Clause 1 - Income tax charge for tax year 2022-23

Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 14 December 2021.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

With this it will be convenient to discuss clauses 2, 3 and 5 stand part.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Christopher. Clause 1 legislates for the charge of income tax for 2022-23. Clauses 2 and 3 set the main default and savings rate for income tax for 2022-23, and clause 5 maintains the starting rate for savings limit at its current level of £5,000 for 2022-23.

Income tax is one of the Government’s most important revenue streams, expected to raise approximately £230 billion in 2022-23. The starting rate for savings applies to the taxable savings income of individuals with low earned incomes of less than £17,570, allowing them to benefit from up to £5,000 of savings income tax free. The Government made significant changes to the starting rate for savings in 2015. They lowered the rate from 10% to 0%, and increased the band to which it applied from £2,880 to £5,000. These clauses are legislated annually in the Finance Bill.

Clause 1 is essential because it allows for income tax to be collected in order to fund vital public services on which we all rely. Clause 2 ensures that the main rates of income tax for England and Northern Ireland continue at 20% for the basic rate, 40% for the higher rate, and 45% for the additional rate. Clause 3 sets the default and savings rates of income tax for the whole UK—the basic, higher and additional rates of 20%, 40% and 45% respectively. Clause 5 confirms the band of savings income to which it applies, maintaining the starting rate limit at its current level of £5,000 for the 2022-23 tax year. The limit is being held at that level rather than increased by the consumer prices index to ensure simplicity and fairness within the tax system, while maintaining a generous tax relief.

Clauses 1 to 3 ensure that the Government can collect income tax for 2022-23. Clause 5 continues the Government’s commitment to support people of all incomes and at all stages of life to save. Taken with the personal savings allowance and the annual individual savings account allowance of £20,000, those generous measures mean that about 95% of savers will pay no tax on their savings income.

Photo of James Murray James Murray Shadow Financial Secretary (Treasury)

I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to the clauses on behalf of the Opposition. As we have heard, clause 1 imposes a charge for income tax for the year 2022-23. It is for Parliament to impose that tax charge for the duration of the financial year. I understand from my well-informed parliamentary researcher that the first income tax that bears a resemblance to the modern graduated form that the clause refers to was introduced by William Pitt the Younger in 1798; as we will see in later clauses of the Bill, there has been some departure from the tax bands of £60 and £200 annually introduced then. We will of course not oppose clause 1, although we note for the record that under this Government the tax burden will rise to its highest level for 70 years.

Clause 2 sets the main rates of income tax for the year 2022-23, which will apply to the non-savings, non-dividend income of taxpayers in England and Northern Ireland. The clause provides that the main rates of income tax for 2022-23 are the 20% basic rate, the 40% higher rate, and the 45% additional rate. Income tax rates on non-savings, non-dividend income for Welsh taxpayers are set by the Welsh Parliament. The UK main rates of income tax are reduced for Welsh taxpayers by 10p in the pound, and the Welsh Parliament sets the Welsh rates of income tax, which are added to the reduced UK rates. Income tax rates and thresholds on non-savings, non-dividend income for Scottish taxpayers are set by the Scottish Parliament.

We note that, although the rates of income tax are not rising in the Bill, the same cannot be said for national insurance. That tax was increased by the Health and Social Care Levy Act 2021, which we debated in September. As I said at the time, that national insurance rise and the new levy being introduced represented a tax rise that falls directly on working people and their jobs, which is why we opposed the progress of that Act.

Clause 3 sets the default rates and savings rates of income tax for the tax year 2022-23. Subsection (1) provides for a basic default rate of 20%, a higher rate of 40% and an additional rate of 45%. Subsection (2) provides for savings rates on income tax at the same rates as the default: 20% for basic, 40% for higher and 45% for additional. Those rates match the rates of earned income, and we will not oppose the clause.

Clause 5 freezes the starting rate limit for savings in the tax year 2022-23 at £5,000. As it is not a devolved matter, the freeze applies across the United Kingdom. The starting rate for savings can apply to an individual’s taxable savings income, such as interest on bank or building society deposits. The extent to which an individual’s savings income is liable to tax at the starting rates for savings rather than the basic rate of income tax depends on the total of their non-savings income, including income from employment, profits from self-employment and pensions income. If an individual’s non-savings income is more than their personal allowance and exceeds the starting rate limit for savings, the starting rate is not available for that tax year. Where an individual’s non-savings income in a tax year is less than the starting rate limit, their savings income is taxable at the starting rate up to that limit.

Income tax is charged at the 0% starting rate for savings rather than the basic rate of income tax on that element of an individual’s income up to the starting rate for savings income. The clause sets the starting rate limit for savings for 2022-23 at £5,000, but it does not override section 21 of the Income Tax Act 2007 in relation to the starting rate limit for savings for 2022-23. We know that the freeze on the limit is taking place in the context of a rising rate of inflation, which will have an impact on savers in real terms. In her reply, I would be grateful if the Minister explained what assessment the Treasury has made of those who will be affected by the freeze.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

I will make a couple of points in response. First, the hon. Member for Ealing North mentioned the tax burden rising; he will know that we are still in the midst of a pandemic and that the Government have spent £400 billion to ensure that public services, particularly the NHS, get the money they need. He will know why we are introducing a rise in national insurance contributions for the first time: to fix social care. He asked me about savings and those on the lowest incomes. The Government have raised the personal allowance by nearly 50% in real terms in the last decade. It is the highest basic personal tax allowance of all countries in the G20, and remains one of the most generous internationally.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2, 3 and 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.