Select Page

Back to the office

Back_to_the_office

Back to the office

Now that the ‘work from home if you can’ guidance has been lifted, employees are returning to the office. If, following their return, you allow employees to keep their homeworking equipment for personal use, there may be tax consequences to consider.

Employer-provided equipment

If you provided homeworking equipment to your employees to enable them to work from home, no tax charge arose on the provision of the equipment, as long as you retained ownership of it. However, there may be tax to pay if you allow the employee to keep the equipment for their personal use when they no longer need it to work from home. The nature of the tax charge depends on whether ownership of the equipment is transferred to the employee.

Ownership transferred

A tax charge will arise if you transfer ownership of the equipment to the employee, unless the employee pays at least the market value for the equipment. The amount charged to tax is the market value at the date of the transfer, less any amount paid by the employee.

No transfer of ownership

If, instead, you retain ownership of the equipment but allow the employee to use it for their personal use, the tax charge is based on the ‘annual value’ of the equipment. This is 20% of the market value of the equipment at the date on which it is first made available for the employee’s personal use.

You may have chosen to adopt a flexible working policy under which employees continue to work from home some of the time. Where this is the case, as long as the homeworking equipment remains available predominantly to allow the employee to work from home, no tax charge will arise on insignificant private use.

Employer-reimbursed equipment

At the start of the pandemic, many employees were required to work from home at very short notice. In many cases, it was easier for the employee to buy the equipment that they needed to work from home, and claim the cost back from the employer.

If you took this route and reimbursed employees for the cost of homeworking equipment, as long as the ownership of the equipment was not transferred to you, there is no tax to pay if the employee retains the equipment for personal use when they return to the workplace.

Contact us

If you are unsure whether a tax charge arises in respect of retained homeworking equipment when your employees return to the office, please get in touch to discuss this with us.

NMW reminder for summer staff

NMW_reminder_for_summer_staff

NMW reminder for summer staff

If you take on temporary staff over the summer, you will need to pay them at least the National Living or Minimum Wage appropriate to their age.

Workers aged 23 and over

Workers aged 23 and over are entitled to be paid at least the National Living Wage (NLW). This is set at £8.91 per hour.

Workers under the age of 23

Workers under the age of 23 are not entitled to the NLW; instead, you must pay them at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for their age. This is set at £8.36 per hour for workers aged 21 and 22, at £6.56 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20, and at £4.62 per hour for workers aged under 18 but over school leaving age.

Get in touch

Talk to us if you are unsure whether you are complying with the National Minimum Wage rules.

Collection of tax debts after COVID-19

Collection_of_tax_debts_after_COVID-19

Collection of tax debts after COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, HMRC paused much of their debt collection work, both to divert resources to administering the various COVID-19 support schemes and to help taxpayers whose finances were adversely affected by the pandemic. However, as the country emerges from the Coronavirus crisis, HMRC have restarted their tax debt collection work and will be contacting taxpayers who have fallen behind with their payments.

Talk to HMRC

If you have unpaid tax debts and HMRC contact you to discuss those debts, the best course of action is to speak to them to agree a repayment plan. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, and HMRC may start enforcement proceedings against taxpayers who ignore their attempts to contact them.

Pay if you can

If you have outstanding tax debts and are able to pay them, HMRC’s expectation is that you will. In assessing your ability to pay, HMRC will expect you to make use of the various COVID-19 finance schemes, such as the Recovery Loan Scheme, to raise the necessary funds. If you need time to arrange the finance, HMRC may offer a short-term deferral of your tax debt. If this is agreed, HMRC will not take any action until that period had elapsed, and you will not need to make any payments during the deferral period.

Time-to-pay arrangements

If you are unable to clear your outstanding tax debts in full, you may be able to agree a time-to-pay arrangement with HMRC.

There is no standard agreement; time-to-pay arrangements are based on an individual’s circumstances. HMRC will establish your ability to pay by looking at your income and expenditure. They will also want to know why you are struggling to pay, and what action you have taken to try and pay some or all of the bill.

Enforcement action

If you do not pay your outstanding tax debts or come to an agreement with HMRC to pay what you owe in instalments, from September 2021, HMRC may use their enforcement powers to collect tax that is owed to them. Avenues available to them include taking control of goods, summary warrants and court action, including insolvency proceedings.

While HMRC will, where possible, aim to support viable businesses, if a business has little chance of recovery, HMRC will take action to recover any tax that they are owed.

Talk to us

If you have tax debts that you are struggling to pay, speak to us. We can help you agree a repayment plan with HMRC.

EU e-commerce package for VAT

EU_e-commerce_package_for_VAT

EU e-commerce package for VAT

The EU e-commerce package came into effect on 1 July 2021. It introduced reforms in respect of the movement of goods from Northern Ireland to the EU and imports of low value goods into the EU or Northern Ireland.

Who is affected?

The changes will affect you if you:

  • sell or supply goods from Northern Ireland to non-VAT registered customers in the EU;
  • make supplies of goods from the EU to non-VAT registered customers in Northern Ireland;
  • send low value goods to Northern Ireland or the EU from Great Britain or elsewhere outside the EU and Northern Ireland; or
  • are a non-EU business with goods located in Northern Ireland at the point of sale.

New distance selling threshold

A new pan-European distance selling threshold of €10,000 (£8,818) applies from 1 July 2021.

The new distance selling threshold will apply to you if you are a business selling goods to consumers based in Northern Ireland. You will fall within the scope of the rules if the annual value of your sales of goods across the EU exceeds this level. There is no need to take account of sales of services as these do not count towards the threshold.

One Stop Shop

A new One Stop Shop (OSS) has been introduced to prevent businesses falling within the scope of the rules from having to register in each EU member state in which they have customers. If you are a Northern Irish business selling goods in excess of the new €10,000 threshold to EU consumers, you can register for the OSS, rather than registering for VAT in each member state in which you have customers. Registering with the OSS is optional, but it will enable you to declare and pay VAT for EU goods quarterly via one online portal. You can register either in the UK or in a member state with which you do business. If you register in the UK, you will need to be registered for UK VAT, even if your turnover is below the VAT registration threshold.

Low value consignment relief

Low Value Consignment Relief (which provided an exemption from import VAT for consignments of goods valued at less than €22 which were sold online to customers in the EU) was abolished with effect from 1 July 2021. This means that if you sell goods online to EU customers, you will now need to pay import VAT in the country in which the customer is based.

Import One Stop Shop (IOSS)

The Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) was introduced from 1 July 2021. The IOSS, which can only be used for consignments valued at €150 (£135) or less, allows registered businesses to collect the import VAT on business-to-customer (B2C) orders at the point of sale. If you do not register to use the IOSS, VAT will be collected on importation into the EU, as for high value consignments.

If your business is established outside the EU, to use the IOSS, you will need to appoint an intermediary to act on your behalf. This will be the case if your business is established in the UK.

Online marketplaces

The package also introduces new rules for supplies made to online marketplaces importing goods into the EU and Northern Ireland. These are similar to the rules that have applied for imports into Northern Ireland from outside the UK and the EU since 1 January 2021.

We can help

We can help you understand what the reforms mean for you, and what you need to do. We can also explain how the rules apply to you if you use an online marketplace to import goods.

Reporting SEISS payments on your tax return

Reporting_SEISS_payments_on_your_tax_return

Reporting SEISS payments on your tax return

If you have received one or more grants under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), it is important that you report the payments correctly on your tax return.

2020/21 self-assessment tax return

SEISS grants that were received in the 2020/21 tax year (i.e., between 6 April 2020 and 5 April 2021) should be reported on your 2020/21 self-assessment tax return, regardless of the date to which you prepare your accounts. The return must be filed online by midnight on 31 January 2022 (or by 31 October 2021 if you file a paper return). The first three grants under the scheme were paid in the 2020/21 tax year.

If you have already filed your 2020/21 tax return, HMRC may adjust your return if the information that they hold on the SEISS payments that have been made to you does not match what is shown on your return.

How to report SEISS payments

Grant payments received under the SEISS should not be included in turnover. Instead, they should be reported separately on the 2020/21 tax return in the box for Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grants. The location of the box depends on which self-assessment tax return is completed. It can be found:

  • on page 2 of the ‘other tax adjustments’ section on the self-employment pages (SA103F) of the full return;
  • in the ‘other tax adjustments’ section of the self-employment (short) page (SA103S);
  • on page 2 of the ‘trading or professional profits’ section of the partnership return; and
  • in section 3.10A of the SA200 short tax return.

HMRC corrections

HMRC will check the SEISS grants payments reported in the return against their records of the grants that have been paid to you.

If you have already submitted your 2020/21 tax return, and the amount of the SEISS payments that you reported on your return did not tally with HMRC’s records, HMRC will adjust your return to match their records and they will send you a revised tax calculation.

It is advisable that you check the figures on HMRC’s revised calculation against your records of the grants received. You can check the amounts that you have received either by logging into the SEISS claims service or against your bank statements for the account into which the payments were made.

If you do not agree with HMRC’s revised figures, you should contact their Coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline for businesses and self-employed people.

Failure to report SEISS payments

If you received one or more grants under the SEISS in 2020/21 and do not include them on your self-assessment tax return for that year, HMRC will adjust your return to reflect the payments and send you a revised tax calculation. As a result, you may find that you owe more tax than you expected, have an unexpected tax bill, or that the tax repayment you were expecting is reduced.

SEISS payments reported in the wrong box

If you included SEISS payments in your 2020/21 tax return, but did not enter the amount that you received in the designated box, for example, because you included it in turnover or entered it in one of the ‘other income’ boxes, you will need to amend your self-assessment tax return so that the grants are entered in the correct box and removed from the wrong box. If you do not do this, the grant income will be assessed twice, as HMRC will adjust the return to enter details of grants received in the correct box (but will not remove the income from elsewhere in the return). 

Failure to complete a self-employment or partnership page

To qualify for the SEISS grants for 2020/21, you had to be trading in that tax year. If you have not completed a self-assessment or partnership page, HMRC will assume that you were not trading, and therefore ineligible for the grants. Consequently, they will seek to recover any grants that were paid to you.

If you were trading, but omitted to complete the relevant pages, you should amend your tax return to reflect this.

Appeal if you disagree with HMRC’s adjustments

If you do not agree with the changes that HMRC have made to your tax return in respect of your SEISS grant payments, you can appeal. However, you must do this within 30 days of the date on the SA302 letter advising you of the changes that they have made to your return.

HMRC have not yet taken account of changes that were made to 2020/21 tax returns before 19 June 2021. If you corrected your return before that date, you do not need to contact HMRC as they will process the amendments separately.

Speak to us

Contact us if HMRC have adjusted the SEISS payments reported in your 2020/21 tax return. We can help you check whether the figures are correct, and take action if they are not.

Accessing the Government Gateway

Accessing_the_Government_Gateway

Accessing the Government Gateway

From 15 June 2021, all businesses and organisations will need multi-factor authentication in order to sign into the Government Gateway.

Multi-factor authentication

Businesses and organisations that use HMRC’s online services and which do not currently receive an access code by text or voice call, or direct to an authenticator app, will need to add a device, such as their mobile phone number, to their Government Gateway account in order to be able to sign in. Once a device has been added, you will receive an access code every time you sign in. The changes are being made to further protect Government Gateway accounts from fraud.

You do not need to do anything until the next time that you sign in. At this point you will be asked to add your new device.

Already have multi-factor authentication?

If you already have multi-factor authentication on your business’s or organisation’s Government Gateway account, nothing will change. You can continue to sign in as usual, receiving your access code in the normal way.

Additional users

If your business or organisation needs to allow employees to access your Government Gateway account, this can be done using multi-factor authentication. To do this, use the administrator and assistant functionality in your Business Tax Account to create additional users. Each user will have their own multi-factor authentication, and will need an access code to sign in.

Individuals and agents

The changes do not apply to individuals accessing their own account, or to agents.

Talk to us

Contact us to find out how to set up and use your Government Gateway account.

Paying CJRS grants back

Paying_CJRS_grants_back

Paying CJRS grants back

As the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) enters its final months, now is the time to review grants that you have claimed under the scheme, and pay back any amounts claimed in error. You may also choose to repay voluntarily funding that you have received under the scheme if your business does not need it. Some notable large companies in the retail and hospitality sectors have opted to do this.

Recap: CJRS

The CJRS allows employers to claim grants to pay employees who are furloughed or flexibly furloughed. Under the scheme, the employee must be paid 80% of their usual pay for their unworked hours, subject to a cap of £2,500 a month or equivalent. The employer can claim some or all of this back from the Government under the CJRS. If the amount that you have claimed is less than the amount you need to pay the employee (as will be the case for July, August and September 2021), you must make up the shortfall.

Repayment options

If you have claimed too much or you want to make a voluntary repayment, you can either:

  • correct the overpayment in your next claim; or
  • get a payment reference from HMRC and repay the money within 30 days.

HMRC have published guidance which explains how to make a repayment.

Making a correction in your next claim

If you still have employees who are furloughed or flexibly furloughed and you will be making another claim under the CJRS, you can correct the overclaim when you do your next claim. If you have another claim to make, you should adjust that claim rather than making a repayment direct to HMRC.

To correct an overclaim, you should initially work out your next claim as usual. If you are sending a file containing your claim details, you should prepare this as normal without taking account of the amount overclaimed.

You will then need to work out the amount you have overclaimed, and deduct this from the amount that you are claiming this time. The result is the amount that you will need to enter in the ‘claim amount’ box on the claim form. You will also need to enter the amount that you have overclaimed in the ‘overclaim’ box. For example, if you are making a claim for July 2021 for £20,000 and you have realised that you overclaimed £2,000 for June 2021, you will need to enter ‘£18,000’ in the claim box. This is the net amount that you are claiming for July 2021 after adjusting for the overclaim. You will also need to enter ‘£2,000’ in the overclaim box.

Paying HMRC back

You should only make a payment direct to HMRC if you do not have further claims to make and are not able to repay the amount that you owe by adjusting a subsequent claim. Before making a payment, you will need to get a payment reference from the online service. It is important that you use the correct reference.

Payments can be made to the following HMRC account using faster payments, CHAPS or Bacs:

  • sort code: 08 32 10;
  • account number: 12001039;
  • account name: HMRC Cumbernauld.

Payments can also be made by debit card or using a corporate credit card (but not a personal credit card).

Deadlines

If you have overclaimed, you must tell HMRC by the later of:

  • 90 days after the date on which you received the money to which you were not entitled; and
  • 90 days from the date on which you ceased to be eligible to keep the grant because your circumstances changed.

To avoid being charged a penalty, you will need to notify HMRC and repay the overclaimed grant within this time frame.

We can help

Get in touch to find out how we can help you sort out any mistakes you have made when claiming grants under the CJRS.

New lower temporary SDLT threshold

New_lower_temporary_SDLT_threshold

New lower temporary SDLT threshold

The residential stamp duty land tax (SDLT) threshold applying in England and Northern Ireland was temporarily increased to £500,000 from 8 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 (extended from the original end date of 31 March 2021). From 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021, a new temporary residential threshold of £250,000 applies. The threshold reverts to its usual level of £125,000 from 1 October 2021. Details of the rates can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Nature of the temporary threshold

To help boost house sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, the SDLT residential threshold was temporarily increased. Similar measures were introduced in Scotland in relation to land transaction tax (LTT) and in Wales in relation to land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT).

SDLT: 8 July 2020 to 30 June 2021

A higher temporary residential SDLT threshold of £500,000 applied in England and Northern Ireland where completion took place between 8 July 2020 and 30 June 2021. The usual rates applied to any consideration in excess of £500,000.

SDLT: 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021

From 1 July 2021, the SDLT residential threshold drops to a new temporary level of £250,000. If you are in the process of buying a house and missed the 30 June 2021 completion deadline, you will be able to save SDLT of up to £2,500 if you complete by 30 September 2021.

The residential rates applying during this period are as set out in the table below.

ConsiderationOnly or main homeSecond and subsequent properties
Up to £250,0000%3%
The next £675,000 (£250,001 to £925,000)5%8%
The next £575,000 (£925,001 to £1.5 million)10%13%
Remaining amount12%15%

First-time buyers

From 1 July 2021, the threshold for first-time buyers reverts to £300,000 where the consideration is £500,000. First-time buyers pay no SDLT on the first £300,000 and pay SDLT at the rate of 5% on any consideration in excess of £300,000 up to £500,000. If the consideration is more than £500,000, the above rates and residential threshold apply.

SDLT: From 1 October 2021

The residential SDLT threshold reverts to its usual level of £125,000 from 1 October 2021. Purchasers will pay SDLT at a rate of 2% on the portion from £125,000 to £250,000. Above £250,000, the rates are as in the table above.

Second and subsequent properties

Investors and second-home owners also benefit from the temporary residential thresholds as the 3% supplement is added to the residential rates as reduced.

Scotland

The LTT threshold in Scotland was increased to £250,000 from 15 July 2020 until 31 March 2021. However, this period was not extended, and the threshold reverted to £145,000 from 1 April 2021. As in England and Northern Ireland, those buying second and subsequent properties benefited from the higher threshold; the 4% supplement was applied to the reduced residential rates.

Wales

The LBTT threshold in Wales was increased to £250,000 from 27 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, reverting to £180,000 from 1 July 2021. Unlike the rest of the UK, purchasers of second and subsequent properties in Wales did not benefit from the higher threshold.

Speak to us

If you are thinking of moving home or buying a holiday or investment property, speak to us to find out whether you can save SDLT.

NIC relief for employers of armed forces veterans

NIC_relief_for_employers_of_armed_forces_veterans

NIC relief for employers of armed forces veterans

A new relief has been introduced for employers of armed forces veterans which allows them to benefit from a zero rate of secondary National Insurance contributions on the earnings of the veteran up to a new upper secondary threshold. However, while the relief applies from 6 April 2021, for 2021/22 employers must pay secondary contributions as normal and claim the relief retrospectively from 6 April 2022.

Nature of the relief

To encourage employers to employ armed forces veterans, no secondary Class 1 National Insurance contributions are payable on the veteran’s earnings during the first 12 months of their first civilian employment since leaving the armed forces, unless their earnings exceed a new upper secondary threshold. The new upper secondary threshold for veterans will be set at the same level as the existing upper secondary thresholds for employees under the age of 21 and apprentices under the age of 25. For 2021/22, this is £967 per week, £4,189 per month and £50,270 per year. The threshold is also aligned with the upper earnings limit applying for primary (employee’s) Class 1 National Insurance purposes.

If earnings exceed the new upper secondary threshold, employer’s contributions are payable as normal on the excess at the usual rate of 13.8%.

The relief applies from 6 April 2021. Where the veteran’s first civilian employment after leaving the armed forces started after 6 April 2020 but before 6 April 2021, the relief will apply from 6 April 2021 until the first anniversary of the start date.

Subsequent and concurrent employers will also be able to benefit from the relief during the relief period.

Who counts as a veteran?

For the purposes of the relief, an armed forces veteran is someone who has served at least one day in the regular armed forces. This includes someone who has undertaken at least one day of basic training.

Giving effect to the relief

The relief is available from 6 April 2021 and applies for 2021/22, 2022/23 and 2023/24 (although the Treasury have the power to extend the relief to later tax years). However, the way in which the relief is given depends on the tax year. HMRC have published guidance for employers who hire armed forces veterans explaining how the relief works.

2021/22 only

For 2021/22 only, employers who take on an armed forces veteran in the first year of their first civilian employment since leaving the armed forces will need to pay secondary Class 1 National Insurance on the veteran’s earnings as usual to the extent that they exceed the secondary threshold (set at £170 per week, £737 per month and £8,840 per year for 2021/22). Employers will be able to claim the relief retrospectively from 6 April 2022.

2022/23 onwards

For 2022/23 and 2023/24, employers will be able to apply the relief in real time through the payroll, as is the case for the reliefs available to employers of employees under the age of 21 and employers of apprentices under the age of 25.

Talk to us

Talk to us to find out whether you are able to benefit from the relief, and how much it is worth to you.

SEISS grant 5

SEISS_grant_5

SEISS grant 5

Claims for the fifth grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will open from late July. If, based on your tax returns, HMRC think that you are eligible for the grant, they will contact you in mid-July and give you a date from which you can submit your claim. The fifth grant will cover the period from May 2021 to September 2021. However, unlike previous grants, the amount of this grant will depend on the extent to which you suffered a reduction in your turnover in the year from April 2020 to April 2021 as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligibility

If you are a self-employed individual or an individual member of a partnership and you meet the eligibility criteria, you will be able to claim the fifth and final SEISS grant. To qualify, you must have traded in 2019/20, and also in 2020/21. You must either be trading currently, or have been trading but are unable to do so temporarily as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. In addition, you must have filed your 2019/20 tax return by midnight on 2 March 2021.

As previously, you will only qualify for the grant if your trading profits are not more than £50,000 and they account for at least 50% of your total income. In deciding whether this test is met, HMRC will look first at your return for 2019/20. If you are not eligible based on your 2019/20 income, HMRC will then look at your returns from 2016/17 to 2019/20 inclusive and work out whether you are eligible based on your average income for those years.

When making your claim, you must declare that:

  • you intend to trade; and
  • you reasonably believe that there will be a significant reduction in your trading profits due to reduced business activity, capacity, demand or the inability to trade as a result of COVID-19 during the period from May 2021 to September 2021.

Amount of the grant

If you meet the eligibility conditions, the amount of your grant will depend on the extent to which your turnover fell as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic during the year to April 2021.

Turnover fallen by at least 30%

If your turnover fell during this period by at least 30% as a result of the impact of the pandemic, your fifth grant will be worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits, subject to a maximum grant of £7,500.

Turnover fallen by less than 30%

If your turnover fell in the year to April 2021 as a result of the impact of COVID-19, but by less than 30%, you will be able to claim a grant worth 30% of three months’ trading profits, subject to a maximum grant of £2,850.

Need to keep records

You should keep evidence in support of your claim, showing how your business has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the extent to which your turnover and profits have fallen as a result.

Get in touch

Although HMRC’s rules do not allow us to claim the grant on your behalf, we can check whether you are eligible, and, if you are, help you work out the extent to which your turnover has fallen as a result of the pandemic, and the amount that you are able to claim.

Claim relief for shares of negligible value

Claim_relief_for_shares_of_negligible_value

Claim relief for shares of negligible value

If you have some shares that have become worthless, you can make a negligible value claim. This will allow you to set the associated loss against any chargeable gains that you make in the same, or a later, tax year, potentially reducing the amount of capital gains tax that you pay.

Making a claim

A claim can be made either in your self-assessment tax return or by writing to HMRC.

If you are making a claim in respect of unquoted shares, you will need to provide the following information in support of your claim:

  • a statement of affairs for the company and any subsidiaries;
  • a letter from the liquidator or receiver showing whether any return will be made to the shareholders;
  • details of how this decision was reached (for example, a balance sheet where liabilities are significantly greater than assets); and
  • evidence that no recovery or rescue is likely (for example, a statement that the company has ceased trading).

If your claim is in respect of shares in a company that is not in liquidation or receivership, comprehensive evidence to support the claim that the shares are of negligible value should be provided.

For quoted shares, HMRC produce a list of shares that they accept being of negligible value.

Talk to us

Talk to us to find out how you can benefit from making a negligible value claim for shares that have become worthless.

Voluntary Class 2 NICs where 2019/20 tax return filed after 31 January 2021

Voluntary_Class_2_NICs

Voluntary Class 2 NICs where 2019/20 tax return filed after 31 January 2021

If you are self-employed, you will pay Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance contributions if your profits exceed the relevant thresholds. Class 2 National Insurance contributions are the mechanism by which you build up qualifying years to earn entitlement to the state pension and certain contributory benefits. If your profits are below the small profits threshold, you can opt to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions voluntarily to maintain your National Insurance record.

Extended deadline for filing 2019/20 tax return

The normal filing deadline for the 2019/20 self-assessment tax return was 31 January 2021. However, to help taxpayers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, HMRC waived the late filing penalty that would usually apply where a return was filed after 31 January, as long as the return was filed by midnight on 28 February 2021. This effectively extended the filing window by one month.

This had unintended consequences for self-employed taxpayers who opted to file their 2019/20 tax return in February 2021, and who chose to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions voluntarily where their profits for 2019/20 were below the small profits threshold for that year of £6,365.

Nature of the problem

HMRC’s systems were unable to deal with the payment of voluntary Class 2 contributions where the 2019/20 tax return was filed after 31 January 2021. They did not have time to implement alternative procedures either.

The normal deadline for paying Class 2 National Insurance contributions for 2019/20 was 31 January 2021.

If you opted to pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions voluntarily and paid by this date but before the return was filed, they could not be processed as HMRC were unaware of what the payment related to. This may be the case if you made the payment before the 31 January 2021 deadline, but filed your tax return in February 2021.

If you filed your return in February 2021 and paid your voluntary Class 2 National Insurance contributions when you filed your return, the contributions were paid late as they were paid after 31 January 2021. In this situation, HMRC corrected your return to remove the voluntary contributions.

Payments made in respect of voluntary Class 2 contributions in these circumstances were allocated elsewhere, held on account or refunded.

The solution

If you have been affected by this issue, you should contact HMRC on 0300 200 3500 as soon as you become aware that this is the case, for example, when you receive a refund, or see from your personal tax account that your contributions have been allocated against another payment.

If you have already received a refund, HMRC will let you know how you can pay Class 2 contributions voluntarily. If you have not already received a refund, they will ensure that the payment is correctly recorded as Class 2 National Insurance contributions.

Check your National Insurance record

It is advisable to check your National Insurance record to see if you have any gaps. Failure to contact HMRC if you have been affected by the above issue may mean that you do not receive a credit for 2019/20, resulting in a gap in your contributions record.

Contact us

Contact us if you paid voluntary Class 2 National Insurance for 2019/20 and filed your return in February 2021 to check that your contributions have been credited to your account.

Claim tax relief for expenses of working from home

Claim_tax_relief_for_expenses_of_working_from_home

Claim tax relief for expenses of working from home

If you are an employee and you are, or have been, working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be able to claim tax relief for the additional household costs that you have incurred as a result. HMRC are now accepting claims for the current (2021/22) tax year.

Nature of the relief

You can benefit from the relief if you are an employee and you were told by your employer to work from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and, as a result of working from home, your household costs have increased. For example, your electricity bill may be higher because you are using your computer all day and your gas bill may be higher because you have the heating on while you are working.

You can also claim the relief if you work from home other than because of the pandemic, as long as the nature of your job requires you to work from home. However, you are not able to claim the relief if you simply choose to work from home rather than at your employer’s workplace.

If your employer has met the cost of your additional household costs (to which a separate tax exemption applies), you are not entitled to claim the relief as well.

 

Amount of the relief

A claim for tax relief for additional household costs of £6 per week (£26 per month) can be made without the need to provide evidence to support the claim. The claim is worth £62.40 a year if you pay tax at the basic rate, £124.80 a year if you pay tax at the higher rate, and £140.40 a year if you pay tax at the additional rate.

If your household bills have risen by more than £6 per week as a result of working from home, you can claim tax relief based on the actual additional costs. However, you will need evidence, for example, copies of bills showing how costs have increased, to back up your claim.

 

Making a claim

You can claim relief via the dedicated HMRC portal.

Relief is given for the whole tax year, regardless of the number of weeks for which you worked from home. Once HMRC have approved your claim, they will amend your tax code to take account of the relief.

If you worked from home as a result of COVID-19 during 2020/21 and have yet to make a claim for tax relief for your additional household costs, it is not too late – HMRC will accept backdated claims for up to four years.

Get in touch

Why not get in touch to find out whether you can claim tax relief for the additional costs of working from home.

Amending a PSA for COVID-19 benefits

Amending_a_PSA_for_COVID-19_benefits

Amending a PSA for COVID-19 benefits

You can use a PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA) if you wish to settle the tax liability arising on the provision of a benefit-in-kind or an expense on an employee’s behalf. This can be useful if you wish to preserve the goodwill nature of a particular benefit.

Nature of a PSA

Where a PSA is in place, the employer pays tax and Class 1B National Insurance contributions on the items included within the PSA, while the employee enjoys the benefit free of tax and National Insurance.

A PSA is not suitable for all benefits-in-kind. To qualify for inclusion, the benefit must fall within one of the following categories:

  • it is minor;
  • it is provided irregularly; or
  • it is provided in circumstances where it is impractical to apply PAYE or to apportion the value of a shared benefit.

As payment of tax on an employee’s behalf is itself a taxable benefit, the amount of tax that you must pay on items included within your PSA is grossed up to reflect the marginal rates of tax of the employees to whom the benefits are provided. The relevant Scottish and Welsh rates are used for employees who are Scottish and Welsh taxpayers.

You must also pay Class 1B National Insurance contributions at 13.8% on items included within your PSA in place of the Class 1 or Class 1A liability that would otherwise arise, and also on the tax due under the PSA. The tax and Class 1B National Insurance must be paid by 22 October if you make the payment electronically, or by 19 October if you pay by cheque.

Setting up a new PSA

If you do not already have a PSA in place and want to set one up for 2020/21, you need to do this before 6 July 2021. Guidance available on the Gov.uk website explains what you need to do.

An enduring agreement

Once you have set up a PSA, it remains in place until it is cancelled or amended by you or by HMRC. Therefore, if you already have a PSA set up, you should review it to make sure that it is still valid. This should be done in sufficient time for any changes to be made before 6 July 2021.

Adding in COVID-19 benefits

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way in which many employees worked, and you may have changed the benefits that you provided to your employees during the 2020/21 tax year as a result. If you have provided taxable benefits as a result of the pandemic, and you want to include them within your PSA, you will need to do this by 6 July 2021.

To amend your PSA, you will need to send details of the changes that you would like to make to the HMRC office that issued your PSA. Normally, HMRC will send you a revised P626 (the PSA). However, where the changes relate only to benefits provided as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they will instead add an appendix to your existing PSA.

Remember, you do not need to include exempt benefits within your PSA. There are a number of time-limited exemptions for Coronavirus-related benefits, such as those for employer-provided and reimbursed antigen tests.

Speak to us

Talk to us about whether a PSA is for you, and about what you need to do if you want to meet the tax liability on benefits provided to employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting expenses and benefits for 2020/21

Reporting_expenses_and_benefits

Reporting expenses and benefits for 2020/21

If you are an employer and you provided taxable expenses and benefits to your employees during the 2020/21 tax year, you will need to report these to HMRC on form P11D, unless all benefits were payrolled or included within a PAYE Settlement Agreement. You will also need to file a P11D(b). Both forms must reach HMRC by 6 July 2021.

