Newsletter – December 2015

eNews – December 2015

In this month’s eNews we report on pertinent announcements from the Autumn Statement focussing on issues for parents, employers and company car drivers, buy to let landlords and those with second homes. We also report on the forthcoming Scottish Budget and other pertinent announcements for employers.

Please do contact us if you would like any further information on any of the issues.

Scottish income tax rates and Scottish Budget

From April 2016, the Scottish Parliament will have the power to set its own rate of income tax to fund spending by the Scottish government. The rate will be set in the Scottish Budget on 16 December and we will update you on pertinent announcements.

Those who are resident in Scotland will pay two types of income tax on their non-savings income. The main UK rates of income tax will be reduced by 10p for Scottish taxpayers and in its place the Scottish Parliament will be able to levy a Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT) applied equally to all Scottish taxpayers. If the SRIT is set at 10p then income tax rates will be the same as in the rest of the UK. SRIT can however be reduced to zero and there is no upper limit.

The Scottish Rate of Income Tax doesn’t apply to income from savings such as building society interest or income from dividends. Tax on this income will stay the same for all taxpayers across the UK. It also doesn’t affect income tax thresholds and allowances, which will continue to be set by the UK government.

The definition of a Scottish taxpayer is based on where an individual lives in the course of a tax year. Scottish taxpayer status applies for a whole tax year. It is not possible to be a Scottish taxpayer for part of a tax year. HMRC will identify those individuals who will be Scottish taxpayers based on their records of where individuals live. In early December HMRC started to write to potential Scottish taxpayers to confirm that the address held in their records is correct. If it is, taxpayers will need to take no further action. Those paying the new rate will see their tax code prefixed by an ‘S’ and their income tax will continue to be collected from pay and pensions in the same way as it is now.

Further details and the effect on employers can be found by visiting the following link.

Internet link: GOV.UK briefing

Autumn Statement 2015 – key announcements for parents

Reversal of most of the tax credit proposals

A number of changes to tax credits and Universal Credit were announced in the July Budget but the Chancellor has scrapped some of the changes following a defeat of the proposals by the House of Lords. The government has confirmed that:

  • The rate at which a tax credit claimant’s award is reduced as each pound of their income exceeds the income threshold (known as the taper rate) will remain at 41% of gross income from April 2016.
  • The level of income at which a claimant’s tax credit award begins to be tapered away (known as the income threshold), will remain at £6,420 per year from April 2016. Claimants earning below this amount will retain their maximum award.
  • The income rise disregard in tax credits will reduce from £5,000 to £2,500. This is the amount by which a claimant’s income can increase in-year compared to their previous year’s income before their award is adjusted.

Changes to the prospective Tax-Free Childcare scheme

Under the scheme, which is expected to launch in 2017, the relief will be 20% of the costs of childcare up to a total of childcare costs of £10,000 per child per year. The scheme will therefore be worth a maximum of £2,000 per child (£4,000 for a disabled child).

The government has announced changes to the conditions to qualify for Tax-Free Childcare. All parents in the household must:

  • meet a minimum income level based on the equivalent of working 16 hours a week at the National Living Wage (increased from eight hours at the National Minimum Wage)
  • each earn less than £100,000 a year (reduced from £150,000), and
  • not already be receiving support through tax credits or Universal Credit.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has announced that the government will publish its next Budget on Wednesday 16 March 2016.

Internet links: GOV.UK main tax announcements GOV.UK news

Autumn Statement 2015 – key announcements for employers and company car drivers

Retaining the 3% diesel supplement for company cars which was to be abolished

The scale of charges for working out the taxable benefit for an employee who has use of an employer provided car are now announced well in advance. Cars are taxed by reference to bands of CO2 emissions. From 6 April 2015 the percentage applied by each band went up by 2% and the maximum charge is capped at 37% of the list price of the car.

From 6 April 2016 there will be a further 2% increase in the percentage applied by each band with similar increases in 2017/18 and 2018/19. For 2019/20 the rate will increase by a further 3%. It had been expected that the 3% diesel supplement would be removed from 6 April 2016, however this 3% differential will now be retained until April 2021. This is a blow to diesel car drivers who were expecting to see their car benefit reduce from April 2016.

