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Category: Personal Tax

The end of the P11D is expected in 2026

The end of the P11D is expected in 2026

The P11D form which has been used to process ‘benefits-in-kind’ such as loans for season tickets and company cars will no longer be used after April 2026, as HMRC will ask businesses to deal with all these benefits through the payroll instead.

HMRC announced earlier this year that the regime for dealing with the taxation of benefits-in-kind would change as it works to simplify the tax system. HMRC plans to automate the processing of these claims through the payroll instead, which should mean these claims are processed more quickly for employees.

What changes have been decided?

Even though HMRC is planning much further ahead than has happened in the past, it still needs to produce guidance after working with industry experts. There are still some complexities that will need to be resolved before all benefits can be dealt with through the payroll. But once this is complete, it should simplify the tax affairs of 3m people and reduce the need for them to contact HMRC.

The administrative burden should also be reduced for thousands of employers, according to HMRC, as it will remove the need for 4m end-of-year returns to be submitted. The guidance “will be made available in advance of 2026,” HMRC said.

Employers will need to be ready to change their systems to deal with these changes and should keep a close eye on the employer bulletins from HMRC as they appear, and stay in close contact with their accountants so they are ready.

Let us help you

If you need any help with changing your payroll systems to get ready for the P11D changes in 2026, please get in touch and we will be happy to offer you the help and guidance you need.

April 8, 2024

Budget changes and what they mean for you

Budget changes and what they mean for you

The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, delivered his Budget statement to Parliament on March 6, and there were various changes that should benefit individual taxpayers and businesses.

One of the biggest announcements, which takes effect from April 6, is a further reduction in the rate of National Insurance Contributions (NICs). From this date, Class 1 employee NICs will fall from 10% to 8%, while NICs for the self-employed will be cut by an additional 2p on top of the 1p announced in the Autumn Statement. This means that from April 6, 2024, the rate of Class 4 NICs will fall from 9% to 6%.

Companies will need to begin updating their payroll software soon if they haven’t already done so, to accommodate these changes.

High Income Child Benefit Charge threshold raised

The Chancellor also raised the threshold at which Child Benefit is removed for higher earners. The High Income Child Benefit Charge will rise to £60,000 from April 6, and will taper up to £80,000. So, for every £200 of income that exceeds this £60,000 limit, the charge will be 1% of Child Benefit, and when your income exceeds £80,000, the charge will equal the Child Benefit payment.

Any new Child Benefit claims made after April 6 this year and before July 8 this year will have the payments backdated, but they will be subject to the charge in the 2024/25 tax year if your income is above £60,000. A claim made in May, for example, would be backdated to February, but you would only pay the charge on this if your income is above the new £60,000 threshold.

Any business owner with employees interested in claiming Child Benefit, or who want to restart Child Benefit payments if they have opted out in the past, can share this new guidance on the charge with them.

Child Benefit claims will automatically be backdated for three months, or to the date of birth of the child if later. Anyone wanting to make a claim for Child Benefit who isn’t currently receiving it can make the claim in the HMRC app or online.

If you want more information about either the NICs changes and/or the High Income Child Benefit Charge, you can find this on Gov.uk.

New £5,000 extra ISA allowance to boost UK businesses

The Individual Savings Account (ISA) allowance was kept at £20,000 once again in the Budget – it hasn’t changed since the 2017/18 tax year – but the Chancellor did add to the ISA stable for those who are interested in investing solely in UK companies. The UK ISA – which is also being called the ‘British ISA’ or ‘Great British ISA’ allows investors to put an extra £5,000 into an ISA that supports UK businesses.

The aim is to help boost the London Stock Exchange, according to some commentators, but whether this will be effective remains to be seen.

Jason Hollands, Managing Director of Bestinvest, the online investment service owned by wealth manager Evelyn Partners, said: “The ‘British ISA’ is undoubtedly a victory for the City stockbrokers and bankers who have lobbied hard for it amid a drought in IPO and deal fees and a worrying sapping of companies listed in London to New York.

“However, I am doubtful it will drive anything like the increased flows into UK equities being talked about. Proponents claim it might drive £200 billion extra cash into UK equities over five years, but it is hard to reconcile such a figure with the fact that the existing, larger ISA £20,000 allowance attracted a lesser amount into Stocks & Shares over the last five years according to data disclosed by HMRC.”


Mr Hollands added that a relatively modest number of people currently fully use their existing £20,000 allowance and a logical step for those who will be in a position to do so and also make use of the ‘British ISA’ “will be to commit less to UK equities in their main allowance to compensate”.

What else was announced in the Budget?

Other announcements made by the Chancellor included an increase in the VAT threshold for companies from the current £85,000 to £90,000 from April. This is the point at which a company needs to formally register for VAT.

The Chancellor also removed the ‘non-dom’ status which allows people living in the UK but who consider their permanent home to be overseas, to benefit from tax exemptions, especially on foreign investments. Foreign workers and students have benefited from these, but it has been particularly useful for the wealthiest individuals who have been able to use this status to not pay tax on their worldwide income, said Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Quilter.

She added: “People who use the remittance basis of tax, i.e. only pay UK tax on the income or gains that are brought to the UK, typically are well advised and therefore with the help of their adviser will be able to find creative ways to mitigate their UK tax liabilities regardless of the change in rules.”

The expected boost to tax revenue from this change is around £3.8 billion. But there is a chance that the rule change could discourage some wealthy people from living in or investing in the UK, even though other reasons for living here, such as political stability and the UK legal system, may encourage some of those affected to remain, said Ms Griffin.

Contact us

If you want to know how any of these or other measures announced in the Budget might affect you, then please get in touch with us and we would be delighted to help you understand your tax position.

April 2, 2024

End of tax year planning starts now – use up any allowances

End of tax year planning starts now – use up any allowances

Now is the time to start thinking about your end-of-year tax planning while there is still time to maximise the benefit of any allowances you haven’t used yet this tax year. The end of the current tax year is April 5, 2024, and there are various tax breaks you want to make the most of before that date.

However, there is another date to bear in mind too – March 6, which is when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver his Budget to the House of Commons. There is some expectation that he will announce tax cuts on this date, which is customary in a General Election year. The question is whether it will be possible with an economy that is currently in recession.

Even so, there are plenty of things you can already do to help yourself legitimately save tax without waiting on a politician’s promise, so read on to find out more.

Maximise your pension contributions

Pensions is one of the most advantageous areas to maximise your tax relief. Most of us can put as much as £60,000 into a pension in the 2023/24 tax year and get tax relief on the contributions. But the actual amount you can put in and receive tax relief on is determined by how much tax you will pay in this tax year. You can’t receive more in tax relief than the tax you have paid in a single tax year.

Anyone who is a 40% or 45% taxpayer may need to reclaim their pension tax relief above 20% – which is the basic rate of income tax relief – directly from HMRC via their self-assessment return. If you have made all of the contributions you can for this tax year, then you can look to add some more to your pension by using up unused allowances from previous tax years.

This is something called Carry Forward. You can go back three years to mop up unused pension tax relief, and you must have also used up all of your allowance in the current tax year before you use Carry Forward. You must also have been a member of a UK pension scheme – not just the State Pension – for each of the previous three years you want to carry forwards.

If you earn more than £260,000, then your annual allowance which qualifies for tax relief will be reduced by £1 for every £2 above this amount you earn. The taper stops at £360,000, giving everyone a minimum of at least £10,000 annual allowance.

To make sure you don’t fall foul of any HMRC rules, you should speak to your accountant before you make your pension contributions to ensure you maximise the benefits and limit any issues.

Use up your Capital Gains Tax and ISA allowances

Each of us has a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowance each tax year, which for the 2023/24 tax year is just £6,000 – down from £12,300 in the 2022/23 tax year – and it is expected to fall to £3,000 for the 2024/25 tax year, unless there is a change announced in the March 6 Budget.

This amount can be used to reduce the amount of tax on any investment you may have crystallised a gain on in the relevant tax year. For example, if you invested, say, £100,000 in a fund and you made £6,000 on the investment in this tax year, you could crystallise that return between now and April 5, and you would not pay any CGT on it as it is under the CGT allowance. This is assuming you haven’t crystallised other gains elsewhere.

Remember though, CGT applies to many types of investments, including property investments that are not your own home. So, any buy-to-let property that you sell would also face CGT if you had made a gain above the £6,000 for this tax year.

Any amount of gain over this threshold in a residential property investment that isn’t your home, is taxed at 18% and 28% respectively for basic rate and higher rate taxpayers. For other investments, the rates are 8% and 20%.

To remove the threat of CGT, you can make your investments through an Individual Savings Account (ISA). For this tax year, you have a limit of £20,000 that you can invest through an ISA, and if you haven’t used your full allowance yet, you still have time to top it up before April 5. Using an ISA means your investment is excluded from CGT and Income Tax charges, so there is a real benefit to using as much of your ISA allowance as you can each tax year.

What else should I consider before the end of the tax year?

There are various other things to consider before the end of the tax year, and your accountant is best placed to advise you on your specific financial position. But other things to consider include reclaiming any tax you may have overpaid in this tax year if, for example, you were made redundant or left a job for another reason, such as moving overseas.

A Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) tax basis means the amount of tax you are due to pay in a whole year will be split into 12 even payments. If you are employed for the full 12 months, then you will have paid the correct amount of tax.

However, if you are made redundant or leave your job before the 12 months is up, then you will have overpaid tax as you will have not earnt the full amount expected. Any statutory redundancy pay, up to £30,000, will be tax free. But if you have other types of payments as part of your termination pay, such as unpaid wages, holiday pay and so on, then this part may be subject to tax and National Insurance. If you need to reclaim overpaid tax, or you need advice after getting a payout from the company you are made redundant from, your accountant can help.

Contact us

If you are unsure about how to maximise your tax relief or you have questions about a redundancy payment, then please get in touch with us and we would be delighted to help you understand your tax position.

March 4, 2024

Rumours circulate over HMRC crackdown on eBay and Etsy sales

Rumours circulate over HMRC crackdown on eBay and Etsy sales

Rumours have been circulating online that HMRC is set to crack down on tax avoidance on sales of goods on the likes of eBay and Etsy, but the basic rules haven’t changed, and anyone who was trading on one of these sites should always have been declaring their earnings to the taxman.

What has changed is that from January 1, 2024, these sites are obliged to provide information to HMRC on sellers operating through the site before January 2025. So, if you have been using these sites to sell items and generating income that should have been taxed, you should get in touch with your accountant to find out what you need to do as soon as possible.

Confusion arises because many people will sell items they no longer want or need on eBay, for example, and in most of these cases there is no tax to be paid. But if you buy goods with the intention of selling them, or you make a capital gain on what you’re selling, then there could be tax to pay.

When would you need to pay tax?

In a useful update, HMRC has outlined the various scenarios that you may find yourself in if you are selling items on one of these sites, and when you would be most likely to need to pay tax. For example, if you are selling items that you own – perhaps because you are clearing out a shed or an attic – then this is likely to be a one-off activity, and you will most probably sell the items for the same or less than you bought them for. In this case, you wouldn’t need to pay tax.

However, let’s say you sold some unwanted clothes or other items you had in the house online to either raise money or simply reduce clutter in your home. You find that you are quite good at getting a good price for these items and decide to start buying items at car boot sales or elsewhere, and then sell them online for a profit. The original sale wouldn’t be considered trading, but the later sales would as you’re deliberately buying goods to sell. In this case, you could be liable to pay tax.

You would also be considered trading if you buy and then sell model cars – another HMRC example – or other items, or you import goods to sell online for a profit. You would even be trading if you make homemade gift cards that you sell online regularly with the intention of making a profit from them.

What other ways might you be liable to tax online?

There are other ways you might be selling that could leave you open to a tax charge. One would be if you are selling online services, such as teaching a language over Zoom or Teams, for instance, or if you generate revenue by offering other services online, such as proofreading. This may not be a service you offer through the likes of eBay or Etsy, but you would be liable to pay tax on income you generate from it just the same.

In fact, any online marketplace – which includes a website or a mobile phone app – would be considered as such by HMRC if any kind of transactional trading takes place on it. These online marketplaces will soon be generating copies of your transaction history that you can get hold of to check your liabilities yourself, but that will also be sent to HMRC directly under a wide-ranging set of internationally agreed guidelines. So, make sure you know if you are expected to pay tax on these transactions, and prepare for it accordingly so you don’t have any nasty surprises.

Are there any allowances?

One thing to consider is that there are certain allowances you might be able to benefit from if you are selling goods online. For example, if your total income from selling goods or services online was less than £1,000 before you take off any costs or expenses, then you wouldn’t need to tell HMRC about it or pay any tax on this.

This is because that amount comes under the Trading and Miscellaneous Income Allowance – which also gives you a £1,000 allowance for any property income under the same legislation. But if the amount you generate is above this, then you would need to inform HMRC and pay any tax due.

Remember though, you also have the Personal Allowance, which for the 2023/24 tax year is £12,570 per year. If you don’t have a full-time job, or you earn less than this across all the ways you generate income each year, then you would still have no tax to pay. But you must still register with HMRC and file a self-assessment return each year.

If you don’t know how to do this, or need to register and file a self-assessment return, you can find more information on Gov.uk

Contact us

If you are unsure whether any of your activities could generate a tax liability, then please get in touch with us and we would be delighted to help you understand your tax position.

February 5, 2024

Could you be better off by claiming Marriage Allowance?

Could you be better off by claiming Marriage Allowance?

HMRC is encouraging those who are either married or in a civil partnership to check whether they could be up to £252 a year better off by claiming Marriage Allowance. It has launched a Marriage Allowance Calculator to help those who are unsure double check what they might be due.

Couples could be eligible where one partner is working and the other has income of less than their personal allowance of £12,570, which would include those who have retired, are not working because they are caring for children or elderly relatives, can’t work because of a long-term health condition, have a part-time job, or are low paid.

Around 68% of people in their 60s are either married or in Civil Partnerships, the Government said, and may not realise they can claim the Marriage Allowance if one of them has retired while the other is still working.

Charlie Bethel, Chief Officer, UK Men’s Sheds, a charity which brings retired men together to meet at community workshops, said: “If you have retired and your partner is still working, you may not realise that you could apply for Marriage Allowance. As a charity that brings retired men together, we are urging our members throughout the UK to invest the 30 seconds of time it takes to find out if they can claim.”

How does it work?

Marriage Allowance gives couples the chance to reduce their tax liabilities by allowing the lower or non-earning spouse to reduce the amount of tax their partner or spouse pays. This is due to the way the Personal Allowance, which is normally £12,570, and is the amount that someone can earn before they need to begin paying tax, can be dealt with.

If the couple is eligible for Marriage Allowance, then the lower or non-earning spouse or partner can transfer £1,260 of their Personal Allowance to the higher earner in the partnership. This can reduce their tax liability by as much as £252 a year.

Even better, if the couple has been eligible but hasn’t previously claimed the Marriage Allowance, then they can backdate their claim for the previous four tax year and receive a lump-sum payment of more than £1,000.

How to find out if you’re eligible

HMRC is currently promoting its Marriage Allowance Calculator, which will allow you to find out if you are eligible for the allowance or not.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Deputy Chief Executive and Second Permanent Secretary, said: “The Marriage Allowance calculator helps couples to find out in seconds how much they stand to benefit. Check today and claim right away. It’s a quick and easy process that’s worth up to £252 a year.”

To benefit from the tax relief, one partner must have income less than £12,570 and the higher earning partner’s income must be between £12,571 and £50,270 or £43,662 in Scotland. HMRC has produced a YouTube video to explain who is eligible and how to apply called Marriage Allowance – who is eligible and how to apply which gives more information.

We can help you meet your obligations

Marriage Allowance is one tax benefit you might be eligible for, but there could be others. If you want to be sure you are claiming everything you can, then please get in touch and we will explain what you need to know.

January 22, 2024

Self-assessment deadline is looming again

Self-assessment deadline is looming again

The start of the year is always the time when anyone who needs to file a self-assessment return should get their skates on if they haven’t filed yet. The deadline for filing your self-assessment is January 31, and anyone not hitting the target could be setting themselves up for a fine and possible interest payments on any tax that is owed.

It may come as a surprise that a considerable number of people choose to deal with their tax return over the Christmas period. HMRC said that last year 22,000 people filed their tax return over Christmas, with 3,725 filing on Christmas Day itself. But whenever you choose to file your return, you should make sure you are claiming all the allowances you are entitled to, so you keep your tax bill to a minimum.

Reclaim tax relief on pension contributions

One of the reliefs that often gets forgotten is the tax relief on pension contributions. How much you can or need to claim will vary depending on your personal tax position, and how your pension tax relief is dealt with by your employer or pension provider.

Anyone who is a 20% taxpayer and is paid through PAYE will usually have the pension tax relief claimed on their behalf through the company pension scheme at source. But if you are a 40% or 45% taxpayer, you will need to find out whether your company scheme claims these additional reliefs for you, or whether this needs to be done via your self-assessment.

Typically, the additional 20% or 25% relief is the part that you may need to include on your self-assessment return. If you work for yourself as a sole trader or within a partnership, then you will need to claim all your pension tax relief on your return.

Tax relief on charitable donations

If you like to give money to good causes over the year, then you may have tax relief you can reclaim on the donations you have made. Any donation made through Gift Aid will ensure that the charity will receive the 20% tax relief directly. But again, if you are a 40% or 45% taxpayer, you can reclaim the difference on your self-assessment.

Once you get this rebate, which will be for the full gross value of the donation you made, you can decide whether you want to give it to the charity or not. This applies for both regular, and one-off donations, so keep any details of single donations you have made throughout the year too.

You can claim for donations for the entire tax year and up to the date you file your tax return. This means if you file on the last day, you can claim for donations made from April 6, 2022, to January 31, 2024.

Claim for any work-related expenses

If you are someone who pays their tax through PAYE, that doesn’t mean you can’t file a return, and if you pay for some of your work-related expenses out of their own pocket, then it is a sensible thing to do.

You can reclaim tax rebates on various items solely used for work, which could include memberships of professional associations, reading materials, or even clothing that you need to have for work but is paid for by you. These costs can add up, so it is wise to claim for these items if you can.

We can help you

If you want to find out what you can claim on your self-assessment, and make sure you’re complying with all the relevant tax legislation, then please get in touch with us and we will be happy to help you.

January 15, 2024

NICs changes to start from January 6

NICs changes to start from January 6

Just a quick reminder that the reduction of Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) will begin on January 6, 2024. From this date, the amount paid on Class 1 NICs will fall from 12% to 10%. This is the main rate of NICs paid by employees through PAYE.

The change was part of a range of measures announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt as part of the Autumn Statement in November, which included cuts to other forms of NICs including a reduction of Class 4 NICs for the self-employed from 9% to 8% from April 6, 2024, and the removal of the requirement to pay Class 2 NICs from the same date. The Government will ensure that contributory benefits, such as the State Pension, will be maintained.

Class 2 NICs can still be paid voluntarily

There is one group of people who pay Class 2 NICs on earnings below £6,725 so they can access the contributory benefits, and these people will still be able to make these payments voluntarily.

The Government claims these combined measures will cut tax for around 29m people in the 2024/25 tax year, giving the average employee on £35,400 more than £450 extra in their pocket, and saving the average self-employed person on £28,200 an extra £350. But the impact on individual taxpayers will vary, and this doesn’t take into account any other measures that affect how much tax each of us pays, such as ‘fiscal drag’ where tax thresholds fail to rise significantly and result in higher tax payments as wages increase.

Let us help you

If you want to know what you can expect personally in relation to these changes, then please get in touch and we will be happy to offer you the help and guidance you need.

January 8, 2024

Big plans for private and State Pensions

Big plans for private and State Pensions

Pensions are set to have one of the biggest overhauls in recent memory, as the Chancellor also announced a consultation on plans that would bring significant changes to pensions in the UK. The biggest change would be a Lifetime Pension, more colloquially known as a ‘pot for life’ – where someone would choose the pension plan that suits them best, and every employer would then pay into that plan rather than the employee being put into the employer’s scheme.

The obvious benefit is that you are less likely to lose this pension, as it will be the only one that you need to have during your working life. The downside, according to experts, is that it will increase the employers’ costs of providing pensions to employees, as they would need to pay into multiple pensions for different members of their workforce. Paying into a single scheme, which is the current system, is much simpler for employers as they have one block payment to make each month. However, these pensions often get forgotten about by employees as they move from job-to-job.

Triple lock stays, with State Pension up 8.5%

There was concern before the Autumn Statement that the triple lock, which uprates State Pensions each year by the highest of average earnings growth, inflation, or 2.5%, might disappear given the high levels of inflation we have seen in recent months in the UK.

However, Jeremy Hunt chose to keep the triple lock, and the State Pension will be increased by 8.5% from April 6, 2024, meaning someone on the new State Pension will see their weekly income rise from £203.85 to £221.20. Anyone who reached State Pension age before 2016 will see their pension rise from £156.20 to £169.50 per week.

This is one of the largest State Pension increases in cash terms and will go some way to helping pensioners who have been struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

Tax on pensions passed on after death to be scrapped

The Government has also had a change of heart when it comes to pensions passed on after death. The Chancellor announced that pensions passed to beneficiaries if someone dies before they reach age 75 will not be taxed.

The original plan, announced by HMRC in the summer, was to tax any income taken from a pension pot through drawdown – where an income is taken from the underlying fund over a period of time – or from an annuity, would be taxable. This announcement reverses that decision, and HMRC has now confirmed these payments will continue to be tax free from April 6, 2024.

Under the current rules, a defined contribution pension pot can be transferred to beneficiaries tax-free if the original owner of the pension dies before they reach 75.

The Chancellor also re-confirmed that the Lifetime Allowance – which limited the amount of money you could build up in your pension over your lifetime, including all contributions and investment returns to £1,073,100 – will be removed from April 6, 2024.

We can help you meet your obligations

Pensions are complex and whether you are an employer, employee or self-employed, you should know what you can do to maximise your retirement savings. If you would like more information on this, then please get in touch and we will explain what you need to know.

December 20, 2023

Christmas party with a gift of tax breaks

Christmas party with a gift of tax breaks

Yes, it’s that time of year again! Christmas is on the horizon, and the office Christmas party planning will be in full swing for many companies across the UK. So, if you are planning a shindig for your employees, you should maximise the tax breaks available from HMRC, and make sure you don’t fall foul of the rules and fail to pay what could be due to the taxman.

If you want to have a party that can benefit from tax breaks, then there are a few rules you need to follow. The party needs to cost less than £150 per head – providing you haven’t had any other parties during the same tax year. The exemption of £150 per person applies across the year, so if you have had a summer barbeque for example, which cost £60 a head, then you only have £90 per person left to spend on the Christmas party.

The party must be open to all

The parties must be annual – like the Christmas party – and must be open to all employees, otherwise they will not be considered exempt by HMRC.

If you happen to have various offices around the UK, then it is fine to have different parties in different places, as long as all members of staff are able to attend one of them. If this is the case, then you will still benefit from the tax exemption.

One other thing to consider is that if you have staff who are on Salary Sacrifice arrangements within your business, then you need to inform them of how much each social occasion is worth to comply with the rules.

Remember, if any of the events you have put on for staff throughout the year don’t count as being exempt, then you must report all costs to HMRC and you will be liable for National Insurance payments on those amounts.

Each employee will need to have the cost reported to them on their P11D form, and the employer will need to pay Class 1A NICs on the amounts.

You can find out more about your obligations on the Gov.uk website, which is the best way to ensure you don’t end up with a financial hangover.

Let us help you

If you want to know what you can and can’t do in terms of the cost of your Christmas party, then please get in touch and we will be happy to offer you the help and guidance you need.

December 11, 2023

Autumn Statement NICs changes in detail

Autumn Statement NICs changes in detail

The biggest tax cuts announced by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement were in NICs, where self-employed people will no longer pay Class 2 NICs at all from April 6, 2024. Class 4 NICs will be reduced from 9% to 8% from the same date. Class 1 employee NICs – which apply to employees working under PAYE – falls from 12% to 10% from January 6, 2024.

The removal of Class 2 NICs means anyone who is self-employed and has profits above £12,570 will no longer need to pay Class 2 NICs, but they will still receive access to the contributory benefits associated with these payments in the past, such as the State Pension. Benefits will also still be accessed for those self-employed people with profits between £6,725 and £12,570 through a National Insurance Credit. Those who have profits below £6,725 can still make voluntary NICs if they want to.

What is happening for PAYE earners with NICs?

Employees aren’t being left out of the Chancellor’s largesse either – Class 1 NICs is being cut from 12% to 10% from January 6, 2024. The NICs cuts overall will cost the Treasury around £9 billion and put an extra bit of cash into the pockets of around 29m workers in the UK.

Those earning £20,000 a year will keep an extra £149 per year if they are employed, or £254 per year if they are self-employed. This rises to £754 and £556 respectively, when both the employed and self-employed reach £60,000 according to expert calculations.

However, the effect of freezing tax thresholds more than wipes out the benefit from the cuts announced, as the overall tax take has risen to its highest level for 70 years. The cut to the additional rate threshold to £125,140 at the start of the current tax year, will earn £29.3 billion for the Treasury by 2027/28, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility – the equivalent of increasing the basic rate of income tax by 4p. So, it is a little like giving with one hand while taking with the other.

Veterans NICs relief for companies extended

However, employers who hire Armed Forces veterans will be able to continue to claim relief for longer than expected on the secondary Class 1 NICs due on the wages of veterans for the first 12 months of their civilian employment.

HMRC said: “The relief applies to earnings up to the Veterans Upper Secondary threshold, which is £967 per week.”

To qualify for the employers’ relief, the veteran being employed must have been in the UK regular Armed Forces. The relief is available until April 5, 2025.

Rising costs hit Brits hard

Despite these welcome cuts to NICs providing some benefit to workers, the rising cost of living is outpacing the benefits, based on calculations from the Office for Budget Responsibility which shows how much we will each be paying to cover ongoing debts, especially our mortgage debts.

The OBR forecasts that the cost of servicing household debt will rise from £73 billion in 2023 to £151 billion in 2026. This is higher than the peak of 2008, when the debt figure was £98.3 billion. The Liberal Democrats have calculated that the typical household will soon be spending £5,350 per year to “service” their debts, including mortgages which have seen rates rise significantly along with the Bank of England base rate over the past year.

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said: “This is a horror show for Brits. There is no end in sight to the mortgage nightmare faced by millions. Not only have household finances been clobbered by a barrage of tax rises, but now they face household debts not seen since the financial crisis.

“The blunt truth is that any tax cut before the election will be more than cancelled out by the mortgage bombshell.”

We can help you

If you want to find out whether you are going to be better or worse off with the NICs changes, or you need some help or guidance to deal with rising mortgage costs, then please get in touch with us and we will be happy to help you.

December 4, 2023

How to spot tax avoidance schemes

How to spot tax avoidance schemes

Thousands of people found themselves caught up in the IR35 tax avoidance problems, where freelancers who were earning through a limited company set up to deal with their income were deemed – retrospectively – by HMRC to have been involved in tax avoidance. In short, if most of or all their income came from a single organisation, then HMRC argued they should have been directly employed by that organisation, and not allowed to pay themselves through their own business in dividends, as they would have paid less tax than someone directly employed.

While the fallout from IR35 continues – many are paying back huge sums to the taxman, while some have seen marriages fall apart and have even taken their own lives because of the pressure they have been under – there are many other tax avoidance schemes that HMRC has already shutdown.

Now, HMRC is running a campaign designed to help you spot a tax avoidance scheme to help prevent you getting into similar difficulties.

Is HMRC really trying to be helpful?

The campaign is specifically asking if you think you might be involved in a tax avoidance scheme, and is offering you the option of getting in touch directly with HMRC by email if you feel you might be.

The taxman goes on to say: “We’ll support you. We can help you get out of the scheme and settle your tax affairs. Ignoring the problem is not the answer. The longer you leave it the bigger the tax bill.

Our aim is to get you back on the right track. No judgement. Simply offer you the support you need. And if you can’t afford to pay everything in one go, we may be able to offer you an instalment arrangement.”

If you are paid by a single employer through PAYE, then you are probably not in a tax avoidance scheme, but check the money put into your account is the same as the net amount on your payslip. If there is any difference, then question this and find out exactly why it has happened.

You should also check if you receive any additional payments, such as untaxed loans or capital advances. This could potentially be another red flag.

Is there a list of schemes I should avoid?

HMRC does produce a list of schemes it has identified as tax avoidance schemes, but makes clear this list is not a full list of the schemes in operation.

You may think only higher earners are in these schemes, but you would be wrong. Even though some of the biggest names that have been involved in tribunals with HMRC include the likes of Gary Lineker and Eamonn Holmes, everyone from doctors, nurses, and teachers have been touched by the IR35 net. So, it is best not to be complacent.

What is an umbrella company and how do they work?

If you do temporary or contract work through a recruitment agency, you may find yourself working for what is known as an ‘umbrella company’. Usually, this is a company that employs you to do the work for clients you’re connected with through the recruitment agency.

The umbrella company will be your ‘employer’, even though the work you do will be carried out for a client of the agency that sourced the work for you. Typically, you will sign up with the agency, contracted to work for the umbrella company, and then do the work for the recruitment agency’s client. In this arrangement, you must receive at least the national minimum wage and holiday allowance in this arrangement.

You will send your work sheet to the recruitment agency, which charges the client for the hours you have worked, and this money is paid to the umbrella company which then pays you. The structure is quite complex. Remember to always check that any payments made into your account match the net pay on your payslip, and if there is any difference – higher or lower – then you should query this with the recruitment agency.

Not every umbrella company is a tax avoidance scheme, but HMRC says it could be a tax avoidance scheme if you get:

  • A separate payment which you are told is not taxable, such as a loan.
  • More money paid into your bank account than is shown on your payslip.
  • A payment from someone other than your umbrella company, which has not been taxed.
  • Asked to sign another agreement in addition to your employment contract.

Source: HMRC

If you aren’t sure whether you are working for an umbrella company or not, then you can use the online risk checker tool to get more information.

We can help you

If you want to be sure you are staying on the right side of the law when it comes to your tax affairs, then please get in touch with us and we will be happy to help you.

November 28, 2023

Tax advice error could impact your State Pension

Tax advice error could impact your State Pension

Group income protection policies taken out through employer salary sacrifice schemes have been wrongly treated for tax thanks to incorrect advice given by HMRC to the Association of British Insurers back in October 2019. Even though HMRC corrected this advice in August last year, there could be a number of people who haven’t paid enough National Insurance (NI) contributions for the period in question.

You could be affected if you have received, or will receive, income from a group income protection policy which was “not fully subjected to National Insurance contributions, as it would have been under the correct taxation position” according to HMRC.

As a result, some people may not have paid enough NI to qualify for full benefits of, for example, the State Pension.

What is HMRC doing about this?

Anyone who thinks they may be affected are being asked to check their NI record for the period of time they received the relevant income, to check if they made the correct NI payments. If not, then you should contact HMRC as soon as you can.

HMRC will check the details of each case individually, and you will find out if you need to make these additional payments.

If there is a shortfall in your NI record for any of these years, then you should contact HMRC if:

  • You made contributions to a GIP policy by way of salary sacrifice.
  • You received sick pay from your employer under that GIP policy and that sick pay was not fully subjected to National Insurance contributions.

Source: HMRC

If necessary, then HMRC will rectify any shortfall to mitigate any impact on a contributory benefit, such as your State Pension.

Will I have to pay more tax?

The incorrect information was provided by HMRC to the ABI in the first place, so for most people there will not be “any revisit to the tax treatment of the payments you received”.

HMRC states that the incorrect guidance would most like have been relied upon by:

  • Employees entering into or deciding to remain in sick pay arrangements via salary sacrifice after October 15, 2019.
  • Payers and payees considering the tax treatment of sick pay payments made after October 15, 2019, where they derived from salary sacrifice arrangements.

HMRC added: “[We] will therefore not seek to revisit the tax treatment where customers have relied on the previous guidance in the following cases:

  • Where sick pay payments were made to employees or former employees without deduction of tax between October 15, 2019, and December 31, 2023, inclusive to the extent that they are (or are derived from) amounts that can be or have been attributed on any just and reasonable basis to salary foregone by employees in periods starting on or after April 6, 2017.
  • Where repayment claims (including overpayment relief claims and PAYE adjustments) were made between October 15, 2019, and December 1, 2022, inclusive to the extent that these claims related to sick pay payments made to employees or former employees and are, or are derived from, amounts that can be attributed on any just or reasonable basis to salary foregone by employees in periods starting on or after April 6, 2017.
  • Sick pay payments made on or after January 1, 2024, will be accepted as non-taxable to the extent that they are made or are derived from amounts that can be attributed on any just or reasonable basis to salary foregone by employees between October 15, 2019, and December 31, 2023.”

Source: HMRC

In short, it will “assume that customers have relied on the October 15, 2019, advice unless details of the claim indicate there was no such reliance”.

We can help you meet your obligations

This is a complicated set of circumstances, so it is understandable if you are not sure whether you have been affected or not. But if you think you may have been, then please get in touch and we will explain what you need to know.

November 20, 2023

Don’t miss the October 5 deadline to register for self-assessment

Don’t miss the October 5 deadline to register for self-assessment

Anyone who has become self-employed, was in a business partnership, earned more than £100,000 or had to pay the High-Income Benefit Charge this year has until October 5 to speak to HMRC to register for self-assessment.

Millions of people each year need to do a self-assessment, and this includes anyone earning money outside of their PAYE job, including commission or tips, or you earn income from renting out a property.

What if I need to claim tax relief?

If you need to claim tax relief on anything, such as items you pay for out of your own pocket which are solely used for your PAYE employment, then you would also need to sign up for self-assessment. You may be due a tax rebate too if you have been made redundant, as you may not have been paid as much as expected across the whole year.

Other tax reliefs might come from Gift Aid donations you have made to charity, or reclaiming the additional tax relief on your pension contributions if you are a 40% or 45% taxpayer.

You can also claim tax relief on maintenance payments if you have to make them to your ex-spouse or civil partner, although this would only apply if one of you was born before April 6, 1935.

Check if you need to make a self-assessment payment by visiting the Gov.uk website.

Can I be fined if I miss this deadline?

If you fail to notify HMRC before the October 5 deadline, then you could face a penalty. If you fail to register and file your return before January 31 of the year following the tax year when the amount was due, you could face another.

The best thing to do is act now and check if you need to file a self-assessment. If so, then get your skates on and register before October 5. If you can’t, then do it as soon as you can afterwards and check if any penalties will apply.

We can help you meet your obligations

If you think you may have a self-assessment liability for 2023/24, then please get in touch and we will make sure you get everything you need in place.

October 2, 2023

Deed of assignments won’t be treated as nominations for income tax

Deed of assignments won’t be treated as nominations for income tax

The ability to legally assign an income tax repayment, or the right to an income tax repayment, to a third party has been removed by HMRC from March 15 this year, meaning any repayment will remain the legal property of the taxpayer in question.

The change affects those who may have used a business, an accountancy firm, or a tax agent to facilitate their access to a repayment, along with any company involved in helping individuals in this way.

Why has this happened?

HMRC has made this ruling in a bid to protect taxpayers from unscrupulous operators in this sector, and to make the tax rebate system fairer and simpler for all. The Government wants to maintain trust in the sector, and to ensure that when taxpayers are entitled to claim a tax repayment, they can do so “easily and freely”.

There have also been some concerns around consumer protection issues in the “repayment agent” market, according to Gov.uk.

What are people being protected from?

There are contracts that many repayment agents ask their clients to sign which transfer the legal entitlement to the income tax repayment to them. What many people don’t understand is that to revoke this assignment, both parties must agree – it cannot be done by one side alone. Under these contracts, rogue agents can charge excessive fees to their clients and at times the client won’t benefit from other payments that they may not be aware of.

The bottom line is that you should either make the income tax repayment yourself, or work with an accountant you know and trust. In any case, at the very least, you should make sure you understand the implications of any piece of paper you’re signing.

We can help you meet your obligations

If you think you are due an income tax rebate, then we are happy to help advise you on the best way to get this sorted.

September 25, 2023

Pension tax overpayments – £56m returned in Q2 2023 alone, so here’s how to claim

Pension tax overpayments – £56m returned in Q2 2023 alone, so here’s how to claim

People making the most of flexible pension withdrawals have been facing tax overpayments due to miscalculations by HMRC. In Q2 2023 alone, the taxman repaid £56,243,842 to people who had been taxed more that they should on their pension withdrawals. This amounts to an average of £3,551 per person.

The figure is up nearly £8m on the amount overpaid in the first quarter of the year and is nearly double the £33.7m collected in the same period last year. As the cost-of-living crisis continues to wreak havoc on people’s wallets, this is money that would be better being with the people who need it most.

How do you know if you have overpaid?

The people affected by the tax overpayment are those who are starting to access their pension, and it is because of an oddity within the PAYE system, according to Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter.

He added: “This emergency tax situation can be particularly frustrating for people trying to access their funds quickly. It arises due to an oddity within the PAYE system when people start to take money from their pension as they are not taxed using the correct tax code.”

The problem with emergency tax codes is that you will often end up being charged more in tax than you should be, so reclaiming the overpayment is essential. To do this you would need to use form P55 if you have flexibly accessed part of your pension, form P50Z if you have emptied your pension pot, or P53Z if you have received a serious ill-health lump sum or have accessed your pension while you are still working or receiving benefits.

However, you should always check the tax code that is being applied to any income you receive to make sure you are not paying too much tax.

How many people are reclaiming tax?

It seems plenty of people are putting in their tax claims to make sure they are getting the money they are due. For example, just in Q2 2023, HMRC said it has processed 11,232 P55 forms, 2,987 P53Z forms, and 1,620 P50Z forms, suggesting people are accessing their pensions more readily to help cope with the cost-of-living crisis.

Even though inflation has dropped slightly in the last month, wage growth means we could see additional base rate rises implemented by the Bank of England before the end of the year, according to some experts.

Flexible pension access is a way of increasing your income

If you are over 55 and want to access your pension – the minimum age can depend on the scheme rules for your employer or the insurance company that provides your pension plan – then you can begin to make withdrawals.

The first 25% of your pension can be taken tax-free, and this is easy to calculate if you take your pension pot as whole. But if you choose to take your pension out in a flexible way – which means taking a bit at a time – then you will need to pay the relevant amount of tax on that income.

It becomes more complicated if you are still working and have additional income to take into consideration for tax. This is where the tax overpayments are typically happening. One way around this is to work with a tax professional who can help make sure your tax code is correct, and that you are not going to be paying more than you need to the taxman.

This helps to reduce the risk of overpaying your tax in the first place, allowing you to keep the money in your pocket rather than having to wait for the taxman to give it back to you, which can take some time.

Contact us

If you are considering accessing your pension soon, or you have already accessed it but don’t know whether your tax code is correct, then please get in touch and we will check that you are not overpaying tax or that you have any tax rebates due from HMRC.

September 4, 2023

What employee perks will the taxman help you fund?

What employee perks will the taxman help you fund?

We all love a perk of the job, and a major industry has built up around the types of employee perks companies are able to offer. The best news of all is that most of these will be tax deductible, which means the taxman will fund at least part of them.

Everything from free snacks to mental wellbeing support are now a regular part of the employment landscape, among other employee benefits, as companies push to make themselves the best choice for the top employees, especially in specialist sectors where there is a labour shortage.

What perks and benefits should my company offer?

Choosing the right perks to keep your existing employees happy and to attract high-quality new staff is the Holy Grail, and a lot will depend on the industry your business is in, the age group of your workforce and any specific requirements your staff have. One of the best ways to choose the right perks is to canvas your existing employees and ask them, that way you are going to be more likely to give them what they really want and value.

Alternatively, you could ask one of the employee benefit specialist companies to do the work for you, and give you access to the kind of benefits your staff are asking for. There is a cost involved in this, so make sure you are happy to pay the fee and that you will get the benefit of providing the perks.

What are some of the most common benefits?

There are some pretty standard benefits on offer, including private healthcare, dental care and even optician services. But there are some other benefits that may be less usual that could be good for your business. These could include unlimited and unmonitored flexitime, paying a joining bonus for new staff and/or an annual bonus, or negotiating discounts for staff at local pubs, clubs or gyms.

This last suggestion is one you may be able to deal with yourself, especially if your company employees a relatively high number of staff within the local area. There are lots of other businesses that will see the benefit of encouraging your staff to use their services, so it is always worth asking.

We can help you meet your obligations

If you are unsure about what kind of perks your business should offer, then please get in touch with us and we will help you choose the best options and route to delivery for you.

August 22, 2023

Keep National Insurance numbers in Apple wallets now

Keep National Insurance numbers in Apple wallets now

Do you struggle to remember – or find – your National Insurance number when you’re asked for it? If so, you’re not alone. So, it will be a relief to many that HMRC has now created a way for iPhones to store someone’s National Insurance number in their Apple Wallet either online or through the HMRC App.

It means you can now check, share, and print your NI number in minutes, instead of having to wait up to 15 days for an NI number confirmation letter to arrive. It can also be saved to be used in future.

While this may seem high-tech, the taxman is keen to reassure employers that “this is genuine and should be accepted in the same way a letter would be”.

Is it safe?

If a fraudster had access to your NI number, it could cause you numerous problems. So, the safety of holding it in your Apple Wallet is a valid question. But given it is where we already hold our credit and debit cards so we can pay with our smart devices, there is no reason to think the NI number would be any less safe. You need a fingerprint, facial recognition, or a passcode to open the Apple Wallet, and this type of biometric security is highly effective.

If you have an employee showing you their NI number on their phone, then check their name corresponds correctly with the number you’re being shown. So you can keep a record of it, ask them to send you a screenshot with the details.

At the moment, this facility is only available on an iPhone, which means Android users will need to struggle on with their memory, their NI cards, or bits of paper for a little while longer. But an Android version is in the pipeline.

Let us help you

If you cannot find or remember your NI number, or you have employees who are struggling to find their NI details, then please get in touch with us and we will do what we can to help you.

July 24, 2023

New tax regime for sole traders and partnerships starts

New tax regime for sole traders and partnerships starts

HMRC is changing the way sole traders and partnerships need to calculate profits for their self-assessment returns. The Revenue will require the profits to be declared for the tax year in question, rather than the accounting year as is currently the case.

Any sole traders or partnerships with an accounting year ending at any point other than March 31 or April 5 will be affected by these changes and will need to amend the way they calculate and pay the tax due on their profits. These changes are not influenced by delays to the Making Tax Digital regime.

What do the changes mean?

This tax year – 2023/24 – is a transition year, so sole trader and partnership businesses must declare their profits for two accounting periods – their existing accounting period and any additional time that would take their trading activity to the end of the tax year.

HMRC states: “Businesses will need to declare the total profits from the end of the last accounting date in tax year 2022 to 2023 up to and including April 5, 2024. This means that profits generated over a longer period will be taxable in the transition year.”

However, from April 2024 to 2025 and any future years, the amount of profit made in each of the relevant periods where the accounting period may straddle the tax year will need to be allocated correctly.

Sounds complicated, how does it work?

It may be complicated initially while businesses get used to working out their profits and tax in a new way, but HMRC is working on an online form to make the returns easier. For now, sole traders and partnerships should rely on their accountant to help if they are unsure what to do.

Take an example – if your accounting date is December 31, 2023, then as a sole trader or partnership you need to declare profits from January 1, 2023, to April 5, 2024. This will give you a period for this return of 15 months rather than the usual 12 for the 2023/24 tax year. This must be filed and any tax due paid on or before January 31, 2025.

Some businesses may need to use provisional figures for this period, and they would have the usual amount of time to amend these to final figures on their tax return.

One benefit businesses will have if they need to make this change in the 2022/23 tax year is the ability to use any overlap relief due. Some may change their accounting dates to coincide with the tax year to make life easier. If this is done in the 2023/24 tax year, then the current change of accounting rules will apply.

HMRC stated: “In tax year 2023 to 2024, businesses can use any overlap relief resulting from overlap profit when the business first started. By default, any remaining additional profit can be spread over five years.”

If a business changes their accounting date from 2023/24 onwards, then these rules won’t apply. Also, any future changes can be made no matter what changes have been made in the past.

Get previous overlap relief figures from HMRC

HMRC should be able to provide you with overlap relief figures for any accounting date changes in the 2021/22 tax if you request them, provided they are recorded on its systems.

More staff are currently being trained to deal with these overlap relief queries and eventually HMRC will have a specific form to use to make these overlap relief requests more streamlined. In the meantime, if you want to get overlap relief data, HMRC is asking you to provide as much information as possible from the following list:

  • Taxpayer name.
  • National Insurance number or Unique Taxpayer Reference.
  • Name and description of business.
  • Whether the business is self-employment or part of a partnership.
  • If the business is part of a partnership, the partnership’s Unique Taxpayer Reference.
  • Date of commencement of the self-employment business, or date of commencement as a partner in partnership.
  • The most recent period of account or basis period the business used.

Those sole traders or partnerships looking to change accounting dates in 2022/23 and 2023/24 will need to wait for additional information on the “provision of overlap relief figures for these tax years” said HMRC.

There is some additional background information in the ‘Basis period reform’ policy paper.

Contact us

These changes may create additional complications for your business in the short term, and you need to be sure you’re keeping on top of what you need to file to HMRC, and by when. If you need assistance with this, please just get in touch with us and we will support you.

July 17, 2023

Self-assessment thresholds change for PAYE workers

Self-assessment thresholds change for PAYE workers

The threshold for people taxed through PAYE who are required to file a self-assessment return has increased from £100,000 to £150,000. Those affected should be contacted by HMRC if they need to change anything. That said, there have been times in the past where HMRC hasn’t always been spot on with its own paperwork, so you would be wise to keep on top of this yourself if you think this could be an issue for you.

The threshold rises for this tax year, 2023/24, so those filing returns for 2022/23 will still have to file self-assessments if they earn £100,000 or more. If they have income between £100,000 and £150,000 that is taxed through PAYE in their 2022/23 return, HMRC will send a Self-Assessment exit letter. Then those earning above £150,000 through PAYE would need to continue filing self-assessment returns until their position changes. The exception to this would be if those earning below the £150,000 mark meet any of the other criteria which would require them – or would benefit them – to file a self-assessment return.

Why would you still file a return for income below £150k?

If your income is taxed under PAYE for the 2023/24 tax year, and is below £150,000, then you would not need to file a self-assessment return, unless you are also:

  • In receipt of any other untaxed income.
  • A partner in a business partnership.
  • Have a tax liability to the High-Income Child Benefit Charge.
  • Or you are a self-employed individual and with gross income of over £1,000.

You can also find out online via Gov.uk if there are any other circumstances under which you would need to send a Self Assessment tax return.

What if I need to reclaim some allowances?

Self-assessment isn’t all about paying tax. If you have some items you need to reclaim tax relief on, then filing a self-assessment return would be the way to do this. There is no reason for you to pay tax unnecessarily, so make ensure you’re claiming any income tax reliefs due.

These could include items you need to buy out of your own pocket to do your PAYE job that are not reimbursed via expenses, such as membership of professional associations, courses that provide continuing professional development, work uniforms that aren’t supplied by your employer, or textbooks you need for your work. You may also need to pay for professional indemnity insurance to cover your work.

Is there anything else I would need to claim for?

If you are a 40% or 45% taxpayer, then any pension contributions you make may only be given tax relief at source of 20% – the basic rate of tax. It will depend on the scheme you are paying into, but many people will need to reclaim the additional 20-25% tax relief due on your pension contributions if your marginal rate of tax is higher than the basic rate.

You can also reclaim additional tax relief on charity contributions, maintenance payments and for any time you have spent working on a ship.

There are various rules to comply with to get maintenance payments relief, but the main one is that you or the person you are paying maintenance payments to must be born before April 6, 1935. So, there are likely to be fewer of these people qualifying as each year passes.

If you think there are any payments you should be able to get tax relief on, then speak to HMRC directly or to your accountant who will help you navigate the self-assessment maze.

We can help you

If you need help to determine whether you should file a self-assessment return to pay additional tax owing or to reclaim tax relief, then please get in touch with us and we can help you understand what you need to do.

July 10, 2023

Deadline to catch up on National Insurance contributions extended

Deadline to catch up on National Insurance contributions extended

Anyone with an incomplete National Insurance contributions (NICs) record between April 2006 and April 2016 now has until July 31 to add to their NICs to qualify for a full State Pension after HMRC extended the deadline.

Thousands of taxpayers have incomplete years in their NICs record who could get a higher State Pension if they make voluntary payments to top up incomplete or missing years, according to the Treasury.

The original deadline for voluntary payments to fill any gaps was April 5, 2023, but this was extended after members of the public voiced concerns that this did not give them enough time.

Victoria Atkins, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “We’ve listened to concerned members of the public and have acted. We recognise how important State Pensions are for retired individuals, which is why we are giving people more time to fill any gaps in their National Insurance record to help bolster their entitlement.”

How would I know if I’m affected?

The easiest way to find out if you have any missing NICs years is to ask for a Pensions Forecast from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The relevant information to get a State Pension forecast, and to decide if making a voluntary National Insurance contribution is the best course of action for you, plus how to make a payment, is available on GOV.UK.

You can also check your National Insurance record, via the HMRC app or your Personal Tax Account. If you aren’t sure how to do this, your accountant will be able to help you. If you choose to make additional voluntary payments, these would be at the existing rates for 2022/23.

NICs to qualify for a full State Pension

To get the full State Pension, you will need to have paid 35 full years of NICs. To get any State Pension, you will need to have paid 10 full years of NICs. If you have paid between 10 and 35 full years of NICs, you will get a proportion of the full State Pension.

This is why it’s important to find out how many full years of contributions you have made. The full State Pension amount is currently £203.85 per week. So, if you had 25 full qualifying years, you would divide £203.85 by 35 and then multiply by 25 to see what you would get. In this example, you would receive £145.61 per week at the current rate.

Remember, you should get advice to see if it is worth making additional voluntary contributions to complete your NICs record. So, speak to your accountant before you make any payments.

Let us help you

Pensions – and especially the State Pension – can be complex to navigate. If you are concerned you haven’t got enough qualifying years for your full State Pension, then please get in touch with us and we will advise you on the best course of action.

June 5, 2023

Pension Carry Forward rules are now more beneficial

Pension Carry Forward rules are now more beneficial

The Chancellor made some major changes to the pension rules in the March Budget, and one key amendment has made using something called ‘Carry Forward’ rules much more beneficial for pension savers.

How does Carry Forward work?

The Carry Forward rules allow you to use up any unused pension allowance from the last three tax years in a single year, which can give a big boost to your pension pot. There is a limit on the maximum amount you can put into your pension each tax year and receive tax relief. For the last three tax years prior to 2023/24 the annual allowance has been £40,000. However, the Chancellor raised this allowance for this tax year to £60,000.

What does this mean for me?

If you haven’t used your entire £40,000 annual allowance for the last three years – 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 – then you can make additional contributions this year to use up any remainder of the £120,000 worth of contributions you could have made during that period.

Let’s say you made £20,000 worth of contributions in each of these tax years. This would leave £60,000 of the remaining allowances you can now ‘carry forward’. Remember, this figure includes tax relief at your highest level from the taxman. If you are a 40% taxpayer, for example, then adding £40,000 to your pension would cost you just £24,000 with the remaining £16,000 being added by HMRC from the tax you would pay for that year.

You also have a £60,000 annual allowance for the 2023/24 tax year. If you hadn’t put anything into your pension for the previous three years, then this year you could add £180,000 in one go, providing you earn enough to do this. HMRC won’t give you more tax relief in a single year than the tax you have to pay. You would need to earn at least £180,000 this year to qualify for this much tax relief.

If you can’t use all of your allowance for this year, then you can always use the Carry Forward rules next year.

Don’t I have to be careful how large my pension pot gets during my lifetime?

Well, there is still theoretically a Lifetime Allowance of £1,073,100 which was the maximum you could have in your pension fund before you were hit with charges as high as 55% on amounts over this limit. But during the Budget, the Chancellor removed the penalty on this Lifetime Allowance, meaning there is no problem now for breaching it. Legislation is needed to remove the limit completely.

The change applies from April 6 this year. The only thing you can’t do is take more than £268,275 as your tax-free lump sum no matter how big your pension pot gets – which is 25% of the current Lifetime Allowance.

We can help you

Using Carry Forward is a great way to catch up on pension contributions you didn’t make in previous years. It can be especially useful if you are getting close to retirement and want to put more into your pension. If you want to explore Carry Forward, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

May 22, 2023

Could you benefit from a free Government midlife MOT?

Could you benefit from a free Government midlife MOT?

Our cars go through MOTs each year once they reach a certain age, but have you ever thought of giving yourself an MOT? The Government is offering a free midlife MOT for those in their 40s, 50s and 60s to help them make the right financial decisions for retirement.

The midlife MOT provides free online support to those in the private sector, and can be done face-to-face with Department for Work and Pensions staff in job centres for those looking for work. The aim is to ensure you are giving sufficient thought to your money, work and wellbeing as you head into the later stages of your life.

What’s involved?

The online midlife MOT provides a series of prompts to make you think more carefully about what you may need to do as you get older. For example, will you be able to continue in your current job as you get older? Or will you need to learn new skills to continue to provide for yourself and your family?

You are also prompted to consider whether you have enough money to live on to maintain your current lifestyle? Or whether you might need to examine your pension saving and put some extra aside to enjoy your retirement more comfortably.

The specific questions on the midlife MOT site are:

My work: Am I confident I can continue in my current job, or do I need to protect myself by reskilling? Will caring responsibilities or other priorities mean I need to work more flexibly?

My health: Am I taking the right steps to maintain or improve my health? Would workplace adjustments make it easier for me to stay in my job for longer?

My money: Do I have enough savings to maintain my current lifestyle? I’m confused about pensions, what are my options?

My work and skills: As your situation changes as you get older, you may find that flexible working arrangements can make a difference.

Source: https://www.yourpension.gov.uk/mid-life-mot/

Is this relevant to employers or just individuals?

There is a specific section of the website that highlights what employers can do to help their staff access the midlife MOT for their workplace. There are details on how this could work for both larger companies and smaller employers and you can also download toolkits to use within your business for relevant staff.

There are also a number of useful links within the YourPension.gov.uk/mid-life-mot/ webpage to help people navigate to the relevant information they need to check all aspects of their life are on track as they reach this point in their life.

Let us help you

Do you feel like you need a midlife MOT but would rather talk things through with someone than simply navigate this on your own? If so, then we can help you understand whether you are financially ready for the next chapter of your life. Just contact us and we will guide you through everything you need to know.

May 15, 2023

Make the most of the new tax year by acting now

Make the most of the new tax year by acting now

The new tax year started on April 6 and while many people will wait until the last minute to maximise the tax benefits available to them, there is a lot to be said for starting your tax housekeeping sooner rather than later.

There are many ways we can benefit from the tax breaks available each tax year. But trying to cram everything into the month before the tax year ends means you are likely to miss out on some of them. Planning ahead from the start of the tax year means you can mop up any allowances you can access.

Use your ISA allowance early

One of the most beneficial allowances to start using early in the tax year is your Individual Savings Account (ISA) allowance. Each tax year – which runs from April 6 to April 5 – we all have the option of putting up to £20,000 into an ISA. You can put as much as you want into any type of ISA, providing you don’t breach the £20,000 threshold in a single tax year. The money grows free of Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax, plus in a cash ISA you will not pay any tax on savings interest.

Using your ISA allowance at the beginning of the year can generate significant benefits, even if you can’t put the whole £20,000 in at once. For example, if you calculate the difference in the value of an ISA with just £3,000 invested at the beginning of every tax year since 1999 compared with the same amount invested on the last day of the tax year over the same period, the early birds will have more than £9,000 extra in their pot based on the performance of the average global equity fund.

If you and your spouse have both used up your £20,000 allowance and you have children, you can also put up to £9,000 for each child into a Junior ISA. This is a perfect way to put money aside throughout their childhood to pay for school fees, university or even to build a deposit to help them buy their first home.

Use your Capital Gains Tax allowance

This tax year – 2023/24 – the Capital Gains Tax allowance has been more than halved, from £12,300 in 2022/23 to just £6,000. So, anyone crystallising gains of more than £6,000 in this tax year will need to pay CGT on any amount above this limit. The rate you pay will depend on your marginal rate of income tax and what type of asset the gain has been crystallised on.

As we all have the same CGT allowance, it is possible for spouses to shelter up to £12,000 from CGT this year, but that will take some planning. So, speak to your accountant to make sure you are making the right decisions at the right time.

Maximise your Inheritance Tax planning by using your annual allowances

Inheritance tax (IHT) is often considered to be a tax just for the rich. But as house prices have risen and the threshold for paying this tax has remained static at £325,000 since 2009, and is likely to remain at this level until 2028, more people than ever are paying IHT. In fact, the latest figures released by HMRC show IHT receipts have soared by £1 billion to £7.1 billion from April 2022 to March 2023, largely due to house price increases, especially in the South East of England.

So, if you own your home, you may want to think about how you can use the annual allowances to reduce your liability when you pass away.

Any amount you have in your estate at death above this Nil Rate Band – which includes all your assets such as your home, cars, antiques, jewellery, collections and so on – will be taxed at 40%. There is an additional allowance of £175,000 per person, called the Residence Nil Rate Band, if you are passing your home to a direct descendant, such as a child or grandchild. But this is not available to those without children.

Spouses or civil partners passing assets between them on death will not be subject to IHT. So, any unused allowance remaining can be used by the second spouse or civil partner on their death, giving a maximum threshold of £1m if none of the Nil Rate Band or RNRB was used on the first death. The allowance can be passed automatically, you would just need to let the executor of the estate on the second death know this as they would need to make the claim when they apply for probate. So, a letter with your will would be a good way to do this, or by discussing this with the person who writes your will with you.

If your estate would still exceed this level, then you can legally reduce your estate’s value each year by making gifts to loved ones. For example, you can make gifts of up to £3,000 each year which will be free of IHT when you die.

You can also make other gifts of any amount you like, and providing you survive those by seven years, they will no longer be within your estate for IHT purposes. But the rules can be complex, so get advice from your accountant if you think you could be affected by IHT.

Contact us

These are just a few of the ways you can reduce your tax bills this tax year. We can help you make the most of these and other allowances before you lose them. So, please get in touch with us and we will help you make the right financial decisions for you and your family.

May 3, 2023

Pension changes make retirement saving more attractive

Pension changes make retirement saving more attractive

Pensions got a major overhaul in the Chancellor’s Budget announcements, with an increase in the amount you can put into your pension each year and an effective removal of the limit that your pension can reach before facing significant penalties of as much as 55%.

Rise in Annual Allowances

From April, the Annual Allowance – the amount you can put into your pension each year and receive tax relief, providing you have paid enough in tax in a year to warrant it, as the taxman will not give you more in relief than you have paid – will rise from £40,000 to £60,000.

There is also a rise in the Money Purchase Annual Allowance, which is the amount you can pay into a money purchase pension each year once you have vested part of it. This rises from £4,000 to £10,000 for the 2023/24 tax year – taking it back to its previous level.

The Tapered Annual Allowance is also going up from £4,000 back to its original level of £10,000. This taper kicked in at an ‘adjusted income’ level of £240,000, but this also rises to £260,000 for the 2023/24 tax year.

Lifetime Allowance effectively removed from April 2023

One of the most eye-catching measures in the Budget was the effective removal of the Lifetime Allowance, which limited the amount a pension fund could grow to £1,0731,000 before charges of up to 55% were applied on the additional amounts unless someone had a ‘protected pension’.

From April 6, these penalties will no longer apply, meaning there is no longer a penalty for passing this limit. This renders the Lifetime Allowance irrelevant as there will not be a penalty for breaching it. But it will take separate legislation to remove the Lifetime Allowance itself completely.

This is something that will be valuable particularly for some senior NHS doctors, as there has been a rising trend in them leaving the profession through early retirement, in part at least to prevent their pension going over the Lifetime Allowance.

Limit on the tax-free lump sum

However, there is a cap on the amount that someone can take from their pension as a 25% tax-free lump sum, thanks to the removal of the penalties being removed for breaching the Lifetime Allowance.

From April 6, you will only be able to take a maximum of £268,275 tax-free from your pension, which is the same as the maximum you could take under the Lifetime Allowance.

These measures combined are expected to cost the Treasury around £4 billion over the next five years.

We can help you

These pension changes are wide ranging and could significantly change your retirement planning, so if you want to know more about how you can make the most of these changes, then please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

April 24, 2023

Highest rate of tax will be paid by more people after the top threshold is reduced in the Budget

Highest rate of tax will be paid by more people after the top threshold is reduced in the Budget

Higher earners have been dealt a blow after the Chancellor changed the level at which the 45% additional rate of tax applies from £150,000 to £125,140.

The move takes effect in the 2023/24 tax year and brings the threshold in line with the point at which the personal allowance, which is frozen at £12,570 for 2023/24, is removed entirely. For those earning more than £100,000 a year, the personal allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 earned above this limit.

More than £1,000 due in extra tax

The measure will cost an extra £1,243 a year in tax, said Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, while Kwasi Kwarteng’s short-lived mini-Budget would have removed this additional rate completely.

However, once again it may make it more appealing for higher earners to put money into their pension schemes. Mr Cameron said: “While the freeze on thresholds for basic and higher rate income tax will create more tax take ‘by stealth’, there’s nothing stealthy about the cut in the additional rate threshold which rather than being frozen is being reduced from £150,000 to £125,140.

“But in current conditions, it’s not surprising that those who can afford to shoulder a greater part of the burden of tax increases are being asked to do so.

“Note that the existing gradual phasing out of the personal allowance once individuals earn over £100,000 means earnings between £100,000 and £125,140 are already effectively taxed at 60%. It now means thereafter, the marginal rate will be 45%.

“Together, these higher rates of income tax make paying personal contributions to pensions, which get relief at full marginal rate, particularly appealing.”

We can help you meet your obligations

If this change will affect you, then please get in touch and we will help you to maximise your tax life and work with you to perfect your pension planning.

April 10, 2023

The cost of divorce – how the pain can be more than emotional

The cost of divorce – how the pain can be more than emotional

January has earned the dubious distinction of being the month when more couples decide they want to get divorced than any other. The reasons are likely to be myriad, but the likelihood is that they either mark Christmas or New Year as a line in the sand for changing their lives, or simply that spending so much time together during the festive season helps them realise they are no longer compatible.

One law firm has seen an increase of 150% in divorce enquiries this January compared to the surrounding months, possibly boosted by the fact that couples can now have a ‘no fault’ divorce in England and Wales – it was already available in Scotland – after new legislation came into force last April. But the emotional turmoil that divorce brings is only one source of pain, as the financial cost is also considerable.

What does divorce have to do with the taxman?

Splitting assets between couples who have had their lives intertwined for decades is a complicated business. Add into this the emotion involved in such splits and it becomes very difficult to deal with these issues amicably.

However, when it comes to splitting assets, there may be a tax implication depending on what you do and how you do it. For example, if a couple splits a pension pot – which is taken into account as part of the assets held by one or both spouses depending on their financial position – the way this is done could potentially be a benefit for one or both of you. If the pension itself is likely to breach the £1,073,100 Lifetime Allowance threshold, then splitting this could mean both parties are able to add more to their pension without breaching this limit.

However, pensions are often not split in this way. So, often there is an offset of other assets – one spouse may get the family home, for instance, and the other spouse may keep the pension intact. It all depends on the financial agreements you make in the divorce.

What else should divorcing couples consider?

The pension conundrum is definitely not the only issue for divorcing couples to consider when it comes to their finances. There could be Capital Gains Tax (CGT) charges to think about as assets are split between the two parties.

To be sure there is no CGT to pay on the transfer of assets between you, it would be best to transfer assets before you formally separate – as long as you lived together at some point within the current tax year, which runs from April 6 to April 5 the following year, you shouldn’t have a CGT liability on giving assets to the other spouse.

If you split assets after you have been separated and the divorce has been finalised, then there could be a CGT liability. You can find out more on Gov.uk and by speaking to your accountant.

There are other areas to consider too. For example, if you pay spousal maintenance after your divorce, you may be able to claim tax relief on this. Also, if you had a High-Income Child Benefit Charge while you were with your spouse, you may now be able to claim full Child Benefit. Again, more information is available or you can speak to your accountant.

Contact us

If you are separating from your spouse or civil partner, then please get in touch with us and we can help you make the right financial decisions to keep your costs to a minimum.

March 6, 2023

MTD for ITSA delayed to April 2026 – what does this mean for you?

MTD for ITSA delayed to April 2026 – what does this mean for you?

Making Tax Digital (MTD) has been on the cards for years now, with businesses already pushed towards dealing with their VAT this way. But plans to extend this for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) have been put on hold once again until April 6, 2026, eight years later than the original planned launch in 2018.

However, even when 2026 comes, the MTD for ITSA will be phased in rather than applying to everyone at once.

Who will have to go digital first?

The first people doing self-assessment who will need to go digital are landlords and the self-employed who are earning more than £50,000 a year. HMRC estimates that this will mean around 700,000 people are brought into the MTD regime at this point.

The next phase will kick in from April 2027, when landlords and self-employed people earning more than £30,000 a year will be expected to go digital – bringing another 900,000 people into the MTD regime according to HMRC.

What’s the plan?

Victoria Atkins, financial secretary to the Treasury, announced the delay in the House of Commons just before Christmas.

She said: “The government understands businesses and self-employed individuals are currently facing a challenging economic environment, and that the transition to MTD for ITSA represents a significant change for taxpayers, their agents, and for HMRC.

“That means it is right to take the time needed to work together to maximise those benefits of MTD for small business by implementing gradually.

“The government is therefore announcing more time to prepare, so that all businesses, self-employed individuals, and landlords within scope of MTD for Income Tax, but particularly those with the smallest incomes, can adapt to the new ways of working.”

The needs of smaller businesses are going to be put under review to see how they can be helped to “fulfil their income tax obligations” Ms Atkins said in her statement. Once this review is complete and the various stakeholders – businesses, taxpayers, and their agents among others – have been consulted, the Government will outline further plans for MTD for ITSA, said Ms Atkins.

General partnerships will not be expected to go digital in 2025 now as previously expected, but they will see these changes brought in at a later date. But anyone who wants to sign up for MTD voluntarily before they are required to, has that option.

Contact us

There may be some benefits to using MTD earlier than you need to, but there could also be drawbacks for some people and businesses. If you want to find out more about the right decision for you, then please contact us and we will give you all the help, support, and information you need.

February 20, 2023

Filing a self-assessment return for the deceased – can you do this yourself?

Filing a self-assessment return for the deceased – can you do this yourself?

It is a fact of life that when we lose a loved one, the loss and grief is not all we have to deal with, even though that would be enough. Sadly, there is also a lot of administration that needs to be done by those left behind.

This can be anything from registering the death and getting multiple copies of the death certificate to provide to the various organisations that will ask for it, to rehoming pets left behind if necessary. So, dealing with the taxman at such a difficult time may not be appealing. But for some, especially where family members or close friends are also executors for the deceased’s estate, it is unavoidable.

Filing returns for the year someone died or earlier

The taxman’s reach goes beyond the grave as we know from Inheritance Tax being applied on estates after death where a liability applies, but there is also a requirement to ensure tax returns for those who have died are up-to-date including for the year in which they died.

This means relatives face collating all their loved one’s tax information for a period prior to their death, even if that information will be sent to an accountant who will deal with the ultimate filing of the return. This is a sensible option, because filing the return themselves mean there are some quirks to the usual system that need to be understood.

Can you file a return online for someone who is deceased?

HMRC will not accept online filing for anyone who is no longer alive. For security reasons, it insists that any returns relating to the deceased are filed in paper form when being dealt with by a family member or friend.

Authorised tax agents, such as your accountant, can file these returns online, including the return for the year in which they died. The tax year runs from April 6 to April 5 the following year, so the last return would need to relate to the period from April 6 in the relevant tax year to the date of their death.

Returns must be filed before January 31 the year after the end of the relevant tax year, or by the date on the ‘notice to file’ letter if one is received and that gives a different date.

However, if a repayment is due to the person’s estate from HMRC, the payment will not be made automatically. Instead, your accountant may need to call the bereavement helpline to get the ball rolling on this repayment being made.

You may need to deal with tax affairs after the person’s death too, and these are dealt with separately and in a slightly different way. You can find out more information on Gov.uk about what to do and how to tell HMRC about a person’s estate. You should also use the Tell Us Once service that the Government has, which means you tell one organisation within government about the death and all departments will be notified.

Let us help you

If you have lost a loved one recently and need help to deal with their financial affairs, then please get in touch with us and we can help you through the process.

February 13, 2023

Self-assessment late payment rates changed this month –what to expect if you miss the deadline

Self-assessment late payment rates changed this month –what to expect if you miss the deadline

The taxman has been busy this month – no surprise given it is the time when self-assessment returns need to be filed. But anyone who misses the deadline of January 31 faces a new set of interest rates for penalties that were only published on December 20 last year.

The new rates for late payments

The current HMRC interest rate for late payment of tax is the Bank of England (BoE) base rate plus 2.5%. This means that as of January 6, the current rate of interest on late payments is 6%. This applies to Income Tax, National Insurance, Capital Gains Tax, Stamp Duty Land Tax, Stamp Duty Reserve Tax – from October 1, 1999 – and Corporation Tax.

However, if you are owed money by HMRC, the amount of interest you can expect to be paid on that outstanding amount is considerably lower. As of January 6, the amount HMRC will pay you in interest on money owed is 2.5%. You can find out more information about where these figures apply and historical data on Gov.uk.

When do interest rates apply on late payments?

Interest rates apply if you pay your tax later than it is due, and interest will start to accrue from February 1, 2023, if you miss the January 31 payment deadline, and you would also get a £100 late filing penalty. You would then face an additional penalty of £10 per day if your return is up to three months late, with a maximum of £900 fined. If you still have not filed within six months, then you can face a £300 fine or 5% of the amount due, whichever is higher. The same applies if you have failed to file by the time 12 months have passed.

We can help you meet your obligations

If you think you could be facing interest charges from HMRC on the late payment of tax due, then speak to your accountant now and find out what we can do to help.

February 6, 2023

Self-Assessment – now is the time to get your tax return sorted

Self-Assessment – now is the time to get your tax return sorted

Yes, here we are again, the Christmas tradition of dealing with your self-assessment tax return is back for another year, and you need to get everything sorted as soon as you can. The final deadline for filing your self-assessment is January 31, 2023, for the 2021/2022 tax year, and you are expected to both file the return and make any payment due by midnight on that day. The tax year runs from April 6 to April 5 the following year.

If you miss this deadline, you could be facing a fine which will increase over time if you continue to either not file the return, not pay the tax due, or both.

Who needs to file a tax return?

Not everyone needs to file a tax return, but if you are one of the people who does, then make sure you get to grips with what is required as soon as you can. Those who need to file a return, according to the Gov.uk website, include:

  • Anyone self-employed as a sole trader who earned more than £1,000 before costs.
  • Partners in a business partnership.
  • Anyone earning more than £100,000.
  • Anyone with untaxed income from tips and commission, rental income from property, income from savings, investments and dividends or foreign income.
  • Anyone who received COVID-19 support payments or grants during the pandemic.
  • If you need to claim income tax reliefs, which could include professional body memberships and other expenses you pay solely to do with your work, even if you pay PAYE.
  • To prove your self-employment status to claim Tax-Free Childcare or Maternity Allowance.
  • If you or your partner’s income (if you have a partner) exceeded £50,000 and you need to pay the High-Income Child Benefit Charge.

If you are not sure whether you need to file a return or not, you can check on the Gov.uk website, or speak to your accountant who will be able to help you.

What is the penalty for not filing a tax return on time or paying late?

If you fail to file your tax return for up to three months, you will receive a fixed penalty of £100 but it can rise if you file later than this. You will also pay a penalty for paying your tax bill late and you can also be charged interest on late payments.

If you have a reasonable excuse, such as a close relative or partner dying close to the filing deadline, a hospital stay, or a life-threatening illness, for example, then you can appeal any penalty imposed. 

Contact us

Tax returns can be complicated, especially if you are looking to maximise the tax you are reclaiming, so working with an accountant makes sense. If you need help with your self-assessment, then please contact us and we will give you all the help, support, and information you need.

January 16, 2023

Additional tax rate threshold to be lowered – take advantage with your pension contributions

Additional tax rate threshold to be lowered – take advantage with your pension contributions

The 45% additional tax rate was briefly removed by Kwasi Kwarteng, then reinstated by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, and in the latest twist, Mr Hunt announced that the point at which people would start paying this highest rate of tax would fall from £150,000 to £125,140 from April 2023.

This may seem a strange figure to move the threshold to, but it relates to the point at which the entire personal allowance for higher-rate taxpayers is removed once they hit the £100,000 income level. The personal allowance of £12,570 is reduced at a rate of £1 for every £2 you earn above £100,000. So, the entire allowance has been removed at £125,140. At present, you are taxed at 40% on this amount and above until you reach £150,000 when the rate rises to 45%. But from April, you will pay 45% from £125,140 onwards.

The unofficial 60% income tax rate

The way that the personal allowance is chipped away once you reach the £100,000 threshold means that for the money you are taxed on between this level and the £125,140, you are actually paying 60% in tax. This is not easy to follow, but it works like this:

You earn £101,000 this tax year. This means that you pay tax at 40% on this income. But because you lose the personal allowance at a rate of £1 for every £2 you earn over this figure you will lose £500 of your personal allowance on the £1,000 above the £100,000 threshold. So, you will also pay 40% tax on this additional £500, which gives a bill of £200. Since you are also taxed at 40% on that £101,000, the £1,000 over the £100,000 will give the taxman £400. Add that to the £200 you are paying on the relative loss of the personal allowance, and you have paid £600 in tax on that £1,000, which means you have paid 60% in tax.

Maximise the benefit of the tax change when it happens

While losing money in income tax because of the threshold moving to the lower level of £125,140 from April, it does mean you can benefit from higher tax relief on your pension contributions if you are pulled into the 45% tax bracket.

This is because no matter how much you pay into your pension pot, you get tax relief at your highest marginal rate. For those on the highest rate of tax, this is 45%. So, adding £100 to your pension pot will cost you £55 as the tax relief will provide the remaining £45.

Let us help you

If you think you will be negatively affected by this change or any of the frozen tax thresholds, or you want to take advantage of putting money into your pension and getting the benefit of the additional tax relief no matter which tax band you fall into, then please get in touch with us and we can go through the various options you have.

December 19, 2022

Tax year end – get your accounts ready before the rush

Tax year end – get your accounts ready before the rush

It’s that time of year again – the shops are playing Christmas music, there are Christmas films starting to appear on the TV, and for many of us, there is a tax deadline looming, whether that is personal or for our business.

This is the busiest time of year for accountants as so many people will leave their corporate or personal tax returns until the very last minute. So, if you know your business is coming up to its accounts filing date, or you have a self-assessment tax return that needs completing and filing before January 31, you need to start thinking about it sooner rather than later.

Do what you can to help

If you are coming up to your filing deadline, then you can really help us by sending the relevant information as soon as you can. That way, if we have any queries or you find there is something you have forgotten to send, there is plenty of time to deal with any issues.

Only pay the tax you owe

The best way your accountant can help you is by ensuring you only pay the tax you owe, no more and no less. We will help you maximise any tax breaks available and help to make sure you are claiming everything you can.

We can help you meet your obligations

Speak to your accountant and ask him or her to help you get the right information together so your accounts can be prepared in good time.

December 12, 2022

Landlords, what should you be doing now?

Landlords, what should you be doing now?

Changes to the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowances announced in the Autumn Statement mean that from next April, the current £12,300 allowance will fall to £6,000 and then to £3,000 in 2024. This is a major concern for landlords with rental property, as this will make a significant dent in the gains they can make on property before they pay tax.

It could mean that any landlord currently holding a considerable gain on a property may want to think about whether now is a good time for them to sell, especially as property values are expected to stagnate or fall, in the coming months.

Private residence relief

However, there are some ways you can reduce your CGT bill. If you have lived in the property at any point, you can get some relief from CGT under the ‘private residence relief’ rules. You can get relief for the number of years you have lived in the property, plus nine months at the end of the ownership whether you lived in the property then or not.

The example on the Gov.uk website highlights a property with a gain of £120,000 when you sell, which you have owned for 15 years. But for 7.5 years you lived in the whole property, and then rented out your property for the remaining 7.5 years. The Private Residence Relief applies for the 7.5 years you lived there plus the last nine months you owned the property.

This means you get a total of 8.25 years of Private Residence Relief, which amounts to 55% of the time you have owned it. So, you will not pay tax on 55% of the £120,000 gain, but you will on the remaining 45% – which means you will pay CGT on £54,000.

The reduction in CGT allowances could prompt landlords to sell

The more than halving of the CGT allowance from April next year means some landlords may attempt to sell some of their properties before the CGT allowance reduces. It will not be the right decision for everyone, but if a landlord is already considering this, now might be a good time to press the button.

Zaid Patel, director of London-based estate and lettings agents, Highcastle Estates: “With the CGT tax allowance to be halved to £6,000 from April 2023, we may see an increase in landlords selling up and second homeowners listing their properties with the hope of completing before April. Landlords, who own property as part of a limited company, will be further penalised as they’ll pay more tax on dividends.

“This, coupled with the rise in corporation tax, will likely lead to more landlords trying to sell their properties. However, with the rising cost of living, first-time buyers will continue to find it challenging to save for a house, which may mean demand will stifle.

“I expect house prices to drop slightly until late 2024, when there will be a rush of buyers hoping to complete before the stamp duty cuts end. It means estate agents will struggle over the next two years and cutting the dividend tax relief while increasing corporation tax could mean estate agents may start selling their businesses or winding up during this recession.”

Landlords have been hit hard

Landlords have been hit hard by various changes to what they can claim and the way in which they are taxed in recent years, especially if they do not hold the properties within a limited company. For example, if someone is getting rental income of £15,000 a year but having to pay mortgage interest amounting to, say, £8,000 a year, then previously they would be able to offset the entire interest against their rental income before tax. This would mean paying tax on just £7,000 of income.

Now, unless they own their properties within a limited company, they are not able to offset the mortgage interest against their income before tax. So, they would pay tax on the full £15,000 of income. If they were 40% taxpayers and all their allowances had already been used, this would give a tax bill of £6,000 when they are also paying £8,000 in mortgage interest. This would leave just £1,000 for the landlord. Paying 40% on the same basis on the £7,000 of income after accounting for the mortgage interest would give a bill of £2,800 – leaving £4,200 for the landlord.

This is one reason that the number of buy-to-let properties being held within a limited company has reached a record level of 300,000 according to estate agent Hamptons.

We can help you

If you have concerns about your buy-to-let property or you want to find out if you would be better off using a limited company structure, then contact us and we will work with you to help you make any necessary changes.

December 5, 2022

Act now to maximise your pension contributions

Act now to maximise your pension contributions

The changes to income tax rates are going to benefit all taxpayers from April next year as they get to keep more of the money they have earned. But one knock-on effect is that the amount of tax relief you can get on your pension will be reduced for both 20% and 45% taxpayers, as it is based on your highest marginal rate of tax.

This means that you have just shy of six months to maximise any pension contributions you want to make to ensure you benefit from a slightly larger contribution in tax relief from the Government. For example, anyone earning more than £150,000 this year will be able to get tax relief on pension contributions at 45%. From April 2023, this will fall to 40%.

Will this only apply to higher earners?

While higher earners have the most to lose by not maximising pension contributions before the income tax rates change next year, there is also a fall in the basic rate of income tax from 20% to 19%. So, if you are currently a 20% taxpayer, there is still a benefit to acting before April 2023 to maximise your pension contributions. At present, putting £100 into your pension will cost you £80 as a 20% taxpayer. When this falls to 19%, it will cost you £81 to achieve the same contribution.

Is there anything I need to watch out for?

If you are putting money into your pension, there are some limits you need to be aware of. The most you can put into your pension each year and receive tax relief on is £40,000 – but remember, you cannot claim more tax in a single year than you have paid.

For higher earners, there are a few other things to consider. For example, once you reach an earning level of £240,000, that £40,000 a year allowance is reduced incrementally until you reach £312,000 or more. At this point, the amount you can put into your pension reduces to just £4,000.

Beware of the Lifetime Allowance

The other consideration for everyone – but it is more likely to apply to the highest earners – is the Lifetime Allowance. This is currently set at £1,073,100 and anyone with a combined pension pot that breaches this limit will face additional tax charges on their pension.

So, if you think you may hit or breach this limit, then you need to take advice sooner rather than later to ensure you use the money you have in a different way to save for your retirement. This could, perhaps, include maximising your individual savings account (ISA) allowance of £20,000 per year or making other investments that can be used to generate retirement income.

We can help you

If you want to maximise your pension contributions before the income tax bands change, then please get in touch with us and we will help you to get the most from your money without facing additional tax charges.

October 24, 2022

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