Archive for February, 2018

Just a few weeks to the end of the tax year

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The 5 April 2018, is the next key marker for tax advisors, the end of the current tax year. Why is this date especially important?

Each tax year, taxpayers are granted a number of tax-free allowances, exemptions and reliefs, and in most circumstances, if you don’t take advantage of these reliefs they are lost; they cannot be carried forwards. Basic allowances for 2017-18 include:

Income Tax:

  • Personal tax allowance – £11,500
  • Personal savings allowance – £1,000 for basic rate taxpayers and £500 for higher rate taxpayers.
  • Dividend allowance – £5,000. This is the last year that this generous tax-free allowance is available, from 6 April 2018 it is reducing to £2,000.

National Insurance:

  • The employment allowance of £3,000 is available to set-off against employer’s Class 1 secondary contributions subject to certain restrictions.

Capital Gains Tax:

  • Annual exempt amount, individuals can accrue chargeable gains of £11,300 (trusts £5,650) in the tax year without paying this tax.

Annual Investment Allowance:

  • Sole traders, partnerships and companies can invest up to £200,000 in qualifying capital expenditure and set this off against their taxable profits.

Inheritance tax:

  • Annual gifts out of capital £3,000 (this gift allowance can be carried forward for one year).
  • Small gifts allowance, £250 per recipient.
  • Parental gift on marriage, £5,000.
  • Grandparent or party to marriage, £2,500.
  • Other gifts on marriage, £1,000 per donor.

Savings

  • Annual ISAs – you can invest up to £20,000 in a tax-sheltered ISA. The limit for Junior ISAs is £4,128.

This is by no means a complete list, what it does help to illustrate is the need to work through a basic check list of reliefs to ensure that you have organised your tax affairs for 2017-18 in such a way that you can make the most of reliefs available.

We can help. If you have not considered your tax planning options for 2017-18, call now to organise a planning meeting.

Inheritance tax due for a shakeup

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

The government has tasked the department charged with simplifying our present tax system with taking a fresh look at inheritance task. The scope of their review has just been published. It says:

The review will consider how key aspects of the current IHT system work and whether and how they might be simplified. This will include a combination of administrative and technical questions such as:

  • The process around submitting IHT returns and paying any tax, including cases where it is clear from the outset that there will be no tax to pay;
  • The various gifts rules including the annual threshold for gifts, small gifts and normal expenditure out of income as well as their interaction with each other and the wider IHT framework;
  • Other administrative and practical issues around routine estate planning, compliance and disclosure, including relevant aspects of probate procedure, in particular in relation to situations which commonly arise;
  • Complexities arising from the reliefs and their interaction with the wider tax framework;
  • The scale and impact of any distortions to taxpayers’ decisions, investments, asset prices or the timing of transactions because of the IHT rules, relevant aspects of the taxation of trusts, or interactions with other taxes such as capital gains tax; and
  • The perception of the complexity of the IHT rules amongst taxpayers, practitioners and industry bodies.

Potentially, this could result in legislation being presented to parliament that radically changes the present planning options usually considered by UK taxpayers to minimise IHT liabilities.

We are still some way from any changes being actioned, but we will be keeping a weather eye on the situation and will advise clients if the rules do change.

Requirement to correct tax due on offshore assets

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

A new legal requirement is included in the Finance (No. 2) Act 2017 that creates an obligation for anyone who has undeclared UK tax liabilities that involve offshore matters or transfers to disclose the relevant information about this non-compliance to HMRC by 30 September 2018.

Failure to disclose the relevant information to HMRC on or before 30 September 2018 will result in the person becoming liable to a new penalty. The new failure to correct penalty is likely to be much higher than the existing penalties, with a minimum penalty of 100% of the tax involved.

To avoid becoming liable to these new higher penalties, a person must correct the position by no later than 30 September 2018. If they do this, the tax and interest will be collected, and the existing penalty rules will apply.

The purpose of the Requirement to Correct (RTC) legislation is to require those with undeclared offshore tax liabilities (relating to Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax or Inheritance Tax for the relevant periods) to disclose those to HMRC on or before 30 September 2018.

This will allow HMRC to take the appropriate action, for example, the collection of tax, interest and any penalties due under the appropriate legislation currently in force. This will ensure that those with offshore interests pay the correct amount of tax. Where taxpayers are unsure whether they have undeclared offshore tax, they will need to review their affairs to check whether action is needed.

30 September 2018 was chosen as the final date for corrections as this is the date by which more than 100 countries will exchange data on financial accounts under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

CRS data will significantly enhance HMRC’s ability to detect offshore non-compliance and it is in taxpayers’ interests to correct any non-compliance before that data is received.

If taxpayers are unsure whether they have undeclared UK tax liabilities that involve offshore matters or transfers, they should check their affairs and if necessary put things right before they become liable to the new FTC penalties that will come into force on 1 October 2018.

Please call if you need more information.

This takes the biscuit

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

In a recent hearing before a tax tribunal, HMRC led the charge to insist that bicarbonate of soda (BoS) was a chemical not a food of a kind used for human consumption.

Why was this important?

HMRC had issued an assessment amounting to £291,000 to hapless food company, Phoenix Foods Ltd, as they had treated the sale of BoS to their customers as a zero-rated supply, and HMRC insisted that BoS was a chemical, an additive, and should have been a standard rated supply.

For non-culinary readers, BoS is a raising agent used when cooking cakes and certain types of bread. It helps to make the end-product light and fluffy!

Phoenix sold BoS to supermarkets who stacked the ingredient with other cooking essentials. BoS also features regularly in recipe books as a required ingredient.

The Tribunal judges had to endure lengthy presentations by food experts from both sides of the argument, but in the end decided that common sense needed to prevail.

Their decision reads:

“… in our view, the supply by Phoenix of bicarbonate of soda in a form that was intended for use primarily as a baking ingredient was a supply of “food of a kind used for human consumption”.

Accordingly, this judgement underlines the notion that it is necessary to examine the supplies made and their intended use by the consumer rather than consider other factors, such as alternative uses that the product could be turned: for example, BoS is also used as a cleaning agent.

As a result, Phoenix Food’s appeal was upheld and HMRC will need to decide if they want to take the case to a higher court. Hopefully, some of the lower court’s pragmatism will influence HMRC to let the matter rest.

Year End Tax Review 2017/18

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

Our 2017-18 Year End Tax Review is available to view here.

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