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

Newsletter – September 2016

Henry Cooper is walking 2016 km in the year 2016!

Henry is walking 2016 km in the year 2016, to raise some funds for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance.

Please click below, to sponsor him – thank youJustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Enews – September 2016

In this month’s eNews we report on recent developments including HMRC consultations on Making Tax Digital and new sanctions for tax avoidance as well as guidance on the implications of new UK GAAP.

We also report on HMRC’s advice on spotting scams, how to complain online and industry concerns about the introduction of the new Lifetime ISA.

We also include guidance for employers and employees including the new advisory fuel rates and the latest Employer Bulletin.

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

HMRC outline Making Tax Digital plans

HMRC have issued a series of consultation documents outlining further plans for the government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative.

HMRC have published six consultation documents on MTD. The six consultations set out detailed plans on how HMRC propose to make tax digital and to simplify the tax system. The consultations look at the following areas:

  • How digital record keeping and regular updates will operate – this considers compulsory digital record-keeping and quarterly ‘updates’ to HMRC and an End of Year declaration within nine months of the end of the period of account.
  • Options to simplify tax for unincorporated businesses, including changes to basis periods, extending cash basis accounting and reducing reporting requirements for unincorporated businesses.
  • Extending cash basis accounting to unincorporated property businesses.
  • Voluntary pay as you go arrangements, where taxpayers can pay what they want when they want, subject to the normal payment on account rules. Regular direct debit arrangements and quarterly payments on account are also being considered.
  • Changes to tax administration, including changes to the enquiry regime, penalties for late submission of quarterly updates and End of Year declarations and also the late payment of tax.
  • How HMRC will make better use of the information which they currently receive from third parties, including updating of PAYE codes more regularly and coding out of bank interest via PAYE.

Commenting on the plans, Jane Ellison Financial Secretary to the Treasury said:

‘This new system will make the UK’s tax administration more efficient and straightforward and will offer businesses greater clarity when it comes to paying their tax bills.’

However professional bodies have expressed their concerns about HMRC’s proposals. Frank Haskew, Head of the Tax Faculty at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, said:

‘This is not the time to be rushing through fundamental changes to business processes that are likely to result in major upheaval and extra costs, especially when the business benefit to the UK has not been clearly demonstrated.’

Under the Government’s plans, the changes to the tax system will be introduced gradually between 2018 and 2020. We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: GOV.UK MTD

Government propose new sanctions for tax avoidance

The government has announced new proposals for sanctions for ‘enablers and users of tax avoidance which is defeated by HMRC’.

The consultation proposes a new penalty for those who enable tax avoidance and changes to the existing penalty legislation which applies to those who use avoidance.

The proposals are to introduce ‘sanctions for those who design, market or facilitate the use of tax avoidance arrangements which are defeated by HMRC and to change the way the existing penalty regime works for those whose tax returns are found to be inaccurate as a result of using such arrangements.’

The government is seeking views on proposals for sanctions against those who enable or use tax avoidance arrangements which are later defeated.

Internet link: GOV.UK consultation

Accounting standards and the tax implications of new UK GAAP

HMRC have updated their guidance on the tax implications of changes to the ‘generally accepted accounting practice’ used to prepare financial statements as many UK companies will be required to apply one of the EU-endorsed IFRS, FRS 101 or FRS 102 over the next few years.

HMRC have stated that the purpose of these two papers is to assist companies who are thinking of choosing or have already chosen to apply either FRS 101 or FRS 102. The guidance includes an overview of the key accounting changes and key tax considerations that arise.

Please contact us if you would like information on how these changes will affect you and your business.

Internet link: GOV.UK accounting standards

HMRC genuine and phishing/bogus emails and calls

HMRC have issued an update of their guidance on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact be it via email or text.

They have also issued a warning regarding two telephone scams that they are aware of.

The details of the two phone scams are as follows:

  • Taxpayers receive telephone calls claiming to be from HMRC requesting personal information in order to receive a tax refund, or to demand money for an unpaid tax bill.
  • A recorded message is left, allegedly from HMRC, advising ‘that HMRC are bringing a lawsuit against the individual and is going to sue them. The recipient is asked to phone 0161 8508494 and press “1” to speak to the officer dealing with the case.

HMRC are advising that taxpayers should not reply to the message and should report this to Action Fraud, or you can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2050.

Internet links: HMRC guidance Employer Bulletin

Complain to HMRC – online

HMRC have always had complaints procedures and have extended these to now include an online form which can be used to make complaints about your self-assessment and PAYE. The guidance also includes other ways to complain.

If you would like help with PAYE or self assessment issues please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK guidance

Government urged to delay the launch of Lifetime ISA

The government is being urged by both pension providers and banks to delay the April 2017 launch of the new Lifetime ISA as they are warning that they will not be ready to offer the savings product by this time.

A new Lifetime ISA introduces a new type of savings account for adults under the age of 40. Individuals will be able to contribute up to £4,000 per year and receive a 25% bonus from the government. Funds, including the government bonus, can be used to buy a first home at any time from 12 months after opening the account, and can be withdrawn from age 60 completely tax-free.

Further details of the new account, which is expected to be available from 2017, are as follows:

  • Any savings an individual puts into the account before their 50th birthday will receive an added 25% bonus from the government.
  • There is no maximum monthly contribution and up to £4,000 a year can be saved into a Lifetime ISA.
  • The savings and bonus can be used towards a deposit on a first home worth up to £450,000 across the country.
  • Accounts are limited to one per person rather than one per home, so two first time buyers can both receive a bonus when buying together.
  • Where an individual already has a Help to Buy ISA they will be able to transfer those savings into the Lifetime ISA in 2017, or continue saving into both. However only the bonus from one account can be used to buy a house.
  • Where the funds are withdrawn at any time before the account holder is aged 60 they will lose the government bonus (and any interest or growth on this) and will also have to pay a 5% charge.
  • After the account holder’s 60th birthday they will be able to take all the savings tax-free.

In the article published by This is Money pension providers Aegon and Standard Life have stated that they have delayed their plans until final details regarding the Lifetime ISA are released.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is yet to consult on the initiative. Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon, stated that a consultation is ‘likely to take three months’ to carry out.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Standard Life said: ‘As we want the Lifetime ISA to be a success, we would prefer that its launch is delayed until providers receive more detail on the product and how it is to be implemented.’

The Treasury is expected to confirm full details in the autumn.

Internet link: Article

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which take effect from 1 September 2016. 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 2016 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 13p
Over 2000cc 20p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 13p
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 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:

  • expenses and benefits in kind consultations
  • HMRC Toolkits – helping to reduce errors
  • Automatic penalties for late intermediary returns
  • the Apprenticeship Levy and apprentices
  • guidance on paying HMRC
  • student loan deductions
  • Automatic enrolment update
  • National insurance contributions for employees over State Pension age
  • Basic PAYE tools usage
  • the impact on tax codes of the Personal Savings Allowance.

For help with your payroll contact us.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Newsletter – June 2016

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Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 June 2016. 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 2016 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 10p
1401cc – 2000cc 13p
Over 2000cc 20p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 13p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 10p
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

PAYE 3 days grace and risk based penalties to continue

HMRC have confirmed, in their updated guidance, that the three day easement and risk assessed approach to issuing penalties will continue to apply for 2016/17. As a result employers will not incur penalties for delays of up to three days in filing PAYE information during the 2016/17 tax year.

Late filing penalties will continue to be reviewed on a risk-assessed basis rather than be issued automatically.

Employers are required to file a Full Payment Submission (FPS) on or before each payment of wages is made to employees. Limited exceptions apply to this deadline which are set out at https://www.gov.uk/running-payroll/fps-after-payday’.

HMRC will not charge a late filing penalty for delays of up to three days after the statutory filing date, however employers who persistently file late, will be monitored and may be contacted or considered for a penalty.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK Penalties

VAT Flat Rate Scheme guidance updated

HMRC have issued updated guidance on the operation of the VAT Flat Rate Scheme which allows taxpayers to calculate the VAT payable by applying a flat rate percentage to their VAT inclusive turnover, rather than netting off output and input VAT due on sales and purchases.

The revision in the guidance follows a number of unsuccessful visits to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT). HMRC has issued a revised version of VAT notice 733 Flat Rate Scheme to update their guidance in accordance with the FTT decisions.

