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Category: Other Matters

Back to the office

Back to the office

Now that the ‘work from home if you can’ guidance has been lifted, employees are returning to the office. If, following their return, you allow employees to keep their homeworking equipment for personal use, there may be tax consequences to consider.

Employer-provided equipment

If you provided homeworking equipment to your employees to enable them to work from home, no tax charge arose on the provision of the equipment, as long as you retained ownership of it. However, there may be tax to pay if you allow the employee to keep the equipment for their personal use when they no longer need it to work from home. The nature of the tax charge depends on whether ownership of the equipment is transferred to the employee.   

Ownership transferred

A tax charge will arise if you transfer ownership of the equipment to the employee, unless the employee pays at least the market value for the equipment. The amount charged to tax is the market value at the date of the transfer, less any amount paid by the employee.

No transfer of ownership

If, instead, you retain ownership of the equipment but allow the employee to use it for their personal use, the tax charge is based on the ‘annual value’ of the equipment. This is 20% of the market value of the equipment at the date on which it is first made available for the employee’s personal use.

You may have chosen to adopt a flexible working policy under which employees continue to work from home some of the time. Where this is the case, as long as the homeworking equipment remains available predominantly to allow the employee to work from home, no tax charge will arise on insignificant private use.

Employer-reimbursed equipment

At the start of the pandemic, many employees were required to work from home at very short notice. In many cases, it was easier for the employee to buy the equipment that they needed to work from home, and claim the cost back from the employer.

If you took this route and reimbursed employees for the cost of homeworking equipment, as long as the ownership of the equipment was not transferred to you, there is no tax to pay if the employee retains the equipment for personal use when they return to the workplace.

Contact us

If you are unsure whether a tax charge arises in respect of retained homeworking equipment when your employees return to the office, please get in touch to discuss this with us.

August 31, 2021

Collection of tax debts after COVID-19

Collection of tax debts after COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, HMRC paused much of their debt collection work, both to divert resources to administering the various COVID-19 support schemes and to help taxpayers whose finances were adversely affected by the pandemic. However, as the country emerges from the Coronavirus crisis, HMRC have restarted their tax debt collection work and will be contacting taxpayers who have fallen behind with their payments.

Talk to HMRC

If you have unpaid tax debts and HMRC contact you to discuss those debts, the best course of action is to speak to them to agree a repayment plan. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, and HMRC may start enforcement proceedings against taxpayers who ignore their attempts to contact them.

Pay if you can

If you have outstanding tax debts and are able to pay them, HMRC’s expectation is that you will. In assessing your ability to pay, HMRC will expect you to make use of the various COVID-19 finance schemes, such as the Recovery Loan Scheme, to raise the necessary funds. If you need time to arrange the finance, HMRC may offer a short-term deferral of your tax debt. If this is agreed, HMRC will not take any action until that period had elapsed, and you will not need to make any payments during the deferral period.

Time-to-pay arrangements

If you are unable to clear your outstanding tax debts in full, you may be able to agree a time-to-pay arrangement with HMRC.

There is no standard agreement; time-to-pay arrangements are based on an individual’s circumstances. HMRC will establish your ability to pay by looking at your income and expenditure. They will also want to know why you are struggling to pay, and what action you have taken to try and pay some or all of the bill.

Enforcement action

If you do not pay your outstanding tax debts or come to an agreement with HMRC to pay what you owe in instalments, from September 2021, HMRC may use their enforcement powers to collect tax that is owed to them. Avenues available to them include taking control of goods, summary warrants and court action, including insolvency proceedings.

While HMRC will, where possible, aim to support viable businesses, if a business has little chance of recovery, HMRC will take action to recover any tax that they are owed.

Talk to us

If you have tax debts that you are struggling to pay, speak to us. We can help you agree a repayment plan with HMRC.

August 23, 2021

New lower temporary SDLT threshold

New lower temporary SDLT threshold

The residential stamp duty land tax (SDLT) threshold applying in England and Northern Ireland was temporarily increased to £500,000 from 8 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 (extended from the original end date of 31 March 2021). From 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021, a new temporary residential threshold of £250,000 applies. The threshold reverts to its usual level of £125,000 from 1 October 2021. Details of the rates can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Nature of the temporary threshold

To help boost house sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, the SDLT residential threshold was temporarily increased. Similar measures were introduced in Scotland in relation to land transaction tax (LTT) and in Wales in relation to land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT).

SDLT: 8 July 2020 to 30 June 2021

A higher temporary residential SDLT threshold of £500,000 applied in England and Northern Ireland where completion took place between 8 July 2020 and 30 June 2021. The usual rates applied to any consideration in excess of £500,000.

SDLT: 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021

From 1 July 2021, the SDLT residential threshold drops to a new temporary level of £250,000. If you are in the process of buying a house and missed the 30 June 2021 completion deadline, you will be able to save SDLT of up to £2,500 if you complete by 30 September 2021.

The residential rates applying during this period are as set out in the table below.

ConsiderationOnly or main homeSecond and subsequent properties
Up to £250,0000%3%
The next £675,000 (£250,001 to £925,000)5%8%
The next £575,000 (£925,001 to £1.5 million)10%13%
Remaining amount12%15%

First-time buyers

From 1 July 2021, the threshold for first-time buyers reverts to £300,000 where the consideration is £500,000. First-time buyers pay no SDLT on the first £300,000 and pay SDLT at the rate of 5% on any consideration in excess of £300,000 up to £500,000. If the consideration is more than £500,000, the above rates and residential threshold apply.

SDLT: From 1 October 2021

The residential SDLT threshold reverts to its usual level of £125,000 from 1 October 2021. Purchasers will pay SDLT at a rate of 2% on the portion from £125,000 to £250,000. Above £250,000, the rates are as in the table above.

Second and subsequent properties

Investors and second-home owners also benefit from the temporary residential thresholds as the 3% supplement is added to the residential rates as reduced.

Scotland

The LTT threshold in Scotland was increased to £250,000 from 15 July 2020 until 31 March 2021. However, this period was not extended, and the threshold reverted to £145,000 from 1 April 2021. As in England and Northern Ireland, those buying second and subsequent properties benefited from the higher threshold; the 4% supplement was applied to the reduced residential rates.

Wales

The LBTT threshold in Wales was increased to £250,000 from 27 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, reverting to £180,000 from 1 July 2021. Unlike the rest of the UK, purchasers of second and subsequent properties in Wales did not benefit from the higher threshold.

Speak to us

If you are thinking of moving home or buying a holiday or investment property, speak to us to find out whether you can save SDLT.

August 2, 2021

Accessing the Government Gateway

Accessing the Government Gateway

From 15 June 2021, all businesses and organisations will need multi-factor authentication in order to sign into the Government Gateway.

Multi-factor authentication

Businesses and organisations that use HMRC’s online services and which do not currently receive an access code by text or voice call, or direct to an authenticator app, will need to add a device, such as their mobile phone number, to their Government Gateway account in order to be able to sign in. Once a device has been added, you will receive an access code every time you sign in. The changes are being made to further protect Government Gateway accounts from fraud.

You do not need to do anything until the next time that you sign in. At this point you will be asked to add your new device.

Already have multi-factor authentication?

If you already have multi-factor authentication on your business’s or organisation’s Government Gateway account, nothing will change. You can continue to sign in as usual, receiving your access code in the normal way.

Additional users

If your business or organisation needs to allow employees to access your Government Gateway account, this can be done using multi-factor authentication. To do this, use the administrator and assistant functionality in your Business Tax Account to create additional users. Each user will have their own multi-factor authentication, and will need an access code to sign in.

Individuals and agents

The changes do not apply to individuals accessing their own account, or to agents.

Talk to us

Contact us to find out how to set up and use your Government Gateway account.

July 5, 2021

Budget 2021 – Other Matters

Budget 2021 – Other Matters

Land and buildings transaction taxes

Land and buildings transaction taxes are devolved to Scotland (Land and Buildings Transaction Tax) and Wales (Land Transaction Tax). Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) applies to transactions in England and Northern Ireland. All these taxes have had a temporary increase in the nil rate threshold for residential properties. The thresholds were set to return to the previous thresholds from 1 April 2021.

Budget announcement

The government will extend the temporary increase to the SDLT nil rate band for residential property in England and Northern Ireland to 30 June 2021. From 1 July 2021 until 30 September 2021, the nil rate band will be £250,000. The nil rate band will return to the standard amount of £125,000 from 1 October 2021.

Wales – Land Transaction Tax

Following the Chancellor’s announcement, the Welsh Finance Minister has confirmed that the Land Transaction Tax temporary reduction period will be extended by a further three months so that it will end on 30 June 2021.

In December 2020, the Welsh Government changed the rates charged on higher rates residential property transactions and non-residential transactions including the rent element of non-residential and mixed leases. The changes to the higher residential rates have the effect of increasing the tax rates applied to the bands by 1%. For non-residential transactions, changes have been made to the bands so as to increase the nil rate thresholds. These changes came into effect on 22 December 2020.

SDLT surcharge

New SDLT rates are proposed for purchasers of residential property in England and Northern Ireland who are not resident in the UK. The new rates will be 2% higher than those that apply to purchases made by UK residents, and will apply to purchases of both freehold and leasehold property as well as increasing SDLT payable on rents on the grant of a new lease. The surcharge will apply to land transactions with an effective date of 1 April 2021 or later. Transitional rules may apply to some contracts exchanged before 11 March 2020 but completed or are substantially performed on or after 1 April 2021, or some contracts substantially performed on or before 31 March 2021 but not completed until 1 April 2021 or later.

Plastic Packaging Tax

Draft legislation has been issued to establish a Plastic Packaging Tax. This is a new tax that applies to plastic packaging produced in, or imported into the UK that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. Plastic packaging is packaging that is predominantly plastic by weight.

The tax rate will be £200 per tonne of non-compliant plastic packaging. There will be an exemption for businesses that manufacture or import less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging per year. The tax will take effect from April 2022.

Van Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)

Van VED is currently levied at £250 per year for most light goods vehicles (under 3.5 tonnes) which have been registered since 1 March 2001. A consultation paper explored creating a graduated first year rate for new light goods vehicles and motorhomes from April 2021. The government has recently decided not to proceed with the change in light of the pandemic. Motorhomes will continue to be placed in the Private/Light Goods class.

Reform of penalties for late submission and late payment of tax

The government will reform the penalty regime for VAT and Income Tax Self Assessment (ITSA) to make it fairer and more consistent. The new late submission regime will be points-based, and a financial penalty will only be issued when the relevant threshold is reached. The new late payment regime will introduce penalties proportionate to the amount of tax owed and how late the tax due is. These reforms will come into effect: for VAT taxpayers, from periods starting on or after 1 April 2022; for taxpayers in ITSA with business or property income over £10,000 per year, from accounting periods beginning on or after 6 April 2023; and for all other taxpayers in ITSA, from accounting periods beginning on or after 6 April 2024.

Contactless payment card limit

Following a public consultation by the Financial Conduct Authority, the government has approved an increase to the legal contactless payment limits previously set by the European Commission. This will allow banks to support single contactless payments up to £100, and cumulative contactless payments up to £300, without the need for customers to input their chip and pin. The government hopes the banking industry will implement the new limits later this year.

Budget 2021 links:

March 4, 2021