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Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Newsletter 139


OFF-PAYROLL RULES FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR

The government has published the draft legislation for the next Finance Bill including the rules for off-payroll working in the private sector. The legislation is open for consultation until 5 September 2019.

The new rules will apply from April 2020 and the effect of these rules, if they apply to intermediaries, typically Personal Service Companies (PSC), will be:

         the medium or large business (or an agency paying the PSC) will calculate a 'deemed payment' based on the fees the PSC has charged for the services of the individual
         generally, the entity that pays the PSC for the services must deduct PAYE and employee National Insurance contributions (NICs) as if the deemed payment is a salary paid to an employee
         the paying entity will have to pay to HMRC not only the PAYE and NICs deducted from the deemed payment but also employer NICs on the deemed payment
         the net amount received by the PSC can be passed onto the individual without the company deducting any further PAYE and NICs.

Please contact us for advice on how these changes will impact your business.

Internet links:GOV.UK finance bill

DIGITAL SERVICES TAX

From April 2020, the government will introduce a new 2% tax on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users. However, this only applies when the group's worldwide revenues from these digital activities are more than £500m and more than £25m of these revenues are derived from UK users.

Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General, said:

'The UK has always sought to lead in finding an international solution to taxing the digital economy. This targeted and proportionate Digital Services Tax is designed to keep our tax system in this area both fair and competitive, pending a longer term international settlement.'

Internet links: GOV.UK news   GOV.UK publications

INSOLVENCY HIERARCHY CHANGES

From 6 April 2020, insolvency legislation will be amended to move HMRC up the creditor hierarchy for the distribution of assets in the event of insolvency by making HMRC a secondary preferential creditor in respect of certain tax debts held by a business (this includes individuals and partnerships) on behalf of their customers and employees. This includes VAT, PAYE income tax and CIS deductions.

The rules will remain unchanged for taxes owed by businesses themselves, such as corporation tax and employer National Insurance contributions.

In addition, directors and other persons connected to companies subject to an insolvency procedure will be made jointly and severally liable for amounts payable to HMRC by the company in certain circumstances. This will apply mainly in cases where the company has engaged in avoidance, evasion or 'phoenixism'.

Internet link: GOV.UK insolvency

PRIVATE RESIDENCE RELIEF CHANGES
The government published draft legislation for the next Finance Bill including draft clauses on the changes to Private Residence Relief (PRR). The draft legislation is subject to consultation which closes on 
5 September 2019.

Following consultation this Spring, changes are proposed to the Private Residence Relief (PRR) regime from April 2020. For properties that have not been occupied throughout the period of ownership, available deductions for capital gains tax purposes will be limited as follows:

           the final period exemption will be reduced from 18 months to 9 months (there are no changes to the 36 months that are available to disabled persons or those in a care home) and
           lettings relief will be reformed so that it only applies in those circumstances where the owner of the property is in shared-occupancy with a tenant. Letting relief will be restricted or curtailed for disposals on or after 6 April 2020, regardless of when the period of letting took place.

Brian Slater, Chair of CIOT's Property Taxes Sub-committee, said:

'HMRC need to put the 'PR' into 'PRR' and publicise these changes effectively.'

'Many home owners are still unaware that the final period exemption was reduced from 36 months to 18 months in 2014. A further reduction to just nine months is likely to bring more property disposals within the scope of CGT. Whilst the average time to sell a property is around four and a half months, there will be many exceptions due to regional variations, separation and divorce, and other complexities.'

Another aspect of the relief which is also changing from 6 April 2020 is lettings relief, limiting it to narrowly defined circumstances in which the owner shares occupation of their house with a tenant.

Brian Slater continued:

'The practical effect of these changes will be that very few sellers will qualify for lettings relief if they sell their home after 6 April 2020. Further, any 'accrued' letting relief will be lost, as no apportionment can be made between gains attributable to pre and post 6 April 2020 disposals. Again, this change brings more disposals within the scope of CGT.'


WORKING PARENTS MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR TAX-FREE CHILDCARE THIS SUMMER
The government is reminding working parents that they could ease this summer's childcare costs by using Tax-Free Childcare (TFC). The scheme is worth up to £2,000 a year for each child and allows parents to save regularly for childcare costs. For each £8 saved the government will make a top-up payment of £2. The money saved can be put towards a range of registered childcare options from more than 68,000 childcare providers. These include summer camps across the UK, as well as before and after school care during term time, nurseries and childminders.

The scheme is open to working parents, including the self-employed, who earn between the 16 hours a week at the minimum wage and £100,000 per year and have children under the age of 12 (or under 17 for children with disabilities).

The government will top-up up to £500 per quarter for each child, or £1,000 if the child is disabled.

Commenting on TFC, Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:

'We understand making arrangements for summer childcare at this time of year is important and can be a stressful time for parents.'

'TFC makes things easier, putting more money in the pockets of parents and supporting as many families as possible to secure high-quality, affordable childcare.

'Parents should visit the Childcare Choices website and take advantage of the range of offers to help balance their work and family lives while saving money.'

Internet links: GOV.UK news   Childcarechoices

VAT CHANGES MAY CAUSE CONSTRUCTION CHAOS
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is warning that a major change in the way that VAT is accounted for in the building and construction sector which takes effect later this year may cause chaos.

The VAT domestic reverse charge for building and construction services applies from 1 October 2019. It is an anti-fraud measure - an administrative change, impacting invoicing and VAT return procedures. With a reverse charge, a VAT-registered recipient of services accounts for VAT, rather than the supplier.

The rules will apply to VAT-registered businesses where payments are required to be reported through the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), the charge will be used along the supply chain, until the recipient is no longer a VAT-registered business making an onward supply of specified construction services.

With the new rules, suppliers (VAT-registered subcontractors), will state on their invoices that supplies are subject to the reverse charge. Contractors will then use their VAT returns to account for output VAT on supplies received, instead of paying output VAT to their suppliers. Subject to normal VAT rules, the contractor can reclaim VAT on supplies received as input tax, usually leaving no net tax payable on the transaction. Where there is an 'end user', it will be expected to provide notification of end user status to suppliers, signalling that a supplier should charge VAT as usual.

Reverse charge will not affect zero-rated supplies: nor some circumstances where suppliers are connected to end users, for example landlords and tenants. The reverse charge covers 'specified services' – essentially construction services as defined for CIS purposes. Where services – such as those of architects, surveyors and some consultants – are supplied on their own, they are not covered by the reverse charge. If supplied along with supplies subject to the charge, the whole supply will be subject to the charge. The reverse charge also includes goods, where supplied with specified services.

The FMB are warning that the government has not properly prepared the construction industry for this major VAT change. New data from FMB shows that:

           over two-thirds of construction SMEs (69%) have not even heard of the reverse charge VAT and
           of those who have, more than two-thirds (67%) have not prepared for the changes.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said:

'Construction companies are already struggling with Brexit uncertainty, sky-rocketing material price rises and skill shortages and reverse charge VAT is yet another thing for them to deal with. What makes things worse is that HMRC has failed to deliver on its promise to help the industry to prepare. The guidance is not user-friendly and even tax experts are scratching their heads over it.'

'It's therefore not surprising that the vast majority of construction SMEs are not aware of the impending changes, despite widespread promotion by the FMB. Small business owners are busy people and clearly they don't have time to read everything we send them. For those who are aware, they haven't had a chance to change their systems yet as they were waiting for guidance to be published that has only just emerged. That's why we are calling on the Government to delay the changes by another six months and to use the extra time to improve the guidance and work with us to undertake a more intensive communications campaign. HMRC should also consider holding workshops across the country to explain the changes.'

Businesses affected by the new rules are recommended to plan now to adapt accounting and IT systems. The reverse charge may also impact business cash flow. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further advice.

Internet links: FMB news   GOV.UK guidance

WAGE GROWTH AT A HIGH


Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that UK wage growth increased to 3.6% in the year to May 2019, the highest rate since the financial crisis in 2008.

According to the ONS, wages have been rising faster than inflation since March 2018 and that increases to the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage have helped wage growth to accelerate. However, the data also showed that average pay is still lower than pre-2008 levels. When average regular pay of £503 is adjusted for inflation to £468 per week it is £5 less than its pre-recession total of £473 a week.

Commenting on the data, Alpesh Paleja, Principal Economist at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:

'Despite signs that employment growth is tailing off, the labour market remains tight, with the unemployment rate at a multi-decade low. It's encouraging that pay growth has picked up further, putting more money in people's pockets.'

'But as recent data shows, productivity remains in the doldrums. Reinvigorating efforts to boost productivity is critical. Firms must focus on innovative ways to share new ideas and invest in people and technologies.'

Internet links: GOV.UK bulletins   CBI article

UPDATED GUIDANCE ON SPOTTING HMRC SCAMMERS
HMRC has updated their list of examples of websites, emails, letters, text messages, WhatsApp messages and phone calls used by scammers and fraudsters to obtain an individual's personal information.

The guidance can be used to help you decide if a contact from HMRC is genuine and provides examples of the different methods that fraudsters use to get individuals to disclose personal information.

You can also read about how to recognise genuine contact from HMRC, and how to tell when an email is phishing/bogus.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Newsletter 138


TAX GAP REMAINS LOW

HMRC has published a report showing that the UK tax gap in 2017/18 is estimated to be £35 billion. This is 5.6% of total theoretical tax liabilities, and a small increase of 0.1% from 5.5% in 2016/17.
HMRC therefore secured 94.4% of all tax due.

The tax gap is the difference between the amount of tax that should be paid to HMRC compared to what is actually paid. Further details in the report show:

         the overall tax gap has fallen from 7.2% since 2005/06

         the duty-only excise tax gap has reduced from 8.4 % in 2005/06 
       to 5.1% in 2017/18.

         the corporation tax gap has reduced from 12.5% in 2005/06 to 
       8.1% in 2017/18.

Jesse Norman MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

'The UK's low tax gap underlines both how the vast majority of people are paying the correct amount of tax, and how effective HM Revenue and Customs has been in its efforts to clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance.'

The report advises that the majority of taxpayers want to get their tax right, but many are still finding this hard, with avoidable mistakes costing the Exchequer over £9.9 billion a year. HMRC advise that £3 billion of this is attributable to VAT alone.

With the introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT, HMRC anticipates that the tax lost due to avoidable errors will be reduced because of the improved accuracy that digital records provide.

Internet link: GOV.UK news 

PREPARING THE WORKFORCE FOR EU EXIT

Over two thirds of EU citizens that are currently in the UK are here for work. The government is advising that if these individuals plan to remain living and working in the UK, after it leaves the EU, they can now apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

EU, EEA, or Swiss employees, and their family members, can apply to the EUSS if they want to continue to live, work, and study in the UK after 31 December 2020. This applies whether UK leave the EU with a deal or with a 'no deal'.

Under the scheme, successful applications will be granted either settled or pre-settled status. Status depends on how long they have been living in the UK when they apply. In both cases, they can continue to work in the UK, use public services like the NHS, and access public funds such as pensions. Irish citizens do not need to apply.

The government has created an employer toolkit to help EU citizens with their application. The toolkit includes items such as posters and videos and information on how to apply. Employers do not have any obligation to share any information or even check whether employees have applied. However, they may wish to offer reassurance to their employees and make sure they have the right information.

However, employers have a duty not to discriminate against EU citizens with regards to the UK's decision to leave the EU, both as a prospective and current employer.

Internet links: Agent Update 72 GOV.UK EUSS

MTD FOR VAT LATEST

HMRC is phasing in its landmark Making Tax Digital (MTD) regime, which will ultimately require taxpayers to move to a fully digital tax system.

Under the rules, businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) must keep digital records for VAT purposes and provide their VAT return information to HMRC using compatible software.

The rules have effect from 1 April 2019 where a taxpayer has a 'prescribed accounting period' which begins on that date, or otherwise from the first day of a taxpayer's first prescribed accounting period beginning after 1 April 2019.

However for some VAT-registered businesses with more complex requirements the rules do not take effect until 1 October 2019. Included in the deferred start date category are VAT divisions, VAT groups and businesses using the annual accounting scheme.

Businesses in the deferral group should have received a letter inviting them to join the MTD for VAT scheme. The scheme will be mandatory for the first VAT return period starting on or after 1 October 2019. The letter encourages businesses to join early in order to be prepared for 
1 October 2019. However, it does highlight that once a business has joined MTD for VAT, the old system of filing VAT returns can no longer be used.

HMRC has announced that those entities that use the GIANT service for VAT will have their deferral period for MTD further extended. A mandation date has not yet been confirmed.

GIANT is the 'Government information and NHS Trust' service, a special online system that is used by the public sector bodies, such as the NHS trusts and government departments, to file additional information with their VAT returns.

Those affected should have received a letter in June from HMRC informing them of the extension to their deferral period. HMRC will write again later in the summer with details of the revised timetable.

Please contact us for help with MTD for VAT.

Internet link: GOV.UK MTD for VAT

EMPLOYER BULLETIN - LATEST GUIDANCE

HMRC has issued the June 2019 edition of the Employer Bulletin. This includes articles on a number of issues including:

         labour supply chain fraud

         using loans to avoid Optional Remuneration Rules

         re-enrolment of staff back into a workplace pension scheme

         GDPR fees

         contractors operating CIS – new VAT reverse charge on building 
       and construction services

         using Tax-Free Childcare to make school holidays easier.

If you have any queries on payroll matters please contact us.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

NEW MEASURES TO ENSURE SMALL BUSINESSES GET PAID ON TIME

The government has announced a package of measures to ensure small businesses get paid on time. Under the proposals large businesses could be fined for failing to pay smaller suppliers on time as part of a robust package of measures.

The measures include:  

         proposed new powers for the Small Business Commissioner to 
       tackle late payments through fines and binding payment plans

         company boards to be held accountable for supply chain payment 
       practices for first time

         the introduction of a new fund to encourage businesses to use 
       technology to simplify invoicing, payment and credit 
       management.

The government has also announced that responsibility of the voluntary code of best practice,  the Prompt Payment Code, will be moved to the Small Business Commissioner.

Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said:

'The vast majority of businesses pay their bills on time, with the amount owed in late payments halved over the last five years. But as a former small business owner, I know the huge impact a late payment can have on the ability of a small business to plan, invest and grow.'

'Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and through our modern Industrial Strategy we want to ensure the UK is the best place to start and grow a business. These measures will ensure that small businesses are given the support they need and ensure that they get paid quickly - ending the unacceptable culture of late payment.'

Internet link: GOV.UK news

PAYMENT ON ACCOUNT CONFUSION

Under self assessment taxpayers are required to make payments on account of their tax liabilities. The payment on account instalments consist of two payments on account of equal amounts:

         the first on 31 January during the tax year and

         the second on 31 July following the end of the tax year.

These are set by reference to the previous year's income tax liability and Class 4 NIC if any.

A final payment (or repayment) is due on 31 January following the tax year.

Payments are not due where the previous year's liability is less than £1,000 or where 80% of the previous year's bill was met by tax deductions at source.

The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) has warned that 'some people may not receive the tax demands they expect by the end of July' for their self assessment, even if it may be due.

ATT has issued a press release saying that the HMRC system did not correctly process all the payments on account information for 2018/19. As a consequence, the demand for the first payment on account for January 2019 may not have been issued.

Unless those taxpayers contacted HMRC, the next demand for payment on account, due on 31 July 2019, may also not be issued. HMRC has confirmed that if it has not issued a demand for payment on account, the full amount will be requested in January 2020.

Making a voluntary payment may not be processed correctly. If you want to make a payment on account that is due, then taxpayers or their agents are advised to contact HMRC.

Jon Stride, Co-Chair of the ATT's Technical Steering Group, said:

'If a taxpayer does not make any payments on account during 2019, then their tax bill in January 2020 could be significantly larger than they are expecting and could come as quite a shock. We are concerned that taxpayers may not realise what has happened and might not set aside enough money to meet their full tax bill in one amount next January.'


UK INVESTMENT SUPPORT DIRECTORY

International investors who wish to set up and expand their operations in the UK can now benefit from an online tool launched by the Department for International Trade (DIT).

The new tool, termed the UK Investment Support Directory, enables international investors to connect with a range of businesses across the UK. Potential investors can find an expert in their specific industry or region.

According to the DIT, the UK Investment Support Directory has been created to make information about the investment process 'more accessible', and is part of a wider initiative to 'generate more foreign direct investment in the UK'.

Graham Stuart, Minister for Investment, said:

'The launch of the new UK Investment Support Directory is one of many ways in which the DIT is helping to drive investment to every corner of the UK. We hope this new directory will be an invaluable resource for investors thinking of setting up operations in the UK.'


CONSULTATION ON THE OPERATION OF INSURANCE PREMIUM TAX

HMRC has launched a consultation to review the extent to which the emerging practices are leading to 'unfair tax outcomes' in the administration and collection of Insurance Premium Tax (IPT). HMRC's consultation document states:

'We have been made aware of business practices involving administration and arrangement fees which may be leading to unfair tax outcomes in the insurance industry.'

'This involves the artificial manipulation of insurance and broker structures to create different tax outcomes. IPT is chargeable on the gross premiums, whereas fees are not subject to IPT or VAT.'

The consultation is open until 17 July 2019.

Internet link: Consultation

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Newsletter 137

LATEST GUIDANCE FOR EMPLOYERS

HMRC has issued the latest version of the Employer Bulletin. This April edition has articles on a number of issues including:
  • Cash Allowances, Flexible Benefits Packages and Salary Sacrifice
  • Unpaid work trials and the National Minimum Wage
  • Diesel Supplement Company Car Tax Changes to meet Euro standard 6d
  • Student Loans
  • Construction Industry Scheme – helpful reminders for contractors and subcontractors
  • Welsh rate of income tax and Scottish Income Tax.

If you have any queries on payroll matters please contact us.

Internet link:
Employer Bulletin April 2019

VAT FUEL SCALE CHARGES

HMRC has issued details of the updated VAT fuel scale charges which apply from the beginning of the next prescribed VAT accounting period starting on or after 1 May 2019.

VAT registered businesses use the fuel scale charges to account for VAT on private use of road fuel purchased by the business.

Please do get in touch for further advice on this or other VAT matters.

Internet link: GOV.UK fuel scale charges

GOVERNMENT CONFIRMS IMPLEMENTATION OF PENSIONS DASHBOARDS

The government has confirmed that the initiative to introduce a pensions dashboard will go ahead.

Pensions dashboards will allow those saving for retirement to view information from multiple pensions in one place stating that the dashboard will ‘open up pensions to millions’, and ‘provide an easy-to-access online view of a saver’s pensions’.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will bring forward legislation that will require pension scheme providers to make consumers’ data available to them through their chosen dashboard. The plan is to include State pension information as well.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:

‘The government’s commitment to compel pension schemes to share data with platforms through primary legislation is particularly welcome. Some urgency is now required, and we question the three to four-year timeframe for schemes to prepare data for dashboards.’

Internet links: GOV.UK Pensions dashboardfsb press release

‘SPRINGTIME’ TAX SCAMS TARGET YOUNG PEOPLE

HMRC has warned young people in the UK to ‘stay vigilant’ in order to avoid falling victim to ‘Springtime’ tax refund scams.

Criminals often target young individuals or the elderly as these groups of people are likely to be less familiar with the UK tax system. During the months of April and May, criminals often bombard taxpayers with tax refund scams at the same time as genuine rebates are processed by HMRC.

In the Spring of 2018, approximately 250,000 reports of tax scams were received by HMRC.

Individuals have been warned to be wary of text messages, calls and voicemails purporting to be from HMRC. These are often designed to extract personal or financial information from the taxpayer.

Angela MacDonald, Head of Customer Services at HMRC, said:
‘We are determined to protect honest people from these fraudsters who will stop at nothing to make their phishing scams appear legitimate.

‘HMRC is currently shutting down hundreds of phishing sites a month. If you receive one of these emails or texts, don’t respond and report it to HMRC so that more online criminals are stopped in their tracks.

Internet links: Action Fraud

MONEY LAUNDERING

HMRC has published a list of businesses that have not met their obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations.

As a supervisor of the Money Laundering Regulations HMRC has a duty to publish details of businesses that have been penalised for not complying with the regulations.

HMRC advises that it considers cases individually to decide whether to publish details in full, anonymously, or not at all. Where a decision is made to publish in full, the following information may be published:
  • the name and address of the business owner or business
  • the nature of the breach or breaches
  • the penalty issued by HMRC
  • the status of any appeal against the penalty
HMRC publishes anonymously if it considers that the effect of publishing details about an individual or business would be disproportionate.

Internet link: GOV.UK money laundering

‘FLEXIBLE EXTENSION’ TO ARTICLE 50

Business groups, including the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), have commented on the six-month ‘flexible’ extension of Article 50, granted to the UK by EU leaders.

The extension potentially pushes ‘Brexit Day’, the day when the UK officially leaves the EU, to 31 October 2019.

Reacting to the news, the BCC stated that the flexible extension is ‘preferable’ for most businesses. It said:

‘Politicians must urgently agree on a way forward. It would be a disaster for business confidence and investment if a similar late-night drama is played out yet again in October.’

The CBI said that UK businesses will now ‘adjust their no-deal plans’ instead of cancelling them. Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI, said:

‘For the good of jobs and communities across the country, all political leaders must use the time well. Sincere cross-party collaboration must happen now to end this crisis.’

Internet links: BCC news CBI article

SCOTTISH AIR DEPARTURE TAX PLANS FURTHER DELAYED

The Scottish government has further delayed its plans to replace Air Passenger Duty (APD) with Air Departure Tax (ADT). The plans to introduce ADT have been delayed beyond 2020.

In 2016, as part of the Scotland Act, the Scottish Parliament was given devolved powers to charge tax on travellers leaving Scottish airports. Proposals were put forward to replace the UK-wide APD with an ADT.

The ADT was set to take effect in April 2018, but was delayed due to issues surrounding the current exemption which applies to airports in the Highlands and Islands.

Commenting on the delay, Kate Forbes MSP, Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, stated:

‘The Scottish government has been clear that it cannot take on ADT until a solution to these issues has been found, because to do so would compromise the devolved powers and risk damage to the Highlands and Islands economy.

‘While we work towards a resolution to the Highlands and Islands exemption, we continue to call on the UK government to reduce APD rates to support connectivity and economic growth in Scotland and across the UK.’

Internet link: GOV.SCOT news parliamentary business

OTS CALLS FOR SIMPLIFYING EVERYDAY TAX FOR SMALLER BUSINESSES

A report by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) calls on the government to prioritise action to ‘address long-standing concerns about the experience of smaller businesses’. The report considers the business lifecycle, especially those starting up and provides recommendations in five areas:
  • providing simple step-by-step guidance about the key things a business needs to do in its early days to help things run smoothly
  • improving the operation of the PAYE system
  • implementation of HMRC’s Agents Strategy
  • improving the mechanics of the Corporation Tax return process
  • ensuring that tax changes are built on an understanding of business processes.
If you would like any help with your taxes at any stage of your business life cycle, please do get in touch.

Internet link: GOV.UK simplifying tax

HMRC TASKFORCE TACKLES DISHONEST DOG BREEDERS

A taskforce has recovered more than £5 million by tackling dishonest dog breeders selling pups on the black market. HMRC set up the taskforce in October 2015 after discussions with animal welfare groups that were concerned that tens of thousands of puppies were being reared in unregulated conditions and sold illicitly every year.

The taskforce uncovered fraudsters selling puppies on a mass scale, for a huge profit and due to the underground nature of the activity, failing to declare their sales.

Using civil and criminal enforcement powers, HMRC has recovered £5,393,035 in lost taxes from 257 separate cases since the formation of the taskforce in October 2015.

The breeders and traders targeted include:
  • two unconnected puppy breeders in the west of Scotland who were handed tax bills of £425,000 and £337,000
  • a puppy breeder in the Midlands who was a former Crufts judge, given a £185,000 bill
  • a dealer in Northern Ireland told to pay £185,000 in tax
  • a Somerset puppy breeder was given a £114,000 bill
  • a puppy dealer in the east of Scotland was handed a tax bill in excess of £400,000
  • a Swansea puppy breeder was given a £110,000 tax bill.
Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP, said:

‘It is utterly appalling that anyone would want to treat puppies in such an inhumane way and on such a scale. It’s also deeply unfair to all of the legitimate businesses who do pay the right tax, and the total recovered by the taskforce is equivalent to the annual salaries for more than 200 newly qualified teachers.’

‘We continue to work hard with other government agencies and our partners to tackle these traders. We urge anyone with information about tax evasion to report it to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

FORMS P11D – REPORTING EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

The forms P11D which report details of benefits and some expenses provided to employees and directors for the year ended 5 April 2019, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2019. The process of gathering the necessary information and completing the forms 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, generally via a PAYE coding notice adjustment or through the self assessment system. Some employers ‘payroll’ benefits and in this case the benefits do not need to be reported on forms P11D but employers should advise employees of the amount of benefits payrolled.

In addition, regardless of whether the benefits are being reported via P11D or payrolled 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. The deadline for payment of the Class 1A NIC is 19th July 2019 (or 22nd for cleared electronic payment).

HMRC has produced an expenses and benefits toolkit. The toolkit consists of a checklist which may be used by advisers or employers to check they are completing the forms correctly.

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

Internet links: HMRC guidance Toolkit

WELSH TAXPAYERS INCOME TAX CODE MIX-UP

From April 2019, Welsh taxpayers were assigned new income tax codes beginning with the letter ‘C’. However, HMRC recently revealed that some Welsh taxpayers were mistakenly given Scottish income tax codes by their employers. As a consequence, Welsh taxpayers have been charged income tax using the Scottish income tax rates and bands.

For 2019/20 the Welsh rate of income tax is set at 10% and this is added to the UK rates, which are each reduced by 10%. Therefore, the overall tax payable by Welsh taxpayers continues to be the same as English and Northern Irish taxpayers.

The income tax rates and bands that apply to employment income, self-employed trade profits and property income are different for taxpayers who are resident in Scotland, with tax rates and bands ranging from 19% to 46% rather than the 20% to 45% which apply across the rest of the UK. Tax codes for Scottish taxpayers begin with the letter ‘S’.

HMRC stated that it does not know the full extent of the error or how many Welsh taxpayers have been affected but they will carry out a review of the operation of Welsh tax codes in June 2019.

Llyr Gruffydd, Chair of the National Assembly for Wales’ Finance Committee, said:

‘We raised concerns about the flagging process for identifying Welsh taxpayers during our enquiries into fiscal devolution and the Welsh government’s draft budget.

‘On each occasion, we were told the matter was in hand, and the lessons from the devolution of income tax powers to Scotland, where there were similar issues, had been soundly learned and would be put into effect. We are seeking an immediate explanation of how this has happened and will be asking representatives from HMRC to appear before this Committee in the near future.’

If you have any concerns about tax codes, please get in touch.

Internet links: HMRC letter Welsh Assembly news

CONSULTATION ON COMPANIES HOUSE REFORMS

The government has launched a consultation on proposed reforms at Companies House, including a ‘major upgrade’ of its register.

The consultation aims to tackle misuse of the register. It also strives to provide business owners with ‘greater protection from fraud’.

The consultation seeks views on a series of reforms to limit the risk of misuse:
  • knowing who is setting up, managing and controlling companies
  • improving the accuracy and usability of data on the companies register
  • protecting personal information on the register
  • ensuring compliance, sharing intelligence and other measures to deter abuse of corporate entities
Louise Smyth, Chief Executive of Companies House, said:

‘This package of reforms represents a significant milestone for Companies House as they will enable us to play a greater part in tackling economic crime, protecting directors from identity theft and fraud, and improving the accuracy of the register.’

The consultation is open until 5 August 2019.

Internet links: GOV.UK consultation GOV.UK news

CONSULTATION ON ANCILLARY CAPITAL GAINS RELIEFS

A capital gains tax (CGT) exemption applies when an individual disposes of a dwelling that has been used as their only or main residence under the Private Residence Relief (PRR) rules. The exemption applies as long as the relevant conditions are met throughout the total period of ownership. This relief is supplemented by ancillary reliefs that aim to deal with other related situations.

The government has previously announced and legislated to reform two of the ancillary reliefs  to better target PRR at owner-occupiers. The reliefs which are being amended are:
  • the final period exemption will be reduced from 18 months to nine months, although the special rules that give those with a disability, and those in care, an exemption of 36 months will not change
  • lettings relief will be reformed so that it only applies where an owner is in shared occupancy with a tenant.
These changes will take effect from 6 April 2020. The government is now consulting on the changes in more detail and on how they will work in practice. It also invites views on some technical aspects of the PRR rules.

Internet link: GOV.UK consultation

ADVISORY FUEL RATES FOR COMPANY CARS

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which take effect from 1 June 2019. 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 June 2019 are:

Engine size      Petrol
1400cc or less     12p
1401cc – 2000cc 15p
Over 2000cc 22p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 8p
1401cc – 2000cc           9p
Over 2000cc 14p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 10p
1601cc – 2000cc 12p
Over 2000cc 14p

HMRC guidance states that the rates only apply when you either:
  • reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars or
  • require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel.
You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

The Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric cars is 4 pence per mile. Electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

NON-COMPLIANCE WITH MINIMUM WAGE REGULATIONS

A recent Low Pay Commission (LPC) report sets out its findings on the number of people being paid less than the statutory minimum wage.

The LPC found that, in April 2018, 439,000 workers were paid less than the National Minimum Wage (NMW). Of this amount, 369,000 were employees aged 25 and over, who were paid less than the National Living Wage (NLW), an increase from previous years. On 1 April 2019, the NMW and NLW rates rose to the hourly rates detailed below:

Minimum wage rate Hourly rate from 
1 April 2019
National Living Wage (for workers
aged 25 and over)
£8.21
21-24 year-old rate £7.70
18-20 year-old rate £6.15
16-17 year-old rate £4.35
Apprentice rate £3.90
Accommodation Offset £7.55 per day: £52.85 per week

The LPC also revealed that women are ‘more likely’ than men to be paid less than the NMW, and that underpayment is common amongst younger and older workers. In addition, underpayment was more common in certain sectors including hospitality, retail, cleaning, maintenance and childcare.

Commenting on the findings, Bryan Sanderson, Chair of the LPC, said:

‘Our analysis reveals a worrying number of people are being paid less than the minimum wage. We recently celebrated 20 years of the minimum wage – it has raised pay for millions of workers, but it is essential that people receive what they are entitled to.’

‘It is also vital for businesses to be able to operate on a level playing field, and not be illegally undercut on wages.’

Contact us for help with payroll issues.


Internet link: GOV.UK news

Thursday, 16 May 2019

CONSULTATION ON EXTENSION OF IR35 RULES


HMRC has published guidance on the extension of the off-payroll working rules (also known as IR35) to the private sector, a year ahead of its implementation on 6 April 2020.

In the guidance, HMRC state that the responsibility to determine whether the off-payroll working rules apply will fall on the organisation receiving the individual's service. It outlines a four-step process which can be used to prepare for the changes, starting with identifying any individuals who are supplying their services through PSCs.

The consultation closes on 28 May and asks for responses on several matters, including the scope of the reform and its impact on non-corporate engagers; information requirements for engagers, fee payers and personal service companies (PSCs); and how to address disagreements on an individual's employment status.

The consultation also sets out HMRC's plans to provide education and support for those businesses that are affected.

Internet links: HMRC guidance and HMRC consultation

Monday, 8 April 2019

Newsletter 136


THE ROAD TO BREXIT



Those of us who are old enough to have been taught religious education at school may recall that St Jude was often quoted as being the Patron Saint of lost causes. It turns out that this is not quite correct for two reasons;

Firstly St Jude was the Patron Saint of Impossible Causes and secondly there were 4 characters in the frame.

( Above L-R –  St Rita, St Jude, St Philomena & St Gregory – all claimants to be the saint of Impossible Causes)

Whilst I am a religious non participant myself I wonder if perhaps our Prime Minister may by now be seeking some Divine intervention on behalf of UK businesses in order to bring some clarity to the future. My fear perhaps would be that these 4 would individually advise for a “No Deal”, “Short Extension”, “Longer Extension” or “Second Referendum”

Walker Thompson however will continue to listen to our clients, find solutions and be clear with our advice.

Sherod Williams. Director 

REPORTING BENEFITS IN KIND – FORMS P11D

The forms P11D which report details of benefits and some expenses provided to employees and directors for the year ended 5 April 2019, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2019. 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, generally via a PAYE coding notice adjustment or through the self assessment system. Some employers ‘payroll’ benefits and in this case the benefits do not need to be reported on forms P11D but employers should advise employees of the amount of benefits payrolled.

In addition, regardless of whether the benefits are being reported via P11D or payrolled 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. The deadline for payment of the Class 1A NIC is 19th July 2019 (or 22nd for cleared electronic payment).

HMRC has produced an expenses and benefits toolkit. The toolkit consists of a checklist which may be used by advisers or employers to check they are completing the forms correctly.

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

Internet links: HMRC guidance Toolkit 

ADDITIONAL BREXIT ADVISORY DOCUMENTS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

The government has published additional documents containing advice on Brexit for UK small businesses.

According to the government, the information will help business owners to ‘understand how leaving the EU may affect their business’. The advisory documents cover a range of issues, from changes to UK-EU trade following Brexit, to alterations to how businesses send and receive personal data.

Amidst ongoing Brexit uncertainty the government is urging businesses to ‘prepare now’. Businesses that import or export goods to the EU are urged to apply for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number if they have not already done so, in order to continue trading with the EU post-Brexit.

Businesses that provide services to or operate in the EU may need to comply with new rules following Brexit. A business could be affected if it has a branch or branches in the EU; it operates in a services sector within the EU; it is planning a merger with an EU company; or if its employees have to travel to EU or European Economic Area (EEA) countries for business.

Meanwhile, businesses that hold intellectual property are warned that they may face changes to their copyright, patents, designs and trademarks following Brexit.

The government is urging small firms to utilise the Exit Tool.

Internet link: EU Exit tool 

DELAY TO RISE IN PROBATE FEES

The government has delayed its planned increase in probate fees indefinitely.

The delay has been attributed to ‘pressure on Parliamentary time‘ caused by Brexit debates and votes.

The increase in fees had been set to take effect from 1 April 2019, but HMRC recently made the decision to postpone the rise. Under government plans, the proposed probate fees are as follows:

 Value of estate Proposed Fee
 Up to £50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of     probate  £0
 £50,000 – £300,000  £250
 £300,000 – £500,000  £750
 £500,000 – £1m  £2,500
 £1m – £1.6m  £4,000
 £1.6m – £2m  £5,000
 Above £2m  £6,000
While the changes are pending, a temporary process is in place for applying for probate, and estates will not incur the higher fees if applications are made before the fee changes take effect.
A spokesperson for HMRC said:

‘Probate registries will accept applications before processing by us as long as they are assured the inheritance tax (IHT) forms from us will be coming shortly.

‘Our processes aren’t changing, it’s just that probate registries will be willing to accept applications before our processing is done when normally it would need to be after.’

Internet link: Gov.uk news  

UPDATE ON STRUCTURES AND BUILDINGS ALLOWANCE

Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered the Spring Statement on Wednesday 13 March 2019 amidst all the Brexit debates.

In his speech the Chancellor provided an update on the economy and responded to the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts. In addition he launched consultations on various aspects of the tax system together with updates on earlier consultations.

One area subject to consultation is the Structures and Buildings Allowance (SBA). The SBA gives relief for expenditure on certain structures and buildings. The allowance is available for new structures and buildings intended for commercial use, and the improvement of existing structures and buildings. The SBA will be also available on the cost of converting or renovating existing premises to qualifying use. Relief is limited to the original cost of construction or renovation and given across a fixed 50-year period, at an annual flat rate of 2% regardless of changes in ownership.

Only certain expenditure will qualify. The structures or buildings must be brought into use for qualifying activities. These include trades, professions or vocations and certain UK or overseas property businesses – essentially commercial property lettings.

Relief will be given on eligible construction costs incurred on or after      29 October 2018. Where a contract for the physical construction work is entered into before this date, relief is not available. The consultation on draft legislation is open until 24 April 2019.

Internet links: WMS and Consultation 

MTD FOR VAT

HMRC is phasing in its landmark Making Tax Digital (MTD) regime, which will ultimately require taxpayers to move to a fully digital tax system. Under the new rules, businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) must keep digital records for VAT purposes and provide their VAT return information to HMRC using MTD functional compatible software.

The new rules have effect from 1 April 2019 where a taxpayer has a ‘prescribed accounting period’ which begins on that date, or otherwise from the first day of a taxpayer’s first prescribed accounting period beginning after 1 April 2019. For some VAT-registered businesses with more complex requirements the rules will not have effect until              1 October 2019. Included in the deferred start date category are VAT divisions, VAT groups and businesses using the annual accounting scheme.

The government has confirmed that a light touch approach to penalties will be taken in the first year of implementation. Advising that where businesses are doing their best to comply, no filing or record keeping penalties will be issued as the focus will be on supporting businesses to transition to MTD. The government has confirmed that it will not be mandating MTD for any new taxes in 2020.

Figures published by HMRC show that almost 1.2 million businesses are affected by MTD for VAT.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP, said:

‘In a world where businesses are already banking, paying bills and shopping online, it is important that the tax system moves into the 21st century.’

Internet link: GOV.UK  

CALL FOR TAX ON SOCIAL MEDIA BUSINESSES

A group of MPs has called on the government to tax the profits of social media businesses.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing recently published a report which outlined the impact of social media on the health of young people.

The APPG has suggested creating a Social Media Health Alliance, which would be funded by a 0.5% tax on the profits of social media companies. MPs hope that the money would be used to fund research and help ‘draw up clearer guidance’ on the impact of social media on health and wellbeing.

Internet link: Royal Society for Public Health  

CHANGES TO INCOME TAX FOR 2019/20

The new tax year brings changes to income tax bands and allowances.

The personal allowance is £11,850 for 2018/19 and increases to £12,500 for 2019/20. There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000. The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2018/19 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £123,700. For 2019/20 there is no personal allowance available where adjusted net income exceeds £125,000.

The marriage allowance permits certain couples, where neither pays tax at more than the basic rate, to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner.

The basic rate of tax is 20%. In 2018/19 the band of income taxable at this rate is £34,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £46,350 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance. In 2019/20 the basic rate band increases to £37,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £50,000 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.

Individuals pay tax at 45% on their income over £150,000.

Scottish residents

The tax on income (other than savings and dividend income) is different for taxpayers who are resident in Scotland to taxpayers resident elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish income tax rates and bands apply to income such as employment income, self-employed trade profits and property income.

In 2018/19 and 2019/20 there are five income tax rates which range between 19% and 46%. Scottish taxpayers are entitled to the same personal allowance as individuals in the rest of the UK. The two higher rates are 41% and 46% rather than the 40% and 45% rates that apply to such income for other UK residents. For both 2018/19 and 2019/20, the threshold at which the 41% band applies is £43,430 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.

Welsh residents

From April 2019, the Welsh Government has the right to vary the rates of income tax payable by Welsh taxpayers. The UK government has reduced each of the three rates of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers by 10 pence. The Welsh Government has set the Welsh rate of income tax at 10 pence which will be added to the reduced rates. This means the tax payable by Welsh taxpayers continues to be the same as that payable by English and Northern Irish taxpayers.

Internet links: GOV.UK  GOV.SCOT income tax  GOV.WALES income tax   

HMRC WINS DISGUISED REMUNERATION AVOIDANCE CASE

HMRC has won a legal case over a contractor loan scheme endorsed by Hyrax Resourcing Ltd. As a result, HMRC will now be able to collect more than £40 million in unpaid taxes.

The scheme in question was a disguised remuneration avoidance scheme, which paid users in loans, rather than salaries, to avoid paying income tax and national insurance contributions on earnings.
Hyrax Resourcing Ltd will now be required to disclose details of the tax avoidance scheme, including the names and addresses of 1,180 individuals who used it. Failure to provide the relevant information could result in Hyrax Resourcing Ltd becoming liable for substantial penalties.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP, said:

‘HMRC is cracking down on the unscrupulous promoters who sell these highly contrived tax avoidance loan schemes.

‘Promoters need to take note of this decision and make sure they contact HMRC urgently about schemes they haven’t yet disclosed.’

Internet link: HMRC news