Archive for January, 2018

Does you employer still pay for your private fuel

Monday, January 8th, 2018

As we are approaching the end of yet another tax year, it is worth repeating our suggestion that highlights the cash benefit to company car drivers and their employers, of reimbursing the cost of fuel provided for private motoring. The rates have been updated for 2017-18.

Since the tax on private fuel provided with company cars is so high, many employers have an arrangement whereby they no longer pay for private fuel. In many cases this means that the employee must reimburse the employer for private fuel included in petrol bills paid by the employer.

Consider the following example for 2017-18:

If your private mileage is currently 560 miles a month, and you drive a 1900cc diesel engine car, the rate per mile to cover fuel charges as quoted in the latest rates published by HMRC is 11p per mile. Accordingly, you should repay £61.60 a month to your employer.

Based on the above example, if the vehicle’s list price when new was £25,000, and the car benefit charge rate was 28% (based on a 130g/km CO2 rating) the benefit in kind charge for the year would be £7,000. With no repayment of private fuel, there would also be a £6,328 car fuel charge. Both these amounts would be added to your taxable income for the year. If you were a higher rate tax payer the car fuel charge would cost you £2,513.20 a year in additional tax (£6,328 x 40%). This amounts to £210.93 per month.

If your actual private mileage proved, on average, to be 560 miles a month, you would therefore save £149.33 per month (£210.93 – £61.60).

Employers will also benefit as they will no longer be subject to a National Insurance charge on the amount of the car fuel benefit. In the above example, it would reduce NIC costs by £873.26 (£6,328 x 13.8%).

It is worth crunching the numbers. Obviously, the lower your private mileage, the more likely a repayment system will save you money, but you will need to act before the 5 April 2018.

Sole trader or incorporated

Monday, January 8th, 2018

From April 2018, the £5,000 tax-free dividend allowance is reducing from £5,000 to £2,000.

Does this mean that converting from self-employed to a limited company arrangement to save tax and NIC is no longer a viable option? Readers who have adopted this strategy will have likely seen a reduction in taxes due thus far, but the partial loss of the dividend allowance will reduce overall savings that can be made.

However, in most cases benefits will continue to accrue albeit at a reduced rate, and if profits are retained in the company, rather than withdrawn as salary or dividends, these benefits could still be significant.

  • A company paying tax at 19% on its taxable profits can retain 81% to improve reserves and fund investment.
  • A sole trader or partnership, paying income tax at 40% or 45% can only retain at best 60% or 55% of taxable profits.
  • Sole traders or partnerships who are taxed at the basic rate of 20% will still be required to pay additional NIC on their profits and will not be able to retain funds at the same rate as a company.

Will be keeping an eye on the numbers for clients who have adopted this strategy and will discuss their options when we review their tax position during 2018.

Happy New Year

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Let us hope that 2018 presents opportunities to build our business interests and improve the financial position of our families. Certainly, there were many changes last year, not least the ongoing implications of the Brexit vote, that have proved to be challenging and not only for the politicians.

A reminder, as we look forward to the new year, that our actions in the future will be dictated to some extent by past changes. We have listed below just a few of these challenges, some of which we reported in length last year, and many of which will require action on our part in the coming year.

If you are in business:

  • Deal with your obligations, if any, to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation – see the article we posted on this topic last month.
  • Deal with your obligations, if any, to comply with the Criminal Finances Act 2017 – again, see the article we posted on this topic last month.
  • Review your management accounts before the end of your current account’s year to make sure that there are no changes required before the end of the trading year. From a tax planning point of view this is essential as once your trading year or tax year end passes opportunities to save tax may be permanently lost.
  • Are you aware of your obligations to pay tax (VAT, corporation tax, income tax or other National Insurance liabilities) during 2018. At the end of this month your self-assessment dues for 2016-17 and payment on account for 2017-18 fall for payment.
  • Are you in the most effective VAT scheme for your size and type of business?
  • If you are still recording your accounts on spreadsheets or handwritten records, have you considered using internet based accounts software? Come the day we are required to upload our accounts data to HMRC, under their Making Tax Digital program, using a computerised system that links with the tax office IT will make the job less of a chore.

