Author Archives: Richard Verge - Tax Director

About Richard Verge - Tax Director

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Richard is a personal tax expert and is able to advise high net worth individuals on either immediate tax concerns or a long term plan to ensure that their affairs are structured to take advantage of the tax reliefs available.

His experience from working with HMRC ensures that he is more than adept at understanding the view from the other side, to the benefit of his clients. Richard advises entrepreneurs, owners of family businesses and partners in professional practices and provides advice on planning from both a personal and worklife perspective.

Budget Summary Autumn 2017

Download the Goodman Jones Budget summary

We were expecting a budget for housing and Philip Hammond’s announcement of 300,000 new homes a year has been backed up with a package of measures including the promise of billions more on infrastructure spending, planning reforms and help for first time buyers. The increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) nil rate threshold for first time buyers was a particular highlight and will mean no SDLT on the first £300,000 for properties valued at up to £500,000.

Other tax measures included adjustments to the SDLT higher rates legislation to remove certain anomalies which were unfairly bringing a lot of people within the higher rate; the removal of indexation allowance for capital gains within companies and capital gains tax on non-resident investors will be extended to include commercial property.

The Chancellor restated the government’s commitment to a low-tax economy and unusually for any budget there were no tax increasing measures announced. We were also given a welcome promise of less frequent tax changes and more consultations in advance of any changes.

We generally expect a list of new anti-avoidance measures and this budget didn’t disappoint. Further measures were introduced to tackle perceived abuse of the tax system in connection with the National Insurance employers allowance, disguised remuneration, profit fragmentation and double taxation relief to name a few. Consultations were promised on extending the “off-payroll working rules” introduced for the public sector last year to the private sector; the taxation of trusts and the use of rent-a-room relief.

Overall whilst there were not a lot of headline grabbing measures this time around, there were many less obvious changes announced in the budget publications and I think it will be sometime yet before we understand fully the impact of this budget.

For a full review of the Budget, download our pdf.

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Political battle lines are increasingly being drawn up along the age divide and Philip Hammond is under pressure to introduce policies to attract the young voters in his first Autumn budget. I was interested to see a definition of young voter this weekend describing anyone between the ages of 18 to 40! This might sound alarming for anyone within a few years of either side of the boundary, but it divides the population approximately into a young half and an old half. So what changes might we see in the budget that attract the younger side of the dividing line without upsetting the traditional older Tory supporter?

Here are 5 questions to think about as we approach Budget Day:

1. Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) – Should residential transactions be delayed in anticipation of a reduction in SDLT?
2. Income Tax – How might a reduction in income tax for younger workers affect you or your staff?
3. National Insurance (NIC) – How would an increase in NIC for the self-employed impact on your business?
4. Pensions – Should you consider taking a lump sum from your pension before the budget?
5. Inheritance Tax (IHT) – Should you take action in anticipation of a change to IHT business property relief?

Stamp Duty Land Tax

Most commentators now think the current high levels of SDLT are causing a blockage in the housing market. Those already with a home and perhaps thinking of downsizing are being discouraged to do so due to the high SDLT cost of moving, and those seeking to get on the housing ladder or upsizing are also struggling. A decrease in SDLT across the board would help both sides, but would it be affordable? A policy aimed only at the young, say an exemption for first time buyers might help, but it would be likely to push up prices unless the housing supply increased. Perhaps a “downsizer” exemption would help free up supply? We have previously seen the short term effect of any expected change in SDLT rates which has either accelerated transactions or completely suspended them depending on whether rates are about to go up or down. Any change, which would almost certainly be a reduction is therefore likely to be implemented with immediate effect.

Income tax

Not so long ago we had higher personal tax allowances for the older generation, so it is not too much of a stretch to imagine a higher allowance for younger people. Introducing a lower rate of tax for the young would be very difficult to implement, but a higher personal allowance would be comparatively simple to introduce.

National Insurance

The last attempt to increase NIC by a modest 2% for the self-employed helped the Conservatives lose their Commons majority so it would be understandable if there was a reluctance to revisit this area. However this is no longer a manifesto promise and a rebalancing of the NIC rates between the employed and self-employed is long overdue. There is scope for change here. A possible increase in the age at which NIC liability starts being payable could be paid for by an increase in the self-employed rate.

