Archive for April, 2014

David Cameron writes to crown dependencies

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Our Prime Minister has written a letter to the UK’s overseas territories and crown dependencies promoting the value of a public register that would show the ultimate owners of companies registered in their jurisdiction.

This follows the publication of the “Company ownership: transparency and trust discussion paper” last week. It concluded:

“… we plan to proceed with the following policies:

  • establish a publicly accessible central registry of UK company beneficial ownership information
  • improve transparency of company ownership and control, including:

    • abolishing bearer shares
    • prohibiting the use of corporate directors (with exceptions)
    • increasing the accountability of those who control company directors
  • improve trust in the UK regime for disqualifying company directors
  • increase the likelihood of creditors being compensated where they have suffered loss from director misconduct”

David Cameron seems keen to share the insights gained. Here’s an extract from his letter:

“As you know, I believe that beneficial ownership and public access to a central register is key to improving the transparency of company ownership and vital to meeting the urgent challenges of illicit finance and tax evasion. So I am proud that the establishment of a publicly accessible central registry of company beneficial ownership information will now form a key pillar of our G8 legacy.

“We have conducted an in-depth consultation and now look forward to introducing legislation in the UK Parliament as soon as possible.

“I am firmly of the view that making company beneficial ownership information open to the public is by far the best approach. It will give businesses and individuals a clearer picture of who ultimately owns and controls the companies they are dealing with and make it easier for banks, lawyers and others to conduct due diligence on their customers. It will shed light on those who have provided false information, helping to tackle crime where it occurs and deterring people from providing this false information in the first place. And it will help reduce the cost of investigations for tax and law enforcement authorities here and overseas, particularly in developing countries, by making information more easily available to them at the very start of an investigation.

“I am very keen that we should move forward together in raising standards of transparency globally. I therefore wholeheartedly welcome all those Overseas Territories who are joining us in leading this work, either by already having a central registry in place or by consulting on establishing one.

It would seem that the net is tightening on organisations that use off-shore arrangements to avoid paying tax.

Tax Diary May/June 2014

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

 1 May 2014 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 July 2013.

 19 May 2014 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 May 2014. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 May 2014.)

 19 May 2014 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 May 2014.

 19 May 2014 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 May 2014 is payable by today.

 31 May 2014 – Ensure all employees have been given their P60s for the 2013-14 tax year.

 1 June 2014 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 August 2013.

 19 June 2014 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 June 2014. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 June 2014.)

 19 June 2014 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 June 2014.

 19 June 2014 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 June 2014 is payable by today.

VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS)

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Currently, the place of taxation for broadcasting, telecommunications and e-services (BTE) supplies is determined by the location of the supplier of the services. However, from 1 January 2015, the place of taxation for private consumers will be determined by the location of the consumer.

Business to business supplies are unaffected; this change will only concern suppliers of BTE services to private consumers.

To save you having to register for VAT in every EU Member State where you supply BTE services, you may opt to use the VAT Mini One Stop Shop online service (VAT MOSS). This will be available on 1 January 2015, but you will be able to register to use it from October 2014.

For example, if you register for the VAT MOSS online service in the UK, you will be able to account for the VAT due on your business to private consumer sales in any other Member States by submitting a single VAT MOSS return. This will include any related payment to HMRC. HMRC will send an electronic copy of the appropriate part of your VAT MOSS return, and the related VAT payment, to each relevant Member State's tax authority on your behalf. The VAT rate used will be that of each Member State of Consumption at the time the service was supplied.

The changes in the underlying VAT place of supply rules are complex. If you feel you may be affected please contact us at an early date so we can advise you on any alterations, if any, you will need to make to your record keeping systems.

Pension decision period extended

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Last month we touched on the changes that HMRC is introducing to the treatment of defined contributions pensions. HM Treasury has now issued the following update that clarifies the position of people who have recently taken a tax-free lump sum from their defined contribution scheme.

“The government has announced today (Wednesday 9 April) that people who have recently taken a tax-free lump sum from their defined contribution pension will be given 18 months rather than 6 months to decide what they wish to do with the rest of their retirement savings, and will not be put at a disadvantage should they wish to wait to access their pension savings more flexibly.

This follows an announcement on 27 March confirming that the government would take action to ensure that people do not lose their right to a tax-free lump sum if they would rather use the new flexibility this year or next, instead of buying a lifetime annuity.

Under current tax rules, once a tax free lump sum has been taken, individuals have six months before they are required to make a decision regarding their pension, either by buying an annuity or entering into capped drawdown.

