Newsletter – November 2021

Enews – November 2021

In this month’s Enews we consider the Chancellor’s Autumn 2021 Budget announcements, as well as reactions from business groups and other experts.

With guidance on changes to the payment schedules for residential capital gains tax, applications for freeport businesses and heat pumps, there is a lot to update you on.

Chancellor delivers Budget to lay foundation for a strong economy

On 27 October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered a Budget to ensure the UK economy bounces back following the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The Chancellor announced that total departmental spending will grow by £150 billion per year in cash terms by 2024/25, marking the largest real term increase in overall departmental spending for any Parliament this century.

Public research and development (R&D) investment will increase to a record level of £20 billion by 2024/25. Combined with R&D tax reliefs, which the government intends to modernise and refocus, total government R&D support as a proportion of GDP is forecasted to increase from 0.7% in 2018 to 1.1% in 2024/25.

The Chancellor unveiled a new temporary business rates relief in England for 2022/23 for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties, worth almost £1.7 billion. The government stated that the reform of business rates will make the system fairer, more responsive and more supportive of investment.

Mr Sunak also announced significant changes to fuel duty and alcohol duties: fuel duty will be frozen at 57.95p per litre for 2022/23, and drinks will be taxed in proportion to their alcohol content, making the system ‘fairer and more conducive to product innovation in response to evolving consumer tastes’.

Meanwhile, the government will give £11.5 billion to help build up to 180,000 affordable homes, whilst an additional £4.7 billion will be invested in the core schools budget in England.

The Chancellor also confirmed that the government will increase the National Living Wage to £9.50 per hour from April 2022 and cut the Universal Credit taper rate from 63p to 55p.

Internet link: GOV.UK speeches

Business groups give mixed response to Budget

Business groups gave a mixed response to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s 2021 Autumn Budget speech.

Responding to the speech, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that the Chancellor had shown a willingness to listen to business with measures that will help firms innovate and the economy grow.

However, Tony Danker, Director General of the CBI, warned:

‘This Budget alone won’t seize the moment and transform the UK economy for a post-Brexit, post-Covid world. Businesses remain in a high-tax, low-productivity economy with concerns about inflation.’

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) also voiced concerns over the Chancellor’s Budget announcements.

Mike Cherry, National Chair of the FSB, said:

‘This Budget has delivered some measures that should help to arrest the current decline in small business confidence.

‘But against a backdrop of spiralling costs, supply chain disruption and labour shortages, is there enough here to deliver the government’s vision for a low-tax, high-productivity economy? Unfortunately not.’

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) welcomed the changes to the business rates system in England. Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, commented:

‘The Chancellor has listened to Chambers’ long-standing calls for changes to the business rates system and this will be good news for many firms. This will provide much needed relief for businesses across the country, giving many firms renewed confidence to invest and grow.’

Internet links: CBI press release BCC press release FSB press release

 

IFS predicts millions to be worse off next year due to tax rises

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has predicted that millions of people will be worse off in 2022 as a result of spiralling costs and tax rises.

Responding to the Autumn Budget, the IFS predicted that low-income families will be squeezed by a rise in the cost of living. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) recently warned that the cost of living is set to rise at its fastest rate in 30 years.

The IFS stated changes to income tax and National Insurance, alongside rising household bills, will mean slow growth in living standards.

Paul Johnson, Director of the IFS, said:

‘With, in the words of the OBR, inflation quite possibly hitting its ‘highest rate in the UK for three decades’, millions will be worse off in the short term. Next April benefits will rise by just over 3%, but inflation could easily be at 5%. That will be a real, if temporary, hit of hundreds of pounds a year for many benefit recipients.

‘We are not at 1970s levels of inflation, but we are now experiencing enough inflation that real pain will be felt as low income households – most of whom have next to nothing in the way of financial assets – wait more than a year for their incomes to catch up. For some in work that may never happen.’

Internet link: IFS website

Payment period on residential CGT is doubled

The government has doubled the period for filing and payment of capital gains tax (CGT) on residential property from 30 days to 60 days.

The measure was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the recent Autumn Budget.

The change applies from 27 October 2021. It sees the deadline for residents to report and pay CGT after selling UK residential property increase from 30 days after the completion date to 60 days.

For non-UK residents disposing of property in the UK, this deadline will also increase from 30 days to 60 days. When mixed-use property is disposed of by UK residents, legislation will also clarify that the 60-day payment window will only apply to the residential element of the property gain.

The Treasury says that these changes will ensure that taxpayers have sufficient time to report and pay CGT, as recommended by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS). The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has campaigned for this change for the past 18 months.

Phil Hall, Head of Public Affairs and Public Policy at the AAT, said:

‘It’s a common-sense measure that helps taxpayers and their accountants whilst maintaining increased revenue for the Exchequer. Very pleased that HM Treasury and HMRC took on board the views of our members and changed their position accordingly.’

Internet links: GOV.UK publications LinkedIn

FSB warns tax rises ‘threaten recovery from pandemic’

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned that tax rises could threaten the UK’s ongoing recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the FSB, small businesses are coming up against ‘unprecedented strain’, with the cost of doing business higher than ever. Small businesses are also being affected by disruption to supply chains and increasing costs, the business group said.

Following the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, it has called for the government to focus on helping employers create jobs. The FSB also urged the government to generate new schemes to help fill skills shortages.

Mike Cherry, National Chair of the FSB, said:

‘It’s disappointing to see that more is not being done to tackle employment costs which are a huge drain on small businesses.

‘Increasing the Employment Allowance would help protect the smallest employers who are being hit hard by the end of furlough and the NICs rise. The government should also expand Small Business Rates Relief to premises with a rateable value of £25,000, removing an additional 200,000 small firms from the scope of this tax.’

Internet link: FSB press release

Applications now open for freeports

Businesses that are planning to operate in the UK’s new freeports can now apply to HMRC.

The tax authority has published the application forms to operate special customs procedures within the sites, along with further guidance on procedures for declaring goods moving into and out of sites.

Freeports are areas that benefit from a range of tax and other incentives, including a suspension from customs duties for imported goods and less burdensome customs procedures.

HMRC is now accepting applications to use freeport customs special procedures. The application form, which can be downloaded from gov.uk, must be emailed or posted to HMRC once completed.

An application can be made by businesses that have a provisional agreement in place with a freeport customs site operator to store or process goods at a freeport customs site. An application may not be necessary if the business uses existing customs special procedures.

To complete the form, businesses will need, among other things, their Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, company registration number (if a company), tax reference numbers and contact details.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Pensions experts say a minimum of £10,900 a year needed to retire

A single person will need post-tax annual income of £10,900 for a minimum standard of living in retirement, according to the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA).

The minimum retirement living standard is based on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Minimum Income Standard and covers a typical retiree’s basic needs plus enough for some social activities, such as a week of holiday in the UK, eating out once a month, but not including running a car.

That spending budget increases to £16,700 for a couple and also includes subscriptions and services such as getting a haircut.

The moderate retirement living standard includes a two-week holiday in Europe and more frequent eating out. This was assessed to require a budget of £20,800 for a single person, £600 higher than two years ago, and £30,600 for a couple, up £1,500.

The annual budget needed for a comfortable retirement living standard has increased since 2019 by £600 to £33,600 for one person and £2,200 to £49,700 for a couple.

This covered items such as regular beauty treatments, theatre trips and annual maintenance and servicing of a burglar alarm.

Nigel Peaple, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the PLSA, said:

‘The pandemic has emphasised the importance of economic security as well as social and cultural participation in retirement.

‘We hope the updated standards will encourage people to think about whether they are saving enough for the retirement lifestyle they want and, in particular, whether they are making the most of the employer contributions on offer in their workplace pension.’

Internet links: PLSA website

Heat pump grants worth £5,000 will help replace gas boilers

Homeowners in England and Wales will be offered subsidies of £5,000 from next April to help them to replace old gas boilers with low carbon heat pumps.

The grants are part of the government’s £3.9 billion plan to reduce carbon emissions caused by heating homes and other buildings.

It is hoped no new gas boilers will be sold after 2035. The funding also aims to make social housing and public buildings more energy efficient.

However, experts have stated that the budget is too low and the strategy not ambitious enough. Ministers say the subsidies will make heat pumps a comparable price to a new gas boiler, but the £450 million being allocated for the subsidies over three years will cover a maximum of just 90,000 pumps.

Matthew Fell, Chief Policy Director at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:

‘£5,000 heat pump grants will help get the ball rolling when it comes to decarbonising homes across the UK. The government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy provides a golden opportunity for both the public and private sector to pick up the pace of progress to net zero.

‘There’s no doubt that the scale of the challenge is considerable. These welcome measures – including the 2035 phase out of new gas boilers – will help consumers and business better prepare to change the way they heat their homes and buildings.’

Internet links: GOV.UK CBI website

 

Autumn Budget – Oct 2021

Autumn Budget 2021

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak presented his third Budget on 27 October 2021. In his speech he set out the plans to “build back better” with ambitions to level up and reduce regional inequality.

Main Budget proposals

Tax measures include:

  • a new temporary business rates relief in England for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties for 2022/23
  • a change in the earliest age from which most pension savers can access their pension savings without incurring a tax charge. From April 2028 this will rise to 57
  • the retention of the £1 million annual investment allowance until 31 March 2023
  • individuals disposing of UK property on or after 27 October 2021 now have a 60 day CGT reporting and payment deadline, following the completion of the disposal.

Other measures include:

  • a complete overhaul of alcohol duties that will see drinks taxed on their strength
  • the cancellation of the previously announced rise in fuel duties
  • pubs supported with a reduction in draught beer and cider duty
  • increases in the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage rates
  • an ultra-long-haul band of air passenger duty introduced.

Some Budget proposals may be subject to amendment in the Finance Bill 2021-22. Should you need any further help or support please contact us.

Personal Tax

The personal allowance

The personal allowance is currently £12,570. The Chancellor announced in the March 2021 Budget that the personal allowance will be frozen at £12,570 for the tax years 2022/23 to 2025/26.

There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000. The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £125,140.

The marriage allowance

The marriage allowance permits certain couples, where neither party pays tax in the tax year at a rate other than the basic rate, to transfer £1,260 of their personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner.

 

Comment

The marriage allowance reduces the recipient’s tax bill by up to approximately £250 a year. To benefit from the marriage allowance one spouse or civil partner must normally have no income or income below the personal allowance for the year. The marriage allowance was first introduced for 2015/16 and there are couples who are entitled to claim but have not yet done so. It is possible to claim for all years back to 2017/18 where the entitlement conditions are met. The total tax saving for all years up until 2021/22 could be over £1,000. A claim for 2017/18 will need to be made by 5 April 2022.

Tax bands and rates

The basic rate of tax is 20%. In 2021/22 the band of income taxable at this rate is £37,700 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £50,270 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.

At Spring Budget 2021, the Chancellor announced that the basic rate band will be frozen at £37,700 for the tax years 2022/23 to 2025/26. The National Insurance contributions Upper Earnings Limit and Upper Profits Limit will remain aligned to the higher rate threshold at £50,270 for these years.

Individuals pay tax at 45% on their income over £150,000.

Scottish residents

The tax on income (other than savings and dividend income) is different, for taxpayers who are resident in Scotland, from that paid by taxpayers resident elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish income tax rates and bands apply to income such as employment income, self-employed trade profits and property income.

In 2021/22 there are five income tax rates which range between 19% and 46%. Scottish taxpayers are entitled to the same personal allowance as individuals in the rest of the UK. The two higher rates are 41% and 46% rather than the 40% and 45% rates that apply to such income for other UK residents. Currently the 41% band applies to income over £43,662 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance. The 46% rate applies to income over £150,000.

The Scottish Government will announce the Scottish income tax rates and bands for 2022/23 in the Scottish Budget on 9 December.

Welsh residents

From April 2019, the Welsh Government has had the right to vary the rates of income tax payable by Welsh taxpayers (other than tax on savings and dividend income). The UK government has reduced each of the three rates of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers by 10 pence. For 2021/22 the Welsh Government has set the Welsh rate of income tax at 10 pence which has been added to the reduced rates. This means the tax payable by Welsh taxpayers is the same as that payable by English and Northern Irish taxpayers.

