A number of themes emerged during Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement earlier today, not least of which is the importance of stability in uncertain times. It has been a hectic few months in terms of UK tax policy announcements and, by comparison, today’s statement may have seemed relatively bland. Perhaps of more interest to many businesses in the Crown Dependencies was what was not mentioned in the Chancellor’s statement: in particular, there was no reference to the rumoured reform to the non-domiciled regime that had been widely discussed.

However, the impact of the Autumn Statement, both for UK taxpayers and businesses and people in the islands, should not be understated. The freezing of allowances and the reduction of some reliefs and thresholds will have a significant impact on after-tax income in an inflationary environment. The UK’s tax burden, already at a 70-year high as measured as a percentage of the country’s GDP (according to the Office for Budget Responsibility) is only set to increase further over coming years as a result of today’s announcements.

For individuals, perhaps the most eye-catching but not unexpected announcement were the reductions to the dividend allowance (to £500 by April 2024) and capital gains tax annual exempt amount (down to £3,000 by April 2024) which will also impact trustees. In addition, the higher rate income tax threshold has been reduced to £125,140 from £150,000. Corporation tax was not mentioned in the Chancellor’s statement, meaning that the planned increase to 25% for larger companies will go ahead. It is not long ago that we were talking about CT rates of 17%. The Autumn Statement also included details of the UK’s implementation of the OECD Pillar 2 rules for a global minimum corporate tax rate, including a top-up tax for groups not paying 15% elsewhere.

In recent years, there has been a pattern of UK tax rates decreasing and thresholds increasing. As a result, the difference in a working individual’s overall tax burden, when comparing the UK to our Islands, had become increasingly marginal. This trend now seems set to be reversed, making our Islands increasingly attractive for both employers and employees. These could be useful for Islands’ businesses in attracting talent.

For further details of the tax measures in the Autumn Statement, please join us for our webinar tomorrow at 8.30am where our panel of experts will discuss the Autumn Statement as it impacts the Crown Dependencies as well as other recent developments in our Islands.

Register by clicking here.

Full details of the Autumn Statement 2022 can be found here.

Summary of key tax announcements

Corporate tax

The following announcements were made in respect of Research and Development (R&D) tax reliefs:

  • the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) rate will increase from 13% to 20% for expenditure on or after April 2023;
  • the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) additional deduction will decrease from 130% to 86%, and the SME credit rate will decrease from 14.5% to 10% for expenditure on or after April 2023;
  • the Government will consult on the design of a simplified, single RDEC-like scheme for all businesses; and
  • previously announced reforms to expand qualifying expenditure to include data and cloud costs, refocus support towards innovation in the UK, and target abuse and improving compliance will go ahead as planned.

The Government confirmed that the following previously announced measures will go ahead:

  • the headline rate of Corporation Tax will increase to 25% for companies with over £250,000 in profits from 1 April 2023;
  • the rate of Diverted Profits Tax will increase from 25% to 31% from 1 April 2023;
  • the banking surcharge rate will be reduced to 3% from 1 April 2023. This was first announced in the 2021 Autumn Budget and has already been enacted. However, there was uncertainty it would go ahead as it was cancelled in the September 2022 ‘mini Budget’.]
  • the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) will be permanently kept at its current level of £1 million; and
  • from April 2023, large multinational businesses operating in the UK will be required to keep and retain transfer pricing documentation in a prescribed and standardised format, set out in the OECD’s Transfer Pricing Guidelines (Master File and Local File).

Following consultation earlier this year, the Government has decided not to introduce an Online Sales Tax (OST). The Government’s response to the OST consultation will be published shortly.

A consultation has been opened on reforms aiming to simplify and modernise the audio-visual subset of the creative industry tax reliefs, covering film, animation, high-end TV, children’s TV and video games.

Additional detail has been given on the timeline for the UK implementation of the OECD Pillar 2 rules for a global minimum corporate tax rate. As announced previously an Income Inclusion Rule (IIR) will broadly require large UK headquartered multinational groups to pay a top-up tax where their foreign operations have an effective tax rate of less than 15% for accounting periods beginning on or after 31 December 2023. It has now also been confirmed that for accounting periods beginning on or after 31 December 2023 the Government will introduce a supplementary Qualified Domestic Minimum Top-up (QDMTT) tax rule which will require large groups, including those operating exclusively in the UK, to pay a top-up tax, broadly where their UK operations have an effective tax rate of less than 15%. The Government also confirmed its intention to implement the backstop Undertaxed Profits Rule in the UK, but with effect no earlier than accounting periods beginning on or after 31 December 2024.

Previously proposed technical changes to the capital allowance super-deduction rules will no longer be made, as these are not required in light of the increase in the main rate of Corporation Tax. There was no further mention of the super-deduction and it therefore appears that this will not be extended.

Income tax allowances, bands, and rates for individuals

The basic, higher, and additional rates of income tax will remain at 20%, 40%, and 45% respectively for 2023/24.

The personal allowance will remain frozen at £12,570 for a further two years until 6 April 2028. The married couples’ allowance will be uprated by September CPI of 10.1% for 2023/24.

The higher rate threshold will remain frozen at £50,270 for a further two years until 6 April 2028, but the additional rate threshold will reduce from £150,000 to £125,140 from 6 April 2023.

The annual dividend allowance will decrease from £2,000 to £1,000 from 6 April 2023 and to £500 from 6 April 2024. The dividend ordinary, upper, and additional rate of income tax will remain at 8.75%, 33.75%, and 39.35% respectively for 2023/24.

The Scottish Parliament and the Senedd will set rates of income tax on non-savings and non-dividend income payable by Scottish and Welsh taxpayers respectively. The Scottish Parliament will also set the tax bands for Scottish taxpayers’ non-savings and non-dividend income.

Non-domiciled individuals and the remittance basis

Despite speculation, the taxation of non-domiciled individuals remains unchanged except for a specific measure in relation to share for share exchanges involving a UK company and a non-UK company.

National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW)

From 1 April 2023, the NLW for those aged 23 or over will increase from £9.50 per hour to £10.42 per hour, with the NMW increasing to £10.18 per hour for those aged 21 to 22, £7.49 per hour for those aged 18 to 20, £5.28 per hour for those aged 16 to 17, and the apprentice rate will increase to £5.28 per hour. The accommodation offset will increase to £9.10 per hour.

Employment income and NIC

As previously announced, Class 1A NIC, Class 1B NIC, and employer’s NIC in respect of directors who are subject to an annual earnings period will revert to 13.8% for 2023/24.

 Other rates of employee’s and employer’s NIC will remain frozen for 2023/24.

Employee’s and employer’s NIC thresholds will remain frozen for 2023/24 and, broadly, are expected to remain at their current levels until 6 April 2028.

On company car taxation, the appropriate percentages for electric and ultra-low emission cars emitting less than 75g of CO2/km will increase by 1 percentage point in each of 2025/26, 2026/27, and 2027/28 up to a maximum appropriate percentage of 5% for electric cars and 21% for ultra-low emission cars.

The rates for all other vehicles bands will increase by 1 percentage point for 2025/26 up to a maximum appropriate percentage of 37% and will then be fixed in 2026/27 and 2027/28.

From 6 April 2023, car and van fuel benefit charges and van benefit charge will increase in line with CPI.

Self-employed income and NIC

Class 2 and 3 NIC rates will increase in line with CPI for 2023/24.

The associated NIC thresholds will remain frozen for 2023/24 and, broadly, are expected to remain at their current levels until 6 April 2028.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

The annual exempt amount will reduce from £12,300 to £6,000 from 6 April 2023 and to £3,000 from 6 April 2024.

Inheritance Tax (IHT)

The IHT threshold and residence nil rate band will remain frozen at £325,000 and £175,000 respectively for a further two years until 6 April 2028.

Windfall taxes

The rate of the Energy Profits Levy, which applies to the profits of oil and gas companies operating in the UK and the UK Continental Shelf, will be increased from 25% to 35% from 1 January 2023 and the levy will remain in place until the end of March 2028. Changes to the associated investment allowance, broadly intended to maintain its cash value, will also be made. The Government will consult stakeholders over the coming months as part of a review of the UK’s long-term tax treatment of the North Sea after the Energy Profits Levy ceases.

A new temporary 45% Electricity Generator Levy on ‘exceptional generation receipts’ will be introduced from 1 January 2023 and also be legislated to end by 31 March 2028. The levy will be applied to groups generating electricity from nuclear, renewable and biomass sources, that undertake electricity generation in the UK and are either connected to a national grid or connected to local distribution networks.

Stamp taxes

In the ‘mini Budget’ on 23 September 2022, the Government increased the nil-rate threshold of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) from £125,000 to £250,000 for all purchasers of residential property in England and Northern Ireland and increased the nil-rate threshold paid by first-time buyers from £300,000 to £425,000. The maximum purchase price for which First Time Buyers’ Relief can be claimed was also increased from £500,000 to £625,000. The Government has confirmed these reductions will now come to an end on 31 March 2025.

VAT and indirect taxes

VAT registration and deregistration thresholds maintained to 2026 – these had already been frozen until 1 April 2024. This freeze has been extended for an additional 2 years until 2026. This means that the threshold for registration will have been at £85,000 since 1 April 2017.

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) on Electric Vehicles – From April 2025, electric cars, vans and motorcycles will begin to pay in the same way as petrol and diesel vehicles.

Tariff suspensions – Import tariffs to be removed on over 100 goods for two years. The measure will remove tariffs as high as 18% on goods ranging from aluminium frames used by UK bicycle manufacturers to ingredients used by UK food producers.

Climate Change Levy (CCL) rates rebalancing – As previously announced, CCL main rates on gas and electricity in the UK are to be equalised by 2025. In Spring Finance Bill 2023 the CCL main rate on gas will be raised to £0.00775/kWh.

Other announcements of note

As announced in September’s ‘mini-budget’, the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) will be closed. The Government has now confirmed that the OTS will publish its findings from the call for evidence on Hybrid and distance working before the end of the calendar year and will not undertake further work. The formal closure will take effect when the next Finance Bill receives Royal Assent.

Business rate bills in England will be updated from 1 April 2023 to reflect changes in property values since the last revaluation in 2017. A number of transitional measures were also announced, broadly intended to mitigate the impact of this change:

  • the business rates multipliers will be frozen in 2023-24 at 49.9 pence and 51.2 pence, preventing them from increasing to 52.9 pence and 54.2 pence;
  • upwards Transitional Relief will support properties by capping bill increases caused by changes in rateable values at the 2023 revaluation. The ‘upward caps’ will be 5%, 15% and 30%, respectively, for small, medium, and large properties in 2023-24, and will be applied before any other reliefs or supplements;
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief for eligible retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses is being extended and increased from 50% to 75% business rates relief up to £110,000 per business in 2023-24;
  • bill increases for the smallest businesses losing eligibility or seeing reductions in the Supporting Small Business Scheme (SBRR) or Rural Rate Relief (RRR) will be capped at £600 per year from 1 April 2023; and
  • at Autumn Budget 2021 the Government announced a new improvement relief to ensure ratepayers do not see an increase in their rates for 12 months as a result of making qualifying improvements to a property they occupy. This will now be introduced from April 2024. This relief will be available until 2028, at which point the government will review the measure.