For individuals:

  • Look at salary sacrifice opportunities especially if your taxable income for 2017-18 will exceed £100,000 for the first time. Any strategy that shifts income into tax-free benefits could save you marginal tax at 60% if you have earnings between £100,000 and £123,000.
  • Parents claiming child benefit should be wary if one partner’s earnings are likely to exceed £50,000 for 2017-18. A High Income Child Benefit Charge may apply. This could mean benefits being repaid to HMRC and the possibility that you may have to register for self-assessment for the first time.
  • Check out your eligibility to pay more into your pension fund before 6 April 2018.
  • Have you fully utilised your tax allowances for 2017-18? For example, your personal tax allowance £11,500; the capital gains tax exempt amount £11,300; and inheritance tax tax-free gifts allowances.
  • Have you taken advantage of the £20,000 ISA limit?

Please call if you would like to review any of these or other planning opportunities for 2017-18. Don’t forget that once the year end passes any likely benefits that you could have benefitted from may be permanently lost.

A competition for budding space entrepreneurs

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

As we look forward to meeting our own challenges this new year, it is gratifying to come across a challenge aimed at stretching the imagination of our children.

The SatelLife Challenge, now in its second year, is looking for innovative proposals from those aged 11 to 22 which have the potential to use data collected from space to benefit our economy, health or the environment. Ideas from last year’s competition ranged from solutions to help increase the survival rate of heart attack victims by using GPS trackers in fitness devices, to an app that warns people about impending natural disasters, guides them safely away and alerts emergency services.

Satellites support the economy and everyday life, and this competition gives young people the chance to test their ideas with industry experts and perhaps one day become part of the fastest growing sector of the UK economy. The UK space industry builds 40% of the world’s small satellites and 25% of the world’s telecommunications satellites. It supports 40,000 jobs and generates £14 billion in revenue across the country.

The competition, which aims to support the development of science, data handling and technological skills, is split into three age groups, with overall prizes of £7,500 for the best individual and best team. A further seven entries from across the age categories will win £5,000, making a total prize fund of £50,000. The judging panel will be made up of experts including representatives from the UK Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell and industry.

Entries can be as teams or individuals and all prize winners will be able to pitch their idea to a panel of ‘dragons’ from the space sector who will offer prizes. In 2017 the competition winners were offered a mix of support including an offer to build a prototype, thousands of pounds worth of space on Amazon Cloud Services, access to data, business development advice and a visit to a satellite factory.

The competition closes on 25th February. Visit the SatelLife Challenge entry page for more information.

Happy New Year and beware the gift card scam

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Let’s hope that 2018 offers more cheer than 2017…

Unfortunately, the season seems to bring out the good and the not so good in human nature. Readers are advised to be wary of the following scam that is targeted at vulnerable and elderly taxpayers.

The notice issued by HMRC says:

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is today (20 December 2017) warning the public about a high-profile phone scam that is conning vulnerable and elderly people out of thousands of pounds.

The scammers are preying on victims by cold calling them and impersonating an HMRC member of staff. They tell them that they owe large amounts of tax which they can only pay off through digital vouchers and gift cards, including those used for Apple’s iTunes Store.

Victims are told to go to a local shop, buy these vouchers, and then read out the redemption code to the scammer, who has kept them on the phone the whole time. The conmen then sell on the codes or purchase high-value products, all at the victim’s expense.

The scammers frequently use intimidation to get what they want, threatening to seize the victim’s property or involve the police. The use of vouchers is an attractive scam as they are easy to sell on and hard to trace once used.

HMRC would never request the settling of debt through such a method.

The scam continues to hit many people. Figures from Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, show that between the beginning of 2016 and August this year there have been over 1,500 reports of this scam, with the numbers increasing in recent months. Most of the victims are aged over 65 and suffered an average financial loss of £1,150 each.

HMRC is working closely with law enforcement agencies, Apple and campaign groups to make sure the public know how to spot the scam and who to report it to.

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