Newsletter – March 2020

Enews March 2020

In this month’s Enews we report on a change to the sick pay rules as a result of the coronavirus and confirmation that the off-payroll working rules will be rolled out from 6 April 2020. We also consider the latest HMRC guidance on minimum wage increases, new company car advisory fuel rates, help for business flood victims and a consultation on freeports. With calls to raise taxes in the forthcoming Budget and a reminder to consider year end tax planning, there are lots of issues to update you on.

Coronavirus measure: Statutory Sick Pay from ‘day one’

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that employees will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day one when self-isolating rather than having to wait until day four under the SSP waiting days rules.

The change will be included in a package of measures, to be introduced by emergency legislation, to deal with coronavirus.

Updating Parliament on the Government’s response to the virus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs:

‘I can today announce that the Health Secretary will bring forward, as part of our emergency legislation measures, to allow the payment of Statutory Sick Pay from the very first day you are sick instead of four days under the current rules.

‘No one should be penalised for doing the right thing.’

The Prime Minister had earlier said:

‘We are not at the point yet where we are asking large numbers of people to self-isolate, but that may of course come if large numbers have the symptoms.

‘If they stay at home, they are helping to protect all of us by preventing the spread of the virus.’

The press release advises that the change will be a temporary measure to respond to the outbreak and will lapse when it is no longer required. We will keep you updated on developments.

Internet links: GOV.UK news GOV.UK guidance

Review confirms off-payroll working rules to go ahead from April 2020

The government has confirmed that reforms to off-payroll working rules for the private sector will go ahead from 6 April 2020.

The off-payroll rules have applied to the public sector since 2017 and the government has carried out a review of the roll-out to the private sector. The review has now concluded, and the changes will go ahead alongside the implementation of measures to support affected businesses and individuals.

From 6 April 2020, the new tax rules will use the 2017 changes as a starting point for the extension to medium and large organisations in the private sector. These reforms will shift the responsibility for assessing employment status to medium and large organisations engaging workers via an intermediary, typically a Personal Service Company (PSC).

HMRC said it will take a ‘light touch approach’ and businesses will not have to pay penalties for inaccuracies in the first year, except in cases of deliberate non-compliance.

The government will also introduce a legal obligation on organisations to respond to requested information about their size from the agency or worker, to make it clearer who is responsible for determining the worker’s tax status.

Commenting on the changes, Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘It is only right that the off-payroll rules are applied consistently across all sectors. Two people sitting side by side doing the same work for the same employer should be taxed in the same way.

‘Following a review, the government is announcing a package of measures to help individuals and businesses implement these changes smoothly.’

Internet links: GOV.UK review GOV.UK news

IFS calls for Chancellor to raise taxes in upcoming Budget

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to use the forthcoming Budget to raise taxes.

The think tank stated that the Chancellor either needs to raise taxes or ‘break a fiscal rule’ in order to avoid day-to-day spending cuts beyond 2021.

However, the Conservative Party’s election manifesto promised not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT.

The IFS has also called on the Chancellor to abolish Entrepreneurs’ Relief and end the ‘ludicrously generous tax treatment of capital gains at death and of inherited pension pots’.

Commenting on the matter, Paul Johnson, Director of the IFS, said:

‘Rishi Sunak’s first Budget could be the most important fiscal event in years. It will set the direction of policy for the next five years. If this new government is going to make radical changes to taxes and spending, this surely is the time to do it.

‘There are plenty of tax rises which would both raise revenue from better off individuals and improve the coherence of the tax system.’

We will update you on pertinent Budget announcements.

Internet link: FS publications

Minimum Wage increases

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

There are different levels of NMW and NLW, depending on age and whether the employee is an apprentice. The rates are due to increase from 1 April 2020 as shown in the following table:

Rate from 1 April 2019 Rate from 1 April 2020
NLW for workers aged 25 and over £8.21 8.72
NMW main rate for workers aged 21-24 £7.70 8.20
NMW 18-20 rate £6.15 6.45
NMW 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 £4.35 4.55
NMW apprentice rate £3.90 4.15

The NMW apprentice rate applies for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

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

The government has announced that HMRC will continue publicly naming employers that fail to pay their workers the NLW or NMW, following a review of the scheme. The naming scheme will resume calling out businesses failing to pay their workers their minimum wage entitlements.

The government has also increased the threshold for naming employers from £100 to £500, meaning that employers owing arrears of more than £500 in NMW payments to their employees will now be named.

Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said:

‘Anyone who is entitled to the minimum wage should receive it – no ifs, no buts – and we’re cracking down on companies that underpay their workers.

‘We also want to make it as easy as possible for employers, especially small businesses and those trying to do right by their staff, to comply with the NMW rules, which is why we’re reforming regulations.’

The government is also revising the pay arrangements available to employers engaging ‘salaried hours workers’. These are workers who receive an annual salary in equal instalments for a set number of contracted hours. Under the revised rules, workers who are often paid hourly or per day and consequently receive different amounts of pay every month, such as those in the retail industry, can be classified as salaried workers. The aim of the changes is to provide more flexibility in how salaried workers are paid without reducing protections for workers.

The changes also mean that employers employing these workers are less likely to caught out by the NMW legislation due to the differences in their hours from one month to the next.

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

Internet links: GOV.UK NMW GOV.UK news

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which take effect from 1 March 2020. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 March 2020 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 12p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 20p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 8p
1401cc – 2000cc 10p
Over 2000cc 14p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 13p

Hybrid cars are treated as either petrol or diesel.

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

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

The Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric cars is 4 pence per mile. Electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes.

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

Don’t forget to make tax efficient investments ahead of the tax year end

With the end of the tax year looming there is still time to save tax for 2019/20.

  • Make full use of your ISA allowance – ISAs can offer a useful tax free way to save, whether this is for your children’s future, a first home or another purpose. Individuals may invest up to a limit of £20,000 for the 2019/20 tax year. Savers have until 5 April 2020 to make their 2019/20 ISA investment.
  • Pensions provide significant planning opportunities. The annual allowance (AA) which is the maximum you can contribute to a pension and still get tax relief, is generally £40,000. Exceeding this can result in an AA clawback charge. However, in many circumstances individuals may have unused AA from the three previous tax years which can be used in 2019/20, providing the means of making a significant contribution without incurring a charge. Please contact us for advice specific to your circumstances.

These are only two suggestions that you may wish to consider as part of your tax planning strategy. Contact us for more information.

Internet links: GOV.UK ISAs Pensions Advisory Service AA

Freeports

The government has launched a consultation on proposals to create up to ten freeports across the UK which would have different customs rules than those which apply in the rest of the UK.

The government is considering a UK freeport model which would include multiple customs zones located within or away from a port, as well as a type of special economic zone (SEZ) designated over or around the customs zones and intends to work with the devolved administrations to develop proposals to allow freeports to be created in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in addition to those in England.