Some change to discourage the increasingly widespread use of service companies as an NIC avoidance mechanism is likely. A first step towards this was the introduction last year of the “off-payroll working rules” for the public sector. A similar rule for the private sector could be on the cards, but a more radical move might be to charge NIC on family company profits at the point of earning rather than at the point of extraction (a move back towards close company apportionment for those in the older camp and with long memories). Either way this could be a big money earner for the exchequer.

Pensions

Pensions have been hit hard in recent times but the sheer size of the accumulated pension funds makes them a tempting pot for any chancellor to dip their hands in to. The one aspect of pension relief that no one has dared touch to date is the 25% tax free lump sum. This allowance has no particular justification and is a historical quirk with its origins lost in the passage of time. Outright abolition would be political suicide for any party but a brave chancellor might get away with a tinkering at the edges say a percentage or two reduction if sold on the rebalancing of the age divide ticket.

Inheritance tax

The likelihood of IHT being reduced in a young people’s budget is remote. An increase is far more likely and there is already a lot of speculation around the high cost to the exchequer of business property relief (BPR). The principle behind BPR is sound, allowing businesses to be kept intact without having to be sold off to pay IHT bills. However, this does encourage people to hold onto their businesses and business assets until death, rather than passing them on to the next generation early. In the past BPR has been at lower rates than the currently very generous 100%, so it would be easy to reduce that rate. There would however be knock on effects, for example an industry of AIM listed funds has built up around the availability of BPR for IHT planning, so a reduction would be likely to have a serious impact on the value of those funds and the availability of funding for those underlying companies.

What was in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget?

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The incorporation of buy-to-let businesses remains a hot topic given the many changes to the tax treatment of residential lettings. I have previously discussed the potential tax charges arising on the incorporation of an existing buy-to-let business, but am revisiting them here as this is one of the questions I get asked most frequently at the moment.

There are many landlords now sitting on mature investment portfolios and are asking themselves the questions of whether they should be moving that into a corporate structure. The tax issues to consider are Capital Gains Tax, Stamp Duty Land Tax, Inheritance Tax and in some instances VAT.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

Transferring a property to a company can create a tax point for Capital Gains Tax purposes. The disposal will be deemed to take place at market value. In some instances it may be possible to roll over the capital gains, however to do so you need to be able to take advantage of business roll over relief.

HMRC do not generally accept that passively owned property is a “business” for these purposes, but it appears that size does matter, as was borne out in the upper tribunal case of Ramsey v HMRC. In this case Mrs Ramsey owned a block of 15 flats. The case turned on the amount of activity that Mrs Ramsey spent in managing the “business”. This turned out to be around 20 hours per week plus she had no other occupation during that period. The tribunal ruled in her favour confirming that she was running a business.

I take from this that it is not the quantity of properties that any landlord owns that determines whether a business is being pursued but rather the active participation they take in running the business. As always with such matters the details will be important.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) and incorporating via a partnership

As with all property transactions, SDLT has become a major factor. A corporate buying property would be subject to the higher rate of SDLT on residential property.

The reason why this may work is that special rules apply to the transfer of properties into and out of partnerships. The incorporation of a partnership owning property would be such a transfer. Broadly, provided the ownership of the corporate matches the ownership of the partnership prior to incorporation, and provided all qualified conditions apply the value of the transaction for SDLT purposes would be nil.

The problem being encountered by landlords attempting this route is that establishing an effective partnership is not necessarily so straight forward. If partnerships are to exist there must be a business being carried on. This brings us back to HMRC’s view that the passive ownership of property does not constitute the business. Arguably using a Limited Liability Partnership may be a more robust route for incorporation, but this creates an additional degree of complexity. Also it should not be overlooked that there is general anti-avoidance legislation for SDLT purposes which may be brought into play if it is considered that the introduction of a partnership as a route to incorporation is purely an SDLT avoidance mechanism.

Inheritance Tax (IHT)

Quite often overlooked in the context of transferring property to a corporate structure is that in certain circumstances this can constitute a transfer of value for Inheritance Tax purposes. As such there is a risk that an immediate lifetime chargeable transfer may take place which would give rise to a 20% Inheritance Tax charge.

VAT

VAT will only be an issue for incorporation of a buy to let business where there is commercial property involved on which an option to tax had been made. It is likely that this could be dealt with by way of a transfer of a going concern; however this is something that would need consideration before an incorporation would take place.

