Newsletter – October 2015

Enews – October 2015

This month we report on changes to business rates, tougher NMW sanctions and tax guidance for charities. We also include a reminder that the deadline for ‘paper’ self assessment returns is approaching and details of the 5p carrier bag charge.

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

Deadline for ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns

For those individuals who have previously submitted ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns the deadline for the 2014/15 return is 31 October 2015. Returns submitted after that date must be submitted electronically or they will incur a minimum penalty of £100. The penalty applies even when there is no tax to pay or the tax is paid on time.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK Self Assessment

Autumn Statement date announced

The government has announced that the date of the Autumn Statement will be 25 November 2015.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has announced that there will be an Office for Budget Responsibility forecast alongside the Spending Review on Wednesday 25 November 2015. The government will therefore publish a joint Autumn Statement and Spending Review on this date.

We will keep you informed of key announcements.

Internet link: GOV.UK News

5p carrier bag charge comes into force

Carrier bag charges will begin in England on 5 October 2015. For a large retailer the minimum charge is 5p for single-use plastic carrier bags. For small or medium-sized businesses no charge is required but can be made on a voluntary basis.

A business that employs 250 or more full-time equivalent employees, in all roles not just in retail roles, will be treated as being large and must charge the 5p. The number of employees is calculated at the start of each reporting year. The first reporting year will start on 5 October and run to 6 April 2016. Subsequent reporting years will start on 7 April.

When calculating full-time equivalent employees a business that is operated under a franchise needs to only include employees in that business, not the whole franchise.

The type of bags that will carry the charge will be:

  • unused
  • plastic
  • with handles and
  • 70 microns thick or less.

Where deliveries or online sales are made to customers any plastic bags used will also have to be included in the total cost. It may be that the amount of bags to be used is unknown when the order is placed. In this situation an average number of bags can be used in the charge as long as 5p or more is charged per bag overall.

There are a number of specific exemptions on the types of bags which would not be subject to the charge. These include bags for:

  • uncooked fish and fish products
  • uncooked meat, poultry and their products
  • prescription medicine
  • free promotional material given away.

Retailers will need to maintain reporting records and also make a report to Defra on or before 31 May following the end of the reporting year. The first report should therefore be sent to Defra by 31 May 2016.

The details to be sent to Defra are as follows:

  • number of bags distributed
  • the amount of money received from selling the bags
  • any VAT paid from the money received from selling bags
  • what the business did with the proceeds from the charge
  • any reasonable costs (see below) and how they break down.

Reasonable costs include costs to comply with the legislation and do not include the costs of the bags. Examples would be:

  • costs of changing till systems
  • training staff
  • communicating the policy to staff.

Once reasonable costs have been deducted, the remaining proceeds should all be donated to good causes.

The local authority, where the shop is based, is authorised to make inspections to ensure the law is being followed. Where there is non-compliance, they will have the authority to issue a notice to the retailer to correct the non-compliance or issue a fixed fine of up to £200 or a variable penalty of up to £20,000. In additional the local authority can order the retailer to advertise that they have broken the law.

Internet link: GOV.UK Guidance

Making tax simpler for charities

In September HMRC updated their detailed guidance notes which outline how the tax system operates for charities. The notes include how to apply to be recognised as a charity for tax and the operation of gift aid and payroll giving.

Over the last five years the government has brought in a range of changes to the tax system to make it simpler for charities to make the most of tax reliefs, so that more money can go to good causes.

Gift aid small donation scheme

Through the gift aid small donations scheme charities can claim a gift aid-style top-up on small donations eg a donation to a charity vendor in the street, up to a limit of £5,000 per year. This limit will increase to £8,000 per year from April 2016.

Charities online

Charities can submit claims for gift aid tax relief online which speeds up the claims process. 95% of charities now use this online system and the claims are processed within five working days.

HMRC outreach team

To date an HMRC outreach team has delivered face-to-face presentations to over 650 charities to spread awareness and help charities to successfully claim tax relief.

Community amateur sports clubs

The government has amended the law so that local sports clubs registered as community amateur sports clubs can receive corporate gift aid to help these clubs benefit their local communities.

Social investment tax relief

The social investment tax relief scheme has been created to encourage people to invest in social enterprises including charities. Individuals making an eligible investment will be able to deduct 30% of the cost of that investment from their income tax liability.

Lower IHT rate

If people leave at least 10% of the net value of their estate (its worth, minus any debt, other liabilities and reliefs) to charity, then 36% inheritance tax can be paid instead of 40%.

If you want further details on the tax treatment of charities please contact us.

Internet links: GOV.UK news GOV.UK guidance

Government toughens National Minimum Wage (NMW) sanctions

The government has announced a package of measures including tougher NMW penalties to ensure employees receive the pay they are entitled to.

