Autumn Budget 2018

Budget 2018

The Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his second Autumn Budget on Monday 29 October 2018. In his speech he stated that ‘austerity is coming to an end – but discipline will remain’. He also promised a ‘double deal dividend’ if the Brexit negotiations are successful but stated that there may be a full-scale Spring Budget in 2019 if not.

Our summary focuses on the tax measures which may affect you, your family and your business. To help you decipher what was said we have included our own comments. If you have any questions please contact us for advice.

Main Budget tax proposals

Our summary concentrates on the tax measures which include:

  • increases to the personal allowance and basic rate band
  • extending off-payroll working to medium/large organisations in the private sector
  • a temporary increase to the Annual Investment Allowance
  • freezing the VAT registration threshold for a further two years
  • changes to Entrepreneurs’ Relief and private residence relief
  • measures to tackle the plastic problem.

Previously announced measures include:

  • increases in car benefits
  • plans for Making Tax Digital for Business
  • extending the charge to gains on non-UK residents of non-residential UK property.

Some Budget proposals may be subject to amendment in the  2019 Spring Statement and subsequent Finance Act. You should contact us before taking any action as a result of the contents of this summary.

 

 

Personal Tax

The personal allowance

The personal allowance is currently £11,850. The personal allowance for 2019/20 will be £12,500.

Comment

There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 and the threshold has remained at this figure since its introduction for the 2010/11 tax year. The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2018/19 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £123,700. For 2019/20 there will be no personal allowance available where adjusted net income exceeds £125,000.

The marriage allowance

The marriage allowance permits certain couples, where neither pays tax at more than the basic rate, to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner.

Comment

The marriage allowance reduces the recipient’s tax bill by up to £238 a year in 2018/19. The marriage allowance was first introduced for 2015/16 and there are many couples who are entitled to claim but have not yet done so. It is possible to claim for all years back to 2015/16 where the entitlement conditions are met. A recent change to the law allows backdated claims to be made by personal representatives of a deceased transferor spouse or civil partner.

Tax bands and rates

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is £34,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £46,350 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance. Additional rate taxpayers pay tax at 45% on their income in excess of £150,000.

The tax on income (other than savings and dividend income) is different for taxpayers who are resident in Scotland to taxpayers resident elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish income tax rates and bands apply to income such as employment income, self-employed trade profits and property income.

In the 2018/19 Scottish Budget, the Finance Secretary for Scotland introduced five income tax rates as shown in the table of rates at the end of this summary. The income tax rates range between 19% and 46%. Scottish taxpayers are entitled to the same personal allowance as individuals in the rest of the UK.

Tax bands and rates 2019/20

The government has announced that for 2019/20 the basic rate band will be increased to £37,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £50,000 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance. The additional rate of tax of 45% remains payable on taxable income above £150,000.

From April 2019, the Welsh Government has the right to vary the rates of income tax payable by Welsh taxpayers. The UK government will reduce each of the three rates of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers by 10 pence. The Welsh Government has provisionally set the Welsh rate of income tax at 10 pence which will be added to the reduced UK rates. This means the rates of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers will continue to be the same as those paid by English and Northern Irish taxpayers. The Welsh Government will need to confirm this proposal prior to their final Budget.

The Scottish Government will announce the Scottish income tax rates and bands for 2019/20 in the Draft Budget on 12 December 2018.

Tax on dividends

In 2018/19 the first £2,000 of dividends are chargeable to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). The Dividend Allowance will remain at £2,000 for 2019/20. Dividends received above the allowance are taxed at the following rates:

  • 5% for basic rate taxpayers
  • 5% for higher rate taxpayers
  • 1% for additional rate taxpayers.

Dividends within the allowance still count towards an individual’s basic or higher rate band and so may affect the rate of tax paid on dividends above the Dividend Allowance.

To determine which tax band dividends fall into, dividends are treated as the last type of income to be taxed.

Comment

In 2017/18 the Dividend Allowance was £5,000. The reduction in the allowance particularly affects family company director-shareholders who extract monies from the company by means of a small salary and the balance in dividends. The cost of the restriction in the allowance for basic rate taxpayers is £225 increasing to £975 for higher rate taxpayers and £1,143 for additional rate taxpayers.

Tax on savings income

Savings income is income such as bank and building society interest.

The Savings Allowance, which was first introduced for the 2016/17 tax year, applies to savings income and the available allowance in a tax year depends on the individual’s marginal rate of income tax. Broadly, individuals taxed at up to the basic rate of tax have an allowance of £1,000. For higher rate taxpayers the allowance is £500. No allowance is due to additional rate taxpayers.

Some individuals qualify for a 0% starting rate of tax on savings income up to £5,000. However, the rate is not available if taxable non-savings income (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income less allocated allowances and reliefs) exceeds £5,000.

Rent-a-room relief

Rent-a-room relief gives relief from income tax for up to £7,500 of income to individuals who let furnished accommodation in their only or main residence. Following consultation on the draft legislation and to maintain the simplicity of the system, the government will not include legislation for the shared occupancy test. The government will retain the existing qualifying test of letting in a main or only residence.

