Emergency Budget less onerous than expected, says Old Mill
Chancellor George Osborne’s first budget was not as harsh as expected, but farmers and rural businesses still need to plan carefully to mitigate rising taxes.
Catherine Vickery, rural tax specialist at accountant Old Mill, said she was surprised that taxes were not hiked more sharply. “There were even some extra giveaways, which was amazing.” However, Mr Osborne did announce drastic changes to Capital Allowances, Capital Gains Tax, Income Tax and VAT, all of which would affect rural businesses.
“One of the key changes is the reduction in the Annual Investment Allowance, from £100,000 to £25,000 from April 2012. The writing down allowance for capital expenditure over that level will also be reduced, from 20% a year to 18%.” Although businesses would still receive the same level of tax relief, it would be spread over a longer period of time. “If you do have major expenditure coming up, make the most of your £100,000 annual allowance in each of the two tax years before this change comes into force.”
From midnight yesterday (22 June), Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rates increased to 28% for higher rate taxpayers – considerably lower than the 40-50% rate many expected. Lower rate taxpayers would retain the existing 18% rate, with gains over and above the higher rate income tax threshold of £43,875 levied at the new 28% rate.
“Anyone selling or gifting assets could face higher CGT rates – but those selling an entire business will benefit from the higher band for Entrepreneurs’ Relief,” said Mrs Vickery. The threshold increased from £2m to £5m, under which gains would be taxed at 10%.
Those renting furnished holiday lets were pleased to hear of plans to reinstate tax reliefs like Capital Allowances on furnishings, offsetting losses against other income, and Entrepreneurs’ Relief upon sale of the business. “A lot of people, in the West Country in particular, run holiday lets as a business, and deserve the same tax relief as any other business.”
Another benefit for local businesses would be the planned holiday from National Insurance (NI) for new business enterprises, she added. “Start-up businesses outside London and the South East are to be exempt from NI for first 10 employees, up to £5,000 per person. That equates to a tax break worth up to £50,000 for 400,000 businesses over three years – a valuable encouragement for brave new ventures.”
A £1000 increase in the personal allowance for Income Tax would save lower rate taxpayers £200 a year, while falling Corporation Tax rates, from 28% down to 24% for large companies, and 21% to 20% for small companies, were also to be welcomed, said Mrs Vickery.
However, the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT), from 17.5% to 20% from 4 January 2011, would make the cost of living more expensive. “Given that just a year ago we were at 15%, that is quite a steep rise. It will add to the cost of almost everything, and will make cash flow more difficult for VAT-registered businesses.
“That said, we were prepared for swingeing allowance cuts and steep tax rises in this Emergency Budget. Many of the proposals made by George Osborne were less onerous than expected. Rural businesses now need to ensure they understand the implications of such wide-ranging changes, and take professional advice to mitigate higher tax bills in the future.”
For more information contact Catherine Vickery on 01935 426181, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.