According to Government figures, there has been a net increase of 146,000 businesses in the past year, taking into account all start-ups, closures, takeovers and mergers. It means more businesses have started than closed.
The Business Population Estimates also show the number of businesses that employ people has grown for the second year running, with 35,000 more at the start of 2015 than in 2014.
Small businesses continue to make up 99.3% of all businesses and generate over £1 trillion turnover for the UK’s economy.
Until April 2015 HMRC had been pursuing Landlords who owned multiple properties. HMRC tried to claim up to 6 years Class 2 NI from Landlords saying that owning multiple property investments was a business and therefore Class 2 NI was payable.
The nature of property letting requires some activity to maintain the investment, but that is not enough to make it a business. For example, being a landlord normally involves:
undertaking or arranging for external and internal repairs
preparing the property between lets
advertising for tenants and arranging tenancy agreements
generally maintaining common areas in multi-occupancy properties; or
In order for a property owner to be a self-employed earner, their property management activities must extend beyond those generally associated with being a landlord (which include, but are not limited to, the above).
For example, ownership of multiple properties, actively looking to acquire further properties to let, and the letting of property being the property owner’s main occupation could be pointers towards there being a business for NICs purposes.
2 Commercial Property should be in a Pension Scheme
Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) Schemes and Small Self Administered Schemes (SSAS) can invest in commercial property, no tax on the rental income, no capital gains, you only pay tax when you draw your pension.
You also get tax relief on money paid into your Pension.
3 Claim tax deductible expenses
Claim allowable expenses
Mortgage or Loan Interest (but not capital)
Repairs and maintenance (but not improvements)
Travel costs to and from your properties for lettings or meetings
Buildings and contents insurance
Rent insurance (if you claim the income will need to be declared)
Legal fees relating to eviction
If the property is furnished claim for Wear & Tear, you can claim 10% of the rent each year
Claim for repair and advertising expenses incurred in getting the property ready for renting
4 Use a Property Development Company to Save VAT
Property Development is a trade, where as Property Investment isn’t – renting out a residential property is a VAT exempt supply.
If you are planning significant building work, setting up a Development Company or using a building contractor might save VAT.
Your builder may be able to charge you VAT at the reduced rate of 5 per cent if you are converting premises into:
a ‘single household dwelling’
a different number of ‘single household dwellings’
a ‘multiple occupancy dwelling’, such as bed-sits, or
premises intended for use solely for a ‘relevant residential purpose’
As your builder will be VAT registered, they reclaim the VAT they are charged and then charge you VAT at 5%.
If your business is property rental and you do the work yourself, you can’t take advantage of the 5% rate.
If your Development Company is VAT registered you can reclaim all the VAT.
Get your existing business or your property development company to convert the property and then sell it to another company that you own (may be an SPV) will be a VAT Zero Rated transaction. The other company then carries on the rental business.
5 Principle Private Residence Relief and Lettings Relief
Principle Private Residence Relief (PPR) is useful relief that saves you capital gains tax (18% for basic rate tax payers and 28% for higher rates tax payers) on your main residence.
You may also qualify for lettings relief after you have moved out.
6 Give away your Property in Stages
As long as the home you give away is your main home, Capital Gains Tax won’t be payable.
However, if you give away a second home, Capital Gains Tax may be payable if the property has increased in value between when you first owned it and when you gave it away.
If you sell your second home and give the money to your children, the gift won’t be included in your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes, provided you live for 7 years after you make the gift.
It is possible to to gift property in stages.
Your solicitor will draw up the required documents to conveyance a percentage of the property and register the transactions with the Land Registry.
In order to calculate the capital gain you will need to know the acquisition cost and any reliefs such as PPR.
Giving away your property in stages could save you from having to pay capital gains tax.
7 Claim Capital Allowances and Claim Tax Relief on Integral Features
FA2008 introduced a new classification of integral features of a building or structure, expenditure on the provision or replacement of which qualifies for WDAs at the 10% special rate. The new classification applies to qualifying expenditure incurred on or after 1 April 2008 (CT) or 6 April 2008 (IT).
The rules on integral features apply where a person carrying on a qualifying activity incurs expenditure on the provision or replacement of an integral feature for the purposes of that qualifying activity. Each of the following is an integral feature of a building or structure –
an electrical system (including a lighting system),
a cold water system,
a space or water heating system, a powered system of ventilation, air cooling or air purification, and any floor or ceiling comprised in such a system,
a lift, an escalator or a moving walkway,
external solar shading
Only assets that are on the list are integral features for PMA purposes; if an asset is not one of those included in the list, the integral features rules are not in point.
However, Plant and Machinery includes….
other building fixtures, such as shop fittings, kitchen and bathroom fittings
Many businesses have never claimed capital allowances for these items.
8 Consider Joint Ownership
If you own property personally you could double up your tax free Capital Gains Tax Allowance if you switch to owning property jointly with your spouse.
9 Check if you qualify for relief from ATED
Most residential properties (dwellings) are owned directly by individuals. But in some cases a dwelling may be owned by a company, a partnership with a corporate member or other collective investment vehicle. In these circumstances the dwelling is said to be ‘enveloped’ because the ownership sits within a corporate ‘wrapper’ or ‘envelope’.
ATED is a tax payable by companies on high value residential property (a dwelling).
There are reliefs that might lead to you not having to pay any ATED. You can only claim these by completing and sending an ATED return.
A dwelling might get relief from ATED if it is:
let to a third party on a commercial basis and isn’t, at any time, occupied (or available for occupation) by anyone connected with the owner
open to the public for at least 28 days per annum, if part of a property is occupied as a dwelling in connection with running the property as a commercial business open to the public, the whole property is treated as one dwelling and any relief will apply to the whole property
part of a property trading business and isn’t, at any time, occupied (or available for occupation) by anyone connected with the owner
part of a property developers trade where the dwelling is acquired as part of a property development business the property was purchased with the intention to re-develop and sell it on and isn’t, at any time, occupied (or available for occupation) by anyone connected with the owner
for the use of employees of the company, for the company’s commercial business and where the employee does not have an interest (directly or indirectly) in the company of more than 10%, the employee’s duties must not include services for any present or future occupation of the property by someone connected with the company, the relief is also available where a partner in a partnership does not have an interest of more than 10% in the partnership
a farmhouse, if it is occupied by a qualifying farm worker who farms the associated farmland, a former long-serving farm worker or their surviving spouse or civil partner
a dwelling acquired by a financial institution in the course of lending
owned by a provider of social housing
10 Take dividends this tax year
When you take dividends has never been more critical due to changes in the Summer Budget 2015, so if you have distributable reserves you might want to take more dividends this tax year, try our Dividend Calculator to see how much difference it could make.
Dividend tax rates before April 2016
Effective dividend tax rate
Basic rate (20%) (and non-taxpayers)
Higher rate (40%)
Additional rate (45%)
This will change from April 2016, see the table below
Dividend tax rates after April 2016
Effective dividend tax rate
Tax Free £5,000
Basic Rate Tax Payers (20%)
Higher Rate Tax Payers (40%)
Additional Rate Tax Payers (45%)
The new rules are easier to follow, the 10% tax credit in the current rules is hard for most people to follow.
While these rates remain below the main rates of income tax, those who receive significant dividend income – for example due to very large shareholdings (typically more than £140,000) or as a result of receiving significant dividends through a closed company – will pay more.
Implementing a major accounting system is big undertaking which needs a lot of planning.
Top Tips for System Implementations:
Start by drawing up a specification of your requirements – what do you want to achieve with the new system, what is the scope of the system, where will cost savings be made, how could more information lead to better decision making?
Get Buy In – its really important that the system gets the support of the Senior Management Team and that key staff are given the chance to put forward their ideas and are involved in the project. People are often resistant to change and getting them involved early will breakdown barriers to change.
Rationalise – changing systems is an ideal chance to look at how can you do things differently and stop doing things that don’t add value, this will also reduce potential customisation requirements
Allocate time to the project – If you don’t allocate time to the implementation project you will regret it later but that doesn’t mean you need to do everything yourself, budget to bring in temps and consultants to help
Measure the savings and benefits – make sure you achieve your goals
By using simple project management processes, tools and techniques you can achieve the best results.
Formal methods of project management offer a framework to manage this process, providing a series of elements to manage the project through its life cycle. The key elements consist of:
• Defining the project accurately, systematically clarifying objectives
• Planning the project by splitting it up into manageable tasks and stages
• Executing the project by carrying out actions
• Controlling the project through its stages using project definition as a baseline
• Closing/Handing Over the Project
It’s not uncommon for Directors and Senior Employees to get behind with their expense claims and paperwork, they are busy people trying to build their businesses and sometimes the paperwork gets put to one side.
But lets consider the recent HMRC case against the Directors of RSL (NorthEast) Ltd. Mr White was Director of RSL and he had a company credit card which he used for business and personal expenses, he travelled extensively on company business. Unfortunately RSL became insolvent, so HMRC assessed Mr White on credit card expenses as a benefit in kind.
Mr White appealed on the basis that he had lent the company large amounts of his own money and any credit card expenses were just a reimbursement.
“Section 203(2) ITEPA does not grant any right to retrospectively make good a benefit. Income tax is an annual tax, and the value of the benefit depends upon what is made good in that tax year.”
“Any “rewriting” [to reflect the money reimbursed to RSL] would have a retrospective effect on the Company accounts.” HMRC implied that this would not be allowed.
HMRC won the case, but mainly because the accounts were in a terrible shambles!
What can we learn from this?
Keep good records, don’t put off doing your accounts!
most pensions, including state pensions, company and personal pensions and retirement annuities
interest on savings and pensioner bonds
rental income (unless you’re a live-in landlord and get £4,250 (£7,500 from April 2016) or less)
benefits you get from your job
income from a trust
dividends from company shares
So how can you pay less income tax?