The proposals include the following customs and tariff benefits for businesses bringing goods into a freeport site:

  • duty suspension, with no tariffs, import VAT or excise to be paid on goods brought into a freeport from overseas until they leave the freeport and enter the UK’s domestic market
  • duty inversion if the duty on a finished product is lower than that on the component parts, allowing businesses to benefit by importing components duty free, manufacture the final product in the freeport, and then pay the duty at the rate of the finished product when it enters the UK’s domestic market
  • duty exemption for re-exports allowing businesses to import components duty free, manufacture the final product in the freeport and pay no tariffs when the final product is re-exported
  • simplified customs procedures for businesses accessing freeports.

Freeports are secure customs zones located at ports where business can be carried out inside a country’s land border but where different customs rules apply. Typically, goods brought into a freeport do not attract a requirement to pay duties until they leave the freeport and enter the domestic market. No duty is payable at all if the goods are re-exported.

Internet link: GOV.UK consultation

Additional financial support for flooding victims

The government has pledged thousands of pounds in additional financial support for victims of the recent floods.

The Government has announced that businesses in England affected by the floods will be eligible for 100% business rates relief for at least three months. It also stated that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have experienced severe, uninsurable losses will be able to claim up to £2,500 from the Business Recovery Grant.

The government also announced that businesses affected by flooding will be able to apply for up to £5,000 to help make them more resilient to future flooding.

Commenting on the funding, Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said:

Storm Dennis and Ciara have severely impacted a large number of households and businesses, and I recognise how destabilising this can be.

‘This extra support, including new funding, will help people in the worst hit areas to recover and get back on their feet as soon as possible.’

The announcement only applies to businesses in England. Flooding is a devolved issue for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Newsletter – January 2020

Enews – January 2020

In this month’s Enews we consider a number of issues including increases in the minimum wage rates, the independent review of the Disguised Remuneration Loan Charge and the Chancellor’s commitment to review IR35. We also update you on retiring clinicians pensions, Structures and Buildings Allowance, a call for a review of the High Income Child Benefit Charge and a reminder that the self assessment deadline is approaching.

With the latest on deliberate tax defaulters and publication of the Welsh Draft Budget there are lots of issues to update you on.

Minimum wage rates announced

The government has announced a 6.2% increase in the National Living Wage (NLW), which applies to workers aged 25 and over. From 1 April 2020 the NLW will rise from the current rate of £8.21 to £8.72 an hour, in the largest raise since it was introduced two decades ago.

The government has confirmed that the new rate will start on 1 April 2020 and will result in an increase of £930 annually for 2.8 million full-time workers earning the NLW.

Workers aged under 25 earning the National Minimum Wage (NMW) will also see increases of between 4.6% and 6.5%, depending on their age.

Bryan Sanderson, Chair of the Low Pay Commission (LPC), said:

‘The NLW has been an ambitious long-term intervention in the labour market. The rate has increased faster than inflation, faster than average earnings and faster than most international comparators.

‘This has raised pay for millions without costing jobs, although employers have had to make a variety of other adjustments to deal with the increases.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Review of the Disguised Remuneration Loan Charge

The government has announced it will make a number of changes to the loan charge rules, in response to Sir Amyas Morse’s independent review of the loan charge policy and its implementation.

The government has announced the following key changes to the loan charge:

  • the loan charge will apply only to outstanding loans made on, or after, 9 December 2010
  • the loan charge will not apply to outstanding loans made in any tax years before 6 April 2016 where the avoidance scheme use was fully disclosed to HMRC and HMRC did not take action
  • affected taxpayers can elect to spread the amount of their outstanding loan balance evenly across three tax years: 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21.

Please contact us for advice with this issue.

Internet link: GOV.UK independent loan charge review

Chancellor commits to review of IR35

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid has announced that the major review of all aspects of self-employment, promised in the Conservatives’ manifesto, will include the proposed extension of the Off-Payroll working rules to the private sector from April 2020.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Money Box Election Special, Sajid Javid said that, as part of the review, he wanted in particular to look again at the proposed changes to the IR35 rules. He said:

‘I value the work of consultants and I want to make sure that the proposed changes are right to take forward.’

Internet link: economia news

Retiring clinicians payments

The Secretary of State has confirmed that the commitments being entered into, to make payments to clinicians affected by annual allowance pension tax, will be honoured when clinicians retire.

In a written statement Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care stated:

‘I have agreed to support this proposal from NHS England and NHS Improvement for reasons of urgent operational necessity….

‘The scheme involves employers making binding contractual commitments to be given to every affected NHS clinician so as to ensure that this commitment is honoured. Full details of the terms of the payment arrangements are set out in letters that are being sent to each affected clinician by their employer including the terms and conditions of the offer.

‘Clinicians are therefore now immediately able to take on additional shifts or sessions without worrying about an annual allowance charge on their pensions.’

Internet link: GOV.UK statement

Guidance on Structures and Buildings Allowance

The latest HMRC Agent Update includes guidance on the Structures and Buildings Allowance (SBA). This capital allowance is designed to provide tax relief for businesses and to support investment in constructing new structures and buildings and improving existing ones.

The SBA relieves the construction costs for new structures and buildings used for qualifying purposes and the improvement of existing structures and buildings, including the cost of converting existing premises for use in a qualifying activity.

The SBA is available at a flat rate of 2% a year, for up to 50 years, on the eligible costs of building, converting or renovating non-residential structures or buildings that have been brought into qualifying use. Certain costs are specifically excluded such as those costs that qualify for plant and machinery allowances, planning permission, landscaping, cost of land and integral features and fixtures.

For a claim to be valid the date of the earliest contract for construction of the structure or building must be on or after 29 October 2018. The first use of the structure or building must be non-residential.

The Agent Update confirms claims for the allowance must be made on a tax return. However for tax returns up to April 2020 there is no specific box for SBA claims. HMRC advise affected taxpayers to follow the guidance contained in the notes to the returns.

Internet link: GOV.UK Agent Update 75

Call for review of High Income Child Benefit Charge

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) is calling on the government to address issues with the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC).

The HICBC is designed to claw back child benefit where the claimant or their partner earns in excess of £50,000. According to LITRG some households think making a child benefit claim is not worthwhile if it will be clawed back in full via the tax charge, with the added administrative burden of needing to complete a tax return. LITRG warns that this trend will have unforeseen consequences for the lower-earning partner and for the child.

LITRG is calling for the Government to reconsider the £50,000 threshold at which the HICBC  starts to apply, if it is retained in its current form.

Victoria Todd, Head of LITRG Team, said:

‘Despite its name, the high income child benefit charge can have consequences for the lower earner in a couple even though the liability to the tax charge falls to the higher earner. This is because where the tax charge applies a household may decide, quite understandably, not to claim child benefit at all. But this means that the lower earning individual may miss out on National Insurance credits, due for the first 12 years, which help to build entitlement towards a state pension.

