Welcome to our monthly newswire 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.

Autumn Statement 2014

The Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement on 3 December and said:

‘…to improve the productivity of our economy, we back business and we build infrastructure and we will support growth across the whole UK.’

‘But in the end, Britain’s future lies in the hands of its people and their aspirations. The aspiration to save, to work, and to buy a home. Today we support each one.’

Click here for our Autumn Statement Review

Internet link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/382582/Overview_AS-header.pdf

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

One of the Autumn Statement announcements is a major reform to SDLT on residential property transactions. Historically SDLT has been charged at a single percentage of the price paid for the property, depending on the rate band within which the purchase price falls. From 4 December 2014 each new SDLT rate will only be payable on the portion of the property value which falls within each band. This will remove the distortion created by the existing system, where the amount of tax due jumps at the thresholds.

Where contracts have been exchanged but not completed on or before 3 December 2014, purchasers will have a choice of whether the old or new structure and rates apply. This measure will apply in Scotland until 1 April 2015 when SDLT is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

The new rates and thresholds are:

Purchase price of property New rates paid on the part of the property price within each tax band
£0 – £125,000 0%
£125,001 – £250,000 2%
£250,001 – £925,000 5%
£925,001 – £1,500,000 10%
£1,500,001 and above 12%

The government believes that this reform makes SDLT more efficient and fairer, and ensures that SDLT will be cut for 98% of people who pay it.

Please contact us if you have any queries on this issue.

Internet link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/382324/Stamp_Duty_15.pdf

Advisory Fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 December 2014.  The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’ .The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 December 2014 are:

Engine size

Petrol

LPG

1400cc or less

13p

9p

1401cc – 2000cc

16p

11p

Over 2000cc

23p

16p

Engine size

Diesel

1600cc or less

11p

1601cc – 2000cc

13p

Over 2000cc

16p

Please note that not all of the rates have been amended so care must be taken to apply the correct rate.

Other points to be aware of about the advisory fuel rates:

  1. Employers do not need a dispensation to use these rates. Employees driving employer provided cars are not entitled to use these rates to claim tax relief if employers reimburse them at lower rates. Such claims should be based on the actual costs incurred.
  2. The advisory rates are not binding where an employer can demonstrate that the cost of business travel in employer provided cars is higher than the guideline mileage rates. The higher cost would need to be agreed with HMRC under a dispensation.

If you would like to discuss your car policy, please contact us.

Internet linkhttps://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advisory-fuel-rates/current-rates

Gift Aid declaration to be improved – potentially saving charities billions of pounds

The Gift Aid model declaration form is to be improved, to stop charities potentially  losing out on billions of pounds of Gift Aid.

The National Audit Office estimates there are donations of around £2.3 billion where Gift Aid is not used. Although not all of these donations will be eligible for Gift Aid, the government is working with charities to boost the number of eligible donations.

One way it hopes to do this is by improving the model Gift Aid declaration form, as research has identified that many donors do not understand Gift Aid and the link between the tax they have paid and Gift Aid claimed by the charity. Possible improvements include making the language used about Gift Aid more straightforward to enable donors to decide if their donations qualify for relief.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Priti Patel said:

‘Gift Aid is an important tax relief for charities which helps to provide essential revenue to charitable causes. This research shows that there is more that government can do to boost eligible donations which is why we are simplifying the declaration forms to make sure donors understand when they’re eligible so that charities can maximise the financial donations they receive.’

Internet link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-stop-charities-losing-out-on-gift-aid

Helping employers identify a pension scheme for automatic enrolment

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has opened consultation on a proposal to publish a list of pension schemes that are available to any employer, regardless of the number or workers the employer has or their levels of pay.

According to research carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions 48% of small and 79% of micro employers currently have no pension scheme and will have to choose a new one as they prepare for automatic enrolment.

TPR state they are ‘aware of 30-40 providers who offer a scheme for automatic enrolment. Of these, a much smaller number of schemes have indicated they will not reject employers on the basis of size or low value. Even fewer schemes have indicated they will accept all employers who approach them.’

To read more about this issue and the consultation visit the link below.

Internet link: http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/doc-library/helping-small-micro-employers-identify-pension-scheme-automatic-enrolment.aspx

Two Thirds of the 800 biggest businesses in UK under enquiry

HMRC have announced that the majority of the UK’s largest businesses are currently under enquiry.

Jennie Granger, Director General of Enforcement and Compliance at HMRC said:

‘We are enquiring into two out of three of the largest corporations operating in the UK – many of which are multinationals.

That is not to say that most large businesses are on the make. But it does highlight both the complexity of the international tax system in which they operate and our need to be very actively scrutinising how they negotiate their way through that system.’

HMRC’s large business strategy has generated £31 billion in additional revenue over the last four years. Large businesses account for a quarter of the £34 billion estimated tax gap, and contribute around 60% of UK tax receipts.

Internet link: Gov News

HMRC warning ‘Ten things you need to know about tax avoidance’

HMRC have published a list of factors to consider before buying into a ‘scheme’. The list sets out the risks of entering into a tax avoidance scheme including the possible monetary costs and reputational damage of tax avoidance, but also a potential criminal conviction.

This list is being published as HMRC writes to the first promoters who will be caught by new High-Risk Promoters rules. If they don’t change their behaviour, HMRC could name them publically and fines might be imposed of up to £1 million.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, said:

‘The government has taken unprecedented steps to clamp down on the selfish minority who practise tax avoidance, because we are firmly on the side of the vast majority of taxpayers who play by the rules. As a result, tax avoidance is now very high risk.

On top of a substantial fee to join a scheme that will almost certainly fail a challenge by HMRC, tax avoiders will also have to pay the tax they dodged, plus interest and penalties.

To help protect taxpayers from unscrupulous promoters we have put in place new High-Risk Promoters rules, but people need to be aware of the dangers. So I would strongly advise anyone thinking of signing up to a scheme which they have been told will legally reduce their tax bill to carefully consider today’s list of things a promoter may not tell you.’

Internet link: Gov News

Tax implications of staff parties

With the season for office parties fast approaching we thought it would be a good idea to remind you of the tax implications. The good news is that, unlike entertaining customers, the costs of entertaining employees are generally allowable against the profits of the business.

But what about the tax consequences for the employees themselves? Is it a perk of their jobs and will they have to pay tax on a benefit?

Generally, as long as the total costs of all employee annual functions in a tax year are less than £150 per attendee (VAT inclusive) there will be no tax implications for the employees themselves. In considering this limit make sure you have included all the costs, which may include not only the meal itself but also any drinks, entertainment, transport and accommodation that you provide.

If the costs are above the £150 limit then the full cost will be taxable on the employee. In that case do get in touch so we can advise you how best to deal with them.

Internet link:HMRC guidance