Savings allowance

A new savings allowance is available to basic and higher rate taxpayers for 2016/17. The amount available depends on the individual’s circumstances:

  • If any of the individual’s income for the year is additional rate income then the individual’s savings allowance for the year will be nil.
  • If any of the individual’s income for the year is higher-rate income and none of the individual’s income for the year is additional rate income, the individual’s savings allowance for the year is £500.
  • If none of the individual’s income for the year is higher rate income, the individual’s savings allowance for the year is £1,000.

No tax will be payable on savings income until the new savings allowance has been used up.

In a further change, banks and building societies will no longer deduct tax at source from interest at 20%. This means that non-taxpayers will no longer need to fill out an R85 to receive bank and building society interest gross. However, companies will still need to account for 20% at source on payments of interest.

The 0% savings starting rate also remains available on the first £5,000 of taxable savings income for those with the correct split of income. This would apply where non savings income, broadly pay, trade profits and property income are no more than the personal allowance. This means that for some, the effect of the personal allowance (£11,000 for 2016/17), the £5,000 starting rate band and the new savings allowance (£1,000 for basic rate taxpayers for 2016/17) means that it may be possible to receive up to £17,000 savings income tax-free in 2016/17.

In light of the above changes please contact us if you would like to review your tax position on savings income.

Gov.uk Publication

P11D deadline approaching

The forms P11D, and where appropriate P9D, which report details of expenses and benefits provided to employees and directors for the year ended 5 April 2016, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2016. The process of gathering the necessary information can take some time, so it is important that this process is not left to the last minute.

Employees pay tax on benefits provided as shown on the P11D, either via a PAYE coding notice adjustment or through the self assessment system. In addition, the employer has to pay Class 1A National Insurance Contributions at 13.8% on the provision of most benefits. The calculation of this liability is detailed on the P11D(b) form. The deadline for payment of the Class 1A NIC is 19th July (22nd for cleared electronic payment).

HMRC produce an expenses and benefits toolkit. The toolkit consists of a checklist which may be used by advisers or employers to check they are completing the forms correctly.

If you would like any help with the completion of the forms or the calculation of the associated Class 1A NIC please get in touch.

HMRC guidance Toolkit

Have you renewed your tax credits online?

HMRC are urging people to renew their tax credits claim well before the 31 July deadline.

HMRC have made improvements to the online renewal service and recommend claimants renew their claim online once they receive their renewal pack which is issued between April and June. The online service can now accommodate all changes in circumstances (working hours, childcare costs or income) which affect the amount of someone’s entitlement.

Nick Lodge, HMRC’s Director General, Benefits and Credits, said:

‘Our online service means that you can renew at any time of the day or night, and on any device, without having to call us. Online help can also answer most queries you may have and a web chat facility will be available to support people renewing online. We urge everyone who can to go online.

Our customers should check their details and renew early to ensure they get the right money. The sooner people renew their claim, the sooner we can check payments are correct, meaning we avoid paying too little money, or too much, which claimants then have to pay back.

This year, claimants renewing online will be able to access further information, including viewing their next payment, through their own online Personal Tax Account.

Press release

HMRC update phishing scam advice

HMRC have updated their guidance to taxpayers on how to spot phishing scam emails.

Phishing is the fraudulent act of emailing a person in order to obtain their personal/financial information such as passwords and credit card or bank account details. These emails often include a link to a bogus website designed to encourage the unwary to enter their personal details.

The HMRC guidance is designed to help taxpayers to recognise genuine contact from HMRC, and how to tell when an email/text message is phishing/bogus.

HMRC guidance

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NAO report says HMRC’s customer service quality ‘collapsed’

According to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) the quality of service at HMRC ‘collapsed’ over an 18 month period between 2014 and 2015.

The report found that average call waiting times tripled in 2014/15 and in the first seven months of 2015/16. Call waiting times for self assessment tax returns peaked at 47 minutes last autumn, which resulted in HMRC having to bring in 2,400 extra staff for their tax helpline.

Using HMRC’s own criteria, the NAO valued people’s time at an average of £17 an hour, and, as a result, calculated that callers would have wasted a total of £66 million while waiting on the phone, £21 million while actually talking to HMRC and £10 million on the cost of the call itself.

The NAO report blames the poor performance on HMRC’s decision to cut 11,000 staff between 2010 and 2014 in the move to persuade more people to complete their tax returns online. The report claims that HMRC ‘misjudged the cumulative impact of its complex transition and released too many customer service staff before completing service changes’.

In other words, it greatly underestimated how many call centre staff would still be required to help taxpayers with self assessment queries.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said:

‘HMRC’s overall strategy of using digitally enabled information to improve efficiency and deliver service in new ways make sense to the NAO. This does not change the fact that they got their timing badly wrong in 2014, letting significant numbers of call handling staff go before their new approach was working reliably.

This led to a collapse in service quality and forced a rapid expansion of headcount. HMRC needs to move forward carefully and get their strategy back on track while maintaining, and hopefully improving, service standards.’

HMRC said its service levels had improved since the period analysed in the NAO report, and that, over the last six months, call waiting times had averaged six minutes.

Ruth Owen, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said:

‘We recognise that early in 2015 we didn’t provide the standard of service that people are entitled to expect and we apologised at the time. We have since fully recovered and are now offering our best service levels in years.’

NAO press release HMRC news

VAT Flat Rate Scheme guidance updated

HMRC have issued updated guidance on the operation of the VAT Flat Rate Scheme which allows taxpayers to calculate the VAT payable by applying a flat rate percentage to their VAT inclusive turnover, rather than netting off output and input VAT due on sales and purchases.

The revision in the guidance follows a number of unsuccessful visits to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT). HMRC has issued a revised version of VAT notice 733 Flat Rate Scheme to update their guidance in accordance with the FTT decisions.

The previous version of the notice listed a number of trades and professions (at paragraph 4.4 of the guidance) and indicated the relevant sectors and percentages that these types of business should choose. These had a higher percentage than the 12% rate which applies to ‘business services not listed elsewhere’.

The FTT was critical of HMRC in their rigid interpretation of their own guidance. Although this section of the guidance has not been removed, taxpayers are now advised to ‘use ordinary English’ and choose the sector which ‘most closely describes what your business will be doing in the coming year’. The new guidance confirms that HMRC will not change a business’s choice of sector retrospectively as long as the choice was reasonable.

Please contact us if you would like any advice on VAT matters.

VAT Notice 733

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Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 June 2016. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 June 2016 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 10p
1401cc – 2000cc 13p
Over 2000cc 20p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 13p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 10p
Over 2000cc 12p

The guidance states that the rates only apply when you either:

  • reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars
  • require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

If you would like to discuss your car policy, please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR