Newsletter – August 2014

eNews – August 2014

In this month’s enews we report on a number of issues including HMRC’s latest disclosure opportunity, warnings of incorrect PAYE overpayment notifications and the introduction of late submission penalties and guidance on pension scams. We also advise on HMRC guidance on exceptions to the VAT return electronic filing rules and the Pensions Regulator issues first report on auto enrolment penalties.

Please do get in touch if you would like more detail on any of the articles.

Guidance on changes to VAT filing rules

The majority of businesses have to file their VAT returns online. HMRC have issued guidance on changes to VAT rules which introduce additional exemptions to the requirement to file VAT returns online. The changes, which came into effect at the beginning of July 2014, allow business owners that satisfy HMRC that it is ‘not reasonably practicable’ for them to use the online system to submit ‘paper’ VAT returns.

HMRC will also be able to approve telephone filing as an alternative method of electronic filing in certain circumstances.

If you would like any advice on VAT issues please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC VAT Brief

Pensions Regulator uses formal powers over Auto Enrolment

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has issued the first quarterly bulletin which details how many times it has needed to use its formal powers to ensure employers comply with their automatic enrolment duties.

The first of the new quarterly bulletins shows the regulator had used its powers on 23 occasions up until the end of June this year. The powers listed include the ability to carry out inspections and to issue statutory notices including fixed penalty and escalating fines.

Executive director of automatic enrolment Charles Counsell said:

‘Employers and the pensions industry are understandably interested to know how and when we use our powers. To date the vast majority of employers are complying with their new workplace pension duties without the regulator needing to use our enforcement powers.’

‘I believe this is a testament to the success of our proportionate, risk-based approach to compliance and enforcement. We target our resources where they will maximise compliance and work with employers to help them comply with their duties.’

‘We have provided the tools and assistance that large and medium employers need to ensure millions of workers didn’t miss out on the pension contributions they are entitled to. On a small number of occasions, when our intervention has not resulted in the required outcome, we have used our powers to help to ensure employers comply with their duties.’

For general guidance on employers auto enrolment duties see TPR website. If you would like specific guidance, help or advice on how to deal with your auto enrolment obligations please do get in touch.

Internet link: Bulletin

Pension scams

HMRC and the Pensions Regulator (TPR) are publicising the availability of revised leaflets which warn people of the consequences of pension liberation scams.

HMRC are advising that individuals with pension savings continue to be targeted by unscrupulous companies encouraging them to access their pension savings early. Options are given for personal loans, cash incentives and one-off pension investments to encourage people to invest in these pension scams. Pension savers involved in these pension liberation scams face significant tax consequences.

HMRC has worked closely with TPR on publishing a revised set of leaflets highlighting the serious downsides of pension scams. The leaflets provide guidance on what trustees and scheme members can do to reduce the risk of becoming involved in these scams, and the tax impact of releasing pension funds early using these types of arrangements.

Internet links: HMRC news TPR website

HMRC latest disclosure opportunity

HMRC have announced the details of their latest disclosure opportunity which is expected to give approximately 16,000 tax avoidance scheme users the opportunity to pay the tax they owe.

The contractor loan scheme used non-UK employers to pay untaxed income or a loan instead of paying part of an employees salary.

HMRC are inviting those who have used the scheme to bring their affairs up to date using the contractor loans settlement opportunity which will allow taxpayers to settle their liability in the best possible terms. This opportunity is for the tax years up to 5 April 2011 and is open until 9 January 2015.

If they do, they will pay the tax and interest due on the sums they received as loans under the scheme. HMRC are warning that if participants continue to challenge HMRC in the courts, they risk having to pay additional tax charges and penalties – as well as the costs of litigation if they lose.

Jennie Granger, HMRC Director General for Enforcement and Compliance, said:

‘Many people regret ever getting involved with complex aggressive tax avoidance schemes and HMRC is providing an opportunity for contractors to come forward and straighten out their tax affairs.’

‘This is an important opportunity and we are working hard to encourage users to withdraw from such schemes. We also want to ensure they’ve understood our position. They can choose to continue to litigate for a better outcome but they risk a worse result. HMRC has a strong track record of winning tax avoidance cases in court, with around 80% of decisions in our favour. The costs for users are high, potentially resulting in penalties, charges and significant legal costs for scheme users.’

Please get in touch if you have any concerns in this area.

Internet link: Contractor loan disclosure opportunity

HMRC warn of incorrect RTI letters

HMRC have warned that incorrect RTI letters have been issued. The full statement reads:

‘We are aware that a batch of RTI 201 letters has been sent to employers and agents in error, containing incorrect information about overpayments. Any employer or agent receiving one of these letters in August should please ignore it. Those wishing to check their tax position can do so on the Business Tax Dashboard. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused.’

