George Osborne did not have great tidings to impart when he presented his Autumn Statement to the House of Commons on 29 November 2011. The best he could offer the ordinary taxpayer was a freeze in road fuel duty until 1 August 2012, when it will increase by 3.02p per litre. Train and tube fares were due to rise by a whopping 8.2% next year, but this rise will be limited to (wait for it…) 6.2%.
Businesses who occupy small commercial premises receive some generosity with an extension to the business rates relief scheme to 1 April 2013 (already extended for a year to 1 October 2012). Different business rates relief schemes apply in England, Wales and Scotland so ask your local authority what relief applies to your building. Occupiers of larger business premises may be able to defer payment of up to 60% of the increase in business rates for up to two years.
Other key tax announcements for businesses and individuals were:
- New anti-avoidance rules for employer asset backed pension contributions, effective from 29 November 2011.
- State pension age rises to 67, to be phased in over two years from April 2026.
- Freeze in the couple and loan parent elements of working tax credit in 2012/13.
- No increase in child tax credit above the rate of inflation, as had been announced.
- Capital gains exemption to be frozen for 2012/13.
- Research & Development tax credit for larger companies given above the profit line rather than as a tax reduction, to apply from 2013.
- New Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) from April 2012, giving income tax relief of 50% for investments of up to £100,000 in start-up businesses.
- Exemption from CGT when gains realised in 2012/13 are reinvested under SEIS in the same tax year.
- 100% capital allowances in certain new Enterprise Zones, not in all zones.
- Main rate of corporation tax will reduce to 25% from April 2012.
- Air passenger duty to be extended to private jets from 1 April 2013.
Further detail on the new tax rules and rates will be announced on 6 December 2011, so we will cover any significant items for small businesses in our January 2012 newsletter.