‘The Government’s solution is to allow couples to claim child benefit regardless and, if they wish to avoid the charge, they can choose not to receive payments – but this is not widely known and to many, claiming and receiving a benefit are the same thing.

‘This is a problem which is affecting an increasing number of families because the £50,000 threshold has remained static since the charge was introduced in 2013. At that time, the HICBC was intended to affect only the top 10 percent of earners, but each year the proportion of those affected increases as wages rise. LITRG recommends that the next Government considers uprating the £50,000 threshold, just like some other tax thresholds and allowances, to minimise the adverse consequences for those families it affects and ensure the policy works in the way originally intended.’

Please contact us for help and advice on HICBC.

Internet link: LITRG press release

Self assessment deadline approaching

The deadline for submitting your 2018/19 self assessment return is 31 January 2020. The deadline applies to taxpayers who need to complete a tax return and make direct payments to HMRC in respect of their income tax, Classes 2 and 4 National Insurance Contributions (NIC), capital gains tax and High Income Child Benefit Charge liabilities.

There is a penalty of £100 if a taxpayer’s return is not submitted on time, even if there is no tax due or the return shows that they are due a tax refund.

The balance of any outstanding income tax, Classes 2 and 4 NIC, capital gains tax and High Income Child Benefit Charge for the year ended 5th April 2019 is also due for payment by 31 January 2020. Where the payment is made late interest will be charged.

The first payment on account for 2019/20 in respect of income tax and any Class 4 NIC or High Income Child Benefit Charge is also due for payment by 31st January 2020.

HMRC revealed that more than 3000 taxpayers filed their return on Christmas Day. If you would like help with your return or agreeing your tax liability, please contact us.

Internet links: GOV.UK self assessment GOV.UK news

Current list of deliberate tax defaulters

HMRC publishes details of deliberate tax defaulters, those people who have received penalties either for:

  • deliberate errors in their tax returns or
  • deliberately failing to comply with their tax obligations.

Internet link: GOV.UK deliberate defaulters

Welsh government publishes Draft Budget

The Welsh government has published its Draft Budget, setting out revenue raising and capital spending plans for 2020/21.

The Draft Budget confirms no changes are proposed to Welsh income tax rates, or Land Transaction Tax rates and bands. The Draft Welsh spending plans for the longer term will depend on the next UK Budget and comprehensive spending review scheduled for 2020.

Internet link: GOV.WALES Budget

Newsletter – March 2019

Enews – March 2019

In this month’s Enews we report on the ongoing Brexit uncertainties and latest HMRC advice. We also consider National Minimum Wage, National Living Wage and pension contribution increases and the latest guidance for employers.

With confirmed income tax bands for Scottish taxpayers, year end planning, a landline scam warning and new advisory fuel rates there are lots of areas to update you on.

HMRC advice – prepare for no deal

HMRC is urging business owners to make sure they are ready for a potential no deal Brexit.

Business owners are being urged to prepare now and take steps to ensure their businesses can continue to trade with the EU if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

HMRC advise:

  • Businesses should register for an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number. UK businesses that have only ever traded inside the EU will not have an EORI number. HMRC are advising that in the event of a no deal exit, businesses will be unable to continue trading with the EU without an EORI number. HMRC figures show that only 17% of potentially affected businesses have registered so far.
  • Businesses also need to decide how they intend to make the required customs declarations. HMRC advise that most businesses with customs obligations choose to use a customs agent to do this for them.
  • Businesses that import goods into the UK from the EU using roll on, roll off locations, may also wish to register for new Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP). HMRC advise that ‘TSP will allow businesses to import without having to make a full customs declaration at the border, and postpone paying any import duties. For imports using other locations, and for exports, standard customs declarations will apply.’

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride MP said:

‘We want businesses to be able to continue trading with minimal disruption in any scenario but we also know that people tend to leave things until the last minute and we would urge against that.’

Contact us for help in this area.

Internet link: HMRC news

Start date looming for Making Tax Digital for VAT

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, has made a statement to the House of Commons setting out HMRC’s progress on delivery of Making Tax Digital (MTD). He confirmed there would be no further delays in implementation.

For most businesses, compliance with the regulations is mandated for VAT return periods beginning on or after 1 April 2019. However, MTD for VAT for some ‘more complex’ businesses has been deferred until 1 October 2019. This deferral applies to trusts; not for profit organisations not set up as companies; VAT divisions; VAT groups; public sector entities such as government departments and NHS Trusts, which have to provide additional information on their VAT return; local authorities; public corporations; traders based overseas; those required to make payments on account; annual accounting scheme users.

Contact us for help and advice on MTD for VAT.

Internet link: Hansard debate MTD

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which take effect from 1 March 2019. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 March 2019 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 21p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 8p
Over 2000cc 13p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 10p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 13p

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

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

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Scottish income tax bands confirmed for 2019/20

The Scottish Parliament has confirmed the income tax bands that will apply to Scottish taxpayers for 2019/20. The bands confirm the announcement made in the Draft Scottish Budget last December.

The 2019/20 income tax rates and bands for Scottish taxpayers on income (other than savings and dividend income) are as follows:

Scottish Bands £ Band name Scottish Rate
0 – 2,049 Starter 19%
2,050 – 12,444 Basic 20%
12,445 – 30,930 Intermediate 21%
30,931 – 150,000 Higher 41%
Over 150,000 Top 46%

Scottish taxpayers are entitled to the same personal allowance as individuals in the rest of the UK which for 2019/20 is £12,500. The allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 of adjusted net income in excess of £100,000.

The UK higher rate tax point for 2019/20 is set at £37,500 and the tax rates for non-savings and non-dividend income are 20%, 40% and 45% respectively. The additional rate of 45% is payable on income over £150,000.

Internet link: GOV.SCOT income tax

Minimum Wage increases

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

There are different levels of NMW and NLW, depending on age and whether the employee is an apprentice. The rates are due to increase from 1 April 2019 as shown in the following table:

Rate from 1 April 2018 Rate from 1 April 2019
NLW for workers aged 25 and over £7.83 £8.21
NMW main rate for workers aged 21-24 £7.38 £7.70
NMW 18-20 rate £5.90 £6.15
NMW 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 £4.20 £4.35
NMW apprentice rate * £3.70 £3.90

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

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK NMW

Pensions auto enrolment contributions to rise

Minimum pension contributions are set to increase from 6 April 2019:

Duration Employer minimum Total minimum contribution
Current contributions 2% 5%
6 April 2019 onwards 3% 8%

The Pensions Regulator has produced guidance for employers on dealing with the increase including a letter template to advise employees of the change.

Contact us if you would like help with auto enrolment.

Internet link: TPR increases

Tax efficient investments ahead of the tax year end

With the end of the tax year looming there is still time to save tax for 2018/19.

