Friday Highlight  

What to expect from the Autumn Budget 2018

As Mr Hammond has already hinted, maintaining the freeze would cost £38bn over the next three years.

While politically explosive, fuel duty increases would go a long way to easing the Chancellor's fiscal pressures.

Other simple changes include the modification of two inheritance tax reliefs. Business property relief and agricultural property relief can each provide exemption from inheritance tax.

The Chancellor may heed calls to restrict the scope of business property relief to those more closely involved with the business and tighten the assets test in respect of agricultural property relief.

Turning to capital gains tax, entrepreneurs’ relief is forecast to cost the Exchequer £2.7bn in 2018. Described by the Resolution Foundation as "quite likely the worst tax relief in the UK", it is possible that the Chancellor will look at restricting it. 

Using entrepreneurs' relief, a person who sells part or all of their business is entitled to a lifetime relief on qualifying gains of up to £10m. These gains are taxed at only 10 per cent.

In its current form, the relief was intended to encourage serial entrepreneurs to sell successful businesses they created and to start new businesses. While investment continues to be a priority, many are questioning whether the relief is too generous or whether tax reliefs should instead focus on investments at the beginning of a new business rather than when the business is sold.

Apart from sales qualifying for entrepreneurs’ relief, capital gains tax is paid at 28 per cent on gains from residential property and at 20 per cent on gains made from other chargeable assets.

Speculation is growing that both these rates might be increased.

Pensions and corporation tax

Scarcely a Budget goes by without changes to the pensions tax regime. With limits having been cut dramatically over the years, sentiment around the fact that high-earners seem to benefit most from the pensions tax reliefs is hardening.

It would not be surprising to see tax relief for pension contributions limited to the basic rate of income tax.

The Chancellor must also indicate the future direction for UK corporation tax rates. With these receipts now at record levels, there is an argument that the current low corporation tax rates are stimulating profitable businesses.

Equally, there is concern that these profits reflect low-value employment which may not be in the long-term interests of the UK.

Since his first Budget in March 2017, Mr Hammond has demonstrated a much steadier approach to tax than his predecessor, along with a recognition of how tax law actually works in practice.

We will be watching carefully to see how this approach translates into action in the Autumn 2018 Budget, undoubtedly the most important of Mr Hammond’s career.