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Employment Allowance update

The Employment Allowance was launched in April 2014 for all eligible businesses and charities. The allowance is offset against the employer’s Class 1 secondary National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and can be claimed through the regular payroll processes.

The Employment Allowance will rise to £3,000 (from £2,000) in April of this year. This means that businesses will be able to employ 4 people earning the new National Living Wage without having to pay any employer’s Class 1 secondary NICs. The move will also remove some 90,000 employers from paying NICs.

HMRC has also recently published a policy paper confirming that from 6 April 2016 eligibility to claim the Employment Allowance will be removed from limited companies with a single director, and no other employees. This measure could affect up to 150,000 limited companies and has been put in place to ensure that companies with a single director and no employees do not benefit from an allowance designed to help small businesses take on additional staff.

Buy to Let: Ltd Company v Personal Investment

One of the most frequent questions asked by landlords is whether to buy investment property in their own name or through a ltd company.

It’s a great question and there is no simple answer.

It will depend on a number of factors surrounding the particular circumstance of the buyer such as how long the properties will be owned for, when to extract the cash, how much income the investor wants to extract and what other income sources they may have.

Lots of our Progressive delegates have found these Property Investment Tax Tips useful.

Before we go into any details about should it be a Property Investment company or individual lets set the scene. The majority of investors buy property in their personal names because there are less hurdles to jump over.

The vast majority of buy to let lenders will only lend to people who buy properties in their own name and therefore for those starting out this will be the determining factor that will make the decision easy.

Buy to Let mortgages are designed for people who are earlier in their investing journey and can be simpler to obtain. Commercial Lenders/mortgages are more flexible in this regard, usually being available for property investment through ltd company, LLPs, Personal names or even trusts.

You see when you buy property through ltd company, this is seen to have a separate legal status to individuals.

So when you search on Land Registry, the company’s name will appear as the owner rather that the individual’s.

This can be useful if you want to keep your details private and might be useful in protecting your personal credit status against utility providers who register late payments for bills you haven’t received and other civil claims.

But owning in a Ltd company/LLP will mean you have to publish publicly available financial accounts on your portfolio, which whilst not detailed when small will become quite clear as the size of your company/portfolio grows and the reporting requirements increase.

Personal Guarantee…
Mortgage lenders will often ask for a personal guarantee (some probably wont such as Lloyds) if you own the property investment through ltd company meaning that whilst you protect yourself personally from other creditors you are personally liable for all debts to the mortgage lender anyway so this does not change by having a Ltd company.

If you want the benefits of limited liability but want to use the personal tax regime try using LLPs, this is what i do as I feel it gives the best of everything.

You only need one shareholder to purchase through a ltd company so you can hold the only share and still be the sole owner. And if you’re a shareholder you are of course entitled to the share of the profit and this will be paid out in dividends.

You don’t need to own a vast property portfolio to benefit from a corporate structure, one property is enough.

When you have the property investment through ltd company you pay corporation tax which is likely to be around 20% of the profit generated (but not drawn out) of the business.

Should you leave all of the profits within the company this the only tax you will be liable to pay on profits. For those who don’t want to draw any (or much) of the funds personally to create a personal income this can be very useful and offers a definite advantage over owning property personally.

Re-Investing…
If you are like me and like to reinvest profits to create bigger profits the compounding effect of only paying 20% tax over time is huge. With some paying 40% tax on their rental income profits you could potentially generate a yearly tax saving of 20% which would snowball into big numbers if consistently reinvested over many years.

When owned personally, any property income would be taxed in its entirety every tax year giving no ability to defer.

Personal Use…
But the story changes if you want to draw these profits out as an income for personal use. If all the profits were drawn out in the form of dividends on a yearly basis you would end up paying around the same level of tax as if you owned the properties personally because whilst Limited Companies will pay Corporation Tax at 20%, and basic rate (20%) income tax payers wont pay tax on the dividends they receive, higher rate (40%) income tax payers then pay tax on dividends meaning there is little difference between owning personally or doing the property investment through ltd company if you draw all the profits in dividends.

“Compound interest really is the 7th wonder of the world, and I love it!”
For those who only want to draw a portion (rather than all) of their profits out of their Ltd company the snowball effect of the tax saved and reinvested could be huge in years to come.

Disposing the Asset…
When you come to sell a property rather than paying 18% (basic rate tax payer) or 28% (higher rate taxpayer) capital gains tax for properties held in your own name the ltd company would pay 20% corporation tax and you would then be subject to the same tax on dividends outlined above for higher rate taxpayers.

This coupled with the fact that you get no personal capital gains tax allowance (The first £11,100 each so £22,200 if you own it with your wife/husband/someone else of gains where you pay no capital gains tax) often means Capital gains is tax lower for properties owned in your own name rather than the tax regime afforded to Ltd Companies.

So if you are likely to sell a property every few years you are better to own it personally to reduce your capital gains tax bill.

Should this become too frequent however (say more than 1 a year) HMRC will claim you are property trading and charge you income tax anyway. An important consideration when deciding whether to have a Property Investment company or individual.

Remortgaging your buy to let investment
Another major benefit of owing properties personally and not doing the property investment through ltd company is as follows: Remortgage money is tax free.

Should you remortgage a property in your own name the cash would come to you and could be used for any purpose, no tax would be due until you sold the propert(ies).

Lets say you purchased 10 houses for £100k each or £1m. In 30 years they are worth £4M in total, you remortgage them over the years and take out £3M in remortgage cash – as this is borrowed money there is no tax due and these funds can be spent on whatever you want.

When you die it is only the remaining equity which is taxed (£1M in this example as long as the other funds have been gifted to others such as children or spent) meaning you have avoided paying tax on the £3M you released over the years, an amazing strategy – obviously this is an extreme example and you might want to only follow it on some properties as you will have a big tax bill should you have to sell your properties in your lifetime!

Should you own these properties in a Ltd company you would have to extract the remortgage money through Salary (if your company didn’t have enough profits to support dividends at this level, as is likely) which would mean huge income tax and national insurance, so it wouldn’t work. So a definite score to owning personally.

Capital Allowances…
Rob and I also like to claim capital allowances which are allowances on plant and machinery items on purchases of commercial buildings. Typically you get about 20% of the purchase price of such properties offset against your personal income (from any source) up to £50k.

So if you purchased a property for £300k you might be able to claim £60k in allowances, for someone that earns £100k a year as a salary you could use sideways loss relief up to £50k this would reduce their personal income by around £50k meaning that they pay their income tax on £50k rather than £100k which would usually be paid at 40%.

Should put the property investment through ltd company you will only be offsetting 20% corporation tax (and couldn’t offset it against tax on dividends) which is a definite disadvantage,

What’s the way to go?
So to conclude, which is better, a Property Investment company or individual? I think you can see that it depends who you are and what you want to do.

You may like us have a mixture of owning properties personally, within Ltd companies and LLPs and your decision will affect the amount of Property investment Tax you may massively so its worth spending time on this. What I do know is that It is rarely worth transferring properties out of your name into Ltd companies/LLP or visa versa as you will be liable for stamp duty and capital gains tax based on the gain you have enjoyed at the time of the transfer.

If you want to change your strategy just do it for future purchases

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Tax-efficient savings for children

There are a number of ways to save or invest for children – some accounts are tax-efficient but rigid, others are often flexible but liable to tax. Interest earned from CTFs and Junior ISAs is paid tax-free, but the money is effectively locked in until the child is 18, at which time it belongs to the child. Standard savings accounts usually offer lower interest rates and the interest is likely to be taxable, but there will be flexibility on withdrawals and transfers, enabling the parent to keep a tight rein on the money.

Junior ISAs operate in much the same way as ordinary ‘adult’ ISAs. The maximum investment limit for 2015/16 is £4,080, so there is a real opportunity for parents and grandparents to make tax-free savings investments on behalf of their children/grandchildren. Until April 2015 it was only possible for children who did hold child trust funds (CTFs) to invest in Junior ISAs, which meant that many young savers were trapped in accounts yielding poor interest rates.

