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Blog 11754

What an incredible start to 2016!

Our previous best was 9,966, we have now smashed through the 10,000 barrier to get close to 12,000 hits (11,754)

We also smashed the 250,000 total all time hits target in January to achieve 255,739 hits

We now have 5,354 followers.

steve@bicknells.net

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Pension Tax Changes expected soon 1

fictitious newspapers

On the 20th January 2016…

David Gauke, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said a review of pension taxation would keep savers in mind.

“We need to ensure it is effective in terms of encouraging saving, and it is going in the right place,” he said.

Basically there are 2 changes under review..

The ISA idea

Currently you get tax relief when you pay into pensions and pay tax when you take the money out (after taking 25% tax free), the plan under discussion is to change that so that taxed income goes in and growth in the fund is tax free, like ISA’s.

I think we can all agree the current system is much better, I can’t see that making pensions like ISA’s will encourage investment

Flat Rate Tax Relief

The other plan under discussion is to introduce a flat rate of tax relief on contributions into pension schemes, this would replace the current system where tax relief is based on the actual tax rate you pay.

The BBC explained how this might work

At the moment, basic rate taxpayers receive 20% tax relief, higher rate taxpayers receive 40%, and those with the highest incomes receive 45%.

It is thought that this system could be replaced with a flat rate of anything between 25% and 33%.

Millions of high earners would lose out in such a system, but basic rate taxpayers would stand to gain.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35360978

So that could be great news for basic rate tax payers!

steve@bicknells.net

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Buy to Let interest relief tax saving ideas 2

To Let

Restriction of Mortgage Interest Tax Relief

The governments’ plan is to restrict individuals on claiming mortgage interest as a cost against their property investment income, for individuals it will work as follows

2017/18 75% of the interest can be claimed in full and 25% will get relief at 20%

2018/19 50% of the interest can be claimed in full and 50% will get relief at 20%

2019/20 25% of the interest can be claimed in full and 75% will get relief at 20%

2020/21 100% will get only 20% relief

For a 20% tax payer that’s fine but for higher rate taxpayer its a disaster that will lead to them paying a lot more tax

These rules will not apply to Companies, Companies will continue to claim full relief.

What could a Property Investor do to reduce the impact of these changes?

Here are a few ideas….

  1. Pension Contributions – Pension Contributions currently receive tax relief at your rate of tax – 20% to 45% – so if you are a 40% tax payer you would need pay half the value of your 20% restricted interest into your pension to mitigate the extra tax
  2. Change of Use – would your Buy to Let be able to be converted to a Furnished Holiday Let? or anther type of commercial property on which the restriction won’t apply
  3. Increasing the Rent – Could you charge more to cover the extra tax?
  4. Spouse Income Tax Elections – If the property is jointly held HMRC assume a 50/50 split of the income but you can change that using Form 17 this might be useful if one of you is a basic rate taxpayer and the other a higher rate taxpayer
  5. Tax Deductible Expenses – Many landlords overlook expenses at the moment but they could become a lot more important, for example, use of your home, motor expenses, computers, travel and subsistence, phone costs etc

What do you plan to do when the changes take effect?

steve@bicknells.net

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Accountants – Would an auto enrolment pre-assessment tool be useful? 1

Business Accountant

Auto Enrolment is now in full swing and starting to affect small and micro employers. Many of these employers do not understand auto enrolment and do not want any ongoing involvement with the process. A key concern for small and micro employers is how much auto enrolment will actually cost their business.

With auto enrolment, employers are faced with additional ongoing costs, including the employer contributions each pay period. What is the easiest and most accurate way for an employer, or a bureau on their behalf, to calculate these costs?

BrightPay have developed a pre-assessment tool, which enables users to automatically prepare a pre-assessment report. This report is useful to send to clients 6 months in advance of their staging date, giving the employer a preview of what auto enrolment will look like when they reach their staging date.

The pre-assessment tool uses employee details from the current pay period…

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How a Family Pension Scheme will save you Tax 7

Cartoon family tree

First lets have a recap on why Pensions are a fantastic investment and a great way to save tax.

Inheritance Tax

IHT only applies if the pension company has to pay the value of your scheme to your estate, in which case it becomes like any other asset, but generally the pension pot is held in a discretionary trust, which means it isn’t taxed on death.

