Home Money ALL CHANGE! 20 ways that your finances will be shaken up in April… and it’s not just bad news

ALL CHANGE! 20 ways that your finances will be shaken up in April… and it’s not just bad news

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Changes: Spring cleaning for your finances is coming, whether you like it or not

Spring cleaning for your finances is coming, whether you like it or not.

April heralds a flurry of changes in household bills: some rising and some thankfully falling.

Here are 20 changes happening in the coming days – and how you can use them to your advantage…

1) Municipal tax

Households in England will see their council tax bills rise by an average of 5.1 per cent or £106 from April. Bills will average £2,171 for those in a typical band D category.

Bills will rise by an average of 7.7 per cent for band D homes in Wales, to an average of £2,024. Council tax bills in Scotland have been frozen for most households. Make sure you claim discounts if you qualify, for example for single occupancy or for those on low incomes. Students and interns are exempt.

Changes: Spring cleaning for your finances is coming, whether you like it or not

Changes: Spring cleaning for your finances is coming, whether you like it or not

2) Broadband and mobile contracts

Providers such as Virgin Media, BT, Plusnet, EE, Vodafone and Three Mobile are increasing their bills. Your bill will increase even if you are tied to a fixed-term contract.

Shop around to get the best deal. However, you may not be able to cancel once your contract is halfway through, so mark this in your diary once your current contract ends.

3) TV license

This will rise from £159 to £169.50 per year from tomorrow.

4) Water bills

According to trade body Water UK, these will increase by 6 percent in England and Wales, from £27 to £473. Bills in Scotland will rise by 8.8 per cent or £36. You may be able to reduce bills by installing a water meter, which means you only pay for what you use. Keep in mind that if you use more than average, you may have to pay more.

5) Passports

The cost of a new standard passport will rise by £6 to £88.50 on April 11 for applicants aged 16 and over. If yours expires soon, you can request a new one now to avoid the higher costs.

6) Train fares

The cost of season tickets on most commuter journeys and some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys rose by 4.9 per cent in England and Wales on March 3.

Tomorrow’s rises will hit commuters in Scotland. All ScotRail fares will rise by 8.7 per cent.

7) Capital Gains Tax

Your capital gains benefit will be reduced from £6,000 to £3,000 on April 6. Last year it fell from £12,300 this time. Capital gains tax is paid if you make a profit on the sale of assets, including property that is not your main home. Protect your returns from capital gains and dividend tax with your tax-free assets such as pensions and Isas.

8) Dividend tax

The dividend tax exemption will be reduced from £1,000 to £500 from April 6, meaning more than 1.1 million people would ultimately have to pay this tax.

9) Road tax

This will increase by around £10 per year from tomorrow to an average of £190 per year for cars registered since April 2017. Drivers of older cars may see larger increases.

10) Flight tax

Duty on standard tickets for domestic flights will rise by £1 tomorrow from £13 to £14, while standard fares on medium-haul flights to New York or Dubai, for example, will rise by £3.

For tickets to European destinations, the costs remain unchanged. Duty on flights to long-haul destinations further than 5,500 miles away will rise by £2 over the standard rate.

11) Dental bills

Dental treatments on the NHS in England will rise by 4 per cent from tomorrow. That means a check costs €26.80 – an increase of €1.

12) Utility bills

Under the regulator’s price ceiling, energy costs will fall tomorrow to the lowest level in two years. The average household’s energy bill will fall by £238 per year to £1,690 per year. Please provide your meter reading this week. This way you can be sure that you will not pay the old, higher rate.

13) National insurance

This will be reduced from 10 to 8 percent from April 6. The government calculates that this amounts to a saving of £450 for an employee on an average salary of £35,000. About 27 million workers should benefit from this.

14) Tax reduction for self-employed persons

Two million self-employed people will see their national insurance bill fall from 8 to 6 percent of their income. This is worth £350 per year for a self-employed person with an average income of £28,200.

15) Minimum wage

This rises by more than £1 per hour to £11.44. For someone working full-time, this equates to a pay increase of £1,856 per year.

16) Isa

From April 6, everyone will receive a new tax-free Isa savings allowance of €20,000. You will also lose the part of your allowance for this year that you have not yet used.

17) State pension

Pensioners will benefit from an 8.5 per cent increase in the state pension to £11,502 per year. It equates to an increase from £203.85 to £221.20 per week for those on a full new state pension, and from £156.20 to £169.50 for those on the old one.

18) Child benefit

The income threshold at which families start to lose their child benefit will rise from £50,000 to £60,000. Parents earning up to £80,000 will receive the benefit, up from £60,000 until now. Payments are also increasing, from £24 to £25.60 per week for the eldest or only child and from £15.90 to £16.95 for younger children.

19) Universal credit

Allowances will increase by 6.7 percent for all applicants next month. This means that single people aged 25 and over will see their co-payment rise from £368.74 to £393.45 per month.

20) Sick pay

Statutory sick pay will increase from £109.40 to £116.75 on April 6.

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…and don’t get caught out by taxes on profits

Investors are being urged to take this week’s tax changes wisely as more than two-thirds are unaware of the upcoming capital gains tax (CGT) cuts, according to research from The Royal Mint.

The tax is charged on the profit made from the sale of an asset outside a tax-free wrapper, such as a buy-to-let property or shares.

But from next week, the amount of profit you can make before getting hit by the tax will be halved. Currently, investors have a tax-free allowance of £6,000, but on April 6 this will drop to £3,000.

Only 31 percent of British investors are aware of the cut, leaving the majority open to unexpected tax bills.

You can protect your savings from taxes by investing in shares through an Individual Savings Account (Isa). Any profits made in an Isa will not be liable for CGT. Up to £20,000 can be paid into these tax-efficient wrappers each financial year.

Investing in bullion coins is another option to protect investment gains as they are exempt from CGT, Royal Mint says. Investors can make unlimited tax-free profits with gold, silver and platinum coins. However, they should only make up a small part of a portfolio.

Lucy Evans

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