Comment

Rent-a-room relief was introduced 26 years ago to encourage individuals to make spare capacity in their homes available for rent rather than letting out their entire property. The emergence and growth of online platforms have made it easier than ever for those with accommodation to access a global network of potential occupants. The government wants rent-a-room relief to be better targeted to achieve its objective of incentivising individuals to share their homes.

Gift Aid – donor benefits

Draft legislation has been issued which simplifies the donor benefits rules that apply to charities who claim Gift Aid tax relief on donations. From 6 April 2019 the benefit threshold for the first £100 of the donation will remain at 25% of that amount. For gifts exceeding £100, charities can offer benefits up to the sum of £25 and 5% of the amount of the donation that exceeds £100. The total value of the benefit that a donor can receive remains at £2,500.

Comment

The new limits replace the current mix of monetary and percentage thresholds that charities have to consider when determining the value of benefit they can give to their donors without losing the entitlement to claim Gift Aid tax relief on the donations given to them.

Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme

The Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) applies to small charitable donations where it is impractical to obtain a Gift Aid declaration. GASDS currently applies to donations of £20 or less made by individuals in cash or contactless payment. The limit will be raised to £30 from 6 April 2019.

National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW)

Following the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission (LPC), the government will increase the NLW by 4.9% from £7.83 to £8.21 from April 2019.

The government will also accept all of the LPC’s recommendations for the other NMW rates to apply from April 2019, including increasing the rates for:

  • 21 to 24 year olds by 4.3% from £7.38 to £7.70 per hour
  • 18 to 20 year olds by 4.2% from £5.90 to £6.15 per hour
  • 16 to 17 year olds by 3.6% from £4.20 to £4.35 per hour
  • apprentices by 5.4% from £3.70 to £3.90 per hour.

Universal Credit

The government has announced that the amount that households with children and people with disabilities can earn before their Universal Credit award begins to be withdrawn – the Work Allowance – will be increased by £1,000 from April 2019.

In addition the government has listened to representations made by stakeholders on Universal Credit, and has announced a package of extra support for claimants as they make the transition to Universal Credit.

Comment

The government remains committed to the introduction of Universal Credit. The set of measures announced in the Budget are worth £1.7 billion per year.

 

 

Business Tax

Making Tax Digital for Business: VAT

HMRC is phasing in its landmark Making Tax Digital (MTD) regime, which will ultimately require taxpayers to move to a fully digital tax system. Regulations have now been issued which set out the requirements for MTD for VAT. Under the new rules, businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) must keep digital records for VAT purposes and provide their VAT return information to HMRC using MTD functional compatible software.

The new rules have effect from 1 April 2019 where a taxpayer has a ‘prescribed accounting period’ which begins on that date, or otherwise from the first day of a taxpayer’s first prescribed accounting period beginning after 1 April 2019. HMRC has recently announced that the rules will have effect for some VAT-registered businesses with more complex requirements from 1 October 2019. Included in the deferred start date category are VAT divisions, VAT groups and businesses using the annual accounting scheme.

HMRC has recently opened a pilot service for businesses with straightforward affairs and the pilot scheme will be gradually extended for other businesses in the next few months.

Keeping digital records and making quarterly updates will not be mandatory for taxes other than VAT before April 2020.

Comment

Keeping digital records will not mean businesses are mandated to use digital invoices and receipts but the actual recording of supplies made and received must be digital. It is likely that third party commercial software will be required. Software will not be available from HMRC. The use of spreadsheets will be allowed, but they will have to be combined with add-on software to meet HMRC’s requirements.

In the long run, HMRC is still looking to a scenario where income tax updates are made quarterly and digitally, and this is really what the VAT provisions anticipate.

Corporation tax rates

Corporation tax rates have already been enacted for periods up to 31 March 2021.

The main rate of corporation tax is currently 19% and will remain at this rate for next year. The rate will fall to 17% for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020.

Class 2 and 4 National Insurance contributions (NICs)

The government has recently announced that Class 2 NICs will not be abolished for the duration of this Parliament. The Chancellor confirmed in March 2017 that there will be no increases to Class 4 NICs rates in this Parliament.

Comment

The government’s proposed reform of Class 2 and 4 NICs has had a chequered history. The original proposal was to abolish Class 2 contributions and reform Class 4 contributions. The Chancellor had to backtrack on the Class 4 reform due to the reaction to a proposed increase in rates and the Class 2 abolition was deferred to April 2019.

However a significant number of self-employed individuals with the lowest profits would have seen the voluntary payment they make to maintain access to the state pension rise substantially and so the government decided it would not be right to proceed with the abolition of Class 2.

UK property income of non-UK resident companies

Changes are made for non-UK resident companies that carry on a UK property business either directly or indirectly, for example through a partnership or a transparent collective investment vehicle.

Following consultation, from 6 April 2020, non-UK resident companies that carry on a UK property business, or have other UK property income, will be charged to corporation tax, rather than being charged to income tax as at present.

Capital allowances

Annual Investment Allowance

The government has announced an increase in the Annual Investment Allowance for two years to £1 million in relation to qualifying expenditure incurred from 1 January 2019. Complex calculations may apply to accounting periods which straddle this date.

Other changes

A number of changes are made to other rules relating to capital allowances:

  • a reduction in the rate of writing down allowance on the special rate pool of plant and machinery, including long-life assets, thermal insulation, integral features and expenditure on cars with CO2 emissions of more than 110g/km, from 8% to 6% from April 2019. Complex calculations may apply to accounting periods which straddle this date
  • clarification as to precisely which costs of altering land for the purposes of installing qualifying plant or machinery qualify for capital allowances, for claims on or after 29 October 2018
  • the end of the 100% first year allowance and first year tax credits for products on the Energy Technology List and Water Technology List from April 2020
  • an extension of the current 100% first year allowance for expenditure incurred on electric charge-point equipment until 2023.

In addition, a new capital allowances regime will be introduced for structures and buildings. It will be known as the Structures and Buildings Allowance and will apply to new non-residential structures and buildings. Relief will be provided on eligible construction costs incurred on or after 29 October 2018, at an annual rate of 2% on a straight-line basis.

Change to the definition of permanent establishment

A non-resident company is liable to corporation tax only if it has a permanent establishment in the UK. Certain preparatory or auxiliary activities, such as storing the company’s own products, purchasing goods or collecting information for the non-resident company, are classed as not creating a permanent establishment.

From 1 January 2019, the exemption will be denied to these activities if they are part of a ‘fragmented business operation’.

Preventing abuse of the R&D tax relief for SMEs

To help prevent abuse of the Research and Development (R&D) SME tax relief by artificial corporate structures, the amount that a loss-making company can receive in R&D tax credits will be capped at three times its total PAYE and NICs liability from April 2020.

Comment

HMRC has identified and prevented £300 million of fraud linked to this relief and this change will help to address similar abuses in future. Almost 95% of companies currently claiming the payable credit will be unaffected.

Protecting taxes in insolvency

From April 2020, HMRC will have greater priority to recover taxes paid by employees and customers.

The changes appear to be mainly targeted at the distribution of funds to financial institutions as creditors. The rules will remain unchanged for taxes owed by the business and HMRC will remain below other preferential creditors such as the Redundancy Payment Service.

Comment

This will ensure that an extra £185 million in taxes already paid each year reaches the government.

A veiled comment also suggests that, at some stage in the future, directors and other persons involved in tax avoidance, evasion or phoenixism will be jointly and severally liable for company tax liabilities, where there is a risk that the company may deliberately enter insolvency.

Other measures

  • Changes to the tax treatment of corporate capital losses from 1 April 2020 to restrict the proportion of annual capital gains that can be relieved by brought-forward capital losses to 50%.
  • Changes to the Diverted Profits Tax from 29 October 2018.
  • An increase in the small trading tax exemption limits for charities from April 2019 from £5,000 per annum or, if the turnover is greater than £5,000, 25% of the charity’s total incoming resources, subject to an overall upper limit of £50,000, to £8,000 and £80,000 respectively.
  • The introduction of an income tax charge to amounts received in a low tax jurisdiction in respect of intangible property, to the extent that those amounts are referable to the sale of goods or services in the UK, from 6 April 2019, with targeted anti-avoidance rules for arrangements entered into on or after 29 October 2018.

Digital Services Tax

The government remains committed to reform of the international corporate tax framework for digital businesses. However, pending global reform, interim action is needed to ensure the corporate tax system is sustainable and fair across different types of businesses.

Therefore, the government has announced that it will introduce a Digital Services Tax (DST) which will raise £1.5 billion over four years from April 2020. The DST will apply a 2% tax on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces where their revenues are linked to the participation of UK users.

Businesses will need to generate revenues of at least £500 million globally to become taxable under the DST. The first £25 million of relevant UK revenues are also not taxable.

Intangible fixed assets

The Intangible Fixed Assets regime, which was introduced from 1 April 2002, fundamentally changed the way the UK corporation tax system treats intangible fixed assets (such as copyrights, patents and goodwill). As the regime is now more than 15 years old, the government would like to examine whether there is scope for reforms that would simplify it and make it more effective in supporting economic growth.

Following a short consultation, the government will seek to introduce targeted relief for the cost of goodwill in the acquisition of businesses with eligible intellectual property from April 2019.

With effect from 7 November 2018, the government will also reform the de-grouping charge rules, which apply when a group sells a company that owns intangibles, so that they more
closely align with the equivalent rules elsewhere in the tax code.

VAT registration limits

The government had previously announced that the VAT registration and deregistration thresholds would be frozen at £85,000 and £83,000 respectively until April 2020.

The government has now announced that this freeze will continue for a further two years from 1 April 2020.

VAT fraud in labour provision in the construction sector

The government will pursue legislation to shift responsibility for paying VAT along the supply chain with the introduction of a domestic VAT reverse charge for supplies of construction services with effect from 1 October 2019. The long lead-in time reflects the government’s commitment to give businesses adequate time to prepare for the changes.

VAT treatment of vouchers

Draft legislation has been issued to insert a new tax code for the VAT treatment of vouchers, such as gift cards, for which a payment has been made and which will be used to buy something. The legislation separates vouchers with a single purpose (eg a traditional book token) from the more complex gift vouchers and sets out how and when VAT should be accounted for in each case. The new legislation is not concerned with the scope of VAT and whether VAT is due, but with the question of when VAT is due and, in the case of multi-purpose vouchers, the consideration upon which any VAT is payable.