Currently, if this is not done, the lump sum is then taxed at 55%. This extra time will allow people to make the right decision for their pension.”

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, said:

“At Budget the government announced the most fundamental change in the way that people access their pension in almost a century, ensuring that over 400,000 people who have worked and saved hard will be able to access their retirement savings more flexibly. However, we recognise that decisions people take regarding their pensions are important and take time. This extension to the decision making period will give people the opportunity to take full advantage of the new flexibilities introduced at the budget.”

HMRC may be extending access to taxpayers’ data

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

The Treasury has confirmed it was proceeding with plans to legislate making aggregated and anonymised data more widely available. In a published document HMRC said:

"The government has decided to proceed with the proposal to remove the legal restrictions that currently limit HMRC's ability to share anonymised individual level data for the purpose of research and analysis and deliver public benefits wider than HMRC's own functions, but they accept that this must be done only where there are sufficient safeguards in place to protect taxpayer confidentiality.

HMRC is committed to protecting its customers' information. We shall be consulting further on implementing the proposals for sharing anonymised data, and would only take forward specific measures where there was a clear public benefit and subject to suitable safeguards."

 A number of politicians and academics have reacted badly to this news.

The data shared could include details about income, tax arrangements and payment history. According to government sources the data would be cleansed of personal contact details of taxpayers.

Cars, business use, and tax considerations

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

There are a number of situations where care should be taken in the way in which claims are made for the business use of a vehicle, usually a car, which is also used for private purposes.

 We have listed below a number of issues that business owners and private car users should be aware.

  1. If you are self-employed and your business assets include a car you should be reducing your claim for capital allowances, loan and HP interest and running costs based on your private use of the vehicle. The percentage added back should be based on a record of your private and total mileage. On enquiry, HMRC are unlikely to accept a private or business use percentage unless it is backed up by a detailed mileage log.
  2. Alternatively, if you are self-employed, and if your business turnover does not exceed the VAT registration threshold (currently £81,000) you can use the fixed mileage rates referred to below. These do not cover loan interest and this can also be claimed subject to restriction for private use based on private and total mileage for the period claimed.
  3. If you are employed and your employer requires that you use your own vehicle for business trips there are two aspects to consider: the rate per mile you are paid (HMRC allows you to receive up to 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles each tax year and 25p per mile thereafter) and the number of miles you claim. The 45p/25p rates are the maximum claim HMRC will allow. Employers are free to pay up to this limit without triggering benefit-in-kind issues. Again journeys should be logged and recorded to evidence the number of miles claimed.
  4. If you have the use of a company car and your employer pays for your private petrol you will be liable to a hefty benefit-in-kind charge. You can eliminate this charge if you reimburse your employer for the cost of private petrol provided. Usually, the cost of any such reimbursement will be lower than the tax charge created by the benefit-in-kind assessment. The reimbursement can be calculated using the ‘advisory fuel rates’ on HMRC’s website and you will need to log your private mileage.
  5. If your company provides you with a company car, and if you use the vehicle for business and private purposes, then you will be taxed on the deemed benefit. The amount of the benefit-in-kind charge will depend on the CO2 emissions of the vehicle you use. The rates of benefit vary between 0% and 35% of the list price of the vehicle when new. If you presently drive a car with a high CO2 rating you may want to consider trading it in for a lower CO2 rated model. 

 You will need to provide evidence should HMRC visit and select mileage claims for audit. Generally speaking you should:

  • Record the postcode at the beginning and end of the journey so an accurate check can be made of mileage claimed. London to Birmingham would be too vague.
  • The business miles claimed should not be rounded.
  • Home to work mileage should be excluded.

New criminal offence for individuals who hide money offshore

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

The government is consulting on plans to introduce a new strict liability criminal offence for individuals who hide their money offshore. Under the plans announced by the Chancellor, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) would no longer need to prove that individuals who have undeclared income offshore intended to evade tax, in order for a criminal conviction to be handed down.

At present, HMRC has to demonstrate that even when someone failed to declare offshore income that the individual intended to evade tax. This change will mean HMRC only has to demonstrate the income was taxable and undeclared meaning it will be easier to secure successful prosecutions of offshore tax evaders.

As well as introducing the new criminal offence, the government will consult on a range of options building on the existing penalties faced by those hiding their money in offshore accounts – currently up to 200 percent of the tax owed – to make sure they act as a clear and effective deterrent.

The consultation will look at whether the existing penalty limit should be raised further, how penalties could be increased if individuals try to move money around in a bid to avoid detection and extending the penalty regime to include inheritance tax. It will also publicise that HMRC is ready and able to financially reward whistleblowers for significant information that helps uncover offshore hidden untaxed assets.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said:

“The government has taken significant steps to clamp down on those hiding their money offshore. HMRC has brought in over £1.5billion over the last two years and, through our leadership at the G8, we have taken significant steps towards greater transparency and tax information sharing.

But there can be no let up and we will continue to pursue offshore tax evaders. Those who continue to believe they can hide wealth offshore should know that there is no safe haven and that serious consequences await them.”

New criminal offence for individuals who hide money offshore

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

The government is consulting on plans to introduce a new strict liability criminal offence for individuals who hide their money offshore. Under the plans announced by the Chancellor, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) would no longer need to prove that individuals who have undeclared income offshore intended to evade tax, in order for a criminal conviction to be handed down.

At present, HMRC has to demonstrate that even when someone failed to declare offshore income that the individual intended to evade tax. This change will mean HMRC only has to demonstrate the income was taxable and undeclared meaning it will be easier to secure successful prosecutions of offshore tax evaders.

As well as introducing the new criminal offence, the government will consult on a range of options building on the existing penalties faced by those hiding their money in offshore accounts – currently up to 200 percent of the tax owed – to make sure they act as a clear and effective deterrent.

The consultation will look at whether the existing penalty limit should be raised further, how penalties could be increased if individuals try to move money around in a bid to avoid detection and extending the penalty regime to include inheritance tax. It will also publicise that HMRC is ready and able to financially reward whistleblowers for significant information that helps uncover offshore hidden untaxed assets.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said:

“The government has taken significant steps to clamp down on those hiding their money offshore. HMRC has brought in over £1.5billion over the last two years and, through our leadership at the G8, we have taken significant steps towards greater transparency and tax information sharing.

But there can be no let up and we will continue to pursue offshore tax evaders. Those who continue to believe they can hide wealth offshore should know that there is no safe haven and that serious consequences await them.”

Unemployment drop…

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Figures recently published by the Office for National Statistics show that unemployment has dropped below 7% for the first time since the recession and employment has seen the biggest annual jump in a generation.

Unemployment fell by 77,000 in the last 3 months, taking the unemployment rate to 6.9% for the first time since 2009.

In the largest annual rise in nearly 25 years, the number of people of people in a job rose by 691,000 – more than double the population of Newcastle – bringing the record number of people in work to 30.39 million.

Wages also rose on the year by 1.7%, against yesterday’s announcement that March’s inflation had dropped to 1.6%, and job vacancies rose again, up 108,000 over the past year bringing the number of vacancies in the UK economy to 611,000. The 1.7% increase in wages includes bonus payments, without bonuses the rate of increase is 1.4%, still below the rate of inflation.

Minister for Employment Esther McVey said:

More young people are in work, more women are in work, wages are going up, and more and more businesses are hiring – and it’s a credit to them that Britain is working again.

But there is still more to do – which is why I’d go even further and call on more employers to work with us to tap into the talent pool the UK offers.

The number of people in work has increased by 1.5 million since 2010 – over a million of these jobs are full-time – and the employment rate is now 72.6%, showing the government’s long-term economic plan to back enterprise and businesses so they can create jobs is working.

The proportion of women in work also hit a new record of 67.6% – the highest since records began.

Long-term unemployment is down 93,000 on the year, which is the largest annual fall since 1998. The number of unemployed young people also fell, by 38,000 over the last 3 months, and has been falling now for the last 7 months.

Government announces extension for pension decision period

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

The government announced recently that people who have recently taken a tax-free lump sum from their defined contribution pension will be given 18 months rather than 6 months to decide what they wish to do with the rest of their retirement savings, and will not be put at a disadvantage should they wish to wait to access their pension savings more flexibly.

This follows an earlier announcement confirming that the government would take action to ensure that people do not lose their right to a tax-free lump sum if they would rather use the new flexibility this year or next, instead of buying a lifetime annuity.

Under current tax rules, once a tax free lump sum has been taken, individuals have six months before they are required to make a decision regarding their pension, either by buying an annuity or entering into capped drawdown.

Currently, if this is not done, the lump sum is then taxed at 55%. This extra time will allow people to make the right decision for their pension.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, said:

“At Budget the government announced the most fundamental change in the way that people access their pension in almost a century, ensuring that over 400,000 people who have worked and saved hard will be able to access their retirement savings more flexibly.

However, we recognise that decisions people take regarding their pensions are important and take time. This extension to the decision making period will give people the opportunity to take full advantage of the new flexibilities introduced at the budget.”