Archive for January, 2018

In most cases the NMW is an obligation not a guide

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

There is a temptation to consider that the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) rates are a guide to the amounts you should be paying employees. In fact, they are the minimum rates you should use (unless you are covered by the exceptions listed below) and they are a legal requirement, one that has teeth.

We have reproduced below workers entitled to these rates, and those not entitled.

Workers entitled include:

  • part-timers
  • casual labourers, for example someone hired for one day
  • agency workers
  • workers and homeworkers paid by the number of items they make
  • apprentices
  • trainees, workers on probation
  • disabled workers
  • agricultural workers
  • foreign workers
  • seafarers
  • offshore workers
  • apprentices are entitled to special rates if under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship.

Those not entitled include:

  • self-employed people running their own business
  • company directors
  • volunteers or voluntary workers
  • workers on a government employment programme, such as the Work Programme
  • members of the armed forces
  • family members of the employer living in the employer’s home
  • non-family members living in the employer’s home who share in the work and leisure activities, are treated as one of the family and aren’t charged for meals or accommodation, for example au pairs
  • workers younger than school leaving age (usually 16)
  • higher and further education students on a work placement up to 1 year
  • workers on government pre-apprenticeships schemes
  • people on the following European Union programmes: Leonardo da Vinci, Youth in Action, Erasmus, Comenius
  • people working on a Jobcentre Plus Work trial for 6 weeks
  • share fishermen
  • prisoners
  • people living and working in a religious community
  • a student doing work experience as part of a higher or further education course
  • of compulsory school age
  • a volunteer or doing voluntary work
  • on a government or European programme
  • work shadowing

HMRC oversee the use of these rates and are entitled to visit your premises to check and see if you are complying with your NMW and NLW obligations. If they find you have short paid employees, you will have to compensate workers immediately and face possible fines for non-compliance. HMRC can also take an employer to court on behalf of employees.

If you are unsure of your obligations, we can check out what your position is and advise accordingly.

VAT – what is disaggregation

Friday, January 12th, 2018

There are many businesses that benefit from not being VAT registered. In the UK, there is no obligation to register until your taxable turnover exceeds £85,000. For many smaller businesses, especially those that buy and sell goods and services in competition with larger concerns, charging their customers without the 20% VAT add-on can be a compelling advantage especially when they are selling to the public, who can’t reclaim the VAT they would otherwise be obliged to pay.

There is a temptation for traders who want to capitalise on this competitive advantage, to split off parts of their business into a separate trade if VATable turnover was likely to exceed the £85,000 registration limit. In this way, the two businesses could bill up to £85,000 each and therefore double their advantage in the market place.

Unsurprisingly, HMRC are not keen on this strategy and the disaggregation – business splitting – rules basically outlaw this attempt at avoiding VAT registration.

To challenge this type of arrangement, HMRC need to be able to prove that the two (split) businesses have “financial, economic and organisational links.” For their challenge to work, HMRC must prove that all three apply.

In practice, this still offers planning opportunity for smaller businesses, but to be successful achieving the necessary arms-length outcome can be difficult especially if family members are involved. There are other issues that need to be considered. For example:

  • Separation of bank accounts and business records.
  • Each business must be separately registered with HMRC and submit its own tax return.
  • Customers should be convinced that they are dealing with two businesses.
  • Any charges for goods and services between the split businesses must be conducted at arm’s length.

Traders who are approaching the registration threshold, and would like to consider splitting off part of their trade to a separate business, should undertake careful planning to avoid the disaggregation rules, if that is possible. Please call if you would like to discuss your options.

Timing is everything – part two

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

The week before Christmas we posted an article stressing the value of checking out the tax consequences of investing in new plant and equipment. We stressed the importance of timing.

But this is just one issue that should be considered before the end of the current tax year. Every business owner and individuals with significant earnings, should take time out to consider their planning options before 6 April 2018.

The 5th April may not seem to be a particularly important day, but at midnight on that day 90% of your options to make beneficial changes to your financial circumstances for 2017-18 disappear.

We all have obligations to abide by the law, but it is perfectly acceptable to organise your affairs to retain as much as you can of your hard-won earnings and profit, and still stay within the terms of the UK tax code.

Your planning options for 2017-18 fall into two main groups:

  1. Strategies to reduce the impact of taxation on your profits and earnings, and
  2. Strategies to avoid stepping into one or more of the tax “bear traps” that await the unwary tax payer.
  1. business is different, and every individual has unique financial circumstances. For these reasons it is dangerous to generalise about the possible benefits of tax planning; which is why we recommend year-end tax planning to all our clients and business prospects.

Timing, as the title of this article asserts, really is everything in this regard. If you have a business, or are concerned by the amount of tax you are paying, please call and organise a conversation with us so that we can consider your options for 2017-18. The clock is ticking.

Tax Diary January/February 2018

Monday, January 8th, 2018

1 January 2018 – Due date for corporation tax due for the year ended 31 March 2017.

19 January 2018 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 January 2018. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 January 2018)

19 January 2018 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 January 2018.

19 January 2018 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 January 2018 is payable by today.

31 January 2018 – Last day to file 2016-17 self-assessment tax returns online.

31 January 2018 – Balance of self-assessment tax owing for 2016-17 due to be settled on or before today. Also due is any first payment on account for 2017-18.

1 February 2018 – Due date for corporation tax payable for the year ended 30 April 2016.

19 February 2018 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 February 2018. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 February 2018)

19 February 2018 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 February 2018.

19 February 2018 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 February 2018 is payable by today.

CGT opportunities

Monday, January 8th, 2018

This is also an appropriate time of the year to consider your capital gains tax position if you have already disposed (or are considering a disposal) of an asset subject to CGT before 6 April 2018.

Most of our readers will be aware that they can make chargeable gains of up to £11,300 in the tax year 2017-18 and pay no CGT. This exemption cannot be transferred to a future tax year or carried back to a previous tax year if it is not utilised.

Many will also remember that it is no longer feasible to sell shares before 6 April 2018 to crystallise a CGT loss or a gain that is covered by the above exemption if those shares, or part of them, are reacquired within 30 days of the disposal – this sell and buy-back activity is often described as “bed and breakfasting”.

However, it is still possible to reacquire holdings, within the 30 days period, if you use an ISA or self-invested personal pension (SIPP) to make the buy-back.

Transfers of chargeable assets for CGT purposes are exempt between spouses and civil partners. Also, the annual exemption is available to both parties. This combination means that couples may be able to share the gain on a disposal of assets and reduce their overall CGT charge.

This strategy, of transferring partial ownership to a spouse, can also reduce an overall CGT charge if the transferring partner/spouse is due to pay CGT at the higher 20% or 28% rate (as their gains fall to be taxed in the higher rate tax band) and the receiving partner/spouse would only be liable to pay CGT at the lower 10% or 18% (as their share of a transferred gain would fall into their free basic rate band).

The 10% and 20% rates apply from April 2016, but do not apply to disposals of residential property or carried interest – for these latter items, disposals are taxed at 18% to 28%, dependent on where the gains sit in the basic or higher rates bands.

And don’t forget, CGT is assessed and payable as part of your self-assessment. Any tax payable for 2017-18 will be due for payment 31 January 2019. On the same day you will also have to pay any other underpayment of income tax for 2017-18 and your first payment on account for 2018-19.

If you own assets that are subject to CGT on disposal and you, and possibly your spouse, are struggling to fully utilise your CGT annual exemption, or you would like to discuss ways to minimise any CGT payable, please call to discuss your options.

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