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

Internet link: HMRC What’s new

HMRC to issue penalties for late submission of PAYE returns

In the latest Employer Bulletin HMRC are warning that employers’ who fail to submit their PAYE submissions, Full Payment Submission (FPS) or where appropriate Employer Payment Summary (EPS) on time will face penalties. The penalties are being introduced from October 2014.

Penalty notifications will be issued on a quarterly basis.

Please do get in touch for advice on PAYE matters.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Newsletter – August 2012

In this month’s enews we report that HMRC have revealed their most wanted tax fugitives.

Please do get in touch if you would like more information on any of the articles.


HMRC reveals most wanted tax fugitives

HMRC have published the photos and biographies of people they consider to be the top 20 tax fugitives in the UK, responsible for £765 million of tax evasion and fraud.

HMRC are asking the public to help track down the individuals by contacting Crimestoppers. Most of the individuals are however now thought to be living outside the UK.

The ‘mugshots’ are of ‘tax criminals who have absconded after being charged with a crime or during trial’ for fraud, money laundering and smuggling.

David Gauke the Exchequer Secretary said:

‘The government is absolutely committed to tackling tax evasion and fraud.’

‘These criminals have collectively cost the taxpayer over £765 million and HMRC will pursue them relentlessly. We hope that publishing their pictures in this way will enable members of the public to contribute to the effort to catch them.’

The photos have been published on HMRC’s Flickr page and can be viewed using the link below.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, or through the Crimestoppers website

Internet link: HMRC flikr

HMRC issue next round of self assessment penalties

According to HMRC approximately half a million people still have not submitted their 2010/11 tax returns. HMRC have started to issue additional penalty letters to these individuals.

HMRC have advised that the number of outstanding returns has almost halved in 2012, down to 5.9%, compared to 10.7% in 2011. This means 518,000 fewer penalties are being issued.

The penalties being issued will be for a minimum £1,200, comprising:

  • the maximum £900 in daily penalties for non-filing
  • a further late filing penalty of £300 or 5% of the tax due (whichever is higher).

People who receive a late filing penalty can appeal against it if they think they have a reasonable excuse for not sending in their tax return.

Also anyone receiving a late filing penalty and who has not sent in a return, but thinks they do not need to be in self assessment, can still potentially apply to be taken out of self assessment. If HMRC agrees, the return and any penalties issued will be cancelled.

HMRC has confirmed that they have taken 273,000 people out of self assessment this year.

Please do get in touch if you have any concerns in this area.

Internet link: Press release

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published to take effect from 1 September 2012. HMRC’s website states:

‘These rates apply to all journeys on or after 1 September 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 September 2012 are:

Engine size Petrol LPG
1400cc or less 15p 10p
1401cc – 2000cc 18p 12p
Over 2000cc 26p 17p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 12p
1601cc – 2000cc 15p
Over 2000cc 18p

Please note that not all of the rates have been amended and 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

Sunday trading hours reform

Currently shops over 280m² are only permitted to open for a maximum of six hours on a Sunday, between 10am and 6pm, although this restriction has been temporarily lifted, throughout the six week duration of the Olympics and Paralympics.

In response to this trial period there have been calls to change the laws, including support from the Institute of Directors, whose spokesman, Mark Wallace said:

‘We know there are people out of work or underemployed who desperately want more opportunities and we know there is an appetite among consumers to shop during normal hours on Sundays, so it is silly to have a rule that holds both groups back.’

However, despite standing to gain financially from such a move, Justin King (CEO of J Sainsbury plc) said in a letter to the Telegraph:

‘Maintaining Sunday’s special status has great merit for our customers and our colleagues, and relaxing Sunday Trading laws is certainly not a magic answer to economic regeneration. Sainsbury’s has put in place extended hours at only 30 of its 1,000 stores during the Games period.’

Internet link: BBC news

Holiday pay and sickness case

The Court of Appeal has clarified the law regarding holidays and sickness.

Under current law employees may take their annual leave while they are off sick but they can also choose not to and must be allowed to carry over their leave so as not to lose their entitlement. However, following conflicting Employment Tribunal decisions employers were unsure as to whether they only had to permit ‘carry over’ where a worker had requested the ‘carry over’ of the leave during the leave year.

The appeal in the case of Larner was heard by the Court of Appeal in March and the decision has just been reported.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and held that the employee did not need to have requested leave during the leave year in order for it to be automatically carried over to the next year. This could mean that the untaken leave would be payable on termination of the employment. The Working Time Regulations could be interpreted in line with this so that all employers should comply with this rule.

This means that employees off sick for long periods will accrue holiday which will either be available to be taken if they return to work or will need to be paid should their employment be terminated.

Employers should manage cases of sickness absence as proactively as possible and may also wish to review the position and perhaps set time limits on the utilisation of carried over holiday as part of the contract. Unused leave would only remain available for a limited time (say a year).

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

Internet link: Court of appeal decision

Tesco faces potential fines for illegally employing foreign workers

According to the Telegraph, Tesco is facing a fine of up to £200,000 for illegally employing foreign workers. According to the report:

‘Twenty foreign students of primarily Bangladeshi and Indian origin were arrested for working longer hours than their visas permitted, seven of whom have since been deported. Although the workers had the right to work in the UK, their visas were only valid for up to 20 hours a week during term time, and the students had worked between 50 and 70 hours. A further 15 students are undergoing investigation during the Home office crackdown on ‘visa abuse’ to which Tesco is said to be ‘cooperating fully’ with the UKBA.’

The UK Border Agency will now decide whether to issue the supermarket with a notification of liability and a fine of up to £10,000 per illegal worker.

A UKBA spokesman said:

‘We received information that some staff members were working in the UK illegally at on Factory Lane, Croydon. In response officers carried out an operation in full cooperation with the company shortly after 3am on Saturday 21 July 2012. Twenty individuals have been arrested and now face removal from the UK.’

‘The operation was part of an ongoing campaign to tackle visa abuse which has seen over 2,000 offenders removed since the beginning of May.’

‘The employer now needs to provide evidence that it was carrying out the legally required checks to avoid a fine.’

A Tesco spokesman said:

‘In cooperation with Tesco, the UK Border Agency visited our dotcom store in Croydon in July. As a result of this visit, a small number of staff were found to have breached the terms of their working visas.’

‘We continue to cooperate fully with the UK Border Agency as they look into this issue.’

‘We take our responsibilities as an employer very seriously and do not condone illegal working of any kind. We have a comprehensive system for ensuring all the correct procedures are followed in this area which has been externally audited and generally works well. We have now taken additional steps to ensure an incident of this nature does not happen again.’

For information on the legal requirements visit UK Border Agency

Internet link: Telegraph news report

Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme

The government announced in the Budget 2012 that the zero rate of VAT for approved alterations to listed buildings would be withdrawn, with effect from 1 October 2012. However, at the same time it was announced that the Listed Places of Worship (LWP) grant scheme would be extended to cover approved alterations to listed places of worship.

The extended scheme will come into effect on 1 October 2012. The Department for Culture Media and Sport has confirmed that detailed guidance and new application forms will be available on the LPW scheme website in late September 2012.

If you would like any further information please do get in touch.

Internet link: Culture news

HMRC launch new P46 for employers

HMRC have created a single page version of form P46 called P46 (Short) which enables employers to collect necessary information from new employees who do not have a form P45.

Employers are required to submit the details electronically to HMRC so the form is used to gather the necessary information in order to make the online submission.

Internet link: HMRC forms

Coastal Communities Fund

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced that six seaside projects are the first to receive government backing to help their coastal towns to prosper. The funds should help create new jobs and boost local enterprises.

The £24 million Coastal Communities Fund was launched earlier this year to provide coastal towns with funds to help finance projects that can transform and diversify seaside economies.

The grants awarded are of up to £2 million each and can be used on projects that create local jobs, supports coastal tourism and development and that boost the inshore fisheries industry.

Next year the Coastal Communities Fund will be increased by £4 million to £28 million and is open to coastal towns across the United Kingdom and is funded by the Exchequer.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

‘There is huge potential in our coastal towns that goes way beyond them only being places we visit for seaside day trips and holidays. We are seeing opportunities being developed all the time by new industries and the Government is determined to help our coastal towns make the most of them.’

‘This money will help those towns tap into these enterprises and create the skills and jobs that will benefit the whole community. We cannot afford to waste this chance which is why the Government is committed to increasing the fund next year.’

‘The successful projects in this first round have enormous potential to make a real difference to their communities that will be far reaching. And this is just the beginning with our fund set to help many more coastal towns in the months to come.’

Internet link: Communities news

Employer email alerts

HMRC are reminding employers that they offer a free registration facility which enables employers to receive an email alert detailing changes in payroll procedures rather than a paper copy.

HMRC will issue the alerts three times a year when their web pages are updated. HMRC have confirmed that of the 1.3 million employers that they used to write to, over 470,000 employers have now registered for the alerts.

To register for the email alerts visit HMRC registration

Internet link: Agent Update