Tax refund scams warning from HMRC

HMRC has issued a warning to taxpayers regarding the latest tax refund scams. These scams are targeting individuals via email and SMS messages.

HMRC is currently processing genuine tax refunds for the 2017/18 tax year and the fraudsters are sending scam messages which claim that taxpayers are entitled to a rebate. These messages go on to request that they provide their personal and account details in order to make their claim.

HMRC is keen to stress that it will only ever inform individuals of a tax refund by post or through their employer, and never via email, text messaging or voicemail.

Commenting on the issue, Treasury Minister Mel Stride said

We know that criminals will try and use events like the end of the financial year, the self assessment deadline, and the issuing of tax refunds to target the public and attempt to get them to reveal their personal data’.

HMRC is advising taxpayers not to click on any links, download any attachments or provide any personal information, and to forward any suspect messages to HMRC.

Please get in touch if you wish to discuss any of this further.

Torrwaterfield – 0116 2423400 info@torrwaterfield.co.uk

P11d returns – Recap on the general principles of what is allowable.

BUSINESS TRAVEL

As we approach the time when employers have to deal with P11d returns, it is worth having a recap on the general principles of what is allowable.

Travel expenses have specific tests which must be satisfied in order for an employee to gain a deduction. These rules are different from the general rule for deductibility of expenses in that they do not need to be incurred “wholly and exclusively”. This is because with any business travel there are likely to be elements of mixed or private purpose, e.g. meals on trips or overnight accommodation. Meals and overnight accommodation come under the heading of “subsistence” and these follow the rules on business travel.

In order for travel expense to be allowable, it must satisfy one of two tests. Either

  • It is ‘necessarily incurred in the performance of duties’ or
  • The travel is ‘for necessary attendance’

Allowable business travel expenses include the actual costs of travel, the subsistence expenditure and other associated costs that are incurred as part of the cost of making the journey. They consist of expenses you are obliged to incur in performing your duties. Tax relief is not normally available on travel costs relating to commuting to and from the normal place of work, or private travel. There are some special rules on Worksite Travel Costs however, where exceptions occur that should be considered.

Road Travel – Use of Private Vehicles

You may claim a cost per mile for allowable business journeys in your own vehicle.  There is a distinction between the first 10,000 miles in any tax year and subsequent miles. The 2018 allowable mileage rates that may be claimed are as follows:

Type of Vehicle Motorcar Motorcycle – all Cycle
First 10000 Miles 45p per mile 24p per mile 20p per mile
10000+ Miles 25p per mile 24p per mile 20p per mile
       

You must retain valid VAT fuel receipts to support your claim. There is currently no HMRC requirement to state the fuel type.

Road Travel – Use of a Hire Car

Occasionally you may need to hire a car, either for a specific journey or if your own car is being serviced or repaired. If you regularly use your personal car for business travel and claim mileage rates you cannot claim the cost of the hire car, you should continue to claim the authorised mileage rates.

If you don’t use your personal car for business and you hire a car in your own name for business journeys for short term use, the hire costs and fuel are an allowable expense. If the hire car is used for personal use a proportion of the hire costs will be disallowable.

Hiring a car abroad specifically for business purposes is an allowable expense and the hire costs and fuel can be claimed.

Rail or Air Travel

The cost of train or airfares for business-related journeys is allowable. Additional costs such as excess baggage claims are also allowable if they are incurred in the performance of your duties and have no personal element.

Other Allowable Travel Costs

Allowable travel costs include bridge, tunnel and road tolls, bus and taxi fares, car-parking charges and congestion charges provided they have been incurred on a business trip.

Overseas Travel Costs

The cost of overseas travel is allowable where you are obliged to incur the expense in the performance of your duties.

Accommodation

The cost of hotel accommodation for nights spent away from home on business may be claimed. The cost of maintaining a rental property may also be allowable provided that use of the property is necessary for business purposes, and a permanent residence is being maintained elsewhere within the UK where a regular pattern of commuting back to that residence is evident. Where a rental property is not used exclusively for business purposes the proportion of costs relating to the period of private usage is not allowable. In such cases it will be necessary to determine the appropriate split of private and business usage and claim only for the business use.