  • Make full use of your ISA allowance – ISAs can offer a useful tax free way to save, whether this is for your children’s future, a first home or another purpose. Individuals may invest up to a limit of £20,000 for the 2018/19 tax year. Savers have until 5 April 2019 to make their 2018/19 ISA investment.
  • Pensions provide significant planning opportunities. The annual allowance (AA) which is the maximum you can contribute to a pension and still get tax relief, is generally £40,000. Exceeding this can result in an AA clawback charge. However, in many circumstances you may have unused AA from the three previous tax years which can be used in 2018/19, providing the means of making a significant contribution without incurring a charge. Please contact us for advice specific to your circumstances.

These are only a couple of options that you may wish to consider as part of your tax planning strategy. Contact us for more information.

Internet links: GOV.UK ISAs Pensions Advisory Service AA

Latest update for employers

HMRC has issued Employer Bulletin (February 2019) which includes a number of interesting articles on:

  • End of year reporting
  • Reporting expenses and benefits
  • Student Loan notices and a new type of Student Loan repayment that employers will need to be able to process via payroll (Post Graduate Loans)
  • Updates to the Starter checklist – used for new employees
  • Reporting the Disguised Remuneration Loan Charge
  • Updates to P9 Notices of Coding
  • Payrolling benefits in kind
  • Scottish Income Tax and
  • the Welsh Rate of Income Tax and new codes for Welsh taxpayers.

For help and advice with payroll matters please contact us.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Households with landlines should be vigilant

Over recent years HMRC has increasingly cracked down on email and SMS phishing, and a number of criminals are turning to cold-calling publicly available phone numbers to steal money from taxpayers. These calls are often made to landline numbers. According to Ofcom, nearly 26 million homes have a landline, many of which could be at risk from scams, especially if they are not ex-directory.

Fraudsters often target the elderly and vulnerable using HMRC name as it is well known and adds credibility to a call. HMRC received more than 60,000 reports of phone scams in the six months up to January 2019 (an increase of 360% when compared with the previous six months).

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP, said:

‘We have taken major steps to crack down on text and email phishing scams leaving fraudsters no choice but to try and con taxpayers over the phone.’

‘If you receive a suspicious call to your landline from someone purporting to be from HMRC which threatens legal action, to put you in jail, or payment using vouchers: hang up and report it to HMRC who can work to take them off the network.’

Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said:

Fraudsters will call your landline claiming to be from reputable organisations such as HMRC. Contact like this is designed to convince you to hand over valuable personal details or your money.’

‘Don’t assume anyone who calls you is who they say they are. If a person calls and asks you to make a payment, log in to an online account or offers you a deal, be cautious and seek advice.’

‘The tax authority will only ever call you asking for payment on a debt that you are already aware of, either having received a letter about it, or after you’ve told us you owe some tax, for example through a Self Assessment return.’

During the last 12 months, HMRC has worked with the phone networks and Ofcom to close nearly 450 lines being used by fraudsters.

Internet links: GOV.UK news HMRC examples

 

Autumn Budget 2018

Budget 2018

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

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

Main Budget tax proposals

Our summary concentrates on the tax measures which include:

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

Previously announced measures include:

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

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

 

 

Personal Tax

The personal allowance

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

Comment

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

The marriage allowance

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

Comment

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

Tax bands and rates

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

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

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

Tax bands and rates 2019/20

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

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

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

Tax on dividends

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

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

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

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

Comment

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

Tax on savings income

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

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

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

Rent-a-room relief

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

Comment

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

Gift Aid – donor benefits

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

Comment

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

Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme

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

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

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

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

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

Universal Credit

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

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

Comment

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

 

 

Business Tax

Making Tax Digital for Business: VAT

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

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

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

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

Comment

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

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

Corporation tax rates

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

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

Class 2 and 4 National Insurance contributions (NICs)

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

Comment

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

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

UK property income of non-UK resident companies

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

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

Capital allowances

Annual Investment Allowance

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

Other changes

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

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

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

Change to the definition of permanent establishment

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

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

Preventing abuse of the R&D tax relief for SMEs

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

Comment

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

Protecting taxes in insolvency

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

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

Comment

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

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

Other measures

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

Digital Services Tax

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

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

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

Intangible fixed assets

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

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

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

VAT registration limits

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

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

VAT fraud in labour provision in the construction sector

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

VAT treatment of vouchers

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

VAT collection – split payment

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

 

 

Employment Taxes

Off-payroll working in the private sector

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

Employment Allowance

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

Employer provided cars

The scale of charges for working out the taxable benefit for an employee who has use of an employer provided car are normally announced well in advance. Most cars are taxed by reference to bands of CO2 emissions multiplied by the original list price of the vehicle. The maximum charge is capped at 37% of the list price of the car.

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

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

Charging facilities for electric and hybrid cars

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

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

Exemption for travel expenses

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

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

Self-funded work-related training

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

 

 

Capital Taxes

Capital gains tax (CGT) rates

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

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

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

CGT annual exemption

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

Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER)

Tackling misuse

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

Minimum qualifying period

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

Dilution of holdings below 5%

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

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

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

Gains for non-residents on UK property

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

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

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

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

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

Comment

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

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

Payment on account and 30 day returns

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

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

CGT private residence relief

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

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

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

Inheritance tax (IHT) nil rate bands

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

IHT residence nil rate band

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

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

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

Downsizing

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

Changes to IHT RNRB

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

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

First time buyers relief

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

Comment

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

Higher rates for additional dwellings (HRAD)

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

Consultation on SDLT charge for non-residents

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

 

 

Other Matters

Extension of offshore time limits

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

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

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

Comment

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

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

Penalties for late submission of tax returns

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

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

Penalties for late payment of tax

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

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

Interest harmonisation

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

This will mean:

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

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

Tackling the plastic problem

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

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

 

Newsletter – June 2018

eNews June 2018

In this month’s eNews we report on new advisory fuel rates for company cars, the latest tax refund scam warnings, and National Minimum Wage enforcement from HMRC.

A new consultation has been launched on off-payroll working in the private sector, State Aid approval has been granted for Enterprise Management Incentive schemes and a report has been issued on Universal Credit and the self employed. We also report on the Welsh Assembly’s plans for Welsh income tax rates.

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

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

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

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 22p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 14p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 10p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 13p

The 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

Tax refund scams warning from HMRC

HMRC has issued a warning to taxpayers regarding the latest tax refund scams. These scams are targeting individuals via email and SMS messages.

HMRC is currently processing genuine tax refunds for the 2017/18 tax year and the fraudsters are sending scam messages which claim that taxpayers are entitled to a rebate. These messages go on to request that they provide their personal and account details in order to make their claim.

HMRC is keen to stress that it will only ever inform individuals of a tax refund by post or through their employer, and never via email, text messaging or voicemail.

Commenting on the issue, Treasury Minister Mel Stride said

‘We know that criminals will try and use events like the end of the financial year, the self assessment deadline, and the issuing of tax refunds to target the public and attempt to get them to reveal their personal data’.

