Business tax

Corporation tax rate
The government has confirmed that the rate of corporation tax will fall to 17% in 2020.

Annual investment allowance
The AIA will be increased from £200,000 to £1 million for all qualifying investments in plant and machinery from 1 January 2019 until 31 December 2020.

Special rate writing down allowance
The capital allowances special rate for qualifying plant and machinery, such as long-life assets, will be reduced from 8% to 6% from April 2019.

Structures and buildings allowance
A 2% capital allowance will apply to qualifying capital expenditure on new non-residential buildings and structures where all the contracts for the physical construction works are entered into on or after 29 October 2018. Relief will not be available for the costs of land or dwellings.

Corporate losses
The tax treatment of corporate capital losses will be brought into line with the treatment of income losses from 1 April 2020. The proportion of annual capital gains that can be relieved by brought-forward capital losses will be limited to 50%. However, companies will have unrestricted use of up to £5 million capital or income losses each year.

Amendments will be made to the existing loss relief legislation to ensure that it works as intended and prevents relief being claimed for excessive carried-forward losses.

Digital services tax
A new 2% tax will be charged from April 2020 on the revenues of certain digital businesses that derive value from their UK users. The tax will apply to revenues generated from the provision of search engines, social media platforms and online market places where those activities are linked to the participation of UK users, subject to an annual allowance of £25 million.

The tax will only apply to groups that generate global revenues from in-scope business activities of more than £500 million a year. It will include a safe harbour provision that will exempt loss-makers and reduce the effective rate of tax on businesses with very low profit margins.

Company vehicles
Fuel benefit charges will increase in line with the retail prices index (RPI) and the van benefit charge will increase in line with the CPI from 6 April 2019. The fuel multiplier for 2019/20 will be £24,100 for cars. For vans, the fuel chargeable amount will be £655.

Intangible fixed assets regime
A targeted relief will be introduced from April 2019 for the cost of goodwill in the acquisition of businesses with eligible intangible property. With effect from 7 November 2018, a de-grouping charge will not arise where the de-grouping is the result of a share disposal that qualifies for the substantial shareholding exemption.

Offshore receipts in respect of intangible property
From April 2019, income from intangible property held in low-tax jurisdictions will be taxed to the extent that it can be referred to UK sales. The tax will be collected by directly taxing offshore entities that realise intangible property income in low-tax jurisdictions. There will be a de minimis UK sales threshold of £10 million and exemptions for income that is taxed at appropriate levels or supported by sufficient local substance.

Enhanced capital allowances (ECAs)
The ECA for companies investing in electric vehicle charge points will be extended to 31 March 2023. ECAs and first-year tax credits for technologies on the Energy Technology List and Water Technology List will end in April 2020. The savings will be reinvested in an Industrial Energy Transformation fund to support significant energy users to cut their energy bills and move UK industry to a low-carbon future.

Charity taxes
The upper limit for trading that charities can carry out without incurring a tax liability will rise from £5,000 to £8,000 where turnover is under £20,000, and from £50,000 to £80,000 where turnover exceeds £200,000.

Charity shops using the Retail Gift Aid Scheme will be allowed to send letters to donors every three years when their goods raise less than £20 a year, rather than every tax year.

The individual donation limit under the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme will increase from £20 to £30. This applies to small collections where it is impractical to obtain a Gift Aid declaration.

These changes will take effect from April 2019.

Plastic packaging
A tax on the production and import of plastic packaging will be introduced in April 2022. Subject to consultation, it will apply to plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. The Packaging Producer Responsibility System will be reformed to provide an incentive for producers to design packaging that is easier to recycle and penalise the use of difficult to recycle packaging, such as black plastics.

Apprenticeship levy
Levy-paying employers will be able to transfer up to 25% of their funds to pay for apprenticeships training in their supply chains.

The co-investment rate for apprenticeship levy will halve to 5%.

Think ahead
Your business might be entitled to a valuable research and development (R&D) tax credit - even if it doesn’t make a taxable profit. Check out the position; you might be surprised what expenditure can qualify and how much it could be worth to you.

Think ahead
Automatic enrolment pension minimum contributions increase significantly again from 6 April 2019. Make certain you - and - are aware of the consequences.