TaxMatters with James Milne – February 2024

TaxMatters with James Milne – February 2024

Welcome to our latest monthly tax newswire. We hope you enjoy reading this newsletter and find it useful. Contact us if you wish to discuss any issues further.

YEAR END TAX PLANNING

It’s not too late to undertake some end of year tax planning. If you have some spare cash, an obvious tax planning point would be to maximise your ISA allowances for the 2023/24 tax year (currently £20,000 each). You might also want to consider increasing your pension savings before 5 April 2024.

USE A LIFETIME ISA (LISA) TO SAVE FOR YOUR FIRST HOME


Those aged between 18 and 40 can set up a Lifetime ISA (Individual Savings Account) to buy their first home or save for later life. You can put in up to £4,000 each year until you’re 50. The government will add a 25% bonus to your savings, up to a maximum of £1,000 per year.  Note that the Lifetime ISA limit of £4,000 counts towards your £20,000 annual ISA limit.

You can withdraw money from your ISA if you’re:

  • buying your first home,
  • aged 60 or over, or
  • terminally ill, with less than 12 months to live.

However, you’ll pay a withdrawal charge of 25% if you withdraw cash or assets for any other reason (an unauthorised withdrawal). This recovers the government bonus you received on your original savings.

PENSION PLANNING


Under the current rules, the government adds to your pension contributions at the 20% basic rate. For instance, if you save £4,000 in a personal pension, the government tops this up to £5,000. If you are a higher rate taxpayer there is a further £1,000 tax relief when your tax liability is calculated, reducing the net cost to £3,000.

Additional pension contributions can be even more effective if your income is between £100,000 and £125,140 as the gross pension contribution reduces net income for the purposes of the reduction in the personal allowance. Note that for every £2 of income in excess of £100,000, the £12,570 personal allowance is reduced by £1, with a reduction to nil where net income is £125,140 or more. This is effectively a 60% tax saving.

CAPITAL GAINS TAX PLANNING

You might wish to consider bringing forward capital gains to before 6 April 2024 where you haven’t used your £6,000 CGT annual exemption. This exempt amount reduces to just £3,000 for gains made in 2024/25.

CAPITAL EXPENDITURE PLANNING


Unless the business year end is 31 March or 5 April, the end of the tax year is not a significant date as far as capital allowances are concerned. In order for new equipment to attract capital allowances, the expenditure must be incurred on or before the end of the accounting period. Limited companies buying new (not second hand) equipment are entitled to fully expense the cost of most acquisitions against business profits. There is no financial limit on expenditure qualifying for this “full expensing” relief.

Unincorporated businesses are entitled to 100% write off for the first £1 million spent on new and used equipment in a 12-month period. This “annual investment allowance” (AIA) is also available to limited companies buying secondhand equipment. The AIA does not apply to motor cars but there is a special 100% tax relief if you buy a new zero-emissions motor car.

Where equipment is bought under a hire purchase contract, the capital allowances outlined above are available on the full cost of the asset provided it has been brought into use by the end of the accounting period. This is despite the fact that the payments may be spread over a number of months.

GET READY FOR MORE R&D CHANGES

On top of the major changes to research and development (R&D) tax relief that took effect from 1 April 2023, there are yet more changes that take effect from 1 April 2024.

The main change from 1 April 2024 is that most companies carrying out qualifying R&D will be entitled to a 20% expenditure credit. The 20% is calculated on the amount of qualifying expenditure. Qualifying expenditure is extended to include subsidised expenditure from 1 April 2024, although R&D carried out overseas will no longer qualify unless the work cannot be undertaken in the UK.

“R&D intensive” companies that make trading losses will continue to be entitled to a tax refund instead of the expenditure credit. The definition of “R&D intensive” is reduced from 40% to 30% from 1 April 2024, which means a company that spends at least 30% of total expenditure on qualifying R&D.

R&D tax relief continues to be a complex area and we can work with you to help you prepare a valid claim.

ADVISORY FUEL RATE FOR COMPANY CARS


The table below sets out the HMRC advisory fuel rates from 1 March 2024. These are the suggested reimbursement rates for employees’ private mileage using their company car.

Where the employer does not pay for any fuel for the company car, these are the amounts that can be reimbursed in respect of business journeys without the amount being taxable on the employee.

 

Engine Size Petrol Diesel LPG
1400cc or less

14p

(14p)

10p

(10p)

1600cc or less

13p

(13p)

1401cc to 2000cc

16p

(16p)

12p

(12p)

1601 to 2000cc

15p

(15p)

Over 2000cc

26p

(26p)

20p

(20p)

18p

(18p)

 

Where there has been a change the previous rate is shown in brackets.

You can also continue to use the previous rates for up to 1 month from the date the new rates apply.

Note that for hybrid cars you must use the petrol or diesel rate.

For fully electric vehicles the rate is 9p per mile.

DON’T BE LATE IN PAYING YOUR PERSONAL TAX BILL

2022/23 income tax, CGT, class 2 and 4 NIC liabilities should have been paid by 31 January 2024 unless you have agreed a payment plan with HMRC. Note that if the balance is still unpaid at the end of February 2024, a 5% surcharge penalty is added in addition to the normal interest charge unless a payment plan has been agreed.

DIARY OF MAIN TAX EVENTS

FEBRUARY/MARCH 2024

Date What’s Due
1 February Corporation tax for year to 30/4/2023 unless quarterly instalments apply.
19 February PAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/2/24 (due 22/2 if you pay electronically).
29 February 5% penalty imposed on 2022/23 income tax, CGT, class 2 and 4 NIC still unpaid at this date unless a payment plan has been agreed with HMRC
1 March Corporation tax payment for year to 31/5/23 (unless quarterly instalments apply)
19 March PAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/03/24 (due 22/03 if you pay electronically)

 

TaxMatters with James Milne – January 2024

TaxMatters with James Milne – January 2024

Happy New Year and welcome to the January edition of TaxMatters with James Milne. We hope that you find this informative. Please contact us if you wish to discuss any matters in more detail.

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS TO SAVE TAX

At this time of year, we think about New Year’s resolutions. It is also a good time to start planning your tax affairs before the end of the tax year on 5th April.

An obvious tax planning point would be to maximise your ISA allowances for the 2023/24 tax year (currently £20,000 each). You might also want to consider increasing your pension savings before 5 April 2024, as the unused annual pension allowance from 2020/21 lapses after three years.

YEAR END INHERITANCE TAX PLANNING

Many were expecting an announcement from the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement about cuts to, or the possible abolition of, inheritance tax (IHT). Maybe he is saving that for his Spring Budget, but in the meantime, it may be worth utilising the £3,000 gifts annual exemption for 2023/24 and, if available, the unused amount from 2022/23.

Note that £3,000 is the overall exemption for the tax year, not the amount for each gift. More generous amounts can be given away by taking advantage of the exemption for regular gifts out of income.

REGULAR GIFTS OUT OF YOUR INCOME CAN SAVE IHT

One tax planning opportunity that many thought the chancellor might restrict was the exemption from inheritance tax for regular gifts out of an individual’s surplus income. Inheritance tax is designed to tax transfers of capital, so if the donor can demonstrate that the gifts are from surplus income then the transfers are not taken into consideration for IHT. The exemption applies where there is regularity to the payments, such as a standing order to pay school fees or pension contributions on behalf of children or grandchildren. HMRC will also require proof that the payments are paid out of post-tax income and do not limit the donor’s normal lifestyle. Detailed records are required.

PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS ON BEHALF OF OTHERS

Normally an individual’s payments into a pension scheme are limited to their relevant earnings in a given tax year. This restriction does not apply where the contributions are less than £3,600 gross, allowing parents and grandparents to make payments on behalf of children and grandchildren with limited income. Payments of £2,880 a year would attract a 25% uplift from the government which could grow to a substantial amount by the time the child reaches retirement age (currently age 55 but increasing to 57 in 2028). The parent or grandparent may be able to justify that the payments qualify for the regular gifts out of income exemption from inheritance tax mentioned above if a standing order was set up for no more than £240 a month.

UPDATE PAYROLL SOFTWARE FOR THE JANUARY NIC CUT

The chancellor’s announcement of a 2% cut in national insurance contributions (NICs) for employees applies to payments on or after 6 January 2024. That doesn’t allow much time to update payroll software, particularly with the Christmas holidays in between. Note that for employees other than directors, NIC is not calculated on a cumulative basis so, where over-deductions are made, the error is not automatically corrected in later months.

ADVISORY FUEL RATE FOR COMPANY CARS

The table below sets out the HMRC advisory fuel rates from 1 December 2023. These are the suggested reimbursement rates for employees’ private mileage using their company car.

Where the employer does not pay for any fuel for the company car, these are the amounts that can be reimbursed in respect of business journeys without the amount being taxable on the employee.

Engine Size Petrol Diesel LPG
1400cc or less

14p

(13p)

10p
1600cc or less

13p

(12p)

1401cc to 2000cc 16p 12p
1601 to 2000cc

15p

(14p)

Over 2000cc

26p

(25p)

20p

(19p)

18p

(19p)

 

Where there has been a change the previous rate is shown in brackets.

You can also continue to use the previous rates for up to 1 month from the date the new rates apply.
Note that for hybrid cars you must use the petrol or diesel rate. For fully electric vehicles the rate is 9p (10p) per mile.