From April 2015 all children (under-18s) who are UK resident should be able to hold a Junior ISA and transfers from CTF accounts to Junior ISAs will be allowed. This change is important as it allows parents to look for a better return on their investment, pay lower charges and have more choice of products. Whether a CTF should be transferred to a Junior ISA greatly depends on whether the child currently pays tax, and whether they will save enough to pay tax on their savings when they’re 18. If it is likely that the child will save more than £15,240 (the annual ISA limit from 6 April 2015) in their first 18 years, then it is probably worth considering a Junior ISA, as these convert to full cash ISAs when the child turns 18.

Just like adults, children are also entitled to an annual personal allowance (£10,600 for 2015/16). Although Junior ISAs (and CTFs) are tax-free, unless the child stands to earn interest of more than £10,600 from other types of investment accounts, he or she should not pay tax on the interest earned in any case. Therefore, for those with modest savings, one of the most important considerations when choosing a savings plan should be the interest rate on offer and potential return on the investment.

Paying inheritance tax

Various rules exist for determining the time for payment of inheritance tax (IHT). In certain circumstances it will be possible to pay in installments, and it is even possible to settle a liability by transferring ownership of assets to the Crown (for example, a valuable painting may be donated to a national museum in lieu of an inheritance tax bill).

Unless it can be paid in installments, IHT is generally due for payment as follows:

  • Chargeable lifetime transfers: Tax is due six months after the end of the month of the transfer. But if the transfer is made between 6 April and 1 October in any year, the tax is due at the end of April the following year.
  • Estates: The personal representatives must pay the tax at the time that the IHT account is sent to HMRC, and this depends on the length of time it takes to sort out the estate.
  • PETs: Tax due on a potentially exempt transfer (PET) that becomes chargeable because of the transferor’s death within seven years needs to be paid six months after the end of the month in which the death occurs.

IHT is often due to be paid before the cash and assets left in a will are released to the beneficiaries. This means that the beneficiaries have to find the money to pay the tax elsewhere. The most obvious way to solve this problem is to take out a loan to pay the tax owed. The loan can then be paid off after cash from the estate is received or, in the case of assets, the assets are sold to raise the funds needed.

It may be worth considering a life insurance policy that will pay out on death and so cover any IHT arising on an estate. Remember, though, that HMRC may consider a life insurance policy to form part of an estate, so the plan should be set up under a trust. A fringe benefit of this is that all proceeds of the policy are paid free of tax.

Do i pay tax on tips ?

Confusion often arises regarding tips and gratuities as the tax and NIC treatment depends on how they are paid to the recipient.

Cash tips handed to an employee, or left on the table at a restaurant and retained by that employee, are not subject to tax and NICs under PAYE, but the employee will need to declare the income to HMRC – HMRC often make an adjustment to the employee’s PAYE tax code number to reflect the amount likely to be received during a tax year so any liability is collected via the payroll. By contrast, if an employer passes tips to employees that are either handed to him (or the employees) or left in a common box/plate by customers, the employer must operate PAYE on all payments made.

Tips will also be subject to PAYE if they are included in cheque and debit/credit card payments to the employer, or if they pass service charges to employees.

Amounts paid by a customer as service charges, tips, gratuities and cover charges count towards National Minimum Wage (NMW) pay if they are paid by the employer to the worker via the employer’s payroll and the amounts are shown on the pay slips issued by the employer. Tips given directly to the worker by a customer do not count towards NMW pay

HMRC Video – Paid too much or Too Little Tax?

HMRC have released a new video to explain what you will need to do as a UK Tax Payer if you think that you have paid too much or too little tax.

If you’ve overpaid or underpaid your tax during the tax year, HMRC will notify you by letter between now and October 2015. The letter is called a P800 tax calculation and will detail any taxable income and tax paid in the tax year. It will also detail whether you have paid the correct tax or under/over paid your tax in the year too.

Please see the Video below for more information:

Rent a room

In the Summer Budget 2015, the government announced that the level of rent-a-room relief will be increased from the current level of £4,250 to £7,500 from April 2016. This means that from 6 April 2016, an individual will be able to receive up to £7,500 tax-free income from renting out a room or rooms in their only or main residential property. The relief also covers bed and breakfast receipts as long as the rooms are in the landlord’s main residence.

