Welcome to February 2011 newsletter

More PAYE Reconciliations

In October and November last year we told you the Taxman was issuing 6 million tax reconciliations (forms P800), for the tax years 2008/09 and 2009/10. This process is still not complete, but the Taxman has started to issue a further 450,000 forms P800 for the tax year 2007/08.

There are likely to be similar problems with inaccurate data for 2007/08 as have emerged for the later tax years, but you may not have the records to check against the Taxman’s figures. If you do not run your own business you are only required to retain your tax records for 2007/08 until 31 January 2010. If you need some help checking a tax calculation for 2007/08, please contact us.

The Taxman has also discovered that the State Pension received by up to 250,000 pensioners in 2008/09 and 2009/10 has not been taxed as it should be. When a person retires they normally receive an occupational pension paid by their former employer, or an annuity paid from their personal pension scheme. In either case the payments will be subject to PAYE and will have some tax deducted by the payer. The pensioner may also receive the State Pension, which does not have tax deducted by the payer (i.e. Department of Pensions), but it is taxable.

The PAYE code applied to the occupational pension or annuity should take into account the amount of State Pension paid, but for up to 250,000 pensioners in 2008/09 and 2009/10 it did not! This meant those pensioners paid too little tax through no fault of their own. The Taxman will not collect the tax due in these circumstances, but only where he can identify the State Pension has been missed altogether.

If you receive a P800 tax reconciliation which shows tax has been underpaid due to an inaccurate figure of State Pension, you have good grounds for asking the Taxman to write-off the tax due under Extra Statutory Concession A19. This concession applies where the Taxman failed to make use of information (such as the State Pension figure provided by the Department of Pensions), to calculate the right amount of tax. We can help you apply for the A19 concession.

Changes to Tax Credits

The system of Child and Working Tax Credits is due to be reformed over the next few years, and it is expected a new benefit called Universal Credit will replace the familiar Tax Credits from April 2014.

Before then there will be some significant cuts in the benefits paid to many tax credit claimants, phased in over the next three years. The following summarises the rates and thresholds that will be cut or frozen in 2011/12 compared to 2010/11.

Child Tax Credit

Family element: no change at £545
Baby element: decrease from £545 to nil

First income threshold: decrease from £16,190 to £15,860
Second income threshold: decrease from £50,000 to £40,000

Working Tax Credit

Childcare element:
Maximum costs for one child: no change at £175 per week
Maximum cost for all children: no change at £300 per week
Percentage of costs covered: decrease from 80% to 70%
First income threshold: no change at £6,420
First withdrawal rate: increase from 39% to 41%
Income disregard: decrease from £25,000 to £10,000

The income disregard provides a buffer for changes in income, so overpayments of tax credits do not arise where income varies within this threshold year on year. The reduction in this threshold is likely to adversely affect families with fluctuating incomes, such as the self-employed. In the future, in order to avoid a claw-back of tax credits, the claimant will need to finalise their self-employed profit figures as close to the tax year end as possible.

How to Challenge a VAT penalty

If you receive a VAT penalty, perhaps because you have submitted your VAT return late, the Taxman should offer an independent review of the penalty.

You should certainly take up this offer of a review, as this may be the first time that a human (rather than a computer) has looked at the circumstances under which the penalty was imposed. You should reply in writing to the Taxman accepting (or in rare cases rejecting), the offer of the review within 30 days of the date of the penalty notice. Don’t delay, as the penalty notice may have been sitting in the Taxman’s post area for weeks before it reaches you.

Where you believe the penalty is not due, because you have a reasonable excuse for submitting your form late (or whatever was the cause of the penalty), set out your reasons in the letter that accompanies the acceptance of the review. When the review department within the Tax Office looks at your case you have a chance of having the VAT penalty overturned. We can help you set out your reasons to the Tax Office.

Clamp-down on Loan Schemes

There are a number of tax saving schemes marketed to freelancers and contractors, but these schemes can be sensitive to changes in the tax law. One such scheme that involves loans made though particular trusts (known as EBTs) has recently been taken off the market by various suppliers.