The previous version of the notice listed a number of trades and professions (at paragraph 4.4 of the guidance) and indicated the relevant sectors and percentages that these types of business should choose. These had a higher percentage than the 12% rate which applies to ‘business services not listed elsewhere’.

The FTT was critical of HMRC in their rigid interpretation of their own guidance. Although this section of the guidance has not been removed, taxpayers are now advised to ‘use ordinary English’ and choose the sector which ‘most closely describes what your business will be doing in the coming year’. The new guidance confirms that HMRC will not change a business’s choice of sector retrospectively as long as the choice was reasonable.

Please contact us if you would like any advice on VAT matters.

Internet link: VAT Notice 733

NAO report says HMRC’s customer service quality ‘collapsed’

According to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) the quality of service at HMRC ‘collapsed’ over an 18 month period between 2014 and 2015.

The report found that average call waiting times tripled in 2014/15 and in the first seven months of 2015/16. Call waiting times for self assessment tax returns peaked at 47 minutes last autumn, which resulted in HMRC having to bring in 2,400 extra staff for their tax helpline.

Using HMRC’s own criteria, the NAO valued people’s time at an average of £17 an hour, and, as a result, calculated that callers would have wasted a total of £66 million while waiting on the phone, £21 million while actually talking to HMRC and £10 million on the cost of the call itself.

The NAO report blames the poor performance on HMRC’s decision to cut 11,000 staff between 2010 and 2014 in the move to persuade more people to complete their tax returns online. The report claims that HMRC ‘misjudged the cumulative impact of its complex transition and released too many customer service staff before completing service changes’.

In other words, it greatly underestimated how many call centre staff would still be required to help taxpayers with self assessment queries.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said:

‘HMRC’s overall strategy of using digitally enabled information to improve efficiency and deliver service in new ways make sense to the NAO. This does not change the fact that they got their timing badly wrong in 2014, letting significant numbers of call handling staff go before their new approach was working reliably.

This led to a collapse in service quality and forced a rapid expansion of headcount. HMRC needs to move forward carefully and get their strategy back on track while maintaining, and hopefully improving, service standards.’

HMRC said its service levels had improved since the period analysed in the NAO report, and that, over the last six months, call waiting times had averaged six minutes.

Ruth Owen, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said:

‘We recognise that early in 2015 we didn’t provide the standard of service that people are entitled to expect and we apologised at the time. We have since fully recovered and are now offering our best service levels in years.’

Internet links: NAO press release HMRC news

HMRC update phishing scam advice

HMRC have updated their guidance to taxpayers on how to spot phishing scam emails.

Phishing is the fraudulent act of emailing a person in order to obtain their personal/financial information such as passwords and credit card or bank account details. These emails often include a link to a bogus website designed to encourage the unwary to enter their personal details.

The HMRC guidance is designed to help taxpayers to recognise genuine contact from HMRC, and how to tell when an email/text message is phishing/bogus.

Internet link: HMRC guidance

HMRC urges claimants to renew tax credits online

HMRC are urging people to renew their tax credits claim well before the 31 July deadline.

HMRC have made improvements to the online renewal service and recommend claimants renew their claim online once they receive their renewal pack which is issued between April and June. The online service can now accommodate all changes in circumstances (working hours, childcare costs or income) which affect the amount of someone’s entitlement.

Nick Lodge, HMRC’s Director General, Benefits and Credits, said:

‘Our online service means that you can renew at any time of the day or night, and on any device, without having to call us. Online help can also answer most queries you may have and a web chat facility will be available to support people renewing online. We urge everyone who can to go online.

Our customers should check their details and renew early to ensure they get the right money. The sooner people renew their claim, the sooner we can check payments are correct, meaning we avoid paying too little money, or too much, which claimants then have to pay back.

This year, claimants renewing online will be able to access further information, including viewing their next payment, through their own online Personal Tax Account.

Internet link: Press release

P11D deadline approaching

The forms P11D, and where appropriate P9D, which report details of expenses and benefits provided to employees and directors for the year ended 5 April 2016, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2016. The process of gathering the necessary information can take some time, so it is important that this process is not left to the last minute.