Form P11D

A form P11D is needed for each employee to whom you provided taxable expenses and benefits in the 2020/21 tax year (which ended on 5 April 2021) and which you need to report to HMRC. You do not need to include any benefits or expenses which have been dealt with through the payroll, or those which you have been included within a PAYE Settlement Agreement. Likewise, you do not need to report any benefit or expense that is fully exempt. However, remember that an exemption only applies if all the associated conditions have been met.

The information that you will need to provide depends on the nature of the benefit. Some sections of the P11D are relatively brief, requiring only details of the cost of providing the benefit, any amount made good by the employee, and the taxable amount, while more information is required in respect of certain benefits, most notably company cars and employment-related loans.

Taxable amount: the cash equivalent value

Where the benefit is made available to an employee other than through a salary sacrifice or other optional remuneration arrangement (OpRA), the taxable amount is its cash equivalent value. The calculation of the cash equivalent value depends on the particular benefit. Some benefits have their own benefit-specific rules for calculating the cash equivalent value. Where the benefit or expense is of a type for which there is no specific rule, the cash equivalent value is calculated in accordance with the general rule. This is the cost to the employer, less any amount made good by the employee.

HMRC produce working sheets that can be used to calculate the cash equivalent value for some benefits in kind.

Taxable amount: alternative valuation rules

Where the benefit or expense is made available through an optional remuneration arrangement (OpRA), such as a salary sacrifice arrangement, alternative valuation rules apply to all but a handful of benefits. Under the alternative valuation rules, the taxable amount of the benefit is determined by reference to the salary given up, less any amount made good by the employee, where this produces a value that is higher than the cash equivalent value. The alternative valuation rules have the effect of negating any associated exemption. They do not apply to childcare and childcare vouchers, pension contributions and advice, employer-provided cycles and cyclists’ safety equipment, and low emission cars with CO2 emissions of 75g/km or less. These benefits continue to be taxed according to their cash equivalent value and retain the associated exemptions where the qualifying conditions are met.

Under transitional arrangements, the alternative valuation rules do not apply for 2020/21 to living accommodation, school fees or cars with CO2 emissions of more than 75g/km which are provided under an arrangement that was in place on 5 April 2017 and was not renewed, varied or amended prior to 6 April 2021. Variations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are ignored for these purposes. The transitional arrangements came to an end on 5 April 2021, and the alternative valuation rules apply for 2021/22 and later years.

Making good

Any amount that the employee is required to contribute (‘make good’) to the cost of the benefit is taken into account in calculating the taxable amount, as long as the amount is ‘made good’ by 6 July 2021. This can be done by deducting the relevant amount from the employee’s salary, or by the employee making a payment direct to you.

Form P11D(b)

You must file a P11D(b) by 6 July 2021 if you provided taxable expenses to your employees in the 2021/22 tax year which have either been payrolled or reported to HMRC on your employees’ P11Ds. Form P11D(b) serves two functions – it is your declaration that all required P11Ds have been submitted to HMRC, and also your Class 1A National Insurance return. You will need to file a P11D(b) even if you have no P11Ds to file because you have payrolled all taxable benefits and expenses that you provided to your employees during the 2020/21 tax year. Payrolled benefits need to be taken into account in working out your Class 1A National Insurance liability.

If you did not provide any taxable benefits in 2020/21, but have been sent either a paper P11D(b) or a reminder letter to complete one, you will need to make a nil declaration online to avoid being charged a penalty. This may be required if you provided taxable benefits in 2019/20 as HMRC’s expectation is that they were also provided in 2020/21.

Filing options

There are various ways in which you can file forms P11D and P11D(b). They can be filed online using HMRC’s Online End of Year Expenses and Benefits Service, HMRC’s PAYE Online Service (up to 500 employees only), or via a suitable commercial software package. You can also complete paper forms and send them to HMRC by post.

Forms for the 2020/21 tax year must reach HMRC by 6 July 2021. You must also give your employees a copy of their P11D (or details of the taxable expenses and benefits provided to them in 2020/21) by the same date.

You must pay your Class 1A National Insurance by 22 July 2021 if you make your payment electronically. If you opt to pay by cheque, this must reach HMRC by 19 July 2021.

We can help

We can help you meet your filing obligations and help you minimise the risk of receiving a penalty for late or incorrect returns.

Higher residential SDLT threshold extended

Higher residential SDLT threshold extended

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is payable when you buy a property in England or Northern Ireland. Last year, the SDLT residential threshold was temporarily increased to £500,000 with effect from 8 July 2020. The threshold was due to revert to its normal level of £125,000 from 1 April 2021, but this has now been delayed.

The residential threshold applying in Scotland for Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) was also increased for a temporary period, but reverted to its normal level of £145,000 from 1 April 2021. In Wales, the residential Land Transaction Tax (LTT) threshold was increased to £250,000 from 27 July 2020. It will remain at this level until 30 June 2021, reverting to its usual level of £180,000 from 1 July 2021.

SDLT residential threshold – 8 July 2020 to 30 June 2021

The SDLT residential threshold will remain at £500,000 until 30 June 2021. The rates applying until that date are set out below.

Property valueMain homeAdditional properties
Up to £500,000Zero3%
Next £425,000 (£500,001 to £925,000)5%8%
Next £575,000 (£925,001 to £1.5 million)10%13%
The remaining amount (over £1.5 million)12%15%

SDLT residential threshold – 1 July 2020 to 30 September 2021

From 1 July 2021 until 30 September 2021, a lower temporary residential SDLT threshold of £250,000 will apply. The first-time buyer threshold (which applies where the consideration does not exceed £500,000) reverts to £300,000 from 1 July 2021.

The SDLT rates applying for this period are set out below.

Property valueMain homeAdditional properties
Up to £250,000Zero3%
Next £675,000 (£250,001 to £925,000)5%8%
Next £575,000 (£925,001 to £1.5 million)10%13%
The remaining amount (over £1.5 million)12%15%

SDLT residential threshold from 1 October 2021

The SDLT residential threshold returns to £125,000 from 1 October 2021. The residential rates applying from that date are set out below.

Property valueMain homeAdditional properties
Up to £125,000Zero3%
The next £125,000 (£125,001 to £250,000)2%5%
Next £675,000 (£500,001 to £925,000)5%8%
Next £575,000 (£925,001 to £1.5 million)10%13%
The remaining amount (over £1.5 million)12%15%

Contact us

If you are looking to buy a property this year, speak to us to find out what you can save by completing the sale by 30 June 2021 or, if this is not possible, by 30 September 2021. Remember, if you are looking to buy an investment property, you will also benefit from the higher thresholds as the 3% supplement is added to the residential rates, as reduced.

Taxation of company cars in 2021/22

Taxation_of_company_cars

Taxation of company cars in 2021/22

If you are an employee with a company car, you will be taxed on the benefit derived from the car being available for your private use. If you are an employer who makes company cars available to your employees, they will be taxed on the associated benefit. The amount that is charged to tax depends predominantly on the list price of the car and its appropriate percentage. There are some changes to the appropriate percentages for 2021/22.

You can find details of the appropriate percentages applying for 2021/22 here.

Electric company cars

For 2020/21, it was possible to enjoy the benefit of an electric company car tax-free as the appropriate percentage for zero-emissions cars was set at 0%. The appropriate percentage for zero-emission cars is increased to 1% for 2021/22. Although a tax-free company car is no longer an option for 2021/22, an electric company car remains a very attractive benefit. The cash equivalent value (the amount on which tax is charged) for an electric car with a list price of £30,000 is only £300 for 2021/22, costing a higher rate taxpayer £120 in tax and a basic rate taxpayer £60 in tax. If you are an employer, your Class 1A National Insurance hit will be £41.40.

Cars first registered on or after 6 April 2020

The way in which CO2 emissions are measured changed for cars first registered on or after 6 April 2020. From that date, the car’s CO2 emissions are determined using the Worldwide harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). For cars first registered prior to that date, the car’s CO2 emissions were determined in accordance with the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

For 2020/21, the appropriate percentage for cars first registered on or after 6 April 2020 (and whose CO2 emissions are determined using the WLTP), was two percentage points lower than that for cars first registered prior to 6 April 2020 (and whose CO2 emissions were determined using the NEDC).

The differential is reduced by one percentage point for 2021/22. This means that, subject to the maximum charge of 37%, the appropriate percentage for cars first registered on or after 6 April 2020 is one percentage point higher than its 2020/21 level. Thus, where the appropriate percentage was, say, 15% for 2020/21, it is 16% for 2021/22. The increase will mean that if you have a company car which was first registered on or after 6 April 2020, you will pay slightly more tax in 2021/22 than in 2020/21.

The diesel supplement remains at 4% for diesel cars not meeting the RDE2 emissions standard (subject to the maximum charge of 37%).

Cars first registered before 6 April 2020

There is no change to the appropriate percentages for cars first registered prior to 6 April 2020. This means that if you have a company car that was registered before this date, your tax bill for 2021/22 will be the same as for 2020/21.

Talk to us

If you are thinking of changing your company car or making changes to your company car fleet, we can help you understand the associated tax costs.

Recovery loan scheme

Recovery_loan_scheme

Recovery loan scheme

If you need to access finance to help your business recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Recovery Loan Scheme may be for you.

Nature of the scheme

The Recovery Loan Scheme is designed to provide access to finance in order to support businesses as they recover from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although, as the borrower, you will remain liable for 100% of the debt, to encourage lenders to participate in the scheme, the Government provides a guarantee to the lender for 80% of the finance.

Eligibility

You may be eligible for a Recovery Loan if your business is trading in the UK. To qualify, you must be able to demonstrate that your business would be viable were it not for the pandemic and that your business has been adversely affected by the pandemic. Furthermore, you must not be in collective insolvency proceedings.

You can still apply for a Recovery Loan if you have already taken out a Bounce Back Loan or a Coronavirus Business Interruption loan.

Available finance

Finance is available under the Recovery Loan Scheme for:

  • term loans and overdrafts of between £25,001 and £10 million per business; or
  • invoice or asset finance of between £1,000 and £10 million per business.

You will not need to provide a personal guarantee on facilities of up to £250,000, and where a personal guarantee is required, your main residence will not be taken as security.

The loan period depends on the type of finance provided. The maximum period is set at three years for overdrafts and invoice finance facilities and at six years for loans and asset finance facilities.

How to apply

Applications are made direct to the lender. You can find an accredited lender offering Recovery Loans on the Business Bank website.

We can help

Contact us to find out how we can help you address your financing needs.

Family companies and the optimal salary for 2021/22

Family_companies_and_the_optimal_salary

Family companies and the optimal salary for 2021/22

If you run your business as a personal or family company, you will need to decide how best to extract profits for your personal use. A typical tax-efficient strategy is to pay yourself a small salary and then extract any further profits as dividends. Where this approach is adopted, you will need to determine your optimal salary level of 2021/22.

Benefits of paying a salary

Unless you already have the 35 qualifying years needed for the full single-tier state pension when you reach state pension age, paying yourself a salary that is at least equal to the lower earnings limit for Class 1 National Insurance purposes (set at £6,240 for 2021/22) will ensure that the year is a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefit purposes. A further benefit of this approach is that employee contributions between the lower earnings limit and the primary threshold (set at £9,568 for 2021/22) are payable at a zero rate (although employer contributions are payable on earnings in excess of the secondary threshold (set at £8,840 for 2021/22)).

Determining the optimal salary level

The optimal salary level (from a tax and National Insurance perspective) for 2021/22 will depend on whether your personal allowance remains available, and also on whether your company is able to claim the National Insurance Employment Allowance. The Employment Allowance is set against your employer’s Class 1 National Insurance liability.

The Employment Allowance is not available to companies where the sole employee is also a director. This means that if you operate as a personal company where you are the only employee and director, you will be unable to claim the allowance. However, if you operate as a family company and have more than one employee (or the only employee is not also a director), you should be able to claim the allowance. The allowance is set at £4,000 for 2021/22. It is not available where the Class 1 National Insurance bill for 2020/21 was £100,000 or more.

Optimal salary where the Employment Allowance is unavailable

If you are operating a personal company or if the Employment Allowance is otherwise unavailable, assuming that you have not used your personal allowance elsewhere, your optimal salary for 2021/22 is one equal to the primary threshold of £9,568. Remember, that as a director, you have an annual earnings period for National Insurance purposes. However, if you opt to pay yourself a monthly salary, the equivalent is £797 per month.

As the secondary threshold for 2021/22 is lower than the primary threshold, employer’s National Insurance contributions will be payable to the extent that your salary exceeds £8,840. If you pay yourself a salary of £9,568 for 2021/22, your company will need to pay employer’s National Insurance contributions on that salary of £100.46 (13.8% (£9,568 – £8,840)).

Although it is possible to pay a salary equal to the secondary threshold of £8,840 free of tax and National Insurance, it is worthwhile paying a higher salary of £9,568. The salary and the associated employer’s National Insurance contributions are deductible in calculating your company’s taxable profits for corporation tax purposes. As the rate of corporation tax at 19% is higher than the rate of employer’s National Insurance at 13.8%, the corporation tax relief obtained on the higher salary outweighs the cost of the employer’s National Insurance. However, once your salary exceeds the primary threshold of £9,568, you will need to pay primary contributions on the excess at the rate of 12%. As the combined National Insurance hit at 25.8% outweighs the rate of corporation tax relief (at 19%), this is not worthwhile.

Optimal salary where the Employment Allowance is available

The Employment Allowance reduces your employer’s Class 1 National Insurance bill by up to £4,000. Where this is available, your optimal salary for 2021/22 is one equal to your personal allowance. This will normally be £12,570.

As the Employment Allowance will offset any employer’s Class 1 National Insurance contributions that would otherwise be payable to the extent that your salary exceeds £8,840, you will not need to pay any tax or National Insurance until your salary level reaches the primary threshold of £9,568. Once this level is reached, it is worth paying additional salary of £3,002 for the year to take your salary up to the level of the personal allowance of £12,570. Although you will pay employee’s National Insurance contributions of £360.24 (£3,002 @ 12%) on the additional salary, as the salary is deductible for corporation tax purposes, you will reduce the corporation tax payable by your company by £570.38 (£3,002 @ 19%), delivering a net saving of £210.14.

However, once your salary exceeds the personal allowance of £12,570, tax will also be payable at the basic rate of 20%, meaning the pendulum swings the other way and the combined tax and employee’s National Insurance payable on any further salary will outweigh the associated corporation tax deduction.

Get in touch

Your optimal salary will depend on your individual circumstances. We can help you decide on your 2021/22 salary level.

Extended carry-back for losses

Extended_carry-back_for_losses

Extended carry-back for losses

To help businesses which have suffered losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the period for which certain trading losses can be carried back is extended from one year to three years. The extended carry-back period applies for both income tax and corporation tax purposes. If you have made losses as a result of the impact of the pandemic, you may be able to take advantage of the extended carry-back period to generate a welcome tax repayment. Guidance on the rules can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Income tax

Where a trading loss is made by an unincorporated business, there are a number of options available to relieve that loss. The options open to a particular business depend on when in the business lifecycle the loss is incurred, and also whether the business prepares its accounts using the cash basis or the accrual basis. The loss can be set against general income of the current and/or previous year, and also against future trading profits of the same trade, with special rules applying to relieve losses incurred in the early years of the trade, and in the final year.

One option for obtaining relief for a trading loss is to set the loss against general income of the year of the loss and/or the previous year. However, where accounts are prepared using the cash basis, sideways loss relief against other income or relief against capital gains is not permitted – the loss can only be set against trading profits of the same trade.

The temporary extension to the carry-back rules extends the period for which the loss can be carried back from one year to three years. Where a claim is made under the new rules, losses are set against the trading profits of a later year before those of an early year. Any loss carried back under the temporary carry-back rules can only be set against previous trading profits of the same trade – there is no extension to other income.

Relief for a 2020/21 loss

Unless the business is a new business to which the opening year basis period rules apply, a loss for the 2020/21 tax year will be a loss for an accounting period ending in that year, i.e., between 6 April 2020 and 5 April 2021.

The extended carry back is available where a claim is made to relieve the loss against general income of 2020/21 and/or 2019/20 and income in these years is insufficient to utilise the full loss. The unrelieved loss can be carried back and set against trading profits of 2018/19 and, to the extent that any of the loss remains unrelieved, against trading profits of 2017/18. It is not possible to tailor the loss to preserve personal allowances — it must be set in full against the available trading profits.

To the extent that the loss remains unrelieved after making a claim under the extended carry-back rules, it can be carried forward for relief against future profits of the same trade.

Relief for a 2021/22 loss

The extended carry-back period is also available for a 2021/22 loss. For an established business, this will be a loss for an accounting period which ends between 6 April 2021 and 5 April 2022.

As with a loss for 2020/21, the temporary rules allow a loss for 2021/22 which cannot be fully relieved against income of 2021/22 and 2020/21 to be carried back. The unrelieved loss can be set first against trading profits of the same trade for 2019/20 and, to the extent that any of the loss remains unrelieved, against trading profits of 2018/19.

If a claim has been made to relieve a 2020/21 loss against general income of 2019/20, this takes precedence over a claim to carry back a 2021/22 loss against trading profits of 2019/20 under the new rules.

Cap on loss relief

The normal cap on loss relief of £50,000 or, where higher, 25% of adjusted net income, does not apply to losses relieved under the extended carry-back rules. Instead, the loss that can be carried back for each year is capped at £2 million.

Corporation tax

For corporation tax purposes, a loss can be carried back and set against profits from the same trade for the previous accounting period or carried forward and set against future profits of the same trade. The period for which losses can be carried back is extended from one year to three years for a limited period.

The extended carry-back period applies to losses for accounting periods ending between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2022. For each accounting period, the loss that can be carried back under the new rules is capped at £2 million. Where a company is part of a group, the cap applies to the group as a whole. Losses carried back must be set against the profits of a later period before those of an earlier period.

Benefits of carrying a loss back

The ability to carry a loss back can be beneficial where this generates a repayment of tax already paid for a previous year. This will be particularly true for companies within the charge for corporation tax.

For unincorporated businesses the position is more complex where carrying back a loss results in personal allowances being wasted. Where this is the case, and the trader expects to return to profit, it may be preferable to carry the loss forward for use against future trading profits of the same trade. The best result will depend on individual circumstances and priorities, and there is no substitute for doing the sums.

Speak to us

If you have realised a loss, or expect to, as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, speak to us to find out how best to obtain relief for that loss.

Corporation tax increase from April 2023

Corporation-tax-increase

Corporation tax increase from April 2023

The main rate of corporation tax is due to increase to 25% for the financial year 2023, starting on 1 April 2023. However, companies with profits of £50,000 or less will continue to pay corporation tax at the current rate of 19%. Companies whose taxable profits fall between £50,000 and £250,000 will pay corporation tax at the main rate of 25%, but will receive marginal relief which will reduce the effective rate of tax that they pay. Details of the proposed changes can be found in a policy paper published by the Government.

The rate of corporation tax will remain at 19% for the financial year 2022, starting on 1 April 2022.

Small companies’ rate from 1 April 2023

A small companies’ rate of 19% will apply from 1 April 2023 to companies with taxable profits of £50,000 or less. This limit is reduced if the company has associated companies or if the accounting period is less than 12 months.

Marginal relief from 1 April 2023

Companies whose profits fall between the lower profit limit, set at £50,000, and the upper profits limit, set at £250,000, are able to claim marginal relief. This will provide a bridge between the small companies’ rate of 19%, applying to companies with profits of £50,000 or less, and the main rate of 25%, applying to companies with profits of £250,000 or more. The effective rate of corporation tax on profits falling between these two limits will increase gradually. The limits are reduced to reflect the number of associated companies that a company has, for example, being divided by 2 where a company has one associated company. The limits are also proportionately reduced where the accounting period is less than 12 months.

The marginal relief fraction is set at 3/200. The amount of marginal relief is found by multiplying the fraction by the difference between the company’s profits and the upper profits limit of £250,000. For example, if a company has taxable profits of £100,000, they would be entitled to marginal relief of £2,250 (3/200 x (£250,000 – £100,000)).

The calculation is modified if the company has franked investment income.

Where a company’s profits fall between the lower and upper profits limits, their corporation tax liability is found by multiplying their profits by the main rate of 25% and deducting marginal relief. Thus, a company with profits of £100,000 for the year to 31 March 2024 would pay corporation tax of £22,750 ((£100,000 @ 25%) – £2,250). This gives an effective rate of corporation tax of 22.75%.

Get in touch

Contact us to find out what the increase in corporation tax will mean for your company and how to plan ahead for the change.

New capital allowances super-deduction

New-capital-allowances-super-deduction

New capital allowances super-deduction

Companies within the charge to corporation tax who invest in new plant and machinery in the two years from 1 April 2021 are able to benefit from two new first-year allowances, including a super-deduction of 130%. Details of the measure are set out in a policy paper published by the Government.

The super-deduction

Companies that invest in plant and machinery that would otherwise qualify for main rate capital allowances between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2023 can claim a super-deduction of 130%. The deduction is in the form of a first-year capital allowance. However, it is not available for expenditure for which the claiming of a first-year allowance is excluded by the legislation. The list of exclusions includes expenditure on cars (although a 100% first-year allowance is available separately for zero-emission cars) and expenditure on plant and machinery for leasing. First-year allowances cannot be claimed for the accounting period in which the trade is permanently discontinued.

Impact of the super-deduction

Where the super-deduction is claimed, the company will receive a deduction when computing profits of £1.30 for every £1 that they spend on qualifying plant and machinery. This provides tax relief at the rate of 24.7% (19% x 130%).

Accounting periods spanning 1 April 2023

The super-deduction is available at the rate of 130% where the expenditure is incurred between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2023. However, the rate of deduction is reduced where the accounting period spans 1 April 2023.

Where expenditure is incurred in a period that straddles 1 April 2023 and is incurred prior to that date, the rate of deduction is given at the ‘relevant percentage’. This is found by dividing the number of days in the period prior to 1 April 2023 by the total number of days in the accounting period, multiplying this by 30 and adding it to 100. For example, if the accounting period is the year to 31 December 2023, the relevant percentage for qualifying expenditure incurred prior to 1 April 2023 is 107.4% ((90/365 x 30) + 100).

A deduction is available at the rate of 100% for qualifying expenditure incurred on or after 1 April 2023 in an accounting period that straddles 1 April 2023.

Balancing charge

If an asset which has benefited from the super-deduction is sold, relief is clawed back by treating the disposal proceeds as a balancing charge, rather than allocating them to the relevant pool. If the disposal event occurs in an accounting period that ends before 1 April 2023, the balancing charge is found by multiplying the disposal proceeds by 1.3.

If the disposal event takes place in an accounting period that spans 1 April 2023, the disposal proceeds are multiplied by the ’relevant factor’ to arrive at the balancing charge. This is found by dividing the number of days in the period prior to 1 April 2023 by the total number of days in the accounting period, multiplying this by 0.3 and adding it to 1.

In all other cases, the balancing charge is equal to the disposal proceeds.

The SR allowance

A second new first-year allowance – the SR allowance – is introduced for qualifying expenditure by companies on assets that would otherwise qualify for capital allowances at the special rate of 6% where the expenditure is incurred between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2023. The allowance is given at the rate of 50%. Assets falling into this category include long-life assets, thermal insulation and expenditure on integral features. As with the super-deduction, expenditure on cars does not qualify for the SR allowance.

Speak to us

Speak to us to discuss how you can benefit from the new first-year allowances and other available capital allowances.

Further grants available under the SEISS

Further-grants-available-under-the-SEISS

Further grants available under the SEISS

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) provides grant support to eligible self-employed taxpayers who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A further two grants are to be paid under the scheme. In addition, the scheme has been expanded to include those who commenced self-employment in 2019/20. Guidance on the grants can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Fourth grant

The fourth grant covers February, March and April 2021 and is worth 80% of average profits for three months, capped at £7,500. The grant can be claimed from late April 2021, and will be paid in a single instalment. The claim window will run until 31 May 2021.

A trader will be eligible to claim if they have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This test will be met if the trader is currently trading but has suffered reduced demand as a result of the pandemic, or if they have been trading but are unable to do so temporarily due to Coronavirus. Suffering additional costs where demand has not fallen does not qualify the trader for the grant.

As previously, a trader can only benefit from the scheme if their trading profits are no more than £50,000 and comprise at least 50% of the trader’s total income. HMRC will look first at the trader’s profits as returned on their tax return for 2019/20. Where these are more than £50,000, HMRC will look at average profits over 2016/17 to 2019/20. The rules are modified if the trader did not trade in all of those years.

Fifth grant

The fifth and final grant covers the period from May to September 2021. Unlike the previous grants, the amount of the fifth grant depends on the extent to which turnover has fallen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Traders will be able to claim the fifth grant from late July.

Turnover has fallen by at least 30%

Where the trader’s turnover has fallen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic by at least 30%, the fifth grant will be worth 80% of three months’ average profits capped at £7,500.

Turnover has fallen by less than 30%

Traders who have been less severely affected by the pandemic will receive a lower grant. Where turnover has fallen by less than 30%, the fifth grant will be worth 30% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850.

The Government will publish further details on the fifth grant in due course.

Newly self-employed

When initially launched, the scheme was only available to traders who had filed their 2018/19 self-assessment tax return by 23 April 2020. However, as the deadline for filing the 2019/20 tax return has now passed, taxpayers who commenced self-employment in 2019/20 are able to claim the fourth and fifth grants, as long as they meet the usual eligibility criteria and they traded in both 2019/20 and 2020/21 and submitted their 2019/20 tax return by midnight on 2 March 2021.

Contact us

Contact us to find out whether you are eligible for the fourth and fifth grants under the SEISS, and what the grant is worth to you.

CJRS extended until 30 September 2021

CJRS-extended

CJRS extended until 30 September 2021

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has provided a lifeline for many employers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme was due to come to an end on 30 April 2021. However, at the time of the 2021 Budget, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that the scheme would, once again, be extended. It will now run until 30 September 2021.

Nature of the scheme

The CJRS allows employers to furlough or flexibly furlough employees, and to claim a grant for the usual hours that they do not work. The employee receives 80% of their normal pay for their unworked hours, subject to a cap equivalent to £2,500 a month. The employer can claim some or all of this amount, depending on the month to which the claim relates. Where an employee is flexibly furloughed, the employer must pay the employee for the hours that they work at their usual rate.

Final phase of the scheme

The final phase of the scheme runs from 1 May 2021 to 30 September 2021. The amount that the employer can claim under the scheme remains unchanged for May and June, but reduces from July onwards once lockdown restrictions are lifted. Guidance on changes to the scheme from July can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Grant claims – May and June 2021

For May and June 2021, employers can continue to claim 80% of the employee’s pay for their unworked hours, up to the monthly cap of £2,500 (reduced proportionately where the employee is not fully furloughed for the full month). The employee must continue to be paid in full for any hours that they work, and also 80% of their pay up to the level of the cap for any usual hours that are unworked in the month.

Grant claim – July 2021

From July onwards, the employer is required to contribute to the payments made to furloughed and flexibly furloughed employees for their unworked hours.

For July 2021, the amount that the employer can claim under the CJRS for the employee’s unworked hours is reduced to 70% of their usual pay for those hours, subject to a cap of £2,187.50 per month (reduced proportionately where the employee is not fully furloughed for the full month). However, the employee will continue to receive 80% of their usual pay for their unworked hours, subject to the monthly cap of £2,500. This means that the employer must make up the difference of 10% (capped at £312.50 per month) between the amount claimed under the CJRS and the amount paid to the employee.

Grant claims – August and September 2021

The amount that the employer can claim is further reduced in the final two months of the scheme. For August and September 2021, the employer can claim a grant of 60% of the employee’s usual pay for their unworked hours, subject to a cap of £1,875 per month (proportionately reduced where the employee is not fully furloughed for the full month).

The employer must continue to pay the employee 80% of their usual pay for their unworked hours. Consequently, the employer must top up the grant claimed from the Government, contributing 20% of the employee’s usual pay for their unworked hours (up to £625 per month).

We can help

We can help you work out what support you can claim for your employees as lockdown restrictions are eased and the CJRS is wound down.

Thresholds and allowances frozen until April 2026

Thresholds-and-allowances-frozen

Thresholds and allowances frozen until April 2026

To help meet some of the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chancellor has opted to freeze various allowances and thresholds until April 2026, rather than increase the rates of income tax and capital gains tax. As incomes rise over the period, more people will pay tax, and more people will pay tax at the higher and the additional rates.

Personal allowance and basic rate band

The personal allowance is increased to £12,570 for 2021/22, from £12,500 for 2020/21. It will remain at this level for all tax years up to and including 2025/26. The allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 by which income exceeds £100,000. As a result, for the tax years 2021/22 to 2025/26 inclusive, anyone with income in excess of £125,140 will not receive a personal allowance.

The basic rate band is increased to £37,700 for 2021/22, from £35,500 for 2020/21. As a result, the point at which taxpayers in receipt of the standard personal allowance start to pay higher rate tax is increased to £50,270 for 2021/22, from £50,000 for 2020/21. It will remain at £50,270 for future tax years up to and including 2025/26.

Capital gains tax annual exempt amount

Individuals are allowed to realise net chargeable gains up to the level of the annual exempt amount for each tax year before a liability to capital gains tax arises. The capital gains tax annual exempt amount remains at £12,300 for 2021/22, and will stay at this level for the following four tax years.

National Insurance thresholds

The upper earnings limit for Class 1 National Insurance contributions and the upper profits limits for Class 4 National Insurance contributions are aligned with the level at which higher rate tax become payable. This ensures that once a person starts to pay tax at the higher rate, the rate at which they pay National Insurance drops to the additional rate of 2%, so that they do not pay both higher rate tax and main rate National Insurance contributions on the same income. For 2021/22, the upper earnings limit for Class 1 National Insurance contributions and the upper profits limit for Class 4 National Insurance contributions are set at £50,270. As the higher rate threshold is frozen at this level until April 2026, both the upper earnings limit and the upper profits limit will remain at £50,270 for all tax years up to and including 2025/26.

Inheritance tax nil rate bands

No inheritance tax is payable unless the value of the deceased’s estate exceeds the nil rate band. This has been frozen at £325,000 since 2008/09. It was due to be reviewed in 2021. However, at the time of the 2021 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the nil rate band would remain at £325,000 for another five years, for 2021/22 to 2025/66 inclusive.

A further nil rate band – the residence nil rate band (RNRB) – is available where the main residence is left to a direct descendant, such as a child or a grandchild. The RNRB remains at its 2020/21 level of £175,000 for 2021/22. It too is frozen at this level until April 2026.

The freezing of the nil rate bands will bring more estates within the charge to inheritance tax. Planning ahead and making more lifetime transfers could reduce the eventual liability on the estate at death.

Pension lifetime allowance

The pension lifetime allowance places a cap on the value of tax-relieved pension savings. The lifetime allowance remains at its 2020/21 level of £1,073,100 for 2021/22 and for the following four tax years. If the value of your pension savings is nearing this level, it is important that you review your pension pot before making further tax-relieved contributions in any of the years from 2021/22 to 2025/26 inclusive.

Where tax-relieved pension savings exceed the lifetime allowance, tax relief is clawed back at the rate of 25% where the excess is taken as a pension, and at the rate of 55% where the excess is taken as a lump sum.

Get in touch

Speak to us to understand what the freezing of the allowances and thresholds will mean to you, and what action you can take to mitigate the effects.

Off-payroll working – what do the changes means for you?

Off-payroll-working

Off-payroll working – what do the changes means for you?

The extension to the off-payroll working rules finally comes into effect from 6 April 2021, having been delayed by a year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rules were originally introduced from 6 April 2017 where a worker’s services were provided to a public sector body via an intermediary. The extension from 6 April 2021 brings engagements where the end client is a medium or large private sector organisation within their scope.

The extent to which the extension to the rules will affect you depends on whether you engage workers who provide their services through an intermediary or whether you provide services in this way, and also whether you or your end client is a medium or large private sector organisation.

Scenario 1 – you engage workers providing their services through an intermediary

If you engage workers who provide their services to you through an intermediary, such as their own limited or personal service company, the extent to which you need to consider the off-payroll working rules depends on whether you are:

  • a medium or large private sector organisation;
  • a small organisation; or
  • a public sector body.

Medium and large private sector organisations

The off-payroll rules apply from 6 April 2021 to medium and large private sector organisations that engage workers who provide their services through intermediaries, such as a personal service company. If you are a private sector organisation engaging staff in this way, it is important that you know what size your organisation is for these purposes. You will be a medium or large organisation if at least two of the following apply:

  • annual turnover is more than £10.2 million;
  • balance sheet total is more than £5.1 million;
  • you have more than 50 employees.

If you fall within this category, for each engagement that is live on or after 6 April 2021 where you engage a worker who provides their services through an intermediary, you must:

  • determine whether the worker would be an employee if they provided their services to you directly; and
  • advise the worker of their status by giving the worker, and all other parties in the chain, a Status Determination Statement.

HMRC’s Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool can be used to determine the worker’s status.

If the decision is that the worker would be an employee if they provided their services to you directly, rather than via their personal service company, the off-payroll working rules apply. This means that you (or the fee-payer where this is a third party) must calculate the deemed direct payment (broadly, the amount invoiced by the worker’s intermediary, less VAT and the cost of any recharged materials and employment expenses, where applicable) and deduct tax and National Insurance when paying the worker’s intermediary.

You also need to report the payment and deductions to HMRC under Real Time Information (making it clear that the worker is an off-payroll worker), and pay the deductions, together with employer’s National Insurance, over to HMRC. You must also take the payment into account when working out your apprenticeship levy payments.

The requirement to pay employer’s National Insurance is a new cost, and you should budget for this.

Small private sector organisations

The off-payroll rules do not apply to small private sector organisations. Consequently, if you are a small private sector organisation and you engage workers who provide their services through a personal service company or other intermediary, from 6 April 2021, as now, you continue to pay the invoice from the worker’s intermediary gross, without deducting tax and National Insurance. You do not need to carry out a status determination either.

Public sector bodies

The off-payroll rules have applied to public sector bodies engaging staff providing their services through an intermediary since 6 April 2017. From 6 April 2021, the rules continue to apply as now (subject to some minor tweaks to facilitate their application to the private sector). The public sector body engaging the worker’s intermediary must continue to assess whether the engagement falls within the off-payroll working rules, and deduct tax and National Insurance from payments to the worker’s intermediary where it does.

Scenario 2 – you are a worker providing your services to an intermediary

Prior to 6 April 2021, if you are a worker providing your services to an end client in the private sector through a personal service company or other intermediary, you need to consider the IR35 rules.

From 6 April 2021, this may change depending on whether the end client is a medium or large private sector organisation. Remember to check the size of the organisation when agreeing engagements that are live on or after 6 April 2021.

End client is a medium or large private sector organisation

The off-payroll rules apply in place of the IR35 rules from 6 April 2021 where the end client is a medium or large private sector organisation. The end client will be responsible for deciding whether the off-payroll working rules apply. Under the rules, they must determine your status and give you a status determination statement.

If you do not agree with the status determination, you should tell the end client this, and also the reasons why you disagree. The end client must reconsider the determination in light of this. Within 45 days, the end client must either issue a new determination or confirm that the original determination stands.

If the off-payroll working rules apply, which will be the case if the nature of the engagement is such that you would be an employee of the end client if you supplied your services to them directly, rather than through your personal service company, the fee payer will deduct tax and National Insurance from payments that they make to your personal service company. This will have a cash flow implication as the amount you receive will be net of tax and National Insurance; prior to 6 April 2021, payments are made gross. Remember to allow for this.

You will receive credit for the tax and National Insurance deducted from payments made to your intermediary against the tax and National Insurance that you owe on payments that your personal service company makes to you.

Your personal service company does not need to consider the IR35 rules.

End client is a small private sector organisation

The off-payroll rules do not apply where the end client is a small private sector organisation. Therefore, if you provide your services to a small private sector organisation via an intermediary on or after 6 April 2021, you must continue to consider the IR35 rules.

This means that your personal service company must decide whether you would be an employee of the end client if you provided your services directly to that end client. If this is the case, your personal service company must calculate the deemed employment payment on 5 April at the end of the tax year, and account for tax and National Insurance on that payment to HMRC.

End client is a public sector organisation

The off-payroll rules have applied since 6 April 2017 where the end client is a public sector organisation, and continue to apply, as now, from 6 April 2021 and beyond. You do not need to do anything different.

Compliance

Although the off-payroll working rules contain sanctions to ensure compliance, HMRC have stated that they will apply a light touch and will not impose late or inaccuracy penalties on medium and large organisations until 6 April 2022. This will give them a year to get to grips with the rules.

Speak to us

Talk to us about what the new rules mean for you, and what you need to do to prepare.

Business interruption insurance pay-outs

Business-interruption-insurance-pay-outs

Business interruption insurance pay-outs

Business interruption insurance policies provide cover for losses that arise if a business is severely disrupted or is forced to close. The policy will cover losses that arise as a result, and also fixed costs that the business has to continue to pay while shut.

Many businesses that expected their policies to pay out when they were forced to close as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic found that their insurers did not agree. A sticking point for many was the policy wording, which often excluded diseases unless the disease was named.

FCA test case

To provide some clarity as to whether closures due to COVID-19 were covered, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) took forward a test case. A ruling in the Supreme Court found predominantly in favour of the policyholders, paving the way for compensation payments to be made.

Tax implications

The tax treatment of any receipts received under a business interruption insurance policy will depend on the nature of those receipts, and also whether the associated insurance premiums were deductible.

Deductibility of premiums

As a general rule, insurance premiums will be deductible in calculating the profits of the business if the premiums are incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the business. If you have taken out business interruption insurance, it is likely that this test is met and you can deduct the cost of the premiums when working out your taxable profits.

Taxability of receipts

HMRC have confirmed that in most situations, where the premium is deductible, any receipts paid out under the policy will be taxable. If you have received a pay-out to compensate you for profits lost as a result of having to close your business during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should include the receipt as a trading receipt when working out your taxable profits.

If you prepare accounts using the cash basis, the receipt should be taken into account in the period in which you received it. However, if you use the accruals basis, the usual rule is that the receipt should be taken into account in the period to which it relates. This would normally be when the business was closed, but where it was not certain that the payment would be made, it should be reflected in the accounts from the date that this became clear, if later.

Can we help?

If you have received a pay-out under a business interruption insurance policy and are unsure how it should be treated for tax purposes, please get in touch.

Updating PAYE codes for 2021/22

Updating-PAYE-codes

Updating PAYE codes for 2021/22

The 2021/22 tax year starts on 6 April 2021. If you employ staff, you will need to update their tax codes before you pay them for the first time in the new tax year. However, remember to finalise the 2020/21 tax year before updating your payroll software and data for 2021/22.

Tax codes from 6 April 2021

The tax code that you will need to use for an employee from 6 April 2021 will depend on whether or not HMRC have sent you a notification of a new tax code to use from that date.

The personal allowance is increased to £12,570 for 2021/22. As a result, the PAYE starting threshold will increase to £242 per week (£1,048 per month). The emergency tax code for 2021/22 is 1270L.

Employees with a new tax code

If HMRC issue a new tax code for an employee, you will receive either a paper form P9(T), ‘Notice to employer of employee’s tax code’, or an internet notification of coding if you are registered for HMRC’s PAYE Online Service. To access your code online, you will need to:

  1. Go to the login page for PAYE online and select ‘Sign in’.
  2. Sign in to the service using your Government Gateway User ID and password.
  3. From your Business Tax Account home page, select ‘Messages’ and then select ‘PAYE for employers messages’.
  4. Select ‘View your tax code notices’.
  5. From the tax year drop down menu, select ‘2021/2022’.

You should use the form P9(T) or the online tax code notification with the most recent date if you have received more than one for 2021/22, and discard any previous notifications. You should update your 2021/22 payroll to reflect the tax code shown in the notification for that employee.

Employees without a new tax code

If HMRC have not issued a tax code notification for an employee, you will need to update their 2020/21 tax code to reflect the increase in the personal allowance to £12,570 for 2021/22. To do this, you should:

  • add 7 to any tax code ending in L;
  • add 8 to any tax code ending in M; and
  • add 6 to any tax code ending in N.

For example, 1250L will become 1257L.

You should not carry over any ‘week 1’ or ‘month 1’ markings.

Scottish and Welsh taxpayers

Scottish taxpayers are identified with an ‘S’ prefix and Welsh taxpayers are identified with a ‘C’ prefix. Check any Scottish or Welsh employees (those living, respectively, in Scotland or in Wales) have the correct tax codes, including the prefix.

More information

You can find more information on tax codes to use from 6 April 2021 in HMRC’s P9X(2021) guidance.

Get in touch

Please get in touch if you need assistance in updating your employees’ tax codes for the 2021/22 tax year.

Gift Aid warning

Gift-Aid-warning

Gift Aid warning

If you are a taxpayer and you make a Gift Aid declaration when making a donation to a charity, the charity can reclaim basic rate tax on your donation.

Tax relief on the donation

A donation made under Gift Aid is treated as being made net of the basic rate of tax, currently 20%. The charity can reclaim 25% of the amount donated. For example, if you donate £100, the charity can reclaim £25 (25% of £100), bringing the total donation up to £125. Your donation of £100 is 80% of the total donation, with the charity reclaiming the remaining 20%, i.e., £25.

If you are a higher rate taxpayer or an additional rate taxpayer, you can claim relief through your self-assessment tax return for the difference between the highest rate at which you pay tax and the basic rate relief received at source – a further 20% of the gross donation for higher rate taxpayers and a further 25% for additional rate taxpayers.

Have you paid enough tax?

The tax that is reclaimed by the charity on the donation is funded by the tax that the taxpayer has paid. As long as you pay more tax than the charity reclaims on your Gift Aided donations, all is well. However, problems can arise if your income falls and you have not paid enough tax to cover that reclaimed on your Gift Aid donations. If this is the case, HMRC will look to you to make up the shortfall.

Review your Gift Aid donations

If your income has fallen for 2020/21, either as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or otherwise, you may wish to review your regular Gift Aid donations to ensure that you have paid sufficient tax to cover the basic rate relief given at source. If your income has fallen below the level of the personal allowance, set at £12,500 for 2020/21 and rising to £12,570 for 2021/22, you should cancel any existing Gift Aid declarations so that you do not have to repay the tax claimed on those donations back to HMRC.

When making one-off donations, consider your tax position before completing the Gift Aid declaration.

Contact us

If you would like to review the tax effectiveness of your charitable donations, please contact us.

Self-assessment late payment penalty

Self-assessment-late-payment-penalty

Self-assessment late payment penalty

HMRC announced in January that they would not charge a late filing penalty if your 2019/20 tax return was not filed by midnight on 31 January 2021, as long as the return was filed by 28 February 2021. Any tax due by 31 January 2021 should still have been paid by that date, unless a time-to-pay arrangement had been agreed.

Where tax is paid late, interest is charged from the due date (31 January) until the date of payment. Penalties may also be charged. However, this year, a late payment penalty will not be charged as long as the tax is paid by 1 April 2021, or a time to pay agreement set up by that date.

Interest on late paid tax

Interest is charged from 1 February 2021 on any amounts unpaid at that date. This is the case regardless of whether or not a time-to-pay arrangement is in place.

Late payment penalty waived

The first late payment penalty – set at 5% of the unpaid tax – is normally charged where the tax remains unpaid after 30 days. However, HMRC have announced that the late payment penalty will be waived as long as the tax is paid, or a time-to-pay arrangement is agreed, by 1 April 2021.

You can set up a time-to-pay arrangement online.

Speak to us

Speak to us if you have unpaid tax and you need help in setting up a time-to-pay arrangement.

MTD for corporation tax

HMRC-consultation-on-MTD

MTD for corporation tax

The Government would like to hear your views on proposals for a new process for keeping records for corporation tax purposes and reporting tax information to HMRC, known as Making Tax Digital (MTD). Your comments will help ensure that the design makes it as easy as possible for smaller businesses to comply when the rules are introduced.

The consultation closes at 11.45pm on 5 March 2021.

National Minimum Wage changes from 1 April 2021

National-Minimum-Wage-changes-from-1-April-2021

National Minimum Wage changes from 1 April 2021

You must pay employees at least the statutory minimum wage, either the National Living Wage (NLW) or the National Minimum Wage (NMW), depending on the employee’s age. From 1 April 2021, the age threshold for payment of the NLW is lowered and the rates of the NLW and the NMW are increased.

National Living Wage

The NLW is the statutory minimum wage that you must pay older workers. Prior to 1 April 2021, the NLW is payable to workers aged 25 and older. From 1 April 2021, the threshold is lowered and from that date, you must pay the NLW to workers aged 23 and older.

National Minimum Wage

The NMW is payable to workers who are at least school leaving age but who are not entitled to the NLW. There are three NMW age bands — workers aged 16 and 17, workers aged 18 to 20, and workers aged 21 and over but below the age of entitlement to the NLW. Prior to 1 April 2021, the last band applies to workers aged 21 to 24; from 1 April 2021, it applies to workers aged 21 and 22.

Apprentice rate

A lower rate of the NMW is payable to apprentices who are aged 19 and under, or who are over the age of 19, but in the first year of their apprenticeship.

Rates from 1 April 2021

The following table shows the NLW and the NMW rates that are payable from 1 April 2021.

NLW: Workers aged 23 and above NMW: Workers aged 21 and 22 NMW: Workers aged 18 to 20 NMW: Workers aged 16 and 17 NMW: Apprentice rate Accommodation offset
£8.91 per hour£8.36 per hour£6.56 per hour£4.62 per hour£4.30 per hours£8.36 per day
£58.52 per week

Get in touch

Talk to us about what the changes to the NLW and NMW mean for your business.

File your tax return by 28 February

File-your-tax-return-by-28-February

File your tax return by 28 February

The normal deadline for filing the 2019/20 tax return is 31 January 2021. However, HMRC announced in a press release issued on 25 January 2021 that they would not issue a late filing penalty as long as the 2019/20 tax return is filed online by 28 February 2021. However, any tax due by 31 January 2021 must still be paid on time.

Extended deadline

Jim Harra, Chief Executive of HMRC, confirmed that taxpayers will not receive a penalty for the late filing of their 2019/20 tax return, as long as the return is received online by 28 February 2021. HMRC have previously resisted attempts to extend the deadline due to the pressures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The change of heart came late in the day as HMRC accepted that it had become increasingly clear that people were struggling to meet the 31 January deadline. The extension will provide taxpayers with breathing space to complete their returns.

Normally, a penalty of £100 is issued automatically if the return is filed after midnight on 31 January.

No change to tax payment deadline

Despite the relaxation to the filing deadline, any tax due by 31 January 2021 must still be paid by this date. This will include any remaining tax due for 2019/20, including the July 2020 payment on account where this was delayed, and also the first payment on account for 2020/21. Interest will run from 1 February 2021 on any tax paid late

Taxpayers struggling to pay their tax in full and on time can set up a Time to Pay arrangement and pay what they owe in instalments. You can do this online if the tax that you owe is £30,000 or less. However, you will need to file your return before you can set up an instalment plan.

Speak to us

Speak to us if you need help filing your 2019/20 tax return or setting up a Time to Pay arrangement.

Furloughing staff unable to work due to school closures

Furloughing-staff-unable-to-work-due-to-school-closures

Furloughing staff unable to work due to school closures

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) provides grant support to enable employers to continue to pay staff who are fully or flexibly furloughed. The scheme can be used for staff who have been furloughed because they have caring responsibilities.

School closures

On 4 January 2021, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced that England would enter its third national lockdown the following day. Unlike the last lockdown, schools are also closed, other than for the children of key workers and for vulnerable children. This places a caring responsibility on parents, who need to look after their children and undertake home schooling.

If you have employees who need to care for and home school their children and who are unable to work as a result, you are able to furlough them and claim a grant under the CJRS. Likewise, where an employee needs to work fewer hours in order to fulfil their parental responsibilities while schools are closed, you can flexibly furlough the employee and use the CJRS to claim a grant for the employee’s usual hours that they do not work.

Eligible caring responsibilities

In their guidance on the CJRS, the Government have confirmed that an employee can be furloughed if their caring responsibilities mean that the employee is unable to work (including being unable to work from home) or can only work reduced hours. The guidance cites caring for children who are at home as a result of school or childcare facilities closing as an example of caring responsibilities that might arise as a result of COVID-19.

Claiming the grant

You can claim a grant of 80% of the employee’s usual wages for their unworked hours, to a maximum of £2,500 a month. Claims must be made for each calendar month by the 14th of the following month (or the next working day if this falls on the weekend).

Talk to us

If your employees are struggling to juggle childcare and their job, talk to us about the option of furloughing or flexibly furloughing them and claiming a grant through the CJRS.

New COVID-19 grants for closed businesses

New-COVID-19-grants-for-closed-businesses

New COVID-19 grants for closed businesses

England went into the third national lockdown on 5 January 2021. To help business affected, the Chancellor unveiled a £4.6 billion package to help businesses forced to close. The grants are in addition to the monthly support payments previously announced.

Cash grant for closed businesses

If your business is in a sector such as non-essential retail, leisure or hospitality, and you have been forced to close as a result of the latest lockdown, you may be eligible for a one-off cash grant. The grant is available to businesses with business premises that are required to close and which cannot operate remotely. The amount of the grant depends on the rateable value of the property. Businesses with more than one property will receive a grant for each closed property.

If the rateable value of your business premises is £15,000 or less, you will receive a cash grant of £4,000. This increases to £6,000 if your business premises have a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000. If your business premises have a rateable value of more than £51,000, you will receive the maximum grant of £9,000.

On-going support payments

In addition to the one-off cash grant, you may also be entitled to on-going support from your local council. You will qualify if your business is based in England and you occupy premises on which you pay business rates, your business has been forced to close as a result of national restrictions and you are unable to provide your usual in-person customer service from your premises. This may include you if your business is in the retail, leisure, tourism or hospitality sectors, or if you provide sports facilities or personal care. You may also qualify if, for example, you run a restaurant and move to providing takeaways instead.

You will not be eligible for the on-going support payments if you can continue to operate remotely, or if you chose to close voluntarily.

Separate support measures are available for businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The amount of support that you will receive depends on the rateable value of your business premises.

If your business property has a rateable value of £15,000 or less, you may be entitled to a cash grant of £2,001 for each 42-day period for which qualifying restrictions apply. The grant is increased to £3,000 for each 42-day restriction period if your property has a rateable value of more than £15,000 but less than £51.000, and to £4,500 for the same 42-day period if your rateable value is more than £51,000.

Applications for the grant should be made to your local authority.

Contact us

Contact us for help in understanding what support you are entitled to receive and how to obtain it.

Domestic VAT reverse charge for building and construction services

Domestic-VAT-reverse-charge for-building-and-construction-services

Domestic VAT reverse charge for building and construction services

The domestic VAT reverse charge for building and construction services finally comes into effect on 1 March 2021. The start date was originally 1 October 2019, but it was postponed by one year until 1 October 2020 to allow those affected more time to prepare. The start date was further delayed – until 1 March 2021 — as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Detailed guidance on the charge can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Nature of the charge

Under the domestic VAT reverse charge, the customer receiving the service must pay the associated VAT to HMRC rather than paying it to the supplier. The charge will be relevant to you if you are an individual or a business that is registered for VAT in the UK, and you supply or receive specified services that are reported under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). If you are a customer, you will pay the supplier the amount net of VAT and pay the VAT to HMRC. If you are a supplier, you will receive payment net of VAT and will no longer need to pay the VAT to HMRC.

Services within the scope of the charge

The following services fall within the scope of the charge:

  • constructing, altering, repairing, extending, demolishing or dismantling buildings or structures (whether permanent or not), including offshore installation services;
  • constructing, altering, repairing, extending or demolishing any works forming, or planned to form, part of the land, including walls, roadworks, power lines, electronic communications equipment, aircraft runways, railways, inland waterways, docks and harbours, pipelines, reservoirs, water mains, wells, sewers, industrial plant and installations for the purpose of land draining, coast protection or defence;
  • installing heating, lighting, air-conditioning, ventilation, power supply, drainage, sanitation, water supply or fire protection systems in any building;
  • internal clearing of buildings and structures which is carried out in the course of their construction, alteration, repair, extension or restoration; and
  • services that form an integral part of, or are part of, the preparation or completion of the services described above, including site clearance, earth-moving, excavation, tunnelling and boring, laying of foundations, erection of scaffolding, site restoration, landscaping and the provision of roadways and other access works.

Exclusions

The domestic VAT reverse charge does not apply to:

  • drilling for, or extracting, oil or natural gas;
  • extracting minerals (using underground or service working), and tunnelling, boring or the construction of underground works for this purposes;
  • manufacturing building or engineering components or equipment, materials, plant or machinery, or delivering any of these to site;
  • manufacturing components for heating, lighting, air-conditioning, ventilation, power supply, drainage, sanitation, water supply or fire protection systems, and delivering any of these to site;
  • the professional work of architects or surveyors, or of building engineering, interior or exterior decoration or landscaping consultants;
  • making, installing and repairing art works, such as sculptures and other items that are purely artistic, signwriting, and erecting, installing and repairing signboards and advertisements;
  • installing seating, blinds and shutters; and
  • installing security systems, including burglar alarms, closed circuit television and public address systems.

Preparing for the charge

If you are an individual or business that falls within the scope of the charge, you will need to ensure that you are ready to apply it from 1 March 2021. In preparation, you will need to check that your accounting systems and software can cope with the reverse VAT charge, and upgrade them if necessary. You should also ensure that any staff who deal with VAT understand the changes and what they need to do to comply.

It is also prudent to assess how the charge will impact on your cash flow, particular if you supply services that fall within the scope of the charge as you will no longer receive the associated VAT.

Completing the VAT return

If you are a supplier, you must not enter any output tax on any sales that fall within the domestic VAT reverse charge on building and construction services on your VAT return. Instead, you only need to enter the net sales value.

If you are a customer purchasing services within the scope of the charge, you must account for the associated VAT to HMRC by including it as output tax on your VAT return. You should not enter the net value of the purchase as a net sale. You can reclaim the input tax on your reverse charge purchases in accordance with normal VAT rules.

We can help

We can help you to prepare for the introduction of the charge, and comply with your obligations in relation to it.

31 January self-assessment deadline approaching

31 January self-assessment deadline approaching

31 January self-assessment deadline approaching

There are a number of key tasks that you need complete by midnight on 31 January 2021. These include filing the self-assessment tax return for 2019/20, paying any remaining tax due for 2019/20 and, where applicable, calculating and paying the first payment on account for 2020/21.

Filing deadline

The deadline for filing the 2019/20 tax return online is midnight on 31 January 2021. If you received a notice to file a return which was issued after 31 October 2020, a later deadline applies, and you have three months from the date of that notice in which to file your return. The deadline for filing paper returns (31 October 2020) has already passed. While any paper returns filed after that date (or more than three months from the date of notice to file a return, if later) will attract a late filing penalty, the penalty can be avoided by filing your return online by midnight on 31 January 2021.

If you miss the filing deadline, you will receive an automatic late filing penalty of £100. This is the case regardless of whether you have any tax to pay. Further late filing penalties are charged where the return remains outstanding after three months, six months and 12 months.

Do I need to file a return?

You will need to file a tax return if HMRC have sent you a notice requiring you to file one. You will also need to register for self-assessment if you have not already done so and file a tax return for 2019/20 if in that year you had taxable income that was not taxed at source. This might include:

  • income from self-employment of more than £1,000;
  • money received from renting out a property;
  • savings income, such as interest or dividends;
  • foreign income; or
  • capital gains.

You might also need to fill in a tax return if you have income tax reliefs that you wish to claim, although this will not always be the case as some, for example, relief for employment expenses, can be claimed online.

Paying tax

You must pay any tax owing for 2019/20 plus the first payment on account for 2020/21 by 31 January 2021. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may find that your bill is higher than normal this year if you opted to delay making the second payment on account for 2019/20. If you are struggling to pay your bill, you may be able to pay in instalments.

If you filed your tax return by 30 December 2020, have PAYE income and owe £3,000 or less, the tax that you owe can be collected through PAYE by adjusting your 2021/22 tax code.

Tax due for 2019/20

Unless you have agreed a Time-to-Pay arrangement with HMRC, you will need to pay any tax that you owe for 2019/20 by 31 January 2021. Remember, to take off any payments that you have already made when working out what you need to pay – the HMRC tax calculation does not do this automatically. If you are unsure what payments have been made, you can check this by looking at your personal tax account.

If you opted to delay your second payment on account for 2019/20 (which would have normally been due by 31 July 2020), you will need to pay this by 31 January 2021, along with any balance that remains outstanding. As long as you pay the delayed payment by this date, there will be no interest to pay.

First payment on account for 2020/21

You will need to make payments on account of your 2020/21 self-assessment liability if your tax and Class 4 National Insurance bill for 2019/20 was at least £1,000, unless at least 80% of your tax is collected at source, for example, under PAYE. Each payment on account for 2020/21 is 50% of the tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability for 2019/20. You must make the payments by 31 January 2021 and 31 July 2021.

However, because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, your liability for 2020/21 may be considerably lower than that for 2019/20. The payments on account for 2020/21 are based on pre-pandemic profits of 2019/20; where your income has fallen significantly, you may wish to reduce your 2020/21 payments on account to more realistic levels. However, when working out your estimated liability for 2020/21, remember to include any COVID-19 support payments as these are taxable. You can opt to reduce your payments on account by completing the relevant section of your self-assessment tax return or via your personal tax account.

Payment difficulties

If you are struggling to pay the tax that you owe by 31 January 2021, you may be able to set up an arrangement to spread the cost and pay your tax in instalments. You can do this online if you owe £30,000 or less and have no other payment plans or debts with HMRC; otherwise, you will need to contact HMRC to agree a payment plan.

Interest and penalties

If you pay any tax owing for 2019/20 after 31 January or make your 2020/21 payments on account late or reduce your payments on account by too much, you will be charged interest. Interest is also charged where payments are made in instalments. In the absence of an instalment plan, you will also be charged penalties at the rate of 5% of the unpaid tax where it remains unpaid after 30 days, six months and 12 months.

Contact us

Please let us know if you would like us to file your return on your behalf or if you need help working out what tax you need to pay and by when.

The CJRS, furloughed staff and Christmas holidays

The CJRS, furloughed staff and Christmas holidays

The CJRS, furloughed staff and Christmas holidays

Following the announcement of more stringent lockdown measures, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced yet another extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The scheme will now run until the end of April 2021.

Under the extended scheme, claims must be made within 14 days of the end of the month to which they relate (or by the following working day where this falls on a weekend). Consequently, if you are making a claim for December 2020, you must do this no later than 14 January 2021. When making claims for December and January, care must be taken not to fall foul of the rules in relation to claims over the Christmas holiday period.

Furloughed workers and annual leave

Furloughed workers continue to accrue leave as for any other employee. Where you have workers who are on furlough, they remain entitled to their statutory leave entitlement of 5.6 weeks.

Furloughed workers can also take holiday while on furlough; and you can require that they take holiday to use up their annual leave entitlement. Normal rules apply as regards the notice required to take leave.

Holiday pay

Where an employee takes annual leave while furloughed, they must be paid their usual rate of pay. This means that while you can still continue to claim a grant under the CJRS for a furloughed worker while on leave, you must top this up so that they receive their usual pay for the days that they are on holiday.

Bank holidays

A number of bank holidays fall over the festive period. It is important to note that there is no statutory entitlement to time off on a bank holiday, although you can require that an employee takes bank holidays as leave. The days are included within the employee’s statutory entitlement of 5.6 weeks.

If a furloughed employee would usually work on a bank holiday, you can claim the furlough grant for that day. You do not need to top it up. However, if you require a furloughed employee to take bank holidays as leave, you must top up the furlough grant so that the employee receives their usual pay for those days.

Christmas shutdown

You can only furlough employees and claim a grant under the CJRS if your business is adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you normally close over Christmas, you cannot simply furlough employees for the period of the Christmas shutdown and claim a grant under the CJRS for this period. Likewise, you cannot furlough an employee because there is less work for them to do over the Christmas period. This is an abuse of the scheme, and where claims of this nature are made, the grant money received must be paid back to HMRC.

Speak to us

We can help you understand what claims can be made under the CJRS and how to make a claim.

Virtual Christmas parties and tax-free gifts

Virtual Christmas parties and tax free gifts

Virtual Christmas parties and tax-free gifts

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that the traditional Christmas party could not happen in 2020. If, instead, you held a virtual event, you will be pleased to know that this too can benefit from the tax exemption for annual parties and functions. There is also good news if you opted to give your staff a seasonal gift, as this may fall within the scope of the trivial benefits exemption.

Virtual Christmas parties

The tax exemption for annual parties and functions means that your staff can enjoy a Christmas party without having to worry about an associated benefit-in-kind tax charge as long as the cost per head (including VAT) is £150 or less and the event is open to all staff (or all staff at a particular location).

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that large in-person events are off the menu this year. If, like many other organisations, you chose not to forgo the Christmas party entirely and held an online event instead, your virtual event will fall within the scope of the exemption for annual parties and functions, as long as the associated conditions have been met. HMRC have confirmed that where the event is provided using IT, the exemption will cover the costs of the event, including the provision of equipment, entertainment and refreshments, as long as they are provided principally for the enjoyment or consumption by employees during the event.

