Newsletter – July 2017

Enews – July 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on the Queen’s speech and the legislative process. We also include articles on recommendations to simplify corporation tax, the extended deadline for returns for employment related securities, the introduction of Land Transaction Tax in Wales and the latest fines and guidance issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office following cyber attacks. With HMRC’s latest Employer Bulletin and advice on holiday pay and entitlement there is lots to consider.

Queen’s Speech and proposed legislation

The Queen delivered the 2017 Queen’s Speech on 21 June which set out the government’s agenda for the coming parliamentary session. The speech outlined the government’s proposed policies and legislation.

This Queen’s speech announced that the government will focus on:

  • delivering a Brexit deal that works for all parts of the United Kingdom and
  • building a stronger, fairer country by strengthening our economy, tackling injustice and promoting opportunity and aspiration.

The supporting documentation confirms 27 Bills and draft Bills which are expected to be in the legislative programme, which will deliver on these themes. Details of the Bills that the government propose to introduce are available via the links at the end of this article.

The Speech and supporting documentation make little reference to delayed tax measures which were put on hold prior to the Election or the progress of the legislation on Making Tax Digital for Business. The reference to tax legislation states:

‘The programme will also include three Finance Bills to implement budget decisions. Summer Finance Bill 2017 will include a range of tax measures including those to tackle avoidance. The programme will also include a technical Bill to ratify several minor EU agreements and further Bills, which will be announced in due course, to effect the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The government will also be taking forward a range of other measures which may not require primary legislation.’

We will update you on developments.

Internet links: GOV.UK summary what it means Speech GOV.UK background notes

Simplifying corporation tax

The Office for Tax Simplification has published their recommendations on simplifying the corporation tax computation.

This report sets out some significant steps towards creating a 21st-century corporation tax system in the UK, responding to calls from businesses of all sizes to make the calculation of corporation tax simpler, with fewer changes and more time to plan. The report looks at four broad themes:

  • simpler tax for smaller companies
  • aligning the tax rules more closely with accounting rules where appropriate
  • simplifying tax relief for capital investment
  • a range of further issues affecting the largest companies.

We will keep you informed of developments in this area.

Internet link: GOV.UK review CT

Employment Related Securities return deadline

HMRC are advising that there have been technical issues with their Employment Related Securities (ERS) annual returns online service. Employers have to complete returns for any schemes that have been registered on the ERS online service, such as Enterprise Management Incentives (EMI), a non-tax advantaged scheme or award, Company Share Option Plan, Save As You Earn Scheme and Share Incentive Plan

HMRC apologise for the difficulties which had prevented some returns from being submitted online. They have confirmed that the service is now working and allowing users to upload the necessary templates and files as part of the return process.

The deadline for filing annual returns is generally 6 July following the end of the tax year, so for the tax year 2016/17 it would usually be 6 July 2017. However, in view of the recent problems HMRC have extended the deadline to 24 August 2017 for the tax year 2016/17.

Penalties for late returns

Due to the change in deadline this year HMRC are advising that:

‘Penalties are charged if you file your return late. If your return isn’t filed by the extended deadline of 24 August 2017 the first late filing penalty of £100 will be issued on 25 August 2017.

Additional automatic penalties of £300 will be charged if the return is still outstanding 3 months after the original deadline of 6 July, and a further £300 if it’s still outstanding 6 months after that date. If a return is still outstanding 9 months after the 6 July, daily penalties of £10 a day may be charged.’

If you would like any help or guidance on share incentives or how these should be reported to HMRC please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK bulletin

Land Transaction Tax

From April 2018, Land Transaction Tax (LTT) will replace Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in Wales. Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) already applies in Scotland.

Like SDLT (and LBTT), LTT will generally be payable on the purchase or lease of a building or land. The new tax may therefore be relevant to house buyers and sellers and businesses including builders, property developers and agents involved in the transaction process (such as solicitors and conveyancers).

Rates of the new tax

The proposed tax rates and bands will be announced by October 2017.

Additional residential properties

Higher rates of SDLT and LBTT apply to purchases of additional residential properties, including second homes. The National Assembly for Wales has confirmed these increased rates will continue to apply in Wales under LTT.

More details can be found at National Assembly for Wales.

Internet link: gov.wales/land-transaction-tax

Holiday entitlement

Now is the time of year when many of us turn our thoughts to holidays and it is important to get holiday entitlement and holiday pay right.

The June 2017 acas newsletter includes links to useful guidance on calculating holiday and holiday pay entitlements as well as guidance on hot weather working.

The GOV.UK website includes a useful calculator.

If you would like help with payroll matters please contact us.

Internet links: GOV.UK calculator acas newsletter

Latest guidance for employers

HMRC have issued the latest version of the Employer Bulletin. This edition has articles on a number of issues including:

  • P11D and P11D(b) filing and payment deadlines
  • Paying the right amount of tax through PAYE
  • Construction industry scheme repayment claims for limited companies
  • The Apprenticeship Levy and funding of apprenticeship training
  • Tax-free childcare rollout including guidance on dealing with employee opt outs of current childcare voucher schemes
  • Student Loan employer prompts where deductions have not been made
  • GCSEs in England – new grading system explained for employers.

If you have any queries on payroll matters please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK Employer bulletin

ICO warning as business fined £60,000 following cyber attack

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is warning SMEs to take care or face a fine. The warning comes after a company which suffered a cyber attack was fined £60,000.

The investigation by the ICO found Boomerang Video Ltd based in Berkshire failed to take basic steps to stop its website being attacked.

Sally Anne Poole, ICO enforcement manager, said:

Regardless of your size, if you are a business that handles personal information then data protection laws apply to you.’

‘If a company is subject to a cyber attack and we find they haven’t taken steps to protect people’s personal information in line with the law, they could face a fine from the ICO. And under the new General Data Protection Legislation (GDPR) coming into force next year, those fines could be a lot higher.’

‘Boomerang Video failed to take basic steps to protect its customers’ information from cyber attackers. Had it done so, it could have prevented this attack and protected the personal details of more than 26,000 of its customers.’

Further details of the case can be found using the links below together with guidance on data protection issues including guidance on the new General Data Protection Regulations which come into effect on 25 May 2018.

Internet links: ICO news ICO report Boomerang data protection reform updated toolkit for SMEs

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 – February 2016

Henry Cooper is walking 2016 km in the year 2016!

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

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Enews – February 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet links: Consultation Scottish Parliament

HMRC reveal tax return statistics and worst excuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reporting PAYE information ‘on or before’ paying employees

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

Guidance on the limited situations where pay details may be provided late can be found at www.gov.uk/running-payroll/fps-after-payday. If you would like any help with payroll matters please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK Employer Bulletin 57

Digital quarterly updates

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

We will keep you informed of developments.

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

New National Living Wage to boost living standards

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

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

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

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK NLW

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

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

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

The press release states:

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

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

To find out what your pension entitlement is visit www.gov.uk/state-pension-statement

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Apprentices and employer National Insurance

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK

Newsletter – December 2014

eNews – December 2014

In this month’s eNews we report on a number of issues including the Autumn Statement announcement of the changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax. We also include the latest advisory fuel rates and the EAT ruling on holiday pay and overtime.

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

Autumn Statement

The Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement on 3 December and said:

‘…to improve the productivity of our economy, we back business and we build infrastructure and we will support growth across the whole UK.’

‘But in the end, Britain’s future lies in the hands of its people and their aspirations.

The aspiration to save, to work, and to buy a home. Today we support each one.’

We have included details of some of the major announcements.

Internet link: gov.uk

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

One of the Autumn Statement announcements is a major reform to SDLT on residential property transactions. Historically SDLT has been charged at a single percentage of the price paid for the property, depending on the rate band within which the purchase price falls. From 4 December 2014 each new SDLT rate will only be payable on the portion of the property value which falls within each band. This will remove the distortion created by the existing system, where the amount of tax due jumps at the thresholds.

Where contracts have been exchanged but not completed on or before 3 December 2014, purchasers will have a choice of whether the old or new structure and rates apply. This measure will apply in Scotland until 1 April 2015 when SDLT is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

The new rates and thresholds are:

Purchase price of property New rates paid on the part of the property price within each tax band
£0 – £125,000 0%
£125,001 – £250,000 2%
£250,001 – £925,000 5%
£925,001 – £1,500,000 10%
£1,500,001 and above 12%

The government believes that this reform makes SDLT more efficient and fairer, and ensures that SDLT will be cut for 98% of people who pay it.

Internet link: gov.uk

Incorporation – restriction of relief for goodwill and Entrepreneurs’ relief

Corporation tax relief is given to companies when goodwill and intangible assets are recognised in the financial accounts. Relief is normally given on the cost of the asset as the expenditure is written off in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Practice or at a fixed 4% rate, following an election.

In the Autumn Statement an anti-avoidance measure has been announced to restrict corporation tax relief where a company acquires internally-generated goodwill and certain other intangible assets from related individuals on the incorporation of a business.

In addition, individuals will be prevented from claiming Entrepreneurs’ Relief on disposals of goodwill when they transfer the business to a related company. Capital gains tax will be payable on the gain at the normal rates of 18% or 28% rather than 10%.

These measures will apply to all transfers on or after 3 December 2014 unless made pursuant to an unconditional obligation entered into before that date.

Prior to this announcement it was possible, for example, on incorporation of a sole trader’s business to a company which is owned by the sole trader, for the company to obtain corporation tax relief on the market value of goodwill at the time of incorporation. The disposal by the sole trader would qualify for a low rate of capital gains tax.

