Autumn Statement 2016

Business Tax

Corporation tax rates

Corporation tax rates have already been enacted for periods up to 31 March 2021.

The main rate of corporation tax is currently 20%. The rate will then be reduced as follows:

Corporate tax loss relief

Currently, a company is restricted in the type of profit which can be relieved by a loss if the loss is brought forward from an earlier accounting period. For example, a trading loss carried forward can only relieve future profits from the same trade. Changes are proposed which will mean that losses arising on or after 1 April 2017, when carried forward, will be useable against profits from other income streams or other companies within a group. This will apply to most types of losses but not to capital losses.

However, from 1 April 2017, large companies will only be able to use losses carried forward against up to 50% of their profits above £5 million. For groups, the £5 million allowance will apply to the group.

Comment

The removal of the restrictions on the use of carried forward losses is very welcome. The existing rules can result in losses not being used, particularly where a company closes down a loss making trade. Over 99% of companies will be unaffected by the restrictions imposed on large company losses above £5 million.

Corporate interest expense deductibility

Rules will be introduced which limit the tax deductions that large groups can claim for their UK interest expenses from April 2017. These rules will limit deductions where a group has net interest expenses of more than £2 million, net interest expenses exceed 30% of UK taxable earnings and the group’s net interest to earnings ratio in the UK exceeds that of the worldwide group.

Corporation tax on non-resident companies’ UK income

The government is considering bringing all non-resident companies receiving taxable income from the UK into the corporation tax regime.

Comment

The government wants to ensure that all companies are subject to the rules which apply generally for the purposes of corporation tax, including the limitation of corporate interest expense deductibility and loss relief rules.

Research and development

The Chancellor highlighted that research and development is a key driver for economic growth and has committed to an extra £2 billion a year of additional funding by 2020/21. There are two types of tax reliefs for eligible expenditure. Under one of these, qualifying companies can claim a taxable credit of 11% in relation to eligible research and development expenditure. This is known as an ‘above the line’ tax credit. The government will review ways to build on this relief.

Class 2 NICs

Class 2 NICs will be abolished from April 2018, and following this, self-employed contributory benefit entitlement will be accessed through Class 3 and Class 4 NICs. Self-employed people with profits below the Small Profits Limit (£5,965 for 2016/17) will be able to access Contributory Employment and Support Allowance through Class 3 NICs.

Substantial shareholding exemption

Where qualifying conditions are met, the disposal of a substantial shareholding in a company by a UK company is exempt from tax. From April 2017, the government intends to simplify the rules of this relief, remove the investing requirement and provide a more comprehensive exemption for companies owned by qualifying institutional investors.

Comment

The substantial shareholding exemption allows some groups of companies to restructure and make disposals of shareholdings without incurring a tax charge. Currently the qualifying conditions are complicated and restricted to trading groups, so the proposed changes may allow more groups to access this valuable relief.

Museums and galleries tax relief

At Budget 2016, the government announced the introduction of a tax relief for museums and galleries that would be available for temporary and touring exhibition costs.

The government has decided to broaden the scopeto include permanent exhibitions. The relief will take effect from April 2017. The rates of relief will be set at 25% for touring exhibitions and 20% for non-touring exhibitions and the relief will be capped at £500,000 of qualifying expenditure per exhibition.

Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR)

From 6 April 2017, the amount of investment that social enterprises aged up to seven years old can raise through SITR will increase to £1.5 million. Investment in nursing homes and residential care homes will be excluded initially, however the government intends to introduce an accreditation system to allow such investment to qualify for SITR in the future. The limit on full-time equivalent employees for a qualifying social enterprise will be reduced from 500 to 250.

Comment

Individuals investing in a qualifying social enterprises can deduct 30% of the cost of their investment from their income tax liability, either for the tax year in which the investment is made or the previous tax year. The investment must be held for a minimum period of three years for the relief to be retained. In addition there is no capital gains tax on a disposal of the investment.

Disguised remuneration schemes

Recent tax changes have tackled the use of disguised remuneration schemes by employers and employees. Now the government will extend the scope of these changes to tackle the use of disguised remuneration avoidance schemes by the self-employed.

Tackling the hidden economy

Consideration will be made by the government to introduce tax registration as a condition of access to some essential business services or licences.

First year allowances on electric charge-points

Expenditure incurred on or after 23 November 2016 on electric charge-point equipment for electric cars will qualify for a 100% first year allowance. This relief will expire on 31 March 2019 for corporation tax and 5 April 2019 for income tax.

Northern Ireland corporation tax rate

Devolution of power to the Northern Ireland Assembly allows the Assembly to set a Northern Ireland rate of corporation tax to apply to certain trading income. The Northern Ireland Executive has committed to setting a rate of 12.5% in April 2018. The government will amend the Northern Ireland corporation tax regime in Finance Bill 2017 to give all small and medium sized enterprises trading in Northern Ireland the potential to benefit. Commencement of the devolved power is subject to the Northern Ireland Executive demonstrating its finances are on a sustainable footing. 

Venture capital schemes

The government has proposed to make further changes to tax-advantaged venture capital schemes including the Enterprise Investment Scheme, the Seed Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trusts to clarify some rules and provide some additional flexibility and certainty.

Please contact us for further details if this is an area of interest to you.