Double Taxation and Broken Promises

PRESS RELEASE 91 21/03/2017

The most recent changes to dividend taxation in the Chancellors Spring Budget are a major attack on private investors. The simple change to reduce the Dividend Tax Allowance from £5,000 to £2,000 only a year after it was introduced will have a big impact on the tax paid by many investors. It’s also another example of a broken promise about “no increases in taxes” made in the Conservative manifesto.

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has already had to back-track on the increases to National Insurance over the broken promise. Perhaps he should reconsider the above changes also.

Let’s go back eighteen months when his predecessor George Osborne issued his last budget. That scrapped the dividend tax credit system and introduced the Dividend Tax Allowance. This is what a ShareSoc Director said at the time about that:

“Dividend tax change. Few people understand the dividend tax credit system so this might be seen as a worthwhile simplification, but it will increase the Government’s tax take, particularly from wealthy investors, very substantially. For example it is forecast to raise over a billion pounds per year in tax!

The original reason for dividend tax credits was to avoid double taxation on the same profits. When both corporation tax and personal tax rates were high, profits made by a company could effectively be taxed twice – once within the company by corporation tax and then when the profits were distributed in dividends. It could result in very high combined rates. The new £5,000 allowance will mean the vast majority of individuals who receive dividends will not be adversely affected. However, those with substantial dividend income will be.”

Tax rates are now lower, particularly corporation tax, but we still have the iniquity of double taxation.

The latest reduction in the Dividend Tax Allowance to £2,000 will mean some investors are now an additional £1,000 worse off than under Osborne’s changes.

For example someone who has invested in equities for their retirement so as to obtain a decent level of income, may be as much as £5,000 worse off because of these changes.

What did the Conservatives say in the 2015 Manifesto (which you can read here: It says on page 27 that “A Conservative Government will not increase the rates of VAT, Income Tax or National Insurance in the next Parliament”. Most people will have read that to mean that they will not be paying more Income Tax or National Insurance. Hence the complaints from the self-employed concerning changes to the latter. But the impact of these changes to dividend taxes are even more damaging to those living on dividend income in retirement.

Obviously the way we are headed is for the Dividend Tax Allowance to be scrapped altogether and dividend income is clearly now a target for more tax raising from the Chancellor.

Regrettably these changes without prior consultation make it exceedingly difficult for individuals to plan ahead for retirement. Continual changes to tax rates and allowances tend to defeat sensible planning. The Chancellor apparently thinks this will help to discourage incorporation for small businesses, and considers it “an extremely generous tax break” for wealthy investors. But he is ignoring the fact that profits out of which dividends are paid have already been taxed.

ShareSoc is urging its Members to complain to their Members of Parliament about this change. You can write to your M.P. by post or email and you can obtain their contact details from this web page:  (enter your post code at the bottom left). This takes you to a page giving their name, postal address and email address – an email will do fine.

More Details

The cut to the dividend allowance will potentially cost basic-rate taxpayers £225, higher rate taxpayers £975 and additional rate taxpayers £1,143 per year (source: Financial Times). It will raise £825 million per year for the exchequer.

For further information please contact:

Roger Lawson

Deputy Chairman, ShareSoc

Telephone: 020-8295-0378

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