RESTRICTION ON INTEREST RELIEF ON RESIDENTIAL BUY TO LET PROPERTIES

As many owners of rental properties will be aware, from 6 April 2017 there is a restriction on the tax relief available on mortgage interest on residential Buy to Let (BTL) loans. The restriction, which is being phased in over 4 tax years to 2020/21, will eventually limit tax relief to the basic rate of income tax, currently 20%.

For a 40% tax payer (usually taxable income over £44,000) the staggering of the restriction means that over the next 4 years, tax relief on interest will be reduced by 1/8 each year to 50% of its 2016/17 level by 2020/21. For example, a 40% taxpayer paying £2,000 in BTL mortgage interest each year will currently be entitled to £800 of tax relief; this will reduce by £100 a year to £400 by 2020/21. As income is assessed before interest is deducted, more people will find themselves in the 40% tax bracket.

This, combined with the extra 3% Stamp Duty applying to additional residential homes being purchased, amounts to a significant increase in the tax burden relating to owning residential rental property.

The tax relief restriction does not apply to companies letting residential properties, so we are experiencing an increase in requests by individuals and couples wishing to set up a limited company to acquire properties they would like to buy for rental purposes. However, the increase in Stamp Duty still applies and commercial BTL mortgage rates tend to be higher than personal rates.

In some very restricted circumstances, it is possible to transfer existing rental properties into a limited company, taking advantage of incorporation relief to hold over Capital Gains, and in even more limited cases, to avoid payment of Stamp Duty on such a transfer.

If you would like to know more, please email peter.morris@torrwaterfield.co.uk or call 0116 2423400

Tax investigations: What to do when HMRC comes knocking

Your business could be picked out of a hat for a tax investigation.  However, the Taxman now has extremely sophisticated software and tools to analyse your accounts and tax returns.  These days it is more likely that a business will be quickly and easily targeted for an investigation if it stands out for any of the following reasons:

  • Late filing of tax returns
  • Unpaid tax liabilities
  • Errors or omissions on tax returns
  • Fluctuations in tax returns (a drop in income, or increased costs)
  • You receive a tax refund (common for VAT returns where sales are zero rated)
  • Your income levels do not match the ‘norm’ for your business sector
  • Exceeding turnover thresholds for various tax schemes and not acting accordingly
  • You work in a high risk industry that has been targeted by HMRC
  • Your income levels are not consistent with your standard of living
  • HMRC receives a tip-off

HMRC could investigate your business in relation to its CIS, PAYE, VAT, Corporation tax or Self-Assessment Tax Returns.

Don’t Panic

Whilst HMRC may have found an inconsistency in your tax returns, or highlighted a risk area, there could be any number of legitimate reasons for this.

In most cases we find that providing HMRC with full answers to their questions, and sending them the necessary documents and evidence, will lead to them simply agreeing with your tax calculations and moving on.

What to do

  • Keep high quality accurate records
  • File returns on time
  • Pay your tax on time
  • Seek advice from TorrWaterfield

Contact TorrWaterfield – 0116 2423400

If you do receive a letter from HMRC, contact us straight away.  We can assist you throughout the entire tax investigation. 0116 2423400

We will:

  • Offer help and advice
  • Contact HMRC on your behalf, replying to their correspondence by post, email and telephone
  • Use our premises for meetings with HMRC
  • Appeal against HMRC’s decisions if necessary
  • Keep you updated throughout the whole process

Fee Protection

Many investigations are concluded after one letter, meeting or phone call.  But some can be on-going for months or years.

We encourage all of our clients to take out our fee protection.  ThStuart Caney April 2012is typically costs £190 per year.  We can then recover our cost from a third party, rather than charge you for our services. 

Stuart Caney, Accounts & Tax 

If like many of our clients you wish to benefit from this please contact Hollie Crown now for a personalised quote.

Construction Industry – Subcontractor verification changes from 6 April 2017

Construction Industry – subcontractor verification’s

HMRC have confirmed in the latest Employer Bulletin that changes will be made to the verification of subcontractors in the construction Industry Scheme (CIS) from 6 April 2017.

From 6 April 2017, contractors must use an approved method of electronic communication to verify their subcontractors. So from 6 April 2017 HMRC will no longer accept any telephone calls to verify subcontractors and from then contractors must verify subcontractors using:

  • the free HMRC CIS online service, or
  • commercial CIS software.

This change is one of a series made to CIS to increase HMRC efficiency and accuracy, and to reduce administration. HMRC are also reminding contractors that they have also introduced additional features of the online system including the ability to amend returns online, and the addition of an online message/alert service.

Please contact us for help with CIS issues. 0116 2423400

Are you a parent? What are your childcare choices?

In our Winter 2016 newsletter we led with an article about the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme that was expected to be launched in early 2017.

HM Revenue and Customs have today launched the Childcare Choices website which can be reached from the related article:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-families-will-soon-see-bills-cut-as-date-announced-for-the-launch-of-tax-free-childcare

The article also gives details of the availability of up to 30 hours of free childcare for 3 to 4 year olds from September this year.

We understand that parents can pre-register from Wednesday, with the new scheme launching at the end of April.

If you require any further information or advice then please contact us 0116 2423400 

Neil Fordintro-desktop-full

Spring Budget 2017

I am sure that you have seen the headlines in the papers this morning about the Budget and for a detailed analysis please see the report on our website:

www.torrwaterfield.co.uk/news/budget-report.

The items that have caught my attention and I think are relevant to most people are as follows:

National Insurance for the self-employed

At present, if self-employed, you pay class 2 National Insurance of £145.60 for a complete year, and class 4 at 9% based on your level of profits.  The Government do not think that this is fair as employees pay National Insurance at 12%.  To level this position, class 2 National Insurance will be abolished from 06/04/2018 and the class 4 element will increase to 10% from that date, and to 11% from 06/04/2019, thus bringing the self-employed more in line with the employed.

Dividend changes again …

From 06/04/2016 broadly the first £5,000 of dividend income is taxed at 0 % (Dividend Allowance).  This will continue until 05/04/2018.  However, from 06/04/2018 the Dividend Allowance will reduce to £2,000.  This will mainly affect the family company shareholder and increase their tax liability as follows:

Basic rate taxpayer – additional tax of £225

Higher rate taxpayer – additional tax of £975

Additional rate taxpayer – additional tax of £1,143

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

 The overall limit is increasing from £15,240 to £20,000 on 06/04/2017.

Property and trading income allowances

Although this was mentioned last year it comes into play on 06/04/2017. It is as it says, so if you have property or trading income of £1,000 or less you will no longer need to declare this or pay tax on it.  This could cover small amounts of rent from Air ‘bnb’ activities or trading on ebay. 

New Childcare provisions

 If you are taking out new childcare provisions from 06/04/2017 then, instead of opting for a salary sacrifice scheme and receiving vouchers, for every 80 pence that you contribute the Government will contribute 20 pence. The maximum the Government will contribute will generally be £2,000.

Making Tax Digital

This will be introduced on 06/04/2018 for businesses, the self-employed and landlords who have profits chargeable to Income Tax and pay Class 4 National insurance Contributions where their turnover is in excess of the VAT Threshold, which will be £85,000 from 01/04/2017.

As this is a very new area please contact us for further information.

Salary Sacrifice

 From 06/04/2017 this is changing, but it is still beneficial for both the employer and employee to sacrifice salary in respect of employer provided pensions, childcare vouchers, workplace nurseries and cycle to work schemes. 

Construction Industry

The government are launching a consultation on 20 March 2017 to look at various areas, including the qualifying criteria for Gross Payment Status and options to combat VAT supply chain fraud in supplies of labour.

In addition to the above, certain other changes come into force on 06/04/2017 that have been mentioned in earlier Budgets namely:

Restrictions on residential property interest

Landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income.

Inheritance Tax residence nil rate band

There will be an additional nil rate band for deaths on or after 06/04/2017 where an interest in a main residence passes to direct descendants.

As mentioned above I have only mentioned the areas that I believe will be most relevant to the majority of our clients but other areas can be found on our website.