VAT collection – split payment

The government wants to combat online VAT fraud by harnessing new technology and is consulting on VAT split payment. This will utilise payments industry technology to collect VAT on online sales and transfer it directly to HMRC. In the government’s view this would significantly reduce the challenge of enforcing online seller compliance and offer a simplification for business.

 

 

Employment Taxes

Off-payroll working in the private sector

The changes to IR35 that came into effect in April 2017 for the public sector will be extended to the private sector from April 2020. Responsibility for operating the off-payroll rules will be transferred from the individual to the organisation, agency or third party engaging the worker. Only medium and large organisations will be subject to this change.

Employment Allowance

The Employment Allowance provides businesses and charities with up to £3,000 off their employer NICs bill. From April 2020, the Employment Allowance will be restricted to those employers whose employers’ NICs bill was below £100,000 in the previous tax year.

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 normally announced well in advance. Most cars are taxed by reference to bands of CO2 emissions multiplied by the original list price of the vehicle. The maximum charge is capped at 37% of the list price of the car.

For this tax year there was generally a 2% increase in the percentage applied by each band. For 2019/20 the rates will increase by a further 3%.

A new development for the current tax year is an increase in the diesel supplement from 3% to 4%. This applies to all diesel cars (unless the car is registered on or after 1 September 2017 and meets the Euro 6d emissions standard) but the maximum is still 37%. There is no change to the current position that the diesel supplement does not apply to hybrid cars.

Charging facilities for electric and hybrid cars

Legislation is proposed to provide a new exemption from a taxable employment benefit where an employer provides charging facilities for employees’ all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles at or near the workplace. The exemption is backdated to have effect from 6 April 2018.

Employer provided cars and vans are already exempt from this benefit.

Exemption for travel expenses

Draft legislation has been issued which removes the requirement for employers to check receipts when making payments to employees for subsistence using benchmark scale rates. This will apply to standard meal allowances paid in respect of qualifying travel and overseas scale rates. Employers will only be asked to ensure that employees are undertaking qualifying travel. This will have effect from April 2019.

The proposed legislation will also allow HMRC to put the existing concessionary accommodation and subsistence overseas scale rates on a statutory basis from 6 April 2019. Like benchmark rates, employers will only be asked to ensure that employees are undertaking qualifying travel.

Self-funded work-related training

The government had previously announced that it would consult on extending the scope of tax relief currently available to employees and the self-employed for work-related training costs. The government has now decided to make no changes to the existing rules. However the National Retraining Scheme is being launched to help those in work, including the self-employed, to develop further skills.

 

 

Capital Taxes

Capital gains tax (CGT) rates

The current rates of CGT are 10%, to the extent that any income tax basic rate band is available, and 20% thereafter. Higher rates of 18% and 28% apply for certain gains; mainly chargeable gains on residential properties with the exception of any element that qualifies for private residence relief.

There are two specific types of disposal which potentially qualify for a 10% rate, both of which have a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual:

  • Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER). This is targeted at working directors and employees of companies who own at least 5% of the ordinary share capital in the company and the owners of unincorporated businesses
  • Investors’ Relief. The main beneficiaries of this relief are external investors in unquoted trading companies who have newly-subscribed shares.

CGT annual exemption

The CGT annual exemption is £11,700 for 2018/19 and will be increased to £12,000 for 2019/20.

Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER)

Tackling misuse

With immediate effect for disposals on or after 29 October 2018, two new tests are to be added to the definition of a ‘personal company’, requiring the claimant to have a 5% interest in both the distributable profits and the net assets of the company. The new tests must be met, in addition to the existing tests, throughout the specified period in order for relief to be due. The existing tests already require a 5% interest in the ordinary share capital and 5% of voting rights.

Minimum qualifying period

The government will legislate in Finance Bill 2018-19 to increase the minimum period throughout which certain conditions must be met to qualify for ER, from one year to two years. The measure will have effect for disposals on or after 6 April 2019 except where a business ceased before 29 October 2018. Where the claimant’s business ceased, or their personal company ceased to be a trading company (or the holding company of a trading group) before 29 October 2018, the existing one year qualifying period will continue to apply.

Dilution of holdings below 5%

Draft legislation has been issued to provide a potential entitlement to ER where an individual’s holding in a company is reduced below the normal 5% qualifying level (meaning 5% of both ordinary share capital and voting power). The relief will only apply where the reduction below 5% occurs as a result of the company raising funds for commercial purposes by means of an issue of new shares, wholly for cash consideration.

Where a disposal of the shareholding prior to the issue would have resulted in a gain which would have qualified for ER, shareholders will be able to make an election treating them as if they had disposed of their shares and immediately reacquired them at market value just before dilution. To avoid an immediate CGT bill on this deemed disposal, a further election can be made to defer the gain until the shares are sold. ER can then be claimed on the deferred gain in the year the shares are sold under the rules in force at that time.

The new rules will apply for share issues which occur on or after 6 April 2019.

Gains for non-residents on UK property

Draft legislation has been issued to charge all non-UK resident persons, whether liable to CGT or corporation tax, on gains on disposals of interests in any type of UK land, whether residential or non-residential. Certain revisions are to be made following a further technical consultation when the full legislation is introduced but the key points are covered here.

