AT A GLANCE: FINANCE BILL

PENSIONS
- The existing effective obligation for members of a defined contribution pension scheme to purchase an annuity by age 75 is to be abolished, creating an increased flexibility.
- In order to ensure that increased flexibility doesn’t lead to pension funds being exhausted with the recipients being forced to fall back on support from the state, the draft legislation also introduces a limit on direct draw downs set at 100 per cent of the equivalent annuity in most cases.
- To exceed this limit, individuals will need to demonstrate lifetime pension income of at least £20,000 per year.

FURNISHED HOLIDAY LETTINGS
- The special UK favourable tax rates for furnished holiday lettings will now be made compatible with EU requirements by expanding it to apply to properties in both the European Economic Area and the UK. - But the minimum letting periods for properties to qualify are being increased.

SMALL COMPANY TAX
- Existing anti-avoidance legislation used to restrict the use of the lower rate of corporation tax for small companies in cases where the taxpaying company has “associated companies” will be replaced with a clearer purpose-based rule.
- The rules are widely drafted so that an individual’s company will often be regarded as associated with any companies owned by other members of their immediate family, increasing the applicable rate of tax. - Changes included in today’s draft legislation are designed to relax the rules so as to only catch situations where substantial commercial interdependence exists.

FOREIGN PROFIT TAXATION
- The draft legislation sets out interim measures as part of the government’s ongoing project to reform the taxation of
foreign profits for companies.
- The changes currently proposed widen the exemptions from the controlled foreign
company (CFC) regime and provide a permanent “opt-in” exemption from UK tax on the profits of a company’s overseas branches.

CORPORATE CAPITAL GAINS
- Consultation to simplify the taxation of companies’ chargeable gains when they buy and sell assets.
- Simplification of the highly complex rules governing the use of capital losses in situations where the ownership of a company changes.
- In particular, certain restrictions on the use of losses realised after the change in ownership are to be removed.
- Simplification of the “value shifting” rules in an attempt to restrict their application to cases of genuine avoidance.
- Simplification of the “degrouping charge” rules so as to reduce the number of cases in which a sale of shares in a company which is itself tax free by virtue of the substantial shareholding exemption (SSE) nonetheless crystallises a tax liability in the form of a degrouping charge.

CORPORATE TAX ANTI-AVOIDANCE RULE
- New targeted anti-avoidance provisions in other areas of corporation tax to target cases of perceived abuse, particularly in relation to financial instruments. A study has been put in place to look at this to be completed by 31 October 2011.

ALCOHOL
- New rates of duty applying to high-strength – 7.5 per cent alcohol by volume (abv) and above – and low-strength – 2.8 per cent abv and below beers as part of the government’s drive to discourage consumption of higher strength products.

BANK LEVY
- The levy on banks’ balance sheets will be 0.05 per cent, rather than 0.04 per cent for 2011 as announced previously. It will rise to 0.075 per cent in 2012, rather than the 0.07 per cent announced previously.

DISGUISED REMUNERATION
- Legislation will be introduced to ensure that income tax and national insurance contributions on employment income ar not avoided or deferred through the use of trusts or similar vehicles affecting 50,000 employees and bringing in up to £500m a year.