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

Budget 2015 – An Overview

The Budget 2015

George Osborne presented the final Budget of this Parliament on Wednesday 18 March 2015.

In his speech the Chancellor reported ‘on a Britain that is growing, creating jobs and paying its way’.

Towards the end of 2014 the government issued many proposed clauses of Finance Bill 2015 together with updates on consultations. Due to the dissolution of Parliament on 30 March some measures will be legislated for in the week commencing 23 March, whilst others will be enacted by a Finance Bill in the next Parliament (depending on the result of the General Election).

The Budget proposes further measures, some of which may only come to fruition if the Conservative Party is in power in the next Parliament.

Our summary focuses on the issues likely to affect you, your family and your business. To help you decipher what was announced we have included our own comments. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.

Main Budget tax proposals

  • Increased personal allowances
  • The introduction of a new Personal Savings Allowance
  • Changes to ISAs including the introduction of a new type of ISA for First Time Buyers
  • Changes to pensions
  • Potential business rate reform in England
  • Entrepreneur’s Relief – changes to qualifying conditions

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

Personal Tax

The personal allowance for 2015/16

For those born after 5 April 1938 the personal allowance will be increased to £10,600. For those born before 6 April 1938 the personal allowance remains at £10,660.

Comment

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. So for 2015/16 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £121,200.

Tax bands and rates for 2015/16

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is being decreased from £31,865 to £31,785 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies will rise from £41,865 to £42,385 for those who are entitled to the full basic personal allowance.

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

Dividend income is taxed at 10% where it falls within the basic rate band and 32.5% where liable at the higher rate of tax. Where income exceeds £150,000, dividends are taxed at 37.5%.

Starting rate of tax for savings income

From 6 April 2015, the maximum amount of an eligible individual’s savings income that can qualify for the starting rate of tax for savings will be increased from £2,880 to £5,000, and this starting rate will be reduced from 10% to 0%. These rates are not available if taxable non-savings income (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income) exceeds the starting rate limit.

Comment

This will increase the number of savers who are not required to pay tax on savings income, such as bank or building society interest. Eligible savers can register to receive their interest gross using a form R85.

The increase will also provide a useful tax break for director-shareholders who extract their share of profits from a company by taking a low salary and the balance in dividends. This is because dividends are taxed after savings income and thus are not included in the individual’s ‘taxable non-savings income’.

Transferable Tax Allowance

From 6 April 2015 married couples and civil partners may be eligible for a new Transferable Tax Allowance.

The Transferable Tax Allowance will enable spouses and civil partners to transfer a fixed amount of their personal allowance to their spouse. The option to transfer is not available to unmarried couples.

The option to transfer will be available to couples where neither pays tax at the higher or additional rate. If eligible, one partner will be able to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to the other partner which means £1,060 for the 2015/16 tax year.

Comment

For those couples where one person does not use all of their personal allowance the benefit will be up to £212 (20% of £1,060).

Eligible couples can now register their interest for marriage allowance at GOV.UK/marriageallowance. The spouse or partner with the lower income registers their interest in transferring some of their personal allowance by entering some basic details. HMRC will subsequently invite the couple to apply. Those who don’t register their interest will be able to make an application at a later date and still receive the allowance.

The personal allowance and tax bands for 2016/17 and beyond

The personal allowance will be increased to £10,800 in 2016/17 and to £11,000 in 2017/18. The Transferable Tax Allowance will also rise in line with the personal allowance, being 10% of the personal allowance for the year.

The higher rate threshold will rise in line with the personal allowance, taking it to £42,700 in 2016/17 and £43,300 in 2017/18 for those entitled to the full personal allowance.

Personal Savings Allowance

The Chancellor announced that legislation will be introduced in a future Finance Bill to apply a Personal Savings Allowance to income such as bank and building society interest from 6 April 2016.

The Personal Savings Allowance will apply for up to £1,000 of a basic rate taxpayer’s savings income, and up to £500 of a higher rate taxpayer’s savings income each year. The Personal Savings Allowance will not be available for additional rate taxpayers.

These changes will have effect from 6 April 2016 and the Personal Savings Allowance will be in addition to the tax advantages currently available to savers from Individual Savings Accounts.

Comment

The Personal Savings Allowance will provide basic and higher rate tax payers with a tax saving of up to £200 each year.

The end of tax deduction at source on interest

Due to the changes to the starting rate for savings and the introduction of a Personal Savings Allowance, many individuals will no longer need to pay tax on their savings income. Currently, 20% income tax is automatically deducted from most interest on savings excluding ISAs.

From April 2016, the automatic deduction of 20% income tax by banks and building societies on non-ISA savings will cease.

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

On 1 July 2014 ISAs were reformed and the overall annual subscription limit for these accounts was increased to £15,000 for 2014/15. From 6 April 2015 the overall ISA savings limit will be increased to £15,240.

The Chancellor announced in the Autumn Statement an additional ISA allowance for spouses or civil partners when an ISA saver dies. The additional ISA allowance will be equal to the value of a deceased person’s savings at the time of their death and will be in addition to the normal ISA subscription limit. Regulations will set out the time period within which the additional allowance will be used. In certain circumstances an individual will be able to transfer to their own ISA non-cash assets such as stocks and shares previously held by their spouse.

Comment

In most cases it is envisaged that the additional allowance will be used to subscribe to an ISA offered by the same financial institution that provided the deceased person’s ISA. As the new regulations will allow the transfer of stocks and shares directly into the new ISA, in many cases the effect will be that the investments are left intact and the spouse becomes the new owner of the deceased person’s ISA.

This measure applies for deaths from 3 December 2014 and takes effect from 6 April 2015.

As announced at Budget 2015, regulations will be introduced to extend the list of qualifying investments for ISAs and Child Trust Funds to include listed bonds issued by Co-operative Societies and Community Benefit Societies and SME securities that are admitted to trading on a recognised stock exchange, with effect from 1 July 2015.

The government will also consult during summer 2015 on further extending this list of qualifying investments to include debt securities and equity securities offered via crowd funding platforms.

It was announced at Budget 2015 that regulations will be introduced in autumn 2015, following consultation on technical detail, to enable ISA savers to withdraw and replace money from their cash ISA without it counting towards their annual ISA subscription limit for that year.

At Budget 2014, the Chancellor announced that peer-to-peer loans would be eligible for inclusion within ISAs. The government has consulted on the options for changes to the ISA rules to allow peer-to-peer loans to be held within them.

No start date has been announced.

Comment

Peer-to-peer lending is a small but rapidly growing alternative source of finance for individuals and businesses. The inclusion of such loans in ISAs will increase choice for investors and encourage the growth of the peer-to-peer sector.

Help to Buy ISA

The government has announced the introduction of a new type of ISA, the Help to Buy ISA, which will provide a tax free savings account for first time buyers wishing to save for a home.

The scheme will provide a government bonus to each person who has saved into a Help to Buy ISA at the point they use their savings to purchase their first home. For every £200 a first time buyer saves, the government will provide a £50 bonus up to a maximum bonus of £3,000 on £12,000 of savings.

Help to Buy ISAs will be subject to eligibility rules and limits:

  • An individual will only be eligible for one account throughout the lifetime of the scheme and it is only available to first time buyers.
  • Interest received on the account will be tax free.
  • Savings will be limited to a monthly maximum of £200 with an opportunity to deposit an additional £1,000 when the account is first opened.
  • The government will provide a 25% bonus on the total amount saved including interest, capped at a maximum of £3,000 which is tax free.
  • The bonus will be paid when the first home is purchased.
  • The bonus can only be put towards a first home located in the UK with a purchase value of £450,000 or less in London and £250,000 or less in the rest of the UK.
  • The government bonus can be claimed at any time, subject to a minimum bonus amount of £400.
  • The accounts are limited to one per person rather than one per home so those buying together can both receive a bonus.
  • As is currently the case it will only be possible for an individual to subscribe to one cash ISA per year. It will not be possible for an account holder to subscribe to a Help to Buy ISA with one provider and another cash ISA with a different provider.
  • Once an account is opened there is no limit on how long an individual can save into it and no time limit on when they can use their bonus.

The government intends the Help to Buy ISA scheme to be available from autumn 2015 and investors will be able to open a Help to Buy ISA for a period of four years.

Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund (CTF)

The annual subscription limit for Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund accounts will increase from £4,000 to £4,080.

The government has previously decided that a transfer of savings from a CTF to a Junior ISA should be permitted at the request of the registered contact for the CTF. The government has confirmed the measure will have effect from 6 April 2015.

