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This paper sets out direct tax rates and principal tax allowances for the 2020/21 tax year, as announced in the 2020 Budget on 11 March 2020.  The paper outlines the conditions necessary for eligibility for these tax allowances, and provides a summary of the general tax position in straightforward cases. 

Income tax on earned income is charged at three rates: the basic rate, the higher rate and the additional rate.  For 2020/21 these three rates are 20%, 40% and 45% respectively.  Tax is charged on taxable income at the basic rate up to the basic rate limit, set at £37,500. ‘Taxable income’ excludes personal allowances, which represent the amount of money someone may receive free of tax. Tax is charged at the higher rate on taxable income between the basic rate limit and the higher rate limit, set at £150,000. The additional rate is charged on taxable income over £150,000. All three tax rates are unchanged from 2019/20.

The personal allowance is set at £12,500 for 2020/21, unchanged from the year before. The basic rate limit is also unchanged for 2020/21, so that the higher rate threshold – the point at which individuals become liable to pay tax at the higher rate – remains at £50,000 for 2020/21.

In the 2012 Budget the Coalition Government announced it would phase out the two age-related personal allowances, claimed by individuals aged 65-74, and those aged 75 and over. Both allowances have now been overtaken by the personal allowance and have been withdrawn.

In the 2015 Budget the Coalition Government confirmed the introduction of a new marriage allowance. From April 2015 individuals whose income is insufficient to make full use of their personal allowance may transfer this unused fraction to their spouse or civil partner, up to a set amount. Individuals cannot make use of this provision if their spouse or partner pays more than the basic rate of tax. For 2020/21 the maximum that can be transferred remains set at £1,250.

The rates of National Insurance contributions (NICs) for both employees and employers are unchanged for 2020/21.  For employees, the rate of NICs is set at 12% on all earnings between the primary threshold and the upper earnings limit, and at 2% on earnings above the upper earnings limit.  For employers, the rate of NICs is set at 13.8% on earnings above the secondary threshold.  The primary threshold is set at £183 per week, and the secondary threshold is set at £169 per week for 2020/21.  The upper earnings limit is set at £962 per week for 2020/21, so that it remains aligned with the income tax higher rate threshold.

This paper deals with tax allowances, but not with cash benefits provided under the social security system, or child tax credit and working tax credit. Details of these credits, along with other tax rates and allowances for the 2020/21 year are set out in Annex A to HM Treasury, Overview of Tax Legislation and Rates, March 2020 published alongside the 2020 Budget report.

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