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| Income Tax | Business Tax | Capital Gains Tax |
| Stamp Duty | Inheritance Tax |Other Points |
As was widely predicted, the Chancellor announced a lower income tax rate of 10%, fulfilling Labours manifesto commitment. It will apply to the first £1500 of income from April 6, 1999. The existing 20% band on the first £4300 will disappear.
The personal allowance will increase to £4335. Married couples allowance will rise in line with inflation to £1970 at 10% in 1999-2000.
The Chancellor also announced that the basic rate of income tax will be cut by 1% to 22% from April 2000.
The married couples allowance is increased to £1970. It will be replaced with a childrens tax credit from April 2001, worth on average about £416 a year.
Tax relief on mortgage interest remains unchanged at 10% on loans up to £30,000 for 1999/2000 but is abolished from April 2000.
The earnings threshold for National Insurance will increase to £76 a week from April 2000, the first step in the Chancellors programme of aligning the NIC threshold with the single persons tax allowance.
A new 10% starting rate of corporation tax will take effect from April next year. This will apply to small businesses with companies making taxable profits up to £50,000 benefitting from the change.
Cuts of 1% in the small companies rate (those with profits up to £300,000) and the main rate of corporation tax announced last year, come into effect on April 1 this year. These will stand at 20% and 30% respectively.
The small companies rate is now 3% below the basic income tax rate, and 20% below the higher rate. This larger gap provides increased incentive for small businesses which keep profits in the business to incorporate.
First year capital allowances on plant and machinery will continue at 40% until July 2000 as the Chancellor previously indicated.
There has been no change for individuals on the major reform to CGT announced in last years Budget. So retirement relief is still being phased out from April 1999 to April 2003.
Annual exemption has been raised by inflation to £7100. Tax rates are to be aligned with those for savings income, charging gains at 20% or 40% depending on the level of incomes and gains.
Stamp duty rates are to be increased from Mar 16. The latest increases are from 2% to 2.5% on property sales over £250,000 and from 3% to 3.5% where the sum is more than £500,000. (Transfers up to £60,000 remain free of charge and, for deals between £60,000 and £250,000, the rate is 1%.) Even on a sale of 200 acres, the increase will add about £2000 to the purchase price.
The zero rate band for inheritance tax will increase in line with inflation to £231,000, a rise of £8000. The rate of tax above this threshold remains at 40%. Potentially exempt transfers, business and agricultural property relief also stay the same. However, new provisions apply to gifts of land after March 9 1999, where an arrangement allows the donor to occupy the land to a “significant degree” without paying a full rent and the gift is made within seven years. This is intended to block schemes such as the Lady Ingram case which recently succeeded in the House of Lords.
“Little for the farming community” is what the budget offers, according to the NFU.
Proposals to increase fuel duty will hit the rural economy to the tune of an additional £13m. “Fuel taxes are already higher in Britain than in European countries,” said NFU deputy president Tony Pexton.
But he welcomed the cut in corporation tax, the retention of increased capital allowances and the freeze on VAT and vehicle excise duties for most lorries.
The rise in road fuel duty was dubbed as “inappropriate” by the Scottish NFU. “Farmers and crofters in more remote areas of Scotland have no alternative to the use of private vehicles,” said president Jim Walker.
The SNFU also welcomed the Chancellors decision not to introduce input taxes. “Farmers already have every incentive to use them sparingly, because of their costs and their introduction would have further hit the competitiveness of our industry,” said Mr Walker.
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