Chancellor Philip Hammond has confirmed that his first Autumn Budget will be delivered on Wednesday 22 November 2017, under the government's new fiscal timetable. The Autumn Budget will outline the government's plans for the 2018/19 tax year, based on the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Meanwhile, the government has published Finance Bill 2017-19, reintroducing a range of legislative measures which were put on hold pending the snap General Election. Among these is the reduction in the Dividend Allowance, which will fall from £5,000 to £2,000 in April 2018.
Finally, the Federation of Small Businesses has called for urgent action on the so-called 'staircase tax', which has resulted in many small businesses receiving backdated business rates bills.
Finance Bill confirms Dividend Allowance reduction
The publication of Finance Bill 2017-19 ushers back in a raft of measures that had previously been dropped from Finance Bill 2017.
One such measure is the forthcoming reduction in the Dividend Allowance, which is set to fall from £5,000 to £2,000 next April. With 2.7 million individuals in receipt of dividend income, many are likely to feel the effects of the change.
Chancellor Philip Hammond stated that the cut would help to 'address the unfairness' that may be associated with the tax advantage enjoyed by director-shareholders.
The Chancellor initially announced the plans in the 2017 Spring Budget, but the measure was dropped from Finance Bill 2017 to pave the way for the General Election.
The reduction is likely to affect director-shareholders who opt to take dividends on top of a salary. It may also have consequences for savers with investments in stocks and shares worth £50,000 or more outside of an Individual Savings Account (ISA). According to HM Treasury, the average loss is expected to be around £315 - but it could be significantly more for individuals paying tax at the higher or additional rate.
Other measures reintroduced to Finance Bill 2017-19 include the planned reduction in the pensions Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA), which has fallen from £10,000 to £4,000. The measure is being enforced retrospectively, and has been backdated to the beginning of the 2017/18 tax year.
The Finance Bill also outlines a framework for VAT reporting, under the government's new Making Tax Digital initiative.
Backdated 'staircase tax' bills branded unfair to small firms
The Head of the Treasury Select Committee, Nicky Morgan, has branded the sending of backdated business rates bills to small businesses in England and Wales as 'particularly unfair'.
Dubbed the 'staircase tax', businesses which occupy space on multiple floors of a communal commercial property now receive separate business rates bills for each floor they occupy, where the areas separating the offices are communal (for example lifts, corridors and stairs). Some firms in England and Wales have seen their business rates rise significantly as a result.
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) determines business rates for firms in England and Wales, and made the changes as a result of a previous Supreme Court ruling which considered how different storeys under common occupation in the same block are assessed for business rates purposes.
Business rates are calculated separately in Scotland, using the rateable value which is set by a local assessor, and the 'poundage rate' which is set by the Scottish government. For 2017/18, a Large Business Supplement of 2.6p is being added to all business properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or more.
Commenting on the so-called staircase tax, Ms Morgan said: 'It seems unfair to tax businesses differently depending solely on whether the staircases between their rooms are communal or private.
'It seems particularly unfair for the increase in rates to be backdated.'
Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: 'No small business should receive a sudden tax hike of 5,000% simply because a workplace has been separated, for years, by a communal area, stairway or lift.
'Some small business owners are discussing whether to knock holes in their walls or stick a staircase on the outside of their premises.
'This is no way to run a tax system in the 20th century, let alone the 21st. Ministers have the power to provide relief, and they should do this urgently - to correct this defect in the UK tax system.'