The tax advantages of cycling to work 6

It might be cold now, but spring is just around the corner and cycling could be just the thing help you keep fit, save money and be kind to the environment.

HMRC like cyclists too, so what do you need to do to qualify for tax savings.

First you will need to get your employer to participate in the scheme, they can do this either by setting up their own scheme or by using www.cyclescheme.co.uk or http://www.bike2workscheme.co.uk/  there are lots of other similar sites too.

The basic rules are:

You must use the bike and/or safety equipment mainly (more than 50 per cent of the time) for ‘qualifying’ journeys. This means a journey or part of a journey:

  • between your home and workplace
  • between one workplace and another
  • to and from the train station to get to work

Taking part in the scheme means that you don’t have to pay a lump sum up front to buy a bike and/or safety equipment. Instead, you could loan the bike and/or equipment from your employer, usually up to the value of £1000.

Making loan repayments

Your employer may want to recover all or part of the cost of loaning you the bike and/or safety equipment. If so, you would then make loan payments back to your employer over an agreed period (typically 12 to 18 months) to spread the cost.

The loan payments are usually taken out of your salary through a ‘salary sacrifice’ arrangement. This means you agree to accept a lower amount of salary in return for a benefit – the loan of a cycle and/or safety equipment.

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Cycling/DG_190101

Example of savings using Salary Sacrifice

Cost of bicycle:                                                                   £500

Cost of accessories                                                           £100

Total cost                                                                             £600

Income Tax 20%                                                               £120

Employee National Insurance     12%                       £72

Total Employee Saving                                                   £192

Your employer will save Employers National Insurance of 13.8%   on the salary sacrificed

The Employee can buy the Cycle from the company for a price set using the HMRC valuation table below

Age of cycle Acceptable disposal value percentage
  Original price of the cycle less than £500 Original price £500+
1 year 18% 25%
18 months 16% 21%
2 years 13% 17%
3 years 8% 12%
4 years 3% 7%
5 years Negligible 2%
6 years & over Negligible Negligible

 

In addition you can claim an HMRC mileage allowance for Cycling of 20p per mile and if you employer doesn’t pay the allowance you can claim back the tax on the allowance using form P87 http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/p87.pdf

If you have ‘Cycle to Work’ days your employer can provide free meals and refreshments for cyclists. http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/eimanual/eim21668.htm

So as the saying goes ‘get on your bike’

steve@bicknells.net

 

So you think you are self employed, does HMRC agree? 8

As everyone probably already knows there are tax and national insurance advantages to being self employed and to employing casual workers on a self employed basis.

As an employee, on most of your income (assuming you aren’t a higher rate tax payer) you will pay 20% tax, 12% employees NI and your employer will pay 13.8% employers NI, so thats 45.8% in tax and NI.

If you are self employed the equivalents are 20% tax, 9% Class 4 NI and £2.50 per week Class 2 NI, plus you can claim business related expenses that you probably wouldn’t get as an employee.

Whether employed or self employed you will get a tax free allowance of £7475.

For full details follow these links:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/it.htm

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/nic.htm

So why isn’t everyone self employed?

Why not start by taking the HMRC test known as the ‘Employment Status Indicator’?

https://esi2calculator.hmrc.gov.uk/esi/app/index.html

You can take the test as many times as you wish and record the answers but if the result says you are really an employee then you need to speak to your employer and discuss the risks and liabilities that they will potentially face.

The most recent HMRC case on Employment Status relates to Weight Watchers and because HMRC successfully argued that their leaders were employees and not self employed it will cost Weight Watchers an estimated £23.5m in back taxes. When employment status goes wrong its the employer that gets the bill and often can’t recover the back taxes from the ’employees’.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/8501230/Weight-Watchers-to-employ-its-1700-slimming-leaders.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/yourbusiness/7346758/Taxman-forces-slimmers-to-put-on-weight.html

One possible solution is to use Limited Companies, because a Limited Company can never be treated as an employee. Plus there are tax advantages in Dividends. But be careful of the IR35 Rules, follow my blog links to find out more.

https://stevejbicknell.wordpress.com/2011/09/10/consultants-beware-of-ir35-use-the-qdos-model-contract-free/

https://stevejbicknell.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/salary-vs-dividend-how-much-money-could-i-save/

https://stevejbicknell.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/things-you-need-to-know-about-dividends/

IR35 came into existance in 1999,  it was created to prevent workers previously employed from creating a limited company and then benefiting from lower taxes and national insurance through the use of dividends and expenses.

Follow my blog for more useful facts, tips, suggestions and ideas.

steve@bicknells.net

Is your tax code right? 1

There are only a few days left to file Self Assessments for the tax year that ended on 5th April 2011 and we are rapidly approaching the end of another tax year, so have you paid too much tax? the chances are many people haven’t paid the right tax because their tax code was wrong.

Why not start by checking your tax with the HMRC Tax Checker

http://stccalculator.hmrc.gov.uk/UserDetails.aspx

Checking your tax code

You’ll find your tax code on:

  • your pay slip
  • your PAYE Coding Notice – you usually get this a couple of months before the start of the tax year and you may also get one if something has changed but not everyone needs to get one
  • form P60 – you get this at the end of each tax year
  • form P45 – you get this when you leave a job

If you’re enrolled for Self Assessment Online, you can view PAYE Coding Notices issued on or after 11 October 2011 online.

If your tax code is wrong

You must tell HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as soon as possible so they can correct it. You may get some tax back – or you might have to pay a bit more.

HMRC will need to know your tax reference and National Insurance number. Look for these numbers on official papers to do with tax, for example:

  • a payslip
  • letters from HMRC
  • a certificate of tax paid
  • a ‘PAYE Coding Notice’ if you have one – this is a notice telling you what your tax code is

Previously Reported Tax Code Errors

Tax code errors could cost a ‘huge number of people’ over £1,000 a year, financial group warns

Don’t pay the wrong tax, check it now and get it sorted.

steve@bicknells.net

How to calculate and assess credit risk Reply

Probably the most famous method of calculating credit risk is the Z Score.

The Z-Score was developed in 1968 by Dr. Edward I. Altman, Ph.D., a financial economist and professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

The Z-Score bankruptcy predictor combines five common business ratios, using a weighting system calculated by Altman to determine the likelihood of a company going bankrupt. It was derived based on data from manufacturing firms, but has since proven to be effective as well (with some modifications) in determining the risk a service firm will go bankrupt.

http://www.actioncoach.com/free-business-calculator-z-score

The results indicated that, if the Altman Z-Score is close to or below 3, it is wise to do some serious due diligence before considering investing. The Z-score results usually have the following “Zones” of interpretation:

  1. Z Score above 2.99 -“Safe” Zones. The company is considered ‘Safe’ based on the financial figures only.
  2. 1.8 < Z < 2.99 -“Grey” Zones. There is a good chance of the company going bankrupt within the next 2 years of operations.
  3. Z below 1.80 -“Distress” Zones. The score indicates a high probability of distress within this time period.

There are different veriosn of the Z Score http://www.exceluser.com/tools/zscore.htm

Z (Public)

Z1 (Private)

Z2 (General)

There are other credit risk assessment models too

http://www.creditanalyzer.com/models

Credit Analyzer has free calcultors for:

Z Scores

C  Scores

Simple Logit Model

S&P Median Value Model

Private Company Model

What method do you use to assess credit risk?

steve@bicknells.net

Things you need to know about National Credit Ratings 1

On Friday 13th January 2012 we heard the worrying news that 9 Eurozone Countries have had their Sovereign Credit Ratings downgraded.

S&P downgraded the ratings of Cyprus, Italy, Portugal and Spain by two notches. Austria, France, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia were all cut by one notch.

Last August America lost its AAA rating when S&P downgraded it to AA+, despite a deal being drawn to raise the US debt ceiling.

Credit ratings by agency and country

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AonYZs4MzlZbdDdpVmxmVXpmUTJCcm0yYTV2UWpHOVE&hl=en#gid=0

Out of the 135 Countries listed on the link above only 12 now have triple A ratings with all 3 agencies (S&P, Moody’s and Fitch) and they are listed below:

Australia

Canada

Denmark

Finland

Germany

Luxembourg

Netherlands

Norway

Singapore

Sweden

Switzerland

United Kingdom

The House of Lords EU Economic and Financial Affairs and International Trade Sub-Committee, chaired by Lord Harrison, conducted an inquiry into credit rating agencies and their influence on sovereign borrowing. The report was published on 21 July 2011.

The Committee’s four month-long inquiry into the agencies’ influence on the EU’s sovereign debt crisis concluded that their role in the 2008 banking collapse, which was rightly criticised, should not colour assessments of their decisions on EU sovereign debt.

The agencies have caused controversy each time they downgraded further the sovereign debt ratings of Greece, Ireland and Portugal. But the Committee said the downgrades “merely reflect the seriousness of the problems” in some Member States.

Why do the credit ratings matter?

The European Central Bank has basically said that for a year or two, it doesn’t matter whether eurozone banks find it impossible to borrow from commercial lenders in markets, because the central bank will lend what’s needed.

Even so, that doesn’t mean the downgrades will bring no pain to the eurozone. For the governments of France, Spain, Italy and so on, borrowing costs may go up.

So even if the downgrades don’t lead to default by a nation or a bank, they make it much harder for the banks – and in a way the whole eurozone – to get off life support.

The downgrades may not be lethal for the eurozone. But they keep the financial system and the economy in the sick bay.

That creates a damaging negative feedback loop (less lending means asset price falls, more bankruptcies, bigger losses for banks, and even less lending by capital-constrained banks) which makes it all the harder for the eurozone to break free of its cycle of decline.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16557726

steve@bicknells.net

Capital Investment Appraisal, Tax and Depreciation – The Basics 23

How can you decide whether to buy a fixed asset or to rent it? How do you evaluate and compare capital expenditure requests?

There are 4 key techniques used:

1. Pay Back Period – how many years does it take to get back your initial investment in profits – for normal investments anything less than 3 years is considered good

2. Average Rate of Return (ARR) – this method of appraisal takes the average of the profits made over say a 3 year period (or the life of an asset) and shows the result as a % of the initial investment

3. Net Present Value/Discounted Cash Flow – this method of appraisal takes into account the time value of returns, its often considered the best and most precise way to assess returns, to calculate the Net Present Value you create a cash flow table year 0, shows the investment as a cost, then the net profits are shown in the subsequent years and a factor is applied to remove the effect of inflation, the higher the NPV the better the investment

4. Internal Rate of Return – this is also described as the effective interest rate, to calculate this we increase the Discount Rate in the DCF (3 above) until the NPV equals zero and that produces the return rate

Many businesses will seek to match the funding of the asset to its useful economic life through either a loan or lease, as the life of the asset will normally exceed the pay back period, this should lead to increased profits compared to renting the asset.

Assets are depreciated in the business accounts

Depreciation means the cost of the asset is spread, so it is written off against the profits of several years rather than just the year of purchase. Depreciation is not allowable for tax. Instead you may be able to claim the cost of some assets against taxable income as capital allowances.

The most common methods of Depreciation are Straight Line (depreciation is the same amount in each year) and Reducing Balance (the amount of depreciation decreases each year and is a percentage of the net book balance).

From April 2012 the rates of capital allowances will be reduced from (a) 20% to 18% and from on the Main Rate Pool (b) 10% to 8% for  ‘special rate’ expenditure respectively. At the same time the maximum amount of the Annual Investment Allowances (AIA) will be reduced to £25,000 a year (currently £100,000). So you might want to consider buying assets prior to April 2012 to take advantage of the current rates.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget2010/bn04.pdf

There will be a timing difference between Depreciation and Capital Allowances and the Tax on the difference in rates is calculated and shown in the accounts as a Provision for Deferred Tax.

steve@bicknells.net

Lend money to your company and get Interest 2

Many directors lend money to their businesses, especially during the start up phase.

But did you know the company can pay you interest net of 20% – the tax deducted at source is reported and paid each quarter using form CT61

Form CT61 cannot be downloaded or ordered online. To order a form, you need to phone the HMRC Accounts Office Shipley on Tel 01274 539 665.

Here is a link to the HMRC notes on Form CT61 http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ctsa/ct61-notes-2010.pdf

If the loan is from a family member and they are a non taxpayer they won’t be able to use form R85 but they will still be able to claim the tax back either by contacting HMRC 0845 366 7850 or by filing a self assessment return

Interest payments are not subject to National Insurance and can be a tax efficient of recieving part of your income from your business.

The income will need to be reported on your self assessment return.

The interest charges will be tax deductable by the Company.

