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.
The Government has announced that people who wish to access their defined contribution pension flexibly will be able to go to a local Citizens Advice Bureau across the UK for expert free and impartial face to face guidance or receive telephone guidance from the Pensions Advisory Service.
In Budget 2014 radical changes to the way individuals can access their pensions were announced. The Government promised that those able to take advantage of these flexibilities would be entitled to free and impartial guidance on their available choices as they approach retirement.
Pension expert Dr Ros Altmann CBE said:
‘This is a big step forwards in ensuring the pension revolution announced in the Budget will have a meaningful impact on pension savers. It is clear that, currently, most people saving for a pension don’t understand all the vital issues, and it’s really important that they receive impartial help to make the best decisions for themselves.’
‘Both the Pensions Advisory Service and Citizens Advice have longstanding experience in helping the public with financial issues; and it is really important that people do trust the scheme, otherwise they remain at risk of stumbling into poor decisions.’
Internet link: News
HMRC Credit Card Sales Campaign disclosure opportunity
HMRC have launched yet another disclosure opportunity this time aimed at undisclosed credit card sales. The Credit Card Sales Campaign is an opportunity for those affected to bring their tax affairs up to date if they are an individual or business that accepts credit or debit card payments for goods or services.
The disclosure opportunity allows those who have not registered with HMRC or who have failed to declare all their income to make a ‘voluntary disclosure’ of the omitted information in order to get the best terms under the campaign.
If you have any concerns in this area please do get in touch.
Internet link: Credit card sales campaign
IR35 Business Entity Tests
The ‘IR35’ rules are designed to prevent the avoidance of tax and national insurance contributions through the use of personal service companies and partnerships.
The rules do not stop individuals selling their services through either their own personal companies or a partnership. However, they do seek to remove any possible tax advantages from doing so.
One of the ways in which businesses, advisers and HMRC determine whether or not the IR35 rules apply is by the use of Business Entity Tests (BETs) which were introduced in 2012. The points based system is used to risk assess whether a particular arrangement is caught by the rules.
The IR35 Forum has recently reviewed the approach to administering IR35 and found that the BETs were not helpful to businesses as they were:
used very little
not fulfilling their intended purpose.
As a result the review recommended withdrawing the BETs.
HMRC have accepted this recommendation and will withdraw the BETs from 6 April 2015. They have also confirmed how this change will affect previous, ongoing or future enquiries which are detailed in the link.
If you are concerned how this change will affect you or your business please do get in touch.
Internet link: News
HMRC to collect more debt through tax codes
HMRC can currently collect debts of up to £3,000 by adjusting an individual’s Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax code which applies to their employment or pensions income. This collection method is known as ‘coding out’. The effect of this is to recover the debt from an individual’s income, by increasing the amount of tax that is deducted from their income during the tax year.
Currently the limit set on the amount which can be recovered this way is £3,000, however for those with PAYE earnings of £30,000 or more the amount which can be recovered via coding out will be increased from April 2015 to a possible maximum of £17,000. The amount which can be collected increases using a sliding scale of band earnings, for example those with annual PAYE earnings of between £40,000 but less than £50,000 could have debts of £7,000 collected this way. If an individual’s earnings are less than £30,000, there is no change to the £3,000 coding out limit.
These changes will only apply to underpaid Self Assessment and Class 2 National Insurance debts and Tax Credit overpayments. Changes will be reflected in 2015/16 tax codes. If an individual does not want the debt coded they should arrange to pay off the debt or agree a suitable payment plan with HMRC.
The current £3,000 coding out limit will still apply to the collection of Self Assessment balancing payments and PAYE underpayments.
If you don’t want the debts to be included in your tax code, then you will need to pay the full amount you owe or speak to us to agree a suitable payment arrangement.
If you receive a tax code and would like us to review it please do get in touch.
Internet link: News
VAT on ‘snowballs’
HMRC have published a Brief which advises that ‘snowballs’ are zero rated for VAT purposes.
Following the decision of the First Tier Tribunal HMRC have issued guidance on the VAT treatment of ‘snowballs’. The case concerned the VAT liability of this food item and whether or not it was confectionary (standard rated) or a cake (zero-rated). The ‘snowballs’ considered were those manufactured by Lees of Scotland and Thomas Tunnock Ltd which are a dome of marshmallow covered with sugar strands and a chocolate, carob, cocoa or coconut coating with or without a jam filling.
Both manufacturers had challenged a previous ruling that ‘snowballs’ were standard rated confectionery by claiming they were also cakes and submitted voluntary disclosures for VAT they claimed was overcharged. HMRC disagreed with this view and so the matter was decided by the First Tier Tribunal.
The Tribunal considered what factors should be considered when identifying whether a product is a cake and weighed the relevant factors in the balance. The Tribunal did not dispute that snowballs are confectionery however they accepted they do have sufficient characteristics of a cake for them to be characterised as a cake, which means they are zero rated for VAT purposes.
HMRC have accepted that decision and will be updating their guidance in respect of this type of snowball in due course.
In limited circumstances suppliers of these products may be entitled to a refund however this claim would be subject to the ‘unjust enrichment’ rules and the 4 year cap in line with normal HMRC procedures.
This case helps to illustrate how important it is to get the VAT treatment right. Please do get in touch for advice on VAT issues.
Internet link: Brief
Acas guidance on new shared parental leave rules
Acas have issued a new guide to help employers and employees to understand the practicalities of the Shared Parental Leave (SPL) Regulations.
The operation of the new rules, which apply to parents of babies due on or after 5 April 2015, and to parents of children placed for adoption from that date, have raised concerns among employers about administrative difficulties, such as managing employee requests to alternate leave multiple times between parents.
The Acas guidance which can be found using the following link includes step by step instructions on how eligible employees can makeSPL requests, as well as advice for employers about how to handle requests fairly together with useful template documents.
Internet link: Acas guidance
Parties for employees
With the season for workplace parties fast approaching we thought it would be a good idea to remind you of the tax implications of these type of events. 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
2012/13 tax gap
HMRC have announced the latest tax gap figures. The tax gap, which is the difference between the amount of tax due and the amount collected, was 6.8% of tax liabilities, or £34 billion, in 2012 to 2013.
Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said:
‘Since 2010 to 2011 the percentage tax gap has stayed lower than at any point under the previous government, saving the country £4 billion. Today’s figures show that there’s still more work to do but our continued drive to tackle avoidance means that avoidance is down.’
Internet link: News