Year end tax planning

With two months to the end of the tax year there is still time to save tax for 2015/16. We have set out some points you may want to consider.

  • Review dividend payment timing – with new dividend tax rates and a £5,000 dividend allowance from 6 April 2016, the timing of dividends could make a difference to the tax charge.
  • Consider  company car options – going forward for each tax year the taxable percentage increases 2% for each CO2 emission band and the diesel 3% supplement which was expected to be abolished from April 2016 is now to be retained.
  • Review personal pension contributions to ensure annual allowances are being used effectively as from 6 April 2016 the annual allowance may be tapered for those with incomes over £150,000.
  • Defer capital gains by reinvesting in Enterprise Investment Scheme shares.

Please contact us to discuss your personal situation.

http://www.wellsrichardson.co.uk

0114 2753030

Trivial benefits exemption

From April 2016, where trivial benefits are provided to employees they may be exempt from tax if certain conditions are met. The conditions are:

  • the cost of providing the benefit does not exceed £50
  • the benefit is not cash or a cash voucher
  • the employee is not entitled to the voucher as part of a contractual arrangement (including salary sacrifice)
  • the benefit is not provided in recognition of particular services performed by the employee as part of their employment duties
  • where the employer is a ‘close’ company and the benefit is provided to an individual who is a director, member of their household or their family, then the exemption is capped at a total cost of £300 in a tax year.

If any of these conditions are not met then the benefit will be taxed in the normal way subject to any exemptions or allowable deductions.

One of the main conditions is that the cost of the benefit is less than £50, if the cost is above £50 the full amount is taxable, not just the excess over £50. The cost is the cost of providing the benefit to each employee not the overall cost to the employer. Where the individual cost for each employee cannot be established, an average could be used.

Further details on how the exemption will work, including family member situations, are contained in the Government guidance. However if you are unsure please do get in touch before assuming the trivial benefit you are about to provide is covered by the exemption.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Benefits and expenses – bespoke scale rates

From 6 April 2016 there are a lot of changes to the way in which benefits and expenses are reported to HMRC.

HMRC have set out the maximum tax and NICs free allowances that can be paid by employers to employees for subsistence. Subject to qualifying conditions, the amounts are set out below:

Minimum journey time Maximum amount of meal allowance
5 hours £5
10 hours £10
15 hours £25

Where a meal allowance of £5 or £10 is paid and the qualifying journey in respect of which it is paid lasts beyond 8pm a supplementary rate of £10 can be paid.

Employers may choose to reimburse employees for the actual costs incurred. However where employers wish to use bespoke rates other than those set out above, they will need to apply for approval from HMRC for bespoke rates.

HMRC have issued an online application form to allow employers to request approval for these bespoke amounts. This should state the rate that the employer wishes to pay and also needs to demonstrate that the amount is a reasonable estimate of the amount of expenses actually incurred by the employees.

To establish these amounts, HMRC have confirmed that the employer should carry out a sampling exercise to verify the actual expenses incurred by employees. We would be happy to advise you on the sampling which would need to be carried out for your business.

In addition, employers will need to have a checking system in place which ensures that the payments or reimbursements are only make on occasions where the employee would be entitled to a deduction from their earnings and that the employees have actually incurred and paid the amounts.

Once approval has been given by HMRC, they will issue an approval notice which sets out the date from which the approval is given and what expenses are covered. It will also state the date when the approval notice ends which will be no later than five years from the start date.

Please do get in touch if you would like help with benefits and expense reporting or agreeing Bespoke rates.

Internet links: GOV.UK HMRC

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 March 2016. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 March 2016 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 10p
1401cc – 2000cc 12p
Over 2000cc 19p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 8p
Over 2000cc 13p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 8p
1601cc – 2000cc 10p
Over 2000cc 11p

Other points to be aware of about the advisory fuel rates:

  • Employees driving employer provided cars are not entitled to use these rates to claim tax relief if employers reimburse them at lower rates. Such claims should be based on the actual costs incurred.
  • The advisory rates are not binding where an employer can demonstrate that the cost of business travel in employer provided cars is higher than the guideline mileage rates. The higher cost would need to be agreed with HMRC.

If you would like to discuss your car policy, please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Apprentices and employer National Insurance

From 6 April 2016, if you employ an apprentice you may not need to pay employer Class 1 national insurance contributions (NICs) on their earnings up to £827 a week (£43,000 per annum). To be eligible for this relief the apprentice should be under 25 years old and be following an approved UK government statutory apprenticeship scheme.

If the apprentice meets the conditions, then the employer needs to have evidence to allow them to apply the relief, by adjusting the employee’s NIC category. The evidence required will be either

  • a written agreement between you, the apprentice and a training provider, which meets the conditions, or
  • in England and Wales, evidence that the apprenticeship receives government funding.

When the apprenticeship stops or the apprentice turns 25 you will need to start paying the relevant NICs. For full details visit the link below.

The relief does not apply to employee’s NICs, it is only the employer who benefits but the employee’s entitlement to social security benefits will not be affected.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Pensioners ‘to gain’ from new single tier state pension but younger people ‘worse off’

A new single tier state pension is to be introduced for those reaching state pension age from 6 April 2016 onwards. According to research by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) many pensioners will receive a boost from the new single tier pension following its introduction from 6 April 2016.

Under the ‘flat-rate’ system, new pensioners could receive up to £155.65 per week, compared to the current state pension entitlement of £119.30.

The press release states:

‘The data shows the long-term impact of the new State Pension on people’s pensions, with 75% of people set to gain in the first 15 years.

The move to the new system will provide a boost to the State Pension for many women, with over 3 million women receiving an average of £11 more per week by 2030 as a result of the changes, – helping to address the gender inequalities that have persisted under the old scheme.’

To find out what your pension entitlement is visit www.gov.uk/state-pension-statement

Internet link: GOV.UK news

New National Living Wage to boost living standards

The government is reminding employers that a new National Living Wage (NLW) is being introduced from 1 April 2016 and advising employers to get ready for this change.

The NLW rate will be payable to workers in the UK who are 25 or over. For workers currently being paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW) this will mean a 50 pence increase in their hourly earnings.

The government expects over a million workers in the UK aged 25 and over to directly benefit from the increase, which sees the current minimum rate of £6.70 increase by 50p. Many will see their pay packets rise by up to £900 a year.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

‘The government believes that Britain deserves a pay rise and our new National Living Wage will give a direct boost to over a million people. We are building a more productive Britain and giving families the security of well-paid work.

This is a step up for working people, so it is important workers know their rights and that employers pay the new £7.20 from April 1 this year.’

The government has launched an advertising campaign to highlight the new wage. More details are available at: livingwage.gov.uk.

The government is encouraging employers to ensure they are ready to pay the new wage on 1 April 2016. As part of this, it has published a four-step guide for businesses on the living wage website, asking employers to:

  1. Check you know who is eligible in your organisation.
  2. Take the appropriate payroll action.
  3. Let your staff know about their new pay rate.
  4. Check your staff under 25 are earning at least the right rate of NMW.

HMRC will have responsibility for enforcing the new NLW in addition to the NMW.

For those not affected by the NLW the following NMW rates apply:

  • £6.70: for 21s and over
  • £5.30: for 18 to 20-year-olds
  • £3.87: for under 18s
  • £3.30: for apprentices (the rate applies to all apprentices in year 1 of an apprenticeship, and 16-18 year old apprentices in any year of an apprenticeship)

Internet link: GOV.UK NLW