Newsletter – June 2019

Enews – June 2019

In this month’s Enews we report on the latest OTS report on simplification of everyday tax for smaller businesses as well as HMRC tackling dishonest dog breeders.

We also update you on the Welsh tax code ‘mix up’ as well as the consultations on various issues including Companies House reforms, Private Residence Relief and letting relief changes.

Finally, with the latest advisory fuel rates for company cars, the P11D deadline looming and non-compliance with minimum wage regulations, there is a lot to update you on.

OTS calls for simplifying everyday tax for smaller businesses

A report by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) calls on the government to prioritise action to ‘address long-standing concerns about the experience of smaller businesses’. The report considers the business lifecycle, especially those starting up and provides recommendations in five areas:

  • providing simple step-by-step guidance about the key things a business needs to do in its early days to help things run smoothly
  • improving the operation of the PAYE system
  • implementation of HMRC’s Agents Strategy
  • improving the mechanics of the Corporation Tax return process
  • ensuring that tax changes are built on an understanding of business processes.

If you would like any help with your taxes at any stage of your business life cycle, please do get in touch.

Internet link: GOV.UK simplifying tax

HMRC taskforce tackles dishonest dog breeders

A taskforce has recovered more than £5 million by tackling dishonest dog breeders selling pups on the black market. HMRC set up the taskforce in October 2015 after discussions with animal welfare groups that were concerned that tens of thousands of puppies were being reared in unregulated conditions and sold illicitly every year.

The taskforce uncovered fraudsters selling puppies on a mass scale, for a huge profit and due to the underground nature of the activity, failing to declare their sales.

Using civil and criminal enforcement powers, HMRC has recovered £5,393,035 in lost taxes from 257 separate cases since the formation of the taskforce in October 2015.

The breeders and traders targeted include:

  • two unconnected puppy breeders in the west of Scotland who were handed tax bills of £425,000 and £337,000
  • a puppy breeder in the Midlands who was a former Crufts judge, given a £185,000 bill
  • a dealer in Northern Ireland told to pay £185,000 in tax
  • a Somerset puppy breeder was given a £114,000 bill
  • a puppy dealer in the east of Scotland was handed a tax bill in excess of £400,000
  • a Swansea puppy breeder was given a £110,000 tax bill.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP, said:

‘It is utterly appalling that anyone would want to treat puppies in such an inhumane way and on such a scale. It’s also deeply unfair to all of the legitimate businesses who do pay the right tax, and the total recovered by the taskforce is equivalent to the annual salaries for more than 200 newly qualified teachers.’

‘We continue to work hard with other government agencies and our partners to tackle these traders. We urge anyone with information about tax evasion to report it to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Forms P11D – reporting employee benefits

The forms P11D which report details of benefits and some expenses provided to employees and directors for the year ended 5 April 2019, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2019. The process of gathering the necessary information and completing the forms can take some time, so it is important that this process is not left to the last minute.

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

In addition, regardless of whether the benefits are being reported via P11D or payrolled the employer has to pay Class 1A National Insurance Contributions at 13.8% on the provision of most benefits. The calculation of this liability is detailed on the P11D(b) form. The deadline for payment of the Class 1A NIC is 19th July 2019 (or 22nd for cleared electronic payment).

HMRC has produced 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

Welsh taxpayers income tax code mix-up

From April 2019, Welsh taxpayers were assigned new income tax codes beginning with the letter ‘C’. However, HMRC recently revealed that some Welsh taxpayers were mistakenly given Scottish income tax codes by their employers. As a consequence, Welsh taxpayers have been charged income tax using the Scottish income tax rates and bands.

For 2019/20 the Welsh rate of income tax is set at 10% and this is added to the UK rates, which are each reduced by 10%. Therefore, the overall tax payable by Welsh taxpayers continues to be the same as English and Northern Irish taxpayers.

The income tax rates and bands that apply to employment income, self-employed trade profits and property income are different for taxpayers who are resident in Scotland, with tax rates and bands ranging from 19% to 46% rather than the 20% to 45% which apply across the rest of the UK. Tax codes for Scottish taxpayers begin with the letter ‘S’.

HMRC stated that it does not know the full extent of the error or how many Welsh taxpayers have been affected but they will carry out a review of the operation of Welsh tax codes in June 2019.

Llyr Gruffydd, Chair of the National Assembly for Wales’ Finance Committee, said:

‘We raised concerns about the flagging process for identifying Welsh taxpayers during our enquiries into fiscal devolution and the Welsh government’s draft budget.

‘On each occasion, we were told the matter was in hand, and the lessons from the devolution of income tax powers to Scotland, where there were similar issues, had been soundly learned and would be put into effect. We are seeking an immediate explanation of how this has happened and will be asking representatives from HMRC to appear before this Committee in the near future.’

If you have any concerns about tax codes, please get in touch.

Internet links: HMRC letter Welsh Assembly news

Consultation on Companies House reforms

The government has launched a consultation on proposed reforms at Companies House, including a ‘major upgrade’ of its register.

The consultation aims to tackle misuse of the register. It also strives to provide business owners with ‘greater protection from fraud’.

The consultation seeks views on a series of reforms to limit the risk of misuse:

  • knowing who is setting up, managing and controlling companies
  • improving the accuracy and usability of data on the companies register
  • protecting personal information on the register
  • ensuring compliance, sharing intelligence and other measures to deter abuse of corporate entities

Louise Smyth, Chief Executive of Companies House, said:

‘This package of reforms represents a significant milestone for Companies House as they will enable us to play a greater part in tackling economic crime, protecting directors from identity theft and fraud, and improving the accuracy of the register.’

The consultation is open until 5 August 2019.

Internet links: GOV.UK consultation GOV.UK news

Consultation on ancillary capital gains reliefs

A capital gains tax (CGT) exemption applies when an individual disposes of a dwelling that has been used as their only or main residence under the Private Residence Relief (PRR) rules. The exemption applies as long as the relevant conditions are met throughout the total period of ownership. This relief is supplemented by ancillary reliefs that aim to deal with other related situations.

The government has previously announced and legislated to reform two of the ancillary reliefs to better target PRR at owner-occupiers. The reliefs which are being amended are:

  • the final period exemption will be reduced from 18 months to nine months, although the special rules that give those with a disability, and those in care, an exemption of 36 months will not change
  • lettings relief will be reformed so that it only applies where an owner is in shared occupancy with a tenant.

These changes will take effect from 6 April 2020. The government is now consulting on the changes in more detail and on how they will work in practice. It also invites views on some technical aspects of the PRR rules.

Internet link: GOV.UK consultation

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which take effect from 1 June 2019. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 June 2019 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 12p
1401cc – 2000cc 15p
Over 2000cc 22p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 8p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 14p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 10p
1601cc – 2000cc 12p
Over 2000cc 14p

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.

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Non-compliance with minimum wage regulations

A recent Low Pay Commission (LPC) report sets out its findings on the number of people being paid less than the statutory minimum wage.

The LPC found that, in April 2018, 439,000 workers were paid less than the National Minimum Wage (NMW). Of this amount, 369,000 were employees aged 25 and over, who were paid less than the National Living Wage (NLW), an increase from previous years. On 1 April 2019, the NMW and NLW rates rose to the hourly rates detailed below:

Minimum wage rate Hourly rate from 1 April 2019
National Living Wage (for workers aged 25 and over) £8.21
21-24 year-old rate £7.70
18-20 year-old rate £6.15
16-17 year-old rate £4.35
Apprentice rate £3.90
Accommodation Offset £7.55 per day: £52.85 per week

The LPC also revealed that women are ‘more likely’ than men to be paid less than the NMW, and that underpayment is common amongst younger and older workers. In addition, underpayment was more common in certain sectors including hospitality, retail, cleaning, maintenance and childcare.

Commenting on the findings, Bryan Sanderson, Chair of the LPC, said:

‘Our analysis reveals a worrying number of people are being paid less than the minimum wage. We recently celebrated 20 years of the minimum wage – it has raised pay for millions of workers, but it is essential that people receive what they are entitled to.’

‘It is also vital for businesses to be able to operate on a level playing field, and not be illegally undercut on wages.’

Contact us for help with payroll issues.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Newsletter – March 2019

Enews – March 2019

In this month’s Enews we report on the ongoing Brexit uncertainties and latest HMRC advice. We also consider National Minimum Wage, National Living Wage and pension contribution increases and the latest guidance for employers.

With confirmed income tax bands for Scottish taxpayers, year end planning, a landline scam warning and new advisory fuel rates there are lots of areas to update you on.

HMRC advice – prepare for no deal

HMRC is urging business owners to make sure they are ready for a potential no deal Brexit.

Business owners are being urged to prepare now and take steps to ensure their businesses can continue to trade with the EU if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

HMRC advise:

  • Businesses should register for an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number. UK businesses that have only ever traded inside the EU will not have an EORI number. HMRC are advising that in the event of a no deal exit, businesses will be unable to continue trading with the EU without an EORI number. HMRC figures show that only 17% of potentially affected businesses have registered so far.
  • Businesses also need to decide how they intend to make the required customs declarations. HMRC advise that most businesses with customs obligations choose to use a customs agent to do this for them.
  • Businesses that import goods into the UK from the EU using roll on, roll off locations, may also wish to register for new Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP). HMRC advise that ‘TSP will allow businesses to import without having to make a full customs declaration at the border, and postpone paying any import duties. For imports using other locations, and for exports, standard customs declarations will apply.’

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride MP said:

‘We want businesses to be able to continue trading with minimal disruption in any scenario but we also know that people tend to leave things until the last minute and we would urge against that.’

Contact us for help in this area.

Internet link: HMRC news

Start date looming for Making Tax Digital for VAT

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, has made a statement to the House of Commons setting out HMRC’s progress on delivery of Making Tax Digital (MTD). He confirmed there would be no further delays in implementation.

For most businesses, compliance with the regulations is mandated for VAT return periods beginning on or after 1 April 2019. However, MTD for VAT for some ‘more complex’ businesses has been deferred until 1 October 2019. This deferral applies to trusts; not for profit organisations not set up as companies; VAT divisions; VAT groups; public sector entities such as government departments and NHS Trusts, which have to provide additional information on their VAT return; local authorities; public corporations; traders based overseas; those required to make payments on account; annual accounting scheme users.

Contact us for help and advice on MTD for VAT.

Internet link: Hansard debate MTD

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which take effect from 1 March 2019. 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 2019 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 21p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 8p
Over 2000cc 13p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 10p
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

Scottish income tax bands confirmed for 2019/20

The Scottish Parliament has confirmed the income tax bands that will apply to Scottish taxpayers for 2019/20. The bands confirm the announcement made in the Draft Scottish Budget last December.

The 2019/20 income tax rates and bands for Scottish taxpayers on income (other than savings and dividend income) are as follows:

Scottish Bands £ Band name Scottish Rate
0 – 2,049 Starter 19%
2,050 – 12,444 Basic 20%
12,445 – 30,930 Intermediate 21%
30,931 – 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 2019/20 is £12,500. The allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 of adjusted net income in excess of £100,000.

The UK higher rate tax point for 2019/20 is set at £37,500 and the tax rates for non-savings and non-dividend income are 20%, 40% and 45% respectively. The additional rate of 45% is payable on income over £150,000.

Internet link: GOV.SCOT income tax

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 2019 as shown in the following table:

Rate from 1 April 2018 Rate from 1 April 2019
NLW for workers aged 25 and over £7.83 £8.21
NMW main rate for workers aged 21-24 £7.38 £7.70
NMW 18-20 rate £5.90 £6.15
NMW 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 £4.20 £4.35
NMW apprentice rate * £3.70 £3.90

*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: GOV.UK NMW

Pensions auto enrolment contributions to rise

Minimum pension contributions are set to increase from 6 April 2019:

Duration Employer minimum Total minimum contribution
Current contributions 2% 5%
6 April 2019 onwards 3% 8%

The Pensions Regulator has produced guidance for employers on dealing with the increase including a letter template to advise employees of the change.

Contact us if you would like help with auto enrolment.

Internet link: TPR increases

Tax efficient investments ahead of the tax year end

With the end of the tax year looming there is still time to save tax for 2018/19.

  • 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 2018/19 tax year. Savers have until 5 April 2019 to make their 2018/19 ISA investment.
  • Pensions provide significant planning opportunities. The annual allowance (AA) which is the maximum you can contribute to a pension and still get tax relief, is generally £40,000. Exceeding this can result in an AA clawback charge. However, in many circumstances you may have unused AA from the three previous tax years which can be used in 2018/19, providing the means of making a significant contribution without incurring a charge. Please contact us for advice specific to your circumstances.

These are only a couple of options that you may wish to consider as part of your tax planning strategy. Contact us for more information.

Internet links: GOV.UK ISAs Pensions Advisory Service AA

Latest update for employers

HMRC has issued Employer Bulletin (February 2019) which includes a number of interesting articles on:

  • End of year reporting
  • Reporting expenses and benefits
  • Student Loan notices and a new type of Student Loan repayment that employers will need to be able to process via payroll (Post Graduate Loans)
  • Updates to the Starter checklist – used for new employees
  • Reporting the Disguised Remuneration Loan Charge
  • Updates to P9 Notices of Coding
  • Payrolling benefits in kind
  • Scottish Income Tax and
  • the Welsh Rate of Income Tax and new codes for Welsh taxpayers.

For help and advice with payroll matters please contact us.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Households with landlines should be vigilant

Over recent years HMRC has increasingly cracked down on email and SMS phishing, and a number of criminals are turning to cold-calling publicly available phone numbers to steal money from taxpayers. These calls are often made to landline numbers. According to Ofcom, nearly 26 million homes have a landline, many of which could be at risk from scams, especially if they are not ex-directory.

Fraudsters often target the elderly and vulnerable using HMRC name as it is well known and adds credibility to a call. HMRC received more than 60,000 reports of phone scams in the six months up to January 2019 (an increase of 360% when compared with the previous six months).

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP, said:

‘We have taken major steps to crack down on text and email phishing scams leaving fraudsters no choice but to try and con taxpayers over the phone.’

‘If you receive a suspicious call to your landline from someone purporting to be from HMRC which threatens legal action, to put you in jail, or payment using vouchers: hang up and report it to HMRC who can work to take them off the network.’

Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said:

Fraudsters will call your landline claiming to be from reputable organisations such as HMRC. Contact like this is designed to convince you to hand over valuable personal details or your money.’

‘Don’t assume anyone who calls you is who they say they are. If a person calls and asks you to make a payment, log in to an online account or offers you a deal, be cautious and seek advice.’

‘The tax authority will only ever call you asking for payment on a debt that you are already aware of, either having received a letter about it, or after you’ve told us you owe some tax, for example through a Self Assessment return.’

During the last 12 months, HMRC has worked with the phone networks and Ofcom to close nearly 450 lines being used by fraudsters.

Internet links: GOV.UK news HMRC examples

 

Newsletter – December 2018

Enews – December 2018

In this month’s Enews we report on Making Tax Digital for VAT and the latest government Brexit documentation. We also include updated advisory fuel rates for company car drivers and advice on tax-free gifts to employees. With a warning about the latest HMRC phishing emails scam, SDLT statistics for first-time buyers and a review calling for a simplification of inheritance tax, there is lots to update you on.

Committee warns small businesses ‘could pay heavy price’ for MTD and latest ‘encouragement letters’

The Economic Affairs Committee has warned HMRC that small businesses ‘could pay a heavy price’ for Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV).

The Committee stated that HMRC has ‘failed to adequately support small businesses’ ahead of the introduction of MTDfV.

MTDfV is generally set to come into effect for the from 1 April 2019 for businesses which have a taxable turnover above the current VAT registration threshold of £85,000. Under MTDfV, businesses must keep some records digitally and submit their VAT returns via an Application Programming Interface (API).

The Committee has urged HMRC and the government to ‘start listening’ to small businesses MTDfV concerns.

HMRC recently sent businesses within the scope of MTDfV so-called ‘encouragement letters’. These letters were sent to 200,000 businesses which are eligible to join the pilot scheme.

Please contact us for help with MTDfV.

Internet links: Parliament.uk/news tax.org.uk/news

Leaving the EU with no deal

The government has published a collection of documents in preparation for the scenario of the UK leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement a so called ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The guidance states:

‘The government does not want or expect a no deal scenario. However, it is the duty of a responsible government to prepare for a range of potential outcomes, including the unlikely event of no deal. In the event of leaving the EU without a deal, legislation will be necessary to ensure the UK’s Customs, VAT and Excise regimes function as intended after the UK leaves the EU and so, on a contingency basis, HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs will lay a number of Statutory Instruments (SIs) under the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 (TCTA) and the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 (EUWA).’

We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: GOV.UK no deal brexit collection

180,500 new homeowners benefit from stamp duty tax relief

According to statistics published by HMRC more than 180,500 first-time buyers have benefitted from First Time Buyers Relief (FTBR). The relief introduced in November 2017 has saved eligible first-time buyers an estimated total amount of more than £426 million.

Mel Stride MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘These statistics show that the government was right to offer a helping hand to first time buyers. Without this investment more than 180,500 new homeowners may have struggled in getting onto the property ladder. Maintaining the status quo was not an option.’

FTBR is a Stamp Duty Land Tax relief for eligible first-time buyers. The tax relief can be used when buying a residential property where the purchase price is no more than £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland. Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Land Transaction Tax apply to property in Scotland and Wales.

The press release goes on to state:

‘The amount of relief reported should not be used to infer average house prices for first time buyers; first-time buyer purchases below £125k and above £500k are not included in the statistics as they are below the lower SDLT threshold (£125k) or ineligible for the relief (above £500k).For purchases up to £300,000 no SDLT is payable. Where the purchase price is between £300,000 and £500,000 SDLT at 5% is due on the amount above £300,000. For example, a property purchased for £450,000 would pay £7,500 SDLT (5% of £150,000). This gives a saving of up to £5,000 for each first-time buyer.’

Extension of FTBR

It was announced in the Autumn Budget 2018 that the relief for first-time buyers will be extended to purchasers of qualifying shared ownership properties who do not elect to pay SDLT on the market value of the whole property when they purchase their first share. Relief will be applied to the first share purchased, where the market value of the shared ownership property is £500,000 or less. This relief will apply retrospectively from 22 November 2017, meaning that a refund of tax will be payable for those who have paid SDLT after 22 November 2017 in circumstances which now qualify for FTBR.

Internet link: HMRC press release

Tax-free gifts to employees

Some employers may wish to give a small gift to their employees. As long as the employer meets the relevant conditions, no tax charge will arise on the employee.

A tax exemption is available which should help employers ensure 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 benefit 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.

No more than £50

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 alternatively a gift voucher.

Further details on how the exemption will work, including family member situations, are contained in the 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 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 December 2018 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 12p
1401cc – 2000cc 15p
Over 2000cc 22p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 8p
1401cc – 2000cc 10p
Over 2000cc 15p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 10p
1601cc – 2000cc 12p
Over 2000cc 14p

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

Phishing tax refund email targets university students

HMRC has warned that university students are being bombarded with fake tax refund emails. The scammers have targeted university students in an attempt to steal their banking and personal details using.ac.uk email addresses that look genuine, in order to avoid detection.

Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury said:

‘Although HMRC is cracking down hard on internet scams, criminals will stop at nothing to steal personal information.

‘I’d encourage all students to become phishing-aware – it could save you a lot of money.’

In common with other tax scams, fraudsters send a message, including HMRC, GOV.UK or credit card branding, supposedly advising the recipient about a tax refund. Those taken in by the fake email are asked to click on a link and enter their banking and personal details. Fraudsters can use this information to steal money from bank accounts or to sell on to other criminals.

Internet link: GOV.UK press release

Inheritance Tax Review by Office of Tax Simplification

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has published the first of two reports on inheritance tax.

The first report sets out an explanation of the issues and complexities of IHT, gives an overview of concerns raised by the public and professional advisors during the review and then makes recommendations. This first report examines the administrative issues that people complain about and which were raised in the responses. The second report covering other wider areas of concern to people will follow in Spring 2019.

The first report highlights the benefits of:

  • reducing or removing the requirement to submit forms for smaller or simpler estates, especially where there is no tax to pay
  • simplifying the administration and guidance
  • the advantages of banks and other financial institutions having standardised requirements
  • automating the whole system by bringing it online

Angela Knight CBE, OTS Chairman, said:

Inheritance tax is both unpopular and complicated. The basic design of the tax itself is for government, but at the OTS we can address that most frequent of all comments “at least make it easier for the families to fill in the forms”. The OTS has worked on ways to address these practical complexities, which have come through loud and clear.’

‘The recommendations in this report will make it easier for the majority, and would mean that in future, many may not have to do the forms at all. Improving the administration of this tax in these ways is important as having to deal with the current process can seem overwhelming to people at a time when they are both preoccupied and distressed.’

Internet link: GOV.UK OTS IHT report

Newsletter – September 2018

Enews – September 2018

In this month’s Enews we report on HMRC’s reminder to taxpayers regarding declaring offshore assets and available software for MTD for VAT. We also advise on the latest fuel advisory rates for company car drivers and guidance for employers.

With statistics on Stamp Duty Land Tax and a raft of ‘No deal’ Brexit notices there is lots to update you on.

HMRC warning: time to declare offshore assets

HMRC is warning that taxpayers could face penalties if they fail to declare their income on foreign assets before new ‘Requirement to Correct’ legislation comes into force.

HMRC is urging UK taxpayers to come forward and declare any foreign income or profits on offshore assets before 30 September to avoid higher tax penalties.

New legislation called ‘Requirement to Correct’ requires UK taxpayers to notify HMRC about any offshore tax liabilities relating to UK income tax, capital gains tax, or inheritance tax. The most common reasons for declaring offshore tax are in relation to foreign property, investment income and moving money into the UK from abroad. HMRC has stated that over 17,000 people have already been in contact to notify they have tax due from sources of foreign income, such as their holiday homes and overseas properties.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP, said:

‘Since 2010 we have secured over £2.8bn for our vital public services by tackling offshore tax evaders, and we will continue to relentlessly crack down on those not playing by the rules.’

‘This new measure will place higher penalties on those who do not contact HMRC and ensure their offshore tax liabilities are correct. I urge anyone affected to get in touch with HMRC now.’

Common Reporting Standard (CRS)

From 1 October more than 100 countries, including the UK, will be able to exchange data on financial accounts under the CRS. It is expected that the CRS data will significantly enhance HMRC’s ability to detect offshore non-compliance and it is in taxpayers’ interests to correct any non-compliance before that data is received.

Taxpayers can correct their tax liabilities by:

  • Using HMRC’s digital disclosure service as part of the Worldwide Disclosure Facility or any other service provided by HMRC as a means of correcting tax non-compliance.
  • Telling an officer of HMRC in the course of an enquiry into your affairs.
  • Or any other method agreed with HMRC.

Once a taxpayer has notified HMRC of their intention to make a declaration, by the deadline of 30 September, they will then have 90 days to make the full disclosure and pay any tax owed. To ensure there is an incentive for taxpayers to correct any offshore tax non-compliance on or before 30 September 2018 there are increased penalties for any failures to correct by that date.

If taxpayers are confident that their tax affairs are in order, then they do not need to worry. However if you are unsure, please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Stamp duty cut: 121,500 households save £284 million

According to the latest statistics 121,500 first-time buyers have saved a total of £284,000,000 following the introduction of a relief for first-time buyers under the Stamp Duty Land Tax rules which apply in England and Northern Ireland.

Over the next five years, it is estimated that this relief, part of the UK government’s housing policy will help over 1 million people getting onto the housing ladder.

First-time buyers purchasing homes of £300,000 and under pay no stamp duty at all, and those who bought properties of up to £500,000 will also have benefitted from a stamp duty cut.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, said:

‘Once again, we can see that our cut to stamp duty for first-time buyers is helping to make the dream of home ownership a reality for a new generation – exactly as we intended.’

‘In addition, we’re building more homes in the right areas, and have introduced generous schemes such as the Lifetime ISA and Help to Buy.’

Those purchasing properties in Wales (since 1 April 2018) pay Land Transaction Tax and those in Scotland pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax. First-time buyers in Scotland also benefit from a relief for first-time buyers.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Software suppliers – Making Tax Digital for VAT

HMRC is working with more than 150 software suppliers who have said they will provide software for Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) in time for April 2019.

From 1 April 2019, businesses will be mandated to use the MTDfB system to meet their VAT obligations under MTDfV. Only businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will be required to use MTDfV, however HMRC is piloting the new system, on a small scale, from April 2018.

HMRC has advised that more than 40 suppliers have said they will have software ready during the first phase of the pilot and other software suppliers are expected to follow. HMRC will open up the pilot to allow more businesses and agents to join later in 2018.

HMRC has advised that the list will be updated as more software meets the criteria. HMRC are advising businesses to check with their existing software supplier to find out if they will be supplying suitable software.

Contact us for help with Making Tax Digital for VAT.

Internet link: GOV.UK software suppliers

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

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

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 12p
1401cc – 2000cc 15p
Over 2000cc 22p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 13p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 10p
1601cc – 2000cc 12p
Over 2000cc 13p

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 latest guidance for employers

HMRC has published the latest edition of the Employer Bulletin. This guidance for employers, and their agents, includes articles on:

  • Reporting your payroll information accurately and on time
  • Irregular payments and completion of Full Payment Submissions
  • Starter Declaration on a Full Payment Submission (FPS)
  • PAYE Settlement Agreements and Scottish Income Tax
  • National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage – are you paying the correct rate?
  • Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric company cars
  • Welsh Rates of Income Tax
  • Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) webinars
  • Postgraduate Loans
  • Benefits and Expenses: Company cars
  • Tax avoidance loan schemes – settle now
  • Completing an EYU in respect of Employee’s National Insurance Contributions
  • Employment Income: Draft Legislation
  • Deadline for post 16 Child Benefit looms.

For help with payroll matters, please contact us.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

‘No deal’ Brexit guidance

The government has issued some ‘no deal’ Brexit technical notices, with the aim of helping both businesses and individuals to prepare in the event of a UK-EU agreement not being realised.

The government has published the first 25 notices. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was keen to emphasise that reaching a deal remains the ‘overriding priority’. However, until a Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by the UK and European Parliaments, the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 29 March 2019 remains.

The 25 documents cover a range of different areas, including VAT and trading, financial services, farming and workplace rights.

Josh Hardie, Deputy Director General at the CBI, said:

‘It’s right and responsible that the government has supplied information to businesses on issues from financial services passporting to food labelling, all of which will help lower the risks of the harshest outcomes from a ‘no deal’ Brexit.’

The government has confirmed further technical notices will be issued in September.

Internet link: GOV.UK no deal brexit collection

Newsletter – June 2018

eNews June 2018

In this month’s eNews we report on new advisory fuel rates for company cars, the latest tax refund scam warnings, and National Minimum Wage enforcement from HMRC.

A new consultation has been launched on off-payroll working in the private sector, State Aid approval has been granted for Enterprise Management Incentive schemes and a report has been issued on Universal Credit and the self employed. We also report on the Welsh Assembly’s plans for Welsh income tax rates.

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

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

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 22p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 14p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 10p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 13p

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

Tax refund scams warning from HMRC

HMRC has issued a warning to taxpayers regarding the latest tax refund scams. These scams are targeting individuals via email and SMS messages.

HMRC is currently processing genuine tax refunds for the 2017/18 tax year and the fraudsters are sending scam messages which claim that taxpayers are entitled to a rebate. These messages go on to request that they provide their personal and account details in order to make their claim.

HMRC is keen to stress that it will only ever inform individuals of a tax refund by post or through their employer, and never via email, text messaging or voicemail.

Commenting on the issue, Treasury Minister Mel Stride said

‘We know that criminals will try and use events like the end of the financial year, the self assessment deadline, and the issuing of tax refunds to target the public and attempt to get them to reveal their personal data’.

HMRC is advising taxpayers not to click on any links, download any attachments or provide any personal information, and to forward any suspect messages to HMRC.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

200,000 receive back pay as HMRC enforce National Minimum Wage

BEIS and HMRC are urging underpaid workers to complain about National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) underpayments. Recent figures show that the number of workers receiving the money they are owed has doubled.