The Welsh Government will publish its Draft Budget for 2022/23 on 20 December.

Tax on savings income

Savings income is income such as bank and building society interest.

The Savings Allowance applies to savings income and the available allowance in a tax year depends on the individual’s marginal rate of income tax. Broadly, individuals taxed at up to the basic rate of tax have an allowance of £1,000. For higher rate taxpayers the allowance is £500. No allowance is due to additional rate taxpayers.

Some individuals qualify for a 0% starting rate of tax on savings income up to £5,000. However, the rate is not available if taxable non-savings income (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income, less allocated allowances and reliefs) exceeds £5,000.

Tax on dividends

The first £2,000 of dividends is chargeable to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). Dividends received above the allowance are taxed at the following rates for 2021/22:

  • 5% for basic rate taxpayers
  • 5% for higher rate taxpayers
  • 1% for additional rate taxpayers.

In September 2021 the government announced an increase to the rates of dividend tax by 1.25% from 6 April 2022 to help fund the new planned investment in health and social care. The new rates will therefore be 8.75% for basic rate taxpayers, 33.75% for higher rate taxpayers and 39.35% for additional rate taxpayers.

Dividends within the allowance still count towards an individual’s basic or higher rate band and so may affect the rate of tax paid on dividends above the Dividend Allowance.

To determine which tax band dividends fall into, dividends are treated as the last type of income to be taxed.

 

Comment

Dividends on shares held in ISAs and pension schemes are not subject to dividend tax and thus will not be affected by the increase in rates.

Green National Savings and Investment (NS&I) product

In the Spring Budget 2021 the government announced  a green retail savings product through NS&I. The Bonds are now available to buy online and offer savers a chance to support green projects at a fixed rate of 0.65% pa over a three-year term. The Bonds are available to those aged 16 or over, with a minimum investment of £100 and a maximum limit of £100,000 per person. The interest is taxable in the tax year the Bond matures.

The UK’s inaugural sovereign green bond (or ‘green gilt’) was launched in September 2021, and was followed by a second issuance in October 2021. They are the first sovereign green retail product of their kind in the world.

Universal Credit

The Universal Credit taper rate is reduced from 63% to 55%, meaning Universal Credit claimants will be able to keep an additional 8p for every £1 of net income they earn.

Increase to the normal minimum pension age

The current earliest age at which most pension savers can access their pension savings without incurring a tax charge is age 55. From April 2028 this earliest age will rise to 57.

This measure will affect individuals born after 5 April 1973 whose earliest date to access their pension benefits will see a two-year delay to those born on or before that date.

Pensions – Scheme Pays

Although there are no limits to how much an individual can save or accrue in a registered pension scheme, there is an overall limit on the amount of an individual’s tax-relieved annual pension savings or accrual which includes employer contributions. This is known as the annual allowance and the standard annual allowance is currently £40,000, but in some circumstances this is reduced, with the maximum reduction taking it down to £4,000.

An individual’s unused annual allowance from the three previous tax years can be carried forward and added to the annual allowance. However, if the individual’s pension savings for the tax year exceed their annual allowance, the annual allowance tax charge is applied to the excess.

Although this tax liability would normally be the individual’s liability it is possible for them to elect for the pension scheme administrator to be jointly liable.

Where an individual has inputted more than £40,000 and their annual allowance charge exceeds £2,000 the individual can request that their pension company pays the charge for them in return for an equivalent reduction in the value of their pension pot. This is called mandatory Scheme Pays.

From April 2022 there will be a change to the rules for certain pension schemes to remove anomalies where the tax charge has arisen due to a retrospective change of facts, the tax charge is £2,000 or more and the individual requests the pension scheme pays the amount. This measure applies retrospectively from 6 April 2016.

 

Employment

National Insurance Contributions (NICs)

In September 2021 the government published its proposals for new investment in health and social care in England. The proposals will lead to a permanent increase in spending not only in England but also by the devolved governments. To fund the investment the government will introduce a UK-wide 1.25% Health and Social Care Levy based on the NIC system but ring fenced for health and social care.

The Health and Social Care Levy Act provides for a temporary 1.25% increase to both the main and additional rates of Class 1, Class 1A, Class 1B and Class 4 NICs for 2022/23. From April 2023 onwards, the NIC rates will decrease back to 2021/22 levels and will be replaced by a new 1.25% Health and Social Care Levy.

Broadly, the new Health and Social Care Levy will be subject to the same reliefs, thresholds and requirements as NIC. However the Levy (as opposed to the temporary increase in NICs for 2022/23) will also apply to those above State Pension age who are still in employment.

Existing reliefs for NICs to support employers will apply to the Levy. Companies employing apprentices under the age of 25, all people under the age of 21, veterans and employers in Freeports will not pay the Levy for these employees as long as their yearly gross earnings are less than £50,270, or £25,000 for new Freeport employees.

The Employment Allowance, which reduces employers’ Class 1 NICs by up to £4,000, will also be available for the employers’ liability to the Levy.

 

Comment

A novel aspect of the Levy is the application to employees above State Pension age. This does not apply in respect of the temporary increase for 2022/23. The Levy will not apply to Class 2 (a flat rate paid by many self-employed) and Class 3 (voluntary contributions for taxpayers to fill gaps in their contribution records).

The main burden of the 1.25% increase falls on the collective shoulders of the employer and employee as each will have higher contributions to make. Those with property income will be relieved that they are not being included in the Levy.

National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW)

Following the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission, the government will increase the NLW for individuals aged 23 and over by 6.6% from 1 April 2022. The government has also accepted the recommendations for the other NMW rates to be increased.

From 1 April 2022, the hourly rates of NLW and NMW will be:

  • £9.50 for those 23 years old and over
  • £9.18 for 21-22 year olds
  • £6.83 for 18-20 year olds
  • £4.81 for 16-17 year olds
  • £4.81 apprentice rate for apprentices under 19, and those 19 and over in their first year of apprenticeship.

 

Comment

In total, the annual gross earnings of a full-time worker on the NLW will have increased by over £5,000 since its introduction in April 2016.

Power to make temporary modifications of taxation of employment income

This will allow HM Treasury, under ministerial direction, to make regulations to make temporary modifications to existing legislation for a period of up to two tax years in the event of a disaster or emergency of national significance as determined by HM Treasury. This will enable the government to support taxpayers, for example by:

  • exempting benefits in kind of a specified description from income tax where appropriate
  • changing the qualifying conditions for exemptions on benefits in kind
  • exempting specified reimbursements from the charge to income tax
  • providing relief for specified expenses.

This will have effect on and after the date of Royal Assent to the Finance Bill 2021-22.

Business

Making Tax Digital for income tax

The Making Tax Digital (MTD) regime is based on businesses being required to maintain their accounting records in a specified digital format and submit extracts from those records regularly to HMRC. It had been expected that sole trader businesses and landlords with business income of more than £10,000 per annum would be required to enter the MTD regime for income tax purposes from 6 April 2023. However, HMRC recently announced that this will be deferred until 6 April 2024. Early adoption of digital record keeping and voluntary submission of MTD for income tax data remains possible.

Following the deferral for sole trader businesses and landlords, general partnerships will not be required to comply with MTD for income tax until 6 April 2025 and the date other types of partnerships (for example limited liability partnerships) will be required to comply will be confirmed in the future.

HMRC has also confirmed that the new system of penalties for the late filing and late payment of tax for income tax self assessment will be aligned with when a taxpayer becomes mandated into MTD for income tax. For individuals without trade or property income or otherwise exempt from MTD for income tax, the new penalty regime will apply to their income tax affairs from 6 April 2025.

MTD for corporation tax

HMRC has previously announced that MTD for corporation tax will not be mandated before 2026.

Accounting periods that are not aligned to tax years

Aligned to the revised start date for MTD for income tax, changes will be made to simplify the rules under which trading profits made by self-employed individuals and partnerships are allocated to tax years.

The changes mainly affect unincorporated businesses that do not draw up annual accounts to 31 March or 5 April. The transition to the new rules will take place in the 2023/24 tax year and the new rules will come into force from 6 April 2024.

Affected self-employed individuals and partnerships may retain their existing accounting period but the trade profit or loss that they report to HMRC for a tax year will become the profit or loss arising in the tax year itself, regardless of the chosen accounting date.  Broadly this will require apportionment of accounting profits into the tax years in which they arise.

 

Example

A business draws up accounts to 30 June every year. Currently, income tax calculations for 2024/25 would be based on the profits in the business’s accounts for the year ended 30 June 2024. The change will mean that the income tax calculations for 2024/25 will be based on 3/12 of the profits for the year ended 30 June 2024 and 9/12 of the profits for the year ended 30 June 2025.

This change will potentially accelerate when business profits are taxed but transitional adjustments in 2023/24 are designed to ease any cashflow impact of the change.

 

Comment

An estimated 93% of sole traders and 67% of trading partnerships draw up their accounts to 31 March or 5 April and thus the current rules are straightforward and the proposed changes will not affect them. Those with a different year end might wish to consider changing their accounting year end to simplify compliance with tax rules.

Corporation tax rates

The main rate of corporation tax is currently 19%. In the Spring Budget 2021, the Chancellor announced the rate would remain at 19% until 1 April 2023 but the rate will then increase to 25% for companies with profits over £250,000. The 19% rate will become a small profits rate payable by companies with profits of £50,000 or less. Companies with profits between £50,001 and £250,000 will pay tax at the main rate reduced by a marginal relief, providing a gradual increase in the effective corporation tax rate.

Capital allowances

Plant and machinery

Most corporate and unincorporated businesses are able to utilise a £200,000 annual investment allowance (AIA) to claim 100% tax relief on their qualifying expenditure on plant and machinery. The allowance was temporarily increased to £1 million for expenditure incurred on or after 1 January 2019 and was due to revert back to £200,000 from 1 January 2022. The £1 million allowance will now be retained until 31 March 2023.

Transitional rules will apply to accounting periods that span 1 April 2023.

For companies, this aligns the end of the temporary AIA with the end of the ‘super-deductions’ as announced by the government in Spring Budget 2021.

 

Reminder – super-deductions

Between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2023, companies investing in qualifying new plant and machinery are able to benefit from new capital allowances, termed ‘super-deductions’ or ‘first year allowances’, as follows:

•         a super-deduction of 130% can be claimed on most new plant and machinery investments that ordinarily qualify for the 18% main rate writing down allowances

•         a first year allowance of 50% can be claimed on most new plant and machinery investments that ordinarily qualify for the 6% special rate writing down allowances.

These reliefs are not available for unincorporated businesses.

 

Comment

Businesses incurring expenditure on plant and machinery should carefully consider the timing of their acquisitions to optimise their cashflow. In 2023 not only will the tax relief rules for expenditure on plant and machinery change, for companies the percentage corporation tax relief saving on the expenditure may change as well.

Structures and Buildings

A Structures and Buildings Allowance (SBA) was introduced with effect from 29 October 2018 to relieve costs for new structures and buildings used for qualifying purposes. A business must hold an allowance statement containing certain information to be eligible to claim SBA. Minor changes will be made to the allowance statement requirements to clarify the information required to be kept.

Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings

The Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) charges increase automatically each year in line with inflation. The ATED annual charges will rise by 3.1% from 1 April 2022 in line with the September 2021 Consumer Price Index.

Residential Property Developer Tax

A new tax will be applied from 1 April 2022 on company profits derived from UK residential property development. The tax will be charged at 4% on profits exceeding an annual allowance of £25 million. For companies that are part of a group, the £25 million allowance will be allocated by the group between its companies.

Cultural relief

The government has announced that it will temporarily increase cultural tax reliefs for theatres, orchestras, museums and galleries across the UK from 27 October 2021 to 31 March 2024, increasing the relief organisations can claim as they invest in new productions and exhibitions.

Changes will also be introduced to better target the cultural reliefs and ensure that they continue to be safeguarded from abuse. These will apply from 1 April 2022.

Research and Development relief reform

Research and Development (R&D) tax reliefs for companies will be reformed to:

  • support modern research methods by expanding qualifying expenditure to include data and cloud costs
  • more effectively capture the benefits of R&D funded by the reliefs through refocusing support towards innovation in the UK
  • target abuse and improve compliance.

These changes will take effect from April 2023.

