10 ways to pay less VAT

3D Vat button block cube text

Here are my top 10 ways to pay less VAT

1 Choose the best VAT Scheme for your business

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

Flat Rate Scheme – try our calculator

Flat Rate Calculator 2

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

2 Claim Pre-registration VAT

When you register for VAT, there’s a time limit for backdating claims for VAT paid before registration. From your date of registration the time limit is:

  • 4 years for goods you still have, or that were used to make other goods you still have
  • 6 months for services

Be careful not to over claim – see this blog for details http://stevejbicknell.com/2015/06/24/preregistration-vat-confusion/

3 Property Investors might benefit from a Development Company

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.

Assuming you employ a builder…

The VAT Rules are in VAT Notice 708 Buildings & Construction

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.

4 Do you need to charge VAT on Intercompany Charges

There are situations where one company is VAT registered and other related companies are either partially exempt or not registered for VAT, so in these circumstances not charging VAT is an advantage.

The following are not Taxable supplies for VAT:

Common Directors – Notice 700/34 (May 2012)

Joint Employment – Notice 700/34 (May 2012)

Paying a Bill on behalf of an associated business

Insurance

5 Use VAT Groups for Business Acquisition Costs

Basically HMRC disallow Input VAT relating to Investments.

The most well known example of this was when BAA purchased Airport Development Investments Limited in June 2006, the decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal in February 2013.

The BAA VAT group sought to recover the VAT (£6.7m) incurred on the acquisition costs but recovery was refused by HMRC on the basis that they considered ADIL had not made onward taxable supplies, had not demonstrated any intention to make taxable supplies and was not a member of the VAT group at the time costs were incurred.

BAA used an SPV (Ferrovial) to purchase ADIL but did not bring the SPV into the BAA VAT Group until September 2006, 3 months after the acquisition.

The lessons to learn from this are:

  1. Once you have successfully made the acquisition join a VAT Group immediately and make it clear in correspondence that the SPV intends to join the VAT Group at the earliest opportunity
  2. Consider not using an SPV
  3. Buy the Assets instead of the Shares
  4. Show that the SPV will make taxable management charges
  5. Consider the scope of the advisors work, HMRC may disallow advice focussed on passively holding shares

6 How Hotels save VAT

Here are some VAT examples for Hotels – HMRC Reference:Notice 709/3 (October 2011) :

The Long Stay Rule

If a guest stays in your establishment for a continuous period of more than 28 days, then from the 29th day of the stay you should charge VAT only on that part of the payment that is not for accommodation.

VAT Exempt Meeting Rooms and Refreshments

Hiring a room for a meeting, or letting of shops and display cases are generally exempt, but you may choose to standard-rate them by opting to tax, see Notice 742A Opting to tax land and buildings.

VAT on Deposits

Most deposits serve as advanced payments, and you must account for VAT in the return period in which you receive the payment. If you have to refund a deposit, you can reclaim any VAT you have accounted for in your next return.

Normally, if you make a cancellation charge to a guest who cancels a booking, VAT is not due, because it is compensation.

7 VAT on Pool Cars

When you buy a car you generally can’t reclaim the VAT. There are some exceptions – for example, when the car is used mainly as one of the following:

  • a taxi
  • for driving instruction
  • for self-drive hire

If you lease a car for business purposes you’ll normally be able to reclaim 50 per cent of the VAT you pay. But you can reclaim 100 per cent of the VAT if the car is used exclusively for a business purpose.

8 Use a Tronc for Tips

Tips are outside the scope of VAT when genuinely freely given. This is so regardless of whether:

• the customer requires the amount to be included on the bill
• payment is made by cheque or credit/debit card
• or not the amount is passed to employees.

Restaurant service charges are part of the consideration for the underlying supply of the meals if customers are required to pay them and are therefore
standard rated.

If customers have a genuine option as to whether to pay the service charges, it is accepted that they are not consideration (even if the amounts appear on the invoice) and therefore fall outside the scope of VAT.