Summary

In my previous article I said that the incorporation of a buy-to-let business was most likely to suit a business which had low borrowing requirements, low turnover of properties and can afford to roll up profits to take advantage of low corporate tax rates. My view is that this remains the case. The route to incorporation is alive with complexity and potential tax traps for the unwary, but in the right circumstances incorporation could be the best route. As always, each person’s circumstances will be different and you should take full advice before taking any action.

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The annual maximum an individual can invest into their pension is currently set at £40,000. For the 2016/17 tax year onwards this maximum is tapered for ‘high-income individuals‘ (those with income in excess of £150,000). The taper works by reducing the annual allowance by £1 for every £2 of “Adjusted income” in excess of £150,000, with a minimum tapered annual allowance of £10,000.

Guidance

HMRC have published guidance on determining whether the reduction applies and calculating the amount of the tapered allowance, available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pension-schemes-work-out-your-tapered-annual-allowance

Adjusted income and Threshold income

The taper provisions introduce two new income definitions: “Adjusted income” and “Threshold income”.
Adjusted income is an individual’s income after all reliefs except pension contributions, plus any employer pension contributions. This means that for employees it effectively measures the whole remuneration package including pension contributions made by the employer. This ensures that employees are placed on a level playing field with the self-employed who have to fund their own pension contributions.
Threshold income is income after all pension contributions have been deducted. Where “Threshold income” is £110,000 or less, the annual allowance will not be tapered irrespective of the level of pension contributions. Note, adjustments need to be made to the calculation of Threshold income where “relevant salary sacrifice arrangements” have been made.
Example
Scott has adjusted income of £175,000 and threshold income of £130,000 for 2016–17. As he is a high income individual, the annual allowance of £40,000 is reduced by the following amount:
(£175,000 – £150,000) / 2 = £12,500.
The annual allowance will therefore be £27,500 (£40,000 – £12,500).
As the annual allowance cannot be reduced below £10,000, if adjusted income exceeds £210,000 for 2016–17 the annual allowance will be £10,000.
Note: anti-avoidance provisions apply where arrangements are put in place to artificially reduce the Adjusted income so as to reduce the amount of taper to be applied.

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Download the Goodman Jones 2017 Spring Statement PDF

Philip Hammond’s first and last Spring Budget may be remembered mostly for what it didn’t say rather than what it did. It could be that he is leaving the real work for the new Autumn Budget, but a cautious approach with Brexit looming was always likely to be on the cards.

The property sector had been hoping for some softening of the Stamp Duty Land Tax regime which used to be a relatively minor inconvenience, but has now become a major factor in any land transaction and is currently helping to stagnate the property market. We will now have to wait until Autumn to see if this issue is addressed.

There had been a lot of pre-Budget talk about levelling the playing field between different types of employment structure. The modest increase in self-employed National Insurance Contribution has generated some press headlines this morning, but has completely failed to address the real inequality which is the 13.8% Employers National Insurance Contribution.

Decreasing the dividend nil band from £5,000 to £2,000 is another playing field leveller aimed at small business incorporations. This will increase the tax cost for many individuals taking dividends from their personal companies by £81.25 per month.

Other headlines include a relaxation of Research and Development incentive rules, a review of the taxation of employment related benefits and the promise of 35 new measures aimed at tackling tax avoidance.

For more information on the above download our 2017 Spring Statement Summary PDF.

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Download the Goodman Jones 2016 Autumn Statement Review

Philip Hammond’s first (and last) Autumn Statement is likely to be remembered mostly for the act of moving the Budget from its traditional spring slot to Autumn from 2017. Most of his comments were reaffirmations of matters previously announced in the last budget and existing consultations.

Overall the message was one of stepping back from some of the more austere measures of the Osborne era with the focus being on helping those “Just about Managing”.

Unfortunately, help for the JAMs means bread and dripping for those doing a little bit better. They will find themselves paying more through another increase in insurance premium tax, a higher threshold for the 12% national insurance rate and increased costs for employment benefits.

The additional £2.3 billion infrastructure fund and £1.4 billion earmarked for affordable homes will be welcomed by the housebuilding sector.

Anti-avoidance measures which have become a staple part of the Autumn Statement include steps to curb the use of personal companies by employees in the public sector, abuse of the VAT flat rate scheme by small business and a further restriction to the ability to recycle pension contributions.

For more information on these and all of the announcements made in the Autumn Statement please see our summary PDF.

If you have any queries regarding any matters raised in the Autumn Statement then please don’t hesitate to speak to your usual contact or email us.

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I have some sympathy for the BBC employees who find themselves in front of the news labelled as tax dodgers because they have been paid through their own service companies rather than as direct employees of the BBC. Whilst it may seem unfair that people who are well paid pay less tax than the rest of us, is it really those individuals who are at fault?

Blank pay slip

The BBC is by no means alone in this as it has now become the norm across many sectors for employers to encourage their staff to set us service companies to receive their wages. In some sectors this has become a requirement if you want to get work.

So why has this become a problem and what is wrong with using a service company to receive your income?

Service companies

Actually there is nothing illegal in using a service company to receive income. By doing so you can end up with a much smaller tax bill for doing the same work and receiving the same amount of earnings than you will by receiving your wages directly as an employee. This is a fact which HMRC have been wrestling with for very many years and have seemed strangely unable to properly address.

IR35

One of the main tools in HMRCs armoury to try to cut out what is perceived to be unfair use of service companies is what has become known as IR35. IR35 actually refers to an Inland Revenue notice which first introduced the new rules 1999. Under these rules it is basically up to the owner of the service company to determine whether or not his contract with his employer is one which is really an employment and if it is to then pay over to HMRC full income tax and national insurance (both employees and employers). This is much more expensive than taking money from the company as dividends and essentially wipes out any tax advantage of using a service company. Not surprisingly most individuals who have set up service companies (either under their own steam or because they have been encouraged to do so by their employer) would be reluctant to voluntarily pay over the higher amount of tax unless there was strong encouragement from HMRC to do so.

The requirement to operate the IR35 rules falls within the self-assessment system. This means that large numbers of one-person companies are left to negotiate difficult legislation and to self-assess their tax liability rather than simply receive their earnings after deduction of PAYE tax and national insurance by their employer. This self-assessment system starts to break down when either the individuals do not fully understand their obligations or in some cases it becomes apparent that other people are not paying their fair share and not getting caught and punished. Your fair minded citizen will quickly get angry and stop complying if they see other people “getting away with it”.

This is what appears to have happened in recent years with regard to the many tax avoidance schemes which have been exposed in the newspapers recently. The BBC consultancy companies, whilst not falling within the same tax avoidance definition, are being are being tarred with the same brush due to the apparent unfairness in the levels of tax being paid.

HMRC have tried to tackle the use of service companies and traditionally have targeted those in the IT sector whilst leaving other industries alone. This targeted approach has led to it becoming the norm in some sectors for employers to insist on the use of service companies in circumstances were it not for the tax advantages it would be wholly inappropriate to do so.

What should be done?

The main problem with IR35 is that it has proved perilously difficult for HMRC to effectively use these rules to punish unfair behaviour. To my mind the reason for this is that the IR35 rules are set against the wrong person. By insisting on employees setting up services companies, employers can simply abdicate responsibility for operating the PAYE system to their workers. The risks of failing to operate PAYE properly then lies entirely with the service company so there is little downside to the main employer. HMRC then have the difficult task of investigating many individuals rather than the single main employer.

If HMRC are genuine in their desire to crack down on the inherent unfairness in the system they should make the employer once again responsible for all penalties under IR35. Faced with having to accept the risk of HMRC penalties, employers would likely stop insisting on employees setting up service companies and the problem would probably disappear overnight. The playing field would once again be levelled.

A possible alternative would be to make it a little more difficult to set up a company in the first place. The UK is unusual in not requiring a minimum capital funding for a corporate structure. Whilst this ease of incorporation is generally considered a very good thing for business in the UK, a relatively modest capital funding requirement would be likely to put off the majority of individuals who are considering setting up companies purely to avoid PAYE tax charges.

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Making Tax Digital

HMRC have recently issued 6 consultation documents outlining their proposals for a fundamental change to way they want individuals and business to submit their tax return information. If implemented as planned this will be the biggest change to the tax system since the introduction of Self-Assessment 20 years ago.

Quarterly basis

The proposals are to move to a more electronic based system where as much information as possible is automatically gathered directly from third parties. The taxpayer will then only be required to update information which cannot be obtained automatically from elsewhere.   However, these updates will have to be made on a quarterly basis instead of the current system of providing information after the year end on the annual tax return.

