Newsletter – October 2016

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Enews – October 2016

In this month’s eNews we report on recent developments including plans for the Autumn Statement, new National Minimum Wage rates, more detail on the Lifetime ISA and Tax Free Childcare. We also consider whether VAT is recoverable on a car following a recent Tribunal decision as well as updated Gift Aid guidance for charities.

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

Autumn Statement plans

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, will present his first Autumn Statement to Parliament on Wednesday 23 November 2016.

The Chancellor recently met with representatives from British business and business groups to listen to their views ahead of the Autumn Statement. The events, which took place at the Treasury and Downing Street, also provided the opportunity for discussions regarding leaving the EU.

The Chancellor said:

‘My message to businesses is clear: in our negotiations to leave the EU, we will work hard to get the best deal for Britain and that includes ensuring that British companies can continue to trade with the single market in goods and services.’

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI, commented:

‘Business wants the openness of the UK’s economy to be preserved – specifically access to markets, skills and trade – and to see an ambitious Autumn Statement that drives investment and growth, and delivers jobs and prosperity for all of the UK’s regions.’

We will keep you up to date with pertinent announcements from the Autumn Statement.

Internet links: GOV.UK News Gov.UK News

Tax Free Childcare

HMRC have announced further details of the new Tax Free childcare scheme which is to be introduced in 2017.

To be eligible, families will have to have all parents in work and each expecting to earn at least £115 per week and less than £100,000 a year and not be already receiving support through Tax Credits or Universal Credit.

The government will top up the account with 20% of childcare costs up to a total of £10,000 – the equivalent of up to £2,000 support per child per year (or £4,000 for disabled children).

HMRC are asking childcare providers to register for the scheme as soon as possible.

Tax-Free Childcare will be launched from early 2017. The scheme will be rolled out gradually to families, with parents of the youngest children able to apply first. Parents will be able to apply for all their children at the same time, when their youngest child becomes eligible. All eligible parents will be able to join the scheme by the end of 2017.

The current system of employer supported childcare will continue to be available for current members if they wish to remain in it or they can switch to the new scheme. Employer supported childcare will continue to be open to new joiners until April 2018.

The existing system of employer supported childcare provides an income tax and national insurance contributions (NIC) relief. The maximum relief is an exemption from income tax and NIC on £55 a week. This relief is per employee so if both parents are in employment the maximum exemption is £110 per week. In the new scheme the limit is per child.

Throughout September and October 2016, letters are being sent to regulated and approved childcare providers asking them to sign up online for Tax-Free Childcare. Only childcare providers registered with a regulator (such as Ofsted) can receive Tax-Free Childcare payments.

The government will make more information available, including details of how parents can sign up, later this year.

Internet link: GOV.UK tax free childcare

Deadline for ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns

For those individuals who have previously submitted ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns the deadline for the 2015/16 return is 31 October 2016. Returns submitted after that date must be submitted electronically or they will incur a minimum penalty of £100. The penalty applies even when there is no tax to pay or the tax is paid on time.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK Self Assessment

Increase in NMW rates

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. NMW rates increases come into effect on 1 October 2016.

  • the rate for 21 to 24 year olds will increase by 25 pence to £6.95 per hour
  • the rate for 18 to 20 year olds will increase by 25 pence to £5.55 per hour
  • the rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase by 13 pence to £4.00 per hour
  • the apprentice rate will increase by 10 pence to £3.40 per hour.

The mandatory National Living Wage (NLW) applies for workers aged 25 and above. This is £7.20 an hour.

NLW and NMW rates will in the future be uprated every April starting in April 2017.

Penalties

Penalties may be levied on employers where HMRC believe underpayments have occurred and HMRC may ‘name and shame’ non-compliant employers.

National Living Wage hits small business costs

According to research, 47% of small business owners blame increased wages following the introduction of the NLW as the main contributor to rising costs.

The research, carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), revealed that a third of FSB members claim that the NLW has led to a small increase in their wage costs while one in five have said that their staff costs have increased significantly. Although 59% of FSB members absorbed the increased costs through reduced profitability, 35% have increased prices, 24% reduced staff hours and 23% cut investment.

Updated guidance

HMRC have updated their guidance on payroll reporting including what employers should include on the Full Payment Submission (FPS) and Employer Payment Summary (EPS) returns.

