Archive for January, 2016

Warning, bogus Council Tax refund scams

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

The Valuation Office Agency has issued the following warning regarding persons or organisations claiming to be able to reduce your council tax band for a fee.

“We are aware of a number of Council Tax refund scams that are currently operating around the country. Someone may telephone you, or appear personally at your door, claiming to be able to reduce your Council Tax bill. Examples of the tactics used by bogus agents to get you to part with your money include:

  • Charging an up-front fee with an added 20% of the reduction should they successfully reduce your council tax band.
  • Insisting you are definitely in the wrong band and are owed back payments on your Council Tax bill, when in fact your band is correct.
  • Saying they are from the local council or VOA and asking for your bank details so they can provide a refund. The fraudsters will then steal money from the bank account.
  • Claiming that the VOA charges you to challenge your Council Tax band; this is not correct, you can do this for free.
  • Claiming that taxpayers must, by law, be represented by an agent to challenge their band, when in fact anyone can do this.
  • Stating that they are on an approved list of agents recognised by the VOA, when in fact the VOA does not keep any such list.

How to avoid falling victim to this scam:

Strategies you could employ:

  • Remember that you can have your band checked free of charge by contacting the Valuation Office Agency.
  • Confirm over the phone with a cold-caller’s head office to check that they are legitimate. Ensure that if the cold-caller used the telephone, your last call ended properly before redialling the number,
  • If you receive a call offering to reduce your band, make sure you are getting a dial-tone before calling the council or the VOA to check their story.
  • Inform the police if you believe that anyone is impersonating staff from your local council or the VOA.
  • Dial 999 if a doorstep cold-caller refuses to leave your home.
  • Contact your local Trading Standards office if you feel you have been the victim of a Council Tax scam.

Whatever you do, DON’T:

  • Give your bank details to anyone.
  • Let anyone into your home without seeing appropriate identification.
  • Feel under pressure from a cold-caller to pay an immediate up-front fee. Take the time you need to think about it.
  • Accept cold callers’ claims about your band without seeing evidence or proof of what they are claiming.
  • Deal with anyone that is reluctant to give you their company address or contact details.

If you feel that your Council Tax band for your home is wrong, then all you have to do is contact the Valuation Office Agency and explain why you think it is incorrect. We will ask you to confirm that the details we hold about your home are correct. We will listen to your views and if, following a review, we agree that your band is wrong, we will change it. Please note that bands can occasionally go up as well as down.”

Review of airside VAT free shopping

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

A review has been launched by George Osborne to make sure shoppers share in the reduction in VAT in future. At present, it seems that retailers, particularly the larger retailers, are pocking the cash benefits and not passing them on to customers.

Here’s what a recent announcement on this topic confirmed:

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has launched a review into airport sales to make sure VAT savings are being passed on to shoppers… the Chancellor confirmed that the extensive review will make sure that VAT relief in airports is leading to savings for shoppers, as it is intended to do.

Currently, some airside retailers are keeping up to an estimated 50p of every £1 of potential VAT savings instead of passing those savings on to shoppers.

The Chancellor has tasked HMRC to review airside VAT-free shopping to make sure that shoppers share more of the benefit in future. The review is expected to be completed by early 2016 and will also cover all other airside shopping taxes.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said:

For families flying out of the UK for a winter-getaway, airports should be the ideal place to pick-up a bargain.

VAT relief at airports is intended to cut prices for those travellers – not be a windfall gain for shops.

But many people could be paying over the odds for their purchases because the Government’s VAT concession isn’t passed on.

This is simply unacceptable. I have launched a review to make sure that this VAT relief benefits those it’s intended for – consumers – whatever time of the year they are travelling.

This review will consider ways to ensure prices reflect VAT savings as well as savings on duty.

Tax Diary January/February 2016

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

1 January 2016 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 March 2015.

 19 January 2016 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 January 2016. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 January 2016.)

 19 January 2016 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 January 2016.

 19 January 2016 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 January 2016 is payable by today.

 31 January 2016 – Last day to file 2014-15 Self Assessment tax returns online.

 31 January 2016 – Balance of Self Assessment tax owing for 2014-15 due to be settled today. Also first payment on account for 2015-16 due today.

 1 February 2016 – Due date for Corporation Tax payable for the year ended 30 April 2015.

 19 February 2016 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 February 2016. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 February 2016.)

 19 February 2016 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 February 2016.

 19 February 2016 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 February 2016 is payable by today.

Car fuel advisory rates changes

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

 From 1 December 2015, the advisory fuel rates have changed to:

1400cc or less: petrol 11p per mile, LPG 7p per mile

1401-2000cc: petrol 13p per mile, LPG 9p per mile

Over 2000cc: petrol 20p per mile, LPG 13p per mile

Diesel rates:

1600cc or less: 9p per mile

1601-2000cc: 11p per mile

Over 2000cc: 13p per mile

 

These rates can be used from 1 December 2015 to calculate the petrol content of mileage rates paid to employees, or as a basis to repay private petrol provided by employers for the use of a company car.

Other changes proposed

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

The government has also published its intention to change a number of other tax reporting issues. Some of the more impactful for smaller businesses and Self Assessment tax payers are reproduced below:

  1. Simple Assessment – legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2016 to provide a new power to allow HMRC to make an assessment of a person's Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax liability without them first being required to complete a Self Assessment return where it has sufficient information about that individual to make the assessment. This measure will have effect on and after the date of Royal Assent to Finance Bill 2016.
  1. PAYE – ‘On or Before’ Reporting Obligation Review – HMRC have carried out a review of the ‘On or Before’ reporting obligations for employers who use the Real Time information payroll filing process. Currently, existing micro employers (with 9 or fewer employees) using Real-Time PAYE may take advantage of a reporting relaxation to report all payments they make in a tax month ‘on or before’ the last payday in the tax month rather than 'on or before' each and every payday. This is a 2 year temporary relaxation which is legislated to come to an end on 5 April 2016: this measure confirms the temporary relaxation will end, as planned, aligning the treatment of existing micro employers with all other employers.
  1. Capital Gains Tax: payment on account – from April 2019 a payment on account of any Capital Gains Tax (CGT) due on the disposal of residential property will be required to be made within 30 days of completion of the disposal. Taxpayers will be able to reconcile their payment on account with their total CGT liability for the year, after the year end. Legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2017 and the government will publish draft legislation for consultation in 2016.
  1. Student loan repayments – As announced at Autumn Statement: From April 2016 the income threshold for loans taken out on or after 1 September 2012 is frozen at £21,000 until 5 April 2021, and from April 2019 employers will be asked to start deducting repayments from borrowers of postgraduate loans, at a rate of 6% alongside undergraduate repayments at the existing rate of 9%
  1. Data-gathering from Electronic Payment Providers and Business Intermediaries – Legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2016 to identify businesses who are not complying with their tax obligations by extending HMRC’s current data gathering powers. The extended powers will include business intermediaries who facilitate transactions, particularly online and electronic payment service providers who operate digital wallets, thereby future-proofing legislation to include emerging new data sources.
  1. Stamp Duty Land Tax: changes to the filing and payment process – As announced at Autumn Statement, the government will consult in 2016 on changes to the SDLT filing and payment process, including a reduction in the filing and payment window from 30 days to 14 days. These changes will come into effect in 2017 to 2018.

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