Budget 2020

The UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak presented his first Budget on Wednesday 11 March 2020 - the first for about 17 months.

The UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak presented his first Budget on Wednesday 11 March 2020 - the first for about 17 months.

In his speech he stated 'we are at the beginning of a new era in this country. We have the freedom and the resources to decide our own future'. He added 'It is a Budget of a government that gets things done'.

This summary is intended to cover significant changes to the main taxes as opposed to everything announced. If you have any questions, please contact us for advice.

Main Budget tax proposals

Our summary concentrates on the tax measures which include:

  • a reduction in the Entrepreneurs' Relief lifetime limit
  • an increase in the Employment Allowance
  • an increase in the Research and Development Expenditure Credit

Other measures include:

  • an increase and extension of business rates discounts
  • extended access to Statutory Sick Pay due to coronavirus

Previously announced measures include:

  • the increase to the National Insurance thresholds
  • the confirmed introduction of off-payroll working rules for the private sector
  • changes to ancillary reliefs in Principal Residence Relief

Some Budget proposals may be subject to amendment in the 2020 Autumn Budget and subsequent Finance Act. You should contact us before taking any action as a result of the contents of this summary.

Business Tax

Corporation tax rates

Corporation tax rates have already been enacted for periods up to 31 March 2021.

The main rate of corporation tax is 19%. The rate for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020 was due to fall to 17% but the Chancellor has announced the rate will remain at 19%.

Research and Development (R&D) tax relief

The rate of tax credit for companies falling within the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) scheme will rise by 1% to 13% from 1 April 2020. This relief is given as an above the line credit for companies undertaking qualifying R&D.

Budget 2018 announced that, from 1 April 2020, the amount of payable R&D tax credit that a qualifying loss-making company can receive in any tax year will be restricted to three times the company's total PAYE and NICs liability for that year. The government has now announced the implementation of the restriction will be delayed to 1 April 2021.

Corporation tax loss relief

Draft legislation has been issued to extend the rules that potentially limit the use of brought forward losses to include brought forward capital losses. Companies (and corporate groups) will continue to have a £5 million 'deductions allowance' before restrictions apply.

The changes will have effect where carried forward capital losses are used to offset chargeable gains accruing from 1 April 2020.

The inclusion of capital losses will mean that it will be more likely that the deductions allowance will be exceeded.

Intangible fixed assets

The government has announced an extension to corporation tax relief for intangible fixed assets. All pre-Finance Act 2002 intangible assets acquired from 1 July 2020 will come within the intangible fixed asset regime, subject to certain transitional provisions.

This measure removes a restriction that exists in relation to pre-Finance Act 2002 intangible assets that prevents some companies from claiming relief for older, well-established intellectual property rights. The change will mean that corporate intangible assets will now be relieved and taxed under a single regime for acquisitions from 1 July 2020.

Digital Services Tax

The government has confirmed a new 2% tax on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users. The tax applies only when the group's worldwide revenues from these digital activities are more than £500 million and more than £25 million of these revenues are derived from UK users.

The tax will apply from 1 April 2020.

Freeports

The government is consulting on proposals to create up to ten freeports across the UK which would have different customs rules to those which apply in the rest of the UK.

The government is considering a UK freeport model which would include multiple customs zones located within or away from a port, as well as a type of special economic zone (SEZ) designated over or around the customs zones. The government intends to work with the devolved administrations to develop proposals to allow freeports to be created in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in addition to those in England.

The proposals include the following customs and tariff benefits for businesses bringing goods into a freeport site:

  • duty suspension, with no tariffs, import VAT or excise to be paid on goods brought into a freeport from overseas until they leave the freeport and enter the UK's domestic market
  • duty inversion, if the duty on a finished product is lower than that on the component parts, allowing businesses to import components duty free, manufacture the final product in the freeport, and then pay the duty at the rate of the finished product when it enters the UK's domestic market
  • duty exemption for re-exports, allowing businesses to import components duty free, manufacture the final product in the freeport and pay no tariffs when the final product is re-exported
  • simplified customs procedures for businesses accessing freeports.

Freeports are secure customs zones located at ports where business can be carried out inside a country's land border, but where different customs rules apply. Typically, goods brought into a freeport do not attract a requirement to pay duties until they leave the freeport and enter the domestic market. No duty is payable at all if the goods are re-exported.

Business rates

Business rates have been devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The government has already announced that, for one year from 1 April 2020, the business rates retail discount for properties with a rateable value below £51,000 in England will increase from one third to 50% and will be expanded to include cinemas and music venues. To support small businesses in response to COVID-19, the retail discount will be increased to 100% and expanded to include hospitality and leisure businesses for 2021.

The government previously committed to introducing a £1,000 business rates discount for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000 in England for one year from 1 April 2020. To further support pubs, in response to COVID-19 the discount for pubs will be increased to £5,000.

The government is launching a fundamental review of business rates to report in the autumn. A call for evidence will be published in the spring.

Time to Pay

The government will ensure that businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs.

HMRC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline to help those in need, and they may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. Time to Pay gives businesses a time-limited deferral period on HMRC liabilities owed and a pre-agreed time period to pay these back.

