Newsletter – September 2011

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

 

 

National Minimum Wage rates

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

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

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

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

The press release confirms:

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

Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey said:

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

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

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

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

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

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC advisory fuel rates

Agreement with Switzerland to secure billions in unpaid tax

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

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

Internet link: Press release

Unemployment figures

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

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment Policy, said:

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

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

Internet link: Press release

HMRC reminder on new tax return penalties

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

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

‘The new penalties for late Self Assessment returns are:

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

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

Internet links: Press release HMRC deadlines and penalties

School Charities – Gift Aid and Payroll Giving guide

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

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

‘Appeals to fund extra lessons

Non-uniform days

School fees

Appeals towards school running costs

Appeals to fund scholarships

Appeals to a general reserve fund

Educational school trips

Appeals to buy a minibus or other equipment

Sponsored events

Payments to e-Learning Foundations

Building appeals

Other fundraising events’

Internet links: HMRC website Guidance

Revised construction industry penalties

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC guidance on CIS penalties

HMRC report increase in phishing scams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link:

Newsletter – April 2011

In this month’s enews we report on many employer related issues including the announcement of the new National Minimum Wage rates. Please do get in touch if you have any queries.

Real Time Information

HMRC are planning to introduce significant changes to the way in which PAYE information is submitted to HMRC. Currently employers send details of employees pay, tax and national insurance deductions at the end of the tax year (forms P35 and P14). The deadline for the submission of this year’s forms is 19 May 2011. There are penalties, which apply to broadly all employers, for failing to submit the forms on time and electronically, so please get in touch if you require any help in this area.

HMRC are planning to introduce Real Time Information (RTI) a system of monthly/weekly PAYE returns which would replace the annual end of year forms.

As detailed in the HMRC consultation document:

‘RTI will collect information about tax and other deductions automatically each time employers run their payroll. This information will be submitted automatically to HMRC at the same time the employees are paid. Where employers pay their employees via BACS, the RTI data will form part of the BACS submission.’

HMRC hope that this change to the system should mean that employees pay the right amount of tax and are paid the correct amount of state benefits where appropriate.

Following a consultation by HMRC, it has been confirmed that a pilot scheme will run from April 2012. The introduction of the scheme will be phased in and it is expected that all employers will move to RTI by October 2013. Large employers will be expected to use the system from April 2013.

The start date is slightly later than had been originally announced following a consultation with interested parties.

If you would like further information or guidance on payroll issues please do get in touch.

Internet link: Press release

Cheque Guarantee Card Scheme to end

It has been announced that the Cheque Guarantee Card Scheme will come to an end.

The closure of the Scheme means that it will no longer be possible to guarantee a ‘domestic’ cheque using a card after 30 June 2011. The decision to close the Scheme was taken by the Payments Council as guaranteed cheque use is in decline. The end of the Cheque Guarantee Scheme does not necessarily mean the end of cheques as businesses may continue to accept them if they choose to do so. However businesses that currently accept cheques with a guarantee card may wish to look into alternative payment methods.

Internet link: UK Payments article

Penalties on late payment of PAYE

HMRC have been warning employers for some time that they may have to pay a penalty if they do not pay their PAYE deductions on time. The penalties apply to PAYE deductions due for a period starting on or after 6 April 2010 include PAYE, Student Loan deductions, Construction Industry Scheme payments, Class 1 NICs, annual payments of employers’ Class 1A NICs and annual PAYE Settlement Agreements payments.

Deductions of PAYE, NICs, Student Loan deductions and Construction Industry Scheme payments are generally due by 19 of each month (or 22 if paid by electronic means and cleared into HMRC’s bank account). Small employers are able to pay quarterly.

Although the penalties apply from April 2010 notices will not be issued until after the end of the tax year and are expected to be issued in April or May 2011. For the majority of late payments the penalties start at 1% increasing to 4% depending on the number of late payments in the year. Extra penalties will be added where liabilities are outstanding for a further six and then 12 months.

Internet links: HMRC guidance on late payment HMRC alert

National Minimum Wage rates

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. The rates are reviewed each year by the Low Pay Commission and from 1 October 2011:

  • the main rate for workers aged 21 and over will increase to £6.08 (currently £5.93)
  • the 18-20 rate will increase to £4.98 (currently £4.92)
  • the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 will increase to £3.68 (currently £3.64)
  • the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship will increase to £2.60 (currently £2.50).

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

‘More than 890,000 of Britain’s lowest-paid workers will gain from these changes. They are appropriate – reflecting the current economic uncertainty while at the same time protecting the UK’s lowest-paid workers. I would like to thank the LPC for doing a good job in difficult circumstances.’

Chairman of the LPC David Norgrove said:

‘We welcome the Government’s acceptance of our recommendations. The Commission was again unanimous, despite all the economic uncertainties. We believe we have struck the right balance between the needs of low-paid workers and the challenges faced by businesses.’

Penalties for non compliance

Since April 2009 HMRC have been able to charge penalties to those employers found to be in breach of the NMW rules.

Automatic penalties are levied on employers where HMRC officers find NMW arrears. The penalties range from £100 to £5,000 with 50% prompt payment discounts for employers who settle within 14 days of notification.

The penalty is payable in addition to arrears owed to the workers.

In serious cases of non compliance the employer may be tried in a Crown Court and in those cases the fines are unlimited.

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

Internet links: Press release BIS NMW guidance

P11D deadline looming

The forms P11D, and where appropriate P9D, which report employees and directors benefits and expenses for the year ended 5 April 2011, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2011. The process of gathering the necessary information can take some time, so it is important that this process is not left to the last minute.

Employees pay tax on benefits provided as shown on the P11D, either via a PAYE coding notice adjustment or through the self assessment system. In addition, the employer has to pay Class 1A National Insurance Contributions at 12.8% (for 2010/11) on the provision of most benefits. The calculation of this liability is detailed on the P11D(b) form.

If you would like any help with the completion of forms P11D or the calculation of the Class 1A liability please get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC P11D guidance

Online VAT returns

HMRC have confirmed that all businesses will have to complete online VAT returns and pay their VAT liabilities electronically from April 2012. Currently many businesses have to comply with these rules. However smaller businesses, registered prior to 1 April 2010 with an annual turnover of less than £100,000, can currently complete paper VAT returns and pay by non electronic means.

If you would like any help with VAT matters please do contact us.

Internet link: HMRC VAT guidance

Implementation date announced for the Bribery Act 2010

At the end of March 2011, the Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke announced that the Bribery Act 2010 will come into force on 1 July 2011. The new Act replaces, updates and extends the existing UK law against bribery and corruption. This important new legislation:

  • introduces a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business. A business can avoid conviction if it can show that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery;
  • makes it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe either at home or abroad. The measures cover bribery of a foreign public official; and
  • increases the maximum penalty for bribery from seven to 10 years imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.

The introduction into law of the new corporate offence of failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery is an important development that essentially requires all businesses to consider the requirements of the new Act. This new corporate offence is coupled with a defence where, if the business can show that it had ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent bribery, it can be protected from committing the new criminal offence.

All businesses should now familiarise themselves with the statutory guidance and begin to assess the risk of bribery occurring in the business. The extent of any further action will be dependent on the results of this risk assessment.

The Act also requires the government to produce guidance on what constitutes ‘adequate procedures’ and the Ministry of Justice has produced this. This can be found using the links below.

Internet links: Bribery Act 2010 guidance Quick start guide