Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Boost for small businesses

Friday, April 12th, 2024

In a recent press release, HMRC underlined the benefits to smaller businesses from the increase in the VAT registration threshold and the business rates freeze.

Here’s what they said:

“Small businesses have received a boost as the VAT registration threshold is raised from £85,000 to £90,000, and £4.3 billion of business rates relief comes into force.

“Recognising the inflationary pressures facing small businesses, especially with energy bills, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a raft of measures to support them at Spring Budget, sticking to its plan to grow the economy and reward hard work. Raising the threshold will take 28,000 businesses out of paying VAT altogether, and ensure the UK has a higher threshold than any EU Member State and joint highest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“The small business multiplier for business rates will also be frozen from today for a fourth consecutive year, protecting over a million ratepayers from a 6.6% increase in their bills. The measure is part of the £4.3 billion business rates support package announced at Autumn Statement that includes the 12-month extension of the 75% relief for 230,000 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure (RHL) properties…”.

In summary, the changes will result in:

  • 28,000 small businesses freed from paying VAT, encouraging them to invest and grow as the threshold is raised from £85,000 to £90,000; and
  • over one million properties protected from higher bills by freezing the small business rates multiplier for a fourth consecutive year.

A new acronym

Tuesday, April 9th, 2024

Most readers of our posts will recognise the acronym CGT or IHT -Capital Gains Tax or Inheritance Tax. And the myriad of other taxes that affect most UK taxpayers in or out of business:

  • IT – Income Tax
  • NIC – National Insurance
  • VAT – Value Added Tax

But what about MTD?

What is MTD?

MTD will be recognisable by most business owners who are registered for VAT.

It stands for Making Tax Digital.

MTD for VAT purposes was introduced for businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT registration threshold in April 2019, and since then all businesses registered for VAT are required to file their returns to HMRC using approved digital methods. In fact, all of the reputable bookkeeping software providers include the facility to file VAT returns to HMRC using the approved MTD links.

And this is the crux of the movement by HMRC to have all tax information filed electronically including personal self-assessment and corporation tax.

Eventually, pretty well all of the information presently submitted to HMRC on a formal tax return will be delivered automatically by software direct to HMRC servers.

MTD for ITSA

Which introduces yet another acronym – Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self -Assessment (MTD for ITSA).

The introduction of this filing process has been delayed for a number of years and is now due to commence for self-employed persons and landlords with an income of more than £50,000 from April 2026.

Those with income between £30,000 and £50,000 will be required to join MTD for ITSA from April 2027.

At present there is no date by which the self-employed and landlords with income under £30,000 will be drawn into this scheme.

MTD for ITSA deadlines

Before the relevant deadlines, affected traders and individuals will need to keep their records in an approved electronic format that will automatically send their returns (previously submitted on a tax return) directly from their computer to HMRC.

And this will have to be done quarterly, not annually as at present!

We are presently working our way through client lists to ensure that all affected self-employed and landlord clients are converted to using approved software in time to meet the 2026 or 2027 deadlines.

The days of delivering records in a shoe box once a year are coming to an end.

Call us now…

Digitisation of your record keeping will not only facilitate these compliance obligations, but it will also have positive benefits enabling you to better manage your finances.

If you are self-employed or an unincorporated landlord and still keep your records manually or on a spreadsheet, please get in touch. We can help you identify a cost effective software solution to have you ready and waiting for the MTD for ITSA conversion deadlines.

HMRC helpline changes on hold

Friday, April 5th, 2024

HMRC has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown on plans to close the Self-Assessment, VAT and PAYE helplines from early April until September this year. HMRC has now confirmed that these helpline changes have been abandoned following feedback from many concerned stakeholders, including MPs, accountants and members of the public. This means that the helplines will remain open as usual for the time being.

However, these moves indicate that a significant shift towards online self-service options will become the norm in the longer term. HMRC has also said that they will continue encouraging customers to self-serve where possible and access the information they need more quickly and easily by going online or to the HMRC app, which is available 24/7.

HMRC’s Chief Executive said:

‘Making best use of online services allows HMRC to help more taxpayers and get the most out of every pound of taxpayers’ money by boosting productivity.

Our helpline and webchat advisers will always be there for those taxpayers who need support because they are vulnerable, digitally excluded or have complex affairs.

However, the pace of this change needs to match the public appetite for managing their tax affairs online.

We’ve listened to the feedback and we’re halting the helpline changes as we recognise more needs to be done to ensure all taxpayers’ needs are met, whilst also encouraging them to transition to online services.’

Check your National Insurance record

Friday, April 5th, 2024

There is an online service available on HMRC to check your National Insurance Contributions (NIC) record online. The service is available at https://www.gov.uk/check-national-insurance-record

In order to use this service, you will need to have a Government Gateway account. If you do not have an account, you can apply to set one up online.

By signing in to the 'Check your National Insurance record' service you will also activate your personal tax account if you have not already done so. HMRC’s personal tax account can also be used to complete a variety of tasks in real time such as claiming a tax refund, updating your address and completing your self-assessment return.

Your National Insurance record online will let you see:

  • What you have paid, up to the start of the current tax year (6 April 2023).
  • Any National Insurance credits you have received.
  • If gaps in contributions or credits mean some years do not count towards your State Pension (they are not 'qualifying years')
  • If you can pay voluntary contributions to fill any gaps and how much this will cost

In some circumstances it may be beneficial, after reviewing your records, to make voluntary NIC contributions to fill gaps in your contributions record to increase your entitlement to benefits, including the State or New State Pension. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to be in touch.

Still time to register for the Marriage Allowance

Friday, April 5th, 2024

There is still time to register for the marriage allowance before the current tax year ends on 5 April 2024. The marriage allowance applies to married couples and those in a civil partnership where a spouse or civil partner does not pay tax or does not pay tax above the basic rate threshold for Income Tax (i.e., one of the couples must currently earn less than the £12,570 personal allowance for 2023-24). HMRC has revealed that March is the most popular month for marriage allowance applications, with almost 70,000 couples applying in March last year.

The allowance works by permitting the lower earning partner to transfer up to £1,260 of their personal tax-free allowance to their spouse or civil partner. The marriage allowance can only be used when the recipient of the transfer (the higher earning partner) does not pay more than the basic 20% rate of income tax. This would usually mean that their income is between £12,571 and £50,270 during 2023-24.

For those living in Scotland this would usually mean income currently between £12,571 and £43,662.

Using the allowance, the lower earning partner can transfer up to £1,260 of their unused personal tax-free allowance to a spouse or civil partner. This could result in a saving of up to £252 for the recipient (20% of £1,260), or £21 a month for the current tax year.

If you meet the eligibility requirements and have not yet claimed the allowance, then you can backdate your claim as far back as 6 April 2019. This could result in a total tax break of up to £1,256 if you can claim for 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22, 2022-23 as well as the current 2023-24 tax year. If you claim now, you can backdate your claim for four years (if eligible) as well as for the current tax year.

HMRC’s online Marriage Allowance calculator can be used by couples to find out if they are eligible for the relief. An application can then be made online at GOV.UK.

Tax Diary April/May 2024

Friday, April 5th, 2024

1 April 2024 – Due date for corporation tax due for the year ended 30 June 2023.

19 April 2024 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 April 2024. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 April 2024).

19 April 2024 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 April 2024.

19 April 2024 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 April 2024 is payable by today.

30 April 2024 – 2022-23 tax returns filed after this date will be subject to an additional £10 per day late filing penalty for a maximum of 90 days.

1 May 2024 – Due date for corporation tax due for the year ended 30 July 2023.

19 May 2024 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 May 2024. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 May 2024).

19 May 2024 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 May 2024.

19 May 2024 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 May 2024 is payable by today.

31 May 2024 – Ensure all employees have been given their P60s for the 2023/24 tax year.

Underlining planning options for FHL owners

Thursday, April 4th, 2024

If you read our post of last week, Property Tax Changes, you will be aware that the Chancellor recently confirmed – as part of his Spring Budget – that the present tax advantages that owners of Furnished Holiday Let (FHL) property enjoy will be abolished from April 2025.

While a deadline in a year’s time may seem a long time away, taking action to mitigate future taxes or undertaking changes during the 2024-25 tax year will require “what-if” analysis.

Start considering your options now

The following planning ideas may or may not benefit you personally and do not action any of these suggestions without first contacting us to undertake the necessary research for you.

Possible options for FHL owners before 6 April 2025:

  • As past profits from FHL activities count towards earnings for pension purposes, could you pay a sizeable top-up to your pension pot during 2024-25?
  • Is there a way to facilitate, and fund, a disposal of FHL property that triggers the Capital Gains Business Assets Disposal Relief, so that you effectively pay 10% tax on any chargeable gain, and re-establish a base cost for CGT at current market value?
  • Are there options of involving your spouse, civil partner or adult children in a CGT planning exercise?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating your FHL business?

Change is always a challenge

It is possible that when HMRC publish the fine print of their changes to the tax treatment of FHL businesses, some or all of the above ideas may prove to be dead ducks. However, it pays to stay ahead of the planning curve.

Initially, we suggest that FHL owners that want to explore their options get in touch to start the planning process, and then as more detailed information becomes available you will be best placed to shift from planning into action.

Journey out of debt

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024

Hopefully, this post will be of help to individuals that find themselves in debt and are struggling to keep up with repayments.

It’s interesting to consider how easy it is to get into debt and how difficult to get out of debt.

In times of rising prices and high interest rates the temptation to use credit cards or other high interest charging loans to manage expenditure seems like a short-term solution that provides a simple way to balance the books.

Unfortunately, when you take out a loan or use a credit card rather more than you generally do, then you are effectively mortgaging your future income to cover the repayment of the loans and the interest charges.

The Insolvency Service (TIS) seem to be waking up to their responsibilities and on 21 March 2024, they issued a news story entitled:

“Don’t feel alone: find out the first steps in the journey out of debt”

 

Neil Sutton, a Senior Leader with TIS said:

“It can be difficult to see your way out of a debt cycle, and it’s absolutely not an easy step to take by yourself.

“So, working with debt advisers is important, to help you understand the implications of any solution you decide to enter.

“The government also offers a scheme called Breathing Space, which is administered by the Insolvency Service. Breathing Space lasts for 60 days, during which the people you owe money to can’t take any action against you, and interest and charges are frozen. It allows you time and headspace so you can work with a debt adviser to plan a suitable financial solution.”

More about Breathing Space

Neil continued:

“Problem debt can impact people’s physical and mental health. Breathing Space allows you to turn off that noise and work with a debt adviser to explore suitable solutions for you.

“Breathing Space itself is not a solution to debt, but a tool to help you deal with it. A debt adviser will make sure that it’s right for you.

“During a Breathing Space, lots of people do budgeting with the help of their debt advisers or see if they can access other benefits. If there’s a way forward that doesn’t involve insolvency solutions, that’s what debt advisers will help you look at.

“As with DROs, the Breathing Space scheme is delivered in partnership with the debt advice sector. ”

Useful links

If you need help, take a look at the following links published by TIS:

Is this a good time for property owners?

Thursday, March 28th, 2024

The recent Spring Budget did little to make the life of those letting, buying or selling property any easier. For example:

  • The reduction in the higher rate of CGT on affected property sales from 28% to 24%.
  • The removal of multiple dwellings relief for Stamp Duty Land Tax purposes.

These competing changes must make life tricky for buyers and sellers.

Landlords, repairs or capital purchases

Landlords, who have been completely flummoxed by a recent round-Robin sent out by HMRC, suggesting that the replacement cost of a boiler with a more efficient version was a capital purchase not a repair, are relieved that it is, after all, a repair and not capital expenditure.

Owners of Furnished Holiday Let Properties

Owners of Furnished Holiday Let properties, who have enjoyed several tax breaks for many years – as their FHL business was treated as a trade and not an investment – must be disarmed by the Chancellor’s stated intention to abolish the FHL status from April 2025. Presumably, from that date, FHL property income and gains will be treated the same as a buy to let rental or sale.

It will be interesting to see if any transitional arrangement are put in place to soften the transition from April 2025.

Meanwhile, present owners of FHL properties may be advised to seek advice on any actions to be taken before April 2025. But beware, government has confirmed that anti-forestalling rules will be applied from the date of the Budget (March 2024) to block methods that obtain CGT relief under the current rules by utilising unconditional contracts ahead of the new rules coming in in April 2025. Draft legislation on this will be published later this year so more information will be available at that time.

Is this a good time for property owners?

Probably not if you own FHL property, but homeowners should escape aside from the Stamp Duty changes.

Principle Private Residence Relief – in most cases, no CGT to pay when you sell your own home – is still in place. You can still let out a room in your home and pay no tax if the rents received are less than £7,500 per annum and you abide by the Rent-a-Room Relief rules.

And if you are concerned by any of the issues raised in this post please call

Stand out from the crowd

Tuesday, March 26th, 2024

It’s interesting to consider the challenges that are plaguing small businesses at present. For example:

  • A frustrating inability to reestablish profit levels to fund investment or to maintain the living standards of employees and shareholders.
  • Cash flow constantly hovering at zero or at overdraft limits.
  • Having to witness the slow decline in profits retained in previous years to maintain dividend payouts or absorb current losses.
  • Making sense of the import and export rules since we left the EU.
  • The impact of higher interest rates; particularly, meeting rising repayments and their effect on profits and cash flow.

Not an inspiring background if you are a UK SME.

However, those companies who can make way in the face of these opposing headwinds can leverage their hard won achievements to sing their own praises.

Success breeds success.

Rudyard Kipling had it right in his poem “If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs…”

When your results evidence success, and you are in a minority at that time, then you will stand out from the crowd and be an attractive business partner.

In our experience, the one course of action that supports this positive business development outcome, is the willingness to engage in rigorous business planning. We can bear witness to this statement. And even if a business has to accommodate a reduction in profits for a period to meet external difficulties head-on, those affected who have flexible business plans in place will be the ones to weather the storm.

If you presently have no formal business plans, pick up the phone, let’s have a discussion to see how we could help and have your business stand out or the crowd.