Newsletter – May 2017

Enews – May 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on the short Finance Act which has been rushed through Parliament in advance of the General Election. We also include details of changes to the off payroll working rules that exclude some businesses from being unintentionally caught by the provisions. We also consider changes to the timing of issuing PAYE coding notices and the P11D deadline together with the launch of the latest National Savings and Investment Bond.

General Election and tax law

With the announcement of a snap General Election on 8 June the time available for scrutinising proposed legislation was short so the Finance Act was rushed through Parliament. Many clauses have not made it to the final legislation due to time constraints. These include the provisions to enable Making Tax Digital, changes for Non Domiciled individuals and corporate losses.

The clauses are likely to be reinstated after the General Election, when, hopefully, there will be more time to debate the measures in greater detail. The clauses that will make it through to the Finance Act are contained in the version of the Finance Bill introduced into the House of Lords.

Anita Monteith, tax manager at ICAEW said:

‘Making Tax Digital plans remain controversial and need more scrutiny by those who will be affected, and most importantly proper parliamentary debate – a clear roadmap as to how MTD will work in practice is needed.’

‘MTD is not coming into effect until April 2018, and the announcement of the general election on 8 June 2017 provided an opportunity to withdraw these clauses and schedule from the Finance Bill which will be debated today and likely to be enacted on 27 April.’

‘These seminal clauses and schedule can be reintroduced after the election which will allow more time for proper scrutiny.’

Internet links: ICAEW news Parliamentary Bill

Business response to General Election on 8 June

In response to the announcement of a General Election on 8 June Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said:

‘With a snap General Election now called, businesses will be looking to each political party to set out their plans to support economic stability and prosperity over the next Parliament in a way that is fair and sustainable for communities across the UK. ‘Distraction from the urgent priorities of seeking the best EU deal and improving UK productivity must be kept to a minimum.’

‘Firms will want to hear commitments from all parties to work in close partnership with business and back a new Industrial Strategy to make the UK economy the most competitive in the world by 2030.’

‘It is essential to get the UK’s foundations right, from building a skills base for the next generation, to investing in infrastructure, energy and delivering a pro-enterprise tax environment.’

‘As EU negotiations now get underway, firms are clear about the serious risks of failing to secure a deal and falling into World Trade Organisation rules. It is vital that negotiators secure some early wins and all parties should commit to working to ensure businesses can continue to trade easily with our EU neighbours, while seeking new opportunities around the world.’

‘Whoever forms the next Government, they should seek to build a partnership between business and government that is the best in the world, based on trust and shared interest.’

Internet link: CBI News

Off payroll working in the public sector rules amended

From 6 April 2017, new tax rules were introduced which potentially affect individuals who provide their personal services via their own companies (PSCs) to an organisation which has been classified as a ‘public authority’. Amendments have now been made to the definition of a public authority.

Where these rules apply:

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

The rules were intended to cover those engaged by public sector organisations including government departments and their executive agencies, many companies owned or controlled by the public sector, universities, local authorities, parish councils and the National Health Service.

However, prior to this amendment, private sector retail businesses including high street pharmacies and opticians would have inadvertently been within the scope of the off payroll working in the public sector measure. As a result, such businesses would have been required to consider whether the new rules applied to all contractors working for them through an intermediary. This was not the intention of this policy and the rules have been amended.

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

If you would like any help with these new rules contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK amendment

P11D deadline approaching

The forms P11D which report details of benefits and some expenses provided to employees and directors for the year ended 5 April 2017, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2017. The process of gathering the necessary information can take some time, so it is important that this process is not left to the last minute.

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

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

In addition, regardless of whether the benefits are being reported via P11D or payrolled the employer has to pay Class 1A National Insurance Contributions at 13.8% on the provision of most benefits. The calculation of this liability is detailed on the P11D(b) form. The deadline for payment of the Class 1A NIC is 19th July (or 22nd for cleared electronic payment). As 22nd July is a Saturday it may be appropriate to ensure cleared payment is made by Friday 21st July unless you can arrange for faster payment.

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

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

Internet links: HMRC guidance Toolkit

VAT fuel scale charges

HMRC have issued details of the updated VAT fuel scale charges which apply from the beginning of the next prescribed VAT accounting period starting on or after 1 May 2017.

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK fuel scale charges

Investment Bond launched

National Savings and Investments (NS&I) has recently launched a government-backed Investment Bond. The main details of the Bond are as follows:

  • minimum deposit of £100
  • balances on the account must be between £100 – £3000
  • applications can only be made online and up to April 2018
  • applicants must be aged 16+ years
  • fixed interest rate of 2.2% for three years paid yearly and without tax deduction
  • early withdrawals incur a penalty equal to 90 days’ interest on the amount cashed in.

According to Moneyfacts, the NS&I offering is a market leader on the interest rate with similar three-year fixed term bonds having an average interest rate of 1.24%. Competitors’ minimum investment thresholds are generally higher, typically starting upwards from £1,000 and caps on the maximum capital invested are significantly higher than the NS&I limit of £3,000.

Internet links: GOV.UK news NS&I Moneyfacts

Changes to the PAYE Tax system using Real Time Information

HMRC have announced that from the end of May 2017 they will be using Real Time Information (RTI) to make adjustments to employee tax codes in-year as and when the need arises.

HMRC states that this change in procedures will:

  • offer more certainty to employers and their employees
  • reduce the instances of unexpected tax bills arising
  • ensure that more employees end the tax year having paid the right amount of tax.

Details of the change in procedures can be found in the HMRC Policy Paper briefing ‘Changes to our PAYE Tax System – helping customers pay the right amount of tax on time’. Further information about the changes can be found on page 4 of the Employer Bulletin April 2017 (Issue 65).

The Policy Paper confirms that individuals will be issued with a new tax code if their circumstances change. This brings about a marked change from the current system which deals with adjustments after the tax year end and codes any underpayment out via a coding notice adjustment in a subsequent tax year.

Affected employees should shortly be in receipt of tax code notices explaining the changes to the system and what they can do if they need help and support to manage their taxes.

Under the new procedures, once HMRC are aware that an employee’s circumstances have changed, they will amend the individual’s tax code and follow it up with a notification of the amendment to the employee. A copy notification will also be sent to the employer. It is important for employers and employees to ensure that HMRC are made aware of any changes in an individual’s circumstances as soon as possible.

Employers are advised to expect, from 1 June onwards, some employee enquiries relating to tax code changes. In the longer term, HMRC envisages reduced contact from employees regarding under or overpayments of tax.

If you would like help with Payroll or checking your tax code please contact us.

Internet links: GOV.UK Briefing Employer Bulletin 65

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 – February 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!

Enews – February 2016

In this month’s eNews we report on the extra 3% SDLT charge which will apply on the purchase of second homes from April. We also include several announcements relevant to employers, the latest tax return statistics and information about the new state pension.

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

Extra 3% SDLT on the horizon for buy to lets and second homes

The Chancellor announced in the Autumn Statement last November that he would be introducing new rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on purchases of buy to let properties or second homes. An additional 3% SDLT charge will apply to the purchase of residential properties caught by the new rules and this change is expected to come into effect for completions on or after 1 April 2016. There is an exemption from the charges for transactions under £40,000.

In December the Scottish government announced a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) supplement on additional homes. A bill has been introduced in the Scottish Parliament to introduce similar changes to LBTT.

The government is currently consulting on how the rules will be implemented and in which circumstances they will apply. It should be noted that the proposed changes will significantly increase the SDLT and LBTT on the purchase of second homes.

The rules will also impact on those individuals who purchase a new home where they have yet to sell their current home. The higher SDLT and LBTT rates would be payable on the purchase of the second property although this additional tax may be refunded if the first property is sold within 18 months.

To read the consultation which includes some examples of how the rules will operate use the link below.

Please also do get in touch if you would like specific advice on how these rules will affect you and whether or not you should buy or sell before or after April 2016.

Internet links: Consultation Scottish Parliament

HMRC reveal tax return statistics and worst excuses

HMRC have revealed that 10.39 million Self Assessment tax returns were completed ahead of the 31 January deadline which is more than 92% of the total returns expected, and 150,000 more than last year.

More than 89% of taxpayers (9.24 million) filed their return electronically.

An automatic £100 penalty applies to those failing to file their return by 31 January 2016 midnight deadline. Use the following link for more information about HMRC Self Assessment deadlines.

HMRC have also revealed the top 10 worst tax return excuses for 2014. They include:

‘I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years’

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Personal Tax, said:

‘Untidy family members and hungry pets are very unlikely to be accepted as a legitimate excuse for completing your tax return late.

We understand that life can be unpredictable and for those customers who have a genuine excuse for missing the 31 January deadline, such as the flooding, help is on hand. My advice would be to contact us through our helplines or online, as soon as possible. But for those who are trying to play the system, while the rest of us do the right thing, the message is clear: submit your tax return online by 31 January or face a fine. We’re here to help people in genuine distress, but not to act as a free lender to people who can’t meet their responsibilities to pay their tax.’

The deadline for sending 2014/15 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, was 31 January 2016.

If you need help getting your tax affairs up to date please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK Top 10 Worst Tax Return Excuses for 2014

Reporting PAYE information ‘on or before’ paying employees

HMRC have announced that the relaxation which has permitted some employers with no more than nine employees to report their PAYE information for the tax month ‘on or before’ the last payday in the tax month, instead of ‘on or before’ each payday, is to be withdrawn from April 2016.

Guidance on the limited situations where pay details may be provided late can be found at If you would like any help with payroll matters please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK Employer Bulletin 57

Digital quarterly updates

Following concerns raised in response to the government’s proposals to ‘Make Tax Digital’ the government has issued a myth buster which hopes to lessen the fears of many regarding the government’s proposals for quarterly updates.

We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: GOV.UK Making Tax Digital – Myth Buster

New National Living Wage to boost living standards

The government is reminding employers that a new National Living Wage (NLW) is being introduced from 1 April 2016 and advising employers to get ready for this change.

The NLW rate will be payable to workers in the UK who are 25 or over. For workers currently being paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW) this will mean a 50 pence increase in their hourly earnings.

The government expects over a million workers in the UK aged 25 and over to directly benefit from the increase, which sees the current minimum rate of £6.70 increase by 50p. Many will see their pay packets rise by up to £900 a year.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

‘The government believes that Britain deserves a pay rise and our new National Living Wage will give a direct boost to over a million people. We are building a more productive Britain and giving families the security of well-paid work.

This is a step up for working people, so it is important workers know their rights and that employers pay the new £7.20 from April 1 this year.’

The government has launched an advertising campaign to highlight the new wage. More details are available at:

The government is encouraging employers to ensure they are ready to pay the new wage on 1 April 2016. As part of this, it has published a four-step guide for businesses on the living wage website, asking employers to:

  1. Check you know who is eligible in your organisation.
  2. Take the appropriate payroll action.
  3. Let your staff know about their new pay rate.
  4. Check your staff under 25 are earning at least the right rate of NMW.

HMRC will have responsibility for enforcing the new NLW in addition to the NMW.

For those not affected by the NLW the following NMW rates apply:

  • £6.70: for 21s and over
  • £5.30: for 18 to 20-year-olds
  • £3.87: for under 18s
  • £3.30: for apprentices (the rate applies to all apprentices in year 1 of an apprenticeship, and 16-18 year old apprentices in any year of an apprenticeship)

Internet link: GOV.UK NLW

Pensioners ‘to gain’ from new single tier state pension but younger people ‘worse off’

A new single tier state pension is to be introduced for those reaching state pension age from 6 April 2016 onwards. According to research by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) many pensioners will receive a boost from the new single tier pension following its introduction from 6 April 2016.

Under the ‘flat-rate’ system, new pensioners could receive up to £155.65 per week, compared to the current state pension entitlement of £119.30.

The press release states:

‘The data shows the long-term impact of the new State Pension on people’s pensions, with 75% of people set to gain in the first 15 years.

The move to the new system will provide a boost to the State Pension for many women, with over 3 million women receiving an average of £11 more per week by 2030 as a result of the changes, – helping to address the gender inequalities that have persisted under the old scheme.’

To find out what your pension entitlement is visit

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Apprentices and employer National Insurance

From 6 April 2016, if you employ an apprentice you may not need to pay employer Class 1 national insurance contributions (NICs) on their earnings up to £827 a week (£43,000 per annum). To be eligible for this relief the apprentice should be under 25 years old and be following an approved UK government statutory apprenticeship scheme.

If the apprentice meets the conditions, then the employer needs to have evidence to allow them to apply the relief, by adjusting the employee’s NIC category. The evidence required will be either

  • a written agreement between you, the apprentice and a training provider, which meets the conditions, or
  • in England and Wales, evidence that the apprenticeship receives government funding.

When the apprenticeship stops or the apprentice turns 25 you will need to start paying the relevant NICs. For full details visit the link below.

The relief does not apply to employee’s NICs, it is only the employer who benefits but the employee’s entitlement to social security benefits will not be affected.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Newsletter – March 2015

eNews – March 2015

This month we report on the latest round of penalties issued by the Pensions Regulator and end of year filing and payment reminders for employers. We also include details of how to claim the new ‘Marriage Allowance’. Please contact us if you would like any further information on these or any other issues.

Fines for those who fail to comply with Pensions Auto Enrolment

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has issued 166 Fixed Penalty Notices of £400 to employers who failed to meet their obligations in the last quarter of 2014.

The number of employers approaching the date when they must confirm that they have complied with new workplace pensions duties (known as a declaration of compliance) is now beginning to rise significantly as Auto enrolment is rolled out across all employers. In future months, TPR expects to see more employers who, despite the message to prepare early, leave it too late or do not comply at all.

The Pensions Regulator’s Director of automatic enrolment, Charles Counsell, said,

‘My message to all employers is that failing to declare within five months of your staging date means you risk being fined, which is why we recommend you start your automatic enrolment planning and preparation 12 months before staging.

It appears some medium employers waited for a prompt from the regulator before completing their automatic enrolment duties. Employers must complete all their duties including making their declaration of compliance to The Pensions Regulator.’

Experience to date also shows that employers should begin gathering the information they need to complete their declaration of compliance well in advance of their deadline.

If you would like help or advice with auto enrolment please get in touch.

Internet link: Press release

Registration opens for new married couples tax break

HMRC have announced that registration for the new ‘Marriage Allowance’ for married couples and those in civil partnerships is now open.

From 6 April 2015 certain married couples and civil partners may be eligible for a new Transferable Tax Allowance referred to by the Government as the ‘Marriage Allowance’. The allowance will enable eligible spouses and civil partners to transfer a fixed amount of their personal allowance to their spouse. The option to transfer is not available to unmarried couples.

The option to transfer will be available to couples where neither pays tax at the higher or additional rate. If eligible, one partner will be able to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to the other partner which means £1,060 for the 2015/16 tax year which could save them tax of up to £212 a year.

Couples can register their interest to receive the Allowance.

The government estimates that more than four million married couples and 15,000 civil partnerships will be eligible for the tax break.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said:

‘We made a promise to introduce a recognition of marriage into our tax system – and now we’re delivering on that promise.

This includes updating the tax system so that it recognises marriage and civil partnerships.

Our new Marriage Allowance means saving £212 on your tax bill couldn’t be simpler or more straightforward.’

From April, HMRC will contact those who have already registered for the ‘Marriage Allowance’ to apply. People can register at any point in the tax year and still receive the full benefit of the allowance. It is also possible to claim the allowance after the end of the tax year where claimants are unsure if they will qualify.

Applying online is simple. One person in a couple will apply online to transfer the allowance to their spouse or civil partner, and HMRC will tell the recipient about the change to their Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax code.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Charities Digital Service launched

HMRC have launched an online registration service for charities.

Until now charities have been required to complete a paper form (ChA1). Approximately 15,500 new charities are registered each year.

Chief digital and information officer at HMRC, Mike Dearnley, said:

‘We are completely changing the way we work with our customers – including charities. Our new digital services are straightforward, easy to use and convenient. The charities service minimises the risk of making mistakes, so applications are less likely to be returned to the organisation’.

All registration must now be completed online. Please contact us if you would like help with a charity.

Internet link: Charities Digital

PAYE end of year – pay on time reminder

HMRC are reminding employers that with the end of the 2014/15 tax year approaching they will soon need to make their final 2014/15 PAYE (RTI) submission.

For most employers, the final submission will be their final Full Payment Submission (FPS) which advises HMRC about the very last employee payments for 2014/15 and this needs to be made on or before 5 April 2015. Details of how to make the final submission can be found on the GOV.UK website using the link below. Alternatively if you would like help with your payroll please do get in touch.

HMRC are also advising employers to take extra care as the deadline for electronic payment of 22nd March falls on a Sunday.

HMRC are advising that employers should ensure their payment reaches HMRC on time, which means that cleared funds should be in HMRC’s account by the 20th unless employers are able to arrange a Faster Payment. For more details about paying HMRC electronically visit Pay PAYE tax.

Internet link: GOV payroll annual reporting Employer Bulletin

HMRC concession for late RTI returns and payments

HMRC have announced that employers will not incur penalties for delays of up to three days in filing RTI returns. There is no change to the filing deadlines and employers should generally file their full payment submissions (FPS) ‘on or before’ each payment date unless a concession applies.

HMRC are also advising any employer that has received an in-year late filing penalty for the period 6 October 2014 to 5 January 2015 and was 3 days late or less, to appeal online by completing the ‘Other’ box and add ‘Return filed within 3 days’.

In addition, to prevent unnecessary penalties being issued, HMRC will be closing around 15,000 PAYE schemes next month that have not made a PAYE report since April 2013 and which appear to have ceased.

HMRC will write to the affected schemes to tell them about the planned closure and what to do if they are, or should be, operating PAYE.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees are reminded that PAYE late filing penalties will apply to them from 6 March.

Internet link: News

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 March 2015. Due to the reduction in fuel prices many rates have reduced this quarter between two and three pence 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 March 2015 are:

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


Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 8p
1401 cc – 2000cc 10p
Over 2000cc 14p


Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 14p

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

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK

Car benefits online

As part of HMRC’s digitisation campaign, an online trial allows company car drivers to make changes to car and fuel benefits that will affect their tax codes.

It is important to ensure the benefits included in your tax code are as accurate as possible or large under or overpayments of tax may arise. For information on how to amend your tax code visit the link below. Alternatively if you would like help checking your tax code please do get in touch.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Newsletter – May 2014

In this month’s enews we update you on pertinent announcements from HMRC for employers. We also look at issues relevant to businesses.

Please contact us if you would like any further information.



More HMRC guidance on the Employment Allowance

The Employment Allowance of up to £2,000 is available to most employers from 6 April 2014. Employers can reduce the amount of National Insurance contributions (NICs) they pay for their employees by up to £2,000. This is called the ‘Employment Allowance’.

Employers generally won’t have to pay any employer National Insurance contributions at all if they usually pay less than £2,000 a year.

HMRC has updated the guidance on eligibility for the Employment Allowance.

For help with payroll matters please do contact us.

Internet link: Employment allowance eligibility  Employment allowance key facts

P11D forms don’t get them wrong

HMRC have published a list of common errors in the completion of forms P11D and guidance that medical benefits for lower paid employees are not reportable. The information is part of the lengthy Employer Bulletin so we have reproduced the guidance below.

Common Mistakes

The following is a list of common errors which are easily avoidable but can delay processing and cause problems with employees’ tax codes each year:

  • Submitting duplicate P11D information on paper where P11D information has already been filed online to ensure ‘HMRC have received it’. These duplicates can cause processing problems
  • Using a paper form that relates to the wrong tax year – check the top right hand corner of the first page
  • Not ticking the ‘director’ box if the employee is a director
  • Not including a description or abbreviation, where amounts are included in sections A, B, L, M or N of the form
  • Leaving the ‘cash equivalent’ box empty where you’ve entered a figure in the corresponding ‘cost to you’ box of a section
  • Not correctly completing the declaration on the final FPS/EPS submission (for those employers operating PAYE in ‘real time’) or the box in Part 5 of form P35 (Employers Annual Return) to indicate whether or not P11Ds are due
  • Where a benefit has been provided for mixed business and private use, entering only the value of the private-use portion – you must report the full gross value of the benefit
  • Not completing the fuel benefit box/field where this applies. This means an amended P11D has to be sent in
  • Incorrectly completing the ‘from’ and ‘to’ dates in the ‘Dates car was available’ boxes. For example entering 06/04/2013 to 05/04/2014 to indicate the car was available throughout that year. If the car was available in the previous tax year, the ‘from’ box should not be completed and if the car is to be available in the next tax year, the ‘to’ box should not be completed i.e. left blank.’

The Employer Bulletin also includes guidance on a common error relating to the incorrect completion of a form P9D in relation to private medical insurance provided to lower paid employees. The HMRC guidance states:

Are You Completing P9D’s Needlessly for Employees in Receipt of Medical Benefit?

Do you know that if your employees earn less than the rate of £8,500 AND you arrange and pay the provider directly for the treatment or insurance a P9D does NOT need to be completed.

For more information go to

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

Internet link:

Shared Parental Leave

The current system of statutory pay and leave entitlements for employed parents is to be reformed for babies due (or adopted children placed) on or after 5 April 2015. The following guidance in contained in the lengthy Employer Bulletin so we have reproduced it in full.

The Government is reforming the statutory pay and leave entitlements available to employed parents. For babies due on or after 5 April 2015 a new entitlement of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) will replace Additional Paternity Leave and Pay. The parents of babies due on or before 4 April 2015 will continue to be eligible for Additional Paternity Leave and Pay.

SPL gives families greater choice over how they arrange childcare in the first year, by allowing working mothers the option to end their maternity pay and leave early and to share untaken leave and pay with their partner. An adopter will similarly be able to bring their adoption leave and pay to an early end to opt into Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) and Leave.

It is intended to enable fathers to take a greater role in caring for a child, and to help both parents to better balance childcare responsibilities with staying in work. For businesses, this helps them keep their best talent and allows employers to recruit with confidence that their women employees will be less likely to drop out of the workforce when they have children.

How does it work?

Current entitlement to 52 weeks statutory maternity/adoption leave, 39 of which is paid, and 2 weeks of statutory paternity leave and pay is all unchanged. The first six weeks of Statutory Adoption Pay will increase to 90% of average weekly earnings.

Working parents of a baby due or an adoptive child placed on or after 5 April 2015 may be eligible for SPL and ShPP. Under SPL, mothers/adopters will be able to choose to end their maternity/adoption leave and pay early (at any point from 2 weeks after the birth/placement), and share their untaken pay and leave with their partner. Shared parental leave and pay can be stopped and started and parents can be off at the same time, if they wish.

Parents will be able to take their leave in phases, for example 20 weeks for the mother/adopter, followed by 20 weeks for the father/partner, followed by 10 weeks for the mother/adopter. So it may be the case that statutory parental pay is paid over one or two discontinuous periods. Parents must notify their employers of their plans under SPL 8 weeks before they become eligible for it, and all shared leave and pay must be taken between the birth/placement and the child’s first birthday.

What do employers need to do?

We expect the first notifications of intention to take SPL to arrive with employers from February 2015. The Government will provide an online form for parents to use. Some employers may wish to create their own requirements for how their employees notify them.

We anticipate that employers will need to update payroll systems where relevant to accommodate providing statutory parental pay to employees taking SPL, and to enable these payments to be paid discontinuously where necessary.

The Government will provide online tools to check eligibility, and publish detailed guidance on the rules around SPL. A key part of SPL is the discussion between employer and employee to agree the phasing of SPL and the return to work, and ACAS will also publish guidance to support this process.’

We will update you when further information is released. Please do get in touch if you would like further guidance on this area.

Internet links: Employer Bulletin

Icebreaker tax avoidance scheme rejected by HMRC

In a high profile decision HMRC has won a case in which the Icebreaker partnership schemes were shut down, after the tribunal ruled it was set up to shelter more than £120m in tax.

The wealthy members of the scheme, which included Gary Barlow and two of his former Take That band mates, claimed to be active partners trading in the creative industries, selling, for example, the rights to a song or an idea for a book. They claimed tax relief on greater losses than they invested in the partnerships. The return on the partners’ ‘investment’ was the tax relief, which was considerably larger than their cash contribution.

A HMRC spokesperson said:

‘HMRC has put in place generous reliefs to support genuine business investment and our tax reliefs for the creative industries work well, enabling the UK’s world-class film, television and video production companies to compete on the global stage.

But we will not tolerate abuse of the system by people trying to dodge their tax obligations. HMRC will continue to challenge in the courts and anyone who engages in tax avoidance schemes risk not only the high cost of these schemes but also lay themselves open to penalties and, potentially, prosecution.’

The scheme was rejected by a First-tier Tribunal.

Internet link: News  Tribunal

Pay your PAYE on time or face in-year interest on late payments

HMRC have issued further guidance on late payment interest on PAYE and CIS payments for 2014/15 onwards and how to avoid it.

HMRC now charges interest on any late PAYE and Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) payments.

To avoid an interest charge employers should pay by the due date, the difference between the following:

  • what they report on their Full Payment Submission(s) (FPS) received by the 19th of the month following the end of the tax month it relates to, together with any CIS charges for that tax month
  • any deductions reported on an Employer Payment Submission (EPS), again received by the 19th of the month following the end of the tax month it relates to.

Any corrections made to wages reported on an FPS that HMRC receives after the 19th of the month following the end of the tax month it relates to will be included in the following month’s charge. In these circumstances, the amount payable for the tax month is the amount actually reported by the 19th (rather than the corrected amount).

Interest charges

HMRC will charge interest daily, from the date a payment is due and payable to the date it is paid in full.

Accruing Interest and the Business Tax Dashboard

Employers will be able to see an estimate of the interest building up on the Business Tax Dashboard.

Please be aware that HMRC have stated:

‘Accrued interest is only a guide to what may be due. HMRC will only seek payment of interest when the amount due is settled.

The Business Tax Dashboard will only show interest as accruing in the current month, regardless of when the payment was due.

It will show interest as accruing from the 19th of each month, regardless of how the employer pays. Employers who pay electronically should not worry if they see an accrued interest entry between 19th and 22nd of a month. Once the electronic payment is received, the calculation will correctly use the 22nd as the due date, and any interest charge generated between the 19th and 22nd will be cancelled.

Currently, there is an HMRC systems error which results in the Business Tax Dashboard showing interest accruing despite the employer having submitted an EPS that clears the original charges. This error will be corrected shortly. In the meantime, HMRC will not pursue this charge and employers do not need to contact HMRC about this.’

Please do get in touch if you would like help with payroll issues.

Internet links: News

VAT update and fuel scale charges

HMRC have issued guidance on a number of VAT changes including confirmation of the updated VAT Fuel scale charges which apply from the beginning of the next prescribed VAT accounting period starting on or after 1 May 2014.

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

Internet link: VAT update  VAT fuel scale charges

Proposed new rules for easier prosecution of offshore tax evaders

The government will consult on plans to introduce a new strict liability criminal offence for individuals who hide their money offshore.

HMRC would no longer need to prove that individuals who have undeclared income offshore intended to evade tax, in order for the offence to be a criminal conviction.

Currently HMRC have to demonstrate that even when someone failed to declare offshore income that the individual intended to evade tax. This change will mean HMRC only has to demonstrate the income was taxable and undeclared meaning it will be easier to secure successful prosecutions of offshore tax evaders.

As well as introducing the new criminal offence, the government will consult on a range of options building on the existing penalties to make sure they act as a clear and effective deterrent.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said:

‘The government has taken significant steps to clamp down on those hiding their money offshore. HMRC has brought in over £1.5billion over the last two years and, through our leadership at the G8, we have taken significant steps towards greater transparency and tax information sharing.

But there can be no let up and we will continue to pursue offshore tax evaders. Those who continue to believe they can hide wealth offshore should know that there is no safe haven and that serious consequences await them.’

Internet links: News

Late payments to smaller businesses on the increase

According to a recent survey by the Forum of Private Business (FPB) almost one in four smaller businesses experienced an increase in the number of late payments during 2013.

Approximately a third of businesses surveyed reported an increase in the average number of days beyond the payment deadline that payments were made. FPB Chief Executive Phil Orford commented that more than £30 billion still remains ‘tied up in late payments’.

Internet link: Press release

Newsletter – February 2014

In this month’s enews we advise on several issues relevant to employers. We also report on the help available for those affected by floods.

Please contact us if you would like any further information.



Employment Allowance

The Government has announced further details of the Employment Allowance which is available from 6 April 2014. Eligible employers can reduce their employer Class 1 NICs by up to £2,000 each tax year.

The Employment Allowance can be claimed by a business or charity (including Community Amateur Sports Clubs) that pays employer Class 1 NICs on their employees’ or directors’ earnings.

However there are some circumstances which may limit the availability of the allowance:

  • if a company belongs to a group of companies or a charity is part of a charities structure, only one company or charity can claim the allowance
  • the £2,000 Employment Allowance can only be claimed against one PAYE scheme, even if the business has more than one PAYE scheme.

Not all businesses can claim the Employment Allowance and the government guidance gives the following details of excluded employers.

You cannot claim the Employment Allowance, for example if you:

  • employ someone for personal, household or domestic work, such as a nanny, au pair, chauffeur, gardener or care support worker
  • already claim the allowance through a connected company or charity
  • are a public authority, this includes; local, district, town and parish councils
  • carry out functions either wholly or mainly of a public nature (unless you have charitable status), for example:
    • NHS services
    • General Practitioner services
    • the managing of housing stock owned by or for a local council
    • providing a meals on wheels service for a local council
    • refuse collection for a local council
    • prison services
    • collecting debt for a government department

If you would like any guidance on claiming the allowance please do get in touch. If we deal with your payroll we will ensure this matter is dealt with on your behalf.

Internet link:

Increases to NMW penalties and latest targets

The Government has announced that rogue employers who do not pay their workers the National Minimum Wage (NMW) will face an increased penalty of up to £20,000 as part of a Government crackdown.

Currently employers that break NMW law must pay the unpaid wages plus a financial penalty calculated as 50% of the total underpayment for all workers found to be underpaid. The maximum penalty an employer can face is £5,000.

The Government plans to increase the financial penalty percentage from 50% to 100% of the unpaid wages owed to workers. The maximum penalty will increase from £5,000 to £20,000. Regulations introducing these new limits are subject to Parliamentary approval and are expected to be enacted this month.

Latest target

Major record labels involved in this year’s Brit Awards are among the latest targets of HMRC’s continued crackdown on unpaid internships.

HMRC have written to record labels and event companies warning them about the consequences for non-payment of the NMW for any unpaid interns they take on. HMRC intend to follow up these letters with compliance visits later in the year to ensure the rules are being followed.

Michelle Wyer, HMRC’s Assistant Director NMW, said:

‘Non-payment of the National Minimum Wage is not an option, it’s the law, and we’re letting the music industry know that we’ve got them in our sights. If they are not playing by the rules, now is the time to put things in order.

Last year we fined over around 800 employers, so our message is clear: if you are not paying your interns, but should be, come forward now and put things right to avoid a penalty.’

Internet link: Press release

Help for those affected by floods

The Prime Minister has announced a package of measures to help flood affected businesses get back on their feet. The package of measures includes:

  • A Government Business Support Helpline providing comprehensive advice and support to businesses affected by floods. The helpline number is 0300 456 3565.
  • A new Business Support Scheme to provide hardship funding for SME businesses in areas affected by the floods. Both businesses that have been flooded, and businesses that are in affected areas and have suffered significant loss of trade, will be able to apply for support. Eligible businesses will be able to claim for funding for things like immediate clean-up costs, materials, and exceptional costs to help them continue trading.
  • Extra time for businesses to file accounts without any penalties.
  • All affected businesses will be able to apply to their local authority to get business rate relief for 3 months.
  • HMRC will also set up a new hotline for those who have been affected by flooding and may have difficulties in meeting their tax liabilities. HMRC will look to offer up to 3 months additional time to pay. This will cover all taxes owed to HMRC, including VAT, PAYE and corporation tax. The helpline number is 0800 904 79000800 904 7900.

Help is also available for communities affected. To read more about the help on offer visit the links below.

Internet links: HMRC website  News Communities  News business support

No penalties for some late Self Assessment returns

HMRC have announced that more than 10 million tax returns were filed on time meeting the 31 January deadline.

Approximately 8.5 million returns were filed online with the rest being paper filed. Perhaps not surprisingly the busiest day for tax return submission was 31 January when HMRC received over half a million returns.

For those failing to meet the deadline there is an automatic £100 late filing penalty regardless of whether the tax has been paid on time or indeed there is a refund due. Further penalties may also be imposed for continued failure to submit the return.

It has been widely reported that HMRC would not be charging penalties where returns were submitted before midnight on 15 February 2014. However this ‘reprieve’ only applies in limited circumstances as set out in the following HMRC statement:

‘We haven’t extended the Self Assessment deadline. Tax returns and any tax due must be received by HMRC by midnight tonight 31 January.

If someone has registered for our Online Service or existing customers have lost their User ID or password and realise they have left it too late we will allow a bit of extra time for this information to be received. This only applies to taxpayers who did the following between midnight on 21 January and midnight on 31 January 2014:

  • enrolled for the Self Assessment online service, or
  • requested a replacement user ID or password’

If you are one of the half a million people who have not yet submitted your self assessment return and you would like some help please do get in touch.

Internet links: Gov news  SA leniency

HMRC warning about phishing scams

HMRC are warning taxpayers to be wary of the latest in a long line of email phishing scams that claim to offer tax rebates in return for bank account details.

HMRC have received over 23,000 reports of phishing scam emails in the three months to the 31 January 2014 self assessment deadline which is a 47% increase on the same period in 2013.

HMRC have confirmed that it never contacts taxpayers via e-mail regarding a refund and advised anyone who receives an email claiming to be from HMRC:

HMRC have published advice and examples of typical fake emails at

Internet link: News

PAYE end of year approaching

HMRC are reminding employers that with the end of the 2013/14 tax year approaching they will soon need to make their final 2013/14 PAYE (RTI) submission.

For most employers, the final submission will be their final Full Payment Submission (FPS) which advises HMRC about the very last employee payments for 2013/14 and this needs to be made on or before 5 April 2014. Details of how to make the final submission can be found on the HMRC website using the link below.

If we deal with the payroll on your behalf we will ensure this matter is dealt with on a timely basis.

Internet link: HMRC news

Electronic messages to employers

HMRC have issued an electronic warning message to employers who have not submitted their Full Payment Submission (FPS) return(s) during the January tax month. The message is intended to be a reminder to employers and is not a penalty notice.

HMRC are advising employers who receive this message that they should check that they have sent all the submissions that are due for their PAYE scheme.

If employers have notified HMRC recently that their business has ceased, then they can ignore the electronic message and do not need to contact HMRC.

HMRC started issuing these messages in December 2013 and this following link sets out instances where an employer may receive a non-filing message, although they have filed on time and where not action is required.

Internet links: HMRC news

Employee travel disruption

From time to time and particularly with the current weather conditions, travel disruption can affect an employee’s ability to get to work on time, or in some cases at all. For situations ranging from public transport cancellations to severe weather, employers and employees should consider how this could impact on the workforce.

Acas provide some useful guidance on these issues.

Internet link: Acas

You’ll need Skype CreditFree via Skype

Newsletter – January 2014

In this month’s enews we report on announcements regarding Real Time Information (RTI), PAYE tax codes and some details on the new class of national insurance contributions (NIC).

We also report on the consultation on zero hours contracts and if you are reading this on your smart phone does your business have a ‘bring your own device’ policy?

Please contact us if you would like any further information.



RTI and micro employers

HMRC have announced that, although the vast majority of employers are finding PAYE reporting in real time straightforward, a small proportion of micro employers and their agents still need more time to adapt. They have therefore announced that existing employers with nine or fewer employees who need more time to adapt will be able to report PAYE information on or before the last payday in the tax month until April 2016.

HMRC will be encouraging micro businesses to adapt their processes sooner to ensure that they are ready to report all payments each time they pay their employees by April 2016.

End to the current relaxation

The current relaxation which applies to employers with fewer than 50 employees comes to an end in April 2014. Conditions for the current relaxation can be found by visiting the link at the end of the HMRC article.

All employers starting to operate PAYE after 6 April 2014, as well as existing employers with 10 or more employees, will need to report each time they pay their employees from April 2014.

This relaxation is part of a package of measures to help micro employers as they move towards full reporting of PAYE information in real time. The package also includes:

  • guidance such as ‘Situations where employers will not have to report PAYE information ‘on or before’ the time they pay their employee’ which can be found at the end of the HMRC article and
  • ongoing work to develop new ways to report PAYE information on a timely basis, for example using mobile apps.

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

Internet link: HMRC news

DWP issue guidance on new Class 3A NIC

The Government wants to offer help to existing pensioners and people who reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016, when the single-tier pension is introduced, to give:

  • ‘people in the pre single tier population, who may have lost out because of the structure of the legacy second pension system, the opportunity to increase their state pension in retirement
  • hard pressed pensioners, especially those who rely on their capital to supplement their income, an opportunity to top up their pension in a way that will protect them from inflation and
  • people with small amounts of pension saving a secure way of achieving an income.’

The Government intends to introduce Class 3A in October 2015 and the scheme will be open for a limited period. There will be two entitlement conditions:

  • contributors must have entitlement to a UK State Pension (either basic State Pension or additional State Pension) and
  • must reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016.

‘Prices will reflect the age an individual takes up Class 3A. This is a key component of an actuarially fair price. Prices will be lower for older pensioners simply because on average they will have a shorter life in retirement at the point they take up Class 3A. The Government intends to publish a list showing prices of a unit by age.

Class 3A will not replace the existing Class 3…The Class 3A information products will make clear that individuals should consider making Class 3, contributions where that is possible, before taking up Class 3A. HMRC intend to identify applicants in that position and inform them of the option.

Each Class 3A contribution will result in the acquisition of a unit of extra pension which will increase the contributor’s additional State Pension by £1 a week up to a cap of potentially £25.’

‘We estimate that around 7 million pensioners will have enough savings to pay the new National Insurance contribution.’

‘Class 3A will be set at an actuarially fair rate which means that over time the policy will be broadly cost neutral. This reflects the funding position of the single tier and means that today’s workers will not have to fund the policy.’

We will keep you informed of further announcements.

Internet link: Government publication

Personal device at work policy

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is advising that organisations should have a clear personal device at work policy.

A recent survey showed that 60% of the UK population now own a smart phone and 20% a tablet and an increasing number want to use their personal devices at work. Known as ‘bring your own device’ the ICO state that the benefits include increased efficiency, flexibility and employee morale but the practice also carries a number of risks which organisations must consider when allowing employees’ devices to be used to process work-related personal information.

Simon Rice, Group Manager (Technology), said:

‘As the line between our personal and working lives becomes increasingly blurred it is critical employers have a clear policy about personal devices being used at work.’

‘The benefits must be balanced against the potential risks to work-related personal data but the organisation should not underestimate the level of effort which may be required to ensure that the processing of personal data with BYOD remains compliant with all 8 Principles of the Data Protection Act. Remember, it is the employer who is held liable for any breaches under the DPA.’

The ICO’s key ‘bring your own device’ recommendations are:

  • ensure devices are secure
  • ensure data transfers are secure
  • retain control
  • have an ‘end of contract’ policy
  • have a clear ‘acceptable use policy’.

Internet link: ICO news

PAYE coding notices

Over the next few months HMRC will be sending out new PAYE tax codes for the 2014/15 tax year.

HMRC are advising that some individuals may receive more than one coding especially if they have:

  • two or more employments at the same time
  • income from two or more pensions
  • pension income and employment income.

HMRC may send a PAYE coding notice for each job or pension and the new tax codes will be used from 6 April 2014.

If you would like help checking your tax code please do get in touch so we can ensure you pay the correct amount of tax.

Those individuals with more straightforward affairs may not receive a coding notice and their tax codes will be automatically updated, generally to reflect the increase in the personal allowance from the current £9,440 to £10,000.

Internet link: HMRC news

Help to buy mortgage guarantee completions

The Government has announced that ‘nearly 750’ homes have been bought and 6,000 offers made since the mortgage guarantee scheme started.

In November 2013, ministers published figures showing that in the first month of the scheme more than 2,000 people had put in offers on homes and applied for a Help to Buy mortgage. That number has now trebled to more than 6,000.

For more information on Help to Buy mortgages visit

Internet link: Press release

Zero hours contracts

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced that, under new proposals, employers could be banned from imposing ‘exclusivity’ on zero hours contracts which offer no guarantee of work and stop employees from working for another employer.

In the consultation, the Government also outline proposals on ways to tackle the lack of transparency in the way zero hours contracts are currently being used and improve guidance for both employers and employees around their use.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

‘A growing number of employers and individuals today are using zero hours contracts. While for many people they offer a welcome flexibility to accommodate childcare or top up monthly earnings, for others it is clear that there has been evidence of abuse around this type of employment which can offer limited employment rights and job security. We believe they have a place in today’s labour market and are not proposing to ban them outright, but we also want to make sure that people are getting a fair deal.’

The public consultation will seek views on a range of proposals will run until 13 March 2014.

Internet link: Press release

Excuses excuses

HMRC have released the ‘Top 10 oddest excuses’ for sending in a late self assessment return. These include a dead goldfish and a run in with a cow!

Internet link: HMRC top 10

Newsletter – August 2013

In this month’s enews we report on a variety of issues including an update on child benefit for higher earners, RTI changes and a warning about pension ‘liberation’.

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

Parents with higher incomes must register for Self Assessment

HMRC are reminding parents with higher incomes who continued to receive Child Benefit after January 2013 that they must register for Self Assessment by 5 October 2013 to avoid any penalties in relation to the High Income Child Benefit Charge.

HMRC have announced that they will be writing to approximately 2 million higher rate taxpayers over the next few weeks, including those affected by recent changes to Child Benefit. The letter reminds them that if their income is over £50,000 and they or their partner received Child Benefit in 2012/13, they will need to complete a Self Assessment tax return for the 2012/13 tax year. They must register with HMRC for Self Assessment if they have not already done so.

According to HMRC, over 390,000 people with higher incomes have already opted out of receiving Child Benefit.

HMRC’s Chief Executive, Lin Homer, said:

‘HMRC is committed to helping people pay the right amount of tax. If you have had certain changes to your income in the last year, including those affected by the changes to Child Benefit, you have until 5 October to register for Self Assessment.’

If the charge does apply, then the taxpayer must register for Self Assessment for the 2012/13 tax year by 5 October 2013, so that they can declare the Child Benefit received, and pay the tax charge on time and avoid any penalties.

If you would like any help or advice on whether or not you need to register, or whether you should opt to stop receiving Child Benefit, please do get in touch.

Internet link: Press release

PAYE RTI and annual schemes

HMRC are advising that they have now fixed the issue with Annual PAYE schemes.

HMRC received a number of requests since April from employers, asking that the status of their PAYE scheme be changed to annual. Due to technical issues they were unable to process the requests at the time. HMRC have now resolved the issue and have accepted all the requests that have been made and changed those schemes to annual. They will not however, be notifying employers that the change has been made.

If you are interested in changing your scheme to annual please do get in touch. However please be aware that under an annual scheme the payroll must meet all of the following requirements:

  • all the employees are paid annually (generally only applicable to directors only PAYE schemes)
  • everyone is paid within the same, single tax month and
  • the employer is only required to pay HMRC annually.

Internet link: HMRC news

Pension ‘liberation’

The ICAEW have issued a warning that individuals are being approached by firms offering to help them ‘unlock’ their pensions or access them early. Some unscrupulous firms are using misleading information and in some cases offering personal loans or cash incentives to entice savers to cash in their pensions early. This is known as pension ‘liberation’. For further information use the link to the Pensions Regulator website below.

The ICAEW are warning that those taxpayers who decide to take the initiative themselves and access their pensions early will find that some or all of their hard earned pension savings may be at stake. This is because the normal rule is that you cannot generally access pension savings before you reach the age of 55 at the earliest.

Those opting for pension ‘liberation’ will generally be liable to pay a tax bill of more than half of their pension savings and may have to pay further tax penalties as well. Additionally, the provider usually imposes significant charges, sometimes up to 20%. The ICAEW website provides details of the potential tax liabilities and charges and also a link to report firms promoting pension ‘liberation’.

Please do get in touch if you would like further guidance in this area.

Internet links: ICAEW website Pensions Regulator action pack

Consultation on Tax-Free Childcare for working families

Earlier this year the government announced that it plans to introduce a new childcare scheme for working families. The proposal is that Tax-Free Childcare will provide 20% of working families’ childcare costs, up to £1,200 for each child. The scheme is expected to be introduced from 2015.

The consultation invites interested parties to comment on the detailed design and operation of Tax-Free Childcare.

Internet link: Consultation

HMRC’s most wanted tax fugitives

HMRC has published an updated list of their most wanted ‘tax fugitives’ and announced that a ‘fraudster’ has been apprehended at Heathrow Airport whilst travelling on a false passport, following almost ten years on the run.

HMRC have published a gallery of its 2013 most wanted and announced the capture of one of the most wanted tax criminal fugitives. To view the gallery see the link to the flickr page below.

The 2013 list includes updated information on the original 20 together with the addition of 10 more tax fugitives. These fugitives are being pursued for a range of crimes including VAT fraud, tax evasion and money laundering. According to HMRC their crimes have cost the taxpayer between £100,000 and £10 million.

Anthony Judge, who was wanted for his role in over £350,000 of tax fraud, was stopped at Heathrow Airport last month as he attempted to enter the UK on a forged passport.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said:

‘Our message is clear; tax fraud and evasion is illegal and will not be tolerated. Millions of hard-working people pay their taxes and it is they who are being defrauded. The government has stepped up HMRC’s enforcement activities to enable them to pursue tax cheats relentlessly around the world.’

Internet links: flickr Press Release

A million zero hour contracts

New research suggests that the number of workers on zero hour contracts, with no guarantee of hours or pay, are becoming more widespread.

Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that there are up to a million workers on zero hour contracts. The survey also showed that only 14% of workers on these contracts were let down by their employers by them failing to provide sufficient hours each week.

However figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that only 250,000 people on zero hour contracts.

Zero hour contracts have become more widespread over recent years, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors, where businesses view them as a cost effective way of satisfying short term staffing needs by using ‘on call’ staff.

Peter Cheese the CIPD’s CEO said:

‘Zero hours contracts, used appropriately, can provide flexibility for employers and employees and can play a positive role in creating more flexible working opportunities. This can for example allow parents of young children, carers, students and others to fit work around their home lives.’

