Expenses and benefits filing deadlines

The deadline for submitting the 2019-20 forms P11D, P11D(b) and P9D is 6 July 2020. Employees must also be provided with a copy of their P11D by the same date.

Employers pay Class 1A National Insurance contributions on most benefits. If you provided taxable benefits to staff or directors your business is likely to have a Class 1A employers’ NIC liability. The deadline for paying class 1A NICs is 22 July 2020 (or 19 July if paying by cheque).

P11D forms are used to provide information to HMRC on all Benefits in Kind (BiKs), including those under the Optional Remuneration Arrangements (OpRAs) unless the employer has registered to payroll benefits. This is known as payrolling and removes the requirement to complete a P11D for the selected benefits. However, a P11D(b) is still required for Class 1A National Insurance payments regardless of whether the benefits are being reported via P11D or payrolled.

Where no benefits were provided during 2019-20 and a form P11D(b) or P11D(b) reminder is received, employers can either submit a 'nil' return or notify HMRC online that no return is required. Employers should ensure that they complete their P11Ds accurately, including the full details of cars and loans provided. There are penalties for late filing of returns.

Any tax or National Insurance due for 2019-20 under a PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA) needs to be paid electronically to clear into HMRC’s bank account by 22 October 2020 (19 October 2020 for payments by cheque).

Reimbursing expenses for home office equipment

HMRC has updated its guide for employers who have employees working from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This could be a result of the workplace being closed or because employees are following government advice to self-isolate.

The updated guidance reflects temporary changes to the rules for reimbursing employees for the purchase of office equipment whilst working from home. The guidance originally published on 26 March 2020 stated that if employers reimburse expenses for office equipment their employees have bought that this is taxable and should be reported on the employers PAYE Settlement Agreements.

In a written statement published on 13 May 2020, Jesse Norman, The Financial Secretary to the Treasury announced the introduction of a temporary measure to support employees who are working from home as a result of the pandemic. This temporary measure states that employer reimbursements for the cost of home-office equipment expenses will be exempt from tax and NICs.

The expenditure must meet the following two conditions to be eligible for relief:

  1. That equipment is obtained for the sole purpose of enabling the employee to work from home as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, and
  2. The provision of the equipment would have been exempt from Income Tax if it had been provided directly to the employee by or on behalf of the employer (under section 316 of ITEPA).

The exemption is a temporary measure and will have effect from the day after the regulations come into force until the end of the tax year 2020/21. However, we are told that HMRC will exercise its collection and management discretion and will not collect tax and NICs due on any reimbursed payments made from 16 March 2020 (the date the government recommended working from home) to the date these regulations take effect.

Employee car ownership schemes

An Employee Car Ownership Scheme (ECOS) is a set of arrangements whereby employees acquire cars from a specified, often single source and within a specified financing framework. The use of an ECOS can effectively be seen as a halfway measure between providing a company car and leaving an employee to make all their car arrangements privately.

An ECOS gives employees similar benefits to having a company car, for example a new car on a regular basis, and/or central organisation of insurance and servicing but is structured in such a way that normal car and fuel benefit provisions do not apply.

HMRC has published special guidance on the ECOS due to the Coronavirus restrictions. If an employee has not been able to return the car to the dealership or factory for its assessment, there may be an Income Tax charge on the amount of the loan still owing.

If the loan period was less than 4 years, it may be possible for the employee to arrange an extension with the loan provider for a few more months. This will cover the period until the car can be returned and the loan settled. If this is done, HMRC will accept that the arrangements do not give rise to the Income Tax charge. If, however, the loan is extended beyond 4 years, an Income Tax charge will arise.

New advisory fuel rates published

Advisory fuel rates are intended to reflect actual average fuel costs and are updated quarterly. The rates can be used by employers who reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars or where employees are required to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel. HMRC accepts there is no taxable profit and no Class 1A National Insurance on reimbursed travel expenses where employers pay a rate per mile for business travel no higher than the published advisory fuel rates.

Employees can also use the advisory fuel rates to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel. In this case, HMRC will accept there is no fuel benefit charge. The advisory rates are not binding if you the employer can demonstrate that employees cover the full cost of private fuel by repaying at a lower rate per mile.

The latest advisory fuel rates become effective on 1 June 2020. Fuel rates are reviewed four times a year with changes taking effect on 1 March, 1 June, 1 September and 1 December. You can use the previous rates for up to 1 month from the date the new rates apply.

The new rates are as follows:

Engine size     Petrol – amount per mile   LPG – amount per mile
1400cc or less      10p 6p
1401cc to 2000cc       12p 8p
Over 2000cc       17p 11p

 

Engine size      Diesel – amount per mile
1600cc or smaller   8p
1601cc to 2000cc     9p
Over 2000cc   12p

Hybrid cars are treated as either petrol or diesel cars for this purpose.

Advisory Electricity Rate

HMRC accepts that if you pay up to 4p per mile when reimbursing your employees for business travel in a fully electric company car there is no profit. While electricity is not considered a fuel for tax and NICs purposes, the Advisory Electricity Rate is now published quarterly alongside the other advisory fuel rates.

Working from home tax breaks

HMRC has a useful guide for employers who have employees working from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This could be a result of the workplace being closed or because employees are following government advice to self-isolate. This guidance is not relevant for furloughed workers as they should not be doing any work whilst on furlough.

Employers may reimburse employees for certain household expenses incurred if they are required to work from home. In general, the expenses must be in relation to business use and there must be no significant private use. For example, if laptops, tablets, computers and office supplies are provided for business purposes and there is no significant private use, these are treated as non-taxable. There is no restriction on the private use of mobile phone and SIM cards which are limited to one per employee; these costs are non-taxable.

If an employer reimburses expenses incurred by an employee buying office equipment, this is taxable and should be reported on a PAYE settlement agreement.

Employers can pay a fixed amount of up to £6 per week (or £26 a month for employees paid monthly) to cover additional expenses for employees working from home to cover extra expenses relating to electricity, heating or broadband. These figures increased from £4 per week (or £18 a month for employees paid monthly) that were in place up to 5 April 2020.

Employers can also provide an employment-related loan. Loans provided with a value less than £10,000 in a tax year are non-taxable.

Expenses and benefits filing deadlines

The deadline for submitting the 2019-20 forms P11D, P11D(b) and P9D is 6 July 2020. Employees must also be provided with a copy of the information relating to them on these forms by the same date. P11D forms are used to provide information to HMRC on all Benefits in Kind (BiKs), including those under the Optional Remuneration Arrangements (OpRAs) unless the employer has registered to payroll benefits.

This is known as payrolling and removes the requirement to complete a P11D for the selected benefits. However, a P11D(b) is still required for Class 1A National Insurance payments regardless of whether the benefits are being reported via P11D or payrolled. The deadline for paying class 1A NICs is 22 July 2020 (or 19 July if paying by cheque).

Where no benefits were provided from 6 April 2019 to 5 April 2020 and a form P11D(b) or P11D(b) reminder is received, employers can either submit a 'nil' return or notify HMRC online that no return is required. Employers should ensure that they complete their P11D accurately, including all the details of cars and loans provided. There are penalties of £100 per 50 employees for each month or part month a P11D(b) is late.  There are also penalties and interest if for late payments.

Any tax or National Insurance due for 2019-20 under a PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA) needs to be paid electronically to clear into HMRC’s bank account by 22 October 2020 (19 October 2020 for payments by cheque).

Working Tax Credits increased for one year

As part of the package of measures to tackle the Coronavirus outbreak, the government has announced that the basic element Working Tax Credit payments will be increased from an expected £1,995 to £3,040 for the 2020-21 tax year starting on 6 April 2020. 

This annual increase of £1,045 is equivalent to £86.67 per month for one year from 6 April 2020. The actual amount that Working Tax Credits recipients will receive depends on their circumstances, including their level of household income.

If you claim Working Tax Credits, you don’t have to take any action or contact HMRC – the increase in your payments will start from 6 April 2020.

