Page last updated at 23:12 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 00:12 UK

New tax changes explained

Piggy bank

The new tax year, which starts on 6 April, brings in an unusually large number of changes to both personal and business taxes.

Many of the changes were first announced in 2007, in either that year's budget or in the later pre-budget report.

Here is a quick guide to some of the impending changes to your personal finances this year.

A few changes have started already.

INCOME TAX AND NATIONAL INSURANCE

The 10% starter rate of income tax is being abolished, except on savings income for people who are low paid.

But the basic rate of tax comes down from 22% to 20% for everyone.

As well as a rise in everyone's personal allowance, age related allowances for those aged 65 or older are seeing a big increase, from 7,550 to 9,030, and to 9,180 for those 75 and over.

However the main National Insurance rate of 11% is now being levied on a bigger chunk of people's incomes, up to 40,040 a year.

The small but vocal group of tax-payers known as the non-domiciled, will now have to pay 30,000 a year to keep their privileged tax status, once they have had it for seven years.

And they will lose their previous eligibility for personal tax allowances immediately if they want to keep the "remittance" basis of their taxation.

BENEFITS AND TAX CREDITS

Child benefits, state pensions and tax credits are all going up.

For instance the threshold for the Working Tax credit rises by 1,200 to 6,420.

Pensioners are getting higher winter fuel payments.

SAVINGS

The hugely successful system of tax-free Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) is being given a further boost.

The annual limit on savings rises to 7,200 and up to 3,600 of this can be saved as cash.

CAPITAL GAINS TAX

The complex system of Capital Gains Tax is being simplified.

The old taper relief and indexation allowances are being swept away.

Instead, a new "one-size fits all" flat rate of CGT - at 18% - is coming in.

Entrepreneurs will get some extra relief though, in the form of a new CGT lifetime allowance of 1m taxed at a lower rate of 10%.

Everyone's basic annual CGT exemption goes up to 9,600.

INHERITANCE TAX

For 2008-09 the individual's allowance, which is known as the nil-rate band, goes up to 312,000.

The allowance for couples and civil partners effectively rises to a maximum of 624,000 as a result of unused nil-rate bands being transferable, on the death of the first partner or spouse.

DRINK AND TOBACCO

The duty on alcoholic drinks went up on 17 March and the tax on tobacco rose on 12 March.

It meant that beer went up by 4 pence a pint, a typical bottle of wine by 14 pence and a bottle of spirits by 55 pence.

Cigarettes went up by 11 pence for a packet of twenty.

MOTORING

The 2 pence a litre increase in fuel duty has now been delayed until October this year.

But some car tax goes up steeply for the vehicles the government says cause most pollution.

The tax for Band G cars goes up by 100 to 400, but vehicle excise duty rises by only 5 for other bands.

All these changes happened on 13 March.

Much bigger changes, including the introduction of a so-called showroom tax for the most polluting cars, have been lined up for 2009.

BUSINESS TAXES

The main changes since April 1 have been that the main rate of corporation tax dropped from 30% to 28%. But for small companies the rate goes up to 21% from 20%.

Meanwhile significant changes to rates paid by businesses have also come in.

Instead of paying just 50% rates on empty shops and offices, owners will now have to pay 100% after a short period of time.

And empty factories and warehouses will now have to pay 100% rates instead of none at all.

The system of capital allowances for businesses is also changing radically for companies and also for sole traders and business partners.

Building allowances are being phased out; the main allowance rate for plant and machinery goes down from 25% to 20%; but a new 100% allowance comes in for investment in new plant up to 50,000.




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