Now Landlords are being Opted in to Cash Accounting!

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?

5 ways to pay less VAT

Businessman get idea

Many small businesses assume there is only one type of VAT scheme, the standard VAT scheme where you pay VAT on Sales and reclaim VAT on Purchases but in fact there are several schemes and they could save you money:

Cash Accounting

Using the Cash Accounting Scheme, you:

  • pay VAT on your sales when your customers pay you
  • reclaim VAT on your purchases when you have paid your suppliers

You can use the Cash Accounting Scheme if your estimated VAT taxable turnover during the next tax year is not more than £1.35 million.

Cash Accounting can improve your cashflow if your customers pay later than you need to pay your suppliers.

Flat Rate Scheme

You can join the Flat Rate Scheme for VAT and so pay VAT as a flat rate percentage of your turnover if:

  • your estimated VAT taxable turnover – excluding VAT – in the next year will be £150,000 or less.

Generally you don’t reclaim any of the VAT that you pay on purchases, although you may be able to claim back the VAT on capital assets worth more than £2,000

There’s a one per cent reduction in the flat rate percentages for your first year of VAT registration.

You can get a list of Flat Rates by following this Link

Flat Rate is easy to use and can save you money if you have a lower than average level of VAT purchases.

Annual Accounting Scheme

Using the Annual Accounting Scheme, you make either nine interim payments at monthly intervals, or three quarterly interim payments, throughout the year. You only need to complete one return at the end of each year. At that point you must pay any outstanding amount. If you have overpaid, you will receive a refund.

You can use the Annual Accounting Scheme if your estimated VAT taxable turnover for the coming year is not more than £1.35 million.

This could save you money by saving time.

Retail Schemes

Using standard VAT accounting, if you are VAT-registered then you must record the VAT on each sale in your accounting records. But with the VAT retail schemes, you work out the value of your total VAT taxable sales for a period – for example, a day – and the proportions of that total that are taxable at different rates of VAT (standard, reduced and zero) according to the scheme you are using. You then apply the appropriate VAT fraction to that sales figure to calculate your VAT due.

You do not need to record VAT separately in your accounts for each and every retail sale you make. This is particularly beneficial if you make a number of low value and/or small quantity sales to the general public. This can save you a lot of time and record keeping.

Margin Schemes

Normally you charge VAT on your sales, and reclaim VAT on your purchases. However, if you sell second-hand goods, works of art, antiques or collectibles, there may have been no VAT for you to reclaim when you bought them. You may be able to use a VAT margin scheme. This enables you to account for VAT only on the difference between the price you paid for an item and the price at which you sell it – your margin. You won’t pay any VAT if you don’t make a profit on a deal. You can still use standard VAT accounting for other sales and purchases such as overheads.

Cash Accounting has arrived, but will it reduce your tax bill?

Stress business woman

You can use the cash basis for Self Assessment Tax Returns (starting from 6th April 2013) if you:

  • are a small self-employed businesses (sole traders and partnerships but not Limited Liability Partnerships)
  • have an income of £79,000 or less a year (this is the threshold when you have to register for VAT)

You can choose to record your business income and expenses over the tax year in 1 of the following ways:

  • using cash basis – record money when it actually comes in and goes out of your business (all money counts – cash, card payments, cheque, any other method)
  • using traditional accounting (accruals basis) – record income and expenses when you invoice your customers or receive a bill

Cash basis might suit smaller businesses because, at the end of the tax year, you won’t have to pay Income Tax on money you haven’t received yet.

You must keep records of:

  • business income received
  • business expenses paid

Depending on what you use simplified expenses for, you need to record business miles for vehicles, hours you work at home and how many people live on your business premises over the year.

Sounds simpler so far, doesn’t it.

But what about …..

  • Suppliers – if you have trade accounts with suppliers then you will have creditors, many small businesses get paid quickly for example a shop or a window cleaner, they don’t have debtors, so the cash basis may not be the best option
  • Capital Allowances – many small businesses will claim capital allowances for their car (and claim most of the running costs too), with the cash basis you can only claim a set mileage allowance
  • Equipment Finance – Under cash accounting money you owe isn’t counted until you pay it (unlike traditional capital allowances) and interest and charges are limited to £500

Cash accounting may be simpler but will it reduce your tax bill?

Simpler Income Tax for the Simplest Small Businesses

HMRC issued a consultation paper on the 27th March inviting comments until 22nd June 2012.

From April 2013, the Government proposes to introduce a voluntary cash basis for small businesses to calculate their income tax along with simplified arrangements for some business expenses.

The proposals are, that those who choose to use the new regime will be taxed on the basis of their receipts less allowable payments for expenses, rather than needing to spend their time doing accounting designed more for big business.

The Government is exploring proposals that small businesses with receipts of less than £77,000 would be eligible to use the cash basis, and that they could continue to use it until their receipts rise to more than £150,000 in any year.

Some accountants are concerned that this will mean they lose business as their services won’t be needed but others are concerned that the self employed could end up paying the wrong tax because of issues such as pre-trading expenses.

Soon we will find out the results.




Choosing the right VAT Scheme could massively improve your cash flow

For SME’s there are lots of options, here is a quick summary:

Standard VAT Scheme – on this scheme the VAT is based on tax points from invoices

Flat Rate VAT Scheme – If your turnover is below £150k you could join the Flat Rate Scheme, this scheme applies a % to your sales to work out your VAT Liability, it can make VAT returns easier to complete and in can sometimes work in your favour as the Flat Rates may mean you pay less VAT, if you join in your first year of VAT registration you get an extra 1% off the rate for the first year.

VAT Cash Accounting Scheme – if your turnover is below £1.35m you can account for VAT on a Cash basis, this is particularly helpful if your customers pay you on slower terms than you pay your suppliers

Annual Accounting Scheme for VAT – if your turnover is below £1.35m you could join the Annual Scheme and complete one return for the year but you make either 9 interim payments or 3 quarterly interim payments

Retail VAT Schemes – These are specific schemes aimed at mainly at shops and help to overcome the issues of mixed vat rate goods

VAT Margin Scheme – The margin scheme relates to second hand goods and accounts for VAT on the margin, for example on the sale of cars

The cash flow impact of the different schemes can be considerable, to get an idea of impact consider your cash cycle

To identify which schemes are availble to you take this test

How cash accounting can improve your cashflow

Cash Accounting is a VAT scheme and it will improve your cashflow if your customers pay more slowly than you pay your suppliers and other costs. For example if your clients pay on 60 to 90 day terms and you pay suppliers on 30 days then VAT Cash Accounting should work in your favour. When you use Cash Accounting you pay VAT based on money received and money paid (so you exclude customers who havent paid).

You can use the Cash Accounting Scheme if your estimated VAT taxable turnover during the next tax year is not more than £1.35 million.

Once you start to use cash accounting, you can continue to do so until your VAT taxable turnover reaches £1.6 million.

You can use Cash Accounting with other VAT Schemes, for example the Flat Rate Scheme.

You do not need to complete an application form or advise HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to start using the Cash Accounting Scheme.

You can start using the Cash Accounting Scheme at the beginning of any VAT period if you are already registered for VAT

Why pay VAT before you need to?