Here are 10 suggestions…
When you pay into a pension you get income tax relief on your contributions .
Lets say you invest £10,000 per year of earned gross income, increasing each year by 3% for inflation and see the effect of tax relief at 40% and 20%, assuming a return on the investment of 7% (which you should get with Commercial Property Investment)
40% Tax Rate
20% Tax Rate
Even when you consider:
Your money is locked up till you are 55
You pay tax when you take money out of the pension
You can get 25% out of the pension tax free
The difference in growth is massive
If you do salary sacrifice you can increase the tax effect by saving national insurance too.
Individual Savings Accounts have been around for a few years and very soon the Help to Buy ISA will be launched
Top 10 facts and rules…
Its only available to ‘First Time Buyers’
‘First Time Buyers’ can only have one Help to Buy ISA with one provider
You can pay in £1,000 when you open the account and then save a maximum of £200 per month
The maximum government bonus is £3,000 (but you can lower amounts of bonus if you have less than £12,000)
The scheme will run for 4 years from the date it opens (Autumn 2015)
Couples can have a Help to Buy ISA each which means if they don’t want to wait 4 years could save £12,000 in 25 months where as a single saver would need 55 months
Unlike ISA’s where you open one per year, the Help to Buy ISA will continue for 4 years
You can withdraw funds but if its not to buy a home then you won’t get the bonus
More than 100,000 homes have now been bought with government backed schemes
You will be able to get them at banks and building societies
3. Salary Sacrifice
Salary Sacrifice is a very tax efficient way to give your employees benefits and the most popular benefits are Pensions and Childcare. I wrote a blog back in 2011 which explained how it can save 45.8% in tax and NI
HMRC decided on 9th April 2013 that it was time to “clarify” in their Manuals what are successful and unsuccessful salary sacrifice schemes and have added some further guidance. Their Staff are instructed not to approve schemes (Employment Income Manual EIM42772)….
You (HMRC) may get requests for advice:
on how to set up a salary sacrifice arrangement, or
on whether draft documentation will achieve a successful salary sacrifice.
You (HMRC) should not comment on either of these areas. Salary sacrifice is a matter of employment law, not tax law. The nature of an employee’s contract of employment is a matter for the employer and employee.
The specific updates are:
EIM42750 – Salary Sacrifice – updated – this contains the examples of schemes
EIM42777 – Contractual arrangements – this has interesting comments on childcare and pensions
4. Employment Expenses
As an employee you can claim tax relief for expenses incurred in doing your job, for example business mileage, cycling on business, hotels, meals, business phone calls, in fact anything as long as its business related
If your claim is less than £2500 you can make your claim using Form P87 http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/p87.pdf if its more than £2500 you will need to complete a Self Assessment Return (you need to phone HMRC to request a Self Assessment Return – contact details below), if you know your UTR number you can register and file your Self Assessment Return on line.
When you take dividends has never been more critical due to changes in the Summer Budget 2015, so if you have distributable reserves you might want to take more dividends this tax year, try the Dividend Calculator above to see how much difference it could make.
6. Tax break for Couples
A new tax break as launched this week from 6 April 2015, which will be eligible to more than 4 million married couples and 15,000 civil partnerships.
The Allowance means a spouse or civil partner who doesn’t pay tax – therefore is not earning at all or is earning below the basic rate threshold (£10,600) – can transfer up to £1,060 of their personal tax-free allowance to a spouse or civil partner – as long as the recipient of the transfer doesn’t pay more than the basic rate of income tax.
7. Tax Free Benefits
Getting tax free benefits will save you lots of tax, here some ideas…
Pensions – Up to £40k can be paid in to you pension scheme by your employer (2015/16) and you can use carry forward to pay in even more
Childcare – Up to £55 per week but check the rules to makesure your childcare complies (HMRC Leaflet IR115) – these rules are changing soon.
Almost all workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year (known as statutory leave entitlement or annual leave). An employer can include bank holidays as part of statutory annual leave.
Self-employed workers aren’t entitled to annual leave.
But what if your workers work irregular hours, or are part time, or are casual occasional workers, how can you work out how much paid holiday they are entitled to, well actually its not as hard as you think, its based on an accrual of 12.7% per hour worked, here is a spreadsheet to help you calculate it.
Calculating average hourly rate
To calculate average hourly rate, only the hours worked and how much was paid for them should be counted. Take the average rate over the last 12 weeks. If no pay was paid in any week, count back a further week, so that the rate is based on 12 weeks in which pay was paid.
Many businesses are still missing out on claiming for Research and Development Tax Credits.
Since 1 April 2015, the tax relief on allowable R&D costs for SME’s is 230% – that is, for each £100 of qualifying costs, your company or organisation could have the income on which Corporation Tax is paid reduced by an additional £130 on top of the £100 spent. It also includes a payable credit in some circumstances.
If you have an overdrawn Directors Loan Account at the end of your year and it isn’t repaid with 9 months that you will get an extra tax charge of 25% on the balance, you can only reclaim this when the Directors Loan has been repaid.