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Helpsheets ... continued 20 from homepage

  • VAT

    Flat rate VAT if you sell used equipment

    If you use the VAT flat rate scheme (FRS) the normal rules don’t apply to some types of transaction, for example, if you sell an item of equipment which you’ve used in your business. How should you record the transaction and account for any VAT?

    Flat rate scheme purchases

    As you’re probably aware, the VAT flat rate scheme (FRS) can be used by businesses until their annual turnover exceeds £230,000. The scheme doesn’t affect whether and how much VAT you charge but allows you to keep some of it (by accounting for a lower percentage) rather than pay it to HMRC with your VAT return. In exchange, you aren’t allowed to reclaim VAT on your purchases, except for VAT paid on capital assets which cost you more than £2,000 (including VAT).

    You can recover VAT for a group of capital assets purchased from the same supplier at the same time if overall they exceed the £2,000 limit. For example, four new desks for your firm’s office costing £520 each.

    VAT when you sell capital assets

    Usually, a registered business that sells a capital asset must charge the purchaser VAT and account for it to HMRC. There are exceptions, essentially where you weren’t entitled to, and didn’t reclaim, the VAT you paid on the purchase. For example, VAT on the cost of a car used for some private travel. These rules apply to all registered businesses including those which use the FRS.

    Accounting for VAT

    Where you’re required to charge VAT, you’ll need to account for it on your quarterly return in one of two ways as shown by the following examples.

    Example 1. Gary is a builder who uses the FRS. He bought a van for £3,000 plus VAT of £600. He recovered the VAT through his quarterly returns. He sells the van for £1,000 plus VAT of £200. This is a sale outside of the FRS and so he must account for £200 in Box 1 of his next return and include the net sales figure of £1,000 in Box 6. The same rule for working out and reporting the VAT would apply if Gary had bought the van (regardless of the price he paid) before joining the FRS and reclaimed the VAT under the normal rules.

    Example 2. While using the FRS Verity bought a packaging machine for her business for £1,500 plus VAT of £300. She was not entitled to reclaim the VAT because the purchase price was less than £2,000. She sells the machine for £500 plus VAT of £100. This counts as part of her normal FRS sales. Assuming her FRS percentage is 12%, Verity must include VAT of £72 ((£500 + £100) x 12%) in Box 1 of her return and include £572 in Box 6.

    The VAT treatment of a car can be problematic if you sell it while you’re using the FRS and have not reclaimed VAT on the purchase, which is rarely allowed. Even though you do not charge the buyer VAT you must account for it at the FRS rate in the same way as in Example 2.

    If the amount you’re asking for the car is a significant proportion of your turnover, you might be better off leaving the FRS to avoid the VAT. You can rejoin it after twelve months.

    To prevent overpaying VAT, make sure your bookkeeper has all the information they need about a capital asset to decide how to report it on your VAT return if you sell it.

  • Furnished holiday lettings

    Furnished holiday lettings offer a number of tax advantages over longer lets. One of the key benefits is the availability of capital gains tax reliefs available to traders, including rollover relief and business asset disposal relief.

    Business asset rollover relief

    Business asset rollover relief is a significant benefit of having a furnished holiday let rather than a standard buy-to-let. It enables the landlord to sell one property and invest in another without crystallising an immediate charge to capital gains tax; instead the gain is ‘rolled over’ and the charge is deferred.

    Business asset rollover relief is available on the disposal of a qualifying business where some or all of the proceeds are used to buy new assets.

    Conditions

    To qualify for business asset rollover relief certain conditions must be met:

    The new asset must be bought in the period running from one year before the sale or disposal of the old asset to three years after.

    The business must be trading when the old asset is disposed of and the new asset is acquired.

    The old asset and the new asset must be used in the business.

    Effect

    The effect of the relief is that capital gains tax is not payable when the old asset is disposed; instead it is paid on the gain on both the old asset and the new asset on the disposal of the new asset.

    Example

    Lottie runs a furnished holiday lettings business and owns a holiday cottage in St Ives. She purchased it in 2010 for £150,000 and sells it in June 2021 for £400,000 (net of costs), realising a gain of £250,000. Three months later, she buys a new holiday let in Padstow for £450,000. She claims business asset rollover relief, deferring the capital gains tax on the sale of the St Ives property.

    The base cost of the Padstow property is £200,000, being the cost of £450,000, less the rolled over gain of £250,000.

    Louise has a buy to let property. She also purchased it in 2010 for £150,000 and sold it in June 2021 for £400,000 (net of costs) realising a gain of £250,000. She plans to buy a buy-to-let in a different location. However, unlike Lottie, she is unable to claim business asset rollover relief and must pay the associated capital gains within 30 days of the sale completion. If she is a higher rate taxpayer, and assuming her capital gains tax annual exempt amount of £12,300 is available, she will have a capital gains tax bill of £66,556 (28% (£250,000 - £12,300) to pay, reducing the proceeds that she has available for reinvestment to £333,444. By contrast, Lottie has the full proceeds of £400,000 available to reinvest.

    Partial relief

    Partial relief is available if only part of the proceeds from the sale of the old property is reinvested in the new property.

    Example

    Luke has a furnished holiday lettings business. He sells a holiday let for £300,000 realising a gain of £100,000. He buys a new holiday let for £270,000. £30,000 of the gain of £100,000 is immediately chargeable to capital gains tax. The remaining £70,000 of the gain is rolled over. The base cost of the new holiday let is £200,000, being the cost of £270,000, less the rolled over gain of £70,000.

    Claiming relief

    Relief must be claimed within four years from the end of the tax year in which the new asset was acquired or, if later, the old asset was sold. A claim form is available on HMRC helpsheet HS290.

  • Loans to participators

    Where a close company (or LLP) makes a loan (otherwise than in the ordinary course of a business) to an individual who is a participator or an associate of a participator, a tax charge of 32.5% is payable by the company should that loan remain outstanding nine months after the end of the accounting period. The charge applies to loans to directors who are also participators, to participators who are not directors, but it does not apply to directors who are not also participators.

    A 'participator' may be a shareholder of the company whose interest in the company is more than 5% of the share capital but the definition also includes any person having a share or interest in the capital or income of the company. An ordinary trade creditor is not a 'participator'.

    A 'close company' is a UK resident company under the control of:

     (a) 5 or fewer participators, or

     (b) of any number of participators who are also directors.

    The rate of tax payable is the same as the higher 'dividend tax' rate at 32.5%. Should the charge be paid and then the loan subsequently be repaid, repayment can be claimed but will not be so until nine months and one day after the end of the company's accounting period in which the loan was repaid or reduced.

    Where the loan has been made before the individual becomes a participator e.g. the loan is made to an individual who subsequently becomes a shareholder, then no charge is levied provided there is no link between the loan and the individual becoming a shareholder.

    Material interest - As long as the participator is not also a director or employee in the company, there is no immediate tax charge for the participator. The scenario is different where the participator does not have material interest but works full time for company as there will be a charge under the benefit in kind rules should the loan exceed £15,000. There is also the possibility of a double income tax charge if the loan is subsequently waived or written off. In such circumstances not only will there be a benefit in kind on the granting of the loan but HMRC could deem the waiver to be a distribution to a participator or as earnings to a director or employee. However, there is provision in the legislation that prioritises the distribution treatment in this situation. There is no similar provision in the national insurance legislation and so this means that the income would be taxable as a distribution (dividend income) and Class 1 national insurance (both employer’s and employee’s contributions) be payable. In most small companies the director will be a shareholder entitled to vote at board level and so will also be a participator. Therefore, the distribution treatment will apply to any loans made and written off to the director or his family.

    A participator who does not have material interest but works full time for company could receive small loans over several accounting periods such that eventually the aggregate exceeds the £15,000 exemption limit. HMRC's gives the example of a director receiving:

    £5,000 in accounting period 1

    £2,000 in accounting period 2

    10,000 in accounting period 3

    Individually these loans would qualify for the exemption but in total an amount of £17,000 has been received. HMRC state that the two earlier amounts in period 1 and 2 meet the requirements for the exemption and therefore the company is not charged on those amounts. However, the full amount of £10,000 in period 3 is chargeable as not meeting the condition under s456 CTA 2010 which states that:

    the amount of the loan in question plus the outstanding amounts of loans made to the borrower does not exceed £15,000 (Condition A)

    Details of the loan are required to be declared on the company tax return; the usual interest being charged on payments made late to HMRC.

  • Expenses and benefit returns for 2020/21

    Expenses and benefits returns P11D and P11D(b) for 2020/21 need to be filed by 6 July 2021. Meeting this deadline is important as penalties may be charged for returns that are filed late.

    Form P11D

    A form P11D must be filed for every employee who has been provided with taxable benefits and/or expenses in the 2020/21 tax year which have not been payrolled or included in a PAYE settlement agreement. Benefits covered by an exemption can be ignored.

    The information that is needed in respect of each benefit depends on the nature of the benefit. In many cases, all that is needed is the cost to the employer of providing the benefit, any amount made good by the employee and the resulting taxable amount. However, for some benefits, such as company car and fuel and employment-related loans, more information is required.

    The taxable amount will normally be the cash equivalent value. However, where the benefit is made available under a salary sacrifice or other optional remuneration arrangement, the taxable amount should be worked out using the alternative valuation rules, unless the benefit is one of the few to which these rules do not apply.

    P11D(b)

    The P11D(b) is the employer’s declaration that all required P11Ds have been filed, and also the employer’s statutory Class 1A National Insurance return.

    When computing the Class 1A liability, it is necessary to take into account taxable benefits within the Class 1A charge returned on the P11D and also any payrolled benefits. If all taxable benefits provided in the 2020/21 tax year have been payrolled (or included in a PSA), there will not be any P11Ds to file; however, a P11D(b) is still required.

    Items included within a PSA are not included in the Class 1A National Insurance calculation on the P11D(b) – Class 1B National Insurance contributions are payable instead.

    If an employer has not provided any taxable benefits in 2020/21, but did in previous years, and receives either a paper P11D(b) or a P11D(b) reminder letter, they will need to complete a nil declaration online on the Gov.uk website to avoid being charged a penalty.

    Filing options

    There are various options for filing P11Ds and P11D(b)s:

    using a payroll software package;

    using HMRC’s Online End of Year Expenses and Benefits Service;

    using HMRC’s PAYE Online Service; or

    filing paper forms.

    Whichever method is used, the forms must be filed by 6 July 2021. Employees must be given a copy of their P11D or details of their taxable benefits by the same date.

    Any associated employer-only Class 1A National Insurance must be paid by 22 July 2021 if paid electronically, or by 19 July 2021 if paid by cheque.

  • Keep-fit tax incentive for company owners

    Because of the pandemic you let your gym membership lapse but you’re about to renew it. You’ve heard that there’s a tax break relating to sporting facilities if your company provides them. Is it something you might take advantage of?

    Tax deductions

    If your business meets the cost of your gym membership it can claim a tax deduction for the expense, but only where it counts as a benefit in kind for you. Usually, this means you’ll pay tax and your company NI on the value of the benefit. However, there’s a special exemption for “recreational benefits”. The bad news is that membership of a public gym fails one of the main conditions for the exemption.

    Any corporation tax (CT) saving achieved by your company will be significantly reduced by the Class 1A NI liability it has on the taxable benefit in kind . For example, CT relief on an annual membership of £1,000 would be £190, while the Class 1A would be £138. Plus, there’s your tax on £1,000 to take into account. Conversely, if the conditions for exemption are met there would be no tax or NI liabilities, while your company would still be entitled to the CT deduction.

    Conditions

    The exemption applies where your company provides or makes available to you or your family, recreational facilities and the following conditions are met:

    Condition A. The facilities are available generally to all your employees.

    Condition B. The facilities are not available to members of the public generally.

    Condition C. The facilities are used wholly or mainly by persons whose right to use them is employment-related. The effect of this condition is to limit the exemption to employees, former employees and the families of either.

    Note. Condition B isn’t broken if the facilities are available to visiting workers from another business.

    Even where the conditions are met some benefits are excluded, e.g. those involving overnight accommodation.

    DIY and rented gyms

    The good news is there are a number of ways you can make use of the exemption for gym facilities. You could:

    create a gym on your business premises, say in a spare room, for use by you, your employees, and your families

    create a gym at a separate premises away from your business, e.g. in rented accommodation, as long as it’s not a residential property

    rent a public gym for a short periods during which only you and your employees etc. could use it.

    Shared facilities

    The suggestions above might be prohibitive because of cost but there is a way around this.

    Sharing the cost and use of a gym or other recreational facility does not break the conditions of the exemption (specifically, condition B) but can make the arrangement more affordable. So, if you want tax-efficient gym facilities, ask other businesses in the area whether they would split the cost of creating and maintaining one. They might have space to accommodate it and with any luck showers too.

    If your company pays for your membership of a public gym it can claim a tax deduction for the cost but it would count as a taxable benefit for you. This would wipe out the tax advantage. If instead your company, alone or with others, creates or hires a gym for use by employees and their families, the cost is tax deductible but is not a taxable benefit.

  • Limited liability partnerships

    A limited liability partnership (LLP) is not a partnership but a body corporate with a difference - there are no shareholders or guarantors (as there would be for a company limited by guarantee) but partners (designated 'members') carrying on a trade or business with a view to profit. It is a structure commonly used by professionals such as doctors, attorneys, and accountants who go into practice together.

    As a 'body corporate' it must be registered with Companies House however, the entity does not pay Corporation tax, instead the individual members are subject to the normal partnership rules (i.e. taxed individually as being self employed on their respective share of the profit) regardless of the amount they withdraw from the business.

    Members receive an income/profit share proportionate to their capital account balance. However, certain members can be allocated a disproportionate amount of profit by allowing a ‘salary’ in recognition of the work they do, which could be disproportionate to their income/profit share e.g. a new member may contribute little or no equity but take on a significant share of the management of the business. There are anti avoidance rules in place that treat a member as employed should they receive a fixed rather than varied amount of partnership profit.

    Number of members

    Each LLP must have at least two 'designated' members responsible for various administrative tasks; however there is no upper limit to the number of members. Members can be either individuals or limited companies with each member being able to sign binding contracts on behalf of the LLP (thus avoiding a problem sometimes encountered by ordinary partnerships where every partner has to sign certain documents).

    Advantages of an LLP

    The main advantage of setting up an LLP is to give some protection to a member going bankrupt where claims are made against the LLP only and members' personal liability is limited to their capital contribution. However, all members can be held responsible for another member's negligence if that negligent member is operating within the scope of their authority in the business. In comparison a partner's personal assets can be seized to settle the partnership's debts in an ordinary partnership.

    A further potential advantage is that under an LLP structure different proportions of income and capital entitlements can be allocated each year to the different members; this makes LLPs a flexible method of withdrawing profits particularly where different members have different percentage interests in the business e.g. one member may undertake the majority of the administration but have a lower percentage interest in the partnership. In this instance that member can be allocated a higher (variable) share of the profit rather than being paid a fixed salary for the work involved. This ability to change the profit split year on year is also a benefit for those partnerships with different members with different marginal tax rates.

    If an LLP goes into liquidation it is treated as a company rather than a partnership for Capital gains tax purposes.

  • Women’s state pension error - the tax position

    Pension arrears.

    You may have been following the story over the last year about the government error in calculating some married women’s state pensions. It’s estimated that between 70,000 and 100,000 women have been underpaid their pension for the last 20 years. This has raised questions about how HMRC will tax the arrears when they are paid. There was a call for them to be tax free and that HMRC was considering this. As yet there’s been no statement on the matter.

    Taxing pensions.

    There are special rules for taxing lump sum state pension payments which result from someone choosing to defer their pension, but not for lump sums resulting from a miscalculation of pension entitlement. It seems that the general tax rules will apply. These say that the state pension is taxable for the year it was due to be paid. That means any arrears relating to the period prior to 6 April 2017 are beyond HMRC’s reach. Arrears for later periods should be reported to HMRC which may result in a tax bill. But as any tax will only be a small fraction of the arrears of pension received, this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for those involved.

    The government will be paying arrears of pension to many thousands of married women. HMRC cannot demand tax on the arrears relating to periods prior to 6 April 2017.

  • Relief for losses in the early years of a trade

    It is not uncommon to realise a loss in the early years of a trade. However, traders who commenced their self-employment in 2019 or 2020 may also have suffered as a result of the pandemic. Although the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) provided help for traders who also suffered from the impact of the pandemic, those who started trading in 2019/20 were unable to benefit from the first three grants (qualifying only for grants 4 and 5 if they had filed their 2019/20 tax return by 2 March 2021 and met the other eligibility criteria). Traders who started a business in 2020/21 are not able to benefit from the SEISS.

    However, they may be able to claim loss relief under the early trade losses relief rules, and generate a tax repayment in the process.

    Nature of the relief

    The relief for losses in the early years of the trade allows a trader who makes a trading loss in any of the first four years of a new trade to carry that loss back against taxable income of the previous three years. The loss is set against the income of the earliest year first.

    Accruals basis not cash basis

    Relief for the loss under these rules is only available where the accounts are prepared on the accruals basis. Thus, if losses in the early years are likely, it is worth considering preparing accounts using the accruals basis to open up a claim to relief. This relief is not available where accounts are prepared under the cash basis –  where this is the case, the loss can be carried back against any previous trading profits of the same trade, should they exist, or carried forward and set against future profits of the same trade.

    Case study

    Polly was employed as a beautician earning £25,000 a year prior to setting up her own beauty business on 1 June 2020. Her business was badly affected by the pandemic, and in the 10 months to 5 April 2021, she makes a loss of £10,000. This is a loss for the 2020/21 tax year.

    She can carry the loss in her first year back against her income of 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20, setting the loss against her income for 2017/18 first.

    She carries the loss back to 2017/18, setting it against her employment income for that year of £25,000, reducing her taxable income to £15,000 in the process. Carrying the loss back generates a tax repayment of £2,000 (£10,000 @ 20%).

    Personal allowances may be lost

    It should be noted that the loss carried back cannot be tailored to preserve personal allowances, which may be lost as a result.

  • A tax-saving tip for incorporating your business

    Incorporating your business

    Despite anti-avoidance measures sole traders and partnerships can save tax and NI by transferring their businesses to a company. An unincorporated business that’s transferred to a company is treated as if it permanently ceased. This means that special tax rules for calculating taxable profits apply. One of these says that the equipment owned by the business is treated as if it were sold at market value and acquired by the company at the same price. This usually results in adjustments to the tax deductions, i.e. capital allowances (CAs) previously claimed by the old business. The hassle of valuing equipment and making adjustments to CAs can be avoided if the sole trader/partnership and the company jointly elect to treat the equipment as sold and acquired at the tax value instead of the market value.

    Example.  Josh and Ali are the partners of a delivery business. It prepares its annual accounts to 30 April. In February 2021 the partnership bought three new vans costing £90,000 in total. On 1 May 2021 they transferred the business to Acom Ltd, wholly owned by Josh and Ali. Usually, it could claim CAs for the whole £90,000 (using its annual investment allowance), but the rules don’t allow businesses to use the AIA in their final accounting period. The CAs are limited to the difference between £90,000 and the market value of the vans on the date the business is transferred, zero if the election mentioned earlier is made.

    Another special rule applies when a business is incorporated. It says that a business is not entitled to the AIA on assets transferred to it. This means Acom can’t claim CAs for the whole £90,000 expenditure on the vans all at once. Instead, it gets a CAs “writing down allowance”. This spreads the tax deduction over many years.

    Spreading capital allowances

    In our example Acom is only entitled to CAs at the rate of 18% pa of the reducing balance of the cost/value transferred from the partnership. In summary, because the purchase of the vans occurred in the final trading period of the unincorporated business, Josh and Ali miss out on CAs of up to £90,000 which instead is received by Acom but spread over more than 20 years.

    Josh and Ali can prevent the loss/delay of CAs by changing their accounting period so that the end date falls between when they bought the vans (February 2021) and the date they transferred the business (1 May 2021).

    Example.  The partnership changes its accounting period so that its penultimate accounts run from 1 May 2020 to 31 March 2021. The final accounts cover 1 April to 30 April 2021. The purchase of the vans therefore falls in the partnership’s penultimate accounting period meaning that it gets CAs on the full £90,000. Josh, Ali and Acom also elect to use the tax value which is zero (£90,000 expenditure less £90,000 CAs received by the unincorporated business), for the transfer of the vans to Acom. For relatively little effort the CAs trap, which substantially delays tax relief for the vans, has been avoided.

    As far as possible avoid buying equipment in the final accounting period before the business is incorporated. If that’s not possible change the accounting date so that the expenditure falls into the penultimate accounting period rather than the final one.

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  • Is it time to add fuel to your benefits package?

    Company cars continue to be a popular benefit in kind. Conversely, employer-paid-for fuel has a poor reputation for resulting in disproportionately high tax bills. Is this still justified or might it be time for another look?

    Car versus car fuel

    The calculation of tax and Class 1A NI on company cars provided as a benefit in kind is reasonably logical. It varies according to the original list price of the car and its CO2 emissions. The second factor is also used in the calculation of the taxable benefit where the employer pays for your fuel for private journeys made in a company car. However, the other factor has no link to the value of the fuel but is a fixed amount set by the government each year. For 2021/22 it’s £24,600. This can lead to some eye-watering tax and NI bills.

    Example. Dave, a higher rate taxpayer, is the sole director and shareholder of Acom Ltd. It provides him with a company car - currently a five-year-old BMW with CO2 emissions of 178g/km. Acom also pays for Dave’s fuel for private journeys. The factors for working out the car fuel benefit are 37% (based on the car’s CO2 emissions) and the fixed amount of £24,600. This means Dave’s tax bill for having his car fuel bill paid for is £3,640 (£24,600 x 37% x 40%). Assuming fuel is £1.30 per litre and Dave gets 34 miles to the gallon from his BMW, he would have to drive 20,940 miles on private journeys before he would see any financial advantage from the arrangement.

    The position is actually worse than this as Acom will have to pay Class 1A NI of £1,256 (£24,600 x 37% x 13.8%) for providing the benefit. A cost to Acom is a cost to Dave because he owns the company. This means he would have to drive considerably more than 20,940 miles before the car fuel benefit was a worthwhile perk.

    The good news for Dave is that he can avoid the tax and NI bills on the car fuel by reimbursing Acom for the cost of the fuel. This is known as “making good” the benefit, and Dave can do it any time up to and including 6 July following the end of the tax year. This gives him time to work out if he’s driven enough private miles to make the benefit worthwhile.

    Time to change?

    Dave has decided to change his company car for a hybrid with CO2 emissions of 44g/km and an electric range of 40 miles. Having experienced the horrendous tax and NI bill he’s decided that Acom will not pay for fuel for private motoring, or if it does he’ll make good the cost and so avoid the tax and NI charges. However, it might be worth him reconsidering this.

    The percentage factor for car and car fuel benefits for hybrid cars is much lower than for petrol and diesel vehicles.

    Example. To make a like-for-like comparison with our previous example we’re using the figures for 2021/22 and assuming the hybrid car and fuel for private mileage was provided for the whole tax year. The tax and Class 1A bill for car fuel benefit would be £688 (£24,600 x 7% x 40%) and £237 (£24,600 x 7% x 13.8%) respectively. The tax and NI looks much more reasonable. However, the use of the car in electric mode will boost the MPG considerably and so Dave’s petrol costs will be lower. He should still therefore make the calculation after the end of the tax year to determine if making good the cost of fuel is a good option. Note that there’s no fuel benefit if Acom pays Dave’s electricity bill for charging his new car. Instead, the taxable amount is the cost to the company.

    The tax and Class 1A NI bills for hybrid cars are significantly lower than for those powered only by fossil fuels. This can make car fuel benefit a tax-efficient perk, but it can depend on the ratio of private miles driven using fossil fuels to electric only.

  • Can you extract cash to cover your living expenses?

    If you operate through a limited company, for example as a personal or family company, you will need to extract funds from your company in order to use them to meet your personal bills. There are various ways of doing this. However, a popular and tax efficient strategy is to take a small salary which is at least equal to the lower earnings limit (set at £6,240 or 2021/22) to ensure that the year is a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefits purposes, and to extract further profits as dividends.

    However, this strategy requires the company to have sufficient retained profits from which to pay a dividend. If the company has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, it may have used up any reserves that it had. As dividends must be paid from retained profits, if there are none, it is not possible to pay a dividend.

    Are there other options for extracting funds to meet living expenses?

    Pay additional salary or bonus

    Unlike a dividend, a salary or bonus can be paid even if doing so creates a loss – it does not have to be paid from profits. However, this will not be tax efficient once the salary exceeds the optimal level due to the National Insurance hit and the higher income tax rates applicable to salary payments.

    Take a director’s loan

    If it is expected that the company will return to profitability, taking a director’s loan can be an attractive option. Depending when in the accounting period a loan is taken, a director can benefit from a loan of up to £10,000 for up to 21 months free of tax and National Insurance. If the company has returned to profitability within nine months of the year end, a dividend can be declared to clear the loan in time to prevent a section 455 tax charge from arising. If the account is overdrawn at the corporation tax due date nine months and one day after the year end, a section 455 tax charge of 32.5% of the outstanding amount must be paid by the company (although this will be repaid after the corporation tax due date for the accounting period in which the loan balance is cleared).

    Put personal bills through the director’s loan account

    Another option is for the company to pay the bills on the director’s behalf and to charge them to the director’s loan account. Again, if the company has sufficient profits to clear the outstanding balance within nine months of the year end, a dividend can be declared to prevent a section 455 tax charge from arising. A benefit in kind tax charge (and a Class 1A National Insurance liability on the company) will also arise if the outstanding balance is more than £10,000 at any point in the tax year.

    Provide benefits in kind

    Use can be made of various tax exemptions, such as those for trivial benefits and mobile phones, to provide certain benefits in kind in a tax-free fashion.

    Pay rent

    If the company is run from the director’s home, the company can pay rent to the director for the office space. This should be at a commercial rate, and the director will pay tax on the rental income. However, there is no National Insurance to worry about and the rent can be deducted in computing the company’s profits, even if this creates a loss.

    As a bonus, if the extraction policy creates a loss, it may be possible to carry the loss back to generate a much-needed tax repayment.

  • NIC and company directors

    Special rules apply to company directors when it comes to calculating their Class 1 National Insurance liabilities.

    Why the rules

    Directors, particularly of personal and family companies, can control how and when they are paid and, in the absence of special rules, would be able to reduce their Class 1 National Insurance liability by manipulating the earnings period rules. The rules circumvent this.

    Annual earnings period

    Company directors have an annual earnings period for National Insurance regardless of their actual pay frequency. This means that if they do not opt to apply the alternative arrangements, their National Insurance liability is calculated cumulatively by reference to the annual thresholds.

    For 2021/22 these are as follows:

    Example

    A director is paid £8,000 a month. In month 1, he pays no National Insurance as his earnings are below the annual primary threshold of £9,568.

    In month 2, his earnings for the year to date are £16,000. By applying the annual thresholds, his total liability on his earnings to date of £16,000 is £771.84 (12% (£16,000 - £9,568)). As he paid no National Insurance in month, his liability for month 2 is £771.84.

    For months 3 to 6 inclusive, his earnings for the year to date fall between £9,568 and £50,270. Consequently, he pays employee’s National Insurance at 12% on his earnings for the month of £8,000, equal to £960 each month.

    In month 7, his earnings for the year to date are £56,000 (7 months @ £8,000 a month), on which total contribution of £4,998.84 (12% (£50,270- £9,568)) + 2% (£56,000 - £50,270)) are due. He has already paid £4,611.84 (£771.84 + (4 x £960)), leaving £387 due for the month.

    As his earnings for the year have now exceeded the upper earnings limit, he will pay National Insurance at the rate of 2% of all future payments – a liability of £160 per month.

    Applying the annual earnings period rules means that the contribution liability falls unevenly throughout the year. The liability for the year is £5,798.60 ((12% (£50,270 - £9,568) + ((2% (£96,000 - £50,270))).

    Alternative arrangements

    As seen in the example above, calculating the liability by reference to the annual thresholds on a cumulative basis each time the director is paid means that their pay is uneven throughout the year. To overcome this, the director can opt for their National Insurance to be calculated throughout the year on their earnings for each earnings period using the relevant thresholds for the earnings period, as for employees who are not directors, with an annual recalculation on an annual basis at the end of the year.

    If this basis is adopted, the director in the above example would pay National Insurance of £483.26 (12% (£4,189 - £797)) + (2% (£8,000 - £4,189))) each month for months 1 to 11, with a final payment of £482.74 in month 12.

    Over the course of the year, the annual liability (£5,798.60) is the same which-ever method is used, but collected differently.

    Directors can choose the method that suits them best.

  • VAT on charging electric vehicles

    HMRC has published new VAT guidance on its policy for the supply and purchase of electricity for electric vehicles.

    Fuel for vehicles. There are special rules for VAT on fossil fuels provided or purchased for vehicles. HMRC’s policy paper now sets out its view on electricity provided or bought for charging electric vehicles.

    Providing electricity. VAT-registered businesses must charge the standard rate (20%) for electricity for charging electric vehicles except where the supply is ongoing, made at a person’s home and is less than 1,000 kilowatt hours per month, in which case the reduced rate (5%) applies. This means if you pay part of an employee’s electricity bill to cover charging their car at home, you must account for VAT at the reduced rate of VAT on the amount you pay them.

    Reclaiming VAT. If you’re a sole trader you can reclaim VAT paid on electricity for charging your car etc. at home or at a public charging point to the extent the electric vehicle is used for your business. Where the cost can’t be specifically identified as relating to business or private travel, you must make a fair and reasonable estimate and reclaim only the business element. The position is slightly different for employees of sole traders and other businesses.

    Employees. Your business can’t reclaim the VAT where you reimburse an employee for the cost of charging their vehicle at home, regardless of whether it’s used for business journeys. Conversely, you can reclaim the full amount of VAT for the supply of electricity used to charge the electric vehicle at your premises or a public place. This includes the electricity for private journeys. However, in that case you must make a fair and reasonable estimate (using mileage records kept by your employees) to account for standard-rate VAT on the value of electricity used for private mileage. Alternatively, you can recover VAT on only the business element.

    If you pay an employee for charging an electric vehicle at home you must account for VAT at the reduced rate. You can’t reclaim VAT on home electricity costs incurred by an employee but you can for charging costs incurred elsewhere.

  • Tax relief on loans to close companies

    Family and personal companies are often ‘close’ companies. Broadly, this is one that is controlled by five or fewer shareholders or any number of shareholders all of whom are directors.

    In a close company, the directors and shareholders may borrow money from the company (in respect of which a tax charge may arise if the loans are not repaid by the time that the corporation tax for the period in which the loans were made is due nine months and one day after the end of that period).

    The directors and shareholders may also lend money to the company. This may be more prevalent over the last 18 months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Where the director borrows money in order to lend it to the close company, tax relief may be available. Tax relief may also be available where a shareholder borrows money to buy more shares in the company.

    Availability of interest relief

    Individuals are only entitled to tax relief for interest payments on certain loans. The list of eligible loans include a loan to buy an interest in a close company.

    An individual can benefit from tax relief if they borrow money to buy ordinary shares in a close company in which they own at least 5% of the ordinary share capital (either alone or with associates). Where the 5% test is not met, relief is available for a loan to buy shares in a close company in which the individuals owns some shares and in which they work for the greater part of their working time in the management and conduct of the company’s business, or that of an associated company.

    Tax relief is also available if the individual borrows money to lend it to a close company in which they have an interest, as long as the money is used wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the business or that of an associated company, provided that company is a close company and is not a close investment holding company. Again, to qualify for the relief, the individual must either own 5% of the ordinary share capital (either alone or with associates), or own shares in the company and spend the greater part of their working time working for the company, or an associated company.

    The relief is lost if the borrowings are recovered from the close company. This would be the case if, say, a directors borrowed £50,000 to lend to the close company and the company repaid this, but the director did not clear the original loan. In this situation, the director would not be able to continue to claim tax relief on the interest paid on the original loan.

    Relief must be claimed

    Tax relief on eligible borrowings must be claimed. This can be done via the self-assessment tax return.

    The income tax relief cap applies – this is the greater of £50,000 and 25% of adjusted net income.

  • New lower SDLT residential threshold

    Back in July 2020, the residential stamp duty land tax threshold in England and Northern Ireland was increased to £500,000 to help stimulate the property market after the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The increased threshold was originally due to apply from 8 July 2020 until 31 March 2021, but as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to run, the Chancellor announced at the time of the 2021 Spring Budget, that the temporary threshold would remain at £500,000 until 30 June 2021. From 1 July 2021, the threshold falls to £250,000, remaining at this level until 30 September 2021, before reverting to the usual level of £125,000 from 1 October 2021. For first time buyers, the threshold reverted to £300,000 from 1 July 2021 for properties costing £500,000 or less.

    Similar initiatives were introduced in Scotland in relation to land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) and in Wales in relation to land transaction tax (LTT). In Scotland, the LBTT threshold was increased to £250,000 from 15 July 2020 until 31 March 2021. However, there was no extension beyond 31 March 2021, and the threshold reverted to £145,000 from 1 April 2021. In Wales, the LTT was increased to £250,000 from 27 July 2020, originally until 31 March 2021. However, this was extended until 30 June 2021. The threshold reverted to £180,000 from 1 July 2021.

    Missed the 30 June deadline

    If you are looking to buy property in England or Northern Ireland and missed the 30 June 2021 deadline, there is still the opportunity to benefit from a reduced temporary threshold, as long as the purchase completes by 30 September 2021.

    Completing by this deadline could save up to £2,500.

    Investment properties

    For SDLT purposes in England and Wales and for LTT purposes in Scotland, investors and second-home owners were able to benefit from the increased threshold, with the second property supplement (3% for SDLT purposes and 4% for LTT purposes) being applied to the rates as reduced. However, those buying second homes in Wales were not able to benefit.

    Example

    Julia is looking for a property to let out as a holiday let. She finds a property in June 2021 and her offer of £400,000 was accepted.

    If she is able to complete by 30 September 2021, she will pay SDLT of £19,500 ((£250,000 @ 3%) + (£150,000 @ 8%).

    However, if she misses this deadline, completing on or after 1 October 2021, she will pay SDLT of £22,000 ((£125,000 @ 3%) + (£125,000 @ 5%) + (£150,000 @ 8%)).

    Completing by 30 September 2021 will save her £2,500 in SDLT.

  • Termination payments and Class 1A National Insurance

    As the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme comes to an end, employers with employees who are still on furlough will need to decide whether they are able to bring the employee back to work, either full time or part time, or whether they will have to terminate the employee’s employment.

    When terminating an employee’s employment, the employer may need to pay Class 1A National Insurance contributions on a termination award made to the employee.

    Taxation of termination payments: Recap

    Where an employee’s employment is terminated, the employee may receive termination payments, such as pay in lieu of notice and ex-gratia lump sums, in additional to normal wages and salary payments.

    Normal payments from the employment, such as salary and holiday pay, are taxed as earnings and are liable to employee’s and employer’s Class 1 National Insurance contributions. However, the treatment of termination payments depends on whether, and if so the extent, to which they exceed what is known as the employee’s ‘Post Employment Notice Pay’ (PENP). Detailed consideration of how this is determined is outside the scope of this article, but broadly, PENP is the amount that the employee would have earned had they worked their notice period.

    PENP is taxed as earnings and is liable to employee’s and employer’s Class 1 National Insurance.

    Where the employee’s termination payment exceeds their PENP, the first £30,000 of the excess is tax-free. Amounts over £30,000 are taxable but not liable to employee’s National Insurance.

    Employer liability to Class 1A NIC

    Where a termination payment exceeds the £30,000 threshold, since 6 April 2020, the employer must pay Class 1A National Insurance on the excess over £30,000 at 13.8%.

    Unlike Class 1A National Insurance contributions on benefits-in-kind, the Class 1A payable on a termination payment is not included in the Class 1A liability reported on the P11D(b); instead it is reported to HMRC via Real Time Information (RTI) on the Full Payment Submission (FPS) for the period in which the termination payment was made to the employee.

    The Class 1A National Insurance payable on the termination award must be paid over to HMRC with the tax and Class 1 National Insurance for that period, i.e. by 22nd of the month where payment is made electronically or by the 19th of the month where payment is made by cheque, rather than with the Class 1A on benefits in kind, which must be paid by 22 July after the end of the tax year where payment is made electronically (or by 19 July where payment is made by cheque).

    Example

    An employee has been on furlough since March 2020. In September 2021, his employer decides that they are unable to keep the employee on. The employee’s employment is terminated with effect from 1 October 2021.

    The employee receives a termination payment of £100,000, paid to him on 1 October 2021. The employee’s PENP is £15,000. The excess over the PENP is £85,000 (£100,000 - £15,000), of which the first £30,000 is tax-free. The remaining £55,000 is taxable and liable to Class 1A National Insurance.

    The employer’s Class 1A National Insurance liability is £7,590 (£55,000 @ 13.8%). The payment is made to the employee in month 6 (month to 5 October 2021). The employer’s Class 1A National Insurance on the termination payment must be paid to HMRC with the PAYE tax and Class 1 National Insurance for month 6. Payment must be made by 22 October 2021 where it is made electronically, or by 19 October 2021 if payment is made by cheque.

    Employers terminating employees’ employments will need to budget for the Class 1A liability, as well as the cost of the termination packages.

  • Claim tax relief for additional costs of working from home

    During the Covid-19 pandemic, the advice was ‘work from home if you can’. As a result, millions of employees found themselves working at home, often at very short notice. Many still have not returned to the workplace, and homeworking (whether fully or flexibly) is here to stay.

    Employees will generally incur additional costs as a result of working from home. They will use more electricity to run their computer and light their workspace and may use more gas as a result of having the heating on during the day.

    While for many years there has been a statutory exemption that allows employers to meet or contribute towards the additional costs of working from home, in recognition of the homeworking requirements imposed by the pandemic, employees who do not receive homeworking payments from their employer are able to claim tax relief for the extra household costs that they have incurred while working from home.

    Exemption for costs met by the employer

    Employers can pay employees a homeworking allowance of £6 per week (£26 per month) tax-free, and without the employee having to demonstrate that they have actually incurred additional household costs of at least this amount as a result of working from home. The tax-free amount is the same, regardless of whether the employee is required to work from home full-time or one day a week. Consequently, the payments can be made to employees who work flexibly, working from home part of the time and at the employer’s workplace part of the time.

    Where the employee’s actual additional household costs as a result of working from home are more than £6 per week, the employer can meet the actual costs tax-free, as long as the employee is able to provide evidence in support of the actual additional costs.

    Tax relief for employees

    Employees who have been required to work from home can claim tax relief for the additional costs of doing so where these are not met by the employer. HMRC will accept claims of £6 per week/£26 per month without needing evidence of the actual additional costs. Where these are higher, the higher amount can be claimed, as long as this can be substantiated.

    HMRC are now accepting claims for 2021/22. Claims can be made online at www.tax.service.gov.uk/claim-tax-relief-expenses/only-claiming-working-from-home-tax-relief?_ga=2.193253997.1398232652.1624373729-980780301.1612354164.

    Relief is given for the full tax year, even if the employee returns to the workplace before 5 April 2022. Employees who were entitled to the relief for 2020/21 can also claim for that year if they have not yet done so.

    Where an employee is required to complete a self-assessment tax return, the claim can be made on the return.

    A claim of £6 per week (£312 for the year) will save a basic rate taxpayer £62.40 in tax and a higher rate taxpayer £124.80 in tax.

  • SDLT Multiple Dwellings relief

    Multiple dwellings relief’ (MDR) allows a rate to be charged at the percentage payable on the ‘average value’ price (referred to as the ‘Average Value SDLT’ (AVSDLT)) should more than one property be purchased at one time, rather than on the total consideration. MDR is only available for residential transactions.

    The purpose of this relief is to simplify the calculation of SDLT when a single transaction includes the purchase of more than one dwelling. As such, rather than separately calculating the SDLT on each property acquired, SDLT is computed as follows:

    Calculate the ‘AVSDLT’ i.e. total dwellings consideration/ total number of dwellings.

    Multiply the resultant figure by the total number of dwellings.

    The answer is the total SDLT liability.

    NOTE 1: The SDLT must be at least equal to 1% x total dwellings consideration.

    NOTE 2: the dwellings are not the main residence of the purchaser and as such the additional rate of 3% applies.

    Basic example

    A single transaction (post 1 October 2021) comprises the purchase of 4 'dwellings' for £950,000.

    £950,000/4 = £237,500 per dwelling

    Tax per dwelling =

    3% x £125,000 = £3,750

    5% x £112,500 = £5,625

    £9,375 x 4 dwellings = £37,500

    The minimum tax is 1% of the purchase price = £9,500

    Tax payable without claiming MDR would be £67,250.

    Definition 1: 'Dwelling'

    Legislation does not define 'dwelling' but is widely accepted as being a building or part of a building that accommodates all of a person's basic domestic living needs. The definition has seen granny annexes, converted garages, pool houses, converted party barns and garden offices all qualify for the MDR relief.

    The nearest the legislation gets to providing a definition is FA 2003 sch 6B para which states that a dwelling is:

    ‘A building or part of a building counts as a dwelling if-

    It is used or suitable for use as a single dwelling, or

    It is in the process of being used constructed or adapted for such use.’

    One area where there have been several tax cases that have considered this definition centre round 'granny flats'. HMRC has confirmed that provided the granny flat is a self-contained dwelling and the main house comprises more than two thirds of the total, then MDR can be claimed. One of the main issues is where a property has an additional dwelling that cannot be accessed independently. For example, in a recent tax case relief was refused as there was no door separating the house from its annexe; it also did not have a separate postal address, council tax or utility supply.

    The relief does not apply to the transfer of a freehold reversion or head lease where a dwelling has a long lease of 21 years or more.

    Definition 2 - 'Single transaction'

    MDR can be claimed where the transaction involves an interest in at least two dwellings or at least two dwellings and some other property.

    Where six or more separate dwellings are the subject of a single transaction involving the transfer of a major interest in, or the grant of a lease then the SDLT rules treat those dwellings (for that transaction alone) as being non-residential property. This rule applies automatically. Therefore, depending on the figures, it might be better not to make an MDR claim. If one is made it is made on a land transaction return (due within 30 days of completion) or in an amendment to a return, the time limit for which is 12 months from the filing date

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