Making Tax Digital

Making Tax Digital for Business (MTD)

Last minute. Every year. You make it through the festive season, get back to work, kids at school, New Year resolutions already forgotten. A pile of paperwork crammed into a box, shuffled off to the accountant just in time for the January deadline.

Then something worse happens. It’s not once a year any more. You’re going to have to report your finances every three months. Really?

Bookkeeping for MTD
HMRC said ‘just press a button’

Well, maybe. Maybe not.  Small businesses with sales of up to £10,000 per year will be exempt.  There have been calls for this threshold to be higher, and HMRC have said they’ll consider that.   We’ll have to wait and see.

So what does ‘Making Tax Digital’ mean?   Briefly, it’s a change from the annual tax return, to quarterly reporting with a final year-end check.   So business owners will need to tell HMRC their sales and expenses each quarter.  The requirement will be phased in from April 2018.

HMRC believe that everyone uses a computer, keeps everything perfectly up to date, consequently they think we will ‘just press a button’ to upload data.  We know differently. Your focus is on running your business and making sales while engaging with customers. Any energy left goes into running your life.  Quarterly reporting is going to happen, but it doesn’t need to be too painful.

Unfortunately we don’t yet know exactly what HMRC will be asking for. We don’t know what free software or apps will be available.  If you already use bookkeeping software, it should be updated in time.  If you use spreadsheets, or paper records, that’s fine.   A lot of the information we have on MTD is vague, but yes, really, businesses will need to update records every three months.

We help with bookkeeping, finding software, quarterly reporting and the year-end check of your tax liability.  Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of this.

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Tax changes from April 2016

Tax changes from April 2016 – what’s new?

There are many changes being implemented in UK taxation and accounting rules this year.  This is a very brief summary aimed at owners of small businesses, sole traders and sole directors.

Personal tax allowances and tax bands

  • The income tax personal allowance increases to £11,000 and the basic rate limit increases to £43,000.
  • Married couples’ can share part of their allowance, for low income families.
  • Income tax remains at 20% (basic rate) 40% (higher rate) and 45% (upper rate).
  • The capital gains tax (CGT) exempt amount is £11,100.
  • CGT rates remain at 18% (basic rate taxpayers) 28% (higher rate taxpayers).

Savings

  • There is a 0% savings tax band of £5,000 and a new 0% personal savings allowance of £1,000 for basic rate payers and £500 for higher rate payers.
  • There is a new range of ISAs savings including a right to buy ISA and it is anticipated a crowdfunding ISA will be launched.

Dividends

  • A new tax regime for dividends begins from April 2016.
  • Dividends will be taxed at 0% for the first £5,000, then 7.5% (basic rate), 32.5% (higher rate) and 38.1% (upper rate).

Employers

  • The compulsory National Living Wage (NLW) is being introduced from 1 April 2016. It is the legally required minimum level of pay for workers aged 25 and over.  The penalty for failure to pay either the NLW or the NMW of these will also increase from 100% of the underpayment to 200% of the underpayment on 1 April 2016.
  • National Minimum Wage increases have been announced for October 2016.Age 25 and over: £7.20 – (This is the National Living Wage effective from April 2016 and so will not increase in October 2016)Age 21 – 24: from £6.70 to £6.95

    Age 18 – 20: from £5.30 to £5.55

    Age 16 – 17: from £3.87 to £4.00

    Apprentice rate: from £3.30 to £3.40

    Please note – from 2017 the date for all minimum wage increase will be changed from October to April each year. This is to bring National Minimum Wage increases in line with National Living Wage increases.

 

Trivial Benefits

There will be a new exemption from income tax and national insurance for trivial benefits up to £50, with an annual cap of £300 for office holders of close companies and their families or households.   The exemption is an ‘all or nothing’ exemption: if the value of the benefit is £60 then the full amount of £60 is taxable, not just the £10 excess.   Examples of trivial benefits include things like birthday/wedding/Christmas gifts and workplace refreshments (coffee, tea, biscuits).