HMRC is advising taxpayers not to click on any links, download any attachments or provide any personal information, and to forward any suspect messages to HMRC.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

200,000 receive back pay as HMRC enforce National Minimum Wage

BEIS and HMRC are urging underpaid workers to complain about National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) underpayments. Recent figures show that the number of workers receiving the money they are owed has doubled.

During 2017/18, HMRC investigators identified £15.6 million in pay owed to more than a record 200,000 of the UK’s lowest paid workers. This is an increase on the previous years figures of £10.9 million for more than 98,000 workers.

HMRC launched its online complaints service in January 2017 and believes this has contributed to the 132% increase in the number of complaints received over the last year and the amount of money HMRC has been able to recoup for those unfairly underpaid.

The figures are published as the government launches its annual advertising campaign which encourages workers to take action if they are not receiving the NMW or NLW. The online campaign urges underpaid workers to proactively complain by completing an HMRC online form.

HMRC state that the types of business receiving most complaints include restaurants, bars, hotels and hairdressing.

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said:

Employers abusing the system and paying under the legal minimum are breaking the law. Short changing workers is a red line for this government and employers who cross the line will be identified by HMRC and forced to pay back every penny, and could be hit with fines of up to 200% of wages owed.

I would urge all workers, if you think you might be being underpaid then you should check your pay and call Acas on 0300 123 1100 for free and confidential advice.’

Please contact us for help with payroll matters.

Internet link: GOV.UK news 200000 receive back pay

Off-payroll working in the private sector consultation

HMRC has launched a consultation on how to tackle non-compliance with the off-payroll working rules in the private sector and are asking for comments on the best way to do this.

HMRC estimates only 10% of PSCs that should apply the legislation actually do so, and the the cost of this is projected to increase from £700m in 2017/18 to £1.2bn in 2022/23.

This consultation provides an early evaluation of the public sector reform and invites responses on how best to deal with non-compliance in the private sector.

This consultation considers a number of potential options for tackling the non-compliance with the off-payroll working rules in the private sector. However, the fundamental principles of the off-payroll working rules, that the employment status test determines who should be taxed as employees, are not being considered as part of this consultation.

In respect of the public sector

‘HMRC has analysed PAYE data covering the first 10 months of the reform, from April 2017 to February 2018. This shows that in any given month since the reform was introduced, there are an estimated 58,000 extra individuals who are paying income tax and NICs undertaking work for a public authority above expected levels.

HMRC estimates that an additional £410 million of income tax and NICs has been remitted from these engagements, since the public sector reform was introduced.

On the basis of this evidence, the government’s assessment is that the public sector reform has been successful both in increasing tax compliance and resolving the compliance challenges faced by HMRC in enforcing the off-payroll working rules in the public sector.’

Private sector

‘The government considers extension of similar reform to the private sector to be the lead option which will effectively tackle non-compliance.’

The consultation closes on 10 August. We will keep you updated on this issue.

Internet link: GOV.UK consultation

Universal Credit and self employment

The government has published a report, Universal Credit: supporting self employment which considers the issues faced by self employed claimants.

The report considers the impact of the Monthly Income Floor (MIF) earnings requirement. To be eligible for Universal Credit (UC) claimants must earn the MIF. However, the MIF assumes self employed claimants earn a regular income at least equal to the National Minimum Wage, and makes no provision for those with income and expenditure that vary from month to month. The report states that the MIF has been designed with monthly paid employed individuals in mind rather than the self employed who may have more volatile earnings.

It also considers the current system which allows self employed individuals to be exempt from meeting the MIF for the first 12 months of self employment and whether this is sufficient. The report urges the Government to extend the exemption period.

Internet link: Universal Credit Self Employed report

State Aid approval granted for the Enterprise Management Incentive

It has previously been reported that the Enterprise Management Incentive State Aid approval lapsed on 6 April 2018. On 15 May EU approval was granted however HMRC have not confirmed expressly that this approval will be backdated to 6 April 2018.

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 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 had previously 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 afforded to option holders.

We await official confirmation on the position from HMRC.

Please contact us for specific advice on this issue.

Internet link: Europa press release

Wales to set devolved income tax rates

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

Responsibility for many aspects of income tax will remain with the UK government, and the tax will continue to be collected by HMRC for Welsh taxpayers.

The process for setting Welsh rates of income tax

From April 2019, the UK government will reduce each of the three income tax rates: basic, higher and additional rate, paid by Welsh taxpayers by 10 pence.

The National Assembly for Wales will then decide the three Welsh rates of income tax, which will be added to the reduced UK rates. The combination of reduced UK rates plus the Welsh rates will determine the overall rate of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers.

If the National Assembly for Wales approves each of the Welsh rates of income tax at 10p, this will mean the rates of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers will continue to be the same as that paid by English and Northern Irish taxpayers. However the National Assembly for Wales may decide to set different rates ‘to reflect Wales’ unique social and economic circumstances’.

Internet link: GOV.Wales

Newsletter – March 2018

Enews – March 2018

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

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

Tribunal rules BBC journalist is caught by ‘IR35’ legislation

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: ICAEW News

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

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

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

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

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

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

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet links: GOV.UK pensions newsletter P9X 2018

Minimum Wage increases

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: ACAS article

Pensions Auto Enrolment reaches a million employers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact us if you would like help with auto enrolment.

Internet links: TPR press release TPR report TPR contributions increase

Year end tax planning

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

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

 

Newsletter – 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

Newsletter – April 2016

Enews – April 2016

In this month’s eNews we report on pertinent Budget announcements. We also report on the introduction of the register of people with significant control and proposals for different Scottish tax bands.

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

Budget 2016

George Osborne presented his Budget on Wednesday 16 March 2016.

In his speech the Chancellor reported on ‘an economy set to grow faster than any other major advanced economy in the world’. Towards the end of 2015 the government issued many proposed clauses of Finance Bill 2016 together with updates on consultations. The Budget proposed further measures and some of the articles which follow summarise some of the key changes.

CBI Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn, said:

‘After a year of surprises, this was a stable Budget for business facing global stormy waters. The Chancellor has listened to our concerns about the mounting burden on firms and chosen to back business to grow the economy out of the deficit.’

Internet links: GOV.UK CBI News

Register of people with significant control

From April 2016, rules are introduced which require companies to keep a register of People with Significant Control (PSC). In addition, the details of PSC will have to be filed with Companies House from 30 June 2016.

A PSC is defined as an individual that:

  • holds, directly or indirectly, more than 25% of the shares or voting rights in the company; or
  • holds the right, directly or indirectly, to appoint or remove a majority of the board of directors of the company; or
  • has the right to exercise, or actually exercises, significant influence or control over the company; or
  • where a trust or firm would satisfy any of the above conditions, any individual that has the right to exercise, or actually exercises, significant influence or control over the activities of that trust or firm.

The details of the individuals which need to be entered on the register include:

  • name and address
  • usual residential address, country of residence and nationality
  • date of birth
  • date when they became a PSC
  • the nature of their control over the company.

Failure to comply with the requirements of the PSC regime could lead to the company or directors, or identified PSCs committing a criminal offence. The company and its directors could face a fine or imprisonment or both.

Further guidance can be found on the Companies House website or please contact us for more guidance in this area.

Internet link: Companies House

National Minimum Wage rises

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates will increase from 1 October 2016 as follows:

Current rate Rate from 1 October 2016
21-24 year olds £6.70 £6.95
18-20 year olds £5.30 £5.55
16-17 year olds £3.87 £4.00
Apprentice rate* £3.30 £3.40

From 1 April 2016 following the introduction of the National Living Wage all workers aged 25 and over are legally entitled to at least £7.20 per hour. Employers should ensure that all affected employees benefit from this new rate from 1 April 2016.

*This apprentice rate is for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. All other apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age.

Internet links: Parliament Living Wage

First Minister for Scotland plans to block UK tax ‘cuts’ in favour of public services

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced plans that income tax rates in Scotland will be frozen, with no increases in the basic, higher or additional rates. However the significant cuts (reduction in income tax liabilities) which would result from the increases to the higher rate threshold proposed by the UK government would not be adopted in Scotland under the proposals. Their plans are that the higher rate threshold will be frozen in real terms and increased only in line with CPI inflation in 2017/18 and by no more than inflation until 2021/22.

The exact level of the higher rate threshold will be set out each year by the Scottish Government at the budget.

The Scottish Government’s believe their proposals are a more balanced approach which ‘will be fair to higher rate taxpayers while also generating additional revenue to be invested in Scotland’s public services such as the NHS’.

Under the proposals, the Scottish Government will ensure a Personal Allowance of £12,750 in 2021/22. If necessary, the Scottish Government will create a zero rate band to ensure that this protection for low income households is delivered.

Alongside the tax proposals, the First Minister published Scottish Government analysis that demonstrated any increase in the additional rate for top earners; whilst the UK rate remains at 45p; could put millions of pounds of revenue at risk. Accordingly, she confirmed that the additional rate will not increase in 2017/18, but that the analysis will be updated each year to inform decisions in future budgets.

Nicola Sturgeon said:

‘In setting out our proposals we have balanced the need to invest in and support our public services with a recognition that many households are still facing difficult economic challenges, and with the need to grow the Scottish economy.

We will not allow our public services to pay the price of an inflation busting tax decrease for the highest earning 10% of the population. We think that is the wrong choice and today we set out our alternative.

We will freeze the basic rate of tax for the duration of the next parliament. We do not believe it is right that those on low incomes are asked to pay for austerity. That does not tackle austerity, it simply shifts the burden to those who can least afford it.

No taxpayer will see their bill increase as a result of these Scottish Government proposals.

In 2017/18, instead of offering a large tax cut we will ensure the higher rate threshold rises only by inflation.

That means next year the threshold for higher rate taxpayers will go from £43,000 to £43,387’.

These proposals would introduce a difference between the amount of income tax payable by higher and additional rate taxpayers in Scotland to that paid by taxpayers with similar income in the rest of the UK.

Other parties have their own plans for the income tax rules for Scotland.

Internet link: Scotland Gov.News

Personal allowances and tax bands

For those born after 5 April 1938 the personal allowance is currently £10,600. Those born before 6 April 1938 have a slightly higher allowance. Legislation has already been enacted to increase the personal allowance to £11,000 in 2016/17. From 2016/17 onwards one personal allowance will apply regardless of age.

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 2015/16 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £121,200 (£122,000 for 2016/17).

Tax bands and rates

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

Legislation has already been enacted to increase the basic rate limit to £32,000 for 2016/17. The higher rate threshold will therefore rise to £43,000 in 2016/17 for those entitled to the full personal allowance.

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

Tax bands and personal allowance for 2017/18

The Chancellor has announced that the personal allowance will be increased to £11,500 and the basic rate limit increased to £33,500 for 2017/18. The higher rate threshold will therefore rise to £45,000 for those entitled to the full personal allowance.

Reduction in corporation tax rate

The main rate of corporation tax is currently 20% and this rate will continue for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2016. In the following years the rate of tax will fall 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.

The 17% rate from April 2020 is a reduction of 1% from the rate previously announced by the Chancellor in his Summer Budget in 2015.

CBI Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn, said:

‘The reduction in the headline Corporation Tax rate sends out a strong signal that the UK is open for global business investment, and reforms to Interest Deductibility are rightly in line with the international consensus.’

Personal service companies in the public sector

From April 2017, individuals working through their own company in the public sector will no longer be responsible for deciding whether the intermediaries legislation applies and then paying the relevant tax and NIC. This responsibility will instead pass to the public sector employer, agency or third party that pays the worker’s intermediary. The employer, agency or third party will have to decide if the rules apply to a contract and if so, account for and pay the liabilities through the Real Time Information (RTI) system and deduct the relevant tax and NIC.

HMRC has announced they will will provide help for public sector employers and agencies with their new responsibilities. They plan to introduce clear, objective tests for employers to use to decide at the point of hire whether or not they need to consider the new rules and then identify those engagements that are caught by the rules.

For cases that are less clear cut, HMRC have announced that they will develop a simple digital tool. This will be designed to provide employers engaging an incorporated worker with a ‘real-time’ HMRC view on whether or not the intermediaries rules need to be applied.

Chris Bryce, Chief Executive of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), commented:

‘The Chancellor announced a number of measures today which are likely to impact independent professionals and the self-employed. His move to extend rules for off-payroll working in the public sector will create confusion and disruption. The engaging department or agency will be made responsible for any tax liability. This will result in genuine businesses having to jump through numerous hoops and will see the cost of engaging contractors increase. It will endanger the delivery of vital public services and important projects like HS2.’

Internet link: HMRC Off payroll working

Business rates

Business rates have been devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The Chancellor has announced cuts on business rates for half of all properties in England from 1 April 2017. In particular the government proposes to:

permanently double the Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) from 50% to 100% and increase the thresholds to benefit a greater number of businesses. Businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 and below will receive 100% relief, rateable values between £12,000 and £15,000 will receive tapered relief increase the threshold for the standard business rates multiplier to a rateable value of £51,000 taking 250,000 smaller properties out of the higher rate.

The government also proposes to modernise the administration of business rates to revalue properties more frequently and make it easier for businesses to pay the taxes that are due.

CBI Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn, said:

‘Businesses will welcome the Chancellor’s permanent reforms to business rates – taking more small firms out of the regime and changing the uprating mechanism from RPI to CPI, which the CBI has long been calling for.’

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.

