Newsletter – May 2018

eNews May 2018

In this month’s eNews we report on the latest announcement from HMRC regarding Making Tax Digital. We also consider the looming deadline for GDPR, changes to tax reliefs following the Scottish Budget and issues to do with EMI share options. With articles on benefits in kind forms P11D,the VAT fuel scale charges and a new benefits exemption for workplace charging of employee vehicles there is lots to consider.

Changing priorities at HMRC

Over the coming years, the government plans to phase in its landmark Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative, which will see taxpayers move to a fully digital tax system. However HMRC has shared a statement about how they are prioritising change in the department and as a result some parts of MTD will be delayed. HMRC has acknowledged the challenges in:

  • exiting the EU and
  • the ambition to become the world’s most digitally advanced tax authority.

While some of the finer details are still being decided, HMRC have announced that, to achieve the above, some aspects of MTD are to be delayed. HMRC still plan to go ahead with MTD for VAT from April 2019. Information on some of the delayed projects is set out below:

Plans to introduce further digital services for individuals

There will be ‘halted progress’ on simple assessment and real-time tax code changes. Additional services in this area will only be added where they reduce phone or post contact or otherwise deliver ‘significant savings’.

Other digitalisation of services affecting fewer individuals

This includes Inheritance Tax payments, Tax Advantaged Venture Capital Schemes applications and PAYE Settlement Agreements

Creation of the single digital account for all businesses

HMRC has confirmed this will now happen at a ‘slower pace’. HMRC has confirmed the single digital account remains an aim of the department and they stress it will not impact the delivery of Making Tax Digital.

Voluntary Making Tax Digital for Business service for income tax

HMRC has confirmed this will continue to be available for any sole trader wishing to make quarterly updates to HMRC.

Mandatory Making Tax Digital for VAT – still ‘on track’

HMRC stated that MTD for VAT is still on track. VAT registered businesses with a turnover in excess of the £85,000 VAT registration threshold, will be required to comply with the requirements of MTD for VAT for all VAT periods commencing on or after 1 April 2019.

In addition, the government has confirmed that, it will not mandate any further MTD for Business changes before 2020, at the earliest.

Internet link: ICAEW blog

GDPR compliance deadline looms

With less than one month until the introduction of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is warning small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that time is running out for them to prepare.

The business group stated that small businesses face an ‘uphill challenge’ in ensuring that they are compliant by the date when GDPR takes effect of 25 May 2018.

Under the new rules, organisations which collect, store and process individuals’ personal data will be subject to new obligations, with an increased emphasis on accountability and transparency.

The financial penalties for failing to comply are severe, with fines costing up to €20 million or up to 4% of total annual worldwide revenue, whichever is the greater.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB said:

‘As the GDPR deadline swiftly approaches, there is a real danger that many small businesses are yet to have adequately prepared for the changes. Fortunately for these businesses, there is still time on the clock to start, or finish, their preparations.’

‘The GDPR is the largest shake-up of data protection laws for years, and whether you are a personal trainer or a consultant, most businesses will have to implement changes to their current practices to make sure they are complying with the new rules.’

Further information on the GDPR can be found on the ICO website.

Internet links: ICO guidance FSB press release

Tax reliefs following the Scottish Budget

The Government has stated that it will ensure that tax reliefs continue to work as they were intended as the new Scottish Income Tax rates and bands are introduced from 6 April 2018. The Government has confirmed:

  • Marriage Allowance
    Marriage Allowance allows taxpayers to transfer 10% of their tax-free Personal Allowance to their spouse or civil partner, reducing their tax bill by up to £230 in 2017 to 2018, and £238 in 2018/19. The UK government will ensure that all those claiming Marriage Allowance in Scotland can continue to do so at the current rate (20%).
  • Gift Aid
    Gift Aid allows charities to claim back 25p for every £1 donated. The UK government will make changes to ensure that Scottish taxpayers can benefit from the right rate of tax relief on Gift Aid. Gift Aid will continue to be paid to charities at the basic rate, with Scottish taxpayers able to claim the correct amount of additional relief on top of this.
  • Pensions relief at source
    The UK government confirmed that current processes will continue while it works with stakeholders to establish how this will work in the longer term. For 2018/19, Scottish taxpayers who receive relief on their contributions at source will, therefore, continue to receive relief in their pension pot at 20%, with no adjustment for those taxed at a rate of less than 20%, and scope for those taxed at a rate higher than 20% to claim additional relief.
  • Social security pension lump sum
    The UK government will make changes so that Scottish taxpayers who receive a social security pension lump sum will be taxed, where appropriate, at the new Scottish starter rate.
  • Finance cost relief This will continue to apply at 20%, the same rate applicable to landlords across the UK.

Please contact us if you have queries on the workings of any of these tax reliefs for Scottish taxpayers and those resident elsewhere across the United Kingdom.

Internet link GOV.UK changes to tax relief Scotland

EMI options may not qualify for tax relief

The Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) allows selected employees (often key to the employer) to be given the opportunity to acquire a significant number of shares in their employer through the issue of options. An EMI can offer significant tax advantages as the share option scheme allows options to be granted to employees which may allow the shares to be received without any tax bill arising until the shares are sold.

HMRC have warned that EMI share options granted in the period from 7 April 2018 until EU State Aid approval is received may not be eligible for the tax advantages presently afforded to option holders, and accordingly share options granted in that period as EMI share options may necessarily fall to be treated as non-tax advantaged employment-related securities options meaning that the options may be taxable when exercised.

To read more, please visit the link below or contact us for specific advice.

Internet link: GOV.UK EMI Bulletin

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 2018, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2018. 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 ‘payroll’ 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).

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 2018.

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

HMRC consultation on benefits exemption for workplace charging facilities

HMRC are consulting on the tax exemption which will apply from 6 April 2018 on workplace electric charging facilities used by employees.

It was announced in the Autumn Budget 2017 that the government intends to implement an exemption for the benefit of electricity provided by an employer, at the workplace, to charge electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. The necessary legislation will be included in the Finance Bill later this year and its effect will be made retrospective to 6 April 2018.

This means that there is no need for employers to report the value of electricity provided for the workplace charging of employees’ vehicles from that date.

This consultation seeks comments on workplace charging tax exemptions for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

This guidance will be of interest to employers that pay taxable benefits to employees and provide electric charging points for employee use and the provision of workplace charging facilities, which vehicles the exemption covers and the qualifying conditions of the exemption.

Internet link: GOV.UK consultations/draft guidance

Newsletter – January 2018

eNews January 2018

In this month’s eNews we report on the government’s proposals on auto enrolment, the Scottish draft budget and their plans for five income tax rates and changes to Land and Buildings Transaction Tax. We also include an announcement from the Welsh Assembly on the proposals for Land Transaction Tax.

With details of an HMRC iTunes scam and the withdrawal of options to pay HMRC at the Post Office and via personal credit card there is lots to update you on.

Scottish Draft Budget

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay delivered the 2018/19 Scottish Draft Budget on Thursday 14 December 2017 setting out the Scottish government’s financial and tax plans.

The Scottish government has the power to set the rates and bands of income tax (other than those for savings and dividend income) which apply to Scottish resident taxpayers.

Since 6 April 2016 the rates and bands of Scottish income tax have been frozen at 20% and the Scottish higher and Scottish additional rates at 40% and 45% respectively. For 2017/18 the higher rate threshold in Scotland is £43,000 whilst the threshold in the rest of the UK is £45,000. This means that a Scottish higher rate taxpayer will pay £400 more tax in 2017/18 than a UK higher rate taxpayer, being £2,000 at the marginal rate of 20%.

For 2018/19 the rates and tax bands applicable to Scottish taxpayers on non-savings and non dividend income will be as follows:

Scottish Bands Band name Scottish Rates
Over £11,850* – £13,850 Starter 19%
Over £13,850 – £24,000 Basic 20%
Over £24,000 – £44,273 Intermediate 21%
Over £44,273 – £150,000** Higher 41%
Over £150,000** Top 46%

* assuming the individual is entitled to a full UK personal allowance

** the personal allowance will be reduced if an individual’s adjusted net income is above £100,000. The allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 of income over £100,000

The UK higher rate tax point for 2018/19 has been set at £46,350 (for those entitled to the full UK personal allowance) and the tax rates for non-savings and non-dividend income have been maintained at 20%, 40% and 45% respectively.

For 2018/19 Scottish taxpayers with employment income of £26,000 will pay the same amount of income tax as those with the similar income in the rest of the UK. For higher earners, with pay of £150,000, a Scottish taxpayer will pay an extra £1,770 of income tax than those on similar income in the rest of the UK.

Internet link: GOV.SCOT publication

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and First-Time Buyer Relief

The Scottish government announced that they will introduce a new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) relief for first-time buyers of properties up to £175,000. The relief will raise the zero tax threshold for first-time buyers from £145,000 to £175,000, and according to the Scottish government 80% of first-time buyers in Scotland will pay no LBTT at all. The Scottish government also announced that first-time buyers buying a property above £175,000 will also benefit from the relief on the portion of the price below the threshold.

The Scottish government announced that they will launch a consultation on the policy before introducing the first-time buyer relief in 2018/19. The relief for first-time buyers paying Stamp Duty Land Tax on first homes in the rest of the UK was introduced from 22 November 2017.

Internet link: GOV.SCOT publication

Welsh Land Transaction Tax

The Welsh Parliament have announced changes to proposed rates and bands for Land Transaction Tax which is to be introduced in Wales from 1 April 2017.

The rates and bands will be confirmed in January 2018 but details of the proposed rates and bands are included in the following statement.

Internet links: GOV.WALES land-transaction-tax GOV.WALES statement

Proposals to extend pensions auto enrolment to younger workers

The government has announced proposals to extend pensions auto enrolment to include younger workers and to amend the way in which contributions are calculated.

According to the press release:

The review’s recommendations, which will now be progressed and legislated for where necessary, will see:

  • automatic enrolment duties continuing to apply to all employers, regardless of sector and size
  • young people, from 18 years old, benefiting from automatic enrolment, introducing 900,000 young people into saving an additional £800 million through a workplace pension
  • workplace pension contributions calculated from the first pound earned, rather than from a lower earnings limit – this will bring an extra £2.6 billion into pension saving, improving incentives for people in multiple jobs to opt-in, and simplifying the way employers assess their workforces and calculate contributions
  • the earnings trigger remaining at £10,000 for 2018/19, subject to annual reviews
  • contribution levels reviewed after the implementation of the 8% contribution rate in 2019
  • the government testing a series of ‘targeted interventions’ – including through opportunities to work with organisations who act as ‘touch points’ for the 4.8 million self-employed people, such as banks and those who contract labour – to explore how technology can be used to increase their pension saving.’

Under auto enrolment, employers are required to automatically enrol all eligible workers (generally employees) into a workplace pension scheme and pay a minimum contribution into their pension. Employees do, however, have the right to opt out of auto enrolment.

Currently workers who are aged between 22 and the State Pension Age with earnings of £10,000 per annum are eligible to be auto enrolled. Younger employees and those who do not meet the minimum income requirement can opt to make pension contributions.

The government plan to reduce the lower age limit to 18 by the mid 2020s, in order to encourage younger workers to get into ‘the habit of saving’.

David Gaulke, Work and Pensions Secretary said:

‘We are committed to enabling more people to save while they are working, so that they can enjoy greater financial security when they retire. We know the world of work is changing, so it is only right that pension saving does too. This ambitious package will see more people than ever before helped onto the path towards building a secure retirement.’

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), stated:

‘Requiring employers to contribute from the first pound of earnings will mean that, by 2019, hundreds of thousands of small employers will have to pay up to £180 more per employee each year. ‘For employers in certain sectors, such as care and hospitality where margins are tight, this will really add up.’

Contact us if you would like help with payroll and auto enrolment.

Internet links: GOV.UK news FSB press release

Paying HMRC? Not at the post office or by credit card

With many individuals having tax payments to make at the end of this month it is important to be aware that HMRC have announced that they will no longer accept payments made at the Post Office or by credit card.

HMRC have announced that with effect from 15 December 2017 it will no longer be possible to make payments to HMRC at a post office. The reason for this change is that contract with Santander, which allowed this method of payment, has expired. HMRC are advising that where electronic payment is not possible, payments can still be made at bank branches using a payslip and payments for self assessment income tax can still be posted to HMRC.

From 13 January 2018 it will no longer be possible to pay HMRC using a personal credit card. The timing of this change coincides with the date from which HMRC will no longer be permitted to charge fees for payment by credit card.

Internet link: ICAEW blog

HMRC warning about iTunes gift card scam

HMRC are urging people to stay safe from a phone scam that is conning elderly and vulnerable people out of thousands of pounds.

The scammers are preying on victims by cold calling them and impersonating an HMRC member of staff. They advise the victim that they owe a large amount of tax which they can only pay off by digital vouchers and gift cards, including Apple’s iTunes vouchers.

The scam victims are told to go to a local shop, to purchase vouchers, and then read out the redemption codes to the scammer. The conmen then sell on the codes or purchase high value products, all at the victim’s expense.

According to HMRC the scammers frequently use intimidation to get what they want, threatening to seize the victim’s property or involve the police. The use of vouchers is an attractive scam as they are easy to sell on and hard to trace once used.

HMRC have confirmed that they would never request the settling of debt through such a method.

According to figures from Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, between the beginning of 2016 and August this year there have been over 1,500 reports of this scam, with the numbers increasing in recent months. The vast majority of the victims are aged over 65 and suffered an average financial loss of £1,150 each.

HMRC is working closely with law enforcement agencies, Apple and campaign groups to make sure the public know how to spot the scam and who to report it to.

HMRC’s Director General of Customer Services, Angela MacDonald, said:

These scammers are very confident, convincing and utterly ruthless. We don’t want to see anyone fall victim to this scam just before Christmas. That’s why we’re working closely with crime fighters to ensure taxpayers know how to avoid it.

These scams often prey on vulnerable people. We urge people with elderly relatives to warn them about this scam and remind them that they should never trust anyone who phones them out of the blue and asks them to pay a tax bill. If you think you’ve been a victim you should contact Action Fraud immediately.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Newsletter – November 2017

Enews – November 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on Budget announcements and the introduction of new taxes in Wales and Scotland of Land Transaction Tax and Air Departure Tax. We also consider HMRC’s new method of Simple Assessment for certain taxpayers, the Criminal Finances Act, proposals for Help to Save Accounts and new guidance for employers.

Autumn Budget wishlist

With the Chancellor’s first Autumn Budget due to be presented on 22 November, professional bodies and business groups are setting out their Budget wishlists. Recommendations include changes to Business Rates, a ‘Brexit ready’ Budget, incentives for business and an appeal for changes to the Apprenticeship Levy. The ICAEW is urging that the government give sufficient attention to Making Tax Digital to ensure a successful roll out and making the necessary changes to accommodate Brexit.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged Philip Hammond to deliver a ‘Brexit-ready’ Budget, which rules out any new business tax increases and maintains investment incentives.

We will update you on pertinent announcements.

