Clause 24 in the Finance Act – Is it affecting you?

We have known for some time that Landlords have been hit hard by recent tax changes:

  • Clause 24 restricting relief for interest;
  • 8% extra capital gains tax;
  • 3% extra stamp duty.

Clause 24 of the Finance Act set out restrictions for individuals on claiming loan interest as a cost against property investment income, for individuals it works as follows:

  • For the tax year just ended 2017/2018, 75% of the interest can be claimed in full and 25% will get relief at 20%;
  • For this tax year just started 2018/19, 50% of the interest can be claimed in full and 50% will get relief at 20%;
  • From 6 April next year to 5 April 2020, 25% of the interest can be claimed in full and 75% will get relief at 20%;
  • And finally from 6 April 2021, 100% will get only 20% relief.

Essentially Clause 24 removes Interest from the allowable property expenses, and gives you tax relief at 20% instead, so that Higher Rate tax payers will pay more tax.

However, these rules do not apply to companies and therefore they will continue to claim full relief.

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

Paul Witherington, Accounts & Tax 

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

BUSINESS TRAVEL

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

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

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

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

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

Road Travel – Use of Private Vehicles

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

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

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

Road Travel – Use of a Hire Car

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

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

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

Rail or Air Travel

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

Other Allowable Travel Costs

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

Overseas Travel Costs

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

Accommodation

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

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

Incidental Overnight Expenses Allowance

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

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

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

Meals

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

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

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

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

Nish Bathia, Director 

P11Ds – Return of Expenses and Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julia Harrison , Tax Manager 

Why has my tax code changed?

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

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

“What does my tax code actually mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How do I change my tax code?”

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

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

Polly Dennis, Payroll Assistant 

The following Tax Events are due on 19th April 2018.

The following Tax Events are due on 19th April 2018:

Business Tax Events

PAYE quarterly payments are due for small employers for the pay periods 6th January 2018 to 5th April 2018.

This deadline is relevant to small employers and contractors only. As a small employer with income tax, national insurance and student loan deductions of less than £1,500 a month you are required to make payment to HMRC of the income tax, national insurance and student loan deductions on a quarterly basis.

Postal payments for month/quarter ended 5 April should reach your HMRC Accounts Office by this date.

Where the payment is made electronically the deadline for receipt of cleared payment is Friday 20th April 2018 unless you are able to arrange a ‘Faster Payment’ to clear on or by Sunday 22nd April.

Penalties apply if payment is made late.

PAYE, Student loan and CIS deductions are due for the month to 5th April 2018.

This deadline is relevant to employers who have made PAYE deductions from their employees’ salaries and to contractors who have paid subcontractors under the CIS.

Employers are required to make payment to HMRC of the income tax, national insurance and student loan deductions. Contractors are required to make payment to HMRC of the tax deductions made from subcontractors under the CIS.

Postal payments for month/quarter ended 5 April should reach your HMRC Accounts Office by this date.

Where the payment is made electronically the deadline for receipt of cleared payment is Friday 20th April 2018 unless you are able to arrange a ‘Faster Payment’ to clear on or by Sunday 22nd April.

Penalties apply if payment is made late.

Automatic interest is charged where PAYE tax, Student loan deductions, Class 1 NI or CIS deductions for 2017/18 are not paid by today. Penalties may also apply if any payments have been made late throughout the tax year.

This deadline is relevant to employers who have made PAYE deductions from their employees’ salaries and to contractors who have paid subcontractors under the CIS.

Deadline for employers’ final PAYE return to be submitted online for 2017/18.

This deadline is relevant to employers.

This is the last day by which your final Full Payment Summary (FPS) for the 2017/18 tax year should be sent to HMRC.

You will not be able to file an FPS relating to 2017/18 after 19th April. If you need to make an amendment or correction to the details reported on a 2017/18 FPS you will need to submit an Earlier Year Update (EYU).

Please be aware that if we deal with the payroll on your behalf that we will ensure that this matter is dealt with on a timely basis.

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

We send monthly reminders about all upcoming tax deadlines and other important business related deadlines. If you would like to receive these email notifications please register here https://www.torrwaterfield.co.uk/registration/register 

 

 

Franchising – Pros & Cons

When starting up a business, you may be considering whether it would be a good idea to begin trading under a franchise name and thus becoming a ‘franchisee’. Below are some pros and cons which will hopefully aid you in your final decision of what route to take.

Pros

Brand Name

You will be trading under a brand name which is well known across the country. These are the names most likely to appear at the top of internet searches and to be recommended by others. They are trusted names and are held at a high standard by most for good reason.

Ongoing Help & Support

Once you start trading as a franchisee, there is continuing help and assistance offered to you by the franchisor. They want to ensure that your business is going to reflect positively on their brand. Support usually consists of training programs and first hand support whilst also assisting with other elements such as stock control.

They also tend to offer financial support with new business start-up costs, which could be for things such as equipment, vehicles and marketing campaigns.

Location

As can be seen on most high streets and in most shopping centres, the larger brand names get the prime locations. This is certainly the case when trading as a franchisee, people recognise the name and the logo and immediately trust that they are going to receive quality service. Customers are also more likely to trust a business which is situated around other successful businesses.

Finance

If your franchisor is reluctant to provide funds in relation to your start-up costs, this is not something to necessarily worry about. Being part of a big brand name is looked upon more favourably by banks when a business is trying to get a loan. The security and reliability of being a franchisee usually means that banks will be more than happy to help you out.

Cons

Fees

These can be high. There is usually an initial lump sum charged by the franchisor and continuing fees are charged in order to keep using the franchise brand name. These costs are generally calculated on business turnover, not the surplus made, which is bad news if you have a tight profit margin. Costs can all depend on how well the company is performing.

Lack of Independency

Once you are a franchisee, you are working under the franchisor’s name, and therefore are expected to do things their way, not your own. In this case you may feel that your entrepreneurial creativity is being restricted which could get frustrating. You are effectively working under someone else’s idea which may diminish the initial idea of being ‘self-employed’.

Other People’s Decisions

Due to the lack of control you have when being a franchisee, it means that although you could be running an extremely profitable business, a bad decision made by the franchisor could end up with you losing it all. Another risk would be that another company could damage the franchisor’s name and bring your profits down as a result of this. 

It is important to understand that these pros and cons can vary depending on which franchisor you have elected to work under, if any!

If you want to know more about the pros and cons of being a franchisee, please feel free to give us a call on 0116 2423400.

Jake Dempsey, Accounts & Tax 

Are You Washing Away Your Potential Tax Refund?

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

This typically applies to:

Retail staff

Hospitality & catering

Nurses, doctors, dentists and other healthcare workers

Police officers

Airline staff / cabin crew / pilots

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

Engineers & mechanics

Builders / plumbers / carpenters

PE teachers

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

How much can I claim?

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

How do I claim?

There are currently three ways to claim your refund:

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

 

 

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

 

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

Tom Luckett, Accounts & Tax 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which properties are affected by the changes?

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

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

Which properties are excluded?

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

 Are there rules about how energy efficiency is improved?

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

Are there exemptions?

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

How the regulations are enforced and what are the penalties?

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

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

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

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

Hollie Crown, Office Manager

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 

Dormant companies – obligations

What is a dormant company?

A company or association may be ‘dormant’ if it is not trading and doesn’t have any other income – for example from investments.

A dormant company has different obligations for corporation tax, annual accounts and returns for Companies House in comparison to a trading company.

Dormant companies and corporation tax

Your company is usually dormant for corporation tax if:

  • the company has stopped trading and has no other income
  • is a new limited company that hasn’t yet started trading

If HMRC think your company is dormant, you may get a letter informing you of the decision to treat the company as dormant, and that you don’t have to pay Corporation Tax nor file Company Tax Returns (form CT600.)

If you have not received a ‘notice to deliver a Company Tax Return’ HMRC can be informed of company dormancy by post or over the phone.

If the company becomes active after a period of dormancy, HMRC must be informed within 3 months.

Dormant companies and VAT

If the company was registered for VAT before becoming dormant the company should deregister for VAT within 30 days of the company becoming dormant, unless there are plans for the company to continue trading in the future, then NIL (empty) VAT returns should be sent while the company is dormant.

Dormant companies and employees

If the company has become dormant and there are no plans to restart trading in the financial year, the PAYE scheme in operation by the company should be closed.

Dormant companies and Companies House

A company must file a confirmation statement (previously an annual return) and annual accounts with Companies House, even if the company is dormant for Corporation Tax, and dormant according to Companies House.

A company is classified as dormant by Companies House if it’s had no ‘significant’ transactions in the financial year. Significant transactions could include operating a payroll, earning interest or paying bank charges and fees. Non-significant transactions that are allowed to be undertaken by a company include:

  • Payment of shares by subscribers
  • Fees paid to Companies House for filing a confirmation statement
  • Late filing penalties paid to Companies House

Companies House do not need to be informed if trading is restarted – the next set of non-dormant accounts filed will show the company is no longer dormant.

If you would like to discuss any of this further then please contact us on 0116 242 3400.

Aiden Hyett, Accounts & Tax