Archive for January, 2019

How do we prepare for Brexit when so much is undecided?

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

It is hardly surprising that Brexit is fast becoming as big a turnoff as tax. How on earth are we supposed to react or adapt to such far-reaching changes when the exact details of our exit are still undecided just a few weeks before the March 2019 deadline?

Businesses that buy or sell goods to the EU must be pulling their corporate hair out – just how will their supply lines be affected?

A new government website covering possible Brexit consequences

The government has already published a bunch of documentation setting out the consequences of a no-deal outcome and they have now doubled up this resource by creating an EU exit website aimed at advising UK businesses.

The HM Government site’s URL is https://euexitbusiness.campaign.gov.uk/

The main points of focus are:

  • Employing EU citizens
  • Importing, exporting and transporting
  • Operating in the EU
  • Regulations and standards for products and goods
  • Using personal data
  • European and domestic funding
  • Intellectual property
  • Energy and climate, and
  • Public sector procurement.

If you have neither time or inclination to for this level of detail what can be done to safeguard your situation and have ongoing benefits for your business?

Action to take now to avoid downside risks of Brexit

It would seem to make sense to take a hard look at supply line issues by undertaking a formal impact assessment and we are aware that many importers and exporters already have this process underway.

The other action you could consider is to work on your business fitness. If, as has been suggested by the pundits, Brexit does create a slowdown in economic activity, then being in good financial shape will not be wasted effort.

If you think this is an idea with traction please call so we can discuss your options.

Why does the UK tax year end 5th April?

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

A bit of history this week but with a practical outcome for 2019.

Up to 1582, Europe used the Julian calendar introduced by the Romans in 45BC. Unfortunately, the Julian calendar differed from the solar calendar by 11 ½ minutes; after 500 years this small difference meant that the Julian calendar was 10 days off the solar calendar.

To remedy this error, Pope Gregory introduced the Gregorian calendar in most of Europe under his influence, 1582. There was a notable exception, you guessed right, the British Empire. Sound familiar?

The Brits stoically maintained their use of the Julian calendar until 1752 by which time the Empire was 11 days off the dates in Europe, they then adopted the Gregorian version.

Up to the change, the 25th March was the start of the new tax year. Therefore, following the change the new beginning of the tax year was advanced 11 days (so the Treasury didn’t lose 11 days of revenue). The beginning of tax year was therefore advanced to 5 April.

But just a minute, the current tax year ends 5th April and begins 6th April?

The final twist occurred in the year 1800. This year was a leap year in the old Julian system but not in the new Gregorian calendar. Accordingly, the Treasury moved the tax year back one further day and thus, from 1800, the tax year has ended on the 5th April and begins on 6th April.

Have you received your tax statement?

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

HMRC normally send out a tax statement this time of the year to all self-assessment taxpayers that have submitted a tax return for 2017-18.

As we reported last week, this will list any balance of tax due for 2017-18 and the amount of any payment on account required for 2018-19 (if any is due). Both amounts will need to be settled on or before 31 January 2019 to avoid interest and possible late payment penalties.

If you don’t receive a statement, but you know how much you need to pay, simply organise an online bank payment to:

HMRC Cumbernauld – sort code 08 32 10 – account number 12001039, or

HMRC Shipley – sort code 08 32 10 – account number 12001020

If you don’t know which account to use send your payment to Cumbernauld.

In either case be sure to quote your ten digit Unique Tax Refence number followed by the letter “K”. For example: 1234567899K. DO NOT make a payment without this number as HMRC will not know who to allocate the payment to.

If you don’t know how much to pay, contact your tax advisor or login to your online tax account.

Will your income be lower 2018-19 compared to 2017-18?

If you believe that your taxable income will be less than the previous tax year, you may be able to elect to reduce any payments on account for 2018-19 that have been calculated as if your tax due for 2018-19 is going to be the same as 2017-18.

Your tax adviser can do this for you or you could contact HMRC’s helpline for advice on how to proceed.

And as we have advised in previous posts on this topic, if you cannot fund your 31 January 2019 tax payment, call HMRC Business Payment Support Service: 0300 200 3835 to organise an agreed repayment schedule. Generally, you will need to clear any arrears before any further tax liabilities fall due for payment.

Travelling to the EU after Brexit

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

The following guidance was published on the GOV.UK website 20 December 2018. Much of the guidance has been updated on the basis of a no-deal Brexit.

UK citizens planning a trip to the EU and EEA before 29 March 2019 are not affected by Brexit changes.

The following comments assume a no-deal Brexit and would apply from 29 March 2019

Flying to the EU from the UK

Flights should continue as today. Both the UK and EU want flights to continue without any disruption. There will be no impact to direct flights to non-EU countries.

Before you leave for the airport, check online for the latest travel

Aviation security for passengers

Most passengers will not experience any difference in aviation security screening. The UK will continue to apply robust aviation security measures and prioritise passenger safety and security.

The European Commission has proposed measures to avoid extra security screening of passengers from the UK when transferring to onward flights at EU airports.

Air passenger rights

For air passengers on a flight departing the UK, the same passenger rights as apply today will continue to apply after the UK leaves the EU. For EU registered airlines, EU law will continue to apply in respect of flights to and from the EU.

  • passengers subject to denied boarding, delay or cancellation, will be entitled to assistance and compensation on the same basis as today
  • passengers with reduced mobility will still be entitled to the same assistance from airports and airlines
  • UK consumer protection in the event of insolvency of a travel provider will continue to apply

Travelling by Eurostar to the EU from the UK

Your rights as a rail passenger using either domestic or cross-border rail services will remain unchanged. Passengers on cross-border rail services will continue to be protected by the EU regulation on rail passengers’ rights, which will be brought into UK law.

Travelling by Eurotunnel to the EU from the UK

Your rights as a passenger using Eurotunnel’s cross-border shuttle services will remain unchanged. Passengers can continue to use Eurotunnel’s existing complaints procedure.

Travelling by bus or coach to the EU from the UK

Passengers on cross-border bus and coach services will continue to be protected by the EU regulation on bus and coach passengers’ rights, which will be brought into UK law.

Travelling by sea to the EU from the UK

Most passengers travelling to the EU by sea should not experience any difference to their journey.

Ferry passengers

Passengers on ferry services will continue to be protected by the EU regulation on passengers’ rights, which will be brought into UK law.

Cruising

Cruise operations will continue on the same basis as today. Passengers who embark on a cruise at a UK port will continue to be protected by the EU regulation on maritime passengers’ rights, which will be brought into UK law.

So, there we have it. Based on these comments there would seem to be a smooth transition for travellers in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, add the following to-dos to your holiday check list if you are travelling to the EU after 29 March 2019:

 

  • Make sure you don’t need a visa for your visit.
  • Check out driving restrictions, can you use your UK driving license?
  • If using your car, is your insurance still valid for travel to the EU?
  • Advise your bank and make sure you will be able to use your cards in your EU destination.
  • Make sure your travel insurance cover is still valid.
  • Check with the airport or your agents to make sure there are no delays…

 

Bon voyage.

Tax Diary January/February 2019

Monday, January 7th, 2019

1 January 2019 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 March 2018.

19 January 2019 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 January 2019. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 January 2019)

19 January 2019 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 January 2019.

19 January 2019 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 January 2019 is payable by today.

31 January 2019 – Last day to file 2017-18 self-assessment tax returns online.

31 January 2019 – Balance of self-assessment tax owing for 2017-18 due to be settled on or before today. Also due is any first payment on account for 2018-19.

1 February 2019 – Due date for Corporation Tax payable for the year ended 30 April 2018.

19 February 2019 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 February 2019. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 February 2019)

19 February 2019 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 February 2019.

19 February 2019 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 February 2019 is payable by today.

CGT planning for married couples

Monday, January 7th, 2019

This article is also relevant to couples who have entered into a civil partnership.

For the tax year 2018-19, taxpayers can make tax-free capital gains of up to £11,700.

This allowance is available on a per person basis and so married couples (and those in a civil partnership) have a combined CGT allowance of £23,400.

Consider married couple John and Joy. Joy wants to dispose of a block of shares before 6 April 2019, but this will create a taxable gain of £22,000. After her CGT allowance is deducted this will create a CGT bill of £2,060 – Joy is a higher rate taxpayer and so she would pay CGT at 20%.

John is retired and has relatively little income for 2018-19 and no capital gains. It is quite legitimate for Joy to gift 50% of her shares to John before they are sold – gifts between spouses and civil partners are free of CGT. Each party would then sell their half-shares and chargeable gains of £11,000 each would be covered by their £11,700 allowance. Hey presto, no CGT to pay.

John and Joy decide to use the tax saved to fund a well earned winter break abroad. Not a bad outcome and an entirely acceptable tax planning ploy.

The top rate of Income Tax is 45%?

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Named the additional rate, the highest rate of Income Tax is 45%, and some might say 45% is high enough.

However, if the rate of tax is measured as the relationship between income and tax plus tax related penalties paid, there are times when this 45% can rise, to as much as 90%.

For example, if HMRC discovers that a taxpayer has been negligent in declaring all their income for tax purposes, they can charge a penalty. This can be as much as 100% of the tax due – effectively this doubles the rate of tax charged. And so, if you are paying tax on under-declared income at 45%, and if a 100% penalty is levied, the effective rate of tax charged is 90% of the income declared.

Whilst this may be an extreme example, consider taxpayers whose income exceeds £100,000. For the tax year 2018-19, for every £2 your income exceeds £100,000 you lose £1 of your tax personal allowance. This means that taxable income between £100,000 and £123,700 is taxed at an effective rate of 60%.

All is not what it seems.

Set your New Year resolutions

Monday, January 7th, 2019

This is not the place to discuss your personal options, but this is an ideal time to consider your business and personal financial planning options for 2019.

What are your options?

If Brexit, as it seems likely, has a depressive effect on the UK economy, we may be pushed back into a mild recession. If so, the enthusiasm for investment will decline and businesses will hoard cash.

Accordingly, you might like to consider your present cash position, plan for a levelling off or decline in your sales and pressure on your margins as competitors seek to maintain their competitive advantage; and, you will need to invest some time in considering the effects of any disruption to your supply lines especially if we are faced with a no-deal Brexit.

There has never been a more appropriate time to prepare a formal business plan.

Ideally, the numbers should be entered into your accounts software so that you can closely monitor what is happening to you financially compared to your expectations. In this way you can take remedial action as events unwind rather than considering the mess left behind if you take your eyes off the road ahead.

We can help. Please call so we can make a start on finding the best-fit solution for your business. 2019 will likely be a challenging year. Be prepared.

Tax payment time again

Monday, January 7th, 2019

As all our self-assessment readers will be aware, 31 January is the date by which any arrears of tax for 2017-18 need to be settled, together with a payment on account for 2018-19, if one is due.

Those who have completed their tax returns for 2017-18 should be aware what these liabilities amount to and any clients reading this article who are unsure what they should be paying, please call so that we can advise in good time.

If you have cash problems and are unable to clear tax due on the 31 January, you can approach HMRC for extended terms. Call:

Business Payment Support Service – 0300 200 3835, or

Self Assessment Payment Helpline – 0300 200 3822

If you miss the payment deadline and receive a letter or bill threatening legal action, call the HMRC office that sent you the letter.

Before you call be sure to estimate how much you can pay on account and you will normally need to clear any balance before any future payments on account become due (ordinarily this would be before 31 July 2019 when the second payment on account for 2018-19 falls due).

And don’t forget, HMRC will charge interest on tax paid late and penalties so make your call before the 31st January 2019 to minimise these costs.

Turkey dinner and tax returns

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

Completing your tax return may not have been top of your priorities on Christmas Day, but that didn’t stop 2,616 taxpayers from filing their Self-Assessment returns on 25 December 2018.

For some taxpayers completing their return on Christmas Day is as traditional as spending time with family and friends or waiting for the Boxing Day sales to start. The peak filing time, according to HMRC, was between 1pm and 2pm, when more than 230 customers filed.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said:

This year, more than 2,600 taxpayers chose to file their returns on Christmas Day.

Whether you fit it in while cooking the Christmas turkey, or after the kids have gone to bed, or after the Queen’s Speech, our online service is available for you to file your tax return at a time that suits you.

More than 11 million taxpayers are expected to complete a 2017-18 Self-Assessment tax return form by 31 January 2019.

Taxpayers who completed a Self-Assessment tax return last year but didn’t have any tax to pay, they will still need to complete a 2017-18 tax return unless HMRC has written to them to say that it is not required.

And don’t forget, the 31st January filing deadline is also the date that any arrears of self-assessment tax and NIC due for 2017-18 will need to be paid. To add salt to the wound, you may also need to make a payment on account for 2018-19.

Our advice, if you have not yet filed your return, do so as quickly as possible. In this way you can see what any tax payments at the end of the month may be before the due date.

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