Monthly Archives: April 2018

millions-of-people-have

Millions of people have not checked their online tax accounts for errors

Millions of people from across the UK could be paying more tax than they need to, it has emerged, after figures from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) showed that more than 15 million individuals have not checked their Personal Tax Accounts.

The figure means that less than half of taxpayers have accessed their accounts, risking errors in the amount they pay.

Personal Tax Accounts were introduced by the Revenue in 2015 and include details of income, state pension records and National Insurance contributions.

They were intended to make taxpayers responsible for ensuring they are on the correct tax code.

Personal Tax Accounts can be accessed at gov.uk/personal-tax-account. Registration requires your name, an email address and a password. This will generate a 12-digit Government Gateway ID which will be needed in future when you log in.

You will also need to enter a phone number to generate a separate access code, which will be sent by text or automated call.

To access your account, you will be asked to enter information from a passport, payslip or P60 as well as to answer some security questions.

Under the income section, you will find information on your tax code, including deductions made by HMRC.

It is worth checking your Personal Tax Account as soon as possible. Figures show that 6.7 million people paid the wrong amount of tax last year because their tax code was wrong.

Link: Is your online tax account fiddled with mistakes?

late-payments-in

Late payments in the spotlight after Carillion collapse

Small businesses in the UK have long been scourged by late payments, but the problem was brought into sharp focus earlier this year following the collapse of construction giant, Carillion, emphasising the importance of careful credit control.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), some suppliers were waiting as long as 120 days to receive payment from Carillion.

FSB National Chairman, Mike Cherry, said: “It is vital that Carillion’s small business suppliers are paid what they are owed, or some of those firms could themselves be put in jeopardy, putting even more jobs at risk besides those of Carillion’s own employees.

“These unpaid bills may well go back several months. I wrote to Carillion back in July last year to express concern after hearing from FSB members that the company was making small suppliers wait 120 days to be paid.

“Sadly these kinds of poor payment practices are all too common among some big corporates. Perhaps if they weren’t it would be easier to spot the warning signs of a huge company in financial trouble.”

With similar practices at other large corporates continuing to create problems for SME suppliers, the Chancellor announced a consultation into the problem as part of his Spring Statement.

FSB research has found that 30 per cent of payments to small businesses are late, with late payments costing the UK economy £2.5 billion annually.

Link: UK Government to consult of late payments to SMEs

quarterly-digital-reporting

Quarterly digital reporting to HM Revenue & Customs opens to self-employed individuals

Since March this year, self-employed individuals have had the option of reporting their income digitally to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as part of a pilot of the Government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) programme.

The Government has long had the ambition of taking most taxes including Income Tax, VAT and Corporation Tax onto a system of quarterly reporting using ‘designated software packages’ under the auspices of MTD.

However, the scheme was delayed repeatedly, with the relevant provisions of the Finance Bill being removed ahead of last year’s snap general election to ensure its safe passage through Parliament before voters headed to the polls.

Initial plans to introduce MTD for VAT on a mandatory basis in April of this year were ultimately pushed back to April 2019 and it is not yet known when MTD will become mandatory for other taxes.

HMRC has now opened up a limited test of MTD for Income Tax to all self-employed individuals and it is expected that the trial will be opened to all unincorporated landlords as well at some point this month.

However, with software providers concentrating their efforts on preparing for the start of MTD for VAT next year, there are currently just two packages supporting MTD for Income Tax, something that is likely to put off many self-employed individuals in the short term.

Link: MTD income tax pilot revealed

hmrc-takes-new-steps

HMRC takes new steps to tackle online VAT fraud

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has been granted new powers to help combat online VAT fraud conducted on digital marketplaces.

Originally outlined by the Chancellor in the 2017 Autumn Budget, the new powers – known by the term ‘joint-and-several liability’ (JSL) for online marketplaces – strengthen existing arrangements to make online marketplaces accountable for VAT fraud committed by online sellers on their platforms.

In its announcement, HMRC said: “Online marketplaces can help those who sell through their platforms to understand the tax rules and therefore avoid fines from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

“And, indeed, they have the responsibility to make sure that fraud does not happen on their watch.

“This sends a clear message that businesses in the UK and overseas, online and on the high street, must all play by the same rules, protecting traditional high street and legitimate online sellers who pay what they owe.”

Under the JSL powers, sellers based either in the UK or overseas who are not paying the correct VAT when completing sales in the UK must be removed by the marketplace once HMRC issues a notice to them.

If marketplaces do not remove the seller then HMRC will pursue the site for any future unpaid tax by those sellers.

The new rules, which came into force in March, also make marketplaces liable for VAT where they knew, or should have known, that an overseas online seller should have been VAT-registered but was not.

In order to help enforce the rules, marketplaces must now also make sure sellers using their platforms display a valid VAT number on the site if they possess one.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, said: “Whilst the honest majority pay what they owe, some businesses that sell goods online to UK shoppers are failing to pay the correct amount of VAT.

“This behaviour unfairly undercuts businesses trading in the UK that play by the rules, abuses the trust of buyers and deprives the government of significant revenue that funds vital public services.

“We are clear that everyone must pay their fair share of tax, and tackling tax evasion in all its forms is a top priority for the government.”

Businesses operating in this sector are also being encouraged to register for the Fulfilment House Due Diligence Scheme, which began on 1 April 2018.

This scheme requires businesses that store imported goods for or on behalf of overseas sellers from outside the EU to keep records and perform checks on the goods they are storing.

It has been estimated that these measures will help to protect around £1 billion of tax revenue by 2023.

Link: VAT: online marketplace seller checks

are-you-one-of

Are you one of the 90 per cent of businesses that are unprepared for GDPR?

With less than 60 days left until the deadline for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), more than 90 per cent of UK small businesses admit they are not yet fully ready.

In fact, a poll conducted by the Federation of Small Business (FSB) found that only eight per cent of SMEs have completed their preparations for the new data protection regulations, while a further 35 per cent said preparations are only at an early stage and 33 per cent said they had not even started.

This latter figure is not surprising as the survey also showed that 18 per cent of small business owners were completely unaware of the GDPR; with 34 per cent admitting they had little understanding of its requirements or complexity.

When breaking down the sectors of those asked, arts and entertainment businesses were the least prepared for the regulations followed by the retail and wholesale sector, construction, manufacturing and the scientific professions.

The most prepared were those in the financial services sector, where 82 per cent of respondents said that they had either started or completed their GDPR preparations.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said: “Many small businesses will be concerned the changes will be too much to handle. It’s clear a large part of the small business community is still unaware of the steps they need to take to comply and may be left playing catch-up.”

UK Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, welcomed the FSB’s campaign. She said: “Research suggests the SME sector is less prepared than others for the changes. We know that many small businesses are keen to get it right, but with so much misinformation out there, it’s difficult for them to know what’s right and what’s not.”

Link: Federation of Small Business GDPR Research

government-extends-childcare

Government extends childcare voucher scheme for additional six months

Working parents across the UK will be delighted to hear that the Government has agreed to a six-month extension of the childcare voucher scheme.

It has been estimated that around 80 per cent of working parents may be better off using Childcare Vouchers rather than the new tax-free childcare scheme.

The voucher scheme allows employees to gain access to funding for childcare through their employer and, in return, employers can save up to £402 per year in National Insurance Contributions for every employee who signs up.

Following a number of debates in Parliament, the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, confirmed that the Government has agreed to a six-month extension of the Childcare Voucher scheme. Therefore the scheme will not be closing in April as previously reported.

The Government’s extension to the popular scheme was announced following criticism, which claimed that the tax-free childcare scheme is poorly understood and its rollout has been botched.

The childcare voucher scheme is available to all working parents in the UK and allows parents to take up to £55 each week from their salary before tax and National Insurance, or £243 a month, to spend on childcare no matter how many children they have, as long as the parent is a basic-rate taxpayer.

However, using the alternative tax-free childcare scheme parents have 20 per cent of their childcare costs met by the Government each year, up to a limit of £2,000 a year per child, or £4,000 if a child is disabled.

This scheme is open to self-employed people, who are excluded from the childcare voucher arrangements.

Subject to eligibility, both parents (if they are together) must be working 16 hours a week and paid at least the National Living Wage of £7.83 an hour, if over 25, or £125.28 a week to receive tax-free childcare.

For families within the basic-rate tax bracket who qualify for either scheme, anyone who spends less than £9,336 in total on childcare would likely be better off with vouchers. The same goes for those who pay the higher tax rate and spend less than £6,252 in total.

However, families with a larger number of children are more likely to benefit from tax-free childcare, as the system works on a per-child basis rather than per parent.

Anyone who is claiming tax credits or universal credit or if either parent earns more than £100,000 will not be eligible for tax-free childcare.

The two schemes cannot be used in conjunction with one another, but either can be used alongside the 15 or 30 hours of free childcare offered to children aged three and four.

Link: www.childcarechoices.gov.uk