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Taxes Made Easy Guide 21/22- your essential Summer reading!

In these difficult economic times, it is important to ensure that you are not paying more tax than you need to.

I am delighted to offer you the chance to download a copy of my tax planning guide for 2021/22.

This guide suggests many ways in which you can save money on your tax bill by taking full advantage of the tax system. It highlights tax planning opportunities as well as some of the pitfalls you should avoid.

The booklet is a clear and concise guide to the taxes that you, your business and your family may pay.  I hope that it will give you practical tips on how you can save tax – or at least areas where there may be scope for action and that you will contact me for help and advice.

You can download your copy by clicking on the link below:

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What salary should a director have in 2021-22 to be tax efficient?

For most limited company directors, the optimal solution is to pay a low salary and then to pay dividends.

Why is this the case?

  • If you pay yourself a salary no higher than the personal allowance, there is no personal tax to pay on it
  • You should however ensure that the salary is high enough for national insurance purposes to count as a “qualifying year” – towards your state pension and other benefits
  • Then pay additional amounts as dividends – as there is no national insurance payable on dividends.  Ideally keep total income under £50,270 to avoid paying higher rate tax
  • The salary paid is an expense of the business and therefore reduces your profit, and your corporation tax

Obviously, every person has a different personal tax situation and this is only intended to be general guidance for salary levels. We have assumed:

  • You are a UK resident
  • You have no student loan
  • You have no other income other than salary and dividends from your company
  • You are not working inside of IR35
  • You have a standard personal allowance
  • Your company has sufficient post tax profits to legally pay these dividends

So what salary should you pay yourself this year?

First we need to understand the impact that National Insurance has on your salary choice, as you start paying NI at a lower level of income than you start paying income tax.

There are 3 NI thresholds to consider:

  • Lower Earnings Limit – If your salary is above this limit, you’ll keep your future entitlement to state pension and benefits. However, you don’t actually pay any NI contributions. For the 2021/22 tax year the threshold is £520 per month or £6,240 per annum 
  • Primary Threshold– Once you earnings start exceeding this threshold you will pay employee’s national insurance. The limits are £797 per month or £9,568 per annum for the 2021/22 tax year
  • Secondary Threshold– When you earn above this threshold, your company is required to pay employer’s national insurance. The threshold for 2021/22 is £736 per month or £8,840 per annum.

 

Salary Option 1:

The first strategy is to pay yourself a salary up to the Employer’s National Insurance Threshold – £736 a month or £8,840 per annum. This is the most that you can pay yourself without you or your company paying any income tax or national insurance on your salary.

You can then pay dividends of £41,430 without paying any higher rate tax, and your basic rate tax bill for the year would be £2,678.

The company would save corporation tax of £1680 (19% x £8,840)

Salary Option 2:

The second strategy is to pay yourself a salary up to the Personal Allowance threshold of £12,570 or £1,047.50 per month.

This level of income is above the NIC thresholds, so you will pay employees NIC of £360 on your salary over the course of the year, resulting in net pay of £12,210.

Technically the company will also pay employers NIC, but if you have more than one employee earning over the LEL, then you can claim the NIC employment allowance. This is currently up to £4,000, and is offset against the employers NIC due, resulting in none actually being paid!

Note that a sole director cannot claim this allowance, so the company would then pay £514 in employers NIC on this salary.

If you pay a salary of £12,570, you can then pay dividends of up to £37,700 without paying higher rate tax. Your personal income tax bill would be £3,038 and the company would save £2,388 in corporation tax.

Option 1 or 2?

If you have more than one employee and can benefit from the employers NIC employment allowance, then taking the corporation tax and personal tax into account, you would be better off by £348 going with Option 2.

Option 1 would be better for a sole director.

For both these options, the company needs to have a proper payroll set up and be reporting monthly to HMRC under RTI. If you want to pay any salary at all from your company then you need to speak to an accountant to ensure this is being done properly as there are penalties for getting it wrong!

If you would like more information or help in respect of your personal position then please get in touch.

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The Budget 2021

The Budget yesterday was full of announcements and there was a lot to take in.

The furlough scheme was extended and Restart Grants announced for retail businesses as well as hospitality, leisure and personal care businesses.

Although the self employed support scheme was extended to include those newly self-employed who filed a 19/20 tax return, there are still large groups of people who are not able to benefit from the scheme, and there was no help announced for limited company directors who pay themselves predominantly in dividends.

Freezing the personal allowances until 2025/26 will bring many more people into the tax paying regime over time, and more people will start to pay tax at the higher rate of 40%.

The hike in corporation tax to 25% from 1 April 2023 will hit companies with profits over £250,000.  The rate remains at 19% for small companies with profits under £50,000, and companies with profits in between the 2 thresholds will gain marginal relief so will end up with a tax rate somewhere in between 19% and 25%.

The temporary extension for loss relief may be a slightly technical point but means that for businesses that have made a loss, there is more scope to get a tax rebate on tax paid in the past.

So in conclusion – a real mixed bag!

For a detailed summary of what was announced please read my Budget report here:

Budget Summary 2021

As ever if you would like more detailed advice on any of the issues raised in the Budget then please do get in touch with Rosie Forsyth.

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Support your local business this Christmas

No large Christmas parties this year, but we may still want to tell our staff and clients that we are thinking of them at Christmas.  Tax shouldn’t be the main reason you chose your gift, but in these tough times, getting tax relief on the cost will help!

Your gifts will only get tax relief for your business, and you can only reclaim the VAT if the gift is:

  • NOT food, drink, tobacco or a voucher AND
  • Carry a conspicuous advert for your business AND
  • The cost of that gift, and any other to that person in the year is under £50

A “conspicuous advert” means that your logo etc should be on the gift itself and not just on the packaging, which also makes it harder!

Whether you can get the tax relief or not on your Christmas gifts, why not support a local business this year that really needs your help. Many local businesses are now doing vouchers if they are not currently open or delivering products if you are not able to visit in person. Your staff/clients will appreciate the thought that has gone into supporting a local business in these tough times, and local facebook groups are full of small businesses advertising some lovely festive gifts.

You could also consider a donation to a local charity or business supporting those who are really going to struggle over the festive period. Charity donations through your limited company are tax efficient and another way to help those in need this Christmas.

What about the Xmas party?

Even though large gathering are out of the question, depending what the rules are in December, it may be possible for small companies to go out for a Christmas meal to a local restaurant, and they will be in need of our support!

Most people are aware about the rules for the staff Xmas party.  For a limited company, the cost for the annual party is allowable for tax as long as it is under £150 per head (all staff have to be invited but the cost is per head – “plus ones” can also be invited.)  So if you can do this and stay within the rules, it may still be possible to spread a little Christmas cheer amongst your staff!

 

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The Revamped Job Support Scheme – “JSS Open”

The “Revamped” Job Support Scheme

So here we go again – another scheme to get our heads around!

The changes announced last week are far more generous than the first Job Support Scheme, which was of little use to many of my clients.

This one – the” Job Support Scheme Open” may well be of relevance to many small businesses and works as follows:

The JSS Open Scheme

  • The employee must work at least 20% of their usual hours
  • For the hours not worked, the employee will still earn 67% of their normal pay – this is funded 61.67% by the government (up to a max of £1541.75 per month), and only 5% by the employer.  The max salary you can base the calculations on per month is £3125.
  • The employee therefore will earn at least 73% of their normal wages (see the worked example below for the maths!!)
  • Employers claiming the JSS Open may still claim for the Job Retention Bonus (the £1,000 due in February for retaining furloughed staff) and the grant claimed under the JSS Open scheme can be used to help meet the minimum wage criteria for the bones scheme

Which Employers Can Claim?

  • Any employer, still trading, but continuing to face reduced demand for their services, with a PAYE scheme and a UK bank account

Which Employees Can You Claim for?

  • An employee had to be on the payroll between 6 April and 31 Aug (technically the RTI had to be submitted by 23 Sept) and still employed on 23 Sept
  • Employees do not need to have been furloughed before to be eligible
  • Employees must be working at least 20% of their usual hours
  • You must reach written agreement with your employee that they have been offered a temporary working agreement, which must cover at least 7 consecutive days

How do you claim?

Further details are to be announced soon but we do know the following:

  • The scheme starts on 1 November and runs until 30 April 2021
  • Money is paid in arrears once your claim has been approved
  • First claims can be made from 8 December
  • Your accountant can make your claim for you (“phew” I hear your cry!!)

A Worked Example

Helen works full time usually – and earns £1,000 a month.  She works 5 days per week

Under the JSS Open scheme, she agrees with her employer to work 1 day per week – this is 20% of her usual working hours.

Her pay:

Normal pay for 1 day per week – 20% x £1000 = £200

Time not worked – 80%

Of the time not worked – Helen will receive 66.67 of her normal pay – 66.67% x £800 = £533.36.

Helen’s total pay is therefore £733.36 in total – or 73% of her usual pay – for working only 20% of her usual hours!

The employer contribution is 100% for the day she worked – £200, plus 5% of the pay that she received for not working – 5% x £800 = £40.  Total cost of the employer £240.
The employer is also responsible for NI and pension contributions.

The government contribute 61.67% of the pay for the time she did not work – 61.67% x £800 = £493.36

The calculation for employees who are not on fixed salaries or fixed hours is hideous – and requires a spreadsheet setting up!

Is it for me?

The new scheme is far more generous than the one originally announced, which required employees to work 1/3 of their usual hours and for employers to cover 1/3 of their wages for the period not worked.

It is therefore well worth looking into and if you require any further information or advice in connection with the scheme, please do get in touch with Rosie Forsyth.

NB: There is also the “Job Support Scheme Closed” which is for businesses legally required to close, and is not covered in this blog.

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Closing down a limited company – how is it done?

This second blog looks at how you can close down your limited company if you have decided that trading is no longer viable.

There are 2 ways you can close your company if the company is solvent (ie is able to pay its debts).

  • Applying to have the company struck off at Companies House
  • Member’s Voluntary Liquidation (MVL)

The preferred option will depend on how much money there is to extract from the company and whether from a tax perspective you want that money taxed as dividends or capital.

Lots of jargon there to get your head around so let’s try to explain the difference.

Dividend or Capital Treatment?

When you take money out of your limited company – you pay tax on it.  You could take the money out as dividends, as you probably have done over the years you have had a limited company, and if you do this you will be taxed as normal as having received dividends from your company.  Dividends are taxed at your highest marginal tax rate, so either at 7.5% or 32.5% depending on your other income in the year.

When you close the company though – the final payment to you can be treated as you selling your shares in the company and this is the “capital” option.  This money is still taxed, but it is taxed under capital gains tax rules rather than income tax rules and you are treated as having made a capital gain on your shares. You may have bought your 100 shares in your company when you set it up for £100, and now you are selling them for £x.  The difference is a capital gain.

You may prefer to take this treatment for 2 reasons:

  1. Everyone has a capital gain annual exemption (currently £12,300) so you will not pay tax on the first £12,300 of your gain. If there are 2 shareholders in the company, then each will have their own exempt amount.
  2. If your gain is more than your annual exemption, it is possibly that you will only pay tax at 10% on the rest of the gain, due to another tax break called Business Asset Disposal Relief (AKA entrepreneur’s relief)

The “capital” route is often therefore the preferred option as potentially being more tax efficient.

Striking off or MVL?

So what is the difference between the 2 options and why would I choose one over the other?

Striking off is the simplest option.

However, this option is only available if:

  • The company has not traded in the last 3 months
  • The company has not been threatened with liquidation
  • It has no formal agreements with its creditors – eg a creditors voluntary arrangement

The company will also only be able to get the “capital” treatment above, where it wants to extract funds of less than £25,000.

The striking off process itself is fairly simple – you apply to Companies House who will then publish a notice that you applied to be struck off.  After 2 months, if there have been no objections then the company will cease to exist.

You also have to inform anyone who maybe affected by the company’s closure (employees, debtors etc) within 7 days of sending the notice in.

It should also be noted that the directors can be held personally liable if they apply to strike off a company without paying off all its debts.

Members Voluntary Liquidation:

A MVL can be used where it is beneficial to have capital treatment, but you need to extract more than £25,000 on closure.

You need to appoint a formal liquidator to complete this process for you which will incur costs.  However, it may well be that the tax benefits outweigh the costs.

To complete a MVL, the directors must make a declaration of solvency, stating that the company is able to pay all its debts.

The liquidator takes control of the winding up of the company, at which point the directors cease being able to act on behalf of the company.

What if the company is Insolvent?

If the company is insolvent (eg it cannot pay all its bills) – then you cannot use the 2 options above.

You will need to appoint a liquidator to assist with closing down the company and put it into liquidation.  In this situation the interests of the creditor rank above those of the directors and shareholders – eg any money that is available will go to pay HMRC and your other creditors before repaying you any money you have put into the company.

Liquidating a company is a complex process and as such, generally is not a cheap option either, which is incredibly hard when the reason you are closing the company is that it is struggling.

It is always a good idea to take professional advice before you get to this position, who will be able to help you with any other options that may be available.

Closing a limited company is therefore more complicated and more expensive than closing a sole trader business. This blog only aims to give you an overview of the options available to you.

You need to take professional advice if you are thinking about closing your company to ensure it is done properly and in the best way to suit your individual needs.

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Working from home – are you getting the tax relief?

The way we work has changed and for many working from home has become the norm.

