death pre-75
  • the death benefits can be directed into a discretionary trust if you prefer (spouse bypass trust)

Single Lifetime IHT Settlement nil rate band

This idea has been dropped (sigh of relief there). The idea of just a single IHT nil rate band for lifetime settlements, i.e. allowing only £325,000 to be gifted in one’s lifetime and allocated across all relevant property trusts they created, has been axed. For the time being at least, the £325k rate will re-set every seven years as before. However there is still likely to be a simplification of periodic and exit IHT tax charges on trusts, to stop people taking advantage of the rule in “Rysaffe” where multiple trusts reduce the overall tax bill.