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May 14

Why tax credit payments can change

If you are claiming tax credits make sure that you keep an eye on changes that may affect the amount you receive. Your payments can go up if:

  • your income goes down by more than £2,500
  • your benefits stop or go down
  • you start getting personal independence payment (PIP), disability living allowance (DLA) or other disability benefits for yourself or a child
  • you have a child
  • your childcare costs go up

You should report these changes within 1 month to make sure you get everything you’re entitled to. Payments can’t usually be backdated any further than this.

Your payments can go down or stop if:

  • your income goes up by more than £2,500 - report this straight away to reduce the amount you’re overpaid
  • you haven’t renewed your claim
  • your award notice shows you’ve been overpaid
  • you stop getting PIP, DLA or other disability benefits for yourself or a child
  • your child is now 16, 18 or 19 and you haven’t told the Tax Credit Office they’re in approved education or training
  • your childcare costs go down

you or your partner start claiming Universal Credit

May 14

Location is Everything - Stamp Duty

Now that Wales and Scotland have devolved powers for taxation purposes, residents that live and work in the border areas with England have more planning options.

Wales have their own stamp duty regime from April 2018, the Land Transaction Tax (LTT), and Scotland, from April 2015, the Land & Building Transaction Tax (LBTT). Scotland have devolved powers to set their own rates of Income Tax.

Regarding property purchases, this can create interesting differences for individuals buying in the border areas of Wales/England and Scotland/England. For example:

Consider Llanymynech, a village that straddles the border between Powys (Wales) and Shropshire (England). The amount of stamp duty payable on an identically priced house, say £179,000, would cost the buyer £1,080 in Stamp Duty Land Tax if bought in the English side of the village, but no Land Transaction Tax would be payable for an equivalently priced house on the Welsh side of the village. A definite incentive to buy in this price bracket the Welsh side of the border.

If you live in the Scotland/England border areas and you are contemplating the purchase of an expensive property and your budget is £1m, you may want to consider the following numbers:

  • Buying in Scotland would cost you £78,350 in Land & Building Transaction Tax, and
  • Buying in England would cost you a mere £43,750 in Stamp Duty Land Tax.

Scotland has also set its own Income Tax rates for 2018-19. So, depending on the amount of your income, you may pay variable rates of Income Tax depending on which side of the border you choose to live.

 

Apr 19

Offshore tax evasion

From 1 October 2018, HMRC will be gaining access to information from tax havens that will enable it to identify UK citizens with undisclosed offshore assets, and by inference, undisclosed UK income and taxable gains. Why does this matter?

It matters because HMRC has introduced new legislation called the Requirement to Correct which will dramatically increase the penalties for people who have not declared tax or declared the wrong amount of tax on their offshore income and gains.

If you have declared your taxable income and gains, then you have nothing to worry about, but if you haven’t, and HMRC finds out, you could face an investigation and be required to pay the undeclared tax, plus a penalty of up to double the tax you owe - with a minimum penalty of 5% of tax owed.

You can avoid being charged the higher penalties by making a full disclosure of all undeclared tax liabilities under existing disclosure facilities.

Offshore income sources that should be declared include:

  • interest from overseas bank or building society accounts,
  • dividends and interest from overseas companies,
  • rent from overseas properties, and
  • wages, benefits or royalties earned outside the UK.

If you are concerned, now is the time to come forward. You have until 30 September 2018 to correct matters before the tougher new penalties are introduced.

Tax payers who are uncertain if they are affected are advised to call and seek guidance.

Apr 19

How long should you keep your records?

If you are self-employed, and obliged to submit a self-assessment tax return, you must keep your tax records for at least five years after the 31 January submission deadline of the relevant tax year. For example, if you sent your 2017-18 tax return online by 31 January 2019, you must keep your records until at least the end of January 2024. Records for this purpose includes those relating to personal income etc.

If you send your tax return more than four years after the deadline, you will need to keep your records for fifteen months after you submit your tax return.

If you keep your tax records on a computer, make sure you have sufficient backups of your data to meet these requirements. If you change software during the record retention period, you may need to print relevant reports if you are unable to maintain access to data backups.

If you run your business as a limited company you must keep records for six years from the end of the last company financial year they relate to, or longer if:

  • they show a transaction that covers more than one of the company’s accounting periods,
  • the company has bought something that it expects to last more than six years, like equipment or machinery,
  • you sent your Company Tax Return late, or
  • HMRC has started a compliance check into your Company Tax Return.

If you are not in business, the minimum period is 22 months after the 31 January filing deadline and at least 15 months after filing if later.

Apr 19

Spring Budget statement

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, was keen to promote the positive aspects of the UK’s economic performance when he stood to present his Spring Statement on 13 March.

  • Employment and manufacturing growth rising,
  • Inflation and debt falling.

The speech was also peppered with the usual political gambits to boost his party at the expense of the opposition.

The one practical change that was disclosed was a change to the next business rates revaluation that will now take place a year earlier than planned, in 2021, with further reviews every three years starting 2024.

The Chancellor also revealed new consultations that may eventually shape future legislation. These will include:

  • Reducing single-use plastic waste through the tax system. This will look at ways to reduce the impact of plastic waste in our environment such as disposable plastic cups, cutlery and foam trays. Some of the tax revenue raised will be used to fund research into new ways to encourage a more responsible use of plastic.
  • Making sure multinational digital businesses pay a fair share of tax. This is an ongoing attempt to ensure that the larger digital players pay tax in the UK on sales they make in the UK.
  • Seeking views on the role of cash in the new economy. Will cash become less relevant as digital payment processes become more widely used? This and the prevention of the use of cash to avoid tax and to launder the proceeds of criminal activity will be opened to a wider debate.
  • Supporting people to get the skills they need. Improving skills to benefit growth in the economy by investing in upskilling and retraining, especially by the self-employed.

It will be interesting to see if these initiatives subsequently drive government policy and new legislation.

Apr 11

Stamp Duty (SDLT) increases buy-to-let

From 1 April 2016, individuals who purchase additional residential properties, second homes or buy-to-let properties will pay an additional 3 percentage points above the existing SDLT rates. The higher rates will apply to property purchases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The additional rates are:
  • £0 - £125k: 3%
  • £125k - £250K: 5%
  • £250k - £925k: 8%
  • £925k - £1.5m: 13%
  • Over £1.5m: 15%
This will add a considerable on-cost for landlords and families that venture into multiple property acquisitions. Without this change, a residential property purchased for £250k would have had a SDLT charge of £2,500. Under the new rates this will increase to £10,000. Properties purchased for under £40,000, caravans, mobile homes and houseboats will be excluded from the higher rates. Furthermore, small shares in recently inherited properties will not be considered when determining if the higher rates apply. The budget also clarifies when companies making residential property purchases will be subject to this additional SDLT charge. In the lead up to the budget it had been speculated that significant, incorporated property businesses would be able to avoid the increase. It would appear that this is not to be. In the notes to the budget it is clearly stated: “Companies purchasing residential property will be subject to the higher rates, including the first purchase of a residential property.” Accordingly, setting up a new company for each property acquisition or transferring existing portfolios into corporate structures will not allow landlords to avoid the additional rates of SDLT on post April 2016 acquisitions. Indirectly, these changes will also affect sellers of residential property as the SDLT increases may dissuade marginal buyers from purchasing. Will we see affected house prices falling? In Scotland, property purchases are subject to the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), and from April 2016 a similar 3% will apply to purchases of additional property. The additional rates of LBTT in Scotland are:
  • Less than £145k: 3%
  • £145k to £250k: 5%
  • £250k to £325k: 8%
  • £325k to £750k: 13%
  • Over £750k: 15%
The surcharge applies to the full purchase price above an initial threshold of £40,000.

 

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