How the Summer Budget affects Contractors, Freelancers & Umbrella Company Workers
A review of today’s Summer Budget (8th July 2015) highlights the following key points that could affect Umbrella Company workers or contractors/freelancers who operate through their own limited company :
Employment intermediaries and tax relief for travel and subsistence – As announced at March Budget 2015, the government has published a consultation document alongside the Summer Budget on detailed proposals to restrict tax relief for travel and subsistence for workers engaged through an employment intermediary, such as an umbrella company or a personal service company. The changes will take effect from 6 April 2016. (Finance Bill 2016)
IR35 reform – The government will engage with stakeholders this year on how to improve the effectiveness of existing intermediaries legislation (‘IR35’) which is designed to protect against disguised employment. A discussion document will be published after Summer Budget 2015.
Employment taxes contribute over 40% of HMRC receipts. However, there are many different mechanisms that employers and individuals use to reduce taxes paid on earnings. This is not fair. Two individuals doing the same job, in the same way, can end up paying very different levels of tax. The government wants to take steps to address this.
The government recognises that many individuals choose to work through their own limited company. However, where people would have been employees if they were providing their services directly, anti-avoidance legislation commonly known as IR35 introduced in 2000 requires that they pay broadly the same tax and National Insurance as other employees. As highlighted by reports from the Office of Tax Simplification and the House of Lords, it is clear that IR35 is not effective enough. Non-compliance in this area is estimated to cost over £400 million a year.
The government has asked HMRC to start a dialogue with business on how to improve the effectiveness of existing IR35 legislation. The government wants to find a solution that protects the Exchequer and improves fairness in the system.
National Insurance contributions
To ensure that the NICs Employment Allowance is focussed on businesses and charities that support employment, from April 2016, companies where the director is the sole employee will no longer be able to claim the Employment Allowance.
The current system of tax credits on dividends was designed over 40 years ago when corporation tax was more than 50% and the total tax bill on dividends for some was more than 80%. Since then, tax rates including corporation tax have fallen, leaving the Dividend Tax Credit as an arcane and complex feature of the tax system.
Alongside further cuts to corporation tax rates for all businesses, the government will reform and simplify the system of dividend taxation, while maintaining the extensive tax reliefs for investments held in ISAs and pensions. From April 2016 the government will remove the Dividend Tax Credit and replace it with a new tax-free Dividend Allowance of £5,000 a year for all taxpayers. This will ensure that ordinary investors with smaller portfolios and modest dividend income will see no change in their tax liability – and some will pay less tax.
Combined with the increases the government has made to the personal allowance and the introduction of the Personal Savings Allowance, from April 2016 individuals will be able to receive up to £17,000 of income per annum tax-free, and separately invest up to £15,240 per annum through an ISA tax-free.
The government will set the dividend tax rates at 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers, 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers and 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers. While these rates remain below the main rates of income tax, those who receive significant dividend income – for example due to very large shareholdings (typically more than £140,000) or as a result of receiving significant dividends through a closed company – will pay more.
These changes will also start to reduce the incentive to incorporate and remunerate through dividends rather than through wages to reduce tax liabilities. This will reduce the cost to the Exchequer of future tax motivated incorporation (TMI) by £500 million a year from 2019-20. The tax system will continue to encourage entrepreneurship and investment, including through lower rates of Corporation Tax.
The complete budget is available at: