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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet links: Consultation Scottish Parliament

Nuisance call companies warned to expect more fines

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is warning companies making nuisance calls to expect more fines in 2016.

The ICO has reported that they imposed more than £1,000,000 worth of penalties for nuisance calls and text messages in 2015, and anticipates they will issue a similar amount in early 2016.

The fines issued in 2015 included:

  • £295,000 of fines for companies offering call blocking or nuisance call prevention services
  • an £80,000 fine to a PPI claims firm that sent 1.3 million text messages
  • a £200,000 fine to a solar panels company that made six million nuisance calls
  • a £130,000 fine to a pharmacy company that was selling customer details to postal marketing companies

In addition the ICO report that the fines related to nuisance marketing in 2015 amounted to £1,135,000. These included £400,000 fines for nuisance texts, £575,000 fines for nuisance calls and a £130,000 fine for selling customer records for marketing. Details of the businesses penalised and fined can be found by using the hyperlink.

Andy Curry, ICO Enforcement Group Manager, said:

‘Nuisance marketing calls frustrate people. The law is clear around what is allowed, and we’ve been clear that we will fine companies who don’t follow the law. That will continue in 2016. We’ve got 90 on going investigations, and a million pounds worth of fines in the pipeline.’

According to the ICO, PPI claims prompted the most complaints, followed by accident claims. Areas identified as emerging sectors for nuisance calls and texts included call blocking services, oven cleaning services and industrial hearing injury claims.

Internet link: ICO news

Tax helpline for those affected by severe weather and flooding

HMRC have set up a helpline (number is 0800 904 7900) and will enable anyone affected to get practical help and advice on a wide range of tax problems they may be facing. HMRC will also:

  • agree instalment arrangements where taxpayers are unable to pay as a result of the floods
  • agree a practical approach when individuals and businesses have lost vital records in the floods
  • suspend debt collection proceedings for those affected by the floods
  • cancel penalties when the taxpayer has missed statutory deadlines.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Self assessment deadline approaching

HMRC have reported that:

  • a record breaking 24,546 people submitted their tax return online on New Year’s Eve
  • more than 11,467 people sent off their self assessment tax return on New Year’s Day
  • and in excess of 2,000 taxpayers submitted their tax returns on Christmas Day.

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

‘As we all enjoy the festive season it’s easy to see how completing your tax return can be forgotten, but the 31 January deadline will be here quicker than we think.’

The deadline for sending 2014/15 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2016. Please contact us if you need help with your self assessment return.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Scottish Budget – income tax and LBTT

Income tax

The Scottish Government set out tax and financial plans for the future in their draft Budget on 16 December 2015. The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy, John Swinney, announced that the Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT) would be set at 10p in the pound for 2016/17. The effect of this is to ensure that Scottish Taxpayers will pay tax at the same rates as their counterparts in the rest of the UK, at 20%, 40% and 45%.

Income tax bands for the basic and higher rates are the same in Scotland as in the rest of the UK.

The Scotland Act 2012 granted the Scottish Parliament landmark new powers to set a separate annual rate of income tax for Scottish taxpayers. The Scottish rate of income tax (SRIT) comes into effect in April 2016 and represents a fundamental change to the UK tax system.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax

As well as paving the way for the changes to income tax outlined above, the Scotland Act 2012 also resulted in the introduction of Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in Scotland from 1 April 2015. This replaces Stamp Duty Land Tax which applies in the rest of the UK. The draft Budget proposes changes to LBTT with the introduction of a LBTT supplement on purchases of additional residential properties, such as buy-to-let properties and second homes. This supplement will be 3 percentage points of the total price of the property for all relevant transactions above £40,000 and will be levied in addition to the current LBTT rates.

The Scotland Bill 2015 proposes the further devolution of additional tax and spending powers to the Scottish Parliament. The Scotland Bill 2015 is still subject to consideration and amendment by the UK Parliament.

Internet link: GOV.UK news SRIT

National Living Wage – employers advised to get ready

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is advising employers to begin preparing for the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) which comes into effect from 1 April 2016. The rate is £7.20 an hour and applies to employees aged 25 and over.

Businesses are being advised to prepare early for the changes on 1 April 2016, when the new wage will become law, and make sure they follow these 4 simple steps:

  • know the correct rate of pay – £7.20 per hour for staff aged 25 and over
  • find out which staff are eligible for the new rate
  • update the company payroll in time for 1 April 2016
  • communicate the changes to staff as soon as possible.

Business Minister Nick Boles said:

‘The government’s new National Living Wage will provide a direct boost to over two-and-a-half million workers in the UK – rewarding and providing security for working people.’

‘I am urging businesses to get ready now to pay the new £7.20 rate from 1 April 2016. With just under 4 months left, there are some easy steps employers can take to make sure they are ready.’

‘By taking these measures, companies will be able to properly reward their staff and avoid falling foul of the law when it takes effect.’

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

Internet link: GOV.UK news