‘However, for some this may be a significant disadvantage where they need more certainty in their working hours and earnings, and we need to ensure that proper support for employees and their rights are not being compromised through such arrangements. Zero hours contracts cannot be used simply to avoid an employer’s responsibilities to its employees.’

Internet link: Press release

HMRC introduce new safeguards for debt collection visits

HMRC have introduced a Field Force Verification Helpline, so that taxpayers can easily check whether or not a caller on their doorstep claiming to be from HMRC is genuine.

Every year, HMRC visit a small number of taxpayers who have not paid their tax or arranged to repay overpayments of tax credits, in order to collect the debt. The Debt Management and Banking’s Field Force Collectors may visit a taxpayer’s home or business premises. HMRC always give advance warning that a visit may take place if a debt is not paid.

HMRC advise:

‘To provide a safeguard against bogus callers in these situations, HMRC has introduced a new Field Force Verification Helpline

To access the helpline, customers should follow these simple steps:

  • Ask to see the Collector’s photo ID
  • Make a note of the ID number on the photo ID
  • Call 0300 200 3862
  • Provide HMRC with the ID number you’ve noted

Our operators will then be able to confirm to you whether or not your caller is genuinely an HMRC Collector.

To help to explain the purpose of the visit and the rights and responsibilities of customers, we have also produced a new leaflet. Every customer visited, from 13 August onwards, will be given a copy of this by the Collector on arrival at the customer’s premises. This also includes the Field Force Verification Helpline number.’

If you have any concerns about paying your liabilities please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC news

SMEs in the dark about changes to the PAYE system

SMEs in the dark about changes to the PAYE system

One in three SMEs has no knowledge of Real Time Information (RTI) and what it means for their business, according to a recent report from AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians). This is despite the major changes to the PAYE system coming into effect from April.

The survey of 1,000 decision makers, managers and directors of SMEs carried out in January this year, revealed that:

One in three SMEs (35 per cent) don’t know about the changes to the PAYE system (the introduction of RTI) which will be implemented from April 2013

Of those who are aware, one in three don’t know if their payroll is set to cope with the changes

The biggest fears of SMEs around RTI are the time and money required to successfully implement the changes AAT report highlights a lack of understanding about the introduction of RTI

The lack of understanding about these major changes also revealed that 30 per cent of those businesses that were aware of RTI didn’t know if their current software or payroll could cope with the changes.

With HMRC issuing onerous penalties for those businesses that don’t comply, it may come as no surprise that 35 per cent of SMEs are worried and concerned about the cost involved and a further 30 per cent are worried about how time consuming it will be to implement .

As our economy currently flat-lines and David Cameron states that SMEs, startups and entrepreneurs are vital for the future of our country, 25 per cent of businesses think that the implementation of RTI will affect their overall business growth.

Half of SMEs also believe that the complexity of the tax system favours big business.
Forty-three per cent think that HMRC needs to take responsibility and address those organisations suspected of tax avoidance to ensure a more level playing field – putting a stop to “sweetheart” deals.

Almost half (49 per cent) of SMEs were quick to explain that startups and entrepreneurs face major difficulty within the UK to get their business ideas off the ground because of the lack of capital made available to them. There is much work to be done to raise awareness of lending and cash flow initiatives so that entrepreneurs are made aware of the opportunities and feel supported.

“We need the small business community to feel that the UK government is doing more to incentivise and stimulate their growth” AAT Director of Professional Development, Adam Harper commented on the new research findings: “We need the small business community to feel that the UK government is doing more to incentivise and stimulate their growth; especially with many small businesses feeling disheartened with the growing number of high profile tax avoidance stories.

With nearly half of SME enterprises unaware of the finance lending initiatives available to startups and entrepreneurs, so much more needs to be done to educate them about their options.”

“The lack of understanding about RTI clearly indicates not enough has been done to guide small businesses through the massive changes to PAYE which will have a big impact on time, resource and spend for small enterprises. It’s a distressing situation given April is fast approaching.”

328 sleeps to Christmas!

According to my IPad app (other devices are available!), today (31st January 2013) there are just 328 sleeps until Christmas, which I guess means there should be 365 sleeps until this day in 2014.  So, why should I care about that then, I hear you ask?

Well, yesterday (30th January – 1 day early), we submitted our final tax return to HMRC to continue our 100% record to meet the annual 31st January HMRC tax return deadline.  I want to say a big thank you to our clients for working with us to achieve the deadline.

It always interests me, how our clients, some of who, have been with us for many years, always follow the same patterns.  We get the keen ones, who bring in the information as soon as possible after 6th April, so that they can be in the smug satisfaction of knowing that all is taken care of, for another year, well in advance and then we get the others who like to leave it until the last moment, so that they can enjoy the thrill of the chase, as we rush to complete everything in time, and of course all of the others in between.

Now, I have to say, that I do quite enjoy the final push to the deadline, it’s very satisfying watching the percentage of completed tax returns increasing as we get nearer to the date, coupled with the worry of “can we do it?”, it can become quite a buzz!

So, why have I decided to start chasing our clients much earlier for their information this year, am I looking to have a holiday in January or something (not sure about Wales in January!), or is there some more sinister reason?

Well, lets look at the benefits of getting your tax return done early:

  • the smugness of being able to relax in the satisfaction of knowing that “tax doesn’t have to be taxing” and you are all compliant for another year, so can relax, one less worry
  • by getting your tax return done early, we can calculate any liability and give you much more warning of what you will have to pay the following January, which can lesssen the shock, which sometimes occurs, when you have had a particularly good year
  • similarly, if we calculate that you are due a tax refund (particulalrly might apply to CIS sub-contractors), you will have the refund much earlier
  • it will, avoid you getting lots of e-mails and phone calls from us, chasing you, for your information – it will get us off your back for another year!
  • perhaps I could have that long-awaited holiday in Wales in January!

So – how soon COULD you get your information in to us:

  • if you are self-employed, with no PAYE income as well, as soon as possible after your year end date
  • If you are on PAYE, either 31st May, if you receive no benefits, or end July if you do (these are the deadlines for your employer to give you your P60/P11d)

So, in reality then, bearing in mind the latest date above is 31st July, if we could have all of the information in by then, why dont we say that providing we do, we’ll get all of our clients tax returns done by 31st October and we can all relax once the clocks go back, safe in the knowledge, that we are all compliant, knowing exactly what our liabilities are.

Which means, I can finally have that 2 week holiday in Wales in January, my family will be so pleased!

So, will this happen?  Who knows, we’ll see what happens.  If you are worried, check back next year to see how we did and, in the meantime, can I be the first to wish you a Happy Christmas 2013, safe in the knowledge that you won’t be worrying about that pesky tax return.