DIARY OF MAIN TAX EVENTS

JANUARY/ FEBRUARY 2024

Date What’s Due
1 January Corporation tax for year to 31/3/2023 unless quarterly instalments apply.
19 January PAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/1/24 (due 22/1 if you pay electronically).
31 January Deadline for filing 2022/23 self-assessment tax return online, paying your outstanding tax for 2022/23 and first payment on account of 2023/24 tax.
1 February Corporation tax for year to 30/4/2023 unless quarterly instalments apply.
19 February PAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/2/24 (due 22/2 if you pay electronically).

 

TaxMatters with James Milne – December

TaxMatters with James Milne – December

Welcome to the December edition of TaxMatters. We hope that you find this informative. Please contact us if you wish to discuss any matters in more detail.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE UP TO DATE PROFIT FORECASTS FOR TAX

In order that we can help predict your taxable profits and tax liabilities we need up to date profit figures and projections. One of the advantages of keeping your business accounts in a computerised form, ideally on the Cloud, is that we can review your latest financial position and help you prepare more reliable profit forecasts to estimate your tax bills.

Unincorporated Businesses
Reliable profit forecasts are particularly important at the moment, with the changes to the taxation of sole traders and partnerships from 2024/25, and the complicated transitional rules that apply in 2023/24. The transitional rules may result in higher tax bills if your business does not have a 31 March or 5 April year end. If we have reliable profit forecasts for your business we can determine whether or not changing your business year end would be beneficial, and also determine the timing of that change.

Limited Companies
From 1 April 2023 the rate of corporation tax that a company pays depends on the level of the company’s profits and the number of “associated companies”. “Associated companies” are those under common control, which may include companies controlled by close relatives under certain circumstances.

Assuming a company has no “associated companies” then the 19% corporation tax rate continues to apply where profits are no more than £50,000 and the 25% corporation tax rate applies where profits exceed £250,000 a year. The £50,000 and £250,000 limits are divided by the number of “associated companies”.

In between the limits there is marginal relief to achieve the transition between 19% and 25%. The marginal tax rate between £50,000 and £250,000 is 26.5% and thus tax planning can be particularly effective.

For example buying new equipment or paying additional pension contributions on behalf of the directors would potentially save 26.5% corporation tax. Timing of expenditure is critical here, as the expenses would need to be incurred before the year end. We would recommend a review at least 2 months before the company’s year-end, with reliable profit forecasts available to allow time for pre-year-end planning.

WHEN ARE COMPANIES ASSOCIATED?


“Associated companies” for corporation tax purposes are those under common control. The most obvious situation is where one of the companies has control of the other, or both of the companies are under the control of the same person or persons. In determining control, the rights and powers of an individual’s associates, broadly close relatives, may be taken into consideration, but only where there is substantial commercial interdependence between the two companies. This could be financial, economic, or organisational interdependence and will depend on the facts of each case. An example would be where a brother and sister each have their own limited companies and there is a large loan or significant trading between them, such that one is dependent upon the other.

This is not a straightforward matter and we can of course advise you on whether or not it impacts your company.

LARGER COMPANIES ARE REQUIRED TO PAY TAX QUARTERLY


Although not a new measure, where a company has profits in excess of £1,500,000 a year it is required to estimate and pay corporation tax quarterly during the year, rather than 9 months after the end of its accounting period. What has changed since 1 April 2023 is that the £1,500,000 threshold is divided by the number of “associated companies” in the accounting period, as defined above. Thus, if a company has two associated companies, if any of them has profits in excess of £500,000, quarterly instalments of corporation tax will be required. If that company has a 31 March 2024 year end, it needs to pay its estimated corporation tax liability according to the following schedule:

  • 25% of its estimated liability by 14 October 2023
  • 50% of its estimated liability by 14 January 2024
  • 75% of its estimated liability by 14 April 2024
  • 100% of its corporation tax liability by 14 July 2024.

As mentioned above, accurate profit forecasts are required in order to compute the quarterly payments.

Note that this is a significant acceleration of tax payments compared to the normal 9-month payment interval. Consequently, there is a one year “grace period” that applies for the first year the threshold is breached. You might also wish to consider minimizing the number of associated companies to avoid this cash flow disadvantage.

ARE YOU DUE A NATIONAL INSURANCE REFUND ON CAR ALLOWANCES?


Recent tribunal decisions in favour of employing companies and against HMRC has caused many organisations in similar circumstance to make protective claims for the recovery of National Insurance Contributions (NIC) in respect of car allowances paid to employees using their own cars or vans for business journeys.

Many employers have a policy of only reimbursing the fuel costs associated with those business journeys (for example at 15p per mile) rather than paying the maximum HMRC Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (‘AMAP’) rates (currently 45p/25p per mile) on a tax and NIC free basis. The employee can then make a claim for the difference between the 45p allowance and the amount received from the employer as a deduction from their employment income.

