Category Archives: HMRC

Alison Brown joins PM+M VAT team

PM+M has appointed Alison Brown as VAT manager within its tax team.

Her role will include advising the firm’s clients on a range of VAT matters and transactions including property and partial exemption.

She will also be offering VAT health-checks to ensure clients are managing their VAT in line with current laws as well as assisting clients with handling HMRC compliance checks.

Alison previously worked for HMRC as a VAT specialist for 29 years before joining PM+M.

Jane Parry, managing partner at PM+M, said: “Alison brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience around VAT that complements our wider tax offering so we are delighted that she is now part of the team.”

Alison added: “I enjoyed working at HMRC but I was ready to move to a firm where I knew I could develop my career. PM+M really stood out and I’m now looking forward to working with my colleagues and helping to deliver great service to our clients.”

HMRC move the goal post with partner expenses

HMRC have made a significant change to their guidance manuals recently regarding partner and members of LLPs expenses.

It had been a long standing principle, with HMRC approval, that business expenses incurred by partners (separate from the partnership itself) are tax deductible in arriving at the partners taxable profit share. For example,  partners incurring home office expenses; this would typically not be borne by the partnership but the partner incurring the cost would be capable of claiming a tax deduction. The deduction was claimed via the partnership tax return, it did not matter that the expense had not gone through the partnership accounts.

This meant that as long as the expense was “wholly and exclusively”  incurred for the purposes of the partnership business, a tax deduction was available regardless of whether it was the partner or the partnership that had incurred the expense. This was a practical way of dealing with partner expenses.

The Office of Tax Simplification, in the past, had suggested to improve the ability for partners to claim business expenses which they had incurred personally, that they should be able to make the claim on their own personal tax  return and not the partnership return. This would have been a welcome change for partners but has not been introduced.

HMRC have now updated their guidance note at  BIM82080  and have made the job of claiming partner expenses more difficult. The new guidance states   “To be allowable as a deduction for tax purposes, the expense has to be an expense incurred (typically, paid) by the partnership. If the partnership does not bring the expense into the accounts, then it is not an allowable deduction.”

If this new guidance goes unchallenged, it will require partnerships and LLPs to bring into account partner expenses into their accounts. This will require deducting the partners expenses in the partnership accounts and making an equal and opposite adjustment to the partner’s profit share to achieve the same net tax position as in previous years. Whilst the main impact of these changes is administrative, this will  clearly have a time and  cost impact for businesses. For example, a change in profit share to accommodate the tax relief for partner expenses, could require an update to the partnership agreement!

If you are likely to be impacted by these changes, please contact Jonathan Cunningham (Jonathan.cunningham@pmm.co.uk) or Helen Clayton (Helen.Clayton@pmm.co.uk).

Jill Morris, director of PM+M’s Run My Business division, cuts through the confusion of Making Tax Digital for VAT.

What is Making Tax Digital?

Making Tax Digital (‘MTD’) is an attempt to do exactly what its name suggests. Businesses will have to keep electronic records of their accounts (using HMRC MTD approved software) and file their tax information digitally.HMRC claims it wants to make tax administration more effective, more efficient and simpler.  In practice, it means that business and taxpayers will need to start using accounting software to digitally submit the returns instead of completing their VAT returns by typing numbers into the existing online HMRC portal.

When does MTD for VAT come into force?

Officially on 1st April. There is a stagger depending on the business quarter end date. This is when affected businesses will no longer be able to keep manual records. After that date, digital records must be maintained in software or spreadsheets which can connect to HMRC via an Application Programming Interface (API).

Who will be affected?

All VAT-registered businesses and organisations with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold of £85,000 per annum.

Are there any exemptions?

In the main, no. HMRC’s online VAT return will remain available only to businesses and organisations that are not within the scope of MTD for VAT. So, just those which complete a VAT return but have taxable turnover below £85,000.00 per year. However, the only exception to this is a small minority of VAT-registered businesses and organisations with more complex requirements. These include trusts, ‘not for profit’ organisations that are not set up as a company, VAT groups, VAT divisions, traders who are based overseas, annual accounting scheme users and any organisation that makes payments on account. Those which fall into any of these categories have a six month deferral until October 2019.

What do businesses need to do to be ready for MTD for VAT?

Firstly, take time to understand the facts and what MTD actually means for you. It’s a huge change and one that can’t be avoided. On a more practical level, speak to your accountant or carefully research the types of compatible software products that use HMRC’s API platform. There are a lot on the market – some better than others.  It will also take time to learn how to use so don’t leave it until the last minute.

What are the implications of not being compliant?

If your business is affected by MTD for VAT and you don’t use compatible software then you simply won’t be able to submit your returns and pay what is owed. If that happens, HMRC will consider your business to have defaulted on its VAT bill. When a   business fails to pay its VAT, it enters into a 12-month period called a ‘surcharge period’. During which time, it will be charged an additional fee on top of its VAT bill based on its annual turnover and past default history. If it still fails to pay VAT, its account will go into arrears and HMRC will take steps to recoup the monies – often through the courts.

PM+M can offer a wide range of services and support to help you become MTD compliant (including reviewing your current VAT procedures, guiding you towards a suitable solution, assisting with quarterly submissions to HMRC and even providing training for your team). Get in touch with our specialist MTD team to find out more by emailing MTD@pmm.co.uk or by calling 01254 679131.

VAT: changes on the horizon for the construction industry with huge potential impact on cashflow

Significant VAT changes for the construction industry are due to come into force on 1 October 2019.

New legislation is designed to combat what HMRC describe as “missing trader fraud”, whereby the suppliers charge and collect VAT, but do not pay it over to HMRC.

In essence, the legislation will require the recipient rather than the supplier to account for the VAT due on certain construction services.

The new regime requires careful planning from all construction businesses in order to avoid a cashflow crisis.

How will the new rules work?

Under the new rules, businesses supplying construction services must not charge VAT where their customer:

  • is registered for VAT; and
  • will use the services to make an onward supply of construction services.

Instead of the supplier charging VAT, the recipient must self-account for VAT on the services received. This is known as ‘reverse charge’ accounting.

With each business transaction, the VAT will be calculated as a paper exercise and registered on the invoice as a ‘reverse charge’. Only client-facing organisations at the top of the construction supply chain will be required to pay the tax.

Who will be affected?

As a general rule of thumb, any company that is registered with the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) – HMRC’s construction-specific tax-collecting regime will fall into the reverse charge category.

The new rules will apply to construction services supplied from 1 October 2019, regardless of value, even if construction is not the main business activity.

The definition of ‘construction services’ is extensive and duplicates the definitions used for the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). It also includes goods, such as building materials, but only when supplied as a single package within the construction service being provided (e.g. a builder providing bricks).

Exclusions

There are some exclusions, such as the installation of seating, blinds, shutters and security systems. Also excluded are professional services of architects, surveyors and consultants. However, where excluded services are supplied as a package with other services which fall within the new criteria, the whole package will be subject to the reverse charge.

There are further exclusions for construction services which are to be used by the recipient to make an onward supply to a connected party or to make a supply between a landlord and tenant.

Clearly if the construction services qualify to be treated as zero rated then the reverse charge will not apply. For example, a sub-contractor supplying construction services to a main contractor who is building a new residential property would currently charge VAT at 0%. This treatment is unaffected by these new reverse charge rules and the sub-contractor would continue to charge VAT at 0%

In addition, the reverse charge rules will not apply where the recipient of the construction service is not VAT registered. In these circumstances, VAT must be charged in the normal way. However, the non-VAT registered recipient must add the value of construction services received to the value of its sales, when deciding whether it has exceeded the VAT registration threshold (currently £85,000). This is likely to mean that many small contractors who are not currently VAT registered will need to be registered in the future.

HMRC to be strict from 1 October 2019

As an anti-fraud measure, it is expected that HMRC will enforce the new rules strictly:

  • If a supplier charges VAT in error, HMRC may not allow the recipient to reclaim it
  • If a supplier applies the reverse charge rules in a situation where it should have charged VAT, HMRC will most likely seek to collect the under declared VAT from the supplier

In both situations, penalties and interest could apply. The main message we are delivering is that businesses within the construction sector need to have a sound understanding of the new rules and have systems in place ahead of the deadline to ensure that VAT is accounted for correctly.

Many subcontractors will find they are in a regular VAT refund position in the future. They will have VAT to claim on materials and overheads but will not charge VAT on sales where the reverse charge rules apply.

Some businesses will suffer a cashflow disadvantage, where VAT collected from customers is currently used as working capital before being paid over to HMRC.

To correctly apply the new rules, the supplier needs to know what its customer intends to do with the services and will need to be able to evidence this to HMRC. HMRC are undertaking a detailed technical consultation on this issue.

How should you prepare?

Final legislation and HMRC guidance is due to be issued in October of this year, giving businesses 12 months to prepare. Affected businesses should ensure they are fully up to date with the changes and when the VAT should be charged and, likewise when a reverse charge is required.

Well in advance of October 2019 construction businesses need to conduct a full review of supplies made to and received from other VAT registered contractors to establish whether these will be subject to a reverse charge from October 2019.

It is of course right that the problem of missing trader fraud within the construction industry be tackled, but if traders have not picked up on the forthcoming changes they may be faced with unwanted penalties and interest as a consequence of failing to implement the reverse charge correctly. We would recommend that in the event of doubt, seek guidance from your professional adviser to ensure there are no such unwelcome surprises.

If you would like to discuss how the above changes could impact on your business, please contact our property tax specialist, Jonathan Cunningham, on 01254 604318 or via email at jonathan.cunningham@pmm.co.uk.

HMRC cracks down on second home sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

HMRC is writing to over 1,500 people who have sold a second home or buy-to-let property in the 2015-16 tax year but not declared a profit on which capital gains tax would potentially be liable. The letters, of which the wording is still being finalised, will ask recipients to explain why they have not paid the tax that HMRC’s computer models indicate they owe.

Chas Roy-Chowdhury of the ACCA said the HMRC initiative should serve as a “wake-up call” to existing and former landlords or owners of second homes, some of whom may not realise they owe tax.

If you believe this is something that may affect you, disclosing your knowledge before HMRC contact you to charge a penalty fee will be in your favour.

We can help you make a full disclosure to HMRC and guide you through the process to settlement and negotiation of the penalty.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact  Julie Walsh on 01254 679131 or via email at julie.walsh@pmm.co.uk.

HMRC Inheritance Tax receipts at a record high


Inheritance tax paid by British families has hit a record high of £5.1bn in the year to May 2017.

This is largely caused by the fiscal drag of continuing house price inflation compared to the frozen inheritance tax nil rate band of £325,000.

The new residence nil rate band which came into effect on 6 April this year may start to reduce the inheritance tax take figures, but the complexity of the new rules and the relatively narrow band of people for whom it will be of benefit mean it is unlikely to have a dramatic effect.

Inheritance Tax by the numbers

  • Inheritance tax is charged at 40% on the portion of a deceased person’s estate over and above the nil rate band of £325,000.
  • Anything left to a spouse is exempt (providing they are UK domiciled).
  • If the deceased person is a widow or widower, they may also have inherited their former spouse’s nil rate band if they didn’t use it, meaning they can have £650,000 of exemption.
  • The residence nil rate band adds another £100,000 of exemption per person – but with a complex set of conditions surrounding it. This allowance increases by £25,000 per year until it reaches £175,000 per person in April 2020.
  • You can also inherit your deceased spouse’s residence nil rate band if they didn’t use it.
  • Adding all those nil rate and residence nil rate bands together means that couples can get up to £1million of inheritance tax exemption if they plan properly.

Inheritance tax is complex and thinking about what you want to happen after your death can be daunting.  However, if you don’t want your family to be contributing to the Government’s tax receipts, you need to face it.  Our job is to make that as clear and painless as possible for you, helping you understand the options available to you and making sure that your estate and pension planning are aligned.

We draw on our strong blend of tax and financial planning expertise, coupled with our personal touch, to help our clients build the right solution for their families.

For more information, talk to us and we’d be more than happy to help.

Jane Parry – Tax Partner
jane.parry@pmm.co.uk
01254 679131

Looking forward to ATED

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If you own residential property in a company and its worth more than £500,000, then you may need to comply with the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) rules.

The rules require an annual tax return to be submitted by 30 April covering the forthcoming year.  The ATED charge for the forthcoming year must also be paid on that date.

Who needs to file an ATED return?

ATED returns must be filed and an ATED charge paid every year by non-natural owners of residential properties located in the UK, where the property is worth more than £500,000, and one of the reliefs or exemptions has not been claimed for the property.

A non-natural person can be defined as one of the following:

–       Any company wherever it is registered;
–       A partnership where one or more of the partners is a company;
–       A collective investment scheme.

There are exemptions from the charge, for example for properties which are commercially let, but there is still a requirement to submit the annual ATED return and claim the exemption, even if you have nothing to pay.

The rates

The new rates have recently been revealed for the chargeable year beginning 1 April 2017. The charge for the period will need to be paid by 30 April 2017.

Property value £ 2016/17 £ 2017/18 £
500,001 – 1,000,000 3,500 3,500
1,000,001 – 2,000,000 7,000 7,050
2,000,001 – 5,000,000 23,350 23,550
5,000,001 – 10,000,000 54,450 54,950
10,000,001 – 20,000,000 109,050 110,100
Over 20,000,000 218,200 220,350

The valuation band is determined by the properties’ market value as at 1 April 2012. If the owner acquired the property since that date, the value to use is the open market value at the date of acquisition.

If the property falls within 10% of a valuation band, the owner can apply to HMRC for a pre-return banding check. These checks can take at least 30 days to process, so it is best to apply as soon as possible.

For more information on ATED or if you’re worried about the above rates, please get in touch with our tax team by emailing tax@pmm.co.uk or by calling 01254 679131.

 

Buy-to-let – the new rules are coming

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If you cast your mind back to the 2015 summer budget, you may remember the significant changes that will impact all landlords. The implementation date of these changes is drawing ever closer and it will eat into landlords’ profits and, in some cases, may wipe them out completely.

With the slashed tax relief and added stamp duty, you may feel that someone has got it in for buy-to-let landlords. The question is what can you do about it?

What does the loss of tax relief mean?

This is one of the biggest changes to buy-to-let and now means that people buying to let residential property will no longer be able to claim tax relief on their mortgage interest payments at their marginal rate of tax. Before the changes this meant that basic rate taxpayers would get 20% tax relief, but those at a higher rate would receive 40% or 45% in tax relief.

What’s changing?

The changes mean that the tax relief will be a flat rate of 20%. Basic rate taxpayers, in most cases, will not see any changes, but those on higher incomes will find themselves losing much more in mortgage interest payments.   Also, more landlords may find themselves unexpectedly moving up into the higher rate tax bracket because of the way the new rules work.

To provide some perspective, here’s an example:

A landlord with a £150,000 buy-to-let mortgage on a property worth £200,000, with a monthly rent of £800, would currently have a net profit after tax of around £2,160 a year. With the lower tax relief, the net after-tax profit would be reduced £960.

Overall, the higher the interest you pay, the more you will feel the changes.

However, the full impact of the new rules is not felt immediately, as these changes will be gradually phased in from 6 April 2017, with transitional rules in place until April 2020. During the transition, the amount of interest directly deductible from rents will reduce and the proportion deducted as a fixed 20% credit will increase. This means in the transitional period landlords will be able to claim:

Tax year Interest deductible from profits Interest at fixed basic rate credit
2017/18 75% 25%
2018/19 50% 50%
2019/20 25% 75%

Income tax on property gains!

New rules announced last year, designed to target non-resident companies and individuals from escaping UK tax on profits made from the sale of UK properties, could inadvertently impact UK landlords. The new rules seek to charge the profits on selling UK property to UK income tax rather than CGT when the ownership of the property is more in the nature of a trade than a fixed investment.

When the changes were announced, there was widespread concern that UK landlords could be affected.

HMRC have now addressed this by releasing a 64-page guidance document to help clarify how they will seek to operate the rules.  In the guidance, they state that the new rules will not apply to businesses which buy properties in order to generate rental income, even if these businesses also enjoy an uplift in market value of the property. So the average UK buy-to-let landlord should not be subject to income tax on the gains he makes when he sells properties which were acquired for letting.

Whilst this is good news, it is only HMRC guidance and not law. For those particularly concerned about this new legislation, the position can be clarified with HMRC under their non-statutory clearance application process.

 

 

Trivial benefits in kind exemption may not be so trivial

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It’s Christmas and the annual minefield of gifts and Christmas parties for employers to navigate. If you are giving your employees gifts to create goodwill, the last thing you want to do is destroy that goodwill with an unexpected tax bill.

However, help is at hand from the new trivial benefits rules.

Previously, the rules were subjective. HMRC allowed exemptions for reasonable gifts but there were no clear thresholds, making it difficult to have certainty about tax treatment.

Under the new rules, benefits and gifts can be tax-free providing that:

–       They cost no more than £50 per benefit and
–       They are not cash or a cash voucher (gift vouchers e.g. for a shop, are allowed).

There is no limit on the number of trivial benefits that can fall into the new rules for employees, providing that they do not form part of the employee’s remuneration for their job or part of a salary sacrifice arrangement.

Special rules apply for directors to limit the overall total for a tax year to £300 of tax-free trivial benefits.

The new rules are good news for generous employers who can now have clarity about what is and is not tax-free, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. Also, employers who were previously providing vouchers and paying the tax under a PAYE settlement agreement may no longer need to that.

And don’t forget the £150 per person tax exemption for events such as Christmas parties. But do be aware that the limit can only apply to one event, not spread across multiple ones and it includes the extras such as employer funded travel.

The VAT inclusive cost needs to be used when considering if the tax-free limit is reached for both trivial benefits and the annual events exemption.

For more information in trivial benefits, please contact our tax team by emailing tax@pmm.co.uk or by calling 01254 679131.

HMRC Asset Seizures Up 145% In A Year

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The percentage of businesses in the UK having their assets seized is significantly increasing in this tax year. In order to settle outstanding debts, HMRC have been clamping down on businesses who fail to pay their tax bills.

Funding Options announced that HMRC seized assets to recover £42.6m of outstanding debt in the last year, an increase of 145% from the previous year where debts to the Revenue totalled £15.3m.

Under a power called ‘taking control of goods’ HMRC can seize assets in order to settle debts from businesses that have been unable to pay their overdue tax bills. The assets seized are then sold at auction in order to recover the money owed to HMRC.

It’s more important than ever to ensure your tax affairs are in order. If you need any help or advice in organising your tax affairs, please get in touch with our tax team by emailing tax@pmm.co.uk or by calling 01254 679131.