Don’t Be a Lottery Loser – Protect Your Syndicate Winnings

 

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If you and your employees club together to take a chance on the Lottery by operating a workplace syndicate, but you do not have a formal agreement in place, a large win could cause tax issues in the future.

If ever you are fortunate enough to win the jackpot, the winnings will undoubtedly be collected and distributed by a nominated individual, normally the same person who buys the tickets.  However, if by some stroke of misfortune, that person dies within 7 years of the win, HMRC could argue the distributions were technically gifts, particularly if no written agreement exists.  In that event the gifts would be treated as failed Potentially Exempt Transfers (PETs) and therefore subject to Inheritance Tax.

Admittedly this is not an everyday occurrence, but it can happen, and HMRC are likely to chase all those who shared in the winnings for any resulting liability.

Verbal agreements can of course be valid, but they are much more difficult to prove, so if you are a part of a syndicate, it is wiser to draw up a document, showing all members, the amount of the stake each pays and how any winnings are to be shared.  It should always be updated when new members join to ensure they don’t get caught out by the IHT trap.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

HMRC Cash Crackdown

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HMRC has shopkeepers in its sights at the start of a new crackdown on cash payments.

Returns submitted to HMRC by shops and restaurants, whom it believes may not be declaring all of the cash payments they take, are to be crosschecked against the number of card payments taken.

HMRC estimate around 30% of transactions in these business are paid for in cash, and it is thought that investigations will centre on businesses recording more than 90% of their transactions are paid by card.

There are concerns, however, that the new plans could lead to lengthy and unnecessary investigations which could be financially damaging for small businesses.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Doctor, Doctor: Are Medical Expenses Tax Deductible?

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The question of whether medical expenses are tax deductible is one which is frequently posed and we can consider this using the example of a self-employed farmer who seeks treatment from a chiropractor. She believes that the treatment will improve her ability to farm and therefore queries whether she can claim a deduction for this in her accounts.

HMRC do recognise that taxpayers need to be in good health in order to carry on their trade, this allows them to earn an income on which they will pay their taxes. However HMRC’s approach to medical expenses typically follows that applied to costs incurred for food and clothes.

In this instance the farmer’s medical expense will not be tax deductible as the treatment will positively impact her personal life and therefore the expenditure cannot be wholly and exclusively incurred for business purposes.

If you require any further information please contact Green & Co Accountants.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Tax Free Childcare

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The Government’s new Tax-Free Childcare scheme will be phased in across the UK from 28 April 2017, and will replace the current Childcare Voucher Scheme.

For the first time, the scheme will not only cover full time employees but also those who are part time, on maternity, paternity or adoption leave and people who are self-employed, subject to meeting HMRC’s eligibility criteria.  Initially, the scheme will only be available to parents of children under 2 years old, but by the end of the year this will be extended to all working parents across the UK with children under 12, or under 17 if disabled.

How the scheme works

The Government offers working families 20% support towards qualifying childcare costs.  Through the childcare service, parents must apply to open an online childcare account provided by NS&I, which payments can be paid into by the families and out of directly to the childcare provider.  For every £8 that is paid in to the account, the Government will make a top up payment of an additional £2, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year (£4,000 for disabled children).

Once this scheme has been implemented, any Employer Supported Childcare (ESC) schemes will be closed.  However, if you are already in an ESC prior to the launch you will have a choice of which scheme you would like to stay with, and the same scheme must be used for each child.

You can find a Childcare Calculator on the HMRC website which will help you compare the schemes available to you and check which works best for your family.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

HMRC Update On Making Tax Digital

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Following a consultation period, HM Revenue and Customs have now released more information regarding the changes to self assessment under their new “Making Tax Digital” project.

Some of the more significant details are:

  1. Receipts and expenditure recorded on spreadsheets can be linked to HMRC software.
  2. Free software will be available to smaller businesses.
  3. The cash accounting system of reporting will be extended.
  4. Charities will not be obliged to take part in quarterly reporting.
  5. In the first year, a 12 month period of grace will be allowed before late submission penalties are applied.

Businesses and buy-to-let landlords with a turnover of more than £10,000 pa will be expected to submit their financial information quarterly, the new regime to be rolled in from April 2018. A spokesperson for the Revenue optimistically suggests this will help businesses avoid errors on returns and cut down the need for compliance investigations.

For many small businesses, however, the prospect of transmitting their financial information on-line every 3 months is not one they welcome. Recent research carried out by HMRC themselves showed that over 40,000 businesses had concerns about having to comply with quarterly reporting.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) also warns that more vulnerable taxpayers will incur additional costs in software and/or increased accountancy fees and that HMRC’s plans to implement the system in 2018 is total “fantasy”. A survey undertaken by 1-Tap Receipts has even shown that a staggering 97% of self-employed taxpayers who took part were unaware of the proposed changes to the tax system.

