Today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond will deliver his Spring Budget. It is not expected that there will be any big surprises – no big changes in policy. However, he will be laying the groundwork for a further budget in the Autumn, which is likely to include more significant changes. This is the last Spring Budget, as future budget announcements will take place in the Autumn.

Changes to your take home pay from April 2017 have already been announced and you can compare 2016 and 2017 tax years on The Salary Calculator tax year comparison. The personal allowance (the amount you can earn tax-free) has been increased by £500 to £11,500 and the threshold for higher rate tax has increased by a further £1,500.

Perhaps the biggest change this year is the introduction of different income tax in Scotland – the Scottish Parliament’s budget controls the thresholds and rates for those who live North of the border, and from April 2017 different thresholds apply. The threshold for higher rate tax (£43,000 in the default case) is not increasing in Scotland, whereas in the rest of the UK it will be £45,000. This means that those earning over this threshold will pay more tax if they live in Scotland than if they live elsewhere. You can see this difference in The Salary Calculator if you enter a Scottish tax code or tick the box for Scottish residents (remember to choose the 2017/18 tax year in the drop down box!).

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The Salary Calculator has been updated with the new Income Tax and National Insurance rates which will apply from 6th April 2017. The tax-free personal allowance has been raised by £500 to £11,500, allowing you to take home more of your hard-earned cash without having to pay income tax. Income tax rates have stayed the same, but there is a change to the thresholds between the basic rate (20%) and higher rate (40%) tax bands.

For the first time, from April 2017, income tax will be different if you are resident in Scotland than if you live in the rest of the UK. The Scottish rates of income tax will be set by the Scottish Government rather than by the UK Government in Westminster. For UK income tax, the threshold to 40% tax has gone up to £45,000 (assuming you have the full personal allowance) – but in Scotland, the threshold stays where it was last year at £43,000. Since the increased personal allowance applies both sides of the border, almost everyone will be better off from April 2017 than they were this year – but those earning over £43,000 in Scotland could be as much as £400 worse off over the year compared to if they lived in the rest of the UK. More information about the introduction of the Scottish income tax is available from the Scottish Government.

Head over to The Salary Calculator and choose the 2017/18 tax year to see the difference to you – or try the side-by-side comparison of 2016 and 2017 take home.

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If you are trying to save for your retirement, or just for a rainy day, it can be difficult to understand what your options are and what is best for you. Should you get an ISA (Individual Savings Account), or a SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension)? What are the pros and cons of each, and why might you open a savings account instead?

Fortunately, Hargreaves Lansdown have created a series of guides intended to help you make the most of your savings – the guides are free to download, all they ask is that you provide some registration details. If you would like to know more about investing for the future and the tax benefits of doing so, try their introduction to SIPPs, or the beginner’s guide to ISAs.

Also of interest to readers of The Salary Calculator might be the calculators on Hargreaves Lansdown’s site which can help you plan for your retirement.

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Investments, Savings No Comments

With just a few days to go until the “Brexit” referendum, many people are trying to work out whether they (or the UK as a whole) will be better off remaining in the EU, or leaving it behind. Although a lot of people have opinions on the matter, unfortunately know one knows for sure what would happen if the UK left the EU (or indeed, what would happen if it remained).

For those who are still thinking about it, there is a useful article on the excellent Money Saving Expert website which does a good job of laying out the facts for you to consider: How to vote in the EU referendum

If you know what your vote is going to be, but you’re interested in knowing what the polls are saying about everyone else’s vote, The Economist has a poll tracker which shows you how the opinion polls have changed over time, and also allows you to see how the votes split by demographic such as young / old, male / female.

Whatever you think about Britain’s membership of the EU, this is one of the most important decisions we will make as a nation. It is important that you have your say – which means please make sure you vote on polling day!

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Economy, Stock Market No Comments

Tomorrow, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his annual budget to the Houses of Parliament. We have already heard about some possible announcements (such as the introduction of a scheme to help people increase their savings), and we have been told that there will be no changes to pension tax relief (which looked likely, for a while).

From 6th April, the new tax year means changes to tax-free personal allowances, tax thresholds and the like. The Salary Calculator has been updated with the latest values so you can see what your payslip will look like from April onwards. The personal allowance has been increased to £11,000 per year, which will reduce the tax due for most people. There are changes to National Insurance this year, too – since it is no longer possible for a pension to be “contracted-out” (earning a reduction in NI contributions), those of you who had one of these pensions will be paying the full NI contributions from 6th April.

If you would like to see how these changes will affect you, head over to The Salary Calculator to see what difference it will make to your payslip!

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