By embracing the technology now available, HMRC hope to improve the tax system by:

  • reducing the costs of assessing and collecting tax
  • cutting out duplication of work for the taxpayer by avoiding the need to provide information already held by HMRC
  • reducing the time delay between the receipt of income and the payment of tax

HMRC are eager to point out the benefits of the new system to the taxpayer, but if the proposals are introduced as planned the reality will be that many people will pay tax much earlier than they do now and their compliance burden will increase.

What do you think?

We will be responding to HMRC’s consultation and making representations on our clients behalf and invite you to let us have your views.

See our summaries of each of the consultations:

Please email us on MTD@goodmanjones.com with your views.

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MTD

The HMRC Tax Administration consultation document is consulting on four areas:

  1. Compliance
  2. Late submission penalties
  3. Late payment sanctions
  4. Interest

This consultation does not include other aspects of tax administration. Changes to inaccuracy penalties will be covered in subsequent consultations. There is no proposal to introduce a power to enable HMRC to enquire in-year into regular updates, nor increase the overall number of compliance interventions as a result of these updates.

Compliance

There will be a new obligation for certain customers to keep records digitally on software that links to and updates HMRC. Existing record keeping legislation will need to be modified to reflect those proposals.

HMRC want a new power to enquire into the regular updates and check any of the information that is included in a customer’s End of Year declaration and is used to calculate their tax. The customer’s digital records may form part of any enquiry.

HMRC propose a power to make determinations of End of Year declaration as with Tax Returns.

They propose to replicate the power for HMRC to correct obvious errors made in the End of Year declaration.

In MTD business customers will need to provide regular updates. This consultation proposes a new way of addressing failures to provide regular updates and carry out the End of Year declaration.

Penalties

“Instead of applying penalties to each failure, we propose a much more gradual model whereby each failure would attract penalty points. Only once the points reach a set level would a penalty be charged.”

Once a penalty has been incurred, the customer would incur further penalties if they failed to meet their subsequent submission obligations. The points total would remain unchanged until such time as a sustained period of compliance caused it to be re-set to zero.

The points total would be re-set to zero after the customer has achieved 24 months of compliance with their submission obligations.

See Diagram 1 for an example of how points based penalty regime would work.

Diagram 1

Appendix 1

HMRC propose 12 months as an appropriate length of time to allow customers to become familiar with the new obligations before the new penalty regime comes into effect.

Many customers are subject to a number of separate obligations. For example, an individual in business and having employees would have to provide quarterly updates and finalise those updates after the end of the tax year for their own Income Tax purposes and regularly submit PAYE information about their employees via Real Time Information (RTI). In practical terms, all submissions due in the same calendar month would have to be treated as being due “at the same time”.

The government would explore options for taking account of the customer’s compliance history across all of the taxes they are involved with in developing a new late submission penalty.

See Diagram 2 for an example of how this would work.

Diagram 2

appendix 2

The basic points-based penalty would be unsuitable for occasional obligations (such as the filing of Inheritance Tax returns). In these cases it is unlikely that points incurred could act as a warning system to encourage a return to compliance.

An alternative to points based system is the Escalator Model – see Diagram 3

Diagram 3

Appendix 3

The basic model is designed to be simple but it lacks an incentive for those who have missed making a particular submission to remedy that failure. One way to address this would be for customers to incur further points to reflect the fact that a submission was still outstanding. This would focus the customer’s attention on remedying what has already gone wrong as well as encouraging good compliance in the future.

The escalator model might be unsuitable for monthly obligations because points could accumulate very quickly and the customer might have insufficient time to heed and act upon the warning.

Late payment sanctions

There are two proposals which are:

A. The use of penalty interest to be charged on customers who fail to pay in full
within fourteen days of the due date, or who before that date have failed to enter into arrangements to pay over an agreed period to which they then adhere.

B. A revision of existing legislation to deliver an aligned penalty regime for income tax, VAT and corporation tax per Models 1 & 2

Model 1 – Introduce a model based on the Income Tax late payment penalty regime for each of the three taxes coming into scope of MTD.

Model 2 – Introduce a tapered system where the late penalty percentage rate increases the longer the debt remains outstanding. This would encourage customers to fulfil their payment obligations sooner, before a higher penalty rate is reached.

Late payment interest

HMRC propose to continue with the current rules for Income Tax and Class 4 NICs when MTD starts in April 2018.

Summary of consultation questions from HMRC

  1. Do you agree that compliance legislation should be amended to replicate current enquiry powers into the Self Assessment return to the End of Year declaration?
  2. Do you agree that current HMRC and customer safeguards should also be maintained?
  3. Are there any other options for preserving HMRC’s current enquiry powers in MTD?
  4. Do you agree with the proposed approach to replicate HMRC’s compliance powers for determinations, corrections, information powers and discovery assessments?
  5. Do you have any other comments on how compliance powers need to change to transition to MTD?
  6. Do you agree that 12 months is an appropriate length of time to allow customers to become familiar with the new obligations before the new penalty regime comes into effect?
  7. Do you agree that the period to wipe the slate clean should be 24 months? If not, what other period would be appropriate?
  8. We invite views on the design principles outlined for the points-based penalty. For example, do you consider there are any further elements to build in to this basic model?
  9. At what stage for each of these different submission frequencies should points generate a penalty?
  10.  We would welcome comments on whether existing penalties are sufficient to support compliance with occasional filing obligations. If not, what more is needed?
  11. Do you agree that, in principle, a single points total that covers all of the customer’s submission obligations is the right approach?
  12. Do you agree that the points based proposal outlined in is the right way to operate a single points total? If not, what alternative would you suggest that ensures the design of the penalty is kept simple?
  13. We welcome views on whether the escalator model would be a more effective way of aligning with HMRC’s customer focused fairness based principles?
  14. Do you agree that a fixed amount penalty is appropriate?
  15. Should the amount of fixed penalty reflect the size of a business?
  16. Do you agree that points should only become appealable when they have caused a penalty to be charged?
  17. Do you agree that 14 days is an appropriate length of time to allow customers to either pay in full, or make arrangements to do so before penalty interest is charged?
  18. Do you think that charging penalty interest is the right sanction for noncompliance with payment obligations?
  19. Are there other commercial models that might be appropriate for us to consider?
  20. We invite views on the design principles outlined for penalty interest. For example, do you consider there are any further elements to build into this proposal?
  21. Does model 1 or model 2 best meet the government’s objective of providing a fair and proportionate response to late payment of tax?
  22. Do you agree that the timing of late payment penalties should change to reflect the frequency of payment due dates?
  23. We invite views on the design principles outlined for late payment sanctions. For example, do you consider there are any further elements to build into these proposals?
  24. Which proposal best meets the design principles?
  25. Should the current interest rules for Income Tax and Class 4 National Insurance contributions continue to apply in MTD?
  26. Do you have any initial comments about aligning interest rules across taxes?
  27. Please provide details of how the proposed administrative changes will affect you, including details of any one-off and ongoing costs or savings.
  28. Do these administration proposals have a significant or disproportionate impact on groups with legally protected characteristics, as recognised in the Equalities Act 2010?

What do you think?

We will be responding to HMRC’s consultation and making representations on our clients behalf so please let us have your views by emailing MTD@goodmanjones.com.

Other areas covered by the consultation

This is only one part of the consultation.  See summaries of the other areas here.

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MTD

Digital Tax Accounts

HMRC want to make better use of Digital Tax Accounts to include information from third parties. This will result in outstanding tax being collected ‘in-year’.

The current position

HMRC currently obtains third party information from banks, employers and government departments. However HMRC still ask customers to collate this information and report it on a Tax Return. This means that the customer will only find out about under/over payments after the end of the tax year.

HMRC believes that PAYE does not accurately reflect the current job market & lifestyle of customers. Often there are second jobs, casual work and fluctuating incomes. The aim therefore is to identify and collect more tax throughout the tax year.

Changes in the next 2 years

Oct 16 – Starting with customers whose interest is above the Personal Savings Allowance, this will be included in PAYE codes based on an estimate from previous years (already used for higher/additional rate).

Apr 17 – PAYE information will be used during the tax year to calculate whether the tax is correct and notify customers through their Digital Tax Account if not. Under/over payments will then be collected throughout the year by HMRC automatically instructing employers’ payrolls, in order to prevent these accruing at the year end. More admin burden will fall on employers’ with the increase in P6 notices but HMRC hope that these will be automatically updated on payroll software. However employers’ will also have to deal with more queries arising from employees about their tax calculations.

