FAQ’s

FAQ’s

Q. I want to close down my consultancy company and pay the funds it holds to me as the only shareholder. Should I wait until the new tax year or start the process now?

A. If permission is granted from the Taxman in advance (called a C16 clearance), the funds the company distributes to the shareholders during the winding-up process will be treated as a capital gain and taxed at 10%, where Entrepreneurs’ Relief applies.

However, the law will change on 1 March 2012. From that date where more than £25,000 is distributed to shareholders in anticipation of the winding-up of the company, the entire amount of the distributed funds will be treated as income and taxed like dividends. That means Entrepreneurs’ Relief cannot apply and the rate of tax due on the distribution will leap from 10% to 25% or more. The capital gains treatment can still be achieved if the company is put into formal liquidation, but that is likely to cost £7,000 or more. So if you want to wind-up your company and it holds more than £25,000, get those funds paid out by 1 March 2012.

Q. My energy bills have soared since I started using a room in my home as the base for my company’s business, as I have to have the heating on all the time. I’ve heard that my company can pay up to 1/3 of my gas bills tax-free, is that true?

A. Your company can pay you (as the company’s employee) £3 per week, £156 per year tax free, for working at home and no evidence has to be provided to support that payment.
If you can prove your heating bills increased because of you heating the property while working there, when otherwise it would be empty and not heated, then your company can pay that extra heating cost to you tax free. However, if the Taxman asks, you will need to provide copies of the gas bills for a period before you worked at home compared to a similar period when you have worked at home, to prove the increase in costs. The Taxman may also want to see a schedule of the days you work at home and days when you work at clients’ premises. This type of claim is referred to as ‘use of home as office’ which can also cover other costs incurred in running your business from home. Contact us for further guidance.

Q. I received a letter yesterday addressed to my new company, asking for a payment of £320 to register the company on the ‘Intercom VAT Registry’. Should I pay this fee? Is it compulsory?

A. Do not make any payment or respond to this letter. It is a known scam. The ‘Intercom VAT Registry’ does not exist and it is not an official EU body as the letter suggests. If you are ever suspicious about letters or emails your business receives, check them against the list of known fraud on the Action Fraud website: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/. We are more than happy to check any suspicious correspondence you receive, so contact us if you are unsure of the legitimacy of any letters or emails sent to you.

Q. What records do I need to keep to claim travelling expenses? Do I also need to keep receipts for petrol?

A. You should record the date, destination and distance of each business journey you drive in your own car. It is good practice to record the total on your car’s milometer at the start and end of each journey. Your employer can pay you up to 45p per mile for each business related journey you drive. Business journeys do not include normal commuting between your home and your permanent workplace. If your employer is VAT registered it will be able to reclaim VAT on part of the mileage allowance you receive, if you provide VAT receipts to the value of the fuel used. The VAT receipts do not have to exactly match the dates of your journeys. When travelling by public transport keep the receipt for the ticket.

Q. I’ve always calculated my business income for a full year to 30 April. On my tax return for 2010/11 I’ve recorded my business profits, income and expenses for the year to 30 April 2010. But when I rang the Tax Office with a query the adviser told me that my accounts should always be drawn up to 5 April. Have I been doing it wrong for 20 years?

A. The adviser at the tax office is wrong. You can draw up your business accounts to any date you please. The year end of 30 April gives you a long delay between the end of your accounting year and the date on which you need to pay tax on the profits for that period.

Q. A friend told me I’d pay less tax if I held my let properties through a company. Is that true?

A. The answer depends on whether you need to get your hands on the proceeds from your lettings business and your current highest tax rate. Let’s assume you need the cash and your highest tax rate is 40%.

If the properties are in a company, the company will probably pay tax at 20% on the rental profits. But its tax rate could be up to 27.5% if the annual profits exceed £300,000, or you control a number of companies. When you extract the profits from the company as dividends you will pay a further 25% income tax. So for rental profits of £100, you will end up with £60 in your hands.

