Newsletter – December 2011

eNEWS – December 2011

In this month’s enews we report on some further announcements made following the Autumn Statement.

Please browse through this month’s articles using the links below and contact us if any issues or questions arise.

With best wishes for 2012.



Pensions Auto Enrolment

The Government has confirmed that pensions auto enrolment will commence in Autumn 2012 and all employers will remain within the scope of the rules.

However small businesses, those with less than 50 employees, will be given additional time to prepare for the implementation. The government have confirmed that no small employers are affected by the reforms before the end of this Parliament.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said:

‘Our society and economy needs to be based on a foundation of saving, not debt. Automatic enrolment will help millions save, and to not act will leave people poorer in retirement. That is why I am confirming today that automatic enrolment will start on time and all employers will be part of it.

We recognise that small businesses are operating in tough economic times so we are softening the timetable for implementation to give them some additional breathing space. This is a sensible step that ensures long term pension issues are addressed while meeting the short and medium term needs of small business.

We are committed to ensuring the employees of these small businesses get the chance to save and that is why no one will miss out.

Under the revised timeline, small business would begin automatically enrolling their staff in May 2015, instead of the current timing of April 2014. Half of all workers will still be automatically enrolled before the end of this Parliament.’

It is expected that further details will be announced in January 2012 and we will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: DWP press release

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published to take effect from 1 December 2011. HMRC’s website states:

‘These rates apply to all journeys on or after 1 December 2011 until further notice, allowing them to reflect fuel prices more quickly. For one month from the date of change, employers may use either the previous or new current rates, as they choose. Employers may therefore make or require supplementary payments if they so wish, but are under no obligation to do either.’

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 December 2011 are:

Engine size




1400cc or less

15p (15p)

10p (11p)

1401cc – 2000cc

18p (18p)

12p (12p)

Over 2000cc

26p (26p)

18p (18p)

1600cc or less

12p (12p)

1601cc – 2000cc

15p (15p)

Over 2000cc

18p (18p)

Please note that most rates have not changed. However the rate for LPG cars has reduced for those with an engine size of 1400cc or less.

Other points to be aware of about the advisory fuel rates:

  • Employers do not need a dispensation to use these rates.
  • Employees driving employer provided cars are not entitled to use these rates to claim tax relief if employers reimburse them at lower rates. Such claims should be based on the actual costs incurred.
  • The advisory rates are not binding where an employer can demonstrate that the cost of business travel in employer provided cars is higher than the guideline mileage rates. The higher cost would need to be agreed with HMRC under a dispensation.

If you would like to discuss your car policy, please contact us.

Internet link: HMRC advisory fuel rates

Capital allowances in Enterprise Zones

Following the Autumn Statement at the end of November 2011, more information is now available in respect of the proposal to give 100% first year allowances on plant and machinery expenditure for use in some Enterprise Zone areas.

  • The relief will only be available to trading companies.
  • The plant must be new and represent an investment not a replacement of existing plant.
  • The plant must be used primarily in designated assisted areas within Enterprise Zones.
  • The allowance will apply for purchases made from 1 April 2012 up to 31 March 2017.
  • Some businesses and some types of expenditure are specifically excluded from the provisions.

Internet link: Draft rules CA Enterprise Zones

Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme

The government has released more information on the new Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) aimed at smaller companies. The proposals include the following:

  • The relief will initially run from 6 April 2012 until 5 April 2017 but may continue after that date.
  • Income tax relief on a qualifying investment will be 50%.The relief is available to be set against any income tax liability that is due, whether at basic, higher or additional rate.
  • Income tax relief will be withdrawn in certain circumstances including a disposal of the shares within three years.
  • There will be an annual limit of £100,000 investment by an individual.
  • A director may make a qualifying investment but not an employee or an associate of an employee.
  • An individual may not hold more than 30% of the shares in the company.
  • The issuing company must have been incorporated within two years of the date on which the qualifying shares are issued.
  • The company must exist to carry on a qualifying trade.
  • The gross assets of the company (including a proportion of assets of companies which hold at least 25% of the shares in the issuing company) must not exceed £200,000 immediately before the shares are issued.
  • The issuing company must not have more than the equivalent of 25 full-time employees immediately before the shares are issued.
  • The maximum amount which can be raised by a company through SEIS is £150,000 and this is an overall total not an annual limit.
  • Subject to conditions, the disposal of SEIS shares will be exempt from CGT.
  • Where an individual makes a capital gain in 2012/13 and invests an amount which is at least equal to the gain in qualifying SEIS shares before 6 April 2013 then the gain will be exempt from CGT. If the shares fail to meet the qualifications for SEIS for three years then the exemption will be withdrawn.

If you are interested in this new relief and wonder if it may be relevant to you or your business please do get in touch.

