Hospital doctors and GPs are lobbying the Government to amend the pension tax rules as the current system of restricting tax relief on pension contributions means many doctors paying almost all of the extra salary back in tax if they take on additional responsibilities or work additional shifts. This is an issue that doesn’t just affect doctors as it potentially restricts the tax relief available to other individuals with high income.
The NHS Pension Service have alerted members of the NHS Pension Scheme that they could receive a tax bill if their pension savings exceed limits set by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). These limits are known as the annual allowance, which is calculated each year, and the lifetime allowance, which is calculated based on overall pension savings.
The normal annual pension allowance is currently £40,000 each tax year and limits the amount of pension contributions which qualify for tax relief. The limit covers the combined contributions paid by the taxpayer and their employer. A tapered annual allowance was introduced in April 2016 with the intention of reducing pension tax relief for high earners.
It applies to those with adjusted incomes of over £150,000 and threshold income in excess of £110,000. The rate of reduction in the annual allowance is by £1 for every £2 that the adjusted income exceeds £150,000, up to a maximum reduction of £30,000 at £210,000. This is a complex calculation and advice should be obtained to minimise the impact of the rules as the individual is taxable on the excess pension contributions over the annual limit.
Gifts and awards of shares in companies, often known as employment related securities (ERS) are commonly used by employers to reward, retain or provide incentives to employees. They can be tax advantaged or non-tax advantaged.
You must notify HMRC of all new ERS schemes including one-off awards or gifts of shares by 6 July following the end of the tax year in question or you may have to pay a penalty.
Once you have registered the share scheme you need to submit an ERS return (or nil return) even if there have been no transactions in the year otherwise the company may be liable to a penalty.
You should obtain assistance dealing with these reporting obligations if required.
The Pension Annual Allowance tax charge depends on the individual’s marginal rate of tax. Where their income exceeds £150,000 it would be at 45%. Thus if the pension input for 2018/19 Was £40,000 and the limit is tapered to £10,000 the excess of £30,000 would incur a £13,500 tax bill on top of their normal tax liability.
You can ask your pension provider to pay HMRC out of your pension fund if you have gone over your annual allowance and the additional tax is more than £2,000. The deadline is 31 July 2020 for the 2018/19 tax year.
The latest Finance Act has reduced the tax writing down allowance for motor cars that emit more than 110 grams of CO2 to just 6% on a reducing balance basis from April 2019. In the case of company cars the vehicle is included in the “special rate” pool which means that even when the car is sold the proceeds are deducted from the pool and the 6% allowance continues until the balance is written off. It may be more advantageous to lease such a vehicle so worth obtaining advice.
Employers need to submit details of benefits in kind provided to directors and employees by 6 July 2019. Remember that reimbursed expenses no longer need to be reported where they are incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the employee’s duties. Dispensations from reporting are no longer required.
Remember also that trivial benefits of no more than £50 provided to employees need not be reported.
Payslips for workers
New rules for payslips took effect on 6 April 2019. There are two main changes. As well as employees you must provide payslips to individuals classed as “workers” for the purposes of employment law, even though they bill you for their services as self-employed individuals.
If an individual’s pay includes an amount based on an hourly rate, their payslip must show the number of hours that equate to the amount being paid. Plus, you must show a total for the pay period for each type of hourly pay, for example, total overtime hours.
The Government is currently consulting on important changes to private residence relief that are likely to be introduced from 6 April 2020.
The two possible changes, announced in the Autumn 2018 Budget are:
Firstly to limit to just 9 months the period prior to disposal that counts as a period of deemed occupation
The second is to limit “letting relief” to periods where the taxpayer is in shared occupation with the tenant.
Final period exemption to be reduced
The final period exemption was for many years three years and was always intended cover situations where the taxpayer was “bridging” and waiting to sell their previous residence. However, 36 months was felt to be too generous and was allegedly being abused by a strategy known as “second home flipping”. As a result the final period relief was restricted to the current 18 month period of deemed occupation a couple of years ago. The latest proposal is to restrict still further to 9 months although it will remain at 36 months for those with a disability, and those in or moving into care.
Possible Lettings Relief Changes
Lettings relief currently provides a further exemption for capital gains of up to £40,000 per property owner. The additional relief was introduced in 1980 to ensure people could let out spare rooms within their property on a casual basis without losing the benefit of PRR, for example where there are a number of lodgers sharing the property with the owner.
In practice lettings relief extends much further than the original policy intention and also benefits those who let out a whole dwelling that has at some stage been their main residence. It is those situations that the government appear to be attacking under the proposed changes.
Note that those who are renting their property temporarily whilst working elsewhere in the UK or working abroad are unlikely to be affected by this change as there are alternative reliefs available under those circumstances.
Please check if you are likely to be affected by the proposed changes as it may be worth considering disposing of the property before the new rules are introduced from 6 April 2020.
The substantial increase in the higher rate threshold to £50,000 is good news for many taxpayers. However, that same figure is the point at which child benefit starts being clawed back and there has been no increase in that threshold since the High Income Child Benefit Charge was introduced in 2013/14.
The charge applies if you have adjusted net income over £50,000 and either:
- you or your partner get Child Benefit
- someone else gets Child Benefit for a child living with you and they contribute at least an equal amount towards the child’s upkeep
It does not matter if the child living with you is not your own child. Adjusted net income is your total taxable income before any personal allowances and less things like Gift Aid and pension contributions.
The charge is 1% for every £100 that adjusted net income exceeds £50,000 multiplied by the child benefit claimed in respect of the children. Child benefit continues to be paid at the rate of £20.70 a week for the eldest child and £13.70 for each additional child.
A couple with 2 children would receive £1,789 a year in child benefit. If the husband, a sole trader, made a profit of £55,000 (also his adjusted net income) after paying his wife a salary of £12,000 he would have to pay the high income child benefit charge of £894 (for 2018/19) in addition to his normal income tax and NIC bill.
If he brought his wife into partnership and they shared profits equally their income would be £32,500 each and there would be no high income child benefit charge. Similarly, if the business was a limited company they would be able to equalize their income so that the charge would not be payable.
Last year HMRC carried out a review of rent a room relief and it was proposed that the availability of this generous relief would be restricted to situations where the taxpayer was resident for at least part of the time when the “lodger” was paying rent. The scheme currently exempts from tax gross rents up to £7,500 where rooms within the taxpayers’ main residence are rented out.
HMRC were concerned that the relief was being “abused” by letting out the entire property using websites such as Airbnb and living elsewhere temporarily whilst the tenants were in the property. An example would be renting out a house in south London during Wimbledon fortnight and potentially receiving up to £7,500 tax free.
Note that the Autumn Budget announced that the proposed restriction was not now being introduced.
The Companies Act requires that companies may only pay dividends out of distributable profits. This means that in the absence of brought forward reserves the company would need to provide for 19% corporation tax in order to pay the dividends and thus there would need to be profits of £92,593 in order to pay dividends of £75,000 (after providing corporation tax of £17,593).
Overall the combination of salary and dividends suggested above would result in net of tax take home cash of £93,746 for the couple out of profits before salaries and corporation tax of £117,593 (20.3% overall tax). This still compares very favorably with the amount of tax and NIC payable if the couple were trading as a partnership.