Further details of the new account, which will be available from 2017, are as follows:

  • Any savings an individual puts into the account before their 50th birthday will receive an added 25% bonus from the government.
  • There is no maximum monthly contribution and up to £4,000 a year can be saved into a Lifetime ISA.
  • The savings and bonus can be used towards a deposit on a first home worth up to £450,000 across the country.
  • Accounts are limited to one per person rather than one per home, so two first time buyers can both receive a bonus when buying together.
  • Where an individual already has a Help to Buy ISA they will be able to transfer those savings into the Lifetime ISA in 2017, or continue saving into both. However only the bonus from one account can be used to buy a house.
  • Where the funds are withdrawn at any time before the account holder is aged 60 they will lose the government bonus (and any interest or growth on this) and will also have to pay a 5% charge. After the account holder’s 60th birthday they will be able to take all the savings tax-free.

The Chancellor said in his speech:

‘My pension reforms have always been about giving people more freedom and more choice.

So faced with the truth that young people aren’t saving enough, I am today providing a different answer to the same problem.’

Internet link: GOV.UK lifetime-isa-explained

Capital gains tax rates

The current rates of capital gains tax (CGT) are 18% to the extent that total taxable income does not exceed the basic rate band and 28% thereafter.

The government is to reduce the higher rate of CGT from 28% to 20% and the basic rate from 18% to 10%. The trust CGT rate will also reduce from 28% to 20%.

The 28% and 18% rates will continue to apply for carried interest and for chargeable gains on residential property that do not qualify for private residence relief. In addition, the 28% rate still applies for ATED related chargeable gains accruing to any person (principally companies).

These changes will take effect for disposals made on or after 6 April 2016.

The rate for disposals qualifying for Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER) remains at 10% with a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual.

 

Newsletter – September 2015

eNews – September 2015

In this month’s eNews we report on how dividends will be taxed from 2016 and changes to ATED reporting requirements and increases in the NMW and the latest target for non compliance. We also update you on HMRC’s latest taskforce target, the new advisory fuel rates and an update on auto enrolment.

Please contact us if you would like further help or advice.

Taxing dividends from April 2016

In the Summer 2015 Budget, George Osborne announced fundamental changes to the way in which dividends are taxed and HMRC have issued a factsheet setting out examples of how the new regime will work.

An extract from the HMRC Factsheet states:

‘From April 2016 you have to apply the new headline rates on the amount of dividends you actually receive, where the income is over £5,000 (excluding any dividend income paid within an ISA).

The Dividend Allowance will not reduce your total income for tax purposes. However, it will mean that you don’t have any tax to pay on the first £5,000 of dividend income you receive.

Dividends within your allowance will still count towards your basic or higher rate bands, and may therefore affect the rate of tax that you pay on dividends you receive in excess of the £5,000 allowance.’

The changes will affect dividend receipts from 6 April 2016 however those who extract profits from their company as dividends may wish to consider whether to increase dividend payments before this date.

The table below shows a comparison between the current and prospective tax rates.

Dividend falls into : Basic rate band Higher rate band Additional rate band
Effective dividend tax rate now (taking into account notional tax credit) 0% 25% 30.6%
Rate from 6 April 2016 7.5% 32.5% 38.1%

Please contact us if you would like advice on this issue.

Internet link: Factsheet

National Minimum Wage rates and National Living Wage

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. NMW rates increases come into effect on 1 October 2015.

From 1 October 2015:

  • the adult rate will increase by 20 pence to £6.70 per hour
  • the rate for 18 to 20 year olds will increase by 17 pence to £5.30 per hour
  • the rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase by 8 pence to £3.87 per hour
  • the apprentice rate will increase by 57 pence to £3.30 per hour.

Employers also need to be aware that from April 2016, the government will introduce a new mandatory National Living Wage (NLW) for workers aged 25 and above. This will initially be set at £7.20 which is a 50p increase in the adult rate of NMW coming into force in October 2015. This represents an increase of in excess of £1,200 per annum in earnings for a full-time worker on the current NMW.

The NMW will continue to apply for those aged under 25. The government has issued further details of the new NLW policy.

Penalties

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

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

Internet links: Press release NLW policy

ATED updated procedures

Since 2013 a range of measures have been introduced to discourage the holding of residential property in the UK via companies, partnerships and collective investment schemes. In summary, these measures are:

  • Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is payable at 15% on the acquisition on or after 20 March 2014 of properties costing more than £500,000
  • an Annual Tax on Dwellings (ATED) applies at a fixed amount depending on value and
  • Capital gains tax (CGT) at 28% is payable on a proportion of gains for the period that the property has been subject to ATED.

There are specific reliefs and exemptions for certain types of properties.

Changes in limits

Prior to 1 April 2015 the lower property value threshold for ATED was a value of more than £2m on 1 April 2012, or at acquisition, if later. With effect from 1 April 2015, residential properties valued at more than £1m and up to £2m on 1 April 2012, or at acquisition if later, were brought into the charge.

From 1 April 2016 another new valuation band comes into effect for properties valued at more than £500,000 but less than £1 million.

The threshold for ATED-related CGT disposal consideration has also reduced from £2m to £1m from 6 April 2015 and will further reduce to £500,000 from 6 April 2016.

ATED Procedures

ATED is reported and the tax paid through an annual return. The return periods run from 1 April to 31 March each year.

Normally an ATED return must be made within 30 days of the date on which the property first comes within the charge to ATED for any chargeable period. Where the property is within the scope of ATED on 1 April each year, the return must be filed by 30 April in the year of charge. Payment of the tax is due with the return.

There is a special rule for properties coming within the scope of ATED from 1 April 2015 under the lower threshold of £1m detailed above. The rule is that returns for the chargeable period beginning 1 April 2015 must be filed by 1 October 2015 if the property was held on 1 April 2015 or within 30 days of acquisition if this is later. Payment of the tax is due 31 October 2015.

The chargeable person must submit an ATED return for any property that is within the scope of ATED for the relevant chargeable period. There are reliefs available which may reduce the liability in part or to zero. However, all claims for reliefs must be made in a new ‘relief declaration return’ and these new returns to claim relief have now been made available.

Returns for properties falling within the lower band of £500,000 are due for the chargeable period 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017. The normal filing dates apply to properties within this new band. For example, if you hold a property valued at more than £500,000 on 1 April 2016, you must file your return and pay the tax by 30 April 2016.

Returns

In addition, a new ‘relief declaration return’ is introduced. Broadly, for each type of ATED relief being claimed, the company can submit a relief declaration return stating that a relief is being claimed in respect of one or more properties held at that time. No details are required of the individual properties or the number of properties eligible. Where a property is acquired in-year which also qualifies for the same type of relief, the existing return is treated as also having been made in respect of that property.

A normal ATED return will still be required in respect of any property which does not qualify or ceases to qualify for a relief i.e. where tax is due.

ATED and the reliefs available are a complex area. Please contact us if you would like specific advice.