Please contact us if you have a specific query. 0116 24243400

Julia Harrison, Tax ManagerJulia Harrison April 2012

Time for new change

As you may or may not be aware The Royal Mint has revealed that a new issue of the £1 coin is to take place and is set to be released on 28th March 2017.

So why change?

Approximately 1 in 30 £1 coins are counterfeit – this in itself is a fairly high amount.

However, when you put this ratio into the estimated amount of £1 coins in circulation it is staggering.

As of March 2014, The Royal Mint estimated that there were 1,553,000,000 £1 coins in circulation of which 3.04% were counterfeit – meaning that there is around £47,211,200 of counterfeit £1 coins in circulation. The new coin should be considerably more difficult to attempt to fake due to a number of new features.

What are the features?

12-sides – New distinctive shape – making it instantly recognisable.

Bimetallic – it is made of two metals. The outer ring is gold coloured (nickel-brass) and the inner ring is silver coloured (nickel-plated alloy).

Latent image – it has an image like a hologram that changes from a ‘£’ symbol to the number ‘1’ when the coin is seen from different angles.

Micro-lettering – it has very small lettering on the lower inside rim on both sides of the coin. One pound on the obverse “heads” side and the year of production on the reverse “tails” side, for example 2016 or 2017.

Milled edges – it has grooves on alternate sides.

Hidden high security feature – a high security feature has been in built into the coin to protect it from counterfeiting in the future.

When will this happen?

The new coins will be introduced on 28th March 2017 leading to a co-circulation period where both old and new coins will be accepted. On 16th October 2017 a demonetisation period will begin where the old £1 coins are under no obligation to be accepted and should not be redistributed – they can however be deposited into most high street banks.

How can it affect my Business?

If you have a cash handling business then you need to ensure all machines that accept pound coins are compatible with the new design and if not, then your machinery supplier needs to be contacted as a matter of urgency. Once October 2017 comes around you have the right to refuse the old style one pound coins as this is the beginning of the demonetisation period. As mentioned above, once this time comes, do not worry, as the old style pound coins can be deposited into most high street banks for a significant period of time.

The pound won’t be round for much longer…

If you would like to discuss this more please contact us 0116 2423400

Brook Lucas, Accounts & Tax 

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More Personal Tax to pay in January 2018?

No one wants to pay more tax, but from 6th April 2016, individuals who receive dividends will be taxed under new legislation. To explain how much this new measure could cost you we have created a short helpful video. 

Please visit our YouTube channel here to watch.  

Having viewed the video, if you would like to know how this will personally affect you in January 2018, please click here. 

Shared parental leave – What are you entitled to?

Shared parental leave (SPL) allows employed parents and adopters to share leave and pay with their partner to care for children from birth until their first birthday.

  • Only employees can take SPL; they must have a partner (separated partners still qualify if sharing responsibility for care of child at the time of birth)
  • SPL allows mothers (or adopters) to shorten their maternity leave (and pay) to share the leave (and pay) with their partner in order to care for children in their first year; it is the mother’s choice whether to share leave
  • The mother can only share with one person; it is her choice provided her partner satisfies the qualifying conditions
  • Even if only one parent is entitled to SPL and/or ShPP (e.g. one is self-employed or not entitled to ShPP), the other partner may still  be entitled to SPL/ShPP if both satisfy the qualifying conditions
  • The employee taking SPL must have been employed 26 weeks by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and remain employed in the week before the start of SPL. Their partner must also satisfy an employment and earnings test
  • At least 8 weeks’ written notice must be given to end maternity leave and start of SPL
  • SPL can only be taken a week at a time but can start mid-week. SPLIT days can be used to work part-time by agreement with employer
  • SPL can be taken by both parents at the same time or at separate times; they must decide how to take it. The mother can remain on maternity leave while the partner is on SPL
  • SPL can be taken in up to three separate blocks (unlike maternity leave) or more if the employer agrees
  • There are detailed notice provisions which must be followed
  • Employees can work for up to 20 days during SPL (SPLIT days), as well as 10 days during maternity leave (KIT days). These must be agreed with employer.

 SHARED PARENTAL PAY (ShPP) 

Can pay be transferred as well as leave?

Yes.  Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is available to female employees from the 11th week before the expected week of birth or the actual birth if earlier.  It is paid for 39 weeks (the maternity pay period – MPP) with the first 6 weeks being at 90% of pay (and then either the flat rate of £139.58 or 90 per cent if this is lower for the remaining 33 weeks.  But, only 37 weeks is available for ShPP as the mother must take the first 2 weeks after the birth. Women who do not qualify for SMP will often qualify for maternity allowance which is paid at £139.58 or 90 per cent of average earnings if this is lower.

If you wish to discuss any of this in more detail please contact us 0116 2423400 

Becky Edwards, Payroll Manager 

Charities and Fundraising – New changes

The Fundraising Regulator fundraisingregulator.org.uk was established a year ago to oversee charity fundraising in England and Wales.  There are different rules for charities registered in Scotland.

The new body assumed responsibility for this area on 7 July 2016.

So far most people are unaware of its existence, but that should change as we proceed into 2017.  Generally the Code of Fundraising Practice will affect charities and anyone involved in their management.  The general public should however be aware of the new rules and there are schemes being drawn up to protect people from over eager charities.

The biggest effect on charities is that the Fundraising Regulator will be funded by a voluntary levy.  Charities with spending of over £100,000 on fundraising will be asked to pay between £150 and £15,000 annually, this being on a sliding scale with the top end only being relevant for a small number of very large charities; exempt charities will be charged a flat rate of £1,000.

Below the £100,000 threshold, a charity may choose to register and pay just £50.

Third party fundraising agencies and similar organisations may also sign up and pay between £100 and £1,200 annually.

Although, as already stated, this is a voluntary levy, it is important for charities to consider the message they are giving out by not being registered.  It may well influence potential donors if they feel that the charity is not abiding by the Code.  The government has also retained powers within the legislation to make the levy compulsory if the voluntary approach does not work!

Finally, the Regulator is working on a Fundraising Preference Service which should be launched this year.  This will enable individuals to register and then have control over how, or whether, charities contact them for fundraising purposes.  This is expected to work in a similar fashion to the existing Telephone Preference Service and the Mail Preference Service.

There is of course much more detail behind all of this and we will be happy to help. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss this further 0116 2423400

Neil Ford, Technical Manager Neil Ford April 2012

Autumn Statement 2016

On Wednesday 23 November 2016 our new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered his first (and last) Autumn Statement. 4221396001_5220447677001_5220145961001-vs

“No other major economy makes hundreds of tax changes twice a year, and neither should we” – this is perhaps the most welcome measure announced in the Autumn Statement.  In recent years the Autumn Statement has been a mini-Budget, meaning that many, sometimes significant, tax changes were being announced twice a year.  This has been problematic in terms of giving taxpayers a reduced degree of certainty regarding planning their tax affairs (plus it means I have to write an extra blog each year) so for this announcement alone, Philip Hammond gets a ‘thumbs up’ from me!

Following the spring 2017 Budget, the Budget will be delivered each autumn – spring will be reserved for a statement from the Office of Budget Responsibility to respond to their previous forecast.  The odd tweak of fiscal policy may be made each spring, if economic circumstances require it – personally I think this option has been retained so the Government are able to be more flexible in response to the future impact of Brexit (you can infer from that what you will…I’m taking it as that they have no idea what the impact will be).  I’m also hoping that an autumn Budget will give more time for us all to absorb the changes before they come into force the following April.

Our full Autumn Statement roundup can be found on our website here, but below are the main points that I think are relevant to our clients and their businesses.  A lot of the announcements aren’t new, but are instead Philip Hammond confirming that he plans to keep some of his predecessor’s policies.

Personal Tax Rates and Allowances

The personal allowance is currently £11,000 and will increase to £11,500 from April 2017.  The reduction in personal allowance for those with higher income (‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000) remains so that, from April 2017, there will be no personal allowance available where ‘adjusted net income’ is over £123,000. 

The higher rate threshold will increase from £43,000 currently to £45,000 from April 2017, for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.

Philip Hammond confirmed his intention to keep George Osborne’s policy to increase the personal allowance to £12,500, and the higher rate threshold to £50,000, by the end of this Parliament.

Corporation Tax Rates and Allowances

The new corporation tax rates from April 2017 to March 2021 were announced at the Budget and have now been enacted – the rate will be reduced from 20% to 19% from April 2017 and a further 2% to 17% from April 2020, which will be welcomed by small and large businesses alike.

Again, this was announced in the Budget but has been kept by the new Chancellor – corporate losses (excluding capital losses) arising after 1 April 2017, when carried forward, will be able to be used against future profits from other streams.  Currently there are restrictions on how the losses can be relieved, which is restrictive for certain types of business.

National Insurance Contributions (NIC)

Previously payable by the self-employed, Class 2 NIC is being abolished from April 2018 – we knew this was coming, however what we didn’t know was how self-employed taxpayers would get entitlement to basic state pension and other contributory benefits and allowances, as payment of Class 4 NIC (also paid by the self-employed) has not in the past been ‘contributory’.  From April 2018, Class 4 NIC will become ‘contributory’ and those paying it will be entitled to state pension etc.  Those with income below the Small Profits Limit (£5,965 in 2016/17) will be able to pay Class 3 NIC, currently £14.10 per week to ‘top-up’ their entitlement.  There will no longer be the option for these individuals of voluntarily paying Class 2 NIC, for which the current rate is a mere £2.80 per week!

The Office for Tax Simplification are tasked with – you guessed it – making tax simpler.  One of their recommendations that is being implemented is the alignment of the thresholds at which employees and employers pay Class 1 NIC.

Other Payroll Matters

Having only been increased in October 2016, The National Living Wage is increasing from £7.20 to £7.50 from April 2017 and smaller increases to the National Minimum Wage are also coming in – full details on our website here

I mentioned in a blog post on 11 October 2016 that the Government have been consulting on the use of salary sacrifice schemes and on Wednesday, the Chancellor outlined the changes to be introduced from April 2017.  Salary sacrifice arrangements (other than relating to pensions, childcare, cycle to work and ultra-low emission cars) entered into after this date will no longer enjoy tax and national insurance savings – however agreements entered into before this date will remain tax and NI-free until April 2018, so subject to the administrative hurdles that have to be jumped for an effective salary sacrifice, there’s still some mileage left in them yet!

Philip Hammond continues George Osborne’s assault on company car drivers with a further 2% increase in the percentage applied to each band of company car from April 2018, and a further 3% from April 2019.  From April 2017, pure electric cars will be charged at 9%, rising to 13% in April 2018 and 16% in April 2019 – a huge increase from the 7% benefit in kind in the current year.  I can only assume this is a reaction to the amount of employers who have provided these cars to employees, and benefited from the low rate.  I do find it a little disappointing that tax incentives are introduced to encourage certain behaviours (such as the provision of electric cars) and then as soon as people actually take the Government up on their offer, it effectively gets withdrawn – this is especially harsh when it relates to company cars as many of these will be leased over a number of years and therefore the business and employees are stuck with the cars that no longer afford them the low tax charges that were in place when the vehicles were first provided.

VAT Flat Rate Scheme Anti-Avoidance

 Businesses registered for VAT under the flat rate scheme pay over VAT at a specific rate (currently between 4% and 14.5%) as determined by their type of business – it simplifies the accounting for VAT as these businesses pay VAT over to HMRC at a lower rate than the 20% they charge to customers, but do not reclaim VAT on most expenses.  For many small businesses, this can be both time-saving and money-saving.  From April 2017 a new 16.5% rate will apply to businesses with limited costs (i.e. labor-only businesses) using the flat rate scheme.  The details on which businesses will be affected by this are on our full Autumn Statement update here

Making Tax Digital

HM Revenue & Customs are consulting on various measures intended to bring the UK tax system into the digital age.  A major change is that from April 2018, most self-employed taxpayers and landlords will be required to keep their records digitally, update HMRC at least quarterly, plus submit a year end declaration.  While HMRC are keen to emphasis that this does not mean five tax returns per year, we eagerly await the details on how the proposals will work in practice when HMRC issue their response to the consultations in January 2017.

If you want to discuss any of this further then please get in touch here.

Katie Kettle, Chartered Certified Accountant

Technical Manager

 Katie Kettle Colour