The introduction of an apprenticeship levy

The government will introduce the apprenticeship levy in April 2017. It will be set at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s paybill, which is broadly total employee earnings excluding benefits in kind, and will be paid through PAYE. Each employer will receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment. This means that the levy will only be paid on any paybill in excess of £3 million.

Internet link: GOV.UK Blue Book

Autumn Statement 2015 – key announcements for buy to let landlords and those with second homes

Higher SDLT on purchases of additional residential properties

Higher rates of SDLT will be charged on purchases of additional residential properties (above £40,000), such as buy to let properties and second homes, from 1 April 2016. The higher rates will be three percentage points above the current SDLT rates.

The higher rates will not apply to purchases of caravans, mobile homes or houseboats, or to corporates or funds making significant investments in residential property. The government will consult on the policy detail, including whether an exemption for corporates and funds owning more than 15 residential properties is appropriate. The Chancellor stated that ‘more and more homes are being bought as buy to lets or second homes’ and ‘frankly, people buying a home to let should not be squeezing out families who can’t afford a home to buy’.

No mention was made by the Chancellor on the position in Scotland. It is the Scottish Government which sets the rates for the equivalent tax on property – the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax.

The introduction of a payment on account of any CGT due on the disposal of residential property

From April 2019, a payment on account of any CGT due on the disposal of residential property will be required to be made within 30 days of the completion of the disposal. This will not affect gains on properties which are not liable for CGT due to Private Residence Relief.

Currently, CGT is not payable on a disposal of an asset until 31 January following the tax year in which a disposal is made. So a disposal made on the 6 April 2016 will not result in a tax bill until 31 January 2018.

This measure is another blow for buy to let landlords.

Internet link: GOV.UK main tax announcements

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 December 2015. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 December 2015 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 13p
Over 2000cc 20p


Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 13p


Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 13p

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

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

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

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

‘Payrolling’ benefits in kind

From April 2016 the government is introducing a voluntary framework to allow employers to payroll most employee benefits in kind (benefits) rather than report them at the end of the tax year on a form P11D.

In order to payroll benefits an employer will need to include a notional value for employee benefits as taxable pay in the regular payroll cycle. By doing this the income tax due on the benefits can be collected in real time.

Currently the tax due on employee benefits is collected through an adjustment to the employee’s tax code. The way that tax codes work means that HMRC try to collect the right amount of tax at the right time. However, when benefits start/stop or are changed there can be a delay in changing the tax code which may result in an employee under or over paying tax.

One of the advantages to employers is that if employees’ benefits are payrolled then forms P11D will not need to be completed. Payrolling is not possible for some benefits such as living accommodation, beneficial loans and credit vouchers and tokens.

HMRC have confirmed that there will be no change to the process for reporting and collecting Class 1A NICs. Employers will still need to complete a form P11D(b) after the end of the tax year and calculate and pay the 13.8% employer only liability.

Employers need to register for the new service by 5 April 2016 as HMRC cannot process changes in year. HMRC are advising that employers should ideally register before 21 December to avoid being sent multiple tax codes for employees.

Please contact us if this is of interest to you.

Internet links: GOV.UK payrolling benefits Employer Bulletin

Guidance on use of zero hours contracts

The government has published guidance for employers on the use of zero hours contracts. The guidance sets out where zero hours contracts may be appropriate and also sets out alternatives and best practice.

The guidance gives examples of where zero hours contracts might be appropriate:

  • new businesses, where demand might be fluctuating and unpredictable
  • seasonal work, for example around Christmas
  • employers needing cover for unexpected sickness in critical roles
  • catering businesses using additional experienced staff when a special event is booked and
  • a business testing a new service that they are thinking about providing, needing employees on an ad hoc basis.

Internet link: GOV.UK zero-hours-contracts-guidance

Deadline for final IR35 payments and returns

The ‘IR35’ rules are designed to prevent the avoidance of tax and national insurance contributions (NIC) through the use of personal service companies and partnerships.

The rules do not stop individuals selling their services through either their own personal companies or a partnership. However, they do seek to remove any possible tax advantages from doing so.

Intermediaries who have operated the IR35 concession to delay making a final return and payment for the tax year ending 5 April 2015, have until 31 January 2016 to submit accurate figures and pay any outstanding amounts of PAYE and NIC due.

The concession operates where a provisional return and payment have been submitted but cannot be confirmed because final figures of income, including the calculation of the ‘deemed payment’, were not known at the end 2015 tax year.

HMRC advise that adjustments to the provisional RTI return should be reported using ‘an Earlier Year Update (EYU)’ and must be submitted electronically to HMRC by 31 January 2016. Interest will be charged on any balancing payment.

Please advise us if you would like help with this issue.

Internet links: GOV.UK IR35 guidance Employer Bulletin

Planning a party for employees

With the season for workplace parties fast approaching we thought it would be a good idea to remind you of the tax implications of these types of events. The good news is that, unlike entertaining customers, the costs of entertaining employees are generally allowable against the profits of the business.

But what about the tax consequences for the employees themselves? Is it a perk of their jobs and will they have to pay tax on a benefit?

Generally, as long as the total costs of all employee annual functions in a tax year are less than £150 per attendee (VAT inclusive) there will be no tax implications for the employees themselves. In considering this limit make sure you have included all the costs, which may include not only the meal itself but also any drinks, entertainment, transport and accommodation that you provide.

If the costs are above the £150 limit then the full cost will be taxable on the employee. In that case do get in touch so we can advise you how best to deal with them.

Internet link: HMRC guidance

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

Newsletter – January 2014

In this month’s enews we report on announcements regarding Real Time Information (RTI), PAYE tax codes and some details on the new class of national insurance contributions (NIC).

We also report on the consultation on zero hours contracts and if you are reading this on your smart phone does your business have a ‘bring your own device’ policy?

Please contact us if you would like any further information.



RTI and micro employers

HMRC have announced that, although the vast majority of employers are finding PAYE reporting in real time straightforward, a small proportion of micro employers and their agents still need more time to adapt. They have therefore announced that existing employers with nine or fewer employees who need more time to adapt will be able to report PAYE information on or before the last payday in the tax month until April 2016.

HMRC will be encouraging micro businesses to adapt their processes sooner to ensure that they are ready to report all payments each time they pay their employees by April 2016.

End to the current relaxation

The current relaxation which applies to employers with fewer than 50 employees comes to an end in April 2014. Conditions for the current relaxation can be found by visiting the link at the end of the HMRC article.

All employers starting to operate PAYE after 6 April 2014, as well as existing employers with 10 or more employees, will need to report each time they pay their employees from April 2014.

This relaxation is part of a package of measures to help micro employers as they move towards full reporting of PAYE information in real time. The package also includes:

  • guidance such as ‘Situations where employers will not have to report PAYE information ‘on or before’ the time they pay their employee’ which can be found at the end of the HMRC article and
  • ongoing work to develop new ways to report PAYE information on a timely basis, for example using mobile apps.

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

Internet link: HMRC news

DWP issue guidance on new Class 3A NIC

The Government wants to offer help to existing pensioners and people who reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016, when the single-tier pension is introduced, to give:

  • ‘people in the pre single tier population, who may have lost out because of the structure of the legacy second pension system, the opportunity to increase their state pension in retirement
  • hard pressed pensioners, especially those who rely on their capital to supplement their income, an opportunity to top up their pension in a way that will protect them from inflation and
  • people with small amounts of pension saving a secure way of achieving an income.’

The Government intends to introduce Class 3A in October 2015 and the scheme will be open for a limited period. There will be two entitlement conditions:

  • contributors must have entitlement to a UK State Pension (either basic State Pension or additional State Pension) and
  • must reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016.

‘Prices will reflect the age an individual takes up Class 3A. This is a key component of an actuarially fair price. Prices will be lower for older pensioners simply because on average they will have a shorter life in retirement at the point they take up Class 3A. The Government intends to publish a list showing prices of a unit by age.

Class 3A will not replace the existing Class 3…The Class 3A information products will make clear that individuals should consider making Class 3, contributions where that is possible, before taking up Class 3A. HMRC intend to identify applicants in that position and inform them of the option.

Each Class 3A contribution will result in the acquisition of a unit of extra pension which will increase the contributor’s additional State Pension by £1 a week up to a cap of potentially £25.’

‘We estimate that around 7 million pensioners will have enough savings to pay the new National Insurance contribution.’

‘Class 3A will be set at an actuarially fair rate which means that over time the policy will be broadly cost neutral. This reflects the funding position of the single tier and means that today’s workers will not have to fund the policy.’

We will keep you informed of further announcements.

Internet link: Government publication

Personal device at work policy

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is advising that organisations should have a clear personal device at work policy.

A recent survey showed that 60% of the UK population now own a smart phone and 20% a tablet and an increasing number want to use their personal devices at work. Known as ‘bring your own device’ the ICO state that the benefits include increased efficiency, flexibility and employee morale but the practice also carries a number of risks which organisations must consider when allowing employees’ devices to be used to process work-related personal information.

Simon Rice, Group Manager (Technology), said:

‘As the line between our personal and working lives becomes increasingly blurred it is critical employers have a clear policy about personal devices being used at work.’

‘The benefits must be balanced against the potential risks to work-related personal data but the organisation should not underestimate the level of effort which may be required to ensure that the processing of personal data with BYOD remains compliant with all 8 Principles of the Data Protection Act. Remember, it is the employer who is held liable for any breaches under the DPA.’

The ICO’s key ‘bring your own device’ recommendations are:

  • ensure devices are secure
  • ensure data transfers are secure
  • retain control
  • have an ‘end of contract’ policy
  • have a clear ‘acceptable use policy’.

Internet link: ICO news

PAYE coding notices

Over the next few months HMRC will be sending out new PAYE tax codes for the 2014/15 tax year.

HMRC are advising that some individuals may receive more than one coding especially if they have:

  • two or more employments at the same time
  • income from two or more pensions
  • pension income and employment income.

HMRC may send a PAYE coding notice for each job or pension and the new tax codes will be used from 6 April 2014.

If you would like help checking your tax code please do get in touch so we can ensure you pay the correct amount of tax.

Those individuals with more straightforward affairs may not receive a coding notice and their tax codes will be automatically updated, generally to reflect the increase in the personal allowance from the current £9,440 to £10,000.

Internet link: HMRC news

Help to buy mortgage guarantee completions

The Government has announced that ‘nearly 750’ homes have been bought and 6,000 offers made since the mortgage guarantee scheme started.

In November 2013, ministers published figures showing that in the first month of the scheme more than 2,000 people had put in offers on homes and applied for a Help to Buy mortgage. That number has now trebled to more than 6,000.

For more information on Help to Buy mortgages visit

Internet link: Press release

Zero hours contracts

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced that, under new proposals, employers could be banned from imposing ‘exclusivity’ on zero hours contracts which offer no guarantee of work and stop employees from working for another employer.

In the consultation, the Government also outline proposals on ways to tackle the lack of transparency in the way zero hours contracts are currently being used and improve guidance for both employers and employees around their use.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

‘A growing number of employers and individuals today are using zero hours contracts. While for many people they offer a welcome flexibility to accommodate childcare or top up monthly earnings, for others it is clear that there has been evidence of abuse around this type of employment which can offer limited employment rights and job security. We believe they have a place in today’s labour market and are not proposing to ban them outright, but we also want to make sure that people are getting a fair deal.’

The public consultation will seek views on a range of proposals will run until 13 March 2014.

Internet link: Press release

Excuses excuses

HMRC have released the ‘Top 10 oddest excuses’ for sending in a late self assessment return. These include a dead goldfish and a run in with a cow!

Internet link: HMRC top 10