Please contact us if you would like help with your payroll.

Internet links: ACAS article FSB press release Payroll guidance

VAT claim on company cars allowed

HMRC recently lost a first tier tribunal case on the recovery of VAT on the purchase of six cars.

Although most VAT registered businesses are able to recover the VAT on the purchase of commercial vehicles the rules for the recovery on a car state two conditions must be met:

  • the vehicle must be used exclusively for business purposes and
  • it is not made available for private use.

In the case of Zone Contractors Ltd the court accepted that six cars were not available for private use which allowed the business to successfully recover the VAT on the six cars.

The business had a strongly worded contract of employment that prevented employees from using company cars for private travel. This was the crucial factor in this case and allowed the business to recover over £27,000 in input VAT on the purchase of six new cars.

The tribunal was satisfied that the cars were wholly used for business purposes and were not available for private use. The tribunal also rejected HMRC’s argument that the company had failed to demonstrate that the cars were not available for private use.

Other factors which were relevant:

  • The Tribunal was satisfied that all employees signed a contract when they first joined the company, which included the following ‘It is hereby strictly forbidden for the Employee to use the Company vehicle for any personal use inside/outside their employment hours’.
  • The six cars were always kept overnight at the company’s offices or were left on site.
  • Zone Contractors carry out groundwork projects and the vehicles were appropriate for for site based work.
  • The taxpayer also successfully counteracted HMRC’s argument that the insurance cover of the vehicles included use for ‘social, domestic and pleasure’ (SDP), and was not just restricted to business use. But the tribunal accepted it was impossible to have a business only policy without the SDP clause.
  • HMRC also put forward an argument that private use of a car would include detours to buy ‘cigarettes or lunch while out on a business journey or even going off site to collect lunch’. The tribunal concluded that such use could be ignored as de minimis.
  • The intended use of the car at the time it is purchased is crucial. The private use issue means that either a legal restriction to prevent such use or a physical restriction must be in place.

HMRC may appeal against the decision.

Internet link: Tribunal decision

Updated guidance on Gift Aid

HMRC have updated their guidance for charities and community amateur sports clubs (CASC) on claiming Gift Aid on donations.

The guidance has been amended to reflect updated guidance on the retail Gift Aid process operated by charity shops on donated goods.

Internet link: GOV.UK guidance

Lifetime ISA

Following consultation the government has issued further details of the new Lifetime ISA account which is expected to be available from April 2017.

In summary the account will be available to adults under the age of 40 and individuals will be able to contribute up to £4,000 per year and receive a 25% bonus from the government. Funds, including the government bonus, can be used to buy a first home at any time from 12 months after opening the account and can be withdrawn from age 60 completely tax free.

The new Lifetime ISA is designed to allow flexible saving for first time buyers and those wishing to save for their retirement.

Further details of the new Lifetime ISA are as follows:

  • Any savings an individual puts into the account before their 50th birthday will receive an added 25% bonus from the government.
  • There is no maximum monthly contribution and up to £4,000 a year can be saved into a Lifetime ISA.
  • The savings and bonus can be used towards a deposit on a first home worth up to £450,000 across the country.
  • Accounts are limited to one per person rather than one per home, so two first time buyers can both receive a bonus when buying together.
  • Where an individual already has a Help to Buy ISA they will be able to transfer those savings into the Lifetime ISA in 2017/18, or continue saving into both. However only the bonus from one account can be used to buy a house.
  • Where funds are withdrawn at any time before the account holder is aged 60 they will incur a 25% government charge applied to the amount of the withdrawal. This returns the government bonus element of the fund (including any interest or growth on that bonus) to the government with a small additional charge applied.
  • After the account holder’s 60th birthday they will be able to take all the savings tax free.

Internet link: GOV.UK 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 – December 2014

eNews – December 2014

In this month’s eNews we report on a number of issues including the Autumn Statement announcement of the changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax. We also include the latest advisory fuel rates and the EAT ruling on holiday pay and overtime.

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

Autumn Statement

The Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement on 3 December and said:

‘…to improve the productivity of our economy, we back business and we build infrastructure and we will support growth across the whole UK.’

