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As ever, the 2014 budget announced on March 19th by Chancellor George Osborne is full of detail and small legislative changes combined with a few headlines.
Firstly it was announced that the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) would be doubled from £250,000 to £500,000 and extended until the end of 2015. This 100 per cent tax relief on machinery or plant expenditure for farmers should provide a boost to those in the industry looking to invest. Sceptics have suggested the relief would be better placed aiding infrastructure investment, enabling investment to be made into capital items rather than just plant and machinery. Whatever the opinion, this news removes the uncertainty over what will follow the current temporary allowance but also gives businesses a real opportunity to plan their capital expenditure for the next 21 months in a tax effective way.
Following on from the announcement in the autumn statement that from April 2015 employers will not have to pay National Insurance Contributions for workers aged under 21, George Osborne announced that the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers scheme (AGE) will be extended to December 2015. This scheme enables employers that have not had an apprentice in the last 12 months access to a £1,500 grant for each of up to ten apprentices aged between 16 and 24. The AGE grant extension has been welcomed by the agricultural sector with the focus now on ensuring rural businesses get their fair share of the extra £85million now on offer.
Finally the removal of a small tax break which has hardly been publicised could have a negative impact on investment potential for renewable projects in the UK creating a knock on effect to farmers and land owners. The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax breaks will no longer be available for companies benefitting from the Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC). This is a big change, as the ROC scheme underlies all big solar, wind and other renewable technologies in the UK. Previously the EIS tax breaks have been available to investors who put money into start up companies including firms which build solar and wind farms, however the 2014 Budget has put a stop to this. This could mean a slow down in the deployment of renewables in Britain, which over the last decade has been on the increase.
Further information on the 2014 budget can be found at www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/budget-2014