The recent Upper Tribunal decisions (which HMRC have confirmed they will not appeal) have held that the amounts paid by the employer in respect of business mileage are exempt from NIC and consequently employers should consider making a claim for repayment from HMRC.

Please contact us if you think you may be entitled to make such a repayment claim.

DIARY OF MAIN TAX EVENTS – DECEMBER 2023 / JANUARY 2024

 

Date What’s Due
1/12/23 Corporation tax payment for the year to 28/2/23 (unless quarterly instalments apply)
19/12/23 Employer PAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for the month to 5/12/23 (due 22/12/23 if you pay electronically)
30/12/23 Submission of 2023/24 self-assessment return (if the taxpayer wants HMRC to collect the tax owed through their wages or pension)
1/1/24 Corporation tax payment for the year to 31/3/23 (unless quarterly instalments apply)
19/1/24 Employer PAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for the month to 5/1/24 (due 22/1/24 if you pay electronically)
TaxMatters with James Milne

TaxMatters with James Milne

Welcome to the Monthly Tax Newsletter for November 2023. We hope that you find this informative. Please contact us if you wish to discuss any matters in more detail.

SALARY OR DIVIDEND BEST IN 2023/24?

In recent years many accountants have advised their director/shareholder clients that the most tax efficient method of extracting profit from their family company was to pay themselves a low salary, at or around the £12,570 personal allowance, with the balance in dividends.

This strategy may need to be revisited with the introduction of higher corporation tax rates from 1 April 2023 as company profits in excess of £50,000 are taxed at an effective 26.5% rate. Where company profits exceed £50,000 it may be more tax efficient to increase the salary or put a bonus through the company accounts.

Other things to consider would be for the company to pay more into your pension or provide you with an electric company car, both of which can be tax efficient.

There are lots of factors to take into account, including the level of profit and how much you need to draw out of the company to live on. We would suggest that we set up a meeting with you a couple of months before the company year end so that we can give you the best advice.

YEAR END TAX PLANNING IDEAS FOR YOUR BUSINESS


As mentioned above it is always a good idea to set up a planning meeting with us a couple of months before your business year end so that we can advise you on the best actions to take to reduce your taxable profits. In addition to considering paying yourself a bonus from your company you might consider:

  • Bringing forward expenditure on equipment to take advantage of the 100% annual investment allowance (AIA) – up to £1 million a year on new and used equipment;
  • For limited companies, most new equipment qualifies for unlimited “full expensing” relief;
  • Where equipment is bought on hire purchase, make sure that it is brought into use by the year end to get tax relief on the full purchase price; and
  • Making additional pension contributions, taking advantage of the new £60,000 annual input allowance.

CHARGING ELECTRIC CARS AT HOME


HMRC has recently clarified their view of the tax treatment of the reimbursement of electricity costs where employees charge their electric company cars at home. HMRC now accepts that reimbursing part of a domestic energy bill, which is used to charge a company car or van, is exempt from income tax. Their previous view was that such reimbursements were taxable.

Note that the exemption will only apply provided it can be demonstrated that the electricity was used to charge the company car or van, which may be difficult to determine in practice. Employers will need to make sure that any reimbursement made towards the cost of electricity relates solely to the charging of their company car or van.

It should be remembered that where the employee uses workplace charging facilities there is no taxable benefit.

It should be noted that HMRC has still not revised their view on reclaiming VAT in respect of business miles driven by an employee who has changed their car at home. Regardless of whether the vehicle is a company car or the employee’s own, the employer cannot reclaim the VAT because the supply of electricity is made to the employee, not the employer.

RECLAIMING INPUT VAT ON THE SALE OF SHARES


The sale of shares is an exempt supply for VAT purposes, which means that input VAT on professional fees in connection with the transaction cannot be claimed. However, a recent tax tribunal decision has determined that, under certain circumstances, the input VAT may be claimed. The case concerned the sale of a subsidiary company in order to provide additional funds to complete the building of a new hotel within a hotel group. The taxpayer successfully argued that the costs had been incurred as part of raising funds for the group’s downstream activities generating taxable supplies.

HMRC may be appealing the decision, but in the meantime, companies in a similar position may seek to make protective claims to recover the input tax on professional fees.

DIARY OF MAIN TAX EVENTS – NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2023

 

Date What’s Due
1 November Corporation tax for year to 31/01/2023, unless quarterly instalments apply
19 November PAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/11/23 (due 22/11 if you pay electronically)
22 November Autumn Statement
1 December Corporation tax for year to 28/02/2023, unless quarterly instalments apply
19 December PAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/12/23 (due 22/12 if you pay electronically)
30 December Deadline for filing 2022/23 tax return online in order to request that HMRC collect outstanding tax via the 2024/25 PAYE code