You may also consider registering your loan with Companies House as a Debenture, here is a link to help you register your charge http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/infoAndGuide/faq/companyCM.shtml

This will make the you ‘the lender’ a secured creditor but you may have to take a secondary position behind your bank or other lenders or if other lenders are already lending you may need their permission to register a charge.

steve@bicknells.net

 

Things you need to know about Dividends….. 1

It can be illegal to pay dividends if:

1. There are insufficient retained profits to cover the dividend payments

2. Dividend payments may be illegal if the relevant paperwork has not been completed

You can download free templates from

http://www.contractorcalculator.co.uk/declaring_dividends_paperwork.aspx

HMRC are increasingly contending dividends and arguing that they are in reality earnings under the s62 ITEPA 2003 (salary sacrifice) rules and to persuade them otherwise needs proof that a set procedure for the declaration of dividends has been followed.

An example of a board minute is as follows:

Minutes of a meeting of directors of bloggs limited Held at 14 the road, london, ir3 5nl On 31 march 2005

Present: J Bloggs – Director

It was resolved that the company pay a dividend of £9,000 per £1 ordinary share on 31 March 2005 to the shareholders registered on 31 March 2005.

……………………………………
J Bloggs – Director

http://www.ir35calc.co.uk/dividend_documentation.aspx

Companies pay you dividends out of profits on which they have already paid – or are due to pay – tax. The tax credit takes account of this and is available to the shareholder to offset against any Income Tax that may be due on their ‘dividend income’.

When adding up your overall taxable income you need to include the sum of the dividend(s) received and the tax credit(s). This income is called your ‘dividend income’.

The dividend you are paid represents 90 per cent of your ‘dividend income’. The remaining 10 per cent of the dividend income is made up of the tax credit. Put another way, the tax credit represents 10 per cent of the ‘dividend income’.

Dividend tax rates 2011-12

Dividend income in relation to the basic rate or higher rate tax bands Tax rate applied after deduction of Personal Allowance and any Blind Person’s Allowance
Dividend income at or below the £35,000 basic rate tax limit 10%
Dividend income at or below the £150,000 higher rate tax limit 32.5%
Dividend income above the higher rate tax limit 42.5%

So the 10% tax credit offsets the 10% basic rate tax

Dividends are not subject to National Insurance.

Can you claim the tax credit if you don’t normally pay tax?

No. You can’t claim the 10 per cent tax credit, even if your taxable income is less than your Personal Allowance and you don’t pay tax. This is because Income Tax hasn’t been deducted from the dividend paid to you – you have simply been given a 10 per cent credit against any Income Tax due.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxon/uk.htm#5

Declaring dividend income on your Self Assessment tax return

If you normally complete a tax return you’ll need to show the dividend income on it. See income boxes 3 and 4 http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/sa100.pdf

If you don’’t complete a tax return, but you have higher rate of tax to pay on your dividend income, you should contact HMRC.

Hope this is helpful

steve@bicknells.net

Pay off your Directors Loan and reclaim Corporation Tax 1

If you’re a company director or ‘participator’ and take money out of your company that’s not a salary or a dividend – over and above any money you’ve put in – you’re classed as having received the benefit of a director’s loan.

If your director’s loan account is not paid off in full within nine months after the end of your company’s accounting period:

  • You must include details of the loan in your Company Tax Return.
  • Your company must pay Corporation Tax on the loan – the current tax rate for directors’ loans is 25 per cent of the loan.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ct/managing/director-loan.htm#5

The good news is that you can reclaim the tax when the loan is repaid (often by paying a Dividend to clear the balance outstanding).

How you do this depends on timing:

  • if your claim is made within 24 months of the end of that accounting period you can amend and resubmit an amended Company Tax Return for that previous accounting period
  • if your claim is made more than 24 months after the end of the previous accounting period you can make a separate claim by writing to HMRC at the same time as you file your Company Tax Return for your most recent accounting period

The Claim was previously known as a S419 claim (S419 ICTA 1988) but its now covered by S455 and S458 Corporation Tax Act 2010

When writing to HMRC makesure you give them as much information as you can for example:

UTR – Unique Taxpayer Reference

Company Name and Details

Amount being reclaimed

Details of the relevant Corporation Tax Returns on which the Directors Loans are shown

Your Bank Account Details for the Refund

You would be surprised at how many businesses never reclaim the S419 tax! makesure you don’t miss out

steve@bicknells.net