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eNews - February 2016

In this month’s eNews we report on the extra 3% SDLT charge which will apply on the purchase of second homes from April. We also include several announcements relevant to employers, the latest tax return statistics and information about the new state pension.

Please do get in touch if you would like any further guidance on any of the areas covered.

Extra 3% SDLT on the horizon for buy to lets and second homes

The Chancellor announced in the Autumn Statement last November that he would be introducing new rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on purchases of buy to let properties or second homes.  An additional 3% SDLT charge will apply to the purchase of residential properties caught by the new rules and this change is expected to come into effect for completions on or after 1 April 2016. There is an exemption from the charges for transactions under £40,000.

In December the Scottish government announced a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) supplement on additional homes. A bill has been introduced in the Scottish Parliament to introduce similar changes to LBTT.

The government is currently consulting on how the rules will be implemented and in which circumstances they will apply. It should be noted that the proposed changes will significantly increase the SDLT and LBTT on the purchase of second homes.

The rules will also impact on those individuals who purchase a new home where they have yet to sell their current home. The higher SDLT and LBTT rates would be payable on the purchase of the second property although this additional tax may be refunded if the first property is sold within 18 months.  

To read the consultation which includes some examples of how the rules will operate use the link below.

Please also do get in touch if you would like specific advice on how these rules will affect you and whether or not you should buy or sell before or after April 2016.

Internet links: Consultation Scottish Parliament

HMRC reveal tax return statistics and worst excuses

HMRC have revealed that 10.39 million Self Assessment tax returns were completed ahead of the 31 January deadline which is more than 92% of the total returns expected, and 150,000 more than last year.

More than 89% of taxpayers (9.24 million) filed their return electronically.

An automatic £100 penalty applies to those failing to file their return by 31 January 2016 midnight deadline. Use the following link for more information about HMRC Self Assessment deadlines.

HMRC have also revealed the top 10 worst tax return excuses for 2014. They include:

‘I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years’

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Personal Tax, said:

‘Untidy family members and hungry pets are very unlikely to be accepted as a legitimate excuse for completing your tax return late.

We understand that life can be unpredictable and for those customers who have a genuine excuse for missing the 31 January deadline, such as the flooding, help is on hand. My advice would be to contact us through our helplines or online, as soon as possible. But for those who are trying to play the system, while the rest of us do the right thing, the message is clear: submit your tax return online by 31 January or face a fine. We’re here to help people in genuine distress, but not to act as a free lender to people who can’t meet their responsibilities to pay their tax.’

The deadline for sending 2014/15 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, was 31 January 2016.

If you need help getting your tax affairs up to date please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK Top 10 Worst Tax Return Excuses for 2014

Reporting PAYE information ‘on or before’ paying employees

HMRC have announced that the relaxation which has permitted some employers with no more than nine employees to report their PAYE information for the tax month ‘on or before’ the last payday in the tax month, instead of ‘on or before’ each payday, is to be withdrawn from April 2016.

Guidance on the limited situations where pay details may be provided late can be found at www.gov.uk/running-payroll/fps-after-payday. If you would like any help with payroll matters please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK Employer Bulletin 57

Digital quarterly updates

Following concerns raised in response to the government’s proposals to ‘Make Tax Digital’ the government has issued a myth buster which hopes to lessen the fears of many regarding the government’s proposals for quarterly updates.

We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: GOV.UK Making Tax Digital - Myth Buster

New National Living Wage to boost living standards

The government is reminding employers that a new National Living Wage (NLW) is being introduced from 1 April 2016 and advising employers to get ready for this change.

The NLW rate will be payable to workers in the UK who are 25 or over. For workers currently being paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW) this will mean a 50 pence increase in their hourly earnings.

The government expects over a million workers in the UK aged 25 and over to directly benefit from the increase, which sees the current minimum rate of £6.70 increase by 50p. Many will see their pay packets rise by up to £900 a year.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

‘The government believes that Britain deserves a pay rise and our new National Living Wage will give a direct boost to over a million people. We are building a more productive Britain and giving families the security of well-paid work.

This is a step up for working people, so it is important workers know their rights and that employers pay the new £7.20 from April 1 this year.’

The government has launched an advertising campaign to highlight the new wage. More details are available at: livingwage.gov.uk.

The government is encouraging employers to ensure they are ready to pay the new wage on 1 April 2016. As part of this, it has published a four-step guide for businesses on the living wage website, asking employers to:

  1. Check you know who is eligible in your organisation.
  2. Take the appropriate payroll action.
  3. Let your staff know about their new pay rate.
  4. Check your staff under 25 are earning at least the right rate of NMW.

HMRC will have responsibility for enforcing the new NLW in addition to the NMW.

For those not affected by the NLW the following NMW rates apply:

  • £6.70: for 21s and over
  • £5.30: for 18 to 20-year-olds
  • £3.87: for under 18s
  • £3.30: for apprentices (the rate applies to all apprentices in year 1 of an apprenticeship, and 16-18 year old apprentices in any year of an apprenticeship)

Internet link: GOV.UK NLW

Pensioners 'to gain' from new single tier state pension but younger people 'worse off'

A new single tier state pension is to be introduced for those reaching state pension age from 6 April 2016 onwards. According to research by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) many pensioners will receive a boost from the new single tier pension following its introduction from 6 April 2016.

Under the 'flat-rate' system, new pensioners could receive up to £155.65 per week, compared to the current state pension entitlement of £119.30.

The press release states:

‘The data shows the long-term impact of the new State Pension on people’s pensions, with 75% of people set to gain in the first 15 years.

The move to the new system will provide a boost to the State Pension for many women, with over 3 million women receiving an average of £11 more per week by 2030 as a result of the changes, – helping to address the gender inequalities that have persisted under the old scheme.’

To find out what your pension entitlement is visit www.gov.uk/state-pension-statement

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Apprentices and employer National Insurance

From 6 April 2016, if you employ an apprentice you may not need to pay employer Class 1 national insurance contributions (NICs) on their earnings up to £827 a week (£43,000 per annum). To be eligible for this relief the apprentice should be under 25 years old and be following an approved UK government statutory apprenticeship scheme.

If the apprentice meets the conditions, then the employer needs to have evidence to allow them to apply the relief, by adjusting the employee’s NIC category. The evidence required will be either

  • a written agreement between you, the apprentice and a training provider, which meets the conditions, or
  • in England and Wales, evidence that the apprenticeship receives government funding.

When the apprenticeship stops or the apprentice turns 25 you will need to start paying the relevant NICs. For full details visit the link below.

The relief does not apply to employee’s NICs, it is only the employer who benefits but the employee’s entitlement to social security benefits will not be affected.

Internet link: GOV.UK