The Autumn Budget 2017

November 23rd, 2017

Autumn Budget 2017

Prospects for growth, especially for productivity have been downgraded, but the Chancellor was bullish in his forecasts for investment and the Government’s intention to sort out the slow pace of house building in the UK. A few non-tax comments of note were:

 

• Unemployment at its lowest rate since 1975.

• Chancellor is providing an extra £3bn to prepare for Brexit over the next two years.

• Government to create 5 new garden towns, make better use of land and aim to be building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

• Devolved administrations will have more money to spend. An increase of £2bn for Scotland, £1.2bn for the Welsh Government and £660m for the Northern Ireland Executive.

 

Our summary of a selection of specific tax changes and other budget announcements for 2018-19 and future years follow.

 

Personal Tax and miscellaneous matters

 

Personal Tax allowance

 

The personal allowances for 2018-19 is £11,850 (2017-18 £11,500). According to HMRC, this means that an average taxpayer will pay £1,075 less tax than in 2010-11.

 

Income Tax bands, rates and the dividend allowance

The Income Tax bands for 2018-19 have been increased. They are:

• Basic rate band increased to £34,500 (2017-18 £33,500)

• Higher rate band £34,501 to £150,000 (2017-18 £33,501 to £150,000)

• Additional rate, no change, applies to income of more than £150,000.

There is no change in Income Tax rates, and the tax rates applied to dividend income. Readers should note that the present £5,000 tax-free dividend allowance will, as previously announced, be reducing to £2,000 from April 2018.

The Scottish parliament sets the basic rate limit for Scotland meaning that higher rate taxpayers may pay more tax in 2018-19.

 

Marriage Allowance extended

There is a small increase in this allowance to £1,185 from April 2018. This is the amount of unused personal tax allowance that can be transferred between spouses, or civil partners, if the person receiving the transfer is not a higher rate tax payer.

 

From 29 November 2017, the Government will also allow Marriage Allowance claims on behalf of deceased spouses and civil partners, and for the claim to be back dated four years in appropriate cases.

 

Offshore trusts

Changes will be made to ensure that payments from an offshore trust intended for a UK resident individual do not escape tax when they are made via an overseas beneficiary or a remittance basis user. This will take effect from April 2018.

 

 

Abolishing Stamp Duty Land Tax for certain first-time buyers

With immediate effect, first-time buyers will pay no stamp duty on homes costing no more than £300,000.

First-time buyers of homes worth between £300,000 and £500,000 will not pay stamp duty on the first £300,000. They will pay the normal rates of stamp duty on the price above that. This will save £1,660‎ on the average first-time buyer property.

80% of people buying their first home will pay no stamp duty, but there will be no relief for those buying properties over £500,000.

National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) increases

From April 2018, the NLW will increase from the present £7.50 per hour to £7.83 per hour.

 

From the same date, the NMW rates will also increase to:

 

• £7.38 per hour for 21 – 24 year olds

• £5.90 per hour for 18 – 20 year olds

• £4.20 per hour for 16 and 17 year olds

• £3.70 per hour for apprentices

 

Fuel duty no change

For 2018, the fuel duty will remain frozen, for the eighth consecutive year.

 

New railcard for the 26 to 30 age group

No doubt to win back the support of the younger generation, the government will work with the rail industry to introduce a new railcard from Spring 2018.

 

Duty frozen for most alcoholic drinks

The duty on beer, wine, cider and spirits to be frozen. However, cheap, high strength cider will be subject to a new band of duty from 1 February 2019.

 

Duty on tobacco products to increase

The duty on cigarettes will increase by 2% above inflation and hand-rolling tobacco by 3% above inflation, with effect from 6pm, 22 November 2017.

 

Universal Credit (UC) changes

In response to recent adverse publicity the Government has agreed to various changes that are intended to ease the financial hardship for new claimants. They include:

• Households in need, who qualify for UC will be able to access a month’s worth of support within 5 days. This will be funded by an interest free loan that can be repaid over a 12-month period.

• Claimants will be eligible for UC from the day they apply, the present 7-day rule will be scrapped.

• Low-income households affected by areas with higher rent increases will receive an extra £280 on average to meet these higher costs.

 

Pension lifetime allowance increased

The lifetime allowance will increase to £1,030,000 from April 2018.

 

Diesel Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) change

From April 2018, the first year VED (car tax) rate for diesel cars that don't meet the latest standards will go up by one band. The Chancellor emphasises this is cars only, and that the money will go to a new Clean Air Fund.

 

 

Business Tax changes

 

Corporation Tax changes

Although there is no change to the rate of Corporation Tax, maintained at 19%, HMRC is to freeze indexation allowance on corporate capital gains for disposals after 1 January 2018.

 

£64m for construction and digital training courses

The new funding will be split as to:

 

• £34m to teaching construction skills, and

• £30m towards digital courses using Artificial Intelligence.

 

Partnership tax

Legislation has been revised to be more compatible with commercial arrangements for allocating shares of profit, and to avoid additional administrative burdens for taxpayers. The changes will have effect for the tax year 2018-19 and subsequent tax years.

 

 

Business rates changes

From April 2018, business rates will rise by any increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than the Retail Prices Index (RPI). The change has been brought forward two years. Historically, the RPI has tended to be higher than the CPI.

 

Rates revaluations will now be undertaken every 3 years rather than the present 5 years. This will start after the next rates revaluation due during 2022.

 

Pubs with a rateable value up to £100,000 will continue to receive a £1,000 discount next year. 

 

Venture Capital Schemes

Changes are to be made to the Enterprise Investments Scheme, the Seed EIS and Venture Capital Trusts. The aim is to target Venture Capital Schemes on companies where there is a real risk to the capital being invested, and will exclude companies and arrangements intended to provide ‘capital preservation’. 

 

Incentives to encourage VCTs towards higher risk investments will include:

 

• removing certain ‘grandfathering’ provisions that enable VCTs to invest in companies under rules in place at the time funds were raised, with effect on and after 6 April 2018;

• requiring 30% of funds raised in an accounting period to be invested in qualifying holdings within 12 months after the end of the accounting period, with effect on and after 6 April 2018;

• increasing the proportion of VCT funds that must be held in qualifying holdings to 80%, with effect for accounting periods beginning on and after 6 April 2019;

• increasing the time to reinvest the proceeds on disposal of qualifying holdings from six months to 12 months for disposals on or after 6 April 2019;

• introducing a new anti-abuse rule to prevent loans being used to preserve and return equity capital to investors, with effect on and after Royal Assent of Finance Bill 2017-18.

 

EIS and VCTs will also see increased limits for investments in knowledge-intensive companies:

The Government will legislate to:

• double the limit on the amount an individual may invest under the EIS in a tax year to £2 million from the current limit of £1 million, provided any amount over £1 million is invested in one or more knowledge-intensive companies;

• raise the annual investment limit for knowledge-intensive companies receiving investments under the EIS and from VCTs to £10 million from the current limit of £5 million. The lifetime limit will remain the same at £20 million;

• allow knowledge-intensive companies to use the date when their annual turnover first exceeds £200,000 in determining the start of the initial investing period under the permitted maximum age rules, instead of the date of first commercial sale.

The changes will have effect on and after 6 April 2018. This measure is subject to normal state aid rules.

R & D expenditure credit increase

The Government will legislate to increase the rate of the R&D expenditure credit from 11% to 12%, to support business investment in R&D.

This change will have effect on and after 1 January 2018.

Diesel car supplement increase

The diesel car supplement is to be increased from 3% to 4% from 6 April 2018. This will increase the company car tax and car fuel benefit charge (for company cars provided with an element of private use).

This change will apply to all diesel cars registered on or after 1 January 1998 that do not meet the Real Driving Emissions (Step 2) standards.

End of year tax planning

November 22nd, 2017

We are moving closer to the end of the current tax year – 2017-18 – and as we have mentioned in previous posts on this blog, the opportunity to take advantage of perfectly legal tax planning opportunities expires once the year end date passes: 5 April 2018.

To capitalise on these opportunities, we need to know if your circumstances have changed since our last conversation on these matters. The sort of information we need to know includes:

If you are in business

 

  • Are your profits increasing or decreasing as compared to the previous trading period?
  • Have you recently committed to, or undertaken a significant investment in new or second-hand plant of other equipment?
  • Have you disposed of existing plant or other equipment?
  • If you run a property business have you purchased or sold property this year?
  • If your property business is intended to benefit from the tax advantages of a Furnished Holiday Lets business, have you checked that your occupancy is on track to qualify for this tax year?
  • Have you, or will you be, acquiring or selling a business during 2017-18?

If you are a higher rate tax payer

  • Is your income approaching £100,000 for the first time?
  • What pension arrangements have you committed to this year?
  • Have you made, or will you be making significant charitable contributions?
  • Has your marital status changed?
  • Have you bought or sold a property in addition to your main residence?
  • Have you bought or sold any other assets that are subject to capital gains tax?

Estate planning:

  • Has the taxable value of your estate increased this year?
  • Do you need to reconsider your Will due to family changes?
  • Do you need to reconsider any existing trust arrangements?
  • Have you made any significant gifts? Should you provide for the possible IHT consequences?
  • Have you taken advantage of the various IHT reliefs available for 2017-18?

Essentially, we need to know what has changed, or is likely to change before 5 April 2018, so that we can assess your options to mitigate any tax consequences. Occasionally, we can also advise on a change in your future intentions to give you a more effective tax result. The purpose of this post is to invite you to keep in touch; if we know what your intentions are, we can advise accordingly.

Are your bank deposits protected

November 21st, 2017

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is the place to go if your bank or other regulated organisation is unable to pay claims against it.

For most of us this will mean that our deposits with banks authorised to hold deposits by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) will be able to recover funds up to certain limits.

What are the current limits?

From the 30 January 2017, deposits with approved institutions are covered up to £85,000 per person.

Please note the following:

  1. All your eligible deposits at the same bank are added together and the total is subject to the £85,000 limit.
  2. The limit of £85,000 applies to each person. In the case of joint deposits, the £85,000 limit applies to both depositors.
  3. Deposits held in the name of business partnerships or similar groupings are treated as if made by a single depositor.

Additionally, from 3 July 2015, the FSCS will provide up to a £1 million protection limit for temporary high balances held with your bank. For example, funds held after:

  • The sale of a main residence.
  • A death.
  • The depositor’s marriage or civil partnership, divorce, retirement, dismissal, redundancy or invalidity.
  • The receipt of insurance benefits, or compensation for criminal injuries or wrongful conviction.

How long before I get my money back?

Reimbursement will be made in line with the following published time limits:

  • Up to 31 December 2018 – within 20 working days
  • From 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020 – within 15 working days
  • From 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2023 – within 10 working days
  • From 1 January 2024 – within 7 working days

January 2018 and taxes to pay

November 16th, 2017

January is the month when individuals and businesses are required to pay tax.

If your business is a limited company, and your tax year ends 31 March 2017, any corporation tax due for that year is payable 1 January 2018. Unlike your self-employed counterparts – see below – no payments on account are required for 2017-18.

If you are a self-employed business person, sole trader or in partnership, any underpayment of self-assessment tax, Class 2 and 4 NIC (for 2016-17) will be due for payment 31 January 2018. On the same date, tax payers in this category will need to make a possible payment on account for the tax year 2017-18. This is based, initially, as 50% of your actual liability for the previous year, 2016-17.

Which is why it’s worth taking a moment to consider what your financial results may be for 2017-18. If you consider that your self-employed profits, or other taxable earnings will be lower during 2017-18 (as compared to 2016-17) then you can elect to recalculate the payments on account for 2017-18.

We should always be on the lookout for ways to protect our hard-earned cash resources, which is why undertaking this simple review may help to take the sting out of the January tax payment.

You will also be glad to know, that if the results of this exercise show that your profits or taxable income have increased during 2017-18 (compared to 2016-17) it is not necessary to increase your payments on account for 2017-18. However, self-assessment taxpayers in this position should be aware that any shortfall between payments on account made and the actual liability for 2017-18 will still be payable, albeit later, on 31 January 2019.

If you feel that your earnings will be lower for 2017-18 we can help you crunch the numbers to see if a valid election to reduce your tax payments next year is a viable option. Every little helps.

Child benefit tax trap

November 14th, 2017

A family claiming the weekly Child Benefit (currently, £20.70 a week for eldest or only child and £13.70 a week for additional children) may get an unwelcome tax bill if either parents’ income exceeds £50,000 during a tax year.

A tax charge was introduced a number of years ago, known as the ‘High Income Child Benefit Charge’ (HICBC), if either parent had income over £50,000 and:

  • either partner received Child Benefit, or
  • someone else received Child Benefit for a child living with you and they contribute at least an equal amount towards the child’s upkeep.

It doesn’t matter if the child living with you is not your own child. The charge was introduced to recover Child Benefits from higher income earners.

You may not have considered the HICBC before if your incomes were below the £50,000 cap, but if your income for 2017-18 is likely to exceed this amount you should be aware of the following.

  • Before 6 October 2018, the parent with the higher income for 2017-18 (more than £50,000) will need to register to submit a self-assessment tax return and pay and HICBC due – unless they are already registered in which case they will need to enter the amount of Child Benefit received on the return and pay any tax due.
  • The parent with the higher income, even if they were not the person claiming the Child Benefit, will need to make this declaration.

1% of the Child Benefit received will be recovered by HMRC’s HICBC for every £100 the highest earner’s income exceeds £50,000. Accordingly, once the highest income exceeds £60,000 all the Child Benefits received will be reclaimed.

To avoid the charge, it is possible to decline Child Benefits in the first place. To summarise:

  • Parents where the highest income is below £50,000 will not be affected and can continue to claim Child Benefit with no tax claw back.
  • Parents where the highest income is above £50,000 but below £60,000 will be affected and will need to pay the appropriate HICBC.
  • Parents where the highest income is over £60,000 may be advised to decline future Child Benefit claims as all benefits received will be clawed back by the HICBC.

There are strategies that you could use to reduce your taxable income below the £50,000 or £60,000 thresholds as these are calculated net of any allowable deductions. Please call if you would like more advice regarding these deductions.

Abolition of self-employed NIC to be deferred

November 10th, 2017

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has welcomed a recent announcement by the Government that there will be a one-year delay before the removal of Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs) to enable consultation on the impact of its abolition on the self-employed with low incomes.

If Class 2 NICs were abolished, those with profits below the small profits threshold (currently £6,025) would currently have to pay Class 3 contributions, which are five times as much as Class 2 contributions, if they want to build up an entitlement to contributory benefits such as the state retirement pension. LITRG is keen for a way to be found for the low-income self-employed to continue to be able to make affordable savings towards their pension at a rate like the present Class 2, perhaps by introducing a lower rate of Class 3.

LITRG Chair Anne Fairpo said:

“We welcome the announcement by the Government that they intend to consult with organisations such as ours which have concerns relating to the impact of the abolition of Class 2 NICs on self-employed individuals with low profits. We look forward to working with the Government to lessen the risk of unintended consequences.

“The abolition of Class 2 NICs will be a significant change to how people contribute to qualify for certain benefits and the State Pension.

“We welcome the breathing space on this matter because of our concerns that the abolition of Class 2 was being rushed through without adequate further consultation, together with a lack of publicity and guidance for the people affected.”

The delay means the measures in the unpublished NIC Bill will now take effect one year later, from April 2019. This includes the abolition of Class 2 NICs, reforms to the NICs treatment of termination payments, and changes to the NICs treatment of sporting testimonials.

Smaller businesses to be drawn into the VAT net

November 9th, 2017

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) published a report setting out a range of proposals for simplifying VAT. According to the OTS the tax is showing its age. What was meant to be a simple tax has become highly complex and it has not kept pace with changes in society.

The most significant issue identified in the report is the VAT registration threshold – the turnover level above which a business must enter the VAT system and charge VAT on its sales. At £85,000 the UK has one of the highest levels in the world.

By enabling many small businesses to stay out of the VAT system the high threshold is a form of simplification, but it’s an expensive relief, costing around £2bn per annum, and evidence strongly suggests that many growing businesses are discouraged from expanding beyond this point. The report looks at options for reducing the current ‘cliff edge’ effect resulting in a very visible bunching of businesses just before the VAT threshold, and an equally large drop off in the number of businesses with turnovers just above the threshold. Also examined are the advantages and disadvantages of lowering or increasing the threshold.

VAT has many ‘quirks’. For example, it is well known that a Jaffa cake is a cake (zero-rated) rather than a chocolate-covered biscuit (taxed at 20%). Less well known is that while children’s clothes are zero-rated, including many items made from fur skin, items made from Tibetan goat skin are standard-rated. And a ginger bread man with chocolate eyes is zero-rated but if it has chocolate trousers it would be standard rated. VAT zero rates cost over £45bn per annum to maintain. EU law limits options to make changes in this area but there is a longer-term opportunity to significantly improve the efficiency, simplicity and fairness of the UK VAT system.

The OTS report, will need to be examined in some detail. It will be interesting to see if we could achieve a real simplification of this complex tax or if, yet again, smaller businesses are required to absorb more red tape and tax burden while larger concerns with stronger lobbies and resources continue to avoid liability.

Clampdown on child maintenance cheats

November 6th, 2017

If a parent owes child maintenance, deductions to recover that debt can currently only be made from a bank or building society account held solely by them.

Unfortunately, a small minority of parents are cheating their way out of supporting their children by putting their money into a joint account with a partner.

New laws will be brought in to allow deductions to be made from joint accounts to recover child maintenance arrears.

It is believed that by closing this loophole this could stop many parents getting away with not paying their child maintenance each year – leading to more than £390,000 additional child maintenance being collected.

The recent government’s response to a public consultation on joint account deductions has been published. This sets out how deduction orders against joint accounts will work and the safeguards that will be in place to protect the other holder of the joint account.

These include:

  • a deduction order only being imposed on a joint account when the paying parent does not have their own account, or there is not enough money in their own account
  • only funds belonging to the paying parent being targeted, as before a deduction order is made on a joint account, data on that bank account will be collected and bank statements examined to establish which money in the account belongs to the paying parent
  • existing safeguards already in place for deduction orders for child maintenance will apply to this new power, including the maximum deduction rate on regular orders being set at 40% of the paying parent’s weekly income
  • both account holders will be given the right to make their case before a deduction order is made

The new power will come into effect early next year.

Tax Diary November/December 2017

November 1st, 2017

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

19 November 2017 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 November 2017. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 November 2017.)

19 November 2017 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 November 2017.

19 November 2017 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 November 2017 is payable by today.

1 December 2017 – Due date for corporation tax due for the year ended 29 February 2017.

19 December 2017 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 December 2017. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 December 2017)

19 December 2017 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 December 2017.

19 December 2017 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 December 2017 is payable by today.

30 December 2017 – Deadline for filing 2016-17 self-assessment tax returns online to include a claim for under payments to be collected via tax code in 2018-19.

Corporation tax payment deadline for March year end companies

November 1st, 2017

Many companies have adopted the end of March each year as their accounting year end date.

Corporation tax is payable by most smaller companies nine months and one day after the end of their accounts year end. Accordingly, companies that have adopted a 31 March date will need to pay any corporation tax liability for the year to 31 March 2017 on or before 1 January 2018; just a few weeks away.

The same dates also determine the payment of additional corporation tax if certain overdrawn director’s loans (at 31 March 2017) are not repaid before the end of the year. Additional corporation tax due will be based on 32.5% of any applicable director’s or shareholder loans affected by this ruling. The tax can be recovered, but there will be a delay. Repayments cannot be made until the effective payment date for the accounting year during which the loans were cleared. Effectively, if the loans are paid back May 2018, a refund will not be made until 1 January 2020.