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 

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 

Deadline: March 3rd 5% late payment penalty on any 2016/17 outstanding tax

5% late payment penalty on any 2016/17 outstanding tax which was due on 31st January 2018 and still remains unpaid.

This deadline is relevant to individuals who need to complete a self assessment tax return and make direct payments to HMRC in respect of their income tax, Classes 2 and 4 NI, capital gains tax or High Income Child Benefit Charge liabilities.

The balance of any outstanding income tax, Classes 2 and 4 National Insurance, capital gains tax and High Income Child Benefit Charge for the year ended 5th April 2017 was due for payment by 31st January 2018. Where the payment is made late interest will be charged. On 3 March 2018 a late payment penalty of 5% will be added to the outstanding liability.

If we have already dealt with this matter on your behalf you need take no action.

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

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

14 Days left to submit your 2016/17 self assessment return

The following Tax Events are due on 31st January 2018:

Personal Tax Events

Deadline for submitting your 2016/17 self assessment return (£100 automatic penalty if your return is late) and the balance of your 2016/17 liability together with the first payment on account for 2017/18 are also due.

This deadline is relevant to individuals who need to complete a self assessment tax return and make direct payments to HMRC in respect of their income tax, Classes 2 and 4 NI, capital gains tax and High Income Child Benefit Charge liabilities. 

There is a penalty of £100 if your return is not submitted on time, even if there is no tax due or your return shows that you are due a tax refund.

The balance of any outstanding income tax, Classes 2 and 4 NI, capital gains tax and High Income Child Benefit Charge for the year ended 5th April 2017 is due for payment by 31st January 2018.  Where the payment is made late interest will be charged.

The first payment on account for 2017/18 in respect of income tax and any Class 4 NI or High Income Child Benefit Charge is also due for payment by 31st January 2018.

If we have already dealt with your self assessment return on your behalf you need take no action.

If you haven’t completed your self assessment return yet please contact us, we can help. 0116 2423400 or send us an email info@torrwaterfield.co.uk

Why do I need to keep my bookkeeping up to date?

Happy New Year! This is the 1st post of the year & hopefully it will help you to start thinking about how to organise your business over the next 12 months. 

As we are all aware, Making Tax Digital is fast approaching meaning you need to have bookkeeping software in place for your business that you like! 

It may take quite some time to find bookkeeping software that you get along with and understand. There are many out there including: Xero, Sage One and Iris Kashflow.

Keeping your bookkeeping up to date can be good for many reasons:

  • You can have an up to date profit and loss account to see how your business is doing and compare it to other periods
  • Review your VAT return to look at liabilities
  • You can make your own sales invoices on most bookkeeping software which can save a lot of time
  • You can also keep track of your creditors and debtors which will lead to better cash control and more reliable forecasting

In my experience the bookkeeping software that I have personally found best, and clients who have no bookkeeping experience have seemed to like the most, is Xero. This is for many reasons, some of them being the following:

  • Bank feeds – We all know that typing up your bank can be very time consuming and then you come to reconcile it you’re 1p out! This is why I love bank feeds. Everything is pulled through from your online banking, meaning you do not need to worry about that 1p; all you have to do is match the bank receipts against sales invoices and payments to purchase invoices. Xero also has the function of ‘rules’ meaning if you have a standing order set up for example £25.00 to Vodafone every month, you can create a rule to routinely post this bank payment to telephone expenses with the specified VAT treatment.

 

  • Submitting your VAT return online. Once you are happy with your VAT return on Xero you can ‘File it now’ meaning you just need to put your government gateway login information on to Xero and it will be submitted for you – unfortunately you still have to make the payment to HMRC!

 

  • Paperless record keeping – How many of us have an office full of the past 6 years of records? Everyone I’m hoping! This is a really handy feature with Xero, especially if you like a tidy office.  With Xero you can attach a pdf copy of the invoice online meaning there will always be a copy of that invoice and you will not have to keep a paper version of it.

 

If you are looking into starting your bookkeeping with online software and would like some advice on which one is best for your specific  needs, or would like some training, please get in touch with us on 0116 242 3400.

Georginda Hare, Bookkeeper 

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.