Bad debt relief on investments made on peer-to-peer lending

The government will introduce a new relief to allow individuals lending through peer-to-peer platforms to offset any losses from loans which go bad against other peer-to-peer income. It will be effective from 6 April 2016 and, through self assessment, will allow individuals to make a claim for relief on losses incurred from 6 April 2015.

Pensions saving

There is an overall limit, known as the lifetime allowance, on the total amount of tax relieved pension savings that an individual can have over their lifetime. The Chancellor has now announced that for tax year 2016/17 onwards:

The standard lifetime allowance will be reduced from £1.25 million to £1 million.

Fixed and individual protection regimes will be introduced alongside the reduction in the lifetime allowance to protect savers who think they may be affected by this change.

The lifetime allowance will be indexed annually in line with CPI from 6 April 2018.

Pensions – changes to access to pension funds

The Taxation of Pensions Act has recently been enacted. It provides that individuals aged 55 or over can access their money purchase pension savings as they choose from 6 April 2015.

In most cases access to the fund will be achieved in one of two ways:

  • Allocation of a pension fund (or part of a pension fund) to a ‘flexi-access drawdown account’ from which any amount can be taken over whatever period the person decides.
  • Taking a single or series of lump sums from a pension fund (known as an ‘uncrystallised funds pension lump sum’).

When an allocation of funds to a flexi-access account is made the member typically will take the opportunity of taking a tax free lump sum from the fund (as under current rules).

The person will then decide how much or how little to take from the flexi-access account. Any amounts that are taken will count as taxable income in the year of receipt.

Access to some or all of a pension fund without first allocating to a flexi-access account can be achieved by taking an uncrystallised funds pension lump sum.

The tax effect will be:

  • 25% is tax free
  • the remainder is taxable as income.

An annuity can, of course, be purchased with some or all of the fund as currently.

Comment

The fundamental tax planning point arising from the changes is self-evident. A person should decide when to access funds depending upon their other income in each tax year.

Pension freedoms to be extended to people with annuities

The Chancellor announced just before the Budget a new flexibility for people who have already purchased an annuity. From April 2016, the government will remove the restrictions on buying and selling existing annuities to allow pensioners to sell the income they receive from their annuity for a capital sum.

Individuals will then have the freedom to take that capital as a lump sum, or place it into drawdown to use the proceeds more gradually.

Income tax at the individuals’ marginal rate will be payable in the year of access to the proceeds.

The proposal will not give the annuity holder the right to sell their annuity back to their original provider. The government has begun a consultation on the measures that are needed to establish a market to buy and sell annuities and who should be permitted to purchase the annuity income.

Comment

The government recognises that for most people retaining their annuity will be the right choice. However, individuals may want to sell an annuity, for instance to pay off debts or to purchase a more flexible pension income product.

Taxation of resident non-domiciles

There will be some changes in the annual charge paid by non-domiciled individuals resident in the UK who wish to retain access to the remittance basis of taxation.

The charge paid by people who have been UK resident for seven out of the last nine years will remain at £30,000. The charge paid by people who have been UK resident for 12 out of the last 14 years will increase from £50,000 to £60,000. A new charge of £90,000 will be introduced for people who have been UK resident for 17 of the last 20 years.

The changes apply for 2015/16.

The government is consulting on making the election to pay the remittance basis charge apply for a minimum of three years.

Business Tax

Corporation tax rates

From 1 April 2015 the main rate of corporation tax, currently 21%, will be reduced to 20%.

As the small profits rate is already 20%, the need for this separate code of taxation disappears. The small profits rate will therefore be unified with the main rate.

It is proposed that the rate of corporation tax will continue at 20% for the financial year beginning on 1 April 2016.

Annual Investment Allowance (AIA)

The AIA provides a 100% deduction for the cost of most plant and machinery (not cars) purchased by a business up to an annual limit and is available to most businesses. Where businesses spend more than the annual limit, any additional qualifying expenditure generally attracts an annual writing down allowance of only 18% or 8% depending on the type of asset.

The maximum annual amount of the AIA was increased to £500,000 from 1 April 2014 for companies or 6 April 2014 for unincorporated businesses until 31 December 2015. However it was due to return to £25,000 after this date. The Chancellor announced that following conversations with business groups this would be addressed in the Autumn Statement and would be set at a much more generous rate.

Research and Development (R&D) tax credits

As previously announced, the government will increase the rate of the ‘above the line’ credit from 10% to 11% and will increase the rate of the SME scheme from 225% to 230% from 1 April 2015.

It is proposed to restrict qualifying expenditure for R&D tax credits from 1 April 2015 so that the costs of consumable items incorporated in products that are sold are not eligible. Following consultation the restriction will not apply where the product of the R&D is transferred as waste, or where it is transferred but no consideration is received.

A new voluntary advance assurance service lasting three years will be introduced for small companies making their first claim from autumn 2015. From 2016 the time taken to process a claim will be reduced. New guidance will be issued by HMRC aimed specifically at smaller companies, backed by a two year publicity strategy to raise awareness of R&D tax credits. HMRC will publish a document in the summer setting out a roadmap for further improvements to the scheme over the next two years.

Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) improvements

At Autumn Statement the government announced it would make a number of changes to the CIS. The aim of the changes is to reduce the administrative burden and related cost burden on construction businesses. The measures should result in more subcontracting businesses being able to achieve and maintain gross payment status, thus improving their cashflow. These changes are to be implemented in stages by the issue of Statutory Instruments.

From 6 April 2015 amendments will be made to the system including:

  • The requirement for a contractor to make a return to HMRC even if the contractor has not made any payments in a tax month is removed.
  • The requirements for joint ventures to gain gross payment status will be relaxed where one member already has this status and where that firm or company has a right to at least 50% of the assets or the income or holds at least 50% of the shares or the voting power in the joint venture.

From 6 April 2016 further changes are proposed:

  • Mandatory online filing of CIS returns will be introduced with the offer of alternative filing arrangements for those unable to access an online channel by reason of age, disability, remote location or religious objection.
  • The directors’ self assessment filing requirements will be removed from the initial and annual compliance tests.
  • The threshold for the turnover test will be reduced to £100,000 in multiple directorship situations.

From 6 April 2017 mandatory online verification of subcontractors will be introduced.

Comment

About two thirds of CIS contractors are also employers who therefore file Real Time Information PAYE returns online. It is no surprise that the government wants to extend the scope of mandatory online filing. The improvements to the online verification process would be welcome but the government is also proposing to remove the option of verifying subcontractors by telephone.

Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NIC)

From 6 April 2015 liability to pay Class 2 NIC will arise at the end of each year. Currently a liability to Class 2 NIC arises on a weekly basis.

The amount of Class 2 NIC due will still be calculated based on the number of weeks of self-employment in the year, but will be determined when the individual completes their self assessment return. It will therefore be paid alongside their income tax and Class 4 NIC. For those who wish to spread the cost of their Class 2 NIC, HMRC will retain a facility for them to make regular payments throughout the year. The current six monthly billing system will cease from 6 April 2015.

Those with profits below a threshold will no longer have to apply in advance for an exception from paying Class 2 NIC. Instead they will have the option to pay Class 2 NIC voluntarily at the end of the year so that they may protect their benefit rights.

The government has announced that Class 2 NIC will be abolished in the next Parliament and will reform Class 4 NIC to include a contributory benefit test. Consultation on these matters will take place later in 2015.

Corporation tax relief for goodwill on incorporation

Corporation tax relief may be available to companies when goodwill and intangible assets are recognised in the financial accounts. Relief is normally given on the cost of the asset as the expenditure is written off in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Practice or at a fixed 4% rate, following an election.

An anti-avoidance measure was announced at Autumn Statement to restrict corporation tax relief. The restriction applies where a company acquires internally-generated goodwill and certain other intangible assets used in a business from ‘related persons’. In particular, related persons includes individuals who are shareholders in the company.

In addition, individuals will be prevented from claiming Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER) on disposals of goodwill when they transfer the business to a related company. Capital gains tax will be payable on the gain at the normal rates of 18% or 28% rather than 10%. Following consultation, the legislation will be revised to allow ER to be claimed by partners in a firm who do not hold or acquire any stake in the successor company.

These measures apply to all transfers on or after 3 December 2014 unless made pursuant to an unconditional obligation entered into before that date.

Comment

Prior to this announcement it was possible, for example, on incorporation of a sole trader’s business to a company which is owned by the sole trader, for the company to obtain corporation tax relief on the market value of goodwill at the time of incorporation. The disposal by the sole trader would qualify for a low rate of capital gains tax.

The government considers this is unfair to a business that has always operated as a company.

Diverted profits tax

At Autumn Statement, a new tax to counter the use of aggressive tax planning techniques by multinational enterprises to divert profits from the UK was announced. Legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2015 for a new Diverted Profits Tax using a proposed rate of 25% to apply from 1 April 2015.

Farmers averaging

The government will extend the period over which self-employed farmers can average their profits for income tax purposes from two years to five years. A consultation will be held later this year and the legislation to be introduced in a future Finance Bill will come into effect from 6 April 2016.

Changes to venture capital schemes

The government will make amendments to the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs).

The government will, subject to EU State aid approval:

  • Require that companies must be less than 12 years old when receiving their first EIS or VCT investment, except where the investment will lead to a substantial change in the company’s activity.
  • Introduce a cap on total investment received under the tax-advantaged venture capital schemes of £15 million, increasing to £20 million for knowledge-intensive companies.
  • Increase the employee limit for knowledge-intensive companies to 499 employees, from the current limit of 249 employees.

The government will encourage the transition from SEIS to the other venture capital schemes by removing the requirement that 70% of the funds raised under SEIS must have been spent before EIS or VCT funding can be raised.

Business rates – England

Shortly before the Budget the government launched a wide-ranging review of national business rates in England.

The review, set to report back by Budget 2016, will examine the structure of the current system. The review will look at how businesses use property and how to modernise the system so it better reflects changes in the value of property.

Employment Taxes

Employer provided cars

The scale of charges for working out the taxable benefit for an employee who has use of an employer provided car are now announced well in advance. Most cars are taxed by reference to bands of CO2 emissions. The percentage applied to each band has typically gone up by 1% each year with an overriding maximum charge of 35% of the list price of the car. From 6 April 2015 the percentage applied by each band goes up by 2% and the maximum charge is increased to 37%.

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%. The 3% diesel supplement will be removed from 6 April 2016.

Comment

These increases may discourage businesses from retaining the same car. New cars will often have lower CO2 emissions than the equivalent model purchased by the employer, say three years earlier.

Zero emission vans

The van benefit charge exemption for zero emission vans is to be phased out from 6 April 2015. For 2015/16 a charge will apply equal to 20% of the normal van benefit charge. This will increase by a further 20% each year over the next three years up to 2018/19 and by a further 10% in 2019/20. From 6 April 2020 a normal 100% van benefit charge will apply to zero emission vans.

Comment

The charge for a zero emission van for 2015/16 will therefore be £630 (£3,150 x 20%).

Employer National Insurance contributions (NIC) for the under 21s

From 6 April 2015 employer NIC for employees under the age of 21 will be reduced from the normal rate of 13.8% to 0%. For the 0% rate to apply the employee will need to be under 21 when the earnings are paid.

This exemption will not apply to earnings above the Upper Secondary Threshold (UST) in a pay period. The weekly UST is £815 for 2015/16 which is equivalent to £42,385 per annum. Employers will be liable to 13.8% NIC beyond this limit.

Comment

The UST is a new term introduced for this new NIC exemption. It is set at the same amount as the Upper Earnings Limit, which is the amount at which employees’ NIC fall from 12% to 2%.

NIC for apprentices under 25

The government will abolish employer NIC up to the UST for apprentices aged under 25. This will come into effect from 6 April 2016.

Comment

Detailed regulations will be issued on the NIC for apprentices including the definition of an apprentice.

NIC Employment Allowance

The Employment Allowance was introduced from 6 April 2014. It is an annual allowance of up to £2,000 which is available to many employers and can be offset against their employer NIC liability.

The government will extend the annual £2,000 Employment Allowance for employer NIC to householders who employ care and support workers. This will come into effect from 6 April 2015.

Review of employee benefits

In 2014 the Office of Tax Simplification published recommendations on the tax treatment of employee benefits in kind and expenses. In response the government has issued draft legislation on four areas:

  • From 6 April 2015 there will be a statutory exemption for certain non-cash benefits in kind costing up to £50. An annual cap of £300 will be introduced for office holders of close companies and employees who are family members of those office holders. Those affected by this cap will be able to receive a maximum of £300 worth of trivial benefits in kind each year exempt from tax.
  • From 6 April 2016 the £8,500 threshold below which employees do not pay income tax on certain benefits in kind will be removed. There will be new exemptions for carers and ministers of religion.
  • From 6 April 2016 there will be no tax liability on an employee for certain reimbursed expenses. This will replace the current system where employers have to apply for a dispensation to avoid having to report non-taxable expenses (on forms P11D). Also employees will automatically get the tax relief they are due on qualifying expenses payments.
  • HMRC will be able to issue Regulations to allow employers to include taxable benefits in pay and thus account for PAYE on the benefits. Employers will therefore not have to include these items on forms P11D.

Overarching contracts of employment and temporary workers

The use of overarching contracts of employment by employment intermediaries such as ‘umbrella companies’ can result in workers obtaining tax relief for home to work travel that would not ordinarily be available.

From April 2016 the government will change the rules to restrict travel and subsistence relief for workers engaged through an employment intermediary, such as an umbrella company or a personal service company, and under the supervision, direction and control of the end-user.

Capital Taxes

Capital gains tax (CGT) rates

The current rates of CGT are 18% to the extent that any income tax basic rate band is available and 28% thereafter. The rate for disposals qualifying for Entrepreneurs’ Relief is 10% with a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual.

CGT annual exemption

The CGT annual exemption will increase to £11,100 for 2015/16.

CGT – Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER)

Gains which are eligible for ER, but which are deferred into investments which qualify for the Enterprise Investment Scheme or Social Investment Tax Relief can now remain eligible for ER when the gain is realised. This applies to qualifying ER gains on disposals on or after 3 December 2014 which are deferred into either scheme.

CGT – Restricting ER

ER will not be available to reduce CGT on gains which accrue on personally owned assets used in a trading business carried on by a company or a partnership, unless they are disposed of in connection with a disposal of at least a 5% shareholding in the company, or a 5% share in the partnership assets. This measure will affect disposals on and after 18 March 2015.

Comment

To obtain ER on a personally owned asset used in a trading company or partnership there has to be a genuine withdrawal from participation in the company or partnership. The measure therefore clarifies what is allowed for a valid ER claim to be made.

CGT – ER on joint ventures and partnerships

Amendments are to be made for ER purposes to the definition of a trading company or holding company of a trading group. This will be determined by reference to that company’s own activities (or the activities of the group.)

The aim is to exclude the activities carried on by joint venture companies in which a company is invested, or of partnerships of which a company is a member. Therefore a company will need to have a significant trade of its own in order to be considered as a trading company. It does not, however, affect shareholdings in companies whose investment in a joint venture is part of their own trade. This measure will affect disposals on and after 18 March 2015.

CGT – non-residents and UK residential property

Following consultation the government has confirmed that from 6 April 2015 non-UK resident individuals, trusts, personal representatives and narrowly controlled companies will be subject to CGT on gains accruing on the disposal of UK residential property on or after that date. Non-resident individuals will be subject to tax at the same rates as UK taxpayers (28% or 18% on gains above the annual exemption). Non-resident companies will be subject to tax at the same rates as UK corporates (20%).

CGT – Principal Private Residence Relief (PPR)

The government has decided that some changes are required to the rules determining the circumstances when a property can benefit from PPR. The changes will apply to both a UK resident disposing of a residence in another country and a non-resident disposing of a UK residence.

From 6 April 2015 a person’s residence will not be eligible for PPR for a tax year unless either:

  • the person making the disposal was resident in the same country as the property for that tax year, or
  • the person spent at least 90 midnights in that property.

Comment

The main point of the changes to the PPR rules is to remove the ability of an individual who is resident in, say, France with a property in the UK as well as France to nominate the UK property as having the benefit of PPR. Any gain on the French property is not subject to UK tax anyway and, without changes to the PPR rules, the gain on the UK property could be removed by making a PPR election.

The good news is that the latest proposals retain the ability of a UK resident with two UK residences to nominate which of those properties has the benefit of PPR.

Changes to the tax treatment of pension funds on death

If an individual has not bought an annuity, a defined contribution pension fund remains available to pass on to selected beneficiaries. Inheritance tax (IHT) can be avoided by making a ‘letter of wishes’ to the pension provider suggesting to whom the funds should be paid. However, currently there are other tax charges to reflect the principle that income tax relief would have been given on contributions into the pension fund and therefore some tax should be payable when the fund is paid out. In some situations tax at 55% of the fund value is payable.

The government has introduced significant exceptions from the tax charges (in the Taxation of Pensions Act). Generally the changes take effect where the first payment to a beneficiary is on or after 6 April 2015.

Under the new system, anyone who dies under the age of 75 will be able to give their remaining defined contribution pension fund to anyone completely tax free, whether it is in a drawdown account or untouched. This is subject to the condition that the fund is transferred into the names of chosen beneficiaries within two years. The fund can be paid out as a lump sum to a beneficiary or monies taken out of the fund by the beneficiary when required.

Those aged 75 or over when they die will also be able to pass their defined contribution pension fund to any beneficiary who will then be able to draw down on it as income whenever they wish. They will pay tax at their marginal rate of income tax when the income is received. Beneficiaries will also have the option of receiving the fund as a lump sum payment, subject to a tax charge of 45%.

Changes to the tax treatment of annuities on death

Draft legislation has been issued which changes the tax treatment when an annuity continues to be paid after death. The changes mirror the changes to the treatment of pension funds passing to beneficiaries on death. For example beneficiaries of individuals who die under the age of 75 with a joint life or guaranteed term annuity will be able to receive any future payments from such policies tax free.

The changes apply where the first payment to a beneficiary is on or after 6 April 2015.

Inheritance tax and deeds of variation

The government will review the uses of deeds of variation as these can currently be used to avoid IHT charges.

Other Matters

Digital tax accounts

The government has announced some initiatives to ‘transform the tax system over the next Parliament’ by introducing digital tax accounts and removing the need for annual tax returns. A digital tax account will enable individuals and small businesses to see and manage their tax affairs online. As a first step, the government will:

  • publish a roadmap later this year setting out the policy and administrative changes needed to implement this reform
  • introduce digital tax accounts for five million small businesses and the ten million individuals by early 2016.

Gift Aid

It is proposed to increase the annual donation amount which can be claimed through the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme to £8,000. This will allow charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs to claim Gift Aid style top-up payments of up to £2,000 a year, with effect from April 2016.

VAT help for certain charities

As announced at Autumn Statement 2014 hospice, search and rescue and air ambulance charities will be eligible for VAT refunds from 1 April 2015. The Chancellor has now announced that blood bike charities will also be included.

Tax evasion

The government will toughen sanctions for those who evade tax by closing early the existing disclosure facilities. For example the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility will close at the end of 2015, instead of April 2016. A tougher ‘last chance’ disclosure facility will be offered between 2016 and mid-2017, with penalties of at least 30% on top of tax owed and interest and with no immunity from criminal prosecutions in appropriate cases.

Tax avoidance

The government will introduce tougher measures for those who persistently enter into tax avoidance schemes that fail, and will develop further measures to publish the names of such avoiders and to tackle avoiders who repeatedly abuse reliefs.

Specific anti-avoidance measures

  • The government will introduce legislation, effective from 18 March 2015, to prevent companies from obtaining a tax advantage by entering contrived arrangements to turn historic tax losses of restricted use into more versatile in-year deductions.
  • Measures will be introduced to prevent partly exempt VAT businesses taking account of foreign branches when calculating how much VAT on overhead costs they can reclaim in the UK. This will take effect from 1 August 2015.
  • The government will introduce legislation, with effect from 26 February 2015, to clarify the effect of capital allowances anti-avoidance rules where there are transactions between connected parties or sale and leaseback transactions.

This summary is published for the information of clients. It provides only an overview of the main proposals announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget Statement, and no action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material contained in this summary can be accepted by the authors or the firm.

Newsletter – January 2015

eNews – January 2015

In this month’s eNews we report on a number of issues including an update on the calculation of holiday pay, construction industry changes ahead, guidance on VAT and digital services and the latest disclosure opportunity for solicitors.

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

Changes to the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)

The government has announced that it will implement a package of improvements to the CIS. The stated aim of the changes is to reduce the administrative and related cost burden on construction businesses. The measures should result in more subcontracting businesses being able to achieve and maintain gross payment status so improving their cashflow. These changes are to be implemented in stages.

From 6 April 2015 the following amendments will be made to the system:

  • The requirement for a contractor to make a return to HMRC even if the contractor has not made any payments in a tax month will be removed. Contractors may make a voluntary nil return but will no longer be obliged to do so.
  • The requirements for joint ventures to gain gross payment status will be relaxed where one member already has this status and that firm or company has a right to at least 50% of the assets or the income or holds at least 50% of the shares or the voting power in the joint venture.
  • Earlier repayments can be made to liquidators in insolvency proceedings. Currently where a subcontractor is a company, no repayment of any amount deducted and paid over to HMRC by a contractor can be made to the subcontractor until after the end of the tax year in which the deduction was made. These rules will be amended so that in certain cases where the amount deducted by the contractor is excessive, a repayment can be made during the tax year.

From 6 April 2016 further changes are proposed:

  • Mandatory online filing of CIS returns will be introduced with the offer of alternative filing arrangements for those unable to access an online channel by reason of age, disability, remote location or religious objection.
  • The directors’ self assessment filing requirements will be removed from the initial and annual compliance tests.
  • The threshold for the turnover test will be reduced to £100,000 in multiple directorship situations.

From 6 April 2017 mandatory online verification of subcontractors will be introduced.

Internet link: CIS

VAT and digital services

HMRC have issued some additional guidance for small businesses which supply digital services to consumers in other EU Member States.

The guidance advises:

  • how to comply with new VAT rules on the place of supply of digital services that came into force on 1 January 2015
  • how to register for HMRC’s VAT Mini-One Stop Shop (MOSS) and still benefit from the UK’s VAT registration threshold for sales to UK consumers.

On 1 January 2015, the VAT rules for cross-border Business to Consumer supplies of ‘digital services’ (for example broadcasting, telecoms and e-services) changed. Broadly from that date, VAT must be accounted for in the Member State where the consumer normally is, rather than where the supplier of the service is established.

HMRC have also issued more general guidance on the change to all businesses which can be found here

If you would like further information on this issue please contact us.

Internet links: News Guidance

1,773 ‘happy returns’ at Christmas

HMRC have reported that they received 1,773 online tax returns on Christmas Day, with the busiest time for online returns on 25 December between midday and 1pm, when 148 Yuletide returns were delivered electronically.

Christmas Eve, which has traditionally been a much busier day for festive filing than Christmas Day, saw 17,644 online returns successfully submitted.

In total, 24,228 online returns were received over the three-day festive period (including Boxing Day) which was a 5% increase on the 2013 total.

HMRC Director General of Personal Tax, Ruth Owen, said:

‘You can file your online return at any time of day or night – even Christmas Day, if it suits you. But don’t leave it too late. Give yourself plenty of time to resolve any problems and if you need to call us, do it now, as our phone lines get much busier as the 31 January deadline approaches.’

The deadline for sending 2013/14 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2015.

Internet link: Gov news

Holiday pay and overtime update

We have previously reported that in the judgment an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decided that holiday pay should reflect non-guaranteed overtime.

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 most workers are entitled to paid statutory annual leave. This is 5.6 weeks (28 days) if the employee works five days a week. A worker is entitled to be paid in respect of any period of annual leave for which they are entitled, at a rate of one week’s pay for each week’s leave.

The EAT considered three cases in which employees were required to work overtime if requested by their employees. The EAT referred to this type of overtime as non-guaranteed overtime. The Tribunal decided in the context of non-guaranteed overtime:

  • overtime payments must be taken into account in the calculation of holiday pay if there is a settled pattern of work
  • if the amount of overtime varies but is regularly paid, overtime payments must also be taken into account on an average basis.

Following fears that employers may face large backdating claims the Government has taken action to reduce potential costs to employers by limiting claims by introducing regulations which will mean that claims to Employment Tribunals on this issue cannot stretch back further than two years.

Employees can still make claims under the existing arrangements for the next six months which will act as a transition period before the new rules come into force. The changes apply to claims made on or after 1 July 2015.

Employers and employees can also contact the Acas helpline for free and confidential advice.

If you would like any help in this area please do get in touch.

Internet links: ACAS guidance Gov news

Tax on the diverted profits dubbed the new ‘Google tax’

The government has published draft tax legislation to implement the new tax on diverted profits which has been referred to as the ‘Google tax’. The introduction of a new Diverted Profits Tax which was announced in the 2014 Autumn Statement will target multinational enterprises with business activities in the UK who ‘enter into contrived arrangements to divert profits from the UK by avoiding a UK taxable presence and/or by other contrived arrangements between connected entities’.

The Diverted Profits Tax will be applied using a rate of 25% from 1 April 2015 and is expected to raise £1.4bn over the course of the next five years.

Commenting on the new measure, John Cridland, Director General of the CBI said:

‘International tax rules are in urgent need of updating but there is already an OECD process underway to do this. It is unfortunate that the UK has decided to go it alone with a Diverted Profits Tax outside this process, which will be a real concern for global businesses.’

‘The legislation will be complex to apply, and if other countries follow suit businesses will have a patchwork of uncoordinated unilateral rules to navigate, which risks undermining the whole OECD approach.’

Internet link: CBI News

Solicitors’ Tax Campaign

Solicitors are being given the chance by HMRC to bring their tax affairs up to date or face tougher penalties, as part of a new tax campaign.

The Solicitors Tax Campaign gives solicitors the opportunity to declare any undisclosed income by making a voluntary disclosure. The disclosure opportunity is available to those working within the legal profession either as a solicitor in a partnership or company, or as an individual.

Those affected have until 9 March 2015 to notify HMRC of the undisclosed income and need to complete a disclosure form and pay the outstanding liability by 9 June 2015.

Caroline Addison, Head of Campaigns, HMRC, said:

‘Information gathered by HMRC has allowed us to identify solicitors who thought they could operate without declaring income and paying the taxes that others have to pay. If you have not declared all of your income, you need to put your tax affairs in order. Take this chance to come forward and put things right in a straightforward way and on the best possible terms. It will be easier and cheaper for you to come to us than for us to come to you. Those who make a deliberate decision not to pay the taxes due could face a penalty of 100% or more of the tax due, or even a criminal prosecution.’

Internet links: Gov news1 Gov news2

RTI: filing penalties and appeals

In the latest Employer Bulletin HMRC are reminding employers that they are about to issue penalty notices to those employers who have failed to meet their RTI filing obligations.

Late filing penalties began on 6 October for employers with schemes of 50 or more employees. Those employers who have incurred these penalties will start to receive the penalty notices, which will be issued on a quarterly basis, from the beginning of February 2015.

The notice will be in the form of a ‘paper letter’, and will set out all filing penalties incurred for the third quarter of 2014/15 ( for tax months 7, 8 and 9 covering the period 6 October to 5 January 2015). The penalty notices may contain more than one penalty.

Agents are not sent a copy of this notice so if you receive one and would like guidance on whether the penalty is due or how to appeal against it please do get in touch as soon as possible. Further guidance on this issue can be found on page four of the latest Employer Bulletin.

Internet link: Employer bulletin

The Chancellor’s 2014 Autumn Statement

Autumn Statement 2014

On Wednesday 3 December the Office for Budget Responsibility published its updated forecast for the UK economy. Chancellor George Osborne responded to that forecast in a statement to the House of Commons later on that day.

In the period since the Budget in March a number of consultation papers and discussion documents have been published by HMRC and some of these proposals are summarised here. Draft legislation relating to many of these areas will be published on 10 December and some of the details in this summary may change as a result.

Our summary also provides a reminder of other significant developments which are to take place from April 2015.

The Chancellor’s statement

His speech and the subsequent documentation announced tax measures in addition to the normal economic measures.

Our summary concentrates on the tax measures which include:

  • improvements to the starting rate of tax for savings income
  • new rules for accessing pension funds
  • removal of corporation tax relief for goodwill on incorporation
  • changes to the Construction Industry Scheme
  • the introduction of new CGT rules for non-residents and UK residential property
  • changes to the remittance basis charge for resident non-domiciles
  • changes to the tax treatment of pensions on death
  • changes to the IHT treatment of trusts
  • changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax for residential property.

Personal Tax

The personal allowance for 2015/16

For those born after 5 April 1948 the personal allowance will be increased from £10,000 to £10,600.

Comment

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. So for 2014/15 there is no allowance when adjusted net income exceeds £120,000. In 2015/16 the allowance ceases when adjusted net income exceeds £121,200.

Tax bands and rates for 2015/16

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is being decreased from £31,865 to £31,785 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies will rise from £41,865 to £42,385 for those who are entitled to the full basic personal allowance.

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

Dividend income is taxed at 10% where it falls within the basic rate band and 32.5% where liable at the higher rate of tax. Where income exceeds £150,000, dividends are taxed at 37.5%.

Starting rate of tax for savings income

From 6 April 2015, the maximum amount of an eligible individual’s savings income that can qualify for the starting rate of tax for savings will be increased to £5,000 from £2,880, and this starting rate will be reduced from 10% to nil. These rates are not available if taxable non-savings income (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income) exceeds the starting rate limit.

Comment

This will increase the number of savers who are not required to pay tax on savings income, such as bank or building society interest. If a saver’s taxable non-savings income will be below the total of their personal allowance plus the £5,000 starting rate limit then they can register to receive their interest gross using a form R85.The increase will also provide a useful tax break for director/shareholders who extract their share of profits from a company by taking a low salary and the balance in dividends. This is because dividends are taxed after savings income and thus are not included in the individual’s ‘taxable non-savings income’.

 

Example

Type of income Amount Tax rate Comment on tax rate
Salary £10,600 Nil (as covered by personal allowance)
Bank interest £3,000 Nil (as salary plus interest is less than £15,600)

Dividend income is then taxed at the appropriate dividend tax rates.

Transferable Tax Allowance for some

From 6 April 2015 married couples and civil partners may be eligible for a new Transferable Tax Allowance.

The Transferable Tax Allowance will enable spouses and civil partners to transfer a fixed amount of their personal allowance to their spouse. The option to transfer is not available to unmarried couples.

The option to transfer will be available to couples where neither pays tax at the higher or additional rate. If eligible, one partner will be able to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to the other partner which means £1,060 for the 2015/16 tax year.

Comment

For those couples where one person does not use all of their personal allowance the benefit will be up to £212 (20% of £1,060).HMRC will, no doubt, be publicising the availability of the Transferable Tax Allowance in the next few months and details of how couples can opt to transfer allowances.

New Individual Savings Accounts (NISAs)

On 1 July 2014 ISAs were reformed into a simpler product, the NISA, and the overall annual subscription limit for these accounts was increased to £15,000 for 2014/15. From 6 April 2015 the overall NISA savings limit will be increased to £15,240.

The Chancellor has now announced an additional ISA allowance for spouses or civil partners when an ISA saver dies. From 6 April 2015, surviving spouses will be able to invest the inherited funds into their own ISA, on top of their usual allowance. This measure applies for deaths from 3 December 2014.

At Budget 2014, the Chancellor announced that peer-to-peer loans would be eligible for inclusion within NISAs. The government is consulting on the options for changes to the NISA rules to allow peer-to-peer loans to be held within them.

No start date has been announced.

Comment

Peer-to-peer lending is a small but rapidly growing alternative source of finance for individuals and businesses. The inclusion of such loans in NISAs will increase choice for investors and encourage the growth of the peer-to-peer sector.

Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund (CTF)

The annual subscription limit for Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund accounts will increase from £4,000 to £4,080.

The government has previously decided that a transfer of savings from a CTF to a Junior ISA should be permitted at the request of the registered contact for the CTF. The government has confirmed the measure will have effect from 6 April 2015.

Bad debt relief on investments made on peer-to-peer lending

The government will introduce a new relief to allow individuals lending through peer-to-peer platforms to offset any losses from loans which go bad against other peer-to-peer income. It will be effective from 6 April 2016 and, through self assessment, will allow individuals to make a claim for relief on losses incurred from 6 April 2015.

Pensions – changes to access of pension funds

In Budget 2014, George Osborne announced ‘pensioners will have complete freedom to draw down as much or as little of their pension pot as they want, anytime they want’. Some of changes have already taken effect but the big changes will come into effect on 6 April 2015 for individuals who have money purchase pension funds.

The tax consequences of the changes are contained in the Taxation of Pensions Bill which is currently going through Parliament.

Under the current system, there is some flexibility in accessing a pension fund from the age of 55:

  • tax free lump sum of 25% of fund value
  • purchase of an annuity with the remaining fund, or
  • income drawdown.

For income drawdown there are limits, in most cases, on how much people can draw each year.

An annuity is taxable income in the year of receipt. Similarly any monies received from the income drawdown fund are taxable income in the year of receipt.

From 6 April 2015, the ability to take a tax free lump sum and a lifetime annuity remain but some of the current restrictions on a lifetime annuity will be removed to allow more choice on the type of annuity taken out.

The rules involving drawdown will change. There will be total freedom to access a pension fund from the age of 55.

It is proposed that access to the fund will be achieved in one of two ways:

  • allocation of a pension fund (or part of a pension fund) into a ‘flexi-access drawdown account’ from which any amount can be taken over whatever period the person decides
  • taking a single or series of lump sums from a pension fund (known as an ‘uncrystallised funds pension lump sum’).

When an allocation of funds into a flexi-access account is made the member typically will take the opportunity of taking a tax free lump sum from the fund (as under current rules).

The person will then decide how much or how little to take from the flexi-access account. Any amounts that are taken will count as taxable income in the year of receipt.

Access to some or all of a pension fund without first allocating to a flexi-access account can be achieved by taking an uncrystallised funds pension lump sum.

The tax effect will be:

  • 25% is tax free
  • the remainder is taxable as income.

Comment

The fundamental tax planning point arising from the changes is self-evident. A person should decide when to access funds depending upon their other income in each tax year.

Pensions – changes to tax relief for pension contributions

The government is alive to the possibility of people taking advantage of the new flexibilities by ‘recycling’ their earned income into pensions and then immediately taking out amounts from their pension funds. Without further controls being put into place an individual would obtain tax relief on the pension contributions but only be taxed on 75% of the funds immediately withdrawn.

Currently an ‘annual allowance’ sets the maximum amount of tax efficient contributions. The annual allowance is £40,000 (but there may be more allowance available if the maximum allowance has not been utilised in the previous years).

Under the proposed rules from 6 April 2015, the annual allowance for contributions to money purchase schemes will be reduced to £10,000 in certain scenarios. There will be no carry forward of any of the £10,000 to a later year if it is not used in the year.

The main scenarios in which the reduced annual allowance is triggered is if:

  • any income is taken from a flexi-access drawdown account, or
  • an uncrystallised funds pension lump sum is received.

However just taking a tax-free lump sum when funds are transferred into a flexi-access account will not trigger the £10,000 rule.

Taxation of resident non-domiciles

The Chancellor has announced an increase in the annual charge paid by non-domiciled individuals resident in the UK who wish to retain access to the remittance basis of taxation.

The charge paid by people who have been UK resident for seven out of the last nine years will remain at £30,000. The charge paid by people who have been UK resident for 12 out of the last 14 years will increase from £50,000 to £60,000. A new charge of £90,000 will be introduced for people who have been UK resident for 17 of the last 20 years. The government will also consult on making the election apply for a minimum of three years.

 

Business Tax

Corporation tax rates

From 1 April 2015 the main rate of corporation tax, currently 21%, will be reduced to 20%.

As the small profits rate is already 20%, the need for this separate code of taxation disappears. The small profits rate will therefore be unified with the main rate.

Research and Development (R&D) tax credits

The government will increase the rate of the ‘above the line’ credit from 10% to 11% and will increase the rate of the SME scheme from 225% to 230% from 1 April 2015.

It is proposed to restrict qualifying expenditure for R&D tax credits from 1 April 2015 so that the costs of materials incorporated in products that are sold are not eligible. There will be a package of measures to streamline the application process for smaller companies investing in R&D.

Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) improvements

In Budget 2014 the government announced that it would consult on options to improve the operation of the scheme for smaller businesses and to introduce mandatory online CIS filing for contractors. The consultation has now taken place.

A key reform concerns changes to the requirements for subcontractors to achieve and retain gross payment status. There are proposals for simplifying and improving the compliance and turnover tests which will enable more subcontractors to access gross payment status. There is no intention to change the £30,000 turnover test for sole traders, but the government proposes lowering the threshold for the upper limit of the turnover test to help more established businesses with multiple partners or directors qualify for gross payment status. The current upper threshold of £200,000 could fall to as little as £100,000.

Some compliance tests would be relaxed so that it would be easier for subcontractors to retain their gross payment status.

For contractors the government is proposing mandatory online filing of monthly CIS returns. Improvements will be made to the IT systems to provide a better CIS online service. These will include the online system for verification of subcontractors by contractors.

Comment

About two thirds of CIS contractors are also employers who therefore file Real Time Information PAYE returns online. It is no surprise that the government wants to extend the scope of mandatory online filing. The improvements to the online verification process would be welcome but the government is also proposing to remove the option of verifying subcontractors by telephone.

Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NIC)

From 6 April 2015 liability to pay Class 2 NIC will arise at the end of each year. Currently a liability to Class 2 NIC arises on a weekly basis.

The amount of Class 2 NIC due will still be calculated based on the number of weeks of self-employment in the year, but will be determined when the individual completes their self assessment return. It will therefore be paid alongside their income tax and Class 4 NIC. For those that wish to spread the cost of their Class 2 NIC, HMRC will retain a facility for them to make regular payments throughout the year. The current six monthly billing system will cease from 6 April 2015.

Those with profits below a threshold will no longer have to apply in advance for an exception from paying Class 2 NIC. Instead they will have the option to pay Class 2 NIC voluntarily at the end of the year so that they may protect their benefit rights.

Corporation tax relief for goodwill on incorporation

Corporation tax relief is given to companies when goodwill and intangible assets are recognised in the financial accounts. Relief is normally given on the cost of the asset as the expenditure is written off in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Practice or at a fixed 4% rate, following an election.

An anti-avoidance measure has been announced to restrict corporation tax relief where a company acquires internally-generated goodwill and certain other intangible assets from related individuals on the incorporation of a business.

In addition, individuals will be prevented from claiming Entrepreneurs’ Relief on disposals of goodwill when they transfer the business to a related company. Capital gains tax will be payable on the gain at the normal rates of 18% or 28% rather than 10%.

These measures will apply to all transfers on or after 3 December 2014 unless made pursuant to an unconditional obligation entered into before that date.

Comment

Prior to this announcement it was possible, for example, on incorporation of a sole trader’s business to a company which is owned by the sole trader, for the company to obtain corporation tax relief on the market value of goodwill at the time of incorporation. The disposal by the sole trader would qualify for a low rate of capital gains tax.The government considers this is unfair to a business that has always operated as a company.

Corporation tax reliefs – creative sector

Two new reliefs and a change to an existing relief are proposed:

  • Children’s television tax relief – the government will introduce a new tax relief for the production of children’s television programmes from 1 April 2015. The relief will be available at a rate of 25% on qualifying production expenditure.
  • Orchestra tax relief – The government will consult on the introduction of an orchestra tax relief from 1 April 2016.
  • High-end television tax relief – the government will explore with the industry whether to reduce the minimum UK expenditure for high-end TV relief from 25% to 10% and modernise the cultural test, to bring the relief in line with film tax relief.

Overarching contracts of employment and temporary workers

The government will review the increasing use of overarching contracts of employment by employment intermediaries such as ‘umbrella companies’. These arrangements enable workers to obtain tax relief for home to work travel that would not ordinarily be available. The government will publish a discussion paper shortly which may result in new measures at Budget 2015.

Banks – loss relief restriction

The government will restrict the amount of a bank’s annual profit that can be offset by the carry forward of losses to 50% from 1 April 2015. The restriction will apply to losses accruing up to 1 April 2015 and will include an exemption for losses incurred in the first five years of a bank’s authorisation.

Diverted profits tax

A new tax to counter the use of aggressive tax planning techniques by multinational enterprises to divert profits from the UK will be introduced. The Diverted Profits Tax will be applied using a rate of 25% from 1 April 2015.

 

Employment Taxes

Employer provided cars

The scale of charges for working out the taxable benefit for an employee who has use of an employer provided car are now announced well in advance. Most cars are taxed by reference to bands of CO2 emissions. The percentage applied to each band has typically gone up by 1% each year with an overriding maximum charge of 35% of the list price of the car. From 6 April 2015, the percentage applied by each band goes up by 2% and the maximum charge is increased to 37%.

Comment

These increases have the perverse effect of discouraging retention of the same car. New cars will often have lower CO2 emissions than the equivalent model purchased by the employer, say three years ago.

Employer National Insurance contributions (NIC) for the under 21s

From 6 April 2015 employer NIC for those under the age of 21 will be reduced from the normal rate of 13.8% to 0%. For the 0% rate to apply the employee will need to be under 21 when the earnings are paid.

This exemption will not apply to earnings above the Upper Secondary Threshold (UST) in a pay period. The weekly UST is £815 for 2015/16 which is equivalent to £42,385 per annum. Employers will be liable to 13.8% NIC beyond this limit.

Comment

The UST is a new term for this new NIC exemption. It is set at the same amount as the Upper Earnings Limit, which is the amount at which employees’ NIC fall from 12% to 2%.

NIC for apprentices under 25

The government will abolish employer NIC up to the upper earnings limit for apprentices aged under 25. This will come into effect from 6 April 2016.

NIC Employment Allowance

The Employment Allowance was introduced from 6 April 2014. It is an annual allowance of up to £2,000 which is available to many employers and can be offset against their employer NIC liability.

The government will extend the annual £2,000 Employment Allowance for employer NIC to care and support workers. This will come into effect from 6 April 2015.

Review of employee benefits

The Office of Tax Simplification has published a number of detailed recommendations on the tax treatment of employee benefits in kind and expenses. In response the government launched:

  • a package of four related consultations on employee benefits in kind and expenses
  • a longer term review of the tax treatment of travel and subsistence expenses
  • a call for evidence on modern remuneration practices.

The government has now announced:

  • From 6 April 2015 there will be a statutory exemption for trivial benefits in kind costing less than £50.
  • From 6 April 2016, the £8,500 threshold below which employees do not pay income tax on certain benefits in kind will be removed. This threshold adds unnecessary complexity to the tax system. There will be new exemptions for carers and ministers of religion.
  • There will be an exemption for certain reimbursed expenses which will replace the current system where employers apply for a dispensation to avoid having to report non-taxable expenses. The new exemption for reimbursed expenses will not be available if used in conjunction with salary sacrifice.
  • The introduction of a statutory framework for voluntary payrolling benefits in kind. Payrolling benefits instead of submitting forms P11D can offer substantial administrative savings for some employers.

 

Capital Taxes

Capital gains tax (CGT) rates

The current rates of CGT are 18% to the extent that any income tax basic rate band is available and 28% thereafter. The rate for disposals qualifying for Entrepreneurs’ Relief is 10% with a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual.

CGT – Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER)

The government will allow gains which are eligible for ER, but which are instead deferred into investments which qualify for the Enterprise Investment Scheme or Social Investment Tax Relief to remain eligible for ER when the gain is realised. This will benefit qualifying gains on disposals that would be eligible for ER but are deferred into either scheme on or after 3 December 2014.

CGT – non-residents and UK residential property

At present a non-resident individual or company is not liable to CGT on residential property even though it is located in the UK. This is in marked contrast to many other countries that charge a capital gains tax on the basis of the location of a property rather than on the location of the vendor.

Therefore from 6 April 2015 a CGT charge will be introduced on gains made by non-residents disposing of UK residential property. The rate of tax for non-resident individuals will be the same as the CGT rates for UK individuals. Non-resident individuals will have access to the CGT annual exemption.

The rate of tax for companies will mirror the UK corporation tax rate.

The charge will not apply to the amount of the gain relating to periods prior to 6 April 2015. The government will allow either rebasing to a 5 April 2015 value or a time-apportionment of the whole gain, in most cases.

The government has decided that some changes are required to the rules determining the circumstances when a property can benefit from Private Residence Relief (PRR). The changes will apply to both a UK resident disposing of a residence in another country and a non-resident disposing of a UK residence.

From 6 April 2015 a person’s residence will not be eligible for PRR for a tax year unless either:

  • the person making the disposal was resident in the same country as the property for that tax year, or
  • the person spent at least 90 midnights in that property.

Comment

The main point of the changes to the PRR rules is to remove the ability of an individual who is resident in, say, France with a property in the UK as well as France to nominate the UK property as having the benefit of PRR. Any gain on the French property is not subject to UK tax anyway and, without changes to the PRR rules, the gain on the UK property could be removed by making a PRR election.The good news is that the latest proposals retain the ability of a UK resident with two UK residences to nominate which of those properties have the benefit of PRR.

Changes to the tax treatment of pensions on death

IHT and pension funds

If an individual has not bought an annuity, a defined contribution pension fund remains available to pass on to selected beneficiaries. Inheritance tax (IHT) can be avoided by making a ‘letter of wishes’ to the pension provider suggesting to whom the funds should be paid. If an individual’s intention has not been expressed the funds may be paid to the individual’s estate resulting in a potential IHT liability.

Other tax charges on pension funds – current law

There are other tax charges to reflect the principle that income tax relief would have been given on contributions into the pension fund and therefore some tax should be payable when the fund is paid out. For example:

  • if the fund is paid as a lump sum to a beneficiary, tax at 55% of the fund value is payable
  • if the fund is placed in a drawdown account to provide income to a ‘dependant’ (for example a spouse), the income drawn down is taxed at the dependant’s marginal rate of income tax.

There are some exceptions from the 55% charge. It is possible to pass on a pension fund as a tax free lump sum where the individual has not taken any tax free cash or income from the fund and they die under the age of 75.

Other tax charges on pension funds – changes

The government has decided to introduce significant exceptions from the tax charges.

Under the new system, anyone who dies under the age of 75 will be able to give their remaining defined contribution pension fund to anyone completely tax free, whether it is in a drawdown account or untouched.

The fund can be paid out as a lump sum to a beneficiary or taken out by the beneficiary through a ‘flexi access drawdown account’ (see the personal tax section of this summary for an explanation of this term).

Those aged 75 or over when they die will be able to pass their defined contribution pension fund to any beneficiary who will then be able to draw down on it as income at their marginal rate of income tax. Beneficiaries will also have the option of receiving the pension as a lump sum payment, subject to a tax charge of 45%.

The proposed changes take effect for payments made from 6 April 2015.

Tax treatment of inherited annuities

The Chancellor has announced further changes to the pension tax regime. From 6 April 2015 beneficiaries of individuals who die under the age of 75 with a joint life or guaranteed term annuity will be able to receive any future payments from such policies tax free. The tax rules will also be changed to allow joint life annuities to be passed on to any beneficiary.

Comment

Without this change in tax treatment of inherited annuities, individuals had a potential prospective tax advantage in choosing not to purchase an annuity. If an individual died relatively early, their fund would pass tax free to beneficiaries. If the individual would prefer the financial comfort of a guaranteed payment of income, beneficiaries would be taxed on the income at their marginal rate of income tax under current rules. From 6 April 2015, the beneficiaries will be able to receive any future payments from such policies tax free.

Changes to the trust IHT regime

Certain trusts, known as ‘relevant property trusts’, provide a mechanism to allow assets to be held outside of an individual’s estate thus avoiding a 40% IHT liability on the death of an individual. The downside is that there are three potential points of IHT charge on relevant property trusts:

  • a transfer of assets into the trust is a chargeable transfer in both lifetime and on death
  • a charge has to be calculated on the value of the assets in the trust on each ten-year anniversary of the creation of the trust
  • an exit charge arises when assets are effectively transferred out of the trust.

The calculation of the latter two charges is currently a complex process which can take a significant amount of time to compute for very little tax yield.

A third consultation on proposed changes was issued in June 2014. It proposed that an individual would have a ‘settlement nil rate band’ which would be unconnected to their personal nil rate band.

The government has now announced that a single settlement nil rate band will not be introduced. The government will introduce new rules to target avoidance through the use of multiple trusts. It will also simplify the calculation of trust rules.

IHT – exemption for emergency services personnel and humanitarian aid workers

Following consultation since Budget 2014, the government will extend the existing IHT exemption for members of the armed forces whose death is caused or hastened by injury while on active service to members of the emergency services and humanitarian aid workers responding to emergency circumstances. It will have effect for deaths on or after 19 March 2014.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

The Chancellor has announced a major reform to SDLT on residential property transactions. SDLT is charged at a single percentage of the price paid for the property, depending on the rate band within which the purchase price falls. From 4 December 2014 each new SDLT rate will only be payable on the portion of the property value which falls within each band. This will remove the distortion created by the existing system, where the amount of tax due jumps at the thresholds.

Where contracts have been exchanged but not completed on or before 3 December 2014, purchasers will have a choice of whether the old or new structure and rates apply. This measure will apply in Scotland until 1 April 2015 when SDLT is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

The new rates and thresholds are:

Purchase price of property New rates paid on the part of the property price within each tax band
£0 – £125,000 0%
£125,001 – £250,000 2%
£250,001 – £925,000 5%
£925,001 – £1,500,000 10%
£1,500,001 and above 12%

 

Comment

Purchasers of residential property valued at £937,500 or less will pay the same or in most cases less tax than they would have paid under the old rules.

Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED)

The ATED is payable by those purchasing and holding their homes through corporate envelopes, such as companies. The government introduced a package of measures in 2012 and 2013 to tackle this tax avoidance. One of the measures was the ATED.

The government has now announced an increase in the rates of ATED by 50% above inflation. From 1 April 2015, the charge on residential properties owned through a company and worth:

  • more than £2 million but less than £5 million will be £23,350
  • more than £5 million but less than £10 million will be £54,450
  • more than £10 million but less than £20 million will be £109,050
  • more than £20 million will be £218,200.

Other Matters

Devolved tax powers to Scottish Parliament

Following the referendum on Scottish independence, the main political parties in Scotland have agreed on new devolved powers. The UK government will publish draft clauses in January 2015 for the implementation of these powers.

For income tax:

  • the Scottish Parliament will have the power to set income tax rates and the thresholds at which these are paid for the non-savings and non-dividend income of Scottish taxpayers
  • all other aspects of income tax will remain reserved to the UK Parliament, including the imposition of the annual charge to income tax, the personal allowance, the taxation of savings and dividend income, the ability to introduce and amend tax reliefs and the definition of income
  • HMRC will continue to collect and administer income tax across the UK.

For other taxes:

  • VAT – Receipts raised in Scotland by the first 10 percentage points of the standard rate of VAT will be assigned to the Scottish government’s budget. All other aspects of VAT will remain reserved to the UK Parliament.
  • Air passenger duty – The power to charge tax on air passengers leaving Scottish airports will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, with freedom to make arrangements with regard to the design and collection of any replacement tax.
  • Aggregates levy – The power to charge tax on the commercial exploitation of aggregate in Scotland will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, once the current European legal challenges are resolved.

Devolution to Northern Ireland

The government recognises the strongly held arguments for devolving corporation tax rate-setting powers to Northern Ireland. HMRC and HM Treasury have concluded that this proposal could be implemented provided that the Northern Ireland Executive is able to manage the financial implications.

The parties in the Northern Ireland Executive are currently taking part in talks aimed at resolving a number of issues. The government will introduce legislation in this Parliament subject to satisfactory progress on these issues in the cross-party talks.

Devolution of non-domestic rates to Wales

Agreement has been reached with the Welsh government on full devolution of non-domestic (business) rates policy. The fully devolved regime will be operational by April 2015.

Offshore tax evasion

In 2014, the government announced its intention to introduce a new strict liability criminal offence of failing to declare taxable offshore income and gains. This means that HMRC would need only demonstrate that a person failed to correctly declare the income or gains, and not that they did so with the intention of defrauding the Exchequer. This will complement existing offences, such as the common law offence of cheating the public revenue, with less serious sanctions than existing criminal offences.

The government is consulting on the design of the new offence.

The government considers the majority of cases are still likely to be investigated and settled through civil means. Another consultation is seeking views on strengthening the existing civil penalty regime on offshore evasion.

The offshore penalties regime has applied to liabilities arising from 6 April 2011. The level of penalty is based on the type of behaviour that leads to the understatement of tax, and is linked to the tax transparency of the territory in which the income or gain arises. The underlying premise is that where it is harder for HMRC to get information from another territory, the more difficult it is to detect and remedy non-compliance and therefore the penalties for failing to declare income and gains arising in that territory will be higher.

Direct Recovery of Debts (DRD)

At Budget 2014, the Chancellor announced HMRC would be given the power to recover tax and tax credit debts directly from the bank and building society accounts (including NISAs) of debtors. A consultation on DRD set out the process and safeguards but many commentators considered the safeguards were not robust enough. In response to concerns about the risk of DRD being used in error and the potential impact on vulnerable individuals, the government will introduce further safeguards.

It is now proposed the main features of the DRD process will be:

  • only debts of £1,000 or more will be eligible for recovery through DRD
  • HMRC will always leave £5,000 across a debtor’s accounts, as a minimum, once the debt has been held
  • guaranteeing every debtor will receive a face-to-face visit from HMRC agents, before their debts are considered for recovery through DRD
  • extending the window to 30 calendar days, from the start of the DRD being initiated to the earliest point at which funds could be transferred to HMRC
  • an option for debtors to appeal against HMRC’s decision to a County Court on specified grounds, including hardship and third party right.

Scotland will be removed from the scope of DRD as HMRC already has summary warrant powers in Scotland to recover debts in a similar, though not identical, manner to DRD.

In order to allow for an extended period of scrutiny, the government intends to legislate in 2015, during the next Parliament.

Comment

HMRC state that the vast majority of people pay their taxes in full and on time and DRD will only affect individuals and businesses who are making an active decision not to pay. HMRC also state they will use the power in a very small minority of cases.Last year, HMRC collected £505.8 billion from about 35 million taxpayers. About 90% was paid on time but around £50 billion was not, and became a debt. They made around 16 million contacts with debtors by letter, phone, text message or other means to collect the debt. This included making more than 900,000 visits to follow up on around 400,000 debt cases. HMRC estimate they will use DRD 17,000 times a year.

Air Passenger Duty (APD)

The Chancellor announced an exemption from reduced rate APD from 1 May 2015 for children under 12 and from 1 March 2016 for children under 16. The government has reviewed how to improve tax transparency in ticket prices and will consult on whether the APD needs to be displayed on airline tickets.

Disclaimer – for information of users

This publication is published for the information of clients. It provides only an overview of the regulations in force at the date of publication and no action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material contained in this publication can be accepted by the authors or the firm.

328 sleeps to Christmas!

According to my IPad app (other devices are available!), today (31st January 2013) there are just 328 sleeps until Christmas, which I guess means there should be 365 sleeps until this day in 2014.  So, why should I care about that then, I hear you ask?

Well, yesterday (30th January – 1 day early), we submitted our final tax return to HMRC to continue our 100% record to meet the annual 31st January HMRC tax return deadline.  I want to say a big thank you to our clients for working with us to achieve the deadline.

It always interests me, how our clients, some of who, have been with us for many years, always follow the same patterns.  We get the keen ones, who bring in the information as soon as possible after 6th April, so that they can be in the smug satisfaction of knowing that all is taken care of, for another year, well in advance and then we get the others who like to leave it until the last moment, so that they can enjoy the thrill of the chase, as we rush to complete everything in time, and of course all of the others in between.

Now, I have to say, that I do quite enjoy the final push to the deadline, it’s very satisfying watching the percentage of completed tax returns increasing as we get nearer to the date, coupled with the worry of “can we do it?”, it can become quite a buzz!

So, why have I decided to start chasing our clients much earlier for their information this year, am I looking to have a holiday in January or something (not sure about Wales in January!), or is there some more sinister reason?

Well, lets look at the benefits of getting your tax return done early:

  • the smugness of being able to relax in the satisfaction of knowing that “tax doesn’t have to be taxing” and you are all compliant for another year, so can relax, one less worry
  • by getting your tax return done early, we can calculate any liability and give you much more warning of what you will have to pay the following January, which can lesssen the shock, which sometimes occurs, when you have had a particularly good year
  • similarly, if we calculate that you are due a tax refund (particulalrly might apply to CIS sub-contractors), you will have the refund much earlier
  • it will, avoid you getting lots of e-mails and phone calls from us, chasing you, for your information – it will get us off your back for another year!
  • perhaps I could have that long-awaited holiday in Wales in January!

So – how soon COULD you get your information in to us:

  • if you are self-employed, with no PAYE income as well, as soon as possible after your year end date
  • If you are on PAYE, either 31st May, if you receive no benefits, or end July if you do (these are the deadlines for your employer to give you your P60/P11d)

So, in reality then, bearing in mind the latest date above is 31st July, if we could have all of the information in by then, why dont we say that providing we do, we’ll get all of our clients tax returns done by 31st October and we can all relax once the clocks go back, safe in the knowledge, that we are all compliant, knowing exactly what our liabilities are.

Which means, I can finally have that 2 week holiday in Wales in January, my family will be so pleased!

So, will this happen?  Who knows, we’ll see what happens.  If you are worried, check back next year to see how we did and, in the meantime, can I be the first to wish you a Happy Christmas 2013, safe in the knowledge that you won’t be worrying about that pesky tax return.