Ways to save tax before 5th April 2017 Reply

There are now only a few days left until the end of the tax year, so what can you do save tax?

Dividends

The Dividend Allowance was introduced in April 2016 and it allows you to take £5,000 in dividends tax free.

As announced at Spring Budget 2017, the government will legislate in Finance Bill 2017 to reduce the tax-free allowance for dividend income from £5,000 to £2,000.

So in 2016/17 and 2017/18 you need to take the £5,000 because in 2018/19 its dropping to £2,000 and most people expect it to disappear in 2019/20.

Dividends above the allowance are taxed as follows:

  • 7.5% on dividend income within the basic rate band
  • 32.5% on dividend income within the higher rate band
  • 38.1% on dividend income within the additional rate band

Marriage Allowance

Marriage Allowance lets you transfer £1,100 of your Personal Allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner – if they earn more than you.

This reduces their tax by up to £220 in the tax year (6 April to 5 April the next year).

To benefit as a couple, you (as the lower earner) must have an income of £11,000 or less. You can calculate how much tax you’ll pay as a couple.

Personal Allowances

You can earn £8,060 without paying any Tax or National Insurance or £11,000 Tax Free.

If you own a company and haven’t taken these allowances why not?

steve@bicknells.net

Do you have to charge VAT when you buy things for clients? 1

When you buy things for your client on their behalf the items could be excluded from your VAT calculations if they are Disbursements

To treat a payment as a disbursement all of the following must apply:

  • you paid the supplier on your customer’s behalf and acted as the agent of your customer
  • your customer received, used or had the benefit of the goods or services you paid for on their behalf
  • it was your customer’s responsibility to pay for the goods or services, not yours
  • you had permission from your customer to make the payment
  • your customer knew that the goods or services were from another supplier, not from you
  • you show the costs separately on your invoice
  • you pass on the exact amount of each cost to your customer when you invoice them
  • the goods and services you paid for are in addition to the cost of your own services

It’s usually only an advantage to treat a payment as a disbursement if the supplier didn’t charge VAT on it, or if your customer can’t reclaim the VAT.

An example of an invoice showing disbursements and recharges

A website design consultant based in London does a week’s work for a client in Edinburgh. The consultant visits the client’s premises at the start of the week to discuss the project. The consultant also agrees to purchase a website hosting package from an Internet service provider on behalf of the client.

The consultant and the client agree the following fees:

Activity Fee
Consultant’s work £2,500 plus VAT
Consultant’s travelling expenses £300
Website hosting package purchased on the client’s behalf £150

The £300 travel cost that the consultant recharges to the client is not a disbursement so the consultant must charge VAT on it. But the cost of the website hosting package is a disbursement and can be excluded from the VAT calculation, because:

  • it was purchased for the use of the client
  • the client agreed that the consultant would arrange and pay for it on their behalf – this means the consultant agreed to act as the client’s agent
  • the consultant passed the whole £150 charge on to the client, without adding anything, as a separate item on the invoice
  • it was the client’s responsibility to pay for the goods
  • the consultant had permission from his client to make the payment
  • the client knew the web hosting package was from another supplier and not from the consultant
  • the consultant showed the costs separately in the invoice
  • the web hosting package paid for by the consultant is additional to the other services being billed to the client

The consultant’s invoice to their client for this work might include the following items:

  • design services – £2,500
  • travelling expenses – £300
  • amount on which VAT is due – £2,800
  • VAT at 20% – £560
  • disbursements – £150
  • total including VAT – £3510

steve@bicknells.net

What are the rules on subsistence and travel? 2

One of the most frequently asked questions from business owners and employees is ‘how much can I claim for meals and travel?’

Its such a common question that HMRC have a specific notice (490 Employee Travel) which explains the rules with examples

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/517266/490.pdf

Here are some of the key points:

Section 1.7 Tax Relief

If an employee is obliged to incur travelling in the performance of their duties, provided the journey isn’t ordinary commuting they employee is entitled to tax relief on the full cost of Travel.

Section 3.2 Ordinary Commuting

Ordinary Commuting is travel to/from a permanent place of work, normally from/to home

3.8 excludes Private Travel

3.12 states that Non Exec Directors traveling to the company for board meetings is Ordinary Commuting

Section 3.18 The 24 Month Rule

In summary if you work at temporary place of work for less than 24 months you may be able to get tax relief.

Section 3.36 Employees who work from Home

If an employee performs substantive duties at home, then it may be treated as their place of work.

Where this is the case travel to other work places will be business travel.

Section 5.1 The Amount of Tax Relief

If the trip qualifies as business travel then the full cost will be allowed for relief, you don’t need to try to save money on the cost of the trip!

