Friday, 1 August 2014

eNews - Aug 2014

Maximising Statutory Maternity Pay   

Paying statutory maternity pay (SMP) is not optional. It must be paid if your employee qualifies, but the good news is that a small business can recover 103% of the SMP paid from HMRC. A business that pays less than £45,000 of class 1 NICs in one tax year is defined as "small" for this purpose.

In a family business there may be scope for maximising the SMP payable for the first six weeks of maternity leave, and hence getting the Government to refund that SMP with a bit extra to cover the employer's NICs due. Let's see how this could work.




Where the employee earns at least £111 per week the employer must pay SMP at these rates for the following periods:

- for the first 6 weeks - 90% of the employee's average weekly earnings (AWE);
- the remaining 33 weeks - the lower of £138.18 or 90% of their AWE.

If a bonus is paid in the crucial "relevant period" - which is used to calculate the employee's "average weekly earnings" - the SMP payable for the first six weeks automatically increases. The remaining 33 weeks of SMP are not affected as that period is paid at a flat rate where earnings exceed £153.53 per week.

The relevant period is a period of at least 8 weeks ending on the pay day before the "qualifying week". The qualifying week falls 15 weeks before the expected birth date, so you need to know the expected date of birth before timing the bonus payment.

Say the expectant mother normally earns £520 per week, she will receive £468 per week in gross SMP for the first six weeks. Her employer will pay class 1 NICS of £260.82 on top of this SMP and will be able to recover: £468 x 1.03% = £2,892.24. If the class 1 NICs on the SMP are covered by the employment allowance of £2,000 for the business, the employer effectively recovers £2892.24 against an SMP cost of £2808.

However, paying a large bonus won't necessarily be tax effective; it depends on how much NICs can be covered by the employment allowance.

Say the employee receives a bonus payment of £2,000 in the relevant period, this bonus generates an employer's NICs bill of £276, and increases her AWE and hence her SMP for the first six weeks to £675 per week. Her employer can recover £675 x 1.03% for six weeks = £4171.50.

But this is a marginal increase from £2892.24 which was recovered without the bonus; an increase of £1279.26 for paying out £2447.40 (bonus + NICs on the bonus and SMP).

There is a calculator on the GOV.UK website that can help you work out the SMP that will be due, and you can change the answers to each question to see how difference in pay will change the SMP. We can also help you crunch the numbers.
 
Commission Refunds  
 

If you invest through a firm of financial advisers, you may well receive a repayment of commission from that firm each year. In previous years any refunded commission was rolled into the earnings from your investments or set against charges, so you may not have been aware of it. However, from 6 April 2013 the financial adviser must deduct tax from any refunded commission and show the amounts paid and deducted separately on your annual statement .

You should look out for these refunded amounts on your investment statement for 2013/14, as it must be declared on your 2013/14 tax return. However, don't add it into your interest, or dividend income. The correct place to declare the refunded commission is in box 16 on your self-assessment tax return under "other taxable income", with an explanation of the income in box 20.

We will do this for you when we complete your tax return, but please remember to provide us a copy of your investment statement that shows the refunded commission.
 
EC Sales Lists  
 

If your business is VAT registered and you sell goods or services into other European countries you must generally also submit an additional form to the Government called an EC Sales List (ESL also known as form VAT101). There are no payments to be made or reclaimed with the ESL, as you do on your quarterly VAT return form, but you must submit the ESL on time or HMRC will charge a penalty for late submission.

If you export goods worth more than £35,000 per year you will need to complete a monthly ESL, otherwise it's a quarterly task. However, where your total turnover is less than £106,500 and you export less than £11,000 you can ask HMRC for permission to submit just one ESL per year.

HMRC should send you an ESL form to complete if you have filled in box 8 on your VAT return. Don't ignore it, as the deadline for returning the form is just 14 days from the end of the quarter. If you chose to complete an online version of the ESL you have 21 days from the end of the quarter. These deadlines are much shorter than that for your quarterly VAT return.

We can complete and submit the ESL online on your behalf.
 
August Questions and Answers     

Q. In July 2011 I sold a property which had been used for my business. I planned to reinvest the proceeds in another property, but that acquisition never happened. I know I should now pay Capital Gains Tax on the gain made in July 2011. How do I go about doing that?

A. The period in which you should have reinvested the proceeds ran out in July 2014, so you do need to pay the CGT due for 2011/12 unless you get the tax inspector to agree to extend the period for reinvestment. He will only agree to an extension if you were prevented from reinvesting by circumstances beyond your control.

The disposal made in July 2011 should have been reported on your 2011/12 tax return as part of your provisional claim for roll-over relief. You should now write to the tax office to withdraw that provisional claim and declare the full taxable gain. The tax will be payable immediately and interest will run from 31 January 2013.

Q. I work as a self-employed courier for a large courier company who operates self-billing for VAT purposes and pays me monthly. I have just registered for VAT which has been back-dated to 1 May 2014. What should I do to collect the VAT due for May, June and July?

A. You should ask your customer if it is acceptable for you to issue a VAT only invoice to them. Calculate the VAT due as if the total amounts you have received in May to July under self-billing are the net amount of your fees for the period. You should also supply your customer with a copy of your VAT registration certificate, so the company knows to add VAT to your self-billing invoices in the future.

Q. My personal service company is about take on an IT servicing contract in Belgium. The customer will pay me a rate for every day I attend their premises, on top of my fee for the whole contract. This 'per diem' rate is less than HMRC's benchmark rate for expenses when working in Belgium. Can it be paid directly to me personally or should it be paid to my personal service company?

A. The 'per diem' rate should be paid to your company and be included in its turnover for VAT purposes, so treat it as a gross receipt including VAT. Your company can pay you expenses for working abroad, at or below the HMRC agreed benchmark rates. Do not short circuit this by accepting the per diem rate straight into your personal bank account as this will create a VAT mess.
 
August Key Tax Dates 

2 - Last day for car change notifications in the quarter to 5 July - Use P46 Car

19/22 - PAYE/NIC, student loan and CIS deductions due for month to 5/8/2014