Further information is available from: Notices 700 The VAT guide and 709/1 Catering and takeaway food

9 Get your TOGC right – Transfer of a Going Concern

Normally the sale of the assets of a VAT registered or VAT registerable business will be subject to VAT at the appropriate rate. A transfer of a business as a going concern for VAT purposes (TOGC) however is the sale of a business including assets which must be treated as a matter of law, as ‘neither a supply of goods nor a supply of services’ by virtue of meeting certain conditions. Where the sale meets the conditions then the supply is outside the scope of VAT and therefore VAT is not chargeable.

It is important to be aware that the TOGC rules are mandatory and not optional. So it is important to establish from the outset whether the sale is or is not a TOGC.

The main conditions are:

  • the assets must be sold as part of the transfer of a ‘business’ as a ‘going concern’
  • the assets are to be used by the purchaser with the intention of carrying on the same kind of ‘business’ as the seller (but not necessarily identical)
  • where the seller is a taxable person, the purchaser must be a taxable person already or become one as the result of the transfer
  • in respect of land which would be standard rated if it were supplied, the purchaser must notify HMRC that he has opted to tax the land by the relevant date, and must notify the seller that their option has not been disapplied by the same date
  • where only part of the ‘business’ is sold it must be capable of operating separately
  • there must not be a series of immediately consecutive transfers of ‘business’

The TOGC rules are compulsory. You cannot choose to ‘opt out’. So, it is very important that you establish from the outset whether the business is being sold as a TOGC. Incorrect treatment could result in corrective action by HMRC which may attract a penalty and or interest.

10 Choose the best time to register for VAT

You may decide to voluntarily register to reclaim VAT you have paid out to set up you business or you might decide to wait till you have to register to gain a competitive advantage.

You must register for VAT if:

  • your VAT taxable turnover is more than £82,000 (the ‘threshold’) in a 12 month period
  • you receive goods in the UK from the EU worth more than £82,000
  • you expect to go over the threshold in a single 30 day period

steve@bicknells.net

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10 ways to pay less Property Tax (Investors)

Mosaïque de logements

Here are my top 10 ways that property investors can save tax

1 Property Investment Companies

  • Restriction of Mortgage Interest Tax Relief – this doesn’t apply to companies
  • Corporation Tax Rates – falling to 18% by 2020
  • Capital Gains Tax – Capital Gains Tax indexation
  • Stamp Duty – lower on share sales
  • Inheritance Tax (IHT) and Potentially Exempt Transfers planning – better with shares

Further details in our blog http://stevejbicknell.com/2015/08/24/5-reasons-why-you-need-a-property-investment-company/

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)
  • Decorating
  • Gardening
  • Cleaning
  • Travel costs to and from your properties for lettings or meetings
  • Advertising costs
  • Agents fees
  • Buildings and contents insurance
  • Ground Rent
  • Accountants Fees
  • 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.

Assuming you employ a builder…

The VAT Rules are in VAT Notice 708 Buildings & Construction

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).

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/camanual/CA22300.htm

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 –

  1. an electrical system (including a lighting system),
  2. a cold water system,
  3. 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,
  4. a lift, an escalator or a moving walkway,
  5. 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

Tax band Effective dividend tax rate
Basic rate (20%) (and non-taxpayers) 0%
Higher rate (40%) 25%
Additional rate (45%) 30.56%

 

This will change from April 2016, see the table below

Dividend tax rates after April 2016

Tax band Effective dividend tax rate
Tax Free £5,000 0%
Basic Rate Tax Payers (20%) 7.5%
Higher Rate Tax Payers (40%) 32.5%
 Additional Rate Tax Payers (45%)  38.1%

 

The new rules are easier to follow, the 10% tax credit in the current rules is hard for most people to follow.

There is a Dividend Allowance factsheet which helps to explain how dividend tax will be calculated.

But be warned!

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.

So far we don’t know how much more!

steve@bicknells.net

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Beware of letting your accounts become a shambles

Unhappy office worker on the phone, isolated on white

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.

HMRC argued…

  • 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?

  1. Keep good records, don’t put off doing your accounts!
  2. If you do get behind you do a have a ‘reasonable time to make good’ as noted in HMRC’s manuals http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/eimanual/EIM21121.htm

steve@bicknells.net

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10 ways to pay less income tax

Pay Packet And Banknotes

Income Tax is a tax you pay on your income. You don’t have to pay tax on all types of income.

You pay tax on things like:

  • money you earn from employment
  • profits you make if you’re self-employed – including from services you sell through websites or apps
  • some state benefits
  • 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…

  1. Pension

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
Year Pension No Pension % Diff Year Pension No Pension % Diff
1 £10,700 £6,252 71% 1 £10,700 £8,336 28%
2 £22,470 £12,954 73% 2 £22,470 £17,272 30%
3 £35,395 £20,131 76% 3 £35,395 £26,841 32%
4 £49,564 £27,808 78% 4 £49,564 £37,078 34%
5 £65,077 £36,013 81% 5 £65,077 £48,017 36%
6 £82,036 £44,773 83% 6 £82,036 £59,698 37%
7 £100,555 £54,119 86% 7 £100,555 £72,158 39%
8 £120,754 £64,081 88% 8 £120,754 £85,441 41%
9 £142,761 £74,692 91% 9 £142,761 £99,590 43%
10 £166,715 £85,987 94% 10 £166,715 £114,649 45%
11 £192,765 £98,000 97% 11 £192,765 £130,667 48%
12 £221,070 £110,771 100% 12 £221,070 £147,694 50%
13 £251,801 £124,337 103% 13 £251,801 £165,782 52%
14 £285,140 £138,740 106% 14 £285,140 £184,987 54%
15 £321,285 £154,024 109% 15 £321,285 £205,365 56%
16 £360,445 £170,233 112% 16 £360,445 £226,978 59%
17 £402,846 £187,416 115% 17 £402,846 £249,888 61%
18 £448,731 £205,621 118% 18 £448,731 £274,161 64%
19 £498,358 £224,901 122% 19 £498,358 £299,868 66%
20 £552,006 £245,309 125% 20 £552,006 £327,079 69%

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.

2. ISA

Individual Savings Accounts have been around for a few years and very soon the Help to Buy ISA will be launched

Help to Buy ISA

Top 10 facts and rules…

  1. Its only available to ‘First Time Buyers’
  2. ‘First Time Buyers’ can only have one Help to Buy ISA with one provider
  3. You can pay in £1,000 when you open the account and then save a maximum of £200 per month
  4. The maximum government bonus is £3,000 (but you can lower amounts of bonus if you have less than £12,000)
  5. The scheme will run for 4 years from the date it opens (Autumn 2015)
  6. 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
  7. Unlike ISA’s where you open one per year, the Help to Buy ISA will continue for 4 years
  8. You can withdraw funds but if its not to buy a home then you won’t get the bonus
  9. More than 100,000 homes have now been bought with government backed schemes
  10. 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.

5. Dividends

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.

Dividend Calculator 2

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…

  1. 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
  2. Childcare – Up to £55 per week but check the rules to makesure your childcare complies (HMRC Leaflet IR115) – these rules are changing soon.
  3. Mobile Phone – One per employee
  4. Lunch – Tax Free Lunch Blog
  5. Cycle Schemes – Cycle to Work Blog
  6. Fitness – Fitness Blog
  7. Parties and Gifts – Christmas Blog
  8. Parking – Parking Blog
  9. Business Mileage Allowance – 45p for the first 10,000 miles then 25p
  10. Long Service Award – A bit restrictive as you need 20 years service, the tax free amount is £50 x the number of years
  11. Eye Tests and Spectacles – The Eye Test must be needed under the Health & Safety at Work Act
  12. Suggestion Schemes – Suggestion Scheme Blog
  13. Insurance such and Death in Service and Income Protection – Medical Insurance Blog
  14. Travel Expenses – Travel Blog
  15. Working From Home – Working from Home Blog

8. Earn less than £100k

Your Personal Allowance goes down by £1 for every £2 that your adjusted net income is above £100,000. This means your allowance is zero if your income is £121,200 or above.

9. Green Company Car

A calculator is available here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/calcs/cars.htm and rates are shown in the table below for zero emission vehicles and some of the lower CO2 vehicles.

