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Category: Personal Tax

Self-Assessment – it’s getting to that time again

Self-Assessment – it’s getting to that time again

Self-assessment is an annual event, and it is always towards the back end of the year that you need to start thinking about it. Many people will already be registered for self-assessment, but there are others who will need to register for the first time this year, either because they have set up a new business, or become self-employed for the first time.

Anyone in this position needs to get in touch with HMRC before October 5 to let the taxman know you need to do your first self-assessment tax return. For those dealing with their self-assessment on a paper return, the completed paperwork needs to be with HMRC before October 31. However, you have until January 31, 2023, to make the payment – which is also the deadline for online filing and payment.

Who needs to register?

If you are employed, you may still need to file a self-assessment return if you have income from outside of your PAYE income, for example from a property, foreign income, or you have income from dividends or savings.

Remember though, you may also need to file a self-assessment return if you need to claim money from the taxman. For example, if you are a 40% or 45% taxpayer and your employer does not claim the additional tax relief above 20% that you should receive on pension contributions up to £40,000 a year, then this can be claimed through your self-assessment form.

Claim money for expenses from your own pocket for work

If you need to pay out of your own pocket for work expenses – such as uniforms, travel and professional insurance or subscriptions, you can also claim tax relief on these via your self-assessment form.

One particularly important expense to claim if you work from home is the cost of energy used to heat the room you work in. With the average energy bill rising to £3,549 from October 1, according to the latest price cap announcement from Ofgem, this is one item that could help you deal with the rising cost-of-living expenses.

How much can you claim for your energy costs?

There is a base amount you can claim for the energy costs which is £6 per week, which in the current climate may be a lot less than it is really costing you. So, if you prefer, you can instead claim the actual amount you are having to pay for your energy while you are working from home, but you would need to keep your bills and receipts to back up your claim.

The one thing to remember though is that you cannot claim this if you choose to work from home, or if your employment contract allows you to work from home some or all of the time under HMRC rules. You can claim this if your employer does not have an office, or if your job requires you to live far away from your employer’s office.

We can help you

If you are unsure about what you can and cannot claim for expenses outside of your PAYE, speak to us and we will help you through the process, so you can claim everything you are due.

September 26, 2022

Are you claiming everything you are entitled to from the taxman?

Are you claiming everything you are entitled to from the taxman?

Tax is something that is a certainty in life, as former US President Benjamin Franklin said, but there are lots of ways you can reduce the amount of tax you have to pay by claiming for expenses you may not realise you could.

Those of us who are self-employed or own businesses are more likely to claim the majority of costs and expenses against tax that we can. But what many PAYE employees do not realise is that they can also claim certain expenses if they are not covered by their employer, and they are specifically relevant to their work.

What can be claimed?

For example, let’s say you are a nurse, an engineer, a psychologist or simply an employee who happens to use their car for work purposes sometimes. In each of these cases, there are likely to be things that you are paying for that you could claim if your employer is not repaying you for them.

It could be fees you pay to be a part of a professional institution, or professional indemnity insurance, or uniforms that you need to buy yourself, shoes, books you need to study for your work, toys that you may need to use to encourage children to talk to you in the case of a child psychologist, for instance. The list would include anything and everything that you need to buy yourself that solely relates to your work.

While many of these may be relatively small amounts individually, they will soon add up, and if you consider how much they add up to over a long period of time, there is every reason to reclaim that money.

How do you claim them?

Understandably, many people are nervous about dealing with the taxman because they think automatically that it is going to end up costing them money. But that is not always the case. Reclaiming these amounts that are legitimate allowances could put a significant amount of money back into your pocket.

To claim these, you would need to do a self-assessment form. This is something many people who pay tax through PAYE would not be familiar with. You can speak to your accountant for more information if you need it, or you can ask HMRC directly about how you claim for these costs on your self-assessment.

Don’t be nervous, and go back as many years as you can

You do not need to be nervous when dealing with the tax office as you are not doing anything wrong. This is money you are owed, and you would be doing yourself a disservice by not getting this money back into your own pocket.

If you have not been claiming this money back before, then you can go back up to four previous tax years. This means you can reclaim overpaid tax from 2018/19 if you make the claim before April 5, 2023. If you had an average of £1,000 that you could have reclaimed for each of these years, then you would get a £4,000 rebate from the taxman by making the claim.

In the current economic climate, even relatively small amounts that you can reclaim will make a difference. But remember, you must have proof of the purchases you made. Usually these would need to be receipts, but if you do not have these, then you can prove any payments made using bank statements if you need to. If you bought anything online, you may have records there in your email or, say, an Amazon account.

We can help you

If you are unsure about whether you can claim some of the expenses for your work or want to know you have claimed everything that it is possible to claim, then please get in touch with us and we will help you through the process.

July 25, 2022

Change in National Insurance contribution levels in July

Change in National Insurance contribution levels in July

A change in National Insurance contribution (NICs) levels comes into force at the beginning of July, which should save around 30m people £330 each, according to the Government.

From July 6, the amount you can earn before you start paying NICs will increase, which means the amount of overall tax – since NICs is a tax in all but name – will reduce.

What are the new thresholds?

From July 6, the threshold for Class 1 NICs, which are paid by those who are employed, and Class 4 NICs, which are paid by the self-employed, rises from £9,880 to £12,570. This means you can earn an additional £2,690 before you need to start paying NICs.

The new NICs threshold is now in line with the starting point for income tax, but the NICs rate you will pay has not changed and still includes the 1.25% addition for the Health and Social Care Levy made earlier this year. So, everything you earn between £12,570 and £50,270 will be charged NICs at 13.25%. Anything above this higher threshold will be charged at 3.25%.

Part of a £15 billion package of assistance

The additional savings we will see in our pockets thanks to this change will help considerably with the cost-of-living crisis. In fact, along with the council tax rebate that has been announced, energy bills assistance worth at least £400 and support for the most vulnerable households of at least £1,200, this should go some way to easing the problems associated with the current high inflation.

Inflation reached 9.1% in May according to figures from the ONS, up from 9% in April and 7% in March. The current rate is the highest level of inflation since 1982.

BoE base rate rises to 1.25%

The Bank of England increased the base rate to 1.25% in June, taking rates to the highest level in 13 years. While this is good news for savers who are likely to see more interest being paid on their accounts, it is potentially bad news for some people with mortgages. If you are on a fixed rate mortgage that is still within the fixed-rate term, then you will not see any change in your mortgage payments. But you may find it is more expensive to borrow when you come to change your mortgage in future.

If you are on a tracker rate, then you will automatically see the interest rate you are paying rise, which could be a considerable cost depending on how much you have borrowed.

How much will you save?

However, if you want to find out how much more money you will have in your pocket thanks to the change in the NICs thresholds, the Government has created a handy calculator that you can use to determine what you will save on the Gov.uk website. But if you are self-employed, this calculator will not work for you, so you are best to contact your accountant to find out what the change means for you.

Contact us

If you are an employer, employee or self-employed, and want to know more about how the NICs changes affect you and what you can expect to pay, then contact us and we will give you the information you need.

July 5, 2022

Deal with your tax return early and help with your cashflow

Deal with your tax return early and help with your cashflow

There is a tendency for many of us to leave our tax returns until the last minute. It’s human nature to want to delay dealing with something we find uncomfortable.

However, if you get your tax return for the 2021/22 tax year completed sooner rather than later, you will have some benefits that could help you through the cost-of-living crisis.

Benefits

A primary benefit to dealing with your tax return early is knowing it is out of the way. For some this may be less of an issue, but as accountants get busier as the tax payment deadlines approach, it can be difficult to give a return as much attention as we could at other times.

By getting your tax return calculations done early, not only are you helping your accountant to spread his or her workload in a more manageable way, more importantly for you, you will know exactly what your bill is going to be early in the year. This may make it possible to free up some of the money you had set aside to pay the bill if it is lower than you had expected.

For businesses, this could mean having extra cash to invest in expanding the business, paying off debt, or hiring an extra full or part-time employee to move the business forwards. For individuals, this money could help offset the current cost-of-living crisis we are in by giving you extra cash to cover rising energy or food bills.

Paying tax early

Remember, just because you have had the tax return completed, it does not mean you have to file it with HMRC straightaway. If you want your accountant to hold off on this part and file it later in the year – especially if you think there may be any changes necessary to the tax return down the line – then that is not a problem.

If you prefer to pay early and get it out of the way, then that is also fine. The big benefit to you is that you have the option. It may be that you do not have enough money put aside for your tax bill when you find out what it is. So, the extra time you have built in before the tax needs to be paid means you have time to get those funds together. It could be the difference between setting aside an extra amount each month to pay the bill while storing money for the next tax year or having to saddle your company with a loan that will cost in interest payments too.

Tax reliefs

It will also ensure your accountant can maximise any tax reliefs you or your business can benefit from. This could include pension payments or offsetting costs against tax that may otherwise be difficult to include if the information is not given to him or her in a timely manner, in the last-minute rush to get the data to the accountant.

It may also mean, depending on how your accountant works, that you could benefit from having more time to pay your accountant’s bill too. Spreading this cost will also help with cashflow.

Take your time

Overall, it will mean that tax is a much more leisurely affair than it often is and that is never a bad feeling. Stress is not good for any of us and building in time to deal with something that is – for many – inherently stressful anyway is a good plan.

Contact us

If you want us to start working on your tax return now or have a question about ways in which we can make your tax less taxing, please get in touch.

June 13, 2022

End of bulk appeals for tax fines in May

End of bulk appeals for tax fines in May

If you are unlucky enough to be fined for a late filing, then the way in which any appeal can be made changed as of May 7.

Prior to this, HMRC had temporarily reintroduced the ability to bulk appeal late filing penalties for income tax in 2020 and 2021. But from now onwards, all such appeals need to be made individually.

To be fair, if you keep in close contact with your accountant and give sufficient time for all of the paperwork to be done, then you should not be in a position where you are facing a late filing penalty. But if you have either filed paperwork late yourself or had a late filing penalty for some other reason, then each appeal now must be made individually.

Your responsibilities

Even though you use an accountant to deal with your tax liabilities, you are still ultimately legally responsible for the correct and timely filing of your returns. There are several different penalties that could apply too.

Types of penalties

For example, there is an ‘inaccuracy penalty’ which can be applied across specific taxes, including income tax, PAYE, capital gains tax, inheritance tax and corporation tax. This penalty could be anything from 0% to 30% of the extra tax due if the error occurred due to a ‘lack of reasonable care’.

If the error is considered deliberate, this rises to between 20% and 70% of the extra tax due, and if it is both deliberate and concealed, it could rise to between 30% and 100% of the extra tax due.

You could also face a penalty for a failure to notify HMRC of a change in your liability to tax. This could be, for example, if your company makes a profit and becomes liable to corporation tax. Or it could be because your business has reached the turnover for the VAT threshold (£85,000) and you have not registered for VAT.

Other penalties could include ‘Offshore penalties’ and ‘VAT and Excise wrongdoing penalties’ – so it is important if any of these could potentially apply to you, that you speak to your accountant immediately. You can find more information on the types of penalties that could apply on the GOV.UK website.

We can help you meet your obligations

If you think there is a chance that you could fall foul of any of these rules and face a penalty, or that there is any other issue you need advice on to make sure you comply with all your HMRC requirements, please contact us as soon as possible. We will help you navigate any problems that arise.

June 6, 2022

Payments on account due July 31

Payments on account due July 31

Some taxpayers must pay a tax more than once a year, and if this is you then you are facing a second tax bill before July 31.

Those exempt from making a payment on account in July include those who had a self-assessment tax bill of less than £1,000 for the previous tax year, or if you have paid more than 80% of your tax bill through your tax code or your bank has deducted interest from your savings.

It is easy to forget the July 31 deadline

While most of us think of the January 31 payment deadline as the main one, it is easy to forget that there is another payment due on July 31 – and now is the time to consider how much you need to have set aside to cover it.

How the payment on account works

Example:

Your bill for the 2020 to 2021 tax year is £3,000. You made two payments on account last year of £900 each (£1,800 in total).

The total tax to pay by midnight on January 31, 2022 is £2,700. This includes:

  • your ‘balancing payment’ of £1,200 for the 2020 to 2021 tax year (£3,000 minus £1,800)
  • the first payment on account of £1,500 (half your 2020 to 2021 tax bill) towards your 2021 to 2022 tax bill

You then make a second payment on account of £1,500 on July 31, 2022.

If your tax bill for the 2021 to 2022 tax year is more than £3,000 (the total of your two payments on account), you’ll need to make a ‘balancing payment’ by January 31, 2023.

Source: Gov.UK

We can help you meet your obligations

If you have to make a payment on account, then please get in touch with us soon so we can let you know how much it is going to be to help you ensure you have enough money set aside to make the payment.

May 30, 2022

Use up your tax allowances early in the tax year

Use up your tax allowances early in the tax year

If you are one of those people who is always racing to use up your tax allowances, such as Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) at the last minute before the end of April 5, then you are not alone. But you could be making a big mistake.

When it comes to mopping up tax allowances, it is best to use your allowances at the beginning of each tax year than the end. If you have not managed to use all or any of your allowance coming up to April 5, well, it is better late than never. But if you can take advantage of using your ISA allowance, for example, at the start of the tax year, then you will benefit from an additional year of investment growth.

Benefit from an extra year of growth

It may not seem like it matters that much, but that extra period of growth – assuming markets rise over the year – will add up over time. Even if the markets dip, the adage ‘it’s about time in the markets, not timing the markets’ still holds because trying to time the market is usually not a good idea.

In addition, you get a full year of growth that is free of capital gains tax and free of income tax. By holding your assets outside of an ISA for the year, you could face a tax charge on any dividend payments from equities.

Early use gives other benefits

Starting to use your allowance at the start of the tax year also gives you other benefits. You can choose whether you put the entire £20,000 allowance into your ISA in one go, or whether you ‘drip feed’ money into the market over the full 12 months.

The latter can be an effective method to help smooth out ups and downs in the stock market, known in the trade as ‘pound-cost averaging’. Let’s take an example of you putting money into a unit trust. If you are buying units every month with the same amount of money, you will be buying more or fewer depending on the value of the units you are buying that month.

Market performance is affected by a range of factors

These values will go up and down depending on a number of factors that impact the stock markets – everything from political will to social and economic changes.

The same principle applies to your pension allowance – most people can put up to £40,000 a year into a pension and get tax relief – if you can put money aside to go into your pension each month, you are benefiting from the same investment smoothing process outlined above.

The other drawback of waiting until the end of the tax year to use your allowances, is that you are forced to put a lump sum into markets at what could be a terrible time. So, giving yourself a head start means you can benefit from the highs and the lows over the year.

Let us help you

If you want to find out more about how you can benefit from your ISA and pension allowances by taking action early, get in touch with us now and see how we can help you.

May 23, 2022

Basis Period Reform – what it is and how it could affect you

Basis Period Reform – what it is and how it could affect you

Unincorporated businesses – including sole traders, trusts and those businesses working as partnerships, and anyone else that pays tax on trading income – face a major change that will affect the way and the time they are taxed on their profits.

The so-called Basis Period Reform will ultimately take effect from the 2024/25 tax year, but sole traders and other organisations need to start thinking about how this change could impact them sooner rather than later.

Transition

The 2023/24 tax year is going to be a transitional period, and the new rules will change the time that underlying profits or losses become subject to tax and bring forward when tax due on profits needs to be paid.

The aim of the rule change, which was set out initially in the Finance Bill 2022, is to remove complexity relating to basis periods and overlap profit, and make sure tax payments are made closer to when profits are generated.

Implementation has been delayed by a year

Originally, the changes were due to be made a year earlier, but after a consultation period the Government delayed the proposals to allow taxpayers to prepare for the transition to the new basis period.

New end-of-year account period

The change will move the taxation periods for all sole traders, partnerships and trusts from dealing with tax on an accounting-date basis ending in a tax year, to taxing profits on these businesses that arise in a tax year.

For the 2023/24 tax year, there will be additional tax liabilities on the additional profit to be taken into account. Any taxpayer or organisation in this position should plan ahead for these additional bills that will be coming sooner than might have been expected.

Difficult for international partnerships

There are some difficulties that remain, particularly for large international partnerships that cannot change their accounting date to match the tax year, according to the ICAEW, which is engaging with HMRC to explore the possibility of additional changes being introduced to mitigate these problems.

The details

If your business has an accounting year date ending outside of March 31 to April 5, then you need to pay attention. You will have two elements to be considered for taxable profits:

  • The standard part which covers the full 12 months of trading in the transitional year based on your existing basis period.
  • Plus, the transitional part of the profits which go directly from the end of the basis period end up until April 5, 2024.

Example

A business has a 12-month accounting period ending 30 April 2023. In the 2023/24 transitional year it will recognise:
The profits arising in the 12-month period ended 30 April 2023 (the standard part).The profits arising in the period from 1 May 2023 to 5 April 2024 (the transitional part).

Source: ICAEW

If any business has overlap profits, these must be offset against the profits of the 2023/24 tax year, according to the ICAEW.

There are many other aspects to consider with this transition, including how to deal with losses in the 2023/24 tax year, and whether it will be possible to spread these transition profits across five tax years to help with cashflow, although this could impact on any credit claimed for overseas taxes.

We can help you

This is a very complex area and if you are affected by this, you should contact us so we can help you navigate this change in good time, and with the least amount of difficulty.

May 16, 2022

Spring Statement round-up

Spring Statement round-up

The Chancellor’s Spring Statement on March 23 was limited on giveaways, but there were some measures designed to help people struggling with the highest rates of inflation in 30 years.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has forecast that inflation will average 7.4% this year, and there are many people who are already struggling with everything from filling their cars with fuel to keeping the heating on.

Fuel Duty cut but NI increase

One cut came in the form of a 5p a litre reduction in the price of fuel thanks to a fall in fuel duty to help offset the spiralling cost of oil.

Yet despite many experts imploring the Chancellor to postpone the 1.25% hike in National Insurance for 2022/23 – the Health and Social Care Levy – Rishi Sunak refused to do this. The one change he made was raising the NI threshold by £3,000 rather than the planned £300, to bring it in line with the £12,570 personal allowance. He described this as a “£6 billion personal tax cut for 30 million people”.

Employment Allowance increase for small businesses

The Employment Allowance will increase to £5,000 for small business, which is a tax cut of £1,000 for around 500,000 firms which starts in April.

Businesses can also expect to benefit from tax cuts on business investment during the Autumn Budget, and there will be an increase in business research and development tax credits to boost productivity.

Income tax cut in 2024

The basic rate of income tax will fall from 20% to 19% from April 2024, the first cut in this tax in 16 years according to the Chancellor. But he refrained from bringing this cut in for the coming tax year as there is too much uncertainty in the economy.

We can help you

Even if you or your business did not see anything in the Spring Statement to help you, there are likely to be ways you can benefit from existing tax efficiencies to maximise your money. Get in touch with us to find out how.

April 11, 2022

Reclaim Married Couple’s Allowance

Reclaim Married Couple’s Allowance

Married Couple’s Allowance can be transferred between spouses and civil partners, and while 2m couples have claimed this since it was introduced back in 2015, there are many more people who are entitled to claim it.

Go back four years

The allowance, which is worth up to £1,220 for each year, can be reclaimed back for every year to the 2017/18 tax year right the way through to the 2021/22 tax year. For those entitled to the maximum amount, this could create a windfall of £4,880.

Claim it now

However, these payments need to be claimed before 5 April 2022. Married couples and those in civil partnerships can transfer 10% of their personal allowance to their spouse or partner if one is a non-taxpayer and the other is a basic-rate taxpayer. This could apply if one partner loses hours or sees a significant reduction in their salary due to reduced hours – entirely possible during the Covid-19 pandemic – retirement or a change of job. It also applies if someone takes a career or study break.

Who claims?

The lowest earning spouse or partner would make the claim for this transfer of personal allowance, and even if your spouse or civil partner has died since 5 April 2017, then the remaining spouse or partner can still claim this allowance. This is done via the income tax helpline. If the claim is made via the online service, they will automatically roll on to the following years.

But if you make the claim via a self-assessment, this does not automatically roll on. If a couple no longer qualifies, then they need to cancel their claim.

We can help you reclaim what is due

If you think you are entitled to the Married Couple’s Allowance or any other benefit, such as the Blind Person’s Allowance, Tax Relief for Employment Expenses – which includes the £6 per week allowance for employees required to work from home in 2020/21 and 2021/22 – and could benefit from going back up to four years with your claim, then please contact us for more information.

April 4, 2022

End of year tax planning – what you need to consider

End of year tax planning – what you need to consider

The new tax year on April 6 is accelerating quickly towards us, and now is the time to make sure that any last-minute allowances you may not have made the most of in the 2021/22 tax year are mopped up.

There are plenty of allowances that have a time limit on each tax year, and if you can use these last few days to maximise the benefits, then it would be a good deed done.

Individual Savings Account (ISA) Allowance

Each year, we can put up to £20,000 into an ISA, and if you have not put the full amount into your ISA for this year, then consider adding any additional funds to it before April 5.

Putting your savings and investments into an ISA wrapper allows the funds to grow free of tax, and when you take those funds out at the other end, you don’t pay any tax on them then either. You can spread this across a number of different types of ISAs – for example a cash ISA, Stocks and Shares ISA, Innovative Finance ISA, which is peer-to-peer lending, or a Lifetime ISA (although you can only invest £4,000 in this type as a maximum, which would leave you £16,000 of your allowance to invest elsewhere).

If you fail to use your full ISA allowance within the tax year, then you will lose it once we hit April 6, so make sure you maximise this tax benefit.

Avoiding a 60% effective tax rate for higher earners

Once you reach £100,000 of earnings, you begin to lose your personal allowance at a rate of £1 for every £2 of earnings above this threshold. This means that by the time you reach £125,140 you no longer have a personal allowance. Between £100,000 and £125,140, your effective tax rate is 60%.

However, you can reduce the impact of this by making payments into your pension, or by donating money and benefiting from Gift Aid on the payments. Pension contributions and Gift Aid payments are made from gross income, which means you reduce the amount of taxable income you have. You cannot put more than £40,000 into your pension each year and receive tax relief, and you cannot reclaim more in tax in a single year than you would have paid.

This annual allowance as it is known will also reduce by £1 for every £2 earned above £240,000 and will stop reducing at £312,000 – leaving everyone with a minimum annual allowance of £4,000.

Carry forward

If you have any unused allowance from any of the three previous tax years, then you can carry this forward for one year to help you reduce your tax liabilities and maximise your pension contributions.

There are a few caveats to this, including:

  • You must have been in a registered pension scheme for each of these previous three years.
  • You must have already used all your allowance for the current tax year.
  • The carried forward annual allowance from the first year must be used first.
  • The amount you can carry forward may be subject to the tapered allowance if your earnings were high enough for this to apply in any of the previous three years.

Taking more than your tax-free lump sum out of a money-purchase pension scheme will also mean your annual allowance is reduced to £4,000.

However, if you have any annual allowance available from the three previous tax years and have used your full allowance for the current tax year, then this is another way you can reduce your taxable income and put extra into your pension pot. But make sure you remain within the Lifetime Allowance, which is currently set at £1,073,100.

Dividend Income

If you take dividends from your company, then you can take up to £2,000 each year at 0% tax, but if you miss this within a tax year, it is not possible to roll this over to the next year. Any dividend income after this between £12,570 and £50,270 is subject to 7.5% tax up to April 5 and 8.25% from April 6 – due to the addition of the equivalent of the 1.25% Health and Social Care Levy – so if you can bring any dividend payments into the current tax year, you may be able to avoid the additional tax.

Corporation Tax

The Corporation Tax rate is set to increase from 1 April 2023, and while this is a year away, it makes sense to plan ahead to make sure you make the most of the lower rate of 19% for the coming year.

Companies with profits between £50,000 and £250,000 will continue to pay corporation tax at 19% even after 1 April 2023, but companies with profits above this will face a tapered rate up to 25%.

For this reason, it would be wise to plan ahead for the next trading year to consider how you may be able to effectively mitigate this tax. But it is not something you should do without expert advice.

Contact us

If you are interested in benefiting from either personal or business tax advice, then please contact us and we will be happy to help you make the most of your tax breaks.

April 1, 2022

NI to increase by 1.25% this April to fund the Health and Care Levy – what you can do about it

NI to increase by 1.25% this April to fund the Health and Care Levy – what you can do about it

The Government is set to increase National Insurance Contributions (NICs) by 1.25% from April to fund the Health and Social Care Levy, and while this may be a laudable aim, it is going to hit all of us in the pocket.

