Archive for January, 2015

Statutory Maternity and Paternity Pay

Friday, January 30th, 2015

What you can reclaim

As an employer, you can usually reclaim 92% of employees’ Statutory Maternity (SMP), Paternity and Adoption Pay.

You can reclaim 103% if your business qualifies for Small Employers’ Relief. You get this if you paid less than £45,000 in Class 1 National Insurance in the last complete tax year before the qualifying or matching week (or the official notification for overseas adoptions).

Statutory Maternity Leave

Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave. The first 26 weeks is known as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’, the last 26 weeks as ‘Additional Maternity Leave’.

The earliest leave can be taken is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. Employees must take at least 2 weeks after the birth (or 4 weeks if they’re a factory worker).

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

SMP for eligible employees can be paid for up to 39 weeks, usually as follows:

  • the first 6 weeks – 90% of their average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax
  • the remaining 33 weeks – £138.18 or 90% of their AWE (whichever is lower)

Tax and National Insurance need to be deducted. Most payroll software packages cope with these transactions.

Women are more likely than men to send in their tax return on time

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Women are more likely than men to send in their tax return on time, an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) analysis has revealed.

For every 10,000 tax returns received last year by HMRC from men, 394 were after the relevant deadline – 31 October for paper submissions and 31 January for online returns. This compares to 358 late returns for every 10,000 received from women.

As well as a gender gap, HMRC’s analysis showed a significant difference in filing behaviour between age ranges. People aged 18 to 20 were the worst offenders, with 1,085 in every 10,000 filing late. At the other end of the scale, those aged 65 or over were the most punctual, with only 155 out of every 10,000 missing the deadline. HMRC’s analysis found that the older you are, the more likely you are to send in your tax return on time.

In terms of differences between workers in different industries, those in the agriculture, fishing and forestry industry are the star performers, with just 109 in every 10,000 filing late returns. Lawyers and accountants came second (219 late filers per 10,000), with health and social workers (262 per 10,000) in third place. Workers in the information and communication industries fared the worst (390 per 10,000), with administrative and support services not far behind (388 per 10,000) and the construction industry the next worst performing sector (352 per 10,000).

Across the United Kingdom, taxpayers in Northern Ireland were the most punctual (301 per 10,000), followed by those in Wales (346 per 10,000), England (374 per 10,000) and Scotland (391 per 10,000). The figure for the United Kingdom as a whole was 372 late filers per 10,000.

Within the English regions, South West taxpayers were the least likely to miss the deadline (299 per 10,000), followed by the East Midlands (324 per 10,000), Yorkshire and the Humber (337 per 10,000) and the West Midlands (344 per 10,000). By some distance, the worst-performing region was London (512 per 10,000), followed by taxpayers in the North East (380 per 10,000), North West (369 per 10,000), South East (355 per 10,000) and the East of England (346 per 10,000).
 

Have you utilised your exempt amount for capital gains tax purposes

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

As we are approaching the end of the 2014-15 tax year, individuals who own assets that are subject to capital gains tax (CGT) may be advised to consider the comments made in this article.

If you dispose of a chargeable asset between 6 April 2014 and 5 April 2015 you are allowed gains of up to £11,000 tax free. If you have made no chargeable disposals in this period, but are considering a disposal after 5 April 2015, you may want to reconsider the timing of the disposal.

The £11,000 allowance cannot be carried forward. If you have no gains to cover with the allowance it is a permanent loss of tax relief.

This planning opportunity is especially useful if you have a portfolio of shares. If you are advised by your broker to consider the disposal of a holding it should be possible to time the disposal (perhaps selling some shares before 5 April 2015 and some afterwards) to maximise utilisation of the exempt allowance.

The utilisation of this allowance can be enhanced if you are sitting on potential capital losses. For example, you may own shares that will never recover from a recent drop in price – they have become of negligible value. A separate claim can be made for this sort of loss of value and in some cases it may be possible to set off losses against income rather than other capital gains.

The key to these and other tax planning strategy is to consider your options before 5 April 2015. As we have said before, on numerous occasions, once the tax year end date is passed, many allowances and reliefs may be permanently lost. Spending an hour or two with your tax advisor before 5 April may be the best investment you make this year…

Government launches Pension Wise service

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Pension wise will offer free and impartial guidance to people on the new pension freedoms which come into effect in April 2015.

Pension wise will be a first port of call for consumers, offering free and impartial information and guidance to people with a defined contribution pension approaching retirement.

From April 2015, over 300,000 individuals a year with defined contribution pension savings will be able to access them as they wish from when they turn 55.

The creation of Pension wise follows the announcement by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in the summer that the government will provide access to free and impartial guidance on how to make the most of the new pension freedoms, which come into effect in April 2015.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrea Leadsom said:

People who have worked hard and saved all their lives will be free to choose what they do with their money from next April.

We want people to be empowered to make informed and confident choices and I’m delighted to announce Pension wise: Your money. Your choice as the brand name for the impartial guidance service we are building.

Pension wise will be a first port of call for people with a defined contribution pension who are approaching retirement. It is a distinctive brand, making it easy for consumers to know where to go for help and guidance.

The Financial Conduct Authority, which was set up by the government, is working hard to tackle pension fraud. It has strong powers to prosecute those behind illegal scams and earlier this year launched scam awareness campaign Scamsmart.

Top ten excuses for late filing

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

As most self employed persons, certain pensioners and high income earners will be aware their self-assessment tax returns for 2013-14 have to be filed by the end of January 2015 in order to avoid late filing penalties                                   

There are also other costs (possible interest and further penalties) if you fail to pay your tax on time. Any balance of self-assessment tax for 2013-14, and if applicable, the first payment on account for 2014-15, may also be due on the same date (31 January 2015).                                 

If you are struggling to meet this deadline we may be able to help…

 If you are late in filing or paying your taxes you may have a possible means of avoiding penalties if you can demonstrate that you had a reasonable excuse. Readers may be interested to know that the following excuses would not be accepted by HMRC. This list of the top ten excuses (that failed) was published on 5 January 2015.

  • My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders.
  • I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a post-box or get an internet signal.
  • I fell in with the wrong crowd.
  • I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency.
  • Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.
  • I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.
  • A work colleague borrowed my tax return, to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back.
  • I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park.
  • My girlfriend’s pregnant.
  • I was in Australia.

HMRC Director General of Personal Tax, Ruth Owen, said:

“People can have a genuine excuse for missing a tax deadline, but owning a pet with a taste for HMRC envelopes isn’t one of them.”

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