BIK CO2

10. Check your P800

The P800’s are likely to contain errors because:

  1. Large amounts of data are manually input
  2. Estimates especially for Bank Interest and Investment Income

So check the following carefully:

  1. P60 – you get this at the end of each tax year
  2. P45 – you get this when you leave a job
  3. PAYE Coding Notice
  4. P11D Expenses and benefits
  5. P9D Expenses payments and income from which tax cannot be deducted
  6. Bank and Building society statements
  7. Pension Tax Deductions

Its expected that around 3 million people will be asked to pay more tax and around 2 million people will have overpaid.

 

steve@bicknells.net

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10 ways to pay less Corporation Tax

Businessman With Gold Bar

Corporation is currently 20%, by 2017 it will 19% and by 2020 it will be 18%, which is excellent news but you could do more to pay even less.

Here are my top 10 ways to pay less

R&D Tax Credits

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.

R&D

Pensions

Pensions are now more flexible than ever.

Net Relevant Earnings rules don’t restrict employers from paying in the maximum per year of £40,000 and you can use Carry Forward to pay in even more.

You could use a SSAS or SIPP to help you buy Business Premises

Pension payments are an allowable business expense.

Annual Investment Allowance

Buying equipment, even if its on finance is a great way to reduce your corporation tax bill, the 100% AIA can be used on the date you buy the asset.

Currently the Annual Investment Allowance is £500,000 and this will reduce to £200,000 in January 2016.

Green cars

Low Emission Cars attract 100% Capital Allowances and they are cheaper to run and tax!

Low Emmission

Repay your Directors Loan Account

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.

Change your Year End

If you expect the next trading period to be a loss, why not extend your current period to 18 months and offset the 6 month loss against the 12 month profit?

You will have to pay the Corporation Tax on the first 12 months but sending in a 6 month return will enable you reclaim some of the tax back.

Claim Tax Free Benefits in Kind

There are many benefits which are tax free such as Childcare, Mobile Phones, Cycling, Business Mileage and many more, are you claiming as many as you can?

Inter Company Charges and Groups

Small businesses are exempt from Transfer Pricing Rules so they can charge each other fees.

A business is a ‘small’ enterprise if it has no more than 50 staff and either an annual turnover or balance sheet total of less than €10 million.

You might find it easier just to create a Group and claim Group Tax Relief

Accrue a Bonus

If you accrue a bonus you will have to pay it within 9 months of the end of the year, but it can help to reduce your corportion tax bill.

Home Office

Have a home office and charge your company rent

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10 things a new business must do to pay less tax

Entrepreneur startup business model

A record breaking 581,173 businesses were registered with Companies House in 2014 showing an accelerated increase on previous years with 526,447 and 484,224 recorded in 2013 and 2012 respectively.

In 2014 the UK had the fastest growth in Self Employed workers in Western Europe!

So what should start ups do to pay less tax?

  1. Choose the right business structure for your business – most businesses start out as sole traders but once they start making profits convert to limited companies, this is because sole traders pay more tax than company structuresComparison Calculator
  2. Choose the best VAT Scheme you might be better off with Flat Rate or Cash AccountingFlat Rate Calculator 2
  3. Get an Accountant and use accounting software – the penalties and fines for getting your tax wrong can be huge!
  4. Employ your family – Children can legally work from the age of 13 which means they can perform activities which are relevant and justifiable in your business. Each member of your family has a tax free allowance of £10,600 (2015/16).
  5. Avoid earning more than £100,000 – For all ages, the personal allowance reduces where taxable income is above £100,000 – by £1 for every £2 of income above this limit, so that the personal allowance is lost once taxable income exceeds £121,200 (2015/16).
  6. Pay into your Pension – Currently you can pay £40,000 per year into to your pension
  7. Pay Dividends – Generally directors will take a low directors fee and the rest of their income in Dividends
  8. Claim Expenses – You may well have an office at home and use your car for business
  9. Use Company Assets – Sometime the Benefit in Kind Tax works in your favour, so you could get the business to buy the assets for you to use for example a commercial vehicle or computer equipment
  10. Buy Assets – You should be able to buy assets with a loan or on credit but you will get the tax relief as soon as you take ownership

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Why aren’t you claiming R&D Tax Credits?

Business people group.