If you hold the properties personally, and pay tax at 40%, for every £100 of rental profits you will receive £60 in your hands. No different to holding the properties in a company. However, if you had not extracted the profits from the company until a later year when you are a basic rate tax payer you would then be paying less tax. It can also be beneficial to keep the profits in the company to re-invest in further properties. The company may pay tax of 20% on the gain it makes when it sells the let properties. If you sell the properties you will probably pay tax at 28%, but you will be able to set-off a tax-free allowance of £10,600 against the gain, which is not available to the company. You may have to also pay further tax when extracting the profits out of the company.

Q. I’ve received a £100 fine for not submitting my tax return, but I don’t remember receiving a form to complete. All my income is taxed under PAYE, so surely I don’t need to complete a tax form, do I?

A. You should first ring the Self Assessment helpline on 0845 900 0444. Have to hand your NI number and your unique taxpayer reference number (UTR), if you know it. The Tax Officer will confirm whether you need to complete a tax return for the year to 5 April 2011 or not. If you do need to complete a tax return for that year you should do that online, if you submit a paper form now you will receive an even higher penalty. We can help you submit your return online, if one is due.

Q. I hold the lease of a property comprising of a shop on the ground floor and offices above. The shop is vacant and only one of the offices is let. I’ve received a good offer from a property developer to purchase the lease of the whole building. If I invest in another commercial let property can I rollover the gain and avoid paying tax on the sale of the lease?

A. It is possible to rollover gains made on land and buildings used by trading businesses or which are let to trading businesses that are connected to the building owner. However, letting of property is not regarded as a ‘trade’, so you can’t rollover the gain you make on selling the lease of this building. Even if your own trading company occupied a part of the building, rollover relief would only be available on the proportion of the building it occupied.

Q. My bakery shop is VAT registered, but I don’t add VAT to the bread and cakes I sell. I’m going to start selling take-away filled rolls, fizzy drinks and hot pies. Will I have to charge VAT on these items?

A. Most food is zero rated for VAT, which for a VAT registered business such as yours, means you add no VAT to your bakery products but you can reclaim VAT on your business purchases. However, once food is supplied in the course of catering, or as hot food to eat straight away, the standard rate of VAT (20%) may apply. The rules of what must be standard rated and what should be zero rated are quite complicated, and are set out in detail in the VAT notice 701/14: Food. We can advise on what products you should apply standard rate VAT to.

Q. I am about to move abroad, for what I hope will be a permanent relocation. Can I continue to contribute to my tax-free ISAs in the UK?

A. To open an ISA you must be resident and ordinarily resident in the UK for tax purposes. This broadly means that you normally live in the UK. There are exceptions for members of the military and government employees who are sent to work abroad. Once you have emigrated, you will not be permitted to open a new ISA, or contribute to ISAs already held. Also the interest paid on the ISAs you already hold may be taxable in the country you live in.

Q. If a company pays for private medical insurance for its employees and the contract is between the employer and the insurance company, is there a tax charge on the employees? Can the company deduct the cost of the insurance from its profits?

A. Where the employees earn £8,500 or more a year, or are directors, there is a tax charge for the individuals based on the cost to the company of the insurance. There are exceptions to this tax charge for eye-tests required by health and safety legislation, annual medical checks or health screenings. The company can deduct the cost of the insurance from its profits, as it is part of the cost of employing staff.

Q. I bought an investment property about 6 years ago and after expenses I have a surplus of about £250 per month. I have never declared this income or paid tax on it. How do I go about putting this right?

A. The Taxman is running a series of campaigns to encourage people to come clean about unpaid tax, the latest of which is aimed at people who sell through online markets. Although this is not your situation, you can make a disclosure of your rental profits. You will have to work out how much tax you owe and the interest due on that late paid tax, but we can help you with this. There will also be a penalty to pay, but as you are volunteering the information without being asked, the penalty should be minimal. The penalty could possibly be about 10% of the tax due.

