Posts Tagged ‘Money’

The new Criminal Finances Bill

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

New legislation to increase the powers of law enforcement received Royal Assent 27 April 2017.

The Criminal Finances Act 2017 will give law enforcement agencies and partners, further capabilities and powers to recover the proceeds of crime, tackle money laundering, tax evasion and corruption, and combat the financing of terrorism.

The act:

  • creates unexplained wealth orders which can require those suspected of serious crime or corruption to explain the sources of their wealth
  • creates new criminal offences for corporations who fail to prevent their staff from facilitating tax evasion
  • enables the seizure and forfeiture of proceeds of crime and terrorist money stored in bank accounts and certain personal or moveable items
  • provides legal protections for the sharing of information between regulated companies and extends the time period granted to law enforcement agencies to investigate suspicious transactions
  • extends disclosure orders to cover money laundering and terrorist finance investigations
  • extends the existing civil recovery regime in the Proceeds of Crime Act to allow for the recovery of the proceeds of gross human rights abuses or violations overseas

These changes are the biggest extension of asset confiscation and the money laundering legislation since the Proceeds of Crime Act was passed in 2002.

 

The legislation will need to be considered, and with some care, as this new act has extended liability in sensitive areas, not least new criminal offences for corporations who fail to prevent their staff from facilitating tax evasion.

What are your responsibilities to pay the National Minimum Wage

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

The current state defined wage rates are divided between the National Living Wage (NLW) – this is currently set at £7.50 per hour and only applies to workers aged 25 years and over – and the NMW for workers under 25 years.

The NMW hourly rates are currently:

  • Age group 21 to 24 – £7.05
  • Age group 18 to 24 – £5.60
  • Age group under 18 – £4.05
  • Apprentices £3.50

Apprentices are entitled to the apprenticeship rate if they are either:

  • Aged under 19
  • Aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

Workers are not entitled to the NMW until they reach the school leaving age. This depends on where you live:

England

You can leave school on the last Friday in June if you’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays.

You must then do one of the following until you’re 18:

  • stay in full-time education, for example at a college
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training

Scotland

If you turn 16 between 1 March and 30 September, you can leave school after 31 May of that year.

If you turn 16 between 1 October and the end of February, you can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year.

Wales

You can leave school on the last Friday in June, as long as you’ll be 16 by the end of that school year’s summer holidays.

Northern Ireland

If you turn 16 during the school year (between 1 September and 1 July) you can leave school after 30 June.

If you turn 16 between 2 July and 31 August, you can’t leave school until 30 June the following year.

Will the new one pound coin affect your business

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

The new, 12 sided coin became legal tender from 27 March 2017. Businesses that deal in cash transactions, or use equipment that accepts the £1 coin should take note of the following:

The 28 March 2017 to 15 October 2017 is nominated as the co-circulation period for the new £1 coin. What this means is:

  • You can accept both old and new coins during this period.
  • When you take coins to the bank you will need to separate into old and new varieties.
  • Equipment vendors should reconfigure machines to accept both coin types.

In any event you will need to advise customers which coin or coins can be used.

From the 16 October 2017, the old coins will no longer be legal tender. Accordingly:

  • all your coin handling equipment should be able to accept the new £1 coin.
  • you are under no obligation to accept the round £1 coin from your customers and you should not distribute the round £1 coin.
  • the round £1 coin can continue to be deposited into a customer’s account at most High Street banks and the Post Office. Best to check with your bank for more details, including deposit limits.

Time to empty your piggy banks. According to the Royal Mint more than 1.5 billion new coins will be produced, and presumably, 1.5 billion old coins removed from circulation.

 

Lifetime ISAs

Monday, February 20th, 2017

A reminder that from 6 April 2017 Lifetime ISAs are available as an alternative tax-free investment.

The lifetime Individual Savings Account (ISA) is a longer term tax-free account that receives a government bonus.

Details published 17 February 2017 are:

You can open a lifetime ISA if you are aged 18 or over but under 40. You must be either:

  • resident in the UK
  • a Crown Servant (for example a diplomat or civil servant)
  • the spouse or civil partner of a Crown Servant

As with other ISAs, you won’t pay tax on any interest, income or capital gains from cash or investments held within your lifetime ISA.

Saving in a lifetime ISA

You can save up to £4,000 each year in a lifetime ISA. There is no maximum monthly savings contribution, and you can continue to save in it until you reach 50. The account can stay open after then but you can’t make any more payments into it.

The £4,000 limit, if used, will form part of your overall annual ISA limit. From the tax year 2017 to 2018, the overall annual tax limit will be £20,000.

For example, you could save:

  • £11,000 in a cash ISA
  • £2,000 in a stocks and shares ISA
  • £3,000 in an innovative finance ISA
  • £4,000 in a lifetime ISA in one tax year

Your lifetime ISA won’t close when the tax year finishes. You’ll keep your savings on a tax-free basis for as long as you keep the money in your lifetime ISA.

Lifetime ISAs can hold cash, stocks and shares qualifying investments, or a combination of both.

Government bonus

When you save into your lifetime ISA, you will receive a government bonus of 25% of the money you put in, up to a maximum of £1,000 a year.

Withdrawals

You can withdraw the funds held in your lifetime ISA before you’re 60, but you’ll have to pay a withdrawal charge of 25% of the amount you withdraw.

A withdrawal charge will not apply if you are:

  • using it towards a first home
  • aged 60
  • terminally ill with less than 12 months to live

If you die, your lifetime ISA will end on the date of your death and there won’t be a withdrawal charge for withdrawing funds or assets from your account.

Transferring a lifetime ISA

You can transfer your lifetime ISA to another lifetime ISA with a different provider without incurring a withdrawal charge. If you transfer it to a different type of ISA, you will have to pay a withdrawal charge.

Saving for your first home

Your lifetime ISA savings and the bonus can be used towards buying your first home, worth up to £450,000, without incurring a withdrawal charge. You must be buying your home with a mortgage.

You must use a conveyancer or solicitor to act for you in the purchase, and the funds must be paid direct to them by your lifetime ISA provider.

If you are buying with another first time buyer, and you each have a lifetime ISA, you can both use your government bonus. You can also buy a house with someone who isn’t a first time buyer but they will not be able to use their lifetime ISA without incurring a withdrawal charge.

Your lifetime ISA must have been opened for at least 12 months before you can withdraw funds from it to buy your first home.

If you have a Help to Buy ISA, you can transfer those savings into your lifetime ISA or you can continue to save into both – but you will only be able to use the government bonus from one to buy your first home.

All is fair, unless you expect HMRC to minimise your tax bill

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Although HMRC refer to taxpayers as customers, and thereby suggest a degree of customer service, in the real world this rarely extends to offering “customers” pro-active tax advice.

Historically, tax collectors are trained to maximise the assessment and collection of tax. Consequently, tax payers should be wary, they should check the tax statements that are delivered in brown envelopes and make sure that they have taken advantage of reliefs and allowances available to them.

Take for instance the personal tax allowance. Not much to go wrong here you might think. For 2016-17 your personal tax allowance amounts to £11,000 and this amount will be deducted from your taxable income before any calculation of taxes due is made; or will it?

Three planning issues for 2016-17 come to mind:

  1. Will your total income be under £11,000? Consider Peter and Jane. They are married, Peter’s income is below £11,000 and Jane is a basic rate, not a higher rate taxpayer. Peter could transfer up to £1,100 of any unused personal allowance to Jane. This would save Jane £220. HMRC are aware of Peter and Jane’s earnings and yet they require the couple to make an election and claim the relief. Which is fine if Peter and Jane are aware of the relief. HMRC are apparently surprised that a large number of couples who could claim the relief do not.
  2. If you are in business, there is a very generous allowance you can claim if you buy qualifying commercial vehicles or equipment. Since 1 January 2016, you can deduct the full costs up to £200,000. If you are self-employed there is a danger that claims such as this Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) could reduce your taxable income below the £11,000 personal allowance threshold. If this occurs, any unused personal allowance is lost – it cannot be carried forwards and claimed in the next tax year. What you could do is restrict your claim for the AIA such that your taxable income equals £11,000 and your personal allowance would be fully utilised. Any balance of capital expenditure could be carried forward and used in future years.
  3. If your income exceeds £100,000 you will lose your entitlement to claim the personal allowance at the rate of £1 lost for every £2 your income exceeds £100,000. This means that when your income for 2016-17 exceeds £122,000 you can no longer claim the £11,000 deduction. Readers who have an interest in numbers will be interested to know that income is taxed at a marginal rate of 60% in this £100,000 to £122,000 band. Tax payers heading for this outcome can take steps to reduce their earnings below the £100,000 trigger point, but HMRC will not advise you on the steps you could take.