The measures include:

  • doubling the penalties for non-payment of the NMW and the new National Living Wage
  • increasing the enforcement budget
  • setting up a new team in HMRC to take forward criminal prosecutions for those who deliberately do not comply
  • ensuring that anyone found guilty will be considered for disqualification from being a company director for up to 15 years

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

‘There is no excuse for employers flouting minimum wage rules and these announcements will ensure those who do try and cheat staff out of pay will feel the full force of the law.

This one nation government is committed to making work pay and making sure hardworking people get the salary they are entitled to.’

The government has announced the introduction of a new team of HMRC compliance officers who will investigate the most serious cases of employers not paying the NMW and National Living Wage. The team will have the power to use all available sanctions, including penalties, prosecutions and naming and shaming the most exploitative employers.

Stiffer penalties

Employers who fail to pay employees the minimum wage will have to pay penalties which will be up to twice what they currently are. This reform is intended to increase compliance and make sure those who break the law face tough consequences.

The calculation of penalties on those who do not comply will rise from 100% of arrears to 200%. This will be halved if employers pay within 14 days. The overall maximum penalty of £20,000 per worker remains unchanged.

Other changes

In other related changes a new Director of Labour Market Enforcement and Exploitation will be created to oversee enforcement of the NMW, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. The Director will set priorities for enforcement based on a single view of the intelligence about exploitation and non-compliance.

A consultation will be launched in the autumn on the introduction of a new offence of aggravated breach of labour market legislation. The consultation will also propose giving the Gangmasters Licensing Authority additional investigatory powers and a wider remit to tackle serious labour exploitation more effectively.

The government has also announced they will improve the guidance and support made available to businesses on compliance. They will also work with payroll providers to be sure payroll software contains checks that staff are being paid what they are entitled to.

If you would like help with payroll or employment law please do get in touch.

Internet link: GOV News

Business rates appeal proposals are a ‘barrier to justice’

The Enterprise Bill is currently going through Parliament. Part of the Bill reforms the business rates appeals system. The government’s changes have been criticised by rates experts and business groups, amid concerns that the changes will act as a ‘barrier to justice’.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which is part of HMRC, is responsible for compiling and maintaining non-domestic rating lists. Currently officers of the VOA are prevented from sharing the information they collect about properties and ratepayers with local government. This means that businesses have to provide the same information twice to the VOA and local government. It can also mean that the properties have to be inspected by both the VOA and the local authority.

The Bill therefore allows the VOA to disclose information to a ‘qualifying person for a qualifying purpose’ such as a local authority.

The changes have been criticised by some people. They say the legislation will act as a ‘barrier to justice’ for businesses seeking to appeal.

Transparency around how business rates or tax on commercial property is measured has long been called for by small businesses. Critics of the bill claim that it has failed to address this issue, as it permits the VOA to share rate measurement information with local authorities but not with individual businesses.

Jerry Schurder, former chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said:

‘In business rates, your own liability depends not on your own property but what’s being paid by lots of other people and you have no right to obtain that information. In any other tax, the taxpayer has the relevant information to make an appeal but not on rates.’

Meanwhile John Allan, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, commented:

‘While we support moves to make it easier to navigate business rates appeals, we have concerns around the proposals in the Bill.

Their primary aim seems to be reducing the number of appeals by making the process more difficult, rather than by addressing the underlying issues, in particular making the appeals system and the VOA more transparent.

If increased transparency is not delivered, then confidence in the business rates system will continue to be undermined.’

Internet links: Link to legislation Telegraph

Newsletter – December 2012

eNEWS – December 2012

In this month’s enews we report on some key issues from the Autumn Statement and subsequent publication of draft Finance Bill legislation. The Autumn Statement has sparked much debate with the biggest surprise being the tenfold increase in the AIA only months after it was reduced.

We also report that HMRC are urging those who have not yet filed their self assessment tax return to do so now and experience ‘inner peace’.

Please contact us if you would like any further details on any of the issues covered.

With all best wishes for the festive season and the New Year.


Tenfold increase in Annual Investment Allowance

The shock announcement of the Autumn Statement was the tenfold increase in the amount of the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA).

The AIA provides a 100% deduction for the cost of plant and machinery purchased by a business up to an annual limit which is currently £25,000 for expenditure incurred from April 2012. The Chancellor announced that this limit will rise to £250,000 for a period of two years for expenditure incurred from 1 January 2013.

Where a business has an accounting period that straddles the date of change the allowances have to be apportioned on a time basis.

Where a company has a 12 month accounting period ending on 30 June 2013 the AIA will be £137,500 (£25,000 x 6/12 + £250,000 x 6/12).

However for expenditure incurred before the 1 January 2013, rules will limit the maximum figure available. The maximum allowance will be the AIA that would have been due for the whole of the accounting period to 30 June 2013 if the increase in AIA had not taken place. This would have meant that the company would have been entitled to £25,000 for the 12 months and so this is the limit for the six months to 31 December.

The rules for accounting periods straddling 1 January are complicated and this is without the additional complications that arise if part of the accounting period commences prior to April 2012 (as yet another AIA limit needs to be factored in).

The main point to appreciate is that expenditure incurred after 31 December 2012 may give a full tax write off but expenditure incurred before the 1 January 2013 may not give this result.

Please contact us before capital expenditure is incurred for your business in a current accounting period, so that we can help you to maximise the AIA available.

Internet link: HMRC TIIN

Personal allowance for 2013/14

For those aged under 65 the personal allowance will be increased from the current £8,105 to £9,440. This increase in the personal allowance is greater than the amount previously announced and is part of the plan of the Coalition Government to ultimately raise the allowance to £10,000.

For basic rate taxpayers this increase in the personal allowance should result in a tax saving next year of £267.

The reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 will continue. The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. Next year the allowance ceases when net adjusted income exceeds £118,880.

Tax band and rates 2013/14

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is being reduced from £34,370 to £32,010 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies will fall from £42,475 to £41,450.

Additional rate tax payers

The 50% band currently applies where taxable income exceeds £150,000 but the rate will fall to 45% next year.

Tax bands for 2014/15 and 2015/16

For 2014/15 and 2015/16 the increase in the higher rate threshold will be capped at 1%. Over the last few years the value of the higher rate threshold has fallen so a small increase should be welcome.

Internet link: HMRC autumn statement personal

Pensions Saving

It was announced in the Autumn Statement that for tax year 2014/15 onwards:

  • the annual allowance for pensions tax relieved savings will be reduced from £50,000 to £40,000
  • the standard lifetime allowance for pensions tax relieved savings will be reduced from £1.5 million to £1.25 million
  • a transitional ‘fixed protection’ regime will be introduced for those who believe they may be affected by the reduction in the lifetime allowance.

Legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2013 to make these changes.

The Government considers that these measures are expected to affect only the wealthiest pension savers as 98% of individuals currently approaching retirement have a pension pot worth less than £1.25 million which is the revised level of the lifetime limit. Annual contributions made by 99% of pension savers are below £40,000, the average annual contribution being around £6,000 per annum.

Please contact us if you would like any pensions advice.

Internet link: HMRC pensions tax relief

A simpler tax system for smaller businesses

The Chancellor is to proceed with proposals to make the tax system simpler for small unincorporated businesses from April 2013. Where a business has a turnover up to £77,000 it will be able to calculate its profits on a simplified cash basis. In addition it will not have to distinguish between revenue expenditure and capital expenditure. A business will be able to continue to use this basis until its turnover reaches £154,000.

Flat rate expenses will be available for some types of expense including:

Cars, vans and motorcycles

For cars or vans the rate for the first 10,000 business miles is 45p, after which the rate reduces to 25p. For motorcycles the rate is 24p

Business use of a home

Provided certain conditions are satisfied, the following monthly rates will be allowed:

Business use in a month Deduction
25 hours or more £10
51 hours or more £18
101 hours or more £26

The new rules are not quite as simple as the Government would have us believe. Whilst the actual accounting treatment may be simpler it will still be necessary to have regard to tax rules for the deductibility of some expenses. There will also be transitional rules for existing businesses wishing to opt into the new system.

Please do get in touch if you think this may be of interest to you.

Internet link: HMRC update

Statutory residence test

HMRC have announced that legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2013 to put the rules which determine an individual’s tax residence on a statutory basis. The new statutory residence test will come into force from the start of the 2013/14 tax year.

The new legislation includes circumstances such as the situation where a tax year is split into a UK part and an overseas part. The rules also cover the taxation of certain income and gains arising during a period of temporary non-residence.

HMRC has published draft guidance to assist individuals on the application of the statutory residence test and on eligibility for overseas workday relief.

Please do contact us if you would like any assistance in this complex area.

Internet link: HMRC finance bill draft

Government must tackle red tape

The CBI is calling on the Government to tackle ‘red tape’. The CBI is warning that economic growth faces being held back because of tens of millions of pounds in extra business red tape coming from the UK Government and Europe.

It has published a report ‘Changing the rules – eight steps to a better regulatory regime’, which calls on ministers to tackle the red tape and bureaucracy created in Whitehall.

According to the report the net added cost of regulation on UK businesses will increase by £177.7m as a result of policies created in 2011 alone, when for every £3 of costs removed, another £5 was added.

Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director, said:

‘Regulation has an essential role to play in a thriving market economy, promoting competition and protecting consumers, but we know it can be a major barrier to growth.’

