The Government and HMRC have updated its collection of high-level guides called “partnership packs”, intended to help businesses involved in importing and exporting prepare for changes to customs procedures after 29 March 2019 in the event of a “no deal” scenario.
If the UK exits the EU without a deal, UK businesses will have to apply customs, excise and VAT procedures to goods traded with the EU, in broadly the same way that already applies for goods traded outside of the EU.
In the event of a “no deal” Brexit the government’s aim will be to keep VAT procedures as close as possible to what they are now. This will provide continuity and certainty for businesses.
However, there will be some specific changes to the VAT rules and procedures that apply to transactions between the UK and EU countries.
You may recall there were important changes to CGT entrepreneurs’ relief recently that could have the effect of denying the relief to certain employee shareholders. As the result of lobbying by the professional bodies the Government have made a late change in the Finance Bill to the definition of “personal company” so that fewer shareholders will be denied the relief when they dispose of their shares.
The normal test is that the shareholder is required to be entitled to at least 5% of the company’s ordinary share capital, voting rights, profits available for distribution, and assets available on the winding up of the company.
The amendment provides an alternative test which would allow relief where the individual is entitled to at least 5% of the sale proceeds in the event of a disposal of the whole of the ordinary share capital of the company, even if the 5% test in relation to distributable profits and assets on a winding up was not satisfied.
This remains a complex area and advice should be sought to check whether particular shareholders would be entitled to relief for their shares.
HMRC have announced that the changes to the national insurance (NIC) treatment of termination payments and sporting testimonials have been delayed to 6 April 2020.
From 6 April 2020 Employer class 1A NIC will become payable on termination payments in excess of £30,000 and on sporting testimonials that exceed £100,000 (lifetime limit). The changes are intended to align the NIC treatment with the treatment for income tax although there is no NIC liability for the employee on such payments.
Whether or not the £30,000 exemption applies on termination of employment is a complex area and specialist advice should be obtained.
Individual’s 2017/18 income tax, CGT, class 2 and 4 NIC liabilities should have been paid by 31 January 2019.
Note that if the balance is still unpaid at the end of February 2019 a 5% surcharge penalty is added in addition to the normal interest charge unless a time to pay arrangement has been agreed with HMRC.
New inheritance tax rules for passing on the family home started on 6 April 2017. This additional relief should be taken into consideration when drafting your Will.
From 6 April 2017 an additional nil rate band of up to £175,000 is available on death where your residence is left to direct descendants. This is in addition to the normal £325,000 nil rate band.
This additional relief is however restricted If your assets exceed £2 million. The rules are fairly complicated and depend on your personal circumstances.
This additional inheritance tax relief is available even when you downsize to a smaller property. For example, if a married couple currently live in a large house worth £500,000 and downsize to a flat worth £250,000 they could give away some of the proceeds during their lifetime and yet still benefit from inheritance tax relief based on the higher valued property. They could even sell up completely and move into a rental property and still get the inheritance tax relief!
One of the other capital allowance changes announced in the Autumn Budget was the reduction of the writing down allowance on assets in the special rate pool from 8% to just 6% per annum reducing balance from APRIL 2019.
The assets included in this pool include long life assets, such as aircraft, integral features within buildings and cars emitting more than 110g CO2 per kilometre.
A claim for the 100% AIA referred to above can be made for expenditure on these assets, (with the exception of motor cars) and this will result in faster tax relief.
This means that where a company buys a motor car that emits more than 110g CO2 per km it will take many years to get relief for the expenditure as even when the car is sold the proceeds are deducted from the special rate pool and continue to be written down at 6% reducing balance.
FOR EXAMPLE, Global Ltd which makes up accounts to 31 March each year buys a new Mercedes E220d AMG line for the managing director Mr Global for £40,000. As the CO2 emissions are 127g per km the WDA would be 8% for year ended 31 March 2019 = £3,200 leaving a tax written down value of £36,800. The 6% WDA would then apply for year ended 31 March 2020 = £2,208 leaving £34,592. If the car was sold for £25,000 in the following year then the remaining balance of £9,592 would continue to be written down at 6% per annum, hence a very long write off period.
It may be more tax efficient to lease such a vehicle as, although 15% of the lease rentals are disallowed for tax purposes for such high CO2 vehicles, this may nevertheless be more beneficial.
Note that the above rules operate differently where the motor car is acquired by a sole trader or a partner for his business as the car is not included in the pool and a balancing adjustment occurs when the car is sold.
From April 2016 new rules were introduced to allow employers to provide their directors and employees with certain “trivial” benefits in kind tax free.
The new rules were brought in as a simplification measure so that certain benefits in kind do not now need to be reported to HMRC as well as being tax free for the employee. There are of course a number of conditions that need to be satisfied to qualify for the exemption. Conditions for the exemption to apply:-
- 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 benefit as part of any contractual obligation such as a salary sacrifice scheme
- the benefit is not provided in recognition of particular services performed by the employee as part of their employment duties (or in anticipation of such services).
So this exemption will generally apply to small gifts to staff at Christmas, on their birthday, or other occasions and includes gifts of food, wine, or store vouchers.
Note that where the employer is a “close” company and the benefit is provided to an individual who is a director or other office holder of the company the exemption is capped at a total cost of £300 in the tax year.
From 6 April 2019, the Welsh Government (like the Scottish Government) will be able to set and vary the rate of Income Tax paid by Taxpayers who live in Wales.
As in Scotland the system will be administered by HMRC. Taxpayers resident in Wales who are employed or in receipt of a taxable pension will have the letter “C” as a pre-fix to their tax code to ensure the correct amount of tax is deducted under PAYE.
The Autumn 2018 Budget announced a new 2% straight line tax deduction for the cost of construction or renovation of commercial buildings and structures. HMRC have now issued a technical note setting out the details for the operation of the new relief.
Unlike the old Industrial Buildings Allowance the new relief is available for the construction of shops and offices as well as factories and warehouses.
The new tax break is available where the contract is entered into and construction costs are incurred on or after 29 October 2019. The allowance is available to commercial property landlords as well as trading businesses. There are special rules for leasehold buildings which determine whether the landlord or tenant is entitled to the allowance.
Note that there are more generous plant and machinery allowances available for fixtures and fittings within the building. The AIA referred above would mean that there may be 100% capital allowances for equipment such as central heating and air conditioning.
The Chancellor announced a temporary increase in the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) for expenditure on plant and machinery to £1 million from 1 January 2019. However transitional rules mean that the full amount will not necessarily apply to your business straight away.
For example, if your business year end is 30 June 2019 the maximum AIA would be £600,000 being 6/12 x the old £200,000 limit plus 6/12 x the new £1 million limit. The following year to 30 June 2020 would be entitled to the full £1 million.