Cross-border group relief

Following the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU), the government is bringing the corporation tax group relief rules relating to European Economic Area (EEA) resident companies into line with those for non-UK companies resident elsewhere in the world. This applies to accounting periods ending on or after 27 October 2021 and will affect UK groups with subsidiary companies established in the EEA along with EEA-resident companies that are trading in the UK through a permanent establishment.

Online Sales Tax

The government has announced its plans to consult and explore the arguments for and against the introduction of an ‘Online Sales Tax’.

Should such a tax be introduced in future, it would raise revenue to fund business rates reductions.

Business rates review

Business rates have been devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The government announced at Budget 2020 that it would conduct a fundamental review of the business rates system in England. The government’s objectives for the review were reducing the overall burden on business, improving the current business rates system and allowing the consideration of more fundamental changes in the long term.

In March 2021, the government published the Interim Report of the review. The Final Report was published on 27 October 2021. Collectively, these set out the government’s commitments by:

  • Supporting local high streets as they adapt and recover from the pandemic by introducing a new temporary business rates reliefin England for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties for 2022/23. Over 90% of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will receive at least 50% off their business rates bills in 2022/23.  This amounts to support worth more than double the relief that was announced pre-COVID for the 2020 to 2021 financial year and includes additional businesses such as hotels, gyms and bowling alleys.
  • Cutting the burden of business rates for all businesses by freezing the multiplierfor 2022 to 2023.
  • Introducing a new relief to support investment in property improvements, enabling occupying businesses to invest in expanding their properties and making them work better for customers and employees.
  • Introducing new measures to support green investmentand the decarbonisation of non-domestic buildings. This will provide exemptions for eligible green plant and machinery such as solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage used with renewables and electric vehicle charging points, as well as a 100% relief for low-carbon heat networks that have their own rates bill.
  • Making the system fairer by moving to three-yearly revaluations from 2023.
  • Providing stability ahead of the 2023 revaluation by extending Transitional Relief and the Supporting Small Business Scheme for 2022 to 2023to protect small businesses from significant bill increases in the final year of the current revaluation cycle.

Capital Taxes

Capital gains tax (CGT) rates

No changes to the current rates of CGT have been announced. This means that the rate remains at 10%, to the extent that any income tax basic rate band is available, and 20% thereafter. Higher rates of 18% and 28% apply for certain gains, mainly chargeable gains on residential properties, with the exception of any element that qualifies for Private Residence Relief.

There is still potential to qualify for a 10% rate, regardless of available income tax basic rate band, up to a lifetime limit for each individual. This is where specific types of disposals qualify for:

  • Business Asset Disposal Relief (BADR). This is targeted at directors and employees who own at least 5% of the ordinary share capital in the company, provided other minimum criteria are also met. It can also apply to owners of unincorporated businesses.
  • Investors’ Relief. The main beneficiaries of this relief are investors in unquoted trading companies who have newly-subscribed shares but are not employees.

Current lifetime limits are £1 million for BADR and £10 million for Investors’ Relief.

CGT annual exemption

The CGT annual exemption will be maintained at the current level of £12,300 for 2022/23 and up to and including 2025/26.

CGT reporting and payment following a property disposal

UK resident individuals who dispose of UK residential property are sometimes required to deliver a CGT return to HMRC and make a payment on account of CGT within 30 days of completion of the property disposal. Broadly, this only applies where the property disposal gives rise to a CGT liability and as such usually excludes the disposal of a property to which private residence relief applies.

Non-UK residents are subject to similar deadlines in respect of the disposal of all types of UK land and property.

In both cases, for disposals that complete on or after 27 October 2021, the reporting and payment deadline is extended to 60 days following the completion of the disposal.

From the same date, changes will clarify that for UK residents disposing of a mixed use property, only the portion of the gain that is the residential property gain is required to be reported and paid.

Inheritance tax (IHT) nil rate bands

The nil rate band has been frozen at £325,000 since 2009 and this will now continue up to 5 April 2026. An additional nil rate band, called the ‘residence nil rate band’ (RNRB) is also frozen at the current £175,000 level until 5 April 2026. A taper reduces the amount of the RNRB by £1 for every £2 that the ‘net’ value of the death estate is more than £2 million. Net value is after deducting permitted liabilities but before exemptions and reliefs. This taper will also be maintained at the current level.

Other Matters

Tonnage Tax

The UK’s tonnage tax regime will be reformed from April 2022 to help the UK shipping industry grow and compete in the global market. The reform is intended to make it easier for shipping companies to move to the UK, ensure they are not disadvantaged compared with firms operating in other countries, and reduce unnecessary administrative burdens.

Landfill Tax

As announced at Spring Budget 2021 both the standard and lower rates of Landfill Tax will increase from 1 April 2022 in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI).

Gaming Duty

The government will raise the bandings for Gaming Duty in line with inflation. The new bandings will affect Gaming Duty accounting periods commencing on or after 1 April 2022.

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)

The government will increase VED rates for cars, vans, motorcycles, and motorcycle trade licences in line with RPI with effect from 1 April 2022.

For heavy goods vehicles, VED continues to be frozen in 2022/23. The HGV Levy is suspended for another 12 months from 1 August 2022.

Tobacco Duty

Increases in Tobacco Duty rates take effect from 27 October 2021 and the government will legislate in Finance Bill 2021-22 to introduce tougher sanctions to tackle Tobacco Duty evasion.

Alcohol Duty

Rates of Alcohol Duty were not changed in this Budget. The government is publishing a consultation on its detailed proposals for Alcohol Duty reform. These include:

  • changes to duty structures
  • new rates for some products sold on draught
  • extension of small producer reliefs
  • simplification of the administrative regime.

In addition alcohol duties have been frozen to February 2022.

Air Passenger Duty (APD)

The government will introduce a new domestic band for APD for reduced rate and standard rate travel, covering flights within the UK. In addition, a new ultra-long-haul band will be introduced, covering destinations with capitals located more than 5,500 miles from London. These changes will take effect from 1 April 2023.

Freeports

The government announced its plans for Freeports in 2020. Freeports are specified geographical areas that allow certain benefits to businesses operating within them. The main VAT benefit is that businesses selling goods within free zones will be able to zero-rate their supplies. Services carried out on goods in those zones may also be zero-rated subject to conditions. The government will introduce an additional element to the VAT free zone model for Freeports. This will implement a free zone exit charge to ensure businesses do not gain an unintended tax advantage from the zero-rate in the free zone model. The measure will take effect from 3 November 2021.

VAT on second-hand cars sold in Northern Ireland

In a measure that will be backdated to 1 January 2021, motor dealers in Northern Ireland will be able to include motor vehicles sourced from Great Britain in their second-hand margin scheme calculations. This measure will apply should a relevant agreement be reached with the EU.

Second-hand Motor Vehicle Export Refund Scheme

Under this scheme, businesses that remove used motor vehicles from Great Britain for resale in Northern Ireland or the EU may be able to claim a refund of VAT following export. The power will come into effect on Royal Assent of Finance Bill 2021-22. Legislation outlining the detail of the scheme will be introduced in 2022.

VAT treatment of fund management fees

A consultation will take place on options to simplify the VAT treatment of fund management fees.

VAT penalties

Budget documents confirm that the new late submission and late payment penalties for VAT will still come into effect for VAT registered businesses for accounting periods starting on or after 1 April 2022, as announced at Spring Budget 2021.

Plastic Packaging Tax

Draft legislation has been issued to establish a Plastic Packaging Tax. This is a new tax that applies to plastic packaging produced in or imported into the UK, that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. Plastic packaging is packaging that is predominantly plastic by weight.

The tax rate will be £200 per tonne of non-compliant plastic packaging. There will be an exemption for businesses that manufacture or import less than ten tonnes of plastic packaging per year. The tax will take effect from April 2022.

 

Newsletter – October 2021

Enews – October 2021

In this month’s Enews we consider the government’s decision to delay the introduction of Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment until 2024; the introduction of the Health and Social Care Levy; and the announcement of the date for the Autumn Budget.

With guidance on the furlough scheme finishing, new proposals for flexible working and the end of the COVID-19 sick pay rebate, there is a lot to update you on.

Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment delayed for a year

The government has delayed the introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax Self Assessment (MTD for ITSA) for a year, HMRC recently announced.

The government says it has made the move in recognition of the challenges faced by many UK businesses as the country emerges from the pandemic.

It will now introduce MTD for ITSA in the tax year beginning in April 2024, a year later than planned.

It says the later start for MTD for ITSA gives those required to join more time to prepare and for HMRC to deliver a robust service, with additional time for customer testing in the pilot.

Lucy Frazer, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘The digital tax system we are building will be more efficient, make it easier for customers to get tax right, and bring wider benefits in increased productivity.

‘But we recognise that, as we emerge from the pandemic, it’s critical that everyone has enough time to prepare for the change, which is why we’re giving people an extra year to do so.

‘We remain firmly committed to MTD and building a tax system fit for the 21st century.’

Internet link: GOV.UK

National Insurance and dividend tax rises announced for social care reform

From April 2022, the government plans to create a new social care levy which will see UK-wide tax and National Insurance Contribution (NIC) increases.

There will be a 1.25% increase in NICs on earned income, with dividend tax rates also increasing by 1.25%. The money raised will be ringfenced for health and social care costs.

The Levy will be effectively introduced from April 2022, when NIC for working age employees, the self-employed and employers will increase by 1.25% and be added to the existing NHS allocation. The Levy will not apply to Class 2 or 3 NICs.

From April 2023, once HMRC’s systems are updated, the 1.25% Levy will be formally separated out and will also apply to individuals working above State Pension age and NIC rates will return to their 2021/22 levels.

Individuals who receive dividend income will also face a higher tax bill as all rates of dividend tax will increase by 1.25% from April 2022.

The dividend tax is applicable on dividend income above the frozen £2,000 dividend allowance and above the £12,570 personal allowance. Dividends on assets held in ISAs are excluded from the dividend tax.

From the 2022-23 tax year, basic rate dividend tax will be charged at 8.75% instead of 7.5% this year. Higher rate dividend taxpayers will be charged 33.75% instead of 32.5% and additional rate dividend taxpayers will pay 39.35% instead of 38.1% respectively.

Internet links: GOV.UK

Chancellor to deliver Autumn 2021 Budget on 27 October

HM Treasury has announced that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will deliver the Autumn 2021 Budget on Wednesday 27 October.

On 7 September the Chancellor launched Spending Review 2021, which will conclude on 27 October and will be presented alongside the Autumn Budget. The Spending Review will outline government departments’ resource and capital budgets from 2022/23 to 2024/25.

The Spending Review is also expected to set out how the government will deliver on its promises to the British public through leading the transition to net zero across the country; ensuring strong and innovative public services; levelling up across the UK to increase and spread opportunity; and delivering its Plan for Growth.

The Chancellor said:

‘Despite the worst economic recession in 300 years, we have not only got people back into work through the Plan for Jobs but continued to deliver on the priorities of the British people.

‘At the Spending Review . . . , I will set out how we will continue to invest in public services and drive growth while keeping the public finances on a sustainable path.’

Internet link: GOV.UK

Chancellor warned of redundancies as furlough scheme ends

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) ended on 30 September after supporting millions of workers during the pandemic.

The government said the wages of more than 11 million people were subsidised for at least some of the scheme’s duration at a cost of around £70 billion.

Economists say there is likely to be a rise in unemployment due to new redundancies, despite the fact that some may be able to find work in recovering sectors such as travel and hospitality.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the end of the furlough scheme, the scrapping of the small employer sick pay rebate and the closure of the government’s apprenticeship incentive scheme will only add pressure on companies.

Mike Cherry, the FSB’s National Chair, said:

‘It’s potentially a dangerous moment. As the weather turns colder, so too will the operating environment for many firms. With recent economic growth numbers having fallen below expectations, the upcoming festive season may not provide as much of a boost as hoped to many small businesses’ bottom lines.’

Internet link: GOV.UK FSB website

COVID-19 sick pay rebate scheme closed in September

The government’s scheme that enables small businesses to recoup statutory sick pay costs caused by COVID-19 closed at the end of September.

Legislation ending the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) was laid before parliament on 9 September.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, employers were obliged to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to eligible employees unable to work because of sickness. It is paid at a flat rate of £96.35 (at the current rate) for up to 28 weeks. The full cost of SSP is met by the employer.

