March 2017 newsletter
Welcome to this regular newsletter from the Tax Guide for Students (TGFS) website. The purpose of the newsletter is to highlight any topical tax issues which may affect students, apprentices and student money advisers.
In this newsletter we discuss what to do if you think you have overpaid tax and are due a refund; what to do if you have received a council tax bill and are unsure whether you need to pay it; and what the new National Minimum Wage rates will be from 1 April. We also link to recent news articles from the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) including the announcements made in the recent Budget.
The current tax year ends on 5 April, so if you think you may have overpaid tax then this is a good time to consider what tax you should have paid with what you have actually paid. Our tax refunds section explains how you can work this out and also how to request a refund if you have paid too much tax.
There are time limits on claiming a tax refund so if you due a refund for the 2012/13 tax year you need to make a claim before 5 April 2017.
At this time of year local authorities will be sending their new council tax bills for the period 1 April 2017-31 March 2018. The rules for Council tax (called rates in Northern Ireland) are straight-forward if you live in a household comprising of all full-time students as the household will be exempt. However, for some households this will not be the case and it is important to understand the position if you share your accommodation with adults who aren’t students, or part-time students or postgraduates writing up their research.
Our webpage on Do students pay council tax? provides more information on when households are required to pay council tax and explains about what exemptions and discounts are available, depending on your household’s circumstances.
National Minimum Wage rates
From 1 April the National Minimum Wages rates will change as below:
|Age||New rate per hour from 1 April 2017||Previous rate per hour from 1 October 2016|
|25 and over (National Living Wage)||£7.50||£7.20|
|21 and over||£7.05||£6.95|
|18 to 20||£5.60||£5.55|
(all apprentices under age 19 AND any apprentice, regardless of age, in first year of apprenticeship)
Our factsheet on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) contains information about who is entitled to be paid the NMW, what you should do if you are not being paid the NMW, and how it is calculated.
Budget 2017 – announcements affecting students
The LITRG website contains details on the main announcements in the recent Budget (please note that the proposed changes to Class 4 National Insurance contributions will now not go ahead). There will be an increase to the personal allowance (the amount most people can earn without paying income tax) by £500 to £11,500.
There were further announcements on new maintenance loans and loans for postgraduate doctoral studies.
- Further education maintenance loans – from 2019-20 these will be available for students on technical education courses at levels 4 to 6 at National Colleges or Institutes of Technology.
- Maintenance loans for part-time students – following on from the announcements in 2015, these loans will be available from September 2018 for degree level students. From 2019 maintenance loans will also be available for other qualifying courses such as distance-learning. The impact of these loans will be reviewed within five years.
- Post graduate doctoral loans – loans of up to £25,000 for full-time or part-time graduates (for courses lasting up to eight years) will be available from September 2018. However, the loans will not be available for students receiving funding from a Research Council or a NHS Bursary for doctoral study. Repayments will be calculated at 6% of income above the repayment threshold (currently £21,000) and will be paid concurrently alongside existing undergraduate student loans.
27 January – How to save yourself a £100 fine for late filing
6 February – Contacting HMRC? New extended opening times