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Autumn Statement: 5 key announcements to look out for

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Written by:
08/11/2022
Reducing the pension allowance, freezing income tax bands and stripping away some of the tax benefits of holiday lets are among the measures the Chancellor may take in order to improve the public finances.

Next Thursday, Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will deliver the Autumn Statement. He will be tasked with filling the hole in the public finances created by the disastrous mini Budget from his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng and the markets’ reaction to it.

As we reported earlier today, there has been talk of a ‘stealth raid’ on inheritance tax by freezing the tax-free threshold for longer than has already been planned.

Now insurance firm NFU Mutual has outlined a further five items which we could see in the Autumn Statement, and which could have a significant impact on household finances.

1. Reducing the pension allowance

Currently you can save up to £40,000 a year into a pension and receive tax relief on those contributions, essentially topping up the amount saved.

It’s a big expense for the Treasury, costing more than £48 billion a year, with more than half of that going to higher and additional rate taxpayers. Huge sums could be saved by trimming the annual allowance.

Though as Sean McCann, chartered financial planner at NFU Mutual points out: “The population is not saving enough for retirement so Jeremy Hunt will need to tread carefully.”

2. Increase capital gains tax rates

McCann noted that the government has spoken of targeting those with “the broadest shoulders”, and suggested they could do so by looking at capital gains tax (CGT).

“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.”

McCann also suggested that reducing the annual CGT exemption from its current level of £12,300 would mean increasing numbers were caught by the tax, thereby increasing receipts.

3. Freezing income tax bands

Income tax bands, which outline at what point we move from basic to higher and additional rates on our incomes, have been frozen until April 2026. However, it seems likely that these will be frozen for a further two years according to NFU Mutual.

McCann said: “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.”

4. Simplifying death duties

While there is talk of freezing the inheritance tax nil rate band, McCann suggested the Treasury could go further and scrap the “myriad of gifting allowances”, replacing them instead with a single £15,000 allowance.

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

5. Targeting holiday lets

Finally, McCann floated the idea of the government targeting furnished holiday lets, following a recent report from the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) which noted that they enjoy “significant tax advantages” compared with regular buy-to-let properties.

He said: “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.”   

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