Q. I’m thinking of starting a new company. Will it qualify for the NIC exemption?

A. It depends where your business is based. Businesses in the east and south-east of England, or London, don’t qualify for the so-called NIC holiday. The south-east region stretches all the way up to the Northamptonshire border, so you need to be quite clear where your principal place of business is. Secondly it must be a new business, not an existing business that has been transferred to a new company. There are also some excluded sectors such as road freight, coal and export businesses. We need to talk through the detailed rules before you apply for the NIC holiday.

Q. My business is VAT registered but the sales have dropped back, so my turnover is less than £75,000 per year. Can I stop charging VAT on my sales?

A. You must not stop charging VAT until you are given permission to do so by the VAT office. You need to apply to deregister for VAT on form VAT7, and send the completed form to the VAT deregistration office in Grimsby. You must continue to charge VAT on your sales until your application to deregister from VAT is accepted, and this has been confirmed by the VAT office.

Q. Last month the Tax Office wrote to me saying I would no longer receive tax credits, but I did nothing about it. Now my wife is expecting another baby so has reduced her working hours. Can I get my tax credits back?

A. You need to make a new tax credits claim as soon as possible, don’t wait until the new baby arrives. Your reduced family income may mean that you qualify for working and child tax credits already, and if you don’t, you will at least have submitted a protective claim for 2012/13. Under the new rules, from 6 April 2012 couples with children must work at least 24 hours per week between them, and one member of the couple must work at least 16 hours per week. There are exceptions if one person is disabled, incapacitated or a carer.

Q. I’m an IT contractor currently working for a government department through my own company, for £300 per day. I’ve heard that all contractors will have to go on the department payroll. I don’t want to be a wage-slave, so what should I do?

A. The government has announced that all senior appointments in government departments, such as executive positions, will have to be paid through payroll. This does not apply to other contractors. However, other government department contractors who are engaged for six months or more, and who are paid more than £220 per day, must when their contracts come up for renewal, or start afresh, include terms that allow the government department to seek formal assurance that income tax and NI obligations are being met. We can help you provide this assurance if it is requested.

Q. I don’t have the all the figures needed to complete the tax credits renewal form, and I’m worried I’ll lose my tax credits as the deadline is 31 July. The main problem is my income is as a musician as I don’t know what my total income is until I receive the royalty statements.

A. Don’t panic. You are required to return the tax credits renewals form by 31 July, or renew by phone, but you can submit estimated figures for 2011/12. When your self-employed accounts are ready you can submit the final figures and your tax credits award will be adjusted as necessary. As long as you submit final figures by 31 January 2013 you should not lose your tax credits.

Q. What’s all this about RTI? Do I have to do something by October? Is it going to cost me more?

A. Real Time Information (RTI) is a new way of submitting PAYE information to the tax office. All employers will have to use RTI by October 2013 (not this year), but some employers are starting to use RTI early in a test phase from April 2012. The aim is to add more employers to the RTI project at intervals, depending on how the first tests go. The tax office says your payroll software should cope with RTI when the time comes. We suggest you ask your software provider when their RTI update will be ready, and how much it will cost. We can help you prepare your payroll for RTI. This involves checking you have the full name, gender, date of birth and accurate NI number for every employee, including those who earn less than the NI threshold.

Q. I’m worried about the Granny tax. Is this going to affect me? I’m aged 64 with an annual income of around £16,000.

A. The so-called Granny tax is actually a change in entitlement to allowances from 6 April 2013. You are currently entitled to a personal allowance (tax free amount) to set against your income, of £8,105. From 6 April 2013 you will be entitled to a personal allowance of £9,205.