During 2017/18, HMRC investigators identified £15.6 million in pay owed to more than a record 200,000 of the UK’s lowest paid workers. This is an increase on the previous years figures of £10.9 million for more than 98,000 workers.

HMRC launched its online complaints service in January 2017 and believes this has contributed to the 132% increase in the number of complaints received over the last year and the amount of money HMRC has been able to recoup for those unfairly underpaid.

The figures are published as the government launches its annual advertising campaign which encourages workers to take action if they are not receiving the NMW or NLW. The online campaign urges underpaid workers to proactively complain by completing an HMRC online form.

HMRC state that the types of business receiving most complaints include restaurants, bars, hotels and hairdressing.

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said:

Employers abusing the system and paying under the legal minimum are breaking the law. Short changing workers is a red line for this government and employers who cross the line will be identified by HMRC and forced to pay back every penny, and could be hit with fines of up to 200% of wages owed.

I would urge all workers, if you think you might be being underpaid then you should check your pay and call Acas on 0300 123 1100 for free and confidential advice.’

Please contact us for help with payroll matters.

Internet link: GOV.UK news 200000 receive back pay

Off-payroll working in the private sector consultation

HMRC has launched a consultation on how to tackle non-compliance with the off-payroll working rules in the private sector and are asking for comments on the best way to do this.

HMRC estimates only 10% of PSCs that should apply the legislation actually do so, and the the cost of this is projected to increase from £700m in 2017/18 to £1.2bn in 2022/23.

This consultation provides an early evaluation of the public sector reform and invites responses on how best to deal with non-compliance in the private sector.

This consultation considers a number of potential options for tackling the non-compliance with the off-payroll working rules in the private sector. However, the fundamental principles of the off-payroll working rules, that the employment status test determines who should be taxed as employees, are not being considered as part of this consultation.

In respect of the public sector

‘HMRC has analysed PAYE data covering the first 10 months of the reform, from April 2017 to February 2018. This shows that in any given month since the reform was introduced, there are an estimated 58,000 extra individuals who are paying income tax and NICs undertaking work for a public authority above expected levels.

HMRC estimates that an additional £410 million of income tax and NICs has been remitted from these engagements, since the public sector reform was introduced.

On the basis of this evidence, the government’s assessment is that the public sector reform has been successful both in increasing tax compliance and resolving the compliance challenges faced by HMRC in enforcing the off-payroll working rules in the public sector.’

Private sector

‘The government considers extension of similar reform to the private sector to be the lead option which will effectively tackle non-compliance.’

The consultation closes on 10 August. We will keep you updated on this issue.

Internet link: GOV.UK consultation

Universal Credit and self employment

The government has published a report, Universal Credit: supporting self employment which considers the issues faced by self employed claimants.

The report considers the impact of the Monthly Income Floor (MIF) earnings requirement. To be eligible for Universal Credit (UC) claimants must earn the MIF. However, the MIF assumes self employed claimants earn a regular income at least equal to the National Minimum Wage, and makes no provision for those with income and expenditure that vary from month to month. The report states that the MIF has been designed with monthly paid employed individuals in mind rather than the self employed who may have more volatile earnings.

It also considers the current system which allows self employed individuals to be exempt from meeting the MIF for the first 12 months of self employment and whether this is sufficient. The report urges the Government to extend the exemption period.

Internet link: Universal Credit Self Employed report

State Aid approval granted for the Enterprise Management Incentive

It has previously been reported that the Enterprise Management Incentive State Aid approval lapsed on 6 April 2018. On 15 May EU approval was granted however HMRC have not confirmed expressly that this approval will be backdated to 6 April 2018.

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 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 had previously 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 afforded to option holders.

We await official confirmation on the position from HMRC.

Please contact us for specific advice on this issue.

Internet link: Europa press release

Wales to set devolved income tax rates

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

Responsibility for many aspects of income tax will remain with the UK government, and the tax will continue to be collected by HMRC for Welsh taxpayers.

The process for setting Welsh rates of income tax

From April 2019, the UK government will reduce each of the three income tax rates: basic, higher and additional rate, paid by Welsh taxpayers by 10 pence.

The National Assembly for Wales will then decide the three Welsh rates of income tax, which will be added to the reduced UK rates. The combination of reduced UK rates plus the Welsh rates will determine the overall rate of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers.

If the National Assembly for Wales approves each of the Welsh rates of income tax at 10p, this will mean the rates of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers will continue to be the same as that paid by English and Northern Irish taxpayers. However the National Assembly for Wales may decide to set different rates ‘to reflect Wales’ unique social and economic circumstances’.

Internet link: GOV.Wales

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 – 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

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

Newsletter – June 2017

Enews – June 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on the roll out of tax free childcare and the guidance available for parents on the choices and support available, the latest advisory fuel rates and labour market statistics. With guidance on cyber security, the latest report from the Pensions Regulator and what the Small Business Taskforce wants following the election there is lots to consider.

Tax-Free Childcare and childcare options

Tax-Free Childcare, the new government scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare 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 free childcare available are available on GOV.UK.

Internet links: Childcare calculator Childcare choices

Small Business Taskforce outlines priorities ahead of the General Election

The Small Business Taskforce has outlined its priorities ahead of the General Election.

The Taskforce which is made up of 14 organisations, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Enterprise Nation and the Entrepreneurs Network, has set out six key recommendations in its election manifesto to help ‘build a positive and progressive business case for Britain’.

The Taskforce is recommending the next government should provide an environment which ‘champions the role of small businesses’ and creates a tax system that supports businesses of all sizes.

They also call for the next government to provide an advantageous pensions and benefits system, supply procurement opportunities that are beneficial to all and create a workforce that is equipped for enterprise.

Clive Lewis, Head of Enterprise at the ICAEW, commented:

‘Whatever the outcome on 8 June, the incoming government must provide a solid platform for small businesses to flourish and grow.’

