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Three tax hikes are on the way – are there more to come?

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

National Insurance, council tax and dividend tax all go up in April – but will other taxes go up too?

The National Insurance hike scheduled for the next tax year looks set to go ahead after speculation it might be dropped.

Boris Johnson announced in September that National insurance contributions, which are paid by employers and workers, will rise by 1.25 percentage points at the start of the new tax year in April.

He said the new levy would raise almost £36bn over the next three years, with money “going directly to health and social care” across the whole UK.

There have been calls for the tax rise to be scrapped as people are already struggling with the cost of living crisis – but it looks certain to go ahead.

Meanwhile councils across the country are preparing to increase taxes by up to 5% in April. Many local authorities are planning to hike council tax bills to recoup cash spent during the pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in the latest budget that local authorities could increase bills by up to 3% without having to hold a referendum. In addition, councils are free to add an additional 2% which is ringfenced for adult social care. This means many households could see a 5% rise in total.

Dividend tax is also going up. From April 2022, basic rate dividend tax will be charged at 8.75% instead of 7.5% this year. Higher rate dividend taxpayers will be charged 33.75% instead of 32.5%, and additional rate dividend taxpayers will pay 39.35% instead of 38.1%.

Dividend tax will hit fewer people than the other tax rises, because the dividend allowance protects many smaller investors, while ISAs shelter investments from the tax entirely. However, those with larger portfolios outside ISAs and pensions, and people running their own businesses and paying themselves in dividends, will pay more.

According to Hargreaves Lansdown, the three taxes we already know will rise in April are top of investors’ concerns, with 90% worried about higher taxes on their income, 87% about higher council tax and 39% about rising dividend tax.

When asked about possible rises that could emerge down the line, the biggest worry was changes to tax on savings (35%), followed by capital gains tax (29%) and inheritance tax (29%).

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The vast majority of investors are agonising about tax hikes we know are coming in April, and how we’re going to cover the extra cost. But they’re not the only tax changes keeping us up at night – we’re also fretting about potential tax hikes the government could hit us with this spring.

“Investors are also living in fear that the government could mount another tax attack. We don’t yet know whether the spring statement will evolve into a mini-budget, complete with the threat of possible tax changes. However, the taxes that investors will be watching most closely will be savings tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax.

“The personal savings allowance means that the first chunk of savings interest is tax-free (£1,000 for basic rate taxpayers and £500 for higher rate taxpayers – additional rate taxpayers don’t have this allowance) so that an estimated 95% of people don’t pay tax on their savings at all. However, with rates set to rise over the coming year, a cut to the savings allowance could mean savers facing an unexpected tax bill.”

The government asked the Office for Tax Simplification to look into changes to Capital Gains Tax in 2020, and while it has subsequently shelved any plans to change the way the tax is charged for now, it has brought some uneasiness, which is why almost a third of investors are worried it could rise in future.

Hargreaves Lansdown found many people are also worried about changes to inheritance tax, which emerged in September research by the investment platform as the ‘UK’s most hated tax’.

Although it’s paid by less than 4% of estates, and the tax-free allowance has actually risen over the past few years, the idea of being taxed again on everything after our death still rankles enough that almost a third of investors are concerned.

Coles added: “While we can’t second-guess what’s likely to happen in terms of tax in the immediate future, we do know that the tax environment is unlikely to get more generous – particularly for higher rate taxpayers. It means it’s worth thinking about using your allowances sensibly. This includes your annual capital gains tax allowance and annual gift allowance for inheritance tax purposes. It also means thinking carefully about how to make the best use of your ISA and pension allowances.”