Archive for September, 2016

Directors loans – tax implications

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Lending money to your company

If you lend money to your company, the tax effects are as follows:

·         Your company will not pay corporation tax on the money you lend it.

·         If your company pays you interest on the loan, it will need to deduct income tax at 20% from the interest it pays you, and remit the tax deducted on a quarterly basis to HMRC. You will need to declare the interest received on your tax return. Your company can deduct the gross interest paid as a business expense.

Borrowing money from your company

If you borrow money from your company, the tax consequences are more complex. The following notes copied from HMRC’s website cover the basics, but if you are considering this course of action you should seek professional advice before withdrawing funds.

If the loan was more than £10,000

If you’re a shareholder and director and you owe your company more than £10,000 at any time in the year, your company must:

  • treat the loan as a ‘benefit in kind’
  • deduct Class 1 National Insurance

You must report the loan on your personal Self-Assessment tax return. You may have to pay tax on the loan at the official rate of interest.

If you paid interest below the official rate

If you’re a shareholder and director, your company must:

  • record interest you pay below the official rate as company income
  • treat the discounted interest as a ‘benefit in kind’

You must report the interest on your personal Self-Assessment tax return. You may have to pay tax on the difference between the official rate and the rate you paid.

Corporation Tax

If your overdrawn loan account has not been repaid nine months and one day after the end of your accounting period, your company will have an additional corporation tax bill to pay.

When the loan is subsequently cleared, your company can reclaim the additional Corporation Tax it has paid. You can’t reclaim any interest paid on the Corporation Tax.

HMRCs consultations

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

It is not difficult to gauge the focus of our tax collectors. Since the Brexit vote, 23 June 2016, and the change in government leadership, HMRC have published a number of consultation documents, all issued during August 2016. Prior to the Brexit vote, there were a smattering of consultations, but none issued after 23 May 2016.

The focus of the August postings are telling:

·         5 deal with tightening sanctions against tax avoidance and evasion.

·         7 deal with “Making tax digital”

The balance deal with a number of miscellaneous items.

It would seem that the new cabinet, and Philip Hammond in particular, may be considering new powers to tackle the so-called “black economy” and businesses that take advantage of offshore tax shelters to avoid UK taxes.

However HMRC promotes the “Making tax digital” agenda, primarily by arguing that simplifying tax management for taxpayers will ease compliance etc., if small and medium sized businesses are required to file information on a more regular basis, this will provide HMRC with a raft of new data that they will no doubt use to identify tax avoiders.

The recent publicity regarding the use of tax havens by large corporations to shift profits into low tax jurisdictions highlights efforts by the international community to tackle this problem. In particular, the efforts of the OECD to establish country-by-country reporting standards.

Encouraging the estimated 10% of economic activity in the UK that is presently under-declared, and therefore under-taxed, into the light of compliance is another matter. And one that will no doubt be of concern to the Treasury under Philip Hammond’s leadership.

All of those interested in the impact of tax on UK business will be waiting to see how these consultations by HMRC convert into new legislation. Perhaps the autumn statement, due to be released 23 November, will clarify the thrust of tax assessment and collection post Brexit…

Directors responsibilities, legal, signs and stationery

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Legal responsibilities

We are often asked to clarify the responsibilities that directors take on when they agree to become directors of limited companies. A summary of directors’ duties published on the GOV.UK website are reproduced below.

As a director of a limited company, you must:

  • try to make the company a success, using your skills, experience and judgment
  • follow the company’s rules, shown in its articles of association
  • make decisions for the benefit of the company, not yourself
  • tell other shareholders if you might personally benefit from a transaction the company makes
  • keep company records and report changes to Companies House and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • make sure the company’s accounts are a ‘true and fair view’ of the business’ finances
  • file your accounts with Companies House and your Company Tax Return with HMRC
  • pay Corporation Tax
  • register yourself for Self-Assessment and send a personal Self-Assessment tax return every year – unless it’s a non-profit organisation (e.g. a charity) and you didn’t get any pay or benefits, like a company car

You can hire other people to manage some of these things day-to-day (e.g. an accountant) but you’re still legally responsible for your company’s records, accounts and performance.

Another issue that is frequently asked is what information about the company should be displayed on business signs and stationery. From the same source these are:

Signs

You must display a sign showing your company name at your registered company address and wherever your business operates. If you’re running your business from home, you don’t need to display a sign there. For example, if you are running 3 shops and an office that’s not at your home, you must display a sign at each of them.

The sign must be easy to read and to see at any time, not just when you’re open.

Stationery and promotional material

You must include your company’s name on all company documents, publicity and letters.

On business letters, order forms and websites, you must show:

  • the company’s registered number
  • its registered office address
  • where the company is registered (England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland)
  • the fact that it’s a limited company (usually by spelling out the company’s full name including ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’)

If you want to include directors’ names, you must list all of them.

If you want to show your company’s share capital (how much the shares were worth when you issued them), you must say how much is ‘paid up’ (owned by shareholders).

Landlords – George Osbornes legacy

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

George Osborne’s summer budget 2015, and the subsequent Finance (No2) Act 2015, introduced far ranging changes to the income tax relief that can be claimed by individual landlords for finance costs.

George believed that property landlords were adding too much inflationary pressure to the UK’s housing stock. To remedy this, he set out to reduce the income tax relief available to buy-to-let landlords; after all, income tax relief for home owners has been denied for many years. It is intended that this levelling of the playing field will enable home buyers to compete more effectively as the demand from marginal buy-to-let investors is reduced.

This change has teeth, sharp teeth. From 6 April 2017, landlords (subject to income tax on their letting profits) will gradually lose the right to claim a deduction for finance costs: these are primarily, but not limited to, mortgage or loan interest payments. In its place, landlords can claim a tax credit based on 20% of the disallowed costs.

At a stroke this will deny higher rate tax relief on the disallowed costs. The reduction is to be introduced in stages starting April 2017 and be fully implemented by April 2020.

The changes also have a rather insidious side effect. Under certain circumstances, basic rate taxpayers will find themselves promoted to the higher rate tax band, and this with no increase in rental profits. Those most at risk are landlords who have borrowed heavily to grow their property portfolios and have high levels of rental income matched by high levels of finance costs.

This article is a repeat of our past exhortations to landlords: start planning for these changes now.

If your circumstances fit the most unfavourable combination of rental income to finance costs the effects on your income tax liabilities could be dire. This point cannot be overemphasised; for no change in your property business profits you may experience significant increases in tax due.

Planning is key. If you are concerned that you may be affected, please call.

Autumn statement 23 November 2016

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Philip Hammond has announced the date for the Autumn Statement: 23 November 2016.

In the past, Chancellors have used the occasion to set the scene for the following years’ budgets. This year, Philip Hammond will be disclosing the fiscal direction of the new Conservative government. Are we to have evermore “austerity”, cuts in government expenditure, or will the Treasury abandon its commitment to reducing debt and balancing UK’s books?

No doubt the economic effects of Brexit will weigh heavily on the argument: can we afford to suppress economic activity if we are facing the loss of the EU single market?

All eyes will be on Philip Hammond as he rises to speak on the 23rd. A lot hangs on what he says. 

Taxman safeguards billions of tax payments

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison MP, announced last week that HMRC has collected £3 billion up-front from tax avoiders. The move continues the government clampdown on tax avoidance following last month’s announcement that enablers of tax avoidance will face tough new sanctions.

The 60,000 accelerated payment notices (APNs) issued since the new rules were introduced in 2014, have required tax avoidance scheme users to pay up £3 billion of disputed tax upfront while their tax affairs are investigated by HMRC.

Under the scheme, which removes the economic advantage of taking part in tax avoidance, a taxpayer with an outstanding tax bill has 90 days once an APN is received to pay up or make representation to HMRC if they consider the notice incorrect.

Speaking at HMRC’s stakeholder conference today the Financial Secretary said:

I’m delighted to announce that we’ve collected £3 billion upfront since 2014 from people using avoidance schemes as HMRC puts its new powers to use.

The vast majority of avoidance schemes just don’t work. We’re determined to change the economics of tax avoidance by making it harder for the dishonest minority to cheat the system – collecting disputed tax upfront and tough new sanctions for enablers of tax avoidance will mean people will think twice.

HMRC has successfully defended the accelerated payment rules in five out of five Judicial Review challenges. With HMRC winning almost 90% of avoidance litigation cases brought against it, the vast majority of individuals choose to settle their tax bill rather than entering into lengthy and costly litigation.

In the latest High Court ruling brought by tax avoidance scheme users, HMRC’s decision to issue APNs on a scheme that companies had used to try to reduce their tax bill was challenged by arguing that the tax authority hadn’t properly arrived at the amounts included in the APNs. The Court ruled in HMRC’s favour. This decision means that an estimated £28 million in disputed tax will be protected.

This year has seen HMRC win several large scale tax avoidance cases, including a win against Eclipse 35 worth £635 million.

Letting out part of your home

Friday, September 9th, 2016

There are a number of considerations that home owners will need to consider if they are letting out part of their home. The following points cover some of the more obscure situations that can arise:

I’m a tenant. Can I sublet part of the property or take in lodgers?

If you are a secure council tenant, you have the right to take in a lodger, but cannot sublet part without the council’s written permission, you cannot sublet the whole of a secure tenancy. If you are a private tenant, you should check the terms of your tenancy. If there has been nothing agreed to the contrary, the tenant would be free to sublet. However, in practice most private tenancies prohibit subletting: because there is something in the written tenancy agreement to this effect (either absolutely or without the owner’s permission) and/or because assured (including assured shorthold) periodic tenancies have this prohibition implied. But a tenant can of course ask his or her landlord for permission anyway. A tenant who has sublet in defiance of these prohibitions cannot use this as justification for denying his own tenant or licensee her rights, for example by evicting her illegally. Also, these restrictions only apply where the intended arrangement is for the tenant to “part with possession” of some of the property: if, for example, you were informally having a friend to stay, or taking in a lodger who you would be providing services to, you would probably not be giving exclusive use of any of the accommodation. Again, if any of these types of tenancies comes to an end, so generally will the sub-tenancy.

Will my home insurance cover be affected if I let part of my home?

It is very likely that insurance premiums will be increased by allowing someone to share the home, because of factors such as accidental damage. It is extremely advisable to check for both contents cover and building cover; and if existing arrangements will not provide cover if part of the property is let, to arrange to extend the cover.

Do I need planning permission or other consent from the local council?

You would not need planning permission simply for letting rooms, so long as the property remains primarily your home: but there could be a planning consideration if you were to use it mainly to earn money from letting accommodation.

What facilities should be provided?

You are free to decide most of these things with the person you let to, subject to the basic requirements of general housing law: you should provide access to kitchen, washing and toilet facilities (but these can be either the ones that you use or separate).

Does there have to be an agreement in writing?

Not unless the let is a tenancy for a fixed term of more than 3 years. But it is advisable to have one anyway, as this will make it easier to sort out any disagreements which may arise later. Even if there is nothing in writing, both parties must still do whatever they agreed to, except where this conflicts with their overriding legal rights and responsibilities.

City trader conceals assets from his creditors

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

A former City trader has been hit with a £2m-plus confiscation order for concealing assets from his bankruptcy trustee and thus, his creditors.

Tahseen Goni, 41, from Luton, has been ordered to pay a confiscation order of £2,084,897.37 and prosecution costs of £118,352.36, following a hearing at Cambridge Crown Court on 28 July 2016.

Mr Goni was convicted of concealing property from the Official Receiver in August 2015, following an initial investigation by the Insolvency Service and a full criminal investigation and Prosecution by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The Investigation found that in October 2008 Mr Goni, a previously successful ‘spread betting’ trader, incurred substantial losses and was left with a debit balance of £238,021.30 on his personal account with a company providing financial spread betting, Contracts for Difference (CFDs), stockbroking and foreign exchange services. The company obtained judgment in default against Mr Goni and threatened to petition for his bankruptcy.

Mr Goni then began to put in place arrangements to enable him to continue to trade in the lead up to and following his impending bankruptcy. This involved him making use of both trading accounts and bank accounts in the name of a family member.

The investigation found Mr Goni had sufficient assets to pay off his creditors during the period of his bankruptcy. Despite his duty to declare them to his trustee in bankruptcy, he concealed them. This resulted in him being prosecuted and on being convicted, sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment. At the subsequent confiscation hearing the court ordered that the benefit from his concealment of £2,084,897.37 should be confiscated of which £537,057.03 was to be paid to his creditor(s). A further £118,352.36 was ordered to be paid to cover prosecution costs.

Deputy Chief Investigating Officer Ian West from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills said:

“This is a substantial penalty and bankrupts should be in no doubt, that if they conceal assets from their trustee in bankruptcy that the Insolvency Service and the department for Business, will take firm action to have them prosecuted, their benefit confiscated and their creditor(s) recompensed.”

Tax Diary September/October 2016

Monday, September 5th, 2016

1 September 2016 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 30 November 2015.

 

19 September 2016 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 September 2016. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 September 2016)

 

19 September 2016 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 September 2016.

 

19 September 2016 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 September 2016 is payable by today.

 

1 October 2016 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 December 2015.

 

19 October 2016 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 October 2016. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 October 2016.)

 

19 October 2016 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 October 2016.

 

19 October 2016 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 October 2016 is payable by today.

 

31 October 2016 – Latest date you can file a paper version of your 2016 Self Assessment tax return.

New successes for HMRC in the courts

Monday, September 5th, 2016

HMRC seem to be making progress in their attempts to discourage, and recover unpaid tax, from participators in tax avoidance schemes.

In a recent high profile case, HMRC have recovered more than £434m in unpaid taxes from users of the tax avoidance scheme promoted by the Ingenious Film Partnership. Their scheme tried to use artificial losses arising from investments in a range of movies, including the blockbusters Avatar, Life of Pi and Die Hard 4.

Director General of Enforcement & Compliance Jennie Granger said:

“These were some of the biggest films of all time, and the schemes involved people claiming far more in tax than they invested in the first place. We always say that if something is too good to be true then it probably is. And in this case the long legal battle will mean that investors face even bigger bills for interest and legal costs.”

In a second win for HMRC, they were successful in stopping a scheme by Icebreaker who attempted to create artificial losses from investments in limited liability partnerships.

For both schemes users claimed more in tax relief than they had invested.

The Icebreaker decision is HMRC’s second win against the scheme, following a victory in the First Tier Tribunal in 2014. The total tax at stake was £134 million.

This means that HMRC has now secured more than £1.2 billion in disputed tax from wins in avoidance litigation since the beginning of April.

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