Internet link: Treasury SEIS

Statutory Residence Test

The government has been consulting on introducing a Statutory Residence Test (SRT). The test which was expected to be introduced from 2012 has been delayed until 6 April 2013. More details are expected to be announced in the 2012 Budget.

There is currently no definition of ‘residence’ in UK tax law and yet the liability to income tax and capital gains tax (CGT) rests on knowing an individual’s UK residence status for a tax year. Currently the determination of residence is based on old case law and, as a recent Supreme Court decision has shown, it can lead to significant uncertainty and large tax liabilities.

The SRT is expected to be based on three parts and an individual would consider each part in turn. If a definite answer on their residence status is found on the first part then there is no need to proceed further. Similarly if the second part gives a definitive answer there is no need to move to the third part. That final test then provides a definitive answer.

The parts and the conditions are as follows:

Part A – satisfy any one of three conditions and the individual is conclusively non-resident in the year.

Part B – satisfy any one of three conditions and the individual is conclusively resident for the year.

If no definite answer under Part B then proceed to Part C

Part C – here the rules combine the time spent in the UK and a number of connection factors which are deemed to link an individual to the UK.

Some individuals who are currently outside the UK, particularly those working abroad, will need to note that the new rules could change their residence status and they may wish to review plans for visits back to the UK and the impact of any potential connecting factors.

Please contact us if you have any concerns in this area.

Internet link: Treasury consultation on residence

Self assessment deadline fast approaching

HMRC are reminding taxpayers that the deadline for filing self assessment tax returns is fast approaching. According to their website:

‘You must send your online tax return by midnight on Tuesday 31 January 2012.

The deadline is only later than this if you received your tax return, or the letter telling you to complete a tax return, after 31 October 2011. In this case you’ll have three months from the date you received that letter.

If your online tax return is late, you’ll have to pay a penalty. This applies even if you have no tax to pay or if you pay all the tax you owe on time.’

The following illustrates that missing the deadline and failing to submit the return online may result in significant penalties.

What happens if you miss the deadline?

If you miss the 31 January deadline for online tax returns, you will have to pay a penalty.

The penalty is £100. You’ll still have to pay this even if

  • your return is just a day late
  • you have no tax to pay
  • you pay all the tax you owe before 31 January 2012.

The longer you delay, the more you’ll have to pay. If your tax return is three months late, you’ll have to pay a penalty for each additional day it is late. If it’s six months late, you’ll have to pay a further penalty and another final penalty if it’s 12 months late. Together these could add up to a penalty of £1,600 or more.

Don’t send a paper tax return now – the deadline was 31 October 2011. You’ll have to pay a £100 penalty straight away if you do and the daily penalties above will start even earlier. Send it online instead.’

If you require any help with your tax return please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC news

The Portas Review

The CBI commented on a report by Mary Portas on the future of the high street.

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

‘Retail represents about 10% of our economy, and the high street is a vital part of this.

The Portas Review makes some sensible suggestions about how we can inject life back into town centres, including increased use of Business Improvement Districts and relaxing planning restrictions on the high street, in particular on change of use.

More importantly, she recognises the growing burden business rates are placing on companies right across the country at a critical time.

We need to make sure the UK remains attractive to investors, as it’s their decisions that will ultimately lead to regeneration of our town centres. Any changes to the planning and business rate regimes must therefore encourage investment in the broadest sense, and not just rob Peter to pay Paul.’

Internet links: BIS press release with access to report CBI press release

HMRC to accept Faster Payments

HMRC have announced that they will now accept payments made using the Faster Payments Service. This will allow taxpayers to make faster electronic payments, typically via internet or telephone banking, enabling them to be processed on the same or next day.

HMRC advise that if you want make payments using this method you should contact your bank or building society to confirm the following:

  • the services available to you
  • whether there are any single transaction or daily limits on the amount you can pay
  • their latest cut off times for making a payment.

They are also stressing that when making a payment to HMRC it is important to ensure that you are using the correct bank account details and reference number.

Internet link: HMRC news

2012/13 Statutory Payments

HMRC have announced the following statutory payment rates which are due to take affect for 2012/13. These rates are still subject to Parliamentary approval and HMRC will confirm the rates before 1 April 2012.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) £135.45 per week

Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay £135.45 per week

Additional Statutory Paternity Pay £135.45 per week

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) £135.45 per week

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) £85.85 per week

Please contact us if you would like any help with payroll issues.

Internet link: HMRC statutory payment rates

Christmas and New Year 2011

This is just to let everyone know that our opening hours over the festive period, will be as follows:

We will close at 14:00 on Friday 23rd December and re-open at 9:00 on Tuesday 3rd January 2012.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a very happy and prosperous 2012

Finally, please do not forget the 31st January 2012 deadline for electronic submission of personal tax returns – ALL late returns will incur a penalty of at least £100, whether or not there is any unpaid tax.