With these factors in mind, the FSB is supporting a recommendation by the Treasury Committee for quarterly reporting to apply only to businesses with a turnover in excess of £83,000 (in line with the VAT registration threshold) and to be phased in gradually from 2020. This would give the Government a chance to re-think their proposals and tax-payers time to consider their options going forward.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

New Land Transaction Tax for Wales

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The Welsh Assembly has now approved Stage One of the legislative process for the proposed new Land Transaction Tax (LTT), due to take effect from 6th April 2018.

The tax will replace the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in Wales, and is expected to receive Royal Assent in Spring of this year.  LTT will operate in a similar way to SDLT, applying  higher rates where the purchase of  second homes and buy-to-let properties are involved.  Actual rates have yet to be agreed and are not expected to be announced until next year.

One area of concern relates to those properties which span the Welsh Borders, having some land in Wales and some in England.  It would seem that both LTT and SDLT will apply in these cases, with taxpayers having to make two separate tax payments.  Calls are being made for greater clarity as to how this will be implemented and how the land will be valued, particularly as Land Registry maps do not currently show where Borders are located.

There are thought to be over 1,000 properties which straddle the Border.  A spokesperson for Land Registry has confirmed that they are working with both the Welsh Government and HMRC to help tax-payers in identifying where the Border lies in relation to the property titles and what their responsibilities would be in relation to the two taxes.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

 

Tax Return Deadline is Approaching

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It comes around almost as fast as Christmas, and here we are again. The 31 January 2017 marks the deadline for filing of the 2015/16 Self-Assessment Tax Return (SATR).

Individuals who are required to submit a SATR include, the self-employed and some landlords, investors, company directors, high earners and people who have worked overseas.

Those taxpayers who fail to file their Return online by midnight on Tuesday 31 January will be subject to an automatic penalty of £100. This applies even if there is no tax to pay, or the tax is paid on time.

Tax Returns which are not filed after a further three months will be subject to daily penalties, and additional penalties will apply to Returns which remain unfiled after six and 12 months, adding up to a potential penalty of £1,600 or more.

Penalties and interest charges also apply for the late payment of tax, and these will continue to be applied until HM Revenue & Customs receives payment.

Green & Co can help with all your tax planning needs, including filing your Tax Return – please contact us for further assistance.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Self Employed Landlords: What you need to know about Digital Accounting

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By 2020 most businesses, self-employed individuals and landlords will be required to use software or apps to keep their business records and to report their income and expenditure on a quarterly basis to HM Revenue & Customs. This new regime will commence on 6 April 2018 for most small businesses. Self-Assessment tax returns will no longer be completed from 2018/19 onwards.

What records will I need to keep?

HMRC will expect businesses to scan paper invoices and receipts into software using a smartphone camera. For many businesses it is expected that the scanned evidence of income and expenditure will be automatically processed by the software into the relevant accounting entries. HMRC prefers that the following data fields are completed for each receipt or expense item:

  • Invoice date and payment received date, if cash basis being used
  • Invoice value and payment received value, if cash basis being used
  • Income or expenses category, and
  • Deducted amount/percentage for expenses.

The above is the minimum required data which will be needed to enable software to identify and categorise each transaction.

Landlords

Landlords will need to provide the following:

  • The full address of each property
  • Income and expenses attributable to each property.

Quarterly Updates

The data of income and expenditure will have to be reported quarterly, although the reports will only be summary data. Businesses will be able to see an estimate each quarter of what their liability will be, based on the summary data provided.

End of year return

A final fifth submission will be made which will incorporate a correct and complete declaration. It is proposed that this final account will have to be submitted within 9 months of the end of a period of account.

The above is subject to a period of consultation due to end in November and final details are due to be announced in December. Green & Co will keep you informed as further details/changes are announced.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Update on Tax Free Childcare

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Further detail has been released on the new tax free childcare scheme that HMRC are set to debut in early 2017.

Under the scheme eligible parents open an online account, which they can use to pay a registered childcare provider. HMRC top up the account with £2 for every £8 paid in, up to a limit of £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for disabled children.

Parents will have to be in work to qualify with each earning around £115 a week. However, they will be ineligible if they earn in excess of £100,000 a year.

Parents who are enrolled in an employer operated childcare voucher scheme can continue in that scheme or switch to the new scheme. They are advised to consider which scheme is more beneficial to them before making a decision. Childcare voucher schemes will be open to new entrants until April 2018.

If you’d like to discuss this further please contact Green & Co.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Taxpayers Beware: HMRC Warn Of Further Scams

 

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Amongst the latest wave of scam emails and text messages, HMRC are warning taxpayers to be wary of any requests for private information.

The emails and text messages direct the recipients to a fake HMRC website which prompts them to include personal information ranging from National Insurance numbers to credit card details, all under the pretense of a tax refund. The messages appear credible, complete with HMRC logos, plausible wording and reference numbers.

HMRC confirm that they will never use texts or emails to inform people about a tax rebate, nor to ask for any personal or payment information. The message is clear: don’t give out personal or payment information, download attachments or reply to any messages if you are not 100% sure it is genuine.

For more information or to report a spam email, visit https://www.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails-websites-phishing

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.