Newsletter Autumn 2016 - Hart Parry

Newsletter Autumn 2016

Sorting out interest receipts

On 6 April 2016 a new allowance – the Savings Allowance – was introduced into our tax system. The Savings Allowance applies a new 0% rate for up to £1,000 of interest receipts for a basic rate taxpayer and up to £500 for a higher rate taxpayer.

The introduction of the Savings Allowance will mean that the majority of taxpayers will not pay tax on their interest. The government has therefore removed the requirement (from 6 April 2016) for banks and building societies to deduct tax from account interest they pay to customers. This has not been extended to private companies paying interest on directors loan accounts so the CT61 regime still applies and basic rate tax will still be deducted at source from some forms of savings income such as interest distributions from unit trusts and OEICs. The government proposes to remove this requirement from April 2017.

Of course if your interest income exceeds the Savings Allowance, there will be extra tax to pay and if you are a higher rate taxpayer, you are more likely to be in this position as the Savings Allowance is only £500.

Brexit and tax

The EU referendum result will, of course, have significant long term economic consequences for the UK and many areas of law will need to be adapted to the new era. What are the possible tax consequences of the UK ceasing to be a member of the EU?

The main point to note is that many areas of taxation such as personal and corporate tax rates have been matters which the UK has been free to decide without reference to the EU. However, the prospect of exit from the EU may indirectly affect the rates set due to the perceived financial effects of Brexit by politicians. The likelihood is that these issues will be addressed in the Autumn Statement in November/December.

VAT may be the area of greatest change. It is a central principle of the EU that the harmonisation of VAT is essential to the achievement of a single market. In theory, the UK could decide to abolish VAT and replace it with a sales tax on goods and services. This is extremely unlikely. However, it is likely that UK VAT law will become independent of EU law. UK legislation currently enacts EU law – the Value Added Tax Act 1994 being the main source. This legislation could be amended post Brexit to apply different rates to goods and services without constraint from the EU.

A likely inevitable VAT consequence of Brexit will be changes to how businesses export and import goods to and from EU businesses. How extensive the changes will be will depend on the negotiations to exit the EU and the system adopted for trade between the UK and the EU. We will continue to inform you of significant developments that may affect you and your business and help you manage the opportunities and threats that may arise in the next few years.

Pensions auto enrolment and directors

It has taken a long time to sort out whether directors are required to be enrolled into an employer provided pension auto enrolment scheme. The latest development has been the issue of legislation to provide the company with the ability to opt to exclude directors from auto enrolment. This will provide comfort for many employers; particularly small employers who have yet to go through the auto enrolment process.

What if the company has employees as well as directors?

If the company has employees, it will have a duty to set up an auto enrolment scheme. If the company concludes that neither director has a contract of employment, the directors are not enrolled as they are not workers. If the company concludes the directors have contracts of employment, the company can decide to not enrol them by applying the exception.

Take care

Employers need to take care if they advise TPR that they have no workers or no-one to enrol and then take on an employee in the future. If the staging date has passed, auto enrolment duties may apply for that new worker from the date of their employment.

We can, of course, help you to decide what is appropriate for your circumstances. Talk to Colin or Llyneth about this.

Poor service levels at HMRC could mean you have paid the wrong amount of tax

In May 2016, the National Audit Office (NAO) published a report into the quality of HMRC service for personal taxpayers. The report highlighted serious shortcomings in the service which could have meant some taxpayers paying the wrong amount of tax. 

We would hasten to say that this doesn’t apply to your self-assessment tax where we have completed your personal tax return, but where you are relying on HMRC to get your PAYE notice of coding correct!

The report found that up to 2013/14 HMRC succeeded in reducing costs by £111m but also maintained or improved their customer service performance. HMRC began introducing new digital services from 2011/12 and expected that this would reduce demand for contact with taxpayers so personal tax staff were cut by a quarter in 2014/15. But the fall in demand did not happen and HMRC did not have contingency plans to deal with the high levels of customer service requests.

To try and improve the service on the tax helpline, back-office staff were moved to call centres. These back-office staff had been maintaining PAYE tax records and investigating outstanding discrepancies in these records. The reduction in staff dealing with these reviews meant that the cases of outstanding discrepancies nearly doubled from 2.4m in March 2014 to 4.6m in March 2015. The NAO report highlighted that 3.2m of these were high priority cases which therefore meant there was a risk that these taxpayers would have paid the wrong amount of tax. The end result was that HMRC had to recruit 2,400 additional staff in the autumn of 2015.

