Newsletter – June 2016

Henry Cooper is walking 2016 km in the year 2016!

Henry is walking 2016 km in the year 2016, to raise some funds for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance.

Please click below, to sponsor him – thank youJustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 June 2016. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 June 2016 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 10p
1401cc – 2000cc 13p
Over 2000cc 20p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 13p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 10p
Over 2000cc 12p

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

PAYE 3 days grace and risk based penalties to continue

HMRC have confirmed, in their updated guidance, that the three day easement and risk assessed approach to issuing penalties will continue to apply for 2016/17. As a result employers will not incur penalties for delays of up to three days in filing PAYE information during the 2016/17 tax year.

Late filing penalties will continue to be reviewed on a risk-assessed basis rather than be issued automatically.

Employers are required to file a Full Payment Submission (FPS) on or before each payment of wages is made to employees. Limited exceptions apply to this deadline which are set out at’.

HMRC will not charge a late filing penalty for delays of up to three days after the statutory filing date, however employers who persistently file late, will be monitored and may be contacted or considered for a penalty.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK Penalties

VAT Flat Rate Scheme guidance updated

HMRC have issued updated guidance on the operation of the VAT Flat Rate Scheme which allows taxpayers to calculate the VAT payable by applying a flat rate percentage to their VAT inclusive turnover, rather than netting off output and input VAT due on sales and purchases.

The revision in the guidance follows a number of unsuccessful visits to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT). HMRC has issued a revised version of VAT notice 733 Flat Rate Scheme to update their guidance in accordance with the FTT decisions.

The previous version of the notice listed a number of trades and professions (at paragraph 4.4 of the guidance) and indicated the relevant sectors and percentages that these types of business should choose. These had a higher percentage than the 12% rate which applies to ‘business services not listed elsewhere’.

The FTT was critical of HMRC in their rigid interpretation of their own guidance. Although this section of the guidance has not been removed, taxpayers are now advised to ‘use ordinary English’ and choose the sector which ‘most closely describes what your business will be doing in the coming year’. The new guidance confirms that HMRC will not change a business’s choice of sector retrospectively as long as the choice was reasonable.

Please contact us if you would like any advice on VAT matters.

Internet link: VAT Notice 733

NAO report says HMRC’s customer service quality ‘collapsed’

According to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) the quality of service at HMRC ‘collapsed’ over an 18 month period between 2014 and 2015.

The report found that average call waiting times tripled in 2014/15 and in the first seven months of 2015/16. Call waiting times for self assessment tax returns peaked at 47 minutes last autumn, which resulted in HMRC having to bring in 2,400 extra staff for their tax helpline.

Using HMRC’s own criteria, the NAO valued people’s time at an average of £17 an hour, and, as a result, calculated that callers would have wasted a total of £66 million while waiting on the phone, £21 million while actually talking to HMRC and £10 million on the cost of the call itself.

The NAO report blames the poor performance on HMRC’s decision to cut 11,000 staff between 2010 and 2014 in the move to persuade more people to complete their tax returns online. The report claims that HMRC ‘misjudged the cumulative impact of its complex transition and released too many customer service staff before completing service changes’.

In other words, it greatly underestimated how many call centre staff would still be required to help taxpayers with self assessment queries.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said:

‘HMRC’s overall strategy of using digitally enabled information to improve efficiency and deliver service in new ways make sense to the NAO. This does not change the fact that they got their timing badly wrong in 2014, letting significant numbers of call handling staff go before their new approach was working reliably.

This led to a collapse in service quality and forced a rapid expansion of headcount. HMRC needs to move forward carefully and get their strategy back on track while maintaining, and hopefully improving, service standards.’

HMRC said its service levels had improved since the period analysed in the NAO report, and that, over the last six months, call waiting times had averaged six minutes.

Ruth Owen, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said:

‘We recognise that early in 2015 we didn’t provide the standard of service that people are entitled to expect and we apologised at the time. We have since fully recovered and are now offering our best service levels in years.’

Internet links: NAO press release HMRC news

HMRC update phishing scam advice

HMRC have updated their guidance to taxpayers on how to spot phishing scam emails.

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

The HMRC guidance is designed to help taxpayers to recognise genuine contact from HMRC, and how to tell when an email/text message is phishing/bogus.

Internet link: HMRC guidance

HMRC urges claimants to renew tax credits online

HMRC are urging people to renew their tax credits claim well before the 31 July deadline.

