FAQ’s – Start up business Advise

FAQ’s – Start up business Advise

Q. About three years ago I converted a barn into two attractive cottages, which I have since let as furnished holiday lets. Much of the expenditure qualified for capital allowances, and there is large balance in the capital allowance pool carried forward into the current tax year. Will I get tax relief for the balance in the capital allowances pool when the rules for treatment of furnished holiday lettings are changed in April 2010?

A. If you continue to let the cottages after 5 April 2010 you can claim the annual 20% capital allowance generated by your capital allowances pool, but you cannot add expenditure to that pool for equipment or furnishings used within the buildings. The Taxman has confirmed that you can also claim a wear and tear allowance for each tax year from 2010/11 onwards in which you let fully furnished property. The wear and tear allowance is 10% of the net rents received after deduction of council tax, water rates and other charges you pay.

Q. I paid off my company’s overdraft with my own money, to allow the company to be closed down using the informal extra statutory C16 procedure. Can I get any tax relief for the money that was used to repay the overdraft?

A. It is possible to get tax relief for a loan made to a trading business, which is not repaid. However, the conditions are strict. The money lent must be used by the borrower wholly for the purposes of a trade it carries on. In this case the company had already ceased trading and funds were used to pay off a bank overdraft before the company was struck-off. In this situation you cannot argue that the money was used for the company’s trade as that had already ceased, so you cannot get tax relief for the lost funds. Even if all the conditions for the loan were met, the loss of the funds would be treated as a capital loss in your hands, and not relievable against income tax.

Q. There are 53 Mondays in this current tax year. Does that mean I will be taxed on 53 times the weekly amount of my state pension for 2009/10?

A. Monday is the payment date for most state pensions, and there are 53 Mondays in 2009/10 as 6 April 2009 was a Monday. However, the state pension is taxed on the amount accruing in the tax year, not the amount actually received in the year. The Tax Office always work on the basis that 52 weeks of state pension accrues for each tax year. When it comes to completing your tax return for 2009/10 you should include just 52 times the weekly amount of your pension, excluding any non-taxable benefits such as Attendance Allowance.

Q. Next tax year I will lose £1 of my personal allowance for every £2 of my taxable income that exceeds £100,000. To avoid this loss of allowance, can my wife and I elect for the interest on our joint bank accounts to be treated as belonging entirely to her for tax purposes?

A. The income from jointly held bank accounts must always be split equally between the account holders for tax purposes, you cannot elect otherwise. To move the interest into your wife’s name for 2010/11 you need to take your name off the account before 6 April 2010. To achieve this you may have to close the account and open a new account in her sole name. If you have any fixed interest accounts that are due to mature and pay rolled-up interest on after 6 April 2010, you may want to close those accounts before that date. This will ensure the interest arises in the tax year 2009/10 and is taxed at 40% rather than at a marginal rate of 60% if it arises in 2010/11. Check the penalty clauses for closing the account early before you take action.

Q. My company has paid interest on late paid corporation tax. Is that interest tax allowable?

A. Yes. Interest paid to the Tax Office on late paid corporation tax is tax allowable for the company for the period in which the interest was paid. Likewise interest paid by the Taxman because corporation tax has been paid early, or in excess of the amount due, is taxable.

Q. A friend told me I could purchase a van or motorcycle through my company and not pay any tax on it. Is that true?

A. There is a grain of truth in this myth, but there will still be some tax to pay if you use the vehicle for personal journeys. When your company purchases a van or motorcycle for business purposes it will reduce the taxable profits by 100% of the cost of the vehicle. This only applies where the purchase is covered by your company’s annual investment allowance (AIA) of £50,000. The AIA cannot be claimed for the cost of cars.

However, when you use the vehicle for non-business journeys there will be a benefit in kind tax charge for you and a NI charge for your company. If you want to transfer the van or motorcycle into your own hands from the company’s ownership, this must be done at the market value and again there will be a benefit in kind charge unless you pay the full value to the company. What’s more, the disposal by the company will claw-back the AIA given and increase the company’s taxable profit for the period in which the transfer is made.

Q. I’ve just realised I missed £280 of income off my tax return for 2008/09, which I submitted online in January 2010. What should I do?

A. Although this is a relatively small amount you should correct your tax return for 2008/09. However, before you do so double check that you have also included all the expenses and deductions for that tax year, as it looks bad to the Taxman if you correct your return, or ‘amend’ it in tax-speak, more than once. As you filed your return online you can also amend it online, just log into the self-assessment online area of the HMRC website and pick your 2008/09 return to amend. You have until 31 January 2011 to do this. You may have some more tax to pay for 2008/09 if your extra £280 of income is not covered by losses, allowances or expenses. You should pay the extra tax due as soon as possible as interest will be charged from 31 January 2010.

Q. I was born in Croatia but I’ve lived in the UK for 20 years. I recently inherited an apartment in Croatia which is let out. Do I need to pay tax in the UK on those rents, even though I don’t bring the money back to the UK?

A. As you were born in Croatia your home country is outside the UK, and you probably have the tax status known as ‘non-domiciled’. This is not certain as your domicile for tax purposes depends on a number of matters, including whether you intend staying in the UK in the future. If you are non-domiciled you may be able to ignore your overseas income for UK tax purposes, if the total income and gains left outside the UK each tax year amounts to less than £2,000. However, you must include on your UK tax return any overseas income or gains you bring into the UK, known as a ‘remittance’.

Where your overseas income and gains amounts to more than £2,000, you currently have a choice:

  • pay an annual £30,000 tax charge and ignore your overseas income (which remains overseas) for UK tax purposes; or
  • declare all your overseas income and gains on your UK tax return.

This a very complicated area of tax and you should discuss your personal circumstances with us before deciding what to include on your UK tax returns.

Q. My company was late submitting its VAT return and payment for the quarter to 30 September 2009. The VAT office has sent a surcharge notice, but the letter also says I can have the decision to impose the surcharge reviewed. Should I ask for this review?

A. If there were some exceptional circumstances that contributed to the late filing of your VAT return and payment, such as a death of a close family member, or a fire at your company premises, you may well have a reasonable excuse. In this case you should ask for the surcharge to be reviewed, but you need to do this within 30 days of the date of the letter from the VAT office. The reviewer will overturn the surcharge if they agree you had a reasonable excuse for late filing. You should provide a full written explanation of the circumstances that caused the delay, including any independent evidence you have, such as a report from the fire service.

Q. I was trying to sell my business before the new tax year, to avoid a potentially large tax bill from an increase in the rate of capital gains tax. I haven’t been able to, so what’s the position for the 2010/11 tax year.

A. The rate of capital gains tax (CGT) has been kept at 18% for 2010/11, so you have not lost out by delaying the sale into the 2010/11 tax year. In fact you may benefit from entrepreneurs’ relief that applies to gains on the disposal of businesses, and reduces the effective rate of CGT down to 10%. The cap on this relief has been doubled to £2 million for gains made on and after 6 April 2010.

Q. I work as a consultant through my own company based in Surrey. I have just secured a contract in Manchester, which is expected to last eight months. Due to the distances involved I will need to stay in Manchester for at least four nights a week. If I rent a small flat, rather than stay in a Bed & Breakfast place, can my company reimburse all the expenses associated with the flat, such as cleaning costs and cooking utensils?

A. Your workplace in Manchester will qualify as a temporary workplace as the contract is expected to last for less than 24 months. Thus all reasonable travelling and accommodation expenses connected with that assignment can be reimbursed to you by your company. You should provide receipts for all the expenses, unless the amount is covered by a dispensation agreement your company has with the Tax Office, such as for mileage claims.

Q. My company has recently taken on an industrial unit that needs extensive fitting-out before it can be used by the business. How can I ensure that all the fittings I use will qualify for the maximum amount of capital allowances?

A. The cost of fittings that qualify as plant or integral features can be set against your company’s Annual Investment Allowance (AIA), which will give 100% capital allowance in the year of acquisition. The AIA cap has been increased to £100,000 per year for expenditure incurred on and after 1 April 2010. Plant is broadly something that is not fixed permanently to the building, such as shelves or display units. Integral features are fixed to the building and fall into these five categories:

  • Cold water systems (not hot)
  • Electrical systems (including lighting)
  • Space or water heating systems, including a powered system of ventilation, air cooling or air purification
  • Lifts, escalators or moving walkways
  • External solar shading

If the fitment does not qualify as plant or integral features it can qualify for 100% enhanced capital allowance (ECA) if it has energy or water saving qualities, and it has been included on the approved ECA list atwww.eca.gov.uk.

Q. I recently sold my 60% share in a trading company that I’ve been a director of for over 20 years. The sale included ordinary shares that had full voting rights, and preference shares, which had no voting or conversion rights, just the right to a fixed dividend. Can I claim entrepreneurs’ relief on the gain arising on both types of shares or just in respect of the gain on the ordinary shares?

A. As you held at least 5% of the ordinary voting shares and were a director of the company for one year up to the date of sale, entrepreneurs’ relief should apply. Although the conditions for entrepreneurs’ relief refer to ordinary voting shares, the gains arising on both the ordinary shares and preference shares can be included in your claim for entrepreneurs’ relief. If the sale was concluded on or after 6 April 2010 the maximum gain that can be covered by entrepreneurs’ relief is £2 million, for sales before this date the maximum gain that can be subject to an entrepreneurs’ relief claim is £1 million.

Q. My business is an agency that provides rented holiday accommodation to UK holiday-makers. My commissions are less than the VAT registration threshold, so I am not VAT registered. What contracts and invoices do I need to put in place to avoid charging VAT to either my clients (the landlords) or to the holiday-makers who rent the properties?

A. You want to stay under the VAT threshold, so you need to prove to the VATman that you are an agent working on behalf of the landlords, and are not a re-seller of holiday accommodation. You should have a written agreement with each of the landlords that clearly states that the landlord is the principal who is making a contract with the holiday-maker, and you are their agent. All invoices you issue should show your fees as separate items to the cost of the holiday accommodation. If the holiday-maker pays you for the use of the holiday-let, the bill they pay should clearly show the amount due to the landlord, and the amount due to you as the agent. Ideally the two amounts would be shown on separate invoices.

Q. Now that my top rate of income tax is a whopping 50%, will I get tax relief at that rate if I make charitable donations in this tax year?

A. Yes. If you make donations to charities under the gift aid scheme you will get tax relief at the 50% rate. Your gift is treated as being made after 20% tax has been deducted. When you give £80 the gross amount of the gift is £100. Your personal thresholds for 40% tax and 50% tax are both extended by the gross amount of your donation. For your £80 gift you have an extra £100 of your income taxed at 20% rather than 40%, and an extra £100 of income taxed at 40% rather than 50%. In total you have gained tax relief of 50% (20% +20% +10%) on the £100 gross gift.

Q. My UK based company has bought additional bandwidth from an internet provider based in the USA. How do I treat this purchase for VAT purposes in the UK?

A. The supply of bandwidth as part of your internet service is an international service for VAT purposes, as the supplier is based outside the UK. As your company is VAT registered you must apply the reverse charge rules to this purchase. This means for VAT purposes you treat the transaction as if you were both the purchaser and the supplier. You charge yourself standard rate VAT on the invoiced cost and claim that VAT back as part of your input VAT for the quarter. The VAT added appears twice in the calculations for your VAT return; as input VAT on purchases and as output VAT on the reverse charge as if the purchase was one of your own sales.

Q. My sales force all need to connect to the internet while they are out on the road, so we provide them each with a mobile phone dongle to provide the internet where and when they need it. Are there any tax implications for my company or the employees?

A. A mobile phone dongle is treated as a piece of computer equipment and not as a mobile phone. Where the company purchases the dongle and pays the subscription charge directly there should be no benefit in kind charge on the employee. This applies if the associated computer has no significant private use, and the private use does not affect the cost of providing the equipment.

Where the employee purchases the dongle and pays the connection charge, which he claims back from the company, the tax situation is more complicated. The employer needs to include the expense paid on the form P11D, and the employee needs to claim a deduction for the costs on his tax return, as reasonable additional costs relating to work. To circumvent this paper chase, the company should apply for the costs of the dongles to be included in a P11D dispensation.

Q. On 1 Feb 2010 I started a self-employed consultancy business, which has generated profits of about £40,000 in the first four months. I also run my own company and let a few properties. The income from my company and the rents has been much lower in 2009/10 compared to the previous year. Do I have to take into account the income from my new consultancy business when I make my payment on account for 2009/10 due on 31 July 2010?

