PASSING ON THE FAMILY HOME

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!

CAPITAL ALLOWANCE ON HIGH CO2 CARS AND ASSETS IN SPECIAL RATE POOL REDUCES TO 6%

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.

GIFTS OF UP TO £50 TO EMPLOYEES

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.

 

 

WELSH INCOME TAX STARTS 6 APRIL 2019

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.

NEW CAPITAL ALLOWANCE FOR COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS

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.

INCREASED CAPITAL ALLOWANCES STARTED 1 JANUARY 2019

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.

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS TO SAVE TAX

At this time of year we think about New Year’s resolutions. It is also a good time to start planning your tax affairs before the end of the tax year on 5 April.

An obvious tax planning point would be to maximise your ISA allowances for the 2018/19 tax year (currently £20,000 each).

You might also want to consider increasing your pension savings before 5 April 2019 as the unused annual pension allowance is lost after three years.

For those looking to do some inheritance tax planning it would be a good time to review (or make) your Will.

PENSION PLANNING

For most taxpayers the maximum pension contribution is £40,000 each tax year, although this depends on their earnings. This limit covers contributions by both the individual and their employer.  Note that the unused allowance for a particular tax year may be carried forward for three years and can be added to the relief for the current year, but then lapses if unused. Hence the unused pension allowance for 2015/16 will lapse on 5 April 2019 if unused.  Note that under the current rules the net after tax cost of saving £10,000 in a personal pension for a higher rate taxpayer is only £6,000 but there are rumours that this generous relief may be reduced in future.

YOU MAY HAVE TO PAY TAX IF YOUR PENSION SAVINGS ARE TOO HIGH!

If your pension savings are more than your annual allowance for the tax year, and you do not have unused annual allowances from the 3 previous tax years to cover the difference, you will have to pay tax on the excess.

You will get a statement from your pension provider telling you if you go above the annual allowance. If you are in more than one pension scheme, ask each pension provider for statements. This will help you work out how much you have gone above the allowance.  There is a calculator on the HMRC website.

As you can see from the above, despite the “simplification” of pensions back in 2015, the system is still extremely complicated. Nevertheless, saving in a pension is still very tax-efficient as for a higher rate taxpayer the net cost of saving £10,000 in a pension is currently £6,000.

CERTAIN GIFTS CAN HAVE CAPITAL GAINS TAX CONSEQUENCES

Although there will be no CGT on gifts of cash there may be CGT to pay where the gift comprises shares or other assets. This is because the transaction will generally be deemed to take place at market value between connected persons even though no money changes hands.

The amount of the gain would normally be determined by comparing the market value with the original cost of the asset gifted.  Where the amount of this gain is within the annual CGT allowance (currently £11,700) then there would be no CGT payable.

Where the gift comprises shares in a trading company or other business assets it may be possible for donor and recipient to sign an election to hold over the gain so that no CGT is payable by the donor at the time of the gift. The effect of such an election is that the recipient of the asset will take over the donor’s original cost for subsequent disposal.