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Budget 2012 predictions: Pensions, personal allowances and child benefit come under Government spotlight

HR Editorial , 19 Mar 2012

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Cuts in pension tax relief and child benefit look set to hit the headlines after Wednesday’s Budget, but employees’ personal allowance could also be increased from £8,105 to £10,000 per annum, according to Smith and Williamson.

Richard Mannion, national tax director at Smith & Williamson, said: "The 2012/13 personal allowance and the higher rate threshold were announced a year ago in the 2011 Budget in the sums of £8,105 and £34,370 respectively.

"The Government has previously signalled its intention to increase the personal allowance to £10,000 during the life of this Parliament. But further increases may be brought forward to take immediate effect and paid for by additional taxes on the wealthy. We may get an announcement on 21 March indicating a larger than expected increase for 2013/14 - perhaps to £9,000.

"However the effect of this increase is likely to be targeted at taxpayers on lower incomes by restricting the higher rate threshold by a similar amount. In other words an individual will start to pay 40% tax in 2013/14 once their income exceeds £42,475, the same tipping point as has been announced for 2012/13. As a result, this will put more people into the 40% tax rate as a result of fiscal drag.

"We can also expect changes to child benefit to minimise the 'cliff edge' problem where families with one parent in employment and earning just over the 40% tax threshold lose this benefit, whereas a family with two earners just under the 40% threshold may keep the benefit.

"The opponents of the 50% rate have claimed that it has put less in the coffers than expected. However, no definitive figures have yet been published and Osborne is expected to announce the statistics on Budget day. Whatever those statistics show, it is unlikely that the 50% rate will be taken away any time soon whilst the austerity plans remain in place.

"Cuts in pension tax relief, (either for those on the 40p or 50p tax rate) and taxing lump-sums would bring in far more revenue than the 50p tax rate.

"However, such moves would be hugely unpopular and would also seem to fly in the face of government claims to be keen to support pension saving. Consequently it is more likely that the £50,000 annual limit will be reduced to a less generous amount."

But speaking via video at the BCC conference last week Osborne (pictured) gave little indication of what business could expect except to say:"We need a more competitive economy; to make Britain a good place to invest and to hire"

He intimated that business rates was an area of consideration and called on employers to come forth with their views on employment law.

"I have taken on some of the different arguments but there will always be a queue of people ready to appear on TV or in the media against change.

"Many people think you shouldn't touch employment law. We are calling for evidence and any number of trade unions will be representing the view that we should not adjust the law. If you think we should then let us know"

 

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