HMRC have made improvements to the online renewal service and recommend claimants renew their claim online once they receive their renewal pack which is issued between April and June. The online service can now accommodate all changes in circumstances (working hours, childcare costs or income) which affect the amount of someone’s entitlement.

Nick Lodge, HMRC’s Director General, Benefits and Credits, said:

‘Our online service means that you can renew at any time of the day or night, and on any device, without having to call us. Online help can also answer most queries you may have and a web chat facility will be available to support people renewing online. We urge everyone who can to go online.

Our customers should check their details and renew early to ensure they get the right money. The sooner people renew their claim, the sooner we can check payments are correct, meaning we avoid paying too little money, or too much, which claimants then have to pay back.

This year, claimants renewing online will be able to access further information, including viewing their next payment, through their own online Personal Tax Account.

Internet link: Press release

P11D deadline approaching

The forms P11D, and where appropriate P9D, which report details of expenses and benefits provided to employees and directors for the year ended 5 April 2016, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2016. 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 13.8% on the provision of most benefits. The calculation of this liability is detailed on the P11D(b) form. The deadline for payment of the Class 1A NIC is 19th July (22nd for cleared electronic payment).

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

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

Internet links: HMRC guidance Toolkit

Newsletter – July 2015

eNews – July 2015

In this month’s eNews we report on highlights of the Summer Budget. We also include an update on PAYE penalties, the latest jobs market statistics and the latest information on claiming the marriage allowance.

Please do contact us for further advice.

Budget announcements

George Osborne delivered his second budget of the year on 8 July 2015. Following the general election in May this was the first full Conservative budget since 1996. The budget focussed on reducing the budget deficit and moving from a ‘low wage, high tax, high welfare economy’ to a ‘higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare country.’ Brief details of some of the more significant proposals are set out below. Please contact us if you would like any further information on any of the issues.

Internet link: GOV Summer Budget

Changes for ‘Buy to Let’ Landlords

It was announced in the Budget that the government will restrict the amount of income tax relief landlords can claim on residential property mortgage interest costs to the basic rate of income tax.

This means that landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income. They will instead be restricted to the basic rate. To give landlords time to adjust, the government will introduce this change gradually from April 2017, over four years.

This restriction will not apply to landlords of furnished holiday lettings and will not impact on basic rate tax paying landlords.

From April 2016 the government will replace the Wear and Tear Allowance with a new relief that allows all residential landlords to deduct the actual costs of replacing furnishings.

Internet link: TIIN landlords

Annual Investment Allowance certainty

The Chancellor announced that Annual Investment Allowance will be set permanently at £200,000 from 1 January 2016 providing certainty for businesses. The AIA provides a 100% deduction for the cost of most plant and machinery (not cars) purchased by a business, up to an annual limit and is available to most businesses.

The AIA was increased to £500,000 from 1 April 2014 for companies or 6 April 2014 for unincorporated businesses until 31 December 2015. However it was due to reduce to £25,000 after this date. The level of the maximum AIA will now be set permanently at £200,000 for all qualifying investment in plant and machinery made on or after 1 January 2016.

Where a business has a chargeable period which spans 1 January 2016 there are transitional rules for calculating the maximum AIA for that period and there will be two important elements to the calculations:

  • a calculation which sets the maximum AIA available to a business in an accounting period which straddles 1 January 2016
  • a further calculation which limits the maximum AIA relief that will be available for expenditure incurred from 1 January 2016 to the end of that accounting period.

It is the second figure that can catch a business out as demonstrated by the following example:

If a company has a 31 March year end then the maximum AIA in the accounting periods to 31 March 2016 will be:

9 months to December 2015 three quarters of £500,000 £375,000
3 months from January 2016 one quarter of £200,000 £50,000
Total annual AIA using first calculation £425,000

This is still a generous figure. However if expenditure is incurred between 1 January and 31 March 2016 the maximum amount of relief for will only be £50,000. This is because of the restrictive nature of the second calculation. Alternatively, the business could defer its expenditure until after 31 March 2016. In the accounting period to 31 March 2017, AIA will be £200,000. However tax relief will have been deferred for a full year.

Please contact us for specific advice for your business.

Internet link: TIIN AIA

The family home and IHT

The government has announced the introduction of a new transferrable nil rate band for the family home. The additional band will apply where a residence is passed on death to direct descendants such as a child or a grandchild. This will initially be £100,000 in 2017/18, rising to £125,000 in 2018/19, £150,000 in 2019/20, and £175,000 in 2020/21. The additional band can only be used in respect of one residential property which has, at some point, been a residence of the deceased.

The allowance is in addition to the inheritance tax nil rate band which is currently set at £325,000. By 2020/21 the total individual nil rate band will therefore total £500,000.

Any unused nil rate band may be transferred to a surviving spouse or civil partner. It will also be available when a person downsizes or ceases to own a home on or after 8 July 2015 and assets of an equivalent value, up to the value of the additional nil rate band, are passed on death to direct descendants. This element will be the subject of a technical consultation and will be legislated for in Finance Bill 2016.

There will also be a tapered withdrawal of the additional nil rate band for estates with a net value (after deducting any liabilities but before reliefs and exemptions) of more than £2 million. This will be at a withdrawal rate of £1 for every £2 over this threshold.

The IHT nil rate band is currently frozen at £325,000 until April 2018. This is to remain frozen until April 2021.

Internet link: TIIN IHT

National Living Wage

The government has announced the introduction of a new National Living Wage (NLW) for working people aged 25 years and above. The NLW will introduce a premium on top of the national minimum wage (NMW). Initially the premium is set at 70p above the current NMW although this will fall to a premium of 50p when the NMW increase comes into effect in October 2015. Further increases are to be recommended by the Low Pay Commission in order to achieve the government’s objective of reaching 60% of median earnings by 2020.

John Cridland, Director-General of the CBI, commented:

‘Small shops, hospitality firms and care providers are the businesses that will face real challenges in affording the National Living Wage.’

‘Delivering higher wages can only be done sustainably by boosting productivity. Bringing politics into the Low Pay Commission is a bad idea.’

Internet link: CBI press release

PAYE late filing penalties

HMRC have now issued the first in-year penalties notices to employers with fewer than 50 employees who missed the deadline for sending PAYE information to HMRC.

Rather than issue late filing penalties automatically when a deadline is missed, HMRC have announced that they will ‘take a more proportionate approach and concentrate on the more serious defaults on a risk-assessed basis.’

This approach is in line with the likely direction of HMRC’s general approach to penalties, outlined in the HMRC penalties: a discussion document which they issued earlier this year. HMRC have confirmed that this ‘risk-based’ approach will apply to submissions that were late from:

  • 6 March 2015 for employers with fewer than 50 employees; and
  • 6 January 2015 for employers with 50 or more employees.

Penalties for 2015/16 will also continue to be risk-based.

HMRC had previously announced that they will not be penalising minor delays of up to three days.

HMRC are reminding employers:

‘Even if employers do not get a penalty, they are required by law to file on time and if they do not may be charged a penalty on a future occasion. The deadlines for sending PAYE information stay the same, including the requirement to send PAYE information on or before the time that employees are actually paid or due to be paid.’

HMRC have confirmed the process employers should use to appeal a penalty using the using the Penalties and Appeals System (PAS) on HMRC Online. Employers who receive a late filing penalty notice for tax year 2014/15 quarter 4 but who filed within three days of the reporting deadline may appeal and should use reason code A as set out in the What happens if you don’t report payroll information on time guidance.

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

Internet link: GOV news

Claiming the marriage allowance

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group published updated their guidance on how to apply for the new transferable personal allowance, known as the marriage allowance, for married couples and civil partners which came into effect on 6 April 2015.

The transfer of part of the personal allowance between spouses (or civil partners) allows eligible couples to save up to £212 tax in a year.

The marriage allowance enables an individual whose income does not allow them to make use of their full personal allowance, currently £10,600, to transfer 10% (£1,060) of this allowance to their partner. Their spouse or civil partner is then able to set their own personal allowance, plus the transferred part of their partner’s allowance, against their own income. This increase in usable allowances should result in a tax saving of up to £212 in a year for a couple (20% of £1,060).

The transfer can only be made if the spouse or civil partner who receives the transferred allowance is not a higher-rate taxpayer (meaning that in 2015/16 they have an income of more than £42,385.

Currently an individual can only claim to transfer the marriage allowance to their partner by registering online via GOV.UK. The individual will then be prompted to use GOV.UK’s Verify procedure to confirm their identity which requires the individual to have a UK passport or driving licence. A phone option is also available If the individual is unable to confirm their identity using Verify they will be advised to call HMRC’s PAYE helpline on 0300 200 3300.

Internet link: News

Phishing emails HMRC examples

HMRC have updated their list of examples of emails, letters, text messages and bogus calls used by ‘scammers’ and fraudsters to get taxpayers personal information.

This guidance provides examples of the different methods that fraudsters use to obtain personal information.

Internet links: Examples GOV news

HMRC checking employees have paid the correct amount of tax on their pay

HMRC have started to check that people have paid the right amount of tax in 2014/15, a process they refer to as the annual End of Year Reconciliation process.

They will be sending out forms P800 first which show details of the calculation showing the under or over payment. However, where an overpayment of PAYE has been made they should issue the cheque approximately two weeks later. For those who have underpaid tax for the year the P800 will detail how this tax will be collected, generally by adjustment of the PAYE tax code for 2016/17.

HMRC’s press release states:

‘This automated process ensures those who have had a change in circumstances during the last tax year (2014/15) that was not captured in their tax code have paid no more or less than they should. Any discrepancy could be because the taxpayer changed jobs, had more than one job for a time, a change of company car or received investment income that was not reported during the year.’

Where HMRC’s calculations show that the correct amount of tax has been paid for the year HMRC will not contact the individuals concerned. HMRC expect that the vast majority of PAYE taxpayers will have paid the right amount of tax for the year.

If you would like help reconciling your tax position please do get in touch.

Internet links: GOV news Understanding and checking your P800 Tax Calculation

Statistics show employment rise in 2015

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures showing that UK employment rates were up between February and April compared to the three months to January 2015. As detailed in the press release the figures show:

  • ‘There were 31.05 million people in work, 114,000 more than for the 3 months to January 2015 and 424,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • There were 22.74 million people working full-time, 362,000 more than for a year earlier. There were 8.31 million people working part-time, 63,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) was 73.4%, up slightly from the 3 months to January 2015 (73.3%) and higher than for a year earlier (72.7%).
  • There were 1.81 million unemployed people. This was 43,000 fewer than for the 3 months to January 2015 and 349,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • Comparing February to April 2015 with a year earlier, pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 2.7% both including and excluding bonuses.’

Employment Minister Priti Patel said: ‘Today’s figures confirm that our long-term economic plan is already starting to deliver a better, more prosperous future for the whole of the country, with wages rising, more people finding jobs and more women in work than ever before’.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills, said:

‘These figures provide more evidence that the wage squeeze has eased, with private sector pay increasing almost as fast as it was before the crisis. At the same time, firms are creating more jobs.’

‘If we are to deliver sustainable higher wage growth, we need to see a rise in productivity. That means businesses investing in skills, and the Government helping firms innovate by supporting investment in next month’s Budget.’

‘These figures are testament to the strength of our flexible labour market, which has helped British firms create a strong number of permanent full-time jobs.’

Internet links: ONS bulletin Press release

Newsletter – June 2014

In this month’s enews we report on a number of issues relevant to employers and employees. We also advise of the latest reported scam emails and also new rules for retailers.

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



New rules for retailers

From 13 June 2014 retailers who sell to consumers, including those selling digital content, must comply with the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.

Some of the key rules introduced are:

  • consumers will be entitled to clearer and more prominent information before and after a sale is made to them
  • if the consumer is buying digital content, they must have more information about such issues as compatibility and functionality and the fact that a digital download may not have a cancellation period must be made clear to the consumer at the point of sale and the consumer must agree to this
  • the cancellation period for distance and doorstep sales will be increased from 7 to 14 days
  • forbidding the use of premium rate customer telephone helplines.

The Regulations will have an impact on many areas of a business including websites, marketing literature and terms and conditions.

Internet link: Regulations

Deliberate defaulters

From time to time HMRC publish details of deliberate defaulters, those who have received penalties for deliberate errors in their tax returns or deliberately failing to comply with their tax obligations.

The latest list can be viewed by following the attached link.

Internet link: HMRC website

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 June 2014. HMRC’s website states:

‘These rates apply to all journeys on or after 1 June 2014 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 June 2014 are:

Engine size Petrol LPG
1400cc or less 14p 9p
1401cc – 2000cc 16p 11p
Over 2000cc 24p 16p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 12p
1601cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 17p


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

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

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

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

Internet links: HMRC advisory fuel rates

HMRC writes to taxpayers about effective tax rates

HMRC is writing to certain taxpayers to tell them their effective rate of tax is lower than average and to ask them to check if it’s right.

The letter states:

‘A person’s effective rate of tax is the percentage of their income they have paid in tax.’

‘Looking at the figures in your self assessment tax calculation for the year ended 5 April 2012, we can see your effective rate of tax is lower than the average for people with a similar amount of income to you. This means there could be something wrong with your self assessment tax return.’

Recipients are then asked to check their returns for 2011/12 and contact HMRC if something is wrong.

There could be many reasons why an individual’s effective rate of tax could be low including claims having been made for tax reliefs for Gift Aid payments, pension payments and tax efficient investments such as the Enterprise Investment Scheme.

If you receive one of these letters and are concerned please do get in touch.

Internet link: ICAEW

Latest employment and pay statistics

The Office for National Statistics has announced the latest employment and pay statistics. These include:

  • There were 30.54 million people in work for February to April 2014, 345,000 more than for November 2013 to January 2014 and 780,000 more than a year earlier.
  • There were 2.16 million unemployed people for February to April 2014, 161,000 fewer than for November 2013 to January 2014 and 347,000 fewer than a year earlier.
  • There were 8.82 million economically inactive people (those out of work but not seeking or available to work) aged from 16 to 64 for February to April 2014. This was 80,000 fewer than for November 2013 to January 2014 and 178,000 fewer than a year earlier.
  • Pay including bonuses for employees in Great Britain for February to April 2014 was 0.7% higher than a year earlier, with pay excluding bonuses 0.9% higher.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills, said:

‘While there is still lots to do to tackle unemployment, this is an unprecedented rise in the number of people in work. And more than three times as many people found full-time than part-time work in another positive sign for the recovery.’

‘The private sector is driving new jobs with positions created across a range of sectors, from entertainment to transport.’

Internet links: ONS  Press release

Change of approach on PAYE penalty notices

HMRC have announced that they are changing their approach to issuing multiple penalty notices for the same PAYE non filing default.

These changes impact both the 2012/13 and 2013/14 tax years.

HMRC will issue reminder letters to those employers who have not yet filed their 2013/14 end of year, or final PAYE returns most of which should have been submitted using RTI. The deadline for submitting these returns was 19 May 2014.

If you receive a letter and would like any help with payroll or believe the returns have been submitted please do get in touch.

For 2012/13 HMRC will not issue any further updated penalty notices until the return has been filed.

Internet link: HMRC guidance on penalty notices

HMRC warn of ‘phishing’ emails

HMRC are warning tax credits claimants to be wary of scam or ‘phishing’ emails which are being sent out by fraudsters in the run up to the 31 July renewal deadline.

HMRC are advising that although they worked with other agencies to shut down over 600 scam websites during the tax credits renewal period last year, others sites continue to be created. Reported scam emails for this May are already in excess of 11,000.

HMRC advise:

Phishing emails often promise money back and, if the recipient clicks on a link, they are taken to a fake replica of the HMRC website. They are then asked to provide credit or debit card details or other sensitive information such as passwords. The fraudsters then try to take money from their account.

They often ask for the recipient’s name, address, date of birth, bank account number, sort code, credit card details, national insurance number, passwords and mother’s maiden name.

In addition to money being stolen from victims’ bank accounts, their personal details can be sold to criminal gangs, leading to possible identify theft.

Nick Lodge, Director General of Benefits and Credits, HMRC, said:

‘HMRC will never ask people to disclose personal or payment information by email. We are committed to claimants’ online security but the methods fraudsters use to get information are constantly changing, so people need to be alert.’

‘HMRC is asking people to be wary of e-mails with attachments which might contain viruses designed to steal personal or financial information, and not to open them.’

‘One scam is contained in an email circulated from telling recipients about a 2013 tax refund report. The email appears to have been issued by ‘Tax Credit Office Preston’, but it is a scam. It includes an attachment that contains a virus. Recipients are urged not to respond and to delete it immediately.’

For more information about advice on scam emails visit the link below.

Internet links: HMRC news

Employers who failed to pay NMW named

Twenty five employers who failed to pay their employees the National Minimum Wage (NMW) have been named. According to the press release the employers owed workers more than £43,000 in arrears and in addition have incurred financial penalties totalling over £21,000.

Business Minister Jenny Willott said:

‘Paying less than the minimum wage is not only wrong, it’s illegal. If employers break the law they need to know that they will face tough consequences.’

If you would like any help with National Minimum Wage issues please do get in touch.

Internet link: News

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