Employees pay tax on benefits provided as shown on the P11D, either via a PAYE coding notice adjustment or through the self assessment system. In addition, 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 (22nd for cleared electronic payment).

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

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

Internet links: HMRC guidance Toolkit

Newsletter – March 2016

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Enews – March 2016

In this month’s eNews we report on several changes for employers including the changes to the advisory fuel rates and changes to expenses and benefits reporting. We also consider the changes to the taxation of savings income which are introduced from 6 April 2016 and year end tax planning considerations.

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

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

Benefits and expenses – bespoke scale rates

Trivial benefits exemption

Year end tax planning

Changes to the taxation of saving income

What will the Budget bring for businesses?

Auto enrolment success for small businesses

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 March 2016. 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 2016 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 10p
1401cc – 2000cc 12p
Over 2000cc 19p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 8p
Over 2000cc 13p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 8p
1601cc – 2000cc 10p
Over 2000cc 11p

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

Benefits and expenses – bespoke scale rates

From 6 April 2016 there are a lot of changes to the way in which benefits and expenses are reported to HMRC.

HMRC have set out the maximum tax and NICs free allowances that can be paid by employers to employees for subsistence. Subject to qualifying conditions, the amounts are set out below:

Minimum journey time Maximum amount of meal allowance
5 hours £5
10 hours £10
15 hours £25

Where a meal allowance of £5 or £10 is paid and the qualifying journey in respect of which it is paid lasts beyond 8pm a supplementary rate of £10 can be paid.

Employers may choose to reimburse employees for the actual costs incurred. However where employers wish to use bespoke rates other than those set out above, they will need to apply for approval from HMRC for bespoke rates.

HMRC have issued an online application form to allow employers to request approval for these bespoke amounts. This should state the rate that the employer wishes to pay and also needs to demonstrate that the amount is a reasonable estimate of the amount of expenses actually incurred by the employees.

To establish these amounts, HMRC have confirmed that the employer should carry out a sampling exercise to verify the actual expenses incurred by employees. We would be happy to advise you on the sampling which would need to be carried out for your business.

In addition, employers will need to have a checking system in place which ensures that the payments or reimbursements are only make on occasions where the employee would be entitled to a deduction from their earnings and that the employees have actually incurred and paid the amounts.

Once approval has been given by HMRC, they will issue an approval notice which sets out the date from which the approval is given and what expenses are covered. It will also state the date when the approval notice ends which will be no later than five years from the start date.

Please do get in touch if you would like help with benefits and expense reporting or agreeing Bespoke rates.

Internet links: GOV.UK HMRC

Trivial benefits exemption

From April 2016, where trivial benefits are provided to employees they may be exempt from tax if certain conditions are met. The conditions are:

  • the cost of providing the benefit does not exceed £50
  • 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, 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 exemptions or allowable deductions.

One of the main conditions is that the cost of the benefit is less than £50, if the cost is above £50 the full amount is taxable, not just the excess over £50. The cost is the cost of providing the benefit to each employee not the overall cost to the employer. Where the individual cost for each employee cannot be established, an average could be used.

Further details on how the exemption will work, including family member situations, are contained in the Government guidance. However if you are unsure please do get in touch before assuming the trivial benefit you are about to provide is covered by the exemption.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Year end tax planning

With two months to the end of the tax year there is still time to save tax for 2015/16. We have set out some points you may want to consider.

  • Review dividend payment timing – with new dividend tax rates and a £5,000 dividend allowance from 6 April 2016, the timing of dividends could make a difference to the tax charge.
  • Consider  company car options – going forward for each tax year the taxable percentage increases 2% for each CO2 emission band and the diesel 3% supplement which was expected to be abolished from April 2016 is now to be retained.
  • Review personal pension contributions to ensure annual allowances are being used effectively as from 6 April 2016 the annual allowance may be tapered for those with incomes over £150,000.
  • Defer capital gains by reinvesting in Enterprise Investment Scheme shares.

Please contact us to discuss your personal situation.

Changes to the taxation of saving income

There are significant changes to the income tax rules from 6 April 2016 which affect the taxation of savings income.

From 6 April 2016, if you are a basic taxpayer you may be able to receive up to £1,000 in savings income tax free. Higher rate taxpayers will be able to receive up to £500.

Savings income includes the following:

  • interest from bank and building societies accounts
  • interest from credit union or National Savings and Investment accounts
  • income from government or company bonds
  • interest distributions from authorised unit trusts
  • most types of purchased life annuity payments.

As a result of this from 6 April 2016 interest will be paid gross rather than net which is the current position for most interest paid to individuals. Net payments are received after deduction of the basic rate of tax of 20%. Interest from ISAs is not included in your Savings Allowance (SA) because it is already tax free.

No action is required to claim the allowance. If the amount of savings income you receive is higher than the allowance, banks and building societies will provide details to HMRC and they will amend your tax code to collect any tax due. If you complete a Self Assessment tax return you should carry on doing this as normal.

If you have any queries on the changes to income tax please do get in touch.

Internet link: GOV.UK

What will the Budget bring for businesses?

With two Budgets in 2015 it does not feel like that long ago since we last had a Budget but the next one is not that far away and will take place on  Wednesday 16 March 2016. Ahead of the Budget the CBI have written to the Chancellor outlining what they would like to see in the Budget proposals.

The CBI emphasise that businesses have suffered sizeable policy costs which impact on their ability to remain competitive. These include the Apprenticeship Levy, the National Living Wage and also pension auto enrolment. They therefore want the government to provide additional tax incentives to promote productivity and the delivery of jobs. Examples would include:

  • new capital allowances for investments in structures and buildings
  • allowing smaller companies claiming research and development tax credits to be able to claim repayments in part payments throughout the year  rather than yearly
  • introducing a payroll incentive to help small firms with the costs of hiring high-skilled staff along the lines of the Employment Allowance.

We will keep you informed of pertinent Budget announcements.

Internet link: CBI

Auto enrolment success for small businesses

More than 90% of the first small employers required to put their staff into a workplace pension have now complied with the law.

Around 12,000 small and micro employers became subject to the new legal requirements last summer and the vast majority have put their eligible staff into a pension. For the small numbers that did not comply, the Pensions Regulator (TPR) used their powers of enforcement action.

Although compliance with the rules remains the norm, TPR has noted that smaller employers are more likely to leave things to the last minute and they are therefore more likely to receive a compliance notice which could lead to a fine.

Since the start of auto enrolment:

  • 4,818 compliance notices have been issued
  • around half of these (2,596) were issued between October and December last year
  • a total of 1,594 £400 Fixed Penalty Notice fines have now been issued to employers
  • just over a thousand (1,021) Fixed Penalty Notices were issued in the last quarter of 2015.

Compliance notices act as a warning and give employers a deadline to meet their duties and avoid a fine.

If you would like details on what you are required to do as an employer to meet your auto enrolment obligations then please get in touch.

Internet link: TPR press release

Newsletter – December 2015

eNews – December 2015

In this month’s eNews we report on pertinent announcements from the Autumn Statement focussing on issues for parents, employers and company car drivers, buy to let landlords and those with second homes. We also report on the forthcoming Scottish Budget and other pertinent announcements for employers.

Please do contact us if you would like any further information on any of the issues.

Scottish income tax rates and Scottish Budget

From April 2016, the Scottish Parliament will have the power to set its own rate of income tax to fund spending by the Scottish government. The rate will be set in the Scottish Budget on 16 December and we will update you on pertinent announcements.

Those who are resident in Scotland will pay two types of income tax on their non-savings income. The main UK rates of income tax will be reduced by 10p for Scottish taxpayers and in its place the Scottish Parliament will be able to levy a Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT) applied equally to all Scottish taxpayers. If the SRIT is set at 10p then income tax rates will be the same as in the rest of the UK. SRIT can however be reduced to zero and there is no upper limit.

The Scottish Rate of Income Tax doesn’t apply to income from savings such as building society interest or income from dividends. Tax on this income will stay the same for all taxpayers across the UK. It also doesn’t affect income tax thresholds and allowances, which will continue to be set by the UK government.