All non-UK resident persons will also be taxable on indirect disposals of UK land. The indirect disposal rules will apply where a person makes a disposal of an entity that derives 75% or more of its gross asset value from UK land. There will be an exemption for investors in such entities who hold a less than 25% interest.

All non-UK resident companies will be charged to corporation tax rather than CGT on their gains.

There will be options to calculate the gain or loss on a disposal using the original acquisition cost of the asset or using the value of the asset at commencement of the rules in April 2019.

The CGT charge relating to the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings will be abolished. The legislation will broadly have effect for disposals from 6 April 2019.

Comment

The main effect of the new legislation will be to extend the scope of UK taxation of gains to include gains on disposals of interests in non-residential UK property.

Previous legislation has focussed on bringing gains made by non-residents on residential properties within the UK tax regime.

Payment on account and 30 day returns

Draft legislation has been issued to change the reporting of gains and the associated CGT liability on disposal of property. The main change is a requirement for UK residents to make a return and a payment on account of CGT within 30 days following the completion of a residential property disposal on a worldwide basis. The new requirements will not apply where the gain on the disposal is not chargeable to CGT, for example where the gains are covered by private residence relief.

For UK residents, the measure will have effect for disposals made on or after 6 April 2020.

CGT private residence relief

It is proposed that from April 2020 the government will make two changes to private residence relief:

  • the final period exemption will be reduced from 18 months to 9 months. There will be no changes to the 36 months that are available to disabled persons or those in a care home
  • Lettings Relief will be reformed so that it only applies in circumstances where the owner of the property is in ‘shared-occupancy’ with a tenant.

The government will consult on the detail of both of these changes and other technical aspects.

Inheritance tax (IHT) nil rate bands

The nil rate band has remained at £325,000 since April 2009 and is set to remain frozen at this amount until April 2021.

IHT residence nil rate band

From 6 April 2017 a new nil rate band, called the ‘residence nil rate band’ (RNRB), has been introduced, meaning that the family home can be passed more easily to direct descendants on death.

The RNRB is being phased in. For deaths in 2018/19 it is £125,000, rising to £150,000 in 2019/20 and £175,000 in 2020/21. Thereafter it will rise in line with the Consumer Price Index.

There are a number of conditions that must be met in order to obtain the RNRB, which may involve redrafting an existing will.

Downsizing

The RNRB may also be available when a person downsizes or ceases to own a home on or after 8 July 2015 where assets of an equivalent value, up to the value of the RNRB, are passed on death to direct descendants.

Changes to IHT RNRB

Amendments are to be introduced to the RNRB relating to downsizing provisions and the definition of ‘inherited’ for RNRB purposes. These amendments clarify the downsizing rules, and provide certainty over when a person is treated as ‘inheriting’ property. This will ensure the policy is working as originally intended. The changes will have effect for deaths on or after 29 October 2018.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

First time buyers relief

The relief for first time buyers will be extended to purchasers of qualifying shared ownership properties who do not elect to pay SDLT on the market value of the whole property when they purchase their first share. Relief will be applied to the first share purchased, where the market value of the shared ownership property is £500,000 or less.

Comment

The relief will apply retrospectively from 22 November 2017, meaning that a refund of tax will be payable for those who have paid SDLT after 22 November 2017 in circumstances which now qualify for first time buyers relief.

Higher rates for additional dwellings (HRAD)

A minor amendment will extend the time allowed to claim back HRAD where an individual sells their old home within three years of buying their new one.The measure also clarifies the meaning of `major interest` in land for the general purpose of HRAD.

Consultation on SDLT charge for non-residents

The government will publish a consultation in January 2019 on a SDLT surcharge of 1% for non-residents buying residential property in England and Northern Ireland.

 

 

Other Matters

Extension of offshore time limits

Draft legislation has been issued to increase the assessment time limits for offshore income and gains to 12 years. Similarly the time limits for proceedings for the recovery of inheritance tax are increased to 12 years. Where an assessment involves a loss of tax brought about deliberately the assessment time limit is 20 years after the end of the year of assessment and this time limit will not change.

The legislation does not apply to corporation tax or where HMRC has received information from another tax authority under automatic exchange of information.

The potential extension of time limits will apply from the 2013/14 tax year where the loss of tax is brought about by careless behaviour and from the 2015/16 tax year in other cases. The amendments will have effect when Finance Bill 2018-19 receives Royal Assent.

Comment

The current assessment time limits are ordinarily four years (six years in the case of carelessness by the taxpayer). The justification for the extension of time limits is the longer time it can take HMRC to establish the facts about offshore transactions, particularly if they involve complex offshore structures.

The legislation cannot be used to go back earlier than 2013/14. If there has been careless behaviour HMRC can make an assessment for up to 12 years from 2013/14 in respect of offshore matters but HMRC could not raise an assessment for 2012/13 or earlier (unless there is deliberate error by the taxpayer).

Penalties for late submission of tax returns

Taxpayers are required to submit tax returns by specified dates. When taxpayers submit their returns late they generally incur a penalty. Draft legislation has been issued which sets out a new points-based penalty regime for regular submission obligations. Returns have to be submitted more frequently in some circumstances. Depending on the frequency of the return submission obligation, a defined number of penalty points will accrue to a threshold. Once this threshold has been reached, a fixed penalty will be charged to the taxpayer.

After this each late submission will attract a fixed penalty, until the taxpayer meets all submission obligations by the relevant deadline for a set period of time. Once this happens, and a taxpayer has provided any outstanding submissions for the preceding 24 months, the points total will reset to zero. Points will generally have a lifetime of 24 months after which they expire, so if a taxpayer accrues points but does not reach the threshold, the points will expire after 24 months. Taxpayers will have a separate points total per submission obligation.

Penalties for late payment of tax

Draft legislation has been issued to harmonise the late payment penalty regimes for income tax, corporation tax and VAT. Late payment penalties are charged when customers do not pay, or make an agreement to pay, by the date they should, and do not have a reasonable excuse for the failure to do so.

The penalties will consist of two penalty charges, one charge based upon payments and agreements to pay in the first 30 days after the payment due date and another charge based upon how long the debt remains outstanding after the 30 days.

Interest harmonisation

Draft legislation has been issued to change the VAT interest rules so that they will be similar to those that currently exist for income tax and corporation tax.

This will mean:

  • late payment interest will be charged from the date the payment was due to the date the payment is received
  • HMRC will pay repayment interest when it has held taxpayer repayments for longer than it should.

The provisions are expected to take effect for VAT returns from 1 April 2020.

Tackling the plastic problem

As part of the government’s response to tackling plastic waste, the following announcements were made:

  • Single-use plastics will be addressed in the Resources and Waste Strategy later in the year for situations where recycling rates are too low and producers use too little recycled plastic.
  • The issue of excess and harmful packaging will be addressed with a tax on the production and importation of plastic packaging which does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. This tax will be implemented in April 2022.
  • The Resources and Waste Strategy will also consider ways of reducing the environmental impact of disposable cups. The government does not believe that a levy would be effective at this time but will return to the issue if insufficient progress has been made by those businesses already taking steps to address the matter.

 

Newsletter – March 2018

Enews – March 2018

In this month’s Enews we report on National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage increases together with increases in auto enrolment pension contributions.

We also report on tax relief for Scottish taxpayers on pension contributions following the introduction of five income tax bands. With new advisory fuel rates and a tribunal ruling on the tax status of a BBC journalist, there is lots to update you on.

Tribunal rules BBC journalist is caught by ‘IR35’ legislation

A First Tier Tribunal has ruled that Christa Ackroyd who presented BBC news programme Look North and was paid via a personal service company was caught by the IR35 rules resulting in additional tax and national insurance contributions being payable.

The IR35 rules in broad terms mean that those working via a personal service company have to consider whether, if the services were provided by the individual contractor directly to the client, there would be a contract of employment.

The tribunal looked at lots of factors pertinent to Ms Ackroyd’s engagement and considered it significant that the BBC could control what work she did. She was engaged for seven years on effectively a full time basis.

Subject to any appeal and determination of final figures, the tax and NIC that Ms Ackroyd will be liable for amounts to around £420,000 before offset of corporation tax.

The IR35 rules were amended for Public Bodies (including the BBC) from April 2017 and the government has announced that it may make changes to the rules for the private sector as well in the future.

Internet link: ICAEW News

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which take effect from 1 March 2018. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 March 2018 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 22p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 8p
Over 2000cc 13p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 13p

HMRC guidance states that the rates only apply when you either:

  • reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars or
  • require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel.

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Scotland’s five income tax bands and tax relief for pensions

Following the announcement of new income tax rates for Scottish taxpayers for 2018/19, the government is looking at ways of addressing the issue of the tax relief due on Scottish taxpayers’ pension contributions.

Tax relief on pension contributions is a complex matter and depends on the marginal tax rate of the individual concerned and whether or not the contributions are being paid with relief at source or under net pay arrangements. The following link details how relief will be given for 2018/19. If you would like help in this complex area please contact us.

The income tax rates for Scottish taxpayers on income other than savings and dividend income are now expected to be as follows:

Scottish Bands £ Band name Scottish Rate
0 – 2,000 Starter 19%
2,001 – 12,150 Basic 20%
12,151 – 31,580 Intermediate 21%
31,581 – 150,000 Higher 41%
Over 150,000 Top 46%

Scottish taxpayers are entitled to the same personal allowance as individuals in the rest of the UK which for 2018/19 is £11,850. The allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 of adjusted net income in excess of £100,000. The bands and allowances are detailed in the P9X.

Internet links: GOV.UK pensions newsletter P9X 2018

Minimum Wage increases

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) are the legal minimum wage rates that must be paid to employees. Employers are liable to be penalised for not complying with the NMW and NLW rules.

There are different levels of NMW and NLW, depending on age and whether the employee is an apprentice. The rates are due to increase from 1 April 2018 as shown in the following table:

Rate from 1 April 2017 Rate from 1 April 2018
NLW for workers aged 25 and over £7.50 £7.83
NMW main rate for workers aged 21-24 £7.05 £7.38
NMW 18-20 rate £5.60 £5.90
NMW 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 £4.05 £4.20
NMW apprentice rate * £3.50 £3.70

*for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

There are no exemptions from paying the NMW on the grounds of the size of the business.

