Newsletter – January 2015

eNews – January 2015

In this month’s eNews we report on a number of issues including an update on the calculation of holiday pay, construction industry changes ahead, guidance on VAT and digital services and the latest disclosure opportunity for solicitors.

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

Changes to the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)

The government has announced that it will implement a package of improvements to the CIS. The stated aim of the changes is to reduce the administrative and related cost burden on construction businesses. The measures should result in more subcontracting businesses being able to achieve and maintain gross payment status so improving their cashflow. These changes are to be implemented in stages.

From 6 April 2015 the following amendments will be made to the system:

  • The requirement for a contractor to make a return to HMRC even if the contractor has not made any payments in a tax month will be removed. Contractors may make a voluntary nil return but will no longer be obliged to do so.
  • The requirements for joint ventures to gain gross payment status will be relaxed where one member already has this status and that firm or company has a right to at least 50% of the assets or the income or holds at least 50% of the shares or the voting power in the joint venture.
  • Earlier repayments can be made to liquidators in insolvency proceedings. Currently where a subcontractor is a company, no repayment of any amount deducted and paid over to HMRC by a contractor can be made to the subcontractor until after the end of the tax year in which the deduction was made. These rules will be amended so that in certain cases where the amount deducted by the contractor is excessive, a repayment can be made during the tax year.

From 6 April 2016 further changes are proposed:

  • Mandatory online filing of CIS returns will be introduced with the offer of alternative filing arrangements for those unable to access an online channel by reason of age, disability, remote location or religious objection.
  • The directors’ self assessment filing requirements will be removed from the initial and annual compliance tests.
  • The threshold for the turnover test will be reduced to £100,000 in multiple directorship situations.

From 6 April 2017 mandatory online verification of subcontractors will be introduced.

Internet link: CIS

VAT and digital services

HMRC have issued some additional guidance for small businesses which supply digital services to consumers in other EU Member States.

The guidance advises:

  • how to comply with new VAT rules on the place of supply of digital services that came into force on 1 January 2015
  • how to register for HMRC’s VAT Mini-One Stop Shop (MOSS) and still benefit from the UK’s VAT registration threshold for sales to UK consumers.

On 1 January 2015, the VAT rules for cross-border Business to Consumer supplies of ‘digital services’ (for example broadcasting, telecoms and e-services) changed. Broadly from that date, VAT must be accounted for in the Member State where the consumer normally is, rather than where the supplier of the service is established.

HMRC have also issued more general guidance on the change to all businesses which can be found here

If you would like further information on this issue please contact us.

Internet links: News Guidance

1,773 ‘happy returns’ at Christmas

HMRC have reported that they received 1,773 online tax returns on Christmas Day, with the busiest time for online returns on 25 December between midday and 1pm, when 148 Yuletide returns were delivered electronically.

Christmas Eve, which has traditionally been a much busier day for festive filing than Christmas Day, saw 17,644 online returns successfully submitted.

In total, 24,228 online returns were received over the three-day festive period (including Boxing Day) which was a 5% increase on the 2013 total.

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

‘You can file your online return at any time of day or night – even Christmas Day, if it suits you. But don’t leave it too late. Give yourself plenty of time to resolve any problems and if you need to call us, do it now, as our phone lines get much busier as the 31 January deadline approaches.’

The deadline for sending 2013/14 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2015.

Internet link: Gov news

Holiday pay and overtime update

We have previously reported that in the judgment an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decided that holiday pay should reflect non-guaranteed overtime.

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

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

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

Following fears that employers may face large backdating claims the Government has taken action to reduce potential costs to employers by limiting claims by introducing regulations which will mean that claims to Employment Tribunals on this issue cannot stretch back further than two years.

Employees can still make claims under the existing arrangements for the next six months which will act as a transition period before the new rules come into force. The changes apply to claims made on or after 1 July 2015.

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

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

Internet links: ACAS guidance Gov news

Tax on the diverted profits dubbed the new ‘Google tax’

The government has published draft tax legislation to implement the new tax on diverted profits which has been referred to as the ‘Google tax’. The introduction of a new Diverted Profits Tax which was announced in the 2014 Autumn Statement will target multinational enterprises with business activities in the UK who ‘enter into contrived arrangements to divert profits from the UK by avoiding a UK taxable presence and/or by other contrived arrangements between connected entities’.

The Diverted Profits Tax will be applied using a rate of 25% from 1 April 2015 and is expected to raise £1.4bn over the course of the next five years.

Commenting on the new measure, John Cridland, Director General of the CBI said:

‘International tax rules are in urgent need of updating but there is already an OECD process underway to do this. It is unfortunate that the UK has decided to go it alone with a Diverted Profits Tax outside this process, which will be a real concern for global businesses.’

‘The legislation will be complex to apply, and if other countries follow suit businesses will have a patchwork of uncoordinated unilateral rules to navigate, which risks undermining the whole OECD approach.’

Internet link: CBI News

Solicitors’ Tax Campaign

Solicitors are being given the chance by HMRC to bring their tax affairs up to date or face tougher penalties, as part of a new tax campaign.

The Solicitors Tax Campaign gives solicitors the opportunity to declare any undisclosed income by making a voluntary disclosure. The disclosure opportunity is available to those working within the legal profession either as a solicitor in a partnership or company, or as an individual.

Those affected have until 9 March 2015 to notify HMRC of the undisclosed income and need to complete a disclosure form and pay the outstanding liability by 9 June 2015.

Caroline Addison, Head of Campaigns, HMRC, said:

‘Information gathered by HMRC has allowed us to identify solicitors who thought they could operate without declaring income and paying the taxes that others have to pay. If you have not declared all of your income, you need to put your tax affairs in order. Take this chance to come forward and put things right in a straightforward way and on the best possible terms. It will be easier and cheaper for you to come to us than for us to come to you. Those who make a deliberate decision not to pay the taxes due could face a penalty of 100% or more of the tax due, or even a criminal prosecution.’

Internet links: Gov news1 Gov news2

RTI: filing penalties and appeals

In the latest Employer Bulletin HMRC are reminding employers that they are about to issue penalty notices to those employers who have failed to meet their RTI filing obligations.

Late filing penalties began on 6 October for employers with schemes of 50 or more employees. Those employers who have incurred these penalties will start to receive the penalty notices, which will be issued on a quarterly basis, from the beginning of February 2015.

The notice will be in the form of a ‘paper letter’, and will set out all filing penalties incurred for the third quarter of 2014/15 ( for tax months 7, 8 and 9 covering the period 6 October to 5 January 2015). The penalty notices may contain more than one penalty.

Agents are not sent a copy of this notice so if you receive one and would like guidance on whether the penalty is due or how to appeal against it please do get in touch as soon as possible. Further guidance on this issue can be found on page four of the latest Employer Bulletin.

Internet link: Employer bulletin

Newsletter – September 2014

eNews – September 2014

In this month’s enews we report on a variety of issues including an update for employers on payroll penalties and NMW increases. We are also including guidance on the introduction of the VAT Mini One Stop Shop for digital services.

We are amending the timing of enews following a review of the product. Enews will be published during the first week of the month, rather than at the end of the month. So please watch out for the next issue early in October.

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

RTI penalties for small employers delayed

HMRC have confirmed that employers with fewer than 50 employees will face automated in-year penalties for late real-time PAYE returns from 6 March 2015 which is later than had originally been anticipated. Those who employ 50 or more people will face penalties from 6 October 2014. HMRC will send electronic messages to all employers shortly to let them know when the penalties will apply to them, based on the number of employees shown in the department’s records.

Level of penalties

For the purposes above, an employer who, during a tax month, fails to make a return on or before the filing date will be liable to a penalty as follows:

  • 1-9 employees – £100
  • 10-49 employees – £200
  • 50-249 employees – £300 and
  • 250 or more employees – £400.

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director-General for Personal Tax, said:

‘Real Time Information is working well. Our most recent figures show that over 95% of PAYE schemes making payments to individuals are successfully reporting in real time, and 70% say that it is easy to do.’

‘We know from our experience of rolling out of RTI that to ensure a smooth transition for our customers it’s best to introduce changes in stages. This will allow us to update our systems and enhance our guidance and customer support as needed. We know that those who have had most difficulty adjusting to real-time reporting have been small businesses, so this staged approach means they have a little more time to comply with the new arrangements before facing a penalty. ‘

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

Internet link: Press release

VAT for digital businesses and the Mini One Stop Shop

The one-stop VAT service starts from 1 January 2015 for businesses supplying what are collectively known as ‘digital services’ in the EU. The effect of the measures are that a business will not have to account and pay VAT separately in each country where they do business which would otherwise be the case following a change in the place of supply rule.

Digital services essentially means broadcasting, telecoms and e-services including those selling apps, e-books, streaming services (e.g. sports/film/tv/music), dating services and journals, newspapers and magazines that are subscribed to electronically and smartphone games.

Change of place of supply

From 1 January 2015 the place of supply for VAT purposes for a EU business selling digital services will change. Currently, intra-EU supplies of digital services to non-business customers are subject to VAT in the member state where the supplier belongs.

From 1 January 2015 this changes, so that the VAT is due where the customer who receives the service lives or is located. This will ensure that UK consumers of these services will pay UK VAT no matter where the supplier of those services belongs.

In order that UK businesses supplying digital services do not have to register for VAT in every EU member state where they have customers, an optional VAT ‘Mini One Stop Shop’ (MOSS) online service has been set up by HMRC. Other EU member states will be building their own systems.

Sally Beggs, Deputy Director Indirect Tax, HMRC, said:

‘The VAT MOSS will save digital services suppliers from having to register for VAT in every Member State where they do business, removing a significant administrative burden. Businesses with their main operation or headquarters in the UK will register with HMRC to use the service.’

Businesses will be able to register for VAT MOSS from 20 October 2014. The service will be available to use from 1 January 2015.

If this affects your business and you would like more detailed information or guidance on the matter please do not hesitate to contact us.

Internet links: HMRC MOSS  News story

National Minimum Wage rises

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 2014:

  • the main rate for workers aged 21 and over will increase to £6.50 (currently £6.31)
  • the 18-20 rate will increase to £5.13 from £5.03
  • the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 will increase to £3.79 from £3.72
  • the apprentice rate will increase from £2.68 to £2.73 per hour.

It is important to note that these rates, which are in force from 1 October 2014, apply to pay reference periods beginning on or after that date.

Penalties

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

Most workers in the UK over school leaving age are entitled to be paid at least the NMW for details of exceptions see the Acas website.

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

Internet link: Acas

Fuel Advisory rates

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 September 2014. HMRC’s website states:

‘These rates apply to all journeys on or after 1 September 2014 until further notice. For one month from the date of change, employers may use either the previous or new current rates, as they choose. Employers may therefore make or require supplementary payments if they so wish, but are under no obligation to do either.’

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 September 2014 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 16p

 

Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 11p
1601cc – 2000cc 13p
Over 2000cc 17p

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

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

  • 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

Autumn Statement date announced and have your say

The government has announced that the Autumn Statement 2014 will take place on 3 December.

The government is seeking views of businesses, charities and members of the public, as to what they would like to see included in the Autumn Statement 2014. To have your say email autumnstatementrepresentations@hmtreasury.gsi.gov.uk

We will keep you informed of announcements.

Internet link: News

Newsletter – August 2014

eNews – August 2014

In this month’s enews we report on a number of issues including HMRC’s latest disclosure opportunity, warnings of incorrect PAYE overpayment notifications and the introduction of late submission penalties and guidance on pension scams. We also advise on HMRC guidance on exceptions to the VAT return electronic filing rules and the Pensions Regulator issues first report on auto enrolment penalties.

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

Guidance on changes to VAT filing rules

The majority of businesses have to file their VAT returns online. HMRC have issued guidance on changes to VAT rules which introduce additional exemptions to the requirement to file VAT returns online. The changes, which came into effect at the beginning of July 2014, allow business owners that satisfy HMRC that it is ‘not reasonably practicable’ for them to use the online system to submit ‘paper’ VAT returns.

HMRC will also be able to approve telephone filing as an alternative method of electronic filing in certain circumstances.

If you would like any advice on VAT issues please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC VAT Brief

Pensions Regulator uses formal powers over Auto Enrolment

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has issued the first quarterly bulletin which details how many times it has needed to use its formal powers to ensure employers comply with their automatic enrolment duties.

The first of the new quarterly bulletins shows the regulator had used its powers on 23 occasions up until the end of June this year. The powers listed include the ability to carry out inspections and to issue statutory notices including fixed penalty and escalating fines.

Executive director of automatic enrolment Charles Counsell said:

‘Employers and the pensions industry are understandably interested to know how and when we use our powers. To date the vast majority of employers are complying with their new workplace pension duties without the regulator needing to use our enforcement powers.’

‘I believe this is a testament to the success of our proportionate, risk-based approach to compliance and enforcement. We target our resources where they will maximise compliance and work with employers to help them comply with their duties.’

‘We have provided the tools and assistance that large and medium employers need to ensure millions of workers didn’t miss out on the pension contributions they are entitled to. On a small number of occasions, when our intervention has not resulted in the required outcome, we have used our powers to help to ensure employers comply with their duties.’

For general guidance on employers auto enrolment duties see TPR website. If you would like specific guidance, help or advice on how to deal with your auto enrolment obligations please do get in touch.

Internet link: Bulletin

Pension scams

HMRC and the Pensions Regulator (TPR) are publicising the availability of revised leaflets which warn people of the consequences of pension liberation scams.

HMRC are advising that individuals with pension savings continue to be targeted by unscrupulous companies encouraging them to access their pension savings early. Options are given for personal loans, cash incentives and one-off pension investments to encourage people to invest in these pension scams. Pension savers involved in these pension liberation scams face significant tax consequences.

HMRC has worked closely with TPR on publishing a revised set of leaflets highlighting the serious downsides of pension scams. The leaflets provide guidance on what trustees and scheme members can do to reduce the risk of becoming involved in these scams, and the tax impact of releasing pension funds early using these types of arrangements.

Internet links: HMRC news TPR website

HMRC latest disclosure opportunity

HMRC have announced the details of their latest disclosure opportunity which is expected to give approximately 16,000 tax avoidance scheme users the opportunity to pay the tax they owe.

The contractor loan scheme used non-UK employers to pay untaxed income or a loan instead of paying part of an employees salary.

HMRC are inviting those who have used the scheme to bring their affairs up to date using the contractor loans settlement opportunity which will allow taxpayers to settle their liability in the best possible terms. This opportunity is for the tax years up to 5 April 2011 and is open until 9 January 2015.

If they do, they will pay the tax and interest due on the sums they received as loans under the scheme. HMRC are warning that if participants continue to challenge HMRC in the courts, they risk having to pay additional tax charges and penalties – as well as the costs of litigation if they lose.

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

‘Many people regret ever getting involved with complex aggressive tax avoidance schemes and HMRC is providing an opportunity for contractors to come forward and straighten out their tax affairs.’

‘This is an important opportunity and we are working hard to encourage users to withdraw from such schemes. We also want to ensure they’ve understood our position. They can choose to continue to litigate for a better outcome but they risk a worse result. HMRC has a strong track record of winning tax avoidance cases in court, with around 80% of decisions in our favour. The costs for users are high, potentially resulting in penalties, charges and significant legal costs for scheme users.’

Please get in touch if you have any concerns in this area.

Internet link: Contractor loan disclosure opportunity

HMRC warn of incorrect RTI letters

HMRC have warned that incorrect RTI letters have been issued. The full statement reads:

‘We are aware that a batch of RTI 201 letters has been sent to employers and agents in error, containing incorrect information about overpayments. Any employer or agent receiving one of these letters in August should please ignore it. Those wishing to check their tax position can do so on the Business Tax Dashboard. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused.’

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

Internet link: HMRC What’s new

HMRC to issue penalties for late submission of PAYE returns

In the latest Employer Bulletin HMRC are warning that employers’ who fail to submit their PAYE submissions, Full Payment Submission (FPS) or where appropriate Employer Payment Summary (EPS) on time will face penalties. The penalties are being introduced from October 2014.

Penalty notifications will be issued on a quarterly basis.

Please do get in touch for advice on PAYE matters.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Newsletter – July 2014

eNEWS – July 2014

In this month’s enews we report on VAT and prompt payment discounts, changes to flexible working rights, challenges to the calculation of holiday pay and new PAYE messages for employers. Please do get in touch if you would like more detail on any of the articles.

VAT and prompt payment discounts

Businesses which currently offer prompt payment discounts (PPD) to their customers need to be aware that there are some changes ahead to the rules.

Currently under UK law VAT is payable on the net amount after deducting the discount, whether or not the customer takes advantage of the PPD and pays promptly.

For example if you sell some goods for £1,000 plus VAT and offer 5% discount if the customer pays within 10 days then VAT is charged at 20% on £950 being £190, rather than 20% of £1,000 which is £200. Even if the customer takes 30 days to pay and therefore does not qualify for the PPD, the amount due will be £1,190.

This rule regarding PPD is in the process of being changed and from 1 April 2015 VAT will be due on the amount the customer actually pays. So using the above example if the customer fails to take advantage of the PPD he would need to pay the full £1,000 plus VAT of £200.

The business making the supply will have to issue a credit note to account for the PPD where this is taken up. So using the same example if the customer takes up the discount then the credit note would be for £50 plus £10 VAT.

Apparently PPD have been widely used by suppliers of telecommunications and broadcasting services and so the use of PPD to reduce VAT due has already been blocked in those sectors from 1 May 2014. This applies where the customer cannot recover the VAT charged.

If your business currently offers PPD you may need to change your invoicing procedures from 1 April 2015 and the Government are going to consult on the implementation of the change. We will keep you informed of the details of the changes as and when further detailed guidance is made available.

Internet link: VAT TIIN

Holiday pay law

The CBI are warning that employers are facing the risk of significant additional costs, potentially ‘billions of pounds’, from employment tribunals challenging the normal calculation of holiday pay under the Working Time Regulations (WTR).

In the UK holiday pay is currently calculated on the basis of a ‘week’s pay’ which is based on basic salary and excludes payments such as working allowances, expenses, overtime, commission and bonus payments as these payments relate to specific work done by an employee whilst performing their duties of employment.

A recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment redefined holiday pay to include an allowance for commission, even though commission is paid on sales made and the employee would not have delivered those sales whilst on holiday.

If liabilities on holiday pay are backdated then employers may face huge liabilities for holiday pay arrears.

Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

‘Backdated claims on holiday pay could lead to bills of millions of pounds for each business, and ultimately threaten their very existence.’

‘Businesses that have done the right thing and fully complied with UK law suddenly face the threat of substantial additional costs. And the companies most at risk are in vital sectors for our economy, such as manufacturing, construction and civil engineering.’

‘Moving the legal goalposts in this way is unacceptable. Although most businesses believe we are better off in a reformed EU, there is a real danger of expansive decisions being made by the European Court of Justice on the UK labour market. As part of an EU reform programme, this has to be addressed and it’s time to put a stop to back-door EU employment law being made.’

‘We need the UK Government to take a strong stand and do all it can to remove this threat. Otherwise we face the very real prospect of successful firms in this country going out of business, with the jobs they provide going too.”

Cases on commission and overtime are currently in progress and we will keep you informed of developments. Meanwhile the CBI is calling for the Government to use its powers under British law to limit the retrospective liability UK employers face.

Internet link: CBI press release

NMW consultation

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) has launched a National Minimum Wage (NMW) consultation which runs until 26 September 2014. The LPC would like to hear from individuals and organisations affected by the NMW, including employers of low-paid workers including those involved in sectors such as retail, hospitality, social care, cleaning and hairdressing and focuses on the particular impact of the NMW on young people.

To find out more on the consultation visit the link below. If you would like any advice on the payment of the NMW please do get in touch.

Internet link: NMW consultation

Extension to flexible working rights

The right to request flexible working has been extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service from 30th June 2014.

Before this change in the law, only employees with children aged 16 or under (17 or under if the child is disabled) or those acting as carers had the right to request flexible working.

Employers are required to consider requests and deal with applications in a ‘reasonable manner’ as the previous statutory procedure for dealing with flexible working requests has been abolished.

Employers do not have to accept an employee’s request as there are a number of legitimate reasons for turning down a flexible working request, including the burden of additional costs to the business and an inability to recruit additional staff.

For information on how to make and deal with requests see the ACAS website guidance

Internet link: News

PAYE messages for employers

HMRC will shortly start alerting employers where their records show that they have failed to make their PAYE or Construction Industry Scheme payments in full by their due date.

HMRC review the payments after each monthly (or quarterly) payment deadline has passed. Shortly after that, HMRC will issue a late payment Generic Notification Service (GNS) message to employers and contractors if they believe they have an underpayment of £100 or more for the month or quarter.

The messages will state:

‘HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) records show you did not make full payment on time. If you have not already done so, please bring your payments up to date and ensure future payments are made on time and in full. Paying on time and in full is important as otherwise you may be charged in-year interest and late payment penalties.’

‘If you had no PAYE payment to make because you didn’t pay any employees during this tax period, you should let HMRC know by sending an Employer Payment Summary (EPS) for this tax period.’

‘To see why HMRC have issued this notice, please check HMRC Tax Dashboard or PAYE Online which provides details of your payments and PAYE charges.’

Employers should:

  • submit an EPS as instructed, if appropriate
  • ensure that they pay their PAYE in full and on time in future.

If you would like any help with PAYE matters please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC news

Zero hours contracts and exclusivity clauses

Zero hours contracts are those where the employer does not guarantee to provide the worker with any work and pays the worker only for work actually carried out. The Government estimates that some 125,000 employees are on such contracts.

Some employers argue that they are an important tool to enable a business to maintain flexibility to deal with fluctuations in demand whereas some employee groups claim that businesses use them to avoid giving workers the status of ‘employee’ and eligibility for the full range of employment rights.

The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has announced that employers hiring workers on zero hours contracts will no longer be able to compel staff to work exclusively for them. These ‘exclusivity clauses’ will not be permitted in contracts and will therefore give workers the freedom to take employment elsewhere. The ban on exclusivity clauses will be contained in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.

The Government considers zero hours contracts have a place in the labour market but that the use of these contracts needs tightening up to protect employees from employers who misuse the contracts.

Internet link: Government news

Don’t let this happen to you!

I was recently visited by a potential client, who had enquired about the possibility of using our services.  We had the usual discussion about the type of business, what was needed and the current situation.

The first alarm bell rang when they told me that they had been disengaged by their previous advisor, due to non payment of fees, but then things got a whole lot worse!

There were issues with VAT registration, PAYE registration, P11D issues, current accounts being overdue by nearly six months, previous accounts submitted late and outstanding tax returns, amongst many other things.  The potential for penalties and interest were becoming very large at this stage.

This got me thinking, how on earth does one get into this mess?  I might argue that a previous accountant might shoulder part of the blame, for not picking up the lack of VAT registration, due to the amount of turnover, but I only had the potential clients word for that!  And, why did he leave it so long to try to get it sorted?

So – how can you avoid this happening to you?

  • Engage an accountant that has been recommended to you BEFORE you start out in business.
  • Discuss with the accountant ALL of the relevant facts relating to your business and your personal tax affairs – make sure they have ALL of the information they require.
  • Make sure you are clear from the outset as to what is required from you and what the accountant will be doing – this is usually done in the form of an engagement letter, if not, make sure you clarify.
  • Make sure you are clear about your VAT, PAYE, corporation tax and personal tax requirements.
  • Make sure you keep accurate and up to date records, from day one.
  • Make sure you keep your accountant notified of ANY correspondence from HMRC, Companies House and any other Government bodies – do this on the same day that you receive it – IGNORE NOTHING!
  • Keep in regular touch with your accountant, if you’re thinking of doing anything with the business, ask your accountant first, just to make sure it won’t affect anything that you are unaware of.
  • Make sure you are aware or made aware of ALL of the deadlines that are applicable to your business (there will be many!), if in doubt either ask for a list or ask your accountant to remind you – BEWARE, there are more and more penalties now for late or incorrect submissions and there will soon be more scope when PAYE Real Time Information and Pensions Auto-Enrolment kicks in!
  • Make sure your accountant is aware if you need something urgently for any reason, so that they can factor this into their workload.  Above all – PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ANYTHING UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE

Don’t forget there is also lots of FREE advice on the web, such as DirectGov, HMRC, Companies House, BIS and many more.  These can’t and shouldn’t  replace the accountants advice, but can help for further understanding or maybe even give you more questions to ask your accountant!

Once you have done all of the above for a while, it will become second nature – you will have a much less cluttered mind, fewer worries and will be able to concentrate on what you do best – running your business, let your advisors do the rest.  And finally don’t forget to consider what other advisors you might need – Legal, HR etc.

You know where we are when you need us!

 

 

Newsletter – June 2012

In this month’s enews we update you on the changes to payroll reporting procedures for Real Time Information.

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

 

Real Time Information – get ready

In April 2013 HMRC are introducing a new way of reporting PAYE information, known as Real Time Information (RTI).

‘Real Time Information’ means that employers, or their agents, will tell HMRC about employees’ pay and deductions on or before the time they are paid to the employees as part of their payroll process. Payroll software will be used to collect the necessary information and send it to HMRC electronically.

It had previously been announced that most employers will be legally required to report payroll information in ‘real time’ from April 2013, with all employers doing so before October 2013. HMRC will advise employers when they need to start reporting under RTI.

HMRC are currently trialling the RTI using a pilot scheme for a small number of employers. According to the latest press release:

The pilot is….. ‘on track and going well. It is early days and we are cautiously optimistic.’

‘HMRC also remain on track for all micro, small and medium-sized employers and most large employers and payroll bureaux to begin sending payroll information to HMRC in real time in April 2013, and for all employers to be routinely reporting PAYE in real time from October 2013.’

‘HMRC will be contacting some of the largest employers and payroll bureau shortly to discuss opportunities for them to start reporting PAYE in real time early to avoid end-of-year reporting for 2012/13.’

It appears that many employers will need to be ready for RTI from April 2013. If you would like any further information regarding RTI or would like help with your payroll please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC RTI news

Six new taskforces launched by HMRC

HMRC have announced that they have launched six new taskforces which will target traders who do not pay the right amount of tax. The taskforces will tackle:

  • Indoor and outdoor markets in London
  • Taxi firms in Yorkshire and East Midlands
  • Property rentals in East Anglia, London, Yorkshire and the North East
  • Restaurants in the Midlands

HMRC Taskforces are specialist teams which look into specific high risk trade sectors in targeted areas of the UK. The teams will visit businesses and examine their records and carry out other checks and investigations.

David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary, said:

‘HMRC is on target to collect more than £50m as a result of the taskforces launched in 2011/12.’

‘We have made it clear that we will not tolerate tax evasion – everyone needs to pay the taxes they owe in full. We are determined to crack down on the minority who choose to break the rules. It is not fair that at a time when most hard-working people are paying the right tax, others are trying to get out of paying what they should.’

HMRC’s Mike Eland, Director General Enforcement and Compliance, said:

‘These six new taskforces will bring together specialists from across HMRC to tackle tax dodgers. If you have paid all your taxes you have nothing to worry about. But deliberately evading tax you should be paying can land you with not only a heavy fine but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.’

‘This is not an empty threat – HMRC can and will track you down if you choose to break the rules.’

Internet link: Press release

Working beyond state pension age

The Office for National Statistics has published a report looking at those working beyond state pension age. The report, ‘Older Workers in the Labour Market – 2012’ includes some interesting statistics:

  • The number of people of state pension age and above in employment has nearly doubled over the past two decades, from 753,000 in 1993 to 1.4 million in 2011.
  • Older workers are far more likely to be self-employed than their younger counterparts: 32% compared with 13%.
  • Around two-thirds of the older workers are part-time but they are generally doing this shorter role with the same employer. Eight in every 10 of older workers have been with their employer for five years or more.
  • Men working later in life tend to stay on in higher skill roles while women tend to stay on in lower skill roles.
  • Just over a half (51%) of older workers are in small organisations of fewer than 25 employees.

To read more access the link below.

Internet link: Office for National Statistics

End of Employment Settlement

The CBI have commented on the Business Secretary, Vince Cable’s plans to introduce simplified settlement agreements, designed to enable employers and employees to agree mutually acceptable terms for ending employment.

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

‘Today’s announcement will simplify the process of ending an employment relationship in a way which is acceptable to both sides.’

‘Simplified settlement agreements will give firms the confidence to have a frank conversation about ending employment on fair terms, without the fear of a drawn-out and costly tribunal claim.’

‘The CBI has long taken the view that simpler and more legally certain settlement agreements would be more effective for employees and businesses, especially smaller firms.’

Internet link: Press release

P11D deadline looming – avoid rejections

HMRC are reminding employers that the forms P11D, P9D and P11D(b) which detail expenses and benefits provided to employees for the tax year 2011/12 are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2012.

HMRC are warning employers to ensure the forms meet their quality standards.

HMRC are advising:

‘HMRC will reject P11Ds that don’t meet the standard. This means:

  • for online submissions you’ll need to correct any problems before being able to file successfully
  • for paper forms we’ll return the forms to you and you’ll need to correct and re-send them.’

‘If you have already told us you don’t need to complete P11D, P11D(b) or P9D then you don’t need to take any further action.’

‘If you have already made a nil P35 return but ticked the ‘P11D(b) to follow’ box you should file it now.’

‘If you need to make an adjustment to the Class 1A National Insurance contributions on the P11D(b), remember not to complete Box C. You should tick the checkbox and then complete Section 4 of the form P11D(b).’

For further guidance on the correct completion of the forms and how to avoid rejections please use the links below.

Please do contact us if you require any help with the completion of the forms.

Internet links: HMRC P11D quality standard HMRC guidance on completing form P11D(b)

No cap on reliefs for charitable giving

Following representation from interested parties the government has announced that it no longer intends to proceed with the proposed capping of some tax reliefs including charitable giving.

Plans to cap tax relief on charitable donations have been scrapped by Chancellor George Osborne in a reversal of one of the measures announced in the Budget.

The cap, which was designed to limit relief at £50,000 or 25% of income, was proposed in the Budget but resulted in protests from charities who were concerned that they could lose a significant proportion of their income.

The government has confirmed that it will be pressing ahead with the cap on income tax reliefs for wealthy people which do not relate to charitable donations.

Since the Budget announcement, the Treasury has been holding discussions with charities and major donors to discuss the scale of impact which they believed the cap could have on charitable giving.

John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said:

‘We are delighted that the Government has responded to the challenging calls from philanthropists and charities across the country and taken the bold decision to exempt charitable donations from the cap on tax relief.’

‘We realise the Government is responding to truly exceptional financial circumstances and is having to make tough decisions about public finances. We acknowledge and welcome the Chancellor’s decision to do the right thing and exempt charity donations from the cap. We thank Ministers for the support they have shown to charities large and small, which are so vital to the health of our country.’

Internet links: BBC news CAF press release

No VAT increase on pasties

In the Budget it was announced that the government proposed to charge standard rated VAT on certain hot food items such as pasties.

After campaigns by interested parties the government has now decided not to proceed with this change. The letter from David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary, details the government’s revised approach.

The letter also details the government’s proposal to charge 5% VAT on static caravans rather than the original intention of 20% standard rated VAT.

VAT is a complex issue, if you would like any help in this area please do get in touch.

Internet link: Letter

Newsletter – May 2012

In this month’s enews we report on some issues pertinent to employers and employees.

Please contact us if you would like any further information.

 

 

P11D deadline looming

The forms P11D, and where appropriate P9D, which report employees and directors benefits and expenses for the year ended 5 April 2012, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2012. 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 issued some guidance as to common errors on the forms in the latest Employer Bulletin. These include the following:

  • Not ticking the director box if the employee is a director
  • Not including a description or abbreviation where amounts are included in box A, B, L, M or N of the form
  • Leaving the cash equivalent box empty
  • Failing to report the full gross value of the benefit where it is provided for mixed business and private use
  • Not reporting a fuel benefit where one is due.

Correct completion of forms P11D can be a complex issue. If you would like any help with the forms P11D or the calculation of the associated Class 1A National Insurance liability please get in touch.

Internet links: HMRC P11D guidance Employer Bulletin

Rising employment statistics

According to the latest statistics issued by the Office of National Statistics:

‘The unemployment rate was 8.3% of the economically active population, down 0.1 on the quarter. There were 2.65 million unemployed people, down 35,000 on the quarter. This is the first quarterly fall in unemployment since the three months to May 2011.’

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

‘It’s good news that 53,000 more people are in work now than three months ago, which shows that the private sector is gradually regaining confidence to hire.’

‘While this is the best jobs news we’ve had in a year, the Government must step up its welfare reform programme. Worryingly, over a third of those unemployed have been out of work for more than 12 months.’

‘With youth jobless numbers still stubbornly high, helping young people find jobs must remain a joint priority for businesses and government.’

Internet links: CBI press release ONS Bulletin

Employer end of year forms

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

Where employers do not file their annual return by 19 May they incur a penalty of £100 per 50 (or fewer) employees for every month (or part month) that their return is late.

HMRC have been criticised for failing to make employers aware that they were incurring penalties on a timely basis. In a change to procedure HMRC will now issue employers, who they believe have yet to make a return, with an ‘Employer Annual Return Reminder’ from the end of April.

From the end of May HMRC will issue ‘P35 Interim Penalty Letters’ to relevant employers.

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

Internet links: HMRC end of year guidance Employer Bulletin

Outstanding self assessment tax returns

HMRC are urging anyone who has still not completed their 2010/11 self assessment tax return to send it online before the end of April, or be charged daily penalties from 1 May.

Anyone whose return is more than three months late will be charged a further £10 penalty for each day it remains outstanding, up to a maximum of 90 days. This penalty is in addition to the £100 late filing penalty they have already received.

HMRC are advising that if an individual receives a late filing penalty but does not think that they need to complete a return, they should call HMRC on 0845 900 0444. Alternatively contact us so that we can help, as it may be possible to cancel the penalty if HMRC agree that the return is not due.

HMRC’s Stephen Banyard said:

‘We want the returns and not penalties. So, if you haven’t sent us your 2010/11 return, you need to do one of two things urgently – either send it online by 30 April, or call us if you think you shouldn’t have to complete one.’

Internet link: Press release

HMRC issue guidance on RTI to employers

HMRC have updated their guidance on Real Time Information (RTI). This new system of monthly PAYE returns is to be piloted from April 2012 and is expected to be compulsory for all employers from October 2013.

If you would like to read more about the new system please follow the link below. If you would like help with payroll matters please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC FAQs

VAT on hot food

HMRC are consulting on changing the rules on hot takeaway food to ensure that all food (with the exception of freshly baked bread) that is above ambient air temperature when provided to the customer is standard rated.

Currently the rules are complex as if food is hot because it has just been cooked, such as freshly baked pies or roasted chicken, these items may in certain circumstances be zero rated for VAT purposes.

We will let you know the outcome of the consultation.

Internet link: HMRC consultation

Charitable giving – cap on tax relief

The government is proposing to restrict tax reliefs available to individuals such as charitable giving.

Currently individuals can offset their entire income against income tax reliefs, and as a result may pay no income tax at all. It was announced in the Budget 2012 that from 6 April 2013 there will be limits to the amount of income tax relief individuals can claim.

This cap will apply only to reliefs which are currently unlimited. This cap will be set at 25% of income (or £50,000, whichever is greater).

HMRC propose to issue a consultation document on the detail of the policy, including the implications for philanthropic giving, in the summer. We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: HMRC press release

Chancellors 2011 Autumn Statement 29 November 2011

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

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

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

The Chancellor’s statement

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

General measures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment

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

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

NON-TAX MEASURES FOR SMEs

Credit easing

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

Comment

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

Small business rate relief holiday

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

Employment regulations

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

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

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

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

Youth Contract

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

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

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

Planning reform

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

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

Comment

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

Housing

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

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

PERSONAL TAX

The personal allowance for 2012/13

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

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

Comment

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

 

Tax band and rates 2012/13

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

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

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

Tax credits

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

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

 Integration of the operation of income tax and NIC

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

Junior ISAs

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

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

Comment

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

Child Trust Funds

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

Furnished holiday lettings

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

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

Statutory Residence Test

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

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

The parts and the conditions are as follows:

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

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

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

Comment

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

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

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

Changes for non-domiciled individuals

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUSINESS TAX

Corporation tax rates

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

Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)

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

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

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

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

Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)

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

Comment

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

Annual Investment Allowance (AIA)

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

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

Comment

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

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

Writing down allowances

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

Capital allowances in Enterprise Zones

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

Compulsory pooling

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

Research and development expenditure (R&D)

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

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

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

Controlled Foreign Companies (CFCs)

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

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

General Anti-avoidance Rule (GAAR)

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

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

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

High risk tax avoidance schemes

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

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

Tax treatment of asset-backed pension contributions

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

EMPLOYMENT TAX

Employer-provided cars

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

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

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

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

Real Time Information (RTI)

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

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

Comment

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

CAPITAL TAXES

CGT rates

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

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

Comment

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

CGT annual exemption

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

Inheritance tax (IHT) nil rate band

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

Reduced rate of IHT for the charitable

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

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

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

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

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

Comment

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

OTHER TAXES

VAT – Low value consignment relief (LVCR)

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

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

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

VAT cost sharing exemption

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

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

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

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

Air Passenger Duty (APD)

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


Disclaimer – for information of users

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

Newsletter – July 2011

eNEWS – July 2011

In this month’s enews we report on the late issue of taxpayer statements and penalty notifications. Please contact us if you would like any further detail on any of the issues.

 

 

HMRC late issuing statements

HMRC have advised that there are apparently more Self Assessment statements than usual to issue this year. Normally these would be issued in July but this year some will be issued later. The majority of statements have been sent on time.

However, many taxpayers wait for the statement to confirm what they need to pay. More importantly, if HMRC have asked taxpayers to make a second payment on account in July, they normally have to pay this by 31 July. However, due the delays in issuing some statements HMRC have advised:

‘If you receive your statement in August, you should still pay the tax due as soon as you can. You’ll only be asked to pay interest on the tax due on the second payment on account if you still haven’t paid it more than 30 days after you receive your statement.’

If you have any concerns regarding payment please do get in touch.

Internet link: Press release

Tribunal criticises HMRC for delay in issuing penalties

In a potentially wide-ranging case, HMRC have been criticised for deliberately issuing penalties for late forms P35 (Payroll end of year forms) several months late, which generated more penalties than were necessary. A summary of the case is reported below.

This case has potentially wide ranging implications for other employers. Please do get in touch if you would like further guidance in this area.

The case (TC01286: Hok Ltd) concerned an appeal against a penalty of £400 for late filing of the 2009/10 P35. The penalty was calculated at £100 per month for four months. In October 2010 a further penalty of £100 was issued, given that the filing had taken place on the 15 October 2010 once the company had been alerted to its default.

The company argued that it thought it did not need to file the appropriate returns because its only employee had ceased employment part way through the year. It acknowledged that it was wrong and that HMRC was entitled to levy a penalty. However, the company argued that, if HMRC had notified it of its default, it would have been remedied it a far earlier time, thus avoiding ongoing penalties.

During the Tribunal HMRC stated that it runs a:

‘…structured programme to enable penalties to be issued regularly throughout the year, rather than waiting for the late return to be submitted and then issue a final penalty. These penalties, although aimed at encouraging compliance and having the effect of reminding are not designed to be reminders for the outstanding return.’

The Tribunal was amazed by this and stated that:

‘….HMRC deliberately waits until four months have gone by and does not issue the first interim penalty notice until, as in this case, September of the year of default.’

‘There can be no logical reason whatsoever for HMRC to delay sending out a penalty notice for four months so that, in effect, a minimum penalty of £500 will be levied unless the taxpayer has unilaterally realised that it has failed to undertake the necessary filing.’

‘In our judgement it would be a very simple matter for HMRC to set its computer settings so that a default or penalty notice was sent out immediately after the 19 May in any year, instead of some four months later. That might generate less penalty cash for the State, but it would be fair and conscionable as between the taxpayer and the State (acting by HMRC).’

‘As, in our judgement, HMRC has neither acted fairly nor in good conscience, in the manner described above, we do not consider that any penalty is recoverable over and above the £100 penalty for the first month unless HMRC proves (the onus being upon it) that even if such a penalty notice, which would have acted as a reminder, had been issued, the default would nonetheless have continued. It has proved no such thing.’

Internet link: Tribunal

Online Olympics advice

Small and medium-sized companies hoping to win Olympics contracts are invited to take advantage of a free HMRC online advice seminar which is available to download by following the link below.

According to the press release HMRC:

‘….it is estimated that the Olympic and Paralympic Games will involve more than 50,000 contracts, worth about £6 billion. The sectors affected range from construction, engineering and manufacturing to creative, merchandising and retail, and contracts will be available at or near the 34 Games venues around the country.’

‘The seminar will cover issues such as talking to a bank about financing, ensuring that the right systems are in place to comply with procurement policies and how firms go about making a bid for an Olympic contract. It will also explain how businesses can get support and guidance on any tax obligations and entitlements.’

Internet link: Press release

Payments Council to keep cheques

The Payments Council has announced that cheques will continue for as long as customers need them and the target for possible closure of cheque clearing in 2018 has been cancelled.

This change is as a result of public concern about the proposed phasing out of cheques by 2018. The issue has been of concern to many small businesses who continue to make payments by cheque and charities which receive substantial amounts of donations from the public by cheque.

According to the press release the:

‘The Payments Council Board will continue to focus on security, efficiency and encouraging innovation in all types of payments to ensure customers have options best suited to the 21st century.’

Richard North, the Chairman of the Payments Council said:

‘It’s in the DNA of the Payments Council to consult and listen to all those people who actually make payments and use cheques. Listening to over 600 stakeholder groups, working with the banks and following our appearance before the Treasury Select Committee, we have concluded we should reassure customers that the cheque is staying.’

‘Over the last two years we have learnt a great deal about what is important to our many stakeholders and we are really grateful to all of those groups and individuals who took the time to talk to us and help us reach this decision. We will use what we’ve learnt to keep improving existing systems, as well as introducing innovation, so that customers benefit from 21st century ways to pay. Innovation must be at the heart of what we do.’

Internet link: Press release

HMRC target businesses not registered for VAT

HMRC have launched a campaign aimed at VAT rule-breakers. As part of this campaign they have confirmed that they will be sending letters informing certain businesses how to register to pay what they owe. The campaign is focusing on individuals and businesses trading above the VAT turnover threshold of £73,000 but who have not registered for VAT.

HMRC have advised that they will be sending in excess of 40,000 letters over the next few weeks. Those who come forward that have not registered to pay VAT have up until 30 September 2011 to let HMRC that they want to take part. If they make a full disclosure, most face a low penalty rate of 10% on VAT that has been paid late.

They will also be invited to disclose any other tax arrears. Where they have to pay a penalty on undeclared tax other than VAT, this will be lower than the customary penalty of up to 100% charged to those who fall outside the opportunity.

HMRC are warning that after 30 September 2011, using information pulled together from different sources, they will investigate those who have failed to come forward. Substantial penalties or even criminal prosecution could follow.

Mike Wells, HMRC’s Director of Risk and Intelligence, said:

‘This is our third campaign, raising more than £500m from voluntary disclosures and a further £100m so far from follow-up activity. Our campaigns are designed to ensure tax is paid so that the money is available to spend on public services used by everyone.’

‘The aim is to make it easy for individuals and businesses to contact us, make a full disclosure of their income and face a reduced penalty on any tax owed.

I urge people who have not registered their businesses for VAT to get in touch with HMRC and get their tax affairs in order simply and on the best available terms.’

Internet link: Press release

Tax credit fraud

Following an HMRC investigation a West Midlands woman, Kerry Melia, a mother of six, has been send to prison for eight months for tax credit fraud. She wrongly claimed in excess of £62,000 in tax credits by fraudulently claiming for nine fictitious children. The woman first claimed tax credits for her five children in 2005 (she subsequently had another child).

From 2007 onwards, she began adding fictitious children to her claim, stating that she was their foster mother. She then unsuccessfully attempted to add another six non-existent children.

David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘The government will not tolerate dishonest people stealing public money which pays for vital services. This sentence shows that those who think they can cheat the benefits system should think again. The extra £900m we have invested in HMRC will allow them to carry on the fight against benefit cheats and tax fraudsters.’

Internet link: Press release

Holiday entitlement

With many thinking of their summer holidays, the Business Link website offers help in calculating minimum statutory entitlement.

An employee’s holiday entitlement is generally set out in their contract of employment. The legal minimum entitlement is 5.6 weeks, which can include bank and public holidays. The calculator includes help on calculations for part-time work and other working patterns.

Internet link: Business link holiday calculator

Real Time Information

HMRC have issued some further guidance on Real Time Information (RTI) which may be useful to employers with regard to the introduction of RTI. RTI is a system of monthly/weekly PAYE returns which will replace the annual end of year forms.

The new web page entitled ‘Improving the operation of PAYE: Real Time Information (RTI)’ can be reached using the link below and the link includes access to some new Frequently Asked Questions which, HMRC advise may be added to from time to time.

HMRC have confirmed that employers who are not part of the pilot will have to join RTI in the period from April 2013 to October 2013. All employers will be using the RTI service by October 2013.

HMRC will pilot the RTI service with volunteer software developers and employers for a year, starting in April 2012 as part of a trial to ensure that the software is fully tested.

Internet link: Real Time Information

Newsletter – April 2011

In this month’s enews we report on many employer related issues including the announcement of the new National Minimum Wage rates. Please do get in touch if you have any queries.

Real Time Information

HMRC are planning to introduce significant changes to the way in which PAYE information is submitted to HMRC. Currently employers send details of employees pay, tax and national insurance deductions at the end of the tax year (forms P35 and P14). The deadline for the submission of this year’s forms is 19 May 2011. There are penalties, which apply to broadly all employers, for failing to submit the forms on time and electronically, so please get in touch if you require any help in this area.

HMRC are planning to introduce Real Time Information (RTI) a system of monthly/weekly PAYE returns which would replace the annual end of year forms.

As detailed in the HMRC consultation document:

‘RTI will collect information about tax and other deductions automatically each time employers run their payroll. This information will be submitted automatically to HMRC at the same time the employees are paid. Where employers pay their employees via BACS, the RTI data will form part of the BACS submission.’

HMRC hope that this change to the system should mean that employees pay the right amount of tax and are paid the correct amount of state benefits where appropriate.

Following a consultation by HMRC, it has been confirmed that a pilot scheme will run from April 2012. The introduction of the scheme will be phased in and it is expected that all employers will move to RTI by October 2013. Large employers will be expected to use the system from April 2013.

The start date is slightly later than had been originally announced following a consultation with interested parties.

If you would like further information or guidance on payroll issues please do get in touch.

Internet link: Press release

Cheque Guarantee Card Scheme to end

It has been announced that the Cheque Guarantee Card Scheme will come to an end.

The closure of the Scheme means that it will no longer be possible to guarantee a ‘domestic’ cheque using a card after 30 June 2011. The decision to close the Scheme was taken by the Payments Council as guaranteed cheque use is in decline. The end of the Cheque Guarantee Scheme does not necessarily mean the end of cheques as businesses may continue to accept them if they choose to do so. However businesses that currently accept cheques with a guarantee card may wish to look into alternative payment methods.

Internet link: UK Payments article

Penalties on late payment of PAYE

HMRC have been warning employers for some time that they may have to pay a penalty if they do not pay their PAYE deductions on time. The penalties apply to PAYE deductions due for a period starting on or after 6 April 2010 include PAYE, Student Loan deductions, Construction Industry Scheme payments, Class 1 NICs, annual payments of employers’ Class 1A NICs and annual PAYE Settlement Agreements payments.

Deductions of PAYE, NICs, Student Loan deductions and Construction Industry Scheme payments are generally due by 19 of each month (or 22 if paid by electronic means and cleared into HMRC’s bank account). Small employers are able to pay quarterly.

Although the penalties apply from April 2010 notices will not be issued until after the end of the tax year and are expected to be issued in April or May 2011. For the majority of late payments the penalties start at 1% increasing to 4% depending on the number of late payments in the year. Extra penalties will be added where liabilities are outstanding for a further six and then 12 months.

Internet links: HMRC guidance on late payment HMRC alert

National Minimum Wage rates

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. The rates are reviewed each year by the Low Pay Commission and from 1 October 2011:

  • the main rate for workers aged 21 and over will increase to £6.08 (currently £5.93)
  • the 18-20 rate will increase to £4.98 (currently £4.92)
  • the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 will increase to £3.68 (currently £3.64)
  • the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship will increase to £2.60 (currently £2.50).

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

‘More than 890,000 of Britain’s lowest-paid workers will gain from these changes. They are appropriate – reflecting the current economic uncertainty while at the same time protecting the UK’s lowest-paid workers. I would like to thank the LPC for doing a good job in difficult circumstances.’

Chairman of the LPC David Norgrove said:

‘We welcome the Government’s acceptance of our recommendations. The Commission was again unanimous, despite all the economic uncertainties. We believe we have struck the right balance between the needs of low-paid workers and the challenges faced by businesses.’

Penalties for non compliance

Since April 2009 HMRC have been able to charge penalties to those employers found to be in breach of the NMW rules.

Automatic penalties are levied on employers where HMRC officers find NMW arrears. The penalties range from £100 to £5,000 with 50% prompt payment discounts for employers who settle within 14 days of notification.

The penalty is payable in addition to arrears owed to the workers.

In serious cases of non compliance the employer may be tried in a Crown Court and in those cases the fines are unlimited.

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

Internet links: Press release BIS NMW guidance

P11D deadline looming

The forms P11D, and where appropriate P9D, which report employees and directors benefits and expenses for the year ended 5 April 2011, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2011. 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 12.8% (for 2010/11) on the provision of most benefits. The calculation of this liability is detailed on the P11D(b) form.

If you would like any help with the completion of forms P11D or the calculation of the Class 1A liability please get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC P11D guidance

Online VAT returns

HMRC have confirmed that all businesses will have to complete online VAT returns and pay their VAT liabilities electronically from April 2012. Currently many businesses have to comply with these rules. However smaller businesses, registered prior to 1 April 2010 with an annual turnover of less than £100,000, can currently complete paper VAT returns and pay by non electronic means.

If you would like any help with VAT matters please do contact us.

Internet link: HMRC VAT guidance

Implementation date announced for the Bribery Act 2010

At the end of March 2011, the Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke announced that the Bribery Act 2010 will come into force on 1 July 2011. The new Act replaces, updates and extends the existing UK law against bribery and corruption. This important new legislation:

  • introduces a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business. A business can avoid conviction if it can show that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery;
  • makes it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe either at home or abroad. The measures cover bribery of a foreign public official; and
  • increases the maximum penalty for bribery from seven to 10 years imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.

The introduction into law of the new corporate offence of failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery is an important development that essentially requires all businesses to consider the requirements of the new Act. This new corporate offence is coupled with a defence where, if the business can show that it had ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent bribery, it can be protected from committing the new criminal offence.

All businesses should now familiarise themselves with the statutory guidance and begin to assess the risk of bribery occurring in the business. The extent of any further action will be dependent on the results of this risk assessment.

The Act also requires the government to produce guidance on what constitutes ‘adequate procedures’ and the Ministry of Justice has produced this. This can be found using the links below.

Internet links: Bribery Act 2010 guidance Quick start guide