Statutory Sick Pay

The government will support small and medium-sized businesses and employers to cope with the extra costs of paying COVID-19 related SSP by refunding eligible SSP costs. The eligibility criteria for the scheme include:

  • the refund will be limited to two weeks per employee
  • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
  • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences, but should not require employees to provide a GP fit note
  • the eligible period for the scheme will commence from the day on which the regulations extending SSP to self-isolators come into force.

Capital Taxes

Capital gains tax (CGT) rates

The current rates of CGT are 10%, to the extent that any income tax basic rate band is available, and 20% thereafter. Higher rates of 18% and 28% apply for certain gains; mainly chargeable gains on residential properties with the exception of any element that qualifies for Private Residence Relief.

There are two specific types of disposal which potentially qualify for a 10% rate up to a lifetime limit for each individual:

  • Entrepreneurs' Relief (ER). This is targeted at directors and employees of companies who own at least 5% of the ordinary share capital in the company, provided other minimum criteria are also met, and the owners of unincorporated businesses.
  • Investors' Relief. The main beneficiaries of this relief are external investors in unquoted trading companies who have newly-subscribed shares.

Investors' Relief has a lifetime limit of £10 million, however the lifetime limit position for ER has been changed in the Budget and is considered further below.

CGT annual exemption

The CGT annual exemption is £12,000 for 2019/20 and £12,300 for 2020/21.

Entrepreneurs' Relief (ER)

The lifetime limit is reduced from £10 million to £1 million for ER qualifying disposals made on or after 11 March 2020.

There are special provisions for disposals entered into before 11 March 2020 that have not been completed.

The government's manifesto stated clearly that there would be a reform and review of this relief, so a reduction in the limit was not unexpected, though the magnitude of the reduction and the immediate implementation will be a surprise. No other consultations to reform the relief were announced.

Employment Taxes

National Insurance thresholds

The government has recently announced National Insurance thresholds for 2020/21. Most thresholds will rise with inflation. Two thresholds, however, will rise by 10% from £8,632 to £9,500:

  • the primary threshold - which sets the level at which employees start to pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions (NICs)
  • the lower profits limit - which sets the level at which the self-employed start to pay Class 4 NICs.

The upper thresholds which apply to these two classes of NICs remain at £50,000.

The secondary threshold, which sets the level at which employers pay the main rate of NICs, only rises in line with inflation.

Off-payroll working in the private sector

The changes to the off-payroll working rules (commonly known as IR35), which came into effect in April 2017 for the public sector, will be extended to the private sector from April 2020. Draft legislation has been issued. The new rules apply to payments made for services provided on or after 6 April 2020. You can read our article from February 2020 on this topic here.

The off-payroll working rules apply where an individual (the worker) provides their services through an intermediary (typically a personal service company) to another person or entity (the client). The client will be required to make a determination of a worker's status and communicate that determination. In addition, the fee-payer (usually the organisation paying the worker's personal service company) will need to make deductions for income tax and NICs and pay any employer NICs.

Only medium and large businesses will be subject to the 2020 rules, so small businesses will not need to determine the status of the off-payroll workers they engage. A small company is one which meets two of these criteria: its annual turnover is not more than £10.2 million: it has not more than £5.1 million on its balance sheet: it has 50 or fewer employees. For unincorporated organisations it is only the annual turnover test that applies.

Review

In January 2020, the government announced a review of the implementation of the April 2020 reform, to address concerns from affected businesses and individuals. The government has confirmed the changes will go ahead but:

  • businesses will not have to pay penalties for errors relating to off-payroll working in the first year, except in cases of deliberate non-compliance
  • there will be a legal obligation on clients to respond to a request for information about their size from the worker or the fee-payer.

Employment Allowance

The Employment Allowance provides businesses and charities with relief from their employer NICs bill. Regulations have been issued to restrict the Employment Allowance, from 6 April 2020, to those employers whose employer NICs bill was below £100,000 in the previous tax year. Employers who are connected to other employers (such as companies within a group) will need to add together all of their employer Class 1 NICs liabilities incurred in the tax year prior to the year of claim to determine eligibility.

The maximum Employment Allowance will be increased from £3,000 to £4,000 with effect from 6 April 2020.

From 6 April 2020 the Employment Allowance will operate as de minimis State aid. This means it will contributeto the total aid a business is entitled to under the relevant de minimis State aid cap.

De minimis State aid rules apply if a business engages in economic activity, providing goods or services to the market. Most businesses will not have received de minimis State aid before so will not need to do further checks to determine if they are eligible for the Employment Allowance.

Class 1A liabilities on Termination Awards

A new liability to Class 1A NICs comes into effect on 6 April 2020 on termination awards over £30,000 and payments from sporting testimonials above £100,000. The new Class 1A NICs liability applies to non-contractual taxable termination awards over a £30,000 threshold, that have not already incurred a payroll Class 1 NICs liability as earnings.

Unlike the Class 1A NICs liability payable on benefits in kind this new liability will not be payable and reported via the annual P11D(b) payment/reporting process. Instead, from 6 April 2020 onwards, Class 1A liabilities arising on taxable termination awards which comprise of cash and/or cash equivalent payments, will be paid and reported through the PAYE/Real Time Information (RTI) process.

This new Class 1A liability will not apply to any termination awards paid after 5 April 2020 in respect of employment which was terminated before 6 April 2020.

Before 6 April 2020, employers should ensure that their payroll software has been updated to enable them to pay and report the new Class 1A NICs liabilities, arising on termination awards, through RTI.

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

Significant increases in minimum wage rates take effect from 1 April 2020. The NLW, which is the rate for workers aged over 25 years, increases by 6.2%. The government states this equates to an annual pay rise of up to £930 for a full time worker. From 1 April 2020, the new hourly rates of NLW and NMW are:

  • £8.72 for those over 25 years old
  • £8.20 for 21-24 year olds
  • £6.45 for 18-20 year olds
  • £4.55 for under 18s
  • £4.15 apprentice rate for apprentices under 19, and those 19 and over in their first year of apprenticeship.

Tax treatment of welfare counselling provided by employers

The government will extend the scope of non-taxable counselling services to include related medical treatment, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, when provided to an employee as part of an employer's welfare counselling services. The changes will take effect from April 2020.

National Insurance holiday for employers of veterans in the first year of civilian employment

To support the employment of veterans, the government is meeting the commitment to introduce a National Insurance holiday for employers of veterans in their first year of civilian employment.

A full digital service will be available to employers from April 2022. However, transitional arrangements will be in place in 2021/22 which will effectively enable employers of veterans to claim this holiday from April 2021.

The holiday will exempt employers from any NICs liability on the veteran's salary up to the Upper Earnings Limit. The government will consult on the design of this relief.

Increasing the flat rate deduction for homeworking

The government will increase the maximum flat rate income tax deduction available to employees to cover additional household expenses from £4 per week to £6 per week where they work at home under homeworking arrangements. This will take effect from April 2020.

Review of Enterprise Management Incentives (EMI) scheme

The government will review the EMI scheme to ensure it provides support for high-growth companies to recruit and retain the best talent so they can scale up effectively, and examine whether more companies should be able to access the scheme.

Other Matters

VAT

E-publications

The government will introduce legislation to apply a zero rate of VAT to e-publications from 1 December 2020, to make it clear that e-books, e-newspapers, e-magazines and academic e-journals are entitled to the same VAT treatment as their physical counterparts.

Postponed accounting

From 1 January 2021 postponed accounting for VAT will apply to all imports of goods, including those from the EU.

The postponed accounting for VAT aims to provide a boost to those VAT registered UK businesses which are integrated in international supply chains as they adapt to the UK's new trading arrangements under Brexit.

Plastic Packaging Tax

This will be a new tax that applies to plastic packaging produced in or imported into the UK that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. The tax rate will be £200 per tonne of non-compliant plastic packaging. A consultation on the design and implementation of the tax has been issued and the tax is to take effect from April 2022.

Personal Tax

The personal allowance

The personal allowance is currently £12,500. Budget 2018 announced that the allowance will remain at the same level in 2020/21 and then increase by CPI. There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with 'adjusted net income' over £100,000. The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for the current and next tax year there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £125,000.

Tax bands and rates

The basic rate of tax is 20%. In 2019/20 and 2020/21 the band of income taxable at this rate is £37,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £50,000 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.

Individuals pay tax at 45% on their income over £150,000.

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:

  • 5% for basic rate taxpayers
  • 5% for higher rate taxpayers
  • 1% 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 changes

The pensions annual allowance (currently £40,000) is the maximum amount of tax-relieved pension savings that can be accrued in a year. However, for those on higher incomes, the annual allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 that an individual's 'adjusted income' exceeds £150,000, to a minimum annual allowance of £10,000. Adjusted income is broadly net income before tax with the addition of any pension accrual. The taper potentially applies to an individual with income before tax, without the addition of the pension accrual, above £110,000. This is known as the 'threshold income'.

Adjusted income and threshold income will each be raised by £90,000 for 2020/21. The threshold income will be £200,000, so individuals with income below this level will not be affected by the tapered annual allowance. The annual allowance will begin to taper down for individuals who also have an adjusted income above £240,000.

There is also a change to the minimum annual allowance. The minimum level to which the annual allowance can taper down will reduce from £10,000 to £4,000 from 6 April 2020. This reduction will only affect individuals with adjusted income over £300,000.

Support during the coronavirus

The Prime Minister previously announced that the forthcoming COVID-19 Bill will temporarily allow Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to be paid from the first day of sickness absence, rather than the fourth day, for people who have COVID-19 or have to self-isolate in accordance with government guidelines. The Budget sets out a further package to widen the scope of SSP and make it more accessible. The government will temporarily extend SSP to cover:

  • individuals who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate
  • people caring for those within the same household who display COVID-19 symptoms and have been told to self-isolate.

In conclusion

The Budget had limited content and few surprises from a tax perspective, but we're expecting that to change in the Autumn Statement. If you would like to discuss how the Budget might impact you or your company, please contact us.

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