Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Q&A: The pre-Budget report and you

Cash
A number of tax changes were made by the chancellor

Chancellor Alistair Darling has delivered his pre-Budget report.

What does it mean for your personal finances?

Here are the key points.

What is happening to taxation?

National Insurance contributions are going up even more than first planned.

All employer, employee and self-employed rates of NI will rise by an additional 0.5% from April 2011.

That is in addition to the 0.5% increase announced in the pre-Budget report last year.

These are far and away the biggest tax changes announced in the report, raising more than £4bn in 2011-12.

However the starting point at which NI is levied will rise.

The chancellor says no one earning less than £20,000 - about 15 million people - will pay any more national insurance as a result.

VAT, which was temporarily cut to 15%, will go back up to 17.5% - as planned - on 1 January 2010.

National Insurance change for working couple with two children
Collective income £20,000: gain £145 in 2011-12 compared with 2009-10
Income £30,000: £156 loss in 2011-12 compared with 2009-10
Income £40,000: £260 loss in 2011-12 compared with 2009-10
Income £50,000: £360 loss in 2011-12 compared with 2009-10
Income £60,000: £460 loss in 2011-12 compared with 2009-10
Source: KPMG. Figures are estimates only and should not be used for tax or investment decisions. Figures assume that benefits, other tax rates and allowances for 2011/12 will be unchanged from 2010/11.

The inheritance tax allowance will be frozen at £325,000 for the next year. The government had planned to put up the limit to £350,000.

In April 2012, the point at which people start paying income tax at 40% will be frozen for one year.

For the next financial year, the basic and higher rates of tax will stay at 20% and 40% respectively.

The personal allowance and basic rate limit will stay at their current levels.

Meanwhile the stamp duty holiday on property sales comes to an end on 31 December, as planned.

From next year it will again be levied on properties worth more than £125,000, not just those above £175,000 as at present.

What about those bankers?

Employees of banks and other financial institutions may find they are no longer in line for a bonus.

A temporary, but stiff, 50% tax will be paid by banks on any bonuses above £25,000 they pay to their staff between now and April next year.

It may be extended beyond that date.

Meanwhile a new broadband tax is being brought in. If you have a telephone land line you will pay a new tax of 50p per month to fund the installation of "super-fast" broadband to 90% of the population by 2017.

What about pensions?

As previously announced in October, the basic state pension will go up by 2.5% next April.

PRE-BUDGET REPORT DOCUMENTS

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The long-planned introduction of the new pension personal accounts system will also be "phased in".

And the government is going to do more to rein in the cost of funding the main government occupational pension schemes.

By 2012, contributions by the government to public service pensions for teachers, local government, NHS and the civil service will be "capped", to save about £1bn a year, Mr Darling said.

He said that public sector workers would also have to make bigger contributions to their pensions.

The government has also refined its plans to restrict the value of pension tax relief for some higher rate tax payers from 2011.

Its plans to phase this out will now affect some people earning more than £130,000 a year, not just £150,000 as first proposed.

It is now going to consult on complicated proposals to tax them on the benefit of their employers' pension contributions as well.

And what's happening to benefits?

Families receiving benefits linked to the inflation figures, such as child benefit and some disability benefits, will see their benefits rise by 1.5%.

To help some people who might be in danger of having their home repossessed, the support for mortgage interest scheme will be extended for another six months.

Those who want to stay working part-time after they reach retirement age will, if they are over 65, find it easier to receive working tax credit, as the minimum number of hours they need to work to be eligible will be cut.

The Warm Front scheme will be extended to 75,000 more homes, and as many as 125,000 homes will be eligible for a boiler scrappage scheme to replace old domestic boilers with new ones.

This scheme should be worth £400 per eligible household and is aimed to start next year.

From next April, if you have a home wind turbine or solar panel and sell excess electricity to the national grid, you will be able to earn up to £900 a year tax free.

That would save them as much as £180 in tax next year.



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