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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Plumbers Tax Safe Plan
The Taxman has launched a new tax disclosure opportunity called the Plumbers Tax Safe Plan (PTSP). It is aimed at plumbers and heating engineers who have not fully disclosed all of their income on their tax returns in the past. However, anyone in any trade or profession can use this disclosure opportunity to make a full disclosure of previously undeclared income to the Tax Office.
If you use the PTSP disclosure opportunity to declare unpaid tax, you will be charged a low penalty on the tax due. If you delay and are later found out by the Taxman the penalty could be as high as 100% of the tax due, or 200% if funds have been hidden off-shore. You will also be subject to a full tax investigation and possibly charges under criminal law.
To take advantage of the PTSP you need to fully disclose all your additional tax liabilities by 31 August 2011, and pay all the tax, interest due on late paid tax, and penalties by that date as well. To start the PTSP process you must first notify HMRC by 31 May 2011 that you wish to disclose. We can help you do this and HMRC will respond with a disclosure reference number.
You will need the disclosure reference number to complete the PTSP disclosure form, which can be done online or by using a PDF of the form downloaded from the HMRC website. Most taxpayers will need some help with this disclosure form as the tax, interest and penalties all need to be calculated. It is up to you to decide which penalty rate should apply to your tax errors under the PTSP:
- Innocent mistakes have zero penalty;
- Careless errors attract 10% penalty; and
- Deliberate errors attract 20% penalty.
Think very carefully before admitting to a deliberate error, as this could lead to very strict sanctions in future.
If you think you will not be found out by the HMRC investigators, consider the information HMRC can collect from other sources. To back-up this PTSP scheme HMRC have obtained information concerning plumbers and heating engineers from the Gas Safe Register (formerly CORGI registered). They have cross-referenced this information to advertising directories to work out who was trading as a plumber or heating engineer but were not registered with HMRC.
If you would like some assistance in making a full disclosure of unpaid tax, or know someone who does need help, please contact us as soon as possible.
Changes to NIC Class 2 Payments
As a self-employed person you probably pay your class 2 NIC, (formerly known as 'NI stamp') by monthly direct debit, or when the quarterly bill arrives from the Tax Office.
From April 2011 the Tax Office is changing the way it collects class 2 NICs. The payment will be due in two equal instalments on 31 July and 31 January. The Tax Office will send out separate bills for the class 2 NICs in April and October that demand payment for the amounts due in the following July and January.
If you already have a monthly direct debit set up to pay your class 2 NICs, those direct debits will be suspended from April 2011 and will start again in August 2011. You can opt to pay your class 2 NIC bill when the payments become due in July and January, by telephone banking, Bank Giro, at the Post Office, by direct debit or by cheque.
PAYE Notices are Coming
The Tax Office has started to issue electronic PAYE code notices (forms P9) to employers for 2011/12. If you have provided an email address for the Tax Office to contact you concerning PAYE matters, you should receive an email to inform you that new PAYE codes have been issued for your employees.
To view the PAYE codes you need to log on to the PAYE online service on the HMRC website (or through your Payroll software), and choose the option required (e.g. tax code notices). Change the option 'tax year' from 'current' to 2011/12 to see the notices for 2011/12.
Remember you can be held liable for under-deducted tax if an incorrect PAYE code is applied to your employee's wages, or a PAYE code is applied incorrectly.
If you have a large number of tax code notices to manage you may want to use the HMRC tool: PAYE Desktop Viewer (PDV). This is a free HMRC tool that allows you to search and sort tax codes, notifications and other reminders.
New Pensioners to Receive Tax Bills
If you first received your state pension after 5 April 2010 you may have to pay an unexpected tax bill. This is because of yet another programming error with the Tax Office PAYE computer.
The state retirement pension is taxable but it is paid without tax being deducted. The amount of your state pension should be set against your personal allowance in your PAYE code. However, this adjustment to the PAYE code was not done by the PAYE computer for state retirement pensions that commenced in the tax year 2010/11.
Any pensions paid by your former employer, or as an annuity from a personal pension plan, are taxed under PAYE. Where the state pension has been set-off against your personal allowance in your PAYE code, any balance of your personal allowance is used against your occupational pension leaving the rest of your occupational pension to be taxed at your marginal rate. Where your state pension has not been included in your PAYE code, all of your tax free personal allowance will be set against your occupational pension and not enough tax will be deducted from that income under PAYE.
If you are in this position you will receive a PAYE reconciliation (form P800), at some time in the next 12 months, which will show you how much tax was deducted under PAYE and how much should have been deducted. If the difference is less than £2,000, the tax due will be collected through your PAYE code in the three years to 2013/14. However, where the amount owing is £2,000 or more the Tax Office may demand payment immediately. You should resist this, and ask for the tax due to be collected through your PAYE codes, as the tax underpayment is purely due to a Tax Office mistake.
This is not the first time the PAYE computer has made this error. Up to 250,000 pensioners had an incorrect amount of their state pension included in their PAYE codes for the tax years 2008/09 and 2009/10. In these cases the Taxman decided not to collect the underpaid tax and the pensioners were not informed of the mistake.
April Question and Answer Section
Q. I generally invoice about £5,000 per month, some £60,000 per year, so my business is not yet VAT registered. However, from 1 April a new customer will provide an additional £2,000 of sales per month. When exactly will I have to register for VAT?
A. You currently have a margin of £13,000 between your regular sales and the new VAT registration threshold of £73,000 (from 1 April 2011). Your new income will fill that margin in 7 months. If your regular sales remain constant your turnover for the past 12 months will exceed £73,000 in mid October 2011. You will need to register for VAT by 30 November 2011. As the VAT registration process can take at least a month, you should send in your application for VAT registration (online or in paper form) as soon as you realise your sales have exceeded £73,000. On that form be careful to state the date from which you become liable to register for VAT, even if that is some weeks in advance.
Q. My PAYE tax code is 647L, but the websites I've looked at say it should be 747L, which is correct?
A. The personal allowance for individuals aged under 65 for the tax year 2010/11 (which ends on 5 April 2011) is £6,475. If you have no deductions to set against your personal allowance your tax code for 2010/11 should be 647L. The standard personal allowance for the tax year 2011/12 (from 6 April 2011 to 5 April 2012) will be £7475, so your tax code for 2011/12 will be 747L.
Q. I work through my own UK company that has secured a 6 week contract to be performed in Amsterdam. I plan to stay with my cousin in Amsterdam while working on that contract. As I won't have receipts from a hotel, what can I claim as expenses?
A. HMRC set benchmark scale rates for business trips in most countries. These cover costs for accommodation, meals, and other sundry expenses known as the residual rate. Your company can reimburse your expenses at the benchmark scale rates without receipts. However, if you are staying with a friend or relative and do not pay for accommodation or meals you can only reclaim 10% of the residual rate for the area. Where you pay for some meals (e.g. lunch) you should claim the specific meal rate or the actual expense supported by receipts. On top of these expenses you can also claim personal incidental expenses of £10 for every night that you are working abroad.
April Key Tax Dates
5 - End of 2010/11 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 2011
19/22 - PAYE/NIC, and CIS deductions due for month to 5/4/2011 or quarter 4 of 2010/11 for small employers. Interest will run on any unpaid PAYE/NIC for the tax year 2010/11.
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