Apr 18 – Include common income types in the in-year calculation – starting with bank interest so that only a small number of customers will be affected first. The default position will be to collect any tax owed via PAYE – but customers can opt out and pay in one lump sum. State pensions could be next on the list to include in the in-year calculations.

If it is not possible to collect the tax owed via PAYE, customers will be advised of the projection of tax due for the year end through their account. In theory, this tax amount will be updated throughout the year based on real time updates of bank interest etc.. They can make payments through ‘Pay As You Go’ rather than one lump sum.

Concerns – quality of information

HMRC advise that they will only use information to calculate tax that they are confident is correct. Customers cannot change information such as the amount of bank interest on their digital tax account. They will need to contact the bank and get it resolved. This places the burden on the taxpayer. Whilst a query arises, they can tell HMRC this is happening and HMRC will not use this information to calculate any tax. If the query is not resolved at the year end, HMRC will use estimates to produce the tax assessment for what they believe is correct.

Jointly held assets will be assumed to be split equally unless HMRC are told otherwise. There is the scope to look at whether third parties should be telling HMRC in what proportions assets are held.

Future ambitions

HMRC wants to reduce to a minimum the amount of information customers provide to them. The next steps could be dividends/ share information and property information obtained directly from third parties.

Conclusion

HMRC want to increase the collection of third party information in order to reduce the admin burden for taxpayers. They believe that an up to date projection of tax to pay at the year end will help budgeting.

The consequences however will be:

  • those less able to ‘get online’ will be left at a disadvantage by having to wait longer to know their tax bill
  • if third party information is incorrect, the burden will be on the taxpayer to sort it out
  • any incorrect third party information could be included in the year end ‘estimate’ and paid by the client under ‘Pay As You Go’ – potentially by direct debit
  • if third parties tell HMRC how jointly held assets are owned, does this raise questions of privacy/security
  • the admin burden will fall on employers to keep up with employee queries on tax calculations
  • as HMRC expands their idea of what can be collected via third parties: pensions, rental income, dividends there is more scope for errors and the burden is on taxpayers to find the time to sort it out. Otherwise they will be paying ‘estimated tax calculations’ automatically from their bank account (via direct debit).

Summary of Consultation Questions

  • Question 1: Where events during the year result in a change to a customer’s tax projection, what is the appropriate format and regularity of notification that HMRC should send to employers and customers?
  • Question 2: Have you any suggestions for how we present third party information in your digital tax account in a way that will make it easier for you to understand your tax?
  • Question 3: If you are concerned over privacy impacts of HMRC’s plans for improving how we use third party information we already receive, do you have any suggestions for how these concerns could be resolved?
  • Question 4: If a third party information provider is aware of how the ownership of a joint asset is split, do you think the third party provider should inform HMRC?
  • Question 5: Information providers will want to keep their customers fully informed about the information they provide to HMRC (and have a responsibility to do so under the Data Protection Act 1998). Do you think there should be a standard approach, or should information providers design the best approach to meet the needs of their particular business and customers?
  • Question 6: Do you have any preferences for how you would like to be kept informed by third party information providers?
  • Question 7: Do you think there are any additional safeguards we should consider in relation to the protection and use of third party information by HMRC?
  • Question 8: Do you agree with the principles we have set out for how information queries should be resolved? What are your expectations for how this would work in practice?
  • Question 9: How can we best align HMRC’s third party information requirements with information provider’s circumstances? For example, with other standards information providers need to meet; other regulatory change; internal business processes and requirements.
  • Question 10: If you currently provide information to HMRC at year-end what would be the impact of moving to a more frequent in-year process, assuming that HMRC is able to align to your circumstances as described above?
  • Question 11: We have given you a high level introduction to the standards necessary to make the exchange of data efficient and dependable. Do third party providers foresee any specific challenges in adopting standards along these lines?
  • Question 12: What opportunities do current and potential information providers and software providers see for a stronger partnership with HMRC to enhance our customer experience?
  • Question 13: What new sources of third party information would most enhance the customer experience and best contribute to the aim of ending the tax return for all?
  • Question 14: How can we best open up discussions and begin to work with new potential information providers who are not currently providing information to HMRC on a regular basis?

What do you think?

We will be responding to HMRC’s consultation and making representations on our clients behalf so please let us have your views by emailing MTD@goodmanjones.com.

Other areas covered by the consultation

This is only one part of the consultation. See summaries of the other areas here.

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