If you are self employed – then you will already be including in your accounts a charge for the additional costs incurred from working from home.  There are 2 ways you can calculate this charge – one is a simple flat rate method based on the hours you work from home, and the second is a more complicated calculation, based on allocating a percentage of the actual running costs of your home to your business.  Both methods are outlined in detail in my previous blogs.

Whichever method you use, the hours you work from home have probably increased significantly over the last 6 months, so you should ensure that this is reflected in the amount that you charge your business.  It may be that the second method would now give you a higher figure – you need to do the sums!

If you are an employee, and have been working from home since lockdown, there is also a small amount that you can claim.

Your employer can pay you the grand sum of £6 per week to cover the additional costs you are incurring from having to work at home.  If you don’t like to ask, or your employer is not able to pay you this, then you can instead claim tax relief on the £6 per week via HMRC.  Not a fortune, but a gain of £1.20 per week for a basic rate taxpayer, and £2.40 a week for a higher rate tax payer.

How to claim as an Employee?

Either claim on your tax return if you complete one, but if you don’t then you need to simply file a P87 form.  This can be done online if you have a government gateway set up – or by good old fashioned post otherwise.  The section to complete is the “using your home as an office” section.  Once submitted, your tax code will be amended to give you the tax relief on your claim.

Other costs

If you have had to buy other office equipment to use at home during lockdown, and your employer is paying you back for this, this would normally be taxed on you as a benefit in kind.  However, for this tax year, there is a relaxation of this rule!  With many more hours being spent in your home office, it is important to have the right equipment to enable you to work from home – a proper desk and office chair etc, to save aches and pains in the future!

If you would like any more information, then please do contact Rosie Forsyth at Wilkins & Co.

 

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Update on Directors and “Furloughing”

More guidance was added over the weekend to the Job Retention Scheme, in particular in relation to the issue of directors and furloughing.

The full guidance can be found here, but here is my update on what has now been added:

  • Salaried company directors may be furloughed
  • Once furloughed, as for other employees, they cannot do any work for the company that would make money for the company, or provide services for the company.
  • They can continue to carry out their statutory obligations as a director – this would include filing accounts, opening post, paying bills etc.

    To quote the guidance “they should not do any work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provide services to or on behalf of their company.”

  • The decision to furlough a director must be formally adopted as a company decision, communicated in writing to the director and this record kept for 5 years.
  • The minimum length of time you can be “furloughed” is 3 weeks. You may then return to work for a period of time, and then be “furloughed” again.
  • Claims can be backdated to 1 March – but in practice you would have to have done no company work since then to claim from this date.

How much can directors claim?

As for employees, the company can claim 80% of your wages.  This relates to the amount on the payroll as salary, and does not include any dividend payments.

  • For directors who pay themselves a regular monthly amount, this will be 80% of your February 2020 payroll amount.
  • For directors whose pay varies, or is paid irregularly, you can claim the HIGHER of:
    • The same month’s earning from the previous year
    • Your average monthly earnings for the 19-20 tax year

Claiming in Practice

As previously announced the claims will be made via the new online portal once it is launched.  HMRC will check your claim and if you are eligible pay the amount into your company bank account.

The portal is supposed to be open by the end of April.  There is currently no new information on this apart from to say that HMRC will retain the right to audit your claim retrospectively, and have already warned that anyone submitting bogus claims, or attempts to falsify records to increase payouts will be shot.  (OK slight exaggeration, but you get my point!!)

Conclusion

Great that we finally have some clarification – but to qualify, directors really can do no normal work at all.  I have a couple of clients with employees and they have disabled their access to their work email to ensure they can’t send the odd email or do anything that would invalidate their claim.  Directors in my opinion need to follow a similar approach if they want to ensure their claim will be valid.

On and off furloughing may be an option, but potentially horribly complicated!  At the end of the day, we are talking about £500 a month, so directors will need to make personal decisions about whether they can generate more continuing to work.  Remember that £500 is also taxable income in your accounts!

More info as and when we get it!!

Rosie

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Update on Packages Announced by HMRC to help businesses

We have put together a summary of measures introduced over the last week aimed at helping you get through this period, and highlighted any actions that you may wish to take.

This will be updated as more information becomes available, especially in regard to any help being announced for the self-employed.

As you may expect, much of the detail has not yet been made available, but this is what we know so far…….

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been made redundant during this crisis.

The scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March 2020 and funds should be available before the end of April. It will continue for at least three months, and can include workers who were in employment on 28 February.

To access the scheme:

  • you need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’, and notify employees of this change. “Furloughed” means that the worker is allowed to be absent temporarily from work. Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation; and
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal. HMRC will set out further details on the information required.
  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

It is really important to note that to qualify for this scheme the furloughed workers should not undertake ANY work for you during this period.

While HMRC is working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement, it is not ready yet, and funds will not be available until the end of April.

There are no details yet how this may apply to family members on the payroll, directors etc.

ACTION:

If you need to reduce staffing during this period, can you use the scheme? Has anyone been made redundant already that could now be furloughed? 


Statutory Sick Pay

  • SSP is now available from the first day of absence from work, rather than the previous rules of day 4
  • The current rules surrounding eligibility for SSP have not changed, so only workers earning on average over £118 per week are eligible
  • SSP is currently £94.25 per week and can be paid for a maximum of 28 weeks
  • Those who are self-isolating and who cannot work, even if they themselves are not sick, are eligible for SSP.
  • Employers will be able to reclaim 2 weeks of SSP for employees who are off work or self-isolating due to COVID-19.

ACTION:

Make sure your staff are aware of your sick pay policy and what they need to do should they have to self-isolate.


VAT 

The next quarter of VAT payments can be deferred.  The deferral will apply for periods ending between 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.  You will have until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to get your payments up to date.  There will be no penalties etc for not paying your vat in this period.

VAT refunds will continue to be paid as normal.

The deferral is automatic and businesses do not need to apply for it.

ACTION:

Don’t pay your next VAT payment, though your return should be submitted as normal.  If payment is usually by Direct Debit, make sure you cancel this with your bank.


Income Tax payments

All income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

There is no need to apply for this deferral – it will be applied automatically. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

ACTION:

Do not pay your self-assessment payment on account bill that was due at 31 July 2020.


Business Rates and cash grants

  • No rates payable for the 2020-2021 tax year for any business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors.
  • In those sectors, if your rateable value is between £15K and £51k, you’ll also receive a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.
  • Any business which gets small business rates relief, including those in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors, will receive a cash grant of £10,000
  • This help will be administered by local authorities and should be delivered automatically, without businesses needing to claim.

ACTION:

The rates holiday is automatic, so no action is needed from you.

 HMRC Time to Pay

HMRC’s Time to Pay scheme can enable firms and individuals in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 to delay payment of outstanding tax liabilities. HMRC’s dedicated Covid-19 helpline provides practical help and advice on 0800 0159 559.

ACTION:

If you have any tax bill due that you are going to struggle to pay, call HMRC in advance.


Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

  • These will be available from Monday 23 March and are delivered all the major banks. The lender receives a guarantee of 80% of the loan amount from the government.
  • The loan period can be for up to 10 years. The borrower remains liable for 100% of the debt.
  • No interest will be charged for the first 12 months. Interest rates offered on these loans are likely to be high, as they are high -risk loans for the bank.  Overpayment will be permitted to repay the loans early if possible
  • Banks will require financial statements, management accounts and cashflow forecasts as they would for any normal loan.

ACTION: 

If you think you may wish to apply for this loan, contact us so can make sure your accounts are up to date and can help you with a cashflow forecast.
We can put you in touch with a great commercial loans advisor to talk through your options if you are considering taking out a business loan.

We will update this blog as and when more information becomes available.

Please contact us if you want to discuss your accounts and finances at this difficult time.

 

 

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Update from Wilkins & Co

Just a quick blog from me to let you know how we are currently working at Wilkins & Co.

Most of our work can be done remotely and I have a separate office at home, so while there is no such thing as business as normal at the moment, we are continuing as best as we can.  My kids are home like everyone else’s so I am dealing with teenagers around the house – and the girls who work with me are also working from home, juggling with their new role as teaching assistants too.

I am still on the end of the phone – if we’d normally meet up, then please do call over the phone or via a video call.  Interrupted calls to deal with children is absolutely no problem at all.  Don’t ask me too many complicated maths questions though – after about year 5!

If anyone needs to drop anything off, please give me a call and let me know you are coming.  Apart from walking the dog (who is going to be fitter than ever!) I will be here and you can drop stuff off on the doorstep.

It is obviously a worrying time and I understand that you have very serious concerns at the moment.  You can call me and chat about your business and finances any time you need to. Hopefully we will get some clarification soon from the government on help available to small businesses and I will sharing as much information as I can with you all.

Now more than ever it is important to support local businesses and we will be doing what can to buy local, support small business and help our local community.  Our social media will continue as this is a great way to stay in touch and keep connected with the outside world.

And when you really can’t think of anything else to do- why not make a start on your tax return?

With best wishes and virtual hugs

Rosie

 

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