 

Workplace Pensions

Auto-enrolment continues to be rolled out. This is a compulsory change for everyone paying workers, and there are strict deadlines and procedures to meet.  I have arranged for a cost-effective solution for my payroll clients, and will be speaking to everyone in due course. If you process your own payroll, make sure you check your staging date on the Pensions Regulator website, and start preparing in plenty of time.

RTI (real time information)

The temporary relaxation in RTI reporting for micro employers will end as planned on 5 April 2016. The concession allowing employers to submit returns up to three days late without being subject to late filing penalties is withdrawn.

National Insurance

From 6th April there will be no Employers’ NIC on wages paid to apprentices aged under 25 or employees under 21 earning up to the Upper Earnings Limit of £43,000.

The Employers’ NICs allowance increases to £3,000 but is no longer available for companies where the sole director is the only employee.

 

 

For more information on any of the above please get in touch.

 

 

Tax update – Autumn Statement 2015

Summary

The Chancellor, George Osborne, delivered his Spending review and Autumn Statement Speech on 25 November 2015. This article outlines the changes relevant to small-business owners.  The few ‘headlines’ were

  • an extra 3% stamp duty land tax charge on the purchase of additional residential properties from 1 April 2016
  • a requirement to make a payment on account in respect of capital gains tax within 30 days of the disposal of residential properties from April 2019
  • the changes announced to tax credits in Summer Budget 2015 have been abandoned.

More information on the tax proposals scheduled for inclusion in Finance Bill 2016 will be published in the Government’s ‘Overview of Legislation in Draft’ on 9 December.

Making tax digital

As announced at Summer Budget 2015, the government wants to digitise the tax process. The aim is to modernise the tax system and provide a more real-time working basis of individual and business tax affairs, which one would expect, will lead to the advance of tax payments in many cases in due course. Key details so far are:

  • digital tax accounts are to be introduced for all small businesses and individuals by 2016/17
  • by 2020 most businesses, landlords and the self-employed will be required to update HMRC quarterly regarding their tax affairs. The details of how this will work in practice have not yet been decided
  • the intention to consult on ways to simplify tax payments with suggestions of tax payable as profits arise (as announced for capital gains tax arising on the disposal of residential property with payment due 30 days after completion from April 2019).

Employees and pensioners will not be required to update their digital tax accounts quarterly unless they have secondary incomes of more than £10,000 per year.

Simple assessment

The Government is to simplify the tax payment process for taxpayers within the Self-Assessment system where HMRC already holds all the data it needs to calculate the tax liability. Rather than requiring the taxpayer to file a return, instead HMRC will send a legally enforceable payment demand, which the taxpayer can challenge or appeal. This is expected to be introduced from 2016/17.

Residential property

An additional 3% on top of current SDLT rates from 1 April 2016 will be charged on the purchase of additional residential property (e.g. buy to lets and second properties over £40,000), though exclusions to certain corporates and funds are expected.

Dividends for company owners

There was no further commentary with respect to the Summer Budget 2015 announcement regarding the increase in dividend tax rates and the dividend allowance due to apply from April 2016, so the expectation is that these will be introduced in the Finance Bill 2016 as previously announced

Pensions

Further to the announcement at Summer Budget 2015, the Government has now consulted on fundamental changes to pension tax relief. One of the options is that instead of receiving tax relief on the contribution, the savings would work more like an ISA, with a Government top-up and tax-free extraction on retirement.

The Government will provide an update on this at Budget 2016.

Self-Assessment time limits

Draft legislation is to be published ahead of Finance Bill 2016 to clarify that the time allowed for making a self-assessment is four years from the end of the tax year. No further information is included in Autumn Statement documentation but it is possible that this has been prompted by a recent case on tax administration.

Conclusion

There wasn’t a great deal in the Autumn Statement that we didn’t know about, or expect. This article is not a comprehensive review, but concentrated on the issues relevant to small-business owners. If you’d like to know more you can read the government’s documents here.  If you’re concerned that any of the changes mentioned may affect you please get in touch.

Summer Budget 2015 – Small business essentials

The Summer Budget 2015 will have an impact on all UK businesses, and many individuals.  Changes are being introduced from April 2016.  What follows is a summary, with extracts, from the Summer Budget 2015 Policy Paper, published 8th July 2015.

Income Tax and Individual Taxpayers

The personal allowance will increase to £11,000 in 2016-17 (it is currently £10,600). The higher rate threshold will increase from £42,385 to £43,000.

The effective inheritance tax threshold will be £1 million, where a main residence is passed to descendants. This will be paid for by the introduction of a taper to the annual allowance for pensions tax relief for people whose total income is above £150,000 per annum.

Insurance premium tax will increase from 6% to 9.5%

Businesses

Corporation tax will be cut from the current 20% to 19% in 2017, and 18% in 2020.

The Annual Investment Allowance will be £200,000 from January 2016. This allowance means businesses can claim capital allowances on tangible fixed assets of up to £200,000 in the year of purchase, rather than spreading the tax relief over several years.

From April 2016, companies where the director is the sole employee will no longer be able to claim the Employment Allowance (the £2,000 reduction in employer’s national insurance contributions).

In the March Budget 2015, the government announced it would transform tax administration for individuals and small businesses over this Parliament, leading to the end of the tax return. Small businesses will be able to manage their tax through a digital account linked to business software. HMRC will begin discussions with businesses and software providers about how best to integrate tax reporting and payment with everyday business activity, to inform a roadmap the government will publish by the end of 2015 setting out the policy and administrative changes needed.

Sunday trading – The government will consult on devolving powers on Sunday trading to city mayors and Local Authorities. This will look at allowing mayors or councils to extend Sunday trading for additional hours within parameters that they would determine.

Enterprise Zones – The government will hold a bidding round for a new programme of Enterprise Zones for this Parliament.

Tax lock – The government will legislate to set a ceiling for the main rates of income tax, the standard and reduced rates of VAT, and employer and employee (Class 1) NICs rates, ensuring that they cannot rise above their current (2015-16) levels. The tax lock will also ensure that the NICs Upper Earnings Limit cannot rise above the income tax higher rate threshold; and will prevent the relevant statutory provisions being used to remove any items from the zero rate of VAT and reduced rate of VAT for the duration of this Parliament. (Summer Finance Bill 2015)

Business tax roadmap – The government will publish a Business tax roadmap by April 2016, setting out its plans for business taxes over the rest of the Parliament.

Self-employed National Insurance contributions – The government will consult in autumn 2015 on abolishing Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs) and reforming Class 4 NICs for the self-employed

Simplified expenses: legislative amendments – The government will amend the simplified expenses regime introduced in Finance Act 2013 to ensure that partnerships can fully access the provisions in respect of the use of a home and where business premises are also a home. (Finance Bill 2016)

Business skills, infrastructure and regional development

To support innovation throughout the country, the government will invest £23m in 6 Next Generation Digital Economy Centres over 6 sites (London, Swansea, Newcastle, Nottingham, York and Bath), leveraging £22 million of additional funding, and partnering with LEPs, regional councils, and local SMEs. These centres will exploit opportunities across sectors of the digital economy including the creative industries, finance, healthcare and education.

The so-called Northern Powerhouse seems to fail to recognise that the UK doesn’t end at Leeds. Although there is mention of upgrading the final stretch of the M1/A1 route between Newcastle and London to motorway. The government will look into the case for renaming the A1(M) north of Leeds as the M1. The A1 will be dualled north of Newcastle as far as Ellingham,

Employers

The Employment Allowance will rise from £2,000 per year to £3,000 from April 2016. This reduces the cost of Employer’s National Insurance contributions. Most small businesses will be eligible, but as mentioned above, the allowance will no longer be available to companies where the sole director is the only employee.

A National Living Wage is being introduced for workers aged 25 and over. National Living Wage – The government will introduce a new premium for those aged 25 and over starting at 50 pence leading to a new National Living Wage (NLW) of £7.20 in April 2016. The target is £9.00 per hour by 2020.

National Minimum Wage – The combined 50 pence premium with the 20 pence minimum wage increase on the current rate will benefit 1.7 million workers and means that a current NMW worker working 35 hours a week will see their annual salary increase by over £1,200 from April 2016.

Taxation of employee benefits and expenses – As announced at Autumn Statement 2014, from April 2016 the government will simplify the tax system by introducing a statutory exemption for trivial benefits in kind costing less than £50. (Finance Bill 2016)

Apprenticeships levy – The government will introduce a levy on large UK employers to increase the number of apprenticeship starts. In England, employers will be able to access this funding for apprenticeship training. Details including rates and implementation will be set out in the Spending Review.

Dividends

Dividend tax credits will be replaced with a tax-free Dividend Tax Allowance of £5,000, and new dividend tax rates. The tax rates will be 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers, 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers, and 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.

Landlords

Tax relief on mortgage interest for individual landlords will be restricted to the basic rate of income tax.

Individuals renting out a room in their main residence will benefit from an increase in Rent-a-room tax relief to £7,500 from April 2016 (currently £4,250).

Reform of the Wear and Tear Allowance – From April 2016, the government will replace the Wear and Tear Allowance with a new relief that allows all residential landlords to deduct the actual costs of replacing furnishings. Capital allowances will continue to apply for landlords of furnished holiday lets. The government will publish a technical consultation before the summer. (Finance Bill 2016)

Further information

The full Summer Budget can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/summer-budget-2015/summer-budget-2015

If you are concerned about how any of these changes could affect you please contact us.

 

Autumn Statement 2014

The government expects future growth to come from smaller businesses and targeted a significant proportion of the autumn statement towards them.

Small business measures included reducing employment taxes and encouraging apprenticeship schemes for the under 25s, as well as a review of business rates. Pennies

PERSONAL

INCOME TAX

The personal tax allowance will increase to  £10,600 a year from April 2015. The higher rate threshold will rise from £41,865 this year  to £42,385 next year.

ISAs

The annual ISA allowance will increase to £15,240 a year from April 2015. ISA savings that are inherited by a surviving spouse from a deceased partner will retain their tax-free status.

PENSIONS

The 55% tax on unused inherited pension pots will be scrapped. People who die before they are 75 will be able to pass on joint life or guaranteed term annuities tax free.

RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY STAMP DUTY

The way stamp duty is applied to residential properties will change to a marginal rate system. From midnight on 3 December 2014, rates will only apply to the proportion of the property price that falls within each band. The rate will be 0% on the irst £125,000, rising to 12% on prices above £1.5 million.

BUSINESS

BUSINESS RATES

Small business rate relief will be doubled for another year. The inlation-linked increases to business rates will be capped at 2%. There will be a review of the structure of business rates. The business rates discount for certain high street shops will increase by 50% to £1,500.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Research and development tax credit will increase to 230% for small and medium sized businesses and 11% for large firms.

NATIONAL INSURANCE

Businesses will not have to pay national insurance contributions when they hire apprentices who are under 25, up to the upper earnings limit. National insurance contributions for employing anyone under 21 will be abolished from April 2015.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

TAX AVOIDANCE

A continued crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion will raise at least £5 billion in the next parliament.

VAT REFUNDS

Hospice charities, search and rescue services, and air ambulances will benefit from VAT refunds.

CARERS

Carers will be included in the employment allowance which reduces employer national insurance contributions by up to £2,000.

FUEL DUTY

The freeze on fuel duty will continue.

The government has published the autumn statement documents here, for anyone who would like more information.   The effect of changes on your own tax situation will depend upon your own circumstances. If you would like to discuss how any changes may affect you or your business please get in touch.

Budget 2013

The Budget 2013 introduced a new National Insurance for employers. The increase in personal allowance to £10,000 has been brought forward a year, to 2014. There will be very few changes to tax rates.

Employer’s NI (National Insurance) Contributions 

A completely new measure introduced in this budget is the employment allowance.  This will be a deduction in employer’s NIC of £2,000 per year for all businesses and charities from April 2014. It is intended that this will be easy to administer, and the Government will be consulting with stakeholders on the practical aspects. It should be easy to administer, and be done through the normal payroll and RTI (Real Time Information) reporting process.

Currently employer’s NI contributions reduce profit and business tax liability.  If all else is equal, employers will pay £400 more tax (at a rate of 20%). So the true saving for many employers will be £1,600.

Income Tax

The increase in the personal allowance to £10,000 is being introduced a year earlier than anticipated and will come in from April next year. When there is a rise in the personal allowance this usually means the Chancellor lowers the threshold for the higher rate of tax, so that it only benefits people on lower incomes. There have been no changes to income tax rates.

The basic personal allowance is available to people born on or after 6 April 1948. In the current year, 2012/13, it is £8,105; in 2013/14 (as previously announced) it will be £9,440. Once the personal allowance has reached £10,000 in 2014/15, it will then increase in line with inflation based on the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) in future years, starting from 2015/16.

VAT

The annual turnover threshold for VAT registration will go up from £77,000 to £79,000 from April 2013. The deregistration turnover limit will go up from £75,000 to £77,000.

Corporation Tax

The main rate of corporation tax is already scheduled to decrease to 23% from 1 April 2013. From April 2014 it will go down to 21%, and from April 2015 to 20%. There is no change to the rate for small companies, which remains at 20%.

Capital gains tax

The annual exempt amount in 2013/14 will be £10,900, increased from £10,600 in 2012/13. The exemption for most trustees will be £5,450.  There are no changes to capital gains tax (CGT) rates.

Small Company Shareholder/Directors’ Loans

The Government will close three loopholes to counter attempts to avoid the tax charge on loans from close companies to individuals with a share or interest in the company. The measures will have effect from 20 March 2013 and are expected to bring in just under £70m annually in the four years beginning 2014/15.

Later this year the Government will consult on the structure and operation of the tax charge on loans from close companies to their participators (shareholders). If legislation is needed it will be in the Finance Bill 2014.

The full Budget can be accessed at hm-treasury.gov.uk

If you would like any help with budget 2013 changes please contact us.

RTI – Real Time Information

Real Time Information (RTI) has been introduced to improve the PAYE system by assisting HMRC in gathering critical data on a more frequent basis.  It begins on your first pay date after 6th April 2013, so it is important to act very soon to ensure you can meet the requirements.

This change applies to your business if you have any employees, including those paid below the tax/NIC threshold, those paid just once a year, casual and temporary workers (unless they are paid by an agency). The main changes being implemented are:

  1. Reporting to HMRC: currently your payroll data is reported to HMRC annually on the  Employer’s End of Year Return (P35).  The 2012/13 tax year is the last time this will be done.  From 6th April 2013, employers will report their payroll data to HMRC every time they pay employees,
  2. Employees paid below the tax/NIC threshold must now be added to your PAYE scheme,
  3. It will no longer be necessary to file P46 and P45 starter and leaver forms: however, new starter information is still needed, and the employee must still be provided with a P45 when he/she leaves.

One of the first things you need to do to, before you even begin to consider the impact of RTI on your business, is talk to your existing software provider. It is important that you find out whether or not your software is currently RTI compliant or will be compliant before April 2013. This is when most employers will start operating the new PAYE process.

Collins Accountancy Ltd uses fully compliant software and provides a full payroll service. If you prefer to process payroll in-house please ask for software recommendations, some options are free.

RTI and payroll

The biggest exercise you may need to do is the data cleansing process and what HMRC refers to as ‘payroll alignment‘.

To minimise rejection due to a mismatch with HMRC records, it is important that the payroll records are reviewed for any missing and incorrect compulsory data. Where this data is not available, it must be obtained from the employee. The next step would be to transfer the amendments onto your computer system using your payroll software.

Using Collins Accountancy Ltd as your RTI provider

The introduction of RTI needs to be properly managed.  It is important to know that:

  • once the return has been filed there can be no more changes to the pay run,
  • All of the data needed for new starters must be obtained on a timely basis or the new starter may not get paid (in practice this may put you in a difficult position as you may have a legal and contractual duty to pay your employees).

Get help and advice with RTI

For information on Real Time Information visit the HMRC website and select the link which states ‘I confirm that I want to view guidance on operating PAYE in real time’. HMRC publications, such as the Employer Bulletin are usually worth reading too.

If we can help with any of the above please contact us.