Internet link: gov.uk

Employment benefits changes ahead

In the Autumn Statement the government announced a package of measures which will impact the treatment of employee benefits in kind and expenses.

  • From 6 April 2015 there will be a statutory exemption for trivial benefits in kind costing less than £50.
  • From 6 April 2016, the £8,500 threshold below which employees do not pay income tax on certain benefits in kind will be removed. This threshold adds unnecessary complexity to the tax system. There will be new exemptions for carers and ministers of religion.
  • There will be an exemption for certain reimbursed expenses which will replace the current system where employers apply for a dispensation to avoid having to report non-taxable expenses. The new exemption for reimbursed expenses will not be available if used in conjunction with salary sacrifice.
  • The introduction of a statutory framework for voluntary payrolling benefits in kind. Payrolling benefits instead of submitting forms P11D can offer substantial administrative savings for some employers.

Please contact us if we can help with employee benefits and expenses reporting.

Internet link: gov.uk

Personal allowances and tax bands 2015/16

For those born after 5 April 1948 the personal allowance will be increased from £10,000 to £10,600. The reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 will continue. The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2014/15 there is no allowance when adjusted net income exceeds £120,000. In 2015/16 the allowance ceases when adjusted net income exceeds £121,200.

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is being decreased from £31,865 to £31,785 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies will rise from £41,865 to £42,385 for those who are entitled to the full basic personal allowance.

The additional rate of tax of 45% is payable on taxable income above £150,000.

Dividend income is taxed at 10% where it falls within the basic rate band and 32.5% were liable at the higher rate of tax. Where income exceeds £150,000, dividends are taxed at 37.5%.

Starting rate of tax for savings income

From 6 April 2015, the maximum amount of an eligible individual’s savings income that can qualify for the starting rate of tax for savings will be increased to £5,000 from £2,880, and this starting rate will be reduced from 10% to nil. These rates are not available if taxable non-savings income (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income) exceeds the starting rate limit.

This will increase the number of savers who are not required to pay tax on savings income, such as bank or building society interest. If a saver’s taxable non-savings income will be below the total of their personal allowance plus the £5,000 starting rate limit then they can register to receive their interest gross using a form R85.

Internet link: gov.uk

Holiday pay and overtime

In the judgment an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has decided that holiday pay should reflect non-guaranteed overtime.

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 most workers are entitled to paid statutory annual leave. This is 5.6 weeks (28 days) if the employee works five days a week. A worker is entitled to be paid in respect of any period of annual leave for which they are entitled, at a rate of one week’s pay for each week’s leave.

The EAT considered three cases in which employees were required to work overtime if requested by their employees. The EAT referred to this type of overtime as non-guaranteed overtime. The Tribunal decided in the context of non-guaranteed overtime:

  • overtime payments must be taken into account in the calculation of holiday pay if there is a settled pattern of work
  • if the amount of overtime varies but is regularly paid, overtime payments must also be taken into account on an average basis.

Vince Cable has announced the setting up of a taskforce to assess the possible impact of the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling on holiday pay.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

‘Government will review the judgment in detail as a matter of urgency. To properly understand the financial exposure employers face, we have set up a taskforce of representatives from government and business to discuss how we can limit the impact on business. The group will convene shortly to discuss the judgment.

Employers and employees can also contact the Acas helpline for free and confidential advice.

If you would like any help in this area please do get in touch.

Internet links: Acas guidance Gov News EAT

Advisory Fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 December 2014. 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 December 2014 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 13p
1401 cc – 2000cc 16p
Over 2000cc 23p

 

Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 9p
1401 cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 16p

 

Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 11p
1601cc – 2000cc 13p
Over 2000cc 16p

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

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

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

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

Internet link: gov.uk

Do you employ anyone under the age of 21?

From the 6 April 2015, if any of your employees are under the age of 21 you may no longer need to pay employer Class 1 secondary National Insurance contributions (NICs) on their earnings.

The rate of employer Class 1 NICs for employees under the age of 21 will be 0% up to the new ‘Upper Secondary Threshold’ (UST) which, for the tax year starting 6 April 2015, will be the same as the Upper Earnings Limit (UEL). Class

1 NICs will however continue to be payable on all earnings above this threshold. The basic rules and calculations of National Insurance including how Class 1 NICs are assessed will not be changed by this measure.

For employees who are at, or over, the age of 16 and under the age of 21 there will be a range of new NI category letters to available. From 6 April 2015, when submitting PAYE information for employees under the age of 21 employers will need to use the new category letter appropriate to the individual.

Seven new National Insurance category letters have been introduced. The most commonly used one will be category M:- Not contracted-out standard rate contributions for employees under 21.

Employers (or their agents) are responsible for ensuring they report the correct category letter. To do this, employers will need to make sure they hold the correct date of birth for employees.

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

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Gift Aid declaration to be improved – potentially saving charities billions of pounds

The Gift Aid model declaration form is to be improved, to stop charities potentially losing out on billions of pounds of Gift Aid.

The National Audit Office estimates there are donations of around £2.3 billion where Gift Aid is not used. Although not all of these donations will be eligible for Gift Aid, the government is working with charities to boost the number of eligible donations.

One way it hopes to do this is by improving the model Gift Aid declaration form, as research has identified that many donors do not understand Gift Aid and the link between the tax they have paid and Gift Aid claimed by the charity. Possible improvements include making the language used about Gift Aid more straightforward to enable donors to decide if their donations qualify for relief.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Priti Patel said:

‘Gift Aid is an important tax relief for charities which helps to provide essential revenue to charitable causes. This research shows that there is more that government can do to boost eligible donations which is why we are simplifying the declaration forms to make sure donors understand when they’re eligible so that charities can maximise the financial donations they receive.’

Internet link: gov.uk

Helping employers identify a pension scheme for automatic enrolment

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has opened consultation on a proposal to publish a list of pension schemes that are available to any employer, regardless of the number or workers the employer has or their levels of pay.

According to research carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions 48% of small and 79% of micro employers currently have no pension scheme and will have to choose a new one as they prepare for automatic enrolment.

TPR state they are ‘aware of 30-40 providers who offer a scheme for automatic enrolment. Of these, a much smaller number of schemes have indicated they will not reject employers on the basis of size or low value. Even fewer schemes have indicated they will accept all employers who approach them.’

To read more about this issue and the consultation visit the link below.

Internet link: thepensionsregulator.gov.uk

HMRC warning ‘Ten things you need to know about tax avoidance’

HMRC have published a list of factors to consider before buying into a ‘scheme’. The list sets out the risks of entering into a tax avoidance scheme including the possible monetary costs and reputational damage of tax avoidance, but also a potential criminal conviction.

This list is being published as HMRC writes to the first promoters who will be caught by new High-Risk Promoters rules. If they don’t change their behaviour, HMRC could name them publicly and fines might be imposed of up to £1 million.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, said:

‘The government has taken unprecedented steps to clamp down on the selfish minority who practise tax avoidance, because we are firmly on the side of the vast majority of taxpayers who play by the rules. As a result, tax avoidance is now very high risk.

On top of a substantial fee to join a scheme that will almost certainly fail a challenge by HMRC, tax avoiders will also have to pay the tax they dodged, plus interest and penalties.

To help protect taxpayers from unscrupulous promoters we have put in place new High-Risk Promoters rules, but people need to be aware of the dangers. So I would strongly advise anyone thinking of signing up to a scheme which they have been told will legally reduce their tax bill to carefully consider today’s list of things a promoter may not tell you.’

Internet link: Gov News

The Chancellor’s 2014 Autumn Statement

Autumn Statement 2014

On Wednesday 3 December the Office for Budget Responsibility published its updated forecast for the UK economy. Chancellor George Osborne responded to that forecast in a statement to the House of Commons later on that day.

In the period since the Budget in March a number of consultation papers and discussion documents have been published by HMRC and some of these proposals are summarised here. Draft legislation relating to many of these areas will be published on 10 December and some of the details in this summary may change as a result.

Our summary also provides a reminder of other significant developments which are to take place from April 2015.

The Chancellor’s statement

His speech and the subsequent documentation announced tax measures in addition to the normal economic measures.

Our summary concentrates on the tax measures which include:

  • improvements to the starting rate of tax for savings income
  • new rules for accessing pension funds
  • removal of corporation tax relief for goodwill on incorporation
  • changes to the Construction Industry Scheme
  • the introduction of new CGT rules for non-residents and UK residential property
  • changes to the remittance basis charge for resident non-domiciles
  • changes to the tax treatment of pensions on death
  • changes to the IHT treatment of trusts
  • changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax for residential property.

Personal Tax

The personal allowance for 2015/16

For those born after 5 April 1948 the personal allowance will be increased from £10,000 to £10,600.

Comment

The reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 will continue. The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2014/15 there is no allowance when adjusted net income exceeds £120,000. In 2015/16 the allowance ceases when adjusted net income exceeds £121,200.

Tax bands and rates for 2015/16

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is being decreased from £31,865 to £31,785 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies will rise from £41,865 to £42,385 for those who are entitled to the full basic personal allowance.

The additional rate of tax of 45% is payable on taxable income above £150,000.

Dividend income is taxed at 10% where it falls within the basic rate band and 32.5% where liable at the higher rate of tax. Where income exceeds £150,000, dividends are taxed at 37.5%.

Starting rate of tax for savings income

From 6 April 2015, the maximum amount of an eligible individual’s savings income that can qualify for the starting rate of tax for savings will be increased to £5,000 from £2,880, and this starting rate will be reduced from 10% to nil. These rates are not available if taxable non-savings income (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income) exceeds the starting rate limit.

Comment

This will increase the number of savers who are not required to pay tax on savings income, such as bank or building society interest. If a saver’s taxable non-savings income will be below the total of their personal allowance plus the £5,000 starting rate limit then they can register to receive their interest gross using a form R85.The increase will also provide a useful tax break for director/shareholders who extract their share of profits from a company by taking a low salary and the balance in dividends. This is because dividends are taxed after savings income and thus are not included in the individual’s ‘taxable non-savings income’.

 

Example

Type of income Amount Tax rate Comment on tax rate
Salary £10,600 Nil (as covered by personal allowance)
Bank interest £3,000 Nil (as salary plus interest is less than £15,600)

Dividend income is then taxed at the appropriate dividend tax rates.

Transferable Tax Allowance for some

From 6 April 2015 married couples and civil partners may be eligible for a new Transferable Tax Allowance.

The Transferable Tax Allowance will enable spouses and civil partners to transfer a fixed amount of their personal allowance to their spouse. The option to transfer is not available to unmarried couples.

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

Comment

For those couples where one person does not use all of their personal allowance the benefit will be up to £212 (20% of £1,060).HMRC will, no doubt, be publicising the availability of the Transferable Tax Allowance in the next few months and details of how couples can opt to transfer allowances.

New Individual Savings Accounts (NISAs)

On 1 July 2014 ISAs were reformed into a simpler product, the NISA, and the overall annual subscription limit for these accounts was increased to £15,000 for 2014/15. From 6 April 2015 the overall NISA savings limit will be increased to £15,240.

The Chancellor has now announced an additional ISA allowance for spouses or civil partners when an ISA saver dies. From 6 April 2015, surviving spouses will be able to invest the inherited funds into their own ISA, on top of their usual allowance. This measure applies for deaths from 3 December 2014.

At Budget 2014, the Chancellor announced that peer-to-peer loans would be eligible for inclusion within NISAs. The government is consulting on the options for changes to the NISA rules to allow peer-to-peer loans to be held within them.

No start date has been announced.

Comment

Peer-to-peer lending is a small but rapidly growing alternative source of finance for individuals and businesses. The inclusion of such loans in NISAs will increase choice for investors and encourage the growth of the peer-to-peer sector.

Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund (CTF)

The annual subscription limit for Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund accounts will increase from £4,000 to £4,080.

The government has previously decided that a transfer of savings from a CTF to a Junior ISA should be permitted at the request of the registered contact for the CTF. The government has confirmed the measure will have effect from 6 April 2015.

Bad debt relief on investments made on peer-to-peer lending

The government will introduce a new relief to allow individuals lending through peer-to-peer platforms to offset any losses from loans which go bad against other peer-to-peer income. It will be effective from 6 April 2016 and, through self assessment, will allow individuals to make a claim for relief on losses incurred from 6 April 2015.

Pensions – changes to access of pension funds

In Budget 2014, George Osborne announced ‘pensioners will have complete freedom to draw down as much or as little of their pension pot as they want, anytime they want’. Some of changes have already taken effect but the big changes will come into effect on 6 April 2015 for individuals who have money purchase pension funds.

The tax consequences of the changes are contained in the Taxation of Pensions Bill which is currently going through Parliament.

Under the current system, there is some flexibility in accessing a pension fund from the age of 55:

  • tax free lump sum of 25% of fund value
  • purchase of an annuity with the remaining fund, or
  • income drawdown.

For income drawdown there are limits, in most cases, on how much people can draw each year.

An annuity is taxable income in the year of receipt. Similarly any monies received from the income drawdown fund are taxable income in the year of receipt.

From 6 April 2015, the ability to take a tax free lump sum and a lifetime annuity remain but some of the current restrictions on a lifetime annuity will be removed to allow more choice on the type of annuity taken out.

The rules involving drawdown will change. There will be total freedom to access a pension fund from the age of 55.

It is proposed that access to the fund will be achieved in one of two ways:

  • allocation of a pension fund (or part of a pension fund) into a ‘flexi-access drawdown account’ from which any amount can be taken over whatever period the person decides
  • taking a single or series of lump sums from a pension fund (known as an ‘uncrystallised funds pension lump sum’).

When an allocation of funds into a flexi-access account is made the member typically will take the opportunity of taking a tax free lump sum from the fund (as under current rules).

The person will then decide how much or how little to take from the flexi-access account. Any amounts that are taken will count as taxable income in the year of receipt.

Access to some or all of a pension fund without first allocating to a flexi-access account can be achieved by taking an uncrystallised funds pension lump sum.

The tax effect will be:

  • 25% is tax free
  • the remainder is taxable as income.

Comment

The fundamental tax planning point arising from the changes is self-evident. A person should decide when to access funds depending upon their other income in each tax year.

Pensions – changes to tax relief for pension contributions

The government is alive to the possibility of people taking advantage of the new flexibilities by ‘recycling’ their earned income into pensions and then immediately taking out amounts from their pension funds. Without further controls being put into place an individual would obtain tax relief on the pension contributions but only be taxed on 75% of the funds immediately withdrawn.

Currently an ‘annual allowance’ sets the maximum amount of tax efficient contributions. The annual allowance is £40,000 (but there may be more allowance available if the maximum allowance has not been utilised in the previous years).

Under the proposed rules from 6 April 2015, the annual allowance for contributions to money purchase schemes will be reduced to £10,000 in certain scenarios. There will be no carry forward of any of the £10,000 to a later year if it is not used in the year.

The main scenarios in which the reduced annual allowance is triggered is if:

  • any income is taken from a flexi-access drawdown account, or
  • an uncrystallised funds pension lump sum is received.

However just taking a tax-free lump sum when funds are transferred into a flexi-access account will not trigger the £10,000 rule.

Taxation of resident non-domiciles

The Chancellor has announced an increase in the annual charge paid by non-domiciled individuals resident in the UK who wish to retain access to the remittance basis of taxation.

The charge paid by people who have been UK resident for seven out of the last nine years will remain at £30,000. The charge paid by people who have been UK resident for 12 out of the last 14 years will increase from £50,000 to £60,000. A new charge of £90,000 will be introduced for people who have been UK resident for 17 of the last 20 years. The government will also consult on making the election apply for a minimum of three years.

 

Business Tax

Corporation tax rates

From 1 April 2015 the main rate of corporation tax, currently 21%, will be reduced to 20%.

As the small profits rate is already 20%, the need for this separate code of taxation disappears. The small profits rate will therefore be unified with the main rate.

Research and Development (R&D) tax credits

The government will increase the rate of the ‘above the line’ credit from 10% to 11% and will increase the rate of the SME scheme from 225% to 230% from 1 April 2015.

It is proposed to restrict qualifying expenditure for R&D tax credits from 1 April 2015 so that the costs of materials incorporated in products that are sold are not eligible. There will be a package of measures to streamline the application process for smaller companies investing in R&D.

Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) improvements

In Budget 2014 the government announced that it would consult on options to improve the operation of the scheme for smaller businesses and to introduce mandatory online CIS filing for contractors. The consultation has now taken place.

A key reform concerns changes to the requirements for subcontractors to achieve and retain gross payment status. There are proposals for simplifying and improving the compliance and turnover tests which will enable more subcontractors to access gross payment status. There is no intention to change the £30,000 turnover test for sole traders, but the government proposes lowering the threshold for the upper limit of the turnover test to help more established businesses with multiple partners or directors qualify for gross payment status. The current upper threshold of £200,000 could fall to as little as £100,000.

Some compliance tests would be relaxed so that it would be easier for subcontractors to retain their gross payment status.

For contractors the government is proposing mandatory online filing of monthly CIS returns. Improvements will be made to the IT systems to provide a better CIS online service. These will include the online system for verification of subcontractors by contractors.

Comment

About two thirds of CIS contractors are also employers who therefore file Real Time Information PAYE returns online. It is no surprise that the government wants to extend the scope of mandatory online filing. The improvements to the online verification process would be welcome but the government is also proposing to remove the option of verifying subcontractors by telephone.

Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NIC)

From 6 April 2015 liability to pay Class 2 NIC will arise at the end of each year. Currently a liability to Class 2 NIC arises on a weekly basis.

The amount of Class 2 NIC due will still be calculated based on the number of weeks of self-employment in the year, but will be determined when the individual completes their self assessment return. It will therefore be paid alongside their income tax and Class 4 NIC. For those that wish to spread the cost of their Class 2 NIC, HMRC will retain a facility for them to make regular payments throughout the year. The current six monthly billing system will cease from 6 April 2015.

Those with profits below a threshold will no longer have to apply in advance for an exception from paying Class 2 NIC. Instead they will have the option to pay Class 2 NIC voluntarily at the end of the year so that they may protect their benefit rights.

Corporation tax relief for goodwill on incorporation

Corporation tax relief is given to companies when goodwill and intangible assets are recognised in the financial accounts. Relief is normally given on the cost of the asset as the expenditure is written off in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Practice or at a fixed 4% rate, following an election.

An anti-avoidance measure has been announced to restrict corporation tax relief where a company acquires internally-generated goodwill and certain other intangible assets from related individuals on the incorporation of a business.

In addition, individuals will be prevented from claiming Entrepreneurs’ Relief on disposals of goodwill when they transfer the business to a related company. Capital gains tax will be payable on the gain at the normal rates of 18% or 28% rather than 10%.

These measures will apply to all transfers on or after 3 December 2014 unless made pursuant to an unconditional obligation entered into before that date.

Comment

Prior to this announcement it was possible, for example, on incorporation of a sole trader’s business to a company which is owned by the sole trader, for the company to obtain corporation tax relief on the market value of goodwill at the time of incorporation. The disposal by the sole trader would qualify for a low rate of capital gains tax.The government considers this is unfair to a business that has always operated as a company.

Corporation tax reliefs – creative sector

Two new reliefs and a change to an existing relief are proposed:

  • Children’s television tax relief – the government will introduce a new tax relief for the production of children’s television programmes from 1 April 2015. The relief will be available at a rate of 25% on qualifying production expenditure.
  • Orchestra tax relief – The government will consult on the introduction of an orchestra tax relief from 1 April 2016.
  • High-end television tax relief – the government will explore with the industry whether to reduce the minimum UK expenditure for high-end TV relief from 25% to 10% and modernise the cultural test, to bring the relief in line with film tax relief.

Overarching contracts of employment and temporary workers

The government will review the increasing use of overarching contracts of employment by employment intermediaries such as ‘umbrella companies’. These arrangements enable workers to obtain tax relief for home to work travel that would not ordinarily be available. The government will publish a discussion paper shortly which may result in new measures at Budget 2015.

Banks – loss relief restriction

The government will restrict the amount of a bank’s annual profit that can be offset by the carry forward of losses to 50% from 1 April 2015. The restriction will apply to losses accruing up to 1 April 2015 and will include an exemption for losses incurred in the first five years of a bank’s authorisation.

Diverted profits tax

A new tax to counter the use of aggressive tax planning techniques by multinational enterprises to divert profits from the UK will be introduced. The Diverted Profits Tax will be applied using a rate of 25% from 1 April 2015.

 

Employment Taxes

Employer provided cars

The scale of charges for working out the taxable benefit for an employee who has use of an employer provided car are now announced well in advance. Most cars are taxed by reference to bands of CO2 emissions. The percentage applied to each band has typically gone up by 1% each year with an overriding maximum charge of 35% of the list price of the car. From 6 April 2015, the percentage applied by each band goes up by 2% and the maximum charge is increased to 37%.

Comment

These increases have the perverse effect of discouraging retention of the same car. New cars will often have lower CO2 emissions than the equivalent model purchased by the employer, say three years ago.

Employer National Insurance contributions (NIC) for the under 21s

From 6 April 2015 employer NIC for those under the age of 21 will be reduced from the normal rate of 13.8% to 0%. For the 0% rate to apply the employee will need to be under 21 when the earnings are paid.

This exemption will not apply to earnings above the Upper Secondary Threshold (UST) in a pay period. The weekly UST is £815 for 2015/16 which is equivalent to £42,385 per annum. Employers will be liable to 13.8% NIC beyond this limit.

Comment

The UST is a new term for this new NIC exemption. It is set at the same amount as the Upper Earnings Limit, which is the amount at which employees’ NIC fall from 12% to 2%.

NIC for apprentices under 25

The government will abolish employer NIC up to the upper earnings limit for apprentices aged under 25. This will come into effect from 6 April 2016.

NIC Employment Allowance

The Employment Allowance was introduced from 6 April 2014. It is an annual allowance of up to £2,000 which is available to many employers and can be offset against their employer NIC liability.

The government will extend the annual £2,000 Employment Allowance for employer NIC to care and support workers. This will come into effect from 6 April 2015.

Review of employee benefits

The Office of Tax Simplification has published a number of detailed recommendations on the tax treatment of employee benefits in kind and expenses. In response the government launched:

  • a package of four related consultations on employee benefits in kind and expenses
  • a longer term review of the tax treatment of travel and subsistence expenses
  • a call for evidence on modern remuneration practices.

The government has now announced:

  • From 6 April 2015 there will be a statutory exemption for trivial benefits in kind costing less than £50.
  • From 6 April 2016, the £8,500 threshold below which employees do not pay income tax on certain benefits in kind will be removed. This threshold adds unnecessary complexity to the tax system. There will be new exemptions for carers and ministers of religion.
  • There will be an exemption for certain reimbursed expenses which will replace the current system where employers apply for a dispensation to avoid having to report non-taxable expenses. The new exemption for reimbursed expenses will not be available if used in conjunction with salary sacrifice.
  • The introduction of a statutory framework for voluntary payrolling benefits in kind. Payrolling benefits instead of submitting forms P11D can offer substantial administrative savings for some employers.

 

Capital Taxes

Capital gains tax (CGT) rates

The current rates of CGT are 18% to the extent that any income tax basic rate band is available and 28% thereafter. The rate for disposals qualifying for Entrepreneurs’ Relief is 10% with a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual.

CGT – Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER)

The government will allow gains which are eligible for ER, but which are instead deferred into investments which qualify for the Enterprise Investment Scheme or Social Investment Tax Relief to remain eligible for ER when the gain is realised. This will benefit qualifying gains on disposals that would be eligible for ER but are deferred into either scheme on or after 3 December 2014.

CGT – non-residents and UK residential property

At present a non-resident individual or company is not liable to CGT on residential property even though it is located in the UK. This is in marked contrast to many other countries that charge a capital gains tax on the basis of the location of a property rather than on the location of the vendor.

Therefore from 6 April 2015 a CGT charge will be introduced on gains made by non-residents disposing of UK residential property. The rate of tax for non-resident individuals will be the same as the CGT rates for UK individuals. Non-resident individuals will have access to the CGT annual exemption.

The rate of tax for companies will mirror the UK corporation tax rate.

The charge will not apply to the amount of the gain relating to periods prior to 6 April 2015. The government will allow either rebasing to a 5 April 2015 value or a time-apportionment of the whole gain, in most cases.

The government has decided that some changes are required to the rules determining the circumstances when a property can benefit from Private Residence Relief (PRR). The changes will apply to both a UK resident disposing of a residence in another country and a non-resident disposing of a UK residence.

From 6 April 2015 a person’s residence will not be eligible for PRR for a tax year unless either:

  • the person making the disposal was resident in the same country as the property for that tax year, or
  • the person spent at least 90 midnights in that property.

Comment

The main point of the changes to the PRR rules is to remove the ability of an individual who is resident in, say, France with a property in the UK as well as France to nominate the UK property as having the benefit of PRR. Any gain on the French property is not subject to UK tax anyway and, without changes to the PRR rules, the gain on the UK property could be removed by making a PRR election.The good news is that the latest proposals retain the ability of a UK resident with two UK residences to nominate which of those properties have the benefit of PRR.

Changes to the tax treatment of pensions on death

IHT and pension funds

If an individual has not bought an annuity, a defined contribution pension fund remains available to pass on to selected beneficiaries. Inheritance tax (IHT) can be avoided by making a ‘letter of wishes’ to the pension provider suggesting to whom the funds should be paid. If an individual’s intention has not been expressed the funds may be paid to the individual’s estate resulting in a potential IHT liability.

Other tax charges on pension funds – current law

There are other tax charges to reflect the principle that income tax relief would have been given on contributions into the pension fund and therefore some tax should be payable when the fund is paid out. For example:

  • if the fund is paid as a lump sum to a beneficiary, tax at 55% of the fund value is payable
  • if the fund is placed in a drawdown account to provide income to a ‘dependant’ (for example a spouse), the income drawn down is taxed at the dependant’s marginal rate of income tax.

There are some exceptions from the 55% charge. It is possible to pass on a pension fund as a tax free lump sum where the individual has not taken any tax free cash or income from the fund and they die under the age of 75.

Other tax charges on pension funds – changes

The government has decided to introduce significant exceptions from the tax charges.

Under the new system, anyone who dies under the age of 75 will be able to give their remaining defined contribution pension fund to anyone completely tax free, whether it is in a drawdown account or untouched.

The fund can be paid out as a lump sum to a beneficiary or taken out by the beneficiary through a ‘flexi access drawdown account’ (see the personal tax section of this summary for an explanation of this term).

Those aged 75 or over when they die will be able to pass their defined contribution pension fund to any beneficiary who will then be able to draw down on it as income at their marginal rate of income tax. Beneficiaries will also have the option of receiving the pension as a lump sum payment, subject to a tax charge of 45%.

The proposed changes take effect for payments made from 6 April 2015.

Tax treatment of inherited annuities

The Chancellor has announced further changes to the pension tax regime. From 6 April 2015 beneficiaries of individuals who die under the age of 75 with a joint life or guaranteed term annuity will be able to receive any future payments from such policies tax free. The tax rules will also be changed to allow joint life annuities to be passed on to any beneficiary.

Comment

Without this change in tax treatment of inherited annuities, individuals had a potential prospective tax advantage in choosing not to purchase an annuity. If an individual died relatively early, their fund would pass tax free to beneficiaries. If the individual would prefer the financial comfort of a guaranteed payment of income, beneficiaries would be taxed on the income at their marginal rate of income tax under current rules. From 6 April 2015, the beneficiaries will be able to receive any future payments from such policies tax free.

Changes to the trust IHT regime

Certain trusts, known as ‘relevant property trusts’, provide a mechanism to allow assets to be held outside of an individual’s estate thus avoiding a 40% IHT liability on the death of an individual. The downside is that there are three potential points of IHT charge on relevant property trusts:

  • a transfer of assets into the trust is a chargeable transfer in both lifetime and on death
  • a charge has to be calculated on the value of the assets in the trust on each ten-year anniversary of the creation of the trust
  • an exit charge arises when assets are effectively transferred out of the trust.

The calculation of the latter two charges is currently a complex process which can take a significant amount of time to compute for very little tax yield.

A third consultation on proposed changes was issued in June 2014. It proposed that an individual would have a ‘settlement nil rate band’ which would be unconnected to their personal nil rate band.

The government has now announced that a single settlement nil rate band will not be introduced. The government will introduce new rules to target avoidance through the use of multiple trusts. It will also simplify the calculation of trust rules.

IHT – exemption for emergency services personnel and humanitarian aid workers

Following consultation since Budget 2014, the government will extend the existing IHT exemption for members of the armed forces whose death is caused or hastened by injury while on active service to members of the emergency services and humanitarian aid workers responding to emergency circumstances. It will have effect for deaths on or after 19 March 2014.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

The Chancellor has announced a major reform to SDLT on residential property transactions. SDLT is charged at a single percentage of the price paid for the property, depending on the rate band within which the purchase price falls. From 4 December 2014 each new SDLT rate will only be payable on the portion of the property value which falls within each band. This will remove the distortion created by the existing system, where the amount of tax due jumps at the thresholds.

Where contracts have been exchanged but not completed on or before 3 December 2014, purchasers will have a choice of whether the old or new structure and rates apply. This measure will apply in Scotland until 1 April 2015 when SDLT is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

The new rates and thresholds are:

Purchase price of property New rates paid on the part of the property price within each tax band
£0 – £125,000 0%
£125,001 – £250,000 2%
£250,001 – £925,000 5%
£925,001 – £1,500,000 10%
£1,500,001 and above 12%

 

Comment

Purchasers of residential property valued at £937,500 or less will pay the same or in most cases less tax than they would have paid under the old rules.

Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED)

The ATED is payable by those purchasing and holding their homes through corporate envelopes, such as companies. The government introduced a package of measures in 2012 and 2013 to tackle this tax avoidance. One of the measures was the ATED.

The government has now announced an increase in the rates of ATED by 50% above inflation. From 1 April 2015, the charge on residential properties owned through a company and worth:

  • more than £2 million but less than £5 million will be £23,350
  • more than £5 million but less than £10 million will be £54,450
  • more than £10 million but less than £20 million will be £109,050
  • more than £20 million will be £218,200.

Other Matters

Devolved tax powers to Scottish Parliament

Following the referendum on Scottish independence, the main political parties in Scotland have agreed on new devolved powers. The UK government will publish draft clauses in January 2015 for the implementation of these powers.

For income tax:

  • the Scottish Parliament will have the power to set income tax rates and the thresholds at which these are paid for the non-savings and non-dividend income of Scottish taxpayers
  • all other aspects of income tax will remain reserved to the UK Parliament, including the imposition of the annual charge to income tax, the personal allowance, the taxation of savings and dividend income, the ability to introduce and amend tax reliefs and the definition of income
  • HMRC will continue to collect and administer income tax across the UK.

For other taxes:

  • VAT – Receipts raised in Scotland by the first 10 percentage points of the standard rate of VAT will be assigned to the Scottish government’s budget. All other aspects of VAT will remain reserved to the UK Parliament.
  • Air passenger duty – The power to charge tax on air passengers leaving Scottish airports will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, with freedom to make arrangements with regard to the design and collection of any replacement tax.
  • Aggregates levy – The power to charge tax on the commercial exploitation of aggregate in Scotland will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, once the current European legal challenges are resolved.

Devolution to Northern Ireland

The government recognises the strongly held arguments for devolving corporation tax rate-setting powers to Northern Ireland. HMRC and HM Treasury have concluded that this proposal could be implemented provided that the Northern Ireland Executive is able to manage the financial implications.

The parties in the Northern Ireland Executive are currently taking part in talks aimed at resolving a number of issues. The government will introduce legislation in this Parliament subject to satisfactory progress on these issues in the cross-party talks.

Devolution of non-domestic rates to Wales

Agreement has been reached with the Welsh government on full devolution of non-domestic (business) rates policy. The fully devolved regime will be operational by April 2015.

Offshore tax evasion

In 2014, the government announced its intention to introduce a new strict liability criminal offence of failing to declare taxable offshore income and gains. This means that HMRC would need only demonstrate that a person failed to correctly declare the income or gains, and not that they did so with the intention of defrauding the Exchequer. This will complement existing offences, such as the common law offence of cheating the public revenue, with less serious sanctions than existing criminal offences.

The government is consulting on the design of the new offence.

The government considers the majority of cases are still likely to be investigated and settled through civil means. Another consultation is seeking views on strengthening the existing civil penalty regime on offshore evasion.

The offshore penalties regime has applied to liabilities arising from 6 April 2011. The level of penalty is based on the type of behaviour that leads to the understatement of tax, and is linked to the tax transparency of the territory in which the income or gain arises. The underlying premise is that where it is harder for HMRC to get information from another territory, the more difficult it is to detect and remedy non-compliance and therefore the penalties for failing to declare income and gains arising in that territory will be higher.

Direct Recovery of Debts (DRD)

At Budget 2014, the Chancellor announced HMRC would be given the power to recover tax and tax credit debts directly from the bank and building society accounts (including NISAs) of debtors. A consultation on DRD set out the process and safeguards but many commentators considered the safeguards were not robust enough. In response to concerns about the risk of DRD being used in error and the potential impact on vulnerable individuals, the government will introduce further safeguards.

It is now proposed the main features of the DRD process will be:

  • only debts of £1,000 or more will be eligible for recovery through DRD
  • HMRC will always leave £5,000 across a debtor’s accounts, as a minimum, once the debt has been held
  • guaranteeing every debtor will receive a face-to-face visit from HMRC agents, before their debts are considered for recovery through DRD
  • extending the window to 30 calendar days, from the start of the DRD being initiated to the earliest point at which funds could be transferred to HMRC
  • an option for debtors to appeal against HMRC’s decision to a County Court on specified grounds, including hardship and third party right.

Scotland will be removed from the scope of DRD as HMRC already has summary warrant powers in Scotland to recover debts in a similar, though not identical, manner to DRD.

In order to allow for an extended period of scrutiny, the government intends to legislate in 2015, during the next Parliament.

Comment

HMRC state that the vast majority of people pay their taxes in full and on time and DRD will only affect individuals and businesses who are making an active decision not to pay. HMRC also state they will use the power in a very small minority of cases.Last year, HMRC collected £505.8 billion from about 35 million taxpayers. About 90% was paid on time but around £50 billion was not, and became a debt. They made around 16 million contacts with debtors by letter, phone, text message or other means to collect the debt. This included making more than 900,000 visits to follow up on around 400,000 debt cases. HMRC estimate they will use DRD 17,000 times a year.

Air Passenger Duty (APD)

The Chancellor announced an exemption from reduced rate APD from 1 May 2015 for children under 12 and from 1 March 2016 for children under 16. The government has reviewed how to improve tax transparency in ticket prices and will consult on whether the APD needs to be displayed on airline tickets.

Disclaimer – for information of users

This publication is published for the information of clients. It provides only an overview of the regulations in force at the date of publication and no action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material contained in this publication can be accepted by the authors or the firm.

Newsletter – March 2012

eNEWS – March 2012

In this month’s enews we report on the Budget. You may have already read some information following Budget Day but we have included details of the key announcements.

Please contact us if you would like any further information.

 

 

Budget 2012

George Osborne presented his third Budget on Wednesday 21 March 2012.

The Chancellor started by reaffirming the need for stability in the UK economy and finished in Churchillian style with phrases such as:

‘No people will strive as the British will strive.’

‘No country will adapt as the British will adapt.’

‘This country borrowed its way into trouble. Now we’re going to earn our way out.’

The main Budget proposals announced are:

  • A further increase in the personal allowance but with a reduction in the basic rate band from April 2013.
  • A reduction in the additional rate of income tax from 50% to 45% from April 2013.
  • A phasing out of the age related personal allowances.
  • Details of how Child Benefit will be taxed on those with income in excess of £50,000.
  • An additional 1% cut in the main rate of corporation tax to 24% from April 2012.
  • Increased Stamp Duty Land Tax on high value residential properties.

Details of the announcements and supporting documentation can be found on the Treasury website using the link below.

Internet link: Treasury Website Budget page

Increased personal allowance for 2012/13

For those aged under 65 the personal allowance will be increased by £630 to £8,105. This increase is greater than the minimum required and is part of the plan of the government to ultimately raise the allowance to £10,000.

The personal allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 of adjusted net income over £100,000. So for 2012/13, the allowance ceases at adjusted net income in excess of £116,210.

Tax band and rates 2012/13

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is being reduced to £34,370 so that the threshold at which the 40% higher rate of tax applies will remain at £42,475.

The 50% additional rate of tax currently applies where taxable income exceeds £150,000.

If dividend income is part of total income this is taxed at 10% where it falls within the basic rate band, 32.5% where liable at the higher rate of tax and 42.5% where liable to the additional rate of tax.

Changes for 2013/14

The personal allowance is to increase to £9,205. The band of income taxable at this rate is being reduced to £32,245 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies will reduce to £41,450.

For 2013/14 the 20% basic rate and 40% higher tax rates remain unchanged. However the 50% additional rate tax will be reduced to 45%. A rate of 37.5% will be payable on dividends liable to the additional rate of tax.

There had been widespread speculation that the 50% top rate of tax would be abolished.

Internet link: HMRC Budget information

Age allowances

It was announced in the Budget that from 2013/14 the higher age related personal allowances will not be increased and their availability will be restricted to people born on or before:

  • 5 April 1948 for the £10,500 allowance
  • 5 April 1938 for the £10,660 allowance.

This has been labelled the ‘granny tax’ by many as the increased allowances will no longer be available to those reaching age 65 and 75 respectively.

Internet link: HMRC Budget information

Child Benefit

Legislation will be introduced to impose a new charge on a taxpayer who has adjusted net income over £50,000 in a tax year where either they or their partner are in receipt of Child Benefit for the year. Where both partners have adjusted net income in excess of £50,000 the charge will apply to the partner with the higher income.

The income tax charge will apply at a rate of 1% of the full Child Benefit award for each £100 of income between £50,000 and £60,000. The charge on taxpayers with income above £60,000 will be equal to the amount of Child Benefit paid.

Child Benefit claimants will be able to decide not to receive Child Benefit if they or their partner do not wish to pay the new charge.

This charge will have effect from 7 January 2013 and for 2012/13 will apply to the Child Benefit paid from that date to the end of the tax year. The income taken into account will be the full income for 2012/13.

The removal of Child Benefit from households containing a higher rate taxpayer had been announced previously. However the detail of the way in which the restriction would apply had been subject to speculation. The following HMRC example shows how the charge will be calculated:

The Child Benefit for two children amounts to £1,752 and the taxpayer’s adjusted net income is £54,000.

The income tax charge will be £700.80 which is calculated as £17.52 for every £100 above £50,000.

For a taxpayer with adjusted net income of £60,000 or above the income tax charge will equal the Child Benefit.

Internet link: HMRC Budget information

Corporation tax rates

A further reduction in the main rate of corporation tax has been announced. The planned 1% decrease announced to take effect from 1 April 2012 is now to be a 2% decrease with the rate moving from 26% to 24%. Further 1% reductions to 23% and 22% are to take place from 1 April 2013 and 1 April 2014 respectively. The small company rate will remain at 20%.

Internet link: HMRC Budget information

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT)

A new rate of 7% will be introduced where the chargeable consideration for a residential property is more than £2 million. This will have effect where the effective date (normally the date of completion) is on or after 22 March 2012, unless the contract was entered into before that date.

An even higher rate of 15% will apply to such residential properties if the purchaser is a ‘non natural person’, for example a company. This will have effect where the effective date of the transaction is on or after 21 March 2012.

In addition the government will consult on the introduction of:

  • a SDLT annual charge where properties over £2 million are owned by non natural persons
  • a CGT charge on residential property owned by non resident, non natural persons.

Both these measures will apply from April 2013.

The intention of the 15% charge is to stop or reduce the number of schemes which claim to allow a property to be transferred without SDLT. The charges to be introduced in 2013 are aimed at charging properties already in companies which are used as residential accommodation.

Internet link: HMRC SDLT Budget changes

Employer end of year forms

HMRC are reminding employers that in order to avoid penalties they must file the Employer Annual Return (P35 and P14s) online and on time. The vast majority of employers must file electronically and the deadline for submission of the forms is 19 May 2012 which this year falls on a Saturday.

To avoid unnecessary late filing penalty notices being issued, where no return is necessary, it is important to advise HMRC that no return is due. This can be done using the link below.

If you are unsure whether you need to complete a return this year please do get in touch.

Internet links: HMRC guidance No P35 online form

Reimbursing additional household expenses

From 6 April 2012 HMRC are increasing the guideline rate which employers can use to reimburse employees for additional household expenses incurred because they have to work from home to £4 per week (currently £3 a week). To find out more about the circumstances when these expenses can be reimbursed please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC expenses and benefits

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published to take effect from 1 March 2012. HMRC’s website states:

‘These rates apply to all journeys on or after 1 March 2012 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 March 2012 are:

Engine size Petrol Diesel LPG
1400cc or less 15p   10p
1401cc – 2000cc 18p   12p
Over 2000cc 26p   18p
1600cc or less   13p*  
1601cc – 2000cc   15p  
Over 2000cc   19p*  

Please note that only two of the diesel rates have changed. These two rates marked * have both increased by one pence per mile.

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 fuel advisory rates

Updated guidance on Gift Aid and new declarations

HMRC have updated their guidance on Gift Aid declarations and provided new model declarations. They have also developed a new checklist of the minimum information to be included in a declaration if a charity decides to create and use its own declaration form.

Internet link: HMRC Charities Gift Aid

National Minimum Wage rates

The government has accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations for National Minimum Wage rates from 1 October 2012.

From 1 October 2012:

  • the adult minimum wage rate will increase from £6.08 to £6.19 an hour
  • the youth development rate will remain at £4.98 an hour
  • the 16-17 year old rate will remain at £3.68 an hour and
  • the apprentice rate will increase from £2.60 to £2.65 an hour.

The Chair of the Low Pay Commission David Norgrove said:

‘Our recommendations this year are, as ever, based on extensive economic evidence and take account of the prospects for the UK economy. Although the economy is forecast to grow through 2012 and 2013, the expected pace of growth is uncertain and is likely to be low. We believe our recommendations for October 2012 balance the needs of low-paid workers against the challenges facing businesses, particularly small businesses.’

Internet link: Press release

National Loan Guarantee Scheme

The Chancellor George Osborne has launched the National Loan Guarantee Scheme (NLGS), which is designed to help ‘smaller businesses’ across the UK access cheaper finance. The loans will be available to businesses with an annual group turnover of up to £50 million.

According to the press release:

‘The government is using the UK’s budget credibility in financial markets to provide up to £20 billion of government guarantees on unsecured borrowing by banks, enabling them to borrow at a cheaper rate. Around £5 billion in guarantees will be made available in the first tranche.’

Businesses that take out an NLGS loan will receive a discount of 1% compared to the interest rate that they would otherwise have received from that bank outside the scheme.

George Osborne said:

‘The government promised to help small businesses get access to lower interest rates. Today, we deliver on that promise with a nationwide scheme. It’s only because we’ve earned credibility with our deficit reduction plan that we have low interest rates, and it’s only because of this scheme that we can pass the benefits of those low rates onto businesses.’

Internet link: Press release

Chancellors 2011 Autumn Statement 29 November 2011

On Tuesday 29th November the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) published its updated forecast for the UK economy. Chancellor George Osborne responded to that forecast in a statement to the House of Commons later on that day.

In the period since the Budget in March a number of consultation papers and discussion documents have been published by HMRC. Draft legislation relating to many of these areas will be published on 6 December 2011. Some of these proposals are summarised here. We will provide an update for you if significant changes are announced on 6 December.

This summary also provides a reminder of other key developments which are to take place from April 2012.

The Chancellor’s statement

The Chancellor emphasised that the OBR does not predict a recession in Britain but they have revised down their short term growth prospects for the country. He also made clear that the OBR central forecast assumes ‘the euro finds a way through the current crisis’.

General measures

The Autumn Statement sets out the actions the Government will take in two main areas:

  • protecting the economy and
  • building a stronger economy for the future.

In order to maintain economic stability and meet its fiscal rules, the Government will, for example:

set plans for public spending in 2015/16 and 2016/17 in line with the spending reductions over the Spending Review 2010 period

  • Raise the State Pension age to 67 between April 2026 and April 2028
  • set public sector pay awards at an average of 1% for each of the two years after the current pay freeze comes to an end.

The growth plans include the publication of a National Infrastructure Plan 2011. The plan sets out a pipeline of over 500 infrastructure projects including:

introducing a new approach to financing infrastructure, by obtaining £20 billion of private investment from pension funds

  • investing over £1 billion to tackle areas of congestion and improve the national road network
  • investing more than £1.4 billion in railway infrastructure and commuter links
  • investing £100 million to create up to ten ‘super-connected cities’ across the UK, with 80-100 megabits per second broadband and city-wide high-speed mobile coverage.

Comment

The proposal to raise the state pension age is expected to save around £60 billion in today’s prices between 2026/27 and 2035/36.

The aim of the National Infrastructure Plan is to kick start the economy by accelerating infrastructure projects with a view to job retention/creation. Time will tell how successful the new strategy is.

NON-TAX MEASURES FOR SMEs

Credit easing

In order to free up lending to business, the Government is launching a package of measures worth up to £21 billion to ease the flow of credit to businesses. This includes up to £20 billion for the National Loan Guarantee Scheme and £1 billion for the Business Finance Partnership.

Comment

The hope is that credit easing will encourage bank lending and enhance the demand for credit by reducing the price of loans for eligible businesses.

Small business rate relief holiday

The Government will extend the current small business rate relief holiday for a further six months from 1 October 2012 and also give businesses the opportunity to defer 60% of the increase in their 2012/13 business rate bills.

Employment regulations

In an attempt to make it easier to ‘hire and fire’, the Government intends to:

  • look for ways to provide a quicker and cheaper alternative to a tribunal hearing in simple cases by introducing a ‘Rapid Resolution’ scheme
  • complete a call for evidence on the impact of reducing the collective redundancy process for redundancies of 100 or more staff from the current 90 days to 60, 45 or 30 days.

The Government will begin a call for evidence on two proposals for reform of UK employment law. They will:

  • seek views on the introduction of compensated no-fault dismissal for micro-businesses with fewer than 10 employees
  • look at how it could move to a simpler, quicker and clearer dismissal process, potentially including working with ACAS to make changes to their code or by introducing supplementary guidance for small businesses.

Youth Contract

A number of measures under the heading of a ‘Youth Contract’ will be introduced, including Government funding of:

wage incentives for 160,000 young people to make it easier for private sector employers to take them on

  • at least 40,000 incentive payments for small firms to take on young apprentices.

Planning reform

The Government has announced a series of changes to the planning regime. Changes will include:

  • introducing a 13-week maximum timescale for the majority of non-planning consents
  • building more flexibility into the new major infrastructure planning process, particularly in the pre-application phase
  • reviewing the planning appeals procedures to make them faster and more transparent
  • consulting on proposals to allow existing agricultural buildings to be used for other business purposes such as offices, leisure and retail space.

Comment

These changes are designed to speed up building projects. ‘Red tape’ has been cited as a major reason for UK infrastructure development being more expensive than in other European countries.

Housing

In an attempt to increase house building, stabilise the housing market and enable more people to own their own home, the Government will:

  • introduce a new build indemnity scheme under which home buyers will be able to purchase new build houses and flats with a 5% deposit, with house builders and the Government helping to provide security for the loan
  • reinvigorate the ‘Right to Buy’ to help social tenants buy their home
  • launch a new £400m ‘Get Britain Building’ investment fund, which will support firms in need of development finance
  • support new development, which could include modern garden cities and urban and village extensions.

PERSONAL TAX

The personal allowance for 2012/13

For those aged under 65 the personal allowance will be increased by £630 to £8,105. This increase is greater than the minimum required and is part of the plan of the Coalition Government to ultimately raise the allowance to £10,000.

The personal allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 of adjusted net income over £100,000. Next year the allowance ceases at adjusted net income in excess of £116,210.

Comment

Planning should be considered where adjusted net income is expected to exceed £100,000. This figure is calculated after giving a deduction against income for pension contributions and gift aid payments. Consider whether these could be made to protect some or all of the personal allowance.

 

Tax band and rates 2012/13

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is being reduced to £34,370 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies will remain at £42,475.

The 50% band currently applies where taxable income exceeds £150,000.

If dividend income is part of total income this is taxed at 10% where it falls within the basic rate band, 32.5% where liable at the higher rate of tax and 42.5% where liable to the additional rate of tax.

Tax credits

The child element of Child Tax Credit will rise by £135 per year in 2012/13 which is in line with the inflation increase but the additional increase above inflation of £110 which was planned has been dropped.

The disability elements of tax credits will be uprated by the increase in the Consumer Price Index of 5.2% but there is to be no uprating of the couple and lone parent elements of Working Tax Credit.

 Integration of the operation of income tax and NIC

Following an invitation for people to express views on a proposed integration of the operation of income tax and NIC the Government has decided to continue with the review. The Government will establish a number of working groups with stakeholders to explore options for integration. Depending on the results of the working groups, further rounds of consultation will proceed after Budget 2012. It is unlikely that there will be any substantive change in reality before 2017.

Junior ISAs

Provisions to allow these accounts were introduced this tax year. At present there is not a wide availability of these accounts although some building societies have launched products. The key features of the accounts are:

  • the accounts are available to any child who does not qualify for a Child Trust Fund
  • all returns will be tax free
  • funds placed in the account will be owned by the child and would be locked in until the child reaches adulthood although they can manage the account from the age of 16 years
  • investments will be available in cash or stocks and shares
  • annual contributions will be capped at £3,600
  • there will be no Government contributions into the account.

Comment

These accounts provide a way of increasing the tax free income available to a family in addition to the use of adult ISAs for the parents.

Child Trust Funds

These ceased to be available for children born on or after 1 January 2011 although existing accounts remain in place and can be added to by parents and family members. The maximum annual contribution has been increased to £3,600 to keep in line with the Junior ISA. No further Government contributions will be made to any account.

Furnished holiday lettings

From 6 April 2012 the tests which determine whether a property can qualify for treatment as a furnished holiday let will change. The number of days for which the property is available for letting increases from 140 days to 210 days and the number of days actually let increases from 70 to 105 days.

If an individual can show there was a genuine intention to meet the letting conditions but has been unable to do so they will be able to make an election to continue to treat the property as a furnished holiday let. This will protect the special tax treatment that such properties receive.

Statutory Residence Test

There is currently no definition of ‘residence’ in UK tax law and yet the liability to income tax and capital gains tax (CGT) rests on knowing an individual’s UK residence status for a tax year. Currently the determination of residence is based on old case law and, as a recent Supreme Court decision has shown, it can lead to significant uncertainty and large tax liabilities.

The Government published a consultation document in summer 2011 on the introduction of a Statutory Residence Test (SRT) which would come into effect in April 2012. The SRT is based on three parts and an individual would consider each part in turn. If a definite answer on their residence status is found on the first part then there is no need to proceed further. Similarly if the second part gives a definitive answer there is no need to move to the third part. That final test then provides a definitive answer.

The parts and the conditions are as follows:

  • Part A – satisfy any one of three conditions and the individual is conclusively non-resident in the year:
  • an individual with no UK residence in the three previous tax years spends less than 45 days in the UK
  • an individual who has been UK resident in one of the three previous tax years spends less than ten days in the UK
  • an individual goes to work abroad in a full time employment or self- employment and spends less than 90 days in the UK and has less than 20 working days in the UK.
  • If no definite answer under Part A then proceed to Part B
  • Part B – satisfy any one of three conditions and the individual is conclusively resident for the year:
  • an individual spends 183 days or more in the UK
  • an individual has their only home in the UK or if they have more than one home all are in the UK
  • an individual works full time in the UK for a continuous period of at least nine months and not more than 25% of duties are outside the UK.
  • If no definite answer under Part B then proceed to Part C
  • Part C – here the rules combine the time spent in the UK and a number of connection factors which are deemed to link an individual to the UK. Five connection factors have been identified:
  • spouse and/or minor children are resident in the UK at any time in the year
  • the individual has accessible accommodation in the UK and uses it in the year
  • the individual spends at least 40 working days in the UK
  • in either of the two previous tax years the individual spent at least 90 days in the UK
  • the individual spent more time in the UK than in any other single country in the tax year.
  • Part C then provides for a combination of factors and time which will make an individual resident in the UK.

A day will count as being in the UK if the individual is physically present in the UK at midnight unless they satisfy specific rules for those in transit through the UK.

There are a number of issues which have been raised in the consultation process on which clarification has been sought and it is hoped that these will be clarified in the draft legislation. It is intended that the new rules will apply from 6 April 2012. From that point they will supersede all existing case law and practice. However residence status for years up to 2011/12 is determined using the present rules.

Comment

The proposed rules do seem to work to give a definitive answer to the question ‘Am I resident in the UK?’ The answer may not be the one that you want but it should then be possible to identify the factors which need to change in order to achieve the desired result.

Individuals planning a move into or out of the UK after 6 April 2012 should be taking the new rules into account in their planning. They should also note that they are going to need to keep comprehensive records not just of their time in the UK but also, where relevant, their working days in the UK and the time they spend in each other country that they may visit.

Some individuals who are currently outside the UK, particularly those working abroad, will need to note that the new rules could change their residence status and they may wish to review plans for visits back to the UK and the impact of any potential connecting factors.

Changes for non-domiciled individuals

Following changes in 2008 all UK resident individuals are taxable on overseas income and gains overseas arising in the tax year. Individuals who are not domiciled in the UK or who are not ordinarily resident can make a claim to be taxed only on sums actually remitted to the UK in the year. These rules, known as the ‘remittance basis rules’ are complex but can mean a significant tax saving.

There are currently two downsides to making a remittance basis claim:

  •  the individual automatically loses their personal allowance for income tax and their annual exempt amount for CGT unless the remittances amount to almost all of the overseas income and gains arising
  • an individual who has been resident in the UK for at least seven out of the preceding nine UK tax years must pay a remittance basis charge of £30,000 in addition to the tax actually due.

Two significant changes are planned in the remittance basis rules from 6 April 2012:

  • the remittance basis charge will be increased to £50,000 where an individual has been resident in the UK for 12 out of the preceding 14 tax years
  • if an individual remits funds to invest in a UK business then that remittance will be tax free if the remittance basis is claimed (although the remittance basis charge will still be payable). A consultation paper has proposed a wide definition of business and indicates that the business vehicle can be a company or an unincorporated business. When the investment is realised it will be necessary for the individual to either reinvest the funds immediately in another qualifying venture or remove the funds from the UK within 14 days otherwise they will be treated as a remittance for that year.

Some administrative changes in the remittance basis rules will also be introduced.

BUSINESS TAX

Corporation tax rates

In accordance with the plans announced in March the main rate of corporation tax will fall from 26% to 25% from 1 April 2012. The small company rate is 20% and there has been no announcement of the rate for next year.

Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)

Changes announced in the March Budget are due to come into effect on 6 April 2012. These are:

  • the maximum amount that an individual can invest in total in a tax year rises from £500,000 to £1m.
  • the maximum funds that a company can receive under EIS rises from £2m to £10m
  • the size of a company that can benefit from EIS (subject to meeting all the qualifications) is increased to £15m gross assets and fewer than 250 employees.

A number of other changes were announced in the Autumn Statement:

  • the rules which identify individuals who are deemed to be connected to the company are to be relaxed in some circumstances
  • the £1m per company limit that currently applies for Venture Capital Trusts will be removed
  • anti-avoidance rules will be introduced  to exclude companies set up for the purpose of obtaining the relief, and to exclude the purchase of shares in another company
  • investment in Feed-in-Tariffs will be excluded.

Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)

This is a new relief which will be introduced from 6 April 2012. It will provide income tax relief at 50% in respect of investment in a small company whose total assets before the investment are less than £200,000. The relief will be limited to investments of up to £150,000 in each company and a maximum of £100,000 investment for an individual. In addition an individual who makes a capital gain in 2012/13 and reinvests some or all of the gain in a SEIS company in the same year will obtain exemption from CGT for the sum invested.

Comment

This relief will encourage business angels or perhaps family members to invest in small enterprises and obtain a tax refund of half their investment. The details of the conditions which the recipient company will have to meet are not yet known.

Annual Investment Allowance (AIA)

The AIA is a capital allowance available for many businesses on most purchases of plant and machinery, long-life assets and integral features. Relief is given on the full cost up to a current maximum allowance of £100,000 for a full year. This allowance is to be reduced to £25,000 with effect from 1 April 2012 for companies and 6 April 2012 for unincorporated businesses.

Where a business has an accounting period that straddles the date of change the allowances have to be apportioned on a time basis. For example a company with an accounting period ending on 30 September 2012 will have an allowance of £62,500 (£100,000 x ½ + £25,000 x ½). However it should be noted that for expenditure incurred after the 1/6 April, the maximum allowance that can be attributed to that expenditure is a fraction of £25,000. The fraction will be the amount of the £25,000 that is included in the calculation of the overall AIA for the accounting period.

Comment

Planning the timing of purchases of significant items of plant becomes very important over the next year to ensure that the maximum available AIA can be secured.

Suppose the company with the 30 September year end wishes to buy new plant costing £35,000. If they buy it in February 2012 they will be able to claim an AIA on the full £35,000 but if they buy it in June 2012 they will only be able to claim an AIA of £12,500. They would actually then be better off if they waited until October when they would have a full £25,000 available.

Writing down allowances

Writing down allowances are to be reduced from April next year. The normal rate of 20% will be reduced to 18% and the lower rate of 10% which applies to integral features and long-life assets will reduce to 8%. It will be necessary to calculate hybrid rates where the accounting period straddles 1/6 April which will give a rate between 20% and 18% (or between 10% and 8%) for that period.

Capital allowances in Enterprise Zones

Over the past year the Government has designated a number of very specific areas as Enterprise Zones. Businesses in these areas enjoy certain reliefs, for example, a relief from business rates. The Chancellor has announced that 100% capital allowances will now be available for the Zones in the Black Country, Humber, Liverpool, North East, Sheffield, and the Tees Valley.

Compulsory pooling

The Government is considering whether to introduce a requirement that businesses should pool their expenditure on fixtures within a short period after acquisition in order to qualify for capital allowances.

Research and development expenditure (R&D)

There are currently a number of restrictions which effectively limit the scope of this relief and it is planned to remove these for expenditure incurred on or after 1 April 2012. The proposals include:

  • removing the rule limiting a company’s payable R&D credit to the amount of PAYE and NIC it pays
  • removing the £10,000 minimum expenditure condition
  • changing the rules governing the provision of relief for work done by subcontractors under the large company scheme
  • increasing the additional deduction for R&D expenditure by SMEs by a further 25% making the total deduction 225% of actual expenditure.

The Chancellor has announced a consultation next year on the introduction of an ‘above the line’ tax credit in 2013 for larger companies.

Controlled Foreign Companies (CFCs)

The CFC regime can apply to a UK company which has a subsidiary operating in a country with a low rate of corporation tax. The rules have been in place for 25 years but are seen as complex and in some cases disadvantageous to business. Some interim changes were made in 2011 but a major overhaul is planned for 2012. The aims of the new rules will be:

  • to target and impose a CFC charge on artificially diverted UK profits, so that UK activity and profits are taxed fairly
  • to exempt foreign profits where there is no artificial diversion of UK profits
  • to not tax profits arising from genuine economic activities undertaken offshore.

General Anti-avoidance Rule (GAAR)

The Government commissioned an independent report from a leading tax lawyer on whether or not it would be appropriate to introduce a GAAR into the UK tax system. This is a route that has been used in a number of other countries.

The reviewer has just presented his report to the Government and recommends that a moderate rule targeted at abusive arrangements would be beneficial to the UK tax system. Such a GAAR would apply for income tax, CGT, corporation tax and NIC. It would not apply to ‘responsible tax planning’.

It is now likely that the Government will undertake a consultation process in this matter but legislation is not likely until 2013 at the earliest.

High risk tax avoidance schemes

Certain types of tax avoidance schemes are currently subject to a disclosure regime which requires the scheme promoter to disclose details of the scheme to HMRC and for the users of the scheme to indicate their involvement on their tax return. Such schemes are usually challenged by HMRC but this procedure can take many years with Tribunal and Court hearings being required. If the scheme is blocked the scheme users have to pay the tax due but HMRC is concerned that the delay can still give them a significant cash-flow advantage.

HMRC is currently consulting on a proposal to introduce an additional charge on scheme users where the scheme fails. A user will be able to prevent this charge by paying the disputed tax to HMRC ahead of the challenge.

Tax treatment of asset-backed pension contributions

Rules are to be introduced from 29 November 2011 to limit tax relief for employers who enter into arrangements to make asset-backed contributions into their pension schemes. The new rules will ensure that the tax relief obtained more accurately reflects the actual costs to the employer.

EMPLOYMENT TAX

Employer-provided cars

From 6 April 2012 the CO2 emissions bands used to work out the taxable benefit for an employee who has use of an employer-provided car will be shifted downwards by 5gm/km. This will have the effect of increasing the charge for each vehicle.

In addition, the current graduated table of employer-provided car bands will extend down to a 10% band and will apply to cars with CO2 emissions between 76 and 99gm/km. As a result ‘qualifying low emission cars’ will no longer exist as a separate category.

In summary the new rules from 6 April 2012 will be:

  • no emissions                              0%
  • 75gm/km or less                        5%
  • 99gm/km or less                      10%
  • 100gm/km                               11%
  • graduated increases of 1% per 5gm/km up to a maximum, including diesel supplement, of 35%

Real Time Information (RTI)

HMRC have produced draft legislation to introduce probably the most significant change in the PAYE system since its introduction in 1944. Under the RTI scheme, employers will electronically provide monthly information to HMRC related to wages and salaries paid to employees. Once the scheme is ‘bedded in’ employers will no longer have to complete year end returns such as the P35 and P14. The new system will also see the end of the use of the P45 when an employee leaves an employment.

Volunteer employers are to pilot the new scheme from 6 April 2012. The intention is that it will apply to employers on a phased basis from 6 April 2013 so that all employers are operating the system by October 2013.

Comment

This really is a major change but the success or otherwise of the scheme will depend on the ability of the HMRC computer system to cope. History suggests that this could be the problem.

CAPITAL TAXES

CGT rates

The current rates of CGT are 18% to the extent that any income tax basic rate band is available and 28% thereafter. The rate for disposals qualifying for Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER) is 10% with a lifetime limit of £10m for each individual.

No announcement has been made of the rates for next year.

Comment

The ER limit is very generous and owners of businesses should ensure that they meet all the conditions necessary to secure the relief throughout the twelve months up to the date of a disposal.

CGT annual exemption

The CGT annual exemption has been frozen at £10,600 for 2012/13.

Inheritance tax (IHT) nil rate band

The IHT nil rate band remains frozen at £325,000 until 6 April 2015.

Reduced rate of IHT for the charitable

The Government will introduce a reduced rate of IHT for an estate where a minimum level of legacy has been left by the deceased to charity. The actual legacy to charity remains exempt from IHT and it is the rate of tax on the balance of the estate that would be reduced to 36% from 40%.

The intention is that the reduced rate will apply where charitable bequests satisfy a 10% test. A comparison will be made between:

  • the total value of charitable legacies for IHT purposes and
  • the value of the net estate as reduced by:
  • any available nil rate band
  • the value of assets passing to the surviving spouse or civil partner and
  • other IHT reliefs and exemptions for example Business Property Relief.

If the first figure is at least 10% of the second then the balance of the estate will qualify for the reduced IHT rate of 36%.

The changes will apply to estates where the individual dies on or after 6 April 2012.

Comment

Because the benefit of the reduced IHT rate will be dependent on whether or not the amount of the charitable legacy is sufficient for the estate to pass the 10% test there will be a ‘cliff edge’ effect. Where the amount of the charitable legacy is close to the critical 10% point, a small difference to the amount of the legacy could have a much larger impact on the estate’s IHT liability. There are no plans to apply any taper or other mechanism to mitigate this.

OTHER TAXES

VAT – Low value consignment relief (LVCR)

LVCR is an administrative simplification to reduce the costs for businesses, Royal Mail and other carriers and consumers all of whom would otherwise be involved in the collection and/or payment of small amounts of VAT on large numbers of low value packages coming into the UK from outside the EU. It is the main reason that suppliers of DVDs and CDs often use a base in the Channel Islands from which to ship their products.

The amount at which LVCR was to apply was reduced from £18 to £15 from 1 November 2011.

The Government recently announced that the relief is to be abolished from 1 April 2012 for goods imported as part of a distance selling transaction from the Channel Islands.

VAT cost sharing exemption

The Government is to introduce an EU VAT exemption for organisations that wish to share costs between themselves on a non-profit basis. The exemption can be used, amongst others, by organisations such as charities, universities and higher education colleges and housing associations wanting to make efficiency savings by working together to achieve economies of scale.

Under current UK legislation a VAT cost can arise creating a barrier to the sharing of services. The exemption once implemented would also, in certain circumstances, remove this VAT barrier.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday for first time buyers

Currently first-time buyers do not have to pay SDLT on house purchases where the cost is no more than £250,000. This relief is due to expire at midnight on 24th March 2012.

Air Passenger Duty (APD)

The Government intends to proceed with the introduction of APD to flights taken aboard business jets from 1 April 2013.


Disclaimer – for information of users

This summary is published for the information of clients. It provides only an overview of the Autumn Statement and previous announcements. No action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material contained in this summary can be accepted by the authors or the firm.