Welcome to October's Tax Tips & News, our newsletter designed to bring you tax tips and news to keep you abreast of the latest developments in taxation. If you need further assistance just let us know or you can send us a question for our Question and Answer Section. We are committed to ensuring none of our clients pay a penny more in tax than is necessary and they receive useful tax and business advice and support throughout the year. Please contact us for advice in your own specific circumstances. We're here to help!
New Employee Shareholder Status
The Government thinks that employees who own shares in their employing company feel more involved in that business and hence are happy and loyal employees. So it has introduced a new share scheme from 1st September 2013 which allows you, as an employer, to give your employees tax-free shares in your company, but in return the employees must give up some key employment rights.
How does this work?
The employee must sign a fresh employment contract called an 'employee shareholder' contract, then they must be issued with shares worth at least £2,000 (and up to £50,000) in their employing company. When the individual sells those shares any gain arising on that disposal is completely exempt from capital gains tax. However, any gain up to £10,900 (for 2013/14) would be tax free anyway.
Normally where shares are awarded to an employee their value is treated as taxable income for that employee, unless the shares are issued under an approved share scheme. In this case the first £2,000 worth of shares awarded will be free of income tax and NIC, but not any further shares.
The downside is the employee must surrender all of following rights to take up employee shareholder status and receive the free shares:
- compensation for unfair dismissal, apart from when this is automatically unfair or relates to anti-discrimination law;
- request for time off for studying or training;
- request for flexible working; and
- statutory redundancy pay.
Also the employee must give 16 weeks' notice (instead of 8 weeks) when returning from maternity or adoption leave.
This sounds like an attractive deal for an entrepreneur who doesn't care about his own employment rights. However, any person who holds 25% or more of the company (alone or with associates) can't take up employee shareholder status and enjoy the tax-free shares. So this share scheme can only be used to give shares to employees who don't already have a significant share in the company.
Before implementing this scheme you should take employment law advice, and specialist advice on how to value your company's shares. The employees should also take independent advice before signing away their employment rights, but you, as their employer, can pay for that advice with no tax consequences.
Contractor Loan Schemes
Have you taken part in a contractor loan scheme? This is a tax saving scheme which was widely sold to workers in personal service industries, such as IT contractors.
To use the scheme the individual would sign an employment contract with an offshore employer, but work for customers in the UK. The individual would often receive a large proportion of their fee for that work as a loan from the offshore employer. They were told the loan was not taxable, except for a small benefit in kind charge on the unpaid interest on the loan, but that's not what the Taxman thinks.
The Taxman has publicly announced that he is opening tax enquires into individuals' tax returns for periods during which they have used such loan schemes. In some cases the individual will receive a tax bill for the years 2008/09 to 2010/11, to collect the tax they think they avoided. There will be penalties and interest to pay on any tax found to be avoided.
If you have used a similar loan scheme to reduce UK tax, you should talk to us.
Child Benefits When Turn 16
If you have a child aged 16, check whether you are still receiving all the child benefit and child tax credits you expect to.
Child benefit and child tax credit both stop automatically on 31st August on or after the child's 16th birthday, but where the child is in approved education or training, the parent who claims the child benefit is entitled to extend that claim until the child reaches their 20th birthday. 'Approved education' means at least 12 hours of supervised study per week, and the training can include an apprenticeship.
From September 2013 children who live in England (the rules are different in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland) are required by law to remain in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17. So there are a lot of families out there with 16 years olds who are in approved education, but who have lost their child benefit.
If you are one of those parents, and you want to continue to receive the child benefit, you need to contact the Child Benefit office at HMRC, to inform them that your child is still in approved education or training.
Similar rules apply for child tax credit. In that case the claimant must contact the Tax Credit office.
Although child benefit and child tax credit are both administered by HMRC, you need to inform them twice, as one section of HMRC cannot pass the relevant information to another part!
You may prefer not to receive the child benefit if you or your partner/spouse earns £50,000 or more. In that case all or part of the child benefit paid to your family is clawed-back through the operation of thehigh income child benefit charge (HICBC). HMRC has written to some of the parents who may be due to pay the HICBC, but not all, as they cannot correctly identify every person who may be liable to pay the charge.
If you are the highest earner in a family that has claimed child benefit since 7 January 2013, and your total income is £50,000 or more, you need to declare that child benefit on your tax return form. If you don't normally complete a self-assessment tax return form, you need to ask HMRC to set you up on the self-assessment tax return system. We can help you with that, but don't delay, as if you fail to complete the tax return form on time there will be automatic penalties to pay.
VAT on Sale of Commercial Buildings
When purchasing or selling a commercial property one of the first things to establish is whether VAT will be applied to the price of the property. Land and buildings are generally exempt from VAT, but 'new' commercial property (i.e. less than three years old) will have VAT applied. Otherwise VAT should only be charged on the sale of a commercial property where the seller has previously elected to apply VAT to the property. This election is known as the 'option to tax'.
There are circumstances where the option to tax may be disapplied by the seller, such as where the purchaser is going to use the building solely for charitable purposes or the building will be converted into residential use. If there is any question that VAT should not be applied to the sale, the seller must ask the purchaser for written confirmation of the intended use of the building.
When the purchaser plans to convert the building to residential use it must provide the seller with a VAT certificate (form VAT1614D) to confirm their intentions for the building. In other circumstances a written instruction from the purchaser should be sufficient.
Where VAT is applied to the price of the building, the stamp duty land tax (SDLT) charge will inevitably be higher, as SDLT is charged on the gross consideration paid, including the VAT charged. If you are planning to purchase a commercial property, or sell one, ask us to check the VAT implications before the price is agreed.
October Question and Answer Section
Q. There is an offer in my area to lease an electric car for two years, to help test the electric charging infrastructure installed by the council. Can my company take advantage of the tax breaks if I lease the car?
A. No. If the lease for the car is in your personal name your company cannot claim the 100% capital allowances which are available for electric and low-emissions vehicles. If the car will be used for your business we can help you crunch the numbers to see if it would be worthwhile for your company to purchase or lease the car and claim the allowances. However, from 6 April 2015 there will be a tax charge for your personal use of the electric car.
Q. My daughter is now studying at University, but she worked full-time after leaving school in June and had tax deducted from all of her wages. Can she claim that tax back now, or does she have to wait until the end of the tax year?
A. She can claim the tax back now, and doesn't have to wait until the end of the tax year on 5 April 2014 to receive her tax refund. She needs to complete form P50 and send to HMRC.
However, if she expects to work again in the Christmas holidays, she may want to wait until she has completed that stint of work to reclaim all of the tax deducted in one go.
Q. I'm going to represent my company on an official UK trade mission to Australia, organised by my trade body. It will involve meetings with Australian potential clients over four days in two cities. My wife will accompany me on the trip, but she will not take part in the meetings. We will stay on in Australia to enjoy a short holiday. How should I split the costs between business and personal?
A. Your wife's share of the costs, such as air-fares and hotel bills, are not a business expense, so you need to personally reimburse your company for those costs. Any expenses relating to the holiday part of the trip (e.g. hotel and car hire expenses) should also be borne by you personally, not by your company.
October Key Tax Dates
1 - Due date for payment of Corporation Tax for the year ended 31 December 2012
5 - If a Tax Return has not been received, individuals and trustees must notify HMRC of new sources of income and chargeability in 2012/13
14 - Return and payment of CT61 tax due for quarter to 30 September 2013
19 - Tax and Class 1B NI due on PAYE settlements for 2012/13
19/22 - PAYE/NIC and CIS deductions due for month to 5/10/2013 or quarter 2 of 2013/14 for small employers
31 - Deadline for 2012/13 self assessment paper returns to be filed for HMRC to do the tax calculation. If a paper return is being filed also the deadline for tax underpaid to be collected by adjustment to your 2014/15 PAYE code (for underpayments of up to £3000 only)