A. You do need to take into account the income from your new consultancy business when making your next payment on account for income tax. However, the opening year rules for self-employment will apply, so only two months of your first period of the consultancy business profits are taxed in 2009/10. You can apply to reduce the 2009/10 payment on account if your total taxable income for the 2009/10 tax year, including the two months of consultancy profits, has dropped below the total taxable income for 2008/09. It doesn’t matter if your income for 2010/11 rises again.

Q. My company has bought a classic motorcycle as an investment. Can it claim a tax deduction for the cost? If the motorcycle is kept at my home, but not used at all, will I suffer a tax charge?

A. If your company buys a motorcycle for use in its trade, including providing the motorcycle to the director, it can claim a tax deduction for the cost. If the motorcycle is purchased as an investment and not used in the trade, the company cannot claim a tax deduction for the cost.

If the motorcycle is kept at your home it is available for your use. The benefit in kind tax charge applies if the motorcycle is made available to you, not whether you actually ride it. The same tax charge would apply whether the motorcycle was a ‘work of art’ or a functioning motorcycle, as it remains a company owned asset which is made available to you for your private use.

Q. I’m looking to buy the property my company trades from. Should I buy it in my own name or should my company buy it? I have the reserves for either.

A. If you hold the property personally and let it to the company you will be able to extract funds from your company as NIC-free rents. However, when you sell the property, the gain may well be taxed at a higher rate in your hands (up to 28%) than in the company (possibly 20%). You will only get entrepreneurs’ relief on the property if it is sold in association with your withdrawal from the business that involves a disposal of some, but not necessarily all, of the company shares. The entrepreneurs’ relief on the gain is reduced where rent for the property has been paid by the company.

If the company holds property this removes the possibility of NIC-free rents. When the company sells the property it will get indexation relief on the value and the net gain may be taxed at a lower tax rate. However, the proceeds will be trapped within the company. Both you and the company could roll-over a gain arising on the sale of the property in the future, if it has been used for the purpose of the trade carried out by your personal company. As you can see there is a lot to consider and expert advice in your own situation is important!

Q. What happened to the Furnished Holiday Lettings rules in the Budget?

A. The tax rules and exemptions for furnished holiday lettings (FHL) remain in place and unchanged at least until 5 April 2011 (1 April 2011 for companies). However, the Government has said that it will consult on changes to the FHL rules to be introduced from 6 April 2011.Those changes are likely to include a restriction on how losses from FHL can be set off, and a tightening of the conditions which will allow the tax reliefs for FHL to be claimed.

Q. I work as a self-employed decorator. If I transfer my business to a new company will I be able to take advantage of the NIC holiday announced in the last Budget?

A. The full details of how the NIC holiday scheme will operate have not yet been released, but we do know it won’t apply to businesses established in London, the South East or East regions of England. However, even if you are based outside of those areas, we also know the scheme will only apply to new businesses set up after 21 June 2010. ‘New’ will be defined as a new economic activity, so where an existing sole-trader business such as yours, is transferred to a new company the business is unlikely to qualify as ‘new’ for the NIC holiday scheme.

Q. My brother and sister in law each lent my company £10,000 some years ago. The company is still trading, but it is unlikely to ever be able to repay those loans. If I write off the debt in the company accounts will my relatives be able to claim tax relief for the irrecoverable loans?

A. Lenders in this position can sometimes treat the irrecoverable loan as a capital loss, which can be set against capital gains, but not against income. However, the Taxman will only grant this tax relief if the loan really is irrecoverable. This is taken as read where the business has gone broke. While the company is still trading there is a possibility that the money could be repaid, even if the amounts have been written off in the company accounts. The Taxman will need some considerable evidence from the company’s bankers and other sources, such as Court judgements, to be convinced that the loans cannot be repaid by a trading company.

Q. I have volunteered for redundancy at the age of 59 and expect to receive a pay-off worth £60,000. The first £30,000 will be paid free of tax, but is there anything I can do to reduce the 40% tax I will be charged on the balance?

A. You could ask your employer to divert some of the redundancy payment into a registered personal pension scheme for you. You will not be taxed on this pension contribution as long as your total income for this tax year is not more than £130,000. You also need to have income below this level in the previous two tax years. If your employer is not willing to make the pension contribution, you could make the contribution yourself, but be sure to make the payment in the same tax year in which you receive the redundancy payment. Your pension contribution will be treated as being made net of 20% tax and you can reclaim a further 20% tax relief through your tax return. In both cases, as you are already over 55, you can withdraw 25% of the pension fund value as a tax free lump sum immediately. You should take advice from a pensions expert before embarking on any investment in pensions.

Q. The Taxman has told me I owe him £3,300, and I must pay at least £200 per month or a distraint order will be served. I can only manage to pay £150 per month, so what happens now?

A. A distraint order means tax officers, or bailiffs acting on behalf of the Tax Office, will come to your home or business and ask for full payment. If you don’t pay immediately, they will make a list of your possessions to take away and sell at a later date. They can’t take anything that is not owned by you, or is jointly owned, but you may need to provide proof of ownership such as receipts. The bailiff should also not take any essential tools of your trade, but your vehicle may not be regarded as essential. Your best option is to try to negotiate a schedule of payments you can afford with the Tax Office as soon as possible, or you may lose your possessions and possibly be made bankrupt.

Q. I own a very successful company in the UK, which is now largely run by the management people in the UK. This allows me to live in Spain for much of the year. I charge fees to my UK company through a Spanish company which is wholly owned by my wife. Does this set-up have any implications for UK tax?

A. Your UK company and your wife’s Spanish company are considered to be associated companies by the UK Taxman, because the people controlling the two companies are married to each other. It makes no difference that the companies are registered in different countries. The profit thresholds that determine the rate of corporation tax paid by your UK company must be divided by the number of associated companies plus one. For example the higher rate of corporation tax (currently 28%) is due when profits exceed £1.5 million, but where there is one associated company this higher tax rate starts when profits exceed £750,000.

Q. The technology company I jointly own has suffered in the recession, so the directors’ fees due for 2009 have not been paid, although the fees are shown as owing in the company accounts. Should I make any adjustment to the accounting loss for the unpaid fees, before I send the loss claim to the Tax Office?

A. If the directors’ fees are not paid within nine months of the year end they must be excluded from the loss for corporation tax purposes. However, you should check whether the contracts with the directors include a firm promise to pay the fees by a particular date. Such a promise could create a tax point for PAYE purposes, so PAYE would be due even though the fees had not actually been paid.

Q. As I was made redundant last year I decided to take time out and build my own house. A neighbour told me I could claim back the VAT on my costs, even though I am not a VAT registered builder. If that is true, how do I go about claiming?

A. You can reclaim VAT correctly charged on your building materials and on most of your building services, using the VAT refund scheme for DIY builders. The claim form for new builds under this scheme (VAT 431NB) can be downloaded from the HMRC website, but be sure to also read the guidance notes. There is a different form (VAT 431C) to use where you are converting a property rather than building it from new. In either case you can’t reclaim the VAT charged on professional services connected with the build, such as architectural or legal services. We can help you compile and submit your claim to the VAT office.

Q. A large UK company has made a late payment of fees owed to my company. They paid interest on the late paid amount, as they are required to do so under the contract, but they deducted tax from that interest. How do I deal with that tax in my accounts?

A. Your customer should not have deducted tax from the interest it paid, as both parties involved in the transaction are UK resident companies trading in the UK. Companies used to have to deduct income tax from annual amounts of interest paid, but that requirement was removed from 1 April 2001 where the recipient is a UK company. Ask your customer to pay you the amount of interest it has withheld as ‘tax’. We can provide a longer explanation of the legal position if you need it.

Q. I have received several emails recently from organisations claiming I could use an employee benefit trust (EBT) to reduce tax. Is this a scam, or is there something in it?

A. In outline a lot of EBT schemes work like this: the company pays money into the EBT and employees of the company receive a loan from the EBT in place of all or part of their salary. The employees pay tax on just 4% on the loan per year. This all sounds good, but there can be various problems in practice. Some schemes are more aggressive than others and you should be prepared for the Taxman to look very closely and try to challenge such arrangements. They are not for those not willing to take some risk and you should be made aware of all the risks involved before proceeding.

. I incorporated my business last year, but I haven’t got round to opening a bank account in the company’s name. All the business receipts and payments have been processed through my personal bank account. Will that have any tax implications?