‘Currently businesses are cautious about the future and are holding back on investment, therefore it’s vital that, in the run-up to the General Election, all political parties spell out how they plan to encourage businesses to invest in long-term growth.’

To read more of the Small Business Taskforce’s manifesto visit the following link.

Internet links: economia news Manifesto

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 June 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 June 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

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

Guidance protects against ‘ransomware’ attacks

The National Cyber Security Council (NCSC) has published guidance for small businesses about how they can prevent, detect and respond to ransomware attacks following the widespread ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack in early May.

Further guidance has been produced by the Charity Commission for England and Wales for charity trustees on this issue.

Internet links: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/ransomware-latest-ncsc-guidance

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ransomware-threat-keep-your-charity-safe

TPR name and shame those who fail to comply

The latest Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin from the Pensions Regulator (TPR) makes interesting reading as it sets out cases and the powers TPR have used relating to automatic enrolment and associated employer duties.

TPR are warning employers that ignoring TPR penalties could seriously damage a business’ reputation.

TPR are maintaining a tough approach towards those employers who try to get away with not giving their staff the pension that they are due. The latest development is to publish details of those who have paid their Escalating Penalty Notice (EPN) but remain non-compliant. We will also publish the details of those who failed to pay their EPN, and as a result have been made subject to a court order.

The details published will include the employer’s name, the penalty amount, and the first part of their postcode.

Internet links: TPR Bulletin EPN employer details

Rising employment statistics

The Office for National Statistics has published the latest employment statistics which reveal:

  • Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that, between October to December 2016 and January to March 2017, the number of people in work increased, the number of unemployed people fell, and the number of people aged from 16 to 64 not working and not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) also fell.
  • There were 31.95 million people in work, 122,000 more than for October to December 2016 and 381,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.8%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.
  • There were 1.54 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 53,000 fewer than for October to December 2016 and 152,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate (the proportion of those in work plus those unemployed, that were unemployed) was 4.6%, down from 5.1% for a year earlier and the lowest since 1975.
  • There were 8.83 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking or available to work), 40,000 fewer than for October to December 2016 and 82,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive) was 21.5%, down from 21.8% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since comparable records began in 1971.
  • Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 2.4% including bonuses, and by 2.1% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.
  • Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in real terms (that is, adjusted for price inflation) increased by 0.1% including bonuses, but fell by 0.2% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.’

Responding to the latest data, Alpesh Paleja, CBI Principal Economist, said:

‘Rising employment continues to reinforce the importance of the UK’s flexible labour market.’

‘However, weakening productivity and slower pay growth, coupled with rising inflation, will continue to squeeze real household earnings.’

‘Therefore maintaining the UK’s reputation as a great place to do business, for example by increasing R&D spend to 3% of GDP by 2025, will help boost the UK’s productivity. This is the only sustainable route to higher wages, and better living standards.’

Internet links: ONS statistics CBI news

Newsletter – March 2017

Enews – March 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on the new advisory fuel rates for company cars, year end tax planning, business hopes for the Spring Budget and the new off payroll working rules for those providing services to the public sector. We also include an update on pensions freedom, the new Lifetime ISA and ludicrous expense claims.

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

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

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

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 22p
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

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

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Year end tax planning

With the end of the tax year looming there is still time to save tax for 2016/17. 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 £15,240 for the 2016/17 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 2017 to make their 2016/17 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 2017 for them to be relieved against 2016/17 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 further reduced for those with net income over £110,000 and adjusted annual income (their income, plus both their own and their employer’s pension contributions) over £150,000. For every £2 of adjusted income over this figure, a person’s annual allowance is reduced by £1 (down to a minimum of £10,000).

This is only a selection of options that you may wish to consider as part of your tax planning strategy. For more information, and for advice on how we can help you to minimise your tax bill, please contact us.

Please contact us to discuss your personal situation.

What will the Spring Budget bring for business?

With two Budgets in 2017, and the Spring Budget scheduled for Wednesday 8 March 2017, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have written to the Chancellor Philip Hammond outlining what they would like to see in the Budget proposals.

The CBI’s letter calls for the government to ‘back businesses’ growth ambitions’ to help build prosperity across the UK, and to work alongside firms to ‘prioritise stability’ during periods of economic uncertainty.

The CBI has also urged the government to tackle the UK’s ‘outdated’ business rates regime and limit its ‘growing burden’ on businesses.

Elsewhere, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has advocated for a ‘pro-business Budget’ that supports self-employed individuals, urging the government to help more people start up in business.

We will keep you informed of pertinent Budget announcements.

Internet links: CBI news FSB news

Self assessment expense claims

HMRC have released a list of the most outlandish items which have been claimed as expenses. These include:

  • Holiday flights to the Caribbean
  • Luxury watches as Christmas gifts for staff – from a company with no employees
  • International flights for dental treatment ahead of business meetings
  • Pet food for a Shih Tzu ‘guard dog’
  • Armani jeans as protective clothing for painter and decorator
  • Cost of regular Friday night ‘bonding sessions’ – running into thousands of pounds.
  • Underwear – for personal use
  • A garden shed for private use – plus the costs of the space it takes up in the garden
  • Betting slips
  • Caravan rental for the Easter weekend.

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said:

‘Year after year we receive a number of ludicrous expense claims, ranging from international holiday flights to expensive designer clothing, which we would never uphold. Why should the honest taxpayer pick up the bill for others? HMRC will only accept those claims which are genuine, such as legitimate travel expenses or the cost of tools for the job.

For help with your tax affairs please do get in touch.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Over £9.2 billion released by pension freedoms

Hundreds of thousands of savers have cashed in £9.2 billion from their pension pots since pension freedoms were introduced in April 2015.

In April 2015, the government introduced significant pension reforms giving people the ability to access their pensions savings how and when they want. Over 1.5 million payments have been made using pension freedoms, with 162,000 people accessing £1.56 billion flexibly from their pension pots over the last three months, according to HMRC figures.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby, said:

‘Giving people freedom over what they do with their hard-earned savings, whether it’s buying an annuity or taking a cash lump sum, is the right thing to do. These figures show that people continue to take advantage of the choices on offer: choices ‎only made available since the government’s landmark pension freedoms were introduced in April 2015.

We are working with our partners, including Pension Wise, the regulators and pension firms, so that savers have the support they need to understand the options available to them.

The statistics show that in the first year of these new rules being available, more than 232,000 people have accessed £4.3 billion flexibly from their pension pots.’

Internet links: GOV.UK news Statistics

New Lifetime ISA

The Lifetime Individual Savings Account (ISA) is a longer term tax-free account that receives a government bonus. The accounts will be available from 6 April 2017. HMRC have produced a helpful guide on the account. Some of which is reproduced below:

Opening a Lifetime ISA

You can open a Lifetime ISA if you’re aged 18 or over but under 40.

As with other ISAs, you won’t pay tax on any interest, income or capital gains from cash or investments held within your Lifetime ISA.

Saving in a Lifetime ISA

You can save up to £4,000 each year in a Lifetime ISA. There’s no maximum monthly savings contribution, and you can continue to save in it until you reach 50. The account can stay open after then but you can’t make any more payments into it.

The £4,000 limit, if used, will form part of your overall annual ISA limit. From the tax year 2017 to 2018, the overall annual ISA limit will be £20,000.

Example

You could save:

  • £11,000 in a cash ISA
  • £2,000 in a stocks and shares ISA
  • £3,000 in an innovative finance ISA
  • £4,000 in a Lifetime ISA in one tax year.

Your Lifetime ISA won’t close when the tax year finishes. You’ll keep your savings on a tax-free basis for as long as you keep the money in your Lifetime ISA.

Lifetime ISAs can hold cash, stocks and shares qualifying investments, or a combination of both.

Government bonus

When you save into your Lifetime ISA, you’ll receive a government bonus of 25% of the money you put in, up to a maximum of £1,000 a year.

Withdrawals

You can withdraw the funds held in your Lifetime ISA before you’re 60, but you’ll have to pay a withdrawal charge of 25% of the amount you withdraw.

A withdrawal charge will not apply if you’re:

  • using it towards a first home
  • aged 60
  • terminally ill with less than 12 months to live.

If you die, your Lifetime ISA will end on the date of your death and there won’t be a withdrawal charge for withdrawing funds or assets from your account.

Transferring a Lifetime ISA

You can transfer your Lifetime ISA to another Lifetime ISA with a different provider without incurring a withdrawal charge.

If you transfer it to a different type of ISA, you’ll have to pay a withdrawal charge.

Saving for your first home

Your Lifetime ISA savings and the bonus can be used towards buying your first home, worth up to £450,000, without incurring a withdrawal charge. You must be buying your home with a mortgage.

You must use a conveyancer or solicitor to act for you in the purchase, and the funds must be paid direct to them by your Lifetime ISA provider.

If you’re buying with another first time buyer, and you each have a Lifetime ISA, you can both use your government bonus. You can also buy a house with someone who isn’t a first time buyer but they will not be able to use their Lifetime ISA without incurring a withdrawal charge.

Your Lifetime ISA must have been opened for at least 12 months before you can withdraw funds from it to buy your first home.

If you have a Help to Buy ISA, you can transfer those savings into your Lifetime ISA or you can continue to save into both – but you’ll only be able to use the government bonus from one to buy your first home.

You can transfer the balance in your Help to Buy ISA into your Lifetime ISA at any time if the amount is not more than £4,000.

In 2017/18 only, you can transfer the total balance of your Help to Buy ISA, as it stands on 5 April 2017, into your Lifetime ISA without affecting the £4,000 limit.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Construction Industry – Subcontractor verifications

HMRC have confirmed in the latest Employer Bulletin that changes will be made to the verification of subcontractors in the construction Industry Scheme (CIS) from 6 April 2017.

From 6 April 2017, contractors must use an approved method of electronic communication to verify their subcontractors. So from 6 April 2017 HMRC will no longer accept any telephone calls to verify subcontractors and from then contractors must verify subcontractors using:

  • the free HMRC CIS online service, or
  • commercial CIS software.

This change is one of a series made to CIS to increase HMRC efficiency and accuracy, and to reduce administration. HMRC are also reminding contractors that they have also introduced additional features of the online system including the ability to amend returns online, and the addition of an online message/alert service.

Contact us for help with CIS issues.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Providing services to a public sector – off payroll working

In the latest Employer Bulletin HMRC advise those providing services to a public sector client through their own limited company to ensure they are ready for the new rules which take effect from 6 April 2017.

The new rules for off payroll working, commonly referred to as IR35 or the Intermediaries legislation, take effect from 6 April 2017.

These changes mean individuals working through their intermediary in the public sector will no longer be responsible for deciding whether the intermediaries’ legislation applies and then paying the appropriate tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs). This responsibility will instead move to the public authority client, agency, or third party that pays the worker’s intermediary, and they will also now become responsible for making sure that, where the rules apply, the relevant income tax and NICs are deducted and reported through PAYE in real time.

The public authority client is required to tell any agency or third party its view as to whether the rules apply. HMRC have been consulting on these new rules and the legislation has yet to be finalised.

HMRC confirm that ‘work is continuing on the development of the new Employment Status Service, and the online tool should be available for use in March. We have launched an off-payroll working in the public sector page on GOV.UK where you can find guidance for fee-payers, PSCs and public authorities to use, and links to material such as the technical note’.

If you have concerns in this area please contact us.

Internet links: Employer Bulletin Technical note