Under the EBT scheme the freelancer becomes an employee of the company in the scheme but receives only a small wage, which is subject to tax in the normal way. All his other income is provided as a loan through an EBT. The freelancer pays no tax or NI on the loan capital, but he is charged tax on the deemed interest on the loan, (i.e. on 4% of the value of the loan). The scheme assumes the loan will remain outstanding forever, so the capital value of the loan (which increases with each payment) is never taxed.

However, new tax legislation has been proposed that will apply a tax charge to loans provided under such schemes from 9 December 2010. The employer will be responsible for paying the tax due, as if the loan was regular salary. The tax and NI savings are thus eliminated.

This new tax legislation does not prevent shareholder/ directors taking loans directly from their own companies, or employees receiving season ticket loans from their employers. In both these cases the loan is not provided through a third entity such as an EBT, so it is not taxed as regular salary. However, tax charges can apply to both the company and the director when a director borrows from their own company.

February Question & Answer Section

Q. My husband inherited a house in 1986 when it was worth £40,000. He gave me a half share in the property in 2009 when it was worth £450,000. We sold the property in December 2010 for £460,000, but we never lived there. How do I calculate my share of the profit?

A. As you and your husband were living together during the tax year in which he gave you a half share in the property, that gift is deemed to be made at a value that creates no gain and no loss for your husband. Thus in 2009 he disposed of half the property to you at a value of £20,000, the tax cost of which was half the probate value: £20,000. Hence he makes no profit on his gift (£20,000 – £20,000 = nil). The market value of the property in 2009 is irrelevant. You acquire the half share in the property in 2009 at a deemed cost of £20,000.

When the property was sold in 2010 your share of the proceeds was £230,000 (£460,000/2) and the cost of your half share was £20,000. Your share of the profit (taxable gain) is £210,000 (£230,000 – £20,000). Your husband has also made a taxable gain on the sale of the property of £210,000. You can both deduct an annual exemption of £10,100 from your share of the gain, but the balance of the gain will be subject to capital gains tax.

Q. In January 2008 I formed C Ltd with my wife, we were both directors and held 50% of the shares each. In March 2010 we split up, her shares were transferred to me and she also resigned as a director. C Ltd ceased trading in July 2010, and it will be wound up informally. Can I claim entrepreneurs’ relief on the whole of the capital distribution paid to me on the winding up, or will just part of the distribution qualify because I only held 100% of the shares for the last 4 months that C Ltd traded?

A. You qualify for entrepreneurs’ relief on gains arising from all your shares in C Ltd, as you held at least 5% of the ordinary shares for 1 year up to the date the company ceased trading, and you were also a director of C Ltd throughout the last year of trading. Therefore any shares you held in C Ltd qualify for entrepreneurs’ relief, and you will pay capital gains tax at 10% on the capital distribution (after deduction of your annual exemption of £10,100), rather than tax at 28% or 18%.

Q. I’ve heard that tax relief on childcare vouchers is changing from April 2011. How can I maximise the tax relief from this scheme while it lasts?

A. Employers can currently supply their employees with childcare vouchers worth up to £55 per week, which are completely free of tax and NI. However, employees who join the childcare voucher scheme from 6 April 2011 will only be able to receive vouchers worth £28 per week, if they pay tax at the 40% rate. Those employees in the childcare voucher scheme before 6 April 2011 will not have the value of their vouchers limited, and neither will employees taxed at the basic rate of 20%.

To gain maximum advantage from the scheme you need to bring into your childcare voucher scheme as many employees as qualify before 6 April 2011. Unfortunately employees who are not yet parents, or do not have parental responsibility for a child aged under 16, do not qualify to join the childcare voucher scheme. The childcare vouchers can only be used to pay for childcare provided by a registered or approved childcarer.

February Key Tax Dates

2 – Last day for car change notifications in the quarter to 5 January – Use P46 Car

19/22 – PAYE/NIC and CIS deductions due for month to 5/2/2011

28 – Talk to us about year end and pre-budget planning
First 5% penalty surcharge on any 2009/10 outstanding tax due on 31 January 2011 still unpaid