To support employers during the pandemic, the government legislated to allow certain small and medium size employers to reclaim some, or all, of their SSP costs from HMRC via the SSPRS.

Under the new regulations, employers will not be able to reclaim SSP from 30 September 2021 and any claims relating to periods prior to that date must have been filed by 31 December 2021.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) said:

‘It would appear that the suspension of the requirement to wait for three days before SSP is paid has not yet been repealed. The three-day rule was suspended temporarily during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis to encourage people to stay at home as soon as they felt ill.’

Internet link: ICAEW website GOV.UK

£800 million Reinsurance Scheme opens for live events

The government has opened a £800 million Reinsurance Scheme to cover live events against cancellations stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The live events sector is worth more than £70 billion annually to the UK economy and supports more than 700,000 jobs, including small businesses and the self-employed.

The UK Live Events Reinsurance Scheme will support live events across the country – such as concerts and festivals, conferences and business events – that are at risk of being cancelled or delayed due to an inability to obtain COVID-19 cancellation insurance.

The government has partnered with Lloyd’s Market Association to deliver the scheme as part of its Plan for Jobs.

The scheme will see the government act as a ‘reinsurer’, stepping in with a guarantee to make sure insurers can offer the products events companies need. The scheme is available from 22 September 2021 and will run until the end of September 2022.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:

‘The events sector supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country and as the economy re-opens, we’re helping events providers and businesses plan with confidence right through to next year.’

Internet links: GOV.UK

Government announces plans to make requesting flexible working a day one right

UK workers could get more choice over when and where they work under new proposals to make the right to request flexible working a day one entitlement.

The government will also introduce a day one right to one week’s unpaid leave for carers balancing a job with caring responsibilities. The government says the plans will make for more productive businesses, whilst accommodating both employee and employer needs.

The proposals consider whether limiting an employee’s application for flexible working to one per year continues to represent the best balance between individual and business needs.

The consultation also looks at cutting the current three-month period an employer has to consider any request.

If an employer cannot accommodate a request, as can be the case, they would need to think about what alternatives they could offer.

Matthew Fell, Chief Policy Director at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:

‘Businesses have learnt a huge amount about the pros and cons of flexible working during the pandemic, with many firms expecting to receive more formal and informal requests in the future. Employers support giving employees the right to request flexible working from day one in the job.

‘Companies want to work with the government to ensure that they can say ‘no’ when they have properly considered requests but for good reason can’t accept them.

Internet link: GOV.UK CBI website

British Business Bank provided £80.5 billion of COVID-19 support

COVID-19 emergency finance schemes offered £80.5 billion of finance to almost 1.7 million businesses through the British Business Bank (BBB) during the last financial year.

This support, which is not included under the Bank’s core programmes, was evenly distributed across the nations and regions of the UK.

In addition, the BBB supported £8.5 billion through its normal core finance programmes, although this was below its target of £9.085 billion due to displacement of existing programmes by COVID-19 emergency finance schemes.

The Bank was independently assessed as having deployed its expertise to the government effectively, ranging from advice on COVID-19 scheme development and delivery to fulfilling priorities on research and market engagement.

Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO of the BBB, said:

‘Throughout 2020/21, in response to the pandemic, the BBB performed a role vital to the UK government, finance markets and the economy as a whole.

‘Our financial support to smaller businesses has increased by more than £80 billion during the last financial year, and now stands at nearly £89 billion.

‘We look forward to using our unique position in the market to support businesses further as they recover and return to growth once more, thereby rebuilding the foundations of the UK’s future prosperity.’

Internet link: British Business Bank website

 

Newsletter – September 2021

Enews – September 2021

In this month’s Enews we consider HMRC’s changes to late payment penalties; the consultation on how digital marketplaces should collect and share information; and warnings over stamp duty refund claims.

With guidance on digital tax scams, national minimum wage penalties and the latest advisory fuel rates, there is a lot to update you on.

HMRC outlines changes to late payment penalty regime

HMRC has published a policy paper outlining the forthcoming changes to the penalties for late payment and interest harmonisation for taxpayers.

The government intends to reform sanctions for late submission and late payments to make them ‘fairer and more consistent across taxes’. Initially the changes will apply to VAT and Income Tax Self Assessment (ITSA).

The changes will see interest charges and repayment interest harmonised to bring VAT in line with other tax regimes, including ITSA.

Under the new regime, there are two late payment penalties that may apply: a first penalty and then an additional or second penalty, with an annualised penalty rate. All taxpayers, regardless of the tax regime, have a legal obligation to pay their tax by the due date for that tax. The taxpayer will not incur a penalty if the outstanding tax is paid within the first 15 days after the due date. If tax remains unpaid after day 15, the taxpayer incurs the first penalty.

This penalty is set at 2% of the tax outstanding after day 15.

If any of the tax is still unpaid after day 30 the penalty will be calculated at 2% of the tax outstanding after day 15 plus 2% of the tax outstanding after day 30. If tax remains unpaid on day 31 the taxpayer will begin to incur an additional penalty on the tax remaining outstanding. This will accrue at 4% per annum.

HMRC will offer taxpayers the option of requesting a Time To Pay arrangement which will enable a taxpayer to stop a penalty from accruing by approaching HMRC and agreeing a schedule for paying their outstanding tax.

For VAT taxpayers, the reforms take effect from VAT periods starting on or after 1 April 2022. The changes will take effect for taxpayers in ITSA from accounting periods beginning on or after 6 April 2023 for those with business or property income over £10,000 per year (that is, taxpayers who are required to submit digital quarterly updates through Making Tax Digital for ITSA).

For all other ITSA taxpayers, the reforms will take effect from accounting periods beginning on or after 6 April 2024.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Digital marketplaces to report sellers’ incomes from 2023

HMRC has published a consultation that outlines plans to implement reporting rules for digital platforms first put forward by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In February 2020, the OECD consulted on proposed rules setting out how digital platforms should collect information about the income of sellers and report it to tax authorities.

Under the new rules, websites and applications based in the UK will be required to report sellers’ income arising in the previous calendar year to HMRC. The reporting deadline will be 31 January of the year following the calendar year.

HMRC stated that the new rules will improve international co-operation in regard to the exchange of information for tax purposes. They will also allow HMRC to access data from platforms based outside the UK quickly and efficiently, which should encourage compliance and increase the visibility of transactions.

The rules will also help taxpayers to get their tax right and will assist HMRC in detecting and tackling tax non-compliance.

HMRC’s consultation will close on 22 October 2021.

Internet links: GOV.UK

CIOT warns over stamp duty refund claims

The CIOT has warned that some claims being made by firms offering help with Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) refunds are too good to be true.

The CIOT says an increasing number of firms are contacting buyers of properties after completion of a purchase, suggesting that SDLT has been overpaid.

The most common issues raised are that multiple-dwellings relief (MDR) has not been claimed or that the buyer could have paid non-residential rates of SDLT (which are generally lower than residential rates) because the property was a mixture of residential and non-residential land.

The CIOT said:

‘SDLT is complicated and sometimes reliefs are overlooked, so it can be worth revisiting transactions if a letter is received.

‘However, many unsolicited approaches are indeed too good to be true and responsible taxpayers should act with caution and check independently whether a refund is due.

‘The suggested fee arrangements can also seem attractive as it appears that the claims are made on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. But it is important to remember that receiving a refund is not necessarily a win as HMRC may revisit the claim and deny that it was valid. In these circumstances, the fee may already have been paid.’

Internet link: CIOT website

Contactless limit to increase to £100 from 15 October

The national roll-out of the new £100 spending limit for contactless card payments will begin from 15 October 2021, banking trade body UK Finance has confirmed.

The decision to raise the contactless limit from £45 to £100 was made by HM Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) following a public consultation and discussions with both the retail and banking sectors. It follows on from the successful increase in the limit from £30 to £45 in April 2020.

From 15 October 2021, consumers will start to see retailers accepting contactless payments up to the new £100 limit, which will give customers more flexibility when shopping in store.

David Postings, Chief Executive of UK Finance, said:

‘Contactless payment has proved very popular with consumers and an increasing number of transactions are being made using contactless technology.

‘The increase in the limit to £100 will allow people to pay for higher value transactions like their weekly shop or filling up their car with fuel. The payments industry has worked hard to put in place the infrastructure to enable retailers to update their payments systems so they can start to offer their customers this new higher limit.’

Internet link: UK Finance website

HMRC urges taxpayers to stay alert to digital scams

HMRC has urged taxpayers to stay alert to the threat of digital scams and scammers claiming to represent HMRC.

Research published by HMRC revealed that the number of tax-related scams has doubled in the past 12 months.

In the past year HMRC has received more than one million referrals from the UK public in regard to suspicious contact, with many fraudsters offering ‘tax refunds’ or ‘rebates’. The research showed that HMRC received 441,954 reports of phone scams and more than 13,315 reports of malicious websites.

HMRC also stated that, over the last year, it has asked internet providers to take down 441 coronavirus (COVID-19) support scheme scam webpages.

Mike Fell, Head of Cyber Security Operation at HMRC, said:

‘The pandemic has given criminals a fresh hook for their activity and we’ve detected more than 460 COVID financial support scams alone since early 2020.

‘HMRC takes a proactive approach to protecting the public from tax-related scams and we have a dedicated Customer Protection Team that works continuously to identify and close them down.’

Internet link: ICAEW website

BCC calls for government to extend skills training

The BCC has urged the government to extend skills training in light of the publication of research which showed that one in five companies are considering making redundancies as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The BCC has stressed concerns that older workers could go unutilised unless support for retraining is put into place immediately.

The BCC survey, which polled over 250 businesses with employees still on furlough, revealed that one in five are planning to make staff redundant following the rise in employer contributions to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the BCC, said:

‘The changes to the furlough scheme will likely result in many thousands of people being released back into the labour market, as employers who are still struggling to recover from the recession are forced to make redundancies and cuts to working hours.

‘With widespread skills shortages across the economy, some will find new jobs where their skills are in demand, while others will need to retrain for opportunities in a different sector.’

Internet links: BCC website

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published and took effect from 1 September 2021.

The guidance states: ‘you can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 September 2021 are:

 

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 12p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 20p

 

Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 8p
Over 2000cc 12p

 

Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 10p
1601cc – 2000cc 12p
Over 2000cc 15p

HMRC guidance states that the rates only apply when you either:

  • reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars
  • require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel.

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

The Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric cars is 4p per mile. Electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Employers ‘named and shamed’ for paying less than minimum wage

The government has ‘named and shamed’ 191 companies that have broken National Minimum Wage (NMW) laws.

Following investigations by HMRC, the named firms have been fined for owing £2.1 million to over 34,000 workers. The breaches took place between 2011 and 2018. Named employers have since been made to pay back what they owed to employees and were fined an additional £3.2 million.

According to HMRC, 47% of firms wrongly deducted pay from workers’ wages, including for uniforms and expenses. In addition, 30% failed to pay workers for all the time they had worked, such as when they worked overtime, while 19% paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate.

Business Minister Paul Scully said:

‘Our minimum wage laws are there to ensure a fair day’s work gets a fair day’s pay – it is unacceptable for any company to come up short.

‘All employers, including those on this list, need to pay workers properly.

‘This government will continue to protect workers’ rights vigilantly, and employers that short-change workers won’t get off lightly.’

Internet link: GOV.UK

 

Newsletter – August 2021

Enews – August 2021

In this month’s Enews we consider the announcement of a consultation on self-employed basis periods, draft Finance Bill clauses and guidance on claiming the fifth self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant. With HMRC updated guidance on salary sacrifice, ICAEW urging VAT reforms specifically for property, the latest statistics on furlough, pension scams and public trust in charities, there is a lot to update you on.

Article Index

  • Consultation launched on self-employed basis period reform
  • The government has published draft Finance Bill clauses
  • Claiming the fifth self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant
  • ICAEW urges HMRC to scrap exemptions to simplify VAT rules
  • HMRC updates Salary Sacrifice guidance
  • Data reveals 1.9 million workers remain on furlough
  • Pension scams average losses now over £50,000
  • Increase in public trust in charities

Consultation launched on self-employed basis period reform

HMRC has recently launched a consultation on how basis periods can be reformed for income tax for the self-employed.