To qualify under the rent-a-room scheme, the accommodation has to be furnished and a lodger can occupy a single room or an entire floor of the house. However, the scheme doesn’t apply if the house is converted into separate flats that are rented out. Nor does the scheme apply to let unfurnished accommodation in the individual’s home.

The rent-a-room tax break does not apply where part of a home is let as an office or other business premises. The relief only covers the circumstance where payments are made for the use of living accommodation.

If additional services are provided (cleaning and laundry etc.), the payments must be added to the rent to work out the total receipts. If income exceeds £4,250 a year in total, a liability to tax will arise, even if the rent is less than that.

There are two options if the individual is receiving more than the annual limit a year:

– the first £4,250 is counted as the tax-free allowance and income tax is paid on the remaining income
– renting the room is treated as a normal rental business, working out a profit and loss account using the normal income and expenditure rules

In most cases, the first option will be more advantageous.

The principal point to bear in mind is that those using the rent-a-room scheme cannot claim any expenses relating to the letting (e.g. insurance, repairs, heating).

To work out whether it is preferable to join the scheme or declare all of the letting income and claiming expenses via self-assessment, the following methods of calculation need to be compared:

– Method A: paying tax on the profit they make from letting worked out in the normal way for a rental business (i.e. rents received less expenses).
– Method B: paying tax on the gross amount of their receipts (including receipts for any related services they provide) less the £4,250 exemption limit.

Method A applies automatically unless the taxpayer tells their tax office within the time limit that they want method B.

Once a taxpayer has elected for method B, it continues to apply in the future until they tell HMRC they want method A. The taxpayer may want to switch methods where the taxable profit is less under method A, or where expenses are more than the rents (so there is a loss).

The individual has up to one year after the end of the tax year when their income from lodgers went over £4,250 to decide the best option to take.

Tax Free Child Care

Tax-free childcare is part of the government’s long-term plan to support working families and will provide up to 1.8m families across the UK with up to £2,000 of childcare support per year, per child, via a new online system. It was originally planned that the scheme would launch in Autumn 2015, but, as a result of a direct legal challenge from a small group of childcare voucher providers, development of the scheme was suspended. However, the Supreme Court has recently ruled that government proposals for delivering tax-free childcare are lawful, which means that the scheme can go ahead and is now expected to launch in 2017. Here are some of the key points of the scheme:

– the scheme will be available for children up to the age of 12, and for children with disabilities up to the age of 17
– to qualify for tax-free childcare, parents will have to be in work, earning just over an average of £50 a week and not more than £150,000 per year. Unlike the current rules for employer-supported childcare, eligibility for tax-free childcare is not dependant on the employer offering the scheme
– self-employed parents will be able to qualify for tax-free childcare. For newly self-employed parents, there will be a ‘start-up’ period during which there will be no minimum income level requirement
– the scheme will be available to parents on paid sick leave and paid and unpaid statutory maternity, paternity and adoption leave

Anyone wishing to use the scheme will need to open an online account via the government website (www.GOV.uk) and pay in money to the account to cover the cost of childcare with a registered provider.

The government will top up accounts with 20% of childcare costs, up to a total of £10,000 – the equivalent of up to £2,000 support per child per year (or £4,000 for disabled children). So, for every 80p invested, the government will top up with a 20p contribution.

HMRC will re-confirm a claimant’s circumstances every three months via a simple online process.

Where circumstances change, and the parent no longer wishes to pay into the account, it will be possible to simply withdraw any funds that have built up. However, where funds that have already attracted tax relief are withdrawn, the government will also withdraw its corresponding contribution.

There are no particular rules regarding when and how much can be saved in the new accounts. The scheme is designed to give as much flexibility as possible regarding savings. This means that parents can build up a balance in their account to use at times when they need more childcare than usual, for example, over the summer holidays. 

Automatic Enrolment… Are you ready ?

The Pensions Regulator has introduced a Staging Date Calculator that will inform small businesses when they are due to begin their Automatic Enrolment duties.

The staging date is set in law as of 1st April 2012 and is the date your automatic enrolment duties come into effect for you. You must be prepared for this date.

You or your client will need to enter your Employers PAYE Reference and you will then be able to find out your individual staging date. The link below will take you to the calculator.

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/staging-date.aspx