Beware £5,000 company fine

As well as filing accounts with Companies House, there is an important requirement to check that the information Companies House has about your company is correct every year. This is facilitated by the filing of an annual company confirmation statement. The confirmation statement was introduced in June 2016 and replaced the annual return. You could be subject to a fine of up to £5,000 for failing to send a confirmation statement. Companies House can also prosecute a company and its officers for failing to file a confirmation statement and the company can be struck off.

A confirmation statement must usually be filed at Companies House once every 12 months and rather than resubmitting data every year the confirmation statement only needs to be updated if you have changes to report. If there are no changes then you just need to confirm the information is correct and submit the statement. The due date is usually a year after either the date your company incorporated or the date you filed your last annual return or confirmation statement. You can file your confirmation statement up to 14 days after the due date.

The following details need to be checked:

  • the details of your registered office, directors, secretary and the address where you keep your records
  • your statement of capital and shareholder information if your company has shares
  • your SIC code (the number that identifies what your company does)
  • your register of 'people with significant control' (PSC)

Any necessary updates to the statement of capital, shareholder information and SIC codes can be made when submitting the confirmation statement. However, the confirmation statement cannot be used to report changes to your company’s officers, the registered office address, the address where you keep your records, people with significant control. These changes must be filed separately with Companies House and this should be done at the same time or prior to submitting the confirmation statement. The confirmation statement can be filed online (at a cost of £13) or by post (at a cost of £40).

Business rates review

The government has confirmed that the next business rates revaluation in England will be postponed until April 2023. The government has previously announced that the revaluation that was due in 2021 would be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic but no date had been announced. The revaluation in April 2023 will be based on property values on 1 April 2021.

The new revaluation date means that business rates will be based on property rental values that better reflect the impact of the pandemic. As with any revaluation there are winners and losers and this delay will benefit some businesses and hinder others. 

The revaluation of business rates usually happens every 5 years and is necessary to reflect changes in the property market. The last revaluation came into effect in England and Wales on 1 April 2017, based on rateable values from 1 April 2015. The revaluation does not raise additional revenue for the Exchequer as the multiplier applied to the property value is reduced accordingly. The downside of this delay is that rate bills will continue to be based on now historic 2015 values until April 2023.

The government has also launched a call for evidence on reforming the system. The government is aware that many businesses and stakeholders may need extra time to pull together a full response to all of the issues and so is seeking responses in two phases.

Phase One is asking for views on the multiplier and reliefs sections, as well as any other areas of pressing concern. These need to be submitted by 18th September followed by responses on all other sections by 31 October. The review is expected to conclude in Spring 2021.

Most retail, leisure and hospitality occupiers are currently receiving 100% Retail Rate Relief as part of the government support measures to help the economy cope with the effect of the pandemic. However, it is not known what if any reliefs will be announced from April 2021.

Why do customers buy from you?

This may seem to be an odd question. They buy because you offer what they want at the right price?

But is that the only consideration?

For faceless organisations like the larger online retailers, customers benefit from the huge range of goods on offer, easy payment options and reviews from previous buyers.

Competing on these terms is difficult for smaller businesses which prompts the question, what can we offer our customers aside from providing what they need at the right price?

One point of difference is that smaller businesses have an opportunity to develop person to person relationships that are not available on a larger scale. Prior, to the recent lock-down, proprietors will have met their customers face-to-face. They will have shared experiences of working in their local business community; they will get to know their customers, how they run their businesses, which goods and services they need.

Micro-sized businesses should exploit this ability to know their customers as larger organisations cannot compete at this level.

What we are discussing in this article is about developing working relationships with your clients that make them feel at home when they pick up the phone to buy from you. You will know their name, their back-ground, their previous buying patterns. Larger organisations may be able to duplicate some of this familiarity by automating past order processes, but there is no substitute for that person to person exchange that builds business friendships and locks-in goodwill.

