New tax year 2019: The changes coming into effect today, from income allowance to buy-to-let relief

The new tax year starts on today and in general taxpayers will have more money in their pocket after increases to allowances come into force. Those selling shares or buy-to-let properties, however, will be hit hard.

Increases to the tax-free personal allowance announced in last year’s Budget come into effect, alongside a wealth of other proposals designed to allow us to keep more of our hard-earned cash.

But there are also a range of “stealth” increases that could catch out unsuspecting taxpayers.

The new tax year begins today, April 6. Here is Telegraph Money’s guide to the changes.

Income tax

The good news is that the tax thresholds are on the move again, meaning we will all pay a little less tax from today.

The tax-free personal allowance will increase from £11,850 to £12,500 and the higher-rate allowance will increase from £46,350 to £50,000. This means that basic-rate taxpayers will save £130 a year, while higher-rate taxpayers will save up to £860.

This is part of the Conservative Party’s long-held commitment to lift more people out of paying income tax altogether, a pledge that dates back to George Osborne’s days as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Patricia Mock, of consultancy Deloitte, said: “Taxpayers will make a saving, but this is a costly move for the Exchequer – estimated to cost £2.8bn in 2019-20.”

 

However, Chancellor Philip Hammond was criticised at the time of the announcement for sneaking through a parallel change to National Insurance thresholds. These are lower than the personal allowance and effectively wipe out almost half the saving for wealthy taxpayers, costing them £340.

Scotland and Wales will also see similar changes to income tax thresholds.

Inheritance tax

The amount dying homeowners can pass on to their descendants is also set to increase with a boost to the “residence nil-rate band” on inheritance tax (IHT). The basic amount anyone can pass on tax-free is £325,000, but the additional rate applying to property passed to a direct descendant will increase from £125,000 to £150,000, taking the tax-free allowance to £475,000.

Passing on assets to a spouse is tax-free and that spouse can then make use of both allowances, meaning the amount which can be passed on by a married couple will be £950,000. A further increase next year will bring this amount to £1m.

Nimesh Shah, of accountants Blick Rothenberg, pointed out that while the new allowances are welcome, the main allowance has not increased in a decade. That fact, combined with soaring house prices, means more estates than ever are being drawn into the IHT net.

The Treasury’s take from death duty is expected to exceed £7bn by 2023.

Pensions

The lifetime allowance on pension contributions will increase from £1.03m to £1.05m. This is the limit on the amount retirees can amass in a pension without incurring additional taxes. Anything above this level can be taxed at a rate of 55pc upon withdrawal.

The allowance increases each year in line with inflation, but was drastically cut throughout George Osborne’s time of office from its previous high of £1.8m.

Telegraph Money reported at the weekend that these cuts are leading more than a million public sector workers into the lifetime allowance net.

Meanwhile, the amount employees will pay into their pensions will increase to a total of 8pc under the Government’s auto-enrolment scheme. The increase means employers must now pay in 3pc of a saver’s salary while the individual must pay in 5pc. The Government claims this has created an additional eight million pension savers.

Buy-to-let landlords

Mr Osborne may have started the crackdown on buy-to-let investors but Mr Hammond appears to have picked up the baton with aplomb.

On April 6 the next stage of the phased removal of mortgage interest relief will come into effect. Landlords used to be able to claim the interest paid on their mortgages as a business expense to reduce their tax bill. Now they will only be able to claim a quarter of this amount as tax deductible ahead of the complete removal of the relief next year.

Mr Hammond is also cracking down on Airbnb-style holiday lets. Previously, those letting out a property via a room-sharing service were able to claim an annual income of £7,000 under rent-a-room relief.

This loophole is being removed with the relief only applying on spare rooms which are rented out while the owner still lives in the property.

Investors

Although capital gains tax (CGT) allowances are on the move in the right direction – increasing from £11,700 to £12,000 – the Treasury has cast its eye on a relief popular among investors.

Entrepeneur’s Relief gives a CGT break to those who sell shares in an unlisted company, provided they own at least 5pc of the shares and up to a lifetime value of £10m. Ms Mock said the £2.7bn cost to the Treasury could have prompted the changes due to come into force next week.

The holding period to qualify for the relief is being raised from 12 months to 24. Ms Mock warned this could mean some lose the tax break or can only access it up to certain levels of investment.

This will also be the first tax year that claims can be made for investors’ relief which, in a similar way, gives CGT breaks to those who sell shares in unlisted firms. However, while the former is aimed at company directors, the latter is geared to encourage outside investment in firms.

There is no minimum shareholding to be eligible but investors must have held the shares for at least three years. As the relief was introduced in 2016, this is the first tax year when it can be used.

Finally, the Junior Isa limit will increase from £4,260 to £4,368. All other Isa limits stay the same.

Should you have any queries or would like to speak to Mohammed Zahed please contact him on 0121 454 7680.

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