If a virtual event is not for you, the exemption will also apply if you delay the Christmas party and hold a later event instead, as long as it is held before the end of the current tax year.

Where the conditions for exemption have been met, you do not need to report the virtual event to HMRC on your employees’ P11Ds, or include it within a PAYE Settlement Agreement.

Seasonal gifts

If, as a gesture of goodwill, you gave your employees a Christmas gift, as long as the cost of providing that gift is not more than £50, it will fall within the scope of the trivial benefits exemption. This is good news; there is no tax to pay and you do not need to report the gift to HMRC.

The choice of gift is up to you, and traditional seasonal gifts, such as a turkey or a hamper, can be given within the scope of the exemption, as long as they do not cost you more than £50 to provide. If you provide gifts to a number of employees and it is impracticable to work out the individual cost, the average cost can be used instead.

There are, however, some points to watch. The exemption does not apply to gifts of cash or cash vouchers, or to those given as a reward for the provision of services or where the employee is contractually entitled to the gift. Care must also be taken when giving gift cards if these can be topped up; in this case, HMRC regard the cost to be the total cost in the tax year, rather than the cost of each individual top-up. Similar considerations apply to the use of apps to buy goods and services and to season tickets.

Get in touch

Talk to us to find out whether your Christmas events and gifts for employees are exempt from tax.

Furnished holiday lettings and lockdowns

Furnished holiday lettings and lockdowns

Furnished holiday lettings and lockdowns

The second National Lockdown and local restrictions may mean that you are unable to meet the tests for your holiday let to qualify as a furnished holiday letting (FHL) for 2020/21. However, where this is the case, all is not lost as there are alternative routes by which your let might meet the FHL requirements.

FHL tests

To qualify for the more advantageous FHL tax regime, your property must be let commercially, let furnished, and it must be in the UK or the EEA. It must also meet all of the following occupancy conditions.

  1. The pattern of occupancy condition – the total of all lettings that exceed 31 continuous days in the tax year cannot be more than 155 days.
  2. The availability condition – your property must be available for letting as furnished accommodation for at least 210 days in the tax year. Days that you stay in the property do not count.
  3. The letting condition – your property must be let commercially as furnished holiday accommodation for at least 105 days in the tax year (excluding lets of more than 31 days and days occupied cheaply or free by family and friends).

If you have failed to meet the letting condition in 2020/21 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be able to make an averaging and/or a period of grace election to help you reach the magic number. HMRC Helpsheet HS253 contains further details.

Averaging election

If you have more than one property that you let out as furnished holiday accommodation, you may be able to use an averaging election to help all your properties to qualify. This will be the case if some but not all of the lets meet the letting condition. An averaging election allows the condition to be met by reference to the average occupancy across all your holiday lets. For example, if you have three holiday lets and the total number of days in the tax year on which the properties are let as furnished holiday accommodation is at least 315 days, all 3 properties will meet the requirement. The average let will be at least 105 days.

An averaging election for 2020/21 must be made by 31 January 2023.

Period of grace election

A period of grace election can be made as well as, or instead of, an averaging election. It will help if you genuinely intended to meet the letting conditions, but were unable to do so, for example, because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To qualify, the property must have met the letting requirement for the year before the year for which you first wish to make a period of grace election; so, if the first year for which an election is required is 2020/21, the letting condition must have been met (individually or as a result of an averaging election) in 2019/20. A second election can be made for 2021/22 if the condition is not met again in that year. However, your property must meet the requirement in 2022/23 if it is to continue to qualify as a FHL.

As with an averaging election, a period of grace election for 2020/21 must be made by 31 January 2023.

Talk to us

Contact us to discuss how you can ensure that your holiday let qualifies for the favourable FHL tax regime.

Some Brexit reminders

Brexit reminders

Some Brexit reminders

The Brexit transitional period comes to an end on 31 December 2020. As a result, new rules will apply from 1 January 2021. As the situation is evolving, it is recommended that you check the guidance on the Gov.uk website regularly.

EORI number

From 1 January 2021 you will need an EORI number to move goods between Great Britain and the EU. You may also need a separate EORI number to move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. You can find out more on the Gov.uk website.

Postponed VAT accounting

From 1 January 2021, postponed VAT accounting will apply if you are a VAT-registered business and you import goods into the UK. Under postponed VAT accounting, you can account for the import VAT on your VAT return for goods imported from anywhere in the world. More information can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Customs declarations

The rules governing when customs declarations need to be made also change from 1 January 2021. Note that different rules apply to Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Check the guidance for details of the declarations that are required when sending goods from the UK, and also the guidance on the declarations required when bringing goods into the UK.

Contact us

We can help you manage the transition to the new rules.

Temporary AIA limit extended until 31 December 2021

Bar chart with a bank note decoration

Temporary AIA limit extended until 31 December 2021

The Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) enables a business which incurs qualifying expenditure to claim an immediate deduction when computing taxable profits. The deduction is capped at the amount of the AIA limit for the period which remains available. The AIA limit was increased from its permanent level of £200,000 to a temporary level of £1 million from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020. The Government have announced that the £1 million limit will apply for a further year – until 31 December 2021 – to help businesses to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Impact on the transitional rules

The extension of the £1 million limit for a further year means that the transitional rules, which originally would have applied where the accounting period spanned 31 December 2020, will now apply where the accounting period spans 31 December 2021.

If your accounting period falls wholly within the period from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2021, your AIA limit for the period is £1 million.

Speak to us

Talk to us when planning your capital expenditure projects to find out how the timing can impact on the capital allowances available.

HMRC consult on Making Tax Digital for corporation tax

Person typing on a laptop that is showing data charts and info

HMRC consult on Making Tax Digital for corporation tax

Earlier this year, the Government published a timetable for taking the Making Tax Digital (MTD) programme forward.

As part of that programme, MTD will be extended to corporation tax. Although, this will not be mandatory until at least 2026, HMRC are now consulting on the design. Businesses will be given the chance to take part in a pilot prior to its introduction. This is currently planned for 2024.

Current system

Under the current system, you must file your accounts at Companies House within nine months of the end of your accounting period. Your corporation tax is due nine months and one day from the end of your accounting period, and you must file a company tax return with HMRC no later than 12 months from the end of your accounting period.

What MTD for corporation tax may look like

The purpose of the consultation is to consult on the design for MTD for corporation tax – therefore it is not yet set in stone. However, it is envisaged that your company will need to use approved software to maintain digital business records (which include XBRL tagging). You will then use your digital records to upload quarterly updates to HMRC. As part of this process, you will be able to see your expected corporation tax liability for the period. After the end of the year and before your accounts are submitted to Companies House, we will be able to use MTD-compatible software to make any adjustments that are needed and finalise your company’s MTD process.

Keep up to date

MTD is an evolving process. Speak to us to ensure that you keep abreast of the changes.

Customs declarations from 1 January 2021

Aerial photo of a shipping yard with containers

Customs declarations from 1 January 2021

The Brexit transitional period comes to an end on 31 December 2020. From January 2021, new arrangements apply if you send goods abroad from the UK or bring goods into the UK. It is important that you check what customs declarations you need to make from 1 January 2021 onwards.

Where goods are moved through Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Common Transit may affect the declarations that you need to make.

Sending goods from the UK

The first point to note is that the customs declarations that are required will depend on whether the goods are sent from Great Britain or from Northern Ireland – the rules are not UK-wide.

Sending goods from Great Britain

If you are sending goods from Great Britain to another country, the declarations that are needed will depend on the country to which the goods are being sent.

If you are sending goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, you will not need to make a declaration when you send the goods. However, you may need to make a declaration when the goods arrive in Northern Ireland. If you move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, you can make use of the Trader Support Service.

From 1 January 2021, if you are sending goods from Great Britain to a country in the EU, before the goods leave Great Britain, a declaration will be needed and also an exit summary (safety and security) declaration if this is not already included in your declaration.

The procedure for sending goods from Great Britain to a country outside the EU (other than Northern Ireland) is unchanged from 1 January 2021 – a declaration is needed before the goods leave Great Britain, and also an exit summary if this is not included in the declaration.

From 1 January 2021, the procedures are the same where goods are sent from Great Britain to a country other than Northern Ireland.

Sending goods from Northern Ireland

In most cases, you will not need to make a customs declaration when sending goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. However, the Government are yet to publish guidance on when declarations may be needed for certain goods.

Unlike goods sent from Great Britain, you will not need to make a customs declaration from 1 January 2021 if you send goods from Northern Ireland to a country in the EU.

However, as now, if you send goods outside the EU from Northern Ireland, you will need to make a customs declaration and you will also need an exit summary if this is not included in your declaration.

Bringing goods into the UK

If you are a UK-based business and you bring goods into the UK, the customs declarations that you need to make from 1 January 2021 onwards will depend on where the goods have come from and whether you are bringing them into Great Britain or Northern Ireland.

Bringing goods into Great Britain

You will not need a customs declaration for most goods that you bring into Great Britain from Northern Ireland. Guidance on the declarations needed for certain goods is yet to be published.

From 1 January 2021, the customs declarations that are needed if you bring goods into Great Britain from an EU country will depend on whether the goods are controlled goods or not. If they are, you must make a customs declaration when the goods arrive. If the goods are not controlled goods, you may be able to delay making declarations and instead record the goods in your own records and tell HMRC about them up to six months later. Guidance on whether you can take advantage of these procedures can be found on the Gov.uk website. This may be an option if you are moving goods from the EU into free circulation in Great Britain between 1 January and 30 June 2021.

A customs declaration and an entry summary are needed for goods brought into Great Britain from outside the EU or Northern Ireland.

Bringing goods into Northern Ireland

From 1 January 2021, you will need to make a customs declaration when goods arrive into Northern Ireland from Great Britain. An entry summary is also required.

However, you will not need a declaration for any goods that you bring into Northern Ireland from the EU. If you bring goods into Northern Ireland from outside the EU, other than from Great Britain, as now, you will need a customs declaration and entry summary.

Talk to us

Making customs declarations can be complicated and you may want to appoint someone to handle this on your behalf. Talk to us to find out how we can help.

File your tax return by 30 December 2020

Post-it with "Tax Time!" written on it

File your tax return by 30 December 2020

Although the deadline by which your 2019/20 self-assessment tax return must be filed online is 31 January 2021, an earlier deadline of 30 December 2020 applies if you want any tax that you owe for 2019/20 to be collected through PAYE. This can be advantageous as you can spread the cost across the tax year, rather than paying it in a single instalment.

Conditions

You can pay your self-assessment bill through PAYE if all of the following apply:

  • the amount that you owe is £3,000 or less;
  • you already pay tax through PAYE (for example, because you are an employee or you receive a company pension); and
  • you either submitted a paper tax return for 2019/20 by 31 October 2020 or filed your return online by 30 December 2020.

You should note that if you meet all of these conditions, HMRC will collect any tax that you owe through the PAYE system. If you file your self-assessment return by 30 December 2020 and owe less than £3,000 and do not want to pay it in this way, you will need let HMRC know. You can do this on your tax return. If you choose this route, you will need to pay the tax you owe for 2019/20 by 31 January 2021 (unless you have agreed a Time to Pay arrangement with HMRC).

You will not be able to pay any tax that you owe via PAYE if:

  • you do not have sufficient PAYE income to cover the tax that you owe;
  • collecting tax in this way would mean that you would pay more than 50% of your PAYE income in tax; or
  • if you would end up paying twice as much tax as you would do otherwise.

Collection through your tax code

Your tax code will be adjusted to facilitate the collection of the tax that you owe through the PAYE system. The adjustment will reflect the amount that you owe and the rate at which you pay tax.

Underpayments for 2019/20 will be collected by adjusting the 2021/22 tax code. Adjusting the tax code will have the effect of collecting the underpaid tax in 12 equal instalments over the 2021/22 tax year. Interest is not charged, meaning this is an interest-free way of paying any tax that you owe in instalments.

Speak to us

If you have a tax underpayment of £3,000 or less and would like it to be collected via an adjustment to your 2021/22 tax code, please let us know so that we can ensure that your 2019/20 tax return is filed by the 30 December 2020 deadline.

SEISS grant increased

Movie theatre display board showing "This is just intermission, we'll see you soon"

SEISS grant increased

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEIS) will now run until 30 April 2021, providing two further grants – one for the three months from 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021 and one for the three months from 1 February 2021 to 30 April 2021. Since the extension to the scheme was originally announced, the amount of the first of these grants has been increased several times. The amount of the final grant has yet to be set.

Amount of the third grant

The third grant payable under the SEISS will now be set at 80% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500.

As for the first two grants, the amount of the third grant is calculated by reference to average profits over the 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 tax years, with the calculation modified if you did not trade in all three of these years.

Claiming the grant

The qualifying conditions for the scheme remain the same. You can claim the third grant if you are currently actively trading but demand has fallen as a result of Coronavirus, or if you were trading previously, but are unable to do so as a result of Coronavirus. You do not need to have made a previous claim.

You can claim the third grant from 30 November 2020.

How we can help

Although we cannot make the claim on your behalf, we can help you work out whether you are eligible for the third grant and the amount to which you are entitled. Get in touch to find out more.

CJRS extended until March 2021

Letter tiles on a table forming the words "work from home"

CJRS extended until March 2021

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was due to come to an end on 31 October 2020, being replaced from 1 November 2020 with a new scheme – the Job Support Scheme. However, the second national lockdown in England changed all that. The CJRS has been reprieved and will now continue to run until 31 March 2021, while the Job Support Scheme has been put on hold.

Eligibility under the extended scheme

You will be able to claim a grant for eligible employees who are fully or flexibly furloughed under the extended scheme if you had a UK PAYE scheme on 30 October 2020 and have a UK bank account. You do not need to have made a claim previously to be eligible to claim for periods starting on or after 1 November 2020

You can make a claim in respect of an employee, if the employee was on your payroll at 11.59pm on 30 October 2020 and you had made an RTI submission in respect of that employee between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020. Employees who are made redundant or who left on or after 23 September 2020 can also benefit from a grant under the scheme if you re-employ them, as long as you had made an RTI submission in respect of them between 20 March 2020 and 23 September 2020.

You do not need to have previously furloughed an employee and made a claim under the scheme on their behalf to claim a grant for them under the extended scheme.

Amount of the claim

The good news is that for the first phase of the extended scheme, which runs from 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021, you can once again claim the full 80% of the employee’s usual wages for their furloughed hours (subject to the cap, set at £2,500 a month) – there is now no obligation for you to top up the amount claimed, as was the case for October and September.

As previously, the employee will receive 80% of their usual pay for their furlough hours (up to the cap). You must pass on the full amount of grant to the employee. Where the employee is flexibly furloughed, you must continue to pay them at their usual rate for the hours that they work, in addition to payment of the CJRS grant.

The amount of support that will be provided under the scheme for February and March 2021 has yet to be set; the Government are to review this in January 2021.

Calculating the claim

The amount that you can claim in respect of an employee’s furloughed hours depends on the usual hours that they work and their usual rate of pay. This can be complex. Guidance on working out what you can claim is available on the Gov.uk website.

Tax and National Insurance

You must deduct PAYE tax and employee’s National Insurance from grant payments that you make to your employees. You must also calculate and pay employer’s National Insurance on grant payments. Unfortunately, you cannot claim this back from the Government and must meet this cost yourself.

Making the claim

As previously, you will need to make your claim online via the claim portal. Claims must be for a minimum period of seven consecutive days and must start and finish in the same calendar month. If you use an authorised agent to file your RTI submissions, they can make the claim on your behalf.

You should be aware that tighter deadlines apply for making claims under the extended scheme – for pay periods starting on or after 1 November 2020, claims must be made by the 14th of the following month. Where this date falls on a weekend, the deadline is the following Monday. The following table shows the claim deadlines for making claims under the extended scheme.

Claim periodClaim deadline
November 202014 December 2020
December 20204 January 2021
January 202115 February 2021
February 202115 March 2021
March 202114 April 2021

The money should reach your account within six working days of the day on which you made your claim, so remember to allow sufficient time so that you have the money available to pay your employees on time.


Claims for July to October 2020 had to be made by 30 November 2020.

Job Retention Bonus

The extension of the CJRS means that you will now not be able to claim a Job Retention Bonus in February 2021.

Can we help?

Speak to us if you are unsure whether you are able to make a claim under the extended scheme or if you need help in working out what you can claim.

Postponed VAT accounting

Small shopping cart with folded cash notes inside

Postponed VAT accounting

Postponed VAT accounting is being introduced from 1 January 2021. This will affect you if you are VAT-registered and you import goods into the UK, particularly if you are a smaller business and you do not currently use the Duty Deferment Scheme. Postponed VAT accounting will apply to goods imported into the UK from all countries, regardless of whether they are in the EU or not.

Nature of postponed VAT accounting

The Brexit transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020. From 1 January 2021, if you are a VAT-registered business in the UK, you will be able to account for import VAT on your VAT return for goods imported from anywhere in the world. This is good news as it means that you will declare and recover VAT on the same VAT return, rather than having to pay it upfront and recover it at a later date. This will be beneficial from a cash flow perspective.

The introduction of postponed accounting does not change the VAT that can be recovered as input tax; normal rules continue to apply.

Accounting for import VAT on your VAT return

You can start to account for import VAT on your VAT return from 1 January 2021. You do not need to be authorised in order to do so.

You can account for import VAT on your VAT return if:

  • you import goods for use in your business;
  • you include your EORI number, which starts with ‘GB’, on your customs declaration; and
  • you include your VAT registration on your customs declaration where needed.

You can also account for import VAT on your VAT return if you use certain customs special procedures, or if you release excise goods for use in the UK (also known as ‘released for home consumption’).

If you are eligible to defer submitting your supplementary declaration for up to six months, you must account for import VAT on your VAT return.

Customs special procedures

If you initially declare goods using one of the following special procedures, you can account for import VAT on your VAT return when you submit the declaration to release the goods into free circulation. The relevant customs special procedures are:

  • customs warehousing;
  • inward processing;
  • temporary admission;
  • end use;
  • outward processing; and
  • duty suspension.

Completing your VAT return

From 1 January 2021, there are some changes in the way in which you will need to complete your VAT return if you are a UK VAT-registered business importing goods into the UK and you account for import VAT on your VAT return.

You will be able to download an online monthly statement which will show the total import VAT postponed for the previous month, and which should be included on your VAT return. You should keep this statement for your records.

The changes affect boxes 1, 4 and 7.

In Box 1, you must include the VAT due in the VAT accounting period on imports accounted for through postponed accounting.

In Box 4, you must include the VAT reclaimed in the VAT accounting period on imports accounted through postponed VAT accounting.

In Box 7, you must include the total value of all imports of goods included on your monthly online statement, excluding any VAT.

If you are eligible to defer your customs declarations, you must account for import VAT on the VAT return that covers the date on which you imported the goods. To do this, you will need to estimate the import VAT that is due from your records of the imported goods. When you submit your deferred declaration, your next online monthly statement will show the amount of import VAT due on that declaration. You must then account for any difference between the estimated figure and actual figure for the import VAT on your next VAT return.

When you can’t use postponed accounting

If you are authorised to use simplified declarations for imports and you complete your simplified frontier declaration before 1 January 2021, you will not be able to use postponed accounting to account for import VAT on your VAT return. This is the case even if you complete your supplementary declaration after 1 January 2021.

Consignments not exceeding £135 in value

HMRC are to issue guidance in due course on the VAT treatment of goods on consignments which do not exceed £135 in value.

We can help

Speak to us to find out what the changes mean for your business.

Job Support Scheme

Man in suit with outreached hand for a handshake

Job Support Scheme

The Job Support Scheme replaces the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from 1 November 2020. The scheme, which has already evolved since it was originally announced to provide a greater level of support, will run for six months until 30 April 2021. The Government will review the level of support provided under the scheme in January 2021.

Nature of the scheme

The Job Support Scheme provides grants to eligible employers to enable them to pay employees who are working reduced hours as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, or who are unable to work because the business has been required to shut as a result of lockdown restrictions. There are two strands to the scheme – one for open businesses and one for closed business.

Support for open businesses

The Job Support Scheme for open businesses allows you to claim a government grant to top-up the wages of your employees who are working at least 20% of their usual hours. You must pay the employee for the hours worked at their contracted rate. To be eligible to claim a grant, you must also pay the employee for 5% of their usual hours that are unworked, again at the contracted rate. Your contribution for unworked hours is capped at £125 per month. You can claim a grant for 61.67% of the employee’s unworked hours from the Government. The Government will pay those hours at the employee’s usual rate, subject to a cap of £1,541.75 per month. The cap will apply where the employee earns more than £3,125 per month.

Your employee will receive pay for the hours worked and for two-third of their usual hours that they are not able to work. The percentage of their normal pay that an employee receives depends on the proportion of their usual hours that they work. An employee who works 20% of his or her usual hours will receive 73% of their pay, whereas an employee who works one-third of their usual hours will receive just under 78% of their pay.

The level of support now available under the scheme is higher than was originally announced. Under the original proposals, employees had to work at least one-third of their usual hours to be eligible for a grant, with the employer paying one-third of the unworked hours and the Government paying a further third (capped at £697.62 per month). The reduction in the hours worked requirement, and the substantial reduction in the employer contribution, are to be welcomed. In its original format, the costs imposed on the employer would have meant that for many businesses struggling to survive, the scheme was not viable.

Amounts paid to employees benefitting from the Job Support Scheme are liable to tax and National Insurance, as for usual payments of wages and salary. You must account for these as normal through your payroll and pay the deductions over to HMRC, with your employer’s National Insurance. You will be required to meet the full cost of the employer’s National Insurance on the total payment made to the employee, including the grant element – you cannot claim this back from the Government. Pension contributions under auto-enrolment must be paid as normal, as must the apprenticeship levy.

More details of the scheme, together with examples of how it will work in practice, can be found in the factsheet published by the Government.

Support for closed businesses

The Job Support Scheme for closed businesses provides a higher level of support to business which are required to close as a result of local lockdown restrictions, such as pubs not serving substantial meals in Tier 3 lockdown areas. If your business is restricted to delivery or collection services only as a result of lockdown restrictions, you will also qualify for the scheme for closed businesses.

If you are forced to close due to lockdown restrictions imposed by one of the four governments in the UK, you will be able to claim a grant with which to pay your employees, as long as your employees are instructed to cease work for at least seven consecutive days, and actually do so. You cannot claim a grant for employees who are working from home.

Unlike the open scheme, you do not need to pay the employee for any unworked hours. Instead, you can claim a grant of two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay, subject to a cap of £2,100 per month. The grant will cover wages paid to employees who are unable to work. The scheme will mean that workers who are not subject to the cap will receive two-third of their usual pay. You can top up your employees’ pay if you want to, but there is no obligation to do so.

You will, however, have to pay employer’s National Insurance on grant payments, and also any employer pension contributions and the apprenticeship levy as normal. You must deduct PAYE tax and employee’s National Insurance contributions from payments made to employees, and report pay and deductions to HMRC under RTI.

The Government factsheet on the scheme for closed businesses provides more details.

Eligible employers

You will be eligible to claim a grant under the relevant Job Support Scheme if you have a UK bank account and a UK PAYE scheme which was registered, and in respect of which an RTI submission had been made, on or before 23 September 2020. You do not need to have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be eligible to use the Job Support Scheme.

Under the scheme for open businesses, a financial impact test applies to large businesses with 250 or more employees. If you fall into this category, you will have to demonstrate that your turnover is not above the level that it was before you experienced difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you claim under the Job Support Scheme, you will still be eligible to claim the Job Retention Bonus, as long as the qualifying conditions are met.

Claiming the grant

Grants are payable in arrears. Unfortunately, this means that you must pay the money to your employees before you receive it back from the Government, and report the payments and deductions to HMRC via RTI. While this will limit fraudulent claims, it may cause cash flow problems for businesses who have either been forced to close or are operating at reduced capacity. You may need extra funding to cover the first month. Grants payable to businesses in Tier 2 and 3 lockdown areas may help bridge the gap.

Claims must be made online via the dedicated portal, which is due to open on 8 December 2020. Claims will be paid on a monthly basis.

Speak to us

Speak to us to find out what help may be available to you under the Job Support Scheme.

More time to pay your tax bills

Sand hourglass held at an angle

More time to pay your tax bills

In his Winter Economy Plan, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, unveiled measures which will allow self-assessment taxpayers and VAT-registered businesses more time to pay back deferred tax.

New Payment Plan for VAT

At the start of the pandemic, VAT-registered business could delay paying VAT where it fell due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. VAT falling due after that date – i.e. that for VAT quarters ending on or after 31 May 2020 – must be paid in full and on time.

Under the original proposals, if you took advantage of the opportunity to defer paying your VAT due to Coronavirus, you had until 31 March 2021 to pay it. However, if this is likely to be difficult, you can take advantage of the New Payment Plan for VAT and instead pay your deferred VAT in 11 interest-free instalments over the 2021/22 tax year. This will mean that you will have an additional year – until 31 March 2022 rather than 31 March 2021 – to pay the full amount. To take advantage of the instalment option, you will need to opt in. HMRC will publish details of how to do this over the coming months.

Enhanced Time-to-Pay for self-assessment

If you owe tax under self-assessment, you will be able to use enhanced Time-to-Pay arrangements to set up a monthly repayment plan online, without the need to call HMRC. Taxpayers can now use this service as long as they do not owe more than £30,000 in tax. Previously, the service was only available to taxpayers owing £10,000 or less.

Self-assessment taxpayers were able to opt to delay the second payment on account for 2019/20, which was due by 31 July 2020. Under the original proposals, the deferred tax had to be paid by 31 January 2021, together with any balancing payment for 2019/20 and the first payment on account for 2020/21.

If you need more time to pay your tax, you can use HMRC’s self-service facility to set up a Time-to-Pay plan. This will give you an additional 12 months (until 31 January 2022) in which to pay the second payment on account for 2019/20, any balancing payment for 2019/20 and the first payment on account for 2020/21.

Get in touch

Contact us to find out how we can help you set up payment plans and budget for your tax bills.

Further extension to the SEISS

White board with magnets in the shape of a heart

Further extension to the SEISS

To help self-employed individuals who continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been extended for a further six months, from November 2020 to April 2021.

Grants payable under the extended scheme

The extended scheme will provide two taxable grants for the self-employed. Availability of the grants is limited to those who meet the eligibility conditions for the scheme and who are actively continuing to trade, but are facing reduced demand as a result of COVID-19.

The first grant covers the three-month period from 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021. It will be based on 40% (rather than 20%, as originally announced) of average monthly profits for a period of three months, capped at £3,750 in total.

The second grant will cover the three-month period from 1 February 2020 to 30 April 2021. The level of the second grant has yet to be set.

As with the earlier grants, any grant that you receive under the extended scheme is taxable and subject to National Insurance.

HMRC are to provide details in due course on claiming the grants.

Talk to us

Contact us to find out whether you are eligible for a grant under the extended SEISS scheme.

Deadline for applying for COVID-19 finance extended

2020 year end calendar

Deadline for applying for COVID-19 finance extended

The Government launched four temporary Government-backed schemes to provide finance to businesses struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS);
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS);
  • the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS); and
  • the Futures Fund.

The deadline for new applications under the schemes has been extended to 30 November 2020.

Pay as you Grow

If you took out a Bounce Back Loan, you can take advantage of Pay as you Grow to spread your loan repayments over ten years rather than six.

Under Pay as your Grow, you will also have the option to move temporarily to interest-only payments for up to six months. You can make use of this option up to three times during the life of the loan. Once you have made six payments, you will also have the option to pause repayments entirely for six months. This option can only be exercised once.

You do not need to make any repayments of a Bounce Back loan for the first 12 months. The Government covers the interest on the loan in the first year. Thereafter, interest is payable at the rate of 2.5% per annum.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans

The Chancellor announced in his Winter Economy Plan that the Government intend to allow CBILS lenders to extend the term of a loan provided by the scheme to allow for a repayment period of up to ten years, rather than the current maximum term of six years. This will provide additional flexibility for UK-based SMEs who may otherwise be unable to repay their loans.

Contact us

Contact us to discuss your financing needs.

Extracting funds from a family company without retained profits

Empty restaurant tables and chairs on a sidewalk

Extracting funds from a family company without retained profits

Many family companies have struggled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and may no longer have any retained profits. Where this is the case, they may need to rethink how they extract funds from their company to meet their personal bills.

Dividend problem

A popular and tax-efficient strategy is to pay family members a salary equal to the primary threshold, set at £9,500 for 2020/21, or, if the employment allowance is available, a salary equal to the personal allowance of £12,500, and to extract further profits as dividends.

Requirement to pay dividends from retained profits

Under company law, dividends can only be paid from retained profits. This means that if a company lacks sufficient retained profits to pay a proposed dividend, they will not be able to pay that dividend legally. The ability to pay a dividend is constrained by the available retained profits.

Dividends must also be paid in proportion to shareholdings; however, the use of an alphabet share structure can provide flexibility.

Other options

Despite not having any retained profits, your company may have money in the bank. This may provide options for taking funds from the company where dividends are not an option.

Unlike dividends, salaries and bonus payments can be made where the company lacks profits, even if this results in a loss. Funds can also be extracted in the form of benefits in kind or, if the business is run from home, rent.

This will not always be ideal, from a tax perspective, but may be necessary. However, the directors must be wary of inadvertently trading while insolvent.

The company could also consider making a loan to the director. This can be a useful short-term option and it is possible for a director to borrow up to £10,000 for up to 21 months tax-free. However, there will be tax implications if the loan remains outstanding nine months and one day after the end of the accounting period in which it was made.

Talk to us

We can discuss ways to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and extract funds from an unprofitable family company.

PAYE Settlement Agreement reminder

Business man holding an analog clock

PAYE Settlement Agreement reminder

If you have a PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA) in place for 2019/20, you will need to pay the tax and National Insurance due under the agreement by 22 October 2020, assuming payment is made electronically. If you pay by cheque, the cheque must reach HMRC by the earlier date of 19 October 2020.

Nature of a PSA

A PSA enables an employer to pay the tax on certain benefits in kind on the employee’s behalf. This can be useful to preserve the goodwill element of a benefit. As the payment of an employee’s tax is itself a taxable benefit, tax must be paid on that too. Where a PSA is in place, Class 1B National Insurance contributions are payable on the items included within the PSA that would otherwise attract a Class 1 or Class 1A National Insurance liability, and also on the tax payable under the PSA. Class 1B contributions are employer-only contributions that are payable at the rate of 13.8%.