You can now nominate anyone not just dependents to be the beneficiary.

Since 6th April 2015 anyone who inherits a pension fund from a person who dies before the age of 75 is entitled to receive it tax free and the you can take the money as a lump sum or income. Once over 75 a special tax of 45% applies (previously 55%), you could reduce this by taking a regular income. The tax rate should drop again in April 2016.

Business Premises

Your pension can own Commercial Property, including your own business premises.

In many cases it is better for business premises to be owned by the business owners pension fund because:

  1. The object of the business is not to own its own property, the objective should be for the business to make profits from trading
  2. The business could use cash tied up in the premises to invest in trading activities
  3. Pensions are a very tax efficient method of ownership – no capital gains, no tax on rental profits
  4. Company Pension Contributions are Tax Deductible and Individual contributions get income tax refunds
  5. You may be able to use 3 year Carry Forward to get funds into your pension scheme

Commercial Investment Property

Your pension scheme can own commercial investment property – shops, offices, industrial units.

It can borrow up to a third of the value of the pension scheme.

There is no capital gains tax and no tax on the rental income.

In Specie Transfers

In Specie transfers can be used to move assets into your pension scheme this could incur capital gains and SDLT (Stamp Duty), but you will benefit from tax relief as if you had paid in cash. Currently that means at tax relief of between 20% and 45%.

Once the assets are in a pension scheme transfers ‘in specie’ between schemes are tax free (no capital gains) and no SDLT.

HMRC say…

In our view the assumption by the transferee fund or by the trustees of the transferee fund, of obligations to provide benefits is not chargeable consideration.

Net Relevant Earnings (NRE)

Many owner managed businesses only pay small salaries and take large dividends, this would normally restrict the level of pension contributions allowed, however, their companies can pay the maximum allowed – currently £40k per year.

https://stevejbicknell.com/2012/10/06/employer-vs-employee-pension-payments-net-relevant-earnings/

Lend Money to your Pension Scheme

If you have a SSAS or a SIPP Pension you will probably want to invest some of your funds in Commercial Property – Shops, Office, Industrial Units. Pension funds can borrow money and with the current interest rates low and yields as high as 10%, you can increase your return and use less cash by borrowing.

But one thing you may not know is that connected parties can lend to the fund…

Trustees of registered pension schemes may sometimes wish to borrow funds, for example to enable them to purchase an asset. There is no objection to a registered pension scheme borrowing funds for any purpose providing that the scheme administrator/trustees are satisfied that the borrowing will benefit the scheme and that the borrowing is within the rules laid down by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

A registered pension scheme is treated as borrowing or having a liability of an amount, if that amount is to be repaid or met from cash or assets held for the purposes of the pension scheme.

A registered pension scheme may borrow funds from any individual, company or financial institution whether or not they are connected to the scheme, but any borrowing from a connected party which is not made on commercial terms will be subject to a tax charge – see RPSM04104020 .

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/rpsmmanual/rpsm07104010.htm

This is useful where you have paid in the maximum allowed pension contributions but you still have cash, so you could lend to your pension to buy a property.

25% Tax Free

When you retire you get 25% of you pension fund tax free.

http://www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk/about-pensions/saving-into-a-pension/pensions-and-tax/tax-and-the-cash-lump-sum

Shares and Loans

SSAS Pensions can lend money to their scheme employer and the scheme employer can borrow from a SSAS subject to passing 5 tests.

Pensions can even buy shares in your business.

Happy 3 generation family in grandparents' backyard

Family Pension Schemes

So now you can see why Pensions are brilliant! lets look at Family Pensions…

Rowanmoor Group PLC summarise the benefits of a Family SIPP as follows

The potential benefits of the Family Pension Trust are:

  • Members, including minors, can pool funds together to benefit from a wider range of investment opportunities
  • Multiple common investment funds allow a variety of bespoke portfolios to be established for some or all members, which widens investment options and can reduce costs
  • Investment decisions do not have to be unanimous
  • Different attitudes to risk can be catered for
  • No minimum fund requirement
  • Increased borrowing potential
  • Succession planning options and death benefits
  • Comprehensive, flexible options to enable retirement income to be phased

Hargreaves Lansdown have a very helpful article on their Family SIPP which includes this example

Please note – always take professional advice from qualified professionals before setting up a pension, making investment decisions and transferring assets

 

steve@bicknells.net

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Are you ready for the changes to employee expenses? 1

Pay for woman.

From April 2016 all employee expense Dispensations agreed with HMRC will cease to apply!

You will need new systems for checking expenses, HMRC will be supply examples.

Expenses which are not covered by benchmark scale rates are likely to paid and taxed via the payroll with the employee claiming relief through P87 and Self Assessment SA100.

Expenses

Are you ready for the new regime?

steve@bicknells.net

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How developing your home could mean you lose Principle Private Residence Relief 2

Group of construction workers. House renovation.

We all try to improve our properties, but are we doing it with a profit motive?

TCGA92/S224 (3)

The purpose of private residence relief is to relieve gains arising on the disposal of an individual’s residence so that the whole of the disposal proceeds are available to be used to buy a new residence of a similar standard. It is not intended to relieve speculative gains or gains arising from development.

The exclusion of speculative or development gains is achieved by TCGA92/S224 (3). It is important to understand the scope and limitations of this subsection so that you can apply it in suitable cases.

The subsection applies

  • where a dwelling house is acquired wholly or partly for the purpose of realising a gain from its disposal, or
  • where there is subsequent expenditure on the dwelling house wholly or partly for the purpose of realising a gain from its disposal.

Where the first part of the subsection applies no relief is due on any gain accruing from the disposal of the dwelling house. Where the second part of the subsection applies no relief is due on any part of the gain attributable to the expenditure.

If you plan to develop your property prior to sale  it could be worth transferring it to company before any work is carried out, this could help to ensure that any gain to the date of transfer will be exempt from tax.

There is a further potential risk that HMRC may view the property development as a trading activity.

steve@bicknells.net

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The Tax Advantages of Commercial Fit Out Reply

Interior construction site

When you carryout out a refurbishment or Fit Out of your business premises you will be entitled to Capital Allowances.

Here is quick summary of the main types of allowance.

Business Premises Renovation Allowances

BPRA gives incentives to bring back into business use derelict or business properties that have been unused for at least one year. It gives an allowance of 100% for certain expenditure you incur when converting or renovating unused business premises in a disadvantaged area.

BPRA started on 11 April 2007 and ends on:

• 31 March 2017 for Corporation Tax
• 5 April 2017 for Income Tax

To qualify for BPRA, you must incur qualifying expenditure.

Qualifying expenditure is capital expenditure you incurred when you:

• convert a qualifying building into qualifying business premises
• renovate a qualifying building that is, or will be, a qualifying business premises
• repair qualifying business premises

Capital Allowances

Integral features

Integral features are:

• lifts, escalators and moving walkways
• space and water heating systems
• air-conditioning and air cooling systems
• hot and cold water systems (but not toilet and kitchen facilities)
• electrical systems, including lighting systems
• external solar shading

Fixtures

You can claim for fixtures, eg:

• fitted kitchens
• bathroom suites
• fire alarm and CCTV systems

You can claim if you rent or own the building, but only the person who bought the item can claim.

Annual Investment Allowance

The Allowance is set at up to £200,000 from January 2016

You can only claim AIA in the period you bought the item.

The date you bought it is:

• when you signed the contract, if payment is due within less than 4 months
• when payment’s due, if it’s due more than 4 months later

If you buy something under a hire purchase contract you can claim for the payments you haven’t made yet when you start using the item. You can’t claim on the interest payments.

If you don’t want to claim the full cost, eg you have low profits, you can claim part of the cost as AIA and part using writing down allowances. You can do this at any time as long as you still own the item.

If your business closes, you can’t claim AIA for items bought in the final accounting period.

Enhanced Capital Allowance

100% capital allowances can be obtained for expenditure on environmentally beneficial technology. This enables businesses to write off the whole capital cost against their profits in the year in which the expenditure is incurred and therefore to obtain valuable tax relief which can improve cashflow.

What doesn’t count as plant and machinery

You can’t claim capital allowances on:

• things you lease – you must own them
• buildings, including doors, gates, shutters, mains water and gas systems
• land and structures, eg bridges, roads, docks
• items used only for business entertainment, eg a yacht or karaoke machine

New Tenant – Lease Incentives

New Tenants may get incentives such as rent free periods or reverse premiums. The new accounting rules (FRS102) mean that these incentives are spread over the life of the lease not taken over the period to the first rent review. Spreading these savings out will mean that tenants get a tax advantage as the gain will be less at the beginning of their lease.