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

Internet link: ACAS article

Pensions Auto Enrolment reaches a million employers

The Pensions Regulator has announced that the number of employers meeting their workplace pension duties has reached one million and that statistics show that approximately 9.3 million people are saving into a pension.

TPR’s Director of Automatic Enrolment, Darren Ryder, said:

‘I am delighted we have reached this important landmark, which shows how far we have come since the start of automatic enrolment.

By successfully meeting their responsibilities, employers have helped reverse the downward trend in workplace saving so that putting earnings into a pension has now become the norm.

The continued support of the pensions industry, including pension and payroll providers and business advisers has been crucial to the success of automatic enrolment. The industry has helped us ensure employers have the tools, information and services they need to comply with the law.

We are now focused on the challenges ahead so that employers continue to understand what they need to do so that staff receive the pensions they are entitled to.’

Minimum pension contributions are set to increase from 6 April 2018 and again in 2019.

Period Duration Employer minimum Total minimum contribution
1 Employer’s staging date to 5 April 2018 1% 2%
2 6 April 2018 to 5 April 2019 2% 5%
6 April 2019 onwards 3% 8%

Contact us if you would like help with auto enrolment.

Internet links: TPR press release TPR report TPR contributions increase

Year end tax planning

With the end of the tax year looming there is still time to save tax for 2017/18. We have set out some points you may want to consider.

  • Make full use of your ISA allowance – ISAs can offer a useful tax free way to save, whether this is for your children’s future, a first home or another purpose. Individuals may invest up to a limit of £20,000 for the 2017/18 tax year. A saver may only pay into a maximum of one Cash ISA, one Stocks and Shares ISA and one Innovative Finance ISA per year. Savers have until 5 April 2018 to make their 2017/18 ISA investment.
  • Take advantage of capital allowances – By making the most of capital allowances, businesses may be able to write off the costs of capital assets against taxable profits. The Annual Investment Allowance allows businesses to claim a deduction of up to £200,000 of the year’s investment in plant and machinery (excluding cars). Businesses of any size and most business structures can make use of the AIA. However, there are provisions to prevent multiple claims.
  • Build a tax efficient retirement plan – Pension contributions must be paid on or before 5 April 2018 for them to be relieved against 2017/18 income. Annual contributions are limited to the greater of £3,600 (gross) or the amount of your UK relevant earnings may be eligible for tax relief. However, these will be subject to the annual allowance, which is generally £40,000. This is reduced for those whose income is above certain technical thresholds and has to be considered when both adjusted annual income is (their income plus both their own and their employer’s pension contributions) over £150,000 and ‘net’ income is at least £110,000. Net income broadly means an individual’s income less own gross pension contributions made. For every £2 of adjusted income over £150,000, a person’s annual allowance is reduced by £1 (down to a minimum of £10,000).

 

Newsletter – December 2015

eNews – December 2015

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

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

Scottish income tax rates and Scottish Budget

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK briefing

Autumn Statement 2015 – key announcements for parents

Reversal of most of the tax credit proposals

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

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

Changes to the prospective Tax-Free Childcare scheme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The introduction of an apprenticeship levy

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

Internet link: GOV.UK Blue Book

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

Higher SDLT on purchases of additional residential properties

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

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

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

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

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

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

This measure is another blow for buy to let landlords.

Internet link: GOV.UK main tax announcements

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 December 2015. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 December 2015 are:

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

‘Payrolling’ benefits in kind

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please contact us if this is of interest to you.

Internet links: GOV.UK payrolling benefits Employer Bulletin

Guidance on use of zero hours contracts

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

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

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

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

Deadline for final IR35 payments and returns

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet links: GOV.UK IR35 guidance Employer Bulletin

Planning a party for employees

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

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC guidance

Newsletter – November 2014

eNews – November 2014

In this month’s enews we report on the Government’s announcement on the availability of free advice on pensions flexibility, the latest HMRC disclosure opportunity and the end of the Business Entity Tests for IR35.

Acas have issued guidance on the administration of Shared Parental Leave and HMRC will be collecting larger debts via ‘coding out’.

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

Pension flexibility

The Government has announced that people who wish to access their defined contribution pension flexibly will be able to go to a local Citizens Advice Bureau across the UK for expert free and impartial face to face guidance or receive telephone guidance from the Pensions Advisory Service.

In Budget 2014 radical changes to the way individuals can access their pensions were announced. The Government promised that those able to take advantage of these flexibilities would be entitled to free and impartial guidance on their available choices as they approach retirement.

Pension expert Dr Ros Altmann CBE said:

‘This is a big step forwards in ensuring the pension revolution announced in the Budget will have a meaningful impact on pension savers. It is clear that, currently, most people saving for a pension don’t understand all the vital issues, and it’s really important that they receive impartial help to make the best decisions for themselves.’

‘Both the Pensions Advisory Service and Citizens Advice have longstanding experience in helping the public with financial issues; and it is really important that people do trust the scheme, otherwise they remain at risk of stumbling into poor decisions.’

