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Tax News – Winter 2022

DIVIDEND TAX

Dividends are taxed at much lower rates than other forms of income and they are not subject to national insurance contributions

This can make taking income from your own company in the form of dividends far more attractive than paying yourself a bonus.

All taxpayers are currently entitled to a dividend allowance of £2,000 in addition to the personal allowance which is gradually withdrawn where annual income exceeds £100,000.

The dividend allowance effectively applies a zero rate of tax to the first slice of dividends received in the tax year. The Chancellor has decided to cut the dividend allowance to £1,000 per year for the tax year 2023-24 and then to £500 from 6 April 2024. 

In 2023-24 the cut in the dividend allowance will cost a basic rate taxpayer £87.50; a higher rate taxpayer £337.50; and an additional rate taxpayer £393.50 assuming that these individuals would use the full allowance.

The rates of tax applicable to dividend income have not been changed for 2023-24.

INCOME TAX

The main income tax thresholds and allowances had already been frozen at the 2021-22 levels until 2026 and that has been extended to 6 April 2028

The main income tax rates are unchanged for 2023-24 at: 20%, 40% and 45%.

Individuals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will start to pay 40% tax on income above £50,270. The 45% tax rate currently applies to income above £150,000 but that threshold will be cut to £125,140 (the level at which a taxpayer’s personal allowance will have reduced to zero) from 6 April 2023.

The freeze or reduction of income tax thresholds and allowances coupled with inflation of over 11% will drag many more people into higher rates of tax every year. Once a taxpayer’s income strays into the 40% band their personal savings allowance (the amount of interest that is tax free) drops from £1,000 to £500 per year. Taxpayers who pay tax at 45% have no personal savings allowance.

Taxpayers who are resident in Scotland pay income tax on their earnings, profits and rental income at different rates and from different thresholds to people in the rest of the UK. However capital gains, savings and dividends are taxed at the same rates across the UK. The Scottish income tax rates for 2023-24 are due to be announced by the Scottish Government on 15 December 2022.

The high income child benefit charge threshold remains unchanged at £50,000 and families where the higher earner has total relevant income over £50,000 have some of their child benefit clawed back. This catches some people whose highest marginal rate is only 20%.

CAPITAL GAINS AND INHERITANCE TAX

Capital gains made by individuals are generally taxed at lower rates to income and taxpayers benefit from a separate annual exemption that covers the first £12,300 of gains made per year

This exemption will be reduced to £6,000 for the tax year 2023-24 and then to £3,000 for 2024-25. Any annual exemption unused in a tax year cannot be carried over to the next year.

The lowering of the annual exemption will mean that many more individuals will have to report capital gains on a self assessment tax return.

When the gain arises from the disposal of a residential property in the UK it must be reported using the UK property service within 60 days of completion of the sale and the tax paid by the same deadline. This 60-day report is required in addition to the annual tax return.

The main rates of capital gains tax (CGT) remain at 10% for gains within the basic rate band and those subject to business asset disposal relief and 20% for other gains. However gains made from residential property are taxed at 18% within the basic rate band and 28% at higher rates.

The inheritance tax threshold (nil-rate band) has been fixed at £325,000 per person since 2009 and it will now be kept at that level until at least April 2028.

Where an individual leaves an interest in their main home to one or more children or other direct descendants they can also benefit from the residential nil-rate band worth a further £175,000 per person. That amount is also frozen until April 2028 although the value of residential properties has increased significantly since 2020-21 when it was introduced.

HOME BUYERS PAY LESS STAMP DUTY

When buying a residential property in England or Northern Ireland you must pay stamp duty land tax (SDLT) if the purchase price exceeds a minimum threshold set at £125,000 since 2006

In September’s mini-Budget the then Chancellor announced that the entry threshold for SDLT payable on residential properties would double to £250,000 for deals completed on or after 23 September 2022. This higher threshold will apply until April 2025.

Where all the purchasers of the property have never owned a property they can take advantage of a first-time buyer minimum SDLT threshold of £425,000, increased from £300,000. If the property costs more than £625,000 (previously £500,000) the first-time buyer threshold does not apply.

The rates of SDLT were not changed in the Budget other than removing the lowest rate.

TAX ON DWELLINGS HELD BY COMPANIES

The annual tax on enveloped dwellings (ATED) applies where a residential property worth over £500,000 is held by a company and is not commercially let out or used for some other qualifying purpose. This tax currently starts at £3,800 per year but that starting rate will rise to £4,150 from April 2023.

Be aware that the ATED charge for 2023-24 to 2027-28 must be based on the property’s open market value on 1 April 2022 and it is up to the property owner to provide that valuation.

BUSINESS RATES

Properties subject to business rates will be revalued in 2023. Where the value has reduced compared to the last valuation point in 2017 that will translate to a rates reduction from April 2023. Where the rateable value has risen the increase in rates bill will be capped at 5% for small; 10% for medium; and 15% for large properties.

CORPORATION TAX UP

When the current Prime Minister was Chancellor he announced an increase in the main rate of corporation tax to 25% to apply to profits above £250,000 from 1 April 2023

Under the previous administration this decision was reversed but the 25% rate will now apply next year.

Companies with profits up to £50,000 per year will continue to pay corporation tax at the small profits rate of 19%. A company with total profits between £50,000 and £250,000 will pay 19% on the first £50,000 and a marginal rate of 26.5% on the rest.

Contractors who work through their own personal service companies will not be happy that the off-payroll working rules – which the previous administration vowed to repeal – are staying in place. These rules require large private sector businesses and all public sector bodies to decide whether the contractors they engage should be taxed as employees under the IR35 rules. Any agencies or intermediaries in the hiring chain are ignored for this decision.

Contractors can ask their ultimate customers whether they are categorised as a large company. Contractors working for a small or medium sized business must make their own decisions about whether the IR35 rules apply to the contract.

VAT CHANGES

The VAT registration threshold has already been frozen at £85,000 since April 2017 and it will now be fixed at that level until April 2026

The Chancellor made the point that the UK’s VAT registration threshold is more than twice as high as the average in OECD and EU countries so be prepared for this threshold to be cut in the future.

The VAT threshold freeze will drag many more businesses into compulsory VAT registration if they increase their prices with inflation which is now running at over 11%.

Once a business is registered for VAT it must keep digital records and submit VAT returns using making tax digital (MTD) compatible software unless the business owner can show that they are digitally excluded.

There have been some teething problems with the new VAT registration process and it can take many weeks to receive a new VAT number. You need to act quickly to register for VAT once your turnover for the previous 12 months exceeds £85,000 or it is expected to exceed that level in the next 30 days. There are significant penalties for late registration.

PAYROLL MATTERS

The Chancellor has decided to freeze the Class 1 NIC thresholds and rates for 2023-24 at the amounts that have applied since 6 November 2022 – the date of the latest rate changes

The health and social care levy which was due to take effect from 6 April 2023 will not be introduced.

The rates of statutory sick pay; maternity; paternity; and adoption pay have not yet been announced. As state benefits and pensions have been uprated by 10.1% in general it is reasonable to assume that statutory payments will be similarly uprated.

The national minimum wage rates are increased in line with the rate of inflation for pay periods starting on and after 1 April 2023. From 2024 the living wage age threshold of 23 will be reduced to 21 meaning that there will be only one adult rate.

INVESTMENT INCENTIVES

Companies can currently claim super-deduction allowances set at 130% of the cost of new plant and machinery or 50% of the purchase cost of certain fixtures and fittings for buildings

These super-deductions will expire on 31 March 2023.

The annual investment allowance (AIA) cap was due to be reduced from £1m to £200,000 on 1 April 2023 but will now be fixed at £1m permanently. The AIA can be claimed by any form of business and can apply to second hand equipment as well as items purchased brand new. Some 99% of businesses will be able to claim a full deduction for the cost of plant and machinery using the AIA.

The rates of deduction available under the R&D schemes for SMEs are being reduced partly to take into account the changes in corporation tax rates from 1 April 2023 but also because of perceived widespread abuse of the schemes.

Companies using the SME scheme will see the allowable deduction reduced from 130% to 86% and the payable tax credit reduced from 14.5% to 10%. Large companies that use the R&D expenditure credit scheme will be able to deduct an increased credit of 20% instead of 13%.

The investment zones proposed by the previous administration will go ahead in a limited number of areas but they will not attract tax reliefs such as reductions in business rates or employers’ NIC.

LOOKING FOR HELP?

We have a team of experts within West & Berry who can advise you and your business.  Please get in touch to set up a no obligation consultation.