Fit Out Finance

Generally funding fit outs is an issue due to the nature of the security.

However there are lender who can provide funding, for example http://www.fitoutfinance.uk/

As the name suggests, Fit-Out Finance is dedicated to funding fit-outs of business premises, including:

• Head Office.
• Warehousing.
• Fast food outlets.
• Restaurants/retail premises.
• Showrooms.

Using a blend of hire purchase, lease, unsecured loan and other facilities where appropriate, we are able to fund not just the tangibles, but all manner of tertiary work, from survey through to painting and plumbing.

As previously noted HP and Loans are suitable for tax relief through Capital Allowances.

Here are a couple of examples of how funding can work.

Start Up Fast Food Outlet

Well researched & professional, our client was buying into a well-respected fast food franchise.

Their bank had supported the franchise purchase, but there was a further £75,000 required to fit the premises to franchisor specification.
With the customer’s background and a solid franchise, arranging leasing on equipment was fairly straight forward.

That left a £30,000 shortfall on less tangible works – as there were 2 owners in the business, we were able to secure Start-Up loans to fund the shortfall

A Warehouse

The client was a well established, profitable hirer of electrical equipment. Despite being profitable, the business was highly seasonal and therefore cashflow fluctuated wildly.
Most of their funding was done under their roof, being shared between the bank, and the bank’s own finance company, who handled their hire stock.
However, when they approached the finance company, they were confidently informed that racking and mezzanine floors couldn’t be financed; hence they ploughed on, pouring valuable cash into fixed assets.

They had spent over £100,000 on racking etc and were struggling with cashflow to complete the project.

The Funder was able to:
• Release the full value of the assets they had paid for.
• Provide ongoing further funding for a mixed bundle of assets, ranging from a mezzanine floor to bikes used to move around the facility efficiently.
• Provide a £35K term loan to cover intangible costs.

steve@bicknells.net

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Are we heading towards a Financial Crisis in 2016? Reply

business man in a crisis

New YouGov research reveals that most British people expect a global financial crisis this year. 51% say this is very or fairly likely compared to 28% who say it is very or fairly unlikely. You Gov

There are several key reasons behind this thinking:

  1. Stock Market have created inflated values for businesses in that last couple of years and could fall dramatically this year
  2. China is in crisis, last week it suffered a 7% slump in its main share index
  3. The World Bank and OECD have both expressed doubts over economic growth
  4. Interest Rates are expected to rise
  5. Falling Oil Prices – great for consumers but bad for many economies

What should you do to prepare for the worst (hoping it doesn’t happen)?

  • Pay off debt and reduce your interest rate exposure
  • Improve your Cash Cycle and tighten credit controls
  • Re-examine your investment strategy

Let’s hope there isn’t a crisis!

steve@bicknells.net

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Have you done your Self Assessment Return? Reply

SA100 tax return form with calculator and pencil lying on table

In January 2015, HMRC reported…

A record 85.5% of these were sent online, with the busiest days for filing coming on 30 and 31 January, when HMRC received 980,000 returns. The busiest hour was between 1pm and 2pm on 30 January, when almost 50,000 returns were received – 830 per minute.

The busiest hour on deadline day was between 11 am and midday, when almost 32,000 returns were received – 530 per minute. HMRC also answered 95% of calls first time on deadline day.

Around 4.3 million customers (42%) left it until January to file their returns, which HMRC issued in April 2014.

By the end of January, more than a million Self Assessment-only customers (self-employed, with no other source of income, no employees and not VAT-registered) opted to receive electronic messages from HMRC, rather than paper communications. If you are eligible, you can sign up by logging into your Self Assessment online account and following the prompts.

There are three different types of penalties that can be charged if a return is outstanding after the return due date or is filed late. These are

  • Late filing fixed penalty (see SAM61220)
  • Daily penalties (see SAM61230)
  • Late filing (tax geared) penalty (see SAM61240)

Customers may appeal against any late filing penalty on the grounds that there was a reasonable excuse for the late submission of the return.

HMRC even have a calculator to help work out how much the penalty might be…

https://www.gov.uk/estimate-self-assessment-penalties

Don’t be late, do it today!

steve@bicknells.net

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