Parking fines ruled not deductible

A tribunal has ruled that security firm G4S cannot reduce its profits for tax purposes by deducting parking fines.

The company, G4S Cash Solutions, tried to reduce their corporation tax bill by approximately £580,000 but the first-tier tribunal has ruled in HMRC’s favour in rejecting the claim for the deduction of the fines.

The company G4S incurred a substantial amount of parking fines usually while delivering consignments of cash over the pavement. The business tried to claim these were a business expense and so could be used to reduce the company’s profits for tax purposes.

The tribunal ruled G4S staff consciously and deliberately decided to break parking restrictions for commercial gain.

The ruling upholds HMRC’s long standing view that fines for breaking the law cannot be used to reduce a tax bill.

HMRC’s Director General of Business Tax, Jim Harra, said:

‘We’ve always said fines incurred for breaking the law are not tax deductible. The tribunal has now established a clear precedent for rejecting any future such claims.’

If you would like advice on calculating your taxable profits and the deductibility of any expenditure please get in touch.

Internet links: Press release Tribunal decision

Trivial benefits exemption

From April 2016, where trivial benefits are provided to employees they may be exempt from tax if certain conditions are met. The conditions are:

  • the cost of providing the benefit does not exceed £50
  • the benefit is not cash or a cash voucher
  • the employee is not entitled to the voucher as part of a contractual arrangement (including salary sacrifice)
  • the benefit is not provided in recognition of particular services performed by the employee as part of their employment duties
  • where the employer is a ‘close’ company and the benefit is provided to an individual who is a director, member of their household or their family, then the exemption is capped at a total cost of £300 in a tax year.

If any of these conditions are not met then the benefit will be taxed in the normal way subject to any exemptions or allowable deductions.

One of the main conditions is that the cost of the benefit is less than £50, if the cost is above £50 the full amount is taxable, not just the excess over £50. The cost is the cost of providing the benefit to each employee not the overall cost to the employer. Where the individual cost for each employee cannot be established, an average could be used.

Further details on how the exemption will work, including family member situations, are contained in the Government guidance. However if you are unsure please do get in touch before assuming the trivial benefit you are about to provide is covered by the exemption.

Internet link: GOV.UK

Benefits and expenses – bespoke scale rates

From 6 April 2016 there are a lot of changes to the way in which benefits and expenses are reported to HMRC.

HMRC have set out the maximum tax and NICs free allowances that can be paid by employers to employees for subsistence. Subject to qualifying conditions, the amounts are set out below:

Minimum journey time Maximum amount of meal allowance
5 hours £5
10 hours £10
15 hours £25

Where a meal allowance of £5 or £10 is paid and the qualifying journey in respect of which it is paid lasts beyond 8pm a supplementary rate of £10 can be paid.

Employers may choose to reimburse employees for the actual costs incurred. However where employers wish to use bespoke rates other than those set out above, they will need to apply for approval from HMRC for bespoke rates.

HMRC have issued an online application form to allow employers to request approval for these bespoke amounts. This should state the rate that the employer wishes to pay and also needs to demonstrate that the amount is a reasonable estimate of the amount of expenses actually incurred by the employees.

To establish these amounts, HMRC have confirmed that the employer should carry out a sampling exercise to verify the actual expenses incurred by employees. We would be happy to advise you on the sampling which would need to be carried out for your business.

In addition, employers will need to have a checking system in place which ensures that the payments or reimbursements are only make on occasions where the employee would be entitled to a deduction from their earnings and that the employees have actually incurred and paid the amounts.

Once approval has been given by HMRC, they will issue an approval notice which sets out the date from which the approval is given and what expenses are covered. It will also state the date when the approval notice ends which will be no later than five years from the start date.

Please do get in touch if you would like help with benefits and expense reporting or agreeing Bespoke rates.

Internet links: GOV.UK HMRC

HMRC have now issued the first in-year PAYE penalties

HMRC have now issued the first in-year penalties notices to employers with fewer than 50 employees who missed the deadline for sending PAYE information to HMRC.

Rather than issue late filing penalties automatically when a deadline is missed, HMRC have announced that they will ‘take a more proportionate approach and concentrate on the more serious defaults on a risk-assessed basis.’

This approach is in line with the likely direction of HMRC’s general approach to penalties, outlined in the HMRC penalties: a discussion document which they issued earlier this year. HMRC have confirmed that this ‘risk-based’ approach will apply to submissions that were late from:

  • 6 March 2015 for employers with fewer than 50 employees; and
  • 6 January 2015 for employers with 50 or more employees.

Penalties for 2015/16 will also continue to be risk-based.

HMRC had previously announced that they will not be penalising minor delays of up to three days.

HMRC are reminding employers:

‘Even if employers do not get a penalty, they are required by law to file on time and if they do not may be charged a penalty on a future occasion. The deadlines for sending PAYE information stay the same, including the requirement to send PAYE information on or before the time that employees are actually paid or due to be paid.’

HMRC have confirmed the process employers should use to appeal a penalty using the using the Penalties and Appeals System (PAS) on HMRC Online. Employers who receive a late filing penalty notice for tax year 2014/15 quarter 4 but who filed within three days of the reporting deadline may appeal and should use reason code A as set out in the What happens if you don’t report payroll information on time guidance.

Please contact Stephen Charles if you would like help with your payroll or, for more information, please visit our payroll page.

Chancellor gives Annual Investment Allowance certainty

The Chancellor announced in the Summer 2015 Budget that the Annual Investment Allowance will be set permanently at £200,000 from 1 January 2016. He has previously said that this would be included in the Autumn Statement, but this earlier announcement provides welcome certainty for businesses.

What is Annual Investment Allowance?

The AIA provides a 100% deduction for the cost of most plant and machinery (not cars) purchased by a business, up to an annual limit and is available to most businesses. This recent article explains the importance of this tax relief for the capital expenditure plans of a company or business.

The details

The AIA was increased to £500,000 from 1 April 2014 for companies or 6 April 2014 for unincorporated businesses until 31 December 2015. However it was due to reduce to £25,000 after this date. The level of the maximum AIA will now be set permanently at £200,000 for all qualifying investment in plant and machinery made on or after 1 January 2016.

Where a business has a chargeable period which spans 1 January 2016 there are transitional rules for calculating the maximum AIA for that period which operate as on previous occasions when the AIA has dropped. There will be two important elements to the calculations:

  • a calculation which sets the maximum AIA available to a business in an accounting period which straddles 1 January 2016
  • a further calculation which limits the maximum AIA relief that will be available for expenditure incurred from 1 January 2016 to the end of that accounting period.

It is the second figure that can catch a business out as demonstrated by the following example:

If a company has a 31 March year end then the maximum AIA in the accounting periods to 31 March 2016 will be:

9 months to December 2015 three quarters of £500,000 £375,000
3 months from January 2016 one quarter of £200,000 £50,000
Total annual AIA using first calculation £425,000

This is still a generous figure. However if expenditure is incurred between 1 January and 31 March 2016 the maximum amount of relief for will only be £50,000. This is because of the restrictive nature of the second calculation. Alternatively, the business could defer its expenditure until after 31 March 2016. In the accounting period to 31 March 2017, AIA will be £200,000. However, tax relief will have been deferred for a full year.

For more details and advice, please contact Brian Gooch on bjg@hawsons.co.uk or 0114 266 7141 or contact your local tax specialist in Sheffield, Doncaster and Northampton.

Changes for ‘Buy to Let’ landlords in Summer Budget

t was announced in the Summer 2015 Budget that the government will restrict the amount of income tax relief landlords can claim on residential property mortgage interest costs to the basic rate of income tax.

This means that residential landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income. Tax relief will instead be restricted to the basic rate. To ease the impact the government will introduce this change gradually from April 2017, over four years.

This restriction will not apply to landlords of furnished holiday lettings. The mechanics of the restricted relief will mean that some taxpayers who are currently only liable at the basic rate will be subject to higher rate tax, and could result in some losing the benefit of their personal allowance.

Additionally, from April 2016 the government will replace the Wear and Tear Allowance with a new relief that allows all residential landlords to deduct the actual costs of replacing furnishings. This will bring relief back onto similar footing to that permitted prior to April 2013, with tax relief following actual expenditure.

For more information contact Peter Kennan at pjk@hawsons.co.uk.

P11D forms – don’t get them wrong

HMRC have published a list of common errors in the completion of forms P11D. The information is part of the latest Employer Bulletin and we have reproduced the guidance below.

  • Submitting duplicate P11D information on paper where P11D information has already been filed online to ensure ‘HMRC have received it’. These duplicates can cause processing problems.
  • Using a paper form that relates to the wrong tax year – check the top right hand corner of the first page.
  • Not ticking the ‘director’ box if the employee is a director.
  • Not including a description or abbreviation, where amounts are included in sections A, B, L, M or N of the form.
  • Leaving the ‘cash equivalent’ box empty where you’ve entered a figure in the corresponding ‘cost to you’ box of a section.
  • Completing the declaration on the final FPS/EPS submission accurately (for those employers whose software package requires them to be completed) or question 6 in section A of RT 4 form to indicate whether P11Ds are due.
  • Not advising HMRC either by paper form P11D(b) or electronic submission that there is no Benefits in Kind & Expenses return to make.
  • Where a benefit has been provided for mixed business and private use, entering only the value of the private-use portion – you must report the full gross value of the benefit.
  • Not completing the fuel benefit box/field where this applies. This means an amended P11D has to be sent in.
  • Incorrectly completing the ‘from’ and ‘to’ dates in the ‘Dates car was available’ boxes. For example entering 06/04/2014 to 05/04/2015 to indicate the car was available throughout that year. If the car was available in the previous tax year, the ‘from’ box should not be completed and if the car is to be available in the next tax year, the ‘to’ box should not be completed.

If you would like help with the completion of the forms P11D please contact us.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin 53