The cost of accommodation in relation to site work is allowable if the period of time at the site is both expected to be no more than 24 months in total, including any time spent on-site prior to the current contract and in fact does not exceed 24 months. The “40% rule” also applies here; claims can be made for accommodation at/near a temporary workplace but never near a permanent workplace.

Incidental Overnight Expenses Allowance

On a business trip you may incur personal costs such as private telephone calls, laundry, newspapers or the cost of childcare. HMRC regards these as personal rather than business expenditure and are not allowable. However, if you are staying overnight while either away on business or on allowable work-related training, you are entitled to claim a subsistence allowance.

There are two Incidental Overnight Expenses Allowance rates: £5 per night in the UK and £10 per night overseas (including Eire). No receipts need to be produced. These allowances can only be claimed in relation to an overnight stay, for example, on a business trip in the UK lasting 5 days with 4 overnight stays, £20 can be claimed.

Incidental Overnight Expenses Allowances in relation to site work are claimable if the overnight stay is associated with a period of time at a site that is both expected to be no more than 24 months in total, including any time spent on-site prior to the current contract, and in fact does not exceed 24 months. The “40% rule” also applies here; claims can be made for accommodation at/near a temporary workplace but never near a permanent workplace.

Meals

When staying overnight meals are an allowable expense. Food and drink must have been purchased after the journey commenced. As a result of this rule costs incurred in preparing a pre-packed lunch are not allowable expenses. The levels of costs that are generally acceptable to HMRC are as follows and claims need to be supported with a valid receipt:

  • Breakfast or lunch: £15 in London and £10 outside London
  • Dinner: £40 in London and £30 outside London

HMRC accepts that reasonable costs of alcoholic beverages with a meal may be claimed. Where you have dined with work associates, only the proportion of the total cost that pertains to you as the director is allowable unless the purpose of the meal is business entertaining. Appropriate identification and explanation of the receipts must be provided in English when submitted in relation to meals overseas.

If you would like to discuss any of this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400 or info@torrwaterfield.co.uk 

Nish Bathia, Director 

P11Ds – Return of Expenses and Benefits

It is that time of year again when your organisation’s P11D forms will need to be prepared and submitted to the Inland Revenue. The most common entries being the car or van benefit, with or without fuel for private use.

In addition to the above, directors/employees are sometimes provided with private health insurance.  The best way of dealing with this is to ensure that the contract is between the employer and the insurance company and therefore the amount is treated as a benefit in kind and reported on a P11D 

However, sometimes the employer will offer to pay the employee’s personal medical insurance directly.  In this case the contract for the health insurance will be between the insurance company and the director/employee and the payment is treated very differently to the above.  If the company pays the bill on behalf of the employee the amount is entered onto the P11D for tax purposes but is dealt with through the payroll for National Insurance.  This, as you can imagine, gets very messy.

This does not just apply to medical insurance but also any contract in the director/employee’s name that the employer settles on behalf of the director/employee.  Another common one that springs to mind is a mobile phone bill. 

The moral of the above is to set up medical insurance/mobile phone contracts between the employer and the supplier directly which simplifies the treatment of dealing with the whole reporting process.

The above is just a small part of the P11D system so please get in touch if you require any help. 0116 24243400 or info@torrwaterfield.co.uk

Julia Harrison , Tax Manager 

Why has my tax code changed?

“How do I know if my tax code is correct?”

Your tax code is used by your employer to calculate how much tax needs to be deducted from your pay. HMRC tells your employer which code to use to collect the right amount of tax from you. You can check your income tax online to see what your tax code is, how your tax code has been worked out and how much tax you have paid and are likely to pay in the coming months.

“What does my tax code actually mean?”

Your tax code represents how much tax free income you have for that tax year, for example the standard tax code for the 2018/19 tax year is 1185L and this means you have a tax free income of £11,850.

“What does the letter in my tax code mean?”

The letter in your tax code represents your situation and how that affects your tax free income, for example:

  • L = You’re entitled to the standard tax free allowance.
  • M & N = Marriage Allowance, this means you have either transferred or received personal allowance to or from your partner.
  • 0T = Your personal allowance has been used up or you’ve started a new job and your employer doesn’t have all of your starter details.

To see the full list on the HMRC website please click here.

“Why is there a W1/M1 at the end of my tax code?”

The W1/M1 means that the tax code is non-cumulative; in these cases tax will be calculated purely based on the taxable pay for that pay period. Each pay day is treated as if it is the first week or month of the tax year. All previous pay and tax are ignored.

There are a few reasons you may have been put on this type of code, for example:

  • Started a new job
  • Getting Company benefits or state pension
  • Becoming employed after being self employed

These tax codes are generally temporary and you or your employer can update this.

“How do I change my tax code?”

 You can use the HMRC online services to tell HMRC about any missing or incorrect information. They will then update this by sending you and your employer a P6 tax coding notice. If you can’t use the online services you can call HMRC on 0300 200 3300 and they will help guide you through and get your tax code updated.

If you would like to discuss this further then please get in touch on 0116 242 3400.

Polly Dennis, Payroll Assistant 

How do you complete a Monthly CIS Return?

What is CIS?

The Construction Industry Scheme is a method of deducting tax from subcontractors in the building sector. Contractors deduct a percentage of the money owed on their payments to subcontractors and pass it over directly to HMRC. The amounts are effectively taxed at source as the sub-contractor does not get the money.  The deducted CIS tax counts as advance payments towards the tax and National Insurance contributions that will be calculated upon completion of the subcontractor’s self-assessment tax return.

What do I need to complete a return?

Monthly CIS returns need to be submitted by the contractor to HMRC to disclose the amount of CIS which has been deducted and is therefore due to be paid over to HMRC.

The contractor needs from the subcontractor an invoice which states the money they are owed.

The invoice should split out the materials and labour with CIS only being deductible on the labour element of the invoice. CIS is deducted at 20% providing the subcontractor has a UTR (unique tax reference) number which should be displayed on the invoice. If there is no UTR number then CIS will be deducted at 30%.

How do I do it?

CIS periods run from the 6th of the month to the 5th of the month following – for example, 6th March – 5th April. The CIS return then needs to be submitted and the liability paid over within two weeks of the period end – 19th April for example in order to avoid facing late filing charges. The return can be manually entered under the contractor’s logon on the HMRC website or it can be submitted via numerous accounting software programmes. The CIS is payable to HMRC upon payment of the invoice and not the date the invoice is issued, so it should only be included on the CIS return at this point. Once the return has been submitted to HMRC, statements should be sent out to all subcontractors for their own records.

If you wish to discuss any of this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400 or info@torrwaterfield.co.uk

Brook Lucas, Accounts & Tax 

Are You Washing Away Your Potential Tax Refund?

If you wear a uniform or protective clothing at work and you have to wash it yourself you may be due a tax refund from HMRC, and if you don’t claim it, you’ll lose it after 4 years.

This typically applies to:

Retail staff

Hospitality & catering

Nurses, doctors, dentists and other healthcare workers

Police officers

Airline staff / cabin crew / pilots

Public transport (London Underground staff, train conductors, bus drivers)

Engineers & mechanics

Builders / plumbers / carpenters

PE teachers

However any item of clothing with a company logo on it can be claimed for!

How much can I claim?

The amount you can claim depends on your job. If claiming for the full 4 years, the standard rebate for most employees is £48. However for certain professions HMRC has agreed higher allowances. There are numerous calculators online that will inform you how much you are entitled to based on your circumstances.

How do I claim?

There are currently three ways to claim your refund:

  • By entering it as a deduction on your Self-Assessment tax return if you already fill one in.

 

 

  • By phone if you’ve had a successful claim in a previous year and your expenses are less than £1,000.

 

If you require any more information please contact the office on 0116 242 3400.

Tom Luckett, Accounts & Tax 

From 1 April 2018, the Fulfilment House Due Diligence Scheme is open for online applications.

Businesses in the United Kingdom (UK) that store any goods imported from outside the European Union (EU) that are owned by, or on behalf of, someone established outside the EU, will need to apply for approval by HMRC if those goods are offered for sale in the UK.

The deadline for applications from existing fulfilment businesses falling within the scope of the scheme is 30 June 2018. Businesses that start trading on or after 1 April 2018 need to apply on or before 30 September 2018. There are penalties for late applications.

Businesses that only store or fulfil goods that they own, or only store or fulfil goods that are not imported from outside the EU, are not required to register.

Registered businesses must carry out certain checks and keep records from 1 April 2019. Businesses who meet the criteria of this scheme will not be allowed to trade as a fulfilment business from 1 April 2019 if they do not have approval from HMRC.

Those that do, risk a £10,000 penalty and a criminal conviction. To find out if you need to be registered please see the GOV.UK webpage, Fulfilment House Due Diligence Scheme.  

If you wish to discuss any of this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400 or info@torrwaterfield.co.uk  

 

Lower heating bills for renters – Landlords do you need to make changes?

From 1 April 2018 all privately rented properties must have a minimum energy performance rating of “E”.

This means landlords must make improvements to homes, upgrading insulation or heating systems for example, which should make them cheaper to heat.

The regulations will come into force for new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020.

The Government has announced it will be unlawful to rent out a property which breaches this minimum rating, meaning properties which fall in the less efficient “F” or “G” categories will no longer be acceptable.

A civil penalty of up to £4,000 will be imposed for landlords who let homes that fall below the minimum standard.

Which properties are affected by the changes?

The new regulations apply to private, domestic rented properties in England and Wales which are let under an assured tenancy or a shorthold tenancy. The tenancy should be regulated under the Rent Acts including assured agricultural occupancy, protected and statutory tenancies under the Rent Act 1976.

The properties affected are any domestic, privately rented properties which are required by law to have an EPC or are contained within a larger unit which is required to have one. This includes houses, flats and self-contained units but isn’t applicable to bedsits. The EPC cannot be more than 10 years old.

Which properties are excluded?

Protected buildings and structures (such as those with listed status or restricted environmental regulations) are exempt if the measures needed to improve energy efficiency will alter the character or appearance of the building. In addition, temporary structures with intended use times of 2 years or less, residences used for less than 4 months of a year and buildings with floor area of less than 50 square metres are also exempt.

 Are there rules about how energy efficiency is improved?

There are no regulations relating to how the energy efficiency rating E is achieved so it is up to the individual landlord what work is carried out on the property. The regulations stipulate that only cost-effective improvements should be made and it’s possible that a landlord could be exempt in some cases. For example, if a landlord can prove that they’ve taken all possible cost-effective measures to make improvements but the rating still remains below E. Or, in some cases, the landlord may be unable to obtain consent from the occupying tenant.

Are there exemptions?

Any properties which are exempt from the new regulations need to be registered on the PRS Exemptions Register. This registration has been open since October 2017. Failure to register will be seen as non-compliance with the regulations. Once a property is assessed and declared exempt this remains valid for 5 years. After that period it would need to be reassessed.

How the regulations are enforced and what are the penalties?

The regulations will be enforced by the local authority who will serve landlords with compliance notices to confirm properties either meet the required standards or have been declared as exempt. If they find a landlord has not complied with either they are able to issue a penalty fine which, cumulatively, could reach up to £5,000. A landlord can request a review of a penalty notice followed by an appeals process if they are still not satisfied with the local authority’s decision.

