The largest Finance Bill in UK history was cut from 762 pages to 148 pages so that the opposition parties would agree to it being passed in the wash-up before Parliament dissolved today. This strategy worked as the Bill received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017 and became the Finance Act 2017. Pensions An expanded tax exemption (from £150 to £500) for the cost of pension advice provided to employees and former employees was to apply from 6 April 2017. This advice may already have been given on the understanding it was tax free. But, as the tax exemption limit now remains at £150, employers need to be wary of breaching that limit, as a breach will incur a benefit in kind charge for employees. That’s unless of course this measure is reintroduced in a future Finance Bill, and backdated to 6 April 2017. This change also means that the pensions regulations are now out of sync with tax law. The Registered Pension Schemes (Authorised Payments) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/397) allows for the pensions advice to be paid for by authorised withdrawals from a defined contribution pension plan. Up to three withdrawals of up to £500 per year may be made to pay for pensions advice. Where an individual has already drawn taxable pension benefits from a defined contribution scheme, their subsequent pension contributions are capped by the Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA). These taxpayers won’t know how much pension contributions they can make in 2017/18, as MPAA was set to reduce from £10,000 to £4,000 on 6 April 2017, but now won’t. Property and trading allowances George Osborne announced two new allowances of £1,000 each in his 2016 Spring Budget, which would be available to be set against sundry income, and property income that doesn’t qualify for rent-a-room relief. These allowances were to apply from 6 April 2017, but they were removed from the Finance Bill. Taxpayers need to be careful to record all extra sources of income, however small. Cash Basis A new compulsory cash basis for individual landlords with annual turnover under £150,000 was due to apply from 6 April 2017. Landlords would have had to opt out of the cash basis in order to use the accruals basis if their letting business otherwise qualified. Those landlords who have recorded transactions under the cash basis since 6 April 2017 will need to ensure the accruals basis is applied. The entry and exit thresholds for the cash basis for trading businesses were also increased from the VAT threshold and twice the VAT threshold to £150,000 and £300,000 respectively. However, as that change was made by regulations (SI 2017/293), those higher limits did come into effect on 6 April 2017. Substantial shareholding exemption (SSE) reform The rules for the substantial shareholdings exemption (SSE) were to be relaxed for transactions made on and after 1 April 2017, a move which was hailed as a positive step. However, those measures were removed from the Finance Bill. This may catch out companies that already made share disposals on or after 1 April 2017 but before 27 April. A new tax relief for museums and galleries, who operate as companies, was to take effect for costs incurred on new exhibitions from 1 April 2017. Such organisations may have budgeted for exhibitions on the basis that the new tax relief would apply. Off-payroll working in the public sector The controversial measure to apply a version of the IR35 rules to off-payroll contracts performed in the public sector was retained in the Finance Bill, but it was amended at the last minute. The original draft of these rules would have applied to contracts performed for retail pharmacies, who had an NHS dispensing contract, as they were treated as being part of the public sector. As these businesses routinely use locum pharmacists, who often operate through personal service companies, this was a big issue. An amendment was made to the definition of public authority to exclude provision of pharmaceutical services and ophthalmic services for the NHS. Have you got questions? As more information is published, we will continue to bring you updates on our blog, as well as regular information on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can also get in touch with our team who are on hand to answer any questions.