The definition of a Scottish taxpayer is based on where an individual lives in the course of a tax year. Scottish taxpayer status applies for a whole tax year. It is not possible to be a Scottish taxpayer for part of a tax year. HMRC will identify those individuals who will be Scottish taxpayers based on their records of where individuals live. In early December HMRC started to write to potential Scottish taxpayers to confirm that the address held in their records is correct. If it is, taxpayers will need to take no further action. Those paying the new rate will see their tax code prefixed by an ‘S’ and their income tax will continue to be collected from pay and pensions in the same way as it is now.

Further details and the effect on employers can be found by visiting the following link.

Internet link: GOV.UK briefing

Autumn Statement 2015 – key announcements for parents

Reversal of most of the tax credit proposals

A number of changes to tax credits and Universal Credit were announced in the July Budget but the Chancellor has scrapped some of the changes following a defeat of the proposals by the House of Lords. The government has confirmed that:

  • The rate at which a tax credit claimant’s award is reduced as each pound of their income exceeds the income threshold (known as the taper rate) will remain at 41% of gross income from April 2016.
  • The level of income at which a claimant’s tax credit award begins to be tapered away (known as the income threshold), will remain at £6,420 per year from April 2016. Claimants earning below this amount will retain their maximum award.
  • The income rise disregard in tax credits will reduce from £5,000 to £2,500. This is the amount by which a claimant’s income can increase in-year compared to their previous year’s income before their award is adjusted.

Changes to the prospective Tax-Free Childcare scheme

Under the scheme, which is expected to launch in 2017, the relief will be 20% of the costs of childcare up to a total of childcare costs of £10,000 per child per year. The scheme will therefore be worth a maximum of £2,000 per child (£4,000 for a disabled child).

The government has announced changes to the conditions to qualify for Tax-Free Childcare. All parents in the household must:

  • meet a minimum income level based on the equivalent of working 16 hours a week at the National Living Wage (increased from eight hours at the National Minimum Wage)
  • each earn less than £100,000 a year (reduced from £150,000), and
  • not already be receiving support through tax credits or Universal Credit.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has announced that the government will publish its next Budget on Wednesday 16 March 2016.

Internet links: GOV.UK main tax announcements GOV.UK news

Autumn Statement 2015 – key announcements for employers and company car drivers

Retaining the 3% diesel supplement for company cars which was to be abolished

The scale of charges for working out the taxable benefit for an employee who has use of an employer provided car are now announced well in advance. Cars are taxed by reference to bands of CO2 emissions. From 6 April 2015 the percentage applied by each band went up by 2% and the maximum charge is capped at 37% of the list price of the car.

From 6 April 2016 there will be a further 2% increase in the percentage applied by each band with similar increases in 2017/18 and 2018/19. For 2019/20 the rate will increase by a further 3%. It had been expected that the 3% diesel supplement would be removed from 6 April 2016, however this 3% differential will now be retained until April 2021. This is a blow to diesel car drivers who were expecting to see their car benefit reduce from April 2016.

The introduction of an apprenticeship levy

The government will introduce the apprenticeship levy in April 2017. It will be set at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s paybill, which is broadly total employee earnings excluding benefits in kind, and will be paid through PAYE. Each employer will receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment. This means that the levy will only be paid on any paybill in excess of £3 million.

Internet link: GOV.UK Blue Book

Autumn Statement 2015 – key announcements for buy to let landlords and those with second homes

Higher SDLT on purchases of additional residential properties

Higher rates of SDLT will be charged on purchases of additional residential properties (above £40,000), such as buy to let properties and second homes, from 1 April 2016. The higher rates will be three percentage points above the current SDLT rates.

The higher rates will not apply to purchases of caravans, mobile homes or houseboats, or to corporates or funds making significant investments in residential property. The government will consult on the policy detail, including whether an exemption for corporates and funds owning more than 15 residential properties is appropriate. The Chancellor stated that ‘more and more homes are being bought as buy to lets or second homes’ and ‘frankly, people buying a home to let should not be squeezing out families who can’t afford a home to buy’.

No mention was made by the Chancellor on the position in Scotland. It is the Scottish Government which sets the rates for the equivalent tax on property – the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax.

The introduction of a payment on account of any CGT due on the disposal of residential property

From April 2019, a payment on account of any CGT due on the disposal of residential property will be required to be made within 30 days of the completion of the disposal. This will not affect gains on properties which are not liable for CGT due to Private Residence Relief.

Currently, CGT is not payable on a disposal of an asset until 31 January following the tax year in which a disposal is made. So a disposal made on the 6 April 2016 will not result in a tax bill until 31 January 2018.

This measure is another blow for buy to let landlords.

Internet link: GOV.UK main tax announcements

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 December 2015. 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 2015 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 13p
Over 2000cc 20p

 

Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 13p

 

Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 13p

Please note that not all of the rates have been amended so care must be taken to apply the correct rate.

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

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

‘Payrolling’ benefits in kind

From April 2016 the government is introducing a voluntary framework to allow employers to payroll most employee benefits in kind (benefits) rather than report them at the end of the tax year on a form P11D.

In order to payroll benefits an employer will need to include a notional value for employee benefits as taxable pay in the regular payroll cycle. By doing this the income tax due on the benefits can be collected in real time.

Currently the tax due on employee benefits is collected through an adjustment to the employee’s tax code. The way that tax codes work means that HMRC try to collect the right amount of tax at the right time. However, when benefits start/stop or are changed there can be a delay in changing the tax code which may result in an employee under or over paying tax.

One of the advantages to employers is that if employees’ benefits are payrolled then forms P11D will not need to be completed. Payrolling is not possible for some benefits such as living accommodation, beneficial loans and credit vouchers and tokens.

HMRC have confirmed that there will be no change to the process for reporting and collecting Class 1A NICs. Employers will still need to complete a form P11D(b) after the end of the tax year and calculate and pay the 13.8% employer only liability.

Employers need to register for the new service by 5 April 2016 as HMRC cannot process changes in year. HMRC are advising that employers should ideally register before 21 December to avoid being sent multiple tax codes for employees.

Please contact us if this is of interest to you.

Internet links: GOV.UK payrolling benefits Employer Bulletin

Guidance on use of zero hours contracts

The government has published guidance for employers on the use of zero hours contracts. The guidance sets out where zero hours contracts may be appropriate and also sets out alternatives and best practice.

The guidance gives examples of where zero hours contracts might be appropriate:

  • new businesses, where demand might be fluctuating and unpredictable
  • seasonal work, for example around Christmas
  • employers needing cover for unexpected sickness in critical roles
  • catering businesses using additional experienced staff when a special event is booked and
  • a business testing a new service that they are thinking about providing, needing employees on an ad hoc basis.

Internet link: GOV.UK zero-hours-contracts-guidance

Deadline for final IR35 payments and returns

The ‘IR35’ rules are designed to prevent the avoidance of tax and national insurance contributions (NIC) through the use of personal service companies and partnerships.

The rules do not stop individuals selling their services through either their own personal companies or a partnership. However, they do seek to remove any possible tax advantages from doing so.

Intermediaries who have operated the IR35 concession to delay making a final return and payment for the tax year ending 5 April 2015, have until 31 January 2016 to submit accurate figures and pay any outstanding amounts of PAYE and NIC due.

The concession operates where a provisional return and payment have been submitted but cannot be confirmed because final figures of income, including the calculation of the ‘deemed payment’, were not known at the end 2015 tax year.

HMRC advise that adjustments to the provisional RTI return should be reported using ‘an Earlier Year Update (EYU)’ and must be submitted electronically to HMRC by 31 January 2016. Interest will be charged on any balancing payment.

Please advise us if you would like help with this issue.

Internet links: GOV.UK IR35 guidance Employer Bulletin

Planning a party for employees

With the season for workplace parties fast approaching we thought it would be a good idea to remind you of the tax implications of these types of events. The good news is that, unlike entertaining customers, the costs of entertaining employees are generally allowable against the profits of the business.

But what about the tax consequences for the employees themselves? Is it a perk of their jobs and will they have to pay tax on a benefit?

Generally, as long as the total costs of all employee annual functions in a tax year are less than £150 per attendee (VAT inclusive) there will be no tax implications for the employees themselves. In considering this limit make sure you have included all the costs, which may include not only the meal itself but also any drinks, entertainment, transport and accommodation that you provide.

If the costs are above the £150 limit then the full cost will be taxable on the employee. In that case do get in touch so we can advise you how best to deal with them.

Internet link: HMRC guidance