Newsletter – September 2016

Henry Cooper is walking 2016 km in the year 2016!

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Enews – September 2016

In this month’s eNews we report on recent developments including HMRC consultations on Making Tax Digital and new sanctions for tax avoidance as well as guidance on the implications of new UK GAAP.

We also report on HMRC’s advice on spotting scams, how to complain online and industry concerns about the introduction of the new Lifetime ISA.

We also include guidance for employers and employees including the new advisory fuel rates and the latest Employer Bulletin.

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

HMRC outline Making Tax Digital plans

HMRC have issued a series of consultation documents outlining further plans for the government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative.

HMRC have published six consultation documents on MTD. The six consultations set out detailed plans on how HMRC propose to make tax digital and to simplify the tax system. The consultations look at the following areas:

  • How digital record keeping and regular updates will operate – this considers compulsory digital record-keeping and quarterly ‘updates’ to HMRC and an End of Year declaration within nine months of the end of the period of account.
  • Options to simplify tax for unincorporated businesses, including changes to basis periods, extending cash basis accounting and reducing reporting requirements for unincorporated businesses.
  • Extending cash basis accounting to unincorporated property businesses.
  • Voluntary pay as you go arrangements, where taxpayers can pay what they want when they want, subject to the normal payment on account rules. Regular direct debit arrangements and quarterly payments on account are also being considered.
  • Changes to tax administration, including changes to the enquiry regime, penalties for late submission of quarterly updates and End of Year declarations and also the late payment of tax.
  • How HMRC will make better use of the information which they currently receive from third parties, including updating of PAYE codes more regularly and coding out of bank interest via PAYE.

Commenting on the plans, Jane Ellison Financial Secretary to the Treasury said:

‘This new system will make the UK’s tax administration more efficient and straightforward and will offer businesses greater clarity when it comes to paying their tax bills.’

However professional bodies have expressed their concerns about HMRC’s proposals. Frank Haskew, Head of the Tax Faculty at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, said:

‘This is not the time to be rushing through fundamental changes to business processes that are likely to result in major upheaval and extra costs, especially when the business benefit to the UK has not been clearly demonstrated.’

Under the Government’s plans, the changes to the tax system will be introduced gradually between 2018 and 2020. We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: GOV.UK MTD

Government propose new sanctions for tax avoidance

The government has announced new proposals for sanctions for ‘enablers and users of tax avoidance which is defeated by HMRC’.

The consultation proposes a new penalty for those who enable tax avoidance and changes to the existing penalty legislation which applies to those who use avoidance.

The proposals are to introduce ‘sanctions for those who design, market or facilitate the use of tax avoidance arrangements which are defeated by HMRC and to change the way the existing penalty regime works for those whose tax returns are found to be inaccurate as a result of using such arrangements.’

The government is seeking views on proposals for sanctions against those who enable or use tax avoidance arrangements which are later defeated.

Internet link: GOV.UK consultation

Accounting standards and the tax implications of new UK GAAP

HMRC have updated their guidance on the tax implications of changes to the ‘generally accepted accounting practice’ used to prepare financial statements as many UK companies will be required to apply one of the EU-endorsed IFRS, FRS 101 or FRS 102 over the next few years.

HMRC have stated that the purpose of these two papers is to assist companies who are thinking of choosing or have already chosen to apply either FRS 101 or FRS 102. The guidance includes an overview of the key accounting changes and key tax considerations that arise.

Please contact us if you would like information on how these changes will affect you and your business.

Internet link: GOV.UK accounting standards

HMRC genuine and phishing/bogus emails and calls

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

They have also issued a warning regarding two telephone scams that they are aware of.

The details of the two phone scams are as follows:

  • Taxpayers receive telephone calls claiming to be from HMRC requesting personal information in order to receive a tax refund, or to demand money for an unpaid tax bill.
  • A recorded message is left, allegedly from HMRC, advising ‘that HMRC are bringing a lawsuit against the individual and is going to sue them. The recipient is asked to phone 0161 8508494 and press “1” to speak to the officer dealing with the case.

HMRC are advising that taxpayers should not reply to the message and should report this to Action Fraud, or you can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2050.

Internet links: HMRC guidance Employer Bulletin

Complain to HMRC – online

HMRC have always had complaints procedures and have extended these to now include an online form which can be used to make complaints about your self-assessment and PAYE. The guidance also includes other ways to complain.

If you would like help with PAYE or self assessment issues please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK guidance

Government urged to delay the launch of Lifetime ISA

The government is being urged by both pension providers and banks to delay the April 2017 launch of the new Lifetime ISA as they are warning that they will not be ready to offer the savings product by this time.

A new Lifetime ISA introduces a new type of savings account for adults under the age of 40. Individuals will be able to contribute up to £4,000 per year and receive a 25% bonus from the government. Funds, including the government bonus, can be used to buy a first home at any time from 12 months after opening the account, and can be withdrawn from age 60 completely tax-free.

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

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

In the article published by This is Money pension providers Aegon and Standard Life have stated that they have delayed their plans until final details regarding the Lifetime ISA are released.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is yet to consult on the initiative. Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon, stated that a consultation is ‘likely to take three months’ to carry out.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Standard Life said: ‘As we want the Lifetime ISA to be a success, we would prefer that its launch is delayed until providers receive more detail on the product and how it is to be implemented.’

The Treasury is expected to confirm full details in the autumn.

Internet link: Article

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which take effect from 1 September 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 September 2016 are:

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

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

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

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Guidance for employers

HMRC have issued their latest guidance to employers in the August edition of the Employer Bulletin. This publication, which is issued every two months, includes articles on:

  • expenses and benefits in kind consultations
  • HMRC Toolkits – helping to reduce errors
  • Automatic penalties for late intermediary returns
  • the Apprenticeship Levy and apprentices
  • guidance on paying HMRC
  • student loan deductions
  • Automatic enrolment update
  • National insurance contributions for employees over State Pension age
  • Basic PAYE tools usage
  • the impact on tax codes of the Personal Savings Allowance.

For help with your payroll contact us.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

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 https://www.gov.uk/running-payroll/fps-after-payday’.

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 – October 2014

eNews – October 2014

In this month’s enews we report on mis-sold interest rate hedging products, guidance on Gift Aid and free admission, an update on the broadband voucher scheme and HMRC’s latest phishing scam.

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

Mis-sold interest rate hedging products

Following a review of the way some banks sold Interest Rate Hedging Products (IRHP), some businesses are entitled to redress payments. These redress payments are now starting to be made to those businesses which were affected.

Mis-sold interest hedging products (IRHP)

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has identified failings in the way some banks sold IRHP to businesses taking out business loans, which were intended to offer protection against rising interest rates.

The banks calculate the amount due which can be made up of three elements:

basic redress – represents the difference between the actual payments made and the payments that would have been made without the productcompensatory interest – at 8% per year and consequential losses – losses suffered due to not having the use of the money.

If you do receive a redress payment please let us have the paperwork so we can review the position. There are certain circumstances where the tax treatment of the payment will be different so please do contact us so we can investigate the position and ensure the correct accounting and tax treatment.

Internet link: HMRC news

Gift Aid and free admission

HMRC have updated their guidance for charities to explain that the terms and conditions attached to a donation that gives a right of admission to property cannot include a right to a full or partial refund of the admission payment.

To read the full HMRC guidance click on the link below.

Internet link: HMRC guidance

UK broadband voucher scheme overhauled

Businesses are being urged to take advantage of a scheme to get faster, cheaper broadband. The government is overhauling its plans for getting ultra-fast broadband to UK businesses after disappointing take-up of its current scheme.

As reported by the BBC only £7.5m out of a possible £100m has so far been spent, with just 3,000 businesses taking up vouchers. As reported by the BBC:

‘Initially the government had expressed hope of reaching 200,000 small businesses.

With a March 2015 deadline for the money to be spent, the government is keen to galvanise interest.

Changes aimed at making it easier to get the money include a redesigned website and a more streamlined process of applying for a grant.

Other changes include:

  • Qualifying businesses no longer need to fill in an application form but can access the government grant with a call to a pre-approved broadband supplier
  • Businesses that already have a different supplier in mind need only to fill in a form to get their quote approved
  • Suppliers can also apply to BDUK (the group overseeing the process) with a set of eligible connection costs, cutting the need for businesses to apply at all
  • Once a broadband package has been approved, suppliers can market them to eligible businesses with no more need for forms or rubber-stamping.’

As reported by the BBC, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said:

‘This is a golden opportunity for businesses to take advantage of better broadband. The grant takes away the costs of installation, which are normally charged up front or added to monthly charges.’

Internet link: BBC news

Latest fake ‘HMRC’ phishing scam

We are aware that there is a new bogus email which is phishing scam aimed at taxpayers. The email which is supposed to come from HMRC states that the recipient is no longer eligible to receive a tax return and needs to sign up with their current details to get back into the system.

It is possible to check HMRC’s website for security advice and examples of phishing emails. Suspicious emails should be sent to HMRC at phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Internet link: ICAEW

Deadline for ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns

For those individuals who have previously submitted ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns the deadline for the 2013/14 return is 31 October 2014. Returns submitted after that date must be submitted electronically or they will incur a minimum penalty of £100. The penalty applies even when there is no tax to pay or the tax is paid on time.

If you would like any help with the completion of your return please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC deadlines

Latest labour market employment figures

The Office for National Statistics has announced that the latest statistics, based on the period May to July 2014, show that employment continued to rise and unemployment continued to fall.

According to the ONS:

‘There were 30.61 million people in work. This was 74,000 more than for February to April 2014, the smallest quarterly increase since April to June 2013.

Comparing May to July 2014 with a year earlier, there were 774,000 more people in work.

The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate), was 73.0%, slightly higher than for February to April 2014 (72.9%) and higher than for a year earlier (71.6%).

There were 2.02 million unemployed people, 146,000 fewer than for February to April 2014 and 468,000 fewer than a year earlier.’

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

‘The fact that unemployment is lower now than at any time since late 2008 is good news. There is more to do, but it’s clear that our growing economy is feeding through to new jobs.

Jobs growth is coming from the private sector, more than making up for public sector job losses, and more young people are finding their feet in our labour market.

With unemployment dropping, and wage settlements in larger firms starting to pick up, we expect to see average earnings growth begin to rise in time.’

Internet links: ONS CBI 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: Gov.uk

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 www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htm.

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

HMRC “Phishing” E-Mails – Warning

We are aware of a number of “phishing” emails being sent out to taxpayers, looking like they have come from HMRC – they will usually refer to a tax refund and ask for bank and other personal details.  Can we please remind everyone to NEVER respond to these emails, HMRC will never ask for information in this way.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will never send notifications of a tax rebate by email, or ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email.

Do not visit the website contained within the email or disclose any personal or payment information.

Here is a link to the HMRC site, where it refers to some of the scams, but is not a full list.  If you have any doubts or worries at all, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/examples.htm

 

Newsletter – February 2013

In this month’s enews the majority of issues we report on are relevant to employers and individuals. Please contact us if you would like any further information on any of the articles.

 

Auto enrolment tool

Under Pensions Auto Enrolment employers must:

  • ‘auto enrol’ eligible employees into a pension scheme
  • make employer pension contributions for them, and
  • make deductions of employee pension contributions from the employees pay.

Although the rules came into force from October 2012, they only impact on the largest employers from that date, as few employers have a workforce of more than 120,000. For those employers with a more modest number of employees the start dates vary by number of employees and PAYE reference.

The Pensions Regulator has released a tool which details the start date for auto enrolment. To access the tool and check the start date for a particular PAYE scheme please use the following link.

Internet link: Pensions regulator tool

Real Time Information

HMRC are issuing final reminders to employers to ‘act now’ in order to be ready to report PAYE under Real time Information (RTI).

HMRC have advised that they are writing to employers and pension providers to formally notify them that they must start reporting under RTI from the first payday on or after 6 April 2013.

The letters are being sent throughout February 2013 and are designed to prompt employers who have not yet taken action to get ready to send their PAYE to HMRC in real time.

Employers should have plans in place to update or acquire new RTI ready payroll software and/or have discussed the issue with their software provider, payroll bureau, or agent if they have one.

The letter includes a checklist which explains the key steps employers need to take before April 2013 to make sure they are ready for reporting PAYE in real time from 6 April 2013. More information is available on HMRC’s website.

Internet link: HMRC news

Paying HMRC by Bill Pay

The ICAEW has reported that HMRC are aware that there are problems with the Bank of Santander’s Bill Pay service which is used by many individuals to pay their self assessment tax liabilities by credit or debit card.

HMRC have issued a statement giving advice on other ways to pay and also confirming that payments made late because of this problem will not incur interest or penalties.

HMRC advised the ICAEW that:

‘The Bank of Santander is having problems with their Bill Pay service that customers use to pay their tax by credit card or debit card. We are working with them to sort this out.

There are other ways you can pay us. These are:

By Faster Payments. You can find out more at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/payinghmrc/selfassessment.htm#5

At your bank

At the Post Office

By Debit/Credit card

You can find out more about these other methods of payment at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/payinghmrc/selfassessment.htm

Please continue to try to pay us, but if your payment is late because of the problems Santander is experiencing you will not have to pay a penalty or interest for late payment.’

Internet link: ICAEW Tax Faculty

Tax rebate phishing scam

HMRC are warning taxpayers not to fall victim of scam emails sent by fraudsters. In 2012 taxpayers reported almost 80,000 tax rebate phishing emails and HMRC took action to close down 522 illegal sites.

The emails follow the same general format and promise a tax refund in exchange for personal, credit card or banking details. Those who respond risk opening their account to fraud and having details sold on to organised criminal gangs. The emails often link to a clone of HMRC’s website to make the email appear genuine.

Gareth Lloyd, Head of Digital Security for HMRC said:

‘HMRC does not email customers about tax refunds – we only ever contact customers who are genuinely due tax back in writing, by post.’

‘If anyone receives an email offering a tax rebate and claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting it permanently. HMRC does everything it can to ensure customers are safe online and we are working closely with other law enforcement agencies to target the criminals behind this serious crime.’

HMRC also advise taxpayers to:

  • Check the advice published at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htmwhere they can see if the email received is listed.
  • Do not click on websites or links contained in suspicious emails or open attachments.
  • Follow advice from www.getsafeonline.co.uk
  • Anyone who has answered one of these emails should forward the email and disclosed details to security.custcon@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
  • If you have reason to believe that you have been the victim of an email scam, report the matter to your bank/card issuer as soon as possible.

Internet link: Press release

HMRC report self assessment statistics

HMRC have reported that a record 9.61 million people submitted their self assessment tax return on time this year.

According to the HMRC statistics of the 10.34 million people in self assessment, 92.9% taxpayers met the return deadlines of 31 October 2012 for paper and 31 January 2013 for online returns.

Of the 9.61 million on time tax returns, 7.93 million (82.5 per cent) were sent online, which is a record number. The remaining 1.68 million (17.5%) were sent on paper.

Anyone who hasn’t yet sent their 2011/12 tax return to HMRC will have already incurred a £100 late filing penalty. To avoid any further penalties, they should send their return as soon as possible, as well as paying any outstanding liabilities for the 2011/12 tax year.

The penalties for late Self Assessment returns are:

  • an initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time
  • after three months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900
  • after six months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater; and
  • after 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater.

There are also additional penalties for paying the liability late of 5% of the tax unpaid at: 30 days; six months; and 12 months respectively.

Please do contact us if you would like any help in this area.

Internet link: HMRC press release

HMRC win furnished holiday lettings test case

HMRC have been successful in a test case which considered the tax reliefs available for Furnished Holiday Lettings (FHL). Provided that certain conditions are met, FHL are treated as a trade for both income and capital gains tax purposes, often allowing access to valuable reliefs.

However, the inheritance rules (IHT) are different. Business Property Relief can allow up to 100% relief on business assets but FHL are not automatically included. For many years, HMRC allowed relief but have changed their policy and taken a test case, which they have won.

This means IHT would be due on the full value of an FHL.

If you have concerns in this area and would like any advice please do get in touch.

Internet links: Mercia Blog Decision

Shared Parental Leave

Proposals to change the way parents can share maternity leave have been outlined as part of the Children and Families Bill.

The government plans to change the current arrangements which have been criticised by some employees as being ‘inflexible’.

The Bill also introduces the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees not just parents and carers.

Under the new system:

  • Employed mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave regardless of the length of their employment.
  • Mothers can choose to end their maternity leave after the initial two week recovery period; working parents can then decide how they want to share the remaining leave.
  • Fathers will have a new right to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments.
  • There will be new statutory payment for parents on shared parental leave with the same qualifying requirements that currently apply to statutory maternity and paternity pay.
  • Those who have adopted a child will be entitled to the same pay and leave as birth parents.

Please be aware that these changes are proposal at present. We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: Press release

Tackling long term sickness absence

The government has announced proposals to introduce a new independent assessment and advisory service aimed at getting people back to work. The service will help businesses tackle long term sickness absence in the workplace.

The scheme is expected to save employers up to £160 million a year in statutory sick pay and increase economic output by up to £900 million a year.

The Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, said:

‘Long-term sickness absence is a burden to business, to the taxpayer and to the thousands of people who get trapped on benefits when they could actually work.’

‘So for the first time, all employers, big or small, will have access to a service that offers the early support they need to keep people in work and fulfil their aspirations.’

The independent occupational health assessment and advice service is expected to be up and running in 2014.

Internet link: Press release

Health and Safety reforms

The government has announced that they have made significant progress in reforming Health and Safety requirements. The government has been working towards implementing some of the recommendations made in the Löfstedt Report in 2011 and the Young Report in 2010.

Steps taken to date include:

  • scrap or simplify more than half of health and safety legislation by 2014
  • the clarification of Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) requirements and
  • a reduction of one third in the number of inspections made by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Professor Löfstedt said the government is ‘supporting a more risk-and evidence-based approach to health and safety‘.

Internet links: Press release HSE website

Charities online Gift Aid service

HMRC have announced that claiming gift aid repayments will be quicker and easier for charities and sports clubs from April 2013.

HMRC are writing to 110,000 charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs advising them that, from 22 April 2013, they can enrol to make repayment claims online, via the HMRC website using a new service, called Charities Online.

Charities will be able to get information on how to use the system from the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/charitiesonline

Internet link: Press Release

Newsletter – September 2011

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

 

 

National Minimum Wage rates

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

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

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

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

The press release confirms:

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

Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey said:

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

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

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

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

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

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC advisory fuel rates

Agreement with Switzerland to secure billions in unpaid tax

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

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

Internet link: Press release

Unemployment figures

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

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment Policy, said:

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

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

Internet link: Press release

HMRC reminder on new tax return penalties

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

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

‘The new penalties for late Self Assessment returns are:

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

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

Internet links: Press release HMRC deadlines and penalties

School Charities – Gift Aid and Payroll Giving guide

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

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

‘Appeals to fund extra lessons

Non-uniform days

School fees

Appeals towards school running costs

Appeals to fund scholarships

Appeals to a general reserve fund

Educational school trips

Appeals to buy a minibus or other equipment

Sponsored events

Payments to e-Learning Foundations

Building appeals

Other fundraising events’

Internet links: HMRC website Guidance

Revised construction industry penalties

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC guidance on CIS penalties

HMRC report increase in phishing scams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: