Summer Budget 2015: Expectations

The Chancellor George Osborne will deliver the summer Budget early this afternoon.

Commenting ahead of the statement, John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that the Budget “is an early opportunity to provide a boost to the increasing positive sentiment”. It will be an occasion for the Chancellor to “demonstrate his pro-enterprise credentials by backing small business to deliver the growth and jobs the economy needs”.

Ahead of his statement to the House of Commons, here are some measures that have got the commentators speculating:

1. A triple tax lock

The Conservatives pledged in the lead-up to May’s General Election to introduce a so-called ‘tax lock’. This would cap VAT, income tax and national insurance increases until 2020. Today’s emergency Budget is the first opportunity for the Tories to make a clear statement of intent. Will Osborne choose to deliver on one of his party’s key election promises?

2. Inheritance tax residential allowance

An article written in The Times by the Chancellor and Prime Minister David Cameron strongly hinted that the Budget will deliver on another of the Conservative’s election pledges: the introduction of an inheritance tax (IHT) allowance on residential property.

According to the Conservative election manifesto, a transferable residence allowance would be worth £175,000 per person and only available to married couples and civil partners. This would provide couples with a maximum £1million IHT-free allowance when used in conjunction with the current £325,000 IHT threshold.

3. Pension tax relief cuts for high earners

The Conservatives announced in their manifesto that the IHT residential allowance would be funded by pension tax relief cuts for additional rate taxpayers, and many commentators expect the Chancellor to follow through on this.

More hints came last week when the government published a policy paper outlining the practicalities of further pension reforms, including cuts to pension tax relief and reductions to the lifetime allowance.

4. Capital gains tax

With the cap on income tax, VAT and national insurance increases looking likely to many commentators, the Chancellor may look to capital gains tax (CGT) as a source of extra revenue.

The Chancellor has 3 options when it comes to raising money from CGT: a freeze or cut to the annual exemption (currently £11,100), a reduction of CGT allowances (such as entrepreneurs’ relief) or a rise in CGT rates. Tax expert Rebecca Cave predicts that the current CGT rates (18% and 28%) could move closer to the higher and additional rates of income tax.

5. Anti-avoidance measures

Amid a Budget widely expected to contain large cuts to state spending, the Chancellor may announce new anti-avoidance measures to provide a populist counterbalance. The government’s manifesto pledged to raise £5 billion by combating evasion and aggressive tax avoidance but some commentators are speculating that the Chancellor may step up the government’s anti-avoidance campaign.

We will publish summaries of the Chancellor’s announcements after he has presented the summer Budget statement to the House of Commons.