Our tax change predictions for 2020

Usually, by this time of year we’d have a fairly clear picture of the tax changes set to take effect in April.

But 2019 has been unusual in many ways, and as the Budget originally planned in November was cancelled to make way for the general election, there’s been no major fiscal announcement this year.

That means certain tax changes have yet to be announced or confirmed when the Chancellor makes his speech, probably in February.

Based on what we know so far, here are the main tax changes businesses and individuals can expect in the 2020/21 tax year.

Personal tax

According to the Conservative manifesto, the personal allowance and income tax thresholds will be frozen in 2020/21.

We can also expect an increase to the national living wage, estimated to be around £8.67, in line with plans to raise it to £10.50 by 2024.

Meanwhile, the lifetime allowance on pensions is expected to rise to £1.073 million, subject to any announcements in the Budget.

And for inheritance tax, the residence nil-rate band is set to rise from £150,000 to £175,000.

For landlords, it’s not all good news, as several changes are coming in that reduce the tax advantages of those with buy-to-let portfolios.

These include a restriction to letting relief, a reduction of the final-period exemption, and a new 30-day deadline to report capital gains on private residences. However, these tax changes have yet to be confirmed in a Finance Act.

Landlords will see the last in a series of phased reductions to mortgage interest relief, which previously allowed them to deduct any of their mortgage expenses from taxable rental income.

Instead, they will receive a tax-credit based on 20 per cent (the current basic tax rate) of their mortgage interest payments.

From 6 April 2020, they will receive a tax credit based on 20% – the basic-rate of income tax – of their mortgage interest payments.

Business tax

Corporation tax was originally scheduled to decrease to 17% from 1 April 2020, but this plan has since been cancelled.

Firms claiming tax relief on R&D projects may be affected by a small change to the SME R&D scheme.

A previously abolished cap on payable tax credit is set to be reintroduced, meaning a loss-making business will be able to receive no more than three times the company’s total PAYE and national insurance contributions liability for that year.

However, the Conservative manifesto included a pledge to raise the R&D tax credit rate from 12% to 13%, and to widen the definition of R&D, so it’s possible these changes may be made in time for 2020/21.

Later in the year, businesses that supply or receive services that are reported under the construction industry scheme may need to prepare for a change in their VAT accounting, as the domestic reverse charge is set to take effect on 1 October 2020.

Other changes

Arguably, the biggest change affecting businesses and individuals in 2020 is the UK’s exit from the EU. The planned Brexit deadline is on 31 January 2020, leaving just over 40 days to prepare.

On the same date, self-assessment taxpayers are required to file their 2018/19 tax returns and pay any tax due before midnight. On top of that, it’s the deadline for settling loan charge payments, although there’s a possibility this could change pending a review into the topic.

A change to the off-payroll working rules often known as IR35 is planned to take place on 6 April 2020. This will affect private sector contracts, placing the responsibility for determining a worker’s employment status for tax in the hands of the employer, instead of the worker.

However, this could also be subject to delay, after several industry groups called for more time to prepare.

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