Internet link: News

HMRC Credit Card Sales Campaign disclosure opportunity

HMRC have launched yet another disclosure opportunity this time aimed at undisclosed credit card sales. The Credit Card Sales Campaign is an opportunity for those affected to bring their tax affairs up to date if they are an individual or business that accepts credit or debit card payments for goods or services.

The disclosure opportunity allows those who have not registered with HMRC or who have failed to declare all their income to make a ‘voluntary disclosure’ of the omitted information in order to get the best terms under the campaign.

If you have any concerns in this area please do get in touch.

Internet link: Credit card sales campaign

IR35 Business Entity Tests

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

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

One of the ways in which businesses, advisers and HMRC determine whether or not the IR35 rules apply is by the use of Business Entity Tests (BETs) which were introduced in 2012. The points based system is used to risk assess whether a particular arrangement is caught by the rules.

The IR35 Forum has recently reviewed the approach to administering IR35 and found that the BETs were not helpful to businesses as they were:

  • used very little
  • not fulfilling their intended purpose.

As a result the review recommended withdrawing the BETs.

HMRC have accepted this recommendation and will withdraw the BETs from 6 April 2015. They have also confirmed how this change will affect previous, ongoing or future enquiries which are detailed in the link.

If you are concerned how this change will affect you or your business please do get in touch.

Internet link: News

HMRC to collect more debt through tax codes

HMRC can currently collect debts of up to £3,000 by adjusting an individual’s Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax code which applies to their employment or pensions income. This collection method is known as ‘coding out’. The effect of this is to recover the debt from an individual’s income, by increasing the amount of tax that is deducted from their income during the tax year.

Currently the limit set on the amount which can be recovered this way is £3,000, however for those with PAYE earnings of £30,000 or more the amount which can be recovered via coding out will be increased from April 2015 to a possible maximum of £17,000. The amount which can be collected increases using a sliding scale of band earnings, for example those with annual PAYE earnings of between £40,000 but less than £50,000 could have debts of £7,000 collected this way. If an individual’s earnings are less than £30,000, there is no change to the £3,000 coding out limit.

These changes will only apply to underpaid Self Assessment and Class 2 National Insurance debts and Tax Credit overpayments. Changes will be reflected in 2015/16 tax codes. If an individual does not want the debt coded they should arrange to pay off the debt or agree a suitable payment plan with HMRC.

The current £3,000 coding out limit will still apply to the collection of Self Assessment balancing payments and PAYE underpayments.

If you don’t want the debts to be included in your tax code, then you will need to pay the full amount you owe or speak to us to agree a suitable payment arrangement.

If you receive a tax code and would like us to review it please do get in touch.

Internet link: News

VAT on ‘snowballs’

HMRC have published a Brief which advises that ‘snowballs’ are zero rated for VAT purposes.

Following the decision of the First Tier Tribunal HMRC have issued guidance on the VAT treatment of ‘snowballs’. The case concerned the VAT liability of this food item and whether or not it was confectionary (standard rated) or a cake (zero-rated). The ‘snowballs’ considered were those manufactured by Lees of Scotland and Thomas Tunnock Ltd which are a dome of marshmallow covered with sugar strands and a chocolate, carob, cocoa or coconut coating with or without a jam filling.

Both manufacturers had challenged a previous ruling that ‘snowballs’ were standard rated confectionery by claiming they were also cakes and submitted voluntary disclosures for VAT they claimed was overcharged. HMRC disagreed with this view and so the matter was decided by the First Tier Tribunal.

The Tribunal considered what factors should be considered when identifying whether a product is a cake and weighed the relevant factors in the balance. The Tribunal did not dispute that snowballs are confectionery however they accepted they do have sufficient characteristics of a cake for them to be characterised as a cake, which means they are zero rated for VAT purposes.

HMRC have accepted that decision and will be updating their guidance in respect of this type of snowball in due course.

In limited circumstances suppliers of these products may be entitled to a refund however this claim would be subject to the ‘unjust enrichment’ rules and the 4 year cap in line with normal HMRC procedures.

This case helps to illustrate how important it is to get the VAT treatment right. Please do get in touch for advice on VAT issues.

Internet link: Brief

Acas guidance on new shared parental leave rules

Acas have issued a new guide to help employers and employees to understand the practicalities of the Shared Parental Leave (SPL) Regulations.

The operation of the new rules, which apply to parents of babies due on or after 5 April 2015, and to parents of children placed for adoption from that date, have raised concerns among employers about administrative difficulties, such as managing employee requests to alternate leave multiple times between parents.

The Acas guidance which can be found using the following link includes step by step instructions on how eligible employees can make SPL requests, as well as advice for employers about how to handle requests fairly together with useful template documents.

Internet link: Acas guidance

Parties for employees

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

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC guidance

2012/13 tax gap

HMRC have announced the latest tax gap figures. The tax gap, which is the difference between the amount of tax due and the amount collected, was 6.8% of tax liabilities, or £34 billion, in 2012 to 2013.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said:

‘Since 2010 to 2011 the percentage tax gap has stayed lower than at any point under the previous government, saving the country £4 billion. Today’s figures show that there’s still more work to do but our continued drive to tackle avoidance means that avoidance is down.’

Internet link: News