R&D Relief is a Corporation Tax relief that may reduce your company or organisation’s tax bill.

Alternatively, if your company or organisation is small or medium-sized, you may be able to choose to receive a tax credit instead, by way of a cash sum paid by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

But your company or organisation can only claim R&D Relief if it’s liable for Corporation Tax.

The Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Scheme

This scheme has higher rates of relief. Since 1 April 2015, the tax relief on allowable R&D costs 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.

The Large Company Scheme

If your company isn’t small or medium-sized, then you can only claim under the Large Company Scheme.

Since 1 April 2008, the tax relief on allowable R&D costs is 130% – 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 £30 on top of the £100 spent. If instead there’s an allowable trading loss for the period, this can be increased by 30% of the qualifying R&D costs – £30 for each £100 spent. This loss can be carried forwards or back in the normal way.

Government Statistics show a steady growth in claims

R&D

Construction Examples of R&D

  • The investigation into the removal of contamination from sites, including land remediation
  • Advancements in structural techniques that aid construction relating to  unusual ground conditions
  • The innovative use of green or sustainable methods and technology
  • Development or adaptation of tools to improve efficiency
  • The use of new or unique materials, e.g. recycled products
  • Improvement on existing construction methods or development of new ideas to solve ongoing issues related to the site environment or project specifications
  • Innovative architectural design

IT Systems Examples of R&D

  • The design, construction and testing of systems, devices or processes e.g. new hardware or software components, digital interface and control systems
  • Integration of legacy and new systems e.g. following a corporate merger or acquisition, the adoption of an Enterprise Architecture or externally with partners in joint ventures
  • Advances in network management and operational tools, development of wired or wireless technologies, designing mobile and interactive services, evolution of new generation network switching and control systems
  • Data intensive activities e.g. the collection, storage and analysis, distribution and retrieval. Defining or working with new or emerging data models and metadata standards, integration with third party content

These examples and more are shown on the Cost Care Website

There are also examples by Industry on the Alma CG website

http://www.taxdonut.co.uk/sites/default/files/RD-Tax-Credits-Infographic.jpg

http://www.taxdonut.co.uk/blog/2014/12/beginners-guide-claiming-rd-tax-credits-infographic

These are the key questions that you will be asked when requesting an R&D Tax Credit from HMRC:

  1. How was it decided that R&D had taken place
  2. A description of the scientific & technological advance sought
  3. The uncertainties involved
  4. How and when the uncertainties were resolved
  5. Why the knowledge being sought was not readily deducible by a competent professional
  6. Were any grants, subsidies or contributions received for the project within the claim
  7. Who owns the Intellectual Property of the products resulting from the R&D
  8. Was the R&D carried out for others ie clients, this could mean your claim is rejected

This HMRC Spreadsheet will help you calculate your Claim

R&D Google

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What are the Pros and Cons of Limited Companies?

Comparison Calculator

Click here to access the spreadsheet

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.

What is a Sole Trader?

If you start working for yourself, you’re classed as a self-employed sole trader – even if you’ve not yet told HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

As a sole trader, you run your own business as an individual. You can keep all your business’s profits after you’ve paid tax on them.

You can employ staff. ‘Sole trader’ means you’re responsible for the business, not that you have to work alone.

You’re personally responsible for any losses your business makes.

The key Advantages and Disadvantages of Companies are shown below.

Companies

How do you form a Limited Company?

You can form your company directly with Companies House for £15, it normally takes 24 hours

You’ll need:

  • the company’s name and registered address
  • names and addresses of directors (and company secretary if you have one)
  • details of shareholders and share capital

Personally, I find it easier to use a formation agent such as Company Wizard for £16.99

Often using an agent will mean the company is formed quickly, sometime within a couple of hours.

What are the next steps?

Once your company has been formed you need to:

  1. Open a bank account for the Company, this can often take a couple of weeks
  2. Register for Corporation Tax
  3. Register for other taxes (if they apply to your business) – VAT, PAYE, CIS
  4. Appoint an accountant (recommended but not compulsory) – Form 64-8
  5. Set up your accounting software
  6. Create shareholder agreements, contracts and other legal documents (if required)

 

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Why it’s time to end Offshore and Contractor Loan Schemes?

