Budget 2017: Two unusual places the government is raking in the cash

 
Oliver Gill
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The government is facing increasing demands on its cash, particularly in the face of an ageing population (Source: Getty)

Experts have highlighted two surprising sources that either have, or are set to be, lucrative sources of income for chancellor Philip Hammond.

Buried in the reams of figures that accompany the Treasury's budget are a couple of streams that will help to bolster Whitehall's coffers.

1 – Pensions freedoms

PwC's chief actuary Steven Dicker explained how George Osborne's freeing up of the UK's pension landscape had given his successor some unexpected good news. He said:

"As Budgets go, it was a quiet day for pensions, which many will welcome as they continue to struggle with the array of challenges already before them.

However, hidden in the detail, the Treasury revealed that it had taken in much more tax as a result of pension freedoms than anticipated - over £1bn more than originally forecast.

"This suggests that pension savers who have valued the flexibility have also contributed to the Treasury's coffers, hopefully delivering a win-win result. This could encourage other savers to take this option and increase the number of pension schemes facilitating it."

Read more: Why pensions freedoms could be a scandal in the waiting

And Dicker wasn't the only one noticing this. It also caught the eye of Andrew Tully of Retirement Advantage.

It was initially estimated that pensions freedoms would raise around £0.3bn in 2015/16 and £0.6bn in 2016/17.

But today's statistics revealed the government raked in more than five times what it expected in 2015/16 (£1.5bn) and almost twice as much one year later (£1.1bn).

Read more: Record lump sum take-up risks widespread pension poverty

Tully said: "This is a tax bonanza for the Treasury and although a welcome boost to government coffers, will have been a nasty surprise for many people taking advantage of the new freedoms. Paying tax on withdrawals was seen at the time as a natural brake on withdrawing too much too soon but this clearly hasn’t been the case."

2 – Inheritance tax

Inheritance tax is a tricky one for the Tories to manage. But the forecasts indicate the government's pockets will be filled with a dramatic increase in IHT receipts.

The logic behind the forecast increases is hard to pinpoint, though some experts have pointed to the fact that house prices are rising, so more likely to trigger an IHT charge.

Read more: Spring Budget 2017: What do the experts want from Spreadsheet Phil?

Another reason could be increase pensions freedoms. As retirees cash in annuities they can more easily transfer them, which, if not done in a timely manner would increase IHT to be paid.

Prudential's head of technical Les Cameron said:

Inheritance tax planning will continue to be a booming area of financial advice. News that IHT receipts will hit £6.2bn in 2021 will only increase consumers’ demand for inheritance tax planning.

We should also remember the £3,000 gifting allowance has been frozen for over three decades so the earlier you start using it the more wealth you can pass on to your family.

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