A PSA is an enduring agreement, and once set up remains in place until cancelled by the employer or HMRC. A new PSA must be agreed by 6 July after the end of the tax year to which it relates. Guidance on setting up and using a PSA can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Calculating the tax – the need to gross up

To take account of the fact that the payment of an employee’s tax by the employer is itself a taxable benefit, it is necessary to gross up the tax on benefits included within the PSA at the marginal rate of tax of the employees receiving the benefit.

Where benefits provided to Scottish and Welsh taxpayers are included within the PSA, the appropriate Scottish and Welsh rates of tax are used in the grossing up calculation.

You can use form PSA1 to calculate what you owe under a PSA.

Paying the tax and National Insurance

If you have a PSA in place for 2019/20, you should quote your PSA reference when making your payment. This can be found on your PSA confirmation letter. It is important that this reference is used rather than your Accounts Office reference so that the payment is treated correctly. If you use your Accounts Office reference, your payment will be allocated to your normal PAYE account and you will receive reminder letters regarding the tax due under your PSA as HMRC will not recognise it as being paid.

Talk to us

We can help you work out what you need to pay under your PSA.

Annual investment allowance

Measuring tool with coins, numbered document and a calculator

Annual investment allowance

The annual investment allowance (AIA) was temporarily increased from £200,000 to £1 million for two years, from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020. The allowance reverts back to its usual level of £200,000 from 1 January 2021. While the COVID-19 pandemic may have put projects on hold, you may want to review planned capital expenditure to ensure that the deadline for benefitting from the increased allowance is not missed. Particular care should be taken to avoid falling foul of the transitional provisions.

Nature of the AIA

The AIA provides immediate relief for capital expenditure up to the available limit when calculating taxable profits – qualifying capital expenditure up to the level of the AIA can be deducted in full. However, there is no requirement to claim the AIA for all the qualifying expenditure – writing down allowances can instead be claimed for some or all of the expenditure.

Where capital expenditure in a period exceeds the available AIA, relief for the excess is given in the form of writing down allowances.

Calculating the AIA

The amount of the AIA depends on when the accounting period falls. If the accounting period falls wholly within the period from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020, the AIA is £1 million, proportionately reduced for periods of less than 12 months. If the period spans 31 December 2020, the AIA for the period must be calculated.

Accounting period ends 31 December 2020

If you prepare your accounts annually to 31 December, for the year to 31 December 2020, you have an AIA of £1 million. This falls to £200,000 for the year to 31 December 2021.

If you are planning capital expenditure in excess of £200,000, funds permitting, you may wish to go ahead in 2020, rather than 2021, to enable you to benefit from the increased AIA and obtain immediate relief in full for qualifying capital expenditure of up to £1 million.

Accounting period spans 31 December 2020

If your accounting period spans 31 December 2020, you will need to be aware of the transitional rules. The first step is to calculate the AIA for the period. This is done by reference to the proportion of the period falling on or before 31 December 2020, in respect of which the annual limit is £1 million, and the proportion of the period falling after this date, in respect of which the annual limit is £200,000. Thus, if your accounting period is the year to 31 March 2021, you have an AIA for that period of £800,000 ((9/12 x £1 million) + (3/12 x £200,000)).

However, that is not the end of the story — there is also a cap on the amount of expenditure incurred on or after 1 January 2021 which can qualify for the AIA. The cap is y/12 x £200,000, where y is the number of months in the period falling on or after 1 January 2021. So, if the accounting period is the year to 31 March 2021, the cap is £50,000 (3/12 x £200,000). This means that while the AIA for the year to 31 March 2021 is £800,000, only expenditure of up to £50,000 incurred on or after 1 January 2021 will qualify for the AIA.

Consequently, to take advantage of the increased AIA for the period as a whole, timing is key and the bulk of the expenditure must be incurred in 2020 rather than delayed until 2021. If you spend £800,000 in November 2020, the full amount will be eligible for the AIA; however, if you spend £800,000 in February 2021, because of the cap, only £50,000 of the expenditure will qualify for the AIA, despite the fact that the AIA for the year to 31 March 2021 is £800,000.

We can help

Speak to us to find out how you can obtain the best possible relief for planned capital expenditure.

Back to the office – what about homeworking equipment?

Home office with laptop in front of a window

Back to the office – what about homeworking equipment?

When your employees return to the office, they may no longer need the homeworking equipment that enabled them to continue to work during lockdown and beyond. Are there any tax implications if they return the equipment or if they keep it?

Employer provided the homeworking equipment

If you provided equipment to enable your employees to work from home, as long as you retained ownership of that equipment, there are no tax implications if the employee returns the equipment to you when they come back to the office.

For many, the experience of working from home has highlighted the benefits of flexible working. You may want your employees to be able to continue to work from home on a more flexible basis once the office is open, and for them to keep their homeworking equipment to enable them to do so. As long as you have not transferred ownership of the equipment to the employee, and the equipment continues to be provided predominantly to enable them to work from home, the provision remains tax-free – there is no taxable benefit and nothing to report to HMRC.

Should your employees no longer need to work from home and you let them keep the homeworking equipment for personal use, a tax charge will arise. The employee is taxed on the market value of the equipment, less anything that they pay for it. The benefit must be notified to HMRC on the employee’s P11D. However, if the employee buys the equipment from you for at least its current market value, there is no taxable benefit and nothing to report to HMRC.

Employer reimbursed homeworking equipment

The requirement to work from home where possible was implemented at very short notice. Consequently, it may not have been feasible for you to provide your employees with the equipment that they needed to work from home.

If, instead, your employees purchased homeworking equipment and you reimbursed them, there is no tax for them to pay on the reimbursed amount, as long as the equipment was purchased to enable them to work from home. Unless you required the employee to transfer ownership of the equipment to you, the equipment remains the employee’s equipment. Consequently, there is no tax charge if they keep it for personal use once they return to the office.

Employee buys the homeworking equipment

It may have been the case that your employees bought whatever they needed to be able to work from home and you did not meet the costs. In this situation, the equipment belongs to the employee and this remains the case if they keep it for personal use when they return to the office. There are no tax implications of employees keeping their own equipment.

Guidance on the tax treatment of homeworking equipment can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Speak to us

We can help you to determine the tax implications surrounding the future of homeworking equipment once your employees return to the office.

Off-payroll working back on the horizon

Pencil drawing of business people silhouettes standing on drawn boxes

Off-payroll working back on the horizon

The extension to the off-payroll working rules was put on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the legislation has now been implemented and the new rules will come into effect from April 2021 – one year later than originally planned. As the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme draws to a close and businesses assess their future staffing requirements, the impact of the off-payroll working rules cannot be overlooked.

Scope

The extended off-payroll working rules only apply to ‘medium’ and ‘large’ private sector organisations. The definitions are taken from the Companies Act 2006.

An organisation is medium or large for these purposes if at least two of the following apply:

  • annual turnover of more than £10.2 million;
  • balance sheet total of more than £5.1 million;
  • more than 50 employees.

A simplified turnover test applies to organisations which are not a company, a limited liability partnership, an unregistered company or an overseas company. Such organisations are within the rules if their turnover is more than £10.2 million.

Obligations under the rules

The new rules impose a number of obligations on medium and large private sector organisations that engage workers who provide their services through a personal service company or other intermediary.

If you fall within this category, from 6 April 2021, you must determine whether the off-payroll working rules apply. This is the case where the worker would be an employee if they provided their services to you directly, rather than through an intermediary. You can use HMRC’s Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool to check a worker’s status.

Once you have reached your determination, you must give a copy of it to the worker, and to any other parties in the chain. You must also provide them with the reasons for reaching the decision that you reached. Giving the worker a copy of the CEST output will tick this box. You must also keep a copy of the determination and the reasons for reaching it for your records.

If your worker does not agree with the determination, you must consider their reasons for this. If, after reconsideration, you feel that the original determination is correct, you must let the worker know. If, on reflection, you feel that the original determination was incorrect, you must issue a new determination.

It is important that you make a determination of the worker’s status and give it to the worker. If you fail to make a determination, you will be liable for tax and National Insurance on payments made to the worker’s intermediary, even if the engagement is one that would fall outside the off-payroll working rules.

Off-payroll working rules apply

If the determination is that the worker would be an employee if they provide their services to you directly, the off-payroll working rules apply. Where this is the case, you (or the fee payer if this is different) must:

  • calculate the deemed direct payment to account for employment taxes and National Insurance contributions associated with the contract;
  • deduct income tax and employee’s National Insurance contributions from the payment to the worker’s intermediary;
  • pay employer’s National Insurance contributions;
  • report the payments and associated tax and National Insurance to HMRC under real time information; and
  • apply the apprenticeship levy and make any payments necessary.

Off-payroll working rules do not apply

If the determination is that the off-payroll working rules do not apply, you can continue to make payments to the worker’s intermediary gross, without deducting tax and National Insurance.

Small private sector organisations

The extended off-payroll working rules do not apply to small private sector organisations. Consequently, if you are an organisation that is categorised as small, and you engage workers who provide their services via a personal service company, you do not need undertake a status determination. Instead, you continue to pay the worker’s intermediary gross without deducting tax and National Insurance.

In this situation, the IR35 rules continue to apply; the worker’s intermediary is responsible for deciding whether the rules apply, calculating the deemed payment and accounting for tax and National Insurance if they do.

Plan ahead

Speak to us to find out what you need to do to ensure that you are ready for the extended rules when they come into force in April 2021.

Benefit-in-kind charge on electric vans

Benefit-in-kind charge on electric vans

A tax charge arises under the benefit-in-kind rules where an employee enjoys unrestricted private use of a company van. The taxable amount is a set amount, with a reduced charge applying to electric vans. However, the charge for zero-emission vans is to be reduced to zero from 6 April 2021.

Taxation of company vans

Employees who enjoy the private use of a company van are taxed for the privilege. For 2020/21, the standard charge is set at £3,490. The charge does not apply where the ‘restricted private use’ condition is met. This is the case where private use, other than home to work travel, is insignificant.

A lower charge applies to electric vans.

The charge is reduced to reflect periods of unavailability and payments for private use.

Electric vans

Since 2015/16, the charge for a zero-emission van has been a percentage of the full charge. That percentage has been steadily increasing. For 2015/16, zero-emission vans were charged at 20% of the standard charge; by 2020/21 it had reached 80% of the standard charge and was due to increase to 90% for 2021/22 before being aligned with the standard charge from 2022/23.

For 2020/21, the benefit-in-kind charge for an electric van is £2,782 (80% of £3,490). By contrast, an employee can enjoy the benefit of an electric company car tax-free.

At the time of the 2020 Budget, it was announced that the tax charge for zero-emission vans would be reduced to zero from 6 April 2021 to encourage employers to move to using electric vans. This change has now been enacted.

A move to electric vans will benefit your employees, who from 2021/22 will not pay any tax if the van is available for private use. You will also benefit as there will be no employer’s Class 1A National Insurance to pay either.

Is it a car or is it a van?

For the purposes of the benefit-in-kind legislation, a vehicle is a ‘van’ if it is a mechanically propelled road vehicle which is a goods vehicle and which has a design weight not exceeding 3,500 kilograms, and which is not a motorcycle.

However, as the long-running Coca-Cola case has demonstrated, just because something looks like a van does not mean that it is, at least for tax purposes. The Court of Appeal have held that modified crew-cab vehicles are cars rather than vans for the purposes of the benefit-in-kind legislation, and as such the taxable benefit should be worked out using the company car rules rather than van benefit rules. In this case, the vans in question were panel vans with a second row of seats behind the driver’s seat.

Separate charge for fuel

If an employer meets the costs of fuel for private journeys in a company van, a separate fuel benefit charge arises. The benefit is valued at £666 for 2020/21.

However, HMRC do not regard the provision of electricity as a ‘fuel’ for these purposes. Consequently, no tax charge arises if the employer meets the cost of electricity for the private use of an electric van.

Help and advice

We can help you work out the benefit-in-kind charge on company vans and plan ahead for the changes to come.

Statutory redundancy pay and furloughed employees

Statutory redundancy pay and furloughed employees

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) comes to an end on 31 October 2020. As the scheme winds down and employers start meeting some of the associated costs, they will face difficult decisions as to whether they can bring employees back to work or whether they need to make some employees redundant. New legislation has been introduced to ensure that furloughed employees do not lose out on certain statutory entitlements, including the right to statutory redundancy pay.

Nature of statutory redundancy pay

Employees who have at least two years’ continuous employment with their employer at the date on which they are made redundant are entitled to statutory redundancy pay. Where an employer operates a contractual redundancy pay scheme, they must pay employees redundancy pay which is at least equal to the statutory amount.

Where an employee has been placed on furlough prior to being made redundant, the time that the employee was furloughed counts as continuous employment in determining their entitlement to statutory redundancy pay.

The cost of statutory redundancy pay is met by the employer. From the employee’s perspective, it is tax-free as long as the £30,000 tax-free threshold for termination payments remains available.

How much is statutory redundancy pay?

An employee’s entitlement to statutory redundancy pay depends on the length of their service, their age and how much they are paid when they are made redundant. They are entitled to:

  • one-and-a half weeks’ pay for each full year of service for which they were 41 or older;
  • one weeks’ pay for each full year of service for which they were 22 or older but under 41; and
  • half a week’s pay for each full year of service that they were under 22.

Service is capped at 20 years for the purpose of the calculation and counted backwards from the date of redundancy. Pay, too, is capped for the purposes of the calculation. For 2020/21, the cap is set at £538 per week, meaning that the maximum amount of statutory redundancy pay that must be paid in 2020/21 is £16,140 (20 x £538 x 1.5).

Where an employee’s pay varies, statutory redundancy pay is calculated by reference to average weekly pay for the 12 weeks prior to the date on which the employee was made redundant.

Pay and furloughed employees

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CJRS allowed employers to place employees on furlough and to claim a grant with which to pay them from the Government. The grant was set at 80% of the employee’s pay to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

When calculating statutory redundancy pay for an employee who has been made redundant after a period of furlough, the employee’s ‘usual’ pay should be used, rather than the reduced pay that they may have received while on furlough. This will normally be the pay used to calculate the grant payable under the CJRS, typically their pay for February 2020 or, where their pay varies, their average pay for the 2019/20 tax year. Thus, if an employee whose normal pay is £300 per week is furloughed prior to being made redundant and receives £240 per week (80% of £300) while on furlough, the employee’s usual pay of £300 per week is used to calculate their statutory redundancy pay.

Contact us

We can help you work out whether your employees are entitled to statutory redundancy pay, and the level of pay which should be used to calculate their entitlement.

Correcting claims under the CJRS

Correcting claims under the CJRS

HMRC have moved into the next phase of their compliance activity in relation to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and have written to 3,000 employers who they believe may have either claimed more under the scheme than they were entitled to or who did not meet the conditions for making a claim.

Legislation introduced in the Finance Act 2020 provides HMRC with the authority to recover amounts overpaid under the CJRS.

Correcting incorrect claims

If you have made an incorrect claim under the CJRS, the onus is on you to correct the claim. HMRC have published guidance setting out what you should do if you have claimed too much or not claimed enough under the scheme.

What to do if you have claimed too much

The action that you need to take if you have claimed too much under the CJRS depends on when you made the claim and whether you will be making further claims under the scheme.

There is a limited window of 72 hours in which a claim can be deleted from the online claim service. Once this period has elapsed, if you have claimed too much under the scheme, you need to tell HMRC. If you will be making another claim under the scheme, this can be done in your next claim by adjusting that claim for the amount that you have over-claimed. Where this route is taken, you will need to keep records of the adjustment that you have made for six years. If you do not have another claim to submit, you should contact HMRC on 0300 322 9420 to arrange how to pay the money back.

Deadline for telling HMRC about an overpaid grant

To avoid being charged a penalty, you must tell HMRC about any overpaid grants under the scheme by latest of:

  • 90 days from the date on which you received the grant to which you were not entitled;
  • 90 days from the date on which you were no longer entitled to keep a grant that you had claimed because your circumstances had changed; and
  • 20 October 2020.

Repaying any overpaid grant within this time frame will prevent a potential tax liability in respect of the over-claimed amount from arising.

What to do if you have not claimed enough

If you have made a mistake in working out your claim under the CJRS, you may have claimed too little. Where this is the case, you should contact HMRC by telephone on 0800 024 1222 to amend your claim. You should note that even if you have not claimed the full amount to which you are entitled back from HMRC, you must pay your employees the correct amount. Where a claim is increased, HMRC may carry out additional checks on the validity of the claim.

Recovery of overpaid amount

HMRC may recover the full amount of any overpaid grant which has not been repaid by making an assessment to income tax. The amount assessed must be paid no later than 30 days from the date of the assessment. Interest is charged if the amount is paid late. Late payment penalties may also be charged if the amount remains outstanding 31 days after the due date.

If an assessment is not made, the overpaid amount should be included on your corporation tax return or your 2020/21 self-assessment return, as appropriate.

Penalty for failing to tell HMRC about an overpaid grant

If you do not tell HMRC about an overpaid CJRS grant by the notification deadline, you might be charged a failure to notify penalty. The amount of the penalty will depend on whether you knew you had been overpaid and whether you attempted to hide it.

HMRC have stated that they will not charge a penalty if you did not know that you had been overpaid at the time, or if your circumstances changed so you stopped being entitled to the grant, as long as it is repaid by 31 January 2022 (sole traders) or within 12 months from the end of your accounting period (companies).

HMRC have published a factsheet which explains how they recover overpaid grants under the CJRS.

We can help

Speak to us about how we can help you check claims that you have made under the CJRS and correct any mistakes that you might have made.

Final SEISS grant

Final SEISS grant

The Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) provides grants to self-employed taxpayers whose business has been adversely affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Eligible taxpayers can now claim the second and final grant under the scheme. Grants paid out under the scheme are taxable.

Eligibility

To qualify for the second grant, you must be a sole trader or a partner in a partnership and your business must have been ‘adversely affected’ by the Coronavirus pandemic on or after 14 July 2020. As for the first grant, you must have:

  • traded in the 2018/19 tax year and submitted your self-assessment tax return for that year no later than 23 April 2020;
  • traded in the 2019/20 tax year; and
  • traded in the 2020/21 tax year or intend to do so.

The scheme is only open to self-employed taxpayers whose income from self-employment comprises at least 50% of their total income and is not more than £50,000. The £50,000 limit is initially applied for 2018/19 and the test is met if profits for that year are £50,000 or below. However, where profits for 2018/19 are more than £50,000, average profits for 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 are considered. You will qualify if the average profits for these years do not exceed the £50,000 threshold.

If you meet the eligibility conditions for the second grant, you can make a claim, even if you did not claim for the first grant.

Meaning of ‘adversely affected’

The second grant is only available to businesses that have been ‘adversely affected’ by the Coronavirus pandemic on or after 14 July 2020. HMRC have published guidance, together with examples, setting out the circumstances in which they consider a business to have been ‘adversely affected’ by the pandemic.

As a general guide, a business will be ‘adversely affected’ if it has experienced lower turnover or higher costs as a result of Coronavirus. This may be because you were unable to work because you were sick, self-isolating, shielding or caring for someone because of the virus. The business may also suffer a reduction in trade or an increase in costs because of interruptions to the supply change, a reduction in customers or the need to incur additional costs to make the business COVID-secure or to meet social distancing requirements.

Need to keep records

To support a claim for the second grant under the SEISS, you should keep evidence to show how and when the business was ‘adversely affected’ by Coronavirus. This may include:

  • business accounts showing a reduction in turnover or an increase in expenditure;
  • confirmation of any Coronavirus-related loans that the business has received;
  • any dates that the business had to close as a result of lockdown restrictions; and
  • any dates that the staff were unable to work because they had Coronavirus symptoms, were self-isolating, shielding, or had caring responsibilities as a result of the virus.

How much is the second grant?

As with the first grant, the second grant is based on average profits over the three tax years 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19. If you did not trade in 2016/17 or file a return for that year, the grant is based on average profits for 2017/18 and 2018/19; if you did not trade in 2017/18 or file a tax return for 2017/18, the grant is only based on profits for 2018/19, regardless of whether you traded in 2016/17.

The second grant is worth 70% of three months’ average profits, to a maximum of £6,570.

Claim online

HMRC have written to all traders who they believe to be eligible to make a second claim under the scheme, telling them the date from which they can make their claim. Claims can be made online via the claim portal, which opened on 17 August 2020. The last date on which a claim can be made under the scheme is 19 October 2020.

As with the first claim, you must make the claim yourself; claims by agents are not permitted. However, we can advise you on how to make the claim, whether you qualify and what records you need to keep.

Making Tax Digital – the next steps

Making Tax Digital – the next steps

On 21 July, the Treasury published a report, Building a trusted, modern tax administration system, which sets out the Government’s vision of what they wish to achieve in the next ten years. The vision comprises three elements – policy, systems and law and practice. The ‘policy’ vision means a progressive extension of HMRC’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) work, the ‘systems’ vision means exploring the appropriate timing and frequency for the payment of the different taxes and the technology infrastructure needed to support this, and the ‘law and practice’ vision means reform of the tax administration framework itself.

Extension of MTD

HMRC’s MTD programme is currently in the initial roll-out phase for VAT. Since April 2019, MTD for VAT (MTDfV) is mandatory for most VAT-registered traders whose VAT-taxable turnover is above the VAT registration threshold of £85,000. As a result of a recent Government announcement, the next phase will be to extend the scope of MTD to the VAT registered with turnover below £85,000 from April 2022 and then to introduce MTD for Income Tax for the self-employed and unincorporated landlords from April 2023.

MTD for VAT

MTDfV is compulsory for VAT-registered traders whose taxable turnover is above the VAT registration threshold of £85,000. Traders within its scope must maintain digital VAT records and file digital returns using MTD-compliant software. However, the requirement for digital links to be in place between all parts of process has been delayed by one year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and will now apply from the first VAT return period starting on or after 1 April 2021. A digital link is simply the transfer or exchange of information between software programmes without the need for manual input of data.

MTD for Income Tax

Businesses and landlords with annual business income chargeable to Income Tax of more than £10,000 will need to comply with MTD for Income Tax from the start of their first accounting period that starts on or after 6 April 2023. This will necessitate the keeping of digital records and the use of software to send in-year updates of their income and expenditure to HMRC, at least quarterly, instead of filing annual post year end information when submitting a self-assessment tax return.

In addition to the four ‘in-year’ updates, at the end of the accounting period the taxpayer will need to finalise their business income by filing a final adjusting submission and making a declaration that it combined with the earlier submissions is correct. The final declaration will replace the current self-assessment return filed after the end of the tax year.

More information about MTD for income tax can be found on the Gov.uk website.

MTD for Corporation Tax

HMRC are to consult later in 2020 on the design of the MTD system for Corporation Tax to ensure that the MTD process evolves to include limited companies.

Help and advice

We can help you prepare for and comply with MTD.

Bonus for employers who retain furloughed staff

Bonus for employers who retain furloughed staff

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, presented A Plan for Jobs at the time of the Summer Economic Update on 8 July 2020. This included incentives for employers who retain furloughed staff and who offer training and apprenticeships.

Job Retention Bonus

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is now in its final phase. Government support under the scheme is withdrawn gradually from August and the scheme comes to an end on 31 October 2020. Where staff are still furloughed in October, employers will need to decide whether they can bring their furloughed employees back to work.

To encourage employers to retain furloughed staff, a bonus – the Job Retention Bonus – of £1,000 will be paid to the employer for each furloughed employee who is employed continuously from the end of the CJRS until 31 January 2021. However, to qualify for the bonus, the employer must pay the employee, on average, earnings that are at least equal to the lower earnings limit for Class 1 National Insurance purposes, set at £120 per week (£520 per month) for 2020/21.

The Government will pay the bonuses from February 2021.

The scheme is not without its critics, with Jim Harra, Chief Executive of HMRC, questioning whether it offers value for money. Some employers, including Primark and Rightmove, have stated that they will not claim the bonus.

Kickstart Scheme

The Chancellor also unveiled plans to fund a new Kickstart Scheme providing £2 billion of funding to create high-quality work placements aimed at young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are on Universal Credit and who are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment. Funding for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer’s National Insurance contributions and employer pension contributions under auto-enrolment (where relevant).

Traineeships

Funding of £111 million is to be made available to fund work placements and training for 16 to 24 year olds. The Government will pay employers who provide trainees with work experience £1,000 per trainee. The funding will expand the provision of and eligibility for traineeships for those with Level 3 qualifications and below.

Apprenticeships

Employers who hire new apprentices will also receive funding from the Government. Where employers take on a new apprentice between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021, they will receive a payment of £2,000 for each new apprentice under the age of 25 that they hire and £1,500 for each new apprentice aged 25 and over. These payments are in addition to the existing £1,000 provided by the Government for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and to those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.

Contact us

Contact us to find out how you can benefit from the incentives on offer.

New rules for claims under the CJRS

New rules for claims under the CJRS

The second and final phase of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) runs from 1 July 2020 to 31 October 2020. During this phase, furloughed workers may return to work part-time under the flexible furloughing provisions. New rules also apply from 1 July 2020 to determine the length of the claim period.

Claims must start and finish in same calendar month

For claim periods ending on or before 30 June 2020, there was no maximum length for the period for which a claim could be made. However, for claim periods starting on or after 1 July 2020, claims must start and end in the same calendar month. This is because the amount payable under the scheme differs in each month as support under the scheme is phased out.

Where the furlough period for which a grant is being claimed spans more than one calendar month, the period must be split and two claims made. For example, if employees are furloughed for three weeks from 20 July 2020 to 9 August 2020, one claim should be made for the period from 20 July 2020 to 31 July 2020 (12 days) and a further claim should be made for the period from 1 August 2020 to 9 August 2020 (9 days).

Claim period must be at least seven days

Claims for periods starting on or after 1 July 2020 must cover at least seven days, unless the period spans more than one calendar month and the claim relates to the last few days in one month or the first few days in the next month. Where this is the case, a claim can only be made for fewer than seven days if the claim includes the first or the last day of the month, and a claim has been made for the period ending immediately before it.

Only one claim per period

Only one claim can be made for each period. This means that all furloughed or flexibly furloughed employees must be included in the same claim. Where a subsequent claim is made, the subsequent claim cannot overlap with other claims that have been made.

If an employee has been furloughed or flexibly furloughed continuously, the claim periods must follow on from each other with no breaks. For example, an employer could make a claim each week. The claim must include all employees furloughed or flexibly furloughed that week. The first day of the next claim period must be the day after the last day of the previous claim period.

Cap on number of employees

The number of employees who can be included in a claim for a period starting on or after 1 July 2020 cannot be more than the maximum number of employees under any claim ending on or before 30 June 2020. This is subject to an exception where an employee returns from statutory leave and is furloughed on their return.

We can help

We can help you work out your claim periods for claims under the CJRS and assist you in making the claim.

Temporary increase in residential SDLT threshold

Temporary increase in residential SDLT threshold

To help boost the housing market and allied sectors, the residential Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) threshold in England and Northern Ireland has been increased from £125,000 to £500,000 for a temporary period from 8 July 2020 to 31 March 2021. Increases have also been announced to the residential thresholds for Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in Scotland and Land Transaction Tax (LTT) in Wales.

Residential SDLT rates

The rates of residential SDLT applying from 8 July 2020 to 31 March 2021 are as shown in the following table.

Property valueMain homeAdditional properties
Up to £500,000Zero3%
Next £425,000 (£500,001 to £925,000)5%8%
Next £575,000 (£925,001 to £1.5 million)10%13%
The remaining amount (over £1.5 million)12%15%

The nil rate band that applies to the net present value of any rents payable for residential property is also increased to £500,000 for the same period. Where the net present value is more than £500,000, SDLT is charged at the rate of 1% on the excess.

On 1 April 2021, the rates and thresholds will revert to those applying prior to 8 July 2020.

Additional properties

The increase in the residential SDLT threshold will also benefit those looking to purchase second homes and investment properties, such as buy-to-let properties. The 3% supplement, which applies where the consideration is £40,000 or more, is added to the residential rates, as reduced. Consequently, those completing on second and subsequent homes between 8 July 2020 and 31 March 2021 will pay SDLT at 3% on the first £500,000 of the consideration.

First-time buyers

Prior to 8 July 2020, first-time buyers enjoyed a higher SDLT threshold of £300,000, as long as the consideration for the purchase was not more than £500,000. From 8 July 2020 to 31 March 2021, first-time buyers will pay SDLT at the residential rates, as reduced. The reduction will benefit first-time buyers purchasing properties for more than £300,000.

Non-residential and mixed-use properties

The increase in the threshold only applies to residential properties – the threshold for non-residential and mixed-use properties remains at £150,000.

Scotland

The starting threshold for LBTT in Scotland is increased from £145,000 to £250,000 from 15 July 2020 until 31 March 2021. The additional property supplement of 4% in Scotland is payable on top of the reduced residential rates.

Wales

Taxpayers buying residential property in Wales will benefit from a reduction in LTT as the LTT residential property threshold is increased from £180,000 to £250,000 from 27 July 2020 until 31 March 2021. However, unlike the rest of the UK, the higher threshold does not apply to additional properties – the 3% supplement is added to the residential rates applying immediately prior to 27 July 2020, rather than to the reduced rates as is the case in the rest of the UK.

Talk to us

Speak to us to find out how much you could save by completing your residential property purchase by 31 March 2021.

Reduced rate of VAT for hospitality sector

Reduced rate of VAT for hospitality sector

To support businesses and jobs in the hospitality sector, the reduced (5%) rate of VAT applies to supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar establishment across the UK for a temporary period from 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021.

The reduced rate of VAT (5%) also applies to supplies of accommodation and admissions to attractions during this period.

Guidance on the application of the reduced rate can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Speak to us

If you operate in these sectors, talk to us about what the reduced rate of VAT will mean for you.

NIC implications of COVID-19 support payments

NIC implications of COVID-19 support payments

Various support payments have been made to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How are those payments treated for National Insurance purposes?

Grant payments under the CJRS

Where an employer claims a grant payment under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the full amount of the grant (topped up to 80% of wages in the last two months of the scheme) must be paid over to the employee. As far as the employee is concerned, this is treated in the same way as a normal salary payment. The employer deducts Class 1 National Insurance and pays it over to HMRC.

The payment is also liable to employer’s Class 1 National Insurance to the extent that it is not covered by the employment allowance. For pay periods prior to 1 August 2020, the employer can reclaim the associated employer’s National Insurance on grant payments from the Government under the CJRS. The employer’s National Insurance must be paid over to HMRC in the usual way.

Grants under the SEISS

Grants under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) should be taken into account in computing profits for 2020/21. Where those profits exceed £9,500, Class 4 National Insurance contributions will be payable. If the profits for 2020/21 are more than £6,475, you must pay Class 2 contributions.

As a result of the pandemic, profits may be lower in 2020/21 than previously. If profits are below the small profits threshold, set at £6,475 for 2020/21, there is no obligation to pay Class 2 contributions. However, it may be worthwhile to do so voluntarily to ensure that 2020/21 remains a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefit purposes. This is much cheaper than paying Class 3 contributions to make up a shortfall.

Other grants

Businesses may also receive other grants, such as those payable to businesses qualifying for small business rate relief or payable to specific sectors, such as the hospitality and leisure sector. For self-employed taxpayers, these are taken into account in calculating profits, which in turn will determine whether a liability to Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance contributions arise.

Talk to us

Speak to us to ascertain the effect of grant payments on your National Insurance bill.

SEISS extended

SEISS extended

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been extended. Eligible self-employed taxpayers will be able to claim a second, and final, grant under the scheme in August.

Eligibility

The eligibility criteria for the second grant are the same as the first. To qualify, the individual must:

  • have submitted their self-assessment tax return for 2018/19 by 23 April 2020;
  • traded in 2019/20;
  • be continuing to trade when they claim the grant, or would be except for the Coronavirus pandemic;
  • intend to continue to trade in 2020/21; and
  • they have lost profits due to the Coronavirus.

The grant is limited to traders whose trading profits are £50,000 or less, either for 2018/19 or on average for the three years 2016/17 to 2018/19 inclusive. Profits from self-employment must also comprise at least 50% of the individual’s income to qualify for the grant.

‘Adversely affected’

The taxpayer will need to confirm that they were ‘adversely affected’ by COVID-19 on or after 14 July 2020 when making their claim for the second grant. HMRC have published examples on the Gov.uk website of circumstances in which a business will be deemed to be adversely affected by the pandemic. They include:

  • an inability to work because the taxpayer is shielding, self-isolating, sick with Coronavirus or has caring responsibilities as a result of the virus;
  • a scaling down of the business due to interruption of the supply chain;
  • a loss of trade because staff are unable to work; or
  • a loss of trade because of a reduction in customers or clients.

Amount of the second grant

The second grant is based on 70% of average monthly profits for three months, based on the profits for 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19. The calculation is adjusted where the taxpayer was not trading for all of these years. The second grant is capped at £6,570.

Making the claim

The claim cannot be made until August. As with the first claim, it must be made online. While agents cannot make claims on behalf of clients, we can help you determine whether you are eligible and what you are entitled to receive.

Changes to trading activities as a result of COVID-19

Changes to trading activities as a result of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on trade have led many businesses to change what they do in a bid to survive. An example of this is the village pub opening instead as a local shop selling food and other essentials. Alternatively, a business may have ceased trading temporarily as a result of the lockdown.

HMRC have recently published guidance on the tax implications of crisis-driven changes to trading activities.

Nature of trade

When a business changes what they do, the tax implications will depend on whether the new activity is broadly similar to their previous activities or completely unrelated.

New trade

If a business has started something new which is completely different to their usual business, for example, a hairdresser starting to manufacture face masks, the business making face masks will be treated as a new separate business. The profits and losses should be calculated separately from those of the existing hairdressing business.

Existing trade

However, if a business starts to carry on a new activity that is broadly similar to its existing trade, the new activity should not be treated as a new business. Instead, profits and losses should be included when working out the profits and losses of the existing trade. An example of this would be a restaurant that instead offers a takeaway and delivery service.

Temporary break in trading

In the initial strict phase of the lockdown, many businesses were not allowed to trade. The list included those in the leisure and hospitality sector, non-essential shops, hairdressers, beauticians and barbers. As a result, the business will have a temporary break in its trade.

HMRC have confirmed that where a business closed its doors to customers or otherwise ceased trading as a result of the pandemic, the break will not be treated as a cessation of trade where the intention is to continue trading once the lockdown restrictions are lifted. However, this is conditional on the activities after the break being the same as, or similar to, those prior to the break. Any income and expenses relating to the gap in trading should be taken into account in calculating the profits or losses for the period.

Help and advice

Discuss the tax implications of any changes to or breaks in your trade with us.

Flexible furloughing

Flexible furloughing

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has provided a lifeline for many employees and employers during the COVID-19 pandemic. As at 21 June 2020, 9.2 million employees had been furloughed by 1.1 million employers who had, collectively, claimed grants totalling £22.9 billion.

Prior to 30 June 2020, employees who had been furloughed could not work for their employer while on furlough. This changes from 1 July 2020 with the introduction of flexible furloughing.

The CJRS runs until 31 October 2020. As the scheme draws to a close, the grant support provided to employers is gradually reduced from 1 August 2020.

Reduction in support

The CJRS enters its second and final phase from 1 July 2020. While employees will continue to receive 80% of their wages for furloughed hours up to the maximum amount for the duration of the scheme, the amount that employers can claim changes each month.

For July 2020, employers can still claim 80% of the furloughed employee’s wages up to £2,500 per month, plus the associated employer’s National Insurance due on the grant amount and the minimum employer pension contributions due under auto-enrolment. For pay periods commencing on or after 1 August 2020, the employer is no longer able to claim back employer’s National Insurance or pension contributions. For August, the grant claim remains at 80% of the employee’s pay up to £2,500 per month; however, this reduces to 70% for September up to £2,187.50 per month and to 60% for October up to £1,875 per month. For the last two months of the scheme, the employer must make up the difference so that the employee continues to receive 80% of their pay for furloughed hours up to the maximum amount.

Nature of flexible furloughing

Flexible furloughing enables employers to bring back furloughed workers for any amount of time and under any work pattern while continuing to claim a grant for the employee’s normal hours that they are not working. The employee’s normal hours are effectively split between hours that they work for which they are paid by the employer as normal and hours that they do not work – treated as furloughed hours – in respect of which the employer is able to claim a grant under the scheme.

From 1 July 2020, employers can only claim a grant for an employee if the employee had previously been furloughed for at least three consecutive weeks between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. To meet this test, the latest date an employee could have been placed on furlough for the first time is 10 June 2020. However, this does not apply to employees returning from statutory leave (such as maternity, paternity or adoption leave) after this date who can be furloughed when their leave comes to an end.

Calculating the amount of the claim

The calculation of the claim amount under flexible furloughing can be complicated. However, detailed guidance is available, with examples, on the Gov.uk website.

The starting point is to determine the employee’s usual hours, the hours that the employee works and the furlough hours (which are simply the usual hours less the hours worked). The Government guidance explains how to work out an employee’s usual hours.

Having determined the furlough hours and the usual hours, the next step is to work out the minimum furlough pay. This is found as follows:

  1. Find the lesser of 80% of the employee’s usual wages and the maximum amount (equivalent to £2,500 per month).
  2. Divide this by the employee’s usual hours.
  3. Multiply this by the number of hours that the employee is furloughed in the pay period.

Example

In July 2020, an employee returns to work on flexible furlough. The employee’s usual hours are 155 hours and the employee works 56 hours in July, for which they are paid by their employer as normal. The remaining 99 hours are furlough hours for which the employee can claim a grant.

The employee’s usual pay is £3,000 per month; 80% of which is £2,400. As this is less than £2,500, this figure is used to calculate minimum furlough pay.

The minimum furlough pay is £2,400 x 99/155 = £1,532.90.

The employer can claim £1,532.90 for July plus the associated employer’s National Insurance and pension contributions.

Claims for August, September and October

The amount that the employer can claim for August is the minimum furlough pay, for September 70/80ths of the minimum furlough pay, and for October 60/80ths of the minimum furlough pay.

For pay periods on or after 1 July 2020, claims must start and end in the same calendar month. If the pay period spans two months, two separate claims must be made.

Help with claims

We can provide guidance on flexible furloughing and submit claims on your behalf.

Option to defer July self-assessment payment on account

Option to defer July self-assessment payment on account

Taxpayers facing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can opt to delay making their second self-assessment payment on account for 2019/20, due by 31 July 2020. As long as the amount is paid in full, together with any outstanding balance for 2019/20, by 31 January 2021, HMRC will not charge any interest or penalties.

Requirement to make payments on account

Under the self-assessment system, taxpayers are required to make payments on account of their tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability if their self-assessment bill for the previous tax year was £1,000 or more, unless at least 80% of the tax owed for that year was deducted at source, for example, under PAYE.

Each payment on account is 50% of the previous year’s tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability. Although Class 2 National Insurance contributions are collected via the self-assessment system, they are not taken into account when working out payments on account. Payments on account are made on 31 January in the tax year and on 31 July after the end of the tax year, with any balance being paid by the tax return filing date of 31 January after the end of the tax year. If the payments on account are more than the eventual liability, the excess is refunded or set against the next year’s liability.

The first payment on account for 2019/20 was due by 31 January 2020. The second payment would normally need to be paid by 31 July 2020.

Option to defer

This year, taxpayers have the option to defer the second payment on account if they are finding it difficult to make the payment by 31 July 2020 due to Coronavirus. There is no obligation to defer – taxpayers can still make the payment by 31 July 2020 if they so wish.

Where a taxpayer takes the deferral option, the outstanding payment can be made whenever the taxpayer is able to meet the payment, as long as this is no later than 31 January 2021. Any balance owing for 2019/20 must be paid by the same time, together with the Class 2 National Insurance liability for the self-employed and the first payment on account for 2020/21.

Taxpayers choosing the deferral option do not need to tell HMRC – they simply pay the tax by 31 January 2021; nor do they have to provide evidence that they were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guidance on the deferral option is available on the Gov.uk website.

Pros and cons

Delaying the payment will no doubt help those struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, it may provide a lifeline for particular groups of taxpayers, for example, those who are self-employed and who do not qualify for a grant under the Self-employment Income Support Scheme and who have been unable to work due to the restrictions.

However, the deferred tax has to be paid eventually, and the payback for having nothing to pay in July is a big bill in January 2020. Not only will the deferred tax be payable then, but also any balance due for 2019/20 and the first payment on account for 2020/21.

Get in touch

It would be a pleasure to help you decide whether the deferral option would be beneficial to you and what it will mean for your cashflow come January 2021.

Expenses and benefits provided to employees during the COVID-19 pandemic

Expenses and benefits provided to employees during the COVID-19 pandemic

HMRC have recently published guidance for employers on how to treat certain expenses and benefits which may be provided to employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance is available on the Gov.uk website.

They have also relaxed the rules for a limited period where an employer reimburses an employee for the cost of equipment purchased to enable them to work from home.

Mileage costs

Particular issues can arise where an employer supports employees who are undertaking volunteer work during the pandemic, such as delivering prescriptions or PPE.

Volunteers driving a company car

If the employee has a company car and you refund the fuel costs where the car is used for volunteer duties using the advisory fuel rates, this will be a taxable benefit as the reimbursed mileage is not business mileage. If you wish to meet the tax and National Insurance on behalf of your employees, you can include it within a PAYE Settlement Agreement. If not, the reimbursement is taxable and liable to National Insurance.

If, as an employee, you pay for the petrol when undertaking volunteer duties using you company car, you are not able to claim tax relief as the expense is not incurred wholly, exclusively and necessary in the performance of your job.

Volunteers driving their own car

Where an employee undertakes volunteer driving using their own car and, as measure of support, you reimburse the cost using the approved mileage allowance rate, again, this will be taxable and liable to National Insurance. However, you can instead settle the associated liability on behalf of your employees by including it within a PAYE Settlement Agreement.

If the employee pays the mileage costs associated with volunteer driving, they cannot claim mileage allowance relief as the journeys are not business journeys.

Company car availability

During the lockdown many employees have been furloughed or are working from home. As a result, if they have a company car, they may be using it only rarely or not at all.

A taxable benefit arises in respect of the provision of a company car when that car is ‘available’ for private use – it does not matter whether the car is actually used or not, it is the ‘availability’ that triggers the tax charge. HMRC have confirmed that during the lockdown, a company car should still be treated as being ‘available for private use’, even if the employee has been:

  • instructed not to use the car;
  • asked to keep a record of the mileage to prove the car has not been used (i.e. photographs of the mileage at the start and end of the period); and
  • unable to return the car or arrange for its collection.

However, where it was not possible for the car to be handed back or collected as a result of the restrictions on movement, where the contract has been terminated, HMRC will accept that the car ceased to be available from the date that the keys (including tabs or fobs) are returned to the employer or relevant third party. If the contract has not been terminated, the car will be treated as unavailable after a period of 30 consecutive date from the date on which the keys have been returned. HMRC accept that where the employee no longer has access to the keys, they cannot drive the car, even if the car remains at their home.

The company car tax rules are strict and it important to appreciate the difference between a car being available for use and a car actually being used by the employee when it comes to calculating the taxable benefit.

Homeworking relaxations

An employee may have purchased office equipment to enable them to work at home. HMRC have, temporarily, relaxed the rules where the employer reimburses the cost. Under the normal rules, where an employee purchases a capital item, such as computer, to enable them to work from home, any reimbursement by the employer is taxable. Likewise, the employee is unable to claim tax relief.

However, where an employee has purchased equipment to work at home because of Coronavirus, if the employer reimburses the costs on or after 16 March 2020 and before the end of the 2020/21 tax year, the reimbursement will be tax-free. If the employee purchases equipment in this period and the cost is not met by the employer, the employee can claim a tax deduction, either on form P87 or via their self-assessment return. They should retain evidence of the expenditure

HMRC have also confirmed that employees can claim tax relief for additional household expenses of up to £6 per week (£26 per month) without the need for supporting evidence.

Other benefits

HMRC’s guidance also covers other benefits that may be provided to employees during the pandemic. We can help you ensure that these are provided in a tax-efficient manner.

Expenses and Benefits Returns for 2019/20

Expenses and Benefits Returns for 2019/20

Employers who provided taxable expenses and benefits to their employees during the 2019/20 tax year will, as usual, have to tell HMRC about these by 6 July 2020. This obligation is unchanged despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Form P11D

Form P11D is used to tell HMRC about taxable benefits and expenses provided to employees where these have not been payrolled or included within a PAYE settlement. If the employer has payrolled some benefits but not others, only those benefits which have not been payrolled should be included on the P11D.

Exempt benefits

Benefits and expenses which are covered by a tax exemption do not need to be shown on the P11D. However, exemptions are only available if all the associated conditions are met. Remember, where provision is made via an optional remuneration arrangement, for most benefits the exemption is lost and thus the benefit should be notified on the P11D.

Taxable value

The taxable value of the benefit is its cash equivalent value, unless provision is made via an optional remuneration scheme. Where a benefit-specific rule exists, as is the case for company cars and employment-related loans, the cash equivalent value is calculated in accordance with the relevant rules; where there is no specific rule, the general rule applies. This is the cost to the employer less any amount made good by the employee (which must be by 6 July after the end of the tax year). HMRC produce worksheets which can be used to work out the cash equivalent value for some benefits. These can be found on the Gov.uk website.

If the benefit is made available under an optional remuneration scheme, such as a salary sacrifice arrangement, alternative valuation rules apply to all but a handful of benefits. In this case, the taxable amount is the ‘relevant amount’. Broadly, this is the salary foregone where this is more than the cash equivalent value. The alternative valuation rules do not apply to pensions or pensions’ advice, childcare, employer-provided cycles and cyclists’ safety equipment under cycle to work schemes, and cars with CO2 emission of 75g/km or less, and transitional rules apply in certain cases.

P11D(b)

The P11D(b) is the employer’s declaration that all required P11Ds have been filed, and also the Class 1A National Insurance return. Remember to take account of payrolled benefits when working out the Class 1A National Insurance liability.

A P11D(b) is still required even if you have no P11Ds to file because all benefits have been payrolled.

If you provided benefit and expenses in 2018/19 but not in 2019/20, you may need to make a nil declaration. This will be required if HMRC sent you either a P11D(b) or a reminder letter. The notification can be made online.

How and when to file

Expenses and benefits returns (P11D and P11D(b)) can be filed online using HMRC’s Expenses and Benefits Online Service, PAYE for Employers or commercial software. Paper returns can also be submitted.

Returns for 2019/20 must reach HMRC by 6 July 2020. Employees must be given a copy of their P11D or details of the information that it contains by the same date.

The Class 1A National Insurance liability must reach HMRC by 22 July 2020 where payment is made electronically. Where payment is made by cheque, the deadline is 19 July; however, as this falls on a Sunday this year, the cheque must be with HMRC by Friday 17 July.

How we can help

Discuss with us what you need to do in order to meet your filing obligations during these challenging times.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced on 12 May that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would be extended until 31 October 2020. The scheme enables employers adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to furlough staff rather than making them redundant, and to claim a grant from the Government for 80% of their wages up to £2,500 a month. It was due to finish at the end of June. It will now continue in its current form until 31 July 2020, with changes being made from August as part of the gradual withdrawal of the scheme.

As at 17 May 2020, 8 million jobs had been furloughed by 986,000 employers who had, in total, claimed grants totally £11.1 billion.

Current support

In its current form, employers can furlough staff and claim a grant from the Government for 80% of the furloughed employee’s wages, capped at £2,500 a month. The grants, which must be paid over in full to the employee, are liable to tax and National Insurance as usual, and must be reported to HMRC as normal under Real Time Information. However, the employer can claim the associated employer’s National Insurance, together with minimum employer contributions where these are due under auto-enrolment, from the Government as part of the grant.

Employers can only claim a grant if the employee is furloughed for a minimum of three weeks. Employees are not currently allowed to undertake work for their employer while on furlough (although they can work for someone else if their contract allows).

Changes from August

Support provided under the scheme is to be withdrawn gradually. While the scheme will continue to be available for a further three months from 1 August, employers will have the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time from that date. Employees will continue to receive 80% of their salary (capped at £2,500 a month), but employers will be required to meet some of the cost. The Government are to publish more details of how the scheme will operate from 1 August 2020 to 31 October 2020.

Guidance

Guidance on the operation of the scheme can be found on the Gov.uk website. Speak to us to find out how you can use the scheme to help you maintain your workforce during the pandemic.

Claim SSP for Coronavirus-related absences

Claim SSP for Coronavirus-related absences

Smaller employers who have paid statutory sick pay (SSP) to employees who were absent from work due to a Coronavirus-related absence can now claim a rebate from the Government. The claim portal went live on 26 May 2020.

Who can claim?

Employers are eligible to make a claim if they have a payroll scheme that was created on or before 28 February 2020 and had fewer than 250 employees on the payroll at that date. They can claim back up to two weeks’ SSP paid to an employee who was absent from work due to Coronavirus.

What can you claim?

An absence counts as a Coronavirus-related absence if the employee is unable to work for one of the following reasons:

  • they had Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms;
  • they were self-isolating because someone in their household had Coronavirus symptoms; or
  • they were shielding and have a letter from either the NHS or their GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.

Claims are capped at two weeks’ SSP per employee, even if the employee is absent for work and receiving SSP for longer than this, for example, because they are shielding. Claims can be made for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020 where the employee either had Coronavirus symptoms themselves or were self-isolating because someone in their household had symptoms, and in relation to periods of absence starting on or after 16 April 2020 where the employee is shielding. If you have paid more than the weekly SSP rate (for example if you pay employees their full pay while sick), the claim is limited to the SSP rate, set at £95.85 per week from 6 April 2020 and at £94.25 before that date. For Coronavirus-related absences, SSP can be paid from the first qualifying day once a period of incapacity for work has been established – the usual three waiting days do not need to be served.

Where SSP is paid for an absence which is not a Coronavirus-related absence, the employer cannot claim it back under the rebate scheme. Normal rules apply in relation to absences that are not related to Coronavirus and the employer must meet the cost of any SSP paid to employees who are absent other than for one of the reasons listed above. Claims can be made for employees in respect of whom a grant has been claimed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; although a claim for a grant and an SSP rebate cannot be made for the same period.

How do we claim?

Claims can be made via the online portal. To claim, you will need:

  • your Government Gateway User ID;
  • employer PAYE scheme reference number;
  • UK bank or building society details for the account into which the rebate is to be paid;
  • the total amount of SSP paid to employees for Coronavirus-related absences;
  • the number of employees in respect of whom a claim is being made; and
  • the start and end date of the claim period.

When claiming, you will also need to provide a contact name and telephone number. Claims can be made at the same time for multiple pay periods and multiple employees.

HMRC will check claims and if satisfied pay the money into the designated account within six working days of the date on which the claim was made.

Do we need records to support the claim?

You do not need to provide evidence when making the claim. However, you do need to keep records of:

  • the dates on which the employees were absent from work;
  • which of those dates were qualifying dates;
  • the reason for their absence, i.e. whether they had symptoms or were shielding; and
  • the National Insurance numbers of the employees in respect of whom a claim is being made.

You do not need to obtain a Fit Note for Coronavirus-related absences.

Records should be kept for three years from the date on which you received the rebate.

Further help

The good news is that HMRC has confirmed that if you have authorised us to do PAYE online for you, we can complete the claim on your behalf. Alternatively, if you prefer, we advise if you are able to make a claim and how to go about it.

COVID-19 self-employed scheme

COVID-19 self-employed scheme

After mounting pressure for clarification on the COVID-19 support that was expected to be made available on the 26 March, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has now announced the details of the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS) and how it will work.

SEISS is a taxable grant payable to the self-employed (including partners).

It is set at 80% of a qualifying person’s average trading profits, payable for 3 months and capped at £2,500 per month.

No real-time information?

With it being almost impossible to determine what the self-employed earn in real time, the government has opted to base the grant a person should receive on an average of their trading profits arising in three tax years ending 5 April 2019, as reported under self-assessment.

Where self-employment started later 6 April 2016, the average profit will be calculated by reference to actual period of trading, from commencement to 5 April 2019.

Nothing to do…. yet

As HMRC already holds the data there is nothing for the taxpayer or their agents to do. Instead, the revenue authority will use what it holds to establish eligibility and, if appropriate, the size of grant.

One quarter of the average annual profit will form the basis of the SEISS grant awarded, at the rate of 80% of taxable profits up, with the maximum monthly grant being £2,500.

Who qualifies

The SEISS grant is payable to anyone who is self-employed and meets these conditions:

  • average annual taxable profits of no more than £50,000;
  • submitted a tax return for 2018/19;
  • more than half of taxable income from self-employment;
  • continued to trade throughout 2019/20 tax year;
  • an intention to trading throughout 2020/21 tax year.

Started after 6 April 2019

Those who started trading on or after 6 April 2019 are not eligible for the SEISS grant. Tough, very probably, but the government had to draw a line somewhere.

To qualify for the cash-grant, a self-employed person must have traded in 2018/19, filed a 2019 Tax Return, and would still be trading in the current tax year if it hadn’t been for the interruption to business due to the Coronavirus. In fact, to be eligible for SEISS it is not necessary for your business to cease entirely. It just needs to have suffered a loss of income as a result of the pandemic.

Where a trader has already decided to cease trading, no grant is payable.

Taxpayers who have not submitted their 2018/19 tax return were given until 23 April 2020 to get it in to HMRC and still qualify for the grant. Although, it should be noted that for late filing, and late payment of tax, penalties are not going to be waved. 

HMRC contact

HMRC will contact those eligible and invite them to apply for the grant online. At the time of writing, it is not clear how that approach will be made.

When will it arrive

The three month’s grant will be paid into the applicants bank account in one lump sum, starting early June.

The number of months covered by a SEISS grant may be extended beyond three months if the COVID-19 shutdown continues into July.

As observed earlier, the grant will be treated as taxable income and those in receipt of working tax credits or universal credit should treat the SEISS grant as part of their self-employed income.


Points to note:

  • Those who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are not covered by the scheme. Instead they will be covered for their salary by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they are operating PAYE schemes.
  • Property letting businesses are not regarded as a trade, therefore, landlords will not qualify for the SEISS.
  • Similarly, the letting of furnished holiday accommodation is not strictly a trade and, as believed, HMRC is unlikely to consider income from furnished holiday lets as qualifying for the SEISS grant.

Making Tax Digital – soft landing extension

Making Tax Digital – soft landing extension

One-year extension for MTDfV soft landing

In a welcome response to COVID-19, HMRC has extended its digital links ‘soft landing period’ by twelve months to April 2021.

HMRC Email

In a widely distributed email issued on 30 March 2020, HMRC stated:

“We understand that the impact of COVID-19 is creating extremely difficult times for all, and we are committed to helping in every way possible all those businesses facing unprecedented challenges.

Therefore, we are providing all MTD businesses with more time to put in place digital links between all parts of their functional compatible software. This means that all businesses now have until their first VAT return period starting on or after 1 April 2021 to put digital links in place.”

Digital journey

From April 2019, once those mandated to comply with VAT MTD have entered accounting data into their business’s accounting software, they have been required to transfer, recapture or modify that data using digital links. Effectively, once VAT data has been digitally captured the rest of its journey until the submission of a VAT return must be a digital journey, without manual intervention.

Soft landing

HMRC recognised that not all businesses would have digital links in place from day one and allowed a period of grace, the ‘soft landing period’. HMRC promised that, where businesses were trying to meet the statutory digital end to end journey during the ‘soft landing period’, the department would not impose penalties for non-compliance.

The effect of the ‘soft landing’ announcement meant that for the first year of mandation, businesses are not required to have digital links between software programs.

For most, MTD for VAT rules have applied from VAT period starting on or after 1 April 2019. Although there was a smaller group where mandation was deferred until the start of the first VAT return period on or after 1 October 2020.

What it means

All businesses mandated to comply with MTD for VAT now have until their first VAT return period, starting on or after 1 April 2021, to put digital links in place.

Given the coronavirus related troubles affecting practically all businesses in the UK, this extension to the ‘soft-landing period’ is another sensible easement that is to be much welcomed.

Optimal salary for 2020/21

Optimal salary for 2020/21

A popular profit extraction strategy for personal and family companies is to pay a small salary and to extract further profits as dividends. With new National Insurance thresholds applying for 2020/21, what is the optimal salary for the new tax year?

Starting point – what can be paid free of tax and National Insurance?

Assuming the director has the full personal allowance for 2020/21 of £12,500 available, the optimal salary will be dictated by National Insurance considerations. Unless the director already has the 35 qualifying years needed to secure a full single tier state pension, it is worthwhile paying a salary at least equal to the lower earnings limit, set at £6,240 for 2020/21, to ensure that the year counts for state pension and contributory benefits purposes.

For 2020/21, the point at which employer contributions start (the secondary threshold) is lower than the point at which employee contributions start (the primary threshold). The secondary threshold is set at £8,788 for 2020/21 (£169 per week; £732 per month), whereas the primary threshold is set at £9,500 (£183 per month; £792 per month).

Assuming that the director is over the age of 21 and the employment allowance is not available (as is the case where the sole employee is also a director), the maximum salary that can be paid free of tax and National Insurance is £8,788 – equal to the secondary threshold.

Employer contributions for under 21s do not start until the upper secondary threshold for under 21s is reached (set at £50,000 for 2020/21). Thus, where the director is under 21, a salary equal to the primary threshold of £9,500 per year can be paid free of tax and National Insurance. This is also the case if the employment allowance is available (for example, in a family company scenario).

Is it beneficial to pay a higher salary?

Salary costs and any associated National Insurance are deductible in computing the company’s profits for corporation tax purposes. Thus, if the corporation tax deduction (at 19%) is more than any National Insurance or tax paid on the additional salary, paying a higher salary can be worthwhile.

If the director is 21 or over and the employment allowance is not available, it is worthwhile paying a salary up to the primary threshold of £9,500. On earnings between £8,788 and £9,500, employer National Insurance contributions of 13.8% are due, but this is outweighed by the corporation tax deduction on the additional salary and the associated employer’s National Insurance. However, once the primary threshold is reached, both employer and employee contributions are due (at 13.8% and 12% respectively) on further earnings. As these outweigh the corporation tax deduction, it is not worth paying a salary above £9,500 a year. So, where the director is aged 21 or over and the employment allowance is not available, the optimal salary for 2020/21 is £9,500 a year (£792 per month).

If the director is under 21 or the employment allowance is available, as seen above, a salary of £9,500 (equal to the primary threshold) can be paid free of tax and National Insurance. Above this level, primary National Insurance contributions are payable at 12% until the personal allowance of £12,500 is reached. As the associated corporation tax deduction is higher than the National Insurance cost, it is worth paying a salary of £12,500. Above this, however, income tax at 20% is also payable, outweighing the corporation tax deduction. Consequently, in these circumstances, the optimal salary is equal to the personal allowance of £12,500 a year.

Determine your optimal salary

As shown above, the optimal salary depends on personal circumstances. Speak to us for help in crunching the number and determining the optimal salary for your situation.

Supporting employees working from home

Supporting employees working from home

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are now working at home in accordance with Government instructions to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus.

Providing equipment to employees working from home

Employees may need tools and equipment to enable them to work from home. For example, employees who are office based, may need a computer, access to software and possibly a printer. They may also need stationery and printer ink. What are the tax implications if the employer provides these or if the employee meets the cost?

Employer provides equipment to work at home

Employers can provide equipment and supplies tax-free to employees working from home as long as certain condition are met:

  • any use of the accommodation, supplies or services for private purposes by the employee or by members of the employee’s family or household is not significant;
  • where the accommodation, supplies or services are provided otherwise than on premises occupied by the employer, the sole purpose of the provision is to enable the employee to perform the duties of their employment;
  • the provision of the accommodation, services or supplies does not comprise an excluded benefit (such as a car or the construction of a home office).

The exemption will cover the provision of office furniture, such as desks and chairs, computer equipment and stationery. Further guidance on what is covered by the exemption can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Employee meets cost of homeworking equipment

The exemption outlined above does not apply if the employee meets the cost of any equipment that they need to work from home.

If the employee meets the cost, the normal rules for deductibility of expenses incurred by employees apply – that is to say, the employee can claim a deduction for revenue expenses that are incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the duties of the employment. No deduction is allowed for capital items, such as office furniture and computers. However, employees can claim a deduction for the cost of stationery and suchlike.

Employee meets cost initially and claims it back

From a tax perspective, there is a difference between the employer providing equipment and supplies to enable the employee to work from home and the employee meeting the costs initially and claiming it back from the employer, despite the fact that in each case the employer ultimately bears the cost.

Where the employer provides the equipment, the exemption outlined above applies as long as the associated conditions are met. However, problems can arise if the employee meets the cost and claims it back. In this case, the relevant exemption is the one for paid and reimbursed expenses. This covers paid and reimbursed expenses that would be deductible if met by the employee, i.e. revenue expenses wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the performance of the duties of the employment. Consequently, reimbursed capital expenses fall outside the exemption, are taxable and must be reported to HMRC. To avoid this situation, the employer should provide the equipment directly instead.

Additional household expenses

Employees working from home will incur additional household expenses as a result. They may use additional electricity and gas, have higher household insurance or incur additional cleaning costs.

Employers can pay employees a tax-free allowance of £6 per week (£26 per month) to help cover some of these additional costs. Prior to 6 April 2020, the allowance was £4 per week (£18 per month). As long as the employer does not pay more than this, no evidence is required of the amount spent. Guidance on the relief is available on the Gov.uk website.

Employers can pay higher amounts tax-free to cover additional costs of working at home as long as these can be substantiated.

Employees cannot claim a deduction of £6 per week if the employer does not pay the allowance – the usual rule for deductibility of employment expenses apply.

Speak to us

Speak to us to discover how you can support employees working from home in a tax-free manner.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The online claim portal for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) went live on 20 April 2020, allowing employers who have furloughed staff as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to claim grants from the Government equal to 80% of the employee’s wages (capped at £2,500 per month). Employers can also claim the associated employer’s National Insurance contributions and the minimum employer pension contributions required under auto-enrolment. More than 67,000 employers made a claim under the scheme within the first half hour of the portal opening.

Who can claim?

The CJRS aims to help employers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to maintain their workforce rather than lay-off staff. It is open to any employer with a UK payroll as long as they:

  • had a UK payroll in existence as at 19 March 2020 in respect of which RTI submissions had been made by that date;
  • are enrolled for PAYE online (employers not enrolled for PAYE online as at 19 March can do so after that date); and
  • have a UK bank account.

What employees are covered?

Claims can only be made in respect of employees who have been furloughed – i.e. laid off from work temporarily. Employers must confirm in writing to the employee that they have been furloughed and make any necessary changes to the employee’s contract of employment. An employee must be furloughed for a minimum of three weeks for a claim to be made.

The employee must have been on the employer’s payroll on 19 March 2020 and the employer must have made an RTI submission in respect of the employee by that date. This may mean that employees who were taken on after the February payroll or who missed the February payroll cut-off date fall outside the scheme, even if they had done some work for the employer prior to 19 March. Claims can, however, be made in respect of employees who were on the payroll as at 28 February 2020 and who were made redundant or stopped working for the employer before 20 March 2020 if the employer puts them back on the payroll and furloughs them. This can be done after 19 March 2020. To qualify, an RTI submission must have been made in respect of the employee by 28 February 2020.

It does not matter what type of contract the employee has – the scheme applies to full-time workers, part-time workers and to those on flexible or zero-hours contracts. Claims can also be made by directors of personal and family companies (but only in respect of their PAYE income).

However, furloughed employees cannot do any work for the employer that generates income while furloughed. This means that claims cannot be made for workers who are on reduced pay or reduced hours. Company directors can, however, continue to fulfil their statutory duties. Apprentices can also be furloughed under the scheme and can continue to train whilst furloughed.

What can be claimed?

Employers can claim 80% of a furloughed worker’s wages, plus the associated employer’s National Insurance and the minimum pension contributions that the employer is required to make under auto-enrolment. Amounts claimed in respect of an employee’s wages must be paid over to the employee in full. Employers can, if they so choose, top up the employee’s wages above the 80% covered by the grant. Grants are pro-rated where the employee is only furloughed for part of the pay period and should be made from the date that the employee starts furlough.

For the purposes of the scheme, wages are the regular payments that the employer is obliged to make to the employee and include:

  • regular wages payable to the employee;
  • non-discretionary overtime;
  • non-discretionary fees;
  • non-discretionary commission payments; and
  • piece rate payments.

However, the following payments should not be included as wages for the purposes of a claim:

  • payments made at the discretion of the employer or a client where there was no contractual obligation to pay, such as tips, discretionary bonuses or discretionary commission payments;
  • non-cash payments;
  • non-monetary benefits, such as benefits in kind (for example, company cars and private medical insurance).

Calculating the wage claim

For full and part-time employees on a salary, the employer can claim 80% of their salary for the last pay period to 19 March, capped at £2,500 per month (proportionately reduced where the employee was not furloughed for the whole period).

Where an employee’s pay varies and the employee has been employed for at least 12 months, the claim cam be made either by reference to the same pay period in 2019 or by reference to the employee’s average monthly earnings for 2019/20. If the employee has worked for less than 12 months, their average monthly earnings since they started work should form the basis of the claim.

Claiming employer’s National Insurance

Grant payments paid to employees are liable to PAYE tax and National Insurance (employee’s and employer’s) as for normal payments of wages and salary. However, employers can claim the employer’s National Insurance due on grant payments from HMRC. The guidance on the Gov.uk website explains how this is calculated.

Claims cannot be made for employer’s National Insurance covered by the employment allowance. While there is no obligation to claim the allowance from the start of the tax year, it is possible that HMRC may regard delaying claiming the allowance until after the end of the scheme as tax avoidance.

Claiming pension contributions

Where the furloughed employee is within auto-enrolment, the employer will need to pay pension contributions at the minimum level of 3% on earnings above £520 per month (2020/21).

How to make a claim

Claims can be made online.

The claim can be made by the employer or by an agent authorised to act for the employer for PAYE purposes. However, claims cannot be made by agents who are only authorised to file RTI returns on the employer’s behalf.

When making a claim, the following information is required:

  • UK bank account and sort code;
  • employer PAYE scheme reference number;
  • the number of employee’s being furloughed;
  • the National Insurance number for each furloughed employee;
  • the employee’s payroll number (although this is optional);
  • the start and end date of the claim;
  • the full amount of the claim, including employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions;
  • contact name and phone number;
  • the employer’s corporation tax unique tax reference, self-assessment unique tax reference (as appropriate) or the company registration number.

Claims can be backdated to 1 March 2020. The money should be paid into the employer’s bank account within six working days of the date on which the claim was made. Claims can be made prior to the payroll date so that the employer has the money available to pay furloughed employees.

It should be noted that HMRC will undertake checks for fraudulent claims.

Further help

Speak to use to find out whether you are eligible to make a claim and for help in working out what you can claim. Read more about the scheme on the Gov.uk website.

COVID-19: SSP Relaxations

COVID-19: SSP Relaxations

To help employees and businesses manage the Coronavirus outbreak, a number of relaxations have been made to the statutory sick pay (SSP) rules. They apply from 13 March 2020. Details are on the Gov.uk website.

SSP payable from day one

Employees will be able to benefit from SSP from the first day of their absence – they will not need to serve the three waiting days before SSP can be paid.

Extension to those self-isolating

Statutory sick pay will also be available during the pandemic to those who are self-isolating, even if they are not ill themselves. This will include individuals who are self-isolating because someone in their household is showing COVID-19 symptoms.

No need for a Fit Note

Employees can self-certify absences of up to seven days. Beyond seven days, a Fit Note is normally required. To relieve pressure on GPs, employers should not ask for a Fit Note. A temporary alternative, an isolation note, can be obtained from NHS-111, but employers should exercise discretion when asking for medical evidence during the pandemic.

Small employers to be able to reclaim SSP

Normally, employers must suffer the cost of SSP paid to employees who are off sick. However, to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses employing fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020 will be able to claim a refund of SSP paid to eligible employees who are absent from work due to COVID-19. The refund will be capped at two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee.

As currently there is no process in place for reclaiming SSP, the Government are to work with employers over the coming months to set up a repayment mechanism.

Employers should keep records of staff absences and SSP paid to support the refund claim.

COVID-19: Business rate relief and grants

COVID-19: Business rate relief and grants

To help business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chancellor announced a number of measures effected through the business rates system.

Business rate retail relief increased and extended

At the time of the 2020 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the business rates retail discount for 2020/21 would be doubled from 50% to 100%. The discount is also to be extended to the leisure and hospitality sectors.

Grants

The Chancellor also announced funding of £2.2 billion would be provided to local authorities to enable them to provide grants of £3,000 to all businesses receiving small business rate relief. Following the Budget, the Chancellor announced an increase in the amount of the grant to £10,000. Small business rate relief is available in full where the rateable value of the business premises is less than £12,000. The relief reduces from 100% to nil where the rateable value is between £12,000 and £15,000.

Grants of £25,000 are also to be made available for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000. Businesses in this sector will receive a grant of £10,000 where the rateable value of their business premises is £15,000 or less.

Watch this space

New measures are being announced daily to help businesses survive the pandemic. Speak to us to find out what help is available and check out the Gov.uk website.

Entrepreneurs’ relief – reduction in lifetime limit

Entrepreneurs’ relief – reduction in lifetime limit

Prior to the Budget, there had been much speculation that that entrepreneurs’ relief would be abolished. In the event it stayed – albeit with the new name of ‘Business Asset Disposal Relief’ – and a much-reduced lifetime limit.

New £1 million lifetime limit

The lifetime limit is reduced from £10 million to £1 million with immediate effect for disposal on or after 11 March 2020 (Budget Day). Disposals prior to Budget day that qualified for entrepreneurs’ relief count towards the new £1 million limit, and where this has already been reached, the relief will not be forthcoming on future disposals, even if the qualifying conditions are met.

Anti-forestalling

Anti-forestalling measures were announced which may negate protective action taken ahead of the Budget in an attempt to preserve availability of the relief as it applied at that time.

Where arrangements were entered into before Budget day, the old £10 million lifetime limit will only apply if:

  • the parties to the contract are able to demonstrate that they did not enter into the contract for the purposes of obtaining a tax advantage by virtue of the capital gains tax rules setting the contract date as the date of the disposal; and
  • where the parties to the contract are connected, the contract was entered into for wholly commercial reasons.

If the above conditions are not met, the reduced lifetime allowance of £1 million applies.

Anti-forestalling rules also apply in certain circumstances where between 6 April 2019 and 11 March 2020, shares were exchanged for those in another company, and both companies are owned or controlled by substantially the same person.

Plan ahead

If you are planning on disposing of business assets or shares in a personal company, it is important to plan ahead to maximise relief. We can help you. Remember, spouses and civil partners each have their own lifetime limit.

Guidance on the changes is available on the Gov.uk website.

Budget 2020 – rates and allowances

Budget 2020 – rates and allowances

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, presented his first Budget on 11 March 2020, confirming the rates and allowances applying for the 2020/21 tax year. The following key rates and allowances were announced.

Full details of the rates and allowances applying for 2020/21 are available on the Gov.uk website.

Income tax

As previously announced, the personal allowance remains at £12,500 for 2020/21. It is reduced by £1 for every £2 by which income exceeds £100,000. This means that if your income is more that £125,000 for 2020/21, you will not receive a personal allowance.

Income tax rates and allowances are unchanged too. The basic rate remains at 20%, the higher rate at 40% and the additional rate at 45%. The basic rate band is also unchanged at £37,500, meaning that the point at which higher rate tax becomes payable remains at £50,000. Tax is payable at the additional rate on income over £150,000.

The Scottish and Welsh rates of income tax apply to the non-savings, non-dividend income of Scottish and Welsh taxpayers.

Dividends

The dividend allowance remains at £2,000 for 2020/21. Dividends, which are treated as the top slice of income, are taxed at 7.5% to the extent that they fall within the basic rate band, 32.5% to the extent that they fall in the higher rate band and at 38.1% to the extent that they fall in the additional rate band.

Savings

Basic rate taxpayers continue to benefit from a savings allowance of £1,000 for 2020/21, while higher rate taxpayers can enjoy a savings allowance of £500. There is no savings allowance for additional rate taxpayers.

The starting savings rate of 0% applies to savings in the savings starting rate band of £5,000, but remember this is reduced by taxable non-savings income.

Corporation tax

The rate of corporation tax was due to fall to 17% for the financial year 2020. However, as previously announced, it will remain at 19%. It will stay at 19% for the financial year 2021 too.

Capital gains tax

The capital gains tax annual exempt amount is increased to £12,300 for 2020/21 for individuals and personal representatives, and to £6,150 for trustees.

Capital gains tax rates remain at 10% where income and gains fall in the basic rate band and at 20% thereafter. Higher rates of 18% and 28% apply to residential property gains.

Off-payroll working rules delayed

Off-payroll working rules delayed

In a surprise move, the Government have announced that the reforms to the off-payroll working rules have been delayed by one year and will now come into effect from 6 April 2021. The delay is to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The delay will affect medium and large private sector organisations engaging workers through personal service companies and other intermediaries, and workers providing their services to such organisations in this way.

As the announcement of the delay came only three weeks before the reforms were due to take effect, it comes too late for many. To avoid having to deal with the new rules, many organisations have already taken the decision not to use workers providing their services via an intermediary, opting instead to place all workers ‘on payroll’.

Impact of the delay

The extent to which you will be affected by the delay will depend on whether you are a small, medium or large private sector organisation, a public body or a worker providing their services through a personal service company or other intermediary.

Medium and large private sector organisations

Medium and large private sector organisations (as defined for Companies Act 2006 purposes) who engage workers providing their services through an intermediary can carry on as normal for 2020/21, paying the intermediary gross. They will not need to undertake status determinations and deduct tax and National Insurance from the deemed payment to the worker’s intermediary where the worker would be an employee if their services were provided directly. A further plus is that they will not yet need to pay employer National Insurance contributions on the deemed payment. These changes will now become a reality from 6 April 2021 rather than from 6 April 2020.

Workers providing their services through an intermediary to medium and large private sector organisations

Had the reforms gone ahead as planned from 6 April 2020, the responsibility for determining whether the off-payroll working rules apply would have shifted to the end client where a worker provides his or her services to a medium or large private sector organisation through an intermediary. This shift will now not take place until 6 April 2021.

As a result, the worker’s intermediary will continue to be paid gross, regardless of whether the off-payroll working rules apply. Responsibility for determining whether IR35 applies remains with the worker’s intermediary for 2020/21. If it does, the worker’s intermediary must calculate the deemed payment at 5 April 2021 and account for tax and National Insurance on that deemed payment.

A word of caution here – if the worker would be an employee of the end client if they provided their services directly rather than through an intermediary, the worker’s intermediary will need to operate IR35. While HMRC have said that they will not use off-payroll working determinations to check IR35 compliance for past years, the delay in implementing the reforms is not a licence to ignore the rules.

Small private sector organisations

The extended off-payroll working rules do not apply to small private sector organisations. If you fall into this category and engage workers who provide their service through a personal service company, you should continue, both for 2020/21 and beyond, to make payments to the worker’s intermediary gross.

If you provide your services to a small private sector organisation via a personal service company, your personal service company must determine whether IR35 applies, and apply the IR35 rules if it does.

Public bodies

The delay has no impact on public bodies engaging workers through intermediaries. The rules as they apply where the end client is a public body were reformed from April 2017, and these will continue to apply for 2020/21 (albeit without the tweaks needed to make the rules suitable for application to the private sector).

The delay has no impact on workers providing their services through an intermediary to a public sector body either. The public sector body will continue to determine whether the off-payroll working rules apply, and deduct tax and National Insurance from payment where they do.

Contact us

If you are unsure of how the off-payroll working rules apply to you, please contact us for advice.

Using capital losses

Using capital losses

Where capital gains tax would be payable on a gain made on the disposal of an asset, if the disposal results in a loss, the loss is an allowable loss for capital gains tax purposes.

Gains in the same tax year

In the event that capital gains are made in the same tax year as an allowable loss, the loss is first set against those gains. This may mean that the annual exempt amount is lost as this is set against net gains for the tax year (chargeable gains less allowable losses).

Carry forward unused losses

If there are no gains in the tax year, or allowable losses exceed chargeable gains, the unused losses can be carried forward to a future tax year.

There is no requirement to use them against the first available chargeable gains; rather you can choose when to use them. And unlike the set-off against gains of the same year, they can be set against net gains to the extent that they exceed the annual exempt amount, so that this is not wasted. Any losses remaining unused can be carried forward to a future tax year.

Report the loss

Remember to report capital losses to HMRC. This can be done on your tax return, or by writing to HMRC if you do not need to complete a tax return. You have four years from the end of the tax year in which to claim your losses. We can help you plan your disposals in a tax-efficient manner.

Termination payments and employer National Insurance

Termination payments and employer National Insurance

From 6 April 2020, employers will have to pay Class 1A National Insurance contributions on taxable termination payments in excess of the £30,000 tax-free limit. However, no contributions will be payable by employees; although employers and employees both pay Class 1 contributions on payments made on termination that count as earnings.

Earnings or a termination payment?

Payments made on the termination of an employment are taxed as earnings up to the amount that the employee would have been paid had they worked their notice period. Amounts in excess of this are treated as termination payments, the first £30,000 of which are tax-free. Some payments, such as redundancy pay, count towards the £30,000 threshold rather than being treated as earnings.

Class 1 National Insurance contributions are payable on payments of earnings by both the employer and the employee.

New Class 1A charge on taxable termination payments

Termination payments are taxable to the extent that they exceed the £30,000 threshold. From 6 April 2020, employers will also be required to pay Class 1A contributions on the taxable amount. Contributions will be payable at the rate of 13.8% to the extent that the payment exceeds £30,000.

No employee contributions

As the Class 1A charge is an employer-only charge, the position for employees is unchanged. Employees will pay tax on the excess over £30,000, but not National Insurance.

RTI reporting

The systems for paying and reporting Class 1A National Insurance contributions on taxable termination payments is different to that for benefits in kind. Instead of including the termination payment in the calculation of the Class 1A liability on the P11D(b) after the year end, it must be reported to HMRC under real time information, as for Class 1 National Insurance and PAYE, for the tax month in which the termination payment was paid to the employee.

Payment to be made in-year

Unlike Class 1A National Insurance contributions on benefits in kind, which are due by 22 July after the end of the tax year where payment is made electronically (or 19 July where paid by cheque), Class 1A National Insurance contributions on taxable termination payments must be made in-year.

The Class 1A liability must be paid with the PAYE and Class 1 National Insurance for the tax month in which the payment was made; i.e. by 22nd of the month where payment is made electronically and by 19th of the month where payment is made by cheque.

Accelerate termination payments to avoid the charge

Where a termination is on the cards, terminating the employment prior to 6 April 2020 will save the Class 1A contributions. We can help you structure your termination payments and deal with the associated tax and National Insurance correctly.

National Insurance contributions for 2020/21

National Insurance contributions for 2020/21

The starting point for paying National Insurance is to increase to £9,500 for 2020/21 for employees and for Class 4 contributions payable by the self-employed. This is in line with a Government commitment to increase the starting threshold to £12,500 – the level of the personal allowance for tax purposes.

Employees and Employers

Class 1 National Insurance contributions are payable on an employee’s earnings by the employee (primary contributions) and by the employer (secondary contributions). The rates and thresholds applying for 2020/21 are shown in the table below.

Class 1
Weekly lower earnings limit (LEL) £120 per week
£520 per month
£6,240 per year
Primary threshold (PT) £183 per week
£792 per month
£9,500 per year
Secondary threshold (ST) £169 per week
£732 per month
£9,500 per year
Upper earnings limit (UEL) £962 per week
£4,167 per month
£50,000 per year
Upper secondary threshold for under 21s £962 per week
£4,167 per month
£50,000 per year
Apprentice upper secondary rate (AUST) £962 per week
£4,167 per month
£50,000 per year
Employee’s primary rate (payable on earnings between the PT and UEL) 12%
Employee’s additional rate (payable on earnings above the UEL) 2%
Secondary rate (payable on earnings above the relevant secondary threshold) 13.8%
Reduced rate for certain married women (on earnings between the PT and UEL) 5.85%

For 2020/21, the primary and secondary thresholds are no longer aligned. This means that the point at which employer contributions for employees over the age 21 kicks in is £169 per week (£732 per month), while employee contributions are not payable until earnings reach £183 per week (£792 per month). On earnings between these limits, employer contributions are payable but not employee contributions.

The rate of Class 1A contributions (payable on benefits in kind) and Class 1B contributions (payable on items included in a PAYE settlement agreement) remains at 13.8%.

The self employed

The self-employed pay flat-rate Class 2 contributions and also Class 4 contributions on their profits.

For 2020/21, Class 2 contributions increase by 5p per week to £3.05 per week. Contributions are only mandatory if profits exceed the small profits threshold. This is set at £6,475 for 2020/21. However, they can be paid voluntarily where profits are less than this level.

As with employees, the starting point at which Class 4 contributions become payable on the profits of the self-employed – the lower profits limit – increases to £9,500 for 2020/21. Contributions are payable at the main rate of 9% on profits between this level and the upper profits limit, which remains at £50,000 for 2020/21. Above this, contributions are payable at the rate of 2%.

Voluntary contributions

Voluntary (Class 3) contributions can be paid to make up a shortfall in your contributions record and preserve your entitlement to the state pension. Class 3 contributions rise to £15.30 per week for 2020/21.

Check your contributions record

Speak to us about whether you need to pay additional contributions to ensure that you will qualify for the full state pension when you reach state pension age. You can obtain a pension forecast online.

Personal allowances – use them or lose them

Personal allowances – use them or lose them

With the end of the 2019/20 tax year approaching, now is a good time to review your available personal allowances for 2019/20 and make sure that they are not wasted.

Personal allowance

For 2019/20, the personal allowance is £12,500. However, where income is more than £100,000, the allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 by which income exceeds £100,000. This means that individuals with income of £125,000 or more in 2019/20 do not have a personal allowance. If your income is between £100,000 and £125,000, you will receive a reduced personal allowance.

At the lower end of the income scale, if you are married or in a civil partnership and if you are not able to use all of your personal allowance or your partner is unable to use all of their personal allowance, you can claim the marriage allowance. This works by allowing the person who is unable to use all of their allowance to transfer 10% of their personal allowance — £1,250 for 2019/20 – to their spouse or civil partner. However, this is only allowed if the recipient is a basic rate taxpayer. The marriage allowance is worth £250 to a couple for 2019/20. It can be claimed online.

At the other end of the scale, taxpayers whose income exceeds £100,000 could consider taking steps to reduce their income to below £100,000 to preserve their full personal allowance. Options include making pension contributions or gift aid donations or delaying taking salary or dividends until after 5 April 2020.

Dividend allowance

All individuals, regardless of the rate at which they pay tax, are entitled to a dividend allowance of £2,000 for 2019/20. In a family company scenario, where family members have not yet used their allowance, paying dividends by 5 April 2020 to mop up the allowances can be a tax-efficient way to extract profits. The use of an alphabet share structure will enable dividends to be tailored to the circumstances of the recipient.

Pensions annual allowance

Making contributions to a registered pension scheme can be tax efficient. You can make pension contributions to the higher of 100% of your earnings and £3,600 (gross), as long as you have sufficient annual allowance available. The annual allowance is set at £40,000 for 2019/20, but is reduced for high earners. If you have already accessed a money purchase pension, you have a reduced allowance of £4,000.

The annual allowance can be carried forwarded for up to three years. However, before using brought forward allowances (earliest year first), you must use the allowance for the current year. Any allowances unused for 2016/17 will be lost if they are not used by 5 April 2020.

Capital gains tax annual exempt amount

Capital gains tax is only payable where net gains and losses for the tax year exceed the annual exempt amount. This is set at £12,000 for 2019/20. Spouses and civil partners have their own annual exempt amount.

Where a disposal is on the cards which will give rise to a capital gain, if the annual exempt amount for 2019/20 has not been used up yet, consider making the disposal before 6 April 2020 to utilise this. Remember, where a spouse or civil partner has an unused exempt amount, assets can be transferred between them on a no gain/no loss basis, making it possible to make use of their annual exempt amount too.

Inheritance tax annual exemption

The inheritance tax annual exemption allows you to give away £3,000 each year without the gift counting as part of your estate for inheritance tax purposes. If it is not used, it can be carried forward to the next tax year, but is then lost. If you do not use your exemption for 2018/19 by 5 April 2020, you will lose it. There are also various other gifts that you can make IHT-free each tax year.

Act now

Why not speak to us to find out what action you need to take to make sure your allowances are not wasted.

Reducing your payments on account

Reducing your payments on account

Under the self-assessment system, a taxpayer is required to make payments on account of their tax liability where their income tax and Class 4 National Insurance bill for the previous tax year was £1,000 or more, unless at least 80% of their tax is paid at source, such as under PAYE.

When are payments due?

Where payments on account are required, these are due on 31 January in the tax year and 31 July after the end of the tax year. Any balance not covered by the payments on account must be paid by 31 January after the end of the tax year.

Consequently, payments on account for 2019/20 are due on 31 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, with any outstanding balance due by 31 January 2021.

How much is each payment on account?

Each payment on account is 50% of the tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability for the previous tax year. Class 2 National Insurance is not taken into account in computing payments on account, nor is capital gains tax. These are payable by 31 January after the end of the tax year.

Thus, if a taxpayer had a combined tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability of £3,000 for 2018/19, they would need to make payments on account of their 2019/20 liability of £1,500 on 31 January 2020 and 31 July 2020.

Changing the payments on account

If a person’s tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability is constant from year to year, the payments on account will exactly match the liability for the year. However, in practice this is unlikely and most people will under or over-pay. Where there is a shortfall, the excess must be paid by 31 January after the end of the tax year; if the payments on account exceed the liability for the year, the overpayment can be set against the first payment on account for the next year or refunded.

If you know or strongly suspect that your income will be lower for the current tax year than the previous tax year, for example, if your turnover has fallen because you have lost a major customer, you can apply to reduce your payments on account. There are various ways to do this.

If you know this when you file your self-assessment return, you can do it on the return. You can also do it online by:

  • signing into your personal tax account;
  • selecting the option to view your latest self-assessment return;
  • and choosing ‘reduce payments on account’.

You can also apply to reduce payments on account by post, using form SA303.

If your know your tax liability for 2019/20 will be higher than for 2018/19, you do not have to increase your payments on account – you simply pay the excess by 31 January 2021.

A word of warning

If you are tempted to reduce your payments on account to below the level which they should be, remember that interest will be charged on the difference between what you have paid and what the payment on account should have been.

Confused….don’t be, call us we’re here to demystify tax and help you get it right.

Struggling to pay your tax? Set up a time-to-pay agreement

Struggling to pay your tax? Set up a time-to-pay agreement

The self-assessment tax return for 2018/19 must be filed by midnight on 31 January 2020, and any tax still owing for 2018/19 must be paid by the same time, along with the first payment on account of the 2019/20 tax liability.

Taxpayers struggling to pay their tax bill should not ignore it in the hope that it goes away. Rather, they could consider setting up a time-to-pay agreement allowing them to spread their tax bill over a number of months.

What is a time-to-pay agreement?

A time-to-pay agreement is simply a payment plan that allows a tax bill to be paid in instalments. Ideally, it should be set up before the date that the payment is due. It can be considered for all taxes, not just those due under self-assessment.

How to set one up?

To set up a time-to-pay agreement, you will need to call HMRC’s Payment Support Service on 0300 200 385.

Information you will need

When calling HMRC, you will need to tell them:

  • your 10-digit unique taxpayer reference;
  • the amount of the tax bill you are struggling to pay and why;
  • what action you have taken to try and get the money to pay the bill;
  • how much you can pay now and how long you will need to pay the balance; and
  • your bank account details.

HMRC will usually ask for information about your income and expenditure, your assets and what you are planning to do to get your tax payments up to date.

Paying in instalments

HMRC will only allow payment to be made in instalments if they think that you are genuinely unable to pay the bill on time but will be able to do so in the future. Payment under an instalment plan must be made by direct debit on agreed dates. Interest is charged on tax paid after the due date.

Missed the self-assessment deadline?

If you have already missed the self-assessment payment deadline, you should call HMRC’s Self Assessment Payment Helpline on 0300 200 3822 in the first instance rather than the Payment Support Service.

Loan charge – changes announced

Loan charge – changes announced

The 2019 loan charge applied to loans made through a disguised remuneration loan scheme on or after 6 April 1999 which remained outstanding on 5 April 2019 and in respect of which settlement had not been reached with HMRC by that date. Loans caught by charge crystallised on 5 April 2019 and were treated as employment income on which PAYE tax and National Insurance were due.

The 2019 loan charge did not apply if the loan was repaid by 5 April 2019 or if a settlement was reached with HMRC. Reaching a settlement allowed the liabilities to be settled on better terms.

The loan charge attracted considerable criticism, particularly as regards the potentially devastating consequences for those affected. In September 2019, the Chancellor of the Exchequer commissioned Sir Amyas Morse to lead an independent review into the disguised remuneration loan charge. The review has now concluded and the Government have announced a package of changes to the loan charge. These include removing some loans, including those taken out prior to 9 December 2010, out of the scope of the charge.

What are the key changes?

The key changes arising from the independent review of the disguised remuneration loan charge are as follows:

  • the loan charge will only apply to outstanding loans that are made on or after 9 December 2010;
  • the loan charge will not apply to loans made prior to 6 April 2016 where the avoidance scheme was disclosed to HMRC and HMRC did not take any action, such as opening an enquiry;
  • those affected by the loan charge will be able to choose to spread their outstanding loan balance over three tax year – 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 – to provide greater flexibility when the loan is taxed (thereby potentially reducing or eliminating any higher rate tax payable);
  • voluntary payments (known as ‘voluntary restitution’) which were made to prevent the loan charge from arising and included in a settlement agreement reached since March 2016 will be refunded where the loan charge no longer applies because the loan was made prior to 9 December 2010 or because the loan was made prior to 6 April 2016 and fully disclosed to HMRC and HMRC took no action.

Additional flexibility in paying the charge

Those that remain within the scope of the loan charge will be given more flexibility as regards paying the charge. Taxpayers affected by the charge who do not have disposable assets and who earn less than £50,000 can agree a time-to-pay agreement with HMRC for a minimum of five years. Where the taxpayer earns less than £30,000, HMRC will agree a time-to-pay agreement for a minimum of seven years. Taxpayers that need longer to pay may be able to agree a longer time limit, but will need to provide HMRC with detailed financial information. Under a time to pay agreement, taxpayers will not normally have to pay more than 50% of their disposable income to HMRC.

This is a welcome outcome of the review. Previously, the ability to spread payments was only available where a settlement had been reached with HMRC.

Obtaining a refund

As a result of the changes outlined above, loans made in the period 6 April 1999 to 8 December 2010 are no longer within the scope of the charge. Likewise, loans made prior to 6 April 2016 under a disguised remuneration scheme disclosed to HMRC in respect of which HMRC took no action are also now outside the scope of the charge. Where the charge has been paid in relation to such loans, the taxpayer will be due a refund.

However, taxpayers will need to wait to receive the refunds due as HMRC have stated that they will not be able to process any refunds until the necessary legislation giving statutory effect to the change has been enacted by Parliament. This is expected to become law in summer 2020.

Filing a tax return

Taxpayers affected by the charge who have not submitted a tax return for 2018/19 or reached settlement with HMRC have a number of options available to them. They can either file their 2018/19 tax return by the normal due date of 31 January 2020 with the best estimate of the tax due in respect of their disguised remuneration loan. Alternatively, they can take advantage of an extended deadline and file the return by 30 September 2020. HMRC have stated that they will waive penalties for late filing, late payment and inaccuracies in relation to loan charge entries in these returns. Further, late payment interest will not be charged for the period 1 February 2020 to 30 September 2020 as long as the return is filed by 30 September 2020 and, by that date, either the associated tax is paid or the taxpayer has reached an agreement with HMRC to pay the tax.

Further help

HMRC are to write to taxpayers in early 2020 who they know have used a disguised remuneration scheme and who have either paid the loan charge or who may be liable to do so, explaining what the changes mean for them.

Guidance on the changes announced following the review can be on the Gov.uk website. Those affected can also call HMRC on 0300 534226 or email HMRC.

Determining worker status using HMRC’s CEST tool

Determining worker status using HMRC’s CEST tool

From 6 April 2020 the off-payroll working rules are extended. The impact of the new rules was discussed in the December 2019 Newswire. Under the new rules, medium and large private sector organisations engaging workers providing their services through an intermediary, such as a personal service company, must determine the status of the worker if the services were provided direct to the end client rather than via the intermediary. If, ignoring the intermediary, the worker would be an employee, the off-payroll working rules apply.

HMRC’s Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool can be used to fulfil the requirement to make a status determination.

The tool was updated in November 2019 in preparation for the extension of the off-payroll working rules. On 7 January 2020, the Government announced that they were reviewing the rules to facilitate a smooth implementation. As part of the review, which is due to report in mid-February, they will evaluate the effectiveness of the enhanced CEST tool.

The CEST tool is available on the Gov.uk website.

What is CEST?

CEST – Check Employment Status for Tax – is a tool which has been created by HMRC and which can be used to determine whether, for a particular contract, the off-payroll working rules apply. It can also be used to ascertain whether, for a particular piece of work, a worker is employed or self-employed.

If you are a medium or large private sector organisation which uses workers who provide their services through an intermediary, such as a personal service company, you can use CEST to meet your obligation to undertake a status determination under the off-payroll working rules as they apply from 6 April 2020. You must give the worker a copy of the determination, together with reasons for reaching it. Printing off the CEST decision will tick this box.

Although use of the CEST tool to make a status determination is not compulsory, its use is advised, not least because HMRC will accept by the decision reached by the tool as long as the information entered is correct.

Using CEST

The tool works by asking a series of questions, the answers to which are used to determine the status of the worker.

The CEST tool can be used anonymously. However, it should be noted that there is no facility to save the answers and return to the task later. If the tool is closed before the determination is complete, the answers will be lost. It will also time out if it is left idle for 15 minutes. It is therefore advisable to ensure that you have all the relevant information to hand before starting the determination.

The starting point is the contract of employment. The tool assumes that a contract is in place – this highlights the significance of mutuality of obligation as without mutuality of obligation there can be no contract.

To use the CEST tool, you will need the following information:

  • details of the contract;
  • the responsibilities of the worker;
  • who decides what work needs doing and when and where;
  • how the worker is paid;
  • whether the engagement includes any corporate benefits or reimbursement of expenses.

It is then simply a case of working through the question and selecting the best match answer from the available options.

Once all the questions have been answered, the user is given the option of reviewing the answers selected before the decision is given.

The decision

The CEST tool will use the information provided in response to the questions to give one of the following outcomes:

  • off-payroll working rules (IR35) do not apply;
  • off-payroll working rules (IR35) apply;
  • unable to make a determination (for whether the off-payroll working rules apply);
  • self-employed for tax purposes for this work;
  • employed for tax purposes for this work;
  • unable to make a determination (for employed or self-employed for tax purposes).

It will also set out the reasons for the decision reached.

Use of the tool by a worker

If you are a worker providing your services through a personal service company or other intermediary, you can also use the CEST tool to check your status. From 6 April 2020 onwards, you can use it to check a determination given to you be an end client that is a medium or large private sector organisation; and if you disagree with the determination given, the CEST decision can be used as the basis for a challenge.

Prior to 6 April 2020 and on or after that date where the end client is small private sector organisation, you can use the CEST tool to see if you need to operate the IR35 rules.

Detailed guidance

HMRC produce detailed guidance on using the CEST tool, which can be found in their Employment Status Manual. Check this out before using the CEST tool.

The whole area of IR35 and employment status is an area of constantly changing legislation and case law. Remember we’re always here to help you to safely navigate your way through the employment tax minefield.

Changes to Property Taxation – 2017 to 2020

Changes to Property Taxation – 2017 to 2020

2017 Income Tax – Restriction of finance costs for individual landlords

In his 2015 post-election summer Budget, George Osborne informed residential landlords that from April 2017 their ability to claim higher rate tax relief for finance costs was to be withdrawn over a four year period, as follows:

  • April 2017 the deduction from property income will be restricted to 75% of finance costs, with the remaining 25% available as a basic rate tax reduction.
  • April 2018 the deduction from property income will be restricted to 50% of finance costs, with the other 50% available as a basic rate tax reduction.
  • April 2019 the deduction from property income will be restricted to 25% of finance costs, with the other 75% available as a basic rate tax reduction.
  • April 2020 all financing costs incurred by a landlord will be given as a basic rate tax reduction.

From April 2020 residential property (not holiday lets) landlords will only receive basic rate tax relief on finance costs.

2019 Extension to Non-resident Capital Gains Tax

Since the start of the current tax year (6 April 2019) non-resident landlords have been required to complete a separate online non-resident Capital Gains Tax return for each property disposal. Including, a computation of gains and losses.

Note: Different rules apply for those who are temporarily non-resident and make disposals during a tax year when you were either not resident in the UK or overseas as part of a split year.

In addition, corporation tax rather than CGT is now chargeable on chargeable gains linked to UK property or land for all non-resident companies.

Non-Resident Capital Gains Tax (NRCGT) is also potentially payable by all non-resident landlords, as the ATED-related gains charge was abolished from 6 April 2019. It now applies to gains arising from the disposal of any type of UK land or property which accrue from 5 April 2015 (residential property) or 5 April 2019 (non-residential property).

2020 Further Capital Gains Tax Restrictions – Coming soon (April 2020)

As part of his 2018 Budget the then Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the intention to restrict the Private Residence Relief (PRR) rules from 6 April 2020 by cutting the last period of ownership from 18 month to just nine months.

Note: As with the 2014 change, the 36-month exemption period is to be retained for owners with a disability or who are in residential care.

As if that wasn’t enough, he also announced that lettings relief (see below) is to be restricted to owners who share occupancy with a tenant.

Lettings relief was introduced in 1980, to allow people to let out spare rooms within their property on a casual basis without losing the benefit of PRR. HMRC says that it has found that lettings relief is being used for purposes beyond the original policy intention, benefitting those who let out a whole dwelling that has, at some stage, been their main residence.

Current lettings relief rules:

Where the property has been let at any time, each owner can claim lettings relief to reduce the taxable capital gain.

  • This relief can cover gains of up to £40,000 per owner.
  • It is only available if the property has been the owner’s main home for a period.
  • It is also capped at the amount of PPR relief due for the period of actual occupation by the owner.

At the same time, Hammond proposed that CGT would be payable “on account” within 30 days of completion for all UK residential properties. Originally intended to be effective from 6 April 2019, to coincide with the new NRCGT rules, implementation of the proposal was delayed until 6 April 2020.

If there’s no gain to report or the gain is covered by exemptions or losses, taxpayers won’t have to complete a property disposal return.

After the end of the tax year, a taxpayer will complete a self-assessment return to disclose the property gain. The ‘on account’ payment will be deducted from the end of CGT liability; this could result in a repayment of CGT for the taxpayer.

Tax Return Tips

Tax Return Tips

The 2018/19 self-assessment tax return must be filed online by midnight on 31 January 2020 if a late filing penalty is to be avoided. What can you do to help ensure this deadline is not missed?

Help us to help you

The tax return season is a very busy time for accountants and tax advisers. With the best will in the world, there is a limit to the number of tax returns that can be filed on 31 January. To ensure that your tax return is filed on time, it is prudent to help us to help you.

  • Check what date your accountant needs tax information from you in order to meet the filing deadline, and make sure that you provide the information by that date.
  • Collect together all the relevant paperwork and make sure that nothing is missing. This will include your P60 and P11D, dividend vouchers, bank statements, details of trading income and expenses, details of rental income and expenses, details of sales of capital assets and associated expenses, and details of pension contribution and charitable donations.
  • Make sure your paperwork is organised and easy to follow, whether supplied digitally or in hard copy format.
  • Keep copies of the information supplied to your accountant.
  • Advise your accountant of any changes in your personal circumstances – such as change of address, whether you have got married or divorced etc.
  • Deal with any queries promptly.
  • Pay any tax due on time.

What are the penalties for late returns?

A late filing penalty is charged if the self-assessment tax return is filed late. The normal deadline for filing the 2018/19 tax return online is midnight on 31 January 2020. A later deadline applies if the notice to file a return was issued after 31 October 2019 – this is three months from the date of the notice.

Returns must be filed by 30 December 2019 if you want an underpayment (available for underpayments of up to £3,000) to be collected through PAYE via an adjustment to your tax code. Paper returns had to be filed by 31 October 2019 (or three months from the date of the notice to file where this was issued after 31 July 2019) to avoid a penalty – however, if this deadline was missed, a penalty can be avoided by filing online by 31 January 2020.

Returns filed late attract a late filing penalty of £100. This is charged even if there is no tax to pay or the tax is paid on time. Further penalties are charged if your return has not been filed three months after the due date – from that point daily penalties of £10 per day start to accrue for a maximum of 90 days (£900). At the six month and 12-month point, additional penalties set at the higher of 5% of the tax due and £300 are charged.

Penalties are also charged if tax is paid late, in addition to any interest that may accrue. The trigger dates are 30 days late, six months late and 12 months late. At each date, the penalty is 5% of the tax outstanding at the trigger date.

Is the VAT flat rate scheme still worthwhile for limited cost businesses?

Is the VAT flat rate scheme still worthwhile for limited cost businesses?

The VAT flat rate scheme is a simplified VAT scheme for smaller traders which allows them to work out the VAT they pay over to HMRC as a fixed percentage of their VAT-inclusive turnover. The fixed rate percentage depends on the business sector in which they operate. The scheme reduces the need to record VAT on purchases separately and reduces the information that must be held digitally under Making tax Digital for VAT. However, for those classed as limited cost businesses, there are potential pitfalls associated with using the scheme.

Who can join the scheme?

The flat rate scheme is open to VAT registered businesses whose VAT-inclusive turnover is not more than £150,000 a year. Once in the scheme, the trader can remain in the scheme as long as their turnover for the year is not more than £230,000 – although HMRC will allow the trader to remain in the scheme if they are satisfied that the turnover for the next 12 months will not exceed £191,500.

Who is a limited cost business?

Special rules apply to limited cost businesses. A business is a limited cost business if the amount it spends on relevant goods is either:

  • less than 2% of the business’s VAT flat rate turnover; or
  • greater than 2% of the VAT flat rate turnover but less than £1,000 a year (£250 per quarter).

The calculation is performed separately for each VAT quarter; consequently, a business may be a limited cost business for one VAT but not for the next.

What are relevant goods?

Relevant goods are goods used exclusively for the business. Examples of relevant goods are stationery and office expenses, gas and electricity used for the business, stock for a shop, standard software and food used in meals for customers.

However, the list of relevant goods does not include:

  • vehicle costs, including fuel (unless the business operates in the transport sector);
  • food and drink for you and your staff;
  • capital expenditure;
  • goods for resale, letting or hiring out where this is not your main business activity;
  • goods for disposal such as promotional items, gifts or donations; and
  • any services.

Thus, not all purchases on which VAT is suffered are taken into account in assessing whether a business is a limited cost business.

The fixed rate percentage for limited cost businesses

A business that meets the definition of a limited cost business must use a flat rate percentage of 16.5% rather than the one for their business sector.

Doing the maths highlights a potential problem – 16.5% of VAT inclusive turnover is 19.8% of net turnover (16.5% x 120)/100 = 19.8%), so the business will pay almost all the VAT it charges customers (20% of net turnover) over to HMRC, with virtually no margin to cover the input tax suffered.

If the nature of the business is such that its expenditure on relevant goods is low, so that it is classed a limited cost business, but the business has relatively high expenditure on non-relevant goods, such as fuel, the flat rate scheme may not be worthwhile as the business will not recover all its input VAT.

Possible solutions

Limited cost businesses should review their position to ascertain whether the flat rate scheme remains worthwhile. If they are not recovering their input tax (with the result that it is costing them to use the scheme), they can consider leaving the scheme and using traditional VAT accounting instead. This will be more work, but depending on the amounts involved, may be worthwhile.

Alternatively, if turnover is below the de-registration limit, set at £83,000, the business can consider de-registering and coming out of VAT.

More information

Guidance on the flat rate scheme can be found in VAT Notice 733.

Off-payroll working – plan ahead for the changes

Off-payroll working – plan ahead for the changes

The tax playing field is not a level one – the tax and National Insurance take where a worker is employed is higher than that where that worker provides his or her services through a personal service company and extracts profits in the form of a small salary plus dividends. From the engager’s perspective, this is also beneficial as there is no employer National Insurance to pay. Unsurprisingly, HMRC are not happy about this. While anti-avoidance legislation has existed for some time (IR35), compliance has been low. To address this, new off-payroll working rules were introduced from 6 April 2017, applying where a worker supplies his or her services through an intermediary, such as a personal service company, to an end client which is a public sector body. These rules are being extended from 6 April 2020; from that date they will also apply where the end client is a medium or large private sector organisation. The existing IR35 rules will continue to apply where services are provided through an intermediary to a ‘small’ private sector organisation.

The extension of the rules will affect engagers and contractors alike – it is now time to prepare for the changes ahead.

What is changing?

Off-payroll working is basically what is says on the tin – working in such a way that the worker is not paid through the payroll.

The original off-payroll working rules were the IR35 rules which were introduced to target perceived avoidance where services were provided through an intermediary but, looking through that intermediary, the relationship between the worker and the end client was essentially that of employer and employee. In this scenario, the worker is off-payroll – instead the intermediary bills the client. To recover the employment taxes that HMRC regard as being due, the intermediary is treated as making a deemed payment to the worker on 5 April at the end of the tax year on which tax and National Insurance are due.

To address poor compliance with the IR35 rules and the difficulties associated with policing them, the rules were changed from 6 April 2017 where the end client is a public sector body. Under these rules, responsibility for determining whether the worker would be an employee if the services were supplied direct rather than through an intermediary (and thus whether the rules apply) was moved from the intermediary to the public sector end client. Where the rules apply, the fee payer must deduct tax and National Insurance from payments made to the worker’s personal service company or other intermediary.

From 6 April 2020, these rules will also apply where the end client is a medium or large private sector organisation which engages workers providing their services through an intermediary.

What do engagers need to do?

If you are a private sector organisation which uses workers who provide their services through a personal service company or other intermediary, the first task is to identify whether you are within the scope of the extended rules. This will be the case if you are a ‘medium’ or ‘large’ organisation.

Where the rules apply, the organisation will need to:

  • Determine the worker’s employment status if the intermediary is ignored.
  • Supply the worker and other parties in the chain (such as a third-party fee payer or agency) with a copy of the determination and the reasons for it.
  • Deduct tax and National Insurance from payments made to the worker’s intermediary where the status determination is that the worker would be an employee if service were supplied direct to the end client.

Is the end client ‘medium’ or ‘large’?

The test here is borrowed from the Companies Act 2006, and the extended off-payroll working rules will apply unless the engaging organisation is ‘small’. A small company is one which meets at least two of the following tests:

  • annual turnover is not more than £10.2 million;
  • balance sheet total is not more than £5.1 million;
  • the number of employees is not more than 50.

The test is modified in its application to unincorporated bodies.

An organisation that is ‘small’ is outside the scope of the extended off-payroll working rules – the intermediary must continue to apply IR35 as now.

Determining the worker’s status

The usual employment status tests apply to determine the status of the worker, if the intermediary is ignored. The easiest way to make a determination is to use HMRC’s Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool, which is available online. The tool asks a series of questions and uses the answers to provide a result as to the worker’s status. An advantage of using CEST is that as long as the information used is accurate, HMRC will stand by the result.

Detailed guidance on the CEST tool can be found in HMRC’s Employment Status Manual.

Paying the worker

If the status determination shows that the worker would be an employee of the end client if the intermediary is taken out of the equation, the fee payer must calculate the deemed payment (which is treated as earnings) and deduct tax and National Insurance when making the payment to the worker’s personal service company. The fee payer is simply the person who pays the worker – this may be the end client or a third party, such an agency.

The fee payer must report the pay and deductions to HMRC on a full payment submission under real time information. The submission should indicate that the worker is an off-payroll worker. The fee payer can either use their existing PAYE scheme or open a new one for this purpose.

Calculating the deemed payment

The deemed payment is the amount which is treated as earnings for tax and National Insurance purposes. It is calculated as follows.

  1. Work out the value of payments to the worker’s intermediary having first deducted any VAT charged.
  2. Deduct the direct cost of materials that have or will be used by the worker in providing his or her services.
  3. Deduct any expenses that would be deductible for tax purposes if the worker was employed.
  4. The resulting amount is the deemed payment.

If the result of the above calculation is nil or negative, there is no deemed payment.

What do the changes mean for contractors?

If you provide services through a personal service company, the new rules will affect you if you provide your services to a medium or large private sector organisation. You will no longer be responsible for deciding whether the IR35 rules apply – instead your client will determine your employment status, and provide you with a copy of their determination. If you do not agree, you can appeal. This should be done in writing to your client explaining why you disagree with their determination. Your client has 45 days to respond. It is sensible to undertake your own determination using the CEST tool.

Where the rules apply, you will no longer be paid gross – the fee payer will deduct tax and National Insurance from payments made to your intermediary (although you will receive credit for the tax and National Insurance paid when working out the tax and National Insurance that you owe).

If you supply your services to clients that are small, the new rules will not affect you. You should continue to apply the IR35 rules as now.

Contractors operating through personal service companies or other intermediaries are advised to check that they are complying with IR35 – where a worker is found to be within the off-payroll working rules post 6 April 2020, HMRC may look carefully for compliance with IR35 prior to that date. Now is the time to check that your house is in order. If you are within the new rules, you may also wish to consider whether it remains beneficial to supply your services via an intermediary, or whether going on-payroll is a lot less hassle.

Plan ahead

Engagers and contractors should plan ahead for the changes and make sure that they understand how the new rules will work and the impact that they will have on you or your organisation.

That said, it would appear that the new rules are not yet set in stone. On the 2nd of December while speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Money Box programme Sajid Javid, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pledged to review the off-payroll IR35 legislation. Mr. Javid said:

“I want to make sure that the proposed changes are right to take forward. We’ve already said that we’re on the side of self-employed people. We will be having a review and I think it makes sense to include IR35 in that review.”

MTD – announces more time for digital links…what does this mean?

MTD – announces more time for digital links…what does this mean?

On 17 October HMRC made a much-welcomed announcement that some businesses will qualify for an extension to the MTD for VAT (MTDfV) existing twelve months ‘soft-landing’ period.

The basics

In order to explain the significance of the extension, it is best to reprise some of the basics of what is required in order to achieve compliance with MTDfv.

Specifically, the need for a VAT-registered entity with annual VATable turnover greater than £85k, to keep digital VAT records and file MTD-compliant VAT returns.

HMRC’s view

Section 4 of HMRC VAT notice 700/22 ‘Making Tax Digital for VAT’ covers the requirements for digital record keeping, a fundamental of ensuring compliance with MTD.

  • Almost all VAT registered businesses with annual VAT-able turnover in excess of £85K are required to comply with MTDfV rules.
  • To achieve compliance, they must keep and preserve certain records and accounts digitally within functional compatible software.
  • Functional compatible software can be a software program, or set of software programs, products or applications, that must be able to:
    • record and preserve digital records (see paragraph 4.3);
    • provide to HMRC information and returns from data held in those digital records by using the API platform; and
    • receive information from HMRC using the API platform.

With only limited exceptions, once VAT data has been digitally recorded into a business’ chosen accounting software any subsequent transfer, recapture or modification of it must be carried out using digital links.

While for many, everything required to achieve compliance can be done from within third-party software. For others, it can mean resorting to transferring data between disparate pieces of software in order to achieve compliance. With each piece of software needing to be ‘digitally linked’, to create a digital journey ending with the submission of an MTD-compliant VAT return.

Digital links

Section 4.2 .1 of 700/22 describes a ‘digital link’ as, “…. a transfer or exchange of data is made, or can be made, electronically between software programs, products or applications”.

Digital links includes:

  • linked cells in spreadsheets;
  • emailing a spreadsheet containing digital records so the information can be imported into another software product;
  • transferring a set of digital records onto a portable device (for example, a pen drive, memory stick, or flash drive) and physically giving this to someone else who then imports that data into their software;
  • XML, CSV import and export, and downloads and uploads of files; and
  • automated data transfers.

Why?

In the context of MTDfV, a soft-landing period is an amnesty period during which, provided a VAT registered entity required to comply with MTDfV regulations has tried its best to satisfying the digital links rules, and that for reasons such as their software providers are still working on delivering the required functionality, has found it impractical to comply, no penalty for non-compliance will be issued.

Prior to the launch of MTDfV, HMRC announced there would be one-year soft-landing period for all businesses who, after trying, were initially unable meet the legal requirement for digital links. The period-of-soft-landing was, and remains to be, an essential element of ensuring a smooth roll out of MTDfV.

Why…simply…without the soft-landing many businesses, without fully functionally compatible software at the launch of MTDfV, would have been left facing fines for failing to have digital links in place, even though, they and or their software providers were doing their best to ensure that everything required to achieve compliance would be ready as soon as possible. Which, HMRC realised was not a good position to leave those willing to be compliant in.

The initial soft-landing period

For those affected, the initial soft-landing period commenced from the first day, of the first return period, after 31 March 2019 for most mandated businesses, or after 30 September for a small number of deferred businesses. Those with the most complex of VAT affairs.

As announced on 17 October, businesses with complex or legacy IT systems, who are struggling to have digital links in place within the existing one-year soft-landing window, are now able to apply for additional time to put the required digital subject to meeting certain qualifying criteria.

Where a business qualifies, the additional time will be granted as a specific direction from HMRC.

It’s important to note that there is no blanket extension to the soft-landing period and it appears that HMRC will take a fairly strict line on who does and doesn’t qualify.

Why the extension

Many businesses use bespoke software, specifically tailored to their market sector, to manage bookings, keep records, stocks, etc. Where this is the case, it is not uncommon common for there to be a need to manually post totals from one part of a system to another on a weekly, monthly or other basis.

While such transfers will not be acceptable once the soft-landing expires, replacing them with a digital link(s) is proving, for some, to be difficult.

In much the same way, many businesses with internally developed systems are finding they may need additional time to get their, often very different, software packages to talk to each other. This is particularly proving to be the case for VAT registered entities in VAT groups.

In recent months, AAT and its fellow professional bodies have highlighted to HMRC the difficulties some businesses are facing when trying to ensure they have digital links next year.

This is a particular problem in industries that use specialist software, which can often be difficult (or even impossible) to link to accounting and VAT systems.

How generous is HMRC likely to be?

While any business can apply for an extension, they will only get one if HMRC accept that one is needed.

Section 4.2 .1.3 sets out various criteria which need to be met for digital link deadline extensions. Key amongst these is that it must be “unachievable and not reasonable” to have digital links in place in the normal one-year soft-landing period.

HMRC are very clear that an extension will only be granted in “exceptional circumstances”. The department does not accept that the potential cost of achieving compliance with the digital links requirements is sufficient grounds for applying for an extension.

Furthermore, it expects businesses to make every effort to comply with ‘digital links requirements’.

HMRC examples of what might be considered “unachievable and not reasonable”, include:

  • part of an IT system is incapable of importing and exporting data to or from another part, and it isn’t possible to update or replace it in time; and
  • a business is in the process of updating or replacing its IT system and the planned implementation date is not before the end of the original soft-landing period.

Even where an extension application is granted by HMRC it will not be a permanent relaxation of the requirement for robust end-to-end digital links.

  • Businesses still have to consider how they will put digital links in place and will need to set out a clear explanation and timetable for when and how this will be implemented in their application to HMRC.
  • The length of any extension will be decided on a case by case basis, though HMRC has indicated that they do not expect that this will ordinarily be what businesses should do.

If any business thinks they may benefit from an extension, they should first look at the detail in the VAT Notice whether they meet HMRC’s criteria. If they believe they do, then a formal application has to be made to HMRC. The VAT Notice sets out the information which this must contain, including an explanation it is “unachievable and not reasonable” to have digital links in place by the end of the normal soft-landing period, a map of current VAT systems, a timetable plan to put digital links in place and details of controls for manual transfers of data in the meantime.

Applications have to be submitted before the current soft-landing-on-digital-links expires. Given the amount of information required businesses may want to make a start on their applications sooner rather than later.

Beware the trivial benefits gift card trap

Beware the trivial benefits gift card trap

The tax exemption for trivial benefits is a handy exemption as it allows employers to provide employees with low cost benefits tax-free. However, where the benefit is in the form of the gift card, it is easy to fall foul of the rules inadvertently.

Scope of the exemption

The trivial benefits exemption applies where the cost to the employer of providing the benefit is not more than £50 and the following conditions are met:

  • the benefit is in kind; benefits in the form of cash or a voucher that is redeemable for cash do not count;
  • the benefit is not given in return for work done; and
  • the benefit is not provided under a salary sacrifice or flexible remuneration arrangement.

The value of trivial benefits that can be provided to a director of a close company is capped at £300 per year; otherwise there is no limit on the number of trivial benefits that an employee can enjoy in a tax year.

The problem with gift cards

At first sight, providing an employee with a gift card which is topped up at regular intervals may seem a handy way to take advantage of the trivial benefits exemption. It would be reasonable to assume that as long as each top up is less than £50 and the other conditions for the exemption to apply are met, the top-ups would all be tax-free. However, HMRC take a different view. Their stance is that the benefit of the gift card is a single benefit and the cost of that benefit is the total amount put on the card throughout the tax year.

Example

An employer wishes to take advantage of the trivial benefits exemption and provides an employee with a gift card for a popular store. The initial gift card cost the employer £20. The employer tops up the gift card by a further £20 each month. As each top-up is less than £50, the employer is confident that the trivial benefits exemption applies.

However, HMRC’s position is that the cost to the employer of providing the benefit for the tax year in question is £240 (12 x £20). As this is more than £50, the trivial benefits exemption does not apply. The benefit is taxable as a benefit in kind and is also liable to employer Class 1A National Insurance. It must also be reported to HMRC on the employee’s P11D.

A similar problem could arise with the provision of a season ticket.

Individual benefits

To avoid falling foul of the gift card trap, make sure each benefit is separate from other benefits given to the employee in a tax year. Where gift cards are used, give the employee a separate gift card each time (perhaps varying the type of card), rather than simply topping up an existing card.

Voluntary NICs – Should you pay?

Voluntary NICs – Should you pay?

The single-tier state pension is payable to individuals who reach state pension age on or after 6 April 2016. Entitlement to the state pension is dependent on having been paid or credited with sufficient National Insurance contributions. Individuals whose contributions record is insufficient for a full state pension can boost their pension by making voluntary contributions.

Is your contributions record sufficient?

To qualify for the full single tier state pension, you need 35 qualifying years. A reduced state pension is paid to individuals who have less than 35 qualifying years but at least ten. Individuals with less than ten qualifying years are not eligible for a state pension. Only the individual’s own contributions are taken into account – contributions by a spouse or civil partner do not provide any pension entitlement.

Check your state pension

In order to decide whether it is necessary to consider paying voluntary National Insurance contributions, you first need to ascertain your state pension entitlement. This can be done by getting a state pension forecast online. The online service allows an individual to:

  • check how much state pension they could get — their state pension forecast;
  • when they will receive the state pension; and
  • how to increase it, if they can.

The service can only be used by individuals who have not already reached state pension age.

Building up qualifying years

The main way in which a person builds up qualifying years for state pension purposes is via the payment of National Insurance contributions. For the year to be a qualifying year, contributions must be paid in respect of all weeks in that tax year.

Where the individual is employed, it is the payment of primary (employee’s) Class 1 National Insurance contributions that provides the means for building up a contributions record. Although no employee Class 1 contributions are payable until earnings reach the primary threshold (set at £166 per week for 2019/20), contributions are deemed to be paid at a notional zero rate once contributions exceed the lower earnings limit (£118 per week for 2019/20). This means that as long as the employee earns at least £118 per week throughout the tax year, the year will be a qualifying one for state pension purposes.

For the self-employed, it is the payment of Class 2 contributions (set at £3 per week for 2019/20) that provides the mechanism for building up entitlement to the state pension and contributory benefits. The self-employed also pay Class 4 contributions on their profits, but this does not confer any pension or benefit entitlement.

Some individuals who are not paying National Insurance contributions may be able to get National Insurance credits. These will help secure qualifying years. Those able to benefit from National Insurance credits include parents and foster parents claiming child benefit for a child under the age of 12, certain people on jobseekers allowance and carers. More information on National Insurance credits can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Topping up with voluntary contributions

Individuals with a shortfall in their contributions record can top it up by paying voluntary (Class 3) National Insurance contributions. Voluntary contributions can be paid to buy additional years or to turn a non-qualifying year into a qualifying year by making voluntary contributions for weeks for which contributions have not been paid or treated as paid.

Class 3 contributions are expensive at £15 per week, so should only be paid where it is beneficial to do so. If a person has, or will have by the time they retire, 35 qualifying years, there is nothing to be gained by paying voluntary contributions. If an individual has slightly less than ten qualifying years, paying voluntary contributions to increase their qualifying years to ten may be worthwhile as this will secure a minimum state pension.

At 2019/20 rates, it will cost £700 (52 weeks @ £15 per week) to buy an additional year – at 2019/20 rates this will increase the state pension by £4.82 a week (£57.04 a year). Thus, a person needs to live at least 12 years and 3 months to recoup the cost of each year of voluntary contributions.

Class 3 contributions must be paid within six years from the end of the tax year to which they relate. Extended time limits apply to certain years.

Class 2 rather than Class 3

The self-employed are only liable to pay Class 2 contributions if their profits exceed the small profits threshold, set at £6,365 for 2019/20. Where profits from self-employment are less than this, Class 2 contributions can be paid voluntarily. If an individual has a shortfall in their contributions record and is eligible but not required to pay Class 2 contributions, at £3 per week for 2019/20, this offers a much cheaper option of plugging a pension shortfall than paying Class 3 contributions of £15 per week.

Next steps

Review your pension forecast and ascertain whether payment of voluntary contributions is worthwhile.