The UK has one of the most complex tax codes and many tax payers run the risk of paying too much tax just because they are not aware of the allowances and strategies they could employ to minimise their expose to taxation. We are not suggesting any form of avoidance activity, we are only suggesting that you claim your full entitlement to allowances and reliefs that are available to you. Of course, we would be delighted to be part of the process – call any time for a consultation.

Are you claiming the costs that you incur on behalf of your employer

Monday, February 6th, 2017

HMRC have the following advice to offer:

“You may be able to claim tax relief if you have to use your own money for travel or things that you must buy for your job. You must have paid tax in the year you spent the money. How much you can claim depends on the rate you pay tax.

You can only claim relief on things that are used just for your work, and which you don’t use in your private life.

You can’t claim relief on things you’ve spent money on if your employer has already provided you with an alternative.

You must keep records of what you’ve spent, and claim within 4 years of the end of the tax year that you spent the money. If your employer has paid back your expenses, you can’t claim tax relief.”

Expenses that you may incur and that you can claim back include:

  1. Uniforms, work clothing and tools.
  2. A mileage allowance for the use of your own car on business trips (but not home to work mileage).
  3. If you have a company car but you have incurred running costs that your employer has not reimbursed, then you may be able to make a claim.
  4. You may be able to reclaim business travel expenses that have not been reimbursed. For example:
  1. Public transport
  2. Hotel accommodation
  3. Food and drink
  4. Congestion charges and tolls
  5. Parking fees
  6. Business phone calls
  1. You may also be able to claim for the cost of approved professional fees and subscriptions.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. And if you feel that you may have a claim we would be happy to advise.

HMRC seem to be developing a sense of humour. This is a list of failed claims for expenses that they recently published on their website:

Salary sacrifice under the microscope

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Salary sacrifice is a term applied to benefits taken in place of salary. In many respects these benefits provide employees with higher “take home” value than if the benefits were treated the same as cash income. Mr Hammond is mindful to curb this practice as it is intended that the change will add £1bn a year to tax revenues by 2020.

No definitive list of benefits affected has been published, but benefits that may no longer be tax effective are:

·         Mobile phones and tablets

·         Car parking

·         Gym membership, and possibly

·         Health check-ups

There are a number of benefits that will not be affected by these changes. They are:

·         Pensions

·         Child care

·         Cycle to work schemes

·         Ultra-low emission cars (CO2 emissions up to 75g/km)

Benefits in place before April 2017 will be protected from restrictions for 1 year, and arrangements in place before April 2017 for cars, accommodation and school fees will be protected for up to 4 years.

For those who contribute towards or make-good their benefits to reduce the taxable amounts, they will have until the 6 July after the tax year to do so – starting 6 July 2017. This only applies to benefits not already taxed as income through payroll.

Readers who are concerned they will be affected by these changes should consider a review of their salary sacrifice/benefits arrangements prior to the April 2017 cut-off date.

Tax free Childcare

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

This new scheme will be rolled out to parents next year. The scheme will be made available gradually to families, with parents of the youngest children able to apply first. You’ll be able to apply for all your children at the same time, when your youngest child becomes eligible. All eligible parents will be able to join the scheme by the end of 2017.

 

In the meantime, HMRC are gearing up to advise childcare providers to register to use the scheme.

 

The top ten things that parents should know about Tax-free Childcare have recently been updated and are reproduced below:

 

1.      You’ll be able to open an online account, which you can pay into to cover the cost of childcare with a registered provider. This will be done through the government website, GOV.UK.

 

2.      For every 80p you or someone else pays in, the government will top up an extra 20p. This is equivalent of the tax most people pay – 20% – which gives the scheme its name, ‘tax-free’. The government will top up the account with 20% of childcare costs up to a total of £10,000 – the equivalent of up to £2,000 support per child per year (or £4,000 for disabled children).

 

3.      The scheme will be available for children up to the age of 12. It will also be available for children with disabilities up to the age of 17, as their childcare costs can stay high throughout their teenage years.

 

4.      To qualify, parents will have to be in work, and each earning around £115 a week and not more than £100,000 each per year.

 

5.      Any eligible working family can use the Tax-Free Childcare scheme – it doesn’t rely on employers.

 

6.      The scheme will also be available for parents who are self-employed. Self-employed parents will be able to get support with childcare costs in Tax-Free Childcare, unlike the current scheme (Employer-Supported Childcare) which is not available to self-employed parents. To support newly self-employed parents, the government is introducing a ‘start-up’ period. During this, self-employed parents won’t have to earn the minimum income level.

 

7.      If you currently receive Employer-Supported Childcare then you can continue to do so; you do not have to switch to Tax-Free However, Tax-Free Childcare will be open to more than twice as many parents as Employer-Supported Childcare.

 

8.      Parents and others can pay money into their childcare account as and when they like. This gives you the flexibility to pay in more in some months, and less at other times. This means you can build up a balance in your account to use at times when you need more childcare than usual, for example, over the summer holidays. It’s also not just the parents who can pay into the account – if grandparents, other family members or employers want to pay in, then they can.

 

9.      The process will be as simple as possible for parents. A bespoke online process will be provided.

 

10.  You’ll be able to withdraw money from the account if your circumstances change or you no longer want to pay into the account. If you do make withdrawals, the government will withdraw its corresponding contribution.

Where there is a Will

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

If you leave your entire estate to charities, will you be turning in your grave if disinherited relatives mount a challenge to break your last will and testament, and succeed?

In a 2015 case heard by the Court of Appeal, a disinherited daughter challenged her deceased mother’s Will.

The background to the case is illuminating. The daughter had not been in touch with her mother since she left home at age 17, some 26 years prior to her mother’s death. The mother had made no provision for her daughter in her Will and left the majority of her estate to animal charities.

Aggrieved, the daughter brought a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. After many court appearances and appeals, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the daughter is entitled to share in approximately a third of her mother’s estate. It should also be pointed out that the daughter’s financial circumstances were somewhat straitened.

The charities that stand to lose out in this process are making a further appeal to the Supreme Court…

The Courts, therefore, have the power to over-rule the testamentary wishes of a deceased person if it feels that the needs of relatives prevail over and above the needs of non-related beneficiaries.

Business expenses you can claim

Monday, July 4th, 2016

Basically, you can claim for most expenses that are incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of a trade. Unfortunately, most of the decision making by HMRC on this topic is guided by tax law, which has been inconsistent.

That aside, the following will provide you with guidance in areas where the outcome is reasonably predictable:

  1. Professional fees, your accountant for example: allowable in most cases unless the fees relate to:
  • The purchase of a property or other business asset (in which case they can be used to reduce any Capital Gains Tax liability when the asset is sold).
  • The costs of settling tax disputes.
  • Fines for breaking the law, for example, parking or speeding fines.
  1. Entertaining: even though entertaining produces new business, all expenditure under this category is deemed a non-allowable expense for tax purposes.
  2. Motoring costs: the costs of running a business car for business related journeys are allowable. The costs of private motoring with a business vehicle are not. Home to work journeys are generally considered private.
  3. Travel expenses: All business related travel costs are allowable. Home to work travel costs are not tax allowable.
  4. Bank and credit card charges: bank charges and bank interest charges on loans or overdrafts taken out for purely business purposes are tax allowable. The capital repayment of these loans is not.
  5. Cost of goods: goods bought for resale by your business, or that are consumed during the day-to-day business activities are tax deductible, goods taken for private use are not.
  6. Cost of assets: the cost of plant, vehicles and equipment purchased for business use is held on your balance sheet as assets. The cost is gradually written off against your profits by making a depreciation charge – this writes off the asset cost over the useful life of the asset. Even though this depreciation charge is a reduction in profits it is not allowed as a tax deduction. Instead, HMRC grant a capital allowance, which can vary from 8% to 100% of the allowable asset cost, or its written down value for tax purposes (if you acquired the asset in previous years).
  7. Bad debts: if a customer fails to pay an invoice and the debt is considered irrecoverable the sales value can be written off for tax purposes. Debts relating to assets or general provisions for bad debts are not allowable.

Obviously, this is only a sample of the range of costs and expenditure you may need to layout when running your business. If you are unsure if a future cost will qualify for tax relief, please call to discuss the matter.

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