House prices are slowing

Halifax has found that hose prices are increasing at the slowest rate for 6 years. Prices were down 1.4% from October 2018, with the average home worth £224,578. Prices have fallen three in the past four months in a row.

State pension payments will rise by 2.5 per cent next April

…the Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed.

From the 10th April 2017 the value of the flat-rate state pension, brought in earlier this year, will increase to £159.35 from the current rate of £155.60.

Under the Government’s controversial ‘triple lock’ manifesto commitment, the basic and new state pensions will rise in line with the highest of inflation, earnings or 2.5 per cent. 

Continue reading “State pension payments will rise by 2.5 per cent next April”

Budget 2018 – Personal Changes

The Income Tax personal allowance will be increased to £12,500 from £11,850 on 6 April 2019. 

For higher rate taxpayers, the threshold above which higher earners start paying 40% tax is being increased to £50,000 from £46,350 in 2019-20.

The annual subscription limit for Junior ISAs and Child Trust Funds for 2019/20 will be increased in line with CPI to £4,368.

The Government has increased the limit of individual donations made under the Gift Aid small donations scheme from £20 to £30. 

The capital gains tax (CGT) annual exempt amount for individuals rises to £12,000 from £11,700 on 6 April 2019.

HMRC issued an updated criminal investigation policy

…which describes the kind of circumstances in which HMRC will launch a criminal investigation. As a revenue collection agency, HMRC focuses on dealing with fraud in the most cost-effective way possible, which usually means using its civil fraud procedures wherever appropriate.

Key Points:

  • National Crime Agency and HM Revenue & Customs have both stated they will focus on the role of the professional adviser in allegations of money laundering
  • HMRC received a boost to its criminal powers following the introduction of the failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion offences
  • HMRC wants to increase the number of criminal investigations that it undertakes into serious and complex tax crime

Criminal investigation tends to be reserved for cases where HMRC needs to send a strong deterrent message or where the conduct involved is such that only a criminal sanction is appropriate.

HMRC’s policy gives examples of circumstances in which it will pursue criminal rather than civil investigations and makes specific reference to cases involving money laundering, with a particular focus on advisers, accountants, solicitors and others acting in a “professional” capacity.

Government Bereavement Payments

…for deaths on or after 6 April 2017, bereavement payments are replaced by a new bereavement support payment. This is worth £3,500, plus £350 a month for 18 months, for claimants with dependent children (£2,500 plus £100 a month for other claimants). To qualify, the surviving partner must be under the state pension age, and the deceased must have paid ‘sufficient’ National Insurance contributions.

The bereavement support payment is not taxable and is disregarded in the calculation of other means tested benefits.