Archive for the ‘News Updates’ Category

Clampdown on child maintenance cheats

Monday, November 6th, 2017

If a parent owes child maintenance, deductions to recover that debt can currently only be made from a bank or building society account held solely by them.

Unfortunately, a small minority of parents are cheating their way out of supporting their children by putting their money into a joint account with a partner.

New laws will be brought in to allow deductions to be made from joint accounts to recover child maintenance arrears.

It is believed that by closing this loophole this could stop many parents getting away with not paying their child maintenance each year – leading to more than £390,000 additional child maintenance being collected.

The recent government’s response to a public consultation on joint account deductions has been published. This sets out how deduction orders against joint accounts will work and the safeguards that will be in place to protect the other holder of the joint account.

These include:

  • a deduction order only being imposed on a joint account when the paying parent does not have their own account, or there is not enough money in their own account
  • only funds belonging to the paying parent being targeted, as before a deduction order is made on a joint account, data on that bank account will be collected and bank statements examined to establish which money in the account belongs to the paying parent
  • existing safeguards already in place for deduction orders for child maintenance will apply to this new power, including the maximum deduction rate on regular orders being set at 40% of the paying parent’s weekly income
  • both account holders will be given the right to make their case before a deduction order is made

The new power will come into effect early next year.

Source: New feed

Carry back charitable donations

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

One of the few remaining options to carry back tax allowable payments to a previous tax year is the facility to set off certain charitable donations made after 5 April 2017, to the tax year 2016-17.

Allowable donations have the effect of extending the amount of income you can earn at the basic rate of income tax – the donations extend the basic rate tax band. This can be a useful planning device if say your income for 2016-17 included a one-off boost that meant you paid higher rate tax (40%), but your income for 2017-18 would only be taxed at basic rate (20%). By carrying back any charitable donations made after 5 April 2017, you would decrease your higher rate tax liability for 2016-17.

You automatically qualify for basic rate income tax relief on your gift aid donations, you effectively pay a net of tax figure to the charity and they reclaim the deemed basic rate tax from HMRC. Accordingly, this carry back option will have no impact on your tax liabilities if you are a basic rate tax payer in both years. The carry back will also have no effect on the charities’ finances.

Taxpayers need to be careful when considering their options as you can only qualify for relief if your tax payments in a year equal or exceed the deemed basic rate tax credits deducted from your donations. HMRC notes confirm:

But for Gift Aid, you can also claim tax relief on donations you make in the current tax year (up to the date you send your return) if you either:

  • want tax relief sooner
  • won’t pay higher rate tax in current year, but you did in the previous year

You can’t do this if:

  • you miss the [filing] deadline (31 January [2018] if you file online [for 2016-17])
  • your donations don’t qualify for Gift Aid – your donations from both tax years together must not be more than 4 times what you paid in tax in the previous year.

If you feel that you may benefit from this strategy we would be delighted to check out the numbers for you.

Source: New feed

Paying self-assessment tax by instalments

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

If you file your 2016-17 self-assessment tax return on or before 30 December 2017, you can elect to spread the repayment of any underpayment of tax for 2016-17 to the tax year 2018-19. This is done by amending your tax code for 2018-19 such that any arrears are repaid by increasing your tax payments each pay period.

There are caveats to the use of this facility, one of which we have already mentioned, that you need to file your 2016-17 return online by 30 December 2017 (if you still file a paper return the filing deadline has passed, 31 October 2017, and so this option would not be available unless you filed prior to this date).

There are two further limitations:

  • You owe less than £3,000 for 2016-17, and
  • You pay tax via PAYE on your employed earnings or on a private pension.

Additionally, you won’t be able to repay outstanding tax via your tax code if:

  • You would pay more than 50% of your PAYE income in tax, or
  • You would be paying more than twice as much tax as you usually do.

If you can use this scheme it would spread your tax repayments over a twelve-month period (6 April 2018 to 5 April 2019).

Source: New feed

Corporation tax payment deadline for March year end companies

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Many companies have adopted the end of March each year as their accounting year end date.

Corporation tax is payable by most smaller companies nine months and one day after the end of their accounts year end. Accordingly, companies that have adopted a 31 March date will need to pay any corporation tax liability for the year to 31 March 2017 on or before 1 January 2018; just a few weeks away.

The same dates also determine the payment of additional corporation tax if certain overdrawn director’s loans (at 31 March 2017) are not repaid before the end of the year. Additional corporation tax due will be based on 32.5% of any applicable director’s or shareholder loans affected by this ruling. The tax can be recovered, but there will be a delay. Repayments cannot be made until the effective payment date for the accounting year during which the loans were cleared. Effectively, if the loans are paid back May 2018, a refund will not be made until 1 January 2020.

Source: New feed

Tax Diary November/December 2017

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

1 November 2017 – Due date for corporation tax due for the year ended 31 January 2017.

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

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

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

1 December 2017 – Due date for corporation tax due for the year ended 29 February 2017.

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

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

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

30 December 2017 – Deadline for filing 2016-17 self-assessment tax returns online to include a claim for under payments to be collected via tax code in 2018-19.

Source: New feed

Room to breathe

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

The government are considering plans to offer people with serious debt issues time to consider their options.

They are seeking views to develop a way to provide individuals in debt with up to six weeks free from further interest, charges and enforcement action. This period would give those affected time to act by seeking financial advice about how to manage and relieve their debt burden.

Solutions that can be considered include:

  • informal repayment plans, and
  • debt write-off options,

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay, said:

For many people in the UK problem debt seems impossible to escape. Its effects can be far-reaching, impacting all aspects of a person’s life and leaving them feeling helpless. That is why we are working to give people who are overwhelmed by debt more time to seek advice, find a workable solution, and help get their lives back on track.

Although many people can and do use credit successfully to manage their personal finances, for the minority who get into difficulties the government now wants to offer more support.

For example, the new scheme could include legal protections that would shield individuals from further creditor action once a plan to repay their debts is in place.

Problem debt, where people are falling behind on their financial repayments or see their debt as a heavy burden, now affects millions of people in the UK. Causes can range from the sudden loss of employment to a more gradual dependence on debt to make ends meet, with many people waiting 12 months or more before seeking help.

A six weeks’ grace period, where those suffering are safe from enforcement action and interest charges, could help give people the time and opportunity to seek debt advice.

The government is committed to getting this right and over the next twelve weeks will be meeting with key industry representatives from charities, debt advice organisations, lenders and creditors.

Source: New feed

Could you claim a tax refund

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

If one party to a marriage or civil partnership has earnings below the personal tax allowance (£11,500 for 2017-18) and their spouse does not pay tax at the higher 40% rate, then they should be claiming the Marriage Allowance.

For 2017-18 this tax break is worth £230 in cash terms.

The allowance was introduced from 6 April 2015 so if you have not claimed in previous tax years you can back-date your claim to include the tax years 2015-16 and 2016-17. Together with the current tax year this should produce a combined tax refund of £662.

You will be eligible to make a claim if all the following conditions apply:

  • You are married or in a civil partnership
  • You currently have no earnings or your income is £11,500 or less
  • Your partner’s current income is between £11,501 and £45,000 (or £43,000 if you’re in Scotland)

It won’t affect your application for Marriage Allowance if you or your partner:

  • are currently receiving a pension
  • live abroad – if you get a Personal Allowance.

Your Personal Allowance will transfer automatically to your partner every year until one of you cancels the Marriage Allowance or your circumstances change, for example because of divorce or death.

According to HMRC, the take-up for this allowance has been slow to gain momentum. Applying is easy enough if you have internet access, the URL is https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/marriage-allowance-application/eligibility-check?_ga=2.13601205.366078670.1508664989-262204862.1487688115

Make sure you have the following information to hand:

You will need you and your partner’s National Insurance numbers. You will also need a way to prove your identity. This can be one of the following:

  • the last 4 digits of the account that your child benefit, tax credits or pension is paid into
  • the last 4 digits of an account that pays you interest
  • details from your P60
  • details from any of your 3 most recent payslips
  • your passport number and expiry date

You’ll get an email confirming your application has been received.

Source: New feed

Gazumping to become a thing of the past

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

The government seems to be taking steps to streamline the process of buying and selling your home. In particular, they are seeking views on ending the practice known as gazumping: where an offer can be accepted and then disregarded when a higher offer is received.

In many countries this is illegal, once an offer is accepted the sale is binding on both parties.

A press release issued 22 October 2017 says:

As part of a continued drive to make the housing market work better, we want to hear from everyone with an interest in home buying including estate agents, solicitors and mortgage lenders.

We want to ensure that we address issues across the whole sector, from ways to tackle gazumping and reduce time wasting to increase commitment to a sale.

Views will be taken on:

  • Gazumping – Buyers are concerned about gazumping, with sellers accepting a higher offer from a new buyer, we will look at ways this could be tackled.
  • Building trust & confidence – Mistrust between parties is one of the biggest issues faced, we want to look at schemes including ‘lock-in agreements’. Although 1 million homes are bought and sold in England each year, around a quarter of sales fall through and hundreds of millions of pounds are wasted, we want to increase confidence in the housing chain
  • Informing customers – How to provide better guidance for buyers and sellers, by encouraging them to gather more information in advance so homes are ‘sale ready’
  • Innovation – You can now search for a home online, but the buying process is too slow, costing time and money so we’re looking for innovative digital solutions including making more data available online

If followed through into legislation this will be a popular change to the present unpredictable process where buyers are in a state of anxiety until formal contracts are exchanged.

Source: New feed

Not so trivial benefits

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

According to HMRC you don’t have to pay tax or NIC on a benefit provided to an employee if:

  • it costs you £50 or less to provide (or the average cost per employee if a benefit is provided to a group of employees and it is impracticable to work out the exact cost per person)
  • it isn’t cash or a cash voucher
  • it isn’t a reward for their work or performance
  • it isn’t in the terms of their contract

Unfortunately, this generous offering does not apply to directors or other office holders or their family. Where the employer is a private company and the benefit is provided to an individual, who is a director or other office holder of the company (or a member of their family or household), the exemption is capped at a total cost of £300 in the tax year.

Even so, by keeping to the rules this does provide a useful tax-free benefit. For directors who pay income tax at higher rates, the £300 annual benefit is equivalent to a taxable income of £500.

It is worth noting the following points:

  • One of the conditions that needs to be satisfied is that the cost of providing the benefit does not exceed £50. If the cost of providing the benefit exceeds £50, the full amount is taxable, not just the excess over £50.
  • In determining the cost of the benefit for the purposes of the exemption, as for benefits in kind more generally, use the VAT inclusive amount.
  • The cost of providing the benefit to each employee and not the overall cost to the employer determines whether the benefit can be treated as a trivial benefit. So, a benefit costing up to £50 per employee whether provided to 1 or more employees can be treated as trivial.
  • Usually it will be obvious what the cost of providing the benefit is. However, on occasions an employer will provide a benefit to a group of employees and it is impracticable to establish what the precise cost is per person. In such cases, when determining whether the monetary limit has been exceeded you should take the average cost per person of providing the benefit.
  • In determining whether the average cost method should be applied, you should apply common sense, bearing in mind the circumstances, in deciding whether it is appropriate.

The following example published by HMRC may be pertinent as we approach the festive season:

Employer D provides each of its employees with a bottle of wine costing £25 at Christmas. However, as an alternative, it provides employees who do not drink alcohol with a £25 gift voucher for a national supermarket chain which they can exchange for an alternative non-alcoholic Christmas gift. Both the bottle of wine and the non-cash gift voucher can be covered by the exemption.

Food for thought?

Source: New feed

Are you lending money to your company

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

There is a whole raft of legislation that seeks to penalise directors and shareholders if they borrow money from their company. These regulations include possible benefit in kind charges for the director/shareholder, and additional corporation tax payments of 32.5% for the company.

In effect, the tax system discourages directors from using their company as a private bank account.

But what happens if the reverse situation occurs and a director/shareholder lends money to their company?

If a company requires long-term funding, this “loan” may be secured by the issue of shares in which case the shareholder may be entitled to a dividend. They would also share in the spoils if the company was subsequently sold or wound-up. Essentially, once capital is locked in to a formal shareholding arrangement, it is difficult for the shareholder to recover their investment without undertaking a complicated, and expensive, legal process.

An alternative approach, is to simply lend money to the company. This is best done by agreeing terms and setting up a formal loan agreement between the company and the person lending the funds. It should set out any terms for repayment, security offered by the company, and most important, any interest that will be paid by the company for the use of the funds.

The last point is significant. Many directors of smaller companies simply deposit funds in their company and take it back when it is no longer required, but they may be missing out on a possible tax-free – albeit small – income stream.

For example, depending on other sources of income, the person lending the money could be entitled to the £1,000 or £500 personal savings allowance. A loan of just £16,000, with an agreed interest rate of say 6%, would generate an annual income for the lender of just under £1,000. If the lender was a basic rate tax payer they would be entitled to the £1,000 tax-free allowance, and the company could deduct the interest payment from their taxable profits.

As always, the devil is in the detail. Please contact us for advice if you are considering a loan to your company or formalising any past loans made.

Source: New feed

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