Newsletter – February 19

Enews February 2019

In this month’s Enews we consider the unbelievable excuses taxpayers make for not filing their self assessment returns on time, consider advice from the Insolvency Service on protecting your pension pot and the latest post-Brexit Customs guidance. With the Making Tax Digital pilot now open to all eligible businesses there are lots of issues to update you on.

Businesses urged to prepare for post-Brexit Customs Declarations

HMRC is urging VAT-registered UK businesses which trade exclusively with the EU to be prepared for a no deal Brexit.

In a letter sent to 145,000 affected businesses, HMRC explains changes to Customs, Excise and VAT procedures in the ‘unlikely event’ that the UK leaves the EU without a Brexit deal.

HMRC’s letter advises businesses to take three actions ahead of ‘Brexit Day’ on 29 March 2019:

  • Register for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.
  • Decide whether a customs agent will be used to make import and/or export declarations, or whether declarations will be made by the business via software.
  • Contact the organisation responsible for moving goods (for example, the haulage firm) in order to ascertain whether the business will need to supply additional information to complete safety and security declarations, or whether it will need to submit these declarations itself.

A report jointly published by HMRC and the National Audit Office (NAO) recently revealed that approximately 55 million customs declarations are currently made by British businesses every year. This figure may rise to 255 million when the UK leaves the EU.

HMRC intends to write to businesses in the future in order to instruct them on any additional actions they will need to take, and when. We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet links: GOV.UK publicationsHMRC letter NAO report

MTD for VAT – pilot extended to all eligible businesses

HMRC has extended its Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) pilot scheme to all eligible businesses.

For most businesses, compliance with the regulations is mandated for VAT return periods beginning on or after 1 April 2019. However, MTDfV for some ‘more complex’ businesses has been deferred until 1 October 2019. This deferral applies to: trusts; not for profit organisations not set up as companies; VAT divisions; VAT groups; public sector entities such as government departments and NHS Trusts, which have to provide additional information on their VAT return; local authorities; public corporations; traders based overseas; those required to make payments on account; annual accounting scheme users.

Commenting on the pilot scheme, Clare Sheehan, Deputy Director for MTD for Business, said:

‘The MTD pilot is now available to all businesses who will need to use the service from April. This marks a significant milestone towards our delivery of a modern tax administration.’

‘We encourage all eligible businesses to join and try out the service before they are mandated to use it.’

HMRC has also confirmed that Brexit will not affect the introduction of MTDfV. In a recent letter, Jim Harra, Deputy Chief Executive of HMRC, wrote:

‘Our system is already live and by the end of February we’ll have written to every affected business, encouraging them to join the thousands of others who have registered.’

Please contact us for help with MTDfV.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

HMRC’s Voice ID database

Since 2017, HMRC has captured millions of callers’ voice data on its Voice ID system by encouraging the caller to say a key phrase instead of the conventional password to gain access to their accounts.

However, non-profit organisation Big Brother Watch warns that people have been ‘railroaded into a mass ID scheme by the back door’ and has reported HMRC to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on the grounds that it has ‘broken data protection laws’.

A Freedom of Information request revealed almost seven million taxpayers are enrolled in HMRC’s Voice ID database of which 162,185 individuals have opted out and had their biometric data deleted by HMRC.

A spokesperson for HMRC said:

‘Our Voice ID system is very popular with millions of customers as it gives a quick route to access accounts by phone.

All our data is stored securely, and customers can opt out of Voice ID or delete their records any time they want.’

Internet links: https://bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/all-media/hmrc-voice-id-delete/

HMRC FOI Response

Spring Statement date announced

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has announced that the government will respond to the forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in the Spring Statement on Wednesday 13 March 2019.

The Chancellor may take the opportunity to announce tax changes and consultations.

We will update you on pertinent announcements.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

‘Unbelievable excuses’ for late filing of tax returns

HMRC has revealed some of the most ‘bizarre excuses’ taxpayers have given for failing to file their self assessment tax return on time.

Excuses included ‘I’m too short to reach the post box’, and ‘my boiler had broken and my fingers were too cold to type’. One taxpayer claimed that a junior member of staff ‘forgot to wear their glasses’, and accidentally registered a client for self assessment. Another told HMRC that their mother-in-law was a witch, and that she had put a curse on the taxpayer, which prevented them from filing their tax return on time.

In addition to these excuses, HMRC also stated that, every year, they receive some unconvincing expenses claims.

One individual attempted to claim £40 for ‘extra woolly underwear’, whilst another taxpayer tried to claim £756 for pet insurance. Meanwhile, a carpenter attempted to claim £900 for a 55-inch TV and sound bar, which he claimed would ‘help him price his jobs’.

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

‘Help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time, but it’s unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.’

HMRC stated all these excuses and claims were unsuccessful.

The deadline for sending 2017/18 Self Assessment tax returns to HMRC, and paying any outstanding liabilities, was 31 January 2019. If you have not yet filed your return please contact us for assistance.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Protect your pension pots

The Insolvency Service has urged individuals saving for retirement to protect their pension pots from criminals and ‘negligent trustees’.

Research carried out by the Service found that criminals use a range of tactics to convince savers to part with their funds, including persuading individuals to access their pension and invest in unregulated schemes.

Pension scam victims lost an average of £91,000 to criminals in 2018, according to Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) research. Criminals often use cold-calls and offers of free pension reviews to convince their victims to comply.

The Insolvency Service has urged savers to be wary of calls that come out of the blue; seek financial advice before altering their pension arrangements or making investments; and not be pressured into making decisions about their pension.

Consumer Minister Kelly Tolhurst said:

‘If you are approached to make an investment from your pension, always do your homework and seek independent advice, if necessary, to help you make an informed decision.

‘The government continues to work closely with the Insolvency Service who are working to clamp down on rogue companies targeting vulnerable people.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Newsletter – April 2018

Enews – April 2018

In this month’s Enews we report on a late reprieve for childcare vouchers and Spring Statement announcements. We also consider new Data Protection rules coming into force in May. With the legislation enacted for the roll out of Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) and the latest changes for employers there is lots to update you on.

GDPR

New data protection rules from General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will replace the
Data Protection Act in the UK from 25 May 2018.

GDPR is designed to safeguard personal data of citizens from EU member states, with particular emphasis on transparency and accountability. It applies to all businesses in the EU and non-compliance will lead to substantial fines.

The new GDPR is a regulation which is intended to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). The regulation will become a law without exception in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.

The government has also confirmed that the UK will replace the 1988 Data Protection Act (DPA) with legislation that mirrors GDPR, post-Brexit. This means that any business, big or small, will be required to comply with GDPR – which deals with secure collection, storage and usage of clients’ personal data.

Failure to comply with the regulation can result in heavy fines of up to €20 million or 4% of the businesses’ annual turnover (whichever is higher amount).

Internet link: ICO guide to GDPR

Employer-Supported Childcare gets a reprieve

Many employers help employees with childcare costs, often by providing childcare vouchers by way of salary sacrifice. Following the roll out of Tax-Free Childcare (TFC), the new government scheme to help working parents, existing Employer-Supported Childcare (ESC) schemes were expected to close to new joiners from April 2018.

However following the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, Education Secretary Damian Hinds, made a concession to delay scrapping the scheme by six-months.

The Childcare Choices website which provides useful guidance to parents on the childcare options available to them including ESC, TFC and other free entitlements has been updated to show that childcare vouchers will be available to new joiners until the end of September 2018.

Under the rules employees already using ESC can choose whether to remain in existing schemes or switch to TFC, but parents cannot be in both TFC and ESC at the same time.

Internet link: GOV.UK Childcare Choices

Making Tax Digital for VAT from April 2019

The regulations to bring into force Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) are now law, and digital VAT returns will be required from 1 April 2019.

MTDfV is the first phase of HMRC’s landmark Making Tax Digital (MTD) regime, which will ultimately require taxpayers to move to a fully digital tax system. Regulations have now been issued which set out the requirements for MTDfV.

Under the new rules, businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) must keep digital records for VAT purposes and provide their VAT return information to HMRC using MTD functional compatible software.

The new rules have effect from 1 April 2019, where a taxpayer has a ‘prescribed accounting period’ which begins on that date, and otherwise from the first day of a taxpayer’s first prescribed accounting period beginning after 1 April 2019.

HMRC is piloting MTDfV during 2018, ahead of its introduction in April 2019. Keeping digital records and making quarterly updates will not be mandatory for taxes other than VAT before April 2020, although businesses below the VAT threshold which have voluntarily registered for VAT can opt to join the scheme.

As with electronic VAT filing at present, there will be some exemptions from MTD for VAT. However, the exemption categories are tightly-drawn and unlikely to be applicable to most VAT registered businesses.

Keeping digital records will not mean businesses are mandated to use digital invoices and receipts but the actual recording of supplies made and received must be digital. It is likely that third party commercial software will be required. Software will not be available from HMRC. The use of spreadsheets will be allowed, but they will have to be combined with add-on software to meet HMRC’s requirements.

Internet link: GOV.UK statutory instrument

Welsh Land Transaction Tax introduced

From 1 April 2018, Land Transaction Tax (LTT) will replace Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). LTT will be collected by the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA). HMRC has published guidance on the introduction of the new tax and the way in which property transactions straddling 1 April 2018 and cross border transactions will be dealt with.

Property Taxes across the UK

From 22 November 2017, there is an exemption for first-time buyers from SDLT on the first £300,000 when buying a home, where the total price of the property is not more than £500,000. 5% is payable on purchases between £300,000 and £500,000. However, with devolved taxes, buying a property in Scotland and Wales can bring different tax consequences.

In Scotland, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) applies instead of SDLT. Therefore an LBTT relief for first-time buyers of properties up to £175,000 has been proposed in the Scottish Draft Budget 2018/19. This is subject to a government consultation before the relief launches in 2018/19.

Welsh first-time buyers benefit from first-time buyers SDLT relief until 31 March 2018. Land Transaction Tax (LTT) replaces SDLT in Wales from 1 April 2018. The starting rate for LTT will be £180,000, benefiting not just first-time buyers but other home buyers in Wales. A higher rate, of 3% over standard rates for additional residential properties, applies to purchases throughout the UK whether SDLT, LBTT or LTT applies. A new land-transaction-tax-calculator is available.

HMRC has issued guidance on the changes in Wales and the transitional rules for property transactions.

Internet links: GOV.UK news GOV.SCOT LBTT first time buyer relief

Income tax changes from 6 April 2018

The personal allowance for 2018/19 is £11,850. However, some individuals do not benefit from the full personal allowance. There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000, which is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2018/19 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £123,700.

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. From 6 April 2018 the band of income taxable at this rate is £34,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £46,350 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance. Additional rate taxpayers pay tax at 45% on their income in excess of £150,000.

The tax on income (other than savings and dividend income) is different for taxpayers who are resident in Scotland to taxpayers resident elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish income tax rates and bands apply to income such as employment income, self-employed trade profits and property income.

In the 2018/19 Scottish Budget, the Finance and Constitution Secretary for Scotland, Derek Mackay announced significant changes to income tax bands and rates for Scottish resident taxpayers, introducing five possible income tax rates. The income tax rates range between 19% and 46%. Scottish taxpayers are entitled to the same personal allowance as individuals in the rest of the UK.

Scottish Bands £ Band name Scottish Rate
0 – 2,000 Starter 19%
2,001 – 12,150 Basic 20%
12,151 – 31,580 Intermediate 21%
31,581 – 150,000 Higher 41%
Over 150,000 Top 46%

From April 2019, the National Assembly for Wales has the right to vary the rates of income tax payable by Welsh taxpayers.

Dividend allowance down to £2,000

In 2017/18 the first £5,000 of dividends are chargeable to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). From 6 April 2018 the Dividend Allowance is reduced to £2,000. Dividends received above the allowance are taxed at the following rates:

  • 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers
  • 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers
  • 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.

Internet links: GOV.UK spring statement 2018 GOV.SCOT Scottish income tax

Update for employers and their employees

HMRC’s latest Employer Bulletin includes useful updates for employers as we approach the start on the new tax year on 6 April 2018.

The Bulletin includes articles on:

  • end of year reporting for payroll and reporting benefits in kind
  • P9 Notice of Coding and the system of in year tax code adjustments known as Dynamic Coding
  • new rules for termination payments made on, or after, 6 April 2018
  • Scottish income tax changes
  • a reminder to those paying the Apprenticeship Levy to spend their Levy on Apprenticeship Training
  • National Minimum and National Living Wage increases from 1 April 2018.

If you would like help with payroll contact us.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Spring Statement announces consultations

Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his Spring Statement on Tuesday 13 March 2018. In his speech, the Chancellor announced consultations would be issued on:

  • how to help the UK’s least productive businesses to learn from, and catch-up with, the most productive
  • how to eliminate late payments particularly to benefit small business
  • whether the use of non-agricultural red diesel tax relief contributes to poor air quality in urban areas
  • consultation on reduced Vehicle Excise Duty rates for the cleanest vans.

He also made available further details on some consultations which are considered briefly below:

  • Making Tax Digital sanctions for late submission and late payment – Following significant support on consultation, the government intends to take forward points based late submission penalties. There will be further consultation on the draft legislation to be published in summer 2018.
  • Tackling the plastic problem – The government will call for evidence as to how changes to the tax system could be used to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that are wasted by reducing unnecessary production, increasing re-use and improving recycling. The government would also like to explore how to drive innovation in this area to achieve the same outcomes.
  • Cash and digital payments – The government will consult and seek evidence about how the role of digital payments is to fit into the growing digital economy. This will include identifying what further work can be done to remove barriers to digital payments. At the same time the government acknowledges that cash must remain accessible and secure.
  • Online platforms – The government has launched a call for evidence on the role of online platforms in ensuring tax compliance by their users. The types of online platforms the government is principally interested in are platforms that allow people to earn money from spare resources such as cars and spare rooms, that allow people to use their time to generate extra income and that connect buyers with individuals or businesses offering services or goods for sale. The government wants to ensure that, where people have tax obligations because of these activities, it is easy for them to comply.
  • VAT collection split payment – The government wants to combat online VAT fraud by harnessing new technology and is consulting on VAT split payment. This will utilise payments industry technology to collect VAT on online sales and transfer it directly to HMRC.
  • VAT registration threshold call for evidence – The government considers that the current design of the VAT registration threshold may be dis-incentivising small businesses from growing their business and improving their productivity.

We will update you on the outcome of the consultations..

Internet link: gov.uk Spring Statement 2018

Newsletter – February 2018

Enews – February 2018

In this month’s Enews we report on the roll out of Tax-free Childcare and the reduction in HMRC scam texts. We also consider the latest list of deductible subscriptions and rejected Self assessment expenses claims and excuses. With revised income tax bands for Scottish taxpayers there is lots to update you on.

HMRC rejected Self Assessment expenses and excuses

HMRC have released the latest list of imaginative excuses made by individuals who failed to submit their self assessment return by 31 January deadline in 2017. Excuses include alien sightings and being too busy touring with a one-man play.

HMRC’s annual list of outlandish excuses is used to publicise the self assessment deadline of 31 January following the end of the tax year. An automatic £100 penalty applies to those who have the obligation to complete a return and miss the filing deadline, regardless of whether the individual has a tax liability to pay or not.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general of customer services, said:

‘Each year we’re making it easier and more intuitive for our customers to complete their tax return, but each year we still come across some questionable excuses, whether that’s blaming a busy touring schedule or seeing aliens.’

Here are some of the recent excuses:

  1. I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.
  2. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.
  3. My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.
  4. My business doesn’t really do anything.
  5. I spilt coffee on it.

HMRC have also released details of some of the weirdest expense claims which include:

  1. A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my accounts.
  2. Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub.
  3. Vet fees for a rabbit.
  4. Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco.
  5. £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Tax-free childcare roll out

The implementation of Tax-Free Childcare, the new government scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare, is being rolled out to eligible parents in stages.

The scheme first made its debut in April 2017 and although there have been initial systems problems, HMRC’s aim is to have the scheme open to all eligible parents by 14 February 2018. Application is made online through the Childcare Choices site www.childcarechoices.gov.uk and applications can be made for all eligible children at the same time.

Under Tax-Free Childcare, for every £8 the parent pays, the government provides a £2 top-up, to a maximum of £2,000 per child each year – with a higher limit of £4,000 for disabled children. This gives a total childcare pot of £10,000, or £20,000 for disabled children. To be eligible, parents must generally have minimum weekly earnings of at least £120 each. There is also an upper earnings limit of £100,000.

Compensation may be available in certain circumstances where a parent:

  • is unable to complete an application for Tax-Free Childcare
  • is unable to access their childcare account
  • or doesn’t get a decision about whether they are eligible, without explanation, for more than 20 days.

Those employing a nanny should be able to use the childcare account to pay their PAYE tax and National Insurance. Delays in getting this system working may also give grounds for compensation. Application is made online GOV.UK childcare-service-compensation

Internet link: GOV.UK childcare under 9s

HMRC halts thousands of scam text messages

HMRC have announced that they have stopped thousands of taxpayers from receiving scam text messages ‘with 90 percent of the most convincing texts now halted before they reach their phones’.

HMRC’s press release states:

‘Fraudsters alleging to be from HMRC send text messages to unsuspecting members of the public. In these messages they will make false claims, such as suggesting they are due a tax rebate. Messages will usually include links to websites that harvest personal information or spread malware. This can in turn lead to identity fraud and the theft of people’s personal savings.’

HMRC have confirmed that they will never contact taxpayers who are due a tax refund by text message or by email.

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

‘HMRC is focused on becoming the most digitally advanced tax authority in the world, and a big part of that relates to keeping our customers safe from online scammers.’

‘As email and website scams become less effective, fraudsters are increasingly turning to text messages to con taxpayers. But as these numbers show, we won’t rest until these criminals are out of avenues to exploit.’

‘We have made significant progress is cutting down these types of crime, but one of the most effective ways to tackle it is still to help the public spot the tell-tale signs of fraud.’

To read details of the measures taken by HMRC and other advice on spotting fraud visit the link below.

Internet link: GOV.UK scam-text-messages

Updated list of professional subscriptions

Employees are allowed to claim tax relief on their annual professional fees or subscriptions to some HMRC approved professional organisations. The costs are tax deductible generally where the individual must have membership to do their job or it is helpful for their work. Where the fees are paid by the individual’s employer this will not generally result in a benefit in kind charge.

HMRC have updated the list of approved bodies which also includes not only details of the professional bodies that are approved but details of qualifying annual subscriptions for journals.

Internet link: GOV.UK/professional-bodies

What will the Spring Statement bring?

We had two Budgets in 2017 and the Spring Statement is planned for Tuesday 13 March. The Chancellor Philip Hammond has previously stated that at the Spring Statement he will respond to the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast, consider longer-term tax challenges and start consultations on how they can be addressed. The government has the option to make immediate changes to tax policy at the Spring Statement if the economic circumstances require it.

The revised timetable of an Autumn Budget followed by a Spring Statement means changes to the legislative timetable which are set out in the link below.

We will keep you informed of pertinent Spring Statement announcements.

Internet link: GOV.UK new budget timetable

Scotland revise income tax bands

Derek Mackay, Scottish Finance Secretary, has made a change to the proposed Scottish income tax bands for 2018/19 which he announced in December 2017 in the Scottish Draft Budget.

The change is being made to ‘remove an anomaly that meant some higher rate taxpayers saw their bills fall while others on slightly lower incomes saw a rise, due in part to changes in the personal allowance’.

Scottish taxpayers income tax rates on income other than savings and dividend income are now expected to be as follows:

Scottish Bands Band name Scottish Rate
Over £11,850 – £13,850 Starter 19%
Over £13,850 – £24,000 Basic 20%
Over £24,000 – £43,430 Intermediate 21%
Over £43,430 – £150,000 Higher 41%
Over £150,000 Top 46%

Confirming the changes during the Stage 1 of the Budget debate, Mr Mackay said:

‘As a parliament of minorities, we must work across the chamber to find compromise and consensus in order to give support, sustainability and stimulus to our economy and to our public services …. Our changes to tax ensure Scotland has a progressive tax system – with 70% of taxpayers paying less next year than they do currently and 55% paying less than they would across the rest of the UK – while businesses benefit from support for investment.’

Internet link: GOV.SCOT/news