Business Tax

Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB)

Extensive changes to how taxpayers record and report income to HMRC are being introduced under a project entitled Making Tax Digital for Business.

The government has decided how the general principles of MTDfB will operate. Draft legislation has been issued on some aspects and more will be published in Finance Bill 2017.

  • Under MTDfB, businesses, self-employed people and landlords will be required to:
  • maintain their records digitally, through software or apps
  • report summary information to HMRC quarterly through their ‘digital tax accounts’ (DTAs)
  • make an ‘End of Year’ declaration through their DTAs.

DTAs are like online bank accounts - secure areas where a business can see all of its tax details in one place and interact with HMRC digitally.

Making Tax Digital for Business - Mitchell Charlesworth Comment
The End of Year declaration will be similar to the online submission of a self assessment tax return but may be required to be submitted earlier than a tax return. Businesses will have 10 months from the end of their period of account (or 31 January following the tax year – the due date for a self assessment tax return - if sooner).

Exemptions

Businesses, self-employed people and landlords with turnovers under £10,000 are exempt from these requirements.

Changes announced in the Budget

The government has now announced a one year deferral from the mandating of MTDfB for unincorporated businesses and unincorporated landlords with turnovers below the VAT threshold. For those that have turnovers in excess of the VAT threshold the commencement date will be from the start of accounting periods which begin after 5 April 2018.

Cash basis for unincorporated landlords

As part of the wider proposals for Making Tax Digital, the government has decided that, from April 2017, many unincorporated property businesses will compute taxable profits for the purposes of income tax on a cash basis rather than the usual accruals basis.

The cash basis means a business will account for income and expenses when the income is received and expenses are paid. The accruals basis means accounting for income over the period to which it relates and accounting for expenses in the period for which the liability is incurred.

For affected property businesses, the cash basis will first apply for the 2017/18 tax year which means that a tax return for 2017/18, which has to be submitted by 31 January 2019, will be the first one submitted on the new basis.

Not all property businesses will move to the cash basis:

  • property businesses will remain on the accruals basis if their cash basis receipts are more than £150,000
  • there is an option to elect out of cash basis accounting and to use accruals basis instead
  • the cash basis does not apply to property businesses carried out by a company, an LLP, a corporate firm (i.e. a partner in the firm is not an individual), the trustees of a trust or the personal representatives of a person.

Cash basis for unincorporated businesses

The government is also extending the cash basis option for the self-employed and trading partnerships. The cash receipts threshold for being able to move to the cash basis will increase from the current £83,000 to £150,000 and the threshold for having to move back to the accruals basis will increase to £300,000 from April 2017.

Currently, the rules for the calculation of profits under cash basis accounting do not allow a deduction for expenditure of a capital nature, unless that expenditure qualifies for plant and machinery capital allowances under ordinary tax rules. This results in taxpayers needing to consider whether items are capital in nature, and whether they qualify for capital allowances. New rules will be introduced that list types of expenditure which will or will not be allowed as a tax deduction.

It is proposed these changes will come into effect from the 2017/18 tax year.

Mitchell Charlesworth Comment
There is no requirement for traders to switch to the cash basis. There are potential problems in adopting the cash basis including restrictions on interest relief on business finance and special calculations which need to be performed on moving to the cash basis. We can, of course, advise you of the issues involved.

Corporation tax rates

Corporation tax rates have already been enacted for periods up to 31 March 2021.

The main rate of corporation tax is currently 20%. The rate will then be reduced as follows:

  • 19% for the Financial Years beginning on 1 April 2017, 1 April 2018 and 1 April 2019
  •  17% for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020.

Corporate tax loss relief

Currently, a company is restricted in the type of profit which can be relieved by a loss if the loss is brought forward from an earlier accounting period. For example, a trading loss carried forward can only relieve future profits from the same trade. Changes are proposed which will mean that losses arising on or after 1 April 2017, when carried forward, will be useable against profits from other income streams or other companies within a group. This will apply to most types of losses but not to capital losses.

However, from 1 April 2017, large companies will only be able to use losses carried forward against up to 50% of their profits above £5 million. For groups, the £5 million allowance will apply to the group.

Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs)

It had already been announced in the 2016 Budget that Class 2 NICs will be abolished from April 2018. There is no change to this proposal.

Research and development (R&D)

There are two types of tax reliefs for eligible R&D expenditure. Under one of these, qualifying companies can claim a taxable credit of 11% in relation to eligible R&D expenditure. This is known as the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC). To further support investment, the government will make administrative changes to the RDEC to increase the certainty and simplicity around claims and will take action to improve awareness of R&D tax credits among small and medium-sized enterprises.

Appropriations to trading stock

From 8 March 2017, the government will remove the ability for businesses to convert capital losses into trading losses when appropriating a capital asset to trading stock.

Disposals of land in the UK

The government will amend legislation to ensure that all profits realised by offshore property developers developing land in the UK, including those on pre-existing contracts, are subject to tax, with effect from 8 March 2017. This extends legislation introduced in Finance Act 2016.

Substantial shareholding exemption (SSE) reform

Changes are proposed to some of the qualifying conditions for the SSE. The good news is that the changes remove some of the obstacles of qualifying for SSE.

  • The condition that the investing company is required to be a trading company or part of a trading group is being removed.
  • The condition that the investment must have been held for a continuous period, at a minimum of 12 months in the two years preceding the sale is being extended to a continuous period of 12 months in the six years preceding the sale.
  • The condition that the company in which the shares are sold continues to be a qualifying company immediately after the sale, is withdrawn, unless the sale is to a connected party.
  • For a class of investors defined as Qualifying Institutional Investors, the condition that the company in which the shares were sold is a trading company has also been removed. The draft legislation contains a list of Qualifying Institutional Investors.

The changes have effect for disposals on or after 1 April 2017.

Restrictions on residential property interest

Legislation has already been enacted to restrict interest relief for landlords.

From 6 April 2017, landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income. They will instead receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability for these finance costs. Finance costs include mortgage interest, interest on loans to buy furnishings and fees incurred when taking out or repaying loans or mortgages.

The restriction will be phased in with 75% of finance costs being allowed in 2017/18, 50% in 2018/19, 25% in 2019/20 and be fully in place for 2020/21. The remaining finance costs for each year will be given as a basic rate tax reduction but cannot create a tax refund.

These restrictions apply to:

  • UK resident individuals that let residential properties in the UK or overseas
  • non-UK resident individuals that let residential properties in the UK
  • individuals who let such properties in partnership
  • trustees or beneficiaries of trusts liable for income tax on the property profits.

UK and non-UK resident companies are not affected nor landlords of ‘Furnished Holiday Lettings’.

Enlarging Social Investment Tax Relief

Significant amendments to the Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) will be legislated for in Finance Bill 2017 to:

  • increase the amount of investment a social enterprise may receive over its lifetime to £1.5 million, for social enterprises that receive their initial risk finance investment no later than seven years after their first commercial sale. The current limit will continue to apply to older social enterprises
  • reduce the limit on full-time equivalent employees to below 250 employees
  • exclude certain activities, including asset leasing and on-lending. Investment in nursing homes and residential care homes will be excluded initially. However the government intends to introduce an accreditation system to allow such investment to qualify for SITR in future
  • exclude the use of money raised under the SITR to pay off existing loans
  • clarify that individuals will be eligible to claim relief under the SITR only if they are independent from the social enterprise
  • introduce a provision to exclude investments where arrangements are put in place with the main purpose of delivering a benefit to an individual or party connected to the social enterprise.

The changes will take effect for investments made on or after 6 April 2017.Employment Taxes

Off-payroll working in the public sector

As previously announced, from 6 April 2017, new tax rules potentially affect individuals who provide their personal services via their own companies (PSCs) to an organisation which has been classified as a ‘public authority’.

The effect of these rules, if they apply, will mean:

  • the public authority (or an agency paying the PSC) will calculate a ‘deemed payment’ based on the fees the PSC has charged for the services of the individual
  • the entity that pays the PSC for the services must first deduct PAYE and employee National Insurance contributions (NICs) as if the deemed payment is a salary payment to an employee
  • the paying entity will have to pay to HMRC not only the PAYE and NICs deducted from the deemed payment but also employer NICs on the deemed payment
  • the net amount received by the PSC can be passed onto the individual without paying any further PAYE and NICs.

Public sector organisations include government departments and their executive agencies, many companies owned or controlled by the public sector, universities, local authorities, parish councils and the National Health Service.

