How Much Do Tax Reliefs Cost The Public Purse?

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December 12th 2019
Tax Week 36
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How Much Do Tax Reliefs Cost The Public Purse?

Interesting stats on the cost of the tax reliefs used by people and businesses.

If payments/benefits upon termination of employment are below £30,000 then no tax is deducted on that income. In the 2019 tax year, 200,000 people claimed this redundancy tax relief. The cost to the Treasury of providing this tax relief was around £600 million.

Charities claiming tax relief on donations they receive or companies/people claiming tax relief on donations made cost the Treasury around £2 billion in tax revenue in 2019.

ISA (Individual Savings Accounts) allow people to store savings and/or make investments and through a tax-free account. In the 2016 tax year, over 21 million tax relief claims were made in respect of ISA accounts, costing the Treasury £2.5 billion.

Marriage Allowance allows one partner to transfer up to ten percent of their tax free personal allowance to the other depending upon certain criteria. In the current tax year (2019) this is worth up to £250 in tax saved for the receiving partner. The cost to the Treasury in 2018 was £485 million with around 1.78 million people taking advantage.

The Personal Savings Allowance provides a zero percent rate on savings income of £500 for basic rate taxpayers or £1,000 for higher rate taxpayers. In 2019 it is estimated 18.4 million caims for the allowance will be made costing the Treasury £720 million.

Over 18,000 claims were made in 2018 for a inheritance tax relief where tax relief is provided when assets are transferred to the surviving spouse/partner. The cost to the Treasury was £2 billion.

The net cost of pension schemes in 2019 is estimated at £21 billion. This is the total cost of providing tax relief on qualifying contributions to pension schemes but net of any tax paid by people withdrawing income from pensions once any 25 percent tax-free amount is discounted.

For businesses, there is an annual investment allowance that allows the business to claim 100 percent of the cost of capital expenditure (up to an annual limit) as a business cost. In 2018, 1.2 million businesses made use of the allowance at a cost to the Treasury of £4 billion.

Businesses below the VAT registration limit (based on turnover) save VAT at an estimated cost to the Treasury in 2019 of £2.1 billion.

Zero-rate VAT relief on books, newspapers and magazines is estimated to cost the Taxman £1.5 billion in 2019. The same relief for children's clothing will cost £2 billion in 2019. Qualifying new build construction also benefits from zero-rate VAT at an estiamted cost of £15 billion in 2019. Reduced rate VAT on domestic power/fuel is estimated to cost £4.8 billion in 2019. Prescription drugs are zero VAT rated at an estimated cost in 2019 of £3.2 billion. Cold food for takeaway and unprocessed food is zero-rated at an estimated cost of £19 billion in 2019.

Employers received a NIC relief starting from the 2015 tax year, effectively abolishing employers' NICs paid for under 21 year old employees. In 2018 290,000 claims for this relief were made at a cost to the Treasury of £610 million. Employers also receive a NIC relief on their contributions when they make pension contributions for employees. In 2018 this relief cost the Treasury £17.4 billion. In 2014 a new employment allowance was provided to reduce the overall employer NIC cost by up to £3,000. In 2018 1.18 million employers claimed the relief and this cost the Treasury £2.2 billion.

In 2018 a tax relief on stamp duty for first-time buyers was claimed by 219,000 people stepping on to the housing ladder at a cost to the Treasury of £520 million. The exemption from paying capital gains when a person's main residence is sold is estimated to cost the Treasury £26.5 billion in 2019.

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