A. You must open a bank account for the company as soon as possible as using your personal bank account could create a number of problems.
As the business was previously run in your own name the Taxman may not accept that the business has been transferred to your company, and want to tax you on any business income received into your personal bank account.
If the Taxman accepts the business was transferred to the company, you have further tax problems as your personal account holds funds that belong to the company. The Taxman will argue that those funds represent either a loan to you, or your salary. In either case a tax charge will arise unless you can repay the funds to the company, and this will be difficult without a company bank account! A third option is the funds you hold represent dividends. However, to pay a legal dividend the company must first show that it is making a profit.

Q. One of my employees frequently sustains injuries while playing sport, and as a consequence he takes regular periods off sick. Do I have to pay him statutory sick pay (SSP) for the time he takes off due to these self-inflicted injuries?

A. You are required to pay SSP to your employee if he earns at least £97 per week, for sick periods that last 4 days or more. Your employee needs to notify you of the sickness within the period set by your company rules, or by the 7th day of absence. You may require your employee to provide you with evidence of his incapacity to work from the 8th day of absence by, say, providing a certificate (now called a ‘fit note’) from his GP. Don’t forget you can reclaim the amount of SSP that exceeds 13% of the class 1 NIC due for the month of payment.

Q. While collecting together the papers for my self-employed accounts to 30 November 2009, I noticed £1,500 of sales should have been recorded in the accounts to 30 November 2008, but were missed from that year. Should I add those old sales receipts to the 2009 sales and declare the total in my 2009/10 tax return?

A. The correct approach is to amend your 2008/09 tax return with the increased sales figure for the 2008 accounts, so the extra income falls in the 2008/09 tax year. This adjustment will increase the tax due for 2008/09 and you will have to pay some interest on the late paid tax. If you supply the Taxman with a full explanation of the error, without being asked to do so, you will probably get away with a zero penalty.
If, as you suggest, you add the missing 2008 income to your 2009 accounts and include the total in your 2009/10 tax return you will pay approximately the right amount of tax overall, but for the wrong tax years. This mis-timing of tax payments can attract penalties as you need to pay the correct amount of tax at the right time. Both your 2008 and 2009 accounts will be technically incorrect. You would need to declare the adjustment to your 2009 accounts on your 2009/10 tax return. If you don’t make a full disclosure of the error on your 2009/10 tax return and the Taxman discovers the ‘fix’, he may conclude you have deliberately concealed the error and impose a penalty of up to 100% of the tax underpaid for 2008/09.

Q. My family has invested in rental properties over a number of years. Some properties are held in my name alone, others are owned jointly with my sister. The properties held with my sister have made losses in the last year. Can I set those losses against the profits made on letting the properties held in my own name?

A. Yes you can. All your UK property interests are treated as one property business. So the net income from your own properties is amalgamated with your share of income and expenses from the jointly held properties, and the total needs to be reported on the property pages of your tax return. The Taxman will not treat jointly held let properties as being a partnership, unless the letting of the property is ancillary to a proper trading business.

Q. I have a holiday cottage that just managed to qualify as furnished holiday lettings as it was let for 70 days in 2010/11. How will it be taxed in 2011/12 and what tax relief will I get for any loss I make on that property?

A. The Government is expected to announce changes to the way profits and losses from furnished holiday lettings are taxed, with effect from 6 April 2011. The proposals include increasing the number of days the property must be let per year from 70 to 140. Unless you manage to let your holiday cottage for the new number of qualifying days (expected to be 140) in 2011/12, it will be taxed just like any other let property. This means any loss you make on the letting can only be carried forward and set against a profit you make from your lettings business in the future.

Q. My company is planning to get a new Freelander car (emissions 185g/km). It will keep the car for three years and then trade it in. What tax allowances will the company get for the cost of the car over those three years?

A. As the vehicle has high emissions the full cost of the car must be allocated to the special rate pool for capital allowances. Currently 10% of the balance of the special rate pool is set against the company’s profits for tax purposes each year. However, from April 2012 only 8% of the balance in the special rate pool will be tax allowable. When the car is traded in after three years the trade-in value will be deducted from the balance on the special rate pool. However, if the company makes a loss on the car that loss cannot be deducted from the company’s profits for the year.

Disclaimer

Let's Get Started