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 

With effect from 6 April 2018, all PILONs will be chargeable to Income Tax and Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs)

With effect from 6 April 2018, all PILONs will be chargeable to Income Tax and Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs), whether or not they are contractual payments. Payments or benefits paid in connection with the termination of a person’s employment will be split into two elements. The first element, post-employment notice pay (PENP) received is taxable as general earnings and will be subject to Class 1 NICs from 6 April 2018. The PENP represents the earnings that the employee would have received had they been given and worked their full and proper notice and on which they would ordinarily have paid tax and Class 1 NICs.

PENP is calculated by applying a formula to the total amount of the payment or benefits paid in connection with the termination of an employment. The second element is the remaining balance of the termination payment, or benefit, is not a PENP. This is taxable as specific employment income to the extent that it exceeds £30,000 and is treated in the same way as other payments and benefits taxable under section 403 Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003.

PENP calculations should not be applied to statutory and non-statutory redundancy payments. These payments are always taxable as specific employment income and subject to the £30,000 exemption where appropriate. As an employer, you will be required to apply the PENP formula to the total amount of relevant termination payments, or benefits. You should operate PAYE to deduct income tax and Class 1 NICs from the amount of PENP from 6 April 2018. You should then apply the £30,000 exemption, where applicable, to the second element of the relevant termination payment and deduct income tax (but not NICs) accordingly. Detailed guidance on how and to what payments you should apply the PENP formula to will be published in the Employment Income Manual in due course

Foreign Service relief

Foreign Service relief on termination payments is being removed for UK residents. Employees whose employment is terminated on, or after, 6 April 2018 and who receive a payment or benefit in connection with that termination will not be eligible for tax relief in respect of any period of foreign service undertaken as part of their office or employment if they are UK resident for the tax year in which their employment is terminated. This change is subject to parliamentary approval. Foreign Service relief will be retained for seafarers.

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

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 

Tax-free childcare roll out

The implementation of Tax-Free Childcare, the new government scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare, is being rolled out to eligible parents in stages.

The scheme first made its debut in April 2017 and although there have been initial systems problems, HMRC’s aim is to have the scheme open to all eligible parents by 14 February 2018. Application is made online through the Childcare Choices site www.childcarechoices.gov.uk and applications can be made for all eligible children at the same time.

Under Tax-Free Childcare, for every £8 the parent pays, the government provides a £2 top-up, to a maximum of £2,000 per child each year – with a higher limit of £4,000 for disabled children. This gives a total childcare pot of £10,000, or £20,000 for disabled children. To be eligible, parents must generally have minimum weekly earnings of at least £120 each. There is also an upper earnings limit of £100,000.

Compensation may be available in certain circumstances where a parent:

  • is unable to complete an application for Tax-Free Childcare
  • is unable to access their childcare account
  • or doesn’t get a decision about whether they are eligible, without explanation, for more than 20 days.

Those employing a nanny should be able to use the childcare account to pay their PAYE tax and National Insurance. Delays in getting this system working may also give grounds for compensation. Application is made online GOV.UK childcare-service-compensation 

If you would like to discuss any of this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400 or https://www.torrwaterfield.co.uk/contact-us 

National Minimum Wage – where are we now?

Falling foul of the National Minimum Wage rules can be expensive – as well as having serious implications for employer reputation. Many firms have been named and shamed for getting it wrong – are you compliant?

Employer errors

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) keeps appearing in the headlines. Recently the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced that some 230 employers had been named and shamed for failing to pay NMW and National Living Wage (NLW). The retail, hairdressing and hospitality sectors were among the most non-compliant. Because of BEIS intervention, more than 13,000 low-paid employees were due to receive £2 million in back pay.

But the final price tag for employers who hadn’t kept the rules was much higher. Between them, they were also fined a record £1.9 million. Business Minister Margot James said there was a clear message to employers. ‘The government will come down hard on those who break the law.’

BEIS report that common employer errors include deducting money from employees to pay for uniforms, not accounting for overtime and wrongly paying apprentice rates to workers. So, what is the latest on NMW and how do employers keep on the right side of the law?

NMW and NLW – the basics

NMW is the least pay per hour most workers are entitled to by law. The rate is based on a worker’s age and whether they are an apprentice. NLW applies to working people aged 25 and over. From 1 April 2017, the rate ranges from £7.50 per hour for those aged 25 and over, to £3.50 per hour for apprentices under 19, or for those aged 19 or over who are in the first year of an apprenticeship. Changes to NLW rates are in the pipeline from April 2018, so employers may need to plan for these now.

NMW/NLW rates are reviewed by the Low Pay Commission, but it is HMRC who police the system. Employers can be faced with court action if they don’t pay NMW/NLW. Penalties for non-compliance stand at 200% of the back pay due to workers. The maximum penalty per worker is £20,000. There is a provision to reduce a penalty by half if unpaid wages and penalty are both paid within 14 days.

Not everyone qualifies for the NMW/NLW. These include people who are self-employed: volunteers: company directors: family members, or people who live with an employer and carry out household tasks eg au pairs.

But most other workers are entitled to NMW/NLW, including pieceworkers, home workers, agency workers, commission workers, part-time workers and casual workers. There are also rules regarding agricultural and horticultural workers, with slightly different small print for England, Scotland and Wales.

In calculating pay for minimum wage purposes, the starting point is total pay in a pay reference period – before deducting income tax and National Insurance. Some payments are not included, such as loans and pension payments.

To add to the complexity, there is also something called the Living Wage, which is an hourly pay rate, set independently by the Living Wage Foundation. This isn’t anything to do with the government, and any employer who pays this does so entirely voluntarily.

Latest guidance: social care workers

HMRC have updated their guidance to clarify how NMW applies in the social care sector for workers carrying out ‘sleepover shifts’, following confusion over whether such shifts qualified for NMW. BEIS had suggested sleepover shifts carried out before 26 July 2017 qualified for a flat rate allowance, not NMW. But the decision is that NMW does apply, and applies retrospectively.

This could have left employers with bills of up to six years in back pay and penalties. But from 26 July, enforcement activity for sleepover shift pay is suspended until November, with retrospective penalties for sleepover shifts before 26 July 2017 waived. The actual back pay is still due, unless employers can show they can’t pay. Although it is envisaged that underpayments will be pursued from this date, the government says it is committed to minimising the impact of future minimum wage enforcement in the social care sector.

If you would like to discuss any of this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400

Running a payroll can be time consuming and complicated and divert resources from the core activities of your business. We can address this by installing payroll software and training your staff. Outsourcing this activity also helps relieve the pressure and we can offer cost-effective solutions. We are able to provide the complete service, what ever the size or complexity of your business, or simply provide support when needed. If you would like a quote then please call 0116 2423400 or email info@torrwaterfield.co.uk

The Apprenticeship Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy is charged on employers’ “paybills” at a rate of 0.5%. The levy is payable through Pay as You Earn (PAYE) and is payable alongside income tax and National Insurance. To keep the process as simple as possible “paybill” will be based on total employee earnings subject to Class 1 secondary NICs.

Each employer receives one annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment. There is a connected persons rule, similar to the Employment Allowance connected persons rule, so employers who operate multiple payrolls are only be able to claim one allowance.

1.) If you’re an employer with a pay bill over £3 million each year, you must pay the apprenticeship levy from 6 April 2017. You can find out how to do this here.

You will report and pay your levy to HMRC through the PAYE process.

The levy will not affect the way you fund training for apprentices who started an apprenticeship programme before 1 May 2017. You’ll need to carry on funding training for these apprentices under the terms and conditions that were in place at the time the apprenticeship started.

Detail on how to setup and use your online account can be found here.

2.) If you do not have to pay the levy then you can still receive support to pay your apprentices.

From May 2017, you will pay 10% towards to the cost of apprenticeship training and government will pay the rest (90%), up to the funding band maximum.

If you do not pay the levy, you won’t be able to use the apprenticeship service to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment until at least 2018.

Instead, you’ll need to agree a payment schedule with the provider and pay them directly for the training. The provider must prove that you have paid your contributions as a condition of government paying its contribution.

There are 2 different types of apprenticeships to choose from:

  • apprenticeship standards– each standard covers a specific occupation and sets out the core skills, knowledge and behaviours an apprentice will need; they are developed by employer groups known as ‘trailblazers’
  • apprenticeship frameworks– a series of work-related vocational and professional qualifications, with workplace- and classroom-based training

To choose training:

If you would like to discuss any of this further then please contact us on 0116 2423400

Becky Edwards, Payroll Manager 

Applying for a Mortgage? SA302’s are no more. A Tax overview is what you need.

HMRC’s form SA302 is a tax calculation produced when you have filed your Self-Assessment Tax Return online.

It is a calculation for a particular tax year showing your income, your tax allowances, the amount of tax you’ve already paid and what tax, if any, you still owe or which should be repaid to you.

If your Tax Return has to be amended and it affects the tax payable, HMRC will send you a revised SA302 showing the up to date position for that particular year.

If you are asked to provide evidence of your income, for example if you’re applying for a mortgage, and you have been paying through self-assessment, you are likely to be asked for an SA302 for one or more tax years.  Another document you may also be asked to produce is a tax year overview.  This is a simple summary or statement of the tax due and tax you’ve paid during the tax year.

If you have filed your own tax return online, you can access your HMRC account and print off both the SA302 and tax year overview as required.

HMRC have been encouraging taxpayers to obtain a copy of the ‘Tax overview’ and ‘Full Calculation’ from the online service for some time and, from 4 September 2017, they have confirmed that they will no longer send paper SA302s to agents on behalf of their clients.

There are a number of lenders that will accept the tax overview and printed calculation in place of a paper SA302 and HMRC are working on educating other lenders to increase acceptance so that, once the SA302’s are no more, mortgage advisors will be happy with these documents instead.

If you don’t know where to start getting your tax year overview or tax calculation, most accountants, including torrwaterfield, use commercial software to produce tax returns for their clients.  This automatically generates a tax calculation which is roughly equivalent to a form SA302.  The majority of mortgage providers have agreed with HMRC to accept this Tax Calculation and the Tax Year Overview which your accountant can print off for you.

For a complete list of mortgage providers and lenders who accept Tax Year over views please click here. 

If you would like any assistance on this, then please contact the office on 0116 242 3400.

James Yarnall, Accounts & Tax 

MATERNITY LEAVE AND PAY

I must admit that for most of my career to date I didn’t really think much about maternity leave and pay.  While training to be an accountant, just getting on with the job (apologies if that sounded a little like Theresa May!), it wasn’t really on my radar.  There did however come a point when I started thinking about it and realised that I didn’t really know anything about it, so here’s the basics:

Who is entitled to maternity leave?

 Any employee with an employment contract is entitled to maternity leave, no matter how long they have worked for their employer, as long as they give notice of the date they want to start their maternity leave at least 15 weeks before the baby is due.

How long is maternity leave?

Maternity leave is split into ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ and ‘Additional Maternity Leave’ which total 52 weeks.

All new mothers must take at least 2 weeks off after childbirth (or 4 weeks if they are a factory worker) but do not have to take the full 52 weeks.

 When does maternity leave start?

If there are no complications with the pregnancy, the employee can choose when to start maternity leave, but the earliest it can be started is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth (EWC).  If the baby is born early, leave starts the following day; it will also start automatically if the employee is off work for pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the EWC.

What about maternity pay?  Who is entitled to that?

To be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, the employee must be on the payroll in the ‘qualifying week’ (the 15th week before the EWC) and have worked for that employer for at least 26 weeks before that week.  In addition, they must provide proof of their pregnancy (a MATB1 form usually obtained from their midwife around the midpoint of the pregnancy) and earn at least £113 per week (gross) in the 8 weeks before the qualifying week.

Therefore not all those that are entitled to maternity leave will get maternity pay from their employer, but they may be able to get Maternity Allowance from the government instead. 

How much is maternity pay?

Statutory maternity pay is payable for up to 39 weeks as follows:

  • The first 6 weeks: 90% of the gross average weekly earnings (AWE)
  • The remaining (up to) 33 weeks: £140.98 or 90% of the AWE (whichever is lower)

So while maternity leave can be up to 52 weeks, statutory pay isn’t for that whole time.

Maternity pay is paid in the same way as wages, with tax and national insurance deducted.

Additional contractual maternity pay, over the minimum statutory amount, can also be paid and is common in some industries and the public sector (for example 6 months at full- or half-pay).

What about Dads?

As a Mum-to-be myself I have focused this blog on maternity aspects, but Dads have an entitlement too!  Dads are entitled to up to 2 consecutive weeks of leave but it can’t start before the birth and must finish within 56 days of the birth (or due date if the baby is early).  Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) is paid at the lower of £140.98 per week or 90% of average weekly earnings.

Alternatively, a couple may choose “Shared Parental Leave” – our Payroll Manager, Becky Edwards wrote a blog earlier in the year specifically on this subject please click here to read this. 

Unpaid Parental Leave

 Many people don’t know that this exists!  Parents who have been with their employer for over a year can take unpaid time off to look after their child’s welfare, for example to spend more time with the child, settle them into nursery or look into schools.  It is available for a total of up 18 weeks per child, up to their 18th birthday.  It must be taken in whole weeks, at a maximum of 4 weeks at a time, unless the employer agrees otherwise.

Unpaid parental leave can be taken at any time (subject to giving 21 days notice) right from the birth of the child, so can be used in conjunction with maternity, paternity or shared parental leave.

The Employer Perspective

 Employment rights continue while an employee is on maternity leave, for example the right to employer pension contributions, returning to a job and paid holiday (which accrues while on maternity leave at the employee’s number of days worked prior to leave, even if they come back to work part-time).

You can reclaim at least 92% of SMP/SPP paid to employees – this increases to 103% if you qualify as a Small Employer (if you paid less than £45,000 in Class 1 National Insurance in the previous tax year).  The reclaim should be calculated by your payroll software and deducted from your PAYE/NI liability for the tax month, however if you can’t offset it in full you can ask for a repayment, but not until the start of the next tax year.

 Katie Kettle

Technical Manager (and Mum-to-be)Katie Kettle Colour

Did you look after your Grandchildren this summer?

Get paid to babysit!

Did you look after your Grandchildren this summer?  If they are aged under 12 you could be missing out on the chance to boost your future State Pension.

Top Grandparent facts:

  • 1 in 4 working families and 1 in 3 working mothers use Grandparents for childcare
  • 63% of all Grandparents with grandchildren under 16 help out with childcare
  • 1 in 5 Grandmothers provide at least 10 hours a week of childcare
  • the proportion of Grandparents who are of working age is set to grow as the retirement age gradually rises

Half of Britain’s 7 million working-age Grandparents have a Grandchild under the age of 16 and could qualify for Class 3 National Insurance credits for looking after children aged under 12 – which can be used to top up their income in retirement.

Applications for NI credits for caring for children under 12 need to be made to HM Revenue & Customs.  Applications need to be made in, or after, the October following the end of the tax year in which the caring took place.

Grandparents who have cared for their Grandchildren during the tax year 2011/12 are still able to apply for their credits now.

There is no minimum condition for the number of hours of care in a week as long as the credit is transferred for a full week.

This scheme will benefit women, and the self-employed who currently cannot qualify for state second pension.

If you have any questions or want to discuss this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400

Georginda Hare, BookkeeperGeorginda Hare BC.JPG

Have you been mis-sold PPI over the years?

There are millions of people who have already successfully claimed for mis-sold PPI, so make contact with your banks to make a claim; you could be owed thousands.

It has been estimated that the banks have paid out over £20billion so far.

The Financial Conduct Authority has confirmed you have until 29 August 2019 to make your claim.

What is PPI?

PPI is Payment Protection Insurance which was introduced to customers to cover payments on loans or credit cards if you became ill or unemployed.  This would ensure that you didn’t fall behind on installment payments.

If you have taken out a loan or credit card, or even mortgage, there is a strong chance that you may have PPI on the loans.

You now need to ask yourself whether you were mis-sold this insurance or whether this was correctly added.

Were you asked the correct questions on completing your loan agreement?

  • Were you told it was compulsory? It was a condition of that particular product to purchase the PPI.  You could only have the overdraft/loan if PPI is bought.
  • Didn’t realise you had cover? You have been paying the PPI with your loan repayments and weren’t even aware of this extra cost.
  • Were you told or sold the wrong thing? Having being sold PPI you were ultimately covered elsewhere on an existing policy, hence no requirement for this PPI policy.
  • Self-employed, unemployed or retired? PPI would have been worthless to you as it wouldn’t cover if your own business ceased or went bankrupt.
  • Had any medical problems in the past? If so, PPI may have been exempt as it would not cover against pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Has your provider already been fined? Than this would confirm that a certain amount of liability lies with them.

There is no time limit on how far back you can go.

Attached is a template: Template letter PPI for you to complete and send off to the financial institutions that may apply to you.  Complete the personal details including your name and address.

You could hear back from your bank with a refund of your PPI premiums, this may also include compensation and interest on the payments you have made.

If you are unsuccessful in seeking a refund, you have an opportunity to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, if necessary. 

If you wish to discuss this further or need any other business advice then please contact us 0116 2423400

Sarah Knight – Bookkeeper