Changes to Child Benefit

As you might have seen in the news, the government has introduced changes to who is eligible to receive Child Benefit, taking effect from 7th January 2013. If you or your partner earn over £50,000, the amount of Child Benefit you are eligible for will be reduced – and if one of you earns over £60,000 you will not be eligible to receive any Child Benefit. Those who are earning between £50,000 and £60,000 will have a choice to make before 7th January, since they can still keep some of the Child Benefit they are used to. You can either:

  1. Opt out of Child Benefit, and stop receiving it from 7th January 2012
  2. Choose to continue receiving Child Benefit, but pay a “High Income Charge” as an extra tax, effectively reducing their net Child Benefit. To do this, they must register for Self Assessment and complete a tax return each year

If you choose option 2, you will receive the same amount of Child Benefit as you currently do – but you will have to complete a tax return at the end of the tax year, and HMRC will levy an additional tax of some (or all) of the Child Benefit you received. This so-called “High Income Charge” is calculated as a proportion of where your total income comes between the £50,000 and £60,000 thresholds – e.g., if your income is £55,000, you will have to pay back 50% of the Child Benefit you receive. The income used is your “adjusted net income”, which is not simply your salary – you must add to this any additional income like interest paid on savings, and deduct eligible pension contributions. When you complete a tax return through Self Assessment, HMRC will work out your adjusted net income and the proportion of Child Benefit that you must repay. The High Income Charge will never be more than the Child Benefit you or your partner received. More information is available on HMRC’s High Income Child Benefit Charge page.

If you find yourself in the £50,000 – £60,000 income band, you have a limited amount of time to decide whether you are going to give up Child Benefit or register for Self Assessment (if you haven’t already) and pay the High Income Charge. To help you understand better how this will affect you, there is a government tool you can use to help decide what to do, which will guide you through the relevant points to consider.

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Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 Income Tax No Comments

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Budget 2012 update

Today, the Chancellor gave his annual budget speech in the House of Commons, outlining government spending plans for the next couple of years. The details of income tax and National Insurance from 6th April 2012 had already been provided, so as I have explained in a previous post, The Salary Calculator is up to date with the latest tax information.

However, the Chancellor took the opportunity to outline plans for income tax from April 2013, and there will be a few changes. Firstly, the under-65 tax free allowance will be increased from April 2013 to £9,205,  in line with the coalition pledge to increase the tax-free personal allowance to £10,000 before the next election. This is an increase of £1,100 on the April 2012 value, saving those on low and middle incomes up to £220 per year. However, the increased personal allowances currently available to those over 65 will be frozen and, for those not yet receiving the increased allowances, replaced by a single allowance for all ages (although this change will not take immediate effect).

Another change in 2013 will be to reduce the top rate of income tax, paid by those earning over £150,000 per year, from 50% to 45%. The 50% rate was introduced by the Labour government, where previously such income would have been taxed at 40%. This will be popular with traditional Tory voters but Labour are complaining that the richest are getting tax cuts in this time of austerity.

The Salary Calculator will be updated with the April 2013 values nearer the time – in the meantime, you can see what the April 2012 changes will make to your pocket each month by checking The Salary Calculator 2012. There is also a comparison utility so you can easily see the difference between 2011 and 2012.

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2012 Budget approaches

Next week, Chancellor George Osborne will give his budget speech, announcing his plans for taxation and spending for the next 12 months. In the 2012 budget, he is expected to announce measures to help business growth in Britain, such as easier or lower-cost business loans. There will also be plans to increase some taxes, but likely only on the wealthiest in the country. How well this is likely to go down with traditional Tory voters remains to be seen.

All of us will be affected by changes to income tax and National Insurance following his budget speech – as reported in a previous blog post, The Salary Calculator has been updated with the latest budget information to show you how your take home pay will change next month. Get started with The Salary Calculator for the April 2012 budget.

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Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 Economy 1 Comment

April 2012 Update

The Salary Calculator has been updated with the latest tax information which takes effect from 6th April 2012.

This year, the standard personal allowance (the amount you are allowed to earn each year tax-free) has been increased from £7,475 to £8,105 which will mean that most of us will pay less tax. However, for higher earners, the threshold of taxable income for the 40% tax rate has been lowered from £35,000 to £34,370 – which will reduce the improvement from the increased personal allowance (although you should still be better off!). The National Insurance thresholds have also increased slightly, which all goes towards helping you bring more money home each month.

For those paying into pension schemes through their employer there is a change which may affect the amount of National Insurance you pay. Firstly, the NI rebate on “contracted-out” salary related schemes has reduced from 1.6% to 1.4% – which will mean you pay a little more National Insurance than in 2011. However, those paying into a money-purchase pension scheme will find that from April 2012 this is no longer considered “contracted-out”, so you will get no rebate at all. You can see what a difference this will make by un-ticking the “Contracted out” option on The Salary Calculator. More information is available in this goverment document explaining the change [PDF].

Head over to The Salary Calculator to see what a difference this will make to your pay packet next month – there’s even a comparison utility which shows a breakdown of the difference between 2011 and 2012.

You can read more about the April 2012 tax and NI rates on The Salary Calculator’s about page, or these useful pages from HMRC:

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Thursday, March 1st, 2012 Pay As You Earn 3 Comments

Raising the personal allowance

The personal allowance is the amount of money you are allowed to earn each year before you start paying income tax. As mentioned in a recent BBC article, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats made an election pledge to raise the personal allowance to £10,000 (at the time of the election, the personal allowance was £6,475). As part of the coalition government the Conservatives and the Lib Dems agreed to make this increase before 2015, and last year the threshold was increased by £1,000 to £7,475 – although, as I reported at the time, the threshold for 40% tax was lowered at the same time so that those earning more would start paying 40% tax sooner.

This April, the standard allowance for the under-65s is set to increase again, this time to £8,105. This is less of an increase than last year (a change only of £630) but it will still make a significant difference to those on lower incomes. Nick Clegg is pushing for the threshold to be raised quicker than that, but the Conservatives are resisting it for now – the main reason for this being that the lost tax would have to be paid for elsewhere. This could mean either increasing other taxes or making further cuts.

The personal allowance is affected by your tax code, which means you may not receive the standard tax-free amount. More information about tax codes in this blog post.

The Salary Calculator will be updated in early Spring with the tax thresholds and rates for April 2012.

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Monday, January 30th, 2012 Income Tax, Pay As You Earn No Comments

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