The Chancellor delivered this 2015 Autumn Statement on 25 November. Only a handful of tax measures made it into the speech presented to parliament; additional measures were laid out in the documents published following the speech, with further detail to follow when the draft Finance Bill is published on or around 9 December 2015.
- Apprenticeship levy – from April 2017 a levy will be set at the rate of 0.5% of the total wage cost of an employer, less an allowance of £15,000; contributions will therefore only be payable where an employer’s total payroll bill exceeds £3 million.
- Auto-enrolment – the next two schedules increases to minimum contribution levels will be delayed by 6 months each to align the increases with start of the tax year.
- Enterprise zones – 26 new enterprise zones will be created.
- Company cars – the 3% differential on benefits in kind for diesel cars will be retained for 5 more years.
- Personal service companies – from April 2016 relief for travel and subsistence costs will be restricted where the intermediaries legislation applies.
- Averaging for farmers – from April 2016, the averaging period will be extended from 2 years to 5 years.
- Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) – from April 2016 a higher rate of SDLT will be charged on purchases of additional residential properties such as buy to let and second homes; the new rate will be set at 3% above current SDLT rates, and apply to properties acquired in excess of £40,000.
- Capital gains tax – from April 2019, tax payable on gains arising on the disposal of residential property will be subject to a new payment regime, requiring a payment on account within 30 days of the completion of disposal.
- Inheritance tax – no restrictions are to be placed on the use of deeds of variation.
- Childcare – thresholds to be eligible for free childcare will be tightened.
Tax Avoidance and Evasion
- Offshore evasion: A new criminal offence for tax evasion relating to the failure to declare offshore income tax and gains, and for corporates failing to prevent tax evasion. New civil penalties will be introduced for offshore tax evaders and those who enable evasion, as well as an additional requirement to correct past offshore tax non-compliance.
- Serial avoiders – measures to detail serial scheme users and scheme promoters will be introduced, including special reporting requirements, surcharges and restriction on access to certain tax reliefs.
- Targeted avoidance – measures will be introduced to prevent avoidance involving capital allowances and leasing, partnerships and intangible assets, stamp tax avoidance through the use of options, performance awards received by fund managers, and company distributions including the conversion of income to capital.
- General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) – a new penalty will be introduced of 60% of the tax due following a case being successfully tackled by the GAAR.
Following the additional ’emergency’ budget statement in the aftermath of the 2015 general election, many of the announcements in the Autumn Statement were confirmation of previously announced measures. Those additional measures announced again target property and landlords for additional revenue, as well as building upon the Government’s focus on tax avoidance and evasion, and closing the ‘tax gap’.