Newsletter – June 2017

Enews – June 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on the roll out of tax free childcare and the guidance available for parents on the choices and support available, the latest advisory fuel rates and labour market statistics. With guidance on cyber security, the latest report from the Pensions Regulator and what the Small Business Taskforce wants following the election there is lots to consider.

Tax-Free Childcare and childcare options

Tax-Free Childcare, the new government scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare launched at the end of April and is being rolled out to parents, starting with those parents with the youngest children first.

For every £8 a parent pays in, the government will pay in an extra £2. Parents can receive up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare costs making a total amount of £10,000. Higher limits of £4,000 and £20,000 apply for disabled children.

To qualify for Tax-Free Childcare parents and partners in the household must generally meet a minimum income level of on average £120 a week and each earn less than £100,000 a year.

The scheme will be available for children up to the age of 12, or 17 for children with disabilities. All eligible parents will be able to join the scheme by the end of 2017. Those eligible will be able to apply for all their children at the same time although the government rollout will start with the youngest children first. Parents will need to open an online account, which they can use to pay for childcare from a registered provider.

For those employers who currently offer Employer Supported Childcare, usually in the form of childcare vouchers, these schemes can remain open to new entrants until April 2018. Existing members have the option to remain in their existing scheme or change over to Tax-Free childcare as their child becomes eligible. It is not possible to benefit from tax-free childcare and employer supported childcare at the same time.

A calculator for parents comparing the options and guidance on the other government provided free childcare available are available on GOV.UK.

Internet links: Childcare calculator Childcare choices

Small Business Taskforce outlines priorities ahead of the General Election

The Small Business Taskforce has outlined its priorities ahead of the General Election.

The Taskforce which is made up of 14 organisations, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Enterprise Nation and the Entrepreneurs Network, has set out six key recommendations in its election manifesto to help ‘build a positive and progressive business case for Britain’.

The Taskforce is recommending the next government should provide an environment which ‘champions the role of small businesses’ and creates a tax system that supports businesses of all sizes.

They also call for the next government to provide an advantageous pensions and benefits system, supply procurement opportunities that are beneficial to all and create a workforce that is equipped for enterprise.

Clive Lewis, Head of Enterprise at the ICAEW, commented:

‘Whatever the outcome on 8 June, the incoming government must provide a solid platform for small businesses to flourish and grow.’

‘Currently businesses are cautious about the future and are holding back on investment, therefore it’s vital that, in the run-up to the General Election, all political parties spell out how they plan to encourage businesses to invest in long-term growth.’

To read more of the Small Business Taskforce’s manifesto visit the following link.

Internet links: economia news Manifesto

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 June 2017. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 June 2017 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 21p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 14p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 13p

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

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

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Guidance protects against ‘ransomware’ attacks

The National Cyber Security Council (NCSC) has published guidance for small businesses about how they can prevent, detect and respond to ransomware attacks following the widespread ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack in early May.

Further guidance has been produced by the Charity Commission for England and Wales for charity trustees on this issue.

Internet links: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/ransomware-latest-ncsc-guidance

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ransomware-threat-keep-your-charity-safe

TPR name and shame those who fail to comply

The latest Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin from the Pensions Regulator (TPR) makes interesting reading as it sets out cases and the powers TPR have used relating to automatic enrolment and associated employer duties.

TPR are warning employers that ignoring TPR penalties could seriously damage a business’ reputation.

TPR are maintaining a tough approach towards those employers who try to get away with not giving their staff the pension that they are due. The latest development is to publish details of those who have paid their Escalating Penalty Notice (EPN) but remain non-compliant. We will also publish the details of those who failed to pay their EPN, and as a result have been made subject to a court order.

The details published will include the employer’s name, the penalty amount, and the first part of their postcode.

Internet links: TPR Bulletin EPN employer details

Rising employment statistics

The Office for National Statistics has published the latest employment statistics which reveal:

  • Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that, between October to December 2016 and January to March 2017, the number of people in work increased, the number of unemployed people fell, and the number of people aged from 16 to 64 not working and not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) also fell.
  • There were 31.95 million people in work, 122,000 more than for October to December 2016 and 381,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.8%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.
  • There were 1.54 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 53,000 fewer than for October to December 2016 and 152,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate (the proportion of those in work plus those unemployed, that were unemployed) was 4.6%, down from 5.1% for a year earlier and the lowest since 1975.
  • There were 8.83 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking or available to work), 40,000 fewer than for October to December 2016 and 82,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive) was 21.5%, down from 21.8% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since comparable records began in 1971.
  • Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 2.4% including bonuses, and by 2.1% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.
  • Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in real terms (that is, adjusted for price inflation) increased by 0.1% including bonuses, but fell by 0.2% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.’

Responding to the latest data, Alpesh Paleja, CBI Principal Economist, said:

‘Rising employment continues to reinforce the importance of the UK’s flexible labour market.’

‘However, weakening productivity and slower pay growth, coupled with rising inflation, will continue to squeeze real household earnings.’

‘Therefore maintaining the UK’s reputation as a great place to do business, for example by increasing R&D spend to 3% of GDP by 2025, will help boost the UK’s productivity. This is the only sustainable route to higher wages, and better living standards.’

Internet links: ONS statistics CBI news

Newsletter – April 2017

Enews – April 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on changes to the VAT Flat Rate Scheme which take effect from the start of April. We also consider minimum wage rises, gender pay gap reporting and the roll out of tax free childcare. We also report on three pertinent Budget announcements including the Class 4 NICs u-turn, changes to Making Tax Digital and the reduction in the Dividend Allowance.

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

VAT Flat Rate Scheme – Limited cost trader

Changes are being made to the Flat Rate Scheme (FRS) which take effect from 1 April 2017. These changes may mean that the FRS is less attractive to some businesses and this may result in these businesses deciding to no longer operate under the FRS. In some cases where a trader has voluntarily registered for VAT it may be appropriate to deregister from VAT.

A new higher 16.5% rate will apply from 1 April 2017 for businesses with limited costs, such as many labour-only businesses, using the Flat Rate Scheme. Businesses using the FRS, or considering joining the scheme, will need to decide if they are a ‘limited cost trader’.

Under the FRS a set percentage, determined by the business trade sector, is applied to the VAT inclusive turnover of the business as a one-off calculation instead of having to identify and record the VAT on each sale and purchase the business makes. The percentage rates are determined according to the trade sector of the business and these generally range from 4% to 14.5%.

A limited cost trader will be defined as one whose VAT inclusive expenditure on goods is either:

  • less than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover in a prescribed accounting period
  • greater than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover but less than £1,000 per annum if the prescribed accounting period is one year (if it is not one year, the figure is the relevant proportion of £1,000).

‘Relevant goods’, for the purposes of this measure, must be used exclusively for the purpose of the business but exclude the following items:

  • capital expenditure
  • food or drink for consumption by the flat rate business or its employees
  • vehicles, vehicle parts and fuel, except where the business is one that carries out transport services, for example a taxi business, and uses its own or a leased vehicle to carry out those services
  • payment for services, as these are not goods, this would include rent, accountancy fees, advertising costs etc

Examples of qualifying ‘relevant goods’ include stationery (and other office supplies), gas, electricity and cleaning products, but only where these are used exclusively for the business.

Businesses using the FRS will need to ensure that, for each VAT return period, they use the appropriate flat rate percentage, so the check to see whether a business is a limited cost trader will have to be carried out for each VAT return.

These rules come into force from 1 April 2017, so where a business has a VAT period that straddles 1 April 2017, the test to determine whether the business is a ‘limited cost trader’ will only apply to the period from 1 April 2017.

Please contact us if you would like advice on the FRS.

Internet link: GOV.UK VAT notice 733

Equality – Gender pay gap reporting

The government has introduced new requirements for all private and voluntary sector employers of over 250 people relating to equal pay reporting from April 2017.

The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/172) mean that large employers must calculate and publish the difference in mean and median pay and bonuses between the men and women they employ. In addition, information must be given about the proportion of men and women receiving a bonus payment and the proportions of men and women in each quartile of their pay distribution.

Key stages for this are:

  • 5 April every year, starting in 2017 – take a snapshot of the data
  • bonus data is based on the previous 12 months leading up to 5 April 2017
  • by 4 April 2018 – the results must be published on the organisation’s website with a signed statement confirming their accuracy
  • both the results and statement must remain on the website for 3 years.

Organisations might choose to add some narrative with the results, but this is not part of the requirement.

Internet link: GOV.UK gender pay gap

Minimum wage rises again

Employers need to ensure they are paying their employees at least the appropriate National Minimum Wage (NMW) or National Living Wage (NLW) rate. The rates increase from 1 April 2017.

From

1 October

2016

From

1 April

2017

NLW rate for workers aged 25 and over £7.20* £7.50
the main rate for workers aged 21-24 £6.95 £7.05
the 18-20 rate £5.55 £5.60
the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 £4.00 £4.05
the apprentice rate ** £3.40 £3.50

* introduced and applies from 1 April 2016

**for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

Going forward the NMW and NLW rates will be reviewed annually in April.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

The penalties imposed on employers that are in breach of the minimum wage legislation are 200% of arrears owed to workers. The maximum penalty is £20,000 per worker. The penalty is reduced by 50% if the unpaid wages and the penalty are paid within 14 days. HMRC also name and shame employers who are penalised.

Internet link: GOV.UK NMW

Tax-Free Childcare to be rolled out from 28 April 2017

Tax-Free Childcare, the new government scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare, will be launched from 28 April 2017.

For every £8 a parent pays in, the government will pay in an extra £2. Parents can receive up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare costs making a total amount of £10,000. Higher limits of £4,000 and £20,000 apply for disabled children.

To qualify for Tax-Free Childcare all parents in the household must generally meet a minimum income level, based on working 16 hours a week (on average £120 a week) and each earn less than £100,000 a year.

The scheme will be available for children up to the age of 12, or 17 for children with disabilities. All eligible parents will be able to join the scheme by the end of 2017. Parents will be able to apply for all their children at the same time although the government rollout will start with the youngest children first. Parents will need to open an online account, which they can use to pay for childcare from a registered provider.

For those employers who currently offer Employer Supported Childcare, usually in the form of childcare vouchers, these schemes can remain open to new entrants until April 2018. Existing members will have the option to remain in their existing scheme or change over to Tax-Free childcare as their child becomes eligible

A calculator is available on GOV.UK so that parents can check their eligibility for the new scheme and other government provided childcare available.

Internet link: Childcarechoices.gov.uk

Class 4 National insurance u-turn

One of the significant announcements Chancellor Philip Hammond made on Budget Day was the proposed increases to the main rate of Class 4 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) paid by self-employed individuals from 9% to 10% from April 2018 with a further increase planned from 10% to 11% from April 2019.

The Chancellor subsequently announced that the government will not now proceed with the proposed increase in Class 4 NICs rates . Self-employed individuals currently pay Class 2 and Class 4 NICs. Class 2 NICs are to be abolished from April 2018.

Internet link: BBC news

Making Tax Digital for Business update

Extensive changes to how taxpayers record and report income to HMRC are being introduced under a project entitled Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB) .

MTDfB is to be introduced in stages and the government has confirmed in the Budget the deferral of some of the obligations for one year. The result of this announcement is that unincorporated businesses and unincorporated landlords with annual turnover:

  • above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will need to comply with the requirements of MTDfB from the start of accounting periods which begin after 5 April 2018
  • at or below the VAT threshold but above £10,000 will need to comply from the start of accounting periods which begin after 5 April 2019.

Companies (and partnerships with a turnover above £10 million) will not come within MTDfB until April 2020.

The government has decided how the general principles of MTDfB will operate. Draft legislation has been issued on some aspects and more is contained in Finance Bill 2017.

Under MTDfB, businesses, self-employed people and landlords will be required to:

  • maintain their records digitally, through software or apps
  • report summary information to HMRC quarterly through their ‘digital tax accounts’ (DTAs)
  • make an ‘End of Year’ declaration through their DTAs. The End of Year declaration will be similar to the online submission of a self assessment tax return but may be required to be submitted earlier than a tax return. Businesses will have 10 months from the end of their period of account (or 31 January following the tax year – the due date for a self assessment tax return – if sooner)

DTAs are like online bank accounts – secure areas where a business can see all of its tax details in one place and interact with HMRC digitally.

Businesses, self-employed people and landlords with turnovers under £10,000 are exempt from these requirements.

Internet link: GOV.UK MTDfB

Reduction in the Dividend Allowance

It was announced in the Budget that the Dividend Allowance will be reduced from £5,000 to £2,000 from April 2018.

Dividends received by an individual are subject to special tax rates. The first £5,000 of dividends are charged to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). 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.

Dividends within the allowance still count towards an individual’s basic or higher rate band and so may affect the rate of tax paid on dividends above the £5,000 allowance.

To determine which tax band dividends fall into, dividends are treated as the last type of income to be taxed.

The government expect that even with the reduction in the Dividend Allowance to £2,000, 80% of ‘general investors’ will pay no tax on their dividend income. However, the reduction in the allowance will affect family company shareholders who take dividends in excess of the £2,000 limit. The cost of the restriction in the allowance for basic rate taxpayers will be £225 increasing to £975 for higher rate taxpayers and £1,143 for additional rate taxpayers.

Internet link: GOV.UK dividend allowance

Newsletter – October 2016

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Enews – October 2016

In this month’s eNews we report on recent developments including plans for the Autumn Statement, new National Minimum Wage rates, more detail on the Lifetime ISA and Tax Free Childcare. We also consider whether VAT is recoverable on a car following a recent Tribunal decision as well as updated Gift Aid guidance for charities.

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

Autumn Statement plans

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, will present his first Autumn Statement to Parliament on Wednesday 23 November 2016.

The Chancellor recently met with representatives from British business and business groups to listen to their views ahead of the Autumn Statement. The events, which took place at the Treasury and Downing Street, also provided the opportunity for discussions regarding leaving the EU.

The Chancellor said:

‘My message to businesses is clear: in our negotiations to leave the EU, we will work hard to get the best deal for Britain and that includes ensuring that British companies can continue to trade with the single market in goods and services.’

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI, commented:

‘Business wants the openness of the UK’s economy to be preserved – specifically access to markets, skills and trade – and to see an ambitious Autumn Statement that drives investment and growth, and delivers jobs and prosperity for all of the UK’s regions.’

We will keep you up to date with pertinent announcements from the Autumn Statement.

Internet links: GOV.UK News Gov.UK News

Tax Free Childcare

HMRC have announced further details of the new Tax Free childcare scheme which is to be introduced in 2017.

To be eligible, families will have to have all parents in work and each expecting to earn at least £115 per week and less than £100,000 a year and not be already receiving support through Tax Credits or Universal Credit.

The government will top up the account with 20% of childcare costs up to a total of £10,000 – the equivalent of up to £2,000 support per child per year (or £4,000 for disabled children).

HMRC are asking childcare providers to register for the scheme as soon as possible.

Tax-Free Childcare will be launched from early 2017. The scheme will be rolled out gradually to families, with parents of the youngest children able to apply first. Parents will be able to apply for all their children at the same time, when their youngest child becomes eligible. All eligible parents will be able to join the scheme by the end of 2017.

The current system of employer supported childcare will continue to be available for current members if they wish to remain in it or they can switch to the new scheme. Employer supported childcare will continue to be open to new joiners until April 2018.

The existing system of employer supported childcare provides an income tax and national insurance contributions (NIC) relief. The maximum relief is an exemption from income tax and NIC on £55 a week. This relief is per employee so if both parents are in employment the maximum exemption is £110 per week. In the new scheme the limit is per child.

Throughout September and October 2016, letters are being sent to regulated and approved childcare providers asking them to sign up online for Tax-Free Childcare. Only childcare providers registered with a regulator (such as Ofsted) can receive Tax-Free Childcare payments.

The government will make more information available, including details of how parents can sign up, later this year.

Internet link: GOV.UK tax free childcare

Deadline for ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns

For those individuals who have previously submitted ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns the deadline for the 2015/16 return is 31 October 2016. Returns submitted after that date must be submitted electronically or they will incur a minimum penalty of £100. The penalty applies even when there is no tax to pay or the tax is paid on time.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK Self Assessment

Increase in NMW rates

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. NMW rates increases come into effect on 1 October 2016.

  • the rate for 21 to 24 year olds will increase by 25 pence to £6.95 per hour
  • the rate for 18 to 20 year olds will increase by 25 pence to £5.55 per hour
  • the rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase by 13 pence to £4.00 per hour
  • the apprentice rate will increase by 10 pence to £3.40 per hour.

The mandatory National Living Wage (NLW) applies for workers aged 25 and above. This is £7.20 an hour.

NLW and NMW rates will in the future be uprated every April starting in April 2017.

Penalties

Penalties may be levied on employers where HMRC believe underpayments have occurred and HMRC may ‘name and shame’ non-compliant employers.

National Living Wage hits small business costs

According to research, 47% of small business owners blame increased wages following the introduction of the NLW as the main contributor to rising costs.

The research, carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), revealed that a third of FSB members claim that the NLW has led to a small increase in their wage costs while one in five have said that their staff costs have increased significantly. Although 59% of FSB members absorbed the increased costs through reduced profitability, 35% have increased prices, 24% reduced staff hours and 23% cut investment.

Updated guidance

HMRC have updated their guidance on payroll reporting including what employers should include on the Full Payment Submission (FPS) and Employer Payment Summary (EPS) returns.

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

Internet links: ACAS article FSB press release Payroll guidance

VAT claim on company cars allowed

HMRC recently lost a first tier tribunal case on the recovery of VAT on the purchase of six cars.

Although most VAT registered businesses are able to recover the VAT on the purchase of commercial vehicles the rules for the recovery on a car state two conditions must be met:

  • the vehicle must be used exclusively for business purposes and
  • it is not made available for private use.

In the case of Zone Contractors Ltd the court accepted that six cars were not available for private use which allowed the business to successfully recover the VAT on the six cars.

The business had a strongly worded contract of employment that prevented employees from using company cars for private travel. This was the crucial factor in this case and allowed the business to recover over £27,000 in input VAT on the purchase of six new cars.

The tribunal was satisfied that the cars were wholly used for business purposes and were not available for private use. The tribunal also rejected HMRC’s argument that the company had failed to demonstrate that the cars were not available for private use.

Other factors which were relevant:

  • The Tribunal was satisfied that all employees signed a contract when they first joined the company, which included the following ‘It is hereby strictly forbidden for the Employee to use the Company vehicle for any personal use inside/outside their employment hours’.
  • The six cars were always kept overnight at the company’s offices or were left on site.
  • Zone Contractors carry out groundwork projects and the vehicles were appropriate for for site based work.
  • The taxpayer also successfully counteracted HMRC’s argument that the insurance cover of the vehicles included use for ‘social, domestic and pleasure’ (SDP), and was not just restricted to business use. But the tribunal accepted it was impossible to have a business only policy without the SDP clause.
  • HMRC also put forward an argument that private use of a car would include detours to buy ‘cigarettes or lunch while out on a business journey or even going off site to collect lunch’. The tribunal concluded that such use could be ignored as de minimis.
  • The intended use of the car at the time it is purchased is crucial. The private use issue means that either a legal restriction to prevent such use or a physical restriction must be in place.

HMRC may appeal against the decision.

Internet link: Tribunal decision

Updated guidance on Gift Aid

HMRC have updated their guidance for charities and community amateur sports clubs (CASC) on claiming Gift Aid on donations.

The guidance has been amended to reflect updated guidance on the retail Gift Aid process operated by charity shops on donated goods.

Internet link: GOV.UK guidance

Lifetime ISA

Following consultation the government has issued further details of the new Lifetime ISA account which is expected to be available from April 2017.

In summary the account will be available to adults under the age of 40 and individuals will be able to contribute up to £4,000 per year and receive a 25% bonus from the government. Funds, including the government bonus, can be used to buy a first home at any time from 12 months after opening the account and can be withdrawn from age 60 completely tax free.

The new Lifetime ISA is designed to allow flexible saving for first time buyers and those wishing to save for their retirement.

Further details of the new Lifetime ISA are as follows:

  • Any savings an individual puts into the account before their 50th birthday will receive an added 25% bonus from the government.
  • There is no maximum monthly contribution and up to £4,000 a year can be saved into a Lifetime ISA.
  • The savings and bonus can be used towards a deposit on a first home worth up to £450,000 across the country.
  • Accounts are limited to one per person rather than one per home, so two first time buyers can both receive a bonus when buying together.
  • Where an individual already has a Help to Buy ISA they will be able to transfer those savings into the Lifetime ISA in 2017/18, or continue saving into both. However only the bonus from one account can be used to buy a house.
  • Where funds are withdrawn at any time before the account holder is aged 60 they will incur a 25% government charge applied to the amount of the withdrawal. This returns the government bonus element of the fund (including any interest or growth on that bonus) to the government with a small additional charge applied.
  • After the account holder’s 60th birthday they will be able to take all the savings tax free.

Internet link: GOV.UK technical note

Budget 2016 – An Overview

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The Budget 2016

George Osborne presented the first Spring Budget of this Parliament on Wednesday 16 March 2016.

In his speech the Chancellor reported on ‘an economy set to grow faster than any other major advanced economy in the world’.

Towards the end of last year the government issued the majority of the clauses, in draft, of Finance Bill 2016 together with updates on consultations. Publication of draft Finance Bill clauses is now an established way in which tax policy is developed, communicated and legislated.

The Budget updates some of these previous announcements and also proposes further measures. Some of these changes apply immediately, others in April 2016 and some take effect at a later date.

Our summary focuses on the issues likely to affect you, your family and your business. To help you decipher what was said we have included our own comments. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.

Main Budget tax proposals

Our summary concentrates on the tax measures which include:

  • reductions in the rates of capital gains tax
  • introduction of a Lifetime ISA for under 40s
  • changes to Entrepreneurs’ Relief
  • abolition of Class 2 NIC
  • reduction in the corporation tax rate
  • reforms to corporate tax losses.

The Budget proposals may be subject to amendment in a Finance Act. You should contact us before taking any action as a result of the contents of this summary.

This summary is published for the information of clients. It provides only an overview of the main proposals announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget Statement, 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 summary can be accepted by the authors or the firm.

Personal Tax

The personal allowance

For those born after 5 April 1938 the personal allowance is currently £10,600. Those born before 6 April 1938 have a slightly higher allowance. Legislation has already been enacted to increase the personal allowance to £11,000 in 2016/17. From 2016/17 onwards one personal allowance will apply regardless of age.

Comment

Not everyone has the benefit of 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 2015/16 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £121,200 (£122,000 for 2016/17).

Tax bands and rates

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

Legislation has already been enacted to increase the basic rate limit to £32,000 for 2016/17. The higher rate threshold will therefore rise to £43,000 in 2016/17 for those entitled to the full personal allowance.

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

Tax bands and personal allowance for 2017/18

The Chancellor has announced that the personal allowance will be increased to £11,500 and the basic rate limit increased to £33,500 for 2017/18. The higher rate threshold will therefore rise to £45,000 for those entitled to the full personal allowance.

Tax bands and rates – dividends

Currently, when a dividend is paid to an individual, it is subject to different tax rates compared to other income due to a 10% notional tax credit being added to the dividend. So for an individual who has dividend income which falls into the basic rate band the effective tax rate is nil as the 10% tax credit covers the 10% tax liability. For higher rate and additional rate taxpayers, the effective tax rates on a dividend receipt are 25% and 30.6% respectively.

To determine which tax band dividends fall into, dividends are treated as the last type of income to be taxed.

From 6 April 2016:

  • the 10% dividend tax credit is abolished with the result that the cash dividend received will be the gross amount potentially subject to tax
  • a new Dividend Tax Allowance charges the first £5,000 of dividends received in a tax year at 0%
  • for dividends above £5,000, new rates of tax on dividend income will be 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers, 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers and 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.

 

Comment

Many individuals do not have £5,000 of dividend income so are potential winners in the new regime. The removal of any tax on dividends up to £5,000 increases the attractiveness of holding some investments which provide dividend returns rather than interest receipts. Use can then also be made of the CGT annual exemption by selective selling of investments.

Basic rate taxpayers in particular need to appreciate that all dividends received still form part of the total income of an individual. If dividends above £5,000 are received, the first £5,000 will use up some or all of any basic rate band available. The element of dividends above £5,000 which are taxable may well therefore be taxed at 32.5%.

Tax on savings income

Savings income is income such as bank and building society interest. In 2015/16 some individuals qualify for a 0% starting rate of tax on savings income up to £5,000. However, the rate is not available if taxable non-savings income (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income) exceeds the starting rate limit.

The starting rate limit remains at £5,000 for 2016/17.

In addition, from 2016/17 the Savings Allowance (SA) will apply to savings income. Income within the SA will be taxed at a new 0% rate (the ‘savings nil rate’). However, the available SA in a tax year will depend on the individual’s marginal rate of income tax. Individuals taxed at up to the basic rate of tax will have an SA of £1,000.

For higher rate taxpayers, the SA will be £500 whilst no SA is due to additional rate taxpayers.

Alongside the introduction of the SA, banks and building societies will cease to deduct tax from account interest they pay to customers.

Comment

The new SA will exempt from tax interest receipts for many taxpayers. The government anticipates that around 95% of taxpayers will not have any tax to pay on their savings income. However, the allowance works in a complex way. For example, a taxpayer whose total non-savings income is near to £43,000 in 2016/17 (the point from which higher rate taxes are payable) needs to be aware that savings income is still added to other income to determine whether the SA is £1,000 or £500.

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

The overall ISA savings limit is £15,240 for 2015/16 and will remain at this figure for 2016/17.

Two changes are proposed with effect from 6 April 2016. The following changes will be made to the existing ISA Regulations:

  • Savers will be allowed to replace cash they have withdrawn from their account earlier in a tax year, without this replacement counting towards the annual ISA limit for that year. This flexibility will be available in relation to both current year and earlier years’ ISA savings where provided for in the terms and conditions of a ‘flexible ISA’.
  • A third ISA, the Innovative Finance ISA, is being introduced for loans arranged via a peer to peer (P2P) platform.

The total an individual can save each year into all ISAs will be increased from £15,240 to £20,000 from April 2017.

Lifetime ISA

A new Lifetime ISA will be available from April 2017 for adults under the age of 40. Individuals will be able to contribute up to £4,000 per year and receive a 25% bonus from the government. Funds, including the government bonus, can be used to buy a first home at any time from 12 months after opening the account, and can be withdrawn from age 60 completely tax-free.

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

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

Comment

The new Lifetime ISA is designed to allow flexible saving for first time buyers and those wishing to save for their retirement. The Chancellor said in his speech:

‘My pension reforms have always been about giving people more freedom and more choice.

So faced with the truth that young people aren’t saving enough, I am today providing a different answer to the same problem.’

Help to Save

The government has announced the introduction of a new type of savings account aimed at low income working households.

Individuals in low income working households will be able to save up to £50 a month into a Help to Save account and receive a 50% government bonus after two years. Account holders can then choose to continue saving under the scheme for a further two years. The scheme will be open to all adults in receipt of Universal Credit with minimum weekly household earnings equivalent to 16 hours at the National Living Wage or those in receipt of Working Tax Credits.

Accounts will be available no later than April 2018.

Pensions consultation and reform

The government consultation ‘Strengthening the incentive to save’ looked at the way pensions are taxed. The consultation found that while the current system gives everyone an incentive to save into a pension, and people like the 25% tax free lump sum, it is also inflexible and poorly understood. Young people in particular are not saving enough, often because they feel they have to choose between saving for their first home and saving for retirement.

Comment

The Chancellor said in his speech:

Over the past year we’ve consulted widely on whether we should make compulsory changes to the pension tax system. But it was clear there is no consensus.’

The Chancellor is introducing the Lifetime ISA as a vehicle for younger people to save.

Pensions advice

The Financial Advice Market Review (FAMR) aims to support the provision of affordable and accessible advice. FAMR was a joint review between the Financial Conduct Authority and Her Majesty’s Treasury, and its recommendations were published on 14 March 2016.

The government commits to implement all of the recommendations for which it is responsible, and will:

  • Consult on introducing a single clear definition of financial advice to remove regulatory uncertainty and ensure that firms can offer consumers the help they need.
  • Increase the existing £150 Income Tax and National Insurance relief for employer arranged pension advice to £500. The new exemption will ensure that the first £500 of any advice received is eligible for the relief. It will be available from April 2017.
  • Consult on introducing a Pensions Advice Allowance. This will allow people before the age of 55 to withdraw up to £500 tax free from their defined contribution pension to redeem against the cost of financial advice. The exact age at which people can do this will be determined through consultation. This means that a basic rate taxpayer could save £100 on the cost of financial advice.

The government will also restructure the delivery of public financial guidance to make it more effective.

Phased rollout of Tax-Free Childcare

The government has announced it will introduce Tax-Free Childcare in early 2017. Tax-Free Childcare will be gradually rolled out to children under 12 with the parents of the youngest children being able to enter the scheme first. The scheme will be open to all eligible parents by the end of 2017.

The existing scheme, Employer-Supported Childcare, will remain open to new entrants until April 2018 to support the transition between the schemes.

Business Tax

Corporation tax rates

The main rate of corporation tax is currently 20% and this rate will continue for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2016. The main rate of corporation tax will then be reduced as follows:

  • 19% for the Financial Years beginning on 1 April 2017, 1 April 2018 and 1 April 2019
  • 17% for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020.

Corporate tax loss relief

The government will introduce two reforms to corporate tax losses from April 2017. First, losses arising on or after 1 April 2017 will be useable, when carried forward, against profits from other income streams or other companies within a group. Second, from 1 April 2017, companies will only be able to use losses carried forward against up to 50% of their profits above £5 million. For groups, the £5 million allowance will apply to the group.

Capital allowances on business cars

The current 100% first year allowance (FYA) on businesses purchasing low emission cars will be extended to April 2021. A low emission car is one where the CO2 emissions do not exceed 75 gm/km and this threshold will fall to 50 gm/km from April 2018. In addition, the CO2 emission threshold for the main rate of capital allowances for business cars will reduce from 130 gm/km to 110 gm/km from April 2018.

Corporation tax payment dates

At the Summer Budget 2015, the government announced it would bring forward corporation tax payment dates for companies with taxable profits over £20 million. This measure has been deferred by two years and will now apply to accounting periods starting on or after 1 April 2019.

Loans to participators

The 25% rate of tax charged on loans to participators and other arrangements by close companies will increase to 32.5%.  This applies to loans made and benefits conferred on or after 6 April 2016. This increased rate mirrors the dividend upper rate. The government has noted that this will prevent individuals gaining a tax advantage by taking loans or making other arrangements to extract value from their company rather than remuneration or dividends.

Enterprise Zones – enhanced capital allowances

This measure extends the period in which businesses investing in new plant and machinery in ECA sites in Enterprise Zones can qualify for 100% capital allowances to eight years.

Removal of statutory renewals allowance

The government will withdraw the statutory renewals allowance, which provides businesses with tax relief for the cost of replacing tools. The changes ensure that tax relief for expenditure incurred on the replacement of tools will be obtained under the same rules as those which apply to other capital equipment. Businesses will be able to claim tax relief under the normal capital allowance regime or, in the case of residential landlords, for the cost of replacing domestic items such as furnishings and appliances. The withdrawal will come into effect for expenditure on or after 6 April 2016 for income tax purposes and from 1 April 2016 for corporation tax.

Company distributions

Legislation will be introduced with effect from 6 April 2016 to:

  • amend the Transactions in Securities legislation, which is designed to prevent tax advantages in certain circumstances. The amendments, for example, include liquidations as potentially coming within the scope of the legislation
  • introduce a new Targeted Anti-Avoidance Rule, which would prevent some distributions in a liquidation being taxed as capital, where certain conditions are met and there is an intention to gain a tax advantage.

Comment

In some situations shareholders of close companies can receive a payment from the company which is taxed as a capital gain instead of as dividend income. If Entrepreneurs’ Relief is available the gain will be subject to only 10% tax. The government is concerned that the new dividend tax rates introduced from 6 April 2016 will encourage shareholders to convert to capital what might otherwise be taxed as income.

Abolition of Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (NIC)

The government will abolish Class 2 NIC from April 2018. The government will publish its response to the recent consultation on state benefit entitlement for the self-employed in due course. This will set out details of how the self-employed will access contributory benefits after Class 2 is abolished.

Property and trading income allowances

From April 2017, the government will introduce a new £1,000 allowance for property and trading income. Individuals with property or trading income below £1,000 will no longer need to declare or pay tax on that income. Those with income above the allowance will be able to calculate their taxable profit either by deducting their expenses in the normal way or by simply deducting the relevant allowance.

Making tax digital

From 2018 businesses, self-employed people and landlords who are keeping records digitally and providing regular digital updates to HMRC will be able to adopt pay-as-you-go tax payments. This will enable them to choose payment patterns that suit them and better manage their cash flow.

Reform of Substantial Shareholding Exemption (SSE)

SSE means that capital gains on corporate share disposals are not subject to UK corporation tax where certain conditions are satisfied. It was introduced in 2002 and was designed to ensure that tax does not act as a disincentive to commercially desirable business sales or group restructuring. There have been significant developments in the UK and international corporate tax landscape since the SSE was first introduced. The government will therefore consult on the extent to which the SSE is still delivering on its original policy objective and whether there could be changes to its detailed design in order to increase its simplicity, coherence and international competitiveness.

Petroleum Revenue Tax (PRT)

The rate of PRT will be permanently reduced to zero for all chargeable periods ending after 31 December 2015.

Anti-avoidance

The government will change the deduction of tax at source regime to bring all international royalty payments arising in the UK within the charge to income tax, unless those taxing rights have been given up under a double taxation agreement or the EU Interest and Royalties Directive.

Employment Taxes

NIC for apprentices under 25

From 6 April 2016 employer NICs are 0% for apprentices under 25 who earn less than the upper secondary threshold (UST) which is £827 per week (£43,000 per annum). Employers are liable to 13.8% NIC on pay above the UST. Employee NICs are payable as normal.

An apprentice needs to:

  • be working towards a government recognised apprenticeship in the UK which follows a government approved framework/standard
  • have a written agreement, giving the government recognised apprentice framework or standard, with a start and expected completion date.

Employers need to identify relevant apprentices and generally assign them NIC category letter H to ensure the correct NICs are collected.

Comment

The proposals exclude apprenticeships which do not follow government approved frameworks, also known as common law apprenticeships. A similar 0% rate of employer NIC already applies for employees under the age of 21.

Employee benefits and expenses changes from 6 April 2016

From 6 April 2016 a number of changes are introduced relating to the tax treatment of employee benefits in kind and expenses:

  • There will be a statutory exemption for certain expenses, such as travelling and subsistence expenses, reimbursed to an employee. This will replace the current system where employers have to apply for a dispensation to avoid having to report non-taxable expenses (on forms P11D).
  • Employers will be able to include taxable benefits in pay and thus account for PAYE on the benefits. However, in order to payroll benefits for 2016/17, employers will have to register with HMRC for the service before the start of the new tax year. Employers will then not have to include these payrolled benefits on forms P11D.
  • The £8,500 threshold below which employees do not pay income tax on certain benefits in kind will be removed. There will be new exemptions for carers and ministers of religion.

Comment

The statutory exemption for reimbursed expenses will mean that all employees will automatically get the tax relief they are due on qualifying expenses payments.

Another option is introduced which allows amounts based on scale rates to be paid or reimbursed, instead of the employee’s actual costs. The rates that can be used are either HMRC approved figures or figures specifically agreed with HMRC in writing.

The approved figures only cover meals purchased by an employee in the course of business travel.

Simplification of the administration of tax on employee benefits and expenses

The government will introduce a package of measures to further simplify the tax administration of employee benefits and expenses by:

  • extending the voluntary payrolling framework to allow employers to account for tax on non-cash vouchers and credit tokens in real time from April 2017
  • consulting on proposals to simplify the process for applying for and agreeing PAYE Settlement Agreements
  • consulting on proposals to align the dates by which an employee has to make a payment to their employer in return for a benefit-in-kind they receive to ‘make good’
  • legislating to ensure that if there is a specific statutory provision for calculating the tax charge on a benefit in kind, this must be used.

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. There is a 3% diesel supplement. The maximum charge is capped at 37% of the list price of the car.

From 6 April 2016 there will be a 2% increase in the percentage applied by each band with similar increases in 2017/18 and 2018/19. For 2019/20 the rate will increase by a further 3%.

From 6 April 2017 the appropriate percentage for cars which have neither a CO2 emissions figure nor an engine cylinder capacity, and which cannot produce CO2 emissions in any circumstances by being driven, will be set at 9%. From 6 April 2018 this will be increased to 13%, and from 6 April 2019 to 16%.

Van benefit charge for zero emissions vans

The van benefit charge for 2015/16 is £3,150 increasing to £3,170 in 2016/17.

The government will extend van benefit charge support for zero-emission vans so that from 6 April 2016 the charge will be 20% of the main rate in 2016/17 and 2017/18, and will then increase on a tapered basis to 5 April 2022. The government will review the impact of this incentive at Budget 2018 together with enhanced capital allowances for zero-emission vans.

Taxation of termination payments

From April 2018 the government will tighten the scope of the income tax exemption for termination payments to prevent manipulation.

Termination payments over £30,000 which are subject to income tax will also be subject to employer NIC. The government will undertake a technical consultation on tightening

the scope of the exemption.

Travel and subsistence expenses rules

In September 2015 the government published a discussion document aimed at modernising the tax rules for travel and subsistence (T&S). The government has analysed responses and concluded that, although complex in parts, the current T&S rules are generally well understood and work effectively for the majority of employees and has decided not to make further changes to the T&S rules at this time.

Employment intermediaries and relief for travel and subsistence

As announced at March Budget 2015, the government will introduce legislation in Finance Bill 2016 to restrict tax relief for home to work travel and subsistence expenses for workers engaged through an employment intermediary. This will bring the rules into line with those that apply to employees.

Simplifying the NIC rules

The government will commission the Office of Tax Simplification to review the impact of moving employee NIC to an annual, cumulative and aggregated basis and moving employer NIC to a payroll basis.

Disguised remuneration schemes

The government will introduce a package of measures to tackle the current and historic use of disguised remuneration schemes, which are used to avoid income tax and NIC. Legislation will be included in Finance Bill 2016 which will prevent a relief in the existing legislation from applying where it is used as part of a tax avoidance scheme from Budget Day.

The government will hold a technical consultation on further changes to the legislation which will be included in a future Finance Bill. This will include a new charge on loans paid through disguised remuneration schemes which have not been taxed and are still outstanding on 5 April 2019.

Employee share schemes: simplification of the rules

The government will make a number of technical changes to simplify the tax-advantaged and non-tax-advantaged employee share scheme rules.

Employment Allowance

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

From April 2016, the government will increase the NIC Employment Allowance from £2,000 to £3,000 a year. The increase will mean that businesses will be able to employ four workers full time on the new National Living Wage without paying any NIC.

To ensure that the NIC Employment Allowance is focussed on businesses and charities that support employment, from April 2016 companies where the director is the sole employee will no longer be able to claim the Employment Allowance.

Employers who hire an illegal worker face civil penalties from the Home Office. The government will build on this deterrent by removing a year’s Employment Allowance from those receiving civil penalties, starting in 2018.

Salary sacrifice

The government is considering limiting the range of benefits that attract income tax and NIC advantages when provided as part of salary sacrifice schemes. However, the government’s intention is that pension saving, childcare, and health-related benefits such as Cycle to Work should continue to benefit from income tax and NIC relief when provided through salary sacrifice arrangements.

Off-payroll working in the public sector

From April 2017 the government will make public sector bodies and agencies responsible for operating the tax rules that apply to off-payroll working through limited companies in the public sector. The rules will remain unchanged for those working in the private sector. Liability to pay the correct employment taxes will move from the worker’s own company to the public sector body or agency/third party paying the company.

The government will consult on a clearer and simpler set of tests and online tools.

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 government is to reduce the higher rate of CGT from 28% to 20% and the basic rate from 18% to 10%. The trust CGT rate will also reduce from 28% to 20%. The 28% and 18% rates will continue to apply for carried interest and for chargeable gains on residential property that do not qualify for private residence relief. In addition, the 28% rate still applies for ATED related chargeable gains accruing to any person (principally companies). These changes will take effect for disposals made on or after 6 April 2016.

The rate for disposals qualifying for Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER) remains at 10% with a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual.

Example 2016/17

Annie, a higher rate taxpayer, has the following chargeable gains after the annual exemption:

•         Gains eligible for ER £100,000

•         A residential property gain £30,000

•         Other gains £10,000

The ER gain is taxable at 10%. The residential property gain will be taxed at 28% and other gains at 20%.

Goodwill on Incorporation and ER

New rules were introduced from 3 December 2014 which prevent individuals from claiming ER on disposals of goodwill when they transfer their business to a related company in which they, or a member of their family, held any shares whatsoever. This means that CGT became payable on the gain at the normal rates of 18% or 28% rather than 10%.

Revised legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2016 to allow ER to be claimed in respect of gains on goodwill where the individual holds less than 5% of the shares, and less than 5% of the voting power, in the acquiring company.

Relief will also be due where an individual holds 5% or more of the shares or voting power if the transfer of the business to the company is part of arrangements for the company to be sold to a new, independent owner.

This measure will have backdated effect and will therefore apply to disposals on or after 3 December 2014.

Associated disposals and ER

New rules were introduced in 2015 which were aimed at combatting abuse of ER. Whilst preventing the abuse, those rules also resulted in relief not being due on ‘associated disposals’ when a business was sold to members of the claimant’s family under normal succession arrangements.

Certain revisions are to be made so that ER will be allowed on a disposal of a privately-held asset when the accompanying disposal of business assets is to a family member.

In addition, under the 2015 rules an associated disposal can only qualify for ER if there is also a material disposal of 5% or more of the claimant’s share in a partnership or holding in a company. Under the proposals this is not to apply where the claimant disposes of the whole of his interest and has previously held a larger stake.

These changes will have a backdated effect for associated disposals made on or after 18 March 2015.

Joint ventures, partnerships and ER

Changes introduced in 2015 to combat abuse of ER also resulted in relief not being due to investors in some types of genuine commercial structures where tax avoidance was not a main motive. Those affected were companies with shares in joint venture companies and corporate partners with shares in trading companies because their investments were reclassified as non-trading activities. ER is only available to companies or partnerships which are predominantly trading so ER status was lost in a number of cases.

To enable genuine commercial structures to qualify for ER, this measure changes the definitions of a ‘trading company’ and a ‘trading group’ which apply for ER. Where the new definitions apply, a company which holds shares in a joint venture company will be treated as carrying on a proportion of the activities of that company corresponding to the investing company’s fractional shareholding in it. Also, the activities of a corporate partner in a firm will be treated as having their true nature (trading or non-trading) when determining whether the company is a trading company.

It will also be a requirement that the person making the disposal on which relief is claimed has at least a 5% interest in the shares of the joint venture company, and effectively controls at least 5% of the voting rights in that company. Where a partnership with a corporate partner is concerned, the person making the disposal must be entitled to at least 5% of the partnership’s assets and profits, and control at least 5% of the voting rights in the corporate partner.

The new definitions mean that, in some cases, whether a company is a trading company or the holding company of a trading group will depend on the size of the claimant’s shareholding in the company.

External investors and ER

ER will be extended to external investors (other than employees or officers of the company) in unlisted trading companies. To qualify for the 10% CGT rate under ‘investors’ relief’ the following conditions will apply:

  • shares must be newly issued and subscribed for by the individual for new consideration
  • be in an unlisted trading company, or an unlisted holding company of a trading group
  • have been issued by the company on or after 17 March 2016 and have been held for a period of three years from 6 April 2016
  • have been held continuously for a period of three years before disposal.

An individual’s qualifying gains for investors’ relief will be subject to a lifetime cap of £10 million.

Capital gains and employee shareholder agreements

The ‘employee shareholder’ was a new employment status made available from 1 September 2013. Employee shareholders who agreed to give up certain statutory employment rights received in exchange at least £2,000 of shares in their employer or parent company free of income tax and national insurance. Qualifying conditions do apply.

Any eventual gains on shares received with an original value of up to £50,000 are CGT free. However, a lifetime limit of £100,000 on the CGT exempt gains is introduced on disposals under Employee Shareholder Agreements entered into after 16 March 2016.

Other Matters

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT)

The Chancellor announced in the Autumn Statement that new rates of SDLT on purchases of additional residential properties would apply from 1 April 2016. Similar legislation was introduced in the Scottish Parliament for LBTT which applies to property transactions in Scotland. The LBTT legislation has now been enacted.

The new rates will be three percentage points above the current SDLT and LBTT rates. The higher rates will potentially apply if, at the end of the day of the purchase transaction, the individual owns two or more residential properties.

The SDLT proposals were subject to a consultation. The government has now announced:

  • purchasers will have 36 months rather than 18 months to claim a refund of the higher rates if they buy a new main residence before disposing of their previous main residence
  • 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
  • there will be no exemption from the higher rates for significant investors.

Comment

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 proposed 36 month rules above 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.

LBTT has been enacted with the 18 month periods rather than 36 months.

SDLT on non-residential property

The government will change the calculation of SDLT on freehold and leasehold premium non-residential transactions, on and after 17 March 2016, so the rates apply to the portion of the purchase price within each band. The SDLT rates and thresholds for non-residential freehold and leasehold premiums will also change from the same date.

For new leasehold transactions, SDLT is already charged at each rate on the portion of the net present value (NPV) of the rent which falls within each band. On and after 17 March 2016 a new 2% rate for rent paid under a non-residential lease will be introduced where the NPV of the rent is above £5 million.

Comment

The LBTT on non-residential properties in Scotland is already based on a similar system to that proposed for SDLT.

VAT: overseas businesses and online marketplaces

Changes will be made to the existing rules which allow HMRC to direct an overseas business to appoint a VAT representative with joint and several liability. A new provision will then enable HMRC to hold an online marketplace jointly and severally liable for the unpaid VAT of an overseas business that sells goods in the UK via that online marketplace.

The measure will have effect from Royal Assent to Finance Bill 2016.

Comment

The objective of this measure is to give HMRC strengthened operational powers to tackle the non-compliance from some overseas businesses that avoid paying UK VAT on sales of goods made to UK consumers via online marketplaces. It is directed at getting overseas businesses, that are or should be VAT registered in the UK, paying VAT due either directly or through a VAT representative.

Business rates

Business rates have been devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The Chancellor has announced cuts on business rates for half of all properties in England from 1 April 2017. In particular the government proposes to:

  • Permanently double Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) from 50% to 100% and increase the thresholds to benefit a greater number of businesses. Businesses with a property with a rateable value of £12,000 and below will receive 100% relief.
  • Increase the threshold for the standard business rates multiplier to a rateable value of £51,000, taking 250,000 smaller properties out of the higher rate.

Insurance Premium Tax

The standard rate of IPT will be increased from 9.5% to 10% with effect from 1 October 2016.

General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR)

The government will legislate to introduce a new penalty of 60% of tax due to be charged in all cases successfully tackled by the GAAR. Small changes to the GAAR procedure will be made to improve its ability to tackle marketed avoidance schemes.

New soft drinks industry levy

The government will introduce a new soft drinks industry levy to be paid by producers and importers of soft drinks that contain added sugar. The levy will be charged on volumes according to total sugar content, with a main rate charge for drink above 5 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres and a higher rate for drinks with more than 8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres. There will be an exclusion for small operators.

It is proposed to introduce the measure from April 2018.

 

Newsletter – August 2015

Enews – August 2015

In this month’s eNews we report on HMRC’s time to pay arrangements, the launch of Tax-Free Childcare, the latest NMW campaign and changes to the rules for farmers averaging of profits. We also report on the introduction of the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme and TPR guidance on pension schemes for auto enrolment.

Please do contact us for further advice.

Tax-Free Childcare to launch in 2017 following court ruling

The government has welcomed a judgment from the Supreme Court that found the proposals for delivering Tax-Free Childcare to be lawful. The new Tax-Free Childcare Scheme was being challenged by some of the providers of the childcare vouchers typically used in the current Employer Supported Childcare arrangements.

The scheme is now expected to launch from early 2017. The existing EmployerSupported Childcare scheme will remain open to new entrants until Tax-Free Childcare is launched.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Damian Hinds said:

‘We are pleased that the government’s proposals for delivering Tax-Free Childcare have been found to be clearly lawful. This government is absolutely clear on the importance of supporting families with their childcare costs.’

‘It is disappointing that some organisations involved in the existing scheme felt the need to take and persist in this costly and wasteful course of action, which has led to a delay in the launch of Tax-Free Childcare.’

If you would like advice on Employer Supported Childcare please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Time to Pay Arrangements – Mandatory Direct Debit

Where a taxpayer has difficulty paying their tax liabilities HMRC may agree ‘time to pay arrangements’ whereby the taxpayer agrees to pay off the amount owing by instalments after the due date. These arrangements are only entered into where the taxpayer is genuinely unable to pay by the due date and is able to commit to agreed payments to bring their tax up to date.

HMRC have announced that where time to pay arrangements are agreed the payments will need to be made by Direct Debit. This has always been HMRC’s preferred method of collection but this became mandatory from 3 August 2015.

However, HMRC do state that:

‘We recognise that there will be exceptional circumstances where a customer is unable to set up a direct debit, perhaps because their bank account will not allow it. In such cases payment by other methods may be agreed.’

Internet link: GOV.UK blog

NMW campaign targets hair and beauty sector

HMRC are targeting employers in the hairdressing and beauty sectors who pay their staff below the national minimum wage (NMW).

HMRC and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), supported by the National Hairdressers’ Federation and the Hair and Beauty Industry Authority, will work with hair and beauty businesses to help them understand their pay obligations to their employees.

In a new approach HMRC will provide employers with tools and guidance to check if they are paying the correct amount.

Employers who take this opportunity to ‘self-correct’ will not have to pay penalties, nor will they be ‘named and shamed’. If employers choose not to comply with their NMW obligations, HMRC will take action to ensure that employees are paid what they are owed.

As detailed in the press release ‘BIS analysis shows that 42% of businesses in the sector do not pay level 2 and level 3 apprentices the correct minimum wage – the highest underpayment rate of any sector. Those paying under the minimum wage now have a chance to put things right. If they fail to do so it could result in their business being publicly ‘named and shamed’ and facing a fine of up to £20,000 per employee.’

Jennie Granger, HMRC Director General of Enforcement and Compliance, said:

‘This innovative campaign is about helping employees who have been underpaid get the money they are legally due back into their pockets. It will help them understand where they can report underpaying employers confidentially.

It is also about helping employers check if they are making mistakes, and self-correct if they are. Some employers will need a bit of a reminder to check they are getting it right, and some will need stronger action from us, so we are bringing in more enforcement officers to support this campaign.

I urge all employers and employees in the sector to check that salary is being paid correctly, as we will use these extra resources to find and investigate where it is not. Check you’re paying NMW correctly – it’s worth it.’

Employers in the hair and beauty sector are being asked to come forward as part of the National Minimum Wage Campaign by:

  • advising HMRC they want to take part in the campaign
  • disclosing details of arrears now paid to their workers and confirming that wages worth at least the NMW are now paid to all workers.

If you would like help with NMW issues please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK nmw campaign

Latest job market statistics

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures showing that the UK employment rate has dropped by 67,000 when compared to the three months to February 2015. As detailed in the press release the figures show:

  • There were 30.98 million people in work. This was 67,000 fewer than for the 3 months to February 2015, the first quarterly fall since February to April 2013. Comparing March to May 2015 with a year earlier, there were 265,000 more people in work (272,000 more people working full-time and 7,000 fewer people working part-time).
  • The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) was 73.3%, little changed compared with the 3 months to February 2015 but higher than for a year earlier (72.9%).
  • There were 1.85 million unemployed people. This was 15,000 more than for the 3 months to February 2015, the first quarterly increase since January to March 2013. Comparing March to May 2015 with a year earlier, there were 273,000 fewer unemployed people.
  • The proportion of the economically active population who were unemployed (the unemployment rate) was 5.6%, little changed compared with the 3 months to February 2015 but lower than for a year earlier (6.5%). Economically active people are those in work plus those seeking and available to work.
  • There were 9.02 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were out of work and not seeking or available to work (known as economically inactive), 30,000 more than for the 3 months to February 2015 and 104,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (the inactivity rate) was 22.2%, little changed compared with the 3 months to February 2015 but higher than for a year earlier (22.0%).
  • Comparing March to May 2015 with a year earlier, pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 3.2% including bonuses and by 2.8% excluding bonuses.

Internet link: ONS

 

Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme

The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) is being introduced on 1 October 2015 by HMRC to tackle alcohol fraud. HMRC are advising that if you are an alcohol wholesaler or trade buyer, you need to prepare for the new registration scheme now.

Who the scheme applies to

HMRC are advising that the AWRS will apply to existing, and new, wholesalers of alcohol, trading at or after the point at which excise duty has become payable. In addition all businesses that trade in or retail alcohol will in future need to make sure that any UK wholesalers that they buy from are registered with HMRC. The types of business who will be affected include:

  • alcohol wholesalers
  • brokers
  • auctioneers
  • alcohol retailers.

The scheme will not apply to private individuals purchasing alcohol from retailers.

HMRC are advising that:

  • from 1 October 2015, all alcohol wholesalers must apply online to HMRC to register for AWRS
  • from 1 January 2016 HMRC will start to review all AWRS applications to decide whether businesses are ‘fit and proper’ to be accepted onto the register. Where a business fails the ‘fit and proper’ test, HMRC will remove its right to trade in wholesale alcohol
  • from 1 April 2017, all businesses that trade in, or retail, alcohol will need to make sure that any UK wholesalers that they buy from are registered with HMRC. HMRC will provide an online look up service so that trade buyers can ensure wholesalers they buy from are registered with HMRC.

Internet link: GOV.UK AWRS

Farmers Averaging of Profits

It was announced in the March 2015 Budget that the government plans to extend the period over which self-employed farmers can average their profits for income tax purposes from two years to five years. The government has launched a consultation which considers ways in which the extension could be designed and implemented.

The change to the averaging rules is expected to come into effect from 6 April 2016.

Internet link: GOV.UK farmers averaging

Pension Schemes for Auto Enrolment

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published some guidance aimed at the 1.3 million small and micro employers who are preparing for pensions auto enrolment. The guidance aims to help employers find a good quality pension scheme. TPR research suggests one in five (290,000) employers will not seek advice when choosing a pension scheme, while one in ten (130,000) do not know how to select a scheme, or think it will be difficult.

The information includes details of a list of ‘master trust’ pension schemes open to employers of all sizes, and which have been independently reviewed to help to demonstrate that they are administered to a high standard.

TPR have also made available a quick guide for small and micro employers on what to look out for when choosing a scheme suited to their needs. They have also updated their webpage guidance to advisors.

Lesley Titcomb, chief executive of The Pensions Regulator, said:

‘I strongly believe that the vast majority of the 1.3 million small and micro employers approaching automatic enrolment want to do the right thing. However, many will choose not to seek advice and will need additional support to meet their duties.

We are committed to providing them with the information they need to make confident choices when it comes to choosing a quality scheme for their employees.’

If you would like help complying with your auto enrolment duties please do get in touch.

Internet link:Press release

 

The Second Budget 2015 – An Overview

The Second Budget 2015

George Osborne presented the first Budget of this Parliament on Wednesday 8 July 2015. The speech set out his plans for the next five years ‘to keep moving us from a low wage, high tax, high welfare economy; to the higher wage, lower welfare country we intend to create’.

Main Budget tax proposals

  • New taxation system for dividend receipts for individuals.
  • Proposals to restrict interest relief for ‘buy to let’ landlords.
  • Extension to the inheritance tax nil rate band available.

Other tax changes

  • An announcement of the amount of the Annual Investment Allowance available to businesses from January 2016.
  • Removal of the tax relief available on the acquisition of goodwill and customer related intangibles.
  • An increase in the amount of the NIC Employment Allowance.

The government also announced a number of changes to tax credits and Universal Credit as part of the welfare reforms aimed at reducing the growing expenditure in this area.

Our summary focuses on the tax issues likely to affect you, your family and your business. To help you decipher what was announced we have included our own comments.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.

The Budget proposals may be subject to amendment in a Finance Act. You should contact us before taking any action as a result of the contents of this summary.

 

Personal Tax

The personal allowance for 2015/16

For those born after 5 April 1938 the personal allowance is £10,600. For those born before 6 April 1938 the personal allowance remains at £10,660. The reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2015/16 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £121,200.

Commitments to increase the personal allowance

The Chancellor announced that the personal allowance will be increased to £11,000 for 2016/17 and to £11,200 in 2017/18. These allowances are higher than those previously announced in the March Budget.

Legislation to ensure a tax-free minimum wage

The government has an objective to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 by the end of this Parliament.

The government has announced that the personal allowance will automatically increase in line with the equivalent of 30 hours a week at the adult rate of the national minimum wage once the personal allowance reaches £12,500.

Tax bands and rates for 2015/16

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is £31,785 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £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.

Currently 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%. Dividend income is deemed to be paid net of a notional 10% tax credit.

Some individuals qualify for the 0% starting rate of tax on savings income up to £5,000. The rate is not available if taxable non-savings income (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income) exceeds the starting rate limit.

Commitment to increase the 40% income tax threshold

The Chancellor announced that the basic rate limit will be increased to £32,000 for 2016/17 and to £32,400 for 2017/18.

The higher rate threshold will rise to £43,000 in 2016/17 and £43,600 in 2017/18 for those entitled to the full personal allowance.

Personal Savings Allowance

The Chancellor announced in the March Budget that legislation will be introduced in a future Finance Bill to apply a Personal Savings Allowance to income such as bank and building society interest from 6 April 2016.

The Personal Savings Allowance will apply for up to £1,000 of a basic rate taxpayer’s savings income, and up to £500 of a higher rate taxpayer’s savings income each year. The Personal Savings Allowance will not be available for additional rate taxpayers.

Dividend Tax Allowance and rates of tax

The government will abolish the dividend tax credit from 6 April 2016 and introduce a new Dividend Tax Allowance of £5,000 a year.

The new rates of tax on dividend income above the allowance will be 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers, 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers and 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers. While these rates remain below the main rates of income tax, those who receive significant dividend income, for example as a result of receiving dividends through a close company, will pay more.

Comment

The government expects these changes to reduce the incentive to incorporate and remunerate through dividends rather than through wages to reduce tax liabilities.

The government also gives an example of a person who receives significant dividend income ‘due to very large shareholdings (typically more than £140,000)’ having to pay a higher rate of tax. It is unclear what this means.

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

In 2015/16 the overall ISA savings limit is £15,240.

From 6 April 2016 the government will introduce the Innovative Finance ISA, for loans arranged via a peer to peer (P2P) platform. A public consultation has been launched on whether to extend the list of ISA eligible investments to include debt securities and equity offered via a crowd funding platform.

It was announced in the March Budget that regulations would be introduced in autumn 2015, following consultation on technical detail, to enable ISA savers to withdraw and replace money from their cash ISA without it counting towards their annual ISA subscription limit for that year. This change will have effect from 6 April 2016.

Help to Buy ISA

The government announced the introduction of a new type of ISA in the March Budget, the Help to Buy ISA, which will provide a tax free savings account for first time buyers wishing to save for a home.

The scheme will provide a government bonus to each person who has saved into a Help to Buy ISA at the point they use their savings to purchase their first home. For every £200 a first time buyer saves, the government will provide a £50 bonus up to a maximum bonus of £3,000 on £12,000 of savings.

The government has now announced that Help to Buy ISAs will be available for first time buyers to start saving into from 1 December 2015. First time buyers will be able to open their Help to Buy ISA accounts with an additional one off deposit of £1,000.

Tax-Free Childcare scheme

The Tax-Free Childcare scheme will provide relief for 20% of the costs of childcare. The maximum relief will be £2,000 per child per year or £4,000 for disabled children. The scheme was scheduled to be launched in autumn 2015 but the launch date has been deferred to early 2017.

The current system of employer supported childcare will continue to be available for current members if they wish to remain in it or they can switch to the new scheme. Employer supported childcare will continue to be open to new joiners until the new scheme is available.

Employers’ workplace nurseries won’t be affected by the introduction of Tax-Free Childcare.

Comment

The scheme has been delayed due to a court case taken by some childcare voucher providers. The legal issues have now been resolved in favour of the government. So those people who are unable to use the current employer supported childcare scheme, such as the self-employed, will have to wait a bit longer to get support with childcare costs.

Free childcare

From September 2017 the free childcare entitlement will be doubled from 15 hours to 30 hours a week for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds. The government will implement this extension of free hours early in some local areas from September 2016. This free childcare is worth around £5,000 a year per child.

Restricting loan interest relief for ‘buy to let’ landlords

The government will restrict the amount of income tax relief landlords can get on residential property finance costs to the basic rate of income tax. Finance costs include mortgage interest, interest on loans to buy furnishings and fees incurred when taking out or repaying mortgages or loans. No relief is available for capital repayments of a mortgage or loan.

Landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income. They will instead receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability for their finance costs. To give landlords time to adjust, the government will introduce this change gradually from April 2017, over four years.

The restriction in the relief will be phased in as follows:

  • in 2017/18, the deduction from property income will be restricted to 75% of finance costs, with the remaining 25% being available as a basic rate tax reduction
  • in 2018/19, 50% finance costs deduction and 50% given as a basic rate tax reduction
  • in 2019/20, 25% finance costs deduction and 75% given as a basic rate tax reduction
  • from 2020/21, all financing costs incurred by a landlord will be given as a basic rate tax reduction.

This restriction will not apply to landlords of furnished holiday lettings.

Comment

The restrictions on loan interest will be an unwelcome development for landlords paying higher or additional rate of tax. For many investors, the restriction on loan interest relief will materially alter their attitude to the amount of debt taken on.

Other changes to property taxation

From April 2016 the government will:

  • replace the Wear and Tear Allowance with a new relief that allows all residential landlords to deduct the actual costs of replacing furnishings. Capital allowances will continue to apply for landlords of furnished holiday lets.
  • increase the level of Rent-a-Room relief from £4,250 to £7,500 per annum.

Pensions – restriction on tax relief

The Annual Allowance provides an annual limit on tax relieved pension savings. It is currently £40,000. From April 2016 the government will introduce a taper to the Annual Allowance for those with adjusted annual incomes, including their own and employer’s pension contributions, over £150,000. For every £2 of adjusted income over £150,000, an individual’s Annual Allowance will be reduced by £1, down to a minimum of £10,000.

The government also wants to make sure that the right incentives are in place to encourage saving into pensions in the longer term. The government is therefore consulting on whether there is a case for reforming pensions tax relief.

 

Business Tax

Corporation tax rates

From 1 April 2015 the main rate of corporation tax is 20% and it is proposed that this rate will continue for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2016. The main rate of corporation tax will then be reduced as follows:

  • 19% for the Financial Years beginning on 1 April 2017, 1 April 2018 and 1 April 2019
  • 18% for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020.

Annual Investment Allowance (AIA)

The AIA provides a 100% deduction for the cost of most plant and machinery (not cars) purchased by a business, up to an annual limit and is available to most businesses.

The maximum amount of the AIA was increased to £500,000 from 1 April 2014 for companies or 6 April 2014 for unincorporated businesses until 31 December 2015. However it was due to return to £25,000 after this date. The level of the maximum AIA will now be set permanently at £200,000 for all qualifying investment in plant and machinery made on or after 1 January 2016.

Where a business has a chargeable period which spans 1 January 2016 there are transitional rules for calculating the maximum AIA for that period. The maximum amount for the transitional period is the total of the time apportioned maximum AIA of £500,000 from the start of the chargeable period to 31 December 2015 plus the time apportioned maximum AIA of £200,000 from 1 January 2016 to the end of the chargeable period. However any AIA available on expenditure in the second period would be limited to the time apportioned maximum in that period.

Corporation tax relief for business goodwill

Where a company acquires goodwill or intangible assets, which are recognised in the accounts, a corporation tax deduction is available for the charge to profit and loss when the assets are written off. This deduction is only available on the acquisition of a business and not on the acquisition of shares in a company.

For acquisitions of goodwill and customer related intangibles made on or after 8 July 2015 this relief will no longer be available. In addition, there will be restrictions on the treatment of any allowable losses realised on subsequent disposals of goodwill or customer related intangibles which were acquired on or after 8 July 2015. There are no restrictions where a profit is made on a subsequent disposal.

Corporation tax payment dates

The government will introduce earlier dates for the payment of corporation tax for larger companies and groups, for accounting periods starting on or after 1 April 2017. For companies with annual taxable profits of £20 million or more, tax will be payable in quarterly instalments in the third, sixth, ninth and twelfth months of their accounting period. For groups the threshold is divided by the number of companies in the group.

Tax-advantaged venture capital schemes

This Budget also announces that the government will make amendments to the tax-advantaged venture capital schemes to ensure that the UK continues to offer significant and well-targeted support for investment into small and growing companies, with a particular focus on innovative companies.

 

Capital Taxes

Capital gains tax (CGT) rates and annual exemption

No changes have been announced in respect of CGT rates or the annual exemption.

Inheritance tax (IHT) nil rate band

The IHT nil rate band is currently frozen at £325,000 until April 2018. This is to remain frozen until April 2021.

IHT and the main residence nil rate band

An additional nil rate band is to be introduced where a residence is passed on death to direct descendants such as a child or a grandchild. This will initially be £100,000 in 2017/18, rising to £125,000 in 2018/19, £150,000 in 2019/20, and £175,000 in 2020/21. It will then increase in line with CPI from 2021/22 onwards. The additional band can only be used in respect of one residential property which has, at some point, been a residence of the deceased.

Any unused nil rate band may be transferred to a surviving spouse or civil partner. It will also be available when a person downsizes or ceases to own a home on or after 8 July 2015 and assets of an equivalent value, up to the value of the additional nil rate band, are passed on death to direct descendants. This element will be the subject of a technical consultation and will be legislated for in Finance Bill 2016.

There will also be a tapered withdrawal of the additional nil rate band for estates with a net value (after deducting any liabilities but before reliefs and exemptions) of more than £2 million. This will be at a withdrawal rate of £1 for every £2 over this threshold.

The current tax position of the non UK domicile

A UK resident and domiciled individual is taxed on worldwide income and gains. Non UK domiciles who are UK resident are currently able to claim the remittance basis of taxation in respect of foreign income and gains. This means that they are only taxed if foreign income and gains are brought into the UK. The non UK domicile is also favourably treated for IHT as they only pay IHT in respect of UK assets as opposed to their worldwide assets.

New proposals for non UK domiciles

The government intends to abolish non UK domicile status for certain long term residents from April 2017. This will only apply where an individual has been resident for at least 15 out of the last 20 tax years. Such individuals will be treated as deemed UK domicile for all tax purposes.

In addition, those who had a domicile in the UK at the date of their birth will revert to having a UK domicile for tax purposes whenever they are resident in the UK, even if under general law they have acquired a domicile in another country.

UK residential property held indirectly by non UK domicile persons

The government will legislate to ensure that, from April 2017, IHT is payable on all UK residential property owned by non UK domiciles, regardless of their residence status for tax purposes, including property held indirectly through an offshore structure such as a trust or partnership.

 

Other Matters

Tax lock

The government will legislate to set a ceiling for the main rates of income tax, the standard and reduced rates of VAT, and employer and employee Class 1 NIC rates, ensuring that they cannot rise above their current levels. The tax lock will also ensure that the NIC Upper Earnings Limit cannot rise above the income tax higher rate threshold and will prevent the relevant statutory provisions being used to remove any items from the zero rate of VAT and reduced rate of VAT for the duration of this Parliament.

National Living Wage

The government will introduce a new National Living Wage (NLW) for workers aged 25 and above, by introducing a premium on top of the National Minimum Wage (NMW). From April 2016, the NLW will be set at £7.20 an hour. This rate is 70p higher than the current NMW rate, and 50p above the NMW increase coming into effect in October 2015.

Employment allowance

From April 2016, the government will increase the NIC Employment Allowance from £2,000 to £3,000 a year. The increase will mean that businesses will be able to employ four workers full time on the new National Living Wage (NLW) without paying any NIC.

To ensure that the NIC Employment Allowance is focussed on businesses and charities that support employment, from April 2016, companies where the director is the sole employee will no longer be able to claim the Employment Allowance.

Tax avoidance

A raft of HMRC compliance initiatives are to be launched over the next few years. To quote the Chancellor:

‘We’re boosting HMRC’s capacity with three quarters of a billion pounds of investment to go after tax fraud, offshore trusts and the businesses of the hidden economy, tripling the number of wealthy evaders they pursue for prosecution – raising £7.2 billion in extra tax.’

Tax credits

A number of changes to tax credits and Universal Credit are announced as part of the welfare reforms aimed at reducing the growing expenditure in this area.

Key changes include:

  • From April 2016 the government will reduce the level of earnings at which a household’s tax credits and Universal Credit award starts to be withdrawn for every extra pound earned. There will also be an increase in the taper rate which applies to any excess income further reducing the tax credit award.
  • Limiting the Child Element of both tax credits and Universal Credit to two children so that any subsequent children born after April 2017 will not be eligible for further support. Some claimants will be protected from these changes.
  • Those starting a family after April 2017 will not be eligible for the Family Element in tax credits and equivalent in Universal Credit.

In addition tax credit allowances (with the exception of disability elements) will be frozen

Newsletter – April 2014

In this month’s enews we report on pensions announcements and other issues pertinent to employers with many deadlines approaching.

Please contact us if you would like any further information.

 

 

HMRC guidance on new pension flexibility

Following the Budget announcements regarding pension flexibility HMRC have now issued some guidance for those individuals who may wish to review their pension options.

New rules are being introduced to ensure that people do not lose their right to a tax-free lump sum if they would rather use the new flexibility this year or next, instead of buying a lifetime annuity.

Internet link: Pensions flexibility

Employers no longer able to reclaim SSP

The Percentage Threshold Scheme (PTS), which allows employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in certain circumstances, is abolished from 6 April 2014.

Under PTS employers have been able to reclaim SSP where the SSP paid is more than 13% of the Class 1 NIC due for the month. Employers are not entitled to recover any of the SSP paid to their employees unless they qualify for the reimbursement scheme.

The following example explains how the scheme worked for a tax month:

SSP paid = £630.00
Gross NI £3,704.29 x 13% = £481.56
SSP recoverable: (£630 – £481.56) = £148.44

From 6 April 2014 employers are unable to recover SSP however they will continue to be able to recover unclaimed SSP for previous years until 5 April 2016. Do contact us if you think this may apply to your business.

The government has announced that the current PTS funding will be moved into a new scheme to help employees who have been incapacitated for four weeks or more get back to work as part of the government’s Health Work and Wellbeing Initiative.

Internet link: Employer bulletin

Disclosure facility for those with undisclosed second incomes

The Second Incomes Campaign is an opportunity open to individuals in employment who have an additional untaxed source of income.

The new facility allows those with untaxed income to get up to date with their tax affairs in a simple, straightforward way and take advantage of the best possible terms.

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

Internet links: Second incomes campaign  Guide to disclosure

More guidance on Class 3A NIC

Further guidance has been issued on Class 3A National insurance contributions (NIC).

In the autumn of 2013 the Government announced plans to introduce a scheme to allow pensioners to top up their Additional State Pension by paying a new class of voluntary National Insurance contribution, to be known as Class 3A.

‘The scheme will open in October 2015 and will be available to all pensioners who reach State Pension age before the introduction of the new State Pension in April 2016. The scheme is expected to run for 18 months.’

‘Class 3A will give pensioners an option to top up their pension by up to £25 a week in a way that will protect them from inflation and offer protection to surviving spouses. In particular, it could help women, and those who have been self-employed, who tend to have low additional State Pension entitlement.’

Internet link: Publication

More HMRC guidance on the Employment Allowance

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

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

HMRC has issued more guidance on the practicalities of claiming the allowance which can be found by visiting the link below.

For help with payroll matters please do contact us.

Internet links: Employment allowance detail  Employment allowance key facts

Tax-free childcare

Details of the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme which is to be launched in autumn 2015 have been announced.

The scheme will be worth a maximum of £2,000 per child per year. The maximum amount due is calculated on 20% of the costs of childcare (up to a total of childcare costs of £10,000 per child per year).

The scheme will be launched in autumn 2015. All children under 12 within the first year of the scheme will be eligible. To qualify for Tax-Free Childcare all parents in the household must:

  • meet a minimum income level based on working eight hours per week at the National Minimum Wage (around £50 a week at current rates)
  • each earn less than £150,000 a year, and
  • not already be receiving support through Tax Credits or Universal Credit.

Self-employed parents will be able to get support with childcare costs in the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, unlike the current employer supported childcare scheme. To support newly self-employed parents, the Government is introducing a ‘start-up’ period. During this period a newly self-employed parent will not have to earn the minimum income level.

The current system of employer supported childcare will continue to be available for current members if they wish to remain in it or they can switch to the new scheme. Employer supported childcare will continue to be open to new joiners until the new scheme is available.

It is proposed that parents register with the Government and open an online account. The scheme will be delivered by HMRC in partnership with National Savings and Investments, the scheme’s account provider. The Government will then ‘top up’ payments into this account at a rate of 20p for every 80p that families pay in.

Internet link: News

Increase in NMW rates

The Government has approved a rise in the National Minimum Wage rates which will come into effect on 1 October 2014:

  • a 19p (3%) increase in the adult rate (from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour)
  • a 10p (2%) increase in the rate for 18 to 20 year olds (from £5.03 to £5.13 per hour)
  • a 7p (2%) increase in the rate for 16 to 17 year olds (from £3.72 to £3.79 per hour)
  • a 5p (2%) increase in the rate for apprentices (from £2.68 to £2.73 per hour.

The rise will take effect in October 2014, as Business Secretary Vince Cable has accepted in full the independent Low Pay Commission’s recommendations for 2014, including plans for bigger increases in future than in recent years.

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) has said the rise, the first real terms cash increase since 2008, is manageable for employers and will support full employment.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

‘The recommendations I have accepted today (12 March 2014) mean that low paid workers will enjoy the biggest cash increase in their take home pay since 2008. This will benefit over 1 million workers on National Minimum Wage and marks the start of a welcome new phase in minimum wage policy.’

Meanwhile HMRC have revealed some of the excuses given for not paying the NMW.

Internet links: Press release  HMRC NMW excuses

Advisory fuel rates for company cars and fuel benefit charge

Where private fuel is provided by the employer for a company car then a separate benefit is assessable on the employee. This benefit charge is calculated by applying the same percentage figure used to calculate the company car benefit to a fixed figure which for 2014/15 is set at £21,700. The percentage is linked to the car’s CO2 emission figures.

Now is a good time to consider whether this benefit is value for money for both the employee and employer.

The alternative is to reimburse the employee for business miles using the company car advisory fuel rates. The current rates are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 14p
1401cc – 2000cc 16p
Over 2000cc 24p

 

Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 9p
1401cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 17p

 

Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 12p
1601cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 17p

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC advisory fuel rates

P11d deadline approaching

The forms P11D, and where appropriate P9D, which report details of expenses and benefits provided to employees and directors for the year ended 5 April 2014, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2014. The process of gathering the necessary information can take some time, so it is important that this process is not left to the last minute.

Employees pay tax on benefits provided as shown on the P11D, either via a PAYE coding notice adjustment or through the self assessment system. In addition, the employer has to pay Class 1A National Insurance Contributions at 13.8% on the provision of most benefits. The calculation of this liability is detailed on the P11D(b) form.

HMRC have updated their expenses and benefits toolkit for 2013/14 and record keeping for 2014/15. The toolkit consists of a checklist which may be used by advisers or employers to check they are completing the forms P11D correctly.

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

Internet links: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/payerti/exb/forms.htm  Toolkit

Budget 2014 – An Overview

Budget 2014

George Osborne presented his Budget on Wednesday 19 March 2014.

In his speech the Chancellor set the scene for the announcements stating that ‘If you’re a maker, a doer or a saver: this Budget is for you.’

Towards the end of last year the Government issued the majority of the clauses, in draft, of Finance Bill 2014 together with updates on consultations. The publication of the draft Finance Bill clauses is now an established way in which tax policy is developed, communicated and legislated.

The Budget updates some of these previous announcements and also proposes further measures. Some of these changes apply from April 2014 and some take effect at a later date.

Our summary focuses on the issues likely to affect you, your family and your business. To help you decipher what was said we have included our own comments. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.

Main Budget tax proposals

  • The starting rate band for savings will be increased from April 2015 and the current 10% tax rate reduced to nil.
  • Individual Savings Accounts are to be simplified by merging the cash and stocks ISAs together with a significant increase in the investment limit from 1 July 2014.
  • Radical changes are to be made to the pensions regime including removing the restrictions on access to pension pots so there will no longer be a requirement to buy an annuity.
  • The Annual Investment Allowance is to be doubled to £500,000 until 31 December 2015.
  • An increase will be made in the R&D tax credit available to loss making SMEs to 14.5%.
  • Those using tax avoidance schemes may be required to pay tax upfront.

The Budget proposals may be subject to amendment in a Finance Act. You should contact us before taking any action as a result of the contents of this summary.

Personal Tax

The personal allowance for 2014/15

For those born after 5 April 1948 the personal allowance will be increased from £9,440 to £10,000.

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 this year there is no allowance when adjusted net income exceeds £118,880. For 2014/15 the allowance ceases when adjusted net income exceeds £120,000.

Comment

The increase in the personal allowance gives more importance to planning before 6 April 2014 where adjusted net income is expected to exceed £100,000. Broadly, adjusted net income is taxable income from all sources, reduced by specific reliefs such as Gift Aid donations and pension contributions.

Tax bands and rates for 2014/15

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is being reduced from £32,010 to £31,865 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies will rise from £41,450 to £41,865 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%.

The personal allowance and tax bands for 2015/16

For 2015/16, the personal allowance for those born after 5 April 1948 will be increased to £10,500, and the basic rate limit will be reduced to £31,785. The threshold at which the 40% band applies will rise from £41,865 to £42,285.

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. The 10% rate is 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 total taxable 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.

Transferable tax allowance for some

From 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 transferable allowance is £1,050 for 2015/16 being 10% of the personal allowance.

The option to transfer will be available to couples where neither pays tax at the higher or additional rate. If eligible, one spouse will be able to transfer £1,050 of their personal allowance to the other spouse. The transferor’s personal allowance will be reduced by £1,050. It will mean that the transferee will be able to earn £1,050 more before they start paying income tax.

The claim will be made online and entitlement will be from the 2015/16 tax year. Couples will be entitled to the full benefit in their first year of marriage.

Comment

For those couples where one person does not use all of their personal allowance the benefit will be worth up to £210.

New Tax-Free Childcare scheme

In Budget 2013, the Government announced new tax incentives for childcare. Following consultation on the design and operation of the scheme, the Government has announced improvements.

The relief will be 20% of the costs of childcare up to a total of childcare costs of £10,000 per child per year. The scheme will therefore be worth a maximum of £2,000 per child. The original proposal had a cap of 20% of £6,000 per child.

The scheme will be launched in autumn 2015. All children under 12 within the first year of the scheme will be eligible. Under the original proposal only children under five would have been eligible in the first year of the scheme.

To qualify for Tax-Free Childcare all parents in the household must:

  • meet a minimum income level based on working eight hours per week at the National Minimum Wage (around £50 a week at current rates)
  • each earn less than £150,000 a year, and
  • not already be receiving support through Tax Credits or Universal Credit.

The current system of employer supported childcare will continue to be available for current members if they wish to remain in it or they can switch to the new scheme. Employer supported childcare will continue to be open to new joiners until the new scheme is available.

It is proposed that parents register with the Government and open an online account. The scheme will be delivered by HMRC in partnership with National Savings and Investments, the scheme’s account provider. The Government will then ‘top up’ payments into this account at a rate of 20p for every 80p that families pay in.

Comment

Self-employed parents will be able to get support with childcare costs in the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, unlike the current employer supported childcare scheme. To support newly self-employed parents, the Government is introducing a ‘start-up’ period. During this period a newly self-employed parent will not have to earn the minimum income level.

Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs)

Where an individual subscribes for shares in a VCT, income tax relief at 30% of the subscription price is available. The Government has been concerned that particular forms of share buy-backs and reinvestment arrangements offered by VCTs were not in keeping with the intention of the legislation.

The Government will introduce legislation to:

  • prevent VCTs from returning share capital to investors within three years of the end of the accounting period in which the VCT issued the shares
  • restrict an individuals’ entitlement to VCT income tax relief where investments are conditionally linked in any way to a VCT share buy-back, or have been made within six months of a disposal of shares in the same VCT
  • ensure that HMRC can withdraw tax relief in all cases if VCT shares are disposed of within five years of acquisition.

These changes will take effect from 6 April 2014.

In addition, from the date of Royal Assent, investors will be able to subscribe for shares in a VCT via a nominee.

Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)

SEIS was introduced in 2012 as a way of encouraging equity investment in small companies. This relief was originally introduced for a period of five years and has now been made permanent in respect of both the income and capital gains tax reliefs applicable.

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

From 6 April 2014 the overall ISA savings limit will be increased from £11,520 to £11,880 of which £5,940 can be invested in cash. From 1 July 2014 ISAs will be reformed into a simpler product, the ‘New ISA’ (NISA) and all existing ISAs will become NISAs.

NISAs

From 1 July 2014 the overall annual subscription limit for these accounts will be increased to £15,000 for 2014/15. Special rules apply if investments are made before 1 July 2014. Investments for 2014/15 cannot exceed £15,000 in total.

Savers will also be able to subscribe this full amount to a cash account (currently only 50% of the overall ISA limit can be saved in cash). Under the NISA, investors will also have new rights to transfer their investments from a stocks and shares to a cash account.

There are also changes to the rules on the investments that can be held in a NISA, so that a wider range of securities to include certain retail bonds with less than five years before maturity can be invested. In addition, Core Capital Deferred Shares issued by building societies will become eligible to be held in a NISA, Junior ISA or Child Trust Fund (CTF).

Comment

These measures are part of a broader package of changes to support savers. In particular they will increase the choice and flexibility available to savers in tax advantaged products.

Junior ISA and CTF

The annual subscription limit for Junior ISA and CTF accounts will increase from £3,720 to £3,840 from 6 April 2014. From 1 July 2014 the amount that can be subscribed to a child’s Junior ISA or CTF for 2014/15 will also be increased to £4,000.

The Government has 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. It is expected that the first transfers will be possible by April 2015.

Social investment tax relief

The Government will introduce a new tax relief of 30% for individuals investing in equity or certain debt investments in social enterprises with effect from 6 April 2014. Organisations which are charities, community interest companies (CICs) or community benefit societies will be eligible.

The tax relief available to an individual has a similar design to investments by individuals in an Enterprise Investment Scheme company. Draft guidance on the reliefs is expected to be published later this month.

Comment

CICs are limited companies that provide benefits to the community and the legal form has only been available since 2005. The reason behind the development of CICs was the lack of legal structures for non-charitable social enterprises. Community benefit societies are incorporated industrial and provident societies where profits are returned to the community for its benefit.

The Government wants to make the UK one of the easiest places in the world to invest in social enterprises.

Pension changes

The Chancellor has announced a range of significant measures to bring greater flexibility to individuals who want to access funds in defined contribution pension schemes. Some changes to the current restrictive rules will come into effect from 27 March 2014 whilst further measures will follow in April 2015 after a period of consultation.

Pensions – immediate measures

The immediate measures come into effect from 27 March and cover four broad areas.

Capped drawdown. An individual aged 55 or over can opt for a drawdown pension which allows them to extract amounts from the pension fund which is treated as income for the relevant year. The maximum amount of drawdown is fixed to ensure that the fund is not cleared too quickly. The cap is based on 120% of a notional annuity rate set by the Government Actuary. The cap will be increased to 150%.

Flexible drawdown. Where an individual aged 55 or over can demonstrate that they have pension income (including the state pension) of £20,000 per annum or more they can ignore the drawdown cap and can take whatever amount they wish. Tax will be payable at their marginal rate. The income limit is to be reduced to £12,000 per annum.

Trivial commutation. At present an individual aged 60 or over who has total pensions savings of £18,000 or below can withdraw this as a lump sum. The limit will be increased to £30,000.

Small pots. The Government will increase the amount for small individual pension pots that can be taken as a lump sum regardless of total pension wealth from £2,000 to £10,000. They will also increase the number of small pension pots that can be taken as lump sums from two to three.

Pensions – changes to come

The Government plans to bring even greater flexibility into the pension system from April 2015. In effect an individual will be able to choose what they want to do with their defined contribution pension fund.

  • If they want to draw out all of the fund on retirement they will be able to do so. The tax free element will be 25% of the sum and the balance will be taxed as income in that year.
  • If they wish to buy an annuity they will be able to do so.
  • If they wish to opt for a drawdown arrangement they will be able to do this without any restriction either in the form of a cap or a minimum income limit.

These changes will be subject to a consultation.

Two other important changes will also be made:

  • pension providers and pension trustees will be required to provide free and impartial advice to all individuals approaching retirement so that they can make an informed choice of the options available to them
  • the minimum retirement age for pension schemes will rise to 57 years in 2028 when the state pension age rises to 67 years.

Comment

The Government has indicated that individuals approaching retirement should be trusted to make their own decisions as to what to do with their pension funds and not be restricted by legal requirements. The greater range of options will mean that getting the right advice at the point of retirement will be even more important.

Pension liberation

The Government is concerned about schemes which are intended to encourage people to access their pension funds before they reach retirement and use the funds for other purposes. A range of measures are being introduced to combat these schemes. The measures, generally take effect from 20 March 2014.

With effect from 1 September 2014 a further measure will allow HMRC to refuse to register pension schemes where they believe that the scheme administrator is not fit and proper and the scheme has been established for purposes other than providing pension benefits.

Business Tax

Corporation tax rates

The main rate of corporation tax will be 21% from 1 April 2014. The current rate is 23%. From 1 April 2015 the main rate of corporation tax will be reduced to 20% and unified with the small profits rate.

The small profits rate will therefore remain at 20% until then.

Annual Investment Allowance (AIA)

The AIA provides a 100% deduction for the cost of most plant and machinery (not cars) purchased by a business up to an annual limit and is available to most businesses. Where businesses spend more than the annual limit, any additional qualifying expenditure generally attracts an annual writing down allowance of only 18% or 8% depending on the type of asset.

The maximum amount of the AIA was increased to £250,000 from £25,000 for the period from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2014. The amount of the AIA is further increased to £500,000 from 1 April 2014 for companies or 6 April 2014 for unincorporated businesses until 31 December 2015. The AIA will return to £25,000 after this date.

Comment

The increased AIA will mean that up to 99.8% of businesses could receive 100% upfront relief on their qualifying investment in plant and machinery. For example a single company with a 12 month accounting period to 31 December 2014 could obtain overall relief for the period of £437,500 (£250,000 x 3/12 plus £500,000 x 9/12). There is a restriction of £250,000 for expenditure incurred in that part of the accounting period which falls before 1 April 2014.

Members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)

Since their introduction in 2000, LLPs have become increasingly popular as a vehicle for carrying on a wide variety of businesses. The LLP is a unique entity as it combines limited liability for its members with the tax treatment of a traditional partnership. Individual members are currently deemed to be self-employed for income tax purposes and are taxed as such on their respective profit shares.

It is proposed to reclassify some members of an LLP from self-employment to employees of the LLP. As a consequence employer’s National Insurance Contributions will be due and PAYE will need to be applied to the ‘remuneration’ of the member from the LLP.

A member is potentially a salaried member if ‘Condition A’ is satisfied. However if caught by Condition A there are two further conditions which, if either apply, will result in the member not being treated as a salaried member.

The main part of Condition A is a test of whether it is reasonable to expect that at least 80% of the total amount payable by the LLP to the member will be ‘disguised salary’.

Amounts which vary by reference to the overall amount of profits of the LLP are not disguised salary. A disguised salary would include for example a salary or a guaranteed profit share. Whether a bonus based on personal performance is disguised salary will depend on the precise circumstance. For example, a bonus based only on the performance of the individual is not a profit share. A performance bonus calculated by reference to the LLP’s profits is not disguised salary.

However, a member is not caught if either of the following apply:

  • the individual has a significant influence in the running of the business as a whole, or
  • the individual has invested capital in the LLP that is at least 25% of their expected income from the LLP.

The new regime will come into force on 6 April 2014. The tests will need to be applied at that date for existing members. For the capital invested rule, the measurement of capital will include amounts the member has undertaken to contribute by 5 July 2014.

Comment

Many professional firms are now LLPs. The potential risk is that some junior members with a significant fixed element to their profit share may be treated for tax purposes as employees unless their contractual arrangements with the LLP are modified.

Those LLPs potentially affected may wish to consider increasing member capital contributions to allow the capital invested rule to be satisfied. Undertakings made by members by 6 April 2014 (and actually contributed by 5 July 2014) will be taken into account.

Employment intermediaries and ‘false self-employment’

The Government considers that employment intermediaries are increasingly being used to disguise employment as self-employment. The largest business sector affected will be the construction industry. However, there are other sectors such as the driving, catering and security industries where there is evidence of existing permanent employees being taken out of direct employment and being moved into false self-employment arrangements involving intermediaries.

The central proposal is to make a change to the agency legislation. If the agency legislation applies, payments received by a worker are treated as being in consequence of an employment between the intermediary (agency) and worker. This means that the intermediary must deduct PAYE and NIC.

Currently the agency legislation only applies to workers providing their services under the terms of an agency contract. This is defined as:

‘A contract made between the worker and the agency under the terms of which the worker is obliged to personally provide services to the client.’

This has led intermediaries to set up contracts which allow the worker to send someone else to do their job and thus it is argued that the worker is not obliged to personally provide services.

The Government proposes removing the obligation for the worker to provide their services personally. Instead the proposal is that the agency legislation will apply where the worker is:

  • subject to (or to the right of) control, supervision or direction as to the manner in which the duties are carried out
  • providing their services personally
  • remunerated as a consequence of providing their services
  • receiving remuneration not already taxed as employment income.

The legislation will be amended with effect from 6 April 2014.

It is proposed that the legislation will be supported by record keeping and statutory returns requirements. The intermediary will need to submit a quarterly electronic return containing details of any workers it has placed for whom it is not deducting PAYE and NIC. The aim of this requirement is to allow HMRC to identify possible cases of non-compliance with the new agency legislation.

The record keeping and returns requirements will come into force from 6 April 2015.

Comment

The use of intermediaries to facilitate false self-employment started in the construction industry as a way to reduce the risk to contractors of incorrectly engaging workers on a self-employed basis. The Government considers that around 200,000 workers in the construction sector are engaged through intermediaries.

Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC)

The Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) scheme provides a number of tax reliefs, similar to those available to charities, to support amateur sports clubs. For example an individual can make a donation to a CASC as Gift Aid.

The Finance Bill 2014 will include provisions to extend corporate Gift Aid to donations of money made by companies to CASCs. This will allow companies to claim tax relief on qualifying donations they make on or after 1 April 2014.

Comment

The corporate Gift Aid provisions will not only encourage companies to make donations to clubs which are registered as CASCs but will also encourage clubs with high levels of commercial trading to potentially benefit from CASC status. A club with significant trading receipts may well not qualify for CASC status because of the trading receipts. It could however set up a trading subsidiary and donate the profits to the club. The donation received by the club will not be treated as trading receipts and thus the club could apply for CASC status. The new Gift Aid relief will eliminate the corporation tax charge on the profits of the company.

Research and Development (R&D) relief

R&D relief gives additional tax relief to companies for expenditure incurred on R&D projects that seek to achieve an advance in science or technology. For an SME company which incurs losses when conducting R&D activity a tax credit can be claimed by way of a cash sum paid by HMRC. From 1 April 2014 the rate of the R&D payable tax credit will be increased from 11% to 14.5%.

Business Premises Renovation Allowance (BPRA)

BPRA provides for 100% tax relief on expenditure in bringing business premises in disadvantaged areas back into business use. Following a review of BPRA, the Government will make changes to clarify the type of expenditure which qualifies and other modifications to make it more certain in its application. The changes are to take effect from April 2014.

Enterprise Zones and capital allowances

Subject to certain conditions being met, 100% enhanced capital allowances are available for expenditure incurred by companies on qualifying plant or machinery for use primarily in designated sites within Enterprise Zones. The qualifying period was due to expire on 31 March 2017 and is proposed to be extended to 31 March 2020.

Mineral Extraction Allowance

Mineral exploration and access expenditure attracts an annual 25% capital allowance relief (100% for oil and gas) whereas the acquisition of a mineral asset only attracts 10% relief annually. Expenditure on successful planning permission costs is to be treated as mineral exploration and access rather than as expenditure on acquiring a mineral asset. This applies to expenditure incurred from the date of Royal Assent.

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. From 6 April 2014, the bands used to work out the taxable benefit remain the same but the percentage applied by each band goes up by 1%. There is 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 a further 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. Particular attention should be paid to the benefit increase from 6 April 2015

Exemption threshold for employment-related loans

Where an employer provides an employee with a cheap or interest free loan they have to report notional interest on the loan at 4% per annum on the form P11D. Where the balance of the loan is no more than £5,000 throughout the tax year no benefit is reportable.

The exemption applies if the total balance, at any point in the tax year, does not exceed the limit of £5,000 and includes the total of low cost or interest free loans, or notional loans arising from the provision of employment-related securities.

From 6 April 2014 where the total outstanding balances on all such loans do not exceed £10,000 at any time in the tax year, there will not be a tax charge and employers will no longer be required to report the benefit to HMRC.

Comment

This change reflects the increase in the cost of commuting for an employee and allows the employer to provide finance for the purchase of season tickets for rail fares.

National Insurance – £2,000 employment allowance

The Government has introduced an allowance of up to £2,000 per year for many employers to be offset against their employer Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NIC) liability from 6 April 2014. The legislation is contained in the National Insurance Contributions Act 2014.

There will be some exceptions for employer Class 1 liabilities including liabilities arising from:

  • a person who is employed (wholly or partly) for purposes connected with the employer’s personal, family or household affairs
  • the carrying out of functions either wholly or mainly of a public nature (unless charitable status applies), for example NHS services and General Practitioner services
  • employer contributions deemed to arise under IR35 for personal service companies.

There are also rules to limit the employment allowance to a total of £2,000 where there are ‘connected’ employers. For example, two companies are connected with each other if one company controls the other company.

The allowance is limited to the employer Class 1 NIC liability if that is less than £2,000.

The allowance will be claimed as part of the normal payroll process. The employer’s payment of PAYE and NIC will be reduced each month to the extent it includes an employer Class 1 NIC liability until the £2,000 limit has been reached.

Employer NIC for the under 21s

From April 2015 the Government will abolish employer NIC for those under the age of 21. This exemption will not apply to those earning more than the Upper Earnings Limit, which is £42,285 per annum for 2015/16. Employer NIC will be liable as normal beyond this limit.

Employee ownership

Following a consultation the Government will introduce three new tax reliefs to encourage and promote indirect employee ownership. The reliefs are as follows:

  • From 6 April 2014 disposals of shares that result in a controlling interest in a company being held by an employee ownership trust will be relieved from CGT.
  • Transfers of shares and other assets to employee ownership trusts will also be exempt from inheritance tax providing certain conditions are met.
  • From 1 October 2014 bonus payments made to employees of indirectly employee owned companies which are controlled by an employee ownership trust will be exempt from income tax up to a cap of £3,600 per annum.

Real Time Information (RTI) late filing penalties

RTI requires employers operating PAYE to report information on employees’ pay and deductions in ‘real time’ to HMRC. Under RTI employers are obliged to tell HMRC about payments they make to their employees, on or before the date payments are made. Employers continue to pay over to HMRC the sums deducted from their employees under the PAYE system either monthly, quarterly or annually.

HMRC are introducing automatic in-year penalties for RTI to encourage compliance with the information and payment obligations.

In essence late filing penalties will apply to each PAYE scheme, with the size of the penalty based on the number of employees in the scheme. It is proposed that monthly penalties of between £100 and £400 will apply to micro, small, medium and large employers.

Each scheme will be subject to only one late filing penalty each month regardless of the number of returns submitted late in the month. There will be one unpenalised default each year with all subsequent defaults attracting a penalty.

This regime will start in October 2014.

Another change is more imminent. For tax years 2014/15 onwards, HMRC will charge daily interest on all unpaid amounts from the due and payable date to the date of payment, and will raise the charge when payment in full has been made.

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 is 10% with a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual.

CGT annual exemption

The CGT annual exemption is £10,900 for 2013/14 and will be increased to £11,000 for 2014/15.

CGT – Private Residence Relief

A gain arising on a property which has been an individual’s private residence throughout their period of ownership is exempt from CGT. There are deemed period of occupation rules which may help to provide an exemption from CGT even if the individual was not living in the property at the time. This may mean the individual is accruing private residence relief on another property at the same time.

The final period exemption applies to a property that has been an individual’s private residence at some time even though they may not be living in the property at the time of disposal.

For disposals on or after 6 April 2014 the final period exemption will be reduced from 36 months to 18 months. There may be exceptions for disabled individuals and long term residents in care homes.

CGT – non-residents and UK residential property

From April 2015 a CGT charge will be introduced on future gains made by non-residents disposing of UK residential property. A consultation on how best to introduce this will be published shortly.

Business roll-over relief

Roll-over relief allows CGT to be deferred on gains made on certain qualifying assets where the proceeds are used to purchase other qualifying assets within a specified period of time. With effect from 20 December 2013 a payment entitlement under the new EU Basic Payment Scheme for farmers will become a qualifying asset.

IHT nil rate band

The IHT nil rate band remains frozen at £325,000 until 5 April 2018.

IHT exemption for emergency service personnel

The Government will consult on extending 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.

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 for the purpose of calculating 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. HMRC therefore wants to simplify the process and will consult on proposals to take effect in 2015.

Two changes will however be introduced in Finance Bill 2014:

  • simplification of filing and payment dates for IHT relevant property trust charges
  • income arising in such trusts which remains undistributed for more than five years may be treated as part of the trust capital when calculating the ten-year anniversary charge.

Comment

Part of the price of the tax simplification proposals will be that some planning techniques where an individual creates more than one relevant property trust will no longer work. For example, a nil rate band that may be currently available for each trust may, in future, need to be split between the trusts resulting in higher IHT charges

IHT anti-avoidance

In 2013 measures were introduced to restrict the use of liabilities to reduce IHT liability where loans were used to purchase assets which are excluded property for IHT purposes. A common situation which was blocked was the use of loans to purchase assets outside the UK which were held by a non-domiciled individual. A loophole has been spotted where a non-domiciled individual holds a foreign currency account in a UK bank. Such an asset is not chargeable to IHT but is not excluded property. That loophole will now be blocked by treating such an account as if it were excluded property.

Residential property held through a company

A range of measures exist to discourage the holding of residential property in the UK via companies and other non-natural persons. Specifically where the property has a value of at least £2 million:

  • stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is payable at 15% on acquisition
  • an annual tax on dwellings (ATED) applies at a fixed amount depending on value, and
  • CGT at 28% is payable on a proportion of gains.

For SDLT the value limit is being reduced to £500,000 for acquisitions on or after 20 March 2014.

The Government will introduce two new bands for ATED. Residential properties worth over £1 million and up to £2 million will be brought into the charge with effect from 1 April 2015. Properties worth over £500,000 and up to £1 million will be brought into the charge with effect from 1 April 2016.

The related CGT charge on disposals of properties liable to ATED will be extended to residential properties worth over £1 million with effect from 6 April 2015 and for residential properties worth over £500,000 from 6 April 2016.

Comment

The Government is determined to drive out the use of so-called ‘envelopes’ for the ownership of residential property in the UK. The major group affected will be non-domiciled individuals who have historically used overseas companies to hold UK residential property.

Other Matters

VAT prompt payment discounts

Legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2014 to amend the UK VAT legislation on prompt payment discounts so that it is aligned with EU legislation.

Under the current rules, suppliers account for VAT on the discounted price offered for prompt payment, even when that discount is not taken up. This amendment will ensure that VAT is accounted for on the full actual consideration paid for goods and services where prompt payment discounts are offered.

The measure will have effect for supplies made from 1 April 2015 although the measure will apply from 1 May 2014 for telecommunication and broadcasting supplies. The earlier date may also apply to other specified supplies.

VAT reverse charge for gas and electricity

A reverse charge for wholesale supplies of gas and electricity will be introduced which means customers will be liable to account for VAT rather than the supplier. The measure does not apply to domestic supplies or to businesses not registered, or liable to be registered for VAT.

The Government will informally consult on the timing with those affected, with a view to laying the necessary secondary legislation at the earliest opportunity thereafter. The measure has been announced to remove the opportunity for fraudsters to charge VAT and then go missing before the VAT has been paid over to HMRC.

Requirement for users of failed avoidance schemes

It is proposed to give HMRC the power to give notice to taxpayers who have used avoidance schemes, which are defeated in another party’s litigation, that taxpayers should amend their returns or settle their disputes with HMRC accordingly. Taxpayers who decide not to settle their case will risk a penalty.

This change will take effect from Royal Assent.

Accelerated payments in tax avoidance cases

Following consultation, further legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2014 to extend accelerated payment of tax to users of schemes disclosed under the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) rules, and to taxpayers involved in schemes subject to counteraction under the General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR), so that the amount in dispute is held by HMRC whilst the dispute is resolved.

These changes will take effect from Royal Assent.

 

This summary is published for the information of clients. It provides only an overview of the main proposals announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget Statement, 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 summary can be accepted by the authors or the firm.

 

Newsletter – August 2013

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

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

Parents with higher incomes must register for Self Assessment

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

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

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

HMRC’s Chief Executive, Lin Homer, said:

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

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

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

Internet link: Press release

PAYE RTI and annual schemes

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

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC news

Pension ‘liberation’

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

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

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

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

Internet links: ICAEW website Pensions Regulator action pack

Consultation on Tax-Free Childcare for working families

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

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

Internet link: Consultation

HMRC’s most wanted tax fugitives

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

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

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

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

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said:

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

Internet links: flickr Press Release

A million zero hour contracts

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

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

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

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

Peter Cheese the CIPD’s CEO said:

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

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

Internet link: Press release

HMRC introduce new safeguards for debt collection visits

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

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

HMRC advise:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet link: HMRC news