Tax and benefits changes for the 2013/14 tax year

In April everything from benefits to income tax and the price of a pint is changing. Here are the biggest changes.

This is arguably the biggest year of changes since this Government's first in power.

Here’s a round-up of all the imminent changes and some of the important longer-term ones.


Income Tax

The tax-free personal allowance will be increased from £8,105 to £9,440 from 6th April.

However, the higher rate (40%) tax threshold will be reduced from £34,371 to £32,011 from the same date.  This means that income from £9,441 to £41,450 will be taxed at 20%, with income above that being taxed at 40%.

And the additional rate, for people earning over £150,000 a year, will be cut from 50% to 45%.

Age-related personal allowances will be frozen at £10,500 for those born between 6th April 1938 and 5th April 1948, and £10,660 for those born before 6th April 1938 from 6th April.

There will be no age-related allowances for any retirees born after 6th April 1948; instead they will be taxed at the same limits as working-age people. This controversial measure from Budget 2012 was dubbed the ‘granny tax’.



Benefits

Most working-age benefits will only be increased by 1% a year from April. The exceptions are the basic and 30-hour elements of the Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit, and Child Benefit, which are all frozen until April 2014.

However, a benefit cap of £500 a week for couples and single parents with children at home, and £350 for single adults who don’t have children or children living at home, is being introduced. This begins in four London boroughs from 15th April, before being introduced in the rest of the country between 15th July and 30th September.

Council Tax Benefit is also being scrapped from 1st April, with a Council Tax Reduction scheme taking its place, which will mean more people will have to pay some Council Tax.

There is also the so-called ‘bedroom tax’, actually a cap on housing benefit. This will see some council and housing association tenants receive less benefit if they are deemed to have too many bedrooms. This begins in April.

Tax reliefs currently available for claimants of Disability Living Allowance will be available to people receiving the new Personal Independence Payments, which begins in April. This will also apply to people receiving Armed Forces Independence Payments.

The Universal Credit, which replaces many working-age benefits, will gradually be introduced from April.



National Insurance

The Class 2 rate of contributions will increase from £2.65 a week to £2.70 from 6th April. The Class 3 rate will increase from £13.25 a week to £13.55 a week. The Class 4 lower profits limit will increase from £7,605 a year to £7,755 while the upper profits limit will decrease from £42,475 a year to £41,450.



State Pensions

The Basic State Pension will go up by £2.70 a week from 6th April – that’s a 2.5% increase. The Second, or Additional, State Pension will rise by 2.2% a week to £3.35.

Pension Credit is to increase by 1.9% from £142.70 a week to £145.40 for single people and £217.90 a week to £222.05 for couples.



Council Tax

The second home Council Tax discount is to be scrapped by most councils from 1st April. Some councils, such as Cornwall, have already scrapped it.



Vehicle Excise Duty

This now rises in line with the higher Retail Prices Index measure of inflation (and has done since Budget 2012, although this doesn’t apply to HGVs).

[Related link: Can you save money on your car insurance? Compare policies here]



Alcohol and tobacco duties

As widely (and wildly in some cases) reported, beer duty will be reduced by 1p a pint. All other alcohol duties will continue to rise in line with inflation + 2%, so the cost of a pint of cider will rise by 2p, a bottle of wine by 10p and a bottle of spirits by up to 40p. These all take effect from Sunday night.

A packet of 20 cigarettes has already increased in price by 26p. From January, herbal tobacco products will also be liable to tobacco duty.



ISA allowances

The tax-free ISA allowance will increase to £11,520 a year from 6th April, although only half of that amount can be saved in cash.

[Related link: Use this year's tax-free ISA allowance or lose it  – compare ISAs here]



Pension drawdown

The capped drawdown limit (the amount you can take in income from your pension instead of buying an annuity) will be increased from 100% to 120% of the value of an equivalent annuity from 26th March.



Inheritance Tax

The threshold has been frozen at £325,000 until 2017/18, in part to fund the changes to social care coming into force in 2016.



Air Passenger Duty

This will rise in line with the Retail Prices Index from April 2013.

[Related link: Compare travel insurance deals]



Corporation Tax

This will be reduced by one percentage point to 23% from April.



Employee shareholders

Employee shareholders using the new Government scheme will not pay Income Tax or National Insurance contributions on the first £2,000 of shares they receive. This comes into force from 1st September.

Gains on up to £50,000 of shares will be exempt from Capital Gains Tax.

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