‘But in the end, Britain’s future lies in the hands of its people and their aspirations.

The aspiration to save, to work, and to buy a home. Today we support each one.’

We have included details of some of the major announcements.

Internet link: gov.uk

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

One of the Autumn Statement announcements is a major reform to SDLT on residential property transactions. Historically SDLT has been 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%

The government believes that this reform makes SDLT more efficient and fairer, and ensures that SDLT will be cut for 98% of people who pay it.

Internet link: gov.uk

Incorporation – restriction of relief for goodwill and Entrepreneurs’ relief

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.

In the Autumn Statement 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.

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.

Internet link: gov.uk

Employment benefits changes ahead

In the Autumn Statement the government announced a package of measures which will impact the treatment of employee benefits in kind and expenses.

  • 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.

Please contact us if we can help with employee benefits and expenses reporting.

Internet link: gov.uk

Personal allowances and tax bands 2015/16

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

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% were 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.

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.

Internet link: gov.uk

Holiday pay and overtime

In the judgment an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has 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.

Vince Cable has announced the setting up of a taskforce to assess the possible impact of the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling on holiday pay.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

‘Government will review the judgment in detail as a matter of urgency. To properly understand the financial exposure employers face, we have set up a taskforce of representatives from government and business to discuss how we can limit the impact on business. The group will convene shortly to discuss the judgment.

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 EAT

Advisory Fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 December 2014. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 December 2014 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 13p
1401 cc – 2000cc 16p
Over 2000cc 23p

 

Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 9p
1401 cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 16p

 

Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 11p
1601cc – 2000cc 13p
Over 2000cc 16p

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

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

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

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

Internet link: gov.uk

Do you employ anyone under the age of 21?

From the 6 April 2015, if any of your employees are under the age of 21 you may no longer need to pay employer Class 1 secondary National Insurance contributions (NICs) on their earnings.

The rate of employer Class 1 NICs for employees under the age of 21 will be 0% up to the new ‘Upper Secondary Threshold’ (UST) which, for the tax year starting 6 April 2015, will be the same as the Upper Earnings Limit (UEL). Class

1 NICs will however continue to be payable on all earnings above this threshold. The basic rules and calculations of National Insurance including how Class 1 NICs are assessed will not be changed by this measure.

For employees who are at, or over, the age of 16 and under the age of 21 there will be a range of new NI category letters to available. From 6 April 2015, when submitting PAYE information for employees under the age of 21 employers will need to use the new category letter appropriate to the individual.

Seven new National Insurance category letters have been introduced. The most commonly used one will be category M:- Not contracted-out standard rate contributions for employees under 21.

Employers (or their agents) are responsible for ensuring they report the correct category letter. To do this, employers will need to make sure they hold the correct date of birth for employees.

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

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Gift Aid declaration to be improved – potentially saving charities billions of pounds

The Gift Aid model declaration form is to be improved, to stop charities potentially losing out on billions of pounds of Gift Aid.

The National Audit Office estimates there are donations of around £2.3 billion where Gift Aid is not used. Although not all of these donations will be eligible for Gift Aid, the government is working with charities to boost the number of eligible donations.

One way it hopes to do this is by improving the model Gift Aid declaration form, as research has identified that many donors do not understand Gift Aid and the link between the tax they have paid and Gift Aid claimed by the charity. Possible improvements include making the language used about Gift Aid more straightforward to enable donors to decide if their donations qualify for relief.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Priti Patel said:

‘Gift Aid is an important tax relief for charities which helps to provide essential revenue to charitable causes. This research shows that there is more that government can do to boost eligible donations which is why we are simplifying the declaration forms to make sure donors understand when they’re eligible so that charities can maximise the financial donations they receive.’

Internet link: gov.uk

Helping employers identify a pension scheme for automatic enrolment

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has opened consultation on a proposal to publish a list of pension schemes that are available to any employer, regardless of the number or workers the employer has or their levels of pay.

According to research carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions 48% of small and 79% of micro employers currently have no pension scheme and will have to choose a new one as they prepare for automatic enrolment.

TPR state they are ‘aware of 30-40 providers who offer a scheme for automatic enrolment. Of these, a much smaller number of schemes have indicated they will not reject employers on the basis of size or low value. Even fewer schemes have indicated they will accept all employers who approach them.’

To read more about this issue and the consultation visit the link below.

Internet link: thepensionsregulator.gov.uk

HMRC warning ‘Ten things you need to know about tax avoidance’

HMRC have published a list of factors to consider before buying into a ‘scheme’. The list sets out the risks of entering into a tax avoidance scheme including the possible monetary costs and reputational damage of tax avoidance, but also a potential criminal conviction.

This list is being published as HMRC writes to the first promoters who will be caught by new High-Risk Promoters rules. If they don’t change their behaviour, HMRC could name them publicly and fines might be imposed of up to £1 million.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, said:

‘The government has taken unprecedented steps to clamp down on the selfish minority who practise tax avoidance, because we are firmly on the side of the vast majority of taxpayers who play by the rules. As a result, tax avoidance is now very high risk.

On top of a substantial fee to join a scheme that will almost certainly fail a challenge by HMRC, tax avoiders will also have to pay the tax they dodged, plus interest and penalties.

To help protect taxpayers from unscrupulous promoters we have put in place new High-Risk Promoters rules, but people need to be aware of the dangers. So I would strongly advise anyone thinking of signing up to a scheme which they have been told will legally reduce their tax bill to carefully consider today’s list of things a promoter may not tell you.’

Internet link: Gov News

Newsletter – October 2014

eNews – October 2014

In this month’s enews we report on mis-sold interest rate hedging products, guidance on Gift Aid and free admission, an update on the broadband voucher scheme and HMRC’s latest phishing scam.

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

Mis-sold interest rate hedging products

Following a review of the way some banks sold Interest Rate Hedging Products (IRHP), some businesses are entitled to redress payments. These redress payments are now starting to be made to those businesses which were affected.

Mis-sold interest hedging products (IRHP)

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has identified failings in the way some banks sold IRHP to businesses taking out business loans, which were intended to offer protection against rising interest rates.

The banks calculate the amount due which can be made up of three elements:

basic redress – represents the difference between the actual payments made and the payments that would have been made without the productcompensatory interest – at 8% per year and consequential losses – losses suffered due to not having the use of the money.

If you do receive a redress payment please let us have the paperwork so we can review the position. There are certain circumstances where the tax treatment of the payment will be different so please do contact us so we can investigate the position and ensure the correct accounting and tax treatment.

Internet link: HMRC news

Gift Aid and free admission

HMRC have updated their guidance for charities to explain that the terms and conditions attached to a donation that gives a right of admission to property cannot include a right to a full or partial refund of the admission payment.

To read the full HMRC guidance click on the link below.

Internet link: HMRC guidance

UK broadband voucher scheme overhauled

Businesses are being urged to take advantage of a scheme to get faster, cheaper broadband. The government is overhauling its plans for getting ultra-fast broadband to UK businesses after disappointing take-up of its current scheme.

As reported by the BBC only £7.5m out of a possible £100m has so far been spent, with just 3,000 businesses taking up vouchers. As reported by the BBC:

‘Initially the government had expressed hope of reaching 200,000 small businesses.

With a March 2015 deadline for the money to be spent, the government is keen to galvanise interest.

Changes aimed at making it easier to get the money include a redesigned website and a more streamlined process of applying for a grant.

Other changes include:

  • Qualifying businesses no longer need to fill in an application form but can access the government grant with a call to a pre-approved broadband supplier
  • Businesses that already have a different supplier in mind need only to fill in a form to get their quote approved
  • Suppliers can also apply to BDUK (the group overseeing the process) with a set of eligible connection costs, cutting the need for businesses to apply at all
  • Once a broadband package has been approved, suppliers can market them to eligible businesses with no more need for forms or rubber-stamping.’

As reported by the BBC, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said:

‘This is a golden opportunity for businesses to take advantage of better broadband. The grant takes away the costs of installation, which are normally charged up front or added to monthly charges.’

Internet link: BBC news

Latest fake ‘HMRC’ phishing scam

We are aware that there is a new bogus email which is phishing scam aimed at taxpayers. The email which is supposed to come from HMRC states that the recipient is no longer eligible to receive a tax return and needs to sign up with their current details to get back into the system.

It is possible to check HMRC’s website for security advice and examples of phishing emails. Suspicious emails should be sent to HMRC at phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Internet link: ICAEW

Deadline for ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns

For those individuals who have previously submitted ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns the deadline for the 2013/14 return is 31 October 2014. Returns submitted after that date must be submitted electronically or they will incur a minimum penalty of £100. The penalty applies even when there is no tax to pay or the tax is paid on time.

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

Internet link: HMRC deadlines

Latest labour market employment figures

The Office for National Statistics has announced that the latest statistics, based on the period May to July 2014, show that employment continued to rise and unemployment continued to fall.

According to the ONS:

‘There were 30.61 million people in work. This was 74,000 more than for February to April 2014, the smallest quarterly increase since April to June 2013.

Comparing May to July 2014 with a year earlier, there were 774,000 more people in work.

The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate), was 73.0%, slightly higher than for February to April 2014 (72.9%) and higher than for a year earlier (71.6%).

There were 2.02 million unemployed people, 146,000 fewer than for February to April 2014 and 468,000 fewer than a year earlier.’

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment & Skills, said:

‘The fact that unemployment is lower now than at any time since late 2008 is good news. There is more to do, but it’s clear that our growing economy is feeding through to new jobs.

Jobs growth is coming from the private sector, more than making up for public sector job losses, and more young people are finding their feet in our labour market.

With unemployment dropping, and wage settlements in larger firms starting to pick up, we expect to see average earnings growth begin to rise in time.’

Internet links: ONS CBI press release

Newsletter – February 2013

In this month’s enews the majority of issues we report on are relevant to employers and individuals. Please contact us if you would like any further information on any of the articles.

 

Auto enrolment tool

Under Pensions Auto Enrolment employers must:

  • ‘auto enrol’ eligible employees into a pension scheme
  • make employer pension contributions for them, and
  • make deductions of employee pension contributions from the employees pay.

Although the rules came into force from October 2012, they only impact on the largest employers from that date, as few employers have a workforce of more than 120,000. For those employers with a more modest number of employees the start dates vary by number of employees and PAYE reference.

The Pensions Regulator has released a tool which details the start date for auto enrolment. To access the tool and check the start date for a particular PAYE scheme please use the following link.

Internet link: Pensions regulator tool

Real Time Information

HMRC are issuing final reminders to employers to ‘act now’ in order to be ready to report PAYE under Real time Information (RTI).

HMRC have advised that they are writing to employers and pension providers to formally notify them that they must start reporting under RTI from the first payday on or after 6 April 2013.

The letters are being sent throughout February 2013 and are designed to prompt employers who have not yet taken action to get ready to send their PAYE to HMRC in real time.

Employers should have plans in place to update or acquire new RTI ready payroll software and/or have discussed the issue with their software provider, payroll bureau, or agent if they have one.

The letter includes a checklist which explains the key steps employers need to take before April 2013 to make sure they are ready for reporting PAYE in real time from 6 April 2013. More information is available on HMRC’s website.

Internet link: HMRC news

Paying HMRC by Bill Pay

The ICAEW has reported that HMRC are aware that there are problems with the Bank of Santander’s Bill Pay service which is used by many individuals to pay their self assessment tax liabilities by credit or debit card.

HMRC have issued a statement giving advice on other ways to pay and also confirming that payments made late because of this problem will not incur interest or penalties.

HMRC advised the ICAEW that:

‘The Bank of Santander is having problems with their Bill Pay service that customers use to pay their tax by credit card or debit card. We are working with them to sort this out.

There are other ways you can pay us. These are:

By Faster Payments. You can find out more at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/payinghmrc/selfassessment.htm#5

At your bank

At the Post Office

By Debit/Credit card

You can find out more about these other methods of payment at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/payinghmrc/selfassessment.htm

Please continue to try to pay us, but if your payment is late because of the problems Santander is experiencing you will not have to pay a penalty or interest for late payment.’

Internet link: ICAEW Tax Faculty

Tax rebate phishing scam

HMRC are warning taxpayers not to fall victim of scam emails sent by fraudsters. In 2012 taxpayers reported almost 80,000 tax rebate phishing emails and HMRC took action to close down 522 illegal sites.

The emails follow the same general format and promise a tax refund in exchange for personal, credit card or banking details. Those who respond risk opening their account to fraud and having details sold on to organised criminal gangs. The emails often link to a clone of HMRC’s website to make the email appear genuine.

Gareth Lloyd, Head of Digital Security for HMRC said:

‘HMRC does not email customers about tax refunds – we only ever contact customers who are genuinely due tax back in writing, by post.’

‘If anyone receives an email offering a tax rebate and claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting it permanently. HMRC does everything it can to ensure customers are safe online and we are working closely with other law enforcement agencies to target the criminals behind this serious crime.’

HMRC also advise taxpayers to:

  • Check the advice published at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htmwhere they can see if the email received is listed.
  • Do not click on websites or links contained in suspicious emails or open attachments.
  • Follow advice from www.getsafeonline.co.uk
  • Anyone who has answered one of these emails should forward the email and disclosed details to security.custcon@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
  • If you have reason to believe that you have been the victim of an email scam, report the matter to your bank/card issuer as soon as possible.

Internet link: Press release

HMRC report self assessment statistics

HMRC have reported that a record 9.61 million people submitted their self assessment tax return on time this year.

According to the HMRC statistics of the 10.34 million people in self assessment, 92.9% taxpayers met the return deadlines of 31 October 2012 for paper and 31 January 2013 for online returns.

Of the 9.61 million on time tax returns, 7.93 million (82.5 per cent) were sent online, which is a record number. The remaining 1.68 million (17.5%) were sent on paper.

Anyone who hasn’t yet sent their 2011/12 tax return to HMRC will have already incurred a £100 late filing penalty. To avoid any further penalties, they should send their return as soon as possible, as well as paying any outstanding liabilities for the 2011/12 tax year.

The penalties for late Self Assessment returns are:

  • an initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time
  • after three months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900
  • after six months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater; and
  • after 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater.

There are also additional penalties for paying the liability late of 5% of the tax unpaid at: 30 days; six months; and 12 months respectively.

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

Internet link: HMRC press release

HMRC win furnished holiday lettings test case

HMRC have been successful in a test case which considered the tax reliefs available for Furnished Holiday Lettings (FHL). Provided that certain conditions are met, FHL are treated as a trade for both income and capital gains tax purposes, often allowing access to valuable reliefs.

However, the inheritance rules (IHT) are different. Business Property Relief can allow up to 100% relief on business assets but FHL are not automatically included. For many years, HMRC allowed relief but have changed their policy and taken a test case, which they have won.

This means IHT would be due on the full value of an FHL.

If you have concerns in this area and would like any advice please do get in touch.

Internet links: Mercia Blog Decision

Shared Parental Leave

Proposals to change the way parents can share maternity leave have been outlined as part of the Children and Families Bill.

The government plans to change the current arrangements which have been criticised by some employees as being ‘inflexible’.

The Bill also introduces the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees not just parents and carers.

Under the new system:

  • Employed mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave regardless of the length of their employment.
  • Mothers can choose to end their maternity leave after the initial two week recovery period; working parents can then decide how they want to share the remaining leave.
  • Fathers will have a new right to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments.
  • There will be new statutory payment for parents on shared parental leave with the same qualifying requirements that currently apply to statutory maternity and paternity pay.
  • Those who have adopted a child will be entitled to the same pay and leave as birth parents.

Please be aware that these changes are proposal at present. We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: Press release

Tackling long term sickness absence

The government has announced proposals to introduce a new independent assessment and advisory service aimed at getting people back to work. The service will help businesses tackle long term sickness absence in the workplace.

The scheme is expected to save employers up to £160 million a year in statutory sick pay and increase economic output by up to £900 million a year.

The Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, said:

‘Long-term sickness absence is a burden to business, to the taxpayer and to the thousands of people who get trapped on benefits when they could actually work.’

‘So for the first time, all employers, big or small, will have access to a service that offers the early support they need to keep people in work and fulfil their aspirations.’

The independent occupational health assessment and advice service is expected to be up and running in 2014.

Internet link: Press release

Health and Safety reforms

The government has announced that they have made significant progress in reforming Health and Safety requirements. The government has been working towards implementing some of the recommendations made in the Löfstedt Report in 2011 and the Young Report in 2010.

