What does the Budget 2016 mean for the UK's mid-market?

22 March 2016

George Osborne's eighth budget, like many of those which he has delivered previously, was positioned to a significant extent as "a budget for business" and there was certainly a number of eye-catching measures designed to boost business and entrepreneurial growth in the UK.

Extension to entrepreneurs' relief

Most eye-catching of all was the announcement that entrepreneurs' relief is to be extended to long-term investors who will pay the reduced 10% rate of capital gains tax (CGT) on disposals of shares in unquoted trading companies (which usually includes companies whose shares are dealt on AIM).

The shares must be ordinary shares newly issued on or after 17 March 2016 and provided that they have been held for at least three years from 6 April 2016 when they are sold any gain arising will benefit from entrepreneurs' relief.

A £10 million lifetime limit will apply just as it applies to gains made by directors or employees who have owned at least 5% of a trading company's ordinary share capital for at least one year under the current rules. The principle behind this move is to boost investment (and reinvestment) by making the taxation of capital less confiscatory, although HM Revenue & Customs don't quite put it like that.

There will be also improvements to other aspects of CGT entrepreneurs' relief in connection with disposals of goodwill and also in relation to joint ventures and partnerships.

Other relevant announcements for mid-market companies

Continuing the theme of increasing the amount of capital available for investment, the top rate of CGT paid by individuals is to be reduced from 28% to 20%, although not where the gain arises on a disposal of residential property or where an individual participating in a private equity investment receives a payment of carried interest.

Other measures designed to boost "UK plc" involve improvements to the corporation tax regime.  Most obviously the rate of corporation tax will fall to 17% from 2020 (down from the previously announced 18%).

Another modification is that carried forward losses will be available for off-set in future accounting periods against a wider variety of income streams of both the loss-making company and other companies in its group. This greater flexibility will be welcomed by business although under the new rules there will be a 50% cap on profits above £5 million that can be relieved in future years.

To find out more about the growth we expect to see in the UK's mid-market, visit gowlingwlg.com/makewayforthemiddle.


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