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Thursday 16th March 2017

Spring 2017 Newsletter

The Spring edition of the newsletter leads on changes to the VAT flat rate scheme

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Friday 7th October 2016

Autumn 2016 Newsletter

In this edition there are articles on Brexit, auto enrolment and cyber security for businesses.

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Friday 5th January 2018

The Scottish government announced that they will introduce a new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax relief for first-time buyers.

The Scottish government announced that they will introduce a new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) relief for first-time buyers of properties up to £175,000. The relief will raise the zero tax threshold for first-time buyers from £145,000 to £175,000, and according to the Scottish government 80% of first-time buyers in Scotland will pay no LBTT at all. The Scottish government also announced that first-time buyers buying a property above £175,000 will also benefit from the relief on the portion of the price below the threshold.

The Scottish government announced that they will launch a consultation on the policy before introducing the first-time buyer relief in 2018/19. The relief for first-time buyers paying Stamp Duty Land Tax on first homes in the rest of the UK was introduced from 22 November 2017.

Internet link: GOV.SCOT publication

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Friday 5th January 2018

The Welsh Parliament have announced changes to proposed rates and bands for Land Transaction Tax which is to be introduced in Wales from 1 April 2018.

The Welsh Parliament have announced changes to proposed rates and bands for Land Transaction Tax which is to be introduced in Wales from 1 April 2018.

The rates and bands will be confirmed in January 2018 but details of the proposed rates and bands are included in the following statement.

Internet links: GOV.WALES land-transaction-tax GOV.WALES statement

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Friday 5th January 2018

The government has announced proposals to extend pensions auto enrolment to include younger workers and to amend the way in which contributions are calculated.

The government has announced proposals to extend pensions auto enrolment to include younger workers and to amend the way in which contributions are calculated.

According to the press release:

'The review's recommendations, which will now be progressed and legislated for where necessary, will see:

  • automatic enrolment duties continuing to apply to all employers, regardless of sector and size
  • young people, from 18 years old, benefiting from automatic enrolment, introducing 900,000 young people into saving an additional £800 million through a workplace pension
  • workplace pension contributions calculated from the first pound earned, rather than from a lower earnings limit - this will bring an extra £2.6 billion into pension saving, improving incentives for people in multiple jobs to opt-in, and simplifying the way employers assess their workforces and calculate contributions
  • the earnings trigger remaining at £10,000 for 2018/19, subject to annual reviews
  • contribution levels reviewed after the implementation of the 8% contribution rate in 2019
  • the government testing a series of 'targeted interventions' - including through opportunities to work with organisations who act as 'touch points' for the 4.8 million self-employed people, such as banks and those who contract labour - to explore how technology can be used to increase their pension saving.'

Under auto enrolment, employers are required to automatically enrol all eligible workers (generally employees) into a workplace pension scheme and pay a minimum contribution into their pension. Employees do, however, have the right to opt out of auto enrolment.

Currently workers who are aged between 22 and the State Pension Age with earnings of £10,000 per annum are eligible to be auto enrolled. Younger employees and those who do not meet the minimum income requirement can opt to make pension contributions.

The government plan to reduce the lower age limit to 18 by the mid 2020s, in order to encourage younger workers to get into 'the habit of saving'.

David Gaulke, Work and Pensions Secretary said:

'We are committed to enabling more people to save while they are working, so that they can enjoy greater financial security when they retire. We know the world of work is changing, so it is only right that pension saving does too. This ambitious package will see more people than ever before helped onto the path towards building a secure retirement.'

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

'Requiring employers to contribute from the first pound of earnings will mean that, by 2019, hundreds of thousands of small employers will have to pay up to £180 more per employee each year. 'For employers in certain sectors, such as care and hospitality where margins are tight, this will really add up.'

Contact us if you would like help with payroll and auto enrolment.

Internet links: GOV.UK news FSB press release

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Friday 5th January 2018

With many individuals having tax payments to make at the end of this month it is important to be aware that HMRC have announced that they will no longer accept payments made at the Post Office or by credit card.

With many individuals having tax payments to make at the end of this month it is important to be aware that HMRC have announced that they will no longer accept payments made at the Post Office or by credit card.

HMRC have announced that with effect from 15 December 2017 it will no longer be possible to make payments to HMRC at a post office. The reason for this change is that contract with Santander, which allowed this method of payment, has expired. HMRC are advising that where electronic payment is not possible, payments can still be made at bank branches using a payslip and payments for self assessment income tax can still be posted to HMRC.

From 13 January 2018 it will no longer be possible to pay HMRC using a personal credit card. The timing of this change coincides with the date from which HMRC will no longer be permitted to charge fees for payment by credit card.

Internet link: ICAEW blog

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Friday 5th January 2018

HMRC are urging people to stay safe from a phone scam that is conning elderly and vulnerable people out of thousands of pounds.

HMRC are urging people to stay safe from a phone scam that is conning elderly and vulnerable people out of thousands of pounds.

The scammers are preying on victims by cold calling them and impersonating an HMRC member of staff. They advise the victim that they owe a large amount of tax which they can only pay off by digital vouchers and gift cards, including Apple's iTunes vouchers.

The scam victims are told to go to a local shop, to purchase vouchers, and then read out the redemption codes to the scammer. The conmen then sell on the codes or purchase high value products, all at the victim's expense.

According to HMRC the scammers frequently use intimidation to get what they want, threatening to seize the victim's property or involve the police. The use of vouchers is an attractive scam as they are easy to sell on and hard to trace once used.

HMRC have confirmed that they would never request the settling of debt through such a method.

According to figures from Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud reporting centre, between the beginning of 2016 and August this year there have been over 1,500 reports of this scam, with the numbers increasing in recent months. The vast majority of the victims are aged over 65 and suffered an average financial loss of £1,150 each.

HMRC is working closely with law enforcement agencies, Apple and campaign groups to make sure the public know how to spot the scam and who to report it to.

HMRC's Director General of Customer Services, Angela MacDonald, said:

'These scammers are very confident, convincing and utterly ruthless. We don't want to see anyone fall victim to this scam just before Christmas. That's why we're working closely with crime fighters to ensure taxpayers know how to avoid it.

These scams often prey on vulnerable people. We urge people with elderly relatives to warn them about this scam and remind them that they should never trust anyone who phones them out of the blue and asks them to pay a tax bill. If you think you've been a victim you should contact Action Fraud immediately.'

Internet link: GOV.UK news

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Monday 4th December 2017

At this time of year some employers may wish to make small gifts to their employees.

At this time of year some employers may wish to make small gifts to their employees.

A tax exemption is available which should give employers certainty that the benefits provided are exempt and do not result in a reportable employee benefit in kind. In order for the benefit to be exempt it must satisfy the following conditions:

  • the cost of providing the benefit does not exceed £50 per employee (or on average when gifts made to multiple employees)
  • the benefit is not cash or a cash voucher
  • the employee is not entitled to the voucher as part of a contractual arrangement (including salary sacrifice)
  • the benefit is not provided in recognition of particular services performed by the employee as part of their employment duties
  • where the employer is a 'close' company and the benefit is provided to an individual who is a director, an office holder or a member of their household or their family, then the exemption is capped at a total cost of £300 in a tax year.

If any of these conditions are not met then the benefit will be taxed in the normal way subject to any other exemptions or allowable deductions.

One of the main conditions is that the cost of the benefit does not exceed £50. If the cost is above £50 the full amount is taxable, not just the excess over £50.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 one or more employees can be treated as trivial. Where the individual cost for each employee cannot be established, an average could be used. Some HMRC examples consider gifts of turkeys, a bottle of wine or alternative gift voucher.

Further details on how the exemption will work, including family member situations, are contained in HMRC manual.

However if you are unsure please do get in touch before assuming the gift you are about to provide is covered by the exemption.

Internet link: HMRC manual

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Monday 4th December 2017

The Pensions Regulator is reminding employers that they need to comply with their auto enrolment duties.

The Pensions Regulator is reminding employers that they need to comply with their auto enrolment duties.

Automatic enrolment still applies to temporary staff this Christmas

With the festive season fast approaching, employers may be planning to take on temporary staff to help their business survive the rush. Automatic enrolment applies to these employees in the same way as permanent employees, even if they will only be working for a short time.

Employers will still need to assess temporary staff and auto enrol any eligible employees into a qualifying pension scheme. Once auto enrolled both the employer and employee must make pension contributions.

It is possible to apply postponement to temporary employees, which has the effect of delaying some of the auto enrolment duties, but TPR are warning this must be dealt with correctly.

Are you ready to increase contributions?

TPR are reminding employers that they need to be ready to deal with the increased auto enrolment pension contributions which apply from April 2018. Employers and their employees need to be aware of how the changes will affect them, including checking that the employer's payroll software is compatible.

Guidance is included on TPR website on this issue.  From 6 April 2018, the minimum contributions employers and staff pay into their automatic enrolment pension goes up to 2% for employers and 3% for employees. This increase has been planned since automatic enrolment started. Further increases in rates are scheduled for April 2019.

Please contact us if you would like any help with auto enrolment duties.

Internet links: TPR increase in contributions TPR irregular

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Monday 4th December 2017

The government have announced a delay to the roll out of tax free childcare which was expected to be fully implemented by the end of the year.

The government have announced a delay to the roll out of tax free childcare which was expected to be fully implemented by the end of the year. From 24 November 2017 the service is available to parents whose youngest child is under 6 or who has their 6th birthday on that day. Parents can apply online through the childcare service which can be accessed via the Childcare Choices website.

In April 2017, HMRC started rolling out the childcare service via a single website through which parents can apply for both 30 hours free childcare and Tax-Free Childcare. The roll out started with parents of the youngest children first. HMRC acknowledge that over the summer some parents didn't receive the intended level of service when using the website and that they have subsequently made significant improvements. For those parents who have had difficulties in accessing the service, compensation may be available: see childcare service compensation.

Over the coming months, HMRC will gradually open the childcare service to parents of older children, whilst continuing to make further improvements to the system. HMRC hope this strategy of managing the volume of applications will result in prompt eligibility responses when parents apply, with 'almost all parents receiving a response within five working days, and most getting their decision instantly'.

All eligible parents will be able to apply by the end of March 2018. Parents will be able to apply for all their children at the same time, when their youngest child becomes eligible.

Tax-Free Childcare is the new government scheme to help working parents, both employed and self employed, with the cost of childcare. For every £8 a parent pays in, the government will pay in an extra £2. Parents can receive up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare costs making a total amount of £10,000. Higher limits of £4,000 and £20,000 apply for disabled children.

To qualify for Tax-Free Childcare parents and partners in the household must generally meet a minimum income level of on average £120 a week and each earn less than £100,000 a year.

The scheme will eventually be available for children up to the age of 12, or 17 for children with disabilities. Those eligible will be able to apply for all their children at the same time.

Employer Supported Childcare, usually by way of childcare vouchers, will remain open to new entrants until April 2018 to support the transition between the schemes and it will continue to be available for current members if they wish to remain in it or they can switch to the new scheme. It is not possible to benefit from both Employer Supported Childcare and Tax Free Childcare at the same time.

Internet link: Tax free childcare for under 6

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Monday 4th December 2017

The Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his first Autumn Budget on Wednesday 22 November 2017.

The Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his first Autumn Budget on Wednesday 22 November 2017. Some of the key announcements are set out below. 

Increased limits for knowledge-intensive companies

The government will legislate to encourage more investment in knowledge-intensive companies under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs). The government will: 

  • double the limit on the amount an individual may invest under the EIS in a tax year to £2 million from the current limit of £1 million, provided any amount over £1 million is invested in one or more knowledge-intensive companies
  • raise the annual investment limit for knowledge-intensive companies receiving investments under the EIS and from VCTs to £10 million from the current limit of £5 million. The lifetime limit will remain the same at £20 million, and
  • allow knowledge-intensive companies to use the date when their annual turnover first exceeds £200,000 in determining the start of the initial investing period under the permitted maximum age rules, instead of the date of the first commercial sale.

The changes will have effect from 6 April 2018. This measure is subject to normal state aid rules.

Proposed changes to Entrepreneurs' Relief

The government will consult on how access to ER might be given to those whose holding in their company is reduced below the normal 5% qualifying level as a result of raising funds for commercial purposes by means of issues of new shares thus diluting their holding. Allowing ER in these circumstances would incentivise entrepreneurs to remain involved in their businesses after receiving external investment.

This proposal is welcome and addresses a particular problem which can arise. ER broadly requires a holding of 5% of the ordinary share capital. It may be that significant external investment is made which would reduce the holding to below 5%.

Improving Research and Development (R&D)

A number of measures have been announced to support business investment in R&D including:

  • an increase in the rate of the R&D expenditure credit which applies to the large company scheme from 11% to 12% where expenditure is incurred on or after 1 January 2018
  • a pilot for a new Advanced Clearance service for R&D expenditure credit claims to provide a pre-filing agreement for three years
  • a campaign to increase awareness of eligibility for R&D tax credits among SMEs
  • working with businesses that develop and use key emerging technologies to ensure that there are no barriers to them claiming R&D tax credits.

Business rates

Business rates have been devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The business rates revaluation took effect in England from April 2017 and resulted in significant changes to the amount of rates that businesses will pay. In light of the recent rise in inflation, the government will provide further support to businesses including:

  • bringing forward the planned switch in indexation from RPI to CPI to 1 April 2018
  • legislating retrospectively to address the so-called 'staircase tax'. Affected businesses will be able to ask the Valuation Office Agency to recalculate valuations so that bills are based on previous practice backdated to April 2010.

SDLT relief for first time buyers

The government has announced that first time buyers paying £300,000 or less for a residential property will pay no Stamp Duty Land Tax.

First time buyers paying between £300,000 and £500,000 will pay SDLT at 5% on the amount of the purchase price in excess of £300,000. First time buyers purchasing property for more than £500,000 will not be entitled to any relief and will pay SDLT at the normal rates.

The new rules apply to transactions with an effective date (usually the date of completion) on or after 22 November 2017. This measure does not apply in Scotland as this is a devolved tax. This measure will apply in Wales until 1 April 2018, when SDLT will be devolved to Wales.

Our full report on the Autumn Budget can be found here.

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Monday 4th December 2017

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 December 2017.

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 December 2017. 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 December 2017 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc - 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 21p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc - 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 14p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc - 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 13p

HMRC guidance states that the rates only apply when you either:

  • reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars
  • require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

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

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

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