Steps taken to date include:

  • scrap or simplify more than half of health and safety legislation by 2014
  • the clarification of Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) requirements and
  • a reduction of one third in the number of inspections made by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Professor Löfstedt said the government is ‘supporting a more risk-and evidence-based approach to health and safety‘.

Internet links: Press release HSE website

Charities online Gift Aid service

HMRC have announced that claiming gift aid repayments will be quicker and easier for charities and sports clubs from April 2013.

HMRC are writing to 110,000 charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs advising them that, from 22 April 2013, they can enrol to make repayment claims online, via the HMRC website using a new service, called Charities Online.

Charities will be able to get information on how to use the system from the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/charitiesonline

Internet link: Press Release

Newsletter – December 2012

eNEWS – December 2012

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

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

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

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

 

Tenfold increase in Annual Investment Allowance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC TIIN

Personal allowance for 2013/14

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

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

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

Tax band and rates 2013/14

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

Additional rate tax payers

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

Tax bands for 2014/15 and 2015/16

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

Internet link: HMRC autumn statement personal

Pensions Saving

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

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

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

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

Please contact us if you would like any pensions advice.

Internet link: HMRC pensions tax relief

A simpler tax system for smaller businesses

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

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

Cars, vans and motorcycles

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

Business use of a home

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

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC update

Statutory residence test

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

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC finance bill draft

Government must tackle red tape

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

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

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

Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director, said:

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

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

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

Internet link: Press release

Reminder to those with high income and child benefit

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

Lin Homer, HMRC’s Chief Executive, said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet links: Press release HMRC Child Benefit guidance

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC advisory fuel rates

2013/14 statutory payments

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

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

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

Internet link: Proposed benefit rates

Charities and Gift Aid

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

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

Internet link: HMRC charities online

File your self assessment return

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet links: Press release HMRC SA deadlines and penalties

Newsletter – September 2011

In this month’s enews we report on increases to the NMW rates. Please contact us if you would like any further details on any of the issues covered.

 

 

National Minimum Wage rates

The adult rate of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) increases to £6.08 (£5.93) an hour from 1 October 2011. This is payable to those age 21 and over.

The rate for those aged 18 to 20 increases to £4.98 (£4.92) and for 16 and 17 year olds to £3.68 (£3.64) an hour.

The apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship, increases to £2.60 (£2.50) and hour.

Updated guidance available on the Business Link website includes specific situations such as those engaged on work experience or internships and their entitlement to the NMW. The guidance also includes a new worker checklist for employers and case study examples.

The press release confirms:

‘Entitlement to the NMW does not depend on a job title but on whether the arrangement they have with an organisation makes them a worker for NMW purposes. Where an individual is a worker – and no exemption applies – then they must be paid at least the NMW.’

Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey said:

‘Internships and work experience of all forms offer an excellent opportunity in helping to bridge the gap between education and the workplace. And for businesses it allows them access to a wide talent pool of some of our best and brightest who didn’t take the traditional route into a job.

Fairness though is absolutely paramount with all placements. When a worker is entitled to the minimum wage, they should be paid it and we will continue to enforce the law. Today’s publication will help clarify this for employers and will also make sure that all interns and those on work experience placements have a better understanding of their entitlement to the minimum wage.’

HMRC are able to charge penalties to those employers found to be in breach of the NMW rules.

If you have any queries on the NMW please do get in touch.

Internet links: NMW rates Business link guidance Press release NMW Penalties

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published to take effect from 1 September 2011. HMRC’s website states:

‘These rates apply to all journeys on or after 1 September 2011 until further notice. For one month from the date of change, employers may use either the previous or new current rates, as they choose. Employers may therefore make or require supplementary payments if they so wish, but are under no obligation to do either.’

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 September 2011 are:

Engine size Petrol LPG
1400cc or less 15p (15p) 11p (11p)
1401cc – 2000cc 18p (18p) 12p (13p)
Over 2000cc 26p (26p) 18p (18p)
Engine size Diesel
1600 cc or less 12p (12p)
1601cc – 2000cc 15p (15p)
Over 2000cc 18p (18p)

Please note that only one rate has changed and that has been reduced and care must be taken to apply the correct rate after the one month period of grace.

