Five ways the Autumn Budget Statement could affect your finances

Financial advice firm NFU Mutual outlines what to look out for in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s upcoming Autumn Budget Statement on 17th November and how the changes could affect the public purse.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt will be revealing the government’s economic strategy for tackling the current inflation and cost-of-living crisis in next week’s budget statement.

Sean McCann, chartered financial planner at NFU Mutual, offered some insights into the potential changes the Chancellor’s financial statement could introduce, alongside suggestions for how the current economic climate could be improved.

  1. Reducing pension annual allowance

Mr McCann said: “Pension tax relief costs the Government £48.2bn each year, and more than half of that goes to higher and additional rate taxpayers but changing the rates would be complex.

“Instead, the Government could reduce the Annual Allowance. You can currently put £40,000 tax-free into a pension each tax year but slashing that to £30,000 or even £20,000 to align with the annual ISA allowance would save huge sums.”

At the same time, Mr McCann cautioned Jeremy Hunt will need to tread carefully as the nation is not currently saving enough for retirement.

  1. Increasing CGT rates – but not as high as Income Tax

Next, Mr McCann suggested the Chancellor could look at increasing Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

“CGT is currently charged at 10% and 20% – plus an additional 8% if the gain is from residential property – but the Office of Tax Simplification has previously recommended aligning the rates with Income Tax.

“Aligning CGT with Income Tax may be viewed as disincentivising enterprise so increasing the rates to 20% and 30% and retaining the 8% surcharge on residential property would be a compromise that would still raise increased revenue for the Treasury.

“Most CGT comes from a small number of taxpayers who make the largest gains, and this move would help raise further money from that group.”

Mr McCann continued: “The Chancellor could also reduce the CGT annual exemption of £12,300 in a move that would see an increasing number caught by the tax.

“Latest figures suggest CGT is paid by 323,000 people but the OTS estimated reducing that annual exemption to £5,000 would double that number and reducing it to £1,000 would nearly triple it,” he pointed out.

  1. Extending the freeze on income tax bands

Mr McCann reckons Rishi Sunak will freeze thresholds for income tax and child benefit tax until 2028, extending the current end date of April 2026 with another two years.

“As wages grow to keep pace with inflation, more people will find themselves being dragged into paying income tax at 40% or 45% for the first time.

“Those who find themselves being tipped into higher rates of tax should consider paying more into their pension to reduce their taxable earnings,” he advised.

  1. Overdue simplification of inheritance tax

According to Mr McCann, revising the unnecessarily complicated inheritance tax system would not only benefit the population, but also provide Chancellor Hunt with an opportunity to generate additional funds.

“Getting rid of the myriad of gifting allowances in favour of one annual gifting allowance of £15,000 would help simplify the tax for the increasing number of families who fear being caught by inheritance tax,” he pointed out.

“The Government could also remove the rules that wipe Capital Gains Tax on death if you claim Business Property Relief, meaning those families who sell businesses they inherit would pay CGT on the sale.”

  1. Addressing preferential tax treatment of holiday lets

Finally, Mr McCann suggested the Chancellor could take advantage of the rise in domestic holidays as a result of the pandemic.

Jeremy Hunt could target furnished holiday lets after recommendations from a recent report from the Office of Tax Simplification.

“Furnished holiday lets can benefit from significant tax advantages not enjoyed by those who own buy to let properties. These include more favourable tax relief on costs including mortgage interest and the availability of capital gains tax reliefs if they sell or give away a property.

“On the back of the OTS recommendations it’s possible that the Chancellor could remove many of the tax benefits enjoyed by owners of furnished holiday lets and raise some much-needed revenue,” Mr McCann concluded.

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