Welcome to our April accounting news, designed to keep you informed of the latest business and tax issues. Please contact us if you have any questions. Remember, we’re here to help.

Personal tax rates and allowances

For those born after 5 April 1938 the personal allowance will be increased to £10,600. For those born before 6 April 1938 the personal allowance remains at £10,660.

The reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 will continue. The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2015/16 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £121,200.

Tax bands and rates for 2015/16

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is being decreased from £31,865 to £31,785 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies will rise from £41,865 to £42,385 for those who are entitled to the full basic personal allowance.

The additional rate of tax of 45% is payable on taxable income above £150,000.

Dividend income is taxed at 10% where it falls within the basic rate band and 32.5% where liable at the higher rate of tax. Where income exceeds £150,000, dividends are taxed at 37.5%.

Starting rate of tax for savings income

From 6 April 2015, the maximum amount of an eligible individual’s savings income that can qualify for the starting rate of tax for savings will be increased from £2,880 to £5,000, and this starting rate will be reduced from 10% to 0%. These rates are not available if taxable non-savings income (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income) exceeds the starting rate limit.

This will increase the number of savers who are not required to pay tax on savings income, such as bank or building society interest. Eligible savers can register to receive their interest gross using a form R85.

Internet link: GOV.UK Budget

Proposed personal allowances to come

The Chancellor announced that the personal allowance will be increased to £10,800 in 2016/17 and to £11,000 in 2017/18. The Transferable Tax Allowance will also rise in line with the personal allowance, being 10% of the personal allowance for the year.

The higher rate threshold will rise in line with the personal allowance, taking it to £42,700 in 2016/17 and £43,300 in 2017/18 for those entitled to the full personal allowance.

Personal Savings Allowance

The Chancellor announced that legislation will be introduced in a future Finance Bill to apply a Personal Savings Allowance to income such as bank and building society interest from 6 April 2016.

The Personal Savings Allowance will apply for up to £1,000 of a basic rate taxpayer’s savings income, and up to £500 of a higher rate taxpayer’s savings income each year. The Personal Savings Allowance will not be available for additional rate taxpayers.

These changes will have effect from 6 April 2016 and the Personal Savings Allowance will be in addition to the tax advantages currently available to savers from Individual Savings Accounts.

The Personal Savings Allowance will provide basic and higher rate taxpayers with a tax saving of up to £200 each year.

Internet link: GOV.UK News

Pension freedoms for those with annuities

The Chancellor has announced a new flexibility for people who have already purchased an annuity. From April 2016, the government will remove the restrictions on buying and selling existing annuities to allow pensioners to sell the income they receive from their annuity for a capital sum.

Individuals will then have the freedom to take that capital as a lump sum, or place it into drawdown to use the proceeds more gradually.

Income tax at the individual’s marginal rate will be payable in the year of access to the proceeds.

The proposal will not give the annuity holder the right to sell their annuity back to their original provider. The government has begun a consultation on the measures that are needed to establish a market to buy and sell annuities and who should be permitted to purchase the annuity income.

The government recognises that for most people retaining their annuity will be the right choice. However, individuals may want to sell an annuity, for instance to pay off debts or to purchase a more flexible pension income product.

We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: GOV.UK News

National Minimum Wage rises

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. NMW rates increases come into effect on 1 October 2015:

From 1 October 2015:

the adult rate will increase by 20 pence to £6.70 per hour
the rate for 18 to 20 year olds will increase by 17 pence to £5.30 per hour
the rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase by 8 pence to £3.87 per hour
the apprentice rate will increase by 57 pence to £3.30 per hour
Penalties

Penalties may be levied on employers where HMRC believe underpayments have occurred and HMRC ‘name and shame’ non-compliant employers.

If you have any queries on the NMW please get in touch.

Internet links: GOV.UK News

Auto Enrolment guidance for small employers and recent fines

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has launched a new step-by-step guide to help small businesses get ready for their automatic enrolment duties.

According to TPR the online guide has been written specifically for employers with between one and 50 staff.

The guide which is broken down into 11 steps, considers the legal requirements and what employers need to do to comply with their obligations.

Executive director for automatic enrolment Charles Counsell said:

‘We are determined to do all we can to reach out to all small and micro businesses preparing for their automatic enrolment duties. We want to make the process as simple as possible so that employers can avoid the risk of non compliance.’

‘Our new online 11-step guide is a key part of a wide package of measures we are rolling out to give more than a million employers all the information they need, written and produced in a way that makes sense to them.’

‘Our message to employers is ensure you know when your automatic enrolment duties begin and start planning in good time. The regulator’s website should be the first port of call for all employers and their advisers as it offers essential information about each task an employer will need to accomplish in order to comply and avoid penalties.’

Fines

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) issued 166 Fixed Penalty Notices of £400 to employers who failed to meet their obligations in the last quarter of 2014.

The number of employers approaching the date when they must confirm that they have complied with new workplace pensions duties (known as a declaration of compliance) is now beginning to rise significantly as auto enrolment is rolled out across all employers. In future months, TPR expects to see more employers who, despite the message to prepare early, leave it too late or do not comply at all.

The Pensions Regulator’s Director of automatic enrolment, Charles Counsell, said,

‘My message to all employers is that failing to declare within five months of your staging date means you risk being fined, which is why we recommend you start your automatic enrolment planning and preparation 12 months before staging.

It appears some medium employers waited for a prompt from the regulator before completing their automatic enrolment duties. Employers must complete all their duties including making their declaration of compliance to The Pensions Regulator.’

Experience to date also shows that employers should begin gathering the information they need to complete their declaration of compliance well in advance of their deadline.’

If you would like help with Auto Enrolment please do get in touch.

Internet links: Press release Press release

Business rates system – have your say

The government has launched a wide-ranging review of national business rates in England.

HM Treasury’s ‘wide-ranging review’ of England’s non-domestic rates system will report its findings before the 2016 Budget. The Treasury’s discussion paper invites responses from a wide range of stakeholders on issues such as commercial property use, how the rates system can be modernised, and whether business rates should continue to be based on property values.

Written responses will be accepted from the beginning of April until 12th June 2015.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

‘Our system of business rates was created nearly 30 years ago. Since that time, the worlds of commerce and industry have changed beyond recognition. I’ve been impressed by the representations made by the business community and I know that business rates are a considerable cost.

The government has taken measures to help businesses by capping rates and introducing reliefs for smaller businesses. But now the time has come for a radical review of this important tax. We want to ensure the business rates system is fair, efficient and effective.’

Internet link: GOV.UK News