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

Proposals to extend pensions auto enrollment to younger workers

The government has announced proposals to extend pensions auto enrolment to include younger workers and to amend the way in which contributions are calculated.

According to the press release:

The review’s recommendations, which will now be progressed and legislated for where necessary, will see:

  • automatic enrolment duties continuing to apply to all employers, regardless of sector and size
  • young people, from 18 years old, benefiting from automatic enrolment, introducing 900,000 young people into saving an additional £800 million through a workplace pension
  • workplace pension contributions calculated from the first pound earned, rather than from a lower earnings limit – this will bring an extra £2.6 billion into pension saving, improving incentives for people in multiple jobs to opt-in, and simplifying the way employers assess their workforces and calculate contributions
  • the earnings trigger remaining at £10,000 for 2018/19, subject to annual reviews
  • contribution levels reviewed after the implementation of the 8% contribution rate in 2019
  • the government testing a series of ‘targeted interventions’ – including through opportunities to work with organisations who act as ‘touch points’ for the 4.8 million self-employed people, such as banks and those who contract labour – to explore how technology can be used to increase their pension saving.’

Under auto enrolment, employers are required to automatically enrol all eligible workers (generally employees) into a workplace pension scheme and pay a minimum contribution into their pension. Employees do, however, have the right to opt out of auto enrolment.

Currently workers who are aged between 22 and the State Pension Age with earnings of £10,000 per annum are eligible to be auto enrolled. Younger employees and those who do not meet the minimum income requirement can opt to make pension contributions.

The government plan to reduce the lower age limit to 18 by the mid 2020s, in order to encourage younger workers to get into ‘the habit of saving’.

David Gaulke, Work and Pensions Secretary said:

‘We are committed to enabling more people to save while they are working, so that they can enjoy greater financial security when they retire. We know the world of work is changing, so it is only right that pension saving does too. This ambitious package will see more people than ever before helped onto the path towards building a secure retirement.’

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), stated:

‘Requiring employers to contribute from the first pound of earnings will mean that, by 2019, hundreds of thousands of small employers will have to pay up to £180 more per employee each year. ‘For employers in certain sectors, such as care and hospitality where margins are tight, this will really add up.’

Contact us if you would like help with payroll and auto enrolment. 0116 2423400 or info@torrwaterfield.co.uk

Are you ready for GDPR? 25 May 2018

As of 25 May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enforced on organisations that process personal data of EU residents. Although very similar to the current Data Protection Act, the GDPR will strengthen the current data protection requirements by introducing a number of key changes for organisations. Some of these changes include:

  • The definition of personal data being broader
  • Consent will be necessary for processing children’s data
  • The rules for obtaining valid consent have been changed
  • The appointment of a data protection officer (DPO) will be mandatory for certain businesses
  • There are new restrictions on international data transfers
  • Data subjects have the right to be forgotten

For more information on the GDPR’s key changes you can visit:

https://www.itgovernance.co.uk/data-protection-dpa-and-eu-data-protection-regulation

Some things to consider when preparing to become GDPR compliant are:

  1. Are key decision makers and key people in your organisation aware that the law is changing to the GDPR?
  2. Is a record kept of the personal information you hold, and a log of where it came from and who it is shared with?
  3. Do your procedures in processing personal data comply with the individuals rights? (how you delete personal data or provide data to others)
  4. If someone requests personal information, are procedures in place to ensure data protection is upheld?
  5. Do you seek, obtain and record consent you gain from clients?
  6. Do you have an assigned Data Protection Officer?
  7. Do your current procedures in place enable you to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach?

 There is plenty of time to decide what type of risk assessments need to be carried out to ensure compliance with the new regulation is upheld but organisations should start to act as soon as possible as the maximum penalties for non-compliance under the GDPR will increase significantly – from £500,000 to the greater of €20,000,000 or 4% of an organisation’s global turnover.

For more information you can visit our website https://www.torrwaterfield.co.uk/news/latest-news-for-business/archive/news-article/2017/september/get-ready-for-the-new-data-protection-rules 

If you wish to discuss this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400

Amy Fisher, Reception & Administrator 

Charity law changes

Since 2 January 2013 new charities have been able to register as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

Prior to that date the only way to be an incorporated charity was to form a limited company, registered at Companies House, and then apply for charity registration with the Charity Commission.  This approach meaning that there were two sets of laws to comply with and two separate annual filings.

The CIO is registered solely with the Charity Commission and subject to charity law only.

This was a long-awaited and very welcome change to the law.

There was however one sticking point and that was for a charity that had already registered as a limited company and now wanted to benefit from the updated legislation.  The only way forward was to set up a new CIO and transfer the old charity over.

New legislation was published on 23 November allowing charitable companies, in England and Wales, to convert to CIOs.  There will be a phased implementation: Charities with income below £12,500 will be able to apply from 1 January 2018 and those with income greater than £500,000 from 1 August 2018.  There are four other income bands that fit in to the intervening period.

It has been stated in official releases that the process should be “simple and straightforward in most cases”.  The charity will need to adopt a new CIO constitution and pass a Special resolution to convert.

It appears that procedures have been put in place for the Charity Commission and Companies House to liaise with each other so that the date of conversion is consistent between both regulators.

If you wish to discuss this further then please get in touch on 0116 2423400

Neil Ford, Technical Manager

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 

Autumn Budget 2017

Yesterday saw a budget that focused, as expected, on housing and a stormy economic forecast. Our full summary is available on our website, but the key tax developments are summarised below.

Personal Tax Rates and Allowances

The personal allowance is currently £11,500 and will increase to £11,850 in April 2018. The higher rate threshold similarly increases from £45,000 to £46,350. Phillip Hammond reaffirmed his commitment to raise these thresholds to £12,500 and £50,000 respectively by 2020.

 National Insurance for the self-employed

 After the embarrassment of Mr Hammond’s U-turn earlier this year after attempting to abolish Class 2 National Insurance and increase Class 4, it was announced that in order to give sufficient time for a more popular proposal to be devised, there will be a delay of one year before any reform.

Capital Gains Tax

 After unfavourable consultation, the proposal for a 30-day window between Capital Gains arising and the tax being due has been deferred until April 2020.

 Research and Development

 Large companies claiming relief for research and development under the RDEC scheme will see their credit increase from 11% to 12% as part of plans to help the economy grow after Brexit.

Corporation Tax

Indexation Allowance – a long standing relief for companies making capital gains will be frozen from 01 January 2018. This allowance protected companies from gains that arise as a result of inflation and as a result no relief will be available for inflation accruing after this date. This move is perhaps unsurprising, with property investors more often operating through a limited company as a result of this allowance and the increased taxation of landlords in recent budgets.

 Stamp Duty

 With the youth vote rocketing in the last election, the government has decided to act further on the concerns that first time buyers are struggling to get on to the property ladder. Stamp duty will be abolished immediately for first time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £300,000. Those buying their first houses in expensive areas such as London will pay no stamp duty on the first £300,000 of properties costing up to £500,000.

 Value Added Tax (VAT)

 The VAT registration threshold will remain at £85,000 p/a for two years from April 2018. This will come as a relief for many, as some predicted this could be lowered to nearer the EU average of £25,000.

Making Tax Digital (MTD)

 As announced in July, no business will be mandated to use MTD until April 2019, and then only for VAT obligations. The scope of MTD will not be widened until April 2020 at the earliest.

The above are only the areas that I feel will be relevant to the majority of our clients, other areas and greater detail can be found on our website, click here. 

Please contact us on 0116 242 3400 if you have a specific query.

Matt Smith.

HMRC’s Worldwide Disclosure Facility (WDF)

This is a facility that the Inland Revenue introduced in 2016 which allows the voluntary disclosure of any UK tax liabilities that relate to offshore income or assets, which have not previously been disclosed to the UK tax authorities, to be declared.

This includes:

  • Income arising from a source outside the UK
  • Assets situated or held outside the UK
  • Activities carried on wholly or mainly outside the UK
  • Where the funds connected to unpaid tax are transferred outside the UK

Which years?

  • The facility applies to all tax years up to and including 2015 to 2016.
  • If HMRC has sent you a tax return for that year, or any tax year from 2013 to 2014 which is still outstanding, you must complete the return and you must not include these tax years on this disclosure form.

 

By contacting the Inland Revenue, rather than the Inland Revenue contacting you, the penalty regime will be less harsh.

 

If you think that the above applies to you then please get in touch with us as soon as possible so that the Inland Revenue can be notified. 0116 2423400

Julia Harrison, Tax Manager 

Have you become a landlord?

You can become a landlord for many different reasons; you might not even think of yourself as one. This could be because you’ve:

  • inherited a property
  • rented out a flat to cover your mortgage payments
  • moved in with someone and need to rent out your house.

If you follow this link http://bit.ly/2w4rf17 it takes to the gov.uk web page for Guidance on HMRC’s Let Property Campaign.

On the page there are examples of the most common tax errors people make when renting out their property and are all part of the Let Property Campaign which aims to help landlords bring their tax affairs back in to order. These include:

  1. Moving in with a partner and renting your property.
  2. Inheriting a property.
  3. Property bought as an investment.
  4. Relocation
  5. Divorce
  6. Moving in to a Care Home.
  7. Jointly owned investment property.
  8. Property bought for a family member at university.
  9. Armed Forces.
  10. Tied accommodation.

If any of the above apply to you, or if you are unsure whether your circumstances are covered, you can contact HM Revenue and Customs direct or you may wish to discuss matters with us first. Please call us on 0116 2423400

Linda Plumb, Credit Control

Hot Topic Making Tax Digital for Business

The government have issued information on how Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB) is expected to work for VAT once the rules are introduced in April 2019.