HMRC are introducing more digital services in the next few years but the NAO report states that HMRC have learnt from their experiences of the past.

If we do not currently manage your personal tax affairs and you have had problems dealing with HMRC or believe that your tax may have been calculated incorrectly then please do not hesitate to get in touch with Janey or Dafydd.

 

Cyber security for businesses

Businesses have a one in four chance in a 12 month period of being affected by an information technology security breach according to a government survey.

The survey found that many of the breaches are a consequence of the internet. The most common breaches are viruses, spyware or malware (68%), and breaches involving impersonation of the organisation (32%). However businesses are improving productivity and getting more efficient by using digital technologies and the survey reveals that UK consumers are the biggest internet shoppers in Europe.

While many businesses saw cyber security as important, many have not fully understood how their business is at risk and what action to take.

Help for small businesses

Guidance aimed at small businesses is provided in a publication ‘Small businesses: What you need to know about cyber security’ goo.gl/48p1AU. It recommends three steps a businesses can take to tackle cyber security:

  • getting the basics right
  • adopting a risk management approach
  • adopting Cyber Essentials.

 

Cyber security: the basics

There are a number of simple actions and behaviours that can be followed including:

  • downloading software and app updates as soon as they appear on devices and computers
  • using strong passwords
  • delete suspicious emails
  • using anti-virus software and
  • training staff.

Links to further advice are provided in the small business publication. It is important for staff to appreciate the importance of security and the government offers free online training courses at nationalarchives.gov.uk/sme

Cyber Essentials scheme

To help businesses protect themselves from common internet based threats, the government has developed ‘Cyber Essentials’. It has two functions – to provide a clear statement of the basic controls all organisations should implement and to provide the Assurance Framework. The Assurance Framework offers a mechanism for organisations to demonstrate to customers, and others, that they have taken these essential precautions.

The government recommends that all businesses operating online, selling goods and services online, or storing customer details and personal data, should aim to adopt Cyber Essentials as a minimum. The government already mandates this for many of its suppliers.

More details about the Assurance Framework can be found at cyberstreetwise.com/cyberessentials

So why can’t my company get a tax deduction for a parking fine?

Your business makes lots of deliveries by van to clients and quite often drivers have to park on double yellow lines as there is no available parking nearby. The result is quite a lot of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued by the local authority or the police. Your drivers are instructed to avoid parking in such locations but they often have no choice if the business is to provide an efficient service to clients. Any chance of getting a tax deduction?

The short answer is no. The long answer is also no as G4S has found out in a lengthy judgement released by a Tax Tribunal in April 2016.

Despite this case, there will be instances where a tax deduction is available:

  • If PCNs are attached to an employee’s car or handed to the employee at the time of the offence and the business pays the fine, a tax deduction will be given to the business but the employee is taxable on the payment as employment income.
  • If the ‘fine’ arises because a car has exceeded the paid for time in a private car park, this is simply an excess charge payable under the terms of the contract made with the car park provider. This will be allowable if incurred ‘wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade’.

 

Capital gains have become attractive again – unless you have the wrong type of gain

From 6 April 2016, CGT rates have fallen from 18% to 10% for gains taxed at the basic rate and from 28% to 20% for higher rate gains. The tax rate will also reduce to 20% for chargeable gains of trustees and personal representatives. The new lower rates apply to most chargeable gains including shares and other financial assets but does not include gains which arise on residential properties. So, the availability of the CGT exemption for the main residence becomes even more important.

The amount of the chargeable gain is after the deduction of reliefs, losses and the annual exempt amount which is £11,100 for 2016/17.

The rate of CGT payable on gains depends on the level of the individual’s taxable income and gains for the tax year. Where part of an individual’s income tax basic rate band is unused and they have gains from residential properties, they can use the unused basic rate band in the most beneficial way to reduce their CGT charge. The individual can chose which chargeable gains are taxed at the lower rate of CGT, up to the unused amount. For these purposes, the unused amount is reduced by the amount of any gains that are taxed at the 10% rate under Entrepreneurs’ Relief or Investors’ Relief.

Investors’ Relief was introduced for unlisted trading company shares issued to individuals on or after 17 March 2016 where the individual has no connection with the company. This new relief applies a 10% rate of tax to gains accruing the subsequent disposal of these shares as long as they have been held for three years from 6 April 2016.

Disclaimer – for information of users: This newsletter is published for the information of clients. It provides only an overview of the regulations in force at the date of publication and no action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material contained in this newsletter can be accepted by the authors or the firm.                                                                                        Autumn 2016

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