Archive for June, 2022

Nothing to declare

Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

Downsizing business operations is a perfectly acceptable response to economic pressures, and this may lead to an absence of activity for a period of time. This would have been the likely experience of businesses subject to recent lockdown restrictions.

 

Unfortunately, our obligation to file returns to HMRC does not end if there are no transactions to report on these returns. Three areas where this may occur – and there may be more – are:

  1. Filing VAT returns
  2. Filing payroll returns
  3. Filing CIS returns

 

This may seem to be over the top, and slightly ridiculous, but our obligation is twofold, to declare any liability and secondly, to file a return to advise HMRC of the amount due, or not due.

The fact that there may be no liability to report to does not relieve us of our responsibility to file a nil return.

 

Penalties will apply

The reason for flagging this issue is that if we fail to make the required nil return penalties will apply.

 

For example, a contractor that is registered under the CIS regulations – to report and pay over any deductions from sub-contractor payments – will be required to submit a monthly return. If a month is skipped because no payments to subbies was made, then HMRC will automatically send a £100 late filing penalty.

 

HMRC see things differently

HMRC has legislated that the obligation to file a return is, of itself, a requirement that needs to be taken seriously, notwithstanding that there may be no liability to report, and failure to file nil returns will trigger late filing penalties.

Looking at this matter from HMRC’s point of view, you know that there is no liability but the only evidence that HMRC has is that you have failed to file (and possibly are avoiding payment of liabilities).

 

Nothing to declare

In which case, where it is determined that you make monthly, quarterly or annual returns to HMRC, make sure that nil returns are submitted by the due dates. As far as reporting to HMRC is concerned there is no such thing as nothing to declare.

Proposed new deal for private renters

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

The fairer private rented sector white paper published 16 June 2022, will ensure millions of families benefit from living in decent, well looked-after homes as part of the biggest shake up of the private rented sector in 30 years.

The white paper marks a generational shift that will redress the balance between landlords and 4.4 million private rented tenants. It provides new support for cost-of-living pressures with protections for the most vulnerable, and new measures to tackle arbitrary and unfair rent increases.

The majority of tenants enjoy safe and secure rentals, but for the 21% of private renter and households who currently live in unfit homes, this ‘New Deal’ will extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private sector for the first time, levelling up opportunities. This means homes must be free from serious health and safety hazards, and landlords must keep homes in a good state of repair, so renters have clean, appropriate and useable facilities.

So-called ‘no fault’ section 21 evictions – that allow landlords to terminate tenancies without giving any reason – will be outlawed. More than a fifth of private renters who moved in 2019 and 2020 did not end their tenancy by choice, including 8% who were asked to leave by their landlord.

Other measures published include:

  • Helping the most vulnerable by outlawing blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits.
  • For the first time, ending the use of arbitrary rent review clauses, restricting tribunals from hiking up rent and enabling tenants to be repaid rent for non-decent homes. This will make sure tenants can take their landlord to court to seek repayment of rent if their homes are of unacceptable standard.
  • Making it easier for tenants to have much-loved pets in their homes by giving all tenants the right to request a pet in their house, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.
  • All tenants to be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies, meaning they can leave poor quality housing without remaining liable for the rent or move more easily when their circumstances change. A tenancy will only end if a tenant ends or a landlord has a valid reason, defined in law.
  • Doubling notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge them if they are unjustified. Giving councils stronger powers to tackle the worst offenders, backed by enforcement pilots, and increasing fines for serious offences.

In addition, the estimated 2.3 million private landlords will have greater clarity and support through the following measures:

  • A new Private Renters’ Ombudsman will be created to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court.
  • Ensuring responsible landlords can gain possession of their properties efficiently from anti-social tenants and can sell their properties when they need to.
  • Introducing a new property portal that will provide a single front door to help landlords to understand, and comply with, their responsibilities as well as giving councils and tenants the information they need to tackle rogue operators.

While the majority of private rented homes are of good quality, offering safe, comfortable accommodation for families, the conditions of more than half a million properties – or 12% of households – pose an imminent risk to tenants’ health and safety, meaning around 1.6 million people are living in dangerously low-quality homes, driving up costs for our health service.

The sector offers the most expensive, least secure, and lowest quality housing to millions of renters, including 1.3 million households with children and 382,000 households over 65.

According to government sources, rents are rising at their fastest level for five years, damaging life chances and holding back some of the most deprived parts of the country.

Summer Newsletter – Milne Craig

Thursday, June 16th, 2022

Dear All,

As the weather is finally warming up, it is surely time to publish our latest newsletter!

CLICK HERE-   2022 Summer Newsletter

This newsletter includes a timely reminder about the changes in National Insurance thresholds and the forthcoming changes to bring self employed personal tax returns into “Making Tax Digital” in 2024 (lots to do!).

As ever, please get in touch with your usual Milne Craig if you’ve any questions.

Best wishes,

Donald Parbrook

Head of Tax.

Seeing is believing?

Thursday, June 16th, 2022

It is no longer certain that if you receive a letter, email, text or phone call – purporting to be the tax office or some similar, regulatory authority – that it is a genuine communication.

 

Red flags should be waved, and warning buzzers sounded if anyone ever requests personal information or your bank details.

 

What to do?

In all cases, do not respond directly. Disconnect phone calls, do not reply to texts or emails or make contact from information provided on letters.

Instead, use your computer to search for bona fide contact details. For example, for HMRC search for contact numbers at GOV.UK. Call and ask the relevant authority to confirm that the communication you have received is genuine.

Do not part with your bank or credit card details unless you have done so in response to a transaction (say an online purchase) that you have instigated.

HMRC, for example, will never ask for your bank details, unless you are setting up a formal direct debit. Certainly, they will not call and request this information.

 

Take professional advice

If you are a client of our practice in receipt of suspect communications from HMRC, call and we will check the authenticity of the request you have received.

You could also get help with online scams by calling Citizens Advice on 0808 250 5050.

 

Seeing is no longer to be believed

It is unfortunate but seeing may no longer be relied upon to be believable.

The fraudsters that set up these bogus communications have a single intent, to swindle you, to gain access to your hard-won savings. And they cannot do this if you make a point of never divulging your bank details or other personal data unless you are certain it is as a result of a transaction that you have instigated.

There is a thriving community, working from the so-called ‘dark web,’ whose sole intent is to blur the distinction between what is true and what is false.

 

Reporting scams

If you unearth a scam, you can report the incident to the National Cyber Security Centre at ncsc.gov.uk.

Will quarterly reporting lead to quarterly payments?

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

Within a few years, many taxpayers that are presently required to file a tax return, and most businesses, will be required to file quarterly data with HMRC using the Treasury Making Tax Digital portal.

In which case, the present annual filing obligations will be replaced by quarterly filing obligations.

 

Paying tax in arrears

Apart from salaried or waged individuals who have their tax and NIC liabilities deducted at the time they are paid self-employed traders and companies pay their tax in arrears.

For example, for the tax year 2021-22, individuals registered for self-assessment pay two estimated instalments – based on previous year’s profits – January and July 2022: and any balancing amount 31 January 2023.

Companies pay their corporation tax bill nine months and one day after their accounting period end.

Which means the Treasury does not get its hands on current tax dues (apart from income subject to PAYE) for some time after the income and profits are earned.

 

The demands of Making Tax Digital (MTD)

There are two major demands that taxpayers and companies affected by MTD will need to comply with when they are drawn into the MTD regime:

  • Upload quarterly data to HMRC.
  • Keep their records in an electronic format that will facility the quarterly uploads.

For many taxpayers and traders this will be a simple transition if they have already embraced a digital approach to record keeping – particularly if software has been adopted that is already compliant with MTD technology.

Readers who have not made this transition should consider their options. Please call as we can help.

 

Will MTD lead to quarterly payments?

When HMRC are provided with information on a quarterly basis it is a short step that they request taxpayers to make quarterly payments on account rather than half-yearly or annual payments in arrears.

At present, there is no indication that HMRC will make this transition, but once MTD is bedded in across the range of taxes (particularly income tax and corporation tax), the change to quarterly payments based on actual data submitted would seem to be the logical next step.

 

MTD implementation diary

The present implementation dates for MTD are:

  • MTD for VAT – already mandated for all VAT registered businesses.
  • MTD for Income Tax and self-Assessment – from April 2024 for the self-employed and those with income from property and from April 2025 for most partnerships.
  • MTD for Corporation Tax – launch date April 2026 (but may be later).

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