election

Election come down

So after all the hype and canvassing and the debates, the results are in – and it’s a hung Parliament, the first since 1974. What does that mean for your money? Well, first of all, the pound has fallen against other currencies – 4 cents against the dollar and 3 cents against the Euro – bad news if you were about to go on holiday!

Why is this? In short because the value of a currency is related to how confident investors are in a country’s economy. Historically, hung parliaments in Britain are unable to act as swiftly as majority governments, because consensus must be found by the members of coalition parties – who often disagree on certain principles. These delays in acting may hinder our recovery from the recession – so investors would rather not be holding on to the pound. Of course, if it does lead to a slow recovery (or even the “double dip” recession some analysts have been predicting), then this could continue to hit us in the wallet for months to come – with the effects of the recession continuing rather than abating.

Another area that was to be decided by this election was income tax and National Insurance. As I wrote previously, all the parties had set out in their manifestos their intended changes to the PAYE system. I put these all in the Election Comparison Calculator – which shows you want impact these differences would have on you. With no party yet in charge, it’s not clear what will happen about this – whose policies will be enacted? The Conservatives, who have the largest number of seats, said they would hold an emergency budget to implement some of their changes before next year. We’ll have to wait and see to find out what really happens.

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None of the content on this website, including blog posts, comments, or responses to user comments, is offered as financial advice. Figures used are for illustrative purposes only.

General Election nears

With a General Election later this week, it’s time to find out about each of the parties and consider who would best represent you in Westminster. It’s the closest election in many years so it’s very important that we make the effort to have our say in the decision of who will govern us. The economy has been a key election topic for most of us this time around, and each of the parties have a different way of tackling the problems we face. Yes, we have come out of recession but the recovery is not yet complete – the actions of the next government will determine how we go forward from here.

In the Election Comparison Calculator I’ve tried to help show what would happen to your take home pay should we have a change of government. All the details of the calculations performed are underneath the results, explaining what the key differences between the parties are. Of course, your take home pay is not the only thing at stake – all the major parties have put details in their manifestos of how they will make other changes affecting not only your money but other aspects of your life as well.

Over at the BBC they have created a useful election tool called Where they stand. This allows you choose a topic and three parties to compare, and a summary of each party’s manifesto is displayed. You can see at a glance what the major differences are between the parties on the issues you believe are important – be it the Economy, Civil Liberties, Health or Education (amongst others).

Your vote can make a difference, this year more than ever before, so I encourage you to read up about the parties standing in your constituency and vote for who you think would best represent you. See you at the polling station!

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Election Comparison Calculator launched!

With a general election now called for 6th May, the major parties have started campaigning and promoting their policies. All have policies related to taxation, and The Salary Calculator has tried to show you what their different policies may mean to you.

The Election Comparison Calculator aims to help you see the differences between the major parties’ policies on personal income. Using the information available, the calculator estimates how their policies would affect your take home pay. As described on the Election Comparison Calculator page itself, not all the details are available at the moment, and probably won’t be until the next government holds its first budget. However, the details they have provided allow the calculator to estimate what those changes would mean to you.

All the details used to create the calculator are available underneath the results. As explained in that description, the calculator considers PAYE changes – each party also has other economic policies which may affect you in other ways, such as stamp duty or inheritance tax. Some assumptions have had to be made – if you can help provide more detailed information then please contact us. So why not try the Election Comparison Calculator and see what you learn?

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Pre-budget report

Earlier this week the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave his pre-budget report, which gives us a preview of what he will announce in next year’s budget. For personal income, there were a couple of things to note. Firstly, the personal allowance (the amount that everyone can earn without paying income tax) is not increasing as it normally does in April 2010, and nor are the thresholds for National Insurance contributions. The Chancellor says that this is because the Retail Price Index (RPI) shows that deflation over the past 12 months means that in real terms we will be better off than a year ago even without the usual increase.

As already announced, there will be a new higher tax rate of 50% for income over £150,000, and personal allowances will be reduced gradually to zero for those earning over £100,000 (by £1 for every £2 earned over this limit).

The Salary Calculator will be updated with these details early in 2010, but as you can see, only those earning over £100,000 will find their take-home pay changing in April 2010. Everyone else will have the same personal allowances and the same tax and NI rates, so take-home will remain as before.

However, there was also news in this pre-budget report that there are plans to increase National Insurance contributions by 0.5% from April 2011, but also to raise the NI threshold so that those on lower salaries are not negatively affected. The details are not yet clear (and of course, there is an election between now and then so it may not come to pass) but whatever the changes for 2011 turn out to be, The Salary Calculator will be updated at that time.

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Liberal Democrats pledge to lower income tax

A reader has asked me about this campaign pledge from the Lib Dems, where they say they will increase the income tax personal allowance to £10,000 if they win the next election. They say this could mean an extra £700 a year for low- and middle-income voters.

Let’s look at the numbers and see if they are right. As you can see on The Salary Calculator “about” page, the current allowance is £6,475 for under-65s. Increasing this to £10k would give everyone an extra £3,525 untaxed, and for those in the 20% tax band this would be £705, matching what the Lib Dems claim.

However, they have to raise this extra money from somewhere – as you can see on their website they have listed some areas they might take the money from, including taking National Insurance on benefits in kind and second jobs. Also, they may lower the threshold between the 20% and 40% rates, meaning smaller savings for those in the higher bracket.

At first glance, those in the 40% tax bracket will save even more with this increase in personal allowance (up to £1,410!), but if the threshold were lowered this effect would be smaller, and as you can see on the Lib Dem website, they also talk about modifying tax relief so that pension contributions are only tax free on the 20% rate. As always, the devil is in the detail!

Needless to say, should they come to power The Salary Calculator will be updated when they make good on this campaign promise.

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Monday, September 28th, 2009 Income Tax, Pay As You Earn 5 Comments

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