Under the proposed rules, which have been issued subject to consultation, VAT registered businesses with turnover over the VAT registration threshold will be required to submit their VAT return digitally using software. Businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to:

  • keep their records digitally (for VAT purposes only) and
  • provide their VAT return information to HMRC through Making Tax Digital (MTD) functional compatible software.

It has also been confirmed that MTD will be available on a voluntary basis to other businesses, for both VAT and income tax.

Exemptions will be available where HMRC are satisfied the business is run by a practising member of a religious society or order whose beliefs are incompatible with the use of electronic communications, some insolvent businesses; or where HMRC are satisfied that it is not reasonably practicable to make a return using an electronic return system for reasons of disability, age, remoteness of location or any other reason.

The proposed rules include provisions that where a business is in scope for MTD the business must use functional compatible software to meet the new requirements. This software will either be a software program or set of compatible software programs which can connect to HMRC systems via an Application Programming Interface (API). The functions of the compatible software include:

  • keeping records in a specified digital form
  • preserving digital records in a specified digital form
  • creating a VAT return from the digital records and providing HMRC with this information digitally
  • providing HMRC with VAT data on a voluntary basis and
  • receiving information from HMRC via the API platform that the business has complied.

Businesses will need to preserve digital records in the software for up to six years. The digital records include:

  • ‘designatory data’ including the business name, principal place of business and VAT registration number together with information about which VAT accounting schemes they use
  • the VAT account that each VAT registered business must keep, by law, and
  • information about supplies made and received.

Further information on the required information can be found in Annex 1.

The government will make the final detailed requirements available to the software providers by April 2018 to allow time for the software to be developed and tested prior to the rules coming into effect from April 2019.

VAT returns

Businesses within the scope of MTD for VAT will be required to submit their VAT returns using their functional compatible software.

The information contained with the VAT return will be generated by pulling information from the digital records. This information will contain as a minimum the 9 boxes required for the completion of the VAT return but can also contain a specific data set of supplementary information, all of which will be pulled from the digital records.

Businesses submitting monthly or non-standard period returns will be able to continue to do so. The VAT annual accounting scheme will also be retained with the current conditions. Businesses making these types of returns will also be required to keep digital records and submit their VAT returns through software.

Under the new rules some businesses may choose to voluntarily provide further information:

Periodic updates
Businesses will be able to submit VAT information more frequently than their VAT return obligations require on a voluntary basis as a ‘voluntary update’.
Supplementary data
HMRC believes that businesses and HMRC could benefit from the submission of supplementary data detailing how the figures in the return are arrived at. HMRC believe this additional data will help them target non compliance. The software will allow for the voluntary submission of supplementary VAT data as part of a VAT return or a voluntary update. This will allow HMRC to test with businesses the extent to which they and HMRC can benefit from such supplementary data.

Timescale

VAT is the first tax to be reportable under MTD and businesses within the scope of MTD will need to keep their records digitally, using approved MTD functional compatible software, from 1 April 2019. The software will create the return from the digital records and this will need to be submitted under MTD for return periods starting on or after 1 April 2019.

We will keep you informed of developments in this area and ensure we are ready to deal with the new requirements. Please contact us for more information 0116 2423400

What is the VAT cash accounting scheme?

What is the VAT cash accounting scheme?

The VAT cash accounting scheme is a useful tool for many small businesses, as you only pay the VAT on your sales to HMRC once you have received payment yourself.

However, you may only reclaim VAT on your purchases from HMRC when payment of the invoice has been made.

You can join the cash accounting scheme if your turnover is less than £1.35m, and can continue to use the scheme until your turnover reaches more than £1.6m.

Your business should be eligible to use the scheme if you meet the threshold requirement, unless your VAT affairs are not up-to-date, you have been convicted of a VAT offence or have been penalised for evading VAT over the past 12 months.

What is the advantage of using cash accounting?

Clearly the main benefit of joining this VAT scheme is in the cash flow benefits it provides. If you have a late paying client for example, you will not have to account for the VAT on any outstanding sales invoices until you have been paid. In fact, if you incur any bad debts, the VAT will never need to be paid to HMRC.

What is the disadvantage of using cash accounting?

There may be some disadvantages, depending on your situation.  For example, as you cannot reclaim the VAT on any purchases you make until payment is made, this could cause cashflow problems if you buy a substantial amount of stock on credit.

Joining the cash accounting scheme

You do not need to inform HMRC if you want to join the scheme. However, you must start at the beginning of a new VAT quarter.

You can also leave the scheme at the end of any VAT quarter, if necessary, or if your taxable turnover reaches the £1.6m mark.

If you would like any assistance on joining, leaving or any further information on the cash accounting scheme, then feel free to contact  the office on 0116 242 3400.

Tom Luckett,  Accounts & Tax