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC advisory fuel rates

Agreement with Switzerland to secure billions in unpaid tax

The government has agreed measures with Switzerland to tackle offshore tax evasion. Under the terms of an agreement, existing funds held by UK taxpayers in Switzerland will be subject to a significant one-off deduction of between 19% and 34% to settle past tax liabilities.

From 2013, a new withholding tax of 48% on investment income and 27% on gains will ensure the effective future taxation of UK residents with funds in Swiss bank accounts. This will be accompanied by new information-sharing rules which will make it easier for HMRC to find out about Swiss accounts held by UK taxpayers. The new charges will not apply if the taxpayer authorises a full disclosure of their affairs to HMRC.

Internet link: Press release

Unemployment figures

The latest unemployment figures show the number of people out of work rose by 80,000 to 2.51 million in the three months to July 2011.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment Policy, said:

‘This rise in unemployment is troubling, particularly the growing number of young people out of work.

With one in five 16-24 year olds currently unemployed, tackling youth unemployment must be a priority. Businesses are eager to play their part through apprenticeships, training and work placements, but now the government must do all it can to create the right conditions for the private sector to create much-needed jobs.’

Internet link: Press release

HMRC reminder on new tax return penalties

HMRC are reminding individuals and businesses about new Self Assessment penalties for late returns and late payments, which come into effect this autumn.

The changes will apply to Self Assessment returns for 2010/11 which must be submitted by 31 January 2012. As stated on the HMRC website:

‘The new penalties for late Self Assessment returns are:

  • an initial £100 fixed penalty, which will now apply even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time
  • after 3 months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900
  • after 6 months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater; and
  • after 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater. In serious cases, the penalty after 12 months can be up to 100% of the tax due.’

If you would like help or advice on your Self Assessment return please do contact us.

Internet links: Press release HMRC deadlines and penalties

School Charities – Gift Aid and Payroll Giving guide

HMRC have published a Gift Aid and Payroll Giving guide for School Charities.

The guide contains information and simple examples specifically related to funds received by school charities to help make the most of these donations and identify what qualifies for Gift Aid. The guidance covers the following scenarios:

‘Appeals to fund extra lessons

Non-uniform days

School fees

Appeals towards school running costs

Appeals to fund scholarships

Appeals to a general reserve fund

Educational school trips

Appeals to buy a minibus or other equipment

Sponsored events

Payments to e-Learning Foundations

Building appeals

Other fundraising events’

Internet links: HMRC website Guidance

Revised construction industry penalties

From October 2011 the late submission Construction Industry Scheme monthly returns will result in revised penalties. The penalties are as follows:

  • a basic penalty of £100 for failure to meet due date of the 19th of the month
  • where the failure continues after two months after the due date, a further penalty of £200 will be charged
  • after six months an additional penalty will be due, rising to the greater of 5% of the tax or £300
  • after 12 months a further penalty will again be due being the greater of £300 or 5% of the tax but, where the withholding of information is deliberate and concealed, it will be 100% of the tax (or £3,000 if greater) and where information is withheld deliberately 70% of the tax (or £1,500 if greater).

Please get in touch if you would like help or advice on the Construction Industry Scheme.

Internet link: HMRC guidance on CIS penalties

HMRC report increase in phishing scams

HMRC have confirmed that reports of fraudulent ‘phishing’ emails have risen by 300% over the past year. The figure for August 2011 was 24,000. HMRC are currently helping to shut down around 100 scam websites a month.

They are stressing that if anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC advising that they are due a tax repayment that they do not follow the email’s instructions.

The emails provide a ‘click-through link’ to a cloned replica of the HMRC website, where the recipient is asked to provide their credit or debit card details. HMRC advise that victims risk not only having their bank accounts emptied but also their personal details being sold on to other organised criminal gangs.

Joan Wood, Director of HMRC Online and Digital, said:

‘We only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post. We currently don’t use telephone calls, emails or external companies in these circumstances. If anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting it permanently.

The increase in reports is partly due to improved awareness of this scam. However, I have no doubt that more of these “phishing” emails are in general circulation than ever before.

HMRC will do everything possible to ensure those receiving this email know what steps to take to protect their information, and we are working closely with other law enforcement agencies to target the criminals behind this serious crime and see them brought to justice.’

Internet link: