Archive for November, 2019

Using your vehicle for business purposes

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

As a general rule, if you use your private transport for trips related to your employment, you may be able to claim tax relief if you are not reimbursed for this business use by your employers.

Exceptionally, any normal travel between your home and your place of work will always be excluded from this calculation unless you are required to travel to a temporary place of work.

How much you can claim depends on whether you’re using:

  • a vehicle that you’ve bought or leased with your own money
  • a vehicle owned or leased by your employer (a company vehicle)

Using your own vehicle for work

If you use your own vehicle or vehicles for work, you may be able to claim tax relief based on an approved, HMRC mileage rate. This covers the cost of owning and running your vehicle. You cannot claim separately for things like:

  • fuel
  • electricity
  • road tax
  • MOTs
  • repairs

To work out how much you can claim for each tax year you will need to:

  • keep records of the dates and mileage or your work journeys
  • add up the mileage for each vehicle type you’ve used for work
  • take away any amount your employer pays you towards your costs, (sometimes called a ‘mileage allowance’)

Approved mileage rates

Vehicle type First 10,000 business miles in the tax year Each business mile over 10,000 in the tax year
Cars and vans 45p 25p
Motorcycles 24p 24p
Bicycles 20p 20p

If your employer pays less than the above rates you can claim tax relief on the difference.

If your employer pays more than the above rates per mile you will be taxed on any excess as a benefit-in-kind.

Do not fall for the fraudsters

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

We are fast approaching the deadline for filing self-assessment tax returns in the UK for 2018-19. As readers will be aware, this deadline is 31 January 2020.

Unfortunately, this coincides with a pick-up in scamming activity by fraudsters pretending to be the tax office. HMRC have recently posted an alert for taxpayers and this is reproduced below.

Over the last year, HMRC received nearly 900,000 reports from the public about suspicious HMRC contact – phone calls, texts or emails. More than 100,000 of these were phone scams, while over 620,000 reports from the public were about bogus tax rebates.

Some of the most common techniques fraudsters use include phoning taxpayers offering a fake tax refund or pretending to be HMRC by texting or emailing a link which will take customers to a false page where their bank details and money will be stolen. Fraudsters are also known to threaten victims with arrest or imprisonment if a bogus tax bill is not paid immediately.

HMRC operates a dedicated Customer Protection team to identify and close down scams but is advising customers to recognise the signs to avoid becoming victims themselves. Genuine organisations like HMRC and banks will never contact customers asking for their PIN, password or bank details. Customers should never give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in texts or emails which they are not expecting.

Taxpayers are urged to act by forwarding details of suspicious calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599. Individuals who have suffered financial loss should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or use their online fraud reporting tool.

As readers will note, it is highly unlikely that HMRC will contact taxpayers using text, email or the telephone. Certainly, HMRC staff should never ask for your personal details or bank information in this way.

If you are contacted, and are unsure if the message is genuine, you should call HMRC using one of their contact numbers listed on the gov.uk website. If you are one of our clients please call your point of contact at the practice and we will check out if the communication you have received is genuine and the action you should take.

When trivial can be significant

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

The following extracts from HMRC’s website explain how certain benefits to employees can be tax-free. Surprisingly, HMRC describe these as “trivial” benefits.

You don’t have to pay tax on a benefit for your employee if all of the following apply:

  • it cost you £50 or less to provide
  • it isn’t cash or a cash voucher
  • it isn’t a reward for their work or performance
  • it isn’t in the terms of their contract

This is known as a ‘trivial benefit’. You don’t need to pay tax or National Insurance or let HMRC know.

You have to pay tax on any benefits that don’t meet all these criteria.

Salary sacrifice arrangements

If you provide trivial benefits as part of a salary sacrifice arrangement they won’t be exempt. You’ll need to report on form P11D whichever amount is higher:

  • the salary given up
  • how much you paid for the trivial benefits

These rules don’t apply to arrangements made before 6 April 2017 – check when the rules will change.

Directors of ‘close’ companies

You can’t receive trivial benefits worth more than £300 in a tax year if you’re the director of a ‘close’ company.

A close company is a limited company that’s run by 5 or fewer shareholders.

So, if you keep to HMRC’s trivial benefit rules, these payments may help you to spread a little festive cheer this Christmas. Goodness knows, we could all do with some of that.

Do you know?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

We are approaching the end of the calendar year, goodbye 2019, and the end of the of the current tax year, 2019-20, will draw to a close 5 April 2020.

Add to this self-assessment deadlines, Brexit changes, election results and will we – won’t we – have a budget speech any time soon, and it’s clear that the outlook for businesses, taxpayers and their advisers is changeable and hectic.

We are approaching a period of significant change in multiple areas that have an impact on our financial affairs. In our opinion, there has never been a more crucial time for serious planning. In particular:

  • All businesses should be availing themselves of the reporting benefits of keeping their accounts electronically. There are a number of online, cloud-based systems available at low cost that can take the misery out of this repetitive chore. Benefits are legion, improved: cash-flow, credit control, and real-time management information.
  • All self-assessment taxpayers should have their tax returns for last year filed and be aware of tax payments due on or before 31 January 2020.
  • Have you taken advantage of our year-end tax planning review? Many of the opportunities to reduce your annual tax bills need to be actioned before the end of the tax year, 5 April 2020.

Add to this a rethink of your capital gains tax and inheritance tax position for 2019-20. Again, action needs to be taken before the end of the tax year.

If you have significant business interests and/or personal income sources that are approaching or exceeding the higher rate tax band triggers, and you have not yet examined opportunities to reduce your liabilities, please call, the clock is ticking.

The benefits of Furnished Holiday Lets

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

Most buy-to-let property is let on short leases to a single tenant. The income from rents is treated as a property business, but a number of reliefs available to other trading businesses are not available to buy-to-let landlords.

However, if these same properties were let as Furnished Holiday Let (FHLs) property, more advantageous tax benefits may apply.

If you let properties that qualify as FHLs:

  • you can claim Capital Gains Tax reliefs for traders (Business Asset Rollover Relief, Entrepreneurs’ Relief, relief for gifts of business assets and relief for loans to traders),
  • you are entitled to plant and machinery capital allowances for items such as furniture, equipment and fixtures, and
  • the profits count as earnings for pension purposes.

To benefit from these rules, you will need to work out the profit or loss from your FHLs separately from any other rental business.

Accommodation can only qualify as an FHL if it passes 3 occupancy tests

  1. If the total of all lettings that exceed 31 continuous days is more than 155 days during the year, this condition is not met so your property will not be an FHL for that year.
  2. Your property must be available for letting as furnished holiday accommodation letting for at least 210 days in the year. Do not count any days when you’re staying in the property. HMRC do not consider the property to be available for letting while you are staying there.
  3. You must let the property commercially as furnished holiday accommodation to the public for at least 105 days in the year. Do not count any days when you let the property to friends or relatives at zero or reduced rates as this is not a commercial let.

Do not count longer-term lets of more than 31 days, unless the 31 days is exceeded because something unforeseen happens. For example, if the holidaymaker either: falls ill or has an accident, and cannot leave on time or has to extend their holiday due to a delayed flight

These notes cover the basics and there are other rules that may help you to average occupancy stats to meet the above criteria.

There are significant CGT benefits to reorganising appropriate lets as FHLs and we would encourage landlords who would like to consider this option, to contact us for more information.

Higher National Living Wage rates

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Businesses that have a significant number of workers who are paid at the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage (NLW) rates should probably read the recent independent report that suggests rates of NLW could rise, as internationally, there is evident that realistic rises have little impact on employment levels but do have a positive impact on the take home pay of lower paid workers.

The report says:

The review, published Monday 4 November, concludes minimum wages in a range of countries have had a negligible or zero effect on jobs, but significantly increased the earnings of the lowest paid. The Chancellor has pledged a more ambitious NLW so that on current projections it is set to reach £10.50 per hour by 2024, as part of his commitment to do more to end low pay.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, said:

The evidence is clear that our approach is the right one.

We will end low pay by putting the National Living Wage on a path to increase to £10.50 over the next five years.

The previous NLW target was to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020. In line with the conclusions of the Dube Review, the Chancellor Sajid Javid has pledged to increase the NLW towards a new target of two-thirds of median earnings by 2024, provided economic conditions allow. The Chancellor additionally committed to expand the living wage to more young people by bringing down the age threshold for the NLW to cover all workers over the age of 21.

These recommended changes do not mean that the NLW will increase in line with the above comments. However, affected businesses may like to incorporate the possible increases into their medium term planning forecasts.

Employing someone at home

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

Believe it or not, HMRC will consider you are the employer of a nanny, housekeeper, gardener or anyone else who works in your home if both the following criteria apply:

  • you hire them, and
  • they are not self-employed or paid through an agency.

If these criteria do apply this means you have certain responsibilities, like meeting the employee’s rights and deducting the right tax.

There are special rules for au pairs, who are not usually considered workers or employees.

You are classed as an employer if you pay a carer or personal assistant directly, even if you get money from your local council (‘direct payments’) or the NHS to pay for them.

Anyone you employ must:

  • have an employment contract
  • be given payslips
  • not work more than the maximum hours allowed per week
  • be paid at least the National Minimum Wage

If they meet the eligibility requirements, they are also entitled to things like:

  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • paid holiday
  • redundancy pay
  • a workplace pension

In effect, you would be treated as an employer and would need to comply with the usual obligations to register and apply the PAYE regulations.

If you are concerned that you may be affected we can help you set up and maintain the necessary payroll records.

Tax Diary November/December 2019

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

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

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

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

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

1 December 2019 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 28 February 2019.

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

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

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

30 December 2019 – Deadline for filing 2018-19 self-assessment tax returns online to include a claim for under payments to be collected via tax code in 2020-21.

Selling shares?

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

As a general rule, if you sell shares for more than you paid for them, any profit you make will be chargeable to Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

Shares and investments you may need to pay tax on include:

  • shares that are not in an ISA or PEP
  • units in a unit trust
  • certain bonds (not including Premium Bonds and Qualifying Corporate Bonds).

CGT will not usually be payable if you give shares as a gift to your husband, wife, civil partner or a charity.

You also do not pay Capital Gains Tax when you dispose of:

  • shares you’ve put into an ISA or PEP
  • shares in employer Share Incentive Plans (SIPs)
  • UK government gilts (including Premium Bonds)
  • Qualifying Corporate Bonds
  • employee shareholder shares – depending on when you got them

The amount of CGT payable will depend on your other earnings in the tax year. You may also be able to claim other reliefs if you are selling shares in a business that you control.

Finally, we are all entitled to make tax-free capital gains each tax year. For 2019-20, the CGT annual exemption is £12,000.

Working after State Pension age

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

It is fine to keep working past your State Retirement Age unless your employment is subject to retirement at a compulsory retirement age. If your employer does this, they must give a good reason, for example: the job requires certain physical abilities (e.g. in the construction industry) or the job has an age limit set by law (e.g. the fire service).

To be clear, a forced retirement age of 65 no longer exists.

You can also ask your employer if you can work more flexibly or work part-time. They have the right to reject your request.

You can claim your State pension while you are working, as long as you’ve reached the State Pension age. You can also work if you are claiming a personal or workplace pension. However, check with your pension provider or employer if you have a workplace pension as reducing your working hours could affect how much pension you will receive. You should also check to see what happens to your workplace pension if you continue working beyond the age when you can take it.

If you delay (defer) taking your State Pension, you will get larger weekly payments when you do start taking your pension.

A bonus

You don’t pay National Insurance if you work past State Pension age.

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