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2021 Budget Key Points Guide

CORPORATION TAX COMPLEXITY

The Chancellor announced that taxes would have to rise, but not quite yet, as all tax rates except for VAT are frozen for 2021-22

Large companies will then see their corporation tax rate rise from 19% to 25% from 1 April 2023. Companies making no more than £50,000 per year in profits will still pay tax at the current rate of 19%. There will be a system of marginal relief on corporate profits between £50,000 and £250,000, above which the tax rate will be set at 25%.

Complexity is added for groups and associated companies as the profit thresholds of £50,000 and £250,000 will have to be divided by the number of associated companies. The companies counted as being in a group or associated will be those which are under the common control of a person, a company or a group of persons. Family companies which are not trading will also pay corporation tax at 25% on all profits.

SUPER DEDUCTION FOR CAPITAL EXPENDITURE

Larger companies may have opted to wait until April 2023 before making major investments in plant or machinery to achieve tax relief of 25% on those costs following the increase in the corporation tax rate

However, the Government wants to encourage those companies to invest sooner so is offering a super deduction of 130% of capital expenditure on new qualifying plant and machinery. The contract to buy must be entered into on or after 4 March 2021 and the purchase must be made between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2023.

This 130% deduction will only apply to assets eligible for the main capital allowances pool with writing down allowances normally given at 18%. Cars do not qualify for this super deduction unless they are specially adapted for use in a driving school. Expenditure on other new assets such as fixtures and integral features in buildings will qualify for a 50% deduction in the year of purchase if acquired before 1 April 2023. The remaining cost of these assets will qualify for a writing down allowance at 6% per year.

These enhanced deductions for the cost of new assets apply alongside the 100% deduction available under the annual investment allowance which covers up to £1 million of expenditure per year until 31 December 2021.

POINTS MEAN PENALTIES

HMRC is changing the way taxpayers interact with them in a project called making tax digital (MTD)

Most VAT registered businesses are already submitting their VAT returns using MTD-compatible software and unincorporated businesses will have to use MTD software from April 2023. Income tax reporting by unincorporated businesses will be required at least quarterly rather than once a year as is currently the case under self assessment.

HMRC has announced that they will use a new points based system to encourage taxpayers to submit MTD updates on time. The taxpayer will be given points for every late VAT or income tax return and once a defined number of points is reached an automatic £200 penalty will be issued.

This new points and penalty system will commence from 1 April 2022 for VAT and from 6 April 2023 for taxpayers submitting MTD income tax updates. Sanctions for late payment of tax will also be harmonised across all taxes.

RELIEF FOR BUSINESS LOSSES

Many businesses have made losses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Normally trading losses can be carried back one year to set against profits and generate a repayment of tax

The Government have announced that they will permit businesses to carry back losses for up to three years. Companies that make losses in accounting periods ending between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2022 will be able to carry back up to £2 million of extra losses for three years with the normal unlimited carry back for one year followed by the additional £2 million to the two preceding years.

Unincorporated businesses will be able to carry back losses made in the tax years 2020-21 and 2021-22 for three years, setting the loss against the profits of the latest year first. For example, a business which made a loss in 2020-21 can carry that loss back against its profits made in 2019-20, 2018-19 and 2017-18, setting off the loss against the profits of 2019-20 first, before setting the loss against the two earlier years. If you have made a loss, taking action now could generate a useful tax repayment.

FROZEN BANDS AND ALLOWANCES

Income tax and national insurance contribution rates have been frozen for 2021-22 and are likely to remain frozen until the end of this Parliament in 2024

By freezing the personal allowances and tax bands at their 2021-22 levels the Chancellor is causing the value of those allowances and bands to diminish by inflation. In real terms, if the taxpayer increases their income or profits in this period, more of their income will be taxed at the higher rates. As a result, the taxpayer pays more tax despite the tax rates being unchanged.

This ‘freezing’ approach has been applied to inheritance tax since 2009, while the value of property subject to that tax has increased enormously, resulting in more deceased estates becoming liable to pay inheritance tax.

The capital gains tax exempt amounts and rates have also been frozen in 2021-22 with the Chancellor confirming these will also be fixed for the foreseeable future.

TWO NEW SEISS GRANTS

As a self-employed individual you may have been able to claim up to three grants under the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS) since the start of the pandemic

Two more SEISS grants will soon be made available, capped at £7,500 each. Each of these new grants will be based on your average trading profits as reported on your tax returns for the four years to 2019-20. You will only be eligible to claim these grants if you submitted your 2019-20 tax return by midnight on 2 March 2021 (it was due by 31 January 2021).

