Autumn 2021 UK Budget: the main pointsfive-pound-note-1775774__480.jpg

Here's our summary of what you need to know about the provisions of the autumn 2021 budget.  As you can see, there are quite a few things to note for the small business owner.

Personal tax allowance

The personal tax allowance is currently £12,570. The Chancellor announced in the March 2021 Budget that the personal allowance will be frozen at £12,570 for the tax years 2022/23 to 2025/26. There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000, of £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000.  This means there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £125,140.

Marriage allowance

The marriage allowance permits certain couples, where neither party pays tax in the tax year at a rate other than the basic rate, to transfer £1,260 of their personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner.  To benefit from the marriage allowance one spouse or civil partner must normally have no income or income below the personal allowance for the year.

Tax bands and rates

The basic rate of tax is 20%. In 2021/22 the band of income taxable at this rate is £37,700 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £50,270 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance. Inthe Spring Budget 2021, the Chancellor announced that the basic rate band will be frozen at £37,700 for the tax years 2022/23 to 2025/26. The National Insurance contributions Upper Earnings Limit and Upper Profits Limit will remain aligned to the higher rate threshold at £50,270 for these years. Individuals pay tax at 45% on their income over £150,000.

Tax on savings income

Savings income is income such as bank and building society interest. The Savings Allowance applies to savings income and the available allowance in a tax year depends on the individual’s marginal rate of income tax. Broadly, individuals taxed at up to the basic rate of tax have an allowance of £1,000. For higher rate taxpayers the allowance is £500. No allowance is due to additional rate taxpayers. Some individuals qualify for a 0% starting rate of tax on savings income up to £5,000. However, the rate is not available if taxable non-savings income (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income, less allocated allowances and reliefs) exceeds £5,000.

Tax on dividends

The first £2,000 of dividends is chargeable to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). Dividends received above the allowance are taxed at the following rates for 2021/22:

  • 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers
  • 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers
  • 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.

In September 2021 the government announced an increase to the rates of dividend tax by 1.25% from 6 April 2022 to help fund the new planned investment in health and social care. The new rates will therefore be 8.75% for basic rate taxpayers, 33.75% for higher rate taxpayers and 39.35% for additional rate taxpayers.

Dividends within the allowance still count towards an individual’s basic or higher rate band and so may affect the rate of tax paid on dividends above the Dividend Allowance. To determine which tax band dividends fall into, dividends are treated as the last type of income to be taxed.

Pensions - paying in to a pension scheme

Although there are no limits to how much an individual can save or accrue in a registered pension scheme, there is an overall limit on the amount of an individual’s tax-relieved annual pension savings or accrual which includes employer contributions. This is known as the annual allowance and the standard annual allowance is currently £40,000, but in some circumstances this is reduced, with the maximum reduction taking it down to £4,000.

An individual’s unused annual allowance from the three previous tax years can be carried forward and added to the annual allowance. However, if the individual’s pension savings for the tax year exceed their annual allowance, the annual allowance tax charge is applied to the excess.

National Insurance Contributions (NICs)

people-2561336__340.jpgIn September 2021 the government published its proposals for new investment in health and social care in England. The proposals will lead to a permanent increase in spending not only in England but also by the devolved governments. To fund the investment the government will introduce a UK-wide 1.25% Health and Social Care Levy based on the NIC system but ring fenced for health and social care. The Health and Social Care Levy Act provides for a temporary 1.25% increase to both the main and additional rates of Class 1, Class 1A, Class 1B and Class 4 NICs for 2022/23. From April 2023 onwards, the NIC rates will decrease back to 2021/22 levels and will be replaced by a new 1.25% Health and Social Care Levy.

Broadly, the new Health and Social Care Levy will be subject to the same reliefs, thresholds and requirements as NIC. However the Levy (as opposed to the temporary increase in NICs for 2022/23) will also apply to those above State Pension age who are still in employment. Existing reliefs for NICs to support employers will apply to the Levy.

The main burden of the 1.25% increase falls on the collective shoulders of the employer and employee as each will have higher contributions to make. Those with property income will be relieved that they are not being included in the Levy.

National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW)

Following the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission, the government will increase the NLW for individuals aged 23 and over by 6.6% from 1 April 2022. The government has also accepted the recommendations for the other NMW rates to be increased.  From 1 April 2022, the hourly rates of NLW and NMW will be:

  • £9.50 for those 23 years old and over
  • £9.18 for 21-22 year olds
  • £6.83 for 18-20 year olds
  • £4.81 for 16-17 year olds
  • £4.81 apprentice rate for apprentices under 19, and those 19 and over in their first year of apprenticeship.

Making Tax Digital for income tax

The Making Tax Digital (MTD) regime is based on businesses being required to maintain their accounting records in a specified digital format and submit extracts from those records regularly to HMRC. It had been expected that sole trader businesses and landlords with business income of more than £10,000 per annum would be required to enter the MTD regime for income tax purposes from 6 April 2023. However, HMRC recently announced that this will be deferred until 6 April 2024. Early adoption of digital record keeping and voluntary submission of MTD for income tax data remains possible.

Following the deferral for sole trader businesses and landlords, general partnerships will not be required to comply with MTD for income tax until 6 April 2025 and the date other types of partnerships (for example limited liability partnerships) will be required to comply will be confirmed in the future. HMRC has also confirmed that the new system of penalties for the late filing and late payment of tax for income tax self assessment will be aligned with when a taxpayer becomes mandated into MTD for income tax. 

MTD for corporation tax

HMRC has previously announced that MTD for corporation tax will not be mandated before 2026.

Corporation tax rates

The main rate of corporation tax is currently 19%. In the Spring Budget 2021, the Chancellor announced the rate would remain at 19% until 1 April 2023 but the rate will then increase to 25% for companies with profits over £250,000. The 19% rate will become a small profits rate payable by companies with profits of £50,000 or less. Companies with profits between £50,001 and £250,000 will pay tax at the main rate reduced by a marginal relief, providing a gradual increase in the effective corporation tax rate.

Capital allowances

Plant and machinery

Most corporate and unincorporated businesses are able to utilise a £200,000 annual investment allowance (AIA) to claim 100% tax relief on their qualifying expenditure on plant and machinery. The allowance was temporarily increased to £1 million for expenditure incurred on or after 1 January 2019 and was due to revert back to £200,000 from 1 January 2022. The £1 million allowance will now be retained until 31 March 2023. Transitional rules will apply to accounting periods that span 1 April 2023.

Structures and Buildings

A Structures and Buildings Allowance (SBA) was introduced with effect from 29 October 2018 to relieve costs for new structures and buildings used for qualifying purposes. A business must hold an allowance statement containing certain information to be eligible to claim SBA. Minor changes will be made to the allowance statement requirements to clarify the information required to be kept.

Business Online Sales Tax

The government has announced its plans to consult and explore the arguments for and against the introduction of an ‘Online Sales Tax’. Should such a tax be introduced in future, it would raise revenue to fund business rates reductions.

Business rates review

Business rates have been devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The government announced at Budget 2020 that it would conduct a fundamental review of the business rates system in England. The government’s objectives for the review were reducing the overall burden on business, improving the current business rates system and allowing the consideration of more fundamental changes in the long term. In March 2021, the government published the Interim Report of the review. The Final Report was published on 27 October 2021. Collectively, these set out the government’s commitments by:

  • Supporting local high streets as they adapt and recover from the pandemic by introducing a new temporary business rates relief in England for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties for 2022/23. Over 90% of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will receive at least 50% off their business rates bills in 2022/23.
  • Cutting the burden of business rates for all businesses by freezing the multiplier for 2022 to 2023.
  • Introducing a new relief to support investment in property improvements, enabling occupying businesses to invest in expanding their properties and making them work better for customers and employees.
  • Introducing new measures to support green investment and the decarbonisation of non-domestic buildings. This will provide exemptions for eligible green plant and machinery such as solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage used with renewables and electric vehicle charging points, as well as a 100% relief for low-carbon heat networks that have their own rates bill.
  • Making the system fairer by moving to three-yearly revaluations from 2023. 
  • Providing stability ahead of the 2023 revaluation by extending Transitional Relief and the Supporting Small Business Scheme for 2022 to 2023 to protect small businesses from significant bill increases in the final year of the current revaluation cycle