The consultation seeks to gather views on how best to implement a proposal to simplify the rules under which profits of an unincorporated trading business are allocated to tax years using basis periods. The consultation also includes suggestions regarding transitional rules for moving to the new system.

HMRC aims to simplify the system before Making Tax Digital (MTD) for income tax is implemented.

The proposals affect the self-employed and partnerships with trading income. It mainly affects unincorporated businesses that do not draw up annual accounts to 31 March or 5 April and those that are in the early years of trade.

HMRC stated that it would like to gather views on the matter from businesses, advisers, tax software providers and representative bodies.

Internet link: GOV.UK Basis period reform – consultation

The government has published draft Finance Bill clauses

The Government has published draft clauses for the next Finance Bill, which broadly cover pre-announced policy changes.

The government is committed, where possible, to publishing most tax legislation in draft for technical consultation before the relevant Finance Bill is laid before Parliament.

The consultation will close on 14 September 2021.

Internet link: GOV.UK Draft Finance Bill 2021-22

Claiming the fifth self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant

HMRC has issued guidance on claiming the fifth and final self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant.

Unlike previous SEISS grants the amount of the fifth grant available is determined by how much a self-employed individual’s turnover is reduced.

The fifth grant is 80% of three months’ average trading profits capped at £7,500 for those self-employed individuals whose turnover has reduced by 30% or more. Those with a turnover reduction of less than 30% will receive a grant based on 30% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850.

Claims must be made by 30 September 2021. It is the taxpayer who must make the claim, an accountant or agent cannot submit the claim on their behalf.

Before making a claim taxpayers must:

  • work out their turnover for a 12-month period starting from 1 April 2020 to 6 April 2020
  • find their turnover from either 2019/20 or 2018/19 to use as a reference year.

HMRC advises taxpayers will need to have both figures ready when they make their claim.

A taxpayer can calculate their turnover for 2020/21 in a number of ways:

  • by referring to their 2020/21 self assessment tax return if this has already been completed
  • checking the figures on their accounting software
  • reviewing their bookkeeping or spreadsheet records that detail their self-employment invoices and payments received
  • checking the bank account they use for their business to account for money coming in from customers
  • by asking their accountant or tax adviser for help in calculating the figures. However accountants and agents are unable to make the claim on the taxpayer’s behalf.

Claiming the fifth SEISS grant is not straightforward so please contact us for advice on determining your turnover figures or eligibility.

Internet link: GOV.UK SEISS5

ICAEW urges HMRC to scrap exemptions to simplify VAT rules

In response to HMRC’s consultation on simplifying the rules relating to land and property, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has urged HMRC to abolish all VAT exemptions and remove all VAT options.

The ICAEW stated that the VAT rules regarding land and property are ‘unnecessarily complex’ and stand to benefit from ‘significant simplification’. The Institute also highlighted the need for a more fundamental review of VAT exemptions.

In its response, the ICAEW also argued that abolishing exemptions would remove the difficulties for businesses posed by partial exemption. It suggested that all land and property transactions should be subject to VAT at the standard rate or reduced rate, other than those relating to domestic property, which should remain zero-rated. This would help to remove many of the complexities associated with the current rules, the ICAEW said.

In regard to the removal of all VAT options, the ICAEW commented: ‘Any option, whether it be to tax or exempt a transaction, creates complexity and uncertainty, as there are then two possibilities for the VAT liability of what is essentially the same type of supply.’

Internet link: ICAEW VAT representation

HMRC updates Salary Sacrifice guidance

HMRC has updated the guidance on salary sacrifice.

HMRC has removed the guidance on ‘Salary sacrifice arrangements set up before 6 April 2017’ as the transitional arrangements for calculating the value of the benefit came to an end on 5 April 2021.

A salary sacrifice arrangement is an agreement to reduce an employee’s entitlement to cash pay, usually in return for a non-cash benefit.

Employers can set up a salary sacrifice arrangement by changing the terms of the employee’s employment contract. The employee needs to agree to this change.

The impact on tax and National Insurance contributions payable for any employee will depend on the pay and non-cash benefits that make up the salary sacrifice arrangement.

An employer needs to pay and deduct the right amount of tax and National Insurance contributions for the cash and benefits they provide.

For the cash component, that means operating the PAYE system correctly via payroll.

For any non-cash benefits, an employer will need to work out the value of the benefit.

If an employer sets up a new salary sacrifice arrangement, they will need to work out the value of a non-cash benefit by using the higher of the:

  • amount of the salary given up
  • earnings charge under the normal benefit in kind rules.

For cars with CO2 emissions of no more than 75g/km, employers should always use the earnings charge under the normal benefit in kind rules.

Please contact us if you are considering setting up salary sacrifice arrangements to ensure these are effective.

Internet link: GOV.UK Salary sacrifice

Data reveals 1.9 million workers remain on furlough

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is being wound down on 30 September 2021 and data published by HMRC has revealed that 1.9 million workers remain on furlough.

The data showed that the number of employees furloughed on the CJRS fell by 590,000 during June. The total number of furloughed workers is 1.9 million.

The data also revealed that younger workers have been leaving furlough most quickly, whilst one in ten workers aged 65 or over were on furlough.

For guidance on claiming CJRS visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Internet link: GOV.UK CJRS statistics

Pension scams average losses now over £50,000

According to the latest figures from Action Fraud the average loss from pension scams has reached £50,949 this year.

That is more than double the typical figure of £23, 689 reported last year.

Action Fraud said the losses in each case ranged from less than £1,000 to as much as £500,000, and the real figures could be higher as many scams go unreported.

Mark Steward, the Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said:

‘Fraudsters will seek out every opportunity to exploit innocent people, no matter how much they have saved.

‘Check the status of a firm before making a financial decision about your pension by visiting the FCA register. Make sure you only get advice from a firm authorised by the FCA to provide advice, before making any changes to your pension arrangements.’

The FCA highlighted five common warning signs:

  • Being offered a free pension review out of the blue
  • Being offered guaranteed higher returns
  • Being offered help to release cash from your pension, even though you are under 55
  • High-pressure sales tactics – scammers may try to pressure you with ‘time-limited offers’ or send a courier to your door to wait while you sign documents
  • Unusual investments which tend to be unregulated and high-risk.

More information on how to avoid pension scams is available from the FCA at https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart/how-avoid-pension-scams

Internet link: FCA news

Increase in public trust in charities

Public trust in charities has reached its highest level since 2014, according to research published by the Charity Commission.

An independent study showed that people’s trust in charities scored an average of 6.4 out of 10, up from 6.2 a year ago and significantly higher than the low of 5.5 recorded in 2018. The highest figure to date is 6.7 out of 10, recorded in 2014.

The Commission said the uplift may be linked in part to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and charities’ visible role in responding to the national crisis, notably in areas such as food poverty and support for NHS workers and other key workers.

Helen Stephenson, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, said:

‘It is vital that we learn the right lessons from this research. The pandemic has been a momentous event in our collective experience, with charities proving their value time and again.

‘But it has not changed people’s fundamental expectations of charity. More than ever, people need evidence that charities are not ends in themselves, but vehicles for making the world a better place, both through what they achieve, and the values they live along the way.’

Internet link: Public trust in charities 2021: web version

Newsletter – July 2021

Enews – July 2021

In this month’s Enews we consider the winding down of the furlough scheme, the apprenticeship cash boost, changes to property taxes and HMRC’s investigations into COVID support schemes. With the introduction of the one stop shop for VAT on EU trade, an update on Tax-Free Childcare, tax credits renewals and claiming tax relief for working from home, there is a lot to update you on.

Article Index

  • Furlough scheme starts to wind down
  • Apprenticeship cash boost
  • Property tax changes
  • HMRC launches 13,000 investigations into COVID-19 support schemes
  • Schemes create one stop shop for VAT on EU trade
  • Over 280,000 families now using Tax-Free Childcare
  • 440,000 tax credit claimants still to renew their claims
  • 800,000 claim tax relief for working from home

Furlough scheme starts to wind down

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) begins winding down from 1 July.

The latest data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that at the end of April 3.4 million jobs were still on furlough so the change to the furlough scheme will affect thousands of employers across the country.

Since last March, the government has paid 80% of the salaries of employees (up to a maximum government contribution of £2,500 per month) – with the employers only having to pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions.

From 1 July the government will only pay 70% of the furloughed employee’s salary, so the employer has to pay 10% of the salary themselves. In August and September, employers will have to pay 20%, with the government picking up 60%. Furloughed employees will continue to receive 80% of their wages including the employer contribution.

However, according to the IFS, the bill for employers keeping a member of staff on the scheme will rise significantly, putting jobs at risk. For a furloughed employee previously earning £20,000 per year, the cost to an employer of keeping them will rise from £155 per month in June to £322 in July, and £489 per month in August and September, after which the scheme is due to end.

Further details of changes to the CJRS can be found at GOV.UK CJRS.

Internet link: IFS publication

Apprenticeship cash boost

The government has confirmed that employers of all sizes in England can now apply for £3,000 in extra funding to help them take on new apprentices.

The boost to the apprenticeship incentive scheme was confirmed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Budget in March.

The claims portal opened on 1 June and businesses can apply for £3,000 for each new apprentice hired as a new employee from 1 April until 30 September.

The cash incentive is designed to help more employers invest in the skilled workforce they need for the future as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs.

The government says the scheme builds on action already underway to protect, support and create more jobs while bringing the UK’s skills and education system closer to the employer market.

The Chancellor commented:

‘Young people have been hit especially hard by the crisis – which is why our Plan for Jobs, launched last year, is focused on helping them get the skills they need to get the jobs they want.

By boosting the cash incentives for our apprenticeship scheme we’re improving opportunities for young people to stay in and find work – this could not be more important in our economy’s recovery.’

Find out more and apply at www.gov.uk/guidance/incentive-payments-for-hiring-a-new-apprentice.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Property tax changes

From 1 July 2021 there are changes to the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) and Land Transaction Tax (LTT) bands for residential property.

SDLT is payable by the purchaser in a land transaction occurring in England and Northern Ireland. The following rates and thresholds apply for SDLT from 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021:

Residential property Band % Rates
£0 – £250,000 0
£250,001 – £925,000 5
£925,001 – £1,500,000 10
£1,500,001 and over 12

LTT is payable by the purchaser in a land transaction occurring in Wales. From 1 July 2021 the rates for residential property are:

Residential property Band % Rate
Up to £180,000 0
£180,001 – £250,000 3.5
£250,001 – £400,000 5
£400,001 – £750,000 7.5
£750,001 – £1,500,000 10
Over £1,500,000 12

There are no changes to the rates and bands for Land and Property Transaction Tax which apply in Scotland.

Internet links: SDLT rates LTT rates

HMRC launches 13,000 investigations into COVID-19 support schemes

HMRC has launched nearly 13,000 investigations into alleged abuse of the government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) financial support schemes.

A freedom of information request revealed that, up to the end of March 2021, HMRC opened 12,828 investigations into alleged cases of fraud. 7,384 of these investigations related to abuse of the COVID-19 support schemes.

5,020 investigations were launched into the alleged misuse of the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Commenting on the matter, a spokesperson for HMRC said:

‘It is vital we support businesses to recover by ensuring a level playing field, so the majority are not undercut by the few who tried to cheat the system.

‘We are taking tough action to tackle fraudulent behaviour. We have now opened more than 12,000 inquiries into claimants we suspect may have kept more than they were entitled to. We have also begun a handful of criminal investigations.’

Internet link: CityAM news

Schemes create one stop shop for VAT on EU trade

Three schemes were launched on 1 July to deal with VAT on business-to-consumer supplies of goods and services to EU customers.

They are known as the ‘Union’, ‘non-Union’ and ‘import’ schemes. The schemes are designed to facilitate the collection of VAT by one EU member state, which is then passed on to the member state in which the supply is deemed to take place.

The ‘Union scheme’ covers intra-EU supplies of goods and services for businesses with their place of business or a fixed establishment within the EU.

The Union scheme will also allow a UK business to hold stock within the EU (for example, the Netherlands) and pay VAT for all EU sales to the relevant tax authorities.

The ‘non-Union scheme’ covers supplies of services to EU customers by businesses with no establishment within the EU.

The ‘import scheme’ covers the distance sale of goods below €150 fulfilled from stock held outside the EU.

If businesses register for VAT using one of these schemes, they will complete one return for all EU sales, rather than being required to register for VAT in all member states in which their customers are based. These schemes will allow businesses to declare sales across all EU member states.

Internet link: Guide to the one stop shop

Over 280,000 families now using Tax-Free Childcare

More than 282,000 working families used a Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) account during March 2021, according to figures from HMRC.

HMRC stated that it is the highest recorded number of families in any one month since the scheme was launched in April 2017. These families received a share of more than £33 million in government top-up payments for their childcare.

The TFC scheme can be used to help pay for accredited holiday clubs, childminders or sports activities – enabling parents and carers to save money on the costs of childcare.

The TFC initiative is available for children aged up to 11, or 17 if the child has a disability. For every £8 deposited into an account, families will receive an additional £2 in government top-up, capped at £500 every three months, or £1,000 if the child is disabled.

Myrtle Lloyd, Director General for Customer Services at HMRC, said:

‘We want to help kids stay active this summer, whether they are going to summer holiday clubs or a childminder. A childcare top-up will go a long way towards helping parents plan and pay for summer activities to keep their kids happy and healthy.’

More details and registration for TFC can be found at www.gov.uk/tax-free-childcare

Internet link: GOV.UK TFC statistics

440,000 tax credit claimants still to renew their claims

HMRC is reminding tax credit claimants that they have until 31 July 2021 to renew their claims.

According to HMRC, 440,000 claimants have yet to renew their claims. More than 2.5 million annual tax credits packs were posted to claimants between late April and early July 2021.

Claimants will have either received an ‘auto-renewal’ reminder or a ‘reply required’ notice. All ‘reply required’ claimants must renew their claims or contact HMRC to notify them of any change in circumstances ahead of the deadline to continue receiving tax credits payments.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said:

‘We know how important tax credits are to our customers, so we’ve made it quicker and easier to renew claims online. There’s no need to wait for the 31 July deadline – do it now by searching ‘tax credits’ on GOV.UK.’

To renew your tax credits claim visit www.gov.uk/renewing-your-tax-credits-claim.

Internet links: GOV.UK press release

800,000 claim tax relief for working from home

HMRC has confirmed that almost 800,000 employees who have been working from home during the pandemic have already claimed tax relief on household related costs.

The saving is worth up to £125 per year for each employee, and eligible workers can claim the full year’s entitlement if they have been told to work from home by their employer, even if it has been for just one day during the tax year.

Employees who have either returned to working in an office since early April or are preparing for their return can still claim the working from home tax relief and benefit from the full year’s relief for 2021/22.

Employees can apply directly themselves and receive the full tax relief that is due. Once their application has been approved, their tax code will be automatically adjusted for the 2021/22 tax year, and they will receive the tax relief directly through their salary.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said:

‘More people are getting back to office working now, but it’s not too late to apply for tax relief on household expenses if they’ve been working from home during the pandemic.’

Check eligibility and apply online at www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Newsletter – June 2021

Enews – June 2021

In this month’s Enews we consider the roll out of the fifth SEISS grant; the imminent closure of HMRC’s payment scheme for businesses that deferred VAT payments last year; and the announcement of National Insurance reliefs for employers setting up in Freeport economic zones.

With guidance on the Plastic Packaging Tax, the Trade credit insurance scheme, the deadline for forms P11D and the latest advisory fuel rates, there is a lot to update you on.

Article Index

  • Fifth SEISS grant will be open to claims from late July
  • HMRC’s VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme to close this month
  • NIC reliefs set for Freeports
  • Government confirms start date for Plastic Packaging Tax
  • Effectiveness of OTS set to be reviewed by Treasury
  • Trade credit insurance scheme to close
  • Advisory fuel rates for company cars
  • Forms P11D – reporting employee benefits

Fifth SEISS grant will be open to claims from late July

HMRC has confirmed that the fifth Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant covering the period May 2021 to September 2021 will open to claims from late July.

To be eligible for the grant, an individual must be self-employed or a member of a partnership. They must have traded in the tax year 2019/20 and submitted their tax return on or before 2 March 2021, and also have traded in the tax year 2020/21. Claimants must either be currently trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus or have been trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus.

The amount of the fifth grant will be determined by how much an individual’s turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021.

HMRC will provide more information and support by the end of June 2021 to help individuals work out how their turnover was affected.

The online claims service for the fifth SEISS grant will be open from late July 2021. In mid-July HMRC will contact individuals who are eligible based on their tax returns to give them a date from which they can make their claim.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

HMRC’s VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme to close this month

Businesses that deferred VAT payments last year have less than a month left to join online and pay in monthly instalments under the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme, HMRC has warned.

The online portal for the new payment scheme will close on 21 June 2021.

Over half a million businesses deferred £34 billion in VAT payments due between March and June 2020 under the VAT Payment Deferral Scheme. Businesses had until 31 March 2021 to pay this deferred VAT or, if they could not afford to do so, they could go online from 23 February to set up a new payment scheme and pay by monthly instalments to spread the cost.

Jim Harra, HMRC’s Chief Executive, said:

‘Businesses that deferred paying their VAT last spring have until 21 June to join the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme online. They should act now to avoid missing out on this opportunity to spread payment of their deferred VAT across monthly, interest-free, instalments.

‘The new payment scheme is part of the Government package of support worth over £350 billion to help protect millions of jobs and businesses during the pandemic and as we emerge on the path to recovery.

‘HMRC will continue to do all we can to help businesses as they reopen and rebuild.’

Internet links: GOV.UK  GOV.UK news

NIC reliefs set for Freeports

Freeport operators will be able to take advantage of a zero rate of secondary national insurance contributions (NICs) for employees, the government has announced.

The National Insurance Contributions Bill 2021, which legislates reliefs for those operating in Freeports, has now been published.

The Bill confirms that from April 2022, organisations with employees spending 60% or more of their time in a Freeport site will be eligible for relief on secondary Class 1 NICs for 36 months. The relief will be available to new employees earning up to £25,000 per annum.

In 2020 the government consulted on proposals to create up to ten Freeports across the UK. A UK Freeport will be a geographical area with a diameter up to 45km which is closely linked to a seaport, airport or rail port. East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth and South Devon, Solent, Teesside and Thames have been successful in the Freeports bidding process for England.

The government is now proposing a range of measures covering customs, tax reliefs, planning, regeneration funding and innovation to create Freeports as national hubs for global trade and investment across the UK.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Government confirms start date for Plastic Packaging Tax

The UK government has confirmed that its plastic packaging tax (PPT) will come into force on 1 April 2022.

The PPT will be charged at a rate of £200 per metric ton of chargeable plastic packaging components of a single specification.

It will apply to plastic packaging components manufactured in or imported into the UK.

Plastics covered by the tax include bioplastics, including biodegradable, compostable and oxo-degradable plastics.

The tax will not be chargeable on plastic packaging which has 30% or more recycled plastic content, or where the packaging is made of multiple materials of which plastic is not proportionately the heaviest when measured by weight.

This includes importers of packaging which already contain goods, such as plastic bottles filled with drinks and where the imported packaging already contains other goods as the tax only applies to the plastic packaging itself.

The introduction of the plastic packaging tax is designed to encourage the use of recycled rather than new plastic within plastic packaging and will in turn stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste, diverting it away from landfill or incineration.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Effectiveness of OTS set to be reviewed by Treasury

The Treasury has launched a review into the effectiveness of the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), the independent body responsible for helping to make the UK tax system simpler and easier to interact with for taxpayers.

In a new call for evidence, the Treasury said that whilst the review is internal, it is keen to gather the views that stakeholders, businesses, tax professionals and academics have on the OTS.

The Treasury is seeking views on the resourcing, funding and governance of the OTS; the OTS’s relationship with HMRC; the OTS’s work to date; the impact of the OTS’s work on the government’s approach to tax simplification; and steps that could be taken to enhance the effectiveness of the OTS.

The call for evidence also asks stakeholders whether they believe the OTS is sufficiently independent from the government, and whether it has the correct breadth of expertise on its board.

The Treasury stated that the outcomes arising from the review will be published in the autumn of 2021.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Trade credit insurance scheme to close

The temporary Trade Credit Reinsurance (TCR) scheme that helped struggling supply chain firms secure insurance protection during the pandemic will close at the end of June, it has been confirmed.

In a statement, the government and the Association of British Insurers said the scheme will close on 30 June as planned.

The TCR scheme was designed as a temporary solution to companies struggling to get insurance cover for transactions because of the pandemic.

The government says the TCR has directly benefitted over half a million businesses but is now ending in the context of a positive outlook for economic recovery in 2021.

Participating insurers have indicated to the government that the scheme is no longer required and they are keen to take back full underwriting control.

The government says it will work with participating insurers to ensure there is a smooth transition to the private sector resuming its normal role of providing cover.

Chris Wilford, Head of Financial Services Policy at the Confederation of British Industry, said:

‘There is growing concern amongst businesses about the future of the Trade Credit insurance market following the end of the government’s guarantee at the end of June.

‘It is vital that there is clear guidance on what businesses need to do to ensure coverage beyond the end of the TCI guarantee to smooth the transition towards a normalised market. The CBI welcomes the joint statement by the government and insurance industry and will continue to actively engage to find a solution.’

Internet links: GOV.UK CBI website

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published and took effect from 1 June 2021.

The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 June 2021 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 13p
Over 2000cc 19p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 8p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 14p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 13p

HMRC guidance states that the rates only apply when you either:

  • reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars
  • require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel.

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

The Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric cars is 4 pence per mile. Electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Forms P11D – reporting employee benefits

The forms P11D which report details of benefits and some expenses provided to employees and directors for the year ended 5 April 2021, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2021. The process of gathering the necessary information and completing the forms can take some time, so it is important that this process is not left to the last minute.

Employees pay tax on benefits provided as shown on the P11D, generally via a PAYE coding notice adjustment or through the self assessment system. Some employers ‘payroll’ benefits and in this case the benefits do not need to be reported on forms P11D but employers should advise employees of the amount of benefits payrolled.

In addition, regardless of whether the benefits are being reported via P11D or payrolled the employer has to pay Class 1A National Insurance Contributions at 13.8% on the provision of most benefits. The calculation of this liability is detailed on the P11D(b) form. The deadline for payment of the Class 1A NIC is 19th July 2021 (or 22nd for cleared electronic payment).

If you would like any help with the completion of the forms or the calculation of the associated Class 1A NIC please get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC guidance

Newsletter – May 2021

Enews – May 2021

In this month’s Enews we consider the opening of the latest SEISS grant to applicants, the launch of the government’s latest loan scheme aimed at supporting COVID-hit businesses and the introduction of state-backed 95% mortgages for first-time buyers.

With guidance on tax relief for home workers, a call for the extension of the Kickstart scheme and pension fraud increases there is a lot to update you on.

Article Index

  • Fourth self-employed grant now open for online applications
  • Recovery Loan Scheme opens to businesses
  • Recent changes to IR35 ‘undermine the self-employed’, says IPSE
  • CBI calls for extension of Kickstart Scheme as jobs market remains subdued
  • New 95% mortgage scheme launched
  • New claims required for home working tax relief
  • HMRC sets out penalty regime for SEISS abuse
  • Pension fraud increased to £1.8 million in first quarter of 2021

Fourth self-employed grant now open for online applications

On 21 April, the online service for applications for the fourth Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant was opened for claims, HMRC confirmed.

All applications must be submitted by the individual self-employed worker and cannot be handled by accountants or tax advisers.

The fourth grant will be 80% of three months’ average trading profits, to be claimed from late April 2021.

Payment will be in a single instalment capped at £7,500 in total and will cover the period 1 February to 30 April 2021. The scheme has been extended to those who filed a 2019/20 self-assessment tax return prior to 3 March 2021.

Claimants must have been impacted by reduced activity, capacity and demand, or have been trading previously and are temporarily unable to do so. All claims must be made on or before 1 June 2021.

There is no requirement for an earlier SEISS grant to have been claimed to be able to claim the fourth grant.

The fifth SEISS grant will cover the period from 1 May to 30 September 2021 and will be available from July.

It will be set at 80% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more.

Alternately, it will be worth 30% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850 for those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%.

Further details of the fifth grant will be provided in due course.

Internet link: GOV.UK 

Recovery Loan Scheme opens to businesses

On 6 April, the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) was introduced to replace the government’s coronavirus lending schemes.

The RLS provides financial support to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme gives lenders a guarantee of 80% on eligible loans between £25,000 and £10 million to give them confidence in continuing to provide finance to UK businesses.

The RLS is open to all businesses, including those who have already received support under the previous COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme although the amount they have borrowed under an existing scheme may in certain circumstances limit the amount they may borrow under RLS.

The RLS is initially available through a number of lenders accredited by the British Business Bank.

Internet link: British Business Bank website

 

Recent changes to IR35 ‘undermine the self-employed’, says IPSE

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has stated that the recent changes to the rules relating to off-payroll workers, commonly known as IR35, ‘undermine the self-employed at the worst possible time’.

The changes to IR35 took effect on 6 April 2021 and shifted responsibility for making the decision on employment status on each contract away from contractors and personal service companies (PSCs) and on to the client receiving their services. This has already been done in the public sector.

Research carried out by IPSE found that 50% of contractors planned to stop contracting in the UK once the changes took effect unless they could secure contracts unaffected by them. 24% are planning to seek contracts abroad; 12% plan to stop working altogether; 17% will seek an employed role; and 11% are looking to retire within the next year.

Additionally, 24% of contractors said their clients are planning to blanket-assess all their contractors as ‘inside IR35’.

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE, said:

‘The changes to IR35 would do serious harm to the self-employed sector at the best of times, but now they are adding drastic, unnecessary damage to the financial carnage of the pandemic – undermining the UK’s contractors at the worst possible time.

‘The crucial problem with IR35 is still its complexity: in fact, it is so complex that HMRC has lost the majority of tribunals on its own legislation. And there remains serious doubts about the CEST tool HMRC designed to supposedly cut through this complexity.’

Internet link: IPSE website

CBI calls for extension of Kickstart Scheme as jobs market remains subdued

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the government to extend the Kickstart Scheme to help young people who are bearing the brunt of the subdued job market.

The Kickstart Scheme was launched in September and promised to pay the wages and associated employment costs for businesses taking on 16 to 24-year-olds in receipt of Universal Credit up to six-month contract periods.

The UK unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in the three months to February, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). However, 56,000 workers were cut from company payrolls in March, which represents the first monthly drop since last November.

Around 813,000 workers have been cut from company payrolls in the last 12 months as the pandemic adversely affected the jobs market. The ONS said young people continued to bear the brunt of the crisis amid job losses in sectors such as hospitality and retail.

People under 25 accounted for more than half of the jobs lost in the year to March, it added.

Matthew Percival, Director of People and Skills at the CBI, said:

‘Evidence continues to mount that it is young people’s jobs that have been hardest hit by lockdowns. Support for jobs and training will be vital to making the UK’s economic recovery inclusive.

‘Government should confirm that the extra lockdown at the beginning of the year means that the Kickstart Scheme will remain open for longer to allow businesses the time to deliver opportunities for young people.’

Internet link: CBI website

New 95% mortgage scheme launched

On 19 April, a government-backed mortgage scheme to help people with 5% deposits get on to the housing ladder was made available to lenders.

First announced at the 2021 Budget, the scheme will help first-time buyers or current homeowners secure a mortgage with just a 5% deposit to buy a house worth up to £600,000. The government says this will provide ‘an affordable route to homeownership for aspiring homeowners’.

The government will offer lenders the guarantee they need to provide mortgages that cover the other 95%, subject to the usual affordability checks.

The scheme is now available from lenders on high streets across the country, with Lloyds, Santander, Barclays, HSBC and NatWest having launched mortgages under the scheme and Virgin Money following shortly.

Miguel Sard, Managing Director of Home Buying and Ownership at NatWest, said:

‘We welcome the government’s new mortgage guarantee scheme to give further support to those with smaller deposits. For those customers, particularly younger or first-time buyers, saving up for a big deposit can often be difficult, and we know people in these groups are some of the hardest hit by the effects of the pandemic.

‘A government-backed scheme will help segments of the market for whom homeownership has felt far out of reach in recent months.’

Internet link: GOV.UK

New claims required for home working tax relief

Employees who are working from home will need to make new claims for tax relief for the 2021/22 tax year, HMRC has stated.

From 6 April 2020, employers have been able to pay employees up to £6 a week tax-free to cover additional costs if they have had to work from home.

Employees who have not received the working from home expenses payment direct from their employer can apply to receive the tax relief from HMRC.

HMRC has also confirmed that the £6 per week payment is available in full, even if an employee splits their time between home and the office.

The allowance is to cover tax-deductible additional costs that employees who are required to work from home have incurred, such as heating and lighting the workroom, and business telephone calls.

Last year an online portal was launched that allows employees to claim tax relief for working at home. The portal was set up to process tax relief on additional expenses for employed workers who have been told to work from home by their employer during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Internet link: GOV.UK

HMRC sets out penalty regime for SEISS abuse

The fourth Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant is now live and HMRC has set out the penalties for abuse of the scheme.

An overclaimed SEISS grant includes any amount of grant which the self-employed individual was not entitled to receive or was more than the amount HMRC said the applicant was entitled to when the claim was made.

Overpayments must be notified to HMRC within 90 days of receipt of an SEISS grant.

When deciding the amount of any penalty, HMRC will take account whether the taxpayer knew they were entitled to the SEISS grant when they received it and when it became repayable or chargeable to tax because the individual’s circumstances changed.

The HMRC guidance states: ‘If you knew you were not entitled to your grant and did not tell us in the notification period, the law treats your failure as deliberate and concealed. This means we can charge a penalty of up to 100% on the amount of the SEISS grant that you were not entitled to receive or keep.

‘If you did not know you were not entitled to your grant when you received it, we will only charge you a penalty if you have not repaid the grant by 31 January 2022.’

If you would like further advice or require a compliance review on your eligibility, please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Pension fraud increased to £1.8 million in first quarter of 2021

Losses from pension fraud rose to £1.8 million in the first three months of this year, according to figures from Action Fraud.

107 reports of pension fraud were made in the first quarter of 2021, an increase of almost 45% when compared to the same period in 2020.

Pension scams often include free pension reviews, ‘too good to be true’ investment opportunities and offers to help release money from your pension, even for under 55s, which is not permitted under the pension freedom rules.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

‘Criminals are malicious and unapologetic when it comes to committing pension fraud. They are motivated by their own financial gain and lack any kind of empathy for their victims, who can often lose their whole life savings to these scams.

‘We know pension fraud can have a devastating impact, both financially and emotionally, but any one of us can fall victim to a fraud and it’s nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. It’s incredibly important that instances of pension fraud and attempted scams are reported to Action Fraud.

‘Every report helps police get that bit closer to the people committing these awful crimes. Reporting to Action Fraud also allows our specialist victim support advocates to provide people with important protection advice and signpost them to local support services.’

Internet link: Action Fraud website

Newsletter – April 2021

Enews – April 2021

In this month’s Enews we consider the extension of business rates relief to COVID-hit businesses outside of the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, the announcements from the inaugural Tax Day and the details of the 2021 Finance Bill.

With guidance on the new Brexit fund aimed at SMEs, the fourth and fifth instalments of the support grant for the self-employed and minimum wage increases there is a lot to update you on.

Article Index

  • Business rates relief extended with £1.5 billion fund
  • Consultations launched on UK’s first Tax Day
  • Government publishes details of Finance Bill 2021
  • £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund opens for applications
  • HMRC publishes details of final grants for self-employed
  • National Minimum and Living wages increases
  • UK cuts electric vehicle grants by £500
  • ICAEW urges HMRC to rethink quarterly reports under MTD for corporation tax

Business rates relief extended with £1.5 billion fund

The government is to extend business rates relief with a £1.5 billion fund targeted at those businesses unable to benefit from the current COVID-19 support.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses have not been paying any rates during the pandemic, as part of a 15 month-long relief which runs to the end of June this year.

However, many businesses ineligible for reliefs have been appealing for discounts on their rates bills, arguing the pandemic represented a ‘material change of circumstance’ (MCC).

The government says that market-wide economic changes to property values, such as from COVID-19, can only be properly considered at general rates revaluations, and will therefore be legislating to rule out COVID-19 related MCC appeals.

Instead, the government will provide a £1.5 billion pot across the country that will be distributed according to which sectors have suffered most economically, rather than on the basis of falls in property values. It says this will ensure the support is provided to businesses in England in the fastest and fairest way possible.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

‘Our priority throughout this crisis has been to protect jobs and livelihoods. Providing this extra support will get cash to businesses who need it most, quickly and fairly.

‘By providing more targeted support than the business rates appeals system, our approach will help protect and support jobs in businesses across the country, providing a further boost as we reopen the economy, emerge from this crisis, and build back better.’

Internet link: GOV.UK 

Consultations launched on UK’s first Tax Day

The government has published over 30 updates, consultations and documents on the UK’s first ever Tax Day.

The announcements, which would traditionally be published at Budget, have been released later to allow for scrutiny from stakeholders.

It was announced that HMRC will tighten rules to force holiday let landlords to prove they have made a realistic effort to rent properties out for at least 140 days per year. There are suspicions that many simply declare that they will do this but leave the properties empty.

Declaring a home to be a holiday let means that it is exempt from council tax and owners pay business rates instead.

The Treasury plans to cut the rate of domestic Air Passenger Duty. The consultation also seeks views on supporting the UK’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 by increasing the number of international distance bands.

Inheritance tax (IHT) reporting regulations ‘will be simplified’ to ensure that from 1 January 2022 more than 90% of non-taxpaying estates will no longer have to complete IHT forms when probate or confirmation is required.

Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘We are making these announcements to increase the transparency, discipline and accessibility of tax policymaking.

‘These measures will help us to upgrade and digitise the UK tax system, tackle tax avoidance and fraud, among other things.

‘Many of today’s announcements form a key part of the government’s wider 10-year plan to build a trusted, modern tax system.’

Internet links: GOV.UK GOV.UK news

 

Government publishes details of Finance Bill 2021

The details of the Finance Bill 2021 have been published by the government.

The Bill outlines the key measures set to be brought into legislation, including many measures announced in the recent 2021 Budget.

In his Budget speech, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced an extension of the stamp duty holiday in England; a super-deduction capital allowance; extensions of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS); and an extension of the VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors.

The Bill will make sure the measures announced in the Budget take effect from 6 April 2021. It also legislates for tax changes that were previously consulted on and subsequently confirmed at the Budget.

Internet link: UK Parliament website

£20 million SME Brexit Support Fund opens for applications

The UK government has unveiled a £20 million Brexit support package to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with changes to customs and tax rules when trading with the EU.

The SME Brexit Support Fund aims to help businesses prepare for the implementation of further import controls which come into force later this year.

Businesses who trade only with the EU and are therefore new to importing and exporting processes will be encouraged to apply for grants of up to £2,000 for each trader to pay for practical support, including training and professional advice, to ensure they can continue trading effectively.

Businesses must meet certain criteria, including having been established in the UK for at least 12 months, having fewer than 500 employees and no more than £100 million in turnover.

The closing date for applications is 30 June. HMRC states that the fund may close for applications earlier if the full £20 million is allocated.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:

‘We have been asking for proper financial assistance of this scale so that a cash-strapped small business can afford to buy-in expertise, training and practical support. The new fund will make a significant difference.’

Internet links: GOV.UK guidance GOV.UK press release

HMRC publishes details of final grants for self-employed

HMRC has published details of the eligibility criteria of the final two grants available under the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

At the 2021 Budget it was confirmed that the fourth SEISS grant will be set at 80% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500. It will cover the period from February 2021 to April 2021.

To be eligible for the fourth grant, self-employed workers must have filed their 2019/20 tax return by midnight on 2 March 2021. This includes those who became self-employed in 2019/20, provided they have filed according to the deadline.

Eligibility will be based on the 2019/20 self assessment tax return which may affect the amount of the fourth grant which could be higher or lower than previous grants.

The remaining eligibility criteria are unchanged so applicants must either be currently trading but impacted by reduced demand, or be temporarily unable to trade due to COVID-19. They must also declare an intention to continue trading.

Claims can be made from late April until 31 May 2021.

The fifth SEISS grant will cover the period from May to September 2021 and will be available from July.

It will be set at 80% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more.

Alternately, it will be worth 30% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850 for those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%.

Further details of the fifth grant will be provided in due course.

Internet link: GOV.UK

National Minimum and Living wages increases

UK workers are set to benefit from rises in the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and the National Living Wage (NLW) rates that took effect from 1 April 2021.

The NMW which applies to 21 and 22 year-olds has risen from £8.20 to £8.36 and the NLW has risen from £8.72 to £8.91. 23 and 24-year-olds are now eligible for the NLW, prior to 1 April 2021, only workers aged 25 and over were eligible.

The rates for NMW and NLW for all employees are as follows:

  Previous rate Rate from April 2021 Increase
National Living Wage £8.72 £8.91 2.2%
21-22 year-old rate £8.20 £8.36 2.0%
18-20 year-old rate £6.45 £6.56 1.7%
16-17 year-old rate £4.55 £4.62 1.5%
Apprentice Rate £4.15 £4.30 3.6%

The change follows recommendations made to the government by the Low Pay Commission (LPC) and marks the first step towards the government’s target of the NLW reaching two-thirds of median earnings for workers aged 21 and over by 2024.

Commenting on the wage increases, Bryan Sanderson, Chair of the LPC, said:

‘This week’s increase in the NLW is our first step towards the government’s target of two-thirds of median earnings. It is a real-terms increase, meaning that an hour’s work can buy more than it could last year at the start of the pandemic.

‘Young people should be fairly rewarded for their work. We will seek to understand how young people’s pay and employment are affected by this in our consideration of a further reduction in the NLW age qualification to 21.’

The LPC will make recommendations to the government on the 2022 NMW and NLW rates in October.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

UK cuts electric vehicle grants by £500

The government has cut the Plug-in Car Grant and Van & Truck Grant by £500 and lowered the pricing cap on qualifying electric vehicles.

The Department for Transport will now provide grants of up to £2,500 for electric vehicles on cars priced under £35,000. This is a reduction from the current £3,000 available for vehicles costing up to £50,000.

This will mean the funding will last longer and be available to more drivers, the government statement said. Grants will no longer be available for higher priced vehicles, typically bought by drivers who can afford to switch without a subsidy from taxpayers.

The number of electric car models priced under £35,000 has increased by almost 50% since 2019 and more than half the models currently on the market will still be eligible for the grant.

However, Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said:

‘The decision to slash the Plug-in Car Grant and Van & Truck Grant is the wrong move at the wrong time. New battery electric technology is more expensive than conventional engines and incentives are essential in making these vehicles affordable to the customer.

‘This sends the wrong message to the consumer, especially private customers, and to an industry challenged to meet the government’s ambition to be a world leader in the transition to zero emission mobility.’

Internet links: GOV.UK SMMT statement

ICAEW urges HMRC to rethink quarterly reports under MTD for corporation tax

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has urged HMRC to rethink the requirement for companies to report quarterly under Making Tax Digital for corporation tax (MTD for CT).

In response to HMRC’s consultation on expanding the MTD initiative to corporation tax, the ICAEW suggested that HMRC should reconsider reporting requirements ‘at the very least for businesses below the VAT registration threshold’ and other organisations including those that require a senior accounting officer.

The Institute argued that quarterly reports would merely consist of cash in and out transactions.

The ICAEW said:

‘These reports will tell HMRC very little about the true accounting or tax results of the company for the quarter concerned.

‘The additional burden placed on companies in providing quarterly reports is not justified and should not be introduced until digital record keeping has become established and the software available is shown to work efficiently for companies and HMRC.’

Internet link: ICAEW website

Newsletter – March 2021

Enews – March 2021

In this month’s Enews we consider the Chancellor’s 2021 Budget announcements, a new deadline for Self Assessment penalties and an online system for VAT deferrals.

With guidance on off-payroll working rules, the VAT reverse charge and extra time for businesses to repay COVID support there is a lot to update you on.

Article Index

  • Sunak set out Budget to protect businesses
  • Business groups welcome Budget
  • Late payment penalties for Self Assessment waived until 1 April
  • Online service opens for VAT deferral scheme
  • HMRC clarifies off-payroll rules
  • Domestic VAT reverse charge comes into effect on 1 March
  • Borrowers of Bounce Back loans given six more months for repayments
  • Advisory fuel rates for company cars

Sunak set out Budget to protect businesses

Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out a Budget to protect businesses through the pandemic, fix the public finances and begin building the future economy.

The Chancellor once again pledged to do ‘whatever it takes’ during the COVID-19 pandemic and confirmed that the furlough scheme would be extended until September 2021 to support jobs through the crisis.

Mr Sunak also confirmed that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has also been extended, with two further grants this year. Claimable by the self-employed, including the newly self-employed from 6 April 2019, provided they have filed their 2019/20 tax return for by midnight on 2 March 2021,

The stamp duty nil rate band on residential properties in England up to £500,000 will continue until the end of June. It will taper to £250,000 until the end of September, and then return to the usual level of £125,000 from 1 October 2021.

To support businesses as they re-open following lockdown, £5 billion will be made available in restart grants. Non-essential retail businesses re-opening first will be eligible for up to £6,000 but the leisure and hospitality sectors, which have been worse affected and will re-open later, will be eligible for up to £18,000.

However, the rate of corporation tax will increase to 25% in April 2023 for companies with profits over £250,000, whilst retaining a Small Profits Rate of 19% for companies with profits of £50,000 or less.

The Chancellor also introduced a super-deduction for companies investing in qualifying new plant and machinery. Under this measure a company will be allowed to claim 130% on most new plant and machinery investments that ordinarily qualify for 18% main rate writing down allowances.

He also confirmed the location of the eight Freeports in England. Freeports are special economic zones with favourable tariffs and lower taxes to make it easier and cheaper to do business.

Internet link: GOV.UK speeches

Business groups welcome Budget

Business groups welcomed the Chancellor’s Budget for protecting the economy now and kickstarting recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tony Danker, Director General of the CBI, said:

‘The Chancellor has gone above and beyond to protect UK businesses and people’s livelihoods through the crisis and get firms’ spending.

‘Thousands of firms will be relieved to receive support to finish the job and get through the coming months. The Budget also has a clear eye to the future; to ensure finances are sustainable, while building confidence and investment in a lasting recovery.’

Meanwhile, the British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) Director General, Dr Adam Marshall, commented:

‘The Chancellor has listened and acted on our calls for immediate support to help struggling businesses reach the finish line of this gruelling marathon and to begin their recovery.

‘Extensions to furlough, business rates relief and VAT reductions give firms a fighting chance not only to restart but also to rebuild.’

 

However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said that there was little in the Budget to aid job creation or help people return to work. Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said: ‘Thousands of small businesses are on the brink of collapse and thousands more are suffering from low confidence as cash reserves dwindle.

‘The continuation of business rates and VAT discounts is critical, and it’s important that those in supply chains benefit from them, not just those that neatly fit the definitions of frontline retail, leisure and hospitality.’

Internet links: CBI press release BCC press release FSB press release

Late payment penalties for Self Assessment waived until 1 April

HMRC has announced that Self Assessment taxpayers will not be charged a 5% late payment penalty if they pay their tax or set up a payment plan by 1 April.

The payment deadline for Self Assessment is 31 January and interest is charged from 1 February on any amounts outstanding.

Normally, a 5% late payment penalty is also charged on any unpaid tax that is still outstanding on 3 March. But this year, because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, HMRC is giving taxpayers more time to pay or set up a payment plan.

Taxpayers can pay their tax bill or set up a monthly payment plan online and are required to do this by midnight on 1 April to prevent being charged a late payment penalty. The online Time to Pay facility allows taxpayers to spread the cost of their Self Assessment tax bill into monthly instalments until January 2022.

Jim Harra, HMRC’s Chief Executive, said:

‘Anyone worried about paying their tax can set up a payment plan to spread the cost into monthly instalments. Support is available at GOV.UK to help anyone struggling to meet their obligations.’

Internet link: HMRC press release

Online service opens for VAT deferral scheme

HMRC has announced that businesses that deferred VAT payments last year can now join the new online VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme to pay it in smaller monthly instalments.

To take advantage of the new payment scheme businesses will need to have deferred VAT payments between March and June 2020, under the VAT Payment Deferral Scheme. They will now be given the option to pay their deferred VAT in equal consecutive monthly instalments from March 2021.

Businesses will need to opt-in to the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme. They can do this via the online service that opened on 23 February and closes on 21 June 2021.

Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘The Government has provided a package of support worth over £280bn during the pandemic to help protect millions of jobs and businesses.

‘This now includes the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme, which will help provide businesses with the breathing space they may need to manage their cashflows in the weeks and months ahead.’

Internet links: GOV.UK guidance GOV.UK press release

HMRC clarifies off-payroll rules

HMRC has published a briefing on its approach to the changes to off-payroll working rules, commonly known as IR35, which will be introduced on 6 April 2021.

Reiterating its advice from last year, HMRC has confirmed that it will not issue penalties for inaccuracies in the first 12 months of the regime, unless there is evidence of deliberate non-compliance.

HMRC also confirmed that it will not use information it receives under the expanded regime to open new compliance enquiries into returns for tax years before 2021/22, unless there is reason to suspect fraud or criminal behaviour.

The new tax rules will see the extension to medium and large organisations in the private sector. These reforms will shift the responsibility for assessing employment status to medium and large organisations engaging individuals via a personal services company.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Domestic VAT reverse charge comes into effect on 1 March

The twice-delayed introduction of the domestic VAT reverse charge for construction services came into effect on 1 March 2021.

The change was originally scheduled to come into effect from 1 October 2019 but was deferred for 12 months after industry bodies highlighted concerns about the lack of preparation and the impact on businesses.

It was put back another five months due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the sector. The change applied from 1 March 2021 and overhauled the way VAT is payable on building and construction invoices as part of a move to reduce fraud in the sector.

From March 2021, the person receiving the supply of services, not the supplier of services, who accounts for the output VAT on those services. The recipient deducts VAT due on the supply as input VAT, subject to normal VAT rules. In most cases, no net tax on the transaction will be payable to HMRC. This new procedure will apply right the way up the CIS supply chain until you reach end users/intermediary suppliers, the supply defaults to normal VAT rules, so long as the end user/intermediary supplier correctly evidences their status.

The Domestic Reverse Charge (DRC) applies to most supplies of building and construction services from 1 March 2021, which are:

  • standard or reduced rated supplies
  • where both parties are registered for VAT in the UK
  • and payments for the supplies are required to be reported via the Construction Industry Scheme.

The DRC does not apply to:

  • zero rated supplies
  • services supplied to end users or intermediary suppliers, so long as these have provided written confirmation of their status to the supplier
  • employment businesses supplying either staff or workers.

Please contact us for advice on the DRC and how it impacts your business.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Borrowers of Bounce Back loans given six more months for repayments

Businesses that took out government-backed Bounce Back loans to get through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will now have greater flexibility to repay their loans, the government has announced.

The Pay as You Grow repayment flexibilities now include the option to delay all repayments for a further six months. This means businesses can choose to make no payments on their loans until 18 months after they originally took them out.

Pay as You Grow will also enable borrowers to extend the length of their loans from six to ten years, which reduces monthly repayments by almost half.

They can also make interest-only payments for six months to tailor their repayment schedule to suit their individual circumstances.

The Pay as You Grow options will be available to more than 1.4 million businesses which took out a total of nearly £45 billion through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

‘Businesses are continuing to feel the impact of extended disruption from COVID-19, and we’re determined to give them the backing and confidence they need to get through the pandemic.

‘That’s why we’re giving Bounce Back loan borrowers breathing space to get back on their feet, through greater flexibility and time to repay their loans on their terms.’

Internet links: GOV.UK news British Business Bank

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published and took effect from 1 March 2021.

The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 March 2021 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 10p
1401cc – 2000cc 12p
Over 2000cc 18p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 8p
Over 2000cc 12p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 12p

HMRC guidance states that the rates only apply when you either:

  • reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars
  • require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

The Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric cars is 4 pence per mile. Electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR