Newsletter – May 2018

eNews May 2018

In this month’s eNews we report on the latest announcement from HMRC regarding Making Tax Digital. We also consider the looming deadline for GDPR, changes to tax reliefs following the Scottish Budget and issues to do with EMI share options. With articles on benefits in kind forms P11D,the VAT fuel scale charges and a new benefits exemption for workplace charging of employee vehicles there is lots to consider.

Changing priorities at HMRC

Over the coming years, the government plans to phase in its landmark Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative, which will see taxpayers move to a fully digital tax system. However HMRC has shared a statement about how they are prioritising change in the department and as a result some parts of MTD will be delayed. HMRC has acknowledged the challenges in:

  • exiting the EU and
  • the ambition to become the world’s most digitally advanced tax authority.

While some of the finer details are still being decided, HMRC have announced that, to achieve the above, some aspects of MTD are to be delayed. HMRC still plan to go ahead with MTD for VAT from April 2019. Information on some of the delayed projects is set out below:

Plans to introduce further digital services for individuals

There will be ‘halted progress’ on simple assessment and real-time tax code changes. Additional services in this area will only be added where they reduce phone or post contact or otherwise deliver ‘significant savings’.

Other digitalisation of services affecting fewer individuals

This includes Inheritance Tax payments, Tax Advantaged Venture Capital Schemes applications and PAYE Settlement Agreements

Creation of the single digital account for all businesses

HMRC has confirmed this will now happen at a ‘slower pace’. HMRC has confirmed the single digital account remains an aim of the department and they stress it will not impact the delivery of Making Tax Digital.

Voluntary Making Tax Digital for Business service for income tax

HMRC has confirmed this will continue to be available for any sole trader wishing to make quarterly updates to HMRC.

Mandatory Making Tax Digital for VAT – still ‘on track’

HMRC stated that MTD for VAT is still on track. VAT registered businesses with a turnover in excess of the £85,000 VAT registration threshold, will be required to comply with the requirements of MTD for VAT for all VAT periods commencing on or after 1 April 2019.

In addition, the government has confirmed that, it will not mandate any further MTD for Business changes before 2020, at the earliest.

Internet link: ICAEW blog

GDPR compliance deadline looms

With less than one month until the introduction of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is warning small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that time is running out for them to prepare.

The business group stated that small businesses face an ‘uphill challenge’ in ensuring that they are compliant by the date when GDPR takes effect of 25 May 2018.

Under the new rules, organisations which collect, store and process individuals’ personal data will be subject to new obligations, with an increased emphasis on accountability and transparency.

The financial penalties for failing to comply are severe, with fines costing up to €20 million or up to 4% of total annual worldwide revenue, whichever is the greater.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB said:

‘As the GDPR deadline swiftly approaches, there is a real danger that many small businesses are yet to have adequately prepared for the changes. Fortunately for these businesses, there is still time on the clock to start, or finish, their preparations.’

‘The GDPR is the largest shake-up of data protection laws for years, and whether you are a personal trainer or a consultant, most businesses will have to implement changes to their current practices to make sure they are complying with the new rules.’

Further information on the GDPR can be found on the ICO website.

Internet links: ICO guidance FSB press release

Tax reliefs following the Scottish Budget

The Government has stated that it will ensure that tax reliefs continue to work as they were intended as the new Scottish Income Tax rates and bands are introduced from 6 April 2018. The Government has confirmed:

  • Marriage Allowance
    Marriage Allowance allows taxpayers to transfer 10% of their tax-free Personal Allowance to their spouse or civil partner, reducing their tax bill by up to £230 in 2017 to 2018, and £238 in 2018/19. The UK government will ensure that all those claiming Marriage Allowance in Scotland can continue to do so at the current rate (20%).
  • Gift Aid
    Gift Aid allows charities to claim back 25p for every £1 donated. The UK government will make changes to ensure that Scottish taxpayers can benefit from the right rate of tax relief on Gift Aid. Gift Aid will continue to be paid to charities at the basic rate, with Scottish taxpayers able to claim the correct amount of additional relief on top of this.
  • Pensions relief at source
    The UK government confirmed that current processes will continue while it works with stakeholders to establish how this will work in the longer term. For 2018/19, Scottish taxpayers who receive relief on their contributions at source will, therefore, continue to receive relief in their pension pot at 20%, with no adjustment for those taxed at a rate of less than 20%, and scope for those taxed at a rate higher than 20% to claim additional relief.
  • Social security pension lump sum
    The UK government will make changes so that Scottish taxpayers who receive a social security pension lump sum will be taxed, where appropriate, at the new Scottish starter rate.
  • Finance cost relief This will continue to apply at 20%, the same rate applicable to landlords across the UK.

Please contact us if you have queries on the workings of any of these tax reliefs for Scottish taxpayers and those resident elsewhere across the United Kingdom.

Internet link GOV.UK changes to tax relief Scotland

EMI options may not qualify for tax relief

The Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) allows selected employees (often key to the employer) to be given the opportunity to acquire a significant number of shares in their employer through the issue of options. An EMI can offer significant tax advantages as the share option scheme allows options to be granted to employees which may allow the shares to be received without any tax bill arising until the shares are sold.

HMRC have warned that EMI share options granted in the period from 7 April 2018 until EU State Aid approval is received may not be eligible for the tax advantages presently afforded to option holders, and accordingly share options granted in that period as EMI share options may necessarily fall to be treated as non-tax advantaged employment-related securities options meaning that the options may be taxable when exercised.

To read more, please visit the link below or contact us for specific advice.

Internet link: GOV.UK EMI Bulletin

P11D deadline approaching

The forms P11D which report details of benefits and some expenses provided to employees and directors for the year ended 5 April 2018, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2018. The process of gathering the necessary information can take some time, so it is important that this process is not left to the last minute.

Employees pay tax on benefits provided as shown on the P11D, generally via a PAYE coding notice adjustment or through the self assessment system. Significant changes were introduced to the rules for reporting expenses from 6 April 2016.

Some employers ‘payroll’ benefits and in this case the benefits do not need to be reported on forms P11D but employers should advise employees of the amount of benefits payrolled.

In addition, regardless of whether the benefits are being reported via P11D or payrolled the employer has to pay Class 1A National Insurance Contributions at 13.8% on the provision of most benefits. The calculation of this liability is detailed on the P11D(b) form. The deadline for payment of the Class 1A NIC is 19th July (or 22nd for cleared electronic payment).

HMRC produce an expenses and benefits toolkit. The toolkit consists of a checklist which may be used by advisers or employers to check they are completing the forms correctly.

If you would like any help with the completion of the forms or the calculation of the associated Class 1A NIC please get in touch.

Internet links: HMRC guidance Toolkit

VAT fuel scale charges

HMRC have issued details of the updated VAT fuel scale charges which apply from the beginning of the next prescribed VAT accounting period starting on or after 1 May 2018.

VAT registered businesses use the fuel scale charges to account for VAT on private use of road fuel purchased by the business.

Please do get in touch for further advice on this or other VAT matters.

Internet link: GOV.UK fuel scale charges

HMRC consultation on benefits exemption for workplace charging facilities

HMRC are consulting on the tax exemption which will apply from 6 April 2018 on workplace electric charging facilities used by employees.

It was announced in the Autumn Budget 2017 that the government intends to implement an exemption for the benefit of electricity provided by an employer, at the workplace, to charge electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. The necessary legislation will be included in the Finance Bill later this year and its effect will be made retrospective to 6 April 2018.

This means that there is no need for employers to report the value of electricity provided for the workplace charging of employees’ vehicles from that date.

This consultation seeks comments on workplace charging tax exemptions for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

This guidance will be of interest to employers that pay taxable benefits to employees and provide electric charging points for employee use and the provision of workplace charging facilities, which vehicles the exemption covers and the qualifying conditions of the exemption.

Internet link: GOV.UK consultations/draft guidance

Newsletter – April 2018

Enews – April 2018

In this month’s Enews we report on a late reprieve for childcare vouchers and Spring Statement announcements. We also consider new Data Protection rules coming into force in May. With the legislation enacted for the roll out of Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) and the latest changes for employers there is lots to update you on.

GDPR

New data protection rules from General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will replace the
Data Protection Act in the UK from 25 May 2018.

GDPR is designed to safeguard personal data of citizens from EU member states, with particular emphasis on transparency and accountability. It applies to all businesses in the EU and non-compliance will lead to substantial fines.

The new GDPR is a regulation which is intended to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). The regulation will become a law without exception in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.

The government has also confirmed that the UK will replace the 1988 Data Protection Act (DPA) with legislation that mirrors GDPR, post-Brexit. This means that any business, big or small, will be required to comply with GDPR – which deals with secure collection, storage and usage of clients’ personal data.

Failure to comply with the regulation can result in heavy fines of up to €20 million or 4% of the businesses’ annual turnover (whichever is higher amount).

Internet link: ICO guide to GDPR

Employer-Supported Childcare gets a reprieve

Many employers help employees with childcare costs, often by providing childcare vouchers by way of salary sacrifice. Following the roll out of Tax-Free Childcare (TFC), the new government scheme to help working parents, existing Employer-Supported Childcare (ESC) schemes were expected to close to new joiners from April 2018.

However following the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, Education Secretary Damian Hinds, made a concession to delay scrapping the scheme by six-months.

The Childcare Choices website which provides useful guidance to parents on the childcare options available to them including ESC, TFC and other free entitlements has been updated to show that childcare vouchers will be available to new joiners until the end of September 2018.

Under the rules employees already using ESC can choose whether to remain in existing schemes or switch to TFC, but parents cannot be in both TFC and ESC at the same time.

Internet link: GOV.UK Childcare Choices

Making Tax Digital for VAT from April 2019

The regulations to bring into force Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) are now law, and digital VAT returns will be required from 1 April 2019.

MTDfV is the first phase of HMRC’s 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 MTDfV.

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, and otherwise from the first day of a taxpayer’s first prescribed accounting period beginning after 1 April 2019.

HMRC is piloting MTDfV during 2018, ahead of its introduction in April 2019. Keeping digital records and making quarterly updates will not be mandatory for taxes other than VAT before April 2020, although businesses below the VAT threshold which have voluntarily registered for VAT can opt to join the scheme.

As with electronic VAT filing at present, there will be some exemptions from MTD for VAT. However, the exemption categories are tightly-drawn and unlikely to be applicable to most VAT registered businesses.

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.

Internet link: GOV.UK statutory instrument

Welsh Land Transaction Tax introduced

From 1 April 2018, Land Transaction Tax (LTT) will replace Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). LTT will be collected by the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA). HMRC has published guidance on the introduction of the new tax and the way in which property transactions straddling 1 April 2018 and cross border transactions will be dealt with.

Property Taxes across the UK

From 22 November 2017, there is an exemption for first-time buyers from SDLT on the first £300,000 when buying a home, where the total price of the property is not more than £500,000. 5% is payable on purchases between £300,000 and £500,000. However, with devolved taxes, buying a property in Scotland and Wales can bring different tax consequences.

In Scotland, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) applies instead of SDLT. Therefore an LBTT relief for first-time buyers of properties up to £175,000 has been proposed in the Scottish Draft Budget 2018/19. This is subject to a government consultation before the relief launches in 2018/19.

Welsh first-time buyers benefit from first-time buyers SDLT relief until 31 March 2018. Land Transaction Tax (LTT) replaces SDLT in Wales from 1 April 2018. The starting rate for LTT will be £180,000, benefiting not just first-time buyers but other home buyers in Wales. A higher rate, of 3% over standard rates for additional residential properties, applies to purchases throughout the UK whether SDLT, LBTT or LTT applies. A new land-transaction-tax-calculator is available.

HMRC has issued guidance on the changes in Wales and the transitional rules for property transactions.

Internet links: GOV.UK news GOV.SCOT LBTT first time buyer relief

Income tax changes from 6 April 2018

The personal allowance for 2018/19 is £11,850. However, some individuals do not benefit from the full personal allowance. There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000, which 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.

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. From 6 April 2018 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 and Constitution Secretary for Scotland, Derek Mackay announced significant changes to income tax bands and rates for Scottish resident taxpayers, introducing five possible income tax rates. 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.

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%

From April 2019, the National Assembly for Wales has the right to vary the rates of income tax payable by Welsh taxpayers.

Dividend allowance down to £2,000

In 2017/18 the first £5,000 of dividends are chargeable to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). From 6 April 2018 the Dividend Allowance is reduced to £2,000. Dividends received above the allowance are taxed at the following rates:

  • 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers
  • 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers
  • 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.

Internet links: GOV.UK spring statement 2018 GOV.SCOT Scottish income tax

Update for employers and their employees

HMRC’s latest Employer Bulletin includes useful updates for employers as we approach the start on the new tax year on 6 April 2018.

The Bulletin includes articles on:

  • end of year reporting for payroll and reporting benefits in kind
  • P9 Notice of Coding and the system of in year tax code adjustments known as Dynamic Coding
  • new rules for termination payments made on, or after, 6 April 2018
  • Scottish income tax changes
  • a reminder to those paying the Apprenticeship Levy to spend their Levy on Apprenticeship Training
  • National Minimum and National Living Wage increases from 1 April 2018.

If you would like help with payroll contact us.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Spring Statement announces consultations

Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his Spring Statement on Tuesday 13 March 2018. In his speech, the Chancellor announced consultations would be issued on:

  • how to help the UK’s least productive businesses to learn from, and catch-up with, the most productive
  • how to eliminate late payments particularly to benefit small business
  • whether the use of non-agricultural red diesel tax relief contributes to poor air quality in urban areas
  • consultation on reduced Vehicle Excise Duty rates for the cleanest vans.

He also made available further details on some consultations which are considered briefly below:

  • Making Tax Digital sanctions for late submission and late payment – Following significant support on consultation, the government intends to take forward points based late submission penalties. There will be further consultation on the draft legislation to be published in summer 2018.
  • Tackling the plastic problem – The government will call for evidence as to how changes to the tax system could be used to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that are wasted by reducing unnecessary production, increasing re-use and improving recycling. The government would also like to explore how to drive innovation in this area to achieve the same outcomes.
  • Cash and digital payments – The government will consult and seek evidence about how the role of digital payments is to fit into the growing digital economy. This will include identifying what further work can be done to remove barriers to digital payments. At the same time the government acknowledges that cash must remain accessible and secure.
  • Online platforms – The government has launched a call for evidence on the role of online platforms in ensuring tax compliance by their users. The types of online platforms the government is principally interested in are platforms that allow people to earn money from spare resources such as cars and spare rooms, that allow people to use their time to generate extra income and that connect buyers with individuals or businesses offering services or goods for sale. The government wants to ensure that, where people have tax obligations because of these activities, it is easy for them to comply.
  • 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.
  • VAT registration threshold call for evidence – The government considers that the current design of the VAT registration threshold may be dis-incentivising small businesses from growing their business and improving their productivity.

We will update you on the outcome of the consultations..

Internet link: gov.uk Spring Statement 2018

Autumn Budget 2017

Autumn Budget 2017

The Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his first Autumn Budget on Wednesday 22 November 2017.

His report set out a number of actions the government will take including support for more housebuilding. His view is that the economy continues to grow and continues to create more jobs. The major attention-grabber was aimed at first time buyers who will not have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on homes costing up to £300,000.

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
  • more tax relief for investment in certain Enterprise Investment companies
  • proposed changes to Entrepreneurs’ Relief
  • improvements to Research and Development tax credit regimes
  • VAT limits frozen for two years
  • support for businesses to cope with the effects of business rates revaluation and the so called ‘staircase tax’.

Previously announced measures include:

  • plans for Making Tax Digital for Business
  • the reduction in the Dividend Allowance
  • changes to NICs for the self-employed
  • capital allowance changes for cars from April 2018.

The Budget proposals may be subject to amendment in the 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 £11,500. The personal allowance for 2018/19 will be £11,850.

Comment

A reminder that not everyone has the benefit of the full personal allowance. There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000, which is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2017/18 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £123,000. For 2018/19 there will be no personal allowance available where adjusted net income exceeds £123,700.

Tax bands and rates

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is £33,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £45,000 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.

In 2017/18 the band of income taxable at the basic rate for 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 Government set the band of income taxable at the basic rate at £31,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £43,000.

The additional rate of tax of 45% is payable on taxable income above £150,000 (other than dividend income) for all UK residents.

Tax bands and rates 2018/19

The government has announced that for 2018/19 the basic rate band will be increased to £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.

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

The Scottish Government will announce the Scottish income tax rates and bands for 2018/19 in the Draft Budget on 14 December.

Tax bands and rates – dividends

Dividends received by an individual are subject to special tax rates. Currently the first £5,000 of dividends are charged to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). 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 £5,000 allowance.

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

Reduction in the Dividend Allowance

The Chancellor has confirmed the Dividend Allowance will be reduced from £5,000 to £2,000 from 6 April 2018.

Comment

The government expect that even with the reduction in the Dividend Allowance to £2,000, 80% of ‘general investors’ will pay no tax on their dividend income. However, the reduction in the allowance will affect family company shareholders who take dividends in excess of the £2,000 limit. The cost of the restriction in the allowance for basic rate taxpayers will be £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 was first introduced for the 2016/17 tax year and applies to savings income. 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.

The Marriage Allowance

The Marriage Allowance allows certain couples, where neither pay tax at more than the basic rate, to transfer 10% of their unused personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner, reducing their tax bill by up to £230 a year in 2017/18. The government will legislate to allow Marriage Allowance claims on behalf of deceased spouses and civil partners, and for the claim to be backdated for up to four years where the entitlement conditions are met.

This measure will come into force on 29 November 2017.

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

The overall ISA savings limit for 2017/18 and 2018/19 is £20,000.

Help to Buy ISAs

Help to Buy ISAs are a type of cash ISA and potentially provide a bonus to savers if the funds are used to help to buy a first home.

Lifetime ISA

The Lifetime ISA has been available from April 2017 for adults under the age of 40. Individuals are able to contribute up to £4,000 per year, between ages 18 and 50, 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.

Comment

The overall ISA limit was significantly increased from £15,240 to £20,000 for 2017/18. The increase in the investment limit was partly due to the introduction of the Lifetime ISA. There are therefore four types of ISAs for many adults from April 2017 – cash ISAs, stocks and shares ISAs, Innovative Finance ISAs (allowing investment into peer to peer loans and crowdfunding debentures) and the Lifetime ISA. Money can be placed into one of each kind of ISA each tax year.

As stated above, Help to Buy ISAs are a type of cash ISA and therefore care is needed not to breach the ‘one of each kind of ISA each tax year rule’.

Help to Save accounts

In 2016 the government announced the introduction of a new type of savings account aimed at low income working households. Individuals in low income working households will be able to save up to £50 a month into a Help to Save account and receive a 50% government bonus after two years. Overall the account can be used to save up to £2,400 and can benefit from government bonuses worth up to £1,200. Account holders can then choose to continue saving under the scheme for a further two years. The scheme will be open to all adults in receipt of Universal Credit with minimum weekly household earnings equivalent to 16 hours at the National Living Wage or those in receipt of Working Tax Credits.

Accounts will be available no later than April 2018.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a state benefit designed to support those on low income or out of work. It is intended to replace some benefits such as housing benefit, tax credits and income support. It is being introduced in selected areas. The intention is that the rollout will be completed by September 2018.

An individual’s entitlement to the benefit is made up of a number of elements to reflect their personal circumstances. Claimants’ entitlement to Universal Credit is withdrawn at a rate of 63 pence for every extra £1 earned (the ‘taper rate’) where claimants earn above the work allowances.

Following concerns about the roll out of Universal Credit, the Chancellor announced that households in need who qualify for Universal Credit will be able to access a month’s worth of support within five days, via an interest-free advance, from January 2018. This advance can be repaid over 12 months.

Claimants will also be eligible for Universal Credit from the day they apply, rather than after seven days. Housing Benefit will continue to be paid for two weeks after a Universal Credit claim.

Increased limits for knowledge-intensive companies

The government will legislate to encourage more investment in knowledge-intensive companies under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs). The government will:

  • double the limit on the amount an individual may invest under the EIS in a tax year to £2 million from the current limit of £1 million, provided any amount over £1 million is invested in one or more knowledge-intensive companies
  • raise the annual investment limit for knowledge-intensive companies receiving investments under the EIS and from VCTs to £10 million from the current limit of £5 million. The lifetime limit will remain the same at £20 million, and
  • allow knowledge-intensive companies to use the date when their annual turnover first exceeds £200,000 in determining the start of the initial investing period under the permitted maximum age rules, instead of the date of the first commercial sale.

The changes will have effect from 6 April 2018. This measure is subject to
normal state aid rules.

Venture Capital

The government will introduce measures to ensure venture capital schemes (the EIS, Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and VCTs) are targeted at growth investments. The government has announced that relief under the schemes will be focussed on companies where there is a real risk to the capital being invested, and will exclude companies and arrangements intended to provide ‘capital preservation’.

Detailed guidance will be issued shortly after the publication of the Finance Bill.

VCTs

The government will legislate to limit the application of an anti-abuse rule relating to mergers of VCTs. The rule restricts relief for investors who sell shares in a VCT and subscribe for new shares in another VCT within a six month period, where those VCTs merge. This rule will no longer apply if those VCTs merge more than two years after the subscription, or do so only for commercial reasons.

The change will have effect for VCT subscriptions made on or after 6 April 2014.

The government will also legislate to move VCTs towards higher risk investments by:

  • removing certain ‘grandfathering’ provisions that enable VCTs to invest in companies under rules in place at the time funds were raised, with effect on and after 6 April 2018
  • requiring 30% of funds raised in an accounting period to be invested in qualifying holdings within 12 months after the end of the accounting period, with effect on and after 6 April 2018
  • increasing the proportion of VCT funds that must be held in qualifying holdings to 80%, with effect for accounting periods beginning on and after 6 April 2019
  • increasing the time to reinvest the proceeds on disposal of qualifying holdings from six months to 12 months for disposals on or after 6 April 2019, and
  • introducing a new anti-abuse rule to prevent loans being used to preserve and return equity capital to investors, with effect on and after Royal Assent.

This measure is subject to normal state aid rules.

Rent a room relief

The government will publish a call for evidence on 1 December 2017 to build the evidence base around the usage of rent a room relief and to help establish whether it is consistent with the original policy rationale to support longer-term lettings.

Simplification of Gift Aid donor benefit rules

The government will introduce legislation to simplify the donor benefit rules that apply to charities that claim Gift Aid. Currently there are a mix of monetary and percentage thresholds that charities have to consider when determining the value of benefit they can give to their donors in return for a donation on which Gift Aid can be claimed. These will be replaced by two percentage thresholds:

  • the benefit threshold for the first £100 of the donation will remain at 25% of the amount of the donation, and
  • for larger donations, charities will be able to offer an additional benefit to donors up to 5% of the amount of the donation that exceeds £100.

The total value of the benefit that a donor will be able to receive remains at £2,500.

The government have confirmed that four extra statutory concessions that currently operate in relation to the donor benefit rules will also be brought into law. The changes will have effect on and after 6 April 2019.

Business Tax

Making Tax Digital for Business: VAT

In July 2017, the government announced significant changes to the timetable and scope of HMRC’s digital tax programme for businesses. VAT will be the first tax where taxpayers will keep digital records and report digitally to HMRC. The new rules will apply from April 2019 to all VAT registered businesses with turnover above the VAT threshold.

As with electronic VAT filing at present, there will be some exemptions from Making Tax Digital for VAT. However, the exemption categories are tightly-drawn and unlikely to be applicable to the generality of VAT registered businesses.

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 are 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%. The rate for future years is:

  • 19% for the Financial Years beginning on 1 April 2018 and 1 April 2019
  • 17% for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020.

Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs)

The 2016 Budget announced that Class 2 NICs will be abolished from April 2018. The legislation to effect this measure was intended to be introduced this year. In November 2017 the government decided to implement a one year delay so that Class 2 NICs will be abolished from April 2019.

Comment

The government is still committed to abolishing Class 2 NICs. The deferral allows time to engage with interested parties with concerns relating to the impact of the abolition of Class 2 NICs on self-employed individuals with low profits.

Class 4 NICs

The Chancellor announced in the 2017 Budget proposals to increase the main rate of Class 4 NICs from April 2018 but was forced to make a subsequent announcement that the increase would not take place and there will be no increases to NICs rates in this Parliament.

Partnership taxation

Legislation will be introduced with the aim to provide additional clarity over aspects of the taxation of partnerships:

  • where a beneficiary of a bare trust is entitled absolutely to any income of that bare trust consisting of profits of a firm but is not themselves a partner in the firm, then they are subject to the same rules for calculating profits etc and reporting as actual partners
  • how the current rules and reporting requirements operate in particular circumstances where a partnership has partners that are themselves partnerships.

The proposed legislation also:

  • provides a relaxation in the information to be shown on the partnership return for investment partnerships that report under the Common Reporting Standard or Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and who have non-UK resident partners who are not chargeable to tax in the UK
  • makes it clear that the allocation of partnership profits shown on the partnership return is the allocation that applies for tax purposes for the partners
  • provides a new structured mechanism for the resolution of disputes between partners over the allocation of taxable partnership profits and losses shown on the partnership return.

Mileage rates

The government will legislate to give unincorporated property businesses the option to use a fixed rate deduction for every mile travelled by car, motorcycle or goods vehicle for business journeys. This will be as an alternative to claims for capital allowances and deductions for actual expenses incurred, such as fuel. The changes will have effect from 6 April 2017.

Profit fragmentation

The government will consult on the best way to prevent UK traders or professionals from avoiding UK tax by arranging for UK trading income to be transferred to unrelated entities. This will include arrangements where profits accumulate offshore and are not returned to the UK.

Royalties Withholding Tax

A consultation is to be published on the design of rules expanding the circumstances in which a royalty payment to persons not resident in the UK has a liability to income tax. The changes will have effect from April 2019.

Disincorporation Relief

A disincorporation relief was introduced in April 2013 for five years. Broadly, the relief is aimed at certain small companies where the shareholders want to transfer the business into sole tradership or a partnership business. The relief removes the tax charge arising on the disposal of the company’s assets of land and goodwill if qualifying conditions are met. The government has decided not to extend this relief beyond the current 31 March 2018 expiry date.

Improving Research and Development (R&D)

A number of measures have been announced to support business investment in R&D including:

  • an increase in the rate of the R&D expenditure credit which applies to the large company scheme from 11% to 12% where expenditure is incurred on or after 1 January 2018
  • a pilot for a new Advanced Clearance service for R&D expenditure credit claims to provide a pre-filing agreement for three years
  • a campaign to increase awareness of eligibility for R&D tax credits among SMEs
  • working with businesses that develop and use key emerging technologies to ensure that there are no barriers to them claiming R&D tax credits.

Intangible Fixed Asset regime

The government will consult in 2018 on the tax treatment of intellectual property also known as the Intangible Fixed Asset regime. This will consider whether there is an economic case for targeted changes to this regime so that it better supports UK companies investing in intellectual property.

Non-UK resident companies

The government is to legislate so that non-UK resident companies with UK property income and/or chargeable gains relating to UK residential property will be charged to corporation tax rather than income tax or capital gains tax respectively as at present. The government plans to publish draft legislation for consultation in summer 2018. The change is set to have effect from 6 April 2020.

Extension of First Year Allowances (FYA)

A 100% FYA is currently available for businesses purchasing zero-emission goods vehicles or gas refuelling equipment. Both schemes were due to end on 31 March 2018 but have been extended for a further three years.

Extension of First Year Tax Credits (FYTC)

FYA enables profit-making businesses to deduct the full cost of investments in energy and water technology from their taxable profits. Loss-making businesses do not make profits, so they do not benefit from FYAs. However, when the loss-making business is a company it can claim FYTC when they invest in products that feature on the energy and water technology lists. A FYTC claim allows the company to surrender a loss in exchange for a cash credit and is currently set at 19% but the facility was due to end on 31 March 2018.

The credit system is to be extended for five years but the percentage rate of the claim is to reduce to two-thirds of the corporation tax rate.  The changes to FYTC will have effect from 1 April 2018.

Capital gains indexation allowance

This measure changes the calculation of indexation allowance by companies so that for disposals of assets on or after 1 January 2018, indexation allowance will be calculated using the Retail Price Index factor for December 2017 irrespective of the date of disposal of the asset.

Off-payroll working extension to the private sector

The government will consult in 2018 on how to tackle non-compliance with the intermediaries legislation (commonly known as IR35) in the private sector. The legislation aims to ensure that individuals who effectively work as employees are taxed as employees even if they choose to structure their work through a company. A possible next step would be to extend the recent public sector reforms to the private sector.

Employment Taxes

Different forms of remuneration

In the Spring Budget the government stated it wished to consider how the tax system ‘could be made fairer and more coherent’. A call for evidence was subsequently published on employee expenses. The government’s aim is to better understand the use of the income tax relief for employees’ business expenses. It sought views on how employers currently deal with employee expenses, current tax rules on employee expenses and the future of employee expenses.

Following the call for evidence:

  • the government announced that the existing concessionary travel and subsistence overseas scale rates will be placed on a statutory basis from 6 April 2019, to provide clarity and certainty. Employers will only be asked to ensure that employees are undertaking qualifying travel
  • the government also announced that employers will no longer be required 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 and will not apply to amounts agreed under bespoke scale rates or industry wide rates
  • HMRC will work with external stakeholders to explore improvements to the guidance on employee expenses, particularly on travel and subsistence and the claims process for tax relief on employment expenses. This programme of work will also increase simplicity around the process for claiming tax relief and will take action to improve awareness of the process and the rules
  • the government will consult in 2018 on extending the scope of tax relief currently available to employees and the self-employed for work-related training costs.

The government response to the call for evidence will be published on 1 December 2017.

Changes to termination payments

The government previously announced changes to align the rules for tax and employer NICs by making an employer liable to pay Class 1A NICs on any part of a termination payment that exceeds the £30,000 threshold that currently applies for income tax.

In addition, ‘non-contractual’ payments in lieu of notice (PILONs) will be treated as earnings rather than as termination payments and will therefore be subject to income tax and Class 1 NICs. This will be done by requiring the employer to identify the amount of basic pay that the employee would have received if they had worked their full notice period.

All these measures were due to take effect from April 2018. In November 2017 the government decided to implement a one year delay for the Class 1A NICs measure so the change will take effect from April 2019.

The government will legislate to ensure that employees who are UK resident in the tax year in which their employment is terminated will not be eligible for foreign service relief on their termination payments. Reductions in the case of foreign service are retained for seafarers. The changes will have effect from 6 April 2018 and apply to all those who have their employment contract terminated on or after 6 April 2018.

Comment

Currently ‘non-contractual’ PILONs may be treated as part of a termination payment and therefore exempt from income tax up to the £30,000 threshold and not subject to any NICs. Note that the changes to the treatment of PILONs for income tax and Class 1 NICs will still apply from April 2018.

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. Currently there is a 3% diesel supplement. The maximum charge is capped at 37% of the list price of the car.

In the current tax year there is a 9% rate for cars with CO2 emissions up to 50gm/km or which have neither a CO2 emissions figure nor an engine cylinder capacity (and which cannot produce CO2 emissions in any circumstances by being driven). From 6 April 2018 this will be increased to 13%, and from 6 April 2019 to 16%.

For other bands of CO2 emissions there will generally be a 2% increase in the percentage applied by each band from 6 April 2018. For 2019/20 the rates will increase by a further 3%.

The government announced that they will legislate to increase the diesel supplement from 3% to 4%. This will apply to all diesel cars registered from 1 January 1998 that do not meet the Real Driving Emissions Step 2 (RDE2) standards. There is no change to the current position that the diesel supplement does not apply to hybrid cars.

The change will have effect from 6 April 2018.

Armed forces accommodation allowance exemption

The government will introduce an income tax exemption for certain allowances paid to Armed Forces personnel for renting or maintaining accommodation in the private market. A Class 1 NICs disregard will also be introduced.

The change will have effect from Royal Assent once regulations have been laid.

Future tax changes

A number of other proposed changes were announced. These include:

  • exempting employer provided electricity provided in the workplace from being taxed as a benefit in kind from April 2018. This will apply to electricity provided via workplace charging points for electric or hybrid cars owned by employees
  • the government will publish a consultation as part of its response to Matthew Taylor’s review of modern working practices, considering options for reform to make the employment status tests clearer for both employment rights and tax.

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.

CGT annual exemption

The CGT annual exemption is £11,300 for 2017/18 and will be increased to £11,700 for 2018/19.

ER – relief after dilution of holdings

The government will consult on how access to ER might be given to those whose holding in their company is reduced below the normal 5% qualifying level as a result of raising funds for commercial purposes by means of issues of new shares. Allowing ER in these circumstances would incentivise entrepreneurs to remain involved in their businesses after receiving external investment.

Comment

This proposal is welcome and addresses a particular problem which can arise. ER broadly requires a holding of 5% of the ordinary share capital. It may be that significant external investment is made which would reduce the holding to below 5%.

For example, Bill owns 33% of the original share capital of 100 shares issued at par. John invests £30,000 in the company in return for 30,000 new shares. This reduces Bill’s holding to 33 of 30,100 shares, below the 5% limit. It appears that the government intend to address this problem.

CGT payment window

The government had previously suggested that capital gains tax would have to be paid within 30 days of the sale of a residential property but this proposal has now been deferred until April 2020.

Extending the taxation of gains made by non-residents

The government announced that from April 2019 tax will be charged on gains made by non-residents on the disposal of all types of UK immovable property. This extends existing rules that apply only to residential property.

This measure expands the scope of the UK’s tax base with regard to disposals of immovable property by non-residents in two key ways:

  • all non-resident persons’ gains on disposals of interests in UK land will be chargeable and
  • indirect disposals of UK land will be chargeable.

Inheritance tax (IHT) nil rate band

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

An additional nil rate band is now available for deaths on or after 6 April 2017, where an interest in a residence passes to direct descendants. The amount of relief is being phased in over four years; starting at £100,000 in the first year and rising to £175,000 for 2020/21. For many married couples and registered civil partners the relief is effectively doubled as each individual has a main nil rate band and each will potentially benefit from the residence nil rate band.

The additional band can only be used in respect of one residential property, which does not have to be the main family home, but must at some point have been a residence of the deceased. Restrictions apply where estates are in excess of £2 million.

Where a person died before 6 April 2017 their estate did not qualify for the relief. A surviving spouse may be entitled to an increase in the residence nil rate band if the spouse who died earlier had not used, or was not entitled to use, their full residence nil rate band. The calculations involved are potentially complex but the increase will often result in a doubling of the residence nil rate band for the surviving spouse.

Downsizing

The residence nil rate band 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 residence nil rate band, are passed on death to direct descendants.

Comment

When planning to minimise IHT liabilities we now have three nil rate bands to consider.

The standard nil rate band has been a part of the legislation from the start of IHT in 1986. In 2007 the ability to utilise the unused nil rate band of a deceased spouse was introduced enabling many surviving spouses to have a nil rate band of up to £650,000. From 6 April 2020 some surviving spouses will be able to add £350,000 in respect of the residence nil rate band to arrive at a total nil rate band of £1 million.

Individuals need to revisit their wills to ensure that the relief will be available and efficiently utilised.

Other Matters

Business rates

Business rates have been devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The business rates revaluation took effect in England from April 2017 and resulted in significant changes to the amount of rates that businesses will pay. In light of the recent rise in inflation, the government will provide further support to businesses including:

  • bringing forward the planned switch in indexation from RPI to CPI to 1 April 2018
  • legislating retrospectively to address the so-called ‘staircase tax’. Affected businesses will be able to ask the Valuation Office Agency to recalculate valuations so that bills are based on previous practice backdated to April 2010.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

Relief for first time buyers

The government has announced that first time buyers paying £300,000 or less for a residential property will pay no SDLT.

First time buyers paying between £300,000 and £500,000 will pay SDLT at 5% on the amount of the purchase price in excess of £300,000. First time buyers purchasing property for more than £500,000 will not be entitled to any relief and will pay SDLT at the normal rates.

The new rules apply to transactions with an effective date (usually the date of completion) on or after 22 November 2017.

Comment

This measure does not apply in Scotland as this is a devolved tax. This measure will apply in Wales until 1 April 2018, when SDLT will be devolved to Wales.

Higher rates: minor changes

New rules were introduced to impose an additional SDLT charge of 3% on additional residential properties purchased on or after 1 April 2016. Broadly, transactions under £40,000 do not require a tax return to be filed with HMRC and are not subject to the higher rates.

For transactions on or after 22 November 2017, relief from the extra 3% will be given in certain cases including where:

  • a divorce related court order prevents someone from disposing of their interest in a main residence
  • a spouse or civil partner buys property from another spouse or civil partner
  • a deputy buys property for a child subject to the Court of Protection and
  • a purchaser adds to their interest in their current main residence.

The changes also counteract abuse of the relief when someone who changes main residence retains an interest in their former main residence.

Changes to the filing and payment process

The government has confirmed that it will reduce the SDLT filing and payment window from 30 days to 14 days for land transactions with an effective date on or after 1 March 2019. The government is planning improvements to the SDLT return that aim to make compliance with the new time limit easier.

Welsh Land Transaction Tax (LTT)

LTT will be introduced from 1 April 2018 and replace Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) which continues to apply in England and Northern Ireland. The principles and rates of the tax are similar to SDLT.

VAT thresholds

There had been some speculation leading up to the Budget that the VAT registration limit would be significantly reduced. The Chancellor has announced that the VAT registration and deregistration thresholds will not change for two years from 1 April 2018 from the current figures of £85,000 and £83,000 respectively.

In the meantime, the government intends to consult on the design of the threshold.

VAT fraud in labour provision in the construction sector

The government will pursue legislation to shift responsibility for paying the VAT along the supply chain to remove the opportunity for it to be stolen with effect on or after 1 October 2019. The long lead-in time reflects the government’s commitment to give businesses adequate time to prepare for the changes. The government has decided not to bring in legislative measures to address the fraud in the Construction Industry Scheme but HMRC are increasing their compliance response to target the fraud there.

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)

A supplement will apply to new diesel vehicles from 1 April 2018 so that these cars will go up by one VED band in their First-Year Rate. This will apply to any diesel car that is not certified to the Real Driving Emissions 2 (RDE2) standard.

Comment

The government state that someone purchasing a typical Ford Focus diesel will pay an additional £20 in the first year, a VW Golf will pay £40, a Vauxhall Mokka £300 and a Landrover Discovery £400.

Taxation of trusts

The government will publish a consultation in 2018 on how to make the taxation of trusts simpler, fairer and more transparent.

Compliance and HMRC

The government is investing a further £155m in additional resources and new technology for HMRC. This investment is forecast to help bring in £2.3bn of additional tax revenues by allowing HMRC to:

  • transform their approach to tackling the hidden economy through new technology
  • further tackle those who are engaging in marketed tax avoidance schemes
  • enhance efforts to tackle the enablers of tax fraud and hold intermediaries accountable for the services they provide using the Corporate Criminal Offence
  • increase their ability to tackle non-compliance among mid-size businesses and wealthy individuals
  • recover greater amounts of tax debt including through a new taskforce to specifically tackle tax debts more than nine months old.

Newsletter – October 2017

Enews – October 2017

In this month’s eNews we update you on the latest government announcements on Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB). We also include the announcement of the Budget dates by Philip Hammond and Derek Mackay. With HMRC offering a new support service for growing businesses, a new Trusts Registration Service, updated phishing guidance and the ‘paper’ tax return deadline looming, there is lots to consider.

Making Tax Digital for VAT

The government have issued information on how Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB) is expected to work for VAT once the rules are introduced in April 2019.

Under the proposed rules, which have been issued subject to consultation, VAT registered businesses with turnover over the VAT registration threshold will be required to submit their VAT return digitally using software. Businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to:

  • keep their records digitally (for VAT purposes only) and
  • provide their VAT return information to HMRC through Making Tax Digital (MTD) functional compatible software.

This software will either be a software program or set of compatible software programs which can connect to HMRC systems via an Application Programming Interface (API). The functions of the compatible software include:

  • keeping records in a specified digital form
  • preserving digital records in a specified digital form
  • creating a VAT return from the digital records and providing HMRC with this information digitally
  • providing HMRC with VAT data on a voluntary basis and
  • receiving information from HMRC via the API platform that the business has complied.

Businesses will need to preserve digital records in the software for up to six years. Further information on the required information can be found in Annex 1

The government will make the final detailed requirements available to the software providers by April 2018 to allow time for the software to be developed and tested prior to the rules coming into effect from April 2019.

VAT is the first tax to be reportable under MTD and businesses within the scope of MTD will need to keep their records digitally, using approved MTD functional compatible software, from 1 April 2019. The software will create the return from the digital records and this will need to be submitted under MTD for return periods starting on or after 1 April 2019.

We will keep you informed of developments in this area and ensure we are ready to deal with the new requirements. Please contact us for more information.

Internet link: GOV.UK MTD VAT legislation overview

Budget on Wednesday 22 November and 14 December

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced that he will deliver the Autumn Budget on Wednesday 22 November.

The Autumn Budget will be the second Budget to be delivered this year, and will outline the government’s proposed tax changes and spending plans in response to forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The 2017 Autumn Budget will be the first of its kind under the government’s new fiscal timetable. During the 2016 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced that the annual Budget will now take place in the Autumn, as opposed to Spring.

Going forward Philip Hammond will make a Spring Statement each year, responding to a forecast produced by the OBR. The first Spring Statement will be delivered in 2018.

Meanwhile Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has confirmed the Scottish Draft Budget 2018/19 will be published on 14 December, three weeks after the Budget for the rest of the United Kingdom.

We will update you on pertinent announcements from the Autumn Budget and Scottish Budget in due course.

Internet links: GOV.UK News GOV.SCOT News

Deadline for ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns

For those individuals who have previously submitted ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns the deadline for the 2016/17 return is 31 October 2017. 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 deadline

HMRC offer tax support to growing businesses

HMRC have announced the introduction of a new service to directly help mid-sized businesses as they expand and grow. This is to be known as the Growth Support Service.

According to HMRC there are approximately 170,000 mid-sized businesses registered in the UK. The businesses with either a turnover of more than £10 million or more than 20 employees, that are undergoing significant growth, can now seek help from HMRC to access the services they need.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride said:

Mid-sized businesses make vital contribution to the UK economy and I want to see them grow, succeed and prosper.

The Growth Support Service will help these expanding businesses access tailored tax assistance so that tax administration doesn’t stand in the way of their growth and ensures businesses can focus on finding new opportunities.

Businesses who meet the eligibility requirements can apply online; they will then be contacted by their dedicated growth support specialist at HMRC, to discuss their requirements. The bespoke service will generally last between three to six months.’

Smaller business can access the Small Business Online Forum.

Please do contact us for help and support.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Trusts Registration Service

HMRC have launched a new Trusts Registration Service (TRS), so that trustees can register their trust online and provide information on the beneficial owners of the trust. The new service launched in early July for trustees and replaces the 41G (Trust) paper form, which was withdrawn at the end of April.

Under the existing self assessment rules, the trustees (or their agents) must register details of a trust with HMRC by 5 October of the year after a liability to Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax (CGT) first arises. The registration process, which will need completing via TRS, includes providing information about the beneficial owners of the trust.

In subsequent years, or where the trust is already registered for self assessment, the trustees (or their agent) of either a UK or non-UK trust that incurs a UK tax liability are required to provide beneficial ownership information about the trust, using the TRS, by 31 January following the end of the tax year.

The new service is not currently available to agents. HMRC have advised that agents will be able to register on behalf of trustees from October 2017 and agents and lead trustees can enter updates for changes of circumstances from early 2018.

HMRC have also confirmed that in this first year of TRS there will be no penalty imposed where registration is completed after 5 October but before 5 December 2017.

A Self Assessment Trust and Estate Tax Return (SA900) must still be submitted after the end of each tax year, reporting any income and gains.

If you would like help or guidance on trusts please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK trusts-and-estates

HMRC phishing and scam advice

HMRC have updated their list of examples of websites, emails, letters, text messages and phone calls used by scammers and fraudsters to obtain individual’s personal information.
The guidance can be used to help you decide if a contact from HMRC is genuine, this guidance provides examples of the different methods that fraudsters use to get individuals to disclose personal information.

You can also read about how to recognise genuine contact from HMRC, and how to tell when an email is phishing/bogus.

Internet link: GOV.UK phishing-and-bogus-emails-HMRC

Newsletter – August 2017

Enews – August 2017

In this month’s eNews we update you on the latest developments in Making Tax Digital together with an update on the Taylor Review and the latest employment and pensions auto enrolment statistics. We also report on the new Fundraising Preference Service and how to spot scam HMRC emails.

New timetable for Making Tax Digital

The government has announced a revised timetable for the introduction of Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB).

MTDfB introduces extensive changes to how taxpayers record and report income to HMRC. Unincorporated businesses, including landlords, were expected to be the first to see significant changes in the recording and submission of business transactions but the government has announced a delay to the implementation of the new rules and some exceptions for smaller businesses.

The government had decided how the general principles of MTDfB will operate after receiving responses to their original ideas first published in August 2016. Some legislation was published in Finance Bill 2017 but this was removed due to the General Election.

Under MTDfB, businesses will be required to:

  • maintain their records digitally, through software or apps
  • report summary information to HMRC quarterly through their ‘digital tax accounts’ (DTAs)
  • submit an ‘End of Year’ statement through their DTAs.

The new timetable is being introduced following concerns raised by the Treasury Select Committee, businesses and professional bodies about the implementation of the new rules and to hopefully ensure a smooth transition to a digital tax system.

Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General said:

‘Businesses agree that digitising the tax system is the right direction of travel. However, many have been worried about the scope and pace of reforms.

We have listened very carefully to their concerns and are making changes so that we can bring the tax system into the digital age in a way that is right for all businesses.’

The government has confirmed that under the new timetable:

  • only businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to keep digital records and only for VAT purposes
  • they will only need to do so from 2019
  • businesses will not be asked to keep digital records, or to update HMRC quarterly, for other taxes until at least 2020.

This means that businesses and landlords with a turnover below the VAT threshold will not have to move to the new digital system.

Ministers have also confirmed that the Finance Bill will be introduced as soon as possible after the summer recess and that all policies originally announced to start from April 2017 will be effective from that date.

The government has also confirmed that the proposed changes to VAT reporting will come into effect from April 2019. From that date, businesses trading above the VAT threshold will have to provide their VAT information to HMRC through Making Tax Digital software.

Internet link: GOV news

Taylor Review of employment practices

The long awaited Taylor Review of employment practices suggests that a national strategy is needed to help provide security in such areas as wages, quality of employment, education and training, working conditions, work life balance and the ability to progress at work.

One of the areas of focus relates to the ‘gig’ economy, with the report recommending the creation of a new category of worker, known as a ‘dependent contractor’, to provide additional rights and benefits for those who are currently classed as self-employed, but who work for businesses which have a ‘controlling and supervisory’ relationship with their workers.

The additional benefits would include sick pay, holiday entitlement and the minimum wage, and the new employment status would also oblige these businesses to pay national insurance contributions for these workers.

Business groups have given mixed reactions to the report’s findings, with many welcoming the focus on labour market flexibility, but also warning that some areas, including the plans to rewrite employment status tests, are a cause for concern.

However, the TUC warned that the review ‘is not the game-changer needed to end insecurity and exploitation at work’

Internet link: Taylor Review

Automatic enrolment reaches 8 million

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has confirmed than eight million employees have signed up for a workplace pension since the launch of automatic enrolment.

The introduction of automatic enrolment was expected to lead to around eight million workers saving more for their retirement and this milestone has already been reached with hundreds of thousands more employers still to enrol staff over the coming months.

Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion Guy Opperman said:

‘Reaching this eight million figure is a formidable achievement and represents a huge number of people on the path to a more financially secure retirement.’

‘But we cannot be complacent and as contribution rates rise we know there is more to be done. That’s why our automatic enrolment review, which will report back later this year, is so vital to the future of this life-changing policy.’

TPR’s report shows that at the end of June 2017, 8,165,000 workers were enrolled in workplace pensions. Darren Ryder, TPR’s Director of Automatic Enrolment, said:

‘Tens of thousands more people every week are signing up to a new workplace pension through automatic enrolment. Employers are continuing to become compliant and to remain so, allowing their staff to get the pensions they are entitled to.’

‘There are more than 500,000 more employers whose duties are still to begin over the coming months. I would urge each and every one of them to check today that they know what they need to do and when they need to do it so they can seek our help if they need it.’

If you would like help or advice on complying with your Auto Enrolment duties please do get in touch.

Internet links: Press release Report

Latest labour market statistics

The latest labour market statistics for the period March to May 2017 showed a 175,000 rise in employment and 64,000 fall in unemployment.

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that, between December 2016 to February 2017 and March to May 2017, the number of people in work increased, the number of unemployed people fell, and the number of people aged from 16 to 64 not working and not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) also fell.

Some of the findings were:

  • There were 32.01 million people in work, 175,000 more than the previous quarter.
  • The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.9%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.
  • Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 1.8% including bonuses, and by 2.0% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.
  • Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in real terms (adjusted for price inflation) fell by 0.7% including bonuses, and fell by 0.5% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.

For more details visit the link below.

Anna Leach, CBI Head of Economic Intelligence, said:

‘These figures underline the strength of the UK’s flexible labour market, which was recognised in …. Taylor Review. But declining real pay and productivity remain concerning, reinforcing the imperative that any changes following the review support the economy’s ability to create great jobs.’

‘Making real progress on productivity growth requires a modern industrial strategy, with real change on the ground on skills, infrastructure and innovation.’

Internet links: ONS employment statistics CBI news

HMRC genuine and phishing/bogus emails and calls

HMRC have issued an update of their guidance on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact be it via email or text.

HMRC also provide advice on what to do if you have received a phishing/bogus email related to HMRC, or you are not sure if it is genuine, you can read about how to report internet scams and phishing to HMRC.

Internet link: HMRC guidance

Charities bound by new Fundraising Preference Service

A new service is now available for individuals who want to limit the contact they receive from charities. The Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) should give individuals greater control over how and when charities can contact them. The FPS, which launched on 6 July, allows individuals to select charities that they no longer want to receive communications from.

Under the FPS, where an individual opts out from a specified charity, this will apply to all forms of communication with a named individual including email, text, phone and addressed mail.

Although the FPS is primarily an online service a phone service is available to support those who are vulnerable or without IT. The Fundraising Regulator will notify specified charities of suppression (those people opting out) and monitor compliance. Charities need to ensure they comply with these new rules.

Internet link: FPS

Newsletter – April 2017

Enews – April 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on changes to the VAT Flat Rate Scheme which take effect from the start of April. We also consider minimum wage rises, gender pay gap reporting and the roll out of tax free childcare. We also report on three pertinent Budget announcements including the Class 4 NICs u-turn, changes to Making Tax Digital and the reduction in the Dividend Allowance.

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

VAT Flat Rate Scheme – Limited cost trader

Changes are being made to the Flat Rate Scheme (FRS) which take effect from 1 April 2017. These changes may mean that the FRS is less attractive to some businesses and this may result in these businesses deciding to no longer operate under the FRS. In some cases where a trader has voluntarily registered for VAT it may be appropriate to deregister from VAT.

A new higher 16.5% rate will apply from 1 April 2017 for businesses with limited costs, such as many labour-only businesses, using the Flat Rate Scheme. Businesses using the FRS, or considering joining the scheme, will need to decide if they are a ‘limited cost trader’.

Under the FRS a set percentage, determined by the business trade sector, is applied to the VAT inclusive turnover of the business as a one-off calculation instead of having to identify and record the VAT on each sale and purchase the business makes. The percentage rates are determined according to the trade sector of the business and these generally range from 4% to 14.5%.

A limited cost trader will be defined as one whose VAT inclusive expenditure on goods is either:

  • less than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover in a prescribed accounting period
  • greater than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover but less than £1,000 per annum if the prescribed accounting period is one year (if it is not one year, the figure is the relevant proportion of £1,000).

‘Relevant goods’, for the purposes of this measure, must be used exclusively for the purpose of the business but exclude the following items:

  • capital expenditure
  • food or drink for consumption by the flat rate business or its employees
  • vehicles, vehicle parts and fuel, except where the business is one that carries out transport services, for example a taxi business, and uses its own or a leased vehicle to carry out those services
  • payment for services, as these are not goods, this would include rent, accountancy fees, advertising costs etc

Examples of qualifying ‘relevant goods’ include stationery (and other office supplies), gas, electricity and cleaning products, but only where these are used exclusively for the business.

Businesses using the FRS will need to ensure that, for each VAT return period, they use the appropriate flat rate percentage, so the check to see whether a business is a limited cost trader will have to be carried out for each VAT return.

These rules come into force from 1 April 2017, so where a business has a VAT period that straddles 1 April 2017, the test to determine whether the business is a ‘limited cost trader’ will only apply to the period from 1 April 2017.

Please contact us if you would like advice on the FRS.

Internet link: GOV.UK VAT notice 733

Equality – Gender pay gap reporting

The government has introduced new requirements for all private and voluntary sector employers of over 250 people relating to equal pay reporting from April 2017.

The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/172) mean that large employers must calculate and publish the difference in mean and median pay and bonuses between the men and women they employ. In addition, information must be given about the proportion of men and women receiving a bonus payment and the proportions of men and women in each quartile of their pay distribution.

Key stages for this are:

  • 5 April every year, starting in 2017 – take a snapshot of the data
  • bonus data is based on the previous 12 months leading up to 5 April 2017
  • by 4 April 2018 – the results must be published on the organisation’s website with a signed statement confirming their accuracy
  • both the results and statement must remain on the website for 3 years.

Organisations might choose to add some narrative with the results, but this is not part of the requirement.

Internet link: GOV.UK gender pay gap

Minimum wage rises again

Employers need to ensure they are paying their employees at least the appropriate National Minimum Wage (NMW) or National Living Wage (NLW) rate. The rates increase from 1 April 2017.

From

1 October

2016

From

1 April

2017

NLW rate for workers aged 25 and over £7.20* £7.50
the main rate for workers aged 21-24 £6.95 £7.05
the 18-20 rate £5.55 £5.60
the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 £4.00 £4.05
the apprentice rate ** £3.40 £3.50

* introduced and applies from 1 April 2016

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

Going forward the NMW and NLW rates will be reviewed annually in April.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

The penalties imposed on employers that are in breach of the minimum wage legislation are 200% of arrears owed to workers. The maximum penalty is £20,000 per worker. The penalty is reduced by 50% if the unpaid wages and the penalty are paid within 14 days. HMRC also name and shame employers who are penalised.

Internet link: GOV.UK NMW

Tax-Free Childcare to be rolled out from 28 April 2017

Tax-Free Childcare, the new government scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare, will be launched from 28 April 2017.

For every £8 a parent pays in, the government will pay in an extra £2. Parents can receive up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare costs making a total amount of £10,000. Higher limits of £4,000 and £20,000 apply for disabled children.

To qualify for Tax-Free Childcare all parents in the household must generally meet a minimum income level, based on working 16 hours a week (on average £120 a week) and each earn less than £100,000 a year.

The scheme will be available for children up to the age of 12, or 17 for children with disabilities. All eligible parents will be able to join the scheme by the end of 2017. Parents will be able to apply for all their children at the same time although the government rollout will start with the youngest children first. Parents will need to open an online account, which they can use to pay for childcare from a registered provider.

For those employers who currently offer Employer Supported Childcare, usually in the form of childcare vouchers, these schemes can remain open to new entrants until April 2018. Existing members will have the option to remain in their existing scheme or change over to Tax-Free childcare as their child becomes eligible

A calculator is available on GOV.UK so that parents can check their eligibility for the new scheme and other government provided childcare available.

Internet link: Childcarechoices.gov.uk

Class 4 National insurance u-turn

One of the significant announcements Chancellor Philip Hammond made on Budget Day was the proposed increases to the main rate of Class 4 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) paid by self-employed individuals from 9% to 10% from April 2018 with a further increase planned from 10% to 11% from April 2019.

The Chancellor subsequently announced that the government will not now proceed with the proposed increase in Class 4 NICs rates . Self-employed individuals currently pay Class 2 and Class 4 NICs. Class 2 NICs are to be abolished from April 2018.

Internet link: BBC news

Making Tax Digital for Business update

Extensive changes to how taxpayers record and report income to HMRC are being introduced under a project entitled Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB) .

MTDfB is to be introduced in stages and the government has confirmed in the Budget the deferral of some of the obligations for one year. The result of this announcement is that unincorporated businesses and unincorporated landlords with annual turnover:

  • above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will need to comply with the requirements of MTDfB from the start of accounting periods which begin after 5 April 2018
  • at or below the VAT threshold but above £10,000 will need to comply from the start of accounting periods which begin after 5 April 2019.

Companies (and partnerships with a turnover above £10 million) will not come within MTDfB until April 2020.

The government has decided how the general principles of MTDfB will operate. Draft legislation has been issued on some aspects and more is contained in Finance Bill 2017.

Under MTDfB, businesses, self-employed people and landlords will be required to:

  • maintain their records digitally, through software or apps
  • report summary information to HMRC quarterly through their ‘digital tax accounts’ (DTAs)
  • make an ‘End of Year’ declaration through their DTAs. The End of Year declaration will be similar to the online submission of a self assessment tax return but may be required to be submitted earlier than a tax return. Businesses will have 10 months from the end of their period of account (or 31 January following the tax year – the due date for a self assessment tax return – if sooner)

DTAs are like online bank accounts – secure areas where a business can see all of its tax details in one place and interact with HMRC digitally.

Businesses, self-employed people and landlords with turnovers under £10,000 are exempt from these requirements.

Internet link: GOV.UK MTDfB

Reduction in the Dividend Allowance

It was announced in the Budget that the Dividend Allowance will be reduced from £5,000 to £2,000 from April 2018.

Dividends received by an individual are subject to special tax rates. The first £5,000 of dividends are charged to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). Dividends received above the allowance are taxed at the following rates:

  • 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers
  • 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers
  • 38.1% 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 £5,000 allowance.

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

The government expect that even with the reduction in the Dividend Allowance to £2,000, 80% of ‘general investors’ will pay no tax on their dividend income. However, the reduction in the allowance will affect family company shareholders who take dividends in excess of the £2,000 limit. The cost of the restriction in the allowance for basic rate taxpayers will be £225 increasing to £975 for higher rate taxpayers and £1,143 for additional rate taxpayers.

Internet link: GOV.UK dividend allowance

Budget 2017

Budget 2017

The Chancellor Philip Hammond presented the last Spring Budget on Wednesday 8 March 2017

In his speech the Chancellor was keen to point out that he wanted the tax system to be fair, particularly in relation to the distinction between employed and self-employed individuals.

‘But a fair system will also ensure fairness between individuals, so that people doing similar work for similar wages and enjoying similar state benefits pay similar levels of tax.’

In the Budget speech the Chancellor announced that he has requested a report to be delivered in the summer on the wider implications of different employment practices. Also the Budget included changes to NICs and the Dividend Allowance.

In December and January the government issued a number of the clauses, in draft, of Finance Bill 2017 together with updates on consultations.

The Budget updates some of these previous announcements and also proposes further measures. Some of these changes apply from April 2017 and some take effect at a later date.

Our summary focuses on the issues likely to 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 do not hesitate to contact us for advice.

Main Budget tax proposals

Our summary concentrates on the tax measures which include:

  • increases to the Class 4 National Insurance rates
  • a reduction in the Dividend Allowance
  • changes to the timing of Making Tax Digital for smaller businesses.

Previously announced measures include:

  • increases to the personal allowance and basic rate band (a decreased band for Scottish residents)
  • the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy
  • changes to corporation tax loss relief
  • the introduction of an additional inheritance tax residence nil rate band
  • changes for non-UK domiciled individuals.

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

The personal allowance is currently £11,000. Legislation has already been enacted to increase the allowance to £11,500 for 2017/18.

Comment

A reminder that not everyone has the benefit of the full personal allowance. There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000, which is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2016/17 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £122,000. For 2017/18 there will be no personal allowance available where adjusted net income exceeds £123,000.

Tax bands and rates

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is £32,000 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £43,000 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.

In 2017/18 the band of income taxable at the basic rate will be different for taxpayers who are resident in Scotland to residents elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish government has decided to reduce the band of income taxable at the basic rate to £31,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies remains at £43,000.

In the rest of the UK, legislation has already been enacted to increase the basic rate band to £33,500 for 2017/18. The higher rate threshold will therefore rise to £45,000 in 2017/18.

The additional rate of tax of 45% remains payable on taxable income above £150,000 for all UK residents.

Tax bands and rates – dividends

Dividends received by an individual are subject to special tax rates. The first £5,000 of dividends are charged to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). 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 £5,000 allowance.

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

Reduction in the Dividend Allowance

The Dividend Allowance will be reduced from £5,000 to £2,000 from April 2018.

Comment

The government expect that even with the reduction in the Dividend Allowance to £2,000, 80% of ‘general investors’ will pay no tax on their dividend income. However, the reduction in the allowance will affect family company shareholders who take dividends in excess of the £2,000 limit. The cost of the restriction in the allowance for basic rate taxpayers will be £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 (SA) was first introduced for the 2016/17 tax year and applies to savings income. The available SA 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 SA of £1,000. For higher rate taxpayers, the SA is £500 whilst no SA is due to additional rate taxpayers.

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

The overall ISA savings limit is £15,240 for 2016/17 but will jump to £20,000 in 2017/18.

Lifetime ISA

A new Lifetime ISA will be available from April 2017 for adults under the age of 40. Individuals will be able to contribute up to £4,000 per year, between ages 18 and 50, 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.

Comment

The increase in the overall ISA limit to £20,000 for 2017/18 is partly due to the introduction of the Lifetime ISA. There will therefore be four types of ISAs for many adults from April 2017 – cash ISAs, stocks and shares ISAs, Innovative Finance ISAs (allowing investment into peer to peer loans) and the Lifetime ISA. Money can be placed into one of each kind of ISA each tax year.

There is a fifth type of ISA – a Help to Buy ISA. Help to Buy ISAs are a type of cash ISA and potentially provide a bonus to savers if the funds are used to help to buy a first home.

Money Purchase Annual Allowance

The Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA) will be reduced from £10,000 to £4,000 from 6 April 2017.

The MPAA counters an individual using the flexibilities around accessing a money purchase pension arrangement as a means to avoid tax on their current earnings, by diverting their salary into their pension scheme, gaining tax relief, and then effectively withdrawing 25% tax free. It also restricts the extent to which individuals can gain a second round of tax relief by withdrawing savings and reinvesting them into their pension. The MPAA is currently £10,000 and applies to individuals who have flexibly accessed their money purchase pension savings.

Comment

The ‘annual allowance’ sets the maximum amount of tax efficient pension contributions. The normal annual allowance is £40,000. The Money Purchase Annual Allowance was introduced in 2015, to restrict the annual allowance to £10,000 when an individual has taken income from a pension scheme.

Phased roll out of Tax-Free Childcare

The Chancellor has confirmed that Tax-Free Childcare will be rolled out from April 2017. Tax-Free Childcare will be gradually rolled out for children under 12.

Under the scheme the relief will be 20% of the costs of childcare up to a total 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). It is expected that all parents in the household will have to meet the following conditions:

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

The existing scheme, Employer-Supported Childcare, will remain open to new entrants until April 2018 to support the transition between the schemes.

Comment

The government has also confirmed that from September 2017, the free childcare offer will double from 15 to 30 hours a week for working families with three and four year olds in England. In total this is worth up to £5,000 for each child.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a state benefit designed to support those on low income or out of work.

An individual’s entitlement to the benefit is made up of a number of elements to reflect their personal circumstances. Their entitlement is tapered at a rate of 65% where claimants earn above the work allowances. The current taper rate for those who claim Universal Credit means their credit will be withdrawn at a rate of 65 pence for every extra £1 earned.

From April 2017, the taper rate that applies to Universal Credit will be reduced from 65% to 63%.

Property and trading income allowances

From April 2017, the government will introduce new £1,000 allowances for property and trading income. Individuals with property or trading income below £1,000 will no longer need to declare or pay tax on that income. Those with income above the allowance will be able to calculate their taxable profit either by deducting their expenses in the normal way or by simply deducting the relevant allowance. The trading allowance will also apply to certain miscellaneous income from providing assets or services. Any income which attracts rent-a-room relief will not be eligible for either of the allowances.

Business Tax

Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB)

Extensive changes to how taxpayers record and report income to HMRC are being introduced under a project entitled Making Tax Digital for Business.

The government has decided how the general principles of MTDfB will operate. Draft legislation has been issued on some aspects and more will be published in Finance Bill 2017.

Under MTDfB, businesses, self-employed people and landlords will be required to:

  • maintain their records digitally, through software or apps
  • report summary information to HMRC quarterly through their ‘digital tax accounts’ (DTAs)
  • make an ‘End of Year’ declaration through their DTAs.

DTAs are like online bank accounts – secure areas where a business can see all of its tax details in one place and interact with HMRC digitally.

Comment

The End of Year declaration will be similar to the online submission of a self assessment tax return but may be required to be submitted earlier than a tax return. Businesses will have 10 months from the end of their period of account (or 31 January following the tax year – the due date for a self assessment tax return – if sooner).

Exemptions

Businesses, self-employed people and landlords with turnovers under £10,000 are exempt from these requirements.

Changes announced in the Budget

The government has now announced a one year deferral from the mandating of MTDfB for unincorporated businesses and unincorporated landlords with turnovers below the VAT threshold. For those that have turnovers in excess of the VAT threshold the commencement date will be from the start of accounting periods which begin after 5 April 2018.

Cash basis for unincorporated landlords

As part of the wider proposals for Making Tax Digital, the government has decided that, from April 2017, many unincorporated property businesses will compute taxable profits for the purposes of income tax on a cash basis rather than the usual accruals basis.

The cash basis means a business will account for income and expenses when the income is received and expenses are paid. The accruals basis means accounting for income over the period to which it relates and accounting for expenses in the period for which the liability is incurred.

For affected property businesses, the cash basis will first apply for the 2017/18 tax year which means that a tax return for 2017/18, which has to be submitted by 31 January 2019, will be the first one submitted on the new basis.

Not all property businesses will move to the cash basis:

  • property businesses will remain on the accruals basis if their cash basis receipts are more than £150,000
  • there is an option to elect out of cash basis accounting and to use accruals basis instead
  • the cash basis does not apply to property businesses carried out by a company, an LLP, a corporate firm (ie a partner in the firm is not an individual), the trustees of a trust or the personal representatives of a person.

Cash basis for unincorporated businesses

The government is also extending the cash basis option for the self-employed and trading partnerships. The cash receipts threshold for being able to move to the cash basis will increase from the current £83,000 to £150,000 and the threshold for having to move back to the accruals basis will increase to £300,000 from April 2017.

Currently, the rules for the calculation of profits under cash basis accounting do not allow a deduction for expenditure of a capital nature, unless that expenditure qualifies for plant and machinery capital allowances under ordinary tax rules. This results in taxpayers needing to consider whether items are capital in nature, and whether they qualify for capital allowances. New rules will be introduced that list types of expenditure which will or will not be allowed as a tax deduction.

It is proposed these changes will come into effect from the 2017/18 tax year.

Comment

There is no requirement for traders to switch to the cash basis. There are potential problems in adopting the cash basis including restrictions on interest relief on business finance and special calculations which need to be performed on moving to the cash basis. We can, of course, advise you of the issues involved.

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 20%. The rate will then be reduced as follows:

  • 19% for the Financial Years beginning on 1 April 2017, 1 April 2018 and 1 April 2019
  • 17% for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020.

Corporate tax loss relief

Currently, a company is restricted in the type of profit which can be relieved by a loss if the loss is brought forward from an earlier accounting period. For example, a trading loss carried forward can only relieve future profits from the same trade. Changes are proposed which will mean that losses arising on or after 1 April 2017, when carried forward, will be useable against profits from other income streams or other companies within a group. This will apply to most types of losses but not to capital losses.

However, from 1 April 2017, large companies will only be able to use losses carried forward against up to 50% of their profits above £5 million. For groups, the £5 million allowance will apply to the group.

Class 4 National Insurance contributions (NICs)

It had already been announced in the 2016 Budget that Class 2 NICs will be abolished from April 2018. The government will now also legislate to increase the main rate of Class 4 NICs from 9% to 10% with effect from 6 April 2018 and from 10% to 11% with effect from 6 April 2019.

Comment

Both employed and self-employed earners who reached state pension age from 6 April 2016 have access to the same flat rate state pension. This means that the self-employed have gained £1,800 a year more than under the previous system. The government therefore think it is fair that the NIC differential between them is reduced as employees are paying 12%.

Research and development (R&D)

There are two types of tax reliefs for eligible R&D expenditure. Under one of these, qualifying companies can claim a taxable credit of 11% in relation to eligible R&D expenditure. This is known as the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC). To further support investment, the government will make administrative changes to the RDEC to increase the certainty and simplicity around claims and will take action to improve awareness of R&D tax credits among small and medium-sized enterprises.

Appropriations to trading stock

From 8 March 2017, the government will remove the ability for businesses to convert capital losses into trading losses when appropriating a capital asset to trading stock.

Disposals of land in the UK

The government will amend legislation to ensure that all profits realised by offshore property developers developing land in the UK, including those on pre-existing contracts, are subject to tax, with effect from 8 March 2017. This extends legislation introduced in Finance Act 2016.

Substantial shareholding exemption (SSE) reform

Changes are proposed to some of the qualifying conditions for the SSE. The good news is that the changes remove some of the obstacles of qualifying for SSE.

  • The condition that the investing company is required to be a trading company or part of a trading group is being removed.
  • The condition that the investment must have been held for a continuous period, at a minimum of 12 months in the two years preceding the sale is being extended to a continuous period of 12 months in the six years preceding the sale.
  • The condition that the company in which the shares are sold continues to be a qualifying company immediately after the sale, is withdrawn, unless the sale is to a connected party.
  • For a class of investors defined as Qualifying Institutional Investors, the condition that the company in which the shares were sold is a trading company has also been removed. The draft legislation contains a list of Qualifying Institutional Investors.

The changes have effect for disposals on or after 1 April 2017.

Restrictions on residential property interest

Legislation has already been enacted to restrict interest relief for landlords.

From 6 April 2017, landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income. They will instead receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability for these finance costs. Finance costs include mortgage interest, interest on loans to buy furnishings and fees incurred when taking out or repaying loans or mortgages.

The restriction will be phased in with 75% of finance costs being allowed in 2017/18, 50% in 2018/19, 25% in 2019/20 and be fully in place for 2020/21. The remaining finance costs for each year will be given as a basic rate tax reduction but cannot create a tax refund.

These restrictions apply to:

  • UK resident individuals that let residential properties in the UK or overseas
  • non-UK resident individuals that let residential properties in the UK
  • individuals who let such properties in partnership
  • trustees or beneficiaries of trusts liable for income tax on the property profits.

UK and non-UK resident companies are not affected nor landlords of ‘Furnished Holiday Lettings’.

Enlarging Social Investment Tax Relief

Significant amendments to the Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) will be legislated for in Finance Bill 2017 to:

  • increase the amount of investment a social enterprise may receive over its lifetime to £1.5 million, for social enterprises that receive their initial risk finance investment no later than seven years after their first commercial sale. The current limit will continue to apply to older social enterprises
  • reduce the limit on full-time equivalent employees to below 250 employees
  • exclude certain activities, including asset leasing and on-lending. Investment in nursing homes and residential care homes will be excluded initially. However the government intends to introduce an accreditation system to allow such investment to qualify for SITR in future
  • exclude the use of money raised under the SITR to pay off existing loans
  • clarify that individuals will be eligible to claim relief under the SITR only if they are independent from the social enterprise
  • introduce a provision to exclude investments where arrangements are put in place with the main purpose of delivering a benefit to an individual or party connected to the social enterprise.

The changes will take effect for investments made on or after 6 April 2017.

Employment Taxes

Off-payroll working in the public sector

As previously announced, from 6 April 2017, new tax rules potentially affect individuals who provide their personal services via their own companies (PSCs) to an organisation which has been classified as a ‘public authority’.

The effect of these rules, if they apply, will mean:

  • the public authority (or an agency paying the PSC) will calculate a ‘deemed payment’ based on the fees the PSC has charged for the services of the individual
  • the entity that pays the PSC for the services must first deduct PAYE and employee National Insurance contributions (NICs) as if the deemed payment is a salary payment to an employee
  • the paying entity will have to pay to HMRC not only the PAYE and NICs deducted from the deemed payment but also employer NICs on the deemed payment
  • the net amount received by the PSC can be passed onto the individual without paying any further PAYE and NICs.

Public sector organisations include government departments and their executive agencies, many companies owned or controlled by the public sector, universities, local authorities, parish councils and the National Health Service.

The new rules operate in respect of payments made on or after 6 April 2017. This means that they are relevant to contracts entered into before 6 April 2017 but where the payment for the work is made after 6 April 2017.

Comment

Where individuals are working through their PSC for private sector clients, the new rules will not apply to income from such work.

It is for the public authority to decide if the deemed payment rules apply. To help all parties determine whether these rules apply, HMRC have provided an online employment status tool. There is no formal right of appeal to HMRC or the Tax Tribunals by the individual or the PSC. If a new contract is entered into after 6 April 2017, the expectation would be that the PSC would agree the treatment within the initial contract. If it is an existing contract a discussion will need to take place with the public authority as to the reasons for its decision.

Apprenticeship levy and apprenticeship funding

Larger employers (or connected employers treated as large) will be liable to pay the apprenticeship levy from April 2017. The levy is set at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s pay bill, which is broadly total employee earnings excluding benefits in kind, and will be paid along with other PAYE deductions. Each employer receives an annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment. This means that the levy will only be paid on any pay bill in excess of £3 million in a year.

Employers only need to report on the levy where they have a pay bill of £3 million in the current tax year or consider that the pay bill will be over £3 million during the 2017/18 tax year.

The levy will be used to provide funding for apprenticeships and there will be changes to the funding for apprenticeship training for all employers as a consequence. Each country in the UK has its own apprenticeship authority and each is making changes to its scheme.

Different forms of remuneration

The government is consulting on the following:

Taxation of benefits in kind

The government will publish a call for evidence on exemptions and valuation methodology for the income tax and employer NICs treatment of benefits in kind, in order to better understand whether their use in the tax system can be made fairer and more consistent.

Accommodation benefits

The government will publish a consultation with proposals to bring the tax treatment of employer-provided accommodation and board and lodgings up to date. This will include proposals for when accommodation should be exempt from tax and to support taxpayers during any transition.

Employee expenses

The government will publish a call for evidence to better understand the use of the income tax relief for employees’ expenses, including those that are not reimbursed by their employer.

Comment

Employers can choose to remunerate their employees in a range of different ways but, in the view of the government, the tax system may treat these forms of remuneration inconsistently. The government is therefore considering how the tax system ‘could be made fairer and more coherent’.

Salary sacrifice

Legislation will limit the income tax and employer NICs advantages where:

  • benefits in kind are offered through salary sacrifice or
  • the employee can choose between cash allowances and benefits in kind.

The taxable value of benefits in kind where cash has been forgone will be fixed at the higher of the current taxable value or the value of the cash forgone.

The new rules will not affect employer-provided pension saving, employer-provided pensions advice, childcare vouchers, workplace nurseries, or Cycle to Work. Following consultation, the government has also decided to exempt Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles, with emissions under 75 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

This change will take effect from 6 April 2017. Those already in salary sacrifice contracts at that date will become subject to the new rules in respect of those contracts at the earlier of:

  • an end, change, modification or renewal of the contract
  • 6 April 2018, except for cars, accommodation and school fees, when the last date is 6 April 2021.

Comment

Employers and employees may wish to review their flexible remuneration packages prior to 6 April 2017.

Changes to termination payments

Changes from 6 April 2018 will align the rules for tax and employer NICs by making an employer liable to pay NICs on any part of a termination payment that exceeds the £30,000 threshold. It is anticipated that this will be collected in ‘real-time’.

In addition, all payments in lieu of notice (PILONs) will be both taxable and subject to Class 1 NICs. This will be done by requiring the employer to identify the amount of basic pay that the employee would have received if they had worked their notice period, even if the employee leaves the employment part way through their notice period. This amount will be treated as earnings and will not be subject to the £30,000 exemption.

Finally, the exemption known as foreign service relief will be removed and a clarification made to ensure that the exemption for injury does not apply in cases of injured feelings.

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage increases

The Chancellor confirmed that the National Living Wage (NLW) rate will be increased from 1 April 2017. Increases are also being made to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates. The NLW applies to workers aged 25 and over. The NMW applies to other workers provided they are at least school leaving age.

Rate from: 1 October 2016 1 April 2017
NLW for workers aged 25 and over £7.20* £7.50
NMW main rate for workers aged 21-24 £6.95 £7.05
NMW 18-20 rate £5.55 £5.60
NMW 16-17 rate £4.00 £4.05
NMW apprentice rate** £3.40 £3.50

* introduced and applies from 1 April 2016
**the apprentice rate applies to apprentices under 19 or 19 and over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

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 that do not qualify for private residence relief.

The rate for disposals qualifying for Entrepreneurs’ Relief is 10% with a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual. Entrepreneurs’ Relief 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. In 2016/17 a new relief, Investors’ Relief, was introduced which also provides a 10% rate with a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual. The main beneficiaries of this relief are external investors in unquoted trading companies.

CGT annual exemption

The CGT annual exemption is £11,100 for 2016/17 and will be increased to £11,300 for 2017/18.

Inheritance tax (IHT) nil rate band

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

Legislation has already been enacted to introduce an additional nil rate band for deaths on or after 6 April 2017, where an interest in a main residence passes to direct descendants. The amount of relief is being phased in over four years; starting at £100,000 in the first year and rising to £175,000 for 2020/21. For many married couples and civil partners the relief is effectively doubled as each individual has a main nil rate band and each will potentially benefit from the residence nil rate band.

The additional band can only be used in respect of one residential property, which does not have to be the main family home, but must at some point have been a residence of the deceased. Restrictions apply where estates are in excess of £2 million.

Where a person dies before 6 April 2017, their estate will not qualify for the relief. A surviving spouse may be entitled to an increase in the residence nil rate band if the spouse who died earlier has not used, or was not entitled to use, their full residence nil rate band. The calculations involved are potentially complex but the increase will often result in a doubling of the residence nil rate band for the surviving spouse.

Downsizing

The residence nil rate band 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 residence nil rate band, are passed on death to direct descendants.

Comment

From April 2017 we have three nil rate bands to consider. The standard nil rate band has been a part of the legislation from the start of IHT in 1986. In 2007 the ability to utilise the unused nil rate band of a deceased spouse was introduced enabling many surviving spouses to have a nil rate band of up to £650,000. By 6 April 2020 some surviving spouses will be able to add £350,000 in respect of the residence nil rate band to arrive at a total nil rate band of £1 million.

Individuals will need to revisit their wills to ensure that the relief will be available and efficiently utilised.

Non-UK domiciles

A number of changes are to be made from 6 April 2017:

  • for individuals who are non-UK domiciled but who have been resident for 15 of the previous 20 tax years or
  • where an individual was born in the UK with a UK domicile of origin and resumes UK residence having obtained a domicile of choice elsewhere.

Such individuals will be classed as ‘deemed’ UK domiciles for income tax, CGT and IHT purposes. For income tax and CGT, a deemed UK domicile will be assessable on worldwide arising income and gains. They will not be able to access the remittance basis. For IHT, a deemed UK domicile is chargeable on worldwide assets rather than only on UK assets.

Legislation will allow a non-UK domiciled individual who has been taxed on the remittance basis to transfer amounts between overseas mixed fund bank accounts without being subject to the offshore transfer rules. This will allow the different elements within the accounts to be separated, thereby allowing clean capital to be remitted to the UK in priority to income and gains.

The draft legislation also provides that the market value of an asset at 5 April 2017 will be able to be used as the acquisition cost for CGT purposes when computing the gain or loss on its disposal where the asset was situated outside the UK between 16 March 2016 and 5 April 2017. This will apply to any individual who becomes a deemed UK domicile in April 2017, other than one who is born in the UK with a UK domicile of origin.

Non-UK domiciles who set up an overseas resident trust before becoming a deemed UK domicile will generally not be taxed on any income and gains retained in that trust and the trust remains non chargeable property for IHT purposes. However, there are a number of changes which modify the tax treatment on the occurrence of certain events for settlor interested overseas asset trusts.

UK residential property

Changes are also proposed for UK residential property. Currently all residential property in the UK is within the charge to IHT if owned by a UK or non-UK domiciled individual. It is proposed that all residential properties in the UK will be within the charge to IHT where they are held within an overseas structure. This charge will apply whether the overseas structure is held by an individual or trust.

Business Investment Relief

The government will change the rules for the Business Investment Relief scheme from April 2017 to make it easier for non-UK domiciled individuals, who are taxed on the remittance basis, to bring offshore money into the UK for the purpose of investing in UK businesses. The government will continue to consider further improvements to the rules for the scheme to attract more capital investment in UK businesses by non-UK domiciled individuals.

Other Matters

Business rates

Business rates have been devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The business rates revaluation takes effect in England from April 2017 and will result in significant changes to the amount of rates that businesses will pay. The government announced £3.6 billion of transitional relief in November 2016. The Chancellor has now announced £435 million of further support for businesses. This includes:

  • support for small businesses losing Small Business Rate Relief to limit increases in their bills to the greater of £600 or the real terms transitional relief cap for small businesses each year
  • providing English local authorities with funding to support £300 million of discretionary relief, to allow them to provide support to individual cases in their local area.

The government will also introduce a £1,000 business rate discount for public houses with a rateable value of up to £100,000, for one year from 1 April 2017. This is subject to state aid limits for businesses with multiple properties.

Tax avoidance and evasion measures

In addition to measures specifically referred to earlier in this summary, other measures announced include:

Qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes (QROPS)

The government will introduce a 25% charge on transfers to QROPS. This charge is targeted at those seeking to reduce the tax payable by moving their pension wealth to another jurisdiction. Exceptions will apply to the charge allowing transfers to be made tax free where people have a genuine need to transfer their pension, including when the individual and the pension are both located within the European Economic Area.

VAT: fraud in the provision of labour in the construction sector

The government will consult on options to combat missing trader VAT fraud in the provision of labour in the construction sector, in particular, applying the reverse charge mechanism so the recipient accounts for VAT.

Employment Allowance

HMRC are actively monitoring National Insurance Employment Allowance compliance following reports of some businesses using avoidance schemes to avoid paying the correct amount of NICs. The government will consider taking further action in the event that this avoidance continues.

 

Newsletter – February 2017

Enews – February 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on changes for landlords which take effect from April 2017, increased NMW and NLW rates and progress on Making Tax Digital. We also include several announcements from HMRC on tax return excuses, a new Helpline and details of successful prosecutions.

We also include the latest announcements regarding Pensions Auto Enrolment. Please do get in touch if you would like any further guidance on any of the areas covered.

Making Tax Digital

The government published their responses to the six consultations on making tax digital (MTD).

In response to the consultations the government have decided the following:

  • businesses will be able to continue to use spreadsheets for record keeping, but they must ensure that their spreadsheet meets the necessary requirements of Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB). This is likely to involve combining the spreadsheet with software
  • businesses eligible for three line accounts will be able to submit a quarterly update with only three lines of data (income, expenses and profit)
  • free software will be available to businesses with the most straightforward affairs
  • the requirement to keep digital records does not mean that you have to make and store invoices and receipts digitally
  • activity at the end of the year must be concluded and sent either by ten months after the last day of the period of account or 31 January, whichever of these is soonest
  • charities (but not their trading subsidiaries) will not need to keep digital records
  • for partnerships with a turnover above £10 million, MTDfB is deferred until 2020 due to the complexity of their tax affairs.

The MTD consultations also specifically explored the appropriate level of the initial exemption and deferral for the self-employed, landlords and businesses. Given the range of views expressed on this matter from respondents to the consultation, the government has decided to take more time to consider these issues alongside the fiscal impacts. Final decisions will be made before the law is finalised later this year.

In addition, HMRC will begin piloting digital record keeping and quarterly updates for a full year from April 2017, building up to working with hundreds of thousands of businesses and landlords before rolling the services out more widely. The stated aim of this pilot is to ensure the software is user-friendly and give individuals and businesses time to prepare and adapt. Piloting of the system had been recommended by the Treasury Select Committee.

Select Committee’s findings

The Treasury Select Committee has urged HMRC to implement a series of wide-ranging pilots in order to better test the government’s plans for the new digital tax initiative, Making Tax Digital (MTD), before it becomes compulsory for the majority of taxpayers.

The report found that, while the government had already carried out trials of the new initiative, those businesses which took part had done so at HMRC’s invitation.

The Committee stated that comprehensive pilots of MTD are ‘essential’, and that these need to be designed to collect information over the entire reporting cycle.

It also suggested that an evaluation of these pilots should be carried out before the full implementation of the scheme which is expected, for all but the smallest businesses to be implemented from April 2018 onwards.

Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman of the Committee, said:

‘Without sufficient care, MTD could be a disaster. Implemented carefully, with long transitional arrangements where necessary, and, having drawn on information from fully inclusive pilots, MTD could be designed for the benefit both of the economy and of the tax yield. But with a rushed introduction, it will benefit neither.’

MTDfB will still be phased in from April 2018. We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet links: Parliament MTD GOV.UK MTD responses Consultations

Pay the NMW – no excuses

The government has revealed ten of the most bizarre excuses used by unscrupulous business owners who have been found to have underpaid workers the NMW.

These employers used excuses such as ‘only wanting to pay staff when there are customers to serve and believing it was acceptable to underpay workers until they had ‘proved’ themselves’.

The government has launched an awareness campaign to encourage workers to check their pay to ensure they are receiving at least the statutory minimum ahead of the NMW and NLW increases on 1 April 2017.

Employers need to ensure they are paying their employees at least the NMW and NLW.

Rate from 1 October 2016 Rate from 1 April 2017
NLW for workers aged 25 and over (introduced and applies from 1 April 2016) £7.20 £7.50
the main rate for workers aged 21-24 £6.95 £7.05
the 18-20 rate £5.55 £5.60
the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 £4.00 £4.05
the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship £3.40 £3.50

This will be the second increase in six months for the NMW rates. Going forward the NMW and NLW rates will both be reviewed annually in April.

In a recent article in the Employer Bulletin, HMRC cite common errors:

  • not paying the right rate, perhaps missing an employee’s birthday,
  • making deductions from wages which reduce the employee’s pay below the NMW/NLW rate,
  • including top ups to pay that do not qualify for NMW/NLW,
  • failure to classify workers correctly, so treating them as interns volunteers or self employed and
  • failure to include all the time a worker is working, for example time spent shutting up shop or waiting to clear security.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

The penalties imposed on employers that are in breach of the minimum wage legislation are 200% of arrears owed to workers. The maximum penalty is £20,000 per worker. The penalty is reduced by 50% if the unpaid wages and the penalty are paid within 14 days. HMRC also name and shame employers who are penalised.

If you would like help with payroll issues please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK NMW news

Landlords to receive less tax relief on interest

In a change that will impact residential landlords, the amount of income tax relief available on residential property finance costs will be restricted to the basic rate of income tax. This change will mean that landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income. They will instead receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability for their finance costs.

The restriction in the relief will be phased in over a four year period as follows:

  • in 2017/18, the deduction from property income will be restricted to 75% of finance costs, with the remaining 25% being available as a basic rate tax reduction;
  • in 2018/19, 50% finance costs deduction and 50% given as a basic rate tax reduction;
  • in 2019/20, 25% finance costs deduction and 75% given as a basic rate tax reduction;
  • from 2020/21, all financing costs incurred by a landlord will be given as a basic rate tax reduction.

These rules do not apply to residential properties held in companies.

In addition rules may further restrict the relief which is due where the individual’s property income or total income is less than the amount on which basic rate relief is due. The computation is complex so please do get in touch if you would like us to review your position.

Internet link: GOV.UK guidance

More silly taxpayer excuses from HMRC

HMRC have released more unusual excuses from taxpayers who failed to complete their self assessment tax return on time. These include:

  1. ‘My tax return was on my yacht…which caught fire’
  2. ‘A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed’
  3. ‘My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days’
  4. ‘My dog ate my tax return…and all of the reminders’
  5. ‘I couldn’t complete my tax return, because my husband left me and took our accountant with him. I am currently trying to find a new accountant’
  6. ‘My child scribbled all over the tax return, so I wasn’t able to send it back’
  7. ‘I work for myself, but a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it’
  8. ‘My husband told me the deadline was the 31 March’
  9. ‘My internet connection failed’
  10. ‘The postman doesn’t deliver to my house’

With the self assessment submission deadline of 31 January now past and an automatic penalty of £100 for failing to submit your return on time, please contact us if you need help bringing your affairs up to date.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Tax cheats – HMRC’s criminal case highlights of 2016

HMRC have revealed their top ten most significant fraud and organised crime cases of the last year.

Simon York, Director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said:

‘Day in, day out, HMRC is coming down hard on tax cheats. As these cases show, we’ll tackle anyone committing tax fraud, regardless of how well resourced, well advised, or well organised. These ten prosecutions are among the most significant cases we’ve handled this year, and they reflect the wide range of work carried out by HMRC.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Tax helpline for people affected by severe weather and flooding

HMRC have made available a telephone helpline (0800 904 7900) for anyone affected by severe weather or floods. The helpline allows anyone affected to get practical help and advice on a wide range of tax problems they may be facing. These could be financial issues regarding making payment, issues regarding lost or damaged records and may include cancelling penalties where deadlines are missed due to severe weather and flooding.

Internet link: GOV.UK helpline

Pensions auto enrolment

The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed the thresholds for pensions automatic enrolment for 2017/18.

The main qualifying threshold or ‘trigger’ for employees to be automatically enrolled will be maintained at £10,000 per annum. The lower limit of the qualifying earning band and will be £5,876 and the upper limit £45,000.

The written statement also includes:

‘Automatic enrolment has been a great success to date with almost 7 million people enrolled by more than 293,000 employers. It will give around 11 million people the opportunity to save into a workplace pension and we expect this to lead to around 10 million people newly saving or saving more by 2018, generating around £17 billion a year more in workplace pension saving by 2019/20.’

With over a million micro (1 – 4 employees) and small (5 – 49 employees) employers reaching their staging date for auto enrolment in the last quarter of 2016/17 and throughout 2017/18 it is important to ensure employers comply with their obligations. The Pensions Regulator has confirmed the exceptions which apply to employers which can be found at on their website (see the TPR link below).

Please contact us if you would like help with auto enrolment compliance or to determine whether or not your business is exempt from auto enrolment.

Internet links: Parliament written statement TPR exemptions

Newsletter – December 2016

Enews – December 2016

Autumn Statement update

On Wednesday 23 November the Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his first, and last, Autumn Statement along with the Spending Review.

His speech and the supporting documentation set out both tax and economic measures. Some of the pertinent tax and employee welfare measures announced were:

  • the government reaffirming the objectives to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 by the end of this Parliament
  • a reduction of the Money Purchase Annual Allowance for pensions to £4,000
  • a review of ways to build on Research and Development tax relief
  • tax and National Insurance advantages of salary sacrifice schemes to be removed
  • anti-avoidance measures for the VAT Flat Rate Scheme including the introduction of a higher 16.5% rate for some businesses
  • autumn Budgets commencing in autumn 2017
  • National Living Wage to rise from £7.20 an hour to £7.50 from April 2017
  • Universal Credit taper rate to be cut from 65% to 63% from April 2017.

Internet link: GOV.UK autumn statement documents

Seasonal gifts to employees – make sure they are tax free

At this time of year some employers may wish to make small gifts to their employees.

For many years HMRC have been prepared to accept that trivial benefits were not taxable under certain circumstances. However a statutory exemption has been introduced from the start of the current tax year which should give employers certainty that the benefits provided are exempt and do not result in a reportable employee benefit in kind. In order for the benefit to be exempt it must satisfy the following conditions:

  • the cost of providing the benefit does not exceed £50
  • the benefit is not cash or a cash voucher
  • the employee is not entitled to the voucher as part of a contractual arrangement (including salary sacrifice)
  • the benefit is not provided in recognition of particular services performed by the employee as part of their employment duties
  • where the employer is a ‘close’ company and the benefit is provided to an individual who is a director, an office holder or a member of their household or their family, then the exemption is capped at a total cost of £300 in a tax year.

If any of these conditions are not met then the benefit will be taxed in the normal way subject to any other exemptions or allowable deductions.

One of the main conditions is that the cost of the benefit does not exceed £50. If the cost is above £50 the full amount is taxable, not just the excess over £50.The cost of providing the benefit to each employee and not the overall cost to the employer determines whether the benefit can be treated as a trivial benefit. So, a benefit costing up to £50 per employee whether provided to one or more employees can be treated as trivial. Where the individual cost for each employee cannot be established, an average could be used. Some HMRC examples consider gifts of turkeys, a bottle of wine or alternative gift voucher.

Further details on how the exemption will work, including family member situations, are contained in HMRC manual.

However if you are unsure please do get in touch before assuming the trivial benefit you are about to provide is covered by the exemption.

Internet link: HMRC manual

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 December 2016. 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 2016 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 21p
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

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

  • reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars
  • 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

‘No excuses’ for auto enrolment mistakes say TPR

The Pensions Regulator is reminding employers and their advisers, that they need to comply with their auto enrolment duties or face penalties:

‘Being ill or short-staffed isn’t a good enough excuse for your clients failing to comply with their legal duties. Our latest compliance and enforcement report shows that the number of small and micro employers receiving fines has risen after tribunal judges rejected what the employers claimed were ‘reasonable excuses’.

As with any other business activity, if an employer is too unwell to complete their AE duties, they’ll need to find someone else who can. Automatic enrolment is ultimately the employer’s legal responsibility, so whether it’s due to pension provider failings or illness, a judge won’t consider an excuse to be ‘reasonable’, if there’s something they or someone else could have done to remedy the situation in time.’

TPR’s latest ‘Compliance and enforcement Quarterly bulletin’ reports that instances of penalties have risen but so have the amount of employers who are ‘staging’ for auto enrolment.

They have also sent over 6,000 letters to employers reminding them that their deadline for compliance is 31 December 2016.

Please contact us if you would like any help with your duties.

Internet link: TPR bulletin

Making Tax Digital update

Over the summer HMRC published six consultation documents on Making Tax Digital. The six consultations set out detailed plans on how HMRC propose to fundamentally change the method by which taxpayers, particularly the self-employed and landlords, send information to HMRC. Two key changes proposed are:

  • From April 2018, self-employed taxpayers and landlords will be required to keep their business records digitally and submit information to HMRC on a quarterly basis and submit an End of Year declaration within nine months of the end of an accounting period (accounting periods are typically 12 months long).
  • HMRC will make better use of the information which they currently receive from third parties and will also require more up to date information from some third parties, such as details of bank interest. Employees and employers will see the updating of PAYE codes more regularly as HMRC use the data received from the third parties.

HMRC received over 3,000 responses to their consultations which are now closed.

The government has announced it will publish its response to the consultations in January 2017 together with provisions to implement the changes.

Meanwhile HMRC’s Tax Assurance Commissioner Jim Harra has written to the Financial Times stating HMRC’s point of view that ‘Digital tax should not be a burden to businesses’ in a move to allay the concerns that changes will place an additional burden on businesses and their agents.

We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet links: GOV.UK MTD GOV.UK Speech

Recognising genuine contact from HMRC – spotting phishing

HMRC have updated their guidance on how to spot genuine contact from HMRC, and how to tell when an email or text message is phishing or bogus.

Phishing is the fraudulent act of emailing a person in order to obtain their personal and financial information such as passwords and credit card or bank account details. These emails often include a link to a bogus website encouraging you to enter your personal details.

Internet link: Genuine HMRC contact

Autumn Statement 2016

Autumn Statement 2016

On Wednesday 23 November the Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his first, and last, Autumn Statement along with the Spending Review.

His speech and the supporting documentation set out both tax and economic measures.

Our summary concentrates on the tax measures which include:

  • the government reaffirming the objectives to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 by the end of this Parliament
  • reduction of the Money Purchase Annual Allowance
  • review of ways to build on research and development tax relief
  • tax and National Insurance advantages of salary sacrifice schemes to be removed
  • anti-avoidance measures for the VAT Flat Rate Scheme
  • autumn Budgets commencing in autumn 2017.

In addition the Chancellor announced the following pay and welfare measures:

  • National Living Wage to rise from £7.20 an hour to £7.50 from April 2017
  • Universal Credit taper rate to be cut from 65% to 63% from April 2017.

In the March Budget the government announced various proposals, many of which have been subject to consultation with interested parties. Some of these proposals are summarised here. Draft legislation relating to many of these areas will be published on IPT

5 December and some of the details may change as a result.

Our summary also provides a reminder of other key tax developments which are to take place from April 2017.

Personal Tax

The personal allowance

The personal allowance is currently £11,000. Legislation has already been enacted to increase the allowance to £11,500 for 2017/18.

Not everyone has the benefit of the full personal allowance. There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000, which is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2016/17 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £122,000. For 2017/18 there will be no personal allowance available where adjustedk net income exceeds £123,000.

Tax bands and rates

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is £32,000 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £43,000 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.

Legislation has already been enacted to increase the basic rate band to £33,500 for 2017/18. The higher rate threshold will therefore rise to £45,000 in 2017/18 for those entitled to the full personal allowance.

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

Long term commitments to raise the personal allowance and higher rate threshold

The Chancellor has reaffirmed the government’s objectives to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 by the end of this Parliament. He also announced that once the personal allowance reaches £12,500, it will then rise in line with CPI as the higher rate threshold does, rather than in line with the National Minimum Wage.

Tax bands and rates – dividends

Dividends received by an individual are subject to special tax rates. The first £5,000 of dividends are charged to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). 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 £5,000 allowance.

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

Comment

Many individuals do not have £5,000 of dividend income and so their dividend income is tax free irrespective of the tax rates payable on other income.

Individuals who regard themselves as basic rate taxpayers need to appreciate that all dividends received still form part of the total income of an individual. If dividends above £5,000 are received, the first £5,000 will use up some or all of the basic rate band available. The element of dividends above £5,000 which are taxable may well therefore make the individual a higher rate taxpayer with the dividends being taxed at 32.5%.

Tax on savings income

Savings income is income such as bank and building society interest. 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) exceeds the starting rate limit.

In addition, from 2016/17 the Savings Allowance (SA) applies to savings income. Income within the SA is taxed at 0% (the ‘savings nil rate’). However, the available SA in a tax year will depend on the individual’s marginal rate of income tax. Individuals taxed at up to the basic rate of tax will have an SA of £1,000. For higher rate taxpayers, the SA is £500 whilst no SA is due to additional rate taxpayers.

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

The overall ISA savings limit is £15,240 for 2016/17 but will jump to £20,000 in 2017/18.

Lifetime ISA

A new Lifetime ISA will be available from April 2017 for adults under the age of 40. 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.

Comment

The increase in the overall ISA limit to £20,000 for 2017/18 is partly due to the introduction of the Lifetime ISA. There will therefore be four types of ISAs for many adults from April 2017 – cash ISAs, stocks and shares ISAs, innovative ISAs (allowing investment into peer to peer loans) and the Lifetime ISA. Money can be placed into one of each kind of ISA each tax year.

 Pensions

Money Purchase Annual Allowance

The Money Purchase Annual Allowance will be reduced from £10,000 to £4,000 from April 2017.

Comment

The ‘annual allowance’ sets the maximum amount of tax efficient pension contributions. The normal annual allowance is £40,000. The Money Purchase Annual Allowance was introduced in 2015, to restrict the annual allowance to £10,000 when an individual over 55 has taken income from a pension scheme. The government will consult on the detail of the further restriction now announced.

Foreign pensions

The tax treatment of foreign pensions will be more closely aligned with the UK’s domestic pension tax regime by bringing foreign pensions and lump sums fully into tax for UK residents, to the same extent as domestic ones.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is the new state benefit designed to support those on low income or out of work.

An individual’s entitlement to the benefit is made up of a number of elements to reflect their personal circumstances. Their entitlement is tapered at a rate of 65% where claimants earn above the work allowances. The current taper rate for those who claim Universal Credit means their credit will be withdrawn at a rate of 65 pence for every extra £1 earned.

From April 2017, the taper rate that applies to Universal Credit will be reduced from 65% to 63%.

Comment

The Chancellor stated this will let individuals keep more of what they earn and strengthen the incentive for individuals to progress in work. The government estimates that three million households will benefit from this change.

Business Tax

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 20%. The rate will then be reduced as follows:

  • 19% for the Financial Years beginning on 1 April 2017, 1 April 2018 and 1 April 2019
  • 17% for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020.

Corporate tax loss relief

Currently, a company is restricted in the type of profit which can be relieved by a loss if the loss is brought forward from an earlier accounting period. For example, a trading loss carried forward can only relieve future profits from the same trade. Changes are proposed which will mean that losses arising on or after 1 April 2017, when carried forward, will be useable against profits from other income streams or other companies within a group. This will apply to most types of losses but not to capital losses.

However, from 1 April 2017, large companies will only be able to use losses carried forward against up to 50% of their profits above £5 million. For groups, the £5 million allowance will apply to the group.

Comment

The removal of the restrictions on the use of carried forward losses is very welcome. The existing rules can result in losses not being used, particularly where a company closes down a loss making trade. Over 99% of companies will be unaffected by the restrictions imposed on large company losses above £5 million.

Corporate interest expense deductibility

Rules will be introduced which limit the tax deductions that large groups can claim for their UK interest expenses from April 2017. These rules will limit deductions where a group has net interest expenses of more than £2 million, net interest expenses exceed 30% of UK taxable earnings and the group’s net interest to earnings ratio in the UK exceeds that of the worldwide group.

Corporation tax on non-resident companies’ UK income

The government is considering bringing all non-resident companies receiving taxable income from the UK into the corporation tax regime.

Comment

The government wants to ensure that all companies are subject to the rules which apply generally for the purposes of corporation tax, including the limitation of corporate interest expense deductibility and loss relief rules.

Research and development

The Chancellor highlighted that research and development is a key driver for economic growth and has committed to an extra £2 billion a year of additional funding by 2020/21. There are two types of tax reliefs for eligible expenditure. Under one of these, qualifying companies can claim a taxable credit of 11% in relation to eligible research and development expenditure. This is known as an ‘above the line’ tax credit. The government will review ways to build on this relief.

Class 2 NICs

Class 2 NICs will be abolished from April 2018, and following this, self-employed contributory benefit entitlement will be accessed through Class 3 and Class 4 NICs. Self-employed people with profits below the Small Profits Limit (£5,965 for 2016/17) will be able to access Contributory Employment and Support Allowance through Class 3 NICs.

Substantial shareholding exemption

Where qualifying conditions are met, the disposal of a substantial shareholding in a company by a UK company is exempt from tax. From April 2017, the government intends to simplify the rules of this relief, remove the investing requirement and provide a more comprehensive exemption for companies owned by qualifying institutional investors.

Comment

The substantial shareholding exemption allows some groups of companies to restructure and make disposals of shareholdings without incurring a tax charge. Currently the qualifying conditions are complicated and restricted to trading groups, so the proposed changes may allow more groups to access this valuable relief.

Museums and galleries tax relief

At Budget 2016, the government announced the introduction of a tax relief for museums and galleries that would be available for temporary and touring exhibition costs.

The government has decided to broaden the scope to include permanent exhibitions. The relief will take effect from April 2017. The rates of relief will be set at 25% for touring exhibitions and 20% for non-touring exhibitions and the relief will be capped at £500,000 of qualifying expenditure per exhibition.

Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR)

From 6 April 2017, the amount of investment that social enterprises aged up to seven years old can raise through SITR will increase to £1.5 million. Investment in nursing homes and residential care homes will be excluded initially, however the government intends to introduce an accreditation system to allow such investment to qualify for SITR in the future. The limit on full-time equivalent employees for a qualifying social enterprise will be reduced from 500 to 250.

Comment

Individuals investing in a qualifying social enterprises can deduct 30% of the cost of their investment from their income tax liability, either for the tax year in which the investment is made or the previous tax year. The investment must be held for a minimum period of three years for the relief to be retained. In addition there is no capital gains tax on a disposal of the investment.

Disguised remuneration schemes

Recent tax changes have tackled the use of disguised remuneration schemes by employers and employees. Now the government will extend the scope of these changes to tackle the use of disguised remuneration avoidance schemes by the self-employed.

Tackling the hidden economy

Consideration will be made by the government to introduce tax registration as a condition of access to some essential business services or licences.

First year allowances on electric charge-points

Expenditure incurred on or after 23 November 2016 on electric charge-point equipment for electric cars will qualify for a 100% first year allowance. This relief will expire on 31 March 2019 for corporation tax and 5 April 2019 for income tax.

Northern Ireland corporation tax rate

Devolution of power to the Northern Ireland Assembly allows the Assembly to set a Northern Ireland rate of corporation tax to apply to certain trading income. The Northern Ireland Executive has committed to setting a rate of 12.5% in April 2018. The government will amend the Northern Ireland corporation tax regime in Finance Bill 2017 to give all small and medium sized enterprises trading in Northern Ireland the potential to benefit. Commencement of the devolved power is subject to the Northern Ireland Executive demonstrating its finances are on a sustainable footing.

 Venture capital schemes

The government has proposed to make further changes to tax-advantaged venture capital schemes including the Enterprise Investment Scheme, the Seed Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trusts to clarify some rules and provide some additional flexibility and certainty.

Employment Issues

Off-payroll working in the public sector

From April 2017, where workers are engaged through their own limited company to work for a public sector body, responsibility to apply the intermediaries rules (commonly known as the IR35 rules) will fall to the public sector body, agency or other third party paying the worker’s company. The public sector body, agency or other third party will be liable to pay any associated income tax and National Insurance.

Where individuals are working through their own limited company in the private sector, the existing rules will continue to apply.

To help the public sector body, agency or other third party to determine whether the intermediaries rules apply, HMRC will provide a new interactive online tool. The aim is to support the decision making process, not only for public sector employers, but also for individuals working through their own limited company in the private sector.

Apprenticeship levy and apprenticeship funding

Larger employers will be liable to pay the apprenticeship levy from April 2017. The levy is set at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s pay bill, which is broadly total employee earnings excluding benefits in kind, and will be paid along with other PAYE deductions. Each employer receives an annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment. This means that the levy will only be paid on any pay bill in excess of £3 million in a year.

Draft apprenticeship levy regulations make it clear that only where an employer has a levy liability, or expects to have a levy liability during the tax year, will they need to engage with reporting the apprenticeship levy to HMRC.

The levy will be used to provide funding for apprenticeships and there will be changes to the funding for apprenticeship training for all employers as a consequence. Each country in the UK has its own apprenticeship authority and each will be making changes to their scheme.

Alignment of income tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs)

Currently, liabilities to pay income tax and NICs are calculated in different ways for employees. Employers are also required to pay NICs on most of the wages and salaries paid to employees.

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) was tasked with a project to examine whether a closer alignment could be achieved between income tax and NICs. After its initial report in March 2016, the government asked the OTS to undertake further reviews on two recommendations from the initial report. The OTS has now published a further report on the recommendations.

The two recommendations are:

  • Moving to an annual, cumulative and aggregated assessment period for employees’ NICs on employment income, similar to PAYE for income tax. NICs would not be calculated separately on each employment but on all employments added together with one NIC free allowance split between them.
  • Basing employer NICs on whole payroll costs. At present, employer NICs are calculated at 13.8% of employees’ weekly or monthly pay, over a threshold of £156 per week. The OTS proposal is to break the link of employer NICs with the calculation of individual employees’ NICs and base the calculation of employers’ liabilities on total payroll costs. The OTS explored eight options of which the best would be to replace the employee threshold with a cumulative annual employee allowance per employer.

National insurance thresholds

From April 2017 the threshold above which employer and employee NICs will become payable will be aligned at £157 per week. This is as recommended by the OTS and should simplify the payment of NICs for employers.

National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates

Following the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission, the government will increase the National Living Wage from £7.20 to £7.50 from April 2017. The government will also accept their recommendations to increase the NMW rates from April 2017 for:

  • 21 to 24 year olds from £6.95 to £7.05 per hour
  • 18 to 20 year olds from £5.55 to £5.60 per hour
  • 16 to 17 year olds from £4.00 to £4.05 per hour
  • apprentices from £3.40 to £3.50 per hour.

The NMW rates were last increased in October 2016.

The government has also announced that they will invest an additional £4.3 million per year to strengthen NMW enforcement. This will fund new HMRC teams to review those employers considered most at risk of non-compliance with the NMW. Other measures will provide additional support targeted at small businesses to help them comply and a campaign to raise awareness amongst workers and employers of their rights and responsibilities.

Legal support

From April 2017, all employees called to give evidence in court will no longer need to pay tax on legal support from their employer. This should help support all employees and ensure fairness in the tax system. Currently, only those requiring legal support because of allegations against them can use the tax relief.

Forms of remuneration review

Employers can choose to remunerate their employees in a range of different ways in addition to a cash salary. The tax system treats these different forms of remuneration inconsistently and the government will therefore consider how the system could be made fairer between workers carrying out the same work under different arrangements. The review will look specifically at how the taxation of benefits in kind and expenses could be made fairer and more coherent. The government will take the following action:

Salary Sacrifice

The tax and employer NICs advantage of salary sacrifice schemes will be removed from April 2017. This change will not apply to arrangements relating to pensions, childcare, Cycle to Work and ultra-low emission cars. This means that employees who exchange salary for benefits will pay the same tax as individuals who buy them out of their post-tax income. Arrangements in place before April 2017 will be protected until April 2018, and arrangements for cars, accommodation and school fees will be protected until April 2021.

Valuation of benefits in kind

The government will consider how benefits in kind are valued for tax purposes, publishing a consultation on employer-provided living accommodation and a call for evidence on the valuation of all other benefits in kind at Budget 2017.

Employee expenses

The government will publish a call for evidence at Budget 2017 on the use of the income tax relief for employees’ business expenses, including those that are not reimbursed by their employer.

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. There is a 3% diesel supplement. The maximum charge is capped at 37% of the list price of the car.

From 6 April 2017 there will be a 2% increase in the percentage applied by each band with a similar increase in 2018/19. For 2019/20 the rate will increase by a further 3%.

From 6 April 2017 the appropriate percentage for cars which have neither a CO2 emissions figure nor an engine cylinder capacity, and which cannot produce CO2 emissions in any circumstances by being driven, will be set at 9%. From 6 April 2018 this will be increased to 13% and from 6 April 2019 to 16%.

For 2020/21 new lower bands will be introduced for the lowest emitting cars whilst the appropriate percentage for cars emitting greater than 90 g/km will rise by one percentage point.

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 that do not qualify for private residence relief.

The rate for disposals qualifying for Entrepreneurs’ Relief is 10% with a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual. Entrepreneurs’ Relief 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. In 2016/17 a new relief, Investors’ Relief, was introduced which also provides a 10% rate with a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual. The main beneficiaries of this relief are external investors in unquoted trading companies.

Example of CGT rates 2016/17

Annie, a higher rate taxpayer, will pay tax at these rates on the following chargeable gains after deduction of the annual exemption:

Type Amount of gain Tax rate
Eligible for Entrepreneurs’ Relief £100,000 10%
A residential property £30,000 28%
Other gains £10,000 20%

The annual exemption can be used in the most favourable way for the taxpayer – that is against the residential property gains in this example.

Inheritance tax (IHT) nil rate band

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

An additional nil rate band is being introduced for deaths on or after 6 April 2017 where an interest in a main residence passes to direct descendants. The amount of relief is being phased in over four years; starting at £100,000 in the first year and rising to £175,000 for 2020/21. For many married couples and civil partners the relief is effectively doubled as each individual has a main nil rate band and each will potentially benefit from the residence nil rate band.

The additional band can only be used in respect of one residential property which does not have to be the main family home but must at some point have been a residence of the deceased. Restrictions apply where estates are in excess of £2 million.

Where a person dies before 6 April 2017, their estate will not qualify for the relief. A surviving spouse may be entitled to an increase in the residence nil rate band if the spouse who died
earlier has not used, or was not entitled to use, their full residence nil rate band. The calculations involved are potentially complex but the increase will often result in a doubling of the residence nil rate band for the surviving spouse.

Downsizing

The residence nil rate band 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 residence nil rate band, are passed on death to direct descendants.

Comment

The potential increase in the nil rate band is to be welcomed by many individuals but the increase has introduced considerable complexity to IHT. From April 2017 we have three nil rate bands to consider. The standard nil rate band has been a part of the legislation from the start of IHT in 1986. In 2007 the ability to utilise the unused nil rate band of a deceased spouse was introduced enabling many surviving spouses to have a nil rate band of up to £650,000. By 6 April 2020 some surviving spouses will be able to add £350,000 in respect of the residence nil rate band to arrive at a total nil rate band of £1 million. However this will only be achieved by careful planning and, in some cases, it may be better for the first deceased spouse to have given some assets to the next generation and use up some or all of the available nil rate bands.

 

For many individuals, the residence nil rate band will be important but individuals will need to revisit their wills to ensure that the relief will be available and efficiently utilised.

Employee Shareholder Status to be abolished

Employee Shareholder Status (ESS) was made available from 1 September 2013 and enables employee shareholders, who agreed to give up certain statutory employment rights, to receive at least £2,000 of shares in their employer or parent company free of income tax and NICs. They also benefit from a CGT exemption on the eventual gains on shares with an original value of up to £50,000. This was subject to a lifetime limit of £100,000 for arrangements entered into after 16 March 2016.

These tax advantages linked to shares awarded under ESS will be abolished for arrangements entered into on or after 1 December 2016. The government has also announced that the status itself will be closed to new arrangements at the next legislative opportunity.

Comment
This change is being made in response to evidence suggesting that the status is primarily being used for tax planning instead of supporting a more flexible workforce.

Other Matters

Making Tax Digital

On 15 August 2016 HMRC published six consultation documents on Making Tax Digital. The six consultations set out detailed plans on how HMRC propose to fundamentally change the method by which taxpayers, particularly the self-employed and landlords, send information to HMRC. Two key changes proposed are:

  • From April 2018, self-employed taxpayers and landlords will be required to keep their business records digitally and submit information to HMRC on a quarterly basis and submit an End of Year declaration within nine months of the end of an accounting period (accounting periods are typically 12 months long).
  • HMRC will make better use of the information which they currently receive from third parties and will also require more up to date information from some third parties, such as details of bank interest. Employees and employers will see the updating of PAYE codes more regularly as HMRC use the data received from the third parties.

The government has announced it will publish its response to the consultations in January 2017 together with provisions to implement the changes.

Non-UK domiciles

A number of changes are to be made from 6 April 2017 for individuals who are non-UK domiciled but who have been resident for 15 of the previous 20 tax years. Such individuals will be classed as ‘deemed’ UK domiciles for income tax, CGT and IHT purposes.

For income tax and CGT, a deemed UK domicile will be assessable on worldwide income and gains. There will be relieving provisions for some individuals who become deemed UK domiciled, such as the ability to rebase overseas assets on 5 April 2017 for CGT purposes, but conditions will be set.

A deemed UK domicile is chargeable on worldwide assets for UK IHT rather than only on UK assets if non-UK domicile. The effect of these reforms is that an individual will become deemed UK domiciled for IHT at the start of their sixteenth consecutive year of UK residence, rather than at the start of their seventeenth year of residence under the current rules.

Non-UK domiciles with UK domicile of origin

Individuals with a UK domicile of origin, who were born in the UK and who resume UK residence after a period of being non-UK domicile will be treated as UK deemed domicile whilst resident in the UK. A short grace period is proposed for IHT before the rule impacts but not for income tax and CGT purposes.

UK residential property

Changes are also proposed for UK residential property. Currently all residential property in the UK is within the charge to IHT if owned by a UK or non-UK domiciled individual. It is proposed that all residential properties in the UK will be within the charge to IHT where they are held within an overseas structure. This charge will apply whether the overseas structure is held by an individual or trust.

Business Investment Relief

The government will change the rules for the Business Investment Relief scheme from April 2017 to make it easier for non-UK domiciled individuals, who are taxed on the remittance basis, to bring offshore money into the UK for the purpose of investing in UK businesses. The government will continue to consider further improvements to the rules for the scheme to attract more capital investment in UK businesses by non-UK domiciled individuals.

VAT Flat Rate Scheme

An anti-avoidance measure will be included within the Flat Rate Scheme. A new 16.5% rate will apply from 1 April 2017 for businesses with limited costs, such as many labour-only businesses, using the Flat Rate Scheme. Businesses using the scheme, or considering joining the scheme, will need to decide if they are a ‘limited cost trader’.

A limited cost trader will be will be defined as one whose VAT inclusive expenditure on goods is either:

  • less than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover in a prescribed accounting period
  • greater than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover but less than £1,000 per annum if the prescribed accounting period is one year (if it is not one year, the figure is the relevant proportion of £1,000).

There will be exclusions from the calculation to prevent attempts to inflate costs above 2%.

Comment

The Flat Rate Scheme is only available to smaller businesses. The flat rate depends on the trade sector and the rates range from 4% to 14.5%. Some businesses will need to perform further calculations to determine whether the trade sector rate or the 16.5% rate applies.

Insurance Premium Tax

The standard rate of Insurance Premium Tax will rise from 10% to 12% from 1 June 2017.

Comment

The rate was recently increased from 9.5% to 10% on 1 October 2016.

The last Autumn Statement

Following the spring 2017 Budget, the Budget will be delivered in the autumn, with the first one taking place in autumn 2017. The Office for Budget Responsibility will produce a spring forecast from spring 2018 and the government will make a Spring Statement responding to that forecast. The Statement will review wider economic and fiscal challenges and launch consultations. The government will retain the option to make changes to fiscal policy at the Spring Statement if the economic circumstances require it.

 

Comment

As the Chancellor stated in his speech ‘No other major economy makes hundreds of tax changes twice a year, and neither should we’. This change should also allow for greater Parliamentary scrutiny of Budget measures ahead of their implementation. We shall see whether the Chancellor refrains from making late policy changes in spring of each year.

 

Disclaimer – for information of users

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 Autumn 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.