Winners and losers as tax changes come into force

MEASURES targeting high earners have been the focus ahead of the new tax year beginning on Tuesday, but other changes coming into force will have a considerable impact on far more people.

From income tax and personal allowances to state pension increases and a higher Isa limit, the 2010-11 tax year will bring with it changes that affect millions of people.

Some individuals, such as those earning more than 100,000 a year, will be adversely affected by measures being introduced on Tuesday, following confirmation in last week's Budget of changes announced by the Chancellor last year.

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However, a series of profound changes to pensions will also come into force, including amendments to give more women a chance of claiming the full basic state pension in retirement. Here is a summary of the big changes in the new tax year:


A new income tax rate of 50 per cent for those earning above 150,000 will be introduced, while personal allowances will be gradually reduced for those on more than 100,000 a year, before tapering to zero from 112,950.

All taxpayers will be affected by a freeze on personal allowances that will hold them at the 2009-10 levels rather than rising with inflation.

For those under 65 the tax-free allowance will stay at 6,475. Those aged between 65 and 74 get an allowance of 9,490 and above that the allowance rises to 9,640.

Some workers whose wages rise in the coming year may be pushed into the higher tax bracket because their personal allowance will not be going up, an effect known as fiscal drag.

Inheritance tax (IHT) thresholds will also be frozen, with the Chancellor last week extending the 325,000 threshold until 2014-15. But married couples and those in civil partnerships can still transfer their allowances and benefit from an effective threshold of 650,000 before IHT is due.


A range of pensions changes will come into force as part of the government's reform of the state pension system. Perhaps the most significant are measures aimed at giving more women a chance of claiming the full state pension.

The number of qualifying years of NI contributions needed for the full basic state pension will fall from 39 years to 30.

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Men need 44 qualifying years and women 39, but the change will primarily benefit millions of women who have missed qualifying years because of lifestyle factors, most notably raising children.

The age at which women can claim the state pension will gradually increase from Tuesday to bring it line with the male retirement age of 65 by 2020.

This means women born between 6 April, 1950 and 5 April, 1955 will have their retirement date set at some point between 60 and 65, depending on their age. So women turning 60 on Monday can claim the state pension straight away, but those turning 55 on the same day will have to wait until they are 65.

Women who may be affected by the change can calculate their likely state pension age at www. and retirement planning/State Pension/DG_4017919.

The full basic state pension will rise by 2.5 per cent to 97.65 for single people and to 156.15 for married couples.

However, the increase will not apply to state pension top-ups, including Serps, the second state pension, deferred pensions and graduated pensions. Finally, the minimum age at which pension benefits can be taken, including the 25 per cent tax-free lump sum, rises from 50 to 55. In some instances, such as ill health, it will still be possible to take benefits before 55.


The annual individual savings account (Isa) allowance will rise to 10,200, including up to 5,100 in cash, for the under-50s, having been increased to 10,200 last October for the over-50s. The Chancellor announced last week that from next year Isa allowances would increase annually in line with inflation.

There will also be changes to the taxation of dividends as a result of the income tax reforms, with those on taxable annual income above 150,000 facing a new 42.5 per cent income tax rate on dividends.

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Tax on dividend income between the basic rate threshold and 150,000 remains at 32.5 per cent. The basic rate stays at 10 per cent.


TIME is running out to take advantage of the tax-free Isa allowance for 2009-10 and some cash Isa providers have already stopped taking new applications. This year's Isa deadlines are complicated by the Easter holiday, which means that while some banks and building societies are accepting applications until late on Monday, some have already shut up shop.

Kevin Mountford, head of banking at, said: "Those planning to submit their Isa application over the Easter weekend are likely to be better served by heading online. Many providers will be accepting online applications for this year's Isa allowance long after the branch doors have closed."

Branch application deadlines have already passed at Santander, Barclays, HSBC and Clydesdale Bank. However, Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB, Nationwide and NatWest will accept applications in branches that are open today.

Online and phone applications with Lloyds, Barclays, Bank of Scotland, HSBC, NS&I and NatWest will be possible up until various points on Monday, but with no guarantee of acceptance.