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eNews - July 2015

In this month's eNews we report on highlights of the Summer Budget. We also include an update on PAYE penalties, the latest jobs market statistics and the latest information on claiming the marriage allowance.

Please contact us if you would like any further information on any of these or any other issues.

Budget announcements

George Osborne delivered his second budget of the year on 8 July 2015. Following the general election in May this was the first full Conservative budget since 1996.  The budget focussed on reducing the budget deficit and moving from a 'low wage, high tax, high welfare economy' to a 'higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare country.' Brief details of some of the more significant proposals are set out below. Please contact us if you would like any further information on any of the issues.

Internet link: GOV Summer Budget

Changes for 'Buy to Let' Landlords

It was announced in the Budget that the government will restrict the amount of income tax relief landlords can claim on residential property mortgage interest costs to the basic rate of income tax.

This means that landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income. They will instead be restricted to the basic rate. To give landlords time to adjust, the government will introduce this change gradually from April 2017, over four years.

This restriction will not apply to landlords of furnished holiday lettings and will not impact on basic rate tax paying landlords.

From April 2016 the government will replace the Wear and Tear Allowance with a new relief that allows all residential landlords to deduct the actual costs of replacing furnishings.

Internet link: TIIN landlords

Annual Investment Allowance certainty

The Chancellor announced that Annual Investment Allowance will be set permanently at £200,000 from 1 January 2016 providing certainty for businesses. The AIA provides a 100% deduction for the cost of most plant and machinery (not cars) purchased by a business, up to an annual limit and is available to most businesses.

The AIA was increased to £500,000 from 1 April 2014 for companies or 6 April 2014 for unincorporated businesses until 31 December 2015. However it was due to reduce to £25,000 after this date. The level of the maximum AIA will now be set permanently at £200,000 for all qualifying investment in plant and machinery made on or after 1 January 2016.

Where a business has a chargeable period which spans 1 January 2016 there are transitional rules for calculating the maximum AIA for that period and there will be two important elements to the calculations:

  • a calculation which sets the maximum AIA available to a business in an accounting period which straddles 1 January 2016
  • a further calculation which limits the maximum AIA relief that will be available for expenditure incurred from 1 January 2016 to the end of that accounting period.

It is the second figure that can catch a business out as demonstrated by the following example:

If a company has a 31 March year end then the maximum AIA in the accounting periods to 31 March 2016 will be:

9 months to December 2015 three quarters of £500,000 £375,000

3 months from January 2016 one quarter of £200,000 £50,000

Total annual AIA using first calculation £425,000

This is still a generous figure. However if expenditure is incurred between 1 January and 31 March 2016 the maximum amount of relief for will only be £50,000. This is because of the restrictive nature of the second calculation. Alternatively, the business could defer its expenditure until after 31 March 2016. In the accounting period to 31 March 2017, AIA will be £200,000. However tax relief will have been deferred for a full year.

Please contact us for specific advice for your business.

Internet link: TIIN AIA

The family home and IHT

The government has announced the introduction of a new transferrable nil rate band for the family home. The additional band will apply where a residence is passed on death to direct descendants such as a child or a grandchild. This will initially be £100,000 in 2017/18, rising to £125,000 in 2018/19, £150,000 in 2019/20, and £175,000 in 2020/21. The additional band can only be used in respect of one residential property which has, at some point, been a residence of the deceased.

The allowance is in addition to the inheritance tax nil rate band which is currently set at £325,000. By 2020/21 the total individual nil rate band will therefore total £500,000.

Any unused nil rate band may be transferred to a surviving spouse or civil partner. It will also be available when a person downsizes or ceases to own a home on or after 8 July 2015 and assets of an equivalent value, up to the value of the additional nil rate band, are passed on death to direct descendants. This element will be the subject of a technical consultation and will be legislated for in Finance Bill 2016.

There will also be a tapered withdrawal of the additional nil rate band for estates with a net value (after deducting any liabilities but before reliefs and exemptions) of more than £2 million. This will be at a withdrawal rate of £1 for every £2 over this threshold.

The IHT nil rate band is currently frozen at £325,000 until April 2018. This is to remain frozen until April 2021.

Internet link: TIIN IHT

National Living Wage

The government has announced the introduction of a new National Living Wage (NLW) for working people aged 25 years and above. The NLW will introduce a premium on top of the national minimum wage (NMW). Initially the premium is set at 70p above the current NMW although this will fall to a premium of 50p when the NMW increase comes into effect in October 2015.  Further increases are to be recommended by the Low Pay Commission in order to achieve the government's objective of reaching 60% of median earnings by 2020.

John Cridland, Director-General  of the CBI, commented:

'Small shops, hospitality firms and care providers are the businesses that will face real challenges in affording the National Living Wage.'

'Delivering higher wages can only be done sustainably by boosting productivity. Bringing politics into the Low Pay Commission is a bad idea.'

Internet link: CBI press release

PAYE late filing penalties

HMRC have now issued the first in-year penalties notices to employers with fewer than 50 employees who missed the deadline for sending PAYE information to HMRC.

Rather than issue late filing penalties automatically when a deadline is missed, HMRC have announced that they will 'take a more proportionate approach and concentrate on the more serious defaults on a risk-assessed basis.'

This approach is in line with the likely direction of HMRC's general approach to penalties, outlined in the HMRC penalties: a discussion document which they issued earlier this year. HMRC have confirmed that this 'risk-based' approach will apply to submissions that were late from:

  • 6 March 2015 for employers with fewer than 50 employees; and
  • 6 January 2015 for employers with 50 or more employees.

Penalties for 2015/16 will also continue to be risk-based.

HMRC had previously announced that they will not be penalising minor delays of up to three days.

HMRC are reminding employers:

'Even if employers do not get a penalty, they are required by law to file on time and if they do not may be charged a penalty on a future occasion. The deadlines for sending PAYE information stay the same, including the requirement to send PAYE information on or before the time that employees are actually paid or due to be paid.'

HMRC have confirmed the process employers should use to appeal a penalty using the using the Penalties and Appeals System (PAS) on HMRC Online. Employers who receive a late filing penalty notice for tax year 2014/15 quarter 4 but who filed within three days of the reporting deadline may appeal and should use reason code A as set out in the What happens if you don't report payroll information on time guidance.

Please contact us if you would like help with your payroll.

Internet link: GOV news

Claiming the marriage allowance

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group published updated their guidance on how to apply for the new transferable personal allowance, known as the marriage allowance, for married couples and civil partners which came into effect on 6 April 2015.

The transfer of part of the personal allowance between spouses (or civil partners) allows eligible couples to save up to £212 tax in a year.

The marriage allowance enables an individual whose income does not allow them to make use of their full personal allowance, currently £10,600, to transfer 10% (£1,060) of this allowance to their partner. Their spouse or civil partner is then able to set their own personal allowance, plus the transferred part of their partner's allowance, against their own income. This increase in usable allowances should result in a tax saving of up to £212 in a year for a couple (20% of £1,060).

The transfer can only be made if the spouse or civil partner who receives the transferred allowance is not a higher-rate taxpayer (meaning that in 2015/16 they have an income of more than £42,385.

Currently an individual can only claim to transfer the marriage allowance to their partner by registering online via GOV.UK. The individual will then be prompted to use GOV.UK's Verify procedure to confirm their identity which requires the individual to have a UK passport or driving licence. A phone option is also available If the individual is unable to confirm their identity using Verify they will be advised to call HMRC's PAYE helpline on 0300 200 3300.

Internet link: News

Phishing emails HMRC examples

HMRC have updated their list of examples of emails, letters, text messages and bogus calls used by 'scammers' and fraudsters to get taxpayers personal information.

This guidance provides examples of the different methods that fraudsters use to obtain personal information.

Internet links: Examples  GOV news

HMRC checking employees have paid the correct amount of tax on their pay

HMRC have started to check that people have paid the right amount of tax in 2014/15, a process they refer to as the annual End of Year Reconciliation process.  

They will be sending out forms P800 first which show details of the calculation showing the under or over payment. However, where an overpayment of PAYE has been made they should issue the cheque approximately two weeks later. For those who have underpaid tax for the year the P800 will detail how this tax will be collected, generally by adjustment of the PAYE tax code for 2016/17.

HMRC's press release states:

'This automated process ensures those who have had a change in circumstances during the last tax year (2014/15) that was not captured in their tax code have paid no more or less than they should. Any discrepancy could be because the taxpayer changed jobs, had more than one job for a time, a change of company car or received investment income that was not reported during the year.'

Where HMRC's calculations show that the correct amount of tax has been paid for the year HMRC will not contact the individuals concerned. HMRC expect that the vast majority of PAYE taxpayers will have paid the right amount of tax for the year.

If you would like help reconciling your tax position please do get in touch.

Internet links: GOV news  Understanding and checking your P800 Tax Calculation

Statistics show employment rise in 2015

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures showing that UK employment rates were up between February and April compared to the three months to January 2015.  As detailed in the press release the figures show:

  • 'There were 31.05 million people in work, 114,000 more than for the 3 months to January 2015 and 424,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • There were 22.74 million people working full-time, 362,000 more than for a year earlier. There were 8.31 million people working part-time, 63,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) was 73.4%, up slightly from the 3 months to January 2015 (73.3%) and higher than for a year earlier (72.7%).
  • There were 1.81 million unemployed people. This was 43,000 fewer than for the 3 months to January 2015 and 349,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • Comparing February to April 2015 with a year earlier, pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 2.7% both including and excluding bonuses.'

Employment Minister Priti Patel said: 'Today's figures confirm that our long-term economic plan is already starting to deliver a better, more prosperous future for the whole of the country, with wages rising, more people finding jobs and more women in work than ever before'.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills, said:

'These figures provide more evidence that the wage squeeze has eased, with private sector pay increasing almost as fast as it was before the crisis. At the same time, firms are creating more jobs.'

'If we are to deliver sustainable higher wage growth, we need to see a rise in productivity. That means businesses investing in skills, and the Government helping firms innovate by supporting investment in next month's Budget.'

'These figures are testament to the strength of our flexible labour market, which has helped British firms create a strong number of permanent full-time jobs.'

Internet links: ONS bulletin  Press release