Internet links: CBI FSB ICAEW autumn budget

Simple Assessment

HMRC have changed the way in which they will assess some taxpayers removing the need for these individuals to complete a Self Assessment Tax Return. These changes took effect from September 2017.

The affected taxpayers fall into one of two categories:

  • new state pensioners with income more than the personal tax allowance (£11,000) in 2016/17; and
  • employees or pensioners with PAYE tax codes who have underpaid tax and who cannot have that tax collected through their tax code because it is too high to code out.

HMRC have also confirmed that all existing state pensioners who complete a tax return because their state pension is more than their personal allowance will be removed from self assessment in 2017/18. This may mean that some clients are dropped out of self assessment and issued an assessment instead based on the information which HMRC hold. Of course, whether the assessment is actually correct will be a different matter.

HMRC state:

‘HMRC will write to customers from September 2017 with a tax calculation. This could be a P800 or a Simple Assessment letter (PA302).

The letter will show their:

  • income from pay
  • pensions
  • state benefits
  • savings interest
  • employee benefits.

Customers just need to check the information is correct, and if it is they can pay their bill online or by cheque by the deadline in the letter.

If a customer thinks any information is incorrect they have 60 days to contact HMRC. For instance, if they think amounts used are wrong or HMRC didn’t act on information received.

Should customers miss the deadline they should contact HMRC to discuss their circumstances or financial penalties will be applied in line with current policy.

If customers are not happy with the follow-up response from HMRC, they have 30 days to appeal against the decision.’

If you would like help with your personal tax affairs please get in touch.

Internet link: GOV.UK briefing policy paper

Welsh Land Transaction Tax

The Welsh Assembly has announced the proposed rates and bands for land transaction tax (LTT) which is to be introduced for land and property in Wales on 1 April 2018, replacing Stamp Duty Land Tax.

Under the new rates for LTT, Wales will have the highest starting threshold for the property tax in the UK. The proposed rates are as follows:

Residential Non-residential
0% £0 – £150,000 £0 – £150,000 0%
2.5% £150,001 – £250,000 £150,001 – £250,000 1%
5% £250,001 – £400,000 £250,001 – £1m 5%
7.5% £400,001 – £750,000 £1m plus 6%
10% £750,001 – £1.5m
12% £1.5m-plus

Announcing the rates and bands, Professor Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, said:

‘From April, Wales will introduce the first Welsh taxes in almost 800 years, supporting first-time buyers and boosting business.

The devolution of tax powers provides us with the opportunity to reshape and make changes to improve existing taxes to better meet Wales’ needs and priorities. I have always been clear that we will use these powers to help improve fairness and support jobs and economic growth in Wales.

These new progressive rates and bands for land transaction tax and landfill disposals tax will make a real difference to people’s lives; help change behaviours and deliver improvements to communities across Wales. We are being bold but balanced and leading the way in creating a fair and progressive tax system.’

Internet link: GOV.UK Wales

Scottish Budget proposals

On 14 December, the Scottish Budget will set out the Scottish Government’s financial and tax plans.

Currently taxpayers who are resident in Scotland pay income tax on their non-savings and non-dividend income at rates and thresholds determined by the Scottish Government. Scottish higher and additional rate taxpayers may pay more income tax than those with similar income in the rest of the UK. The Scottish Parliament is considering plans to radically revise the bands and possibly to introduce some further income tax rates so that middle and higher earners pay additional tax.

The Scottish Parliament are also expected to announce the details of Air Departure Tax which takes effect for flights from Scotland from April 2018.

We will keep you up to date with pertinent announcements.

Internet links: BBC news

Criminal Finances Act

The Criminal Finances Act 2017 took effect on 30 September 2017. It makes companies and partnerships, a ‘relevant body’, criminally liable if they fail to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion being carried out by an employee, anyone acting on their behalf or someone acting as an agent. If found guilty, the business could face unlimited fines and potentially further consequential sanctions within their industry or profession.

This Act has the effect of creating an offence at corporate and partnership level which does not require the directors/partners to have had any knowledge of the offence in question. Broadly, the offence is the failure to prevent the crimes of those who act for or on behalf of the corporate body or partnership instead of the need to attribute criminal acts to that body.

For a firm to be criminally liable under the new Act, there are three elements of the offence:

  • There must be the execution of a criminal act of tax evasion.
  • The crime must have been facilitated or carried out by a person associated with a relevant body.
  • The relevant body failed to initiate adequate prevention procedures in relation to the act carried out by the associated person.

A defence is available when it can be shown that ‘reasonable prevention procedures’ were in place to prevent the associated person from committing or facilitating the crime; or that it would have been unreasonable or disproportionate to expect such procedures to be in place.

The government advises that any reasonable prevention procedures should be based on six guiding principles:

  1. Risk assessment – the relevant body should assess the nature and extent of its exposure to the risk of an associated person committing a criminal act;
  2. Proportionality – the procedures should take into account the nature, scale and complexity of the relevant body’s activities;
  3. Top level commitment – the management of the relevant body should be committed to preventing illegal acts and should foster a culture that tax evasion and its facilitation is never acceptable;
  4. Due Diligence – with appropriate procedures put in place with respect to all people who perform services for the relevant body;
  5. Communication – training staff and ensuring the message effectively gets across to all employees and agents;
  6. Monitoring and reviewing – ensuring that whatever procedures are put into place are regularly reviewed and updated and amended where necessary.

Please contact us if you require further information on this issue.

Internet link: GOV.UK Tackling tax evasion corporate-offence

Help to Save Accounts

The government have announced details of a new Help to Save saving scheme. The scheme is government backed and designed to support working people on low incomes build up their savings.

The scheme, administered by HMRC, will be open to working people who receive Working Tax Credits, and those who receive Universal Credit with a household income equivalent to at least 16 hours a week at the national living wage (currently £120 a week).

Over a four year period, savers can deposit up to £50 per month.

At the end of two years, savers will get a 50% bonus based on the highest balance achieved. Savers can then carry on saving for another two years and get another 50% bonus on their additional savings.

Over four years those saving the maximum amount of £2,400 will receive bonuses of £1,200.

Money paid into the account can be withdrawn at any time but will affect the final bonus payment.

The government has confirmed that all transactions, including checking the balance and paying in savings, will be managed in an online account available through GOV.UK and that further information will be available from early 2018.

Internet link: GOV.UK help to save

New guidance for employers

HMRC have issued the October 2017 Employer Bulletin which contains a number of articles relevant to employers on payroll related issues.

HMRC are advising that following the changes to the valuation of benefits in kind (BiK) where there is a cash option available, they will consult and then issue the necessary amendments to the PAYE Regulations. The guidance will also clarify the taxable amounts that need to be reported under Optional Remuneration and salary sacrifice arrangements.

Where a BiK is taken rather than the alternative cash option, the taxable value of the benefit is the higher of the cash foregone or the taxable value under the normal BiK rules. Transitional provisions apply for arrangements entered into before 6 April 2017.

The Bulletin also includes articles on:

  • Changes to Business Tax Account for employers, including new data on the Apprenticeship Levy and the introduction of monthly and annual statement pages
  • Data matters – ensuring RTI returns are submitted on or before the date the wages are paid, that the returns are accurate, cover all employees, including those that earn less than the National Insurance lower earnings limit
  • Paying HMRC at the Post Office – via transcash. This option will be withdrawn from 15 December 2017
  • Construction Industry Scheme – clarification of when CIS deductions should be reported via the Employer Payment Summary (EPS)
  • Student Loans – new income thresholds from April 2018 for Plan Type 1 and 2 loans
  • Apprenticeships benefit your business – includes links to help on finding apprenticeship training and recruiting an apprentice.

For help with payroll matters please get in touch.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Newsletter – January 2017

Enews – January 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on a number of issues including the Scottish Budget, the Apprenticeship Levy and Personal Tax accounts. We also look at the changes to National Insurance Contributions, SDLT online refund procedures and charity fines.

Scottish Budget

On 15 December, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay delivered the 2017/18 Scottish Draft Budget setting out the Scottish Government’s financial and tax plans.

Scottish Rate of Income Tax

On 6 April 2016, a fundamental change was made to the taxation system for Scottish resident individuals. The main UK rates of income tax were reduced by 10p for Scottish taxpayers and in its place the Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT) was applied equally to all Scottish taxpayers. As the SRIT was set at 10p, the overall income tax rates are currently the same as in the rest of the UK. So, those who are resident in Scotland are currently liable to two types of income tax and pay SRIT at 10% on most mainstream sources of income such as PAYE income, pensions, rental profit and profits from self-employment.

The SRIT does not apply to income from savings such as building society interest or dividends. These rates are the same for all taxpayers across the UK.

The SRIT is in place for one transitional year and will no longer apply from 6 April 2017 as the Scottish Government have exercised their powers to set the tax rates and bands (excluding the personal allowance) on non-savings, non-dividend income of Scottish taxpayers.

Tax bands 2017/18

On 15 December, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay delivered the 2017/18 Scottish Draft Budget setting out the Scottish Government’s financial and tax plans.

For 2017/18, the Scottish Government is proposing to freeze the Scottish basic rate of income tax at 20% and also to freeze the Scottish higher and Scottish additional rates at 40% and 45% respectively. In addition, the higher rate income tax threshold will increase by inflation to £43,430 in 2017/18. The Scottish Government also confirmed that the higher rate income tax threshold will increase by a maximum of inflation in all future years of this Parliament.

The Scottish Government has therefore not followed the UK Government’s plans to extend the threshold for paying the higher rate level of income tax of 40% from £43,000 to £45,000 for 2017/18. This means that a Scottish higher rate taxpayer will pay £314 more tax in 2017/18 than a UK higher rate taxpayer, being £1,570 at the marginal rate of 20% (40% – 20%).

Internet link: Scottish Draft Budget 2017/18

Apprenticeship Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy is being introduced from 6 April 2017 and will be payable by large employers. The Levy will be 0.5% of the employer’s pay bill, which is explained later in this article, but there is an annual allowance of £15,000.The allowance will be given on a pro-rata basis throughout the tax year.

The recent HMRC guidance confirms employers will need to report their Apprenticeship Levy liability each month:

  • from the start of the tax year if:- their annual pay bill (including any connected companies or charities) in the previous tax year was more than £3 million- they believe their annual pay bill (including any connected companies or charities) for the tax year will be more than £3 million
  • if an employer’s annual pay bill (including any connected companies or charities) unexpectedly increases to more than £3 million. In which case the employer will need to start reporting when this happens.

An employer’s annual pay bill is all payments to employees that are subject to employer Class 1 secondary NICs. Broadly wages but excluding benefits and expenses. HMRC have confirmed that employers must include payments to employees for whom there are no employer NICs including:

  • all employees earning below the NIC lower earnings and secondary thresholds
  • employees under the age of 21
  • apprentices under the age of 25

The Apprenticeship Levy will need to be reported each month on the Employer Payment Summary (known as the EPS) and should include the following:

  • the amount of the annual Apprenticeship Levy allowance which has been allocated to that PAYE scheme
  • the amount of Apprenticeship Levy you owe to date in the current tax year

HMRC have confirmed that it is not necessary to report Apprenticeship Levy if the employer has not had to pay it in the current tax year.

If you would like advice on the Apprenticeship Levy or other payroll matters please contact us.

Internet Link: GOV.UK apprenticeship levy

Personal tax accounts ‘first birthday’

The government are celebrating the ‘first birthday’ of their award winning Personal Tax Account which recently won Digital Project of the Year at the annual UK IT Industry Awards

HMRC have announced that in its first year, the Personal Tax Account has attracted more than seven million users and there have been millions of transactions including:

  • 1.6 million Income Tax repayments, worth more than £800 million
  • 1 million tax credit renewals
  • 100,000 people checking or updating their company car details
  • 1.6 million people checking their tax estimate
  • 2 million people checking their state pensions.

The press release also states that the Personal Tax Account is designed to be one stop shop for all customer interactions with HMRC and taxpayers using it can:

  • check their state pension
  • complete and return a Self Assessment tax return
  • update tax credits circumstances as they change throughout the year to prevent under and overpayments
  • claim an Income Tax refund that will be paid straight into their bank account
  • check and update their Marriage Allowance.

If you would like advice on your personal tax affairs please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

National Insurance changes – winners and losers

Tax campaigners have warned that the abolition of Class 2 National Insurance contributions from April 2018 could result in the lowest earners among the self employed being hardest hit.[a]

Class 2 NICs are flat-rate weekly contributions paid by the self-employed to gain access to contributory benefits. The self-employed also pay Class 4 NICs on profits above the Lower Profits Limit. Class 4 NICs do not currently give access to contributory benefits. At Autumn Statement 2016 the Chancellor confirmed that Class 2 contributions would be abolished from 6 April 2018.[b]

At present, self-employed earners whose profits exceed £5,965 a year, the small profits threshold (SPT), are required to pay Class 2 NI contributions at £2.85 a week. These contributions then count towards their state retirement pension and entitlement to certain other contributory benefits. If their profits fall below the SPT, they have the option to make voluntary Class 2 payments.

When Class 2 is abolished, payment of Class 4 NI contributions will count towards state benefits. In order to protect some people on low incomes, Class 4 contributions will not be payable until annual profits reach £8,060. However, as long as profits exceed the SPT, the self-employed will be given Class 4 credits, so they will be treated as making contributions even though none was actually paid.

A point to note though is that, unlike Class 2, Class 4 NI cannot be paid on a voluntary basis meaning that the only way that self-employed people on profits below the Class 4 threshold will be able to build up a contribution record, if they did not obtain NI credits through receipt of other benefits, eg tax credits, child benefit or Universal Credit, will be by paying Class 3 voluntary contributions at £14.10 a week.[c][d]

Anthony Thomas, Chairman of the Low Income Tax Reform Group commented:

‘Some parts of these proposals are good news for self-employed workers on low earnings, but by no means all. Those with profits between £5,965 and £8,060 will be better off because they will pay no NI but be credited with contributions. Our concern is for those with lower earnings than £5,965 who would have to pay voluntary Class 3 contributions in the future to protect their benefits entitlement if they did not obtain NI credits through receipt of other benefits, for example tax credits, child benefit or Universal Credit. Class 3 contributions will cost almost five times the amount they are paying now (£14.10 per week compared to £2.85 per week) and may mean the cost is unaffordable, leading them to rely more on means-tested benefits in the future.’

Internet links: GOV.UK policy paper Low income tax group

Charity fines

An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has revealed that two national charities, the RSPCA and the British Heart Foundation, secretly screened millions of their donors so they could target them for more money. The ICO said that this practice breached the Data Protection Act as the charities failed to handle donors’ personal data in accordance with the legislation.

The charities also traced and targeted new or lapsed donors by piecing together personal information which was obtained from other sources. In addition, they traded data with other charities to create a pool of donor data which was available for sale. As the donors were not informed of these practices, they could not give their consent or object.

The investigation was one of a number by the ICO into the fundraising activities of charities sparked by media reports about pressure on donors to contribute. The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, fined the RSPCA £25,000 and the British Heart Foundation £18,000.

The ICO can take action, including penalties of up to £500,000, against organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal data. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with the eight principles of the Data Protection Act which make sure personal data is:

  1. fairly and lawfully processed
  2. processed for limited purposes
  3. adequate, relevant and not excessive
  4. accurate and up to date
  5. not kept for longer than is necessary
  6. processed in line with an individual’s rights
  7. secure and
  8. not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.

Internet link: ICO news

SDLT online refund procedures

HMRC have introduced an online service to apply for a repayment of the higher rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for additional properties if the property sold was previously a main home.

From 1 April 2016 higher rates of SDLT are charged on purchases of additional residential properties.

The main target of the higher rates is purchases of buy to let properties or second homes. However, there will be some purchasers who will have to pay the additional charge even though the property purchased will not be a buy to let or a second home. The 36 month rules set out below will help to remove some transactions from the additional rates (or allow a refund).

Care will be needed if an individual already owns, or partly owns, a property and transacts to purchase another property without having disposed of the first property.

The higher rates are three percentage points above the normal SDLT rates. The higher rates potentially apply if, at the end of the day of the purchase transaction, the individual owns two or more residential properties.

Some further detail:

  • where a new main residence is purchased before disposing of a previous main residence the higher rate will be payable. They then have 36 months to dispose of their previous main residence and claim a refund.
  • purchasers will also have 36 months between selling a main residence and replacing it with another main residence without having to pay the higher rates
  • a small share in a property which has been inherited within the 36 months prior to a transaction will not be considered as an additional property when applying the higher rates.

The online refund process will allow those affected to apply for a repayment of the higher rate of SDLT if the property sold was a previous main home.

Internet Link: GOV.UK SDLT repayment of Higher Rate

Latest statistics show unemployment at 4.8%

The government has announced:

‘labour market has finished a record breaking year with unemployment down by over 100,000 people and the rate running at 4.8%’.

Other statistics include:

  • there continues to be 31.8 million people in work, up by 2.7 million since 2010.
  • the number of women in work is at a record high of almost 15 million
  • long-term unemployment has fallen to 418,000 and is the lowest it has been since 2008, down 31,000 on the quarter
  • youth unemployment is 587,000, a fall of 350,000 since 2010
  • 41% of the 420,000 people now receiving Universal Credit are in work.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Damian Green said:

‘This year will be remembered as one when so many records were made – employment has consistently been running at an all-time high with more women, older workers and ethnic minority groups in work than ever before.

Encouragingly, this good news was extended right across the UK.

But there is more to do to help people of all backgrounds and abilities into work, which will remain a priority as we press ahead with our welfare reforms that are ensuring it always pays to be in work.’

Rachel Smith, CBI Principal Labour Market Adviser, said:

‘We see a mixed picture from the labour market over the last three months, with employment levels remaining more or less the same and unemployment seeing a slight drop.’

‘Although wage growth has gone up somewhat, so has inflation, hitting workers’ pay packets in real terms. Boosting productivity in every region and nation of the UK will be essential if firms are to further raise wages sustainably for their employees.’

Internet links: GOV. UK unemployment rate GOV.UK universal credit statistics CBI comment

Newsletter – January 2016

Enews – January 2016

In this month’s eNews we report on the new rules on the taxation of dividends, the NLW, latest ICO fines and HMRC’s advance assurance for R&D. We also advise on the self assessment deadline and the HMRC tax helpline for those affected by flooding.

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

Dividend Allowance and rates of tax

Further details have been provided of the new rates of income tax on dividends and the new Dividend Allowance which will apply to dividends received on or after 6 April 2016.

The rates of income tax on dividends will be:

● 7.5% for dividend income within the basic rate band (ordinary rate)

● 32.5% for dividend income within the higher rate band (upper rate)

● 38.1% for dividend income within the additional rate band (additional rate)

There will also be a new Dividend Allowance of £5,000 where the tax rate will be 0% – the dividend nil rate. The Dividend Allowance applies to the first £5,000 of an individual’s taxable dividend income and is in addition to the personal allowance.

Where an individual receives dividend income, from UK or non-UK resident companies, that would otherwise be chargeable at the dividend ordinary, upper or additional rate, and the income is less than or equal to £5,000, the dividend nil rate will apply to all of the dividend income. Where the dividend income is above £5,000, the lowest part of the dividend income will be chargeable at 0%, and anything received above £5,000 is taxed at the rate that would apply to that amount if the dividend nil rate did not exist.

In calculating the tax band into which any dividend income over the £5,000 allowance falls, savings and dividend income are treated as the highest part of an individual’s income. Where an individual has both savings and dividend income, the dividend income is treated as the top slice.

The following example illustrates how the new Dividend Allowance and rates will work:

Patricia has a salary of £40,500 and dividend income of £7,000 in 2016/17. Her total income is therefore £47,500. The total of her personal allowance and basic rate band comes to £43,000. Therefore part of her dividend income would be taxed at the upper rate were it not for the operation of the new dividend nil rate.

So £5,000 will be taxed at 0% and £2,000 will be taxed at the upper rate of 32.5%

If you would like advice on how the new dividend rules will affect you please do get in touch.

Internet link: GOV.UK dividend

National Living Wage – employers advised to get ready

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is advising employers to begin preparing for the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) which comes into effect from 1 April 2016. The rate is £7.20 an hour and applies to employees aged 25 and over.

Businesses are being advised to prepare early for the changes on 1 April 2016, when the new wage will become law, and make sure they follow these 4 simple steps:

  • know the correct rate of pay – £7.20 per hour for staff aged 25 and over
  • find out which staff are eligible for the new rate
  • update the company payroll in time for 1 April 2016
  • communicate the changes to staff as soon as possible.

Business Minister Nick Boles said:

‘The government’s new National Living Wage will provide a direct boost to over two-and-a-half million workers in the UK – rewarding and providing security for working people.’

‘I am urging businesses to get ready now to pay the new £7.20 rate from 1 April 2016. With just under 4 months left, there are some easy steps employers can take to make sure they are ready.’

‘By taking these measures, companies will be able to properly reward their staff and avoid falling foul of the law when it takes effect.’

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

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Scottish Budget – income tax and LBTT

Income tax

The Scottish Government set out tax and financial plans for the future in their draft Budget on 16 December 2015. The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy, John Swinney, announced that the Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT) would be set at 10p in the pound for 2016/17. The effect of this is to ensure that Scottish Taxpayers will pay tax at the same rates as their counterparts in the rest of the UK, at 20%, 40% and 45%.

Income tax bands for the basic and higher rates are the same in Scotland as in the rest of the UK.

The Scotland Act 2012 granted the Scottish Parliament landmark new powers to set a separate annual rate of income tax for Scottish taxpayers. The Scottish rate of income tax (SRIT) comes into effect in April 2016 and represents a fundamental change to the UK tax system.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax

As well as paving the way for the changes to income tax outlined above, the Scotland Act 2012 also resulted in the introduction of Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in Scotland from 1 April 2015. This replaces Stamp Duty Land Tax which applies in the rest of the UK. The draft Budget proposes changes to LBTT with the introduction of a LBTT supplement on purchases of additional residential properties, such as buy-to-let properties and second homes. This supplement will be 3 percentage points of the total price of the property for all relevant transactions above £40,000 and will be levied in addition to the current LBTT rates.

The Scotland Bill 2015 proposes the further devolution of additional tax and spending powers to the Scottish Parliament. The Scotland Bill 2015 is still subject to consideration and amendment by the UK Parliament.

Internet link: GOV.UK news SRIT

Self assessment deadline approaching

HMRC have reported that:

  • a record breaking 24,546 people submitted their tax return online on New Year’s Eve
  • more than 11,467 people sent off their self assessment tax return on New Year’s Day
  • and in excess of 2,000 taxpayers submitted their tax returns on Christmas Day.

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

‘As we all enjoy the festive season it’s easy to see how completing your tax return can be forgotten, but the 31 January deadline will be here quicker than we think.’

The deadline for sending 2014/15 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2016. Please contact us if you need help with your self assessment return.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

HMRC introduce Advance Assurance for R&D

HMRC have introduced Advance Assurance for companies that claim Research and Development (R&D) tax relief.

If a company carries out R&D for itself or other companies, it could qualify for Advance Assurance. This means that for the first three accounting periods of claiming for R&D tax relief, HMRC will allow the claim without further enquiries.

Internet link: GOV.UK guidance

Tax helpline for those affected by severe weather and flooding

HMRC have set up a helpline (number is 0800 904 79000800 904 7900 FREE) and will enable anyone affected to get practical help and advice on a wide range of tax problems they may be facing. HMRC will also:

  • agree instalment arrangements where taxpayers are unable to pay as a result of the floods
  • agree a practical approach when individuals and businesses have lost vital records in the floods
  • suspend debt collection proceedings for those affected by the floods
  • cancel penalties when the taxpayer has missed statutory deadlines.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Nuisance call companies warned to expect more fines

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is warning companies making nuisance calls to expect more fines in 2016.

The ICO has reported that they imposed more than £1,000,000 worth of penalties for nuisance calls and text messages in 2015, and anticipates they will issue a similar amount in early 2016.

The fines issued in 2015 included:

  • £295,000 of fines for companies offering call blocking or nuisance call prevention services
  • an £80,000 fine to a PPI claims firm that sent 1.3 million text messages
  • a £200,000 fine to a solar panels company that made six million nuisance calls
  • a £130,000 fine to a pharmacy company that was selling customer details to postal marketing companies

In addition the ICO report that the fines related to nuisance marketing in 2015 amounted to £1,135,000. These included £400,000 fines for nuisance texts, £575,000 fines for nuisance calls and a £130,000 fine for selling customer records for marketing. Details of the businesses penalised and fined can be found by using the hyperlink.

Andy Curry, ICO Enforcement Group Manager, said:

‘Nuisance marketing calls frustrate people. The law is clear around what is allowed, and we’ve been clear that we will fine companies who don’t follow the law. That will continue in 2016. We’ve got 90 on going investigations, and a million pounds worth of fines in the pipeline.’

According to the ICO, PPI claims prompted the most complaints, followed by accident claims. Areas identified as emerging sectors for nuisance calls and texts included call blocking services, oven cleaning services and industrial hearing injury claims.

Internet link: ICO news

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