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Tax rates and allowances

How much tax you pay

By Ian Robinson

Article 4 of 7

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How much tax you pay

Discover how much tax you can expect to pay on various forms of income, such as wages, savings and property.

Tax on income varies depending on its source.

You don't normally have to pay any tax on the first slice of the income you receive in the tax year. This is known as your personal allowance and rose to £11,000 in 2016-17 from £10,600 in 2015-16. 

However, those whose income exceeds this figure can expect pay tax on the remainder.

Here, we explore how much tax you can expect to pay on any income gained from employment, pensions, property, savings, dividends, capitals gains and inheritance.

You can get personalised one-to-one guidance on any type of tax issue by calling the Which? Money Helpline. 

Income from employment, pensions and property

This is classed as non-savings income (from employment, self-employment, pensions and rental income). 

Non-savings income is currently taxed at three alternative rates depending on how much taxable income you have. Taxable income is calculated by deducting your personal allowance (and any deductible reliefs you are entitled to) from your total income.

For 2016-17

  • People with taxable income up to £32,000 are basic-rate taxpayers and pay tax at 20% (with £11,000 personal allowance, this gives a threshold of £43,000) 
  • Those with taxable income over the limit pay tax at 40% on income above the threshold. 
  • Taxable income over £150,000 is taxed at 45%.

Find out more: Tax-free income and allowances – this guide lists of all the tax reliefs you could be entitled to 

Budget update: In the 2016 Budget, it was announced that personal allowance would rise to £11,500 in 2017-18 and that the 2017-18 40% tax threshold would rise to £45,000 (£11,500 plus £33,500).   

Savings income and personal savings allowance

Until 6 April 2016, 20% tax was deducted from savings interest at source. If you were a higher-rate taxpayer, you had a further 20% tax to pay on this, and additional-rate taxpayers paid a further 25%.

From April 2016, a new system incorporating personal savings allowance applies. Interest on savings is tax-free to a threshold of £1,000 for 20% taxpayers and £500 for those who pay higher-rate tax. 

Tax will no longer be deducted by your bank or building society, and all interest will be paid gross. 

If the interest you receive from all sources exceeds the £1,000 limit (£500 for 40% taxpayers), any tax due will be collected through a self-assessment tax return or via an adjustment in your PAYE tax code.   

The starting rate limit

From April 2015, a £5,000 tax-free (0%) savings income band will be applied in addition to the £10,600 personal allowance. This remains in place for 2016-17.  

To calculate if tax is due on your savings income, set any non-savings income against your personal allowance (for 2016-17, this is typically £11,000). If non-savings income exceeds your personal allowance, deduct the excess from the £5,000 savings income band to see how much of this you have left. 

Set your savings income against the remainder of the band and a further tax-free £1,000/£500 of personal savings allowance. If all your savings income falls within this, you have no tax to pay on it. If your savings income exceeds what's left, only the amount within the band is tax-free, with any excess interest being taxable.

Dividend income and dividends allowance

From 6 April 2016, a new dividends allowance applies, making the first £5,000 you receive in dividends from investments tax-free. Above this, basic-rate taxpayers will pay 7.5% tax on dividends, higher-rate taxpayers 32.5% and additional-rate taxpayers 38.1%.  

In 2015, dividend income carried a 10% tax credit, so basic-rate taxpayers effectively paid no tax, higher-rate taxpayers paid tax at an effective rate of 25% and additional-rate taxpayers paid tax at just over 36%.

Non-savings income is normally allocated against your tax bands before savings, dividends and capital gains, so to find out at what rate interest on your savings is taxed, you must add this to your other taxable income.

Find out more: Dividend tax explained – more information about how this tax is applied

Capital gains tax

In 2016-17, you can make capital gains of £11,100 before paying capital gains tax (CGT). 

From April 2016, capital gains tax is charged at 10% if you are a basic-rate taxpayer and 20% if you are a higher-rate taxpayer. Higher rates apply (18% and 28% respectively) on taxable gains made from residential property sales.

Selling a business

If you sell off part or all of a business, Entrepreneurs' relief may reduce the rate that CGT is charged at to an effective rate of 10% on the first £10 million of gains you make over your lifetime. Entrepreneurs’ relief applies if you run a trading business or furnished holiday letting.

Find out more: Capital gains tax explained – a detailed summary examining how this tax is applied

Inheritance tax

In 2016-17, inheritance tax applies to estates in excess of £325,000. Tax is payable on anything above this threshold (apart from where there are tax exemptions, such as transfers to your spouse or registered civil partner). The government has announced that the nil-rate band will remain at its current level until 2019. 

The new main-residence nil-rate band, which gives extra allowance to those passing the family home to their children does not begin until April 2017 (although unused main residence nil-rate band can be claimed from April 2017 onwards on behalf of spouses who die during 2016 – to a maximum ceiling of £100,000).  

If tax becomes payable on gifts during your lifetime (usually to trusts) the tax rate paid is half the rate charged on death, so it is currently 20%. 

Find out more: Inheritance tax explained – more information on how this tax is applied    

Get an expert answer to your tax query 

Our Which? Money Helpline experts can give you independent one-to-one guidance on all kinds of tax queries. If you're not a Which? member and you'd like to get unlimited access to the helpline, you can try Which? Money for two months for £1.


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