Costly increase when finances are being squeezed

The NICs hike means that someone earning £30,000 a year will pay an additional £255 into Government coffers – equivalent to 10% more than they are currently paying – while someone earning £50,000 will pay an extra £505. The lowest earners are set to be hit hardest because of the point at which NICs is applied on lower wages.

Despite numerous calls to delay this rise, especially as the cost of living is increasing at rates not seen in nearly 30 years – the Consumer Prices Index rose to 5.5% in January – the Government has insisted it is ploughing ahead with the change.

What can you do?

Unless we see a change of heart in the Spring Statement, this further reach into the pocket of employers and employees is going to sting. But there are some things you can do. For example, as the NICs are paid on your salary, if your employer has – or can offer – the option to do salary sacrifice for another benefit, you may be able to reduce the impact this has.

Salary sacrifice schemes involve your employer cutting your salary in return for paying the equivalent amount into benefits which have both tax and NICs benefits. These can include pensions, pension advice, car leasing schemes, and even cycle to work schemes.

While you get less money in your hand at the end of the month, overall you will be better off because you are getting benefits that make up that value difference, and you will pay less tax and NICs.

Dealing with a benefit in kind

For example, if you leased an electric car through your employer, the payments can be made direct from your gross salary, which means your salary is reduced, cutting the cost of the 1.25% rise. The other benefit is that there will be less income tax to pay too, while you benefit from the use of the car.

There is, of course, the benefit in kind cost to consider. But for electric cars this is only 2% from April 2022, compared to as much as 25% for even a relatively low-emission non-electric car, according to calculations from Loveelectric.cars. So, it might make financial sense to explore this with your employer or employees.

While electric cars can be expensive, the salary sacrifice scheme can make them more appealing. For example, a higher-rate taxpayer earning £60,000 a year chooses a Tesla Model 3 with a lease term of 48 months and annual agreed mileage of 5,000 miles.

Typically, the lease price would be around £524 per month, but combining the price of a lease with salary sacrifice could reduce this to £267 per month, making it much more affordable.

Company owners or directors who may not be primarily paid via a salary can use a business contract hire option which allows them to deduct the full cost of a rental from profits and then recover half of the VAT paid if it is used for personal use, or 100% if it is solely used for business purposes.

Contact us

If you are interested in taking advantage of salary sacrifice or discussing other ways you can mitigate the impact of the 1.25% rise in NICs, please get in touch with us.

March 1, 2022

Taxpayers get extension to self-assessment filing dates

Taxpayers get extension to self-assessment filing dates

Millions of taxpayers who are yet to submit their completed Self-Assessment tax return which is due before January 31 are being given a grace period to file until February 28.

More than 12.2 million customers are expected to complete a tax return for the 2020/21 tax year according to HMRC, and would usually face a penalty and interest if the return and payment in full is not made by January 31.

Deadline extended but not without cost

However, HMRC has announced it will waive penalties for a month, meaning those who cannot file before January 31 will not receive a penalty if they file before February 28, and will not receive a late payment penalty if they pay their tax in full or set up a payment arrangement before April 1. But they will still face interest payments of 2.75% on outstanding balances from February 1, so where possible it is best not to delay payment.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said: “We know some customers may struggle to meet the Self-Assessment deadline on 31 January which is why we have waived penalties for one month, giving them extra time to meet their obligations. And if anyone is worried about paying their tax bill, they can set up a monthly payment plan online – search ‘pay my Self-Assessment’ on GOV.UK.”

Remember to include all SEISS payments in your return

Like businesses, any self-assessment taxpayer who has benefited from COVID-19 support payments will need to ensure they are also included in their tax return. Any payments made under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) or any other COVID-19 support payments must be included in a self-assessment. Taxpayers who have benefited from these payments and need to file a self-assessment can check what changes might need to be made on their tax return to ensure all these payments are correctly included as income.

Which payments must be included?

The payments that need to be included in the 2020/21 tax return if they were paid before April 5, 2021, according to HMRC are:

  • Self-Employment Income Support Scheme;
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme;
  • other COVID-19 grants and support payments such as self-isolation payments, local authority grants and those for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

However, anyone receiving the £500 one-off payment for working households receiving tax credits does not need to report this payment.

It is particularly important for those receiving SEISS grants to make sure they are included as they were paid directly to the individual rather than to a business, so these are not included in the accounts of a sole trader or partnership. Instead, they need to be added back in as an adjustment to profits in the self-assessment tax return.

HMRC has also said it will not charge late filing penalties for paper-based SA700s, SA970s that are received in February, or for SA800s and SA900s if these are filed online before the end of February.

There are a number of online facilities that HMRC has set up for anyone who needs support in relation to filing their tax returns. You can access live webinars or recordings on GOV.UK, and HMRC has also produced resources to help customers meet their obligations including YouTube videos and Self-Assessment guidance.

We can help you

If you would prefer to let someone else take the strain of dealing with your accounts, then please get in touch with us. We will help you make sure all of the relevant information is included and work to maximise your allowances, so you only pay the tax due, no more.

February 7, 2022

Businesses helped by COVID-19 support could face unexpected tax bills

Businesses helped by COVID-19 support could face unexpected tax bills

Businesses and self-assessment taxpayers are being reminded they need to include all grants paid as part of the COVID-19 support payments in their tax returns, as some may think these were non-taxable.

Have you set money aside to deal with tax on support grants?

HMRC has highlighted that all money paid for test and trace or self-isolation payments in England, Scotland or Wales are taxable, as are Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebates. The Coronavirus Business Support Grants – also known as local authority grants or business rate grants – must also be included on tax returns as these are considered income for tax purposes.

Companies that received the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grant or a payment under the Eat Out to Help Out payment scheme will need to include both as income in their CT600 tax return and reported in the relevant boxes on their Company Tax Return.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Service, said: “We want to make sure companies are getting their tax returns right first time, including any COVID-19 support payment declarations. Support and guidance is available on GOV.UK, just search ‘file my company tax return’.”

Many companies will have been communicating with their accountants throughout the year and realise these grants are taxable. But there are concerns that those who deal with their accountant less often may not realise they should have been putting some of this money aside for tax purposes. This would leave them exposed to a bill that has not been planned for.

An outline of the costs employers could face for CJRS

While the CJRS scheme helped to reduce the number of redundancies companies may otherwise have been forced to make during COVID-19 lockdowns, there were a number of hidden costs involved with these grants. These include employer’s National Insurance contributions and employer’s pension contributions.

For example, if an employee had a normal monthly salary of £2,000 and was on full furlough, then based on 80% of their salary this would have fallen to £1,600 gross. At the rates applied in the 2020/21 tax year, the costs to the employer for this CJRS grant would be:

  • £119.78 of Employer’s Class 1A National Insurance;
  • £32.40 of Employer’s Pension Contributions (based on the 3% minimum under auto-enrolment);
  • There is also the potential cost of accrued holiday, which is £153.80 – calculated based on 4/52 weeks (this is the maximum amount of holiday that can be carried forward into the following year) x monthly salary.

Where holiday has been carried forward to the following year, businesses that are struggling to recover from the pandemic also have to contend with up to four weeks of holiday that can be passed into the following tax year. If an employee leaves the business, this could result in the employer having to find sums potentially into the thousands of pounds to account for this in the employee’s final payslip.

HMRC said to be sympathetic to companies struggling to pay tax bills

Reports suggest that HMRC is being sympathetic in relation to any tax bills that are difficult for companies to meet, with even debt collectors looking to offer solutions to deal with the debt rather than collecting it on the spot.

The deadline for customers or agents filing company tax returns (CT600) is 12 months after the end of the accounting period it covers. The deadline to pay Corporation Tax will depend on any taxable profits and when the end of the accounting period occurs. Information on which support payments need to be reported to HMRC and any that do not is available on GOV.UK.

Contact us

If you think you will struggle to meet any of your tax liabilities this year, then please contact us as soon as possible to get advice on the best course of action.

February 1, 2022

ITSA registration

ITSA registration

HMRC have published a call for evidence on the case for reforming the rules for registering for Income Tax Self Assessment (ITSA). The call for evidence is interested in hearing views on whether it would be beneficial to bring forward the deadline by which landlords and the self-employed must register for ITSA.

Current rules

Currently, there is no statutory obligation to register for ITSA; instead, the requirement is to notify HMRC where a tax liability exists. This must be done within six months from the end of the tax year in which the liability arose, i.e., by 5 October after the end of the tax year. This requirement is met by registering for ITSA. Where the taxpayer is self-employed, registering for ITSA also registers the taxpayer for Class 2 National Insurance.

If a taxpayer who is already within ITSA has a new source of income, there is no requirement to tell HMRC separately about that new source. Instead, it is reported on the self-assessment tax return.  

The notification window depends on when in the tax year the self-employment starts or the taxpayer becomes a landlord. For example, if you started your self-employment on 6 April 2021, you must notify HMRC (normally by registering for ITSA) by 5 October 2022 – a window of 18 months. However, if you start your self-employment on 31 March 2022, you still have to notify by 5 October 2022 – a window of just over six months. This is because the notification deadline relates to the tax year in which the trade started rather than the date on which the trade started.

Possible reforms

The call for evidence sets out options for a possible reform of the rules. The first option is to reform the existing requirement to notify rules so that the taxpayer is required to notify HMRC of the liability to tax within a set window after the source first arose. Potential notification windows of two, three or four months are suggested.

The second option is to remove the current statutory obligation to notify, and to replace it with a requirement to register for ITSA within a specified period after the start of the self-employment or property business. Alternatively, the obligation to register could be triggered once turnover reaches a certain level, for example, £1,000 to align with the trading and property income allowances.

HMRC may also explore ways in which third-party data could be used to identify those who have recently started in business so that they can be made aware of the need to register, if they have not already done so.

Get in touch

If you have recently started a business or become a landlord, please get in touch. We can help you register for tax.

January 17, 2022

Help if you are struggling to pay your tax bill

Help if you are struggling to pay your tax bill

Financially, 2021 has been a difficult year for many, and you may be struggling to pay your January tax bill in full. Any tax and National Insurance that remains unpaid for 2020/21 must be paid by 31 January 2022, along with the first payment on account for 2021/22.

Contact HMRC

If you cannot pay your tax bill on time, you should contact HMRC as soon as possible – you do not need to wait until the payment is late, and it is advisable not to do so. You will be able to discuss the help that is available to you, and may be able to pay what you owe in instalments by setting up a Time to Pay arrangement.

Time to Pay arrangements

A Time to Pay arrangement is an agreement with HMRC to pay the tax that you owe in instalments. The procedure for setting up a Time to Pay arrangement depends on the type of tax that you owe and the amount that you owe.

Self-assessment

If you are unable to pay your self-assessment tax bill, you may be able to set up a Time to Pay arrangement up online via your Government Gateway account. You can do this if:

  • you have filed your latest tax return;
  • you owe less than £30,000;
  • you are within 60 days of the payment deadline; and
  • you plan to pay off your tax debt within the next 12 months, or less.

This is the most straightforward way to arrange to pay what you owe in instalments. To avoid triggering unnecessary late payment penalties, if you know that you will struggle to meet your 31 January 2022 tax bill, it is advisable to ensure that your return is filed in good time so that a Time to Pay arrangement can be in place by this date.   

Unable to make an online arrangement?

If you are unable to set up a Time to Pay arrangement online, for example, if the tax that you owe is more than £30,000, you may be able to agree an instalment payment plan by calling HMRC’s self-assessment helpline on 0300 200 3822.

Other types of tax

If you owe tax other than that due under self-assessment, or if your company cannot pay tax that it owes, you can contact HMRC’s Payment Support Service on 0300 200 3835 to discuss setting up a Time to Pay arrangement.

Information required

To set up a Time to Pay arrangement you will need to have the following information to hand:

  • your unique tax reference number;
  • your VAT registration number if you are a VAT-registered business;
  • your bank account details; and
  • details of any previous payments that you have missed.

HMRC will ask you a number of questions, including:

  • how much you can afford to repay each month;
  • whether you are able to pay what you owe in full;
  • whether there are any other tax bills that you need to pay;
  • how much money you earn;
  • how much you usually spend each month; and
  • what savings and investments you have.

HMRC expect that if you are able to pay the tax that you owe, you will do so. Also, if you have any savings or assets, they expect that you will use those to meet your tax obligations.  

Where you are unable to pay what you owe in full, HMRC will usually set your monthly payments at about 50% of the money you have left over each month after you have paid your bills.

Once a Time to Pay agreement is in place, it is important that you pay at least the agreed amount each month. If you are able, you can pay more than the agreed amount if you want to clear the debt more quickly.

Unable to agree a Time to Pay arrangement?

If you are unable to agree a Time to Pay arrangement with HMRC, for example, if HMRC do not think you will stick to the agreement because you have defaulted in the past, you will be asked to pay what you owe in full. If you are unable to do this, HMRC may take enforcement action to collect the debt.

We can help

If you are struggling to pay tax that you owe or are worried about being able to pay your January self-assessment bill, talk to us. We can help you set up a plan to pay in instalments.

January 10, 2022

File your 2020/21 tax return by 31 January 2022

File your 2020/21 tax return by 31 January 2022

If you need to file a self-assessment tax return for the year to 5 April 2021, you have until midnight on 31 January 2022 to file your return if you have not already done so. You must also pay any tax that you owe for 2020/21 by the same date.

Do I need to file a return?

You will normally need to file a tax return if you have income in respect of which the associated tax is not collected at source. This will be the case if you are self-employed, or if you are a partner in a partnership. You will also need to file a self-assessment tax return if you have income from property, or if you have realised capital gains in the tax year, or if you have other sources of untaxed income, such as dividends, investment income or foreign income.

You can also choose to file a self-assessment tax return if you want to claim income tax reliefs.

If you or your partner received child benefit in 2020/21, check whether you fall within the scope of the high income child benefit charge. If you do, you will also need to file a return.

New source of income

If you started trading in 2020/21 or became a landlord, you should have registered for self-assessment by 5 October 2021. If you have not done so, you should register as soon as possible so that you can file your return without delay.

COVID-19 support payments

If you received COVID-19 support payments in 2020/21, for example, grants under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) or hospitality and leisure grants, you will need to report these on your 2020/21 tax return. The support payments are taxable. Grants received under the SEISS should be entered in the dedicated box in your self-assessment tax return, while any other taxable COVID-19 payments should be entered in the ‘any other business income’ box. Remember, to enter the amount that you received between 6 April 2020 and 5 April 2021, regardless of the date to which you prepare your accounts.

If you are employed and received grant payments under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), you do not need to enter these payments separately on your return – they are included in the figures on your P60.

Later deadline where notice to file received after 31 October 2021

The tax return filing deadline is the later of 31 January after the end of the tax year and three months from the date on which the notice to file a return was issued by HMRC. Where this is after 31 October 2021, the filing deadline will be later than 31 January 2022. For example, if the notice to file a return was issued on 1 December 2021, the return must be filed by 1 March 2022.

File online

The deadline for filing a paper tax return was 31 October 2021 (or three months from the date of the notice to file where this was received after 31 July 2021). If a paper return is filed after that date, even if it is filed before 31 January 2022, it will be deemed to be filed late and a late filing penalty will be charged. Consequently, if you are filing your return to meet the 31 January 2022 deadline you must file it online. Remember that you must be registered with the Government Gateway and will need your details to login – make sure that you have these available in good time.

Late returns

If you file your tax return online after midnight on 31 January 2022 (unless an extended deadline applies because the notice to file was issued after 31 October 2021) you will receive an automatic penalty of £100, even if you have no tax to pay. If you think you have a reasonable excuse for filing late, you can appeal against the penalty. However, HMRC usually take a harsh line on what they consider a reasonable excuse. Further penalties are triggered if your return remains outstanding three months, six months and 12 months after the deadline.

Contact us

If you need help in filing your 2020/21 tax return, please get in touch. However, we suggest that you do not leave it until just before the filing deadline.

January 4, 2022

File your tax return by 30 December 2021 to have underpayments coded out

File your tax return by 30 December 2021 to have underpayments coded out

The deadline for filing your 2020/21 self-assessment tax return is midnight on 31 January 2022. However, if you have underpaid tax and you are employed and would prefer HMRC to collect that underpayment through your tax code, you will need to file your return online by midnight on 30 December 2021. You can also have an underpayment coded out if you filed a paper return by 31 October 2021.

Paying tax through your tax code

If you owe tax for 2020/21, rather than paying the underpaid tax in full by 31 January 2022, you may be able to have the underpayment collected through PAYE. This is done by adjusting your 2022/23 tax code (known as ‘coding out’). The effect of this is that collection of the underpayment will be spread throughout the 2022/23 tax year and deducted from your pay or your pension.

Conditions

The option to have a tax underpayment coded out is only available if all of the following conditions are met:

  • you owe less than £3,000;
  • you already pay tax under PAYE (for example, as an employee or on a company pension); and
  • you submitted a paper tax return by 31 October 2021 or an online tax return by 30 December 2021.

If you owe more than £3,000, coding out is unavailable; you will need to pay what you owe by 31 January 2022.

Talk to us

If you are likely to have a tax underpayment for 2020/21 and want to pay the tax that you owe through an adjustment to your tax code, talk to us about what you need to do to meet the 30 December 2021 filing deadline.

November 29, 2021

Plan ahead for increases in the dividend tax rates

Plan ahead for increases in the dividend tax rates

As part of the Government’s funding strategy for health and social care, the dividend tax rates are to be increased from April 2022, alongside the temporary increases in National Insurance, and, from April 2023, the introduction of the Health and Social Care Levy. The increases in the dividend tax rates will affect you if you operate your business through a personal or family company and extract profits in the form of dividends. It will also affect you if you receive dividends from investments in shares.

Dividend tax rates from April 2022

The dividend tax rates are to increase by 1.25% from 6 April 2022. Once the dividend allowance (currently set at £2,000) and the personal allowance have been utilised, dividends are currently taxed at 7.5% where they fall within the basic rate band, at 32.5% to the extent that they fall within the higher rate band, and at 38.1% where they fall within the additional rate band.

Where the strategy is to extract profits in the form of a small salary plus dividends, typically little or no National Insurance is payable. To ensure that those extracting profits as dividends contribute towards the cost of social care, from 6 April 2022, the dividend tax rates are increased by 1.25%, in line with the temporary increases in National Insurance contributions and the rate of the Health and Social Care Levy. From 6 April 2022, once the dividend allowance and the personal allowance have been used up, dividends will be taxed at 8.75% where they fall within the basic rate band, at 33.75% where they fall within the higher rate band, and at 39.35% where they fall within the additional rate band.

Plan ahead for the increases

As the increases in the dividend rates of tax do not take effect until 6 April 2022, you have time to plan ahead. If you have sufficient retained profits, you may want to consider extracting further profits as dividends in 2021/22, rather than waiting until after 6 April 2022. This will enable you to take advantage of the current, lower, rates of dividend tax. This is likely to be advantageous if you have not used up all of your basic rate band for 2021/22. If you have an alphabet share structure, dividends can be tailored to take advantage of any unused dividend allowances and basic rate bands of other family shareholders.

In deciding whether to extract additional dividends in 2021/22, you will, however, need to take account of your marginal rate of tax. If taking additional dividends now means that they will be taxed at the upper dividend rate of 32.5%, but taking those dividends in 2022/23 would mean that they will fall within the basic rate band, it will be better to take them in 2022/23 despite the rate increase as they will be taxed at 8.75% rather than 32.5%.

Speak to us

We can help you formulate a tax-efficient profit extraction policy for your business. Please get in touch.

October 19, 2021

National Insurance rises and the Health and Social Care Levy

National Insurance rises and the Health and Social Care Levy

On 8 September 2021, the Prime Minister outlined the Government’s plans for health and social care, including a new funding strategy designed to meet social care costs. A new tax, the Health and Social Care Levy, is to be introduced from 2023. However, as a temporary measure prior to its introduction, National Insurance contributions will rise for 2022/23 only. This will affect you if you are employed, self-employed or an employer.

Temporary National Insurance increases

For 2022/23 only, the rates of primary and secondary Class 1, Class 1A, Class 1B and Class 4 National Insurance contributions will all rise by 1.25%. The revenue raised as a result will go directly to support the National Health Service and equivalent bodies across the UK. From 6 April 2023, the rates will revert to their 2021/22 levels consequent on the introduction of the new Health and Social Care Levy.

Primary Class 1 National Insurance contributions

Employees currently pay primary Class 1 National Insurance at the rate of 12% on their earnings to the extent that they fall between the primary threshold (currently £184 per week) and the upper earnings limit (currently £967 per week). For 2022/23 only, the main primary rate will increase to 13.25%.

Employees also pay primary Class 1 National Insurance contributions at the additional rate on any earnings in excess of the upper earnings limit. For 2021/22, the additional rate is set at 2%. This will increase to 3.25% for 2022/23 only.

Contributions payable by an employee cease when the employee reaches state pension age.  

Secondary Class 1 National Insurance contributions

Employers pay secondary Class 1 National Insurance contributions on the earnings of their employees to the extent that they exceed the secondary threshold or the relevant upper secondary threshold, as appropriate. Contributions are payable at the secondary rate. For 2021/22, this is set at 13.8%. For 2022/23 only, the secondary rate will increase to 15.05%.

For 2021/22, the secondary threshold is set at £170 per week.

Where the employee is under the age of 21, an apprentice under the age of 25, or an armed forces veteran in the first year of their first civilian job since leaving the armed forces, employer contributions are only payable to the extent that the earnings of the employee or the apprentice exceed the relevant upper secondary threshold. For each of these groups, the relevant upper secondary threshold is set at £967 per week for 2021/22. From 2022/23, employers in Freeport tax sites will only pay secondary Class 1 employer contributions on the earnings of new Freeport employees to the extent that these exceed a new upper threshold for Freeport employees. This is to be set at £25,000 a year.

Unlike employees, employers continue to pay secondary contributions on the earnings of any employees who have reached state pension age.

Class 1A National Insurance contributions

Class 1A National Insurance contributions are employer-only contributions, payable on most taxable benefits in kind, and also on taxable termination payments in excess of £30,000 and taxable sporting termination payments in excess of £100,000.

The Class 1A rate is the same as the secondary rate of Class 1 National Insurance contributions, payable by employers on employees’ earnings. Consequently, this is set at 13.8% for 2021/22. It will increase to 15.05% for 2022/23 only.

Class 1B National Insurance contributions

Class 1B National Insurance contributions are payable by employers on items included within a PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA) in place of the Class 1 or Class 1A liability that would otherwise be due. They are also payable on the tax due under the PSA.

The Class 1B rate is also aligned with the secondary Class 1 rate, at 13.8% for 2021/22, rising to 15.05% for 2022/23 only.

Class 2 and 4 National Insurance contributions

There are two Classes of National Insurance contributions payable by the self-employed – Class 2 and Class 4. Class 2 are flat rate contributions. Class 4 are payable on profits where these exceed the lower profits limit, set at £9,568 for 2021/22. Class 4 contributions are payable at the main Class 4 rate on profits between the lower profits limit and the upper profits limit, set at £50,270 for 2021/22, and at the additional Class 4 rate on profits in excess of the upper profits limit. For 2021/22, the main Class 4 rate is 9%. For 2022/23 only, it will increase by 1.25% to 10.25%. The additional Class 4 rate is currently 2%. It will increase by 1.25% for 2022/23 only, to 3.25%.

Class 2 National Insurance contributions are not affected by the temporary increase applying for 2022/23.

Class 3 National Insurance contributions

Class 3 National Insurance contributions are voluntary contributions which a contributor may choose to pay to make up for a shortfall in their National Insurance record. Class 3 National Insurance contributions are unaffected by the temporary increase in National Insurance contributions applying for 2022/23.

Health and Social Care Levy

A new tax, the Health and Social Care Levy, is to be introduced from April 2023. Funds raised from the levy will be ring-fenced to support UK health and social care bodies.

The levy is set at 1.25%. It will be payable on the earnings on which an employee, an employer or a self-employer person is liable to pay a qualifying National Insurance contribution. Qualifying National Insurance contributions are Class 1, Class 1A, Class 1B and Class 4. However, unlike National Insurance contributions, the Health and Social Care Levy will be payable on earnings and profits of individuals who are above state pension age.

The new Health and Social Care Levy will operate in the same way as National Insurance contributions for administrative purposes.

Get in touch

We can explain what the National Insurance increases and the new Health and Social Care Levy will mean for you.

October 11, 2021

Basis period reform

Basis period reform

HMRC have been consulting on the reform of the basis period rules in preparation for the introduction of Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self-Assessment (MTD ITSA), which comes into effect from April 2023. A consultation paper was published in July 2021, which sets out new simplified basis period rules. Comments were sought by 31 August 2021 on how best to implement the reforms.

Existing rules – the current year basis

Once an unincorporated business is established, it is taxed on the current year basis. Special rules apply in the opening and closing years of the business. Under the current year basis, the profits that are taxed for a particular tax year are those for the accounting period that ends in that tax year. Consequently, if the business prepares its accounts to 30 June each year, for the 2021/22 tax year, it will be taxed on its profits for the year to 30 June 2021, as this is the year that ends between 6 April 2021 and 5 April 2022.

Under the existing rules, some of the profits of the business may be taxed twice in the opening years. These profits are known as ‘overlap’ profits. Relief for the double taxation of these profits, known as ‘overlap relief’, is given when the business ceases, or earlier if there is a change of accounting date.

New rules – tax year basis

The reforms will mean that unincorporated businesses will be taxed on the profits arising in the tax year – i.e., the profits for the period from 6 April to the following 5 April. Where the business prepares accounts to 31 March, these will be deemed to correspond to the tax year (as will the preparation of accounts to any date between 31 March and 5 April).

If you prepare accounts to a date other than 31 March/5 April, you will need to apportion your profits so that they correspond to the tax year. For example, if you prepare your accounts to 30 June, for 2023/24, you will be taxed on 3/12th of the profit for the year to 30 June 2023 (covering the period from 6 April 2023 to 30 June 2023) plus 9/12th of the profit for the year to 30 June 2024 (covering the period from 1 July 2023 to 5 April 2024).

The tax year basis will apply from 2023/24, with 2022/23 being a transitional year.

Estimation of profits

If you have an accounting date late in the tax year and prepare accounts other than to 31 March/5 April, you may not have the second set of accounts available when you come to complete your tax return. For example, if you prepare your accounts to 28 February, for 2023/24 you will be taxed on 11/12th of your profit for the year to 28 February 2024 and 1/12th of your profit for the year to 28 February 2025. The accounts to 28 February 2025 will not be available by 31 January 2025, and you would be expected to file a provisional return, which would be amended later when the information is available.

This will create extra work, and HMRC are looking at alternative estimation approaches, such as making an estimate based on the profits for the quarterly updates submitted under MTD ITSA, extrapolating the profits for the ‘known’ part of the tax year, and allowing the final figures to be provided as part of the following year’s return.

To overcome this, you may prefer to change your accounting date and prepare accounts to 31 March/5 April. This will avoid the need for an apportionment calculation and reduce your workload.

Transitional rules

Transitional rules are needed to move from the current year basis to the tax year basis. The transition year is 2022/23.

For the transition year, the taxable profits for a business that does not have a 31 March/5 April year end will comprise the sum of:

  • the standard component (which is the profit assessable in 2022/23 under the current year basis); and
  • the transition component (which is the profit for the period from the end of the current year basis period to the end of the 2022/23 tax year).

Any historic overlap relief can be claimed in the transition year by deducting overlap profits from the result of the above calculation.

For example, if you prepare accounts to 30 June each year, for 2022/2023, you will be taxed on the profits for the year to 30 June 2022 (the basis period for 2022/23 under the current year basis) plus profits for the period from 1 July 2022 to 5 April 2023 (the transition component), less any overlap profits. The overlap relief will cover the period from the date on which the business started to the following 5 April.  

Spreading excess profits

In the transition year, your profits may be higher than normal. This will be the case if your transition component is more than your overlap relief. If you started your business some time ago, the impact of inflation may mean that your overlap profits are considerably less than the profits of the transition component, even if they both cover the same number of months. If your profits are higher than normal, your tax bill will also be higher, and you may pay tax at a higher marginal rate as a result.

To mitigate the effect of the transition year on cash flow, HMRC plan to allow businesses to elect to spread any excess profits in the transition year over five years.

Equivalence rules

As part of the simplification reforms, HMRC propose that the statutory rule which deems 31 March to be equivalent to 5 April in the first three years of a trade is extended so that it applies to all the years of the trade. This will mean that where accounts are prepared to 31 March, the business would not need to make small adjustments for the profits of the business to correspond to the tax year, which runs to 5 April. The consultation sought views on whether this equivalence rule should be extended to property businesses.  

We can help

Please talk to us about what the reforms will mean for your business, and what you need to do to prepare for the introduction of MTD ITSA.

September 6, 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

Reporting SEISS payments on your tax return

Reporting SEISS payments on your tax return

If you have received one or more grants under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), it is important that you report the payments correctly on your tax return.

2020/21 self-assessment tax return

SEISS grants that were received in the 2020/21 tax year (i.e., between 6 April 2020 and 5 April 2021) should be reported on your 2020/21 self-assessment tax return, regardless of the date to which you prepare your accounts. The return must be filed online by midnight on 31 January 2022 (or by 31 October 2021 if you file a paper return). The first three grants under the scheme were paid in the 2020/21 tax year.

If you have already filed your 2020/21 tax return, HMRC may adjust your return if the information that they hold on the SEISS payments that have been made to you does not match what is shown on your return.

How to report SEISS payments

Grant payments received under the SEISS should not be included in turnover. Instead, they should be reported separately on the 2020/21 tax return in the box for Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grants. The location of the box depends on which self-assessment tax return is completed. It can be found:

  • on page 2 of the ‘other tax adjustments’ section on the self-employment pages (SA103F) of the full return;
  • in the ‘other tax adjustments’ section of the self-employment (short) page (SA103S);
  • on page 2 of the ‘trading or professional profits’ section of the partnership return; and
  • in section 3.10A of the SA200 short tax return.

HMRC corrections

HMRC will check the SEISS grants payments reported in the return against their records of the grants that have been paid to you.

If you have already submitted your 2020/21 tax return, and the amount of the SEISS payments that you reported on your return did not tally with HMRC’s records, HMRC will adjust your return to match their records and they will send you a revised tax calculation.

It is advisable that you check the figures on HMRC’s revised calculation against your records of the grants received. You can check the amounts that you have received either by logging into the SEISS claims service or against your bank statements for the account into which the payments were made.

If you do not agree with HMRC’s revised figures, you should contact their Coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline for businesses and self-employed people.

Failure to report SEISS payments

If you received one or more grants under the SEISS in 2020/21 and do not include them on your self-assessment tax return for that year, HMRC will adjust your return to reflect the payments and send you a revised tax calculation. As a result, you may find that you owe more tax than you expected, have an unexpected tax bill, or that the tax repayment you were expecting is reduced.

SEISS payments reported in the wrong box

If you included SEISS payments in your 2020/21 tax return, but did not enter the amount that you received in the designated box, for example, because you included it in turnover or entered it in one of the ‘other income’ boxes, you will need to amend your self-assessment tax return so that the grants are entered in the correct box and removed from the wrong box. If you do not do this, the grant income will be assessed twice, as HMRC will adjust the return to enter details of grants received in the correct box (but will not remove the income from elsewhere in the return). 

Failure to complete a self-employment or partnership page

To qualify for the SEISS grants for 2020/21, you had to be trading in that tax year. If you have not completed a self-assessment or partnership page, HMRC will assume that you were not trading, and therefore ineligible for the grants. Consequently, they will seek to recover any grants that were paid to you.  

If you were trading, but omitted to complete the relevant pages, you should amend your tax return to reflect this.  

Appeal if you disagree with HMRC’s adjustments

If you do not agree with the changes that HMRC have made to your tax return in respect of your SEISS grant payments, you can appeal. However, you must do this within 30 days of the date on the SA302 letter advising you of the changes that they have made to your return.

HMRC have not yet taken account of changes that were made to 2020/21 tax returns before 19 June 2021. If you corrected your return before that date, you do not need to contact HMRC as they will process the amendments separately.

Speak to us

Contact us if HMRC have adjusted the SEISS payments reported in your 2020/21 tax return. We can help you check whether the figures are correct, and take action if they are not.

August 16, 2021

Voluntary Class 2 NICs where 2019/20 tax return filed after 31 January 2021

Voluntary Class 2 NICs where 2019/20 tax return filed after 31 January 2021

If you are self-employed, you will pay Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance contributions if your profits exceed the relevant thresholds. Class 2 National Insurance contributions are the mechanism by which you build up qualifying years to earn entitlement to the state pension and certain contributory benefits. If your profits are below the small profits threshold, you can opt to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions voluntarily to maintain your National Insurance record.

Extended deadline for filing 2019/20 tax return

The normal filing deadline for the 2019/20 self-assessment tax return was 31 January 2021. However, to help taxpayers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, HMRC waived the late filing penalty that would usually apply where a return was filed after 31 January, as long as the return was filed by midnight on 28 February 2021. This effectively extended the filing window by one month.

This had unintended consequences for self-employed taxpayers who opted to file their 2019/20 tax return in February 2021, and who chose to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions voluntarily where their profits for 2019/20 were below the small profits threshold for that year of £6,365.

Nature of the problem

HMRC’s systems were unable to deal with the payment of voluntary Class 2 contributions where the 2019/20 tax return was filed after 31 January 2021. They did not have time to implement alternative procedures either.

The normal deadline for paying Class 2 National Insurance contributions for 2019/20 was 31 January 2021.

If you opted to pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions voluntarily and paid by this date but before the return was filed, they could not be processed as HMRC were unaware of what the payment related to. This may be the case if you made the payment before the 31 January 2021 deadline, but filed your tax return in February 2021.

If you filed your return in February 2021 and paid your voluntary Class 2 National Insurance contributions when you filed your return, the contributions were paid late as they were paid after 31 January 2021. In this situation, HMRC corrected your return to remove the voluntary contributions.

Payments made in respect of voluntary Class 2 contributions in these circumstances were allocated elsewhere, held on account or refunded.

The solution

If you have been affected by this issue, you should contact HMRC on 0300 200 3500 as soon as you become aware that this is the case, for example, when you receive a refund, or see from your personal tax account that your contributions have been allocated against another payment.

If you have already received a refund, HMRC will let you know how you can pay Class 2 contributions voluntarily. If you have not already received a refund, they will ensure that the payment is correctly recorded as Class 2 National Insurance contributions.

Check your National Insurance record

It is advisable to check your National Insurance record to see if you have any gaps. Failure to contact HMRC if you have been affected by the above issue may mean that you do not receive a credit for 2019/20, resulting in a gap in your contributions record.

Contact us

Contact us if you paid voluntary Class 2 National Insurance for 2019/20 and filed your return in February 2021 to check that your contributions have been credited to your account.

June 28, 2021

Claim tax relief for expenses of working from home

Claim tax relief for expenses of working from home

If you are an employee and you are, or have been, working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be able to claim tax relief for the additional household costs that you have incurred as a result. HMRC are now accepting claims for the current (2021/22) tax year.

Nature of the relief

You can benefit from the relief if you are an employee and you were told by your employer to work from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and, as a result of working from home, your household costs have increased. For example, your electricity bill may be higher because you are using your computer all day and your gas bill may be higher because you have the heating on while you are working.

You can also claim the relief if you work from home other than because of the pandemic, as long as the nature of your job requires you to work from home. However, you are not able to claim the relief if you simply choose to work from home rather than at your employer’s workplace.

If your employer has met the cost of your additional household costs (to which a separate tax exemption applies), you are not entitled to claim the relief as well.

Amount of the relief

A claim for tax relief for additional household costs of £6 per week (£26 per month) can be made without the need to provide evidence to support the claim. The claim is worth £62.40 a year if you pay tax at the basic rate, £124.80 a year if you pay tax at the higher rate, and £140.40 a year if you pay tax at the additional rate.

If your household bills have risen by more than £6 per week as a result of working from home, you can claim tax relief based on the actual additional costs. However, you will need evidence, for example, copies of bills showing how costs have increased, to back up your claim.

Making a claim

You can claim relief via the dedicated HMRC portal.

Relief is given for the whole tax year, regardless of the number of weeks for which you worked from home. Once HMRC have approved your claim, they will amend your tax code to take account of the relief.

If you worked from home as a result of COVID-19 during 2020/21 and have yet to make a claim for tax relief for your additional household costs, it is not too late – HMRC will accept backdated claims for up to four years.

Get in touch

Why not get in touch to find out whether you can claim tax relief for the additional costs of working from home.

June 21, 2021

Extended carry-back for losses

Extended carry-back for losses

To help businesses which have suffered losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the period for which certain trading losses can be carried back is extended from one year to three years. The extended carry-back period applies for both income tax and corporation tax purposes. If you have made losses as a result of the impact of the pandemic, you may be able to take advantage of the extended carry-back period to generate a welcome tax repayment. Guidance on the rules can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Income tax

Where a trading loss is made by an unincorporated business, there are a number of options available to relieve that loss. The options open to a particular business depend on when in the business lifecycle the loss is incurred, and also whether the business prepares its accounts using the cash basis or the accrual basis. The loss can be set against general income of the current and/or previous year, and also against future trading profits of the same trade, with special rules applying to relieve losses incurred in the early years of the trade, and in the final year.

One option for obtaining relief for a trading loss is to set the loss against general income of the year of the loss and/or the previous year. However, where accounts are prepared using the cash basis, sideways loss relief against other income or relief against capital gains is not permitted – the loss can only be set against trading profits of the same trade.

The temporary extension to the carry-back rules extends the period for which the loss can be carried back from one year to three years. Where a claim is made under the new rules, losses are set against the trading profits of a later year before those of an early year. Any loss carried back under the temporary carry-back rules can only be set against previous trading profits of the same trade – there is no extension to other income.

Relief for a 2020/21 loss

Unless the business is a new business to which the opening year basis period rules apply, a loss for the 2020/21 tax year will be a loss for an accounting period ending in that year, i.e., between 6 April 2020 and 5 April 2021.

The extended carry back is available where a claim is made to relieve the loss against general income of 2020/21 and/or 2019/20 and income in these years is insufficient to utilise the full loss. The unrelieved loss can be carried back and set against trading profits of 2018/19 and, to the extent that any of the loss remains unrelieved, against trading profits of 2017/18. It is not possible to tailor the loss to preserve personal allowances — it must be set in full against the available trading profits.

To the extent that the loss remains unrelieved after making a claim under the extended carry-back rules, it can be carried forward for relief against future profits of the same trade.

Relief for a 2021/22 loss

The extended carry-back period is also available for a 2021/22 loss. For an established business, this will be a loss for an accounting period which ends between 6 April 2021 and 5 April 2022.

As with a loss for 2020/21, the temporary rules allow a loss for 2021/22 which cannot be fully relieved against income of 2021/22 and 2020/21 to be carried back. The unrelieved loss can be set first against trading profits of the same trade for 2019/20 and, to the extent that any of the loss remains unrelieved, against trading profits of 2018/19.

If a claim has been made to relieve a 2020/21 loss against general income of 2019/20, this takes precedence over a claim to carry back a 2021/22 loss against trading profits of 2019/20 under the new rules.

Cap on loss relief

The normal cap on loss relief of £50,000 or, where higher, 25% of adjusted net income, does not apply to losses relieved under the extended carry-back rules. Instead, the loss that can be carried back for each year is capped at £2 million.

Corporation tax

For corporation tax purposes, a loss can be carried back and set against profits from the same trade for the previous accounting period or carried forward and set against future profits of the same trade. The period for which losses can be carried back is extended from one year to three years for a limited period.

The extended carry-back period applies to losses for accounting periods ending between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2022. For each accounting period, the loss that can be carried back under the new rules is capped at £2 million. Where a company is part of a group, the cap applies to the group as a whole. Losses carried back must be set against the profits of a later period before those of an earlier period.

Benefits of carrying a loss back

The ability to carry a loss back can be beneficial where this generates a repayment of tax already paid for a previous year. This will be particularly true for companies within the charge for corporation tax.

For unincorporated businesses the position is more complex where carrying back a loss results in personal allowances being wasted. Where this is the case, and the trader expects to return to profit, it may be preferable to carry the loss forward for use against future trading profits of the same trade. The best result will depend on individual circumstances and priorities, and there is no substitute for doing the sums.

Speak to us

If you have realised a loss, or expect to, as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, speak to us to find out how best to obtain relief for that loss.

May 5, 2021

Thresholds and allowances frozen until April 2026

Thresholds and allowances frozen until April 2026

To help meet some of the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chancellor has opted to freeze various allowances and thresholds until April 2026, rather than increase the rates of income tax and capital gains tax. As incomes rise over the period, more people will pay tax, and more people will pay tax at the higher and the additional rates.

Personal allowance and basic rate band

The personal allowance is increased to £12,570 for 2021/22, from £12,500 for 2020/21. It will remain at this level for all tax years up to and including 2025/26. The allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 by which income exceeds £100,000. As a result, for the tax years 2021/22 to 2025/26 inclusive, anyone with income in excess of £125,140 will not receive a personal allowance.

The basic rate band is increased to £37,700 for 2021/22, from £35,500 for 2020/21. As a result, the point at which taxpayers in receipt of the standard personal allowance start to pay higher rate tax is increased to £50,270 for 2021/22, from £50,000 for 2020/21. It will remain at £50,270 for future tax years up to and including 2025/26.

Capital gains tax annual exempt amount

Individuals are allowed to realise net chargeable gains up to the level of the annual exempt amount for each tax year before a liability to capital gains tax arises. The capital gains tax annual exempt amount remains at £12,300 for 2021/22, and will stay at this level for the following four tax years.

National Insurance thresholds

The upper earnings limit for Class 1 National Insurance contributions and the upper profits limits for Class 4 National Insurance contributions are aligned with the level at which higher rate tax become payable. This ensures that once a person starts to pay tax at the higher rate, the rate at which they pay National Insurance drops to the additional rate of 2%, so that they do not pay both higher rate tax and main rate National Insurance contributions on the same income. For 2021/22, the upper earnings limit for Class 1 National Insurance contributions and the upper profits limit for Class 4 National Insurance contributions are set at £50,270. As the higher rate threshold is frozen at this level until April 2026, both the upper earnings limit and the upper profits limit will remain at £50,270 for all tax years up to and including 2025/26.

Inheritance tax nil rate bands

No inheritance tax is payable unless the value of the deceased’s estate exceeds the nil rate band. This has been frozen at £325,000 since 2008/09. It was due to be reviewed in 2021. However, at the time of the 2021 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the nil rate band would remain at £325,000 for another five years, for 2021/22 to 2025/66 inclusive.

A further nil rate band – the residence nil rate band (RNRB) – is available where the main residence is left to a direct descendant, such as a child or a grandchild. The RNRB remains at its 2020/21 level of £175,000 for 2021/22. It too is frozen at this level until April 2026.

The freezing of the nil rate bands will bring more estates within the charge to inheritance tax. Planning ahead and making more lifetime transfers could reduce the eventual liability on the estate at death.

Pension lifetime allowance

The pension lifetime allowance places a cap on the value of tax-relieved pension savings. The lifetime allowance remains at its 2020/21 level of £1,073,100 for 2021/22 and for the following four tax years. If the value of your pension savings is nearing this level, it is important that you review your pension pot before making further tax-relieved contributions in any of the years from 2021/22 to 2025/26 inclusive.

Where tax-relieved pension savings exceed the lifetime allowance, tax relief is clawed back at the rate of 25% where the excess is taken as a pension, and at the rate of 55% where the excess is taken as a lump sum.

Get in touch

Speak to us to understand what the freezing of the allowances and thresholds will mean to you, and what action you can take to mitigate the effects.

April 1, 2021

Budget 2021 – Personal Tax

Budget 2021 – Personal Tax

The personal allowance

The personal allowance is currently £12,500. Budget 2018 announced that the allowance would remain at the same level until 2020/21 and the statutory provision to increase the allowance annually by CPI was to be overridden. The Chancellor has confirmed that the personal allowance will increase by CPI (0.5%) for 2021/22 to £12,570.

There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000. The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for the current tax year there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £125,000. For 2021/22 there will be no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £125,140.

The Chancellor announced that the personal allowance will be frozen at £12,570 for the tax years 2022/23 to 2025/26.

The marriage allowance

The marriage allowance permits certain couples, where neither pays tax at more than the basic rate, to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner.

The marriage allowance reduces the recipient’s tax bill by up to approximately £250 a year. The marriage allowance was first introduced for 2015/16 and there are couples who are entitled to claim but have not yet done so. It is possible to claim for all years back to 2016/17 where the entitlement conditions are met. The total tax saving for all years up until 2020/21 could be over £1,000. A claim for 2016/17 will need to be made by 5 April 2021.

Tax bands and rates

The basic rate of tax is 20%. In 2020/21 the band of income taxable at this rate is £37,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £50,000 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.

The Chancellor announced that for 2021/22 the basic rate band will be £37,700 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies will be £50,270 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance. The Chancellor announced that the basic rate band will be frozen at £37,700 for the tax years 2022/23 to 2025/26. The National Insurance contributions Upper Earnings Limit and Upper Profits Limit will remain aligned to the higher rate threshold at £50,270 for these years.

Individuals pay tax at 45% on their income over £150,000.

Scottish residents

The tax on income (other than savings and dividend income) is different, for taxpayers who are resident in Scotland, from taxpayers resident elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish income tax rates and bands apply to income such as employment income, self-employed trade profits and property income.

In 2020/21 there are five income tax rates which range between 19% and 46%. Scottish taxpayers are entitled to the same personal allowance as individuals in the rest of the UK. The two higher rates are 41% and 46% rather than the 40% and 45% rates that apply to such income for other UK residents. For 2020/21, the 41% band applies to income over £43,430 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance. The 46% rate applies to income over £150,000.

In the Scottish Budget on 28 January 2021, the Scottish Government proposed that the Scottish income tax rates will be frozen for 2021/22. The thresholds for the tax bands will be increased by 0.5% except for the 46% rate threshold which remains at £150,000. So the 41% band will apply to income over £43,662 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.

Welsh residents

From April 2019, the Welsh Government has had the right to vary the rates of income tax payable by Welsh taxpayers. The UK government has reduced each of the three rates of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers by 10 pence. For 2020/21 the Welsh Government has set the Welsh rate of income tax at 10 pence which has been added to the reduced rates. This means the tax payable by Welsh taxpayers is the same as that payable by English and Northern Irish taxpayers.

The Welsh Government has announced that the income tax rate will remain at 10 pence for 2021/22.

Tax on savings income

Savings income is income such as bank and building society interest.

The Savings Allowance applies to savings income and the available allowance in a tax year depends on the individual’s marginal rate of income tax. Broadly, individuals taxed at up to the basic rate of tax have an allowance of £1,000. For higher rate taxpayers the allowance is £500. No allowance is due to additional rate taxpayers.

Some individuals qualify for a 0% starting rate of tax on savings income up to £5,000. However, the rate is not available if taxable non-savings income (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income, less allocated allowances and reliefs) exceeds £5,000.

Tax on dividends

The first £2,000 of dividends is chargeable to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). Dividends received above the allowance are taxed at the following rates:

  • 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers
  • 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers
  • 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.

Dividends within the allowance still count towards an individual’s basic or higher rate band and so may affect the rate of tax paid on dividends above the Dividend Allowance.

To determine which tax band dividends fall into, dividends are treated as the last type of income to be taxed.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a single payment that is made up of different amounts depending on an individual’s circumstances. There is no entitlement if an individual’s capital is worth more than £16,000. Shortly after the 2020 Budget the Chancellor announced an increase in the Universal Credit standard allowance by £20 per week for one year.

The government is extending the temporary £20 per week increase for a further six months.

Working Tax Credit

The government is making a one-off payment of £500 to eligible Working Tax Credit claimants to provide extra support over the next six months.

Mortgage guarantee scheme

The government will introduce a new mortgage guarantee scheme in April 2021. This scheme will provide a guarantee to lenders across the UK who offer mortgages to people with a deposit of 5% on homes with a value of up to £600,000.

Under the scheme, all buyers will have the opportunity to fix their initial mortgage interest rate for at least five years should they wish to. The scheme, which will be available for new mortgages up to 31 December 2022, is designed to increase the availability of mortgages on new or existing properties for those with small deposits.

Green National Savings and Investment (NS&I) product

The government will offer a green retail savings product through NS&I in the summer of 2021. This product will be closely linked to the UK’s sovereign green bond framework and will give all UK savers the opportunity to take part in the collective effort to tackle climate change. The green gilt framework, to be published in June, will detail the types of expenditure that will be financed to meet the government’s green objectives.

Venture Capital Schemes: extension of the Social Investment Tax Relief

The government will continue to support social enterprises that are seeking growth investment by extending the operation of Social Investment Tax Relief to April 2023. This will continue the availability of income tax relief and capital gains tax hold-over relief for investors in qualifying social enterprises.

Pensions Lifetime Allowance

The lifetime limit sets the maximum figure for tax-relieved savings that an individual can build up over their lifetime.

Legislation will be introduced to remove the annual link to the CPI increase for the next five years. This will maintain the standard Lifetime Allowance at £1,073,100 for tax years 2021/22 to 2025/26.

Budget 2021 links:

March 4, 2021

Gift Aid warning

Gift Aid warning

If you are a taxpayer and you make a Gift Aid declaration when making a donation to a charity, the charity can reclaim basic rate tax on your donation.

Tax relief on the donation

A donation made under Gift Aid is treated as being made net of the basic rate of tax, currently 20%. The charity can reclaim 25% of the amount donated. For example, if you donate £100, the charity can reclaim £25 (25% of £100), bringing the total donation up to £125. Your donation of £100 is 80% of the total donation, with the charity reclaiming the remaining 20%, i.e., £25.

If you are a higher rate taxpayer or an additional rate taxpayer, you can claim relief through your self-assessment tax return for the difference between the highest rate at which you pay tax and the basic rate relief received at source – a further 20% of the gross donation for higher rate taxpayers and a further 25% for additional rate taxpayers.

Have you paid enough tax?

The tax that is reclaimed by the charity on the donation is funded by the tax that the taxpayer has paid. As long as you pay more tax than the charity reclaims on your Gift Aided donations, all is well. However, problems can arise if your income falls and you have not paid enough tax to cover that reclaimed on your Gift Aid donations. If this is the case, HMRC will look to you to make up the shortfall.

Review your Gift Aid donations

If your income has fallen for 2020/21, either as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or otherwise, you may wish to review your regular Gift Aid donations to ensure that you have paid sufficient tax to cover the basic rate relief given at source. If your income has fallen below the level of the personal allowance, set at £12,500 for 2020/21 and rising to £12,570 for 2021/22, you should cancel any existing Gift Aid declarations so that you do not have to repay the tax claimed on those donations back to HMRC.

When making one-off donations, consider your tax position before completing the Gift Aid declaration.

Contact us

If you would like to review the tax effectiveness of your charitable donations, please contact us.

February 17, 2021

Updating PAYE codes for 2021/22

Updating PAYE codes for 2021/22

The 2021/22 tax year starts on 6 April 2021. If you employ staff, you will need to update their tax codes before you pay them for the first time in the new tax year. However, remember to finalise the 2020/21 tax year before updating your payroll software and data for 2021/22.

Tax codes from 6 April 2021

The tax code that you will need to use for an employee from 6 April 2021 will depend on whether or not HMRC have sent you a notification of a new tax code to use from that date.

The personal allowance is increased to £12,570 for 2021/22. As a result, the PAYE starting threshold will increase to £242 per week (£1,048 per month). The emergency tax code for 2021/22 is 1270L.

Employees with a new tax code

If HMRC issue a new tax code for an employee, you will receive either a paper form P9(T), ‘Notice to employer of employee’s tax code’, or an internet notification of coding if you are registered for HMRC’s PAYE Online Service. To access your code online, you will need to:

  1. Go to the login page for PAYE online and select ‘Sign in’.
  2. Sign in to the service using your Government Gateway User ID and password.
  3. From your Business Tax Account home page, select ‘Messages’ and then select ‘PAYE for employers messages’.
  4. Select ‘View your tax code notices’.
  5. From the tax year drop down menu, select ‘2021/2022’.

You should use the form P9(T) or the online tax code notification with the most recent date if you have received more than one for 2021/22, and discard any previous notifications. You should update your 2021/22 payroll to reflect the tax code shown in the notification for that employee.

Employees without a new tax code

If HMRC have not issued a tax code notification for an employee, you will need to update their 2020/21 tax code to reflect the increase in the personal allowance to £12,570 for 2021/22. To do this, you should:

  • add 7 to any tax code ending in L;
  • add 8 to any tax code ending in M; and
  • add 6 to any tax code ending in N.

For example, 1250L will become 1257L.

You should not carry over any ‘week 1’ or ‘month 1’ markings.

Scottish and Welsh taxpayers

Scottish taxpayers are identified with an ‘S’ prefix and Welsh taxpayers are identified with a ‘C’ prefix. Check any Scottish or Welsh employees (those living, respectively, in Scotland or in Wales) have the correct tax codes, including the prefix.

More information

You can find more information on tax codes to use from 6 April 2021 in HMRC’s P9X(2021) guidance.

Get in touch

Please get in touch if you need assistance in updating your employees’ tax codes for the 2021/22 tax year.

February 10, 2021

31 January self-assessment deadline approaching

31 January self-assessment deadline approaching

There are a number of key tasks that you need complete by midnight on 31 January 2021. These include filing the self-assessment tax return for 2019/20, paying any remaining tax due for 2019/20 and, where applicable, calculating and paying the first payment on account for 2020/21.

Filing deadline

The deadline for filing the 2019/20 tax return online is midnight on 31 January 2021. If you received a notice to file a return which was issued after 31 October 2020, a later deadline applies, and you have three months from the date of that notice in which to file your return. The deadline for filing paper returns (31 October 2020) has already passed. While any paper returns filed after that date (or more than three months from the date of notice to file a return, if later) will attract a late filing penalty, the penalty can be avoided by filing your return online by midnight on 31 January 2021.

If you miss the filing deadline, you will receive an automatic late filing penalty of £100. This is the case regardless of whether you have any tax to pay. Further late filing penalties are charged where the return remains outstanding after three months, six months and 12 months.

Do I need to file a return?

You will need to file a tax return if HMRC have sent you a notice requiring you to file one. You will also need to register for self-assessment if you have not already done so and file a tax return for 2019/20 if in that year you had taxable income that was not taxed at source. This might include:

  • income from self-employment of more than £1,000;
  • money received from renting out a property;
  • savings income, such as interest or dividends;
  • foreign income; or
  • capital gains.

You might also need to fill in a tax return if you have income tax reliefs that you wish to claim, although this will not always be the case as some, for example, relief for employment expenses, can be claimed online.

Paying tax

You must pay any tax owing for 2019/20 plus the first payment on account for 2020/21 by 31 January 2021. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may find that your bill is higher than normal this year if you opted to delay making the second payment on account for 2019/20. If you are struggling to pay your bill, you may be able to pay in instalments.

If you filed your tax return by 30 December 2020, have PAYE income and owe £3,000 or less, the tax that you owe can be collected through PAYE by adjusting your 2021/22 tax code.

Tax due for 2019/20

Unless you have agreed a Time-to-Pay arrangement with HMRC, you will need to pay any tax that you owe for 2019/20 by 31 January 2021. Remember, to take off any payments that you have already made when working out what you need to pay – the HMRC tax calculation does not do this automatically. If you are unsure what payments have been made, you can check this by looking at your personal tax account.

If you opted to delay your second payment on account for 2019/20 (which would have normally been due by 31 July 2020), you will need to pay this by 31 January 2021, along with any balance that remains outstanding. As long as you pay the delayed payment by this date, there will be no interest to pay.

First payment on account for 2020/21

You will need to make payments on account of your 2020/21 self-assessment liability if your tax and Class 4 National Insurance bill for 2019/20 was at least £1,000, unless at least 80% of your tax is collected at source, for example, under PAYE. Each payment on account for 2020/21 is 50% of the tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability for 2019/20. You must make the payments by 31 January 2021 and 31 July 2021.

However, because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, your liability for 2020/21 may be considerably lower than that for 2019/20. The payments on account for 2020/21 are based on pre-pandemic profits of 2019/20; where your income has fallen significantly, you may wish to reduce your 2020/21 payments on account to more realistic levels. However, when working out your estimated liability for 2020/21, remember to include any COVID-19 support payments as these are taxable. You can opt to reduce your payments on account by completing the relevant section of your self-assessment tax return or via your personal tax account.

Payment difficulties

If you are struggling to pay the tax that you owe by 31 January 2021, you may be able to set up an arrangement to spread the cost and pay your tax in instalments. You can do this online if you owe £30,000 or less and have no other payment plans or debts with HMRC; otherwise, you will need to contact HMRC to agree a payment plan.

Interest and penalties

If you pay any tax owing for 2019/20 after 31 January or make your 2020/21 payments on account late or reduce your payments on account by too much, you will be charged interest. Interest is also charged where payments are made in instalments. In the absence of an instalment plan, you will also be charged penalties at the rate of 5% of the unpaid tax where it remains unpaid after 30 days, six months and 12 months.

Contact us

Please let us know if you would like us to file your return on your behalf or if you need help working out what tax you need to pay and by when.

December 2, 2020

File your tax return by 30 December 2020

File your tax return by 30 December 2020

Although the deadline by which your 2019/20 self-assessment tax return must be filed online is 31 January 2021, an earlier deadline of 30 December 2020 applies if you want any tax that you owe for 2019/20 to be collected through PAYE. This can be advantageous as you can spread the cost across the tax year, rather than paying it in a single instalment.

Conditions

You can pay your self-assessment bill through PAYE if all of the following apply:

  • the amount that you owe is £3,000 or less;
  • you already pay tax through PAYE (for example, because you are an employee or you receive a company pension); and
  • you either submitted a paper tax return for 2019/20 by 31 October 2020 or filed your return online by 30 December 2020.

You should note that if you meet all of these conditions, HMRC will collect any tax that you owe through the PAYE system. If you file your self-assessment return by 30 December 2020 and owe less than £3,000 and do not want to pay it in this way, you will need let HMRC know. You can do this on your tax return. If you choose this route, you will need to pay the tax you owe for 2019/20 by 31 January 2021 (unless you have agreed a Time to Pay arrangement with HMRC).

You will not be able to pay any tax that you owe via PAYE if:

  • you do not have sufficient PAYE income to cover the tax that you owe;
  • collecting tax in this way would mean that you would pay more than 50% of your PAYE income in tax; or
  • if you would end up paying twice as much tax as you would do otherwise.

Collection through your tax code

Your tax code will be adjusted to facilitate the collection of the tax that you owe through the PAYE system. The adjustment will reflect the amount that you owe and the rate at which you pay tax.

Underpayments for 2019/20 will be collected by adjusting the 2021/22 tax code. Adjusting the tax code will have the effect of collecting the underpaid tax in 12 equal instalments over the 2021/22 tax year. Interest is not charged, meaning this is an interest-free way of paying any tax that you owe in instalments.

Speak to us

If you have a tax underpayment of £3,000 or less and would like it to be collected via an adjustment to your 2021/22 tax code, please let us know so that we can ensure that your 2019/20 tax return is filed by the 30 December 2020 deadline.

November 18, 2020

More time to pay your tax bills

More time to pay your tax bills

In his Winter Economy Plan, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, unveiled measures which will allow self-assessment taxpayers and VAT-registered businesses more time to pay back deferred tax.

New Payment Plan for VAT

At the start of the pandemic, VAT-registered business could delay paying VAT where it fell due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. VAT falling due after that date – i.e. that for VAT quarters ending on or after 31 May 2020 – must be paid in full and on time.

Under the original proposals, if you took advantage of the opportunity to defer paying your VAT due to Coronavirus, you had until 31 March 2021 to pay it. However, if this is likely to be difficult, you can take advantage of the New Payment Plan for VAT and instead pay your deferred VAT in 11 interest-free instalments over the 2021/22 tax year. This will mean that you will have an additional year – until 31 March 2022 rather than 31 March 2021 – to pay the full amount. To take advantage of the instalment option, you will need to opt in. HMRC will publish details of how to do this over the coming months.

Enhanced Time-to-Pay for self-assessment

If you owe tax under self-assessment, you will be able to use enhanced Time-to-Pay arrangements to set up a monthly repayment plan online, without the need to call HMRC. Taxpayers can now use this service as long as they do not owe more than £30,000 in tax. Previously, the service was only available to taxpayers owing £10,000 or less.

Self-assessment taxpayers were able to opt to delay the second payment on account for 2019/20, which was due by 31 July 2020. Under the original proposals, the deferred tax had to be paid by 31 January 2021, together with any balancing payment for 2019/20 and the first payment on account for 2020/21.

If you need more time to pay your tax, you can use HMRC’s self-service facility to set up a Time-to-Pay plan. This will give you an additional 12 months (until 31 January 2022) in which to pay the second payment on account for 2019/20, any balancing payment for 2019/20 and the first payment on account for 2020/21.

Get in touch

Contact us to find out how we can help you set up payment plans and budget for your tax bills.

October 29, 2020

Option to defer July self-assessment payment on account

Option to defer July self-assessment payment on account

Taxpayers facing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can opt to delay making their second self-assessment payment on account for 2019/20, due by 31 July 2020. As long as the amount is paid in full, together with any outstanding balance for 2019/20, by 31 January 2021, HMRC will not charge any interest or penalties.

Requirement to make payments on account

Under the self-assessment system, taxpayers are required to make payments on account of their tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability if their self-assessment bill for the previous tax year was £1,000 or more, unless at least 80% of the tax owed for that year was deducted at source, for example, under PAYE.

Each payment on account is 50% of the previous year’s tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability. Although Class 2 National Insurance contributions are collected via the self-assessment system, they are not taken into account when working out payments on account. Payments on account are made on 31 January in the tax year and on 31 July after the end of the tax year, with any balance being paid by the tax return filing date of 31 January after the end of the tax year. If the payments on account are more than the eventual liability, the excess is refunded or set against the next year’s liability.

The first payment on account for 2019/20 was due by 31 January 2020. The second payment would normally need to be paid by 31 July 2020.

Option to defer

This year, taxpayers have the option to defer the second payment on account if they are finding it difficult to make the payment by 31 July 2020 due to Coronavirus. There is no obligation to defer – taxpayers can still make the payment by 31 July 2020 if they so wish.

Where a taxpayer takes the deferral option, the outstanding payment can be made whenever the taxpayer is able to meet the payment, as long as this is no later than 31 January 2021. Any balance owing for 2019/20 must be paid by the same time, together with the Class 2 National Insurance liability for the self-employed and the first payment on account for 2020/21.

Taxpayers choosing the deferral option do not need to tell HMRC – they simply pay the tax by 31 January 2021; nor do they have to provide evidence that they were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guidance on the deferral option is available on the Gov.uk website.

Pros and cons

Delaying the payment will no doubt help those struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, it may provide a lifeline for particular groups of taxpayers, for example, those who are self-employed and who do not qualify for a grant under the Self-employment Income Support Scheme and who have been unable to work due to the restrictions.

However, the deferred tax has to be paid eventually, and the payback for having nothing to pay in July is a big bill in January 2020. Not only will the deferred tax be payable then, but also any balance due for 2019/20 and the first payment on account for 2020/21.

Get in touch

It would be a pleasure to help you decide whether the deferral option would be beneficial to you and what it will mean for your cashflow come January 2021.

June 30, 2020

NIC implications of COVID-19 support payments

NIC implications of COVID-19 support payments

Various support payments have been made to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How are those payments treated for National Insurance purposes?

Grant payments under the CJRS

Where an employer claims a grant payment under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the full amount of the grant (topped up to 80% of wages in the last two months of the scheme) must be paid over to the employee. As far as the employee is concerned, this is treated in the same way as a normal salary payment. The employer deducts Class 1 National Insurance and pays it over to HMRC.

The payment is also liable to employer’s Class 1 National Insurance to the extent that it is not covered by the employment allowance. For pay periods prior to 1 August 2020, the employer can reclaim the associated employer’s National Insurance on grant payments from the Government under the CJRS. The employer’s National Insurance must be paid over to HMRC in the usual way.

Grants under the SEISS

Grants under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) should be taken into account in computing profits for 2020/21. Where those profits exceed £9,500, Class 4 National Insurance contributions will be payable. If the profits for 2020/21 are more than £6,475, you must pay Class 2 contributions.

As a result of the pandemic, profits may be lower in 2020/21 than previously. If profits are below the small profits threshold, set at £6,475 for 2020/21, there is no obligation to pay Class 2 contributions. However, it may be worthwhile to do so voluntarily to ensure that 2020/21 remains a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefit purposes. This is much cheaper than paying Class 3 contributions to make up a shortfall.

Other grants

Businesses may also receive other grants, such as those payable to businesses qualifying for small business rate relief or payable to specific sectors, such as the hospitality and leisure sector. For self-employed taxpayers, these are taken into account in calculating profits, which in turn will determine whether a liability to Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance contributions arise.

Talk to us

Speak to us to ascertain the effect of grant payments on your National Insurance bill.

June 3, 2020

Budget 2020 – rates and allowances

Budget 2020 – rates and allowances

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, presented his first Budget on 11 March 2020, confirming the rates and allowances applying for the 2020/21 tax year. The following key rates and allowances were announced.

Full details of the rates and allowances applying for 2020/21 are available on the Gov.uk website.

Income tax

As previously announced, the personal allowance remains at £12,500 for 2020/21. It is reduced by £1 for every £2 by which income exceeds £100,000. This means that if your income is more that £125,000 for 2020/21, you will not receive a personal allowance.

Income tax rates and allowances are unchanged too. The basic rate remains at 20%, the higher rate at 40% and the additional rate at 45%. The basic rate band is also unchanged at £37,500, meaning that the point at which higher rate tax becomes payable remains at £50,000. Tax is payable at the additional rate on income over £150,000.

The Scottish and Welsh rates of income tax apply to the non-savings, non-dividend income of Scottish and Welsh taxpayers.

Dividends

The dividend allowance remains at £2,000 for 2020/21. Dividends, which are treated as the top slice of income, are taxed at 7.5% to the extent that they fall within the basic rate band, 32.5% to the extent that they fall in the higher rate band and at 38.1% to the extent that they fall in the additional rate band.

Savings

Basic rate taxpayers continue to benefit from a savings allowance of £1,000 for 2020/21, while higher rate taxpayers can enjoy a savings allowance of £500. There is no savings allowance for additional rate taxpayers.

The starting savings rate of 0% applies to savings in the savings starting rate band of £5,000, but remember this is reduced by taxable non-savings income.

Corporation tax

The rate of corporation tax was due to fall to 17% for the financial year 2020. However, as previously announced, it will remain at 19%. It will stay at 19% for the financial year 2021 too.

Capital gains tax

The capital gains tax annual exempt amount is increased to £12,300 for 2020/21 for individuals and personal representatives, and to £6,150 for trustees.

Capital gains tax rates remain at 10% where income and gains fall in the basic rate band and at 20% thereafter. Higher rates of 18% and 28% apply to residential property gains.

March 12, 2020

National Insurance contributions for 2020/21

National Insurance contributions for 2020/21

The starting point for paying National Insurance is to increase to £9,500 for 2020/21 for employees and for Class 4 contributions payable by the self-employed. This is in line with a Government commitment to increase the starting threshold to £12,500 – the level of the personal allowance for tax purposes.

Employees and Employers

Class 1 National Insurance contributions are payable on an employee’s earnings by the employee (primary contributions) and by the employer (secondary contributions). The rates and thresholds applying for 2020/21 are shown in the table below.

Class 1
Weekly lower earnings limit (LEL)£120 per week £520 per month £6,240 per year
Primary threshold (PT)£183 per week £792 per month £9,500 per year
Secondary threshold (ST)£169 per week £732 per month £9,500 per year
Upper earnings limit (UEL)£962 per week £4,167 per month £50,000 per year
Upper secondary threshold for under 21s£962 per week £4,167 per month £50,000 per year
Apprentice upper secondary rate (AUST)£962 per week £4,167 per month £50,000 per year
Employee’s primary rate (payable on earnings between the PT and UEL)12%
Employee’s additional rate (payable on earnings above the UEL)2%
Secondary rate (payable on earnings above the relevant secondary threshold)13.8%
Reduced rate for certain married women (on earnings between the PT and UEL)5.85%

For 2020/21, the primary and secondary thresholds are no longer aligned. This means that the point at which employer contributions for employees over the age 21 kicks in is £169 per week (£732 per month), while employee contributions are not payable until earnings reach £183 per week (£792 per month). On earnings between these limits, employer contributions are payable but not employee contributions.

The rate of Class 1A contributions (payable on benefits in kind) and Class 1B contributions (payable on items included in a PAYE settlement agreement) remains at 13.8%.

The self employed

The self-employed pay flat-rate Class 2 contributions and also Class 4 contributions on their profits.

For 2020/21, Class 2 contributions increase by 5p per week to £3.05 per week. Contributions are only mandatory if profits exceed the small profits threshold. This is set at £6,475 for 2020/21. However, they can be paid voluntarily where profits are less than this level.

As with employees, the starting point at which Class 4 contributions become payable on the profits of the self-employed – the lower profits limit – increases to £9,500 for 2020/21. Contributions are payable at the main rate of 9% on profits between this level and the upper profits limit, which remains at £50,000 for 2020/21. Above this, contributions are payable at the rate of 2%.

Voluntary contributions

Voluntary (Class 3) contributions can be paid to make up a shortfall in your contributions record and preserve your entitlement to the state pension. Class 3 contributions rise to £15.30 per week for 2020/21.

Check your contributions record

Speak to us about whether you need to pay additional contributions to ensure that you will qualify for the full state pension when you reach state pension age. You can obtain a pension forecast online.

February 10, 2020

Personal allowances – use them or lose them

Personal allowances – use them or lose them

With the end of the 2019/20 tax year approaching, now is a good time to review your available personal allowances for 2019/20 and make sure that they are not wasted.

Personal allowance

For 2019/20, the personal allowance is £12,500. However, where income is more than £100,000, the allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 by which income exceeds £100,000. This means that individuals with income of £125,000 or more in 2019/20 do not have a personal allowance. If your income is between £100,000 and £125,000, you will receive a reduced personal allowance.

At the lower end of the income scale, if you are married or in a civil partnership and if you are not able to use all of your personal allowance or your partner is unable to use all of their personal allowance, you can claim the marriage allowance. This works by allowing the person who is unable to use all of their allowance to transfer 10% of their personal allowance — £1,250 for 2019/20 – to their spouse or civil partner. However, this is only allowed if the recipient is a basic rate taxpayer. The marriage allowance is worth £250 to a couple for 2019/20. It can be claimed online.

At the other end of the scale, taxpayers whose income exceeds £100,000 could consider taking steps to reduce their income to below £100,000 to preserve their full personal allowance. Options include making pension contributions or gift aid donations or delaying taking salary or dividends until after 5 April 2020.

Dividend allowance

All individuals, regardless of the rate at which they pay tax, are entitled to a dividend allowance of £2,000 for 2019/20. In a family company scenario, where family members have not yet used their allowance, paying dividends by 5 April 2020 to mop up the allowances can be a tax-efficient way to extract profits. The use of an alphabet share structure will enable dividends to be tailored to the circumstances of the recipient.

Pensions annual allowance

Making contributions to a registered pension scheme can be tax efficient. You can make pension contributions to the higher of 100% of your earnings and £3,600 (gross), as long as you have sufficient annual allowance available. The annual allowance is set at £40,000 for 2019/20, but is reduced for high earners. If you have already accessed a money purchase pension, you have a reduced allowance of £4,000.

The annual allowance can be carried forwarded for up to three years. However, before using brought forward allowances (earliest year first), you must use the allowance for the current year. Any allowances unused for 2016/17 will be lost if they are not used by 5 April 2020.

Capital gains tax annual exempt amount

Capital gains tax is only payable where net gains and losses for the tax year exceed the annual exempt amount. This is set at £12,000 for 2019/20. Spouses and civil partners have their own annual exempt amount.

Where a disposal is on the cards which will give rise to a capital gain, if the annual exempt amount for 2019/20 has not been used up yet, consider making the disposal before 6 April 2020 to utilise this. Remember, where a spouse or civil partner has an unused exempt amount, assets can be transferred between them on a no gain/no loss basis, making it possible to make use of their annual exempt amount too.

Inheritance tax annual exemption

The inheritance tax annual exemption allows you to give away £3,000 each year without the gift counting as part of your estate for inheritance tax purposes. If it is not used, it can be carried forward to the next tax year, but is then lost. If you do not use your exemption for 2018/19 by 5 April 2020, you will lose it. There are also various other gifts that you can make IHT-free each tax year.

Act now

Why not speak to us to find out what action you need to take to make sure your allowances are not wasted.

February 3, 2020