There have also been corresponding increases in Universal Credit available to many employed and self-employed workers on low incomes or who have become unemployed. This has seen the government increase the basic element and remove the minimum income floor in a move to benefit the self-employed. The minimum income floor won’t apply to anyone after 6 April 2020. This will last until the Coronavirus outbreak is over. 
 

New advisory fuel rates published

Advisory fuel rates are intended to reflect actual average fuel costs and are updated quarterly. The rates can be used by employers who reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars or where employees are required to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel. HMRC accepts there is no taxable profit and no Class 1A National Insurance on reimbursed travel expenses where employers pay a rate per mile for business travel no higher than the published advisory fuel rates.

Employees can also use the advisory fuel rates to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel. In this case, HMRC will accept there’s no fuel benefit charge. The advisory rates are not binding if the employer can demonstrate that employees cover the full cost of private fuel by repaying at a lower rate per mile.

The latest advisory fuel rates become effective on 1 March 2020. Fuel rates are reviewed four times a year with changes taking effect on 1 March, 1 June, 1 September and 1 December. You can use the previous rates for up to 1 month from the date the new rates apply.

The new rates are as follows:

 

Engine size    Petrol – amount per mile  LPG – amount per mile
1400cc or less     12p 8p
1401cc to 2000cc      14p 10p
Over 2000cc      20p 14p

 

Engine size     Diesel – amount per mile
1600cc or smaller  9p
1601cc to 2000cc    11p
Over 2000cc  13p

 

Hybrid cars are treated as either petrol or diesel cars for this purpose.

Advisory Electricity Rate

HMRC accepts that if you pay up to 4p per mile when reimbursing your employees for business travel in a fully electric company car there is no profit. While electricity is not considered a fuel for tax and NICs purposes, the Advisory Electricity Rate is now published quarterly alongside the other advisory fuel rates.

New bandings for electric vehicles

From 6 April 2020, the car and car fuel benefit calculations are changing with the introduction of 11 new bands for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) including a separate zero emissions band.

If a car has a CO2 emission figure of 1-50g/km employers will need to provide the car’s zero emission mileage. This is the maximum distance that the car can travel in miles on a single electric charge. The graduated table of company car tax bands will be based on the zero emission mileage of the car.

This change will result in some new reporting requirements for electric cars that have a CO2 emission figure of between 1-50g/km. HMRC has confirmed that from 6 April 2020, if you are adding a new car or making one available to an employee for the first time, a new zero emission mileage field will be shown on the form P46 (car). The online P46 (car) will be updated with the changes. For paper P46 (car) submissions you will need to ensure you complete the latest version as historic copies may not include the new zero emission mileage field. In addition, there will be a new field on the Full Payment Submission (FPS) to provide the car’s zero emission mileage figure (if relevant).

The zero emission mileage figure should be available on the vehicle’s Certificate of Conformity. For leased cars, the information should be provided from the car leasing firm or fleet provider. If, in extreme circumstances, this information is not available, HMRC allows you to obtain the zero emission mileage figure via the car manufacturer.

On your bike – tax free cycling

There are special rules involving bicycles for work use, usually referred to as 'Cycle to Work' arrangements. The Cycle to Work scheme was introduced almost 20 years ago to help promote the use of healthy ways to commute to work using an environmentally friendly mode of transport.

The scheme allows employers to provide bicycles and cyclists’ safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit. The scheme was recently extended to include the use of electronic bikes known as e-bikes. The scheme must be offered to all employees and the bike must be used for qualifying journeys (but pleasure use is also allowed). Where the scheme conditions are satisfied, employees can benefit from a tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) reduction of between 32% and 42% through a salary sacrifice scheme. In addition, there is no employer liability to NICs.

The cycle to work benefits only relate to the loan period. However, it is commonplace for an employer or a third party bicycle provider to offer the employee the bicycle / equipment they have been using for sale after the loan period has ended. The bike may be offered to the employee for sale at a fair market value, but this must be done as a separate agreement.

Employers of all sizes across the public, private and voluntary sectors are eligible to take part in the scheme to provide (technically loan) bicycles and cyclists’ safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit. If you are interested in hearing more about the benefits of this scheme, please let us know.