Spring Budget 2024: Business Tax & Capital Gains Tax

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Gerry MacCrossan

Spring Budget 2024: Business Tax & Capital Gains Tax

Tax Relief for Expenditure on Plant & Machinery

By way of a £1million Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) and, for companies only, unlimited ‘full expensing’, your business is likely to be able to claim 100% tax relief on qualifying equipment purchases.

Conditions may apply and, in some cases, the rate of tax relief in the year of purchase can be 50% or less. In particular, some connected, or group businesses need to share their £1million AIA limit between them and this is something that HMRC are currently focusing on so please do talk to us if you have any concerns.


Motor Vehicles

While vans and commercial vehicles will often qualify for 100% tax relief when purchased, the rate of tax relief for a car will be less, unless it is both brand-new and electric. The cost of buying other cars is tax relieved by way of an 18% or 6% annual writing down allowance, based on whether the car has carbon dioxide emissions of up to or more than 50g/km respectively.

HMRC had planned to update their guidance so that double-cab pick-ups with a payload of 1 tonne or more were reclassified from commercial goods vehicles to cars from 1 July 2024. This would have significantly hindered the tax reliefs available. However, in February they backtracked and committed to retaining the commercial vehicle tax treatment. Although it was not part of the Budget speech, legislation will soon follow to cement the commercial vehicle approach. This applies for both capital allowances and benefit-in-kind purposes (above).


Making Tax Digital (MTD)

Under the government’s MTD initiative, businesses will keep digital records and send a quarterly summary of their business income and expenses to HMRC using MTD-compatible software. These requirements will be phased in from April 2026, starting with income tax-paying sole traders and property landlords with gross income over £50,000.

HMRC is re-launching its optional beta testing, with eligible businesses able to opt-in from April 2024. Please talk to us if you’d like to know more.


Using The Cash Basis to Compute Business Profits

As first announced at last year’s Autumn Statement, it should be remembered that most unincorporated businesses will default onto the ‘cash basis’ of calculating taxable profits for the 2024/25 tax year and onwards. As a simplification measure for some, it will mean that your annual profits are calculated based on when you receive payments from customers and make payments to suppliers. Adjustments for stock and amounts owing by or to you will not be possible.

Some small businesses are already using the cash basis voluntarily and won’t be affected by the change.

It is possible to ‘opt-out’ of the cash basis and instead use traditional ‘accruals’ accounts (with adjustments for stock etc.) for tax purposes. The decision will affect the timing of your tax liabilities and will ultimately be based on your personal circumstances. Please talk to us for more information and to plan the approach for your business.


Tax Relief for Training Costs

Alongside the Budget, HMRC has published updated guidance on tax deductions available to sole traders and self-employed individuals. Amid the AI revolution, the guidance clarifies that tax relief can be claimed on training costs relating to updating existing skills, maintaining pace with technological advancements, or changes in industry practices.


Capital Gains Tax

The capital gains tax (CGT) annual exemption will drop to £3,000 in 2024/25, down from £6,000 in 2023/24. This change will mean that those selling capital assets such as property or shares will pay more tax.

The main rates of CGT remain at 10% for basic rate taxpayers (or those disposing of a business that qualifies for Business Asset Disposal Relief) and then 20% in most other cases.

However, increased rates apply when the asset being sold is a residential property that is not your private residence. From 6 April 2024, the residential property CGT rate will remain at 18% for basic rate taxpayers but will reduce from 28% to 24% for those with residential property gains falling outside of their basic rate band.

This measure is intended to generate more transactions in the property market, benefitting those looking to move home or get on the property ladder.

Remember, for property disposals that give rise to CGT, tax payment and reporting obligations can arise just 60 days after your completion date so make sure you take advice in good time.