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There have been many creative schemes promoted to contractors, entertainers and sports stars, basically using a limited company to make loans to connected parties to avoid tax.

HMRC have been attacking these schemes for years, for example the Boyle case

Philip Boyle v HMRC [TC03103] 2013

On the 16th September HMRC published Spotlight 26: Contractor Loan Schemes – Too good to be true

Contractors and freelancers are bombarded by promoters who make claims that they can help individuals take home as much as 80% to 90% of their income. Sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.

So why is this considered to be tax avoidance? These promoters use schemes to reduce the amount of tax you pay on your income by making payments which purport to be ‘loans’ from a trust or a company. Normally, a contractor would receive the contract income directly and pay tax on it. These arrangements artificially divert the income through a chain of companies, trusts or partnerships and pay the contractor in the form of a ‘loan’. The ‘loans’ are claimed to be non-taxable because they don’t form part of a contractor’s income. However, in reality the ‘loans’ aren’t repaid and the money is used by the contractor as if it were his or her income.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) view is that these schemes don’t work and strongly advises any contractor or freelancer who has used such a scheme to withdraw and settle their tax affairs. People who settle with HMRC avoid the costs of investigation and litigation and minimise interest and penalty charges on the tax which should have been paid.

Don’t be fooled by promoter websites..

The promoters’ websites and promotional literature claim that they are fully compliant and are HMRC approved. HMRC doesn’t view these arrangements as compliant and never approves any schemes.

Contractor loan schemes, of the sort described above, must be declared under the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance legislation. The promoter is required to pass the scheme reference number (SRN) to all the users who must put this on their tax return. A failure to show the correct SRN on your tax return will lead to additional penalty charges.

Don’t be tempted, HMRC are closing in on unpaid tax, they will find you!

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That’s Scotch Tax!

Scottish Tax

On the 15th September HMRC issued the following announcement…

Depending on the level the Scottish Parliament sets the rate at Scottish taxpayers may pay a different rate of Income Tax to the rest of the UK.

Some of the Income Tax collected under the Scottish rate will fund the Scottish government and the rest will fund the UK government.

The Scottish rate of Income Tax doesn’t apply to income from savings such as building society interest or income from dividends. This rate will stay the same for all taxpayers across the UK.

The Scottish government is expected to announce the proposed Scottish rate of Income Tax for the tax year 2016 to 2017 in its autumn 2015 draft budget.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will collect the Scottish rate of Income Tax on behalf of the Scottish government.

Identifying Scottish taxpayers

It’s where you live, not where you work, that decides whether you’re a Scottish taxpayer.

You’ll pay the Scottish rate of Income Tax if:

  • you’re resident in the UK for tax purposes, and
  • your main residence for most of the tax year has a Scottish postcode

HMRC will contact potential Scottish taxpayers before April 2016. If the address HMRC holds for you is in Scotland you’ll be classed as a Scottish taxpayer. It’s your responsibility (not your employers’) to notify HMRC if you change your address.

Your April 2016 tax code will begin with the letter ‘S’ to show you’re a Scottish taxpayer.

If you pay your Income Tax through your wages (known as Pay As You Earn) HMRC will advise your employer to treat you as a Scottish taxpayer so you don’t need to do anything.

The Scotland Act 2012 contains the full definition of a Scottish taxpayer but where residency is not straightforward these examples of ‘close connection’ will help you.

National Insurance contributions are unaffected by the introduction of the Scottish rate of Income Tax.

Scottish Rate of Income Tax Calculator – click here

According to the Telegraph in August

Nicola Sturgeons’ rhetoric suggests she is planning to revive Labour’s ailing fortunes in Scotland, where it was all but wiped out in the general election, by veering Left and attempting to regain the party’s traditional working class support.

Among the policies she said she supported were a 50p top rate of income tax for people earning more than £150,000 and removing independent schools’ charitable status.

But the Tories said her blueprint would “send Scotland back to the 1970s” and warned it would merely result in an exodus of “wealth creators” south of the Border.

It will be interesting to see what the Scottish Parliament does to tax rates and whether or not its a success for Scotland.

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