Changing the terms of a salary sacrifice arrangement

A salary sacrifice arrangement is effectively an agreement to reduce an employee’s entitlement to cash pay, usually in return for a non-cash benefit. This can include items such as company cars, childcare vouchers and additional employer pension contributions.

The tax and NIC advantages of certain benefits provided as part of a salary sacrifice arrangement were removed from 6 April 2017. The change effectively removed the Income Tax and employer NIC advantages of certain benefits provided as part of salary sacrifice arrangements such as mobile phones and workplace parking. There was a transitional plan in place for certain benefits until 6 April 2021.

If an employee wants to opt in or out of a salary sacrifice arrangement, the employer must alter their contract with each change. The employee’s contract must be clear on what their cash and non-cash entitlements are at any given time.

It may also be necessary to change the terms of a salary sacrifice arrangement where a lifestyle change significantly alters an employee’s financial circumstances.

This may include:

  • changes to circumstances directly arising as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • marriage
  • divorce
  • partner becoming redundant or pregnant

Salary sacrifice arrangements can allow opting in or out in the event of lifestyle changes like these.

Restarting a dormant or non-trading company

HMRC must be informed when a non-trading or dormant company starts trading again and becomes active for Corporation Tax. Companies can use HMRC Online Services to supply the relevant information. 

When a company has previously traded and then stops, it would normally be considered as dormant. A company can stay dormant indefinitely, however there are costs associated with doing this and certain filings must still be made to Companies House. The costs of restarting a dormant company are typically less than starting from scratch again. 

The following steps are required:

  1. Tell HMRC that your business has restarted trading by registering for Corporation Tax again.
  2. Send accounts to Companies House within 9 months of your company’s year end.
  3. Pay any Corporation Tax due within 9 months and 1 day of your company’s year end.
  4. Send a Company Tax Return – including full statutory accounts – to HMRC within 12 months of your company’s year end.

Whilst reporting dates for annual returns and accounts should remain the same. The Corporation Tax accounting period is different and is set by reference to when the company restarts business activities.

VAT – transfer as a going concern

The transfer of a business as a going concern (TOGC) rules concern the VAT liability of the sale of a business. Normally the sale of the assets of a VAT registered or VAT registerable business will be subject to VAT at the appropriate rate.

Where the sale of a business includes assets and meets certain conditions the sale will be categorised as a TOGC. A TOGC is defined as 'neither a supply of goods nor a supply of services' and is therefore outside the scope of VAT. Under the TOGC rules no VAT would be chargeable on a qualifying sale.

All the following conditions are necessary for the TOGC rules to apply:

  • The assets must be sold as part of a 'business' as a 'going concern'. In essence, the business must be operating as such and not just an 'inert aggregation of assets'.
  • The purchaser intends to use the assets to carry on the same kind of business as the seller.
  • Where the seller is a taxable person, the purchaser must be a taxable person already or become one as the result of the transfer.
  • Where only part of a business is sold it must be capable of separate operation.
  • There must not be a series of immediately consecutive transfers.
  • There are further conditions in relation to transactions involving land.

The TOGC rules can be complex, and both the vendor and purchaser of a business must ensure that the rules are properly followed. The TOGC rules are also mandatory which means that it is imperative to establish from the outset whether a sale is or is not a TOGC. For example, if VAT is charged in error, the buyer has no legal right to recover it from HMRC and would have to seek to recover this 'VAT' from the seller.

Tax-free capital gains

As with Income Tax personal allowances, taxpayers have an annual exempt amount for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) which is forfeited if not used. The annual exemption for individuals in 2021-22 is £12,300.

Whilst most taxpayers are aware of their annual tax-free allowance and the exemption for the qualifying sale of the family home there are other items that are exempt from CGT.

These include:

  • your car
  • personal possessions worth up to £6,000 each, such as jewellery, paintings or antiques
  • stocks and shares you hold in tax-free investment savings accounts, such as ISAs and PEPs
  • UK Government or 'gilt-edged' securities, for example, National Savings Certificates, Premium Bonds and loan stock issued by the Treasury
  • betting, lottery or pools winnings
  • personal injury compensation
  • foreign currency you bought for your own or your family's personal use outside the UK

A husband and wife each have a separate exemption. This also applies to civil partners who are treated in the same way as married couples for CGT purposes. Married couples and civil partners should ensure that assets sold at a gain are either jointly owned or that each partner utilises their annual exempt amount wherever possible. Any unused part of the annual exempt amount cannot be carried forward and is forfeited if unused in the current tax year.

Tax on savings interest

If you have taxable income of less than £17,570 in 2021-22 you will have no tax to pay on interest received. This figure is calculated by adding the £5,000 starting rate limit for savings (where 0% of the interest is taxable) to the current £12,570 personal allowance. However, it is important to note that if your total non-savings income exceeds £17,570 then the starting rate limit for savings is unavailable.

There is a tapered relief available if your non-savings income is between £17,570 and £12,570 whereby every £1 of non-savings income above a taxpayer's personal allowance reduces their starting rate for savings by £1.

There is also a Personal Savings Allowance (PSA) that can be beneficial to many savers. This allowance ensures that for basic-rate taxpayers the first £1,000 interest on savings income is tax-free. For higher-rate taxpayers the tax-free personal savings allowance is £500. Taxpayers earning over £150,000 do not benefit from the PSA.

Interest from savings products such as ISA's and premium bond wins do not count towards the limit. So, taxpayers with tax-free accounts and higher savings can still continue to benefit from the relevant PSA limits.

Banks and building societies no longer deduct tax from bank account interest as a matter of course. Taxpayers who need to pay tax on savings income are required to declare this as part of their annual Self-Assessment tax return.

Taxpayers that have overpaid tax on savings interest can submit a claim to have the tax repaid. Claims can be backdated for up to four years from the end of the current tax year. This means that claims can still be made for overpaid interest dating back as far as the 2017-18 tax year. The deadline for making claims for the 2017-18 tax year is 5 April 2022.

New self-build initiative

In a surprise weekend announcement, the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has revealed new plans for £150 million of funding to make it easier and more affordable for people to build their own homes. 

The new “Help to Build” low deposit mortgage scheme will help self and custom home building become a realistic option to get onto the housing ladder. The new scheme is based on the existing “Help to Buy” scheme and will enable people to custom build a new home with just a 5% deposit backed by a government equity loan. 

These changes are expected to see a huge growth in self and custom home builds. This could see some 30-40,000 new homes a year being built in this sector.

The government also announced £2.1 million in funding to help communities have a greater say in how their local area is developed. The fund will boost neighbourhood planning by giving additional support to local authorities in under-represented areas.

End to COVID-19 adjusted right to work checks

The government has confirmed, in its updated guidance on carrying out right to work checks during the coronavirus pandemic, that the temporary COVID-19 adjusted right to work check process will come to an end on 16 May 2021. This temporary process, in place since 30 March 2020, has allowed right to work checks to be carried out over video calls and for job applicants to send scanned documents or a photo of their documents to employers via email or a mobile app, rather than sending the originals. The cessation of this temporary process means that, from 17 May 2021, employers must revert to undertaking fully compliant right to work checks, i.e. by once again checking either the job applicant’s original documents or their right to work online, in the latter case if they have provided the employer with their share code.

The updated guidance also provides that employers do not need to carry out retrospective physical checks of original documents on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted right to work check between 30 March 2020 and 16 May 2021 inclusive. Employers will maintain a statutory defence against a civil penalty if the check they have undertaken during this period was carried out in the manner set out in the COVID-19 adjusted right to work checks guidance.
 

Tax Diary May/June 2021

1 May 2021 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 30 July 2020.

19 May 2021 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 May 2021. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 May 2021).

19 May 2021 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 May 2021. 

19 May 2021 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 May 2021 is payable by today.

31 May 2021 – Ensure all employees have been given their P60s for the 2020-21 tax year.

1 June 2021 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 August 2020.

19 June 2021 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 June 2021. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 June 2021)

19 June 2021 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 June 2021. 

19 June 2021 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 June 2021 is payable by today.

Small trading tax exemption for charities

The tax treatment of charities can be complex. Many charities trade either as part of their charitable interests or to raise funds. As a first step, any charity hoping to benefit from any beneficial tax treatment needs to be recognised as a charity for UK tax purposes by HMRC as well as meeting other criteria.

A charity will not pay tax on profits it makes from trade if:

  • they are making money to help their charity’s aims and objectives, known as ‘primary purpose trading’
  • their level of trade that is not primary purpose falls below the charity’s small trading tax exemption limit
  • they trade through a subsidiary trading company

The charity must pay tax on any other profits.

The small trading tax exemption limits are as follows:

Charity’s gross annual income Maximum permitted small trading turnover
Under £32,000 £8,000
£32,001 to £320,000 25% of your charity’s total annual turnover
Over £320,000 £80,000

If the charity’s small trading turnover is higher than the exemption limits, then they are required to pay tax on all of their profits from that trade.

Correcting errors on VAT returns

Where an error on a past VAT return is uncovered, businesses have a duty to correct the error as soon as possible. As a general rule, any necessary adjustment can be made on a current VAT return. However, in order to be able to do so, there are three important conditions that must be met:

  1. The error must be below the reporting threshold.
  2. The error must not have been deliberate.
  3. The error can only relate to an accounting period that ended less than 4 years ago.

Under the reporting threshold rule, businesses can make an adjustment on their next VAT return if the net value of the errors is £10,000 or less. The threshold is further increased if the net value of errors found on previous returns is between £10,000 and £50,000 but does not exceed 1% of the box 6 (net outputs) VAT return declaration figure for the return period in which the errors are discovered.

VAT errors of a net value that exceed the limits for correction on a current return or that were deliberate should be notified to HMRC using form VAT 652 (or providing the same information in letter format) and should be submitted to HMRC's VAT Error Correction team.

HMRC can also charge penalties and interest if an error is due to careless or dishonest behaviour.