And so, the next time a customer rings, take an extra minute to ask a couple of open questions: how are you, how is business? And pick-up on past conversations, did you manage to sort out that job you discussed last month?

As long as you get the basics right, supplying goods and services at the agreed price and delivery date, then your relationship with your customers will encourage loyalty and help you build and retain a solid client base for your business.

Tax Diary August/September 2020

1 August 2020 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 October 2019.

19 August 2020 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 August 2020. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 August 2020)

19 August 2020 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 August 2020. 

19 August 2020 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 August 2020 is payable by today.

1 September 2020 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 30 November 2019.

19 September 2020 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 September 2020. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 September 2020)

19 September 2020 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 September 2020. 

19 September 2020 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 September 2020 is payable by today.

Draft legislation published for Finance Bill 2020-21

The government has published the draft legislation for Finance Bill 2020-21, along with accompanying explanatory notes, tax information and impact notes. The consultation on draft clauses is intended to make sure that the legislation works as intended. The consultation will close on 15 September 2020.

The Finance Bill will contain the legislation for some of the tax measures that have been previously announced by the government many of which have since been the subject of further consultation.

The publication of the draft Finance Bill is in line with the current approach to tax and where the government committed to publishing most tax legislation in draft for technical consultation before the legislation is laid before Parliament.

This Finance Bill will see the introduction of a number of measures from April 2021 including:

  • Changes to the van benefit charge regarding zero emission vans.
  • Changes to collective money purchase pension schemes.
  • Changes to the treatment of termination payments and post-employment notice pay for Income Tax.
  • Changes to working time requirements for Enterprise Management Incentives.
  • New rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax for non-UK residents from 1 April 2021.

Who pays Inheritance Tax?

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is levied on a person’s estate when they die and can also be payable during a person’s lifetime on certain trusts and gifts. The rate of Inheritance Tax payable is 40% on death and 20% on lifetime gifts.  IHT is payable at a reduced rate on some assets if an individual leaves 10% or more of the 'net value' to charity of their estate.

There is a nil-rate band, currently £325,000 below which no Inheritance Tax is payable. In addition, there is an IHT residence nil-rate band (RNRB) which relates to a main residence passed down to a direct descendent such as children or grandchildren. The RNRB of £175,000 (where available) is additional to the £325,000 Inheritance Tax nil-rate band.

Funds from the deceased estate are usually used to pay IHT. If there is a will, it is usually the executor who deals with paying any IHT due to HMRC. IHT can be paid from funds within the estate, or from money raised from the sale of the assets. Payment of any IHT due is often made using the Direct Payment Scheme (DPS) whereby some or all of the IHT is paid from the deceased person’s accounts directly to HMRC. The deceased may also have used a life insurance policy to fund the payment of some / all the IHT due.

Once the IHT and any outstanding debts are paid, the executor or administrator can distribute what remains of the estate. The beneficiaries of the will do not normally need to pay IHT on their inheritance, but there are exceptions.

Local authorities to receive £500m additional support

The government has confirmed allocations for individual councils in England from the £500 million of additional support for Coronavirus-related spending pressures. This further injection sees a total of £4.3 billion in direct funding to councils to help with issues caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. The money is being distributed to councils based on population and levels of deprivation, and how the costs of delivery of services varies across the country.

The government has also announced a co-payment scheme that will compensate councils for irrecoverable income losses from sales, fees and charges such as from parking and from heritage services. They will be expected to absorb the initial 5% of losses compared to planned income from these sources. Thereafter, there will be a cost splitting arrangement where 75p in every pound of relevant losses will be compensated for by the government. The scheme does not cover lost commercial rent income.

Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

'Councils are playing a vital role in our national fight against Coronavirus, providing a lifeline for so many and supporting communities at a time when they need it most. That’s why we are giving them an extra £500 million – taking our total additional funding provided to £4.3 billion – and today I am setting out how this will be allocated to councils fairly based on the pressures they have told us they are facing. This comes on top of the co-payment scheme announced last week that will compensate councils for irrecoverable income losses from sales, fees and charges.'

