Archive for May, 2017

Possible bonus when you register for VAT

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Businesses are required to register for VAT purposes when their annual taxable turnover exceeds £85,000 (this limit applies from 1 April 2017). You will not have to account for VAT on your taxable sales up to the date you are required to register, but interestingly, you may be able to claim back VAT you have paid out on purchases of goods, services and equipment, prior to the VAT registration date.

 

Accordingly, if you started a new business and were not required to register for VAT straight away, the first thing you should do when you do register is to explore the possibility that you can recover VAT you have paid on past purchases.

There’s a time limit for backdating claims for VAT paid before registration. From your date of registration, the time limit is:

  • 4 years for goods you still have, or that were used to make other goods you still have
  • 6 months for services

You can only reclaim VAT on purchases for the business now registered for VAT. They must relate to your ‘business purpose’. This means they must relate to VAT taxable goods or services that you supply.

Complications can arise if you have acquired assets prior to registration. There is an argument that any attempt to recover VAT on the purchase of equipment, vans etc. prior to VAT registration, should be restricted for any contribution the assets will have made to sales prior to registration, but it is not impossible to recover a proportion of the VAT charged.

You should make a claim on your first VAT Return (add them to your Box 4 figure) and keep records including:

  • invoices and receipts
  • a description and purchase dates
  • information about how they relate to your business now

If your pre-registration purchases and other costs are significant, this facility can produce a reasonable cash flow benefit. Please call if you would like our help to assess any possible claim you could make, in particular, the recovery of VAT paid on the purchase of pre-registration equipment. We can also advise how to make the correct entries in your accounts software, if you use this to file your VAT return.

Source: New feed

Do you use your car for business purposes

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Many employees use their own cars to undertake journeys for their employers. In most cases, employers will pay for this. Generally, they will pay a rate per mile.

HMRC consider this type of mileage payment as tax exempt as long as the rate per mile paid does not exceed a certain amount. Currently, the tax-free rates for cars are:

  • 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles in a tax year, and
  • 25p per mile for any additional miles in excess of 10,000.

The same rates per mile apply if you use your own van for business travel.

It is also possible to claim up to 24p per mile for the use of a motorbike and 20p per mile for the use of a bicycle. In both these cases there is no break point at 10,000 miles – you can claim these rates however many business miles you undertake.

Complications arise if you are paid more or less than these agreed rates per mile.

Are you paid more than the approved rates?

If you are paid more, any excess will be treated as a benefit and you will have to pay tax on the difference. Generally, this will be adjusted on the tax code that your employer uses to work out your weekly/monthly tax deduction from salary/wages.

Are you paid less than the approved rates?

If you are paid less than the approved rates per mile, you can claim the difference as a deduction from your taxable income. It’s called Mileage Allowance Relief (MAR).

Consider Jane, who undertook 2,000 business miles for her employer, but was only paid 35p per mile. She can claim 2,000 times 10p (45p – 35p) or £200 against her taxable income.

You will need to advise HMRC of any claim in order to get your tax reduced. If you pay no tax (if your income is below the current personal allowance – £11,000 for 2016-17) there is no tax to recover so a claim is inappropriate.

Your employer can also pay you up to 5p per mile if you carry a passenger as part of your business trip. Again, any payment in excess of this rate will be taxable, but payments of less than 5p per mile cannot be claimed as tax relief.

Source: New feed

Changes to taxable benefits from April 2017

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

The good news, the way in which benefits in kind are taxed – company cars, mobile phones, etc. – is unchanged for the tax year just ended, to 5 April 2017. Consequently, you can expect your tax position regarding any benefits you enjoy to be unchanged for 2016-17; as long as the benefits themselves have not changed.

Unfortunately, from April 2017, the taxman is tightening his grip, and many tax-free benefits will be taxed as if they were part of your salary – this will increase the combined income tax and National Insurance charges in many cases.

A number of benefits are not affected, and will continue to be classified as tax exempt. They are:

  • Cars with emissions between 0 and 75g CO2 per kilometre.
  • Childcare vouchers.
  • Workplace nurseries.
  • Employer pension contributions and pensions advice.
  • Cycles and safety equipment under the cycle to work scheme.
  • Intangible benefits that are not taxed, such as additional annual leave or flexible working hours.
  • Counselling and other outplacement services on termination.
  • Retraining courses.

It is fine for employers to continue providing other benefits after 5 April 2017, but there will no longer be any tax or National Insurance benefit in doing so – in other words, the benefits will be treated as if they were part of salary.

As always, when these changes occur there are transitional arrangements, a delay in the date on which the full tax and National Insurance charges will apply from. Where an arrangement is already in place on 6 April 2017, existing legislation will continue until the sooner of:

  • When the arrangements are varied, renegotiated, revised or renewed (including auto-renewal), and
  • 6 April 2021 for cars, vans, fuel, accommodation or school fees, or
  • 6 April 2018 for any other benefit.

Source: New feed

Damage limitation

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

The phrase “in-limbo” comes to mind when describing the present outlook for businesses in the UK. What will be the outcome of the June election? What will be the outcome of the withdrawal from the EU?

We will all likely be affected. If not directly involved in trade with Europe, we are possibly part of the downward supply chain.

What to do?

First of all, damage limitation planning may be appropriate. If part of your export sales are with Europe, or with firms who supply goods or services to Europe, there is an increased risk that your future prospects may be negatively affected post Brexit. Accordingly, you could:

  • See what opportunities there are to seek out new markets outside the EU.
  • Collaborate with customers who are dependent on EU sales to make joint approaches to non-EU markets.
  • What government assistance is available?
  • Take a fresh look at investment decisions to see if it would be more prudent to retain liquidity, or reduce borrowings to meet any future financial challenges.

It would also be illuminating to prepare realistic financial forecasts based on various what-if criteria.

There are compelling reasons for being prepared and the present hiatus may be that quiet period before the storm that gives us the space to do just that. Businesses that have concerns should face their anxieties head-on, and we can help.

Source: New feed

What is the current tax position when dividends are taken

Monday, May 15th, 2017

One of the most useful ways for owner directors of small companies to reduce their overall tax and NIC costs is to pay themselves a reduced salary – just enough to maintain their State benefits entitlements – and take any balance of remuneration in the form of tax efficient benefits and dividends.

Government has changed the rules regarding the sacrifice of salary in exchange for benefits, so this particular tax planning strategy has shorter legs, however, the advantages of dividends as a tax efficient remuneration strategy remains; albeit with reducing benefits in future tax years.

Why is this?

Dividends are not a cost. They don’t reduce the amount of profit assessable to corporation tax. Rather, dividends are a distribution of profits after corporation tax has been deducted. Presently, company reserves available for distribution in this way have already suffered a potential 19% corporation tax charge. Accordingly, only 81% remains. This can be retained to finance future investment, or accumulated as a rainy-day fund to see you through more difficult trading periods, or it is available to distribute to shareholders as dividends.

Consequently, the withdrawal of dividends creates no tax consequences for the company, but it can create income tax bills for shareholders.

For 2017-18, the following rules apply. Shareholders will pay:

  • No tax on the first £5,000 of dividends received from all sources.
  • 7.5% tax on any dividends that form part of their basic rate band.
  • 32.5% tax on any dividends that form part of their higher rate band, and
  • 38.1% tax on any dividends that form part of their additional rate band.

If the missing parts of the Finance Bill 2017 are reintroduced after the June election, the £5,000 tax-free allowance is being reduced to £2,000 from April 2018.

The arguments in favour of the low salary high dividend approach for owner directors of small companies is well known and in most cases, an appropriate, and acceptable, tax planning strategy. Unfortunately, every person’s tax affairs are unique, and whilst the generalisations made above hold good for most shareholder directors, what is less clear – and should not be generalised – is the best-fit strategy to suit your particular circumstances.

The tax regime for dividends looks to be hardening in future years, so if you haven’t discussed your options recently, a conversation is probably overdue; and of course, we can help.

Source: New feed

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.

Source: New feed

Change in accounts filing for small companies

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Small companies are required to file a copy of their end of year accounts with Companies House. In the past, it has been possible to file abbreviated accounts – basically, a few notes and a Balance Sheet with very little data regarding profitability – for smaller companies this has restricted the amount of financial information available in the public domain, and thus, their exposure to competitors.

 

For accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2016, the format of accounts that will need to be filed has changed. An announcement posted to the gov.uk website is reproduced below:

If you’re a small company, you have 4 options for filing your accounts:

Micro-entity accounts

You must meet at least 2 of the following:

  • turnover is no more than £632,000
  • balance sheet total is no more than £316,000
  • average number of employees is no more than 10

Abridged accounts

You must meet at least 2 of the following:

  • turnover is no more than £10.2 million
  • balance sheet total is no more than £5.1 million
  • average number of employees is no more than 50

Full accounts with us and HMRC

These joint accounts are suitable for small companies who are audit exempt and need to file full accounts to us and HMRC. You can also file your tax return with HMRC at the same time.

Dormant company accounts

These accounts are suitable for companies limited by shares or by guarantee that have never traded and can be filed using our WebFiling Service.

We will be considering these options in the coming months and making recommendations to clients based on their available options.

Source: New feed

Under 4 year olds now eligible for tax-free childcare

Friday, May 5th, 2017

The government have issued the following press release regarding the roll-out of the new tax-free childcare scheme:

From 21 April 2017, working parents can start applying for two new government childcare schemes launching this year – Tax-Free Childcare which begins immediately and 30 hours free childcare which starts in September.

This means that working parents of children, who will be aged under 4 on 31 August 2017, can now apply through the new digital childcare service for Tax-Free Childcare and receive a government top-up of £2 for every £8 that they pay into their Tax-Free Childcare account. All parents of disabled children (under 17 years old) will also be able to apply for Tax-Free Childcare from today.

In addition, parents of 2-3 year olds, who will be eligible for a 30 hours free childcare place in September, can apply through the childcare service and start arranging a place with their childcare provider.

The Childcare Choices website provides information on the government’s childcare schemes and explains how parents can pre-register or apply. It also includes a childcare calculator to show eligible families how much they could receive.

For parents across the UK, Tax-Free Childcare will cut childcare costs by up to £2,000 per year for each child under 12 years old, or £4,000 per year for disabled children under 17 years old. The programme will be rolled out through the year, with all eligible parents able to receive it by the end of 2017.

From September, working parents of three and four-year-olds living in England will also be entitled to the new 30 hours free childcare offer, worth around £5,000 per child. Parents will only need to make a single application for both schemes when their children become eligible.

Source: New feed

Finance Bill reduced

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

In order to ensure that the Finance Bill 2017, introduced March 2017, is passed before the impending general election, huge chunks of the original, published bill have been removed. In the national press this has been referred to as a “wash-up”.

Significant legislation has been side-lined in the process. For example, the following charging provisions have been removed:

  1. Rules to introduce the further digitisation of tax payer records by requiring that certain sectors of the self-employed will need to upload quarterly data to HMRC from April 2018, all unincorporated businesses by April 2019. The so-called, Making Tax Digital processes.
  2. The reduction of the tax-free dividend allowance from £5,000 to £2,000 from April 2018.
  3. Many of the anti-avoidance, counter legislation changes.
  4. The reduction in the pensions money purchase allowance.

The national press is keen to speculate that some or all of these removed clauses will not be reintroduced after the election. Much will depend on who wins the election, but if Mrs May re-enters Downing Street, a second Finance Bill for 2017, to represent the missing clauses, seems likely.

Like so much in politics these days, we will have to wait until the ink has dried on the voting slips, and the count completed, before the re-introduced legislation or new tax changes are considered.

Business owners are to some extent in limbo as the Making Tax changes, although heavily promoted by HMRC, are now without charging provisions in the Taxes Acts. Many businesses, and their advisors, are presently trialling the electronic upload of data to HMRC, so it is difficult to see that this entire raft of legislation will be permanently withdrawn. We will have to wait and see.

Source: New feed

Tax Diary May/June 2017

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

1 May 2017 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 July 2016.

19 May 2017 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 May 2017. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 May 2017)

19 May 2017 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 May 2017.

19 May 2017 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 May 2017 is payable by today.

31 May 2017 – Ensure all employees have been given their P60s for the 2016-17 tax year.

1 June 2017 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 August 2016.

19 June 2017 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 June 2017. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 June 2017)

19 June 2017 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 June 2017.

19 June 2017 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 June 2017 is payable by today.

Source: New feed

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