Section 5.4 Subsistence

Subsistence includes:

  • any necessary subsistance in the course of the journey
  • the cost of meals at a temporary workplace
  • the cost of meals as part of an overnight stay

Section 5.12 Scale of Expenditure

Where the travel is unusually lavish HMRC will consider whether the trip is really a reward or part of remuneration, but this is rare and HMRC will not seek to deny costs because for example you travel first class rather than second class.

Section 8.4 Incidental Expenses

These are £5 in the UK and £10 when overseas per night to cover expenses such as Laundry, Phone Calls and a Newspaper

Section 8.14 Unpaid Directors

Unpaid directors are entitled for relief for any they receive to cover travel

Scale rate payments

If you provide your employees with a set amount of cash for some common business expenses like travel and meals, these are known as ‘scale rate payments’.

As long as your employee has actually spent the scale rate payment on business expenses, you won’t need to check every single receipt – it’s fine to just check a sample.

You can set up a scale rate payment by either:

https://stevejbicknell.com/2015/12/16/201617-rules-on-the-tax-free-allowance-for-sandwiches/

steve@bicknells.net

Are you going to buy a car before April to avoid the Road Tax Increases? Reply

The rates explained

Vehicle tax for the first year is based on CO2 emissions.

After the first year, the amount of tax that needs to be paid depends on the type of vehicle. The rates are:

  • £140 a year for petrol or diesel vehicles
  • £130 a year for alternative fuel vehicles (hybrids, bioethanol and LPG)
  • £0 a year for vehicles with zero CO2 emissions

Auto Express have made some useful comparisons

You can read their full article by clicking here http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-news/consumer-news/88361/tax-disc-changes-everything-you-need-to-know-about-uk-road-tax

Highest proportionate increase CO2 emissions Current First Year Rate New First Year Rate Three years’ tax current rate Three years’ tax new rates % change three year ownership
Peugeot 208 1.2 PureTech (82) Allure 104g/km £0 £140  £40 £420 950%
Ford C-Max 1.5TDCi (120) Zetec 105g/km £0 £140 £40 £420 950%
VW Passat 1.6 TDI S 105g/km £0 £140 £40 £420 950%
Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi  (130) N-Connecta  115g/km £0 £160  £60 £440 633.3%
Lowest proportionate increase
SEAT Alhambra 1.4 TSI (150) 150g/km £145 £200 £435 £480 10.3%
Ford Mondeo 1.5 EcoBoost Titanium  

134g/km

 

£130

 

£200

 

£390

 

£480

 

23.1%

Jaguar XE 2.0i R-Sport (auto)  

179g/km

 

£355

 

£800

 

£815

 

£1,080

 

35.8%

Toyota Verso 1.6 V-Matic Icon 154g/km £185 £500 £555 £780 40.5%
Honda CR-V 2.0 i-VTEC SE 4WD 173g/km £300 £800 £720 £1,080 50%

Why has government changed the rates?

Basically too many cars are now low in CO2 that not enough tax is being collected!

New VED system – for cars registered from April 2017
Emissions (g/CO2/km) First year rate Standard rate*
0 £0 £0
1-50 £10 £140
51-75 £25 £140
76-90 £100 £140
91-100 £120 £140
101-110 £140 £140
111-130 £160 £140
131-150 £200 £140
151-170 £500 £140
171-190 £800 £140
191-225 £1200 £140
226-255 £1700 £140
over 255 £2000 £140
*cars over £40,000 pay £310 supplement for 5 years

steve@bicknells.net

 

Will you be able to file your accounts every quarter? Making Tax Digital Reply

Making Tax Digital is a key part of the government’s plans to make it easier for individuals and businesses to get their tax right and keep on top of their affairs – meaning the end of the annual tax return for millions.

Can quarterly reporting be easier than annual reporting???

Digital tax accounts for all will mean the tax payer can see the information that HMRC holds and be able to check at any time that their details are complete and correct. HMRC will use this information to tailor the service it provides, according to each tax payers’ individual circumstances.

The top 5 common accounting problems accountants deal with are:
1. Not doing any accounts – the shoe box approach to business
This is the most common mistake, book keeping is best done as you go along, putting all the paperwork in a shoe box or carrier bag is a really bad idea as you have no idea how your business is performing.
2. Not keeping receipts. Often small business miss out on claiming all their expenses because they fail to keep receipts and lose track of their spending
3. Not reconciling. Reconciling your bank statements to your cash book is vital to make sure that all of your income and expenses have been recorded in your accounts.
4. Using the wrong accounting system. For some businesses a manual cash book and records are fine but for many accounting software such as Sage, Xero or Debitoor will be needed to keep track of debtors, creditors and VAT. Make sure you understand your accounting system and operate it correctly.
5. Mixing business and personal expenses. Some sole traders even mix up business and personal bank accounts and in extreme cases don’t even have a business bank account. This can cause errors and often means that a sole trader will either claim to many expenses or to few.