Review of CGT on the cards?

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has written to the OTS (Office of Tax Simplification), asking the OTS to undertake a review of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and aspects of the taxation of chargeable gains in relation to individuals and smaller businesses. In response to the request, the OTS has published a scoping document for the review, together with a call for evidence and an online survey.

The scope of review will include looking at the following areas: the overall scope of the tax and the various rates which can apply; the reliefs, exemptions and allowances which can apply, and the treatment of losses; the annual exempt amount and its interactions with other reliefs; the position of individuals, partnerships and estates in administration, and of unincorporated businesses and stand-alone owner-managed trading or investment companies; and interactions with other parts of the tax system such as Income Tax, Capital Allowances, Stamp Taxes and Inheritance Tax, including potentially different definitions for similar transactions/events.

The review will also consider a number of more specific issues, including clearance and claims procedures; chargeable gains on shares and securities; the acquisition and disposal of property; the practical operation of principal private residence relief; consideration of the issues arising from the boundary between Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax in relation to employees; valuations, record-keeping, calculating any tax payable and making returns, including claiming losses and the information HMRC have and can use to help them reduce administrative burdens, improve customer experience and ensure compliance.

The OTS are inviting response on the principles of CGT by 10 August 2020, and on the main section of the call for evidence by 12 October 2020. 

Students working summer jobs

We would like to remind students that work part time, for example in a summer job, that they are entitled to claim back any tax overpaid. Students (and other temporary workers) are not required to pay any Income Tax if their earnings are below the tax-free personal allowance, currently £12,500.

However, employers are required to calculate the amount of tax you need to pay on the basis that you would be working for the rest of the tax year. This means that an over-payment of Income Tax can often occur where a student or temporary worker earns more than their monthly allowance of £1,042 (£12,500 / 12), but over the course of the tax year earn less than their annual allowance. For example, a student only working over the summer and earning more than £1,042 a month is unlikely to have exceeded the current £12,500 tax free personal allowance.

Students that expect to earn less than £12,500 in the current tax year (i.e. to 5 April 2021) can complete a HMRC P50 form entitled Claim for repayment of tax when they have stopped working. A refund of overpaid tax can be requested using an online version of the P50 form. The P50 form can only be used if you are not going to work for at least the next 4 weeks and are not claiming certain state benefits.

Any students that are continuing to work for the rest of the tax year in part-time jobs should consider waiting until the end of the tax year in order to make a claim.

Making Tax Digital next steps

HM Treasury has confirmed the extension of Making Tax Digital (MTD) to cover businesses with a turnover below the VAT threshold and for certain individuals who file Income Tax Self-Assessment tax returns. This announcement provides much-needed clarity of the way forward for this scheme.

MTD started in April 2019 (for VAT purposes only) when businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold of £85,000 became mandated to keep their records digitally and provide their VAT return information to HMRC using MTD compatible software. Since the launch more than 1.4 million businesses have joined the programme.

The first part of the further roll-out of MTD will start April 2022, when MTD will be extended to all VAT registered businesses with turnover below the VAT threshold of £85,000. This will be followed one year later (April 2023) when MTD will be extended to taxpayers who file Income Tax Self-Assessment tax returns for business or property income over £10,000 annually.

HMRC has said that the long lead-in time will allow businesses, landlords and agents time to plan. It also gives software providers enough notice to bring a range of new products to market, including free software for businesses with the simplest tax affairs.

Financial secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman said:

'We are setting out our next steps on Making Tax Digital today, as we bring the UK’s tax system into the 21st century. Making Tax Digital will make it easier for businesses to keep on top of their tax affairs. But it also has huge potential to improve the productivity of our economy, and its resilience in times of crisis.'

The government has also confirmed that it remains committed to extending MTD to other taxes. The government will also consult later this year on the detail of extending MTD to incorporated businesses with Corporate Tax obligations.