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Web-based accounting

Xero is a web-based accounting system designed with the needs of small business owners in mind.

 

It can automatically connect to your bank and download your bank statements. From there it’s simple to tell Xero what transactions relate to and once told it remembers and looks out for similar transactions. This saves time and makes keeping your accounts up to date easier.

 

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Making Tax Digital - VAT

Our process for delivering tax accounting vat self assessment and payroll services

 

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Our Process

Understand your needs

Firstly we listen and gain an understanding of your business and what you are aiming to achieve.

Continuous improvement

We seek your opinions on the service we provide and respond to feedback in order to upgrade and improve what we do.

Build a relationship

Success in business is based around relationships and trust. Our objective is to develop and build strong relationships with our clients, based on two way trust and respect.

Confirm your expectations

Our aim is  to help you maximise your business potential and we tailor our service to meet your requirements and agree a timetable for delivering them.

Actively communicate

Communication is important to the success of any commercial venture. It is therefore a vital part of our work with you, sharing the knowledge and ideas that help you to realise your ambitions.

Our Process

Understand your needs

Confirm your expectations

Actively communicate

Build a relationship

Continuous improvement

Straightforward and easy to deal with Adrian Mooy & Co provide an efficient, friendly and professional service - payroll, tax returns, annual accounts and VAT returns are always done on time.    Eddie Morris

Call us on 01332 202660

Testimonials

First class! Super accountant! We have been with Adrian Mooy & Co since 1994. They provide a prompt, accurate & reliable service. There is always someone at the end of the phone to help and advise us. They have always delivered and we are more than happy to recommend them.    Ian Cannon

Helpsheets

  • Profit extraction in 2020/21 – What is the optimal salary?

    A popular tax-efficient profit extraction strategy used by personal and family companies is to take a small salary and extract further profits as dividends. Where this approach is adopted, the starting point is to determine the optimal salary. While this will depend on personal circumstances and there is no excuse for not doing the sums, there are some general guidelines.

    Where the director does not have the requisite 35 qualifying years to provide access to the full single tier state pension paying a salary at least equal to the lower earnings limit for Class 1 National Insurance purposes (set at £120 per week; £520 per month and £6,240 per year) will ensure that the year is a qualifying one.

    Maximum salary that can be paid free of tax and National Insurance - The first question to consider is what is the maximum salary that can be paid free of income tax and employer’s and employee’s National Insurance. For 2020/21, the key numbers are:

    • the personal allowance – set at £12,500;

    • the primary threshold – set at £9,500 per year; and

    • the secondary threshold –set at £8,788 per year.

    Assuming the personal allowance has not been used elsewhere, the maximum salary that can be paid without triggering a tax or National Insurance liability is one equal to the secondary threshold of £8,788.

    However, if the director is under 21, there is no secondary Class 1 liability until earnings exceed £50,000 and in this scenario, the maximum salary that can be paid free of tax and National Insurance is one equal to the primary threshold of £9,500 per month. The same is true where the director is over 21 but the employment allowance extinguishes any secondary Class 1 liability.

    Is a higher salary tax-efficient? - Salary payments and any associated employer’s Class 1 National Insurance contributions are deductible for corporation tax purposes and there will therefore be an associated 19% reduction in the corporation tax bill. Where paying a higher salary triggers a National Insurance liability, this will be worth paying if it is more than offset by the corporation tax reduction. The sums differ depending on whether the employment allowance is available.

    Employment allowance unavailable - In a personal company scenario, it is unlikely that the employment allowance is available as companies where the sole employee is also a director, as would be usual in a personal company do not qualify.

    Where this is the case, assuming the director is over 21, a salary in excess of £8,744 will attract a secondary Class1 National Insurance liability. However, there is no primary Class 1 liability until the salary reaches the higher primary threshold, set at £9,500 for 2020/21. At 13.8%,  the rate of employer’s National Insurance is less than the corporation tax rate – the corporation tax saving on the salary and employer’s National Insurance of £163 (19% (£756 x 1.138)) is more than the employer’s National Insurance on the additional salary of £104 (13.8% of £756), meaning it is tax efficient to pay a salary of £9,500. However, the employer’s NIC will need to be paid over to HMRC, incurring admin costs.

    However, beyond this level, the combined effect of employer’s and employee’s National Insurance outweighs any corporation tax saving. The optimal salary in this case is therefore £9,500 a year.

    Employment allowance available - In a family company scenario, the employment allowance may be available, making it possible to pay a salary of £9,500 free of tax and National Insurance. Paying an additional £3,000 to bring the salary up to the level of the personal allowance will trigger an employee Class 1 liability of £360 (12% of £3,000). However, the additional salary of £3,000 will reduce the corporation tax bill by £570 (19% of £3,000), making the additional salary worthwhile. However, once income tax at 20% is brought into the mix, this is no longer the case, meaning the optimal salary is one equal to the personal allowance of £12,500.

    Switch to dividends - Once the optimal salary has been paid, it is tax efficient to extract further profits as dividends.

  • Kickstart Scheme

    In the July Economic Statement, as part of his Plan for Jobs, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that a new Kickstart Scheme would shortly be launched with the aim of creating hundreds of quality jobs for young people aged between 16 and 24 years old. The details of the scheme have been slow coming, but it has now been confirmed that the first placements are likely to be available from November.

    The Kickstart Scheme can be used to create new 6-month job placements for young people who are currently receiving Universal Credit.  The jobs must be new jobs - with the funding conditional on the firm proving these jobs are additional. The jobs must not replace existing or planned vacancies and must not cause existing employees or contractors to lose or reduce their employment.

    Under the scheme, the Government will pay 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage (NMW) for 25 hours a week. Rates for 16 to 24-year olds are currently as follows:

    Age under 18 - £4.55 per hour

    Age 18 to 20 - £6.45 per hour

    Age 21 to 24 £8.20 per hour

    The Government will also pay the associated employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and employer minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions.

    Employers will be able to top up National Minimum Wage rates.

    There is also £1,500 per job placement available for setup costs, uniforms, support and training.

    The employer will need to show in their application how they intend to help the participants to develop their skills and experience, including:

    • support to look for long-term work, including career advice and setting goals;

    • support with CV and interview preparations; and

    • supporting the participant with basic skills, such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork

    Once a job placement is created, it can be taken up by a second person once the first successful applicant has completed their 6-month term.

    According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), there will also be extra funding to support young people to build their experience and help them move into sustained employment after they have completed their Kickstart scheme funded job. Details of such funding have not yet been published.

    Applications for funding must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. However, employers who are unable to offer this many job placements can partner with other organisations to reach the minimum number requirement. The representative applying on behalf of the group can claim additional funding of £300 per job placement to support with the associated administrative costs of bringing together the employers.

    Smaller businesses may also be able to apply through an intermediary, such as a Local Authority or Chamber of Commerce, who will then bid for 30 or more placements as a combined bid from several businesses. This will make the process easier and less labour intensive to apply for these smaller companies who can only consider hiring one or two Kickstarters.

    The scheme, which will be delivered by the DWP, will initially be open until December 2021, with the option of being extended. With the availability of a grant for a 24-year old worth around £6,500, employers may wish to review their business with a view to becoming involved.

  • Company car ‘availability’ during Covid-19

    For many, their working patterns changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some employees were required to work from home, some were furloughed, while those with certain health conditions were required to shield.

    If the employee has a company car, is a deduction available for periods during the pandemic when it was not used?

    Legislative test

    Under the legislation, a benefit-in-kind tax charge arises where the car is available for the employee’s private use. The legislation deems a car to be available for private use, unless that use is specifically prohibited and there is in fact no actual use.

    Deduction for periods of unavailability

    When calculating the amount charged to tax in respect of the private use of a company car, a deduction is given:

    • where the car is made available during the tax year, the period from the start of the tax year to the date on which the car was first made available to the employee;

    • where the car ceases to be available to the employee throughout the whole tax year, from the date that the car ceases to be available to the end of the tax year; and

    • periods of 30 days or more throughout which the car was not available to the employee.

    Unavailability during Covid-19: HMRC’s stance

    HMRC have published guidance for employers on the tax treatment of various expenses and benefits provided to employees during the coronavirus pandemic in which they specifically address the extent to which a company car remains available for an employee’s private use.

    In the guidance, HMRC state that where an employee has been furloughed or is working from home because of Coronavirus and the employee has been provided with a company car that they still have, the car should be “treated as being ‘available’” for private use during this period even if the employee is:

    • instructed to not use the car

    • asked to take and keep a photographic image of the mileage both before and after a period of furlough

    • unable to physically return the car or the car cannot be collected from the employee

    Where restrictions on the freedom of movement prevent a car from being handed back or collected, HMRC accept that the car is unavailable where the contract has terminated from the date that the keys, including the fobs, are returned to the employer or to a relevant third party. Where the contract has not terminated, HMRC only regard the car as being unavailable from the date 30 days after the keys are returned.

    Worth a challenge

    The unavailability tests set by HMRC are stricter than those posed by the legislation, which require only that private use is prohibited and not take place; there is no requirement in the legislation that they keys are returned. Where and employee is instructed not to use the car and evidence can be provided that it was not indeed used, there a goods grounds for a deduction where the period of unavailability exceeds 30 days, even if the keys are not returned.

  • Winding up a business

    The decision of how and when to cease a business is usually prompted by a combination of three main factors - market conditions, market forces, and life changes. Unfortunately, many businesses will have been adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak and some will now be facing closure.

    Under the self-assessment regime, the final tax year in which a business is taxed is the tax year in which it actually ceases to trade, so if the business stops trading on 30 September 2020, the final year of assessment will be 2020/21. The tax bill for the year before that is based on the accounting year that ended in the tax year before trading stopped (so if accounts are made up to 30 June each year, the tax bill for 2019/20 is based on profits for the year that ended on 30 June 2019). Profits (if there are any) from the accounting date in the previous tax year (30 June 2019 in this example) to the date on which the business finally stops (30 September 2020), are then charged to tax for the tax year in which the cessation occurs (2020/21). Therefore, that final period may be more or less than 12 months long (15 months in this example – 1 July 2019 to 30 September 2020).

    Example - Jack has been trading for many years and makes his accounts up to 30 September each year. He narrows his options to stop trading to one of two dates:

    • 30 June 2020

    • 31 December 2020

    Jack’s annual tax bill is calculated as normal up to and including the 2019/20 tax year (based on accounts for the year ending on 30 September 2019). His final tax bill is for 2020/21 as this is the year he ceases to trade. So, depending on the date he chooses to stop trading, his final tax bill is based on profits for:

    • 9 months from 1 October 2019 to 30 June 2020, or

     * 15 months from 1 October 2019 to 31 December 2020

    If Jack had ‘overlap profits’ when he started his business, and he hasn’t used them during the lifetime of his business (for example, on a change of accounting date), he can claim relief for them against his final year’s tax bill.

    Terminal loss relief  - A loss in the last 12 months of trading can usually be offset against trading income of the tax year in which the business permanently ceases and the three previous years. Terminal loss relief is given as far as possible against the profits of later years before earlier years, even if the result is that personal tax allowances are wasted. So, if there is a terminal loss in 2020/21, it is set first against income from any other sources in 2020/21 (for example, against employment income). If any loss is left over after it has been set against other income, the balance is set against any income in 2019/20, then 2018/19, and finally against 2017/18. HMRC will issue a refund of tax overpaid or set the refund against any outstanding tax bills.

    The time limit for making a claim for terminal loss relief is four years from the end of the tax year in which the loss arises.

    Deregistering for taxes - HMRC must be notified when a business ceases. This may include deregistering for Class 2 NICs and VAT.

    For VAT-registered businesses, deregistration must be undertaken within 30 days of ‘ceasing to make supplies’ by submitting form VAT 7 (included in the HMRC VAT Notice 700/11: Cancelling your registration) to HMRC. Once HMRC are satisfied that registration should be cancelled, they will confirm the effective date and issue a final VAT return. The business will need to account for VAT on stock and certain assets on hand at the close of business on the day the registration is cancelled.

  • Selling the buy-to-let property at a loss

    The Covid-19 pandemic has caused financial hardship for many and the need to release funds may lead to a decision to sell a buy-to let or second property. While the temporary increase in the residential SDLT threshold may give the property market a boost, it is still possible that the sale of the property may result in a loss.

    Where a loss is realised, how can this be used?

    No private residence relief means loss is an allowable loss

    Investment properties and those which have never been an only or main residence do not benefit from private residence relief. While any gain on the sale of a property that has been the taxpayer’s main residence throughout the period of ownership is covered by private residence relief, the flip side is that if the main residence is sold at a loss, the loss is not an allowable loss for capital gains tax purposes. By contrast, the realisation of a loss on a property that does not benefit from full private residence relief is an allowable loss.

    Chargeable gains in same tax year? - Capital gains tax is charged on net gains (chargeable gains less allowable losses) in the tax year after deducting the annual exempt amount. Thus, if the taxpayer realises any gains in the same tax year as that in which the loss arises, the loss must be set against those gains before applying the annual exempt amount.

    Example - Tony owns a number of rental properties. To help him survive the Covid-19 pandemic, he sells two properties in 2020/21, realising a gain of £20,000 on one property and a loss of £15,000 on the other. He also sells some shares realising a gain of £500.

    He must set the loss of £15,000 against his gains of £20,500 for the year, leaving him with net chargeable gains of £5,500. This is covered by his annual exempt amount of £12,300, so he has no tax to pay. The balance of his annual exempt amount is lost.

    Unfortunately, he cannot set the gains against the annual exempt amount first to reduce gains £8,200 and use only £8,200 of the loss, leaving the balance to set against other gains.

    Carrying loss forward - If there are no gains in the year or the loss exceeds other gains in the tax year, the loss (or any unused balance) can be carried forward. This can be useful as the loss only needs to be set against gains in the same tax year in the first instance. Where a loss is brought forward, the taxpayer can choose how much of the loss is used, so that the annual exempt amount is not lost.

    Example - Tim sold a buy-to-let property in March 2020, realising a loss of £12,000. He makes no gains in the 2019/20 tax year, so carries the loss forward.

    In July 2020, he sells another property realising a gain of £16,000. This is his only disposal in 2020/21. The annual exempt amount for 2020/21 is £12,300.

    Tim uses £3,700 of the loss to reduce the gain to the annual exempt amount of £12,300, carrying the balance of £8,300 forward to set against future gains.

    Where a gain is to be realised, delaying the sale so that it does not fall in the same tax year as the loss may be beneficial.

    Report the loss - To make sure that the loss is not lost, it must be claimed. This is done by reporting it on the self-assessment tax return. This should be done within four years of the end of the tax year in which the asset giving rise to the loss was sold.

  • Capital gains tax implications of selling the buy-to-let

    There may come a time when a landlord no longer wants to hold a buy-to let property and puts the property on the market. When selling an investment property, such as a buy-to-let, it is important to be aware of the capital gains tax implications, and also the changes that came into effect from 6 April 2020.

    Any private residence relief? - If the property had been occupied as a main residence for some of the period of ownership, some private residence relief will be available. The gain will be sheltered to the extent that it relates to the period where the property was occupied as a main residence and also for the final period. From 6 April 2020 this is the last nine months of ownership (reduced from 18 months prior to that date).

    Curtailment of lettings relief - Where the disposal takes place on or after 6 April 2020, lettings relief is only available where the landlord occupies the property with the tenant (for example, by letting out a number of rooms in the landlord’s main residence).

    The previous, more generous rules, do not apply where disposal is on or after 6 April 2020 even if the property was let out prior to that date and would have qualified for lettings relief under the old rules – it is the date of disposal that is relevant in determining which rules apply, not the period for which the property was let.

    No gain, no loss transfers - The capital gains tax rules allow assets to be transferred between spouses and civil partners at a value which gives rise to neither a gain nor a loss. This can be very useful in mitigating the capital gains tax liability, particularly where a spouse or civil partner has not used their annual exempt amount or pays tax at a lower marginal rate. The optimal ownership shares will depend on individual circumstances. It is prudent to review how the property is owned prior to sale.

    Paying tax at the residential property rates - Capital gains tax is charged at a higher rate on residential property gains. The rate of tax is 18% to the extent that income and gains fall within the basic rate band, and at 28% thereafter.

    Notifying residential property gains and paying tax on account - From 6 April 2020, chargeable gains on residential property must be notified to HMRC within 30 days of the date of completion. The gain can be notified online. Capital gains tax due on the gain must be paid within the same time frame. A return is only required where a gain arises; no return is needed if the property is sold at a loss.

    HMRC have confirmed that due to coronavirus, they will not charge a penalty for transactions completed on or after 6 April and 1 July reported up to 31 July 2020 which are reported outside the 30-day window. However, a late filing penalty will be charged for transactions which are completed on or after 1 July 2020 if these are not reported within 30 days.

    Interest is charged where tax is paid late. This applies where the completion date is on or after 6 April 2020 – there is no relaxation in respect of Coronavirus.

    In working out the capital gains tax on residential property gains, the annual exempt amount can be taken into account, as can any allowable losses brought forward or realised prior to the disposal. However, losses arising after the disposal cannot be taken into account, even if these are realised in the 30-day window for filing the return and making the payment on account.

    The taxpayers overall capital gains tax position for the year is finalised when filing the self-assessment return.

  • Homeworking equipment and returning to the office

    Before the Government U-turn, many employees had started to return to office-based jobs. Where the employee had previously worked from home and had been provided with homeworking equipment, there may be tax implications to consider if the employee is allowed to keep the equipment for personal use.

    The tax implications will depend on the way in which the equipment was made available to the employee.

    Employer provided the equipment

    If the employer provided equipment to enable the employee to work from home, no tax charge arises in respect of the provision, as long as the main reason for providing the employment was to enable the employee to work from home, any private use is insignificant and the employer retains ownership of the equipment. This remains the case if the employee retains the equipment to enable them to work from home on a more flexible basis.

    If, at the end of the working from home period, the employee simply hands back the homeworking equipment to the employer, there are no tax implications. However, if ownership of the equipment is transferred to the employee, there will be tax to pay unless the employee pays at least the market value at the date of transfer for the equipment. The amount charged to tax is the market value of the equipment at the date of transfer, less any contribution from the employee.

    Employer reimburses the cost of the equipment

    At the start of lockdown, many employees were required to work from home at very short notice. As a result, it was often easier for the employee to buy their homeworking equipment, and the employer to reimburse the cost. The reimbursement is tax-free as long as the employee acquired the equipment to allow them to work from home and any private use is insignificant.

    However, if the employee buys the equipment, the title remains with the employee (unless it is transferred to the employer as a condition of the reimbursement). Consequently, if the employee no longer needs to work from home when they return to the office, but keeps the equipment for personal use, there is no tax charge – the employee is simply keeping equipment they already own.

    Employee buys equipment

    If the employee buys their own homeworking equipment and the employer does not meet the cost, the employee can claim tax relief for their expenditure. If the employee uses the equipment personally once they return to the office, there are no associated tax implications as the employee already owns the equipment.

  • Employees - expenses for working from home

    The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that more employees worked from home than ever before. This trend looks set to continue following the Government’s latest advice to continue to work from home where you can do so. Further, many business plan to embrace flexible working beyond the end of the pandemic, allowing employees to work from home some or all of the time where their job allows this.

    However, while working from home may save the cost of the commute, there are expenses associated with working from home. Is the employee able to claim tax relief where these are not met by the employer?

    Additional household expenses

    As a result of working from home, an employee will incur the cost of additional household expenses, such as additional electricity and gas costs, additional cleaning costs, and such like. During the Covid-19 pandemic, HMRC confirmed that employees are able to claim a deduction for additional household expenses attributable to working from home of £6 per week without supporting evidence. Where the actual additional costs are more than £6 per week, tax relief can be claimed for the full amount, as long as the employee can substantiate the claim. For example, this could be done by comparing bills prior to working from home with those during the working at home period.

    Homeworking equipment

    Employees may have needed to buy office equipment, such as a computer and a printer, to enable them to work from home. Where these costs are not reimbursed by the employer, HMRC have confirmed that employee can claim a tax deduction for the actual expenditure incurred, as long as it was incurred ‘wholly, exclusively and necessarily’ in the performance of the duties of the employment.

    Other expenses

    To claim relief for other expenses employees will need to pass the general test that the expense was incurred ‘wholly, necessarily and exclusively’ in the performance of the duties of the employment. Care must be taken to distinguish between expenditure which puts the employee in the position to do their job as opposed to being incurred in the performance of it. Childcare, for example, would fall into the former category.

    Relief is also denied for dual purpose expenditure, such as an office chair which enables the employee to be comfortable while working, as this fails the ‘exclusively’ part of the test.

    Making claims

    Where the conditions for tax relief are met, a deduction can be claimed on form P87 (available on the Gov.uk website) or, where the employee completes a tax return, on the employment pages of the return.

  • Reasonable excuse – does coronavirus count?

    HMRC may allow an appeal against a penalty if the taxpayer has a ‘reasonable excuse’ for why, say, they filed a return late or paid their tax late.

    A ‘reasonable excuse’ is something that prevented a taxpayer from meeting a tax obligation despite the fact that they took reasonable care. HMRC take a hard line as regards what they constitute as a ‘reasonable excuse’; providing the following examples of ‘acceptable’ reasonable excuses:

    • the taxpayer’s partner or another close relative died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline;

    • an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented the taxpayer from dealing with their tax affairs;

    • a life threatening illness;

    • the failure of a computer or software just before or while the taxpayer was preparing their tax return;

    • service issues with HMRC;

    • a fire, flood or theft which prevented the completion of a tax return;

    • postal delays which could not have been predicted; or

    • delays relating to a disability.

    By contrast, HMRC cite the following example of excuses that they will not accept as a valid reason for failing to meet a tax obligation:

    • relying on someone else to send the return and they failed to send it;

    • a cheque or payment bounced due to insufficient funds;

    • the taxpayer found HMRC’s online system too complicated;

    • the taxpayer did not receive a reminder from HMRC; or

    • the taxpayer made a mistake on their return.

    Impact of coronavirus

    HMRC have confirmed that they will consider coronavirus as a reasonable excuse. Where claiming this, the taxpayer should explain in their appeal how they were affected by coronavirus. As a rule of thumb, HMRC are more likely to accept it as a reasonable excuse where the virus led to one of the circumstances listed above as ‘acceptable reasonable excuses’. Thus the contention that the taxpayer had a reasonable excuse for failing to meet a tax obligation would be strong if a partner or close relative (such as a parent) died of Coronavirus around the tax deadline, the taxpayer was seriously ill with the virus or was in hospital unexpectedly.

    Where the taxpayer appeals on the grounds that they had a reasonable excuse for failing to file a return or pay a tax bill, they should file the return or pay the bill as soon as they are able after the reason for the reasonable excuse has been resolved.

  • Extracting income - family company with no retained profits

    The Covid-19 pandemic has had an adverse effect on millions of family companies, potentially reducing or eliminating profits. Where there is cash in the business that can be withdrawn, possibly because the business has received a Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan or a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan, and the family need to withdraw funds to meet their living costs, the lack of retained profits may affect how those funds are withdrawn.

    No retained profits, no dividends

    A popular and tax-efficient strategy is to pay a small salary and extract further profits as dividends. For 2020/21, the optimal salary is £9,500 (equal to the primary threshold for Class 1 National Insurance purposes) where the employment allowance is not available and £12,500 (equal to the personal allowance) where it is.

    Dividends can only be paid out of retained profits, so where there are no retained profits, no dividends can be paid.

    If funds are needed to meet personal living costs, other routes must be taken.

    Higher salary or a bonus

    Unlike dividends, profits are not needed to pay a salary or bonus; indeed these can still be paid even if doing so creates or increases a loss. Paying an additional salary or a bonus will come with a personal tax bill once the personal allowance has been utilised and will attract primary and secondary Class 1 National Insurance where earnings exceed the relevant thresholds, set, respectively, at £9,500 and £8,788 per year, and where secondary contributions are not sheltered by the employment allowance. It should be remembered that company directors have an annual earnings period for Class 1 National Insurance purposes.

    However, on the plus side, salary payments and any associated secondary National Insurance contributions are deductible when working out the company’s taxable profits.

    Take a loan

    Rather than paying a higher salary, it may be preferable to take a loan from the company. Most family companies are close companies, such that if the loan is not repaid within nine months and one day of the end of the accounting period in which it was taken, a section 455 charge arises and 32.5% of the outstanding balance must be paid by the company over to HMRC (although if the loan is repaid, this is repayable nine months and one day after the end of the accounting period in which the loan is paid). A benefit in kind tax charge will also arise on the director if the loan balance tops £10,000 at any point in the tax year, even if only for one day. The amount charged to tax is the interest that would be payable at official rate (set at 2.25% from 6 April 2020), less any interest actually paid.

    Taking a loan can be tax efficient, particularly if paid back before the trigger date for the s. 455 charge. It may be an attractive option to get over a difficult period where a return to profitability is anticipated, allowing a dividend to be declared to clear to loan balance.

    Benefits-in-kind

    The provision of benefits in kind can also be attractive as the recipient will pay tax on the cash equivalent value rather than having to meet the full cost personally. Benefits in kind are even more attractive where an exemption can be utilised allowing them to be provided tax free. The trivial benefits exemption can be put to use here where the cost is not more than £50 (and the total cost of trivial benefits is not more than £300 for the tax year).

    From the company’s perspective, Class 1 National Insurance will be payable on the cash equivalent amount, but the cost of the benefit and the NIC cost is deductible in computing taxable profits for corporation tax purposes.

  •  

  • Tax implications of providing PPE to employees

    The Covid-19 pandemic has seen many employees being required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at work. The way in which this is provided and the extent that it is needed to enable the employee to undertake the duties of their employment will determine the associated tax implications.

    HMRC have published guidance on the treatment of certain expenses provided to employees during the Coronavirus pandemic. While this covers the provision of PPE, there are some gaps.

    PPE is required and employer provides it

    If an employee is working in a situation where transmission of Coronavirus is high and the employer’s risk assessment is that the employee needs PPE, the employer must provide this to their employees free of charge. In this situation, HMRC’s guidance confirms that the provision of PPE is not taxable. As such it does not need to be included on the employee’s P11D.

    Employee provides PPE and employer reimburses the cost

    In a situation where the employee requires PPE to do their job and the employer is unable to provide it, but the employee purchases it themselves and claims the cost back from their employer, HMRC confirm in their guidance that the reimbursement of the PPE is not taxable.

    Employees meet cost of required PPE

    Where the PPE is required for the employee to perform the duties of their employment, the employer should provide this. Consequently, the issue of the employee meeting the cost of necessary PPE should not arise. In their guidance, HMRC state that employees are not entitled to tax relief on the expense of providing PPE needed to undertake their role. However, this conflicts with statutory position which allows tax relief for expenses wholly, necessarily and exclusively incurred in the performance of the duties of the employment. HMRC also confirm in their Employment Income Manual (at EIM 32480) that where the duties require protective clothing to be worn, a deduction is permitted.

    Nice but not necessary

    However, where the duties do not require the employee to wear PPE and the employer provides it as a gesture of goodwill (for example, the provision of facemasks where the law does not require these to be worn), a taxable benefit will arise. However, if the cost is less than £50, the trivial benefits exemption will prevent the employee being taxed on the provision.

    Likewise, if an employee meets the cost of PPE that is not required for them to perform the duties of their employment, they will not be entitled to tax relief for the costs. Any reimbursement by the employer will similarly be taxable.

  • Paying back deferred VAT

    At the start of lockdown, the Government announced a number of measures to help businesses weather the pandemic. One of those measures was the option for VAT-registered businesses to defer VAT payments that fell due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. This window meant payment of VAT for the following quarters could be deferred:

    • quarter to 29 February 2020 – due by 7 April 2020;

    • quarter to 31 March 2020 – due by 7 May 2020; and

    • quarter 30 April 2020 - due by 7 June 2020.

    However, businesses opting to defer payments were still required to file their VAT returns on time.

    VAT due after 30 June 2020

    Normal service is resumed in respect of VAT which falls due after 30 June 2020. This must be paid on full and on time. Consequently, VAT for the quarter to 31 May 2020 must be paid by 7 July 2020, even if the trader has yet to pay their VAT for the quarter to 29 February 2020. This applies for successive VAT quarters too.

    Set up cancelled direct debits

    Where VAT is normally paid by direct debit but the direct debit was cancelled to enable the trader to take advantage of the deferral option, the direct debit needs to be set up again so that payments can be taken automatically. If this has not yet been done, payments will need to be triggered manually to ensure that VAT reaches HMRC on time until the direct debit is back up and running.

    Paying VAT that has been deferred

    Deferred VAT remains due – the measure simply provides a longer payment window; it does not cancel the liability. VAT that fell due in the period from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 was originally due to be paid in full by 31 March 2021.

    However, in delivering his Winter Economy Plan on 24 September 2020, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that instead, he will allow businesses to spread the repayment of deferred VAT over 11 smaller repayments during 2020/21, with no interest to pay.

    Struggling to pay?

    Businesses in certain sectors, such as hospitality and leisure, are still not able to operate normally. Where, despite the longer repayment period, a business thinks that it may struggle to repay its deferred VAT, it should contact HMRC to set up a time to pay agreement, which can spread the repayments over a longer period.  This should be done before the first payment becomes due.

  • An informal company wind-up

    Capital or income

    Usually, when a company distributes its profits to its shareholders they are liable to income tax on the payments they receive. However, a special rule means that distributions made in the course of winding up a company are taxed as capital instead. This provides tax-saving opportunities.

    Example. Owen and Jane are equal shareholders of Acom Ltd. Both are higher rate taxpayers. They decide to close the business and appoint a liquidator to wind up the company. All distributions of profit left in Acom from this point are capital meaning that Owen and Jane can deduct any unused part of their capital gains tax (CGT) annual exemption (£12,000 for 2019/20) and pay tax on the balance at a maximum of 20%. Assuming Acom has £98,000 to distribute in total, Owen and Jane would each be liable to CGT on £49,000. If their CGT exemptions are available in full they would each have to pay tax of up to £7,400 (£49,000 - £12,000) x 20%) but it would be less if they were entitled to entrepreneurs’ relief (ER).

    By comparison, if Acom distributed its profits before starting the winding up process, Owen and Jane would each be liable to income tax of at least £15,925 (£49,000 x 32.5%). By comparison the CGT bill is less than half that, but there’s still room for further tax saving.

    Winding up costs

    Usually, the tax advantage of capital distributions is only available when you appoint a liquidator to wind up your company. The trouble is a liquidator’s fees can be high and, depending on the value of your company, might significantly eat into or even outweigh the tax saving achieved.

    Rather than paying a liquidator to wind up your company you could do it yourself informally by notifying Companies House of your intention. However, CGT treatment will only apply if the amounts available to distribute are no more than £25,000 - any more than that and the whole of any distribution is taxed as income.

    Reduce the distributable amount

    If your company’s net value is more than £25,000 you’ll need to reduce it before you can use the informal winding up tax break. That will require you to make distributions from your company on which you’ll have to pay income tax. Despite this you can still save on tax and costs. You’ll need to crunch the numbers to see if it’s worthwhile.

    Example. Shaun is a higher rate taxpayer and the only shareholder of Bcom Ltd. It has distributable reserves of £35,000. Shaun could formally liquidate Bcom so that what he receives, after paying the liquidator’s fees of, say, £3,000, is liable to CGT. This would leave him with £28,000 after tax. If instead he paid a dividend of £10,000 and then applied to Companies House to dissolve the company, he would net £29,150. Not a massive tax saving but Shaun also avoids the time and red tape that goes with a formal liquidation.

    Reduce the value of your company to £25,000 by making distributions to shareholders and informally winding up the company. This will save the cost of a liquidator’s fees. Plus, each shareholder can use their annual capital gains tax exemption to reduce the amount on which they pay tax on their share of the final £25,000 distributed from the company.

  • Late or unpaid rent – calculation of taxable profits

    As with other sectors, landlords may be adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tenants suffering cashflow difficulties may be unable to pay their rent in full or on time. The impact that unpaid or late paid rent has on the calculation of taxable profits depends on whether the landlord prepares accounts on the cash basis or under the accruals basis.

    Cash basis - The cash basis is the default basis of preparation for most landlords whose cash receipts for the tax year are £150,000 or less. Under the cash basis income is recognised when the money is received not when it is earned, and expenses are accounted for when the money is paid not when the expenses is incurred. Receipts are income of the period in which the money is received, and expenses are outgoings of the period in which they are paid. Consequently, there are no debtors or creditors.

    This provides automatic relief where rent is not paid or is paid late, protecting the landlord from having to pay tax on money he or she has yet to receive.

    Example 1 - Harry is a landlord and lets a flat for £800 a month, payable on 25th of each month. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, his tenant does not pay the rent that was due on 25 March 2020. The tenant eventually pays £200 of the overdue rent in June 2020 and the remaining £600 in September 2020.

    Harry prepares the accounts for his rental property business on the cash basis, accounting for rental income only when the rent has been received. The rent due for March 2020 (falling in the 2019/20 tax year) is not received until June and September 2020 – which fall in the 2020/21 tax year. As a result, the rent for March is taken into account in computing Harry’s taxable profits for 2020/21 rather than 2019/20.

    Accruals basis - Rental profit must be determined under the accruals basis in accordance with UK GAAP where the landlord is not eligible for the cash basis (for example, because rental receipts for the tax year are more than £150,000) or because the landlord elects for the cash basis not to apply. Under the accruals basis, rental income is taken into account in the period to which it relates, rather than when the rent is paid. Likewise, expenses are deducted when the expense is incurred not when the bill is paid, if different. There is no automatic relief if rent is not paid on time as under the cash basis.

    Example 2 - Louisa has a number of rental properties and as her rental receipts exceed £150,000 a year, she prepares the accounts of her rental business under the accruals basis. One of her tenants fails to pay the rent of £2,000 for March 2020 which was due on 1 March 2020. The tenant eventually pays the late rent in September 2020.

    As accounts are prepared under the accruals basis, the rent due for March 2020 is taken into account in working out the taxable profit for 2019/20, regardless of the fact that it was paid in 2020/21 rather than in 2019/20.

    There is, however, relief available where the rent remains unpaid and is not recovered, as opposed to being paid late – a deduction is permitted for a debt which is genuinely bad or doubtful.

  • Maintaining your NIC contributions record during Covid-19

    The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that many people will suffer a reduction in income in 2020/21. Not all individuals are eligible for support under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the Self-Employment Income Support scheme, and those who are eligible for the grants will not generally receive their full pay.

    Where income drops this may have an effect on the National Insurance contributions payable and the individual’s contributions record, which in turn determines their entitlement to the state pension and contributory benefits. A person reaching state pension age on or after 6 April 2016 needs 35 qualifying years to receive the full single tier state pension.

    Employees

    Employees build up their entitlement via the payment of primary Class 1 National Insurance contributions. For a year to be a qualifying year, the employee must have been paid or credited with National Insurance on earnings equal to 52 times the lower earnings limit. For 2020/21, the lower earnings limit is £120 per week – 52 times this is £6,240. Where earnings are between the lower earnings limit and the primary threshold (set at £189 per week for 2020/21) contributions are payable at a notional zero rate, so the employee gets the benefit but does not have to pay anything.

    Missed weeks need not be a problem in themselves, as long as contributions are paid or deemed to have been paid on earnings of £6,240 for 2020/21. However, where the employee earns just above the lower earnings limit, being furloughed or taking unpaid leave can cause earnings on which contributions are paid to drop below the magic level, with the result that the year is not a qualifying year.

    Where a person is out of work for a period, depending on whether they receive benefits and what benefits they receive, they may get Class 1 National Insurance credits, which will serve to protect the year. Credits are also paid to those claiming child benefit.

    The self-employed

    Although the self-employed pay both Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance contributions, it is the payment of Class 2 contributions (at £3.05 per week for 2020/21) that provides state pension and benefit entitlements. Where earnings are below the small profits level, set at £6,475, the self-employed earner is entitled but not liable to pay Class 2 contributions. If the earner opts not to pay Class 2 contributions (and does not pay sufficient Class 1 or receive NIC credits), the year will not be a qualifying year.

    To pay voluntarily or not to pay

    If a person already has 35 qualifying years or is likely to do so by the time that they reach state pension age, missing a year will not adversely affect their state pension entitlement. However, if they have less than 35 years (and will be able to reach the minimum 10 years needed for a reduced state pension by the time that they reach state pension age) making voluntary contributions can be worthwhile.

    Those with earnings from self-employment of less than the small profits threshold (£6,475 for 2020/21) can pay Class 2 contributions voluntarily. At only £3.05 per week for 2020/21 this is a cheap and worthwhile option.

    Where there are no earnings from self-employment, paying voluntary contributions means paying Class 3 contributions at £15.30 per week for 2020/21.

  • Property transaction charges reduced

    Property transaction charges reduced - In his Economic statement on 8 July 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak highlighted that property transactions fell by more than 50% in May, while house prices fell for the first time in eight years. Therefore, to help boost the housing market, he announced that there will be a temporary reduction in stamp duty land tax (SDLT) in England and Northern Ireland. The Scottish and Welsh Governments quickly followed suit announcing reductions in Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and Land Transaction Tax (LTT) respectively.

    SDLT - To achieve the reduction, the nil rate band threshold for SDLT payments on residential property has been temporarily increased from £125,000 to £500,000. This change applies from 8 July 2020 but only applies until 31 March 2021. Current rates are therefore as follows:

    Portion of value      Rate %   Additional property rate %

    £0 - £500,000         0        3

    £500,001 - £925,000   5        8

    £925,001 – 1,500,000  10       13

    Over £1.5m            12       15

    From 1 April 2021 the £500,000 threshold will revert to £125,000.

    These rates apply equally for first time buyers as they do for those who have owned property before.

    Treasury estimates suggest that the average homebuyer will see their SDLT bill fall by £4,500 as a result of this temporary measure, and nearly nine out of ten main home buyers will pay no duty at all.

    LBTT - In Scotland, the LBTT nil threshold has been temporarily increased from £145,000 to £250,000 between 15 July 2020 and 31 March 2021. Current rates are therefore as follows:

    Purchase price              LBTT rate

    Up to £250,000              0%

    Above £250,001 to £325,000  5%

    Above £325,001 to £750,000  10%

    Over £750,001               12%

    The rates for the additional dwelling supplement (ADS) and non-residential LBTT remain unchanged.

    Residential transactions for consideration of £40,000 or more will still require to be notified to Revenue Scotland even if no tax is due.

    The reduced charges mean that someone buying a house at the average Scottish house price of £179,541 would expect to save £690 in LBTT. Overall, it is estimated that an additional 34% of property transactions will be taken out of LBTT, taking the total to 79%.

    LTT - The Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) has also announced changes to LTT charges, which apply from 27 July 2020 onwards. The new rates and threshold are as follows:

    Price threshold                                           LTT rate

    The portion up to and including £250,000                  0%

    The portion over £250,001 up to and including £400,000    5%

    The portion over £400,001 up to and including £750,000    7.5%

    The portion over £750,001 up to and including £1,500,000  10%

    The portion over £1,500,000                               12%

    Higher residential tax rates for additional properties remain unchanged.  The Welsh Government estimates that around 80% of homebuyers in Wales will pay no tax when purchasing their home, and that buyers of residential property who would have paid the main rates of LTT before 27 July 2020 will save up to £2,450 in tax.

  • Tax implications of uncommercial lets

    There are various circumstances in which a landlord may let a property at rate which is below the current market rate or, indeed, allow the property to be used rent-free. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, landlords may have agreed a reduced rent with tenants who are struggling financially and are unable to meet the normal rental payments in a bid to help them out and on the basis that some rent is better than none. Where a landlord has properties that would otherwise be empty, these may have been occupied by family and friends either at a low rent or rent-free.

    When reaching the decision to allow the property to be occupied rent-free or at a rate below the market rate, the impact on the deductibility of expenses was probably overlooked.

    Restriction on relief

    While the landlords motives might have been philanthropic, unfortunately this approach is not shared by HMRC when it comes to allowing a deduction for expenses incurred in a period when the property when not let at a commercial rent.

    For expenses to be deductible in computing the profits of the property rental business, those expenses must have been incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the property rental business. HMRC take the view that if the landlord does not charge the full market rent or impose normal market lease conditions, it is unlikely that this test is met. A strict interpretation would mean that expenses could not be deducted.

    Deductions capped at level of rental income

    Where a property is let for a rent which is less than the market rent that the landlord could obtain, HMRC permit expenses to be deducted up to the level of the rental income received. It is therefore not possible to create a loss in relation to an uncommercial let. Where the expenses exceed the rental income, no relief is given for the excess expenses – they cannot be carried forward to the following year, even if the property is let at a commercial rate in that year. No deduction is permitted for expenses relating to a period when the property is occupied either by the landlord or by family or friends rent-free.

    Where the period for which the property is let at an uncommercial rate is temporary, if possible, delay significant expenditure to a future period when the property is let commercially so that full relief for the expenditure can be obtained.

    House sitting

    In the situation where a friend or relative house sits while a property is empty, expenses incurred in that period can be deducted if the property genuinely remains available for commercial letting and the landlord is actively seeking a tenant. HMRC guidelines suggest relief will not be lost if a relative house sits for one month over a three-year period.

    However, no deduction is available for expenses incurred while a property is occupied rent-free by a friend or relative who is essentially using the property to take a holiday. Where a holiday home is let commercially for some of the time and used rent-free by the landlord or by his or her friends or relatives some of the time, the expenses should be apportioned between the commercial and uncommercial use. Expenses related to the commercial use can be deducted in excess of the rent for commercial lets; however, expenses apportioned to uncommercial use can only be deducted up to the level of the rent received, if any.

  • Reduced payment window for residential property gains

    Currently, capital gains on the sale of residential property in the UK are reported on the self-assessment tax return and the total capital gains tax liability for the tax year is payable by 31 January after the end of the tax year. Thus, the capital gains tax on residential property gains arising in the 2019/20 tax year must be reported to HMRC on the 2019/20 self-assessment return by 31 January 2021 and the associated capital gains tax paid by the same date.

    However, from 6 April 2020 this will change. From that date, gains arising on disposals of residential property by UK residents must be notified to HMRC with 30 days of the completion date, and a payment on account of the eventual tax liability made by the same date.

    What disposals are affected? - The new rules will apply from 6 April 2020 to disposals by UK residents of UK residential property which give rise to a residential property gain. The rules applied to disposals by non-residents from April 2019.

    A new return - Rather than notifying HMRC of the gain on the self-assessment return, there will be a new return for advising HMRC where a gain arises on the disposal of a residential property. If there is no taxable gain, for example if the property is disposed of to a spouse or civil partner on a no gain/no loss basis, there is no requirement to make a return.

    The return must be submitted to HMRC within 30 days from the date of completion.

    Payment on account of tax due - The taxpayer must also make a payment on account of the capital gains tax liability within 30 days of the completion date. This is considerably earlier than now, where the lag is at least nine plus months and may be as much as almost 22 months.

    Amount to pay - The amount to pay is effectively the best estimate of the capital gains tax at the time of the disposal, taking into account disposals to date in the tax year.

    Example 1 - Paul sells a second home, completing on 31 May 2020 realising a gain of £50,000. He has made no other disposals in 2020/21 at the time that the property is sold.

    He can take into account his annual exempt amount (for purposes of illustration this is assumed to be £12,000 for 2020/21) when working out his liability. Paul is a higher rate taxpayer.

    The payment on account is therefore £10,640 ((£50,000 - £12,000) @ 28%).

    Where a capital loss has been realised before the residential property gain, this can be taken into account when calculating the payment on account.

    The return must be filed and the payment on account made by 30 June 2020.

    Example 2 - Rebecca sells her city flat, which is a second property, on 1 August 2020, realising a gain of £100,000. In May 2020, she sold some shares, realising a loss of £10,000. Rebecca is a higher rate taxpayer.

    The loss can be set against the residential property gains of £100,000, leaving a net gain of £90,000. As her annual exemption is available, the chargeable gain is £78,000 and the payment on account is £21,840.

    No account is taken of a loss realised after the residential gain. - Final capital gains tax liability for the year

    The final capital gains tax liability for the year is computed via the self-assessment return taking into account all gains and losses for the year. The payment on account is deducted from the final bill and the balance payable by 31 January after the end of the tax year.

    If the payment on account is more than the final liability, for example if losses were realised later in the tax year, a refund can be claimed once the self-assessment return has been submitted.

  • Employment allowance – Have you claimed it?

    The National Insurance employment allowance enables eligible employers to reduce the amount of employer’s National Insurance that they pay over to HMRC. The allowance, which is set at £4,000 for 2020/21, is available to most employers whose Class 1 National Insurance liability was less than £100,000 in 2019/20, with some notable exceptions, including companies where the sole employee is also a director.

    The employment allowance must be claimed, but this can be done at any point in the tax year. There is no obligation to claim the allowance from the start of the tax year.

    The allowance is set against employer’s Class 1 National Insurance until it is used up. It cannot be used against Class 1A or Class 1B liabilities, or to reduce the amount of National Insurance payable by employees.

    Employment allowance and the CJRS - The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) enabled employers to place employees on furlough and claim a grant from the Government to pay them furlough pay of 80% of their wages (capped at £2,500 per month) while on furlough.

    Payments made to furloughed employees are liable for tax and Class 1 National Insurance as for usual payments of wages and salary. For pay periods up to an including 31 July 2020, employers were able to claim the associated employer’s National Insurance on grant payments, to the extent that it was not covered by the employment allowance.

    This meant that if an employer had claimed the employment allowance form the start of the tax year, they would not be able to reclaim the associated National Insurance on grant payments until the employment allowance had been used up. By contrast, employers who delayed claiming the employment allowance could reclaim the employer’s National Insurance on grant payments from the Government under the CJRS and use the employment allowance against their secondary liability once the reclaim option came to an end. This was a beneficial strategy and one that HMRC have not raised objections to.

    Remember to claim - If the employment allowance was not claimed at the start of the tax year to make the most of the CJRS, and has still not been claimed, eligible employers should now look to claim the allowance so that they can benefit from it.

    The allowance must be claimed each year – claims do not roll forward automatically. HMRC guidance confirms that claims can be made ‘at any time in the tax year’.

    Claims can be made via the payroll software.

    Late claims - If the claim is made late in the tax year and the full amount of the available employment allowance (set at the lower of £4,000 and your employer Class 1 National Insurance liability for the year) is not used, any unclaimed allowance at the end of the year to pay any tax (including VAT and corporation tax) or National Insurance that you owe. Where no tax is paid, the employer can ask HMRC for a refund. Employers can check their HMRC online account to see how much of their employment allowance for the year they have used.

    Where the employment allowance has not been claimed for previous years, claims can be made retrospectively for the previous four tax years.

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   Adrian Mooy & Co Ltd  -  61 Friar Gate   Derby   DE1 1DJ  -

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Adrian Mooy & Co - Accountants in Derby
61 Friar Gate Derby, Derbyshire DE1 1DJ
Phone: 01332 202660 Hours: Mon-Fri 9.00am - 5:00pm

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Adrian Mooy & Co is the trading name of Adrian Mooy & Co Ltd.  Registered in England No. 05770414.

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