Archive for February, 2015

Year end tax planning 2014-15

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

The 2014-15 tax year finishes midnight, 5 April 2015. There are a number of tax planning opportunities that need to be considered before this date. Only a few weeks to go. If you have not already done so we recommend you speak with your professional advisor without delay.

Who should be concerned?

Tax year end planning should be considered by:

  • Anyone in business
  • Individuals who are paying income tax at the 40% or 45% rate, and
  • Individuals with multiple sources of taxable income.

All tax payers in these groups should consider their tax planning options before 6 April 2015.

What should you consider?

It is beyond the scope of this blog posting to cover all the planning issues that may be of benefit. The following list is for general information only. The strategies outlined may or may not benefit your situation as everyone’s circumstances are unique. There is no substitute for a conversation with your tax advisor.

  1. High income earners should consider options to reduce their income for tax purposes in 2014-15. For example, if your income exceeds £100,000 you will not only be paying income tax at 40%, but you will suffer a reduction in your personal tax allowance. There are a number of strategies you could consider to avoid this.
  2. If you are in business, and your accounting year end coincides with the tax year end, generally 31 March 2015, there are a number of timing issues to consider:
  1. Are you planning a significant capital purchase (equipment etc) that would qualify for the 100% write off by claiming under the Annual Investment Allowance? Would the expenditure win you more tax relief by being delayed until after 31 March?
  2. In a similar vein, should you defer significant revenue expenditure?
  1. If your business is incorporated what is the best way to extract profits in order to minimise corporation tax for your company and income tax for shareholders and directors?

 

Once the 5 April deadline passes numerous planning opportunities lapse. Please call if you would like to discuss strategies that may benefit your tax position.

Landlords Energy Saving Allowance ends 5 April 2015

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Landlords can reduce their tax bill by up to £1,500 a year with the Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance. Unless extended in the forthcoming budget, this scheme is due to end 5 April 2015.

What you can claim

You can claim Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance for the costs of buying and installing the following energy-saving products for properties you rent out:

  • cavity wall and loft insulation
  • solid wall insulation
  • draught-proofing
  • hot water system insulation
  • floor insulation

Owning property abroad

You can claim Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance for properties you rent out abroad, as long as you pay UK tax on profits from those properties.

Owning more than one property

You can claim a maximum allowance of £1,500 for each house, flat or bedsit you rent out. For example, if you rent out a building that contains 4 flats, you can claim up to £1,500 for each flat.

Owning a property with others

If you own the property with others, you can claim a share of the allowance in one of 2 ways:

  • based on the amount of the property you own (e.g. if you own half of the property you can claim up to £750)
  • based on the amount of money you spent on the improvements (e.g. if you covered half of the costs, you can claim up to £750)

Owners can claim a maximum £1,500 in total for each property owned.

Installing energy-saving items yourself

If you install the energy-saving items yourself, you can claim Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance for the costs of buying them, but not for installing them.

What you can’t claim

You can’t claim Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance on a property if:

  • you’re claiming an allowance under the ‘Rent a Room’ scheme
  • you’re renting out the property as furnished holiday accommodation

How to apply

Please call our office if you would like more information regarding this scheme.

Gift Hold-over Relief

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

This relief will help you to defer capital gains tax (CGT) when you give away chargeable assets or if you sell something subject to CGT for less than its market value. The relief is called Gift Hold-Over Relief and could be claimed if you give away business assets (including certain shares) or sell them for less than they are worth to help the buyer.

Gift Hold-Over Relief means:

  • you don’t pay Capital Gains Tax when you give away the assets
  • the person you give them to pays Capital Gains tax (if any is due) when they sell (or ‘dispose of’) them

Tax isn’t usually payable on gifts to your husband, wife, civil partner or a charity.

Eligibility

The conditions for claiming relief depend on whether you’re giving away business assets or shares.

If you’re giving away business assets you must:

  • be a sole trader or business partner, or have at least 5% of shares and voting rights in a company (known as your ‘personal company’)
  • use the assets in your business or personal company

You can usually get partial relief if you used the assets only partly for your business.

If you’re giving away shares the shares must be in a company that’s either:

  • not listed on any recognised stock exchange
  • your personal company

The company’s main activities must be in trading (e.g. providing goods or services) rather than non-trading activities like investment.

New rules to safeguard value for money in workplace pensions

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

From April, people automatically enrolled into a workplace pension will see their charges capped at 0.75%, unless they have chosen a more expensive option. The details are set out in draft regulations laid before Parliament on 4 February 2015.

For an average earner currently paying into a fund with a charge of 1.5%, this new cap could save them around £100,000 over the course of their working life. Over the next decade, the default fund charge cap will transfer around £200 million from the pensions industry to savers.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said:

Today is an excellent day for pension savers. It is vital that workplace pension schemes are run in the interests of their members and that their hard-earned savings are not eaten away by excessive charges.

Over 5 million people have now been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension and by 2018 millions more will be saving for the first time, or saving more. This is why we are building a pensions system that these workers can save into with confidence – and not see their money disappear in opaque charging structures.

There is an understandable buzz around what April will bring for those retiring now, with the unprecedented pension freedoms coming in. But these reforms show we are also determined to help the pensioners of tomorrow – people working hard and saving hard for their families’ future.

The next stage of the government’s work to ensure full disclosure of costs and charges throughout the value chain is also set out in the February paper – with the plan to publish a joint call for evidence with the Financial Conduct Authority in spring 2015.

Most of the updated draft regulations will come in to force on 6 April 2015, subject to Parliamentary approval.

Staff loans for would be tenants

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis announced recently government-wide support for a new scheme that will become available to thousands of potential tenants.

The minister said he was determined to “create a bigger, better private rented sector”.

All of Whitehall has now agreed to offer deposit loans to staff looking to take up new tenancies in the private rented sector, following in the footsteps of the Department for Communities and Local Government. This includes the Home Office, Ministry of Defence, Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs and the Department of Health.

More help for tenants

The scheme, which works in the same way as a staff season ticket loan, will allow employees to borrow some of their salary upfront in order to pay for rental deposits, which is then repayable from salary payments over up to a year. It is available to be taken up in both the public and private sectors.

The Department for Communities and Local Government last October became the first government department to roll the scheme out to its staff, with ministers pushing other parts of government and the public sector to follow suit. The department is working with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills to increase availability across the private sector.

Brandon Lewis said:

With millions of people across the country renting their home we are determined to create a bigger, better private rented sector that is fair to tenants.

Today’s move will mean thousands of people will be offered a helping hand to rent privately through season ticket style loans from their employers.

I hope to see more employers in the public and private sector joining the scheme in the near future.

The tenancy deposit scheme can be adapted by different employers to suit their needs, but generally employees are offered interest-free loans to pay their deposits when they move into a privately rented home, which are then paid back through their salary over the course of up to a year.

Business rates revaluation 2017

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

In preparation for the 2017 Revaluation, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is sending out forms to ratepayers from January asking for information about their property and business. This is to help the VOA update the rateable values of all business properties which are used by councils to calculate the business rates they pay.

If you receive one of these forms, you should complete and return it quickly and accurately as failure to do so could mean you pay the wrong amount in business rates. It could also mean a fine of £100 if not returned to VOA within 56 days.

The next revaluation will come into effect on 1 April 2017 and will assess all business properties in England and Wales, based on the rental value as at 1 April 2015.

This revaluation will not apply to business property in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Tax Diary February/March 2015

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

1 February 2015 – Due date for Corporation Tax payable for the year ended 30 April 2014.

 19 February 2015 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 February 2015. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 February 2015.)

 19 February 2015 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 February 2015.

 19 February 2015 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 February 2015 is payable by today.

 1 March 2015 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 May 2014.

 2 March 2015 – Self Assessment tax for 2013/14 paid after this date will incur a 5% surcharge.

 19 March 2015 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 March 2015. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 March 2015.)

 19 March 2015 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 March 2015.

 19 March 2015 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 March 2015 is payable by today.

 

Snugglebundl wins appeal

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

In a recent case considered by the courts a company that sold a baby lifting blanket appealed a ruling by HMRC that the supply was standard rated for VAT purposes.

For the company this placed them at a competitive disadvantage as retail outlets selling the item were required to charge VAT at 20%.

 

At issue was whether a Snugglebundl qualified as an article designed as clothing or footwear for young children and should therefore be zero rated for VAT when sold.

 

The First-tier Tribunal disagreed with HMRC’s judgement and the appeal was upheld.

 

The case is of interest as it helps to clarify that an item of clothing can have other uses and still qualify as clothing for VAT purposes; although the decision in this case is “fact sensitive”.

Home based businesses and business rates

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

The local property tax you pay, in England and Wales, will be either Council Tax or Non-domestic (business) Rates depending on the type of property. Some properties are part business and part domestic, so you may pay both taxes. Good examples are public houses where the publican lives on the premises or shops where the shopkeeper lives in a flat over the shop.

Generally, you should not have to pay business rates for minor business use of the home. The Government does not normally expect home-based businesses to have to pay business rates if:

  • You use a small part of your home for your business (for example you use a bedroom part of the day as an office), and
  • You do not use it to sell goods or services to visiting clients or members of the public (as opposed to selling by post), and
  • You do not employ other people to work at the premises, and
  • You have not made alterations of a sort that would not usually be associated with a home (such as converting a garage to a hairdressers or installing a hydraulic car lift).

 These are general guidelines currently set out on the GOV.UK website. Some situations might need the facts of each case to be considered.

What is a reasonable excuse for late filing

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

You may feel aggrieved that you were unable to file your return on time for a perfectly valid reason. If you want to appeal against any penalties charged there is a formal appeals procedure you should follow. In order to convince HMRC to withdraw their penalty notice you will have to convince them that you had a reasonable excuse.

 The following examples, of what constitutes a reasonable excuse, are copied from HMRC’s website:

  • HMRC Online Services would not accept the tax return – you’ll need to provide the error message you received and the date you tried to send it.
  • You did not receive the tax return or letter telling you to complete a tax return – HMRC usually know if you did not because it is sent back undelivered.
  • Bereavement – the death of a close relative or domestic partner shortly before the deadline.
  • Serious or life-threatening illness, for example, a major heart attack or a serious mental illness that prevents you dealing with your tax affairs.
  • You did not receive your online Activation Code, User ID or password in time to send your tax return by the deadline – as long as you tried to get them before the deadline and once you received them you sent your tax return as soon as you could.
  • Your tax return or cheque was lost or delayed in the post. You must have posted it in good time to meet the deadline.
  • Loss of tax records, through theft, fire or flood that cannot be replaced in time to meet the deadline.
  • Your cheque was dishonoured because of an error by your bank.

 What HMRC will not accept as a reasonable excuse includes:

  • The tax return was too difficult to complete.
  • Pressure of work.
  • It was your agent’s or tax adviser’s fault that you missed the deadline.
  • Lack of information available.
  • We did not remind you about the tax return and payment deadlines.
  • You want to replace the paper tax return you have already sent with an online tax return to reduce your penalties.
  • Unable to send a certain tax return or supplementary pages online as there was no free HMRC software.
  • Your cheque was dishonoured due to a shortage of funds or made out incorrectly.

The best possible strategy to avoid penalties is to file your tax return before the statutory deadline. If you are prevented from doing so by circumstances that you feel constitute a reasonable excuse, then you should appeal against the penalty.