The new rules operate in respect of payments made on or after 6 April 2017. This means that they are relevant to contracts entered into before 6 April 2017 but where the payment for the work is made after 6 April 2017.

PSCs - Mitchell Charlesworth Comment
Where individuals are working through their PSC for private sector clients, the new rules will not apply to income from such work.

It is for the public authority to decide if the deemed payment rules apply. To help all parties determine whether these rules apply, HMRC have provided an online employment status tool. There is no formal right of appeal to HMRC or the Tax Tribunals by the individual or the PSC. If a new contract is entered into after 6 April 2017, the expectation would be that the PSC would agree the treatment within the initial contract. If it is an existing contract a discussion will need to take place with the public authority as to the reasons for its decision.

Apprenticeship levy and apprenticeship funding

Larger employers (or connected employers treated as large) will be liable to pay the apprenticeship levy from April 2017. The levy is set at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s pay bill, which is broadly total employee earnings excluding benefits in kind, and will be paid along with other PAYE deductions. Each employer receives an annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment. This means that the levy will only be paid on any pay bill in excess of £3 million in a year.

Employers only need to report on the levy where they have a pay bill of £3 million in the current tax year or consider that the pay bill will be over £3 million during the 2017/18 tax year.

The levy will be used to provide funding for apprenticeships and there will be changes to the funding for apprenticeship training for all employers as a consequence. Each country in the UK has its own apprenticeship authority and each is making changes to its scheme.

Different forms of remuneration

The government is consulting on the following:

  • Taxation of benefits in kind
    The government will publish a call for evidence on exemptions and valuation methodology for the income tax and employer NICs treatment of benefits in kind, in order to better understand whether their use in the tax system can be made fairer and more consistent.
  • Accommodation benefits
    The government will publish a consultation with proposals to bring the tax treatment of employer-provided accommodation and board and lodgings up to date. This will include proposals for when accommodation should be exempt from tax and to support taxpayers during any transition. 
  • Employee expenses
    The government will publish a call for evidence to better understand the use of the income tax relief for employees’ expenses, including those that are not reimbursed by their employer.

Additional Remuneration - Mitchell Charlesworth Comment
Employers can choose to remunerate their employees in a range of different ways but, in the view of the government, the tax system may treat these forms of remuneration inconsistently. The government is therefore considering how the tax system ‘could be made fairer and more coherent’.

Salary sacrifice

Legislation will limit the income tax and employer NICs advantages where:

  • benefits in kind are offered through salary sacrifice or
  • the employee can choose between cash allowances and benefits in kind.

The taxable value of benefits in kind where cash has been forgone will be fixed at the higher of the current taxable value or the value of the cash forgone.

The new rules will not affect employer-provided pension saving, employer-provided pensions advice, childcare vouchers, workplace nurseries, or Cycle to Work. Following consultation, the government has also decided to exempt Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles, with emissions under 75 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

This change will take effect from 6 April 2017. Those already in salary sacrifice contracts at that date will become subject to the new rules in respect of those contracts at the earlier of:

  • an end, change, modification or renewal of the contract
  • 6 April 2018, except for cars, accommodation and school fees, when the last date is 6 April 2021.

Mitchell Charlesworth Comment
Employers and employees may wish to review their flexible remuneration packages prior to 6 April 2017.

Changes to termination payments

Changes from 6 April 2018 will align the rules for tax and employer NICs by making an employer liable to pay NICs on any part of a termination payment that exceeds the £30,000 threshold. It is anticipated that this will be collected in ‘real-time’.

In addition, all payments in lieu of notice (PILONs) will be both taxable and subject to Class 1 NICs. This will be done by requiring the employer to identify the amount of basic pay that the employee would have received if they had worked their notice period, even if the employee leaves the employment part way through their notice period. This amount will be treated as earnings and will not be subject to the £30,000 exemption.

Finally, the exemption known as foreign service relief will be removed and a clarification made to ensure that the exemption for injury does not apply in cases of injured feelings.

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage increases

The Chancellor confirmed that the National Living Wage (NLW) rate will be increased from 1 April 2017. Increases are also being made to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates. The NLW applies to workers aged 25 and over. The NMW applies to other workers provided they are at least school leaving age.

NMW & NLW Rates Spring Budget 2017

* introduced and applies from 1 April 2016
**the apprentice rate applies to apprentices under 19 or 19 and over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.

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