As you will reach age 65 in 2013/14 you may have expected to receive the higher age allowance of £10,500 which is available to people currently aged 65 or over. However, because the rules are changing on 6 April 2013, only those born before 6 April 1948 will be entitled to the age allowance of £10,500, everyone else will get the normal personal allowance. This is not as unfair as it seems as the age allowance will be frozen, probably for ever more at £10,500, but the personal allowance will increase each year, and is likely to reach £10,000 in 2014/15.

Q. Until 31 May 2011 I was employed as loss adjuster for company A, and I drove 4,400 business miles in my own car for that company in 2011/12. I then joined rival company B, and drove a further 8,080 miles on business, also in my own car, by 5 April 2012. Both companies paid me 40p per mile for those business journeys. Can I claim anything extra on my tax return?

A. Yes. The approved tax free mileage rate for 2011/12 was 45p per mile, for the first 10,000 business miles. However, this mileage threshold applies per employment. As you held two jobs with completely separate employers in the year, and drove less than 10,000 miles in each job, all your business mileage can be claimed at 45p per mile. You can claim £624 (5p x 12480 miles) on your tax return for 2011/12.

Q.The company provides the sales reps with pay-as-you-go mobile phones, who purchase top-ups when they need them, claiming the cost back on expenses. Does the cost of the top-ups need to be included on the forms P11D for those employees? Does it make a difference if the employee bought the pay-as-you-go phone?

A. Where the mobile phone is owned by the company and the contract is between the company and the telecoms provider, any top-ups purchased for that phone are tax free, as the provision of the phone is tax free. The cost of the vouchers does not have to be reported on the form P11D for each employee. Note this tax free treatment only applies to one phone per employee.

If the phone was bought by, and thus owned by the employee, the top-up vouchers are taxable and need to be reported on the form P11D. The employee could claim a deduction on their tax return for the cost of business calls made with the top-up payments, but this would involve analysing all the calls made into business and non-business calls.

Q. Our company is owned jointly by myself and my wife, and we are both directors of the company. I do most of the work and draw a lot of funds out of the business, so my director’s account with the company is often overdrawn. My wife has another paid position, so doesn’t draw so much from the company. Her director’s account with the company is always in credit. Can our two director’s accounts be combined and set-off against each other for tax reporting requirements?

A. Married individuals are taxed as separate persons in the UK, and their income and liabilities cannot be amalgamated to present a better picture for tax purposes. The Taxman is dead against the overdrawn balance on one person’s account being set against the credit balance on another person’s account, even if those two people are married.

Q. My company is doing well and I’d like a new car, possibly a BMW series 5. Should the company lease or buy this car, or does it make more sense for me to take a dividend from the company and to buy the car personally?

A. As the car is available to you for personal journeys you will be taxed on the ‘benefit’ of driving that car giving rise each year to a tax bill for yourself and a NI bill for your company at 13.8%.

The company will get a deduction against profits for the cost of leasing the car, but that deduction is limited if the car has CO2 emissions over 160g/km (reducing to 135g/km from April 2013). Likewise the capital allowances are restricted for cars with CO2 emissions over 160g/km. The company can pay for the car’s insurance, servicing and repairs, with no further cost to you, the driver. However, if fuel is provided there is an additional benefit in kind to be taxed on you.

In reality the calculations need to take into account other factors such as the cost of insurance and whether you need to borrow money to buy the car. We need to talk about this in greater detail to provide you with the correct advice.

Q. I want to buy a new business but the only way I can do that is to increase the mortgage on my house. Will the interest I pay on the extra mortgage be tax allowable for the business?

A. In principle yes, but there are restrictions to prevent improper use of this tax relief. Further restrictions are also proposed from 6 April 2013 (see above). Interest paid on loans used to buy into a partnership or to buy shares in a closely controlled company, or lend to such a company are generally tax allowable. However, it would be best to have a separate loan for this business investment, as when you repay any part of the mortgage the business part will be deemed to be reduced first. You will also have to hold at least 5% of the ordinary shares of the company and work for it for the greater part of your time.

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