Newsletter – May 2018

eNews May 2018

In this month’s eNews we report on the latest announcement from HMRC regarding Making Tax Digital. We also consider the looming deadline for GDPR, changes to tax reliefs following the Scottish Budget and issues to do with EMI share options. With articles on benefits in kind forms P11D,the VAT fuel scale charges and a new benefits exemption for workplace charging of employee vehicles there is lots to consider.

Changing priorities at HMRC

Over the coming years, the government plans to phase in its landmark Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative, which will see taxpayers move to a fully digital tax system. However HMRC has shared a statement about how they are prioritising change in the department and as a result some parts of MTD will be delayed. HMRC has acknowledged the challenges in:

  • exiting the EU and
  • the ambition to become the world’s most digitally advanced tax authority.

While some of the finer details are still being decided, HMRC have announced that, to achieve the above, some aspects of MTD are to be delayed. HMRC still plan to go ahead with MTD for VAT from April 2019. Information on some of the delayed projects is set out below:

Plans to introduce further digital services for individuals

There will be ‘halted progress’ on simple assessment and real-time tax code changes. Additional services in this area will only be added where they reduce phone or post contact or otherwise deliver ‘significant savings’.

Other digitalisation of services affecting fewer individuals

This includes Inheritance Tax payments, Tax Advantaged Venture Capital Schemes applications and PAYE Settlement Agreements

Creation of the single digital account for all businesses

HMRC has confirmed this will now happen at a ‘slower pace’. HMRC has confirmed the single digital account remains an aim of the department and they stress it will not impact the delivery of Making Tax Digital.

Voluntary Making Tax Digital for Business service for income tax

HMRC has confirmed this will continue to be available for any sole trader wishing to make quarterly updates to HMRC.

Mandatory Making Tax Digital for VAT – still ‘on track’

HMRC stated that MTD for VAT is still on track. VAT registered businesses with a turnover in excess of the £85,000 VAT registration threshold, will be required to comply with the requirements of MTD for VAT for all VAT periods commencing on or after 1 April 2019.

In addition, the government has confirmed that, it will not mandate any further MTD for Business changes before 2020, at the earliest.

Internet link: ICAEW blog

GDPR compliance deadline looms

With less than one month until the introduction of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is warning small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that time is running out for them to prepare.

The business group stated that small businesses face an ‘uphill challenge’ in ensuring that they are compliant by the date when GDPR takes effect of 25 May 2018.

Under the new rules, organisations which collect, store and process individuals’ personal data will be subject to new obligations, with an increased emphasis on accountability and transparency.

The financial penalties for failing to comply are severe, with fines costing up to €20 million or up to 4% of total annual worldwide revenue, whichever is the greater.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB said:

‘As the GDPR deadline swiftly approaches, there is a real danger that many small businesses are yet to have adequately prepared for the changes. Fortunately for these businesses, there is still time on the clock to start, or finish, their preparations.’

‘The GDPR is the largest shake-up of data protection laws for years, and whether you are a personal trainer or a consultant, most businesses will have to implement changes to their current practices to make sure they are complying with the new rules.’

Further information on the GDPR can be found on the ICO website.

Internet links: ICO guidance FSB press release

Tax reliefs following the Scottish Budget

The Government has stated that it will ensure that tax reliefs continue to work as they were intended as the new Scottish Income Tax rates and bands are introduced from 6 April 2018. The Government has confirmed:

  • Marriage Allowance
    Marriage Allowance allows taxpayers to transfer 10% of their tax-free Personal Allowance to their spouse or civil partner, reducing their tax bill by up to £230 in 2017 to 2018, and £238 in 2018/19. The UK government will ensure that all those claiming Marriage Allowance in Scotland can continue to do so at the current rate (20%).
  • Gift Aid
    Gift Aid allows charities to claim back 25p for every £1 donated. The UK government will make changes to ensure that Scottish taxpayers can benefit from the right rate of tax relief on Gift Aid. Gift Aid will continue to be paid to charities at the basic rate, with Scottish taxpayers able to claim the correct amount of additional relief on top of this.
  • Pensions relief at source
    The UK government confirmed that current processes will continue while it works with stakeholders to establish how this will work in the longer term. For 2018/19, Scottish taxpayers who receive relief on their contributions at source will, therefore, continue to receive relief in their pension pot at 20%, with no adjustment for those taxed at a rate of less than 20%, and scope for those taxed at a rate higher than 20% to claim additional relief.
  • Social security pension lump sum
    The UK government will make changes so that Scottish taxpayers who receive a social security pension lump sum will be taxed, where appropriate, at the new Scottish starter rate.
  • Finance cost relief This will continue to apply at 20%, the same rate applicable to landlords across the UK.

Please contact us if you have queries on the workings of any of these tax reliefs for Scottish taxpayers and those resident elsewhere across the United Kingdom.

Internet link GOV.UK changes to tax relief Scotland

EMI options may not qualify for tax relief

The Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) allows selected employees (often key to the employer) to be given the opportunity to acquire a significant number of shares in their employer through the issue of options. An EMI can offer significant tax advantages as the share option scheme allows options to be granted to employees which may allow the shares to be received without any tax bill arising until the shares are sold.

HMRC have warned that EMI share options granted in the period from 7 April 2018 until EU State Aid approval is received may not be eligible for the tax advantages presently afforded to option holders, and accordingly share options granted in that period as EMI share options may necessarily fall to be treated as non-tax advantaged employment-related securities options meaning that the options may be taxable when exercised.

To read more, please visit the link below or contact us for specific advice.

Internet link: GOV.UK EMI Bulletin

P11D deadline approaching

The forms P11D which report details of benefits and some expenses provided to employees and directors for the year ended 5 April 2018, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2018. The process of gathering the necessary information 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. Significant changes were introduced to the rules for reporting expenses from 6 April 2016.

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 (or 22nd for cleared electronic payment).

HMRC produce an expenses and benefits toolkit. The toolkit consists of a checklist which may be used by advisers or employers to check they are completing the forms correctly.

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 links: HMRC guidance Toolkit

VAT fuel scale charges

HMRC have issued details of the updated VAT fuel scale charges which apply from the beginning of the next prescribed VAT accounting period starting on or after 1 May 2018.

VAT registered businesses use the fuel scale charges to account for VAT on private use of road fuel purchased by the business.

Please do get in touch for further advice on this or other VAT matters.

Internet link: GOV.UK fuel scale charges

HMRC consultation on benefits exemption for workplace charging facilities

HMRC are consulting on the tax exemption which will apply from 6 April 2018 on workplace electric charging facilities used by employees.

It was announced in the Autumn Budget 2017 that the government intends to implement an exemption for the benefit of electricity provided by an employer, at the workplace, to charge electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. The necessary legislation will be included in the Finance Bill later this year and its effect will be made retrospective to 6 April 2018.

This means that there is no need for employers to report the value of electricity provided for the workplace charging of employees’ vehicles from that date.

This consultation seeks comments on workplace charging tax exemptions for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

This guidance will be of interest to employers that pay taxable benefits to employees and provide electric charging points for employee use and the provision of workplace charging facilities, which vehicles the exemption covers and the qualifying conditions of the exemption.

Internet link: GOV.UK consultations/draft guidance

Newsletter – April 2018

Enews – April 2018

In this month’s Enews we report on a late reprieve for childcare vouchers and Spring Statement announcements. We also consider new Data Protection rules coming into force in May. With the legislation enacted for the roll out of Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) and the latest changes for employers there is lots to update you on.

GDPR

New data protection rules from General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will replace the
Data Protection Act in the UK from 25 May 2018.

GDPR is designed to safeguard personal data of citizens from EU member states, with particular emphasis on transparency and accountability. It applies to all businesses in the EU and non-compliance will lead to substantial fines.

The new GDPR is a regulation which is intended to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). The regulation will become a law without exception in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.

The government has also confirmed that the UK will replace the 1988 Data Protection Act (DPA) with legislation that mirrors GDPR, post-Brexit. This means that any business, big or small, will be required to comply with GDPR – which deals with secure collection, storage and usage of clients’ personal data.

Failure to comply with the regulation can result in heavy fines of up to €20 million or 4% of the businesses’ annual turnover (whichever is higher amount).

Internet link: ICO guide to GDPR

Employer-Supported Childcare gets a reprieve

Many employers help employees with childcare costs, often by providing childcare vouchers by way of salary sacrifice. Following the roll out of Tax-Free Childcare (TFC), the new government scheme to help working parents, existing Employer-Supported Childcare (ESC) schemes were expected to close to new joiners from April 2018.

However following the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, Education Secretary Damian Hinds, made a concession to delay scrapping the scheme by six-months.

The Childcare Choices website which provides useful guidance to parents on the childcare options available to them including ESC, TFC and other free entitlements has been updated to show that childcare vouchers will be available to new joiners until the end of September 2018.

Under the rules employees already using ESC can choose whether to remain in existing schemes or switch to TFC, but parents cannot be in both TFC and ESC at the same time.

Internet link: GOV.UK Childcare Choices

Making Tax Digital for VAT from April 2019

The regulations to bring into force Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) are now law, and digital VAT returns will be required from 1 April 2019.

MTDfV is the first phase of HMRC’s landmark Making Tax Digital (MTD) regime, which will ultimately require taxpayers to move to a fully digital tax system. Regulations have now been issued which set out the requirements for MTDfV.

Under the new rules, businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) must keep digital records for VAT purposes and provide their VAT return information to HMRC using MTD functional compatible software.

The new rules have effect from 1 April 2019, where a taxpayer has a ‘prescribed accounting period’ which begins on that date, and otherwise from the first day of a taxpayer’s first prescribed accounting period beginning after 1 April 2019.

HMRC is piloting MTDfV during 2018, ahead of its introduction in April 2019. Keeping digital records and making quarterly updates will not be mandatory for taxes other than VAT before April 2020, although businesses below the VAT threshold which have voluntarily registered for VAT can opt to join the scheme.

As with electronic VAT filing at present, there will be some exemptions from MTD for VAT. However, the exemption categories are tightly-drawn and unlikely to be applicable to most VAT registered businesses.

Keeping digital records will not mean businesses are mandated to use digital invoices and receipts but the actual recording of supplies made and received must be digital. It is likely that third party commercial software will be required. Software will not be available from HMRC. The use of spreadsheets will be allowed, but they will have to be combined with add-on software to meet HMRC’s requirements.

Internet link: GOV.UK statutory instrument

Welsh Land Transaction Tax introduced

From 1 April 2018, Land Transaction Tax (LTT) will replace Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). LTT will be collected by the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA). HMRC has published guidance on the introduction of the new tax and the way in which property transactions straddling 1 April 2018 and cross border transactions will be dealt with.

Property Taxes across the UK

From 22 November 2017, there is an exemption for first-time buyers from SDLT on the first £300,000 when buying a home, where the total price of the property is not more than £500,000. 5% is payable on purchases between £300,000 and £500,000. However, with devolved taxes, buying a property in Scotland and Wales can bring different tax consequences.

In Scotland, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) applies instead of SDLT. Therefore an LBTT relief for first-time buyers of properties up to £175,000 has been proposed in the Scottish Draft Budget 2018/19. This is subject to a government consultation before the relief launches in 2018/19.

Welsh first-time buyers benefit from first-time buyers SDLT relief until 31 March 2018. Land Transaction Tax (LTT) replaces SDLT in Wales from 1 April 2018. The starting rate for LTT will be £180,000, benefiting not just first-time buyers but other home buyers in Wales. A higher rate, of 3% over standard rates for additional residential properties, applies to purchases throughout the UK whether SDLT, LBTT or LTT applies. A new land-transaction-tax-calculator is available.

HMRC has issued guidance on the changes in Wales and the transitional rules for property transactions.

Internet links: GOV.UK news GOV.SCOT LBTT first time buyer relief

Income tax changes from 6 April 2018

The personal allowance for 2018/19 is £11,850. However, some individuals do not benefit from the full personal allowance. There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000, which is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2018/19 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £123,700.

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. From 6 April 2018 the band of income taxable at this rate is £34,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £46,350 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance. Additional rate taxpayers pay tax at 45% on their income in excess of £150,000.

The tax on income (other than savings and dividend income) is different for taxpayers who are resident in Scotland to 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 the 2018/19 Scottish Budget, the Finance and Constitution Secretary for Scotland, Derek Mackay announced significant changes to income tax bands and rates for Scottish resident taxpayers, introducing five possible income tax rates. The income tax rates range between 19% and 46%. Scottish taxpayers are entitled to the same personal allowance as individuals in the rest of the UK.

Scottish Bands £ Band name Scottish Rate
0 – 2,000 Starter 19%
2,001 – 12,150 Basic 20%
12,151 – 31,580 Intermediate 21%
31,581 – 150,000 Higher 41%
Over 150,000 Top 46%

From April 2019, the National Assembly for Wales has the right to vary the rates of income tax payable by Welsh taxpayers.

Dividend allowance down to £2,000

In 2017/18 the first £5,000 of dividends are chargeable to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). From 6 April 2018 the Dividend Allowance is reduced to £2,000. Dividends received above the allowance are taxed at the following rates:

  • 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers
  • 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers
  • 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.

Internet links: GOV.UK spring statement 2018 GOV.SCOT Scottish income tax

Update for employers and their employees

HMRC’s latest Employer Bulletin includes useful updates for employers as we approach the start on the new tax year on 6 April 2018.

The Bulletin includes articles on:

  • end of year reporting for payroll and reporting benefits in kind
  • P9 Notice of Coding and the system of in year tax code adjustments known as Dynamic Coding
  • new rules for termination payments made on, or after, 6 April 2018
  • Scottish income tax changes
  • a reminder to those paying the Apprenticeship Levy to spend their Levy on Apprenticeship Training
  • National Minimum and National Living Wage increases from 1 April 2018.

If you would like help with payroll contact us.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Spring Statement announces consultations

Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his Spring Statement on Tuesday 13 March 2018. In his speech, the Chancellor announced consultations would be issued on:

  • how to help the UK’s least productive businesses to learn from, and catch-up with, the most productive
  • how to eliminate late payments particularly to benefit small business
  • whether the use of non-agricultural red diesel tax relief contributes to poor air quality in urban areas
  • consultation on reduced Vehicle Excise Duty rates for the cleanest vans.

He also made available further details on some consultations which are considered briefly below:

  • Making Tax Digital sanctions for late submission and late payment – Following significant support on consultation, the government intends to take forward points based late submission penalties. There will be further consultation on the draft legislation to be published in summer 2018.
  • Tackling the plastic problem – The government will call for evidence as to how changes to the tax system could be used to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that are wasted by reducing unnecessary production, increasing re-use and improving recycling. The government would also like to explore how to drive innovation in this area to achieve the same outcomes.
  • Cash and digital payments – The government will consult and seek evidence about how the role of digital payments is to fit into the growing digital economy. This will include identifying what further work can be done to remove barriers to digital payments. At the same time the government acknowledges that cash must remain accessible and secure.
  • Online platforms – The government has launched a call for evidence on the role of online platforms in ensuring tax compliance by their users. The types of online platforms the government is principally interested in are platforms that allow people to earn money from spare resources such as cars and spare rooms, that allow people to use their time to generate extra income and that connect buyers with individuals or businesses offering services or goods for sale. The government wants to ensure that, where people have tax obligations because of these activities, it is easy for them to comply.
  • VAT collection split payment – The government wants to combat online VAT fraud by harnessing new technology and is consulting on VAT split payment. This will utilise payments industry technology to collect VAT on online sales and transfer it directly to HMRC.
  • VAT registration threshold call for evidence – The government considers that the current design of the VAT registration threshold may be dis-incentivising small businesses from growing their business and improving their productivity.

We will update you on the outcome of the consultations..

Internet link: gov.uk Spring Statement 2018

Newsletter – March 2018

Enews – March 2018

In this month’s Enews we report on National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage increases together with increases in auto enrolment pension contributions.

We also report on tax relief for Scottish taxpayers on pension contributions following the introduction of five income tax bands. With new advisory fuel rates and a tribunal ruling on the tax status of a BBC journalist, there is lots to update you on.

Tribunal rules BBC journalist is caught by ‘IR35’ legislation

A First Tier Tribunal has ruled that Christa Ackroyd who presented BBC news programme Look North and was paid via a personal service company was caught by the IR35 rules resulting in additional tax and national insurance contributions being payable.

The IR35 rules in broad terms mean that those working via a personal service company have to consider whether, if the services were provided by the individual contractor directly to the client, there would be a contract of employment.

The tribunal looked at lots of factors pertinent to Ms Ackroyd’s engagement and considered it significant that the BBC could control what work she did. She was engaged for seven years on effectively a full time basis.

Subject to any appeal and determination of final figures, the tax and NIC that Ms Ackroyd will be liable for amounts to around £420,000 before offset of corporation tax.

The IR35 rules were amended for Public Bodies (including the BBC) from April 2017 and the government has announced that it may make changes to the rules for the private sector as well in the future.

Internet link: ICAEW News

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which take effect from 1 March 2018. 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 2018 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 22p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 8p
Over 2000cc 13p
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 or
  • require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel.

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Scotland’s five income tax bands and tax relief for pensions

Following the announcement of new income tax rates for Scottish taxpayers for 2018/19, the government is looking at ways of addressing the issue of the tax relief due on Scottish taxpayers’ pension contributions.

Tax relief on pension contributions is a complex matter and depends on the marginal tax rate of the individual concerned and whether or not the contributions are being paid with relief at source or under net pay arrangements. The following link details how relief will be given for 2018/19. If you would like help in this complex area please contact us.

The income tax rates for Scottish taxpayers on income other than savings and dividend income are now expected to be as follows:

Scottish Bands £ Band name Scottish Rate
0 – 2,000 Starter 19%
2,001 – 12,150 Basic 20%
12,151 – 31,580 Intermediate 21%
31,581 – 150,000 Higher 41%
Over 150,000 Top 46%

Scottish taxpayers are entitled to the same personal allowance as individuals in the rest of the UK which for 2018/19 is £11,850. The allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 of adjusted net income in excess of £100,000. The bands and allowances are detailed in the P9X.

Internet links: GOV.UK pensions newsletter P9X 2018

Minimum Wage increases

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) are the legal minimum wage rates that must be paid to employees. Employers are liable to be penalised for not complying with the NMW and NLW rules.

There are different levels of NMW and NLW, depending on age and whether the employee is an apprentice. The rates are due to increase from 1 April 2018 as shown in the following table:

Rate from 1 April 2017 Rate from 1 April 2018
NLW for workers aged 25 and over £7.50 £7.83
NMW main rate for workers aged 21-24 £7.05 £7.38
NMW 18-20 rate £5.60 £5.90
NMW 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 £4.05 £4.20
NMW apprentice rate * £3.50 £3.70

*for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

There are no exemptions from paying the NMW on the grounds of the size of the business.

If you would like help with payroll matters please get in touch.

Internet link: ACAS article

Pensions Auto Enrolment reaches a million employers

The Pensions Regulator has announced that the number of employers meeting their workplace pension duties has reached one million and that statistics show that approximately 9.3 million people are saving into a pension.

TPR’s Director of Automatic Enrolment, Darren Ryder, said:

‘I am delighted we have reached this important landmark, which shows how far we have come since the start of automatic enrolment.

By successfully meeting their responsibilities, employers have helped reverse the downward trend in workplace saving so that putting earnings into a pension has now become the norm.

The continued support of the pensions industry, including pension and payroll providers and business advisers has been crucial to the success of automatic enrolment. The industry has helped us ensure employers have the tools, information and services they need to comply with the law.

We are now focused on the challenges ahead so that employers continue to understand what they need to do so that staff receive the pensions they are entitled to.’

Minimum pension contributions are set to increase from 6 April 2018 and again in 2019.

Period Duration Employer minimum Total minimum contribution
1 Employer’s staging date to 5 April 2018 1% 2%
2 6 April 2018 to 5 April 2019 2% 5%
6 April 2019 onwards 3% 8%

Contact us if you would like help with auto enrolment.

Internet links: TPR press release TPR report TPR contributions increase

Year end tax planning

With the end of the tax year looming there is still time to save tax for 2017/18. We have set out some points you may want to consider.

  • Make full use of your ISA allowance – ISAs can offer a useful tax free way to save, whether this is for your children’s future, a first home or another purpose. Individuals may invest up to a limit of £20,000 for the 2017/18 tax year. A saver may only pay into a maximum of one Cash ISA, one Stocks and Shares ISA and one Innovative Finance ISA per year. Savers have until 5 April 2018 to make their 2017/18 ISA investment.
  • Take advantage of capital allowances – By making the most of capital allowances, businesses may be able to write off the costs of capital assets against taxable profits. The Annual Investment Allowance allows businesses to claim a deduction of up to £200,000 of the year’s investment in plant and machinery (excluding cars). Businesses of any size and most business structures can make use of the AIA. However, there are provisions to prevent multiple claims.
  • Build a tax efficient retirement plan – Pension contributions must be paid on or before 5 April 2018 for them to be relieved against 2017/18 income. Annual contributions are limited to the greater of £3,600 (gross) or the amount of your UK relevant earnings may be eligible for tax relief. However, these will be subject to the annual allowance, which is generally £40,000. This is reduced for those whose income is above certain technical thresholds and has to be considered when both adjusted annual income is (their income plus both their own and their employer’s pension contributions) over £150,000 and ‘net’ income is at least £110,000. Net income broadly means an individual’s income less own gross pension contributions made. For every £2 of adjusted income over £150,000, a person’s annual allowance is reduced by £1 (down to a minimum of £10,000).

 

Newsletter – February 2018

Enews – February 2018

In this month’s Enews we report on the roll out of Tax-free Childcare and the reduction in HMRC scam texts. We also consider the latest list of deductible subscriptions and rejected Self assessment expenses claims and excuses. With revised income tax bands for Scottish taxpayers there is lots to update you on.

HMRC rejected Self Assessment expenses and excuses

HMRC have released the latest list of imaginative excuses made by individuals who failed to submit their self assessment return by 31 January deadline in 2017. Excuses include alien sightings and being too busy touring with a one-man play.

HMRC’s annual list of outlandish excuses is used to publicise the self assessment deadline of 31 January following the end of the tax year. An automatic £100 penalty applies to those who have the obligation to complete a return and miss the filing deadline, regardless of whether the individual has a tax liability to pay or not.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general of customer services, said:

‘Each year we’re making it easier and more intuitive for our customers to complete their tax return, but each year we still come across some questionable excuses, whether that’s blaming a busy touring schedule or seeing aliens.’

Here are some of the recent excuses:

  1. I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.
  2. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.
  3. My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.
  4. My business doesn’t really do anything.
  5. I spilt coffee on it.

HMRC have also released details of some of the weirdest expense claims which include:

  1. A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my accounts.
  2. Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub.
  3. Vet fees for a rabbit.
  4. Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco.
  5. £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days.

If you have any queries on tax matters please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Tax-free childcare roll out

The implementation of Tax-Free Childcare, the new government scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare, is being rolled out to eligible parents in stages.

The scheme first made its debut in April 2017 and although there have been initial systems problems, HMRC’s aim is to have the scheme open to all eligible parents by 14 February 2018. Application is made online through the Childcare Choices site www.childcarechoices.gov.uk and applications can be made for all eligible children at the same time.

Under Tax-Free Childcare, for every £8 the parent pays, the government provides a £2 top-up, to a maximum of £2,000 per child each year – with a higher limit of £4,000 for disabled children. This gives a total childcare pot of £10,000, or £20,000 for disabled children. To be eligible, parents must generally have minimum weekly earnings of at least £120 each. There is also an upper earnings limit of £100,000.

Compensation may be available in certain circumstances where a parent:

  • is unable to complete an application for Tax-Free Childcare
  • is unable to access their childcare account
  • or doesn’t get a decision about whether they are eligible, without explanation, for more than 20 days.

Those employing a nanny should be able to use the childcare account to pay their PAYE tax and National Insurance. Delays in getting this system working may also give grounds for compensation. Application is made online GOV.UK childcare-service-compensation

Internet link: GOV.UK childcare under 9s

HMRC halts thousands of scam text messages

HMRC have announced that they have stopped thousands of taxpayers from receiving scam text messages ‘with 90 percent of the most convincing texts now halted before they reach their phones’.

HMRC’s press release states:

‘Fraudsters alleging to be from HMRC send text messages to unsuspecting members of the public. In these messages they will make false claims, such as suggesting they are due a tax rebate. Messages will usually include links to websites that harvest personal information or spread malware. This can in turn lead to identity fraud and the theft of people’s personal savings.’

HMRC have confirmed that they will never contact taxpayers who are due a tax refund by text message or by email.

HMRC’s Director of Customer Services, Angela MacDonald, said:

‘HMRC is focused on becoming the most digitally advanced tax authority in the world, and a big part of that relates to keeping our customers safe from online scammers.’

‘As email and website scams become less effective, fraudsters are increasingly turning to text messages to con taxpayers. But as these numbers show, we won’t rest until these criminals are out of avenues to exploit.’

‘We have made significant progress is cutting down these types of crime, but one of the most effective ways to tackle it is still to help the public spot the tell-tale signs of fraud.’

To read details of the measures taken by HMRC and other advice on spotting fraud visit the link below.

Internet link: GOV.UK scam-text-messages

Updated list of professional subscriptions

Employees are allowed to claim tax relief on their annual professional fees or subscriptions to some HMRC approved professional organisations. The costs are tax deductible generally where the individual must have membership to do their job or it is helpful for their work. Where the fees are paid by the individual’s employer this will not generally result in a benefit in kind charge.

HMRC have updated the list of approved bodies which also includes not only details of the professional bodies that are approved but details of qualifying annual subscriptions for journals.

Internet link: GOV.UK/professional-bodies

What will the Spring Statement bring?

We had two Budgets in 2017 and the Spring Statement is planned for Tuesday 13 March. The Chancellor Philip Hammond has previously stated that at the Spring Statement he will respond to the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast, consider longer-term tax challenges and start consultations on how they can be addressed. The government has the option to make immediate changes to tax policy at the Spring Statement if the economic circumstances require it.

The revised timetable of an Autumn Budget followed by a Spring Statement means changes to the legislative timetable which are set out in the link below.

We will keep you informed of pertinent Spring Statement announcements.

Internet link: GOV.UK new budget timetable

Scotland revise income tax bands

Derek Mackay, Scottish Finance Secretary, has made a change to the proposed Scottish income tax bands for 2018/19 which he announced in December 2017 in the Scottish Draft Budget.

The change is being made to ‘remove an anomaly that meant some higher rate taxpayers saw their bills fall while others on slightly lower incomes saw a rise, due in part to changes in the personal allowance’.

Scottish taxpayers income tax rates on income other than savings and dividend income are now expected to be as follows:

Scottish Bands Band name Scottish Rate
Over £11,850 – £13,850 Starter 19%
Over £13,850 – £24,000 Basic 20%
Over £24,000 – £43,430 Intermediate 21%
Over £43,430 – £150,000 Higher 41%
Over £150,000 Top 46%

Confirming the changes during the Stage 1 of the Budget debate, Mr Mackay said:

‘As a parliament of minorities, we must work across the chamber to find compromise and consensus in order to give support, sustainability and stimulus to our economy and to our public services …. Our changes to tax ensure Scotland has a progressive tax system – with 70% of taxpayers paying less next year than they do currently and 55% paying less than they would across the rest of the UK – while businesses benefit from support for investment.’

Internet link: GOV.SCOT/news

Newsletter – January 2018

eNews January 2018

In this month’s eNews we report on the government’s proposals on auto enrolment, the Scottish draft budget and their plans for five income tax rates and changes to Land and Buildings Transaction Tax. We also include an announcement from the Welsh Assembly on the proposals for Land Transaction Tax.

With details of an HMRC iTunes scam and the withdrawal of options to pay HMRC at the Post Office and via personal credit card there is lots to update you on.

Scottish Draft Budget

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay delivered the 2018/19 Scottish Draft Budget on Thursday 14 December 2017 setting out the Scottish government’s financial and tax plans.

The Scottish government has the power to set the rates and bands of income tax (other than those for savings and dividend income) which apply to Scottish resident taxpayers.

Since 6 April 2016 the rates and bands of Scottish income tax have been frozen at 20% and the Scottish higher and Scottish additional rates at 40% and 45% respectively. For 2017/18 the higher rate threshold in Scotland is £43,000 whilst the threshold in the rest of the UK is £45,000. This means that a Scottish higher rate taxpayer will pay £400 more tax in 2017/18 than a UK higher rate taxpayer, being £2,000 at the marginal rate of 20%.

For 2018/19 the rates and tax bands applicable to Scottish taxpayers on non-savings and non dividend income will be as follows:

Scottish Bands Band name Scottish Rates
Over £11,850* – £13,850 Starter 19%
Over £13,850 – £24,000 Basic 20%
Over £24,000 – £44,273 Intermediate 21%
Over £44,273 – £150,000** Higher 41%
Over £150,000** Top 46%

* assuming the individual is entitled to a full UK personal allowance

** the personal allowance will be reduced if an individual’s adjusted net income is above £100,000. The allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 of income over £100,000

The UK higher rate tax point for 2018/19 has been set at £46,350 (for those entitled to the full UK personal allowance) and the tax rates for non-savings and non-dividend income have been maintained at 20%, 40% and 45% respectively.

For 2018/19 Scottish taxpayers with employment income of £26,000 will pay the same amount of income tax as those with the similar income in the rest of the UK. For higher earners, with pay of £150,000, a Scottish taxpayer will pay an extra £1,770 of income tax than those on similar income in the rest of the UK.

Internet link: GOV.SCOT publication

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and First-Time Buyer Relief

The Scottish government announced that they will introduce a new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) relief for first-time buyers of properties up to £175,000. The relief will raise the zero tax threshold for first-time buyers from £145,000 to £175,000, and according to the Scottish government 80% of first-time buyers in Scotland will pay no LBTT at all. The Scottish government also announced that first-time buyers buying a property above £175,000 will also benefit from the relief on the portion of the price below the threshold.

The Scottish government announced that they will launch a consultation on the policy before introducing the first-time buyer relief in 2018/19. The relief for first-time buyers paying Stamp Duty Land Tax on first homes in the rest of the UK was introduced from 22 November 2017.

Internet link: GOV.SCOT publication

Welsh Land Transaction Tax

The Welsh Parliament have announced changes to proposed rates and bands for Land Transaction Tax which is to be introduced in Wales from 1 April 2017.

The rates and bands will be confirmed in January 2018 but details of the proposed rates and bands are included in the following statement.

Internet links: GOV.WALES land-transaction-tax GOV.WALES statement

Proposals to extend pensions auto enrolment to younger workers

The government has announced proposals to extend pensions auto enrolment to include younger workers and to amend the way in which contributions are calculated.

According to the press release:

The review’s recommendations, which will now be progressed and legislated for where necessary, will see:

  • automatic enrolment duties continuing to apply to all employers, regardless of sector and size
  • young people, from 18 years old, benefiting from automatic enrolment, introducing 900,000 young people into saving an additional £800 million through a workplace pension
  • workplace pension contributions calculated from the first pound earned, rather than from a lower earnings limit – this will bring an extra £2.6 billion into pension saving, improving incentives for people in multiple jobs to opt-in, and simplifying the way employers assess their workforces and calculate contributions
  • the earnings trigger remaining at £10,000 for 2018/19, subject to annual reviews
  • contribution levels reviewed after the implementation of the 8% contribution rate in 2019
  • the government testing a series of ‘targeted interventions’ – including through opportunities to work with organisations who act as ‘touch points’ for the 4.8 million self-employed people, such as banks and those who contract labour – to explore how technology can be used to increase their pension saving.’

Under auto enrolment, employers are required to automatically enrol all eligible workers (generally employees) into a workplace pension scheme and pay a minimum contribution into their pension. Employees do, however, have the right to opt out of auto enrolment.

Currently workers who are aged between 22 and the State Pension Age with earnings of £10,000 per annum are eligible to be auto enrolled. Younger employees and those who do not meet the minimum income requirement can opt to make pension contributions.

The government plan to reduce the lower age limit to 18 by the mid 2020s, in order to encourage younger workers to get into ‘the habit of saving’.

David Gaulke, Work and Pensions Secretary said:

‘We are committed to enabling more people to save while they are working, so that they can enjoy greater financial security when they retire. We know the world of work is changing, so it is only right that pension saving does too. This ambitious package will see more people than ever before helped onto the path towards building a secure retirement.’

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

‘Requiring employers to contribute from the first pound of earnings will mean that, by 2019, hundreds of thousands of small employers will have to pay up to £180 more per employee each year. ‘For employers in certain sectors, such as care and hospitality where margins are tight, this will really add up.’

Contact us if you would like help with payroll and auto enrolment.

Internet links: GOV.UK news FSB press release

Paying HMRC? Not at the post office or by credit card

With many individuals having tax payments to make at the end of this month it is important to be aware that HMRC have announced that they will no longer accept payments made at the Post Office or by credit card.

HMRC have announced that with effect from 15 December 2017 it will no longer be possible to make payments to HMRC at a post office. The reason for this change is that contract with Santander, which allowed this method of payment, has expired. HMRC are advising that where electronic payment is not possible, payments can still be made at bank branches using a payslip and payments for self assessment income tax can still be posted to HMRC.

From 13 January 2018 it will no longer be possible to pay HMRC using a personal credit card. The timing of this change coincides with the date from which HMRC will no longer be permitted to charge fees for payment by credit card.

Internet link: ICAEW blog

HMRC warning about iTunes gift card scam

HMRC are urging people to stay safe from a phone scam that is conning elderly and vulnerable people out of thousands of pounds.

The scammers are preying on victims by cold calling them and impersonating an HMRC member of staff. They advise the victim that they owe a large amount of tax which they can only pay off by digital vouchers and gift cards, including Apple’s iTunes vouchers.

The scam victims are told to go to a local shop, to purchase vouchers, and then read out the redemption codes to the scammer. The conmen then sell on the codes or purchase high value products, all at the victim’s expense.

According to HMRC the scammers frequently use intimidation to get what they want, threatening to seize the victim’s property or involve the police. The use of vouchers is an attractive scam as they are easy to sell on and hard to trace once used.

HMRC have confirmed that they would never request the settling of debt through such a method.

According to figures from Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, between the beginning of 2016 and August this year there have been over 1,500 reports of this scam, with the numbers increasing in recent months. The vast majority of the victims are aged over 65 and suffered an average financial loss of £1,150 each.

HMRC is working closely with law enforcement agencies, Apple and campaign groups to make sure the public know how to spot the scam and who to report it to.

HMRC’s Director General of Customer Services, Angela MacDonald, said:

These scammers are very confident, convincing and utterly ruthless. We don’t want to see anyone fall victim to this scam just before Christmas. That’s why we’re working closely with crime fighters to ensure taxpayers know how to avoid it.

These scams often prey on vulnerable people. We urge people with elderly relatives to warn them about this scam and remind them that they should never trust anyone who phones them out of the blue and asks them to pay a tax bill. If you think you’ve been a victim you should contact Action Fraud immediately.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Newsletter – December 2017

Enews – December 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on pertinent Budget announcements. We also report on the advisory fuel rates for company cars, rules for tax free Christmas gifts for employees and the roll out of Tax free childcare. With changes to the deadline for the Trusts Registration Service, delays to the abolition of Class 2 NICs and increased workplace pension contributions on the horizon there is lots to consider.

Please do get in touch if you would like any further guidance on any of the areas covered.

Autumn Budget 2017

The Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his first Autumn Budget on Wednesday 22 November 2017. Some of the key announcements are set out below.

Increased limits for knowledge-intensive companies

The government will legislate to encourage more investment in knowledge-intensive companies under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs). The government will:

  • double the limit on the amount an individual may invest under the EIS in a tax year to £2 million from the current limit of £1 million, provided any amount over £1 million is invested in one or more knowledge-intensive companies
  • raise the annual investment limit for knowledge-intensive companies receiving investments under the EIS and from VCTs to £10 million from the current limit of £5 million. The lifetime limit will remain the same at £20 million, and
  • allow knowledge-intensive companies to use the date when their annual turnover first exceeds £200,000 in determining the start of the initial investing period under the permitted maximum age rules, instead of the date of the first commercial sale.

The changes will have effect from 6 April 2018. This measure is subject to
normal state aid rules.

Proposed changes to Entrepreneurs’ Relief

The government will consult on how access to ER might be given to those whose holding in their company is reduced below the normal 5% qualifying level as a result of raising funds for commercial purposes by means of issues of new shares thus diluting their holding. Allowing ER in these circumstances would incentivise entrepreneurs to remain involved in their businesses after receiving external investment.

This proposal is welcome and addresses a particular problem which can arise. ER broadly requires a holding of 5% of the ordinary share capital. It may be that significant external investment is made which would reduce the holding to below 5%.

Improving Research and Development (R&D)

A number of measures have been announced to support business investment in R&D including:

  • an increase in the rate of the R&D expenditure credit which applies to the large company scheme from 11% to 12% where expenditure is incurred on or after 1 January 2018
  • a pilot for a new Advanced Clearance service for R&D expenditure credit claims to provide a pre-filing agreement for three years
  • a campaign to increase awareness of eligibility for R&D tax credits among SMEs
  • working with businesses that develop and use key emerging technologies to ensure that there are no barriers to them claiming R&D tax credits.

Business rates

Business rates have been devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The business rates revaluation took effect in England from April 2017 and resulted in significant changes to the amount of rates that businesses will pay. In light of the recent rise in inflation, the government will provide further support to businesses including:

  • bringing forward the planned switch in indexation from RPI to CPI to 1 April 2018
  • legislating retrospectively to address the so-called ‘staircase tax’. Affected businesses will be able to ask the Valuation Office Agency to recalculate valuations so that bills are based on previous practice backdated to April 2010.

SDLT relief for first time buyers

The government has announced that first time buyers paying £300,000 or less for a residential property will pay no Stamp Duty Land Tax.

First time buyers paying between £300,000 and £500,000 will pay SDLT at 5% on the amount of the purchase price in excess of £300,000. First time buyers purchasing property for more than £500,000 will not be entitled to any relief and will pay SDLT at the normal rates.

The new rules apply to transactions with an effective date (usually the date of completion) on or after 22 November 2017. This measure does not apply in Scotland as this is a devolved tax. This measure will apply in Wales until 1 April 2018, when SDLT will be devolved to Wales.

Business rates

Business rates have been devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The business rates revaluation took effect in England from April 2017 and resulted in significant changes to the amount of rates that businesses will pay. In light of the recent rise in inflation, the government will provide further support to businesses including:

  • bringing forward the planned switch in indexation from RPI to CPI to 1 April 2018
  • legislating retrospectively to address the so-called ‘staircase tax’. Affected businesses will be able to ask the Valuation Office Agency to recalculate valuations so that bills are based on previous practice backdated to April 2010.

For advice on how the Autumn Budget announcements will affect you and your business contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK Autumn Budget

Employee gifts – tax free?

At this time of year some employers may wish to make small gifts to their employees.

A tax exemption is available which should give employers certainty that the benefits provided are exempt and do not result in a reportable employee benefit in kind. In order for the benefit to be exempt it must satisfy the following conditions:

  • the cost of providing the benefit does not exceed £50 per employee (or on average when gifts made to multiple employees)
  • the benefit is not cash or a cash voucher
  • the employee is not entitled to the voucher as part of a contractual arrangement (including salary sacrifice)
  • the benefit is not provided in recognition of particular services performed by the employee as part of their employment duties
  • where the employer is a ‘close’ company and the benefit is provided to an individual who is a director, an office holder or a member of their household or their family, then the exemption is capped at a total cost of £300 in a tax year.

If any of these conditions are not met then the benefit will be taxed in the normal way subject to any other exemptions or allowable deductions.

One of the main conditions is that the cost of the benefit does not exceed £50. If the cost is above £50 the full amount is taxable, not just the excess over £50.The cost of providing the benefit to each employee and not the overall cost to the employer determines whether the benefit can be treated as a trivial benefit. So, a benefit costing up to £50 per employee whether provided to one or more employees can be treated as trivial. Where the individual cost for each employee cannot be established, an average could be used. Some HMRC examples consider gifts of turkeys, a bottle of wine or alternative gift voucher.

Further details on how the exemption will work, including family member situations, are contained in HMRC manual.

However if you are unsure please do get in touch before assuming the gift you are about to provide is covered by the exemption.

Internet link: HMRC manual

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 December 2017. 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 December 2017 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 21p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
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.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Pension contribution increases and temporary staff

The Pensions Regulator is reminding employers that they need to comply with their auto enrolment duties.

Automatic enrolment still applies to temporary staff this Christmas

With the festive season fast approaching, employers may be planning to take on temporary staff to help their business survive the rush. Automatic enrolment applies to these employees in the same way as permanent employees, even if they will only be working for a short time.

Employers will still need to assess temporary staff and auto enrol any eligible employees into a qualifying pension scheme. Once auto enrolled both the employer and employee must make pension contributions.

It is possible to apply postponement to temporary employees, which has the effect of delaying some of the auto enrolment duties, but TPR are warning this must be dealt with correctly.

Are you ready to increase contributions?

TPR are reminding employers that they need to be ready to deal with the increased auto enrolment pension contributions which apply from April 2018. Employers and their employees need to be aware of how the changes will affect them, including checking that the employer’s payroll software is compatible.

Guidance is included on TPR website on this issue. From 6 April 2018, the minimum contributions employers and staff pay into their automatic enrolment pension goes up to 2% for employers and 3% for employees. This increase has been planned since automatic enrolment started. Further increases in rates are scheduled for April 2019.

Please contact us if you would like any help with auto enrolment duties.

Internet links: TPR increase in contributions TPR irregular

Delay to roll out of Tax free childcare

The government have announced a delay to the roll out of tax free childcare which was expected to be fully implemented by the end of the year. From 24 November 2017 the service is available to parents whose youngest child is under 6 or who has their 6th birthday on that day. Parents can apply online through the childcare service which can be accessed via the Childcare Choices website.

In April 2017, HMRC started rolling out the childcare service via a single website through which parents can apply for both 30 hours free childcare and Tax-Free Childcare. The roll out started with parents of the youngest children first. HMRC acknowledge that over the summer some parents didn’t receive the intended level of service when using the website and that they have subsequently made significant improvements. For those parents who have had difficulties in accessing the service, compensation may be available: see childcare service compensation.

Over the coming months, HMRC will gradually open the childcare service to parents of older children, whilst continuing to make further improvements to the system. HMRC hope this strategy of managing the volume of applications will result in prompt eligibility responses when parents apply, with ‘almost all parents receiving a response within five working days, and most getting their decision instantly’.

All eligible parents will be able to apply by the end of March 2018. Parents will be able to apply for all their children at the same time, when their youngest child becomes eligible.

Tax-Free Childcare is the new government scheme to help working parents, both employed and self employed, with the cost of childcare. For every £8 a parent pays in, the government will pay in an extra £2. Parents can receive up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare costs making a total amount of £10,000. Higher limits of £4,000 and £20,000 apply for disabled children.

To qualify for Tax-Free Childcare parents and partners in the household must generally meet a minimum income level of on average £120 a week and each earn less than £100,000 a year.

The scheme will eventually be available for children up to the age of 12, or 17 for children with disabilities. Those eligible will be able to apply for all their children at the same time.

Employer Supported Childcare, usually by way of childcare vouchers, will remain open to new entrants until April 2018 to support the transition between the schemes and it will continue to be available for current members if they wish to remain in it or they can switch to the new scheme. It is not possible to benefit from both Employer Supported Childcare and Tax Free Childcare at the same time.

Internet link: Tax free childcare for under 6

Trusts Registration Service

HMRC have launched a new Trusts Registration Service (TRS), so that trustees can register their trust online and provide information on the beneficial owners of the trust. The new service launched in early July for trustees and replaces the 41G (Trust) paper form, which was withdrawn at the end of April.

Under the existing self assessment rules, the trustees (or their agents) must register details of a trust with HMRC by 5 October of the year after a liability to Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax (CGT) first arises. The registration process, which will need completing via TRS, includes providing information about the beneficiaries of the trust.

In subsequent years, or where the trust is already registered for self assessment, the trustees (or their agent) of either a UK or non-UK trust that incurs a UK tax liability are required to provide beneficial ownership information about the trust, using the TRS, by 31 January following the end of the tax year.

HMRC have advised that agents will be able to register on behalf of trustees from October 2017 and agents and lead trustees can enter updates for changes of circumstances from early 2018.

HMRC have also confirmed that in this first year of TRS there will be no penalty imposed where registration is completed by 5 January 2018 for trusts whose first tax assessment year is 2016/17.

A Self Assessment Trust and Estate Tax Return (SA900) must still be submitted after the end of each tax year, reporting any income and gains. A TRS update is required each year in parallel with income tax returns; however an update is also required when any tax charge arises for example IHT principal charges or SDLT.

From 17 November 2017 the method of registering a trust has been simplified such that an agent can access TRS directly rather than email HMRC for approval to access.

If you would like help or guidance on trusts please contact us.

Internet links: GOV.UK trusts-and-estates GOV.UK news STEP comprehensive guidance STEP FAQs (November 2017)

Delay in the abolition of Class 2 NIC

The government has announced that it will introduce legislation, to abolish Class 2 national insurance contributions (NIC) and to make further proposed NIC changes in 2018.

The measures the legislation will implement, will now take effect one year later than previously announced, from April 2019. These measures include the abolition of Class 2 NIC paid by self employed individuals, reforms to the Class 1A NIC treatment of termination payments (the £30,000 rule) and changes to the NICs treatment of sporting testimonials.

On 2 November 2017 the Government announced a one year delay to the abolition of Class 2 NICs. Class 2 NICs will now be abolished from 6 April 2019 rather than 6 April 2018.

The government have stated that ‘the delay will allow time for the government to engage with interested parties and Parliamentarians with concerns relating to the impact of the abolition of Class 2 NICs on self-employed individuals with low profits’.

Internet links: GOV.UK abolition Class 2 National insurance Bill

Autumn Budget 2017

Autumn Budget 2017

The Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his first Autumn Budget on Wednesday 22 November 2017.

His report set out a number of actions the government will take including support for more housebuilding. His view is that the economy continues to grow and continues to create more jobs. The major attention-grabber was aimed at first time buyers who will not have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on homes costing up to £300,000.

Our summary focuses on the tax measures which may affect you, your family and your business. To help you decipher what was said we have included our own comments. If you have any questions please contact us for advice.

Main Budget tax proposals

Our summary concentrates on the tax measures which include:

  • increases to the personal allowance and basic rate band
  • more tax relief for investment in certain Enterprise Investment companies
  • proposed changes to Entrepreneurs’ Relief
  • improvements to Research and Development tax credit regimes
  • VAT limits frozen for two years
  • support for businesses to cope with the effects of business rates revaluation and the so called ‘staircase tax’.

Previously announced measures include:

  • plans for Making Tax Digital for Business
  • the reduction in the Dividend Allowance
  • changes to NICs for the self-employed
  • capital allowance changes for cars from April 2018.

The Budget proposals may be subject to amendment in the Spring Statement and subsequent Finance Act. You should contact us before taking any action as a result of the contents of this summary.

Personal Tax

The personal allowance

The personal allowance is currently £11,500. The personal allowance for 2018/19 will be £11,850.

Comment

A reminder that not everyone has the benefit of the full personal allowance. There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000, which is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2017/18 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £123,000. For 2018/19 there will be no personal allowance available where adjusted net income exceeds £123,700.

Tax bands and rates

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is £33,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £45,000 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.

In 2017/18 the band of income taxable at the basic rate for income (other than savings and dividend income) is different for taxpayers who are resident in Scotland to taxpayers resident elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish Government set the band of income taxable at the basic rate at £31,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £43,000.

The additional rate of tax of 45% is payable on taxable income above £150,000 (other than dividend income) for all UK residents.

Tax bands and rates 2018/19

The government has announced that for 2018/19 the basic rate band will be increased to £34,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £46,350 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.

The additional rate of tax of 45% remains payable on taxable income above £150,000.

The Scottish Government will announce the Scottish income tax rates and bands for 2018/19 in the Draft Budget on 14 December.

Tax bands and rates – dividends

Dividends received by an individual are subject to special tax rates. Currently the first £5,000 of dividends are charged to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). Dividends received above the allowance are taxed at the following rates:

  • 5% for basic rate taxpayers
  • 5% for higher rate taxpayers
  • 1% 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 £5,000 allowance.

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

Reduction in the Dividend Allowance

The Chancellor has confirmed the Dividend Allowance will be reduced from £5,000 to £2,000 from 6 April 2018.

Comment

The government expect that even with the reduction in the Dividend Allowance to £2,000, 80% of ‘general investors’ will pay no tax on their dividend income. However, the reduction in the allowance will affect family company shareholders who take dividends in excess of the £2,000 limit. The cost of the restriction in the allowance for basic rate taxpayers will be £225 increasing to £975 for higher rate taxpayers and £1,143 for additional rate taxpayers.

Tax on savings income

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

The Savings Allowance was first introduced for the 2016/17 tax year and applies to savings income. 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.

The Marriage Allowance

The Marriage Allowance allows certain couples, where neither pay tax at more than the basic rate, to transfer 10% of their unused personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner, reducing their tax bill by up to £230 a year in 2017/18. The government will legislate to allow Marriage Allowance claims on behalf of deceased spouses and civil partners, and for the claim to be backdated for up to four years where the entitlement conditions are met.

This measure will come into force on 29 November 2017.

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

The overall ISA savings limit for 2017/18 and 2018/19 is £20,000.

Help to Buy ISAs

Help to Buy ISAs are a type of cash ISA and potentially provide a bonus to savers if the funds are used to help to buy a first home.

Lifetime ISA

The Lifetime ISA has been available from April 2017 for adults under the age of 40. Individuals are able to contribute up to £4,000 per year, between ages 18 and 50, and receive a 25% bonus from the government. Funds, including the government bonus, can be used to buy a first home at any time from 12 months after opening the account, and can be withdrawn from age 60 completely tax free.

Comment

The overall ISA limit was significantly increased from £15,240 to £20,000 for 2017/18. The increase in the investment limit was partly due to the introduction of the Lifetime ISA. There are therefore four types of ISAs for many adults from April 2017 – cash ISAs, stocks and shares ISAs, Innovative Finance ISAs (allowing investment into peer to peer loans and crowdfunding debentures) and the Lifetime ISA. Money can be placed into one of each kind of ISA each tax year.

As stated above, Help to Buy ISAs are a type of cash ISA and therefore care is needed not to breach the ‘one of each kind of ISA each tax year rule’.

Help to Save accounts

In 2016 the government announced the introduction of a new type of savings account aimed at low income working households. Individuals in low income working households will be able to save up to £50 a month into a Help to Save account and receive a 50% government bonus after two years. Overall the account can be used to save up to £2,400 and can benefit from government bonuses worth up to £1,200. Account holders can then choose to continue saving under the scheme for a further two years. The scheme will be open to all adults in receipt of Universal Credit with minimum weekly household earnings equivalent to 16 hours at the National Living Wage or those in receipt of Working Tax Credits.

Accounts will be available no later than April 2018.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a state benefit designed to support those on low income or out of work. It is intended to replace some benefits such as housing benefit, tax credits and income support. It is being introduced in selected areas. The intention is that the rollout will be completed by September 2018.

An individual’s entitlement to the benefit is made up of a number of elements to reflect their personal circumstances. Claimants’ entitlement to Universal Credit is withdrawn at a rate of 63 pence for every extra £1 earned (the ‘taper rate’) where claimants earn above the work allowances.

Following concerns about the roll out of Universal Credit, the Chancellor announced that households in need who qualify for Universal Credit will be able to access a month’s worth of support within five days, via an interest-free advance, from January 2018. This advance can be repaid over 12 months.

Claimants will also be eligible for Universal Credit from the day they apply, rather than after seven days. Housing Benefit will continue to be paid for two weeks after a Universal Credit claim.

Increased limits for knowledge-intensive companies

The government will legislate to encourage more investment in knowledge-intensive companies under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs). The government will:

  • double the limit on the amount an individual may invest under the EIS in a tax year to £2 million from the current limit of £1 million, provided any amount over £1 million is invested in one or more knowledge-intensive companies
  • raise the annual investment limit for knowledge-intensive companies receiving investments under the EIS and from VCTs to £10 million from the current limit of £5 million. The lifetime limit will remain the same at £20 million, and
  • allow knowledge-intensive companies to use the date when their annual turnover first exceeds £200,000 in determining the start of the initial investing period under the permitted maximum age rules, instead of the date of the first commercial sale.

The changes will have effect from 6 April 2018. This measure is subject to
normal state aid rules.

Venture Capital

The government will introduce measures to ensure venture capital schemes (the EIS, Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and VCTs) are targeted at growth investments. The government has announced that relief under the schemes will be focussed on companies where there is a real risk to the capital being invested, and will exclude companies and arrangements intended to provide ‘capital preservation’.

Detailed guidance will be issued shortly after the publication of the Finance Bill.

VCTs

The government will legislate to limit the application of an anti-abuse rule relating to mergers of VCTs. The rule restricts relief for investors who sell shares in a VCT and subscribe for new shares in another VCT within a six month period, where those VCTs merge. This rule will no longer apply if those VCTs merge more than two years after the subscription, or do so only for commercial reasons.

The change will have effect for VCT subscriptions made on or after 6 April 2014.

The government will also legislate to move VCTs towards higher risk investments by:

  • removing certain ‘grandfathering’ provisions that enable VCTs to invest in companies under rules in place at the time funds were raised, with effect on and after 6 April 2018
  • requiring 30% of funds raised in an accounting period to be invested in qualifying holdings within 12 months after the end of the accounting period, with effect on and after 6 April 2018
  • increasing the proportion of VCT funds that must be held in qualifying holdings to 80%, with effect for accounting periods beginning on and after 6 April 2019
  • increasing the time to reinvest the proceeds on disposal of qualifying holdings from six months to 12 months for disposals on or after 6 April 2019, and
  • introducing a new anti-abuse rule to prevent loans being used to preserve and return equity capital to investors, with effect on and after Royal Assent.

This measure is subject to normal state aid rules.

Rent a room relief

The government will publish a call for evidence on 1 December 2017 to build the evidence base around the usage of rent a room relief and to help establish whether it is consistent with the original policy rationale to support longer-term lettings.

Simplification of Gift Aid donor benefit rules

The government will introduce legislation to simplify the donor benefit rules that apply to charities that claim Gift Aid. Currently there are a mix of monetary and percentage thresholds that charities have to consider when determining the value of benefit they can give to their donors in return for a donation on which Gift Aid can be claimed. These will be replaced by two percentage thresholds:

  • the benefit threshold for the first £100 of the donation will remain at 25% of the amount of the donation, and
  • for larger donations, charities will be able to offer an additional benefit to donors up to 5% of the amount of the donation that exceeds £100.

The total value of the benefit that a donor will be able to receive remains at £2,500.

The government have confirmed that four extra statutory concessions that currently operate in relation to the donor benefit rules will also be brought into law. The changes will have effect on and after 6 April 2019.

Business Tax

Making Tax Digital for Business: VAT

In July 2017, the government announced significant changes to the timetable and scope of HMRC’s digital tax programme for businesses. VAT will be the first tax where taxpayers will keep digital records and report digitally to HMRC. The new rules will apply from April 2019 to all VAT registered businesses with turnover above the VAT threshold.

As with electronic VAT filing at present, there will be some exemptions from Making Tax Digital for VAT. However, the exemption categories are tightly-drawn and unlikely to be applicable to the generality of VAT registered businesses.

Comment

Keeping digital records will not mean businesses are mandated to use digital invoices and receipts but the actual recording of supplies made and received must be digital. It is likely that third party commercial software will be required. Software will not be available from HMRC. The use of spreadsheets will be allowed, but they will have to be combined with add-on software to meet HMRC’s requirements.

In the long run, HMRC are still looking to a scenario where income tax updates are made quarterly and digitally, and this is really what the VAT provisions anticipate.

Corporation tax rates

Corporation tax rates have already been enacted for periods up to 31 March 2021.

The main rate of corporation tax is currently 19%. The rate for future years is:

  • 19% for the Financial Years beginning on 1 April 2018 and 1 April 2019
  • 17% for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020.

Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs)

The 2016 Budget announced that Class 2 NICs will be abolished from April 2018. The legislation to effect this measure was intended to be introduced this year. In November 2017 the government decided to implement a one year delay so that Class 2 NICs will be abolished from April 2019.

Comment

The government is still committed to abolishing Class 2 NICs. The deferral allows time to engage with interested parties with concerns relating to the impact of the abolition of Class 2 NICs on self-employed individuals with low profits.

Class 4 NICs

The Chancellor announced in the 2017 Budget proposals to increase the main rate of Class 4 NICs from April 2018 but was forced to make a subsequent announcement that the increase would not take place and there will be no increases to NICs rates in this Parliament.

Partnership taxation

Legislation will be introduced with the aim to provide additional clarity over aspects of the taxation of partnerships:

  • where a beneficiary of a bare trust is entitled absolutely to any income of that bare trust consisting of profits of a firm but is not themselves a partner in the firm, then they are subject to the same rules for calculating profits etc and reporting as actual partners
  • how the current rules and reporting requirements operate in particular circumstances where a partnership has partners that are themselves partnerships.

The proposed legislation also:

  • provides a relaxation in the information to be shown on the partnership return for investment partnerships that report under the Common Reporting Standard or Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and who have non-UK resident partners who are not chargeable to tax in the UK
  • makes it clear that the allocation of partnership profits shown on the partnership return is the allocation that applies for tax purposes for the partners
  • provides a new structured mechanism for the resolution of disputes between partners over the allocation of taxable partnership profits and losses shown on the partnership return.

Mileage rates

The government will legislate to give unincorporated property businesses the option to use a fixed rate deduction for every mile travelled by car, motorcycle or goods vehicle for business journeys. This will be as an alternative to claims for capital allowances and deductions for actual expenses incurred, such as fuel. The changes will have effect from 6 April 2017.

Profit fragmentation

The government will consult on the best way to prevent UK traders or professionals from avoiding UK tax by arranging for UK trading income to be transferred to unrelated entities. This will include arrangements where profits accumulate offshore and are not returned to the UK.

Royalties Withholding Tax

A consultation is to be published on the design of rules expanding the circumstances in which a royalty payment to persons not resident in the UK has a liability to income tax. The changes will have effect from April 2019.

Disincorporation Relief

A disincorporation relief was introduced in April 2013 for five years. Broadly, the relief is aimed at certain small companies where the shareholders want to transfer the business into sole tradership or a partnership business. The relief removes the tax charge arising on the disposal of the company’s assets of land and goodwill if qualifying conditions are met. The government has decided not to extend this relief beyond the current 31 March 2018 expiry date.

Improving Research and Development (R&D)

A number of measures have been announced to support business investment in R&D including:

  • an increase in the rate of the R&D expenditure credit which applies to the large company scheme from 11% to 12% where expenditure is incurred on or after 1 January 2018
  • a pilot for a new Advanced Clearance service for R&D expenditure credit claims to provide a pre-filing agreement for three years
  • a campaign to increase awareness of eligibility for R&D tax credits among SMEs
  • working with businesses that develop and use key emerging technologies to ensure that there are no barriers to them claiming R&D tax credits.

Intangible Fixed Asset regime

The government will consult in 2018 on the tax treatment of intellectual property also known as the Intangible Fixed Asset regime. This will consider whether there is an economic case for targeted changes to this regime so that it better supports UK companies investing in intellectual property.

Non-UK resident companies

The government is to legislate so that non-UK resident companies with UK property income and/or chargeable gains relating to UK residential property will be charged to corporation tax rather than income tax or capital gains tax respectively as at present. The government plans to publish draft legislation for consultation in summer 2018. The change is set to have effect from 6 April 2020.

Extension of First Year Allowances (FYA)

A 100% FYA is currently available for businesses purchasing zero-emission goods vehicles or gas refuelling equipment. Both schemes were due to end on 31 March 2018 but have been extended for a further three years.

Extension of First Year Tax Credits (FYTC)

FYA enables profit-making businesses to deduct the full cost of investments in energy and water technology from their taxable profits. Loss-making businesses do not make profits, so they do not benefit from FYAs. However, when the loss-making business is a company it can claim FYTC when they invest in products that feature on the energy and water technology lists. A FYTC claim allows the company to surrender a loss in exchange for a cash credit and is currently set at 19% but the facility was due to end on 31 March 2018.

The credit system is to be extended for five years but the percentage rate of the claim is to reduce to two-thirds of the corporation tax rate.  The changes to FYTC will have effect from 1 April 2018.

Capital gains indexation allowance

This measure changes the calculation of indexation allowance by companies so that for disposals of assets on or after 1 January 2018, indexation allowance will be calculated using the Retail Price Index factor for December 2017 irrespective of the date of disposal of the asset.

Off-payroll working extension to the private sector

The government will consult in 2018 on how to tackle non-compliance with the intermediaries legislation (commonly known as IR35) in the private sector. The legislation aims to ensure that individuals who effectively work as employees are taxed as employees even if they choose to structure their work through a company. A possible next step would be to extend the recent public sector reforms to the private sector.

Employment Taxes

Different forms of remuneration

In the Spring Budget the government stated it wished to consider how the tax system ‘could be made fairer and more coherent’. A call for evidence was subsequently published on employee expenses. The government’s aim is to better understand the use of the income tax relief for employees’ business expenses. It sought views on how employers currently deal with employee expenses, current tax rules on employee expenses and the future of employee expenses.

Following the call for evidence:

  • the government announced that the existing concessionary travel and subsistence overseas scale rates will be placed on a statutory basis from 6 April 2019, to provide clarity and certainty. Employers will only be asked to ensure that employees are undertaking qualifying travel
  • the government also announced that employers will no longer be required to check receipts when making payments to employees for subsistence using benchmark scale rates. This will apply to standard meal allowances paid in respect of qualifying travel and overseas scale rates. Employers will only be asked to ensure that employees are undertaking qualifying travel. This will have effect from April 2019 and will not apply to amounts agreed under bespoke scale rates or industry wide rates
  • HMRC will work with external stakeholders to explore improvements to the guidance on employee expenses, particularly on travel and subsistence and the claims process for tax relief on employment expenses. This programme of work will also increase simplicity around the process for claiming tax relief and will take action to improve awareness of the process and the rules
  • the government will consult in 2018 on extending the scope of tax relief currently available to employees and the self-employed for work-related training costs.

The government response to the call for evidence will be published on 1 December 2017.

Changes to termination payments

The government previously announced changes to align the rules for tax and employer NICs by making an employer liable to pay Class 1A NICs on any part of a termination payment that exceeds the £30,000 threshold that currently applies for income tax.

In addition, ‘non-contractual’ payments in lieu of notice (PILONs) will be treated as earnings rather than as termination payments and will therefore be subject to income tax and Class 1 NICs. This will be done by requiring the employer to identify the amount of basic pay that the employee would have received if they had worked their full notice period.

All these measures were due to take effect from April 2018. In November 2017 the government decided to implement a one year delay for the Class 1A NICs measure so the change will take effect from April 2019.

The government will legislate to ensure that employees who are UK resident in the tax year in which their employment is terminated will not be eligible for foreign service relief on their termination payments. Reductions in the case of foreign service are retained for seafarers. The changes will have effect from 6 April 2018 and apply to all those who have their employment contract terminated on or after 6 April 2018.

Comment

Currently ‘non-contractual’ PILONs may be treated as part of a termination payment and therefore exempt from income tax up to the £30,000 threshold and not subject to any NICs. Note that the changes to the treatment of PILONs for income tax and Class 1 NICs will still apply from April 2018.

Employer provided cars

The scale of charges for working out the taxable benefit for an employee who has use of an employer provided car are now announced well in advance. Most cars are taxed by reference to bands of CO2 emissions. Currently there is a 3% diesel supplement. The maximum charge is capped at 37% of the list price of the car.

In the current tax year there is a 9% rate for cars with CO2 emissions up to 50gm/km or which have neither a CO2 emissions figure nor an engine cylinder capacity (and which cannot produce CO2 emissions in any circumstances by being driven). From 6 April 2018 this will be increased to 13%, and from 6 April 2019 to 16%.

For other bands of CO2 emissions there will generally be a 2% increase in the percentage applied by each band from 6 April 2018. For 2019/20 the rates will increase by a further 3%.

The government announced that they will legislate to increase the diesel supplement from 3% to 4%. This will apply to all diesel cars registered from 1 January 1998 that do not meet the Real Driving Emissions Step 2 (RDE2) standards. There is no change to the current position that the diesel supplement does not apply to hybrid cars.

The change will have effect from 6 April 2018.

Armed forces accommodation allowance exemption

The government will introduce an income tax exemption for certain allowances paid to Armed Forces personnel for renting or maintaining accommodation in the private market. A Class 1 NICs disregard will also be introduced.

The change will have effect from Royal Assent once regulations have been laid.

Future tax changes

A number of other proposed changes were announced. These include:

  • exempting employer provided electricity provided in the workplace from being taxed as a benefit in kind from April 2018. This will apply to electricity provided via workplace charging points for electric or hybrid cars owned by employees
  • the government will publish a consultation as part of its response to Matthew Taylor’s review of modern working practices, considering options for reform to make the employment status tests clearer for both employment rights and tax.

Capital Taxes

Capital gains tax (CGT) rates

The current rates of CGT are 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 are two specific types of disposal which potentially qualify for a 10% rate, both of which have a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual:

  • Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER). This is targeted at working directors and employees of companies who own at least 5% of the ordinary share capital in the company and the owners of unincorporated businesses.
  • Investors’ Relief. The main beneficiaries of this relief are external investors in unquoted trading companies.

CGT annual exemption

The CGT annual exemption is £11,300 for 2017/18 and will be increased to £11,700 for 2018/19.

ER – relief after dilution of holdings

The government will consult on how access to ER might be given to those whose holding in their company is reduced below the normal 5% qualifying level as a result of raising funds for commercial purposes by means of issues of new shares. Allowing ER in these circumstances would incentivise entrepreneurs to remain involved in their businesses after receiving external investment.

Comment

This proposal is welcome and addresses a particular problem which can arise. ER broadly requires a holding of 5% of the ordinary share capital. It may be that significant external investment is made which would reduce the holding to below 5%.

For example, Bill owns 33% of the original share capital of 100 shares issued at par. John invests £30,000 in the company in return for 30,000 new shares. This reduces Bill’s holding to 33 of 30,100 shares, below the 5% limit. It appears that the government intend to address this problem.

CGT payment window

The government had previously suggested that capital gains tax would have to be paid within 30 days of the sale of a residential property but this proposal has now been deferred until April 2020.

Extending the taxation of gains made by non-residents

The government announced that from April 2019 tax will be charged on gains made by non-residents on the disposal of all types of UK immovable property. This extends existing rules that apply only to residential property.

This measure expands the scope of the UK’s tax base with regard to disposals of immovable property by non-residents in two key ways:

  • all non-resident persons’ gains on disposals of interests in UK land will be chargeable and
  • indirect disposals of UK land will be chargeable.

Inheritance tax (IHT) nil rate band

The nil rate band has remained at £325,000 since April 2009 and is set to remain frozen at this amount until April 2021.

IHT residence nil rate band

An additional nil rate band is now available for deaths on or after 6 April 2017, where an interest in a residence passes to direct descendants. The amount of relief is being phased in over four years; starting at £100,000 in the first year and rising to £175,000 for 2020/21. For many married couples and registered civil partners the relief is effectively doubled as each individual has a main nil rate band and each will potentially benefit from the residence nil rate band.

The additional band can only be used in respect of one residential property, which does not have to be the main family home, but must at some point have been a residence of the deceased. Restrictions apply where estates are in excess of £2 million.

Where a person died before 6 April 2017 their estate did not qualify for the relief. A surviving spouse may be entitled to an increase in the residence nil rate band if the spouse who died earlier had not used, or was not entitled to use, their full residence nil rate band. The calculations involved are potentially complex but the increase will often result in a doubling of the residence nil rate band for the surviving spouse.

Downsizing

The residence nil rate band may also be available when a person downsizes or ceases to own a home on or after 8 July 2015 where assets of an equivalent value, up to the value of the residence nil rate band, are passed on death to direct descendants.

Comment

When planning to minimise IHT liabilities we now have three nil rate bands to consider.

The standard nil rate band has been a part of the legislation from the start of IHT in 1986. In 2007 the ability to utilise the unused nil rate band of a deceased spouse was introduced enabling many surviving spouses to have a nil rate band of up to £650,000. From 6 April 2020 some surviving spouses will be able to add £350,000 in respect of the residence nil rate band to arrive at a total nil rate band of £1 million.

Individuals need to revisit their wills to ensure that the relief will be available and efficiently utilised.

Other Matters

Business rates

Business rates have been devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The business rates revaluation took effect in England from April 2017 and resulted in significant changes to the amount of rates that businesses will pay. In light of the recent rise in inflation, the government will provide further support to businesses including:

  • bringing forward the planned switch in indexation from RPI to CPI to 1 April 2018
  • legislating retrospectively to address the so-called ‘staircase tax’. Affected businesses will be able to ask the Valuation Office Agency to recalculate valuations so that bills are based on previous practice backdated to April 2010.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

Relief for first time buyers

The government has announced that first time buyers paying £300,000 or less for a residential property will pay no SDLT.

First time buyers paying between £300,000 and £500,000 will pay SDLT at 5% on the amount of the purchase price in excess of £300,000. First time buyers purchasing property for more than £500,000 will not be entitled to any relief and will pay SDLT at the normal rates.

The new rules apply to transactions with an effective date (usually the date of completion) on or after 22 November 2017.

Comment

This measure does not apply in Scotland as this is a devolved tax. This measure will apply in Wales until 1 April 2018, when SDLT will be devolved to Wales.

Higher rates: minor changes

New rules were introduced to impose an additional SDLT charge of 3% on additional residential properties purchased on or after 1 April 2016. Broadly, transactions under £40,000 do not require a tax return to be filed with HMRC and are not subject to the higher rates.

For transactions on or after 22 November 2017, relief from the extra 3% will be given in certain cases including where:

  • a divorce related court order prevents someone from disposing of their interest in a main residence
  • a spouse or civil partner buys property from another spouse or civil partner
  • a deputy buys property for a child subject to the Court of Protection and
  • a purchaser adds to their interest in their current main residence.

The changes also counteract abuse of the relief when someone who changes main residence retains an interest in their former main residence.

Changes to the filing and payment process

The government has confirmed that it will reduce the SDLT filing and payment window from 30 days to 14 days for land transactions with an effective date on or after 1 March 2019. The government is planning improvements to the SDLT return that aim to make compliance with the new time limit easier.

Welsh Land Transaction Tax (LTT)

LTT will be introduced from 1 April 2018 and replace Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) which continues to apply in England and Northern Ireland. The principles and rates of the tax are similar to SDLT.

VAT thresholds

There had been some speculation leading up to the Budget that the VAT registration limit would be significantly reduced. The Chancellor has announced that the VAT registration and deregistration thresholds will not change for two years from 1 April 2018 from the current figures of £85,000 and £83,000 respectively.

In the meantime, the government intends to consult on the design of the threshold.

VAT fraud in labour provision in the construction sector

The government will pursue legislation to shift responsibility for paying the VAT along the supply chain to remove the opportunity for it to be stolen with effect on or after 1 October 2019. The long lead-in time reflects the government’s commitment to give businesses adequate time to prepare for the changes. The government has decided not to bring in legislative measures to address the fraud in the Construction Industry Scheme but HMRC are increasing their compliance response to target the fraud there.

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)

A supplement will apply to new diesel vehicles from 1 April 2018 so that these cars will go up by one VED band in their First-Year Rate. This will apply to any diesel car that is not certified to the Real Driving Emissions 2 (RDE2) standard.

Comment

The government state that someone purchasing a typical Ford Focus diesel will pay an additional £20 in the first year, a VW Golf will pay £40, a Vauxhall Mokka £300 and a Landrover Discovery £400.

Taxation of trusts

The government will publish a consultation in 2018 on how to make the taxation of trusts simpler, fairer and more transparent.

Compliance and HMRC

The government is investing a further £155m in additional resources and new technology for HMRC. This investment is forecast to help bring in £2.3bn of additional tax revenues by allowing HMRC to:

  • transform their approach to tackling the hidden economy through new technology
  • further tackle those who are engaging in marketed tax avoidance schemes
  • enhance efforts to tackle the enablers of tax fraud and hold intermediaries accountable for the services they provide using the Corporate Criminal Offence
  • increase their ability to tackle non-compliance among mid-size businesses and wealthy individuals
  • recover greater amounts of tax debt including through a new taskforce to specifically tackle tax debts more than nine months old.

Newsletter – November 2017

Enews – November 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on Budget announcements and the introduction of new taxes in Wales and Scotland of Land Transaction Tax and Air Departure Tax. We also consider HMRC’s new method of Simple Assessment for certain taxpayers, the Criminal Finances Act, proposals for Help to Save Accounts and new guidance for employers.

Autumn Budget wishlist

With the Chancellor’s first Autumn Budget due to be presented on 22 November, professional bodies and business groups are setting out their Budget wishlists. Recommendations include changes to Business Rates, a ‘Brexit ready’ Budget, incentives for business and an appeal for changes to the Apprenticeship Levy. The ICAEW is urging that the government give sufficient attention to Making Tax Digital to ensure a successful roll out and making the necessary changes to accommodate Brexit.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged Philip Hammond to deliver a ‘Brexit-ready’ Budget, which rules out any new business tax increases and maintains investment incentives.

We will update you on pertinent announcements.

Internet links: CBI FSB ICAEW autumn budget

Simple Assessment

HMRC have changed the way in which they will assess some taxpayers removing the need for these individuals to complete a Self Assessment Tax Return. These changes took effect from September 2017.

The affected taxpayers fall into one of two categories:

  • new state pensioners with income more than the personal tax allowance (£11,000) in 2016/17; and
  • employees or pensioners with PAYE tax codes who have underpaid tax and who cannot have that tax collected through their tax code because it is too high to code out.

HMRC have also confirmed that all existing state pensioners who complete a tax return because their state pension is more than their personal allowance will be removed from self assessment in 2017/18. This may mean that some clients are dropped out of self assessment and issued an assessment instead based on the information which HMRC hold. Of course, whether the assessment is actually correct will be a different matter.

HMRC state:

‘HMRC will write to customers from September 2017 with a tax calculation. This could be a P800 or a Simple Assessment letter (PA302).

The letter will show their:

  • income from pay
  • pensions
  • state benefits
  • savings interest
  • employee benefits.

Customers just need to check the information is correct, and if it is they can pay their bill online or by cheque by the deadline in the letter.

If a customer thinks any information is incorrect they have 60 days to contact HMRC. For instance, if they think amounts used are wrong or HMRC didn’t act on information received.

Should customers miss the deadline they should contact HMRC to discuss their circumstances or financial penalties will be applied in line with current policy.

If customers are not happy with the follow-up response from HMRC, they have 30 days to appeal against the decision.’

If you would like help with your personal tax affairs please get in touch.

Internet link: GOV.UK briefing policy paper

Welsh Land Transaction Tax

The Welsh Assembly has announced the proposed rates and bands for land transaction tax (LTT) which is to be introduced for land and property in Wales on 1 April 2018, replacing Stamp Duty Land Tax.

Under the new rates for LTT, Wales will have the highest starting threshold for the property tax in the UK. The proposed rates are as follows:

Residential Non-residential
0% £0 – £150,000 £0 – £150,000 0%
2.5% £150,001 – £250,000 £150,001 – £250,000 1%
5% £250,001 – £400,000 £250,001 – £1m 5%
7.5% £400,001 – £750,000 £1m plus 6%
10% £750,001 – £1.5m
12% £1.5m-plus

Announcing the rates and bands, Professor Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, said:

‘From April, Wales will introduce the first Welsh taxes in almost 800 years, supporting first-time buyers and boosting business.

The devolution of tax powers provides us with the opportunity to reshape and make changes to improve existing taxes to better meet Wales’ needs and priorities. I have always been clear that we will use these powers to help improve fairness and support jobs and economic growth in Wales.

These new progressive rates and bands for land transaction tax and landfill disposals tax will make a real difference to people’s lives; help change behaviours and deliver improvements to communities across Wales. We are being bold but balanced and leading the way in creating a fair and progressive tax system.’

Internet link: GOV.UK Wales

Scottish Budget proposals

On 14 December, the Scottish Budget will set out the Scottish Government’s financial and tax plans.

Currently taxpayers who are resident in Scotland pay income tax on their non-savings and non-dividend income at rates and thresholds determined by the Scottish Government. Scottish higher and additional rate taxpayers may pay more income tax than those with similar income in the rest of the UK. The Scottish Parliament is considering plans to radically revise the bands and possibly to introduce some further income tax rates so that middle and higher earners pay additional tax.

The Scottish Parliament are also expected to announce the details of Air Departure Tax which takes effect for flights from Scotland from April 2018.

We will keep you up to date with pertinent announcements.

Internet links: BBC news

Criminal Finances Act

The Criminal Finances Act 2017 took effect on 30 September 2017. It makes companies and partnerships, a ‘relevant body’, criminally liable if they fail to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion being carried out by an employee, anyone acting on their behalf or someone acting as an agent. If found guilty, the business could face unlimited fines and potentially further consequential sanctions within their industry or profession.

This Act has the effect of creating an offence at corporate and partnership level which does not require the directors/partners to have had any knowledge of the offence in question. Broadly, the offence is the failure to prevent the crimes of those who act for or on behalf of the corporate body or partnership instead of the need to attribute criminal acts to that body.

For a firm to be criminally liable under the new Act, there are three elements of the offence:

  • There must be the execution of a criminal act of tax evasion.
  • The crime must have been facilitated or carried out by a person associated with a relevant body.
  • The relevant body failed to initiate adequate prevention procedures in relation to the act carried out by the associated person.

A defence is available when it can be shown that ‘reasonable prevention procedures’ were in place to prevent the associated person from committing or facilitating the crime; or that it would have been unreasonable or disproportionate to expect such procedures to be in place.

The government advises that any reasonable prevention procedures should be based on six guiding principles:

  1. Risk assessment – the relevant body should assess the nature and extent of its exposure to the risk of an associated person committing a criminal act;
  2. Proportionality – the procedures should take into account the nature, scale and complexity of the relevant body’s activities;
  3. Top level commitment – the management of the relevant body should be committed to preventing illegal acts and should foster a culture that tax evasion and its facilitation is never acceptable;
  4. Due Diligence – with appropriate procedures put in place with respect to all people who perform services for the relevant body;
  5. Communication – training staff and ensuring the message effectively gets across to all employees and agents;
  6. Monitoring and reviewing – ensuring that whatever procedures are put into place are regularly reviewed and updated and amended where necessary.

Please contact us if you require further information on this issue.

Internet link: GOV.UK Tackling tax evasion corporate-offence

Help to Save Accounts

The government have announced details of a new Help to Save saving scheme. The scheme is government backed and designed to support working people on low incomes build up their savings.

The scheme, administered by HMRC, will be open to working people who receive Working Tax Credits, and those who receive Universal Credit with a household income equivalent to at least 16 hours a week at the national living wage (currently £120 a week).

Over a four year period, savers can deposit up to £50 per month.

At the end of two years, savers will get a 50% bonus based on the highest balance achieved. Savers can then carry on saving for another two years and get another 50% bonus on their additional savings.

Over four years those saving the maximum amount of £2,400 will receive bonuses of £1,200.

Money paid into the account can be withdrawn at any time but will affect the final bonus payment.

The government has confirmed that all transactions, including checking the balance and paying in savings, will be managed in an online account available through GOV.UK and that further information will be available from early 2018.

Internet link: GOV.UK help to save

New guidance for employers

HMRC have issued the October 2017 Employer Bulletin which contains a number of articles relevant to employers on payroll related issues.

HMRC are advising that following the changes to the valuation of benefits in kind (BiK) where there is a cash option available, they will consult and then issue the necessary amendments to the PAYE Regulations. The guidance will also clarify the taxable amounts that need to be reported under Optional Remuneration and salary sacrifice arrangements.

Where a BiK is taken rather than the alternative cash option, the taxable value of the benefit is the higher of the cash foregone or the taxable value under the normal BiK rules. Transitional provisions apply for arrangements entered into before 6 April 2017.

The Bulletin also includes articles on:

  • Changes to Business Tax Account for employers, including new data on the Apprenticeship Levy and the introduction of monthly and annual statement pages
  • Data matters – ensuring RTI returns are submitted on or before the date the wages are paid, that the returns are accurate, cover all employees, including those that earn less than the National Insurance lower earnings limit
  • Paying HMRC at the Post Office – via transcash. This option will be withdrawn from 15 December 2017
  • Construction Industry Scheme – clarification of when CIS deductions should be reported via the Employer Payment Summary (EPS)
  • Student Loans – new income thresholds from April 2018 for Plan Type 1 and 2 loans
  • Apprenticeships benefit your business – includes links to help on finding apprenticeship training and recruiting an apprentice.

For help with payroll matters please get in touch.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Newsletter – October 2017

Enews – October 2017

In this month’s eNews we update you on the latest government announcements on Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB). We also include the announcement of the Budget dates by Philip Hammond and Derek Mackay. With HMRC offering a new support service for growing businesses, a new Trusts Registration Service, updated phishing guidance and the ‘paper’ tax return deadline looming, there is lots to consider.

Making Tax Digital for VAT

The government have issued information on how Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB) is expected to work for VAT once the rules are introduced in April 2019.

Under the proposed rules, which have been issued subject to consultation, VAT registered businesses with turnover over the VAT registration threshold will be required to submit their VAT return digitally using software. Businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to:

  • keep their records digitally (for VAT purposes only) and
  • provide their VAT return information to HMRC through Making Tax Digital (MTD) functional compatible software.

This software will either be a software program or set of compatible software programs which can connect to HMRC systems via an Application Programming Interface (API). The functions of the compatible software include:

  • keeping records in a specified digital form
  • preserving digital records in a specified digital form
  • creating a VAT return from the digital records and providing HMRC with this information digitally
  • providing HMRC with VAT data on a voluntary basis and
  • receiving information from HMRC via the API platform that the business has complied.

Businesses will need to preserve digital records in the software for up to six years. Further information on the required information can be found in Annex 1

The government will make the final detailed requirements available to the software providers by April 2018 to allow time for the software to be developed and tested prior to the rules coming into effect from April 2019.

VAT is the first tax to be reportable under MTD and businesses within the scope of MTD will need to keep their records digitally, using approved MTD functional compatible software, from 1 April 2019. The software will create the return from the digital records and this will need to be submitted under MTD for return periods starting on or after 1 April 2019.

We will keep you informed of developments in this area and ensure we are ready to deal with the new requirements. Please contact us for more information.

Internet link: GOV.UK MTD VAT legislation overview

Budget on Wednesday 22 November and 14 December

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced that he will deliver the Autumn Budget on Wednesday 22 November.

The Autumn Budget will be the second Budget to be delivered this year, and will outline the government’s proposed tax changes and spending plans in response to forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The 2017 Autumn Budget will be the first of its kind under the government’s new fiscal timetable. During the 2016 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced that the annual Budget will now take place in the Autumn, as opposed to Spring.

Going forward Philip Hammond will make a Spring Statement each year, responding to a forecast produced by the OBR. The first Spring Statement will be delivered in 2018.

Meanwhile Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has confirmed the Scottish Draft Budget 2018/19 will be published on 14 December, three weeks after the Budget for the rest of the United Kingdom.

We will update you on pertinent announcements from the Autumn Budget and Scottish Budget in due course.

Internet links: GOV.UK News GOV.SCOT News

Deadline for ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns

For those individuals who have previously submitted ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns the deadline for the 2016/17 return is 31 October 2017. Returns submitted after that date must be submitted electronically or they will incur a minimum penalty of £100. The penalty applies even when there is no tax to pay or the tax is paid on time.

If you would like any help with the completion of your return please do get in touch.

Internet link: GOV.UK deadline

HMRC offer tax support to growing businesses

HMRC have announced the introduction of a new service to directly help mid-sized businesses as they expand and grow. This is to be known as the Growth Support Service.

According to HMRC there are approximately 170,000 mid-sized businesses registered in the UK. The businesses with either a turnover of more than £10 million or more than 20 employees, that are undergoing significant growth, can now seek help from HMRC to access the services they need.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride said:

Mid-sized businesses make vital contribution to the UK economy and I want to see them grow, succeed and prosper.

The Growth Support Service will help these expanding businesses access tailored tax assistance so that tax administration doesn’t stand in the way of their growth and ensures businesses can focus on finding new opportunities.

Businesses who meet the eligibility requirements can apply online; they will then be contacted by their dedicated growth support specialist at HMRC, to discuss their requirements. The bespoke service will generally last between three to six months.’

Smaller business can access the Small Business Online Forum.

Please do contact us for help and support.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Trusts Registration Service

HMRC have launched a new Trusts Registration Service (TRS), so that trustees can register their trust online and provide information on the beneficial owners of the trust. The new service launched in early July for trustees and replaces the 41G (Trust) paper form, which was withdrawn at the end of April.

Under the existing self assessment rules, the trustees (or their agents) must register details of a trust with HMRC by 5 October of the year after a liability to Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax (CGT) first arises. The registration process, which will need completing via TRS, includes providing information about the beneficial owners of the trust.

In subsequent years, or where the trust is already registered for self assessment, the trustees (or their agent) of either a UK or non-UK trust that incurs a UK tax liability are required to provide beneficial ownership information about the trust, using the TRS, by 31 January following the end of the tax year.

The new service is not currently available to agents. HMRC have advised that agents will be able to register on behalf of trustees from October 2017 and agents and lead trustees can enter updates for changes of circumstances from early 2018.

HMRC have also confirmed that in this first year of TRS there will be no penalty imposed where registration is completed after 5 October but before 5 December 2017.

A Self Assessment Trust and Estate Tax Return (SA900) must still be submitted after the end of each tax year, reporting any income and gains.

If you would like help or guidance on trusts please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK trusts-and-estates

HMRC phishing and scam advice

HMRC have updated their list of examples of websites, emails, letters, text messages and phone calls used by scammers and fraudsters to obtain individual’s personal information.
The guidance can be used to help you decide if a contact from HMRC is genuine, this guidance provides examples of the different methods that fraudsters use to get individuals to disclose personal information.

You can also read about how to recognise genuine contact from HMRC, and how to tell when an email is phishing/bogus.

Internet link: GOV.UK phishing-and-bogus-emails-HMRC

Newsletter – September 2017

Enews – September 2017

In this month’s eNews we update you on the new General Data Protection Regulation and guidance from the Pensions Regulator on auto enrolment compliance changes. We also include updated fuel advisory rates, the latest guidance from HMRC on employer issues and the compensation service available for those affected by problems with the implementation of Tax-Free Childcare.

Get ready for the new data protection rules

The government is to introduce new data protection rules under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which takes effect from 25 May 2018.

Under the GDPR businesses will have increased obligations to safeguard the personal information of individuals which is stored by the business. These rules apply to the information of customers, suppliers or employees. Generally for those who are currently caught by the Data Protection Act it is likely that you will have to comply with the GDPR.

GDPR will apply to data ‘controllers’ and ‘processors.’ Processing is about the more technical end of operations, like storing, retrieving and erasing data, whilst controlling data involves its manipulation in terms of interpretation, or decision making based on the data. The data processor processes personal data on behalf of a data controller. Obligations for processors are a new requirement under the GDPR.

The GDPR applies to personal data which is wider than under the Data Protection Act (DPA).

One key change to the current DPA rules is that those affected will have to show how they have complied with the rules. Proof of staff training and reviewing HR policies are examples of compliance.

Under GDPR, higher standards are set for consent. Consent means offering people genuine choice and control over how their data is used.

Overall, the aims of GDPR are to create a minimal data security risk environment, and to protect personal data to rigorous standards. For most organisations, this will entail time and energy getting up to speed with compliance procedures. Reviewing consent mechanisms already in place is likely to be a key priority. In practice, this means things like ensuring active opt-in, rather than offering pre-ticked opt-in boxes, which become invalid under the new rules.

Organisations will also have to think about existing DPA consents. The ICO’s advice is that:

‘You should review how you seek, record and manage consent and whether you need to make any changes. Refresh existing consents now if they don’t meet the GDPR standard.’

Where the current consents do not meet the new GDPR then action will be needed.

The fines for non compliance are severe at up to 20 million euros or 4% of total worldwide annual turnover (if higher).

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published some very useful information and a 12 step planning guide to help organisations get ready ahead of the May 2018 deadline.

Internet links: ICO getting ready GDPR 12 steps.pdf

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 September 2017. 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 2017 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 13p
Over 2000cc 21p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 8p
Over 2000cc 13p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 12p

The 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.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

HMRC online forum and webchat

HMRC have announced the introduction of a new online tax forum and webchat service for small businesses.

HMRC are advising that the new service called the Small Business Online Forum offers advice on tax matters as well as help with:

  • starting a business
  • support for growing a business – including taking on employees and expanding
  • buying and selling abroad
  • completing tax returns
  • tax credits.

Please contact us for specific tailored advice on any of these matters.

Internet link: https://online.hmrc.gov.uk/webchatprod/community/forums/list.page

Guidance for employers

HMRC have issued their latest guidance to employers in the August edition of the Employer Bulletin. This publication, which is issued every two months, includes articles on:

  • Reporting Pay As You Earn in real time
  • Optional Remuneration Arrangements
  • Tax codes – Get it right first time
  • PAYE penalties – continuation of the risk-based approach to charging penalties
  • PAYE Settlement Agreements
  • Expenses Exemption
  • Apprenticeship Levy
  • Paying HMRC
  • Construction Industry Scheme
  • Changes to Business Tax Account
  • Contacting HMRC
  • Keep up to date with changes
  • Automatic enrolment and ongoing duties – what employers need to know
  • GCSE exam results are coming out this month, what is changing?

For help with your payroll contact us.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Pensions Auto enrolment compliance

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has begun carrying out employer spot checks to make sure employers are complying with their automatic enrolment duties and that they are giving their staff the workplace pensions they’re entitled to. According to the TPR these inspections help them to understand any challenges employers are facing, and whether TPR need to make any changes to their guidance. This also enables them to identify employers who fail to meet their duties, and take enforcement action where necessary.

TPR have confirmed that they will continue with their checks over the coming months generally sending a statutory notice to the employers they have selected ahead of their visits.

Get the process right

TPR are concerned that some employers are not following the correct procedures and during the course of their inspections have seen a number of instances of employers agreeing to opt staff out of a workplace pension before they have been enrolled. This is not in accordance with the auto enrolment rules. According to TPR:

‘Some employers claimed they were unaware as to the formality of their duties or process they needed to follow, and had simply been trying to do their staff a favour by offering them the option of opting out up front. But whether their motivation was genuine, or whether they were simply trying to get out of paying their staff the pension contributions they were due, the result was the same – they were in breach of their legal duties. Eligible staff need to be enrolled first, and can then opt out. One of the cornerstones of automatic enrolment is capitalising on inertia, and it has proved very successful so far in helping people who might never have saved for retirement before.’

Please contact us for advice on auto enrolment.

Internet link: TPR Quarterly bulletin

Auto enrolment for new employers

Under pensions auto enrolment employers have to enrol qualifying employees into a workplace pension. Duties include paying contributions for the employee. The process of auto enrolment has been phased in from October 2012 when the largest employers had to comply with the rules. However the rules are set to change and new employers will have to comply with their automatic enrolment legal duties, as soon as they employ their first member of staff.

TPR guidance to advisers states:

‘If your client becomes an employer for the first time on or after 1 October 2017, they will immediately have legal duties for their new member of staff. These duties apply from the first day the first member of staff started working for your client. This is known as their duties start date.

Your client must comply with their duties straight away.’

In contrast to the above rule an employer who first pays an employee from 2 April 2017 onwards will have a staging date of January or February 2018 depending on when the first employee was paid.

Employers are generally able to postpone some of their auto enrolment duties for up to three months but this needs to be dealt with correctly.

Please contact us for help with auto enrolment.

Internet links: TPR guidance new employer from 1 October TPR new employer to 30 September

Childcare Services compensation

The government are offering compensation to those who have been affected by problems with the implementation of Tax-Free Childcare.

Individuals who have been affected may be able to get a government top-up as a one-off payment for Tax-Free Childcare. The government will also consider refunding any reasonable costs directly caused by the service not working as it should, mistakes or unreasonable delays.

The government are advising that individuals may be eligible for these payments if they have:

  • been unable to complete their application for Tax-Free Childcare
  • been unable to access their childcare account
  • not received a decision about whether they are eligible, without explanation, for more than 20 days.

Tax-Free Childcare is the new government scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare. The scheme launched at the end of April and is being rolled out to parents, starting with those parents with the youngest children first.

For every £8 a parent pays in, the government will pay in an extra £2. Parents can receive up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare costs making a total amount of £10,000. Higher limits of £4,000 and £20,000 apply for disabled children.

To qualify for Tax-Free Childcare parents and partners in the household must generally meet a minimum income level of on average £120 a week and each earn less than £100,000 a year.

The scheme will be available for children up to the age of 12, or 17 for children with disabilities. All eligible parents will be able to join the scheme by the end of 2017. Those eligible will be able to apply for all their children at the same time although the government rollout will start with the youngest children first. Parents will need to open an online account, which they can use to pay for childcare from a registered provider.

For those employers who currently offer Employer Supported Childcare, usually in the form of childcare vouchers, these schemes can remain open to new entrants until April 2018. Existing members have the option to remain in their existing scheme or change over to Tax-Free childcare as their child becomes eligible. It is not possible to benefit from tax-free childcare and employer supported childcare at the same time.

A calculator for parents comparing the options and guidance on the other government provided childcare are available on GOV.UK.

Internet links: GOV.UK Childcare Service compensation Childcare calculator Childcare choices