Last chance to claim enhanced capital allowances

There is a special scheme known as the enhanced capital allowances (ECA) scheme for energy-saving technologies. The ECA scheme enables a business to claim accelerated tax relief 100% first year allowances (FYA) on qualifying energy efficient and environmentally beneficial technologies.

The accelerated tax relief is designed to encourage businesses to invest in technologies that are energy saving, reduce water use and improve water quality. The ECA schemes are particularly beneficial for those businesses that have fully used their annual investment allowance. The qualifying Energy Technology List (ETL) and Water Technology List (WTL) is applicable for the current 2019-20 tax year.

However, from 1 April 2020 the availability of FYAs and associated first year tax credits available for products on the ETL and WTL will cease. ECA expenditure incurred on qualifying items up to April 2020 will still be eligible for relief.

For most businesses, the majority of the expenditure they incur on plant and machinery will still be eligible for full relief under the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA). However, this change will affect businesses with eligible spend over the AIA limits after April 2020.

Source: HM Revenue & Customs Wed, 13 Nov 2019 05:00:00 +0100

Waivers of remuneration

A waiver of remuneration happens when a director or an employee gives up their right to salary or other cash remuneration and gets nothing in return. Where the employee gets a non-cash benefit in return, this is called a salary sacrifice.

The treatment of a waiver of remuneration, when a director / employee gets nothing in return, is different to the scenario when this is treated as a salary sacrifice.

The effect of a waiver for Income Tax purposes depends on its timing.

  • If the remuneration waived is given up before it is treated as received for employment income purposes, then the remuneration given up will not be taxable earnings.
  • If the remuneration waived is given up after it is treated as received for employment income purposes, then the employee remains taxable on the remuneration given up.

The view taken by HMRC is supported by case law decisions, including the cases of Parker v Chapman (13TC677) and Reade v Brearley (17TC687) quoted in the Employment Income Manual.

Source: HM Revenue & Customs Wed, 13 Nov 2019 05:00:00 +0100

Furnished holiday let qualifying tests

The furnished holiday let (FHL) rules allow holiday lettings of properties that meet certain conditions to be treated as a trade for certain tax purposes.

In order to qualify as a furnished holiday letting, the following criteria need to be met:

  • The property must be let on a commercial basis with a view to the realisation of profits. Second homes or properties that are only let occasionally or to family and friends do not qualify.
  • The property must be located in the UK, or in a country within the EEA.
  • The property must be furnished. This means that there must be sufficient furniture provided for normal occupation and visitors must be entitled to use the furniture.

In addition, the property must pass the following 3 occupancy conditions.

  1. Pattern of occupation condition. The property must not be used for more than 155 days for longer term occupation (i.e. a continuous period of more than 31 days).
  2. The availability condition. The property must be available for commercial letting at commercial rates for at least 30 weeks (210 days) per year.
  3. The letting condition. The property must be let for at least 15 weeks (105 days) per year and homeowners should be able to demonstrate the income from these lettings. 

Where there are a number of furnished holiday lettings properties in a business, it is possible to average the days of lettings for the purposes of qualifying for the 15 weeks threshold. This is called an averaging election.

There is also a special period of grace election, which allows homeowners to treat a year as a qualifying year for the purposes of the furnished holiday let rules, where they genuinely intended to meet the occupancy threshold but were unable to do so, subject to a number of qualifying conditions.

Source: HM Revenue & Customs Wed, 13 Nov 2019 05:00:00 +0100

Tax when partnership assets are distributed in kind

Partnerships are treated as transparent for Capital Gains Tax (CGT). This means that each partner is responsible for their share of any capital gains arising on the disposal of their interests in the assets of the partnership. Each partner is treated as owning a fractional interest in each of the assets of the partnership.

It is important to be aware of the rules where partnership assets are distributed in kind to one or more partners. This type of distribution can occur, for example, by a distribution when a partnership is dissolved. Any partners to whom the asset was not distributed will be treated as having disposed of their fractional interests in the asset at the time of the distribution. These partners will be taxed on their fractional interest of the gain based on market value.

The partner to whom the asset was distributed will not be treated as having made a disposal at the time of the distribution. In fact, his or her interest in the asset will have increased. Their CGT base cost on a future disposal of the asset will be determined by reference to its market value at the time of the distribution as reduced by the amount of the notional gain arising on their fractional interest at that time.

Source: HM Revenue & Customs Wed, 13 Nov 2019 05:00:00 +0100

HMRC’s tax app

A free HMRC tax app is available to taxpayers.

The APP can be used to see:

  • your tax code and National Insurance number
  • an estimate of the tax you need to pay
  • your income and benefits
  • up to 12 future tax credits payments
  • your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) for Self-Assessment

The APP can also be used to complete a number of tasks that usually require the user to be logged on to a computer.

This includes:

  • renew your tax credits
  • access your Help to Save account
  • using HMRC’s tax calculator to work out your take home pay after Income Tax and National Insurance deductions
  • track forms and letters sent to HMRC
  • get 6-digit access codes to make your HMRC accounts more secure
  • claim a refund if you’ve paid too much tax
  • update your postal address
  • tell HMRC about changes that might affect your tax credits

The APP is available to download on an iPhone or any compatible android style smartphone.

Source: HM Revenue & Customs Wed, 13 Nov 2019 05:00:00 +0100

Basic business structures

It is important to be aware of the main basic business structures available if you are considering starting a new business. There are three commonly used forms of business structure.

  • A sole trader – this is the simplest way of starting and running a business. However, you are personally responsible for your business’s debts. You also have accounting responsibilities.
  • A limited company – the business is quite separate to you as a person, but there are more reporting and management responsibilities. In most cases you will not be personally liable for business debts, but it also means that you cannot draw money from the business whenever you feel like it without generating tax issues.
  • Partnership – There are two main types of partnership, a conventional version where you work with one or more partners in the business. This is the simplest way to run a business for 2 or more people. There is also a limited liability partnership or LLP, This more complex structure provides you and your partners with the protection of limited liability, much like a limited company.

Which business structure is best suited to your new business will depend on a number of factors. For example, cash flow, your longer-term plans for the business, whether or not you need the protection of limited liability, your willingness to comply with legal and administrative obligations of companies and LLPs and the nature of any investment you are seeking to capitalise the business.

Planning before you make a start is essential. Please call if you would like to discuss your options. Getting it wrong can be a painful and costly experience.

Source: HM Revenue & Customs Wed, 13 Nov 2019 05:00:00 +0100

Employing staff for the first time

There is a multitude of rules and regulations that you must be aware of when you start employing staff for the first time. A full examination of the rules is beyond the scope of this article. However, we wanted to list the following points from HMRC’s guidance which sets out some important issues to be aware of when becoming an employer.

  1. Decide how much to pay someone – you must pay your employee at least the National Minimum Wage.
  2. Check if someone has the legal right to work in the UK. You may have to do other employment checks as well.
  3. Check if you need to apply for a DBS check (formerly known as a CRB check) if you work in a field that requires one, e.g. with vulnerable people or security.
  4. Get employment insurance – you need employers’ liability insurance as soon as you become an employer.
  5. Send details of the job (including terms and conditions) in writing to your employee. You need to give your employee a written statement of employment if you’re employing someone for more than 1 month.
  6. Ensure that you register as an employer with HMRC. You can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff.  This process must also be completed by directors of a limited company who employ themselves to work in the company.
  7. Check if you need to automatically enrol your staff into a workplace pension scheme.

When it comes to paying staff, you generally have the choice between using a payroll provider or running your payroll yourself. If you decide to run your own payroll you must choose suitable payroll software. Setting up payroll for the first time can be an onerous and complex task. We can of course help advise you to ensure you meet the necessary requirements in the most efficient way possible.

Source: HM Revenue & Customs Wed, 13 Nov 2019 05:00:00 +0100

Increase in National Living Wage?

An independent review into the evidence on minimum wage rates has been published by the government. The review concludes that increases in the National Living Wage (NLW) have little effect on employment whilst significantly increasing the earnings of low paid workers. This was found to be the case even in countries who had the most ambitious policies for increasing minimum wage rates. The report also concluded that there was room for the UK to explore a more ambitious National Living Wage (NLW) remit resulting in increased wages in the range of 60% to two-thirds of median hourly earnings.

The NLW currently stands at £8.21 per hour, or 58.9% of median hourly earnings. In response to the report, the Chancellor has pledged a more ambitious increase in the NLW such that, on current projections, it is set to reach £10.50 per hour by 2024. This announcement had the caveat that the increase would be subject to favourable economic conditions.

The Chancellor has also committed to expand the living wage to more young people by bringing down the age threshold for the NLW to cover all workers over the age of 21. The government is expected to issue a fuller response to the review in due course. This is also part of the government’s commitment to do more to end low pay.

Whilst many low paid employees will be buoyed by this news, it is important that employers with a significant proportion of staff who are paid the minimum wage rates pay, consider their medium term planning options.

Source: HM Treasury Wed, 13 Nov 2019 05:00:00 +0100

The meaning of ‘goodwill’ for CGT purposes

The meaning of goodwill for CGT purposes is complex. The term 'goodwill' is rarely mentioned in legislation and there is no definition of 'goodwill' for the purposes of Capital Gains legislation.

In fact, most definitions of goodwill are derived from case law. At its simplest you could describe goodwill as the 'extra' value of a business over and above its tangible assets.

In the vast majority of cases when a business is sold a significant proportion of the sale price will be for the intangible assets or goodwill of the company. This is essentially a way of putting a monetary value on the business's reputation and customer relationships. Valuing goodwill is complex and there are many different methods which are used and that vary from industry to industry.

HMRC’s internal manual states that:

'Most businesses can be expected to have goodwill even though its value is likely to fluctuate from time to time. The fact that goodwill may not be reflected in the balance sheet of a business does not mean that it does not exist. In the same way, the writing off of purchased goodwill in the accounts of a business does not mean that its value has decreased or that it has ceased to exist.'

Source: HM Revenue & Customs Wed, 06 Nov 2019 05:00:00 +0100

What is a joint venture?

A joint venture is a commercial enterprise undertaken by two or more parties who otherwise retain their separate identities. The parties to the joint venture usually bring together different resources and areas of expertise to help fulfil a specific project or business activity.

HMRC’s manuals make the point that on close examination many of these associations prove to be partnerships, despite the name applied to them. The manuals state that a joint venture, which is not a partnership, is most likely to be found where parties already carrying on businesses of their own agree to co-operate in a single project, but they do not agree to share net profits or losses. Where they do agree to share net profits or losses, it is likely that a partnership will result even where the parties are already engaged in their own businesses.

For a partnership to exist, there must be a business and that business must be a business that is separate and distinct from any other business that the joint venture parties may conduct on their own account.

Source: HM Revenue & Customs Wed, 06 Nov 2019 05:00:00 +0100