Archive for the ‘Accountancy’ Category

HMRC outline Making Tax Digital plans

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

HMRC have issued a series of consultation documents outlining further plans for the government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative.

HMRC have published six consultation documents on MTD. The six consultations set out detailed plans on how HMRC propose to make tax digital and to simplify the tax system. The consultations look at the following areas:

  • How digital record keeping and regular updates will operate – this considers compulsory digital record-keeping and quarterly ‘updates’ to HMRC and an End of Year declaration within nine months of the end of the period of account.
  • Options to simplify tax for unincorporated businesses, including changes to basis periods, extending cash basis accounting and reducing reporting requirements for unincorporated businesses.
  • Extending cash basis accounting to unincorporated property businesses.
  • Voluntary pay as you go arrangements, where taxpayers can pay what they want when they want, subject to the normal payment on account rules. Regular direct debit arrangements and quarterly payments on account are also being considered.
  • Changes to tax administration, including changes to the enquiry regime, penalties for late submission of quarterly updates and End of Year declarations and also the late payment of tax.
  • How HMRC will make better use of the information which they currently receive from third parties, including updating of PAYE codes more regularly and coding out of bank interest via PAYE.

Commenting on the plans, Jane Ellison Financial Secretary to the Treasury said:

‘This new system will make the UK’s tax administration more efficient and straightforward and will offer businesses greater clarity when it comes to paying their tax bills.’

However professional bodies have expressed their concerns about HMRC’s proposals. Frank Haskew, Head of the Tax Faculty at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, said:

‘This is not the time to be rushing through fundamental changes to business processes that are likely to result in major upheaval and extra costs, especially when the business benefit to the UK has not been clearly demonstrated.’

Under the Government’s plans, the changes to the tax system will be introduced gradually between 2018 and 2020. We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: GOV.UK MTD

Summer Budget Summary

Monday, July 13th, 2015

In this post we focus on tax changes announced in the Summer 2015 Budget which outlined the tax plans of the new Conservative government to be introduced over the next 5 years.

 

New “National Living Wage” Tax Credit Changes

The most radical announcement by the Chancellor on 8th July was a significant reduction in the amount the government plans to spend on tax credits and other State benefits. At the same time he announced that there would a new national living wage to be paid by employers, rising to £9 an hour by 2020. This strategy combined with the increase in the personal allowance to £11,000 for 2016/17, and eventually £12,500, means that employees will keep more of what they earn but the tax credits received to top up their income will be significantly reduced.

Employers will need to assess the impact of this change on the profitability of their business and we can help you consider this in more detail as there are other factors such the increase in the employment allowance to £3,000 next year and the planned reductions in the corporation tax rate that may also be relevant to your business.

 

Corporation Tax Rate to be cut to 18%

The current UK corporation tax rate of 20% is the lowest rate in the G20, the 20 major trading nations. This rate continues to apply until 2017 when it has been announced that the rate will be reduced to 19% and then 18% in 2020.

This appears to make trading via a limited company more attractive but note that there are significant changes to the taxation of dividends that take effect from 6 April 2016.

 

Changes to Taxation Dividends

The Chancellor has announced that from 6 April 2016 there will no longer be a notional tax credit associated with dividends received and the following rates will apply after a £5,000 tax free dividend allowance:

Basic rate taxpayers – 7 ½%
Higher rate taxpayers – 32 ½%
Additional rate taxpayers – 38.1%

This will mean that from 2016/17 individuals will be able to receive up to £17,000 tax free:

Personal allowance £11,000
Tax free interest £1,000
Tax free dividends £5,000

 

Impact of Changes to Dividend Taxation on Family Companies

A common strategy that we often advise to family company director/shareholders is that they extract profits from their company by way of dividends instead of paying themselves a salary. This is because there are no national insurance contributions on dividend payments and where the dividend income falls within the basic rate band (up to £42,385 for 2015/16) there is currently no income tax on dividends.