The extension means that if you started your business in 2019-20 you will be able to claim a SEISS grant for the first time, as long as you meet the other criteria and thresholds, which are the same as they were for the first three grants. The online facility to claim the fourth SEISS grant will open in late April.

As part of the claims process you must declare that you have suffered a significant drop in trading profits. HMRC does not quantify what ‘significant’ means but the reduction in earnings need not be enough to put you out of business as you must still be trading, or be intending to continue to trade once the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, in order to be eligible for the SEISS grants. A fifth SEISS grant will be available in late July 2021 but the eligibility criteria will be tighter still.

If your turnover has fallen by at least 30% you may be able get the full grant, calculated at 80% of your average trading profits, capped at £7,500. Businesses whose turnover has fallen by less than 30% will receive a grant based on 30% of average profits, capped at £2,850. All of the SEISS grants are taxable income for your business and they will have to be declared as income on your tax returns for the tax years in which they are received.

VAT BOOST FOR HOSPITALITY

Many hospitality venues have been closed for almost a year and are still unable to open under the Covid-19 restrictions

To help them survive this period, the Government has given them a 15% VAT reduction on most sales. Where the business would normally collect 20% in VAT they currently only have to pay 5%.

This 5% VAT rate has applied in the hospitality and tourism sectors since 15 July 2020 and will continue to apply until 30 September 2021. This will then gradually increase with sales made from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022 in these sectors adding 12.5% before returning to the usual 20%.

These reduced VAT rates broadly cover restaurant meals or hot take-away meals (not sandwiches); hotel and similar accommodation; entrance fees for tourist attractions and cultural venues. The lower rate does apply to soft drinks taken with a restaurant or café meal eaten in-house. The reduced VAT rates do not apply to tickets for sporting events nor admission to sporting facilities, so bookings to use a tennis court or five-a-side football pitch are still subject to 20% VAT.

A special low rate applies to gross sales under the VAT flat rate scheme for small businesses, such as pubs, hotels and catering services. The flat rate scheme rules will be revised to take account of the 12.5% rate that applies until 31 March 2022.

STAMP DUTY HOLIDAY EXTENDED

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) must normally be paid by purchasers when they buy residential property in England or Northern Ireland for more than £125,000

This lower threshold was raised to £500,000 from 8 July 2020 to 31 March 2021 and will now remain at that level until 30 June 2021. It will then be reduced to £250,000 from 1 July to 30 September 2021 and will revert to £125,000 from 1 October 2021. This means that if you are buying your main home and complete the deal on or before 30 June 2021 you will pay no SDLT where the purchase price does not exceed £500,000. This could save you up to £15,000.

Landlords and companies who buy investment properties to let out will benefit from the SDLT holiday but must pay a surcharge at 3% on the entire value of the deal.

Purchasers of property in Wales must pay land transaction tax (LTT) which normally applies to residential property deals above £180,000. A similar LTT holiday has applied in Wales since 26 July 2020 when the lower LTT threshold was raised to £250,000. This threshold will now stay at £250,000 until 30 June 2021. However, investors, second home buyers and companies cannot benefit from the LTT holiday at all.

The Scottish Parliament also applied a land tax holiday on residential properties purchased between 15 July 2020 and 31 March 2021 where the purchase price does not exceed £250,000. However, that tax break will not be extended.

FURLOUGH SCHEME EXTENDED

Some potentially good news for employers is the Chancellor’s decision to extend the furlough scheme in its current form until 30 June 2021

Employers can continue to claim 80% of each furloughed employee’s usual wages for periods the employee is furloughed, up to £2,500 per employee per month. The furlough scheme will continue until 30 September 2021 but the costs for employers will increase:

  • for pay periods from 1 July 2021 the employer can claim 70% of their employees’ usual wages up to £2,187.50 per employee per month; and
  • for pay periods from 1 August 2021 the employer can claim 60% of their employees’ usual wages up to £1,875 per employee per month.

In all cases the employer must continue to pay furloughed staff 80% of their usual contracted wages and pay all of the employer’s Class 1 NIC and any employer’s pension contributions due on those furloughed wages. Employees can be asked to work part time and be furloughed for the rest of their normal working hours.

Be aware that HMRC now publishes the names of employers who use the furlough scheme and an indication of the total amount claimed each month.

Employees can also check their personal tax account to see if a furlough claim has been made in respect of their wages.

LOOKING FOR HELP?

We have a team of experts within West & Berry who can advise on what the latest changes mean for you and your business.  Please get in touch to set up a no obligation consultation.