‘The Autumn Statement contained some really welcome proposals to improve the accessibility and accountability of the regulators that enforce many of the rules, but the facts speak for themselves. Small and medium-sized businesses are the engines of growth, but they’re telling us they are drowning under the weight of extra regulation coming out of Whitehall, layered on top of outdated red tape which has not been repealed.’

‘We’re calling on the Government to back up its words with action. We want to toughen up the law so there is a presumption that every piece of regulation has a sunset clause, so it expires after a set date unless it is actively renewed.’

Internet link: Press release

Reminder to those with high income and child benefit

HMRC are reminding Child Benefit recipients with higher incomes that they have a month to decide whether to stop receiving the benefit or to pay a charge on it through self assessment.

Lin Homer, HMRC’s Chief Executive, said:

‘Over 680,000 people have already looked at information on HMRC’s website that explains the changes and what steps those affected can take. It is really easy to use and will help families come to a decision.’

The High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) is being introduced from 7 January 2013. It will mainly apply to a taxpayer who has ‘adjusted net income’ in excess of £50,000, where either they or their partner is in receipt of Child Benefit. The effect of the charge is to claw back some or all of the Child Benefit paid. Where both partners have income in excess of £50,000 the charge will apply to the partner with the higher income.

Adjusted net income, which is broadly gross income less pension payments and gift aid payments, has the same meaning as for the withdrawal of the personal allowance for taxpayers with income above £100,000.

Where a taxpayer has adjusted net income of £60,000 or more then the charge has the effect of cancelling out the Child Benefit paid. A sliding scale charge operates where income is between £50,000 and £60,000.

The charge will apply to the Child Benefit paid from 7 January to the end of the tax year. However, the income taken into account will be the full income for 2012/13.

Child Benefit claimants will be able to elect not to receive Child Benefit if they or their partner do not wish to pay the new charge.

If Child Benefit recipients want to stop receiving the benefit, they should contact HMRC before 7 January 2013. Please visit the HMRC Child Benefit guidance link below for more details.

Internet links: Press release HMRC Child Benefit guidance

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates took effect from 1 December 2012. HMRC’s website states:

‘These rates apply to all journeys on or after 1 December 2012 until further notice. For one month from the date of change, employers may use either the previous or new current rates, as they choose. Employers may therefore make or require supplementary payments if they so wish, but are under no obligation to do either.’

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 December 2012 are:

Engine size Petrol LPG
1400cc or less 15p 11p
51 hours or more 18p 13p
101 hours or more 26p 18p


Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 12p
1601cc – 2000cc 15p
Over 2000cc 18p

Please note that not all of the rates have been increased, 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: HMRC advisory fuel rates

2013/14 statutory payments

HMRC have announced the following statutory payment rates for 2013/14. These rates are still subject to Parliamentary approval and will be confirmed by HMRC before the start of the new tax year.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) £136.78 per week
Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay (OSPP) £136.78 per week
Additional Statutory Paternity Pay (ASPP) £136.78 per week
Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) £136.78 per week
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) £86.70 per week

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

Internet link: Proposed benefit rates

Charities and Gift Aid

HMRC will introduce a new online service which will enable Charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) to submit repayment claims electronically, Charities Online, in April 2013.

It will replace the current R68(i) Gift Aid and tax repayments claims form and will be a way for charities and CASCs to claim Gift Aid, tax repayments on other income and Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme top-up payments by using an online form.

Internet link: HMRC charities online

File your self assessment return

A HMRC advertising campaign is urging anyone who hasn’t sent in their 2011/12 self assessment tax return to do it now and find ‘inner peace‘.

The new advertising campaign, highlights the imminent 31 January 2013 deadline for online returns, and the automatic £100 penalty for missing the deadline. The adverts will encourage people who still haven’t sent their return to ‘do it today, pay what you owe and take a load off your mind‘, so they can experience ‘inner peace‘.

According to HMRC, the campaign has been developed to touch on the emotions that HMRC found people typically experience after they have filled in their tax return, often described ‘as a real sense of relief or peace of mind, like a weight being lifted from their shoulders‘. The new adverts will feature individuals from different professions experiencing this feeling of post return wellbeing.

The 31 January 2013 deadline is relevant to individuals who need to complete a self assessment tax return and make direct payments to HMRC in respect of their income tax, Class 4 National Insurance and any capital gains tax liabilities. There is an automatic penalty of £100 if the return is not submitted on time, even if there is not tax due or the return shows that a refund is due.

The balance of any outstanding income tax, Class 4 NI and capital gains tax for 2011/12 is also due for payment by 31 January 2013. Where the payment is made late interest will be charged.

The first payment on account for 2012/13 is also due for payment by 31 January 2013.

If we have already dealt with your self assessment return on your behalf and advised you what you need to pay you need take no additional action.

Internet links: Press release HMRC SA deadlines and penalties