To April's Tax Tips & News, our newsletter designed to bring you tax tips and news to keep you one step ahead of the taxman.
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Company Car and Van Changes
The taxable benefit charged for the use of company cars and fuel for those vehicles is increasing from 6 April 2010. Say you drive a petrol-powered car with CO2 emissions of 160g/km. In the tax year to 5 April 2010 you are taxed at 20% of the vehicle's list price. From 6 April 2010 the taxable benefit for driving the same car will be 21% of its list price.
The tax position for those who have free fuel with their vehicles is even worse. Until 5 April 2010, the value of the fuel-benefit for all company cars is based on a fixed value of £16,900 multiplied by the percentage used to calculate the car benefit. So there is the combined effect of the increased percentage and the increased multiplier. From 6 April 2010 this value increases to £18,000. This means the taxable benefit of having free fuel for a petrol car with emissions of 160g/km will increase from £3,380 to £3,780.
Company van drivers are also hit by the rise in the fuel benefit. Currently where free fuel is provided in a company van, and the van is used for some non-business journeys, the driver is taxed on £500 per year for the use of that fuel. From 6 April 2010 the van driver will be taxed on £550 per year for use of the fuel.
You can reduce these high tax charges by switching to a low emissions car. Where the CO2 emissions are 120g/km or less the car benefit for petrol cars is just 10% of the list price, and half that amount where CO2 emissions are 75g/km or less. We could only find one car with emissions in that bottom category: Toyota plug-in Prius, which has an official CO2 emissions rating of only 67g/km.
If your vehicle has zero emissions such as an electric car or van, there is no tax charge at all from 6 April 2010. What's more, when your business buys a new electric vehicle it can write-off the full cost for tax purposes in the year of acquisition.
VAT Payments and New Penalties
From 1 April 2010 all VAT payments made by cheque will be treated as being paid on the day the cleared funds reach the Taxman's account. Previously the VAT was treated as being paid on the working day the cheque reached the VAT Office. A cheque will normally take at least three working days to clear. Where VAT payment is received late more than once in 12 months you may have to pay a default surcharge (a penalty).
The Taxman will exercise his discretion not to charge a default surcharge for VAT periods that commenced before 1 April 2010, where the paper VAT form and the cheque payment are both received on time. VAT cheque payments for periods that begin on and after 1 April 2010 will have to clear the Taxman's bank account by the due date, or surcharges may apply.
Where the VAT return is submitted online the payment for any VAT due must also be made online. However this can cause problems where the VAT due for the quarter exceeds £10,000.
Many banks impose a daily limit of £10,000 for electronic payments for both business and personal accounts. Larger electronic payments can be made by CHAPs but this may involve bank charges of up to £35 per transaction. You need to check with your bank in advance about the best way to pay a large VAT bill electronically.
If your business is not already VAT registered but your sales are edging up towards the VAT compulsory registration threshold, (£70,000 from 1 April 2010), you need to be particularly careful about when you register. From 1 April 2010 there is a new set of penalties for failing to register for VAT on time. The penalty is based on the underpaid VAT. The minimum penalty will be 10% of the VAT due, and the maximum penalty 100%. The highest penalty will be charged where there has been deliberate concealment of the need to register for VAT.
New Rateable Values from 1 April
Business rates are a big fixed cost for many small businesses and it is not easy to move to smaller premises if your sales decline. What's more, the rateable value of commercial properties is revised every five years, normally upwards. The latest revaluation takes effect from 1 April 2010, but it is based on the market value of the property at 1 April 2008, when the value of all commercial property was at an all time high!
If you think you property has been valued too highly for business rates, you can appeal against the rateable value of the property. This can be done online through the website of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA): http://www.2010.voa.gov.uk/rli. However, before you decide to launch into an appeal you should check what your neighbouring businesses are paying, and whether they have already submitted an appeal against their premises value. You can also do that online on the VOA website.
You need to have good grounds for your appeal. For example, perhaps something in the property's immediate surroundings has altered and had a detrimental effect on trade. Perhaps there are a high number of empty neighbouring buildings, or there has been a change in the size or use of the premises. The VOA also encourages you to talk to your local valuation office before submitting a formal appeal against your business rates.
You can also apply for small business rates relief where the rateable value of the property is less than £18,000 (for properties in England). This normally needs to be done through your local rating authority. There are different small business rates relief schemes for properties in Wales and Scotland, which will have various caps for the relief available.
The Budget also announced a temporary increase in business rates relief for properties in England with rateable values of up to £6,000. Businesses occupying such properties can claim full exemption from business rates for 12 months from 1 October 2010. In addition businesses occupying English properties with rateable values of up to £12,000 will be able to claim a tapered reduction in their business rates from that date.
New Employment Regulations
There are a host of new employment related regulations coming into force on 6 April 2010. This is a brief summary of those regulations that are likely to affect you or your business.
- Fit notes - these replace sick notes issued by GPs and will state what the worker can do, rather than what he or she is prevented from doing.
- Pension date - the date from which the individual can draw the state retirement pension will not necessarily fall exactly on a woman's 60th birthday. For example, a women who reaches age 60 between 6 April 2010 and 5 May 2010 will have a state pension date of 6 May 2010. This date also affects the payment of the employee's NI contributions.
- NI contribution years - individuals who reach state retirement age only have to accumulate 30 full years of NI contributions or credits to gain a full state pension.
- A single year of NI contributions will count towards the state pension. Until now a person had to accrue at least one quarter of their working life (about 11 years for a man, 10 for a woman) to be entitled to any state retirement pension. Each year of NI contributions will be worth roughly £3.20 of weekly pension at current rates. It will be essential to accurately record the NI number for every employee, so that each individual can collect their pension entitlement when they retire.
- Home responsibility protection credits (HRP) will be given on a weekly basis. This will allow the HRP credit to be combined with actual NI contributions to make up a full year of NI credits. HRP credits are given where a person stays at home to look after a child and claims child benefit.
April Question and Answer Corner
Q. I was trying to sell my business before the new tax year, to avoid a potentially large tax bill from an increase in the rate of capital gains tax. I haven't been able to, so what's the position for the 2010/11 tax year.
A. The rate of capital gains tax (CGT) has been kept at 18% for 2010/11, so you have not lost out by delaying the sale into the 2010/11 tax year. In fact you may benefit from entrepreneurs' relief that applies to gains on the disposal of businesses, and reduces the effective rate of CGT down to 10%. The cap on this relief has been doubled to £2 million for gains made on and after 6 April 2010.
Q. I work as a consultant through my own company based in Surrey. I have just secured a contract in Manchester, which is expected to last eight months. Due to the distances involved I will need to stay in Manchester for at least four nights a week. If I rent a small flat, rather than stay in a Bed & Breakfast place, can my company reimburse all the expenses associated with the flat, such as cleaning costs and cooking utensils?
A. Your workplace in Manchester will qualify as a temporary workplace as the contract is expected to last for less than 24 months. Thus all reasonable travelling and accommodation expenses connected with that assignment can be reimbursed to you by your company. You should provide receipts for all the expenses, unless the amount is covered by a dispensation agreement your company has with the Tax Office, such as for mileage claims.
Q. My company has recently taken on an industrial unit that needs extensive fitting-out before it can be used by the business. How can I ensure that all the fittings I use will qualify for the maximum amount of capital allowances?
A. The cost of fittings that qualify as plant or integral features can be set against your company's Annual Investment Allowance (AIA), which will give 100% capital allowance in the year of acquisition. The AIA cap has been increased to £100,000 per year for expenditure incurred on and after 1 April 2010. Plant is broadly stuff that is not fixed permanently to the building, such as shelves or display units. Integral features are fixed to the building and fall into these five categories:
- Cold water systems (not hot)
- Electrical systems (including lighting)
- Space or water heating systems, including a powered system of ventilation, air cooling or air purification
- Lifts, escalators or moving walkways
- External solar shading
If the fitment does not qualify as plant or integral features it can qualify for 100% enhanced capital allowance (ECA) if it has energy or water saving qualities, and it has been included on the approved ECA list at www.eca.gov.uk.
April Key Tax Dates
5 End of 2009/10 tax year. Last day to use up your annual exemptions for capital gains tax, inheritance tax and ISA's.
14 Return and payment of CT61 tax due for quarter to 31 March 2010.
19/22 PAYE/NIC and CIS deductions due for month to 5/4/2010 or quarter 4 of 2009/10 for small employers. Interest will run on any unpaid PAYE/NIC for the tax year 2009/10
The information contained in this newsletter is of a general nature and no assurance of accuracy can be given. It is not a substitute for specific professional advice in your own circumstances. No action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a consequence of the material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.
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