Internet links: ATED relief declaration returns ATED

HMRC targets wealthy ‘tax cheats’ in Scotland

A taskforce which aims to tackle wealthy ‘tax cheats’ who are living beyond their means in Scotland has been launched by HMRC.

HMRC is identifying individuals with ‘badges of wealth’ such as large houses, investments, aeroplanes, boats and undeclared offshore bank accounts which are not in keeping with the information they report to HMRC.

HMRC expects the taskforce to recover nearly £4.5million. It will bring together specialist officers from across HMRC to identify wealth indicators and cross reference them with the data HMRC holds about their owners.

HMRC’s Michael Connolly, HMRC Taskforce Lead in Scotland, said:

‘HMRC’s intelligence shows that people being targeted by this taskforce have no intention of playing by the rules. They are deliberately failing to declare all their income to HMRC in a crude attempt to line their own pockets, and they will be investigated.

As a result of this behaviour, they could end up facing a heavy fine or even a criminal conviction. Those who pay the tax they are supposed to have nothing to worry about.

Using information we hold, we can target people whose lifestyle does not reflect the tax they are paying. It’s not fair that a small minority are living millionaire lifestyles as a result of not paying the tax they owe.’

Internet link: Press release

Auto enrolment ‘engagement’ and calculation tool

The Pensions Regulator (‘TPR’) has announced that following consultation they will develop a basic automatic enrolment tool. The basic tool should be available to download from TPR’s website by the end of 2015.

TPR consulted earlier this year on proposals to develop a basic tool to support those employers who use HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools (BPT) to carry out their payroll function. HMRC’s BPT are used by many small employers to calculate PAYE, national insurance contributions and statutory payments such as Statutory Maternity Pay but has no pension function.

According to the TPR approximately 200,000 small and micro employers who use BPT are due to stage over the next two and half years and TPR’s experience indicates that using appropriate software either through payroll or pension provider systems helps employers to comply with their duties.

The majority of consultation responses were supportive of the TPR’s proposal, although some payroll firms and pension schemes were against the regulator developing a new tool.

Executive Director for Automatic Enrolment Charles Counsell said:

‘We will continue to recommend that BPT users consider using software with integrated automatic enrolment functionality, but by developing this basic contribution calculation tool we aim to ensure that BPT users have access to the help they need to support compliance.

The decision to develop a basic tool is recognition that significant numbers of BPT users will not seek a more integrated solution and will attempt manual calculations. This is another example of how The Pensions Regulator seeks to develop new ways to ensure we are meeting the needs of the diverse group of employers due to stage in the coming years.’

TPR has also issued the third edition of ‘Automatic enrolment: Commentary and analysis’, which reports on the impact of automatic enrolment and the increasing participation in workplace pension schemes. The commentary states:

  • By March 2015, over 5.2 million workers had been successfully automatically enrolled since the reforms began in 2012, an increase of more than 2.2 million workers from 2014, and 4.2 million from 2013.
  • Automatic enrolment is helping to turn around the decade-long decline in pension provision, with 59% of all employees now active members of a pension scheme, compared with just 47% in 2012. This increase suggests that pension saving is now becoming the norm.
  • The pensions landscape has been transformed as the majority of people are enrolled into defined contribution schemes. We have witnessed the growth in master trusts – 94% of employers who chose a trust-based scheme opted for a master trust.
  • We now expect that significantly more employers will be subject to automatic enrolment duties than originally anticipated, mainly due to an increase in the number of new companies that have started up, and fewer going out of business than was forecast. We have revised the staging profile accordingly, so that it reflects the 1.8 million employers we expect to help through the automatic enrolment process from now until 2018.

If you would like help with your payroll or advice on Pensions Auto Enrolment please contact us.

Internet links: Press release Commentary

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 September 2015. Due to the reduction in fuel prices many rates have reduced this quarter so please take care to update your expenses payments. However, 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 September 2015 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 14p

 

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

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

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

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

Internet link: Advisory fuel rates

Newsletter – April 2015

eNews – April 2015

This month’s enews not surprisingly reflects Budget announcements. Some of the key announcements are set out in the following articles together with a round up of other news.

Please contact us if you would like any further information on any of these or any other issues.

Budget 2015

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

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

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

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

The articles which follow summarise some of the key changes.

Internet link: GOV.UK Budget

Personal tax rates and allowances

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

The reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 will continue. The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2015/16 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £121,200.

Tax bands and rates for 2015/16

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

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

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

Starting rate of tax for savings income

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK Budget

Proposed personal allowances to come

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

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

Personal Savings Allowance

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

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

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK News

Help to Buy ISA

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK factsheet

Pension freedoms for those with annuities

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

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

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

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

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

We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: GOV.UK News

National Minimum Wage rises

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. NMW rates increases come into effect on 1 October 2015:

From 1 October 2015:

  • the adult rate will increase by 20 pence to £6.70 per hour
  • the rate for 18 to 20 year olds will increase by 17 pence to £5.30 per hour
  • the rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase by 8 pence to £3.87 per hour
  • the apprentice rate will increase by 57 pence to £3.30 per hour

Penalties

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

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

Internet links: GOV.UK News

Auto Enrolment guidance for small employers

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has launched a new step-by-step guide to help small businesses get ready for their automatic enrolment duties.

According to TPR the online guide has been written specifically for employers with between one and 50 staff.

The guide which is broken down into 11 steps, considers the legal requirements and what employers need to do to comply with their obligations.

Executive director for automatic enrolment Charles Counsell said:

‘We are determined to do all we can to reach out to all small and micro businesses preparing for their automatic enrolment duties. We want to make the process as simple as possible so that employers can avoid the risk of non compliance.’

‘Our new online 11-step guide is a key part of a wide package of measures we are rolling out to give more than a million employers all the information they need, written and produced in a way they makes sense to them.’

‘Our message to employers is ensure you know when your automatic enrolment duties begin and start planning in good time. The regulator’s website should be the first port of call for all employers and their advisers as it offers essential information about each task an employer will need to accomplish in order to comply and avoid penalties.’

If you would like help with Auto Enrolment please do get in touch.

Internet links: step-by-step guide Press release

Business rates system – have your say

The government has launched a wide-ranging review of national business rates in England.

HM Treasury’s ‘wide-ranging review’ of England’s non-domestic rates system will report its findings before the 2016 Budget. The Treasury’s discussion paper invites responses from a wide range of stakeholders on issues such as commercial property use, how the rates system can be modernised, and whether business rates should continue to be based on property values.

Written responses will be accepted from the beginning of April until 12th June 2015.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

‘Our system of business rates was created nearly 30 years ago. Since that time, the worlds of commerce and industry have changed beyond recognition. I’ve been impressed by the representations made by the business community and I know that business rates are a considerable cost.

The government has taken measures to help businesses by capping rates and introducing reliefs for smaller businesses. But now the time has come for a radical review of this important tax. We want to ensure the business rates system is fair, efficient and effective.’

Internet link: GOV.UK News