Corporation tax rates for all sizes of company in the UK (excluding the oil and gas sectors which pay at special rates) are aligned at 20% from 1 April 2015. This removes the need for the associated companies rule that restricts the use of the small profits rate of corporation tax, so those rules are abolished from April 2015.
However, large companies must pay their corporation tax by quarterly installments once their taxable profits exceed £10 million, and the tax due is at least £10,000. From 1 April 2015 those thresholds are divided by the number of companies in the corporate group which are related by a 51% holding.
The Chancellor has proposed the Northern Ireland Executive could take control of corporation tax rates, and directly collect corporation tax from companies based in that region. There is no indication of when this change may occur.
In 2013 and 2014 the Government introduced various new tax reliefs for companies that produce high-end TV programmes, video games or theatre productions. These reliefs are all similar but not exactly the same.
A new tax relief along the same lines for companies that produce children's TV programmes will be introduced from April 2015. It will also consult on introducing a new tax relief for orchestras from April 2016.
Research and Development
Companies have been able to claim enhanced tax relief for expenditure on research and development (R&D) for many years. The amount spent on specific classes of costs relating to qualifying R&D projects is multiplied by a percentage, before the total is deducted from the company's taxable income for the year. Since 1 April 2012 that percentage has been 225%.
For R&D expenditure incurred from 1 April 2015 that percentage is increased to 230%. However, the costs that qualify for this deduction will be further defined to remove materials which are used in products that are sold.
Large companies claim R&D tax relief as an expenditure credit equal to a percentage of the R&D spend for the accounting period. That credit (known as "above the line" credit) is generally set against the company's corporation tax liability for the year. The percentage of R&D costs translated into the "above the line" credit was 10% for periods since 1 April 2012, and will be increased to 11% from 1 April 2015.