There are several improvements you can make to a property which will improve the energy efficient rating and many are very simple to carry to out. You could improve the energy efficiency of your property significantly by:

  • Replacing a non-condensing boiler with a new condensing, A rated boiler with over 90% energy efficiency.
  • Installing or improving insulation in walls, roof, and loft spaces, pipework etc. to prevent heat loss. You may even be able to qualify for a free insulation grant to help with the cost.
  • Installing solar panels and a solar energy storage system to reduce the property’s energy dependence on the National Grid
  • Installing double glazed windows to reduce the amount of heat escaping through poorly fitted frames or basic single glazing.

If you wish to discuss any of this further then please contact us 0116 2423400

Hollie Crown, Office Manager

Employer Update March 2018

National Living/Minimum Wage Changes from 1 April 2018

From 1 April 2018 the National Living/Minimum Wage rates will increase as follows:

  • £7.83 an hour for workers aged 25 and over – previously £7.50
  • £7.38 an hour for workers aged 21 to 24 – previously £7.05
  • £5.90 an hour for workers aged 18 to 20 – previously £5.60
  • £4.20 an hour for workers aged 16 to 17 – previously £4.05
  • £3.70 an hour for apprentices under 19 or in their first year – previously £3.50

If you are paying any employees with reference to the National Living/Minimum Wage you will need to amend the hourly rates accordingly.

Auto-enrolment: Minimum contributions increase with effect from 6 April 2018.

Under auto-enrolment all employers have to automatically enrol certain employees into a pension scheme and make minimum contributions into that scheme. From 6 April 2018 these minimum contributions will increase as part of the phasing in, and employers need to take steps now to ensure they comply with this change.

If the qualifying earnings basis is being used, the current minimum contribution until 5 April 2018 is 2% with at least 1% from the employer.

Between 6 April 2018 and 5 April 2019 the minimum contribution is 5% with at least 2% from the employer, so contributions should be reviewed now in readiness for this.

Looking ahead, from 6 April 2019 the minimum contribution will be 8% with at least 3% from the employer.

For more information see The Pensions Regulator contribution levels guidance here.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Regards

Rebecca Edwards, Payroll Manager

Tax Free Allowances – Are you making the most of them?

With the self-assessment tax return deadline now well passed, we can start to look forward to 2017-18’s income and consider whether you are fully utilising your tax free allowances.

Using the following to their full potential can often be the most tax efficient way of accessing the income in your company or savings.

Personal Allowance

This is a tax free amount that everybody starts with which can be used against any type of income. For 2017-18 the personal allowance is £11,500, however, this figure may be reduced should your income go above £100,000.

If you are not using the entire personal allowance, then it may be an option to transfer 10% of this to your spouse under the marriage allowance. This can only be done though if they’re a basic rate tax payer. It means that they would receive an additional £1,150 of personal allowance thus saving them £230 in tax.

Starting Rate

For those that have a fairly minimal salary but a lot of savings income, the starting rate is something that can be used. It is an additional 0% rate band if the first £5,000 of taxable income (i.e above the personal allowance) is savings. This could be especially useful for those with large credit balances on director’s loans in limited companies as they can charge interest on this which would not only be tax free for the individual but tax deductible for the company.

Dividend Allowance

Changes in the 2016-17 tax year meant that the traditional method of receiving tax credits on dividends were scrapped and replaced instead with the ‘Dividend Allowance’. This is a £5,000 tax free band on dividends for everyone regardless of their other income. For those with a limited company this could be utilised by a spouse shareholder, regardless of if the work elsewhere, to get an additional £5,000 tax free income.

Personal Savings Allowance

The final tax free allowance is the personal savings allowance which you receive regardless of if you earn from other sources. These do however vary based on the tax band you are in as follows:                   

Basic rate £1,000
Higher rate £500
Additional rate Nil

These could potentially be utilised in the same way as the starting rate by charging a limited company interest on credit director’s loan account balances.

As each case is different, please contact us on 0116 242 3400 if you wish to discuss tax free allowances any further.

Sam Jefferson, Accounts & Tax