Contractors will be pleased to see that the Income Tax Personal Allowance increases to £10,500 from April 2015 whilst the higher rate threshold rises to £42,285. The Annual Capital Gains Tax exemption increases to £11,100 from April 2015.
Another positive from the budget, is the postponement of the autumn fuel duty rise. A proposed package to cut energy bills is predicted to save families £15 a year.
The Chancellor is encouraging individuals to save by introducing a new ISA with a significantly raised annual investment limit of £15,000 from July 2014.
Low income savers will also benefit from the abolition of the 10% savings tax rate.
There is continuing emphasis in this Budget on measures to ensure that people pay all the taxes which are due. Following the 2013 theme of providing more funding to HMRC to tackle tax avoidance there are plans to make users of tax avoidance schemes pay any tax in dispute up front.
HMRC will also be given powers to strengthen their debt collection ability by enabling them to recover funds from the bank accounts of debtors who owe over £1000.
Announced just before the Budget, the Chancellor confirmed that the Tax-Free Childcare costs cap would be increased to £10,000 per year for each child. This will mean that eligible parents can now benefit from greater support, worth up to £2,000 per child each year. At the same time the roll-out of Tax-Free Childcare has been brought forward to autumn 2015 to all eligible families with children under 12.
For those looking forward to retirement, this Budget holds the prospect of some useful savings and incentives with a complete overhaul of the rules concerning defined contribution pensions. The proposed changes effective from 2015 will make these pensions more flexible and tax-efficient.
Business benefits in this Budget include a doubling of the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) to £500,000 from April 2014 to April 2015.
For investors in business there was further good news. The popular Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme is to be made permanent. The scheme provides attractive income tax and capital gains tax incentives.
The VAT threshold increases from £79,000 to £81,000 with effect from 1 April 2014.
From April 2016 self employed individuals with their own unincorporated sole trades or partnerships will be required to pay their Class 2 National Insurance Contributions under the Self Assessment system.
This year's Budget confirmed the Government's intention to continue the stimulation and encouragement of the housing market by announcing major builds in the form of Garden Cities in the south east and the extension of the equity loan scheme to March 2020. The mortgage guarantee scheme continues until December 2016.
For contractors who enjoy a drink, raise your beer, cider or whisky glass to the Chancellor who has announced that the duty on beer is being cut by 1p from 24 March. The duty on cider and whisky will be frozen for 2014/15!
Further details on the budget report can be found here.