"We have had a very big deterioration in the public finances"
This is how the Chancellor positioned his Autumn Statement to Sky News on the weekend. It set the tone: this Autumn Statement has completed the reversal from the "mini Budget" (with its £45bn of unfunded tax-cuts). In its place, the Chancellor has announced a balancing act between spending restraint, outright and immediate tax rises, stealth tax measures and fiscal drag. This has allowed him to limit some of the pain and even announce some new spending while ensuring that the tax take, combined with targeted spending cuts, improves the nation's finances over the next six years by a projected £55bn, helping to address that "very big deterioration".
The headline-grabbing tax increases are on increased windfall profits in the energy sector (extension of the energy profits levy and increased rates applied, plus a new 45% levy on electricity generators), each from 1 January 2023. These are projected to generate significant additional revenue.
For personal taxes, there have also been immediate tax rises, including to income tax and capital gains tax.
For income tax, the burden has been increased on higher earners by dragging more into the 45% income tax bracket from April 2023 (it will now apply from £125,140 from April 2023, down from £150,000), and by scaling back the dividend allowances (from £2,000 to £1,000 from April 2023 and then £500 from April 2024).
Capital gains tax rates have escaped unscathed (notwithstanding some alarmist speculation that they would rise), but CGT has been increased overall by slashing the annual exemption (from £12,300 to £6,000 from April 2023 then £3,000 from April 2024).
Otherwise (once again) existing allowances and thresholds are to be held at current levels for longer – more fiscal drag. This means income tax and national insurance thresholds being held at current levels until April 2028. Meanwhile inflation will pull more families into the inheritance tax net, as the nil rate bands (both standard and residence nil-rate bands) will be also held at current levels until April 2028.
EVs will become subject to road tax from April 2025, too, although reduced benefit in kind rates for company cars are set to stay.
Property taxes are set to rise, but in the future. The SDLT reductions which were one of the few measures in Kwasi Kwarteng's ill-fated Growth Plan to survive the handover to the new Chancellor, will be abolished from 31 March 2025.
Finally, while some commentators expected adjustment or consultation on changes to the tax treatment of those who are resident in the UK, but non-UK domiciled, this has escaped significant attention.