Where both husband and wife are directors and shareholders they will be able to pay themselves a salary of £11,000 each and then dividends of £5,000 each tax free. However the next £27,000 of dividends up to the new £43,000 higher rate threshold would be taxed at 7 ½ % resulting in income tax of £2,025 each being payable for 2016/17. Under the current rules there would be no tax on such dividends up to £42,385.

This measure has been introduced to counter tax-motivated incorporation to level the playing field between trading via a company versus an unincorporated business.

Note that dividends received in excess of the £43,000 higher rate threshold will be taxed at 32.5 % but without a notional credit thus increasing the effective rate from the current 25% to 32.5%.

 

 

Annual Investment Allowance set permanently at £200,000

The annual investment allowance (AIA) was due to be reduced from the current temporary level of £500,000 to just £25,000 from 1 January 2016.

The Chancellor has bowed to pressure from industry to stop tinkering with this allowance for expenditure on plant and machinery and set it at a permanent level so that businesses can plan their capital expenditure. He has decided on £200,000 for the new limit and businesses should consider bringing forward expenditure to before 1 January 2016 to benefit from the current higher allowance.

 

 

Buy to Let Landlords – Interest Relief to be Restricted to Basic Rate

The Chancellor announced that the amount of income tax relief landlords can get on residential property finance costs (such as mortgage interest) will be restricted to the basic rate of tax.

To give landlords time to adjust, the change will be phased in gradually over 4 years:

2017/18 – the deduction will be restricted to 75% of finance costs, with 25% being available as a basic rate tax reduction.

2018/19 – 50% finance costs deduction and 50% given as a basic rate tax reduction

2019/20 – 25% finance costs deduction and 75% given as a basic rate tax reduction

From 2020/21 – all financing costs incurred by a landlord will be given as a basic rate tax reduction.

 

Rent a Room Limited increased to £7,500

The current £4,250 limit for tax free rental income from lodgers is to be increased to £7,500 from 6 April 2016. The relief is only available where individuals rent out a room in their main residence and the allowance includes heating and other services provided to the lodger.

 

Pension Tax Relief Restricted for Higher Earners

As mentioned in the Conservative party manifesto, tax relief for pension contributions is to be restricted for those with income in excess of £150,000 a year. We were told that this is intended to fund the increase in the inheritance allowance for passing on the family home.

The current £40,000 pension annual allowance will be reduced by £1 for every £2 of income in excess of £150,000 down to a minimum of £10,000 at £210,000 of income. So, for example, where an individual has income of £170,000 in 2016/17, the £40,000 annual allowance would be reduced to £30,000.

Note also that, as already announced, the pension lifetime allowance is due to be reduced from £1.25 million to £1 million from 6 April 2016 with transitional protection for those with pension savings in excess of the new limit.

The Chancellor also announced in the July Budget that there would be a further review of pension savings and pensions taxation.

Contact us if you need advice on pension planning and how the new pension rules will impact on you personally.

 

Inheritance Tax and the Family Home

As mentioned last month the Chancellor has confirmed the introduction of an additional inheritance allowance that will be available in addition to the current £325,000 nil rate band which will, when fully phased in, allow a couple to pass on the family home tax free up to a value of £1,000,000. The additional allowance, which will also be transferrable to the surviving spouse, will start at £100,000 for 2017/18. The allowance will then increase to £125,000 in 2018/19, £150,000 in 2019/20, and £175,000 in 2020/21.

Unfortunately the Chancellor also announced that the inheritance tax nil rate band will be frozen at £325,000 until 6 April 2021.

The main residence nil band is subject to a taper where the amount being left is more than £2,000,000 with £1 of the family home allowance being lost for every £2 of estate value over £2,000,000. This clawback is based on the value of the estate before reliefs such as business property relief and agricultural property relief and may result in some additional complications and redrafting of Wills.

If this change is likely to affect your family circumstances you may wish to arrange a meeting with us to consider the impact on your Will and your family’s inheritance tax position.

 

Changes Affecting Non-Domiciled Taxpayers

The Chancellor announced a number of important changes to the tax treatment of individuals who are resident but not domiciled in the UK. Such individuals currently benefit from a number of tax advantages such as exemption from UK inheritance tax (IHT) on assets situated outside the UK and in some cases only being taxed on overseas income and gains if those amounts are remitted to the UK.

From April 2017, IHT will be payable on all UK residential property owned by non-domiciles, regardless of their residence status for tax purposes, including property held indirectly through an offshore structure.

From April 2017, individuals who are born in the UK to parents who are domiciled here, will no longer be able to claim non-domicile status whilst they are resident in the UK.

The government will also legislate so that from April 2017 anybody who has been resident in the UK for more than 15 of the past 20 tax years will be deemed to be domiciled in the UK for all tax purposes. This is being reduced from the current 17 year deemed domicile rule for IHT.

Tax Diary – July, August and September

Monday, July 13th, 2015
01-JulCorporation tax for year to 30/9/14
06-JulForms P11D and P11D(b) for 2014/15 tax year, and where appropriate form P9D
06-JulForm 42 – shares issued to employees (see earlier)
19-JulPAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/7/15 (due 22 July if you pay electronically); payment of Class 1A NICs for 2014/15 (22 July if you pay electronically)
31-JulSecond 50% payment on account of self-assessment income tax for 2014/15
01-AugCorporation tax for year to 31/10/14
19-AugPAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/8/15 (due 22 August if you pay electronically).
01-SepCorporation tax for year to 30/11/2014
19-SepPAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/9/15 (due 22 September if you pay electronically).

New additions at Slaters Chartered Accountants

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Slaters Chartered Accountants Exterior Signage
Slaters chartered accountants have appointed new recruit Steve Mastin who joins the practice as a tax assistant. Steve’s appointment follows recent new starter Dave Johnson, who joined the practice as senior accountant, increasing the workforce to a team of 16. Based on London Road in Chesterton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Slaters is currently planning to expand its existing premises to accommodate the growing team.

Steve’s background is in the legal profession, prior to joining Slaters he worked for six years at Manchester law firm Pannone, where he was responsible for managing the personal tax affairs and investment portfolios of more than 300 high-net-worth individuals.

Practice owner Steve Slater said: “Steve’s addition to Slaters’ tax department greatly increases our capacity to offer additional tax services, both personal and business, but it also means that we can provide our existing clients with more of a personal service.”

Senior accountant Dave is responsible for client management, including accounts preparation, company formations and accounts finalisation meetings. He joins Slaters from Stoke-on-Trent solicitors J S Williamson & Co, where he spent eight years as an account senior.

Steve Slater added: “We’ve already started to build a portfolio of clients for Dave to manage. As a qualified certified accountant and a senior member of the team, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his new role, which will be of great benefit to his clients, making their accounts more efficient and ultimately saving them money.

Slaters Chartered Accountants Team Picture“It’s great to see the business grow and everyone at Slaters is looking forward to the new skills that both Steve and Dave can bring.

“I’m personally pleased with how the company is progressing and I’m excited to see our plans for expansion be put into practice later this year. The extended office space will allow us to take on further members of staff; in particular we are hoping to add to our payroll department and also the accounts team.”

 

Slaters Chartered Accountant specialise in supporting all aspects of owner-managed businesses from sole traders to groups of limited companies. Its range of services includes accounts, management accounts, bookkeeping, payroll, VAT and taxation. The team are dedicated to delivering excellent services through a friendly but professional approach.

The Conservatives Tax Policies

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Now that the outcome of the recent election has been confirmed we thought we’d take this opportunity to recap the Conservatives pledges on tax policies.

As announced in the Budget, the Conservative Party promise to increase the tax-free Personal Allowance to £12,500 and the 40p Income Tax threshold to £50,000.
The Conservatives will pass a new law so that nobody working 30 hours on minimum wage pays Income Tax on what they earn. At £8 an hour that would be £240 a week, or £12,480 a year. They also state that there will be no increases in VAT, National Insurance contributions or Income Tax.

The Manifesto states that they will set a new, significantly higher and permanent level for the

The Conservatives also pledged to take the family home out of tax for all but the richest by increasing the effective Inheritance Tax threshold for married couples and civil partners to £1 million, with a transferable main residence allowance of £175,000 per person in addition to the existing £325,000 nil rate band. This will be paid for by reducing the tax relief on pension contributions for people earning more than £150,000.

Let’s see how all of the above pledges transpire over their coming term in power.

New business start ups

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

 This posting lists a few (but not necessarily all) of the tax issues you will need to consider when you are planning a new business:

  1. Get you business registered with HMRC, failure to do this can lead to penalties. If you are incorporating your business, HMRC generally pick up your business registration via their links with Companies House. But if you are aiming to be self employed, as a sole trader or in partnership, you will need to notify HMRC within certain time limits of your commencement date.
  2. In similar vein, if you need to employ staff you must register as an employer with HMRC.
  3. If you intend to register for VAT from the date you commence to trade you can still recover input VAT that you have paid on certain setup costs that you expended prior to the official start date.
  4. If you intend to register your business for VAT could you take advantage of one of HMRC’s special VAT schemes? For example:
  1. Cash accounting: pay over the VAT you have collected on your sales when you are paid by your customer, rather than when you issue your sales invoices. There are turnover limits to registration, but this option can have a significant impact on cash flow if the amounts you are owed is more than the amounts you owe.
  2. Flat rate scheme: using this scheme you calculate the amount you owe as a fixed percentage of your turnover each quarter (including VAT). For smaller businesses, who do not have significant VAT inclusive costs, this scheme can produce additional profits and simplify the calculation of your quarterly returns.
  3. Annual accounting: using this scheme you send in one VAT return a year instead of the usual four. Also for nine months of the year you make agreed payments on account to cover VAT due. The scheme is simple to administer, only one set of calculations per annum, and the monthly payments help to spread the cash flow impact of payments made.
  1. Invest in tax planning. The UK’s tax code is one of the most complex in Europe. We recommend that you take tax planning advice before you start in business and again at certain key moments in your trading year. At the very least you should discuss your trading results with your advisor before the end of your first trading year. It always pays to see what planning options are available before you take action to implement change.

If you are about to set-up a new business please call, we offer a no obligation first appointment to prospective new clients.    

Annual Investment Allowance

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

The most generous tax allowance presently available to businesses that encourages direct investment in new plant, equipment and commercial vehicles, is the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA).

If you buy qualifying assets you can write off the expenditure against your taxable profits in the same accounting period. The present limit to this allowance is generous, £500,000.

The AIA is due to reduce from 1 January 2016, and unless Parliament set a new limit from that date, it will revert to a paltry £25,000.

Consequently, business readers who are contemplating an investment in new plant and equipment should take this AIA into account when making a decision to invest.

Entrepreneurs that stand to gain the greater advantage are the self-employed: sole traders, partnerships and LLPs, who may be faced with income charges at the 40% or 45% rates in the tax year 2015-16.

For incorporated businesses and self-employed traders paying tax at the standard rate of income tax, the tax savings will be limited to 20% of qualifying expenditure.

Certainly, we do not advise making investment decisions based solely on any tax advantages that may flow from the investment. Due regard should be taken of the effects on profitability, cash flow and future business growth.

If you would like to discuss how this relief could benefit your business, we would be happy to discuss your options. Planning for large investments is key. Do not make decisions without considering all the effects. Please call if you would like to discuss these matters in more detail.

Stolen mobile charges to be capped

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Major mobile networks have confirmed plans to introduce protection for consumers from huge bills run-up on stolen mobiles following Government action.

Under the voluntary agreement, five mobile networks – EE, O2, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone – will protect around 27 million consumers on pay monthly contracts from being hit with shock bills through no fault of their own. They will all offer consumers a liability cap set at £100 when reported within 24 hours of being lost or stolen to the mobile network and police.

Ed Vaizey, Minister for the Digital Economy, said:

Protecting hardworking families from shock bills through no fault of their own has been a priority for this government. By working with the mobile operators, we have secured an agreement that will provide consumers with real benefits as well as offer peace of mind.

According to the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) around 300,000 mobiles are reported stolen to the police each year in the UK.

Three has been the first mobile network to introduce this protection for its customers in January 2015. The other operators have now confirmed their plans:

  • EE will introduce in the coming weeks;
  • O2 will introduce the cap by September 2015;
  • Virgin will introduce the cap from 1 July 2015; and
  • Vodafone will introduce the cap this summer.

The protection comes as part of a new Code of Practice that all five mobile operators have signed up to. The code will also help protect consumers themselves from unexpectedly high bills and excessive costs from:

  • Out of bundles charges – by providing clear and transparent pricing information, alerts when they reach data bundle limits or the ability to monitor usage.
  • Roaming – providing information on how to turn off data roaming and avoid roaming charges.
  • Premium Rate Services and in-app purchases – provide barring function so consumers can protect against unauthorised or inadvertently calls to premium rate voice services, and protections against in-app purchases.

Payment in 30 days

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

In a recent speech Business Minister, Matthew Hancock, announced that the government-backed Prompt Payment Code will now promote 30-day terms as standard, with a 60-day maximum limit. Unless signatories can prove exceptional circumstances for longer terms, they will be removed from the Code.

The change will be rigorously enforced by the new Code Compliance Board, which will include people from business representative bodies who will investigate challenges made against signatories to the Code by their suppliers. The Compliance Board will remove signatories found to be in breach of the Code’s principles and standards.

The Prompt Payment Code sets out fair and agreed practices for businesses to follow when dealing with, and paying, their suppliers. More than 1,700 businesses and public authorities have so far committed to these principles, which include paying suppliers within an agreed timeframe and communicating with them effectively.

Business Minister Matthew Hancock said:

“Making small businesses wait an unreasonable time for payment is entirely unacceptable. I know first-hand the great burden that late payment can place on firms – and how it can strain family finances – which is why I am committed to stopping it.

Big companies should lead by example and pay small suppliers within 30 days. I have already written to the FTSE 350 urging them to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code.

Fairer payment practices will help small businesses grow and create jobs. This is a key part of our long-term economic plan to build a better Britain.”

Businesses will be actively encouraged to start complying with the strengthened Prompt Payment Code in the coming weeks. The changes complement the tougher reporting laws in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. These new laws will force the UK’s largest companies to publish their payment terms, increasing transparency and empowering small businesses. The Code Compliance Board will be able to use this data to review the status of signatories to the Code and challenge those that either do not pay their suppliers promptly or insist on excessively long standard terms.

The Prompt Payment Code is a voluntary Code to drive a change in payment culture. It is administered by the CICM on behalf of BIS. More information about the Code can be found at Prompt Payment Code website.

Business plans

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

 

Why you need a business plan 

A business plan is a written document that describes your business. It covers objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts.

 A business plan helps you to:

  • clarify your business idea
  • spot potential problems
  • set out your goals
  • measure your progress

 

You’ll need a business plan if you want to secure investment or a loan from a bank.

It can also help to convince customers, suppliers and potential employees to support you.

Initially, you should aim to convince yourself that your new business idea is feasible. There is no point in approaching your bank or a potential investor, until you have researched and proven that there is a real possibility that you can achieve two key financial objectives:

  1. Make a profit after paying all expected costs, your remuneration or drawings and taxation. Retaining profits in your business year on year will gradually make you independent of banks and provide you with the funds to expand.
  2. Make a decent return on your investment. You should aim to grow your business by an amount that compensates you for the risks you have taken in starting the business. Most new entrepreneurs invest their own cash and you should ensure that your business plan demonstrates that any retained profits, as a percentage of the net assets of your business, is a decent rate.

 

Find a business mentor

Learn from the mistakes and successes of others. See if you can strike up a friendship with someone who has been successful in business. Someone who you can test out your business ideas and achieve a measure of objectivity.

Take professional advice

Most accountants will have assisted numerous businesses in starting up their business. When you have all your facts and figures to hand take them to your professional advisor who will help you put the finishing touches: prepare the actual business plan.