HMRC state:

We know that the majority of businesses, self-employed people and landlords want to get their tax right first time, but the latest tax gap figures show too many businesses are prone to making mistakes. The amount of tax not collected due to avoidable taxpayer errors and carelessness has risen to over £8bn a year. This not only costs the public purse – it also creates cost, uncertainty and worry when HMRC is forced to look into their affairs.

By 2020 most businesses, self-employed people and landlords will be required to keep track of their tax affairs digitally and update HMRC at least quarterly via their digital tax account.

These changes will be introduced for some businesses from April 2018, and will be phased in by 2020, giving businesses time to adapt.

One of the big areas of concern has been over the quarterly tax reporting requirements and concerns over data accuracy, as a result, the government has pushed back the start date for small business to April 2019.

Data accuracy is going to be critical, are most businesses up to providing data in real time? RTI has worked for payroll but could it really work for accounting information? many businesses rely on their accountants and book keepers to get the information correct.

It is expected that most modern accounting systems will be able to upload the quarterly results to HMRC or Agents could key the information directly into digital accounts. However, this will mean things like dividends will have to be declared in the correct period and not just at year end.

steve@bicknells.net

Take your £5,000 Dividend Allowance while you still can! Reply

The Dividend Allowance was introduced in April 2016 and it allows you to take £5,000 in dividends tax free.

As announced at Spring Budget 2017, the government will legislate in Finance Bill 2017 to reduce the tax-free allowance for dividend income from £5,000 to £2,000.

So in 2016/17 and 2017/18 you need to take the £5,000 because in 2018/19 its dropping to £2,000 and most people expect it to disappear in 2019/20.

Dividends above the allowance are taxed as follows:

  • 7.5% on dividend income within the basic rate band
  • 32.5% on dividend income within the higher rate band
  • 38.1% on dividend income within the additional rate band

What are the requirements for a legal dividend?

Companies Act 2006 Section 830 – Distributions to be made only out of profits available for the purpose

(1)A company may only make a distribution out of profits available for the purpose.

(2)A company’s profits available for distribution are its accumulated, realised profits, so far as not previously utilised by distribution or capitalisation, less its accumulated, realised losses, so far as not previously written off in a reduction or reorganisation of capital duly made.

(3)Subsection (2) has effect subject to sections 832 and 835 (investment companies etc: distributions out of accumulated revenue profits).

A distribution must be justified by

  1. The Company’s last published accounts
  2. Interim Accounts
  3. Initial Accounts

In small businesses having the right paperwork is vital should HMRC raise any questions, you will need:

  • Board Minutes
  • Dividend Vouchers

steve@bicknells.net

Now Landlords are being Opted in to Cash Accounting! Reply

As announced in August 2016 and confirmed at Spring Budget 2017, the government will legislate in Finance Bill 2017 to allow most unincorporated property businesses (other than Limited Liability partnerships, trusts, partnerships with corporate partners or those with receipts of more than £150,000) to calculate their taxable profits using a cash basis of accounting. Landlords will continue to be able to opt to use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to prepare their profits for tax purposes.

Note the wording carefully, Landlords will be automatically in Cash Accounting and have to Opt Out, normally, its the opposite way round you have to Opt into Cash Accounting if you are a Trading Business.

Under the cash basis, capital allowances, except on the provision of cars, are not available. Instead, landlords will be able to claim the upfront cost of capital items used in the business.

As for those who do opt to use GAAP, the initial cost of items used in a dwelling house is not an allowable expense under the cash basis. The existing ‘replacement of domestic items relief’ will continue to be available for the replacement of these items when the expenditure is paid.

Interest expense will be treated consistently between those using the cash basis and those using GAAP.

In theory it is simpler just reporting Cash In and Cash Out, but it doesn’t always work in your favour, for example:

  • Finance – if you buy equipment or furnishings on finance cash accounting restricts you the repayments rather than the full value under UK GAAP
  • Profits can be higher as there are no accruals or provisions

Will Cash Accounting work for your property business?

steve@bicknells.net

The new era of high flying self employed workers? Reply

We want you

New research by the resolution foundation and reported by Start Up Donut states

The analysis shows that 60% of the growth in self-employment since 2009 has been in “privileged” sectors, despite them making up just 40% of the self-employed. The fastest growing sectors have been advertising (100% growth), public administration (90%) and banking (60%).

What we do know is that Self Employment has been growing in popularity as demonstrated by ONS statistics.

The level of self-employment in the UK increased from 3.8 million in 2008 to 4.6 million in 2015. While this strong performance is among the defining characteristics of the UK’s economic recovery, the recent rise in self-employment is the extension of a trend started in the early 2000s.

So why would you want to be a Freelancer.

      1. Pay rates – generally contractors are paid considerably more than employees
      2. Flexibility – you are your won boss but the downside is that you have to find work
      3. Tax – the following is from Contractor Weekly and is a quote from Seb Maley (QDOS)

“Operating through a limited company as opposed to an employee brings significant financial benefits. By taking a small salary and high dividends you pay far less National Insurance, saving around 26%. There are obviously associated costs involved in running your own company, such as accountancy fees and insurance, but the overall ‘take home’ pay will still almost certainly exceed that of an employee.”

https://stevejbicknell.com/tax-calculators/

We also have a growing ‘Gig’ economy

The ‘Gig’ economy describes the growing popularity of using workers on short term contracts on an on demand basis.

This type of work seems more popular with female workers

 

self-employed-chart

If you do become Self Employed ….

You’re responsible for:

What is a Limited Company?

A limited company is an organisation that you can set up to run your business – it’s responsible in its own right for everything it does and its finances are separate to your personal finances.

Any profit it makes is owned by the company, after it pays Corporation Tax. The company can then share its profits.

steve@bicknells.net

Are Rental Property Service Charges Vatable? Reply

Residential Service Charge Accountant Hiring Now. 3D.

Within a property lease the landlord often agrees to be responsible for:

  • repairs and maintenance to the building
  • the management of repairs and maintenance
  • management of the lease
  • provision of security
  • provision of utilities
  • reception
  • insurance
  • other services

The critical factor in whether they are vatable of not is wording of the lease.

If they are additional consideration to the main supply of rent they will be treated the same as the rent, which for residential usually means they are exempt (unless its a commercial property opted to tax).

However, if the lease doesn’t specifically cover these costs then they will be standard rated for VAT!

Management Agents will be supplying the landlord not the tenants so their costs will always be standard rated unless the extra-statutory concession is applied.

If you provide services to freehold owners of dwellings your supply is taxable because there is no supply of domestic accommodation to link those services to. However this is unfair to freehold owners, especially those living on the same estate as leaseholders. To address this inequity an extra-statutory concession allows all mandatory service charges paid by occupants of dwellings toward the:

(a) upkeep of the common areas of a housing estate, such as paths, driveways and communal gardens; or

(b) upkeep of the common areas of a block of flats, such as lift maintenance, corridors, stairwells and general lounges; and

(c) general maintenance of the exterior of the block of flats or individual dwellings, such as painting, and

(d) provision of an estate warden, house manager or caretaker,

to be treated as exempt from VAT.

Where you apply the concession and treat the service charges as exempt your right to recover the associated input tax may be restricted. This may also have an impact on your eligibility to remain registered for VAT.

To read the rules in more detail see VAT Notice 742

steve@bicknells.net

 

What is an Option to Tax on Property? Reply

Office Building An office building with glass windows on a sunny day.

Opting to Tax refers to Commercial Properties and VAT.

Supplies of land and buildings, such as freehold sales, leasing or renting, are normally exempt from VAT. This means that no VAT is payable, but the person making the supply cannot normally recover any of the VAT incurred on their own expenses.

However, you can opt to tax land. For the purposes of VAT, the term ‘land’ includes any buildings or structures permanently affixed to it. You don’t need to own the land in order to opt to tax. Once you have opted to tax all the supplies you make of your interest in the land or buildings will normally be standard rated, and you will normally be able to recover any VAT you incur in making those supplies.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-notice-742a-opting-to-tax-land-and-buildings/vat-notice-742a-opting-to-tax-land-and-buildings

If you are buying a building for your business to use and your business is VAT registered you may be able to recover the VAT without opting to Tax.

However, most commercial landlords will opt to tax so that they can recover their VAT. They will then charge VAT to their tenants.

When you sell the building as an investment its generally the case that the buyer will want to register for VAT so that the transfer will be within the Transfer of a Going Concern (TOGC) rules to avoid getting stuck with a VAT bill.

If your buyer is a pension scheme they can register for VAT to benefit from TOGC.

If you sell to a developer who will be converting from Commercial to Residential TOGC will not apply but the developer will be able to recover the VAT as they will be developing the a Zero rated Residential Property.

It is also possible to ask for a belated Option to Tax (Section 4.2.1 Notice 742A)

HMRC will normally accept a belated notification if you provide:

  • direct documentary evidence that the decision was made at the relevant time (eg copies of correspondence with third parties referring to the option to tax)
  • evidence that output tax has been charged and accounted for and input tax claimed in accordance with the option and a responsible person (such as a director) provides a written declaration that the decision to opt was made at the relevant time and that all relevant facts have been given

HMRC might accept a belated notification in other circumstances. This will depend on the facts of your case.

The option is applied for using VAT 1614A.

steve@bicknells.net