Tax and benefit changes for 2012/13
It's the start of a new tax year, so let's take a look at the tax and benefits changes that have now come into effect.
The new tax year has started and that means a host of tax and benefit changes come into effect.
There are a number of benefits that are increasing in line with the Consumer Prices Index measure of inflation from September 2011. Previously, they had been increased in line with a variant of the higher Retail Priced Index measure, known as the Rossi Index. So while they’re increasing to keep pace with living costs, that increase is lower than it has been in the past.
Let’s take a look at some of the major ones and how they might affect you.
The personal allowance, the amount of income you can earn tax free, has increased from £7,475 to £8,105 for people under 65. If you earn more than £100,000 a year, then the allowance reduces by £1 for every £2 of income you have above the £100,000 limit, irrespective of your age.
If you’re aged between 65 and 74, the personal allowance has increased from £9,940 to £10,500. And if you’re aged 75 or over, the personal allowance has risen from £10,090 to £10,660. However, these only apply up to an income limit of £25,400. At this point, the allowance reduces by £1 for every £2 of income you have above the limit.
However, the threshold for paying the higher, 40% rate of income tax has fallen from £35,000 to £34,371, which will pull more people into that tax bracket. (Remember, that threshold means income earned above the personal allowance, so you won't pay 40% unless your total annual income is greater than £42,476.)
If you’re self-employed or do some self-employed work in addition to your full-time job, you’ll be paying more National Insurance on this income. That’s because the Class 2 National Insurance rate has risen from £2.50 to £2.65 a week (with a few exceptions).
However, the ‘earnings exception’, or the threshold at which you have to pay these contributions, has risen from £5,315 of income a year to £5,595. The Class 4 National Insurance lower profits limit has also risen, from £7,225 a year to £7,605.
Child Tax Credits
The income limits for Child Tax Credits are being dramatically reduced from this new tax year. The calculations for this particular benefit are not hard and fast, so this is a rough guide. If you have one child, you’ll likely lose your Child Tax Credits if your income is above £26,000 a year. If you have two children, the limit is around £32,200 a year. However, larger families, people with disabilities and people who pay for registered or approved childcare could still qualify above these income limits.
The child element of Child Tax Credits has risen by £135, but this is only paid to families with lower incomes.
The best way to find out what you’re entitled to is to use the Child Tax Credit calculator on the HMRC website.
Working Tax Credit
There are also some major changes to the Working Tax Credit.
If you’re a couple with children, you’ll need to work at least 24 hours a week between you to qualify for Working Tax Credit. There are exceptions: if one of you is aged 60 or over; if one of you has a disability; if one of you is entitled to Carer’s Allowance; or one of you is on long-term sickness benefits, in hospital or in prison.
If you’re aged 50 or over and receiving the Working Tax Credit, you’ll no longer receive the ’50-plus element’ after the 6th April. If you’re aged between 50 and 60 and are not responsible for children, you’ll need to work at least 30 hours a week to qualify for Working Tax Credit.
However, you’ll only need to work 16 hours a week to qualify if you’re aged 60 or over, responsible for children or receiving the disability element of Working Tax Credit.
If you’re single and responsible for children, you still only need to work a minimum of 16 hours a week.
From 9th April, the full State Pension increases from £102.15 a week to £107.45. Pension Credit is also rising by 3.9% to £142.70 for single pensioners and £217.90 for couples. If you receive Savings Credit, the maximum payment is falling to £18.54 a week.
The payment for people claiming contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is increasing from £67.50 a week for a single person aged 25 or over to £71 a week. The amount for under-25s has increased from £53.45 to £56.25 a week.
The amount you can save tax-free in an ISA has risen in line with inflation to £11,280; of this amount you can now save up to £5,640 in a Cash ISA.
While the inheritance tax threshold remains at £325,000, if you donate 10% or more of your estate to charity you will now pay 36% tax on the value of your estate over that threshold. Otherwise the 40% tax still applies.
The statutory rate of maternity pay has increased from £128.73 a week to £135.45.
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