2015/16 PENSION ANNUAL ALLOWANCE LAPSES ON 5 APRIL 2019

To utilize the 2015/16 unused relief any additional pension savings would need to be paid to the pension fund by 5 April 2019, otherwise the relief from 2015/16 will lapse.

Note however that for some taxpayers the method of calculating unused relief for 2015/16 is extremely complicated as the Government changed the pension rules part way through the year on 8 July 2015. The amount of pension allowance will depend on the pension input period of your scheme.

CONSIDER OTHER TAX EFFICIENT INVESTMENTS

If you are looking for investment opportunities, have you considered the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)? These investments in certain qualifying companies allow you to set off of 30% of the amount invested against your income tax bill as well as the ability to defer Capital Gains Tax (CGT) until the shares are sold.

An even more generous tax break is available for investment in a qualifying Seed EIS company where income tax relief at 50 per cent is available and in addition it is possible to obtain relief against your 2018/19 capital gains. Both EIS and Seed EIS also provide a CGT exemption when the shares themselves are sold after 3 years.  Note however that qualifying EIS and Seed EIS companies tend to be risky investments so professional investment advice should be taken.

A 30% income tax break is also available by investing in a Venture Capital Trust.

BUY NEW EQUIPMENT BEFORE 6 APRIL?

Your business year end, not 5 April, is relevant for capital allowances purposes. If however you are running a business and making up accounts to 31 March or 5 April, you should consider buying plant and machinery to take advantage of the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA).  Note that the AIA was increased from £200,000 to £1 million on 1 January 2019, so the allowance for year ended 31 March 2019 would be £400,000, not the full £1 million (£200,000 x 9/12 plus £1 million x 3/12).

The AIA provides a 100% tax write off for equipment used in your business. This tax relief extends to fixtures and fittings within business premises such as electrical, water and heating systems. AIA does not apply to motor cars but there is a special 100% tax relief if you buy a new car that emits no more than 50g CO2 per kilometer.

NEW WORKPLACE PENSION LIMITS FROM 6 APRIL 2019

The amounts that employers and workers will be required to pay into workplace pensions are due to increase from 6 April unless the worker opts out. The new limits will be 5% from the worker and 3% from the employer. The total minimum contribution will therefore increase from the current 5% overall to 8%.

In some schemes, your employer has the option to pay in more than the legal minimum. In these schemes, you can pay in less as long as your employer puts in enough to meet the total minimum contribution of 8%.

YEAR END PENSION PLANNING

For most taxpayers the maximum pension contribution is £40,000 each tax year, although this depends on their earnings. This limit covers both contributions by 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, 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 continue to be rumours that this generous relief may be reduced in future.

DON’T LOSE YOUR PERSONAL ALLOWANCE!

For every £2 that your adjusted net income exceeds £100,000 the £11,850 personal allowance is reduced by £1. Pension contributions and Gift Aid can help to reduce adjusted net income and save tax at an effective rate of 60%.

The restriction applies between £100,000 and £123,700 adjusted net income. Another way that you could avoid this trap would be to agree with your employer to sacrifice some of your salary in exchange for a tax free benefit in kind. These rules changed from 6 April 2017 but employer pension contributions, bicycles, and employer provided childcare would continue to be tax effective.

IF NO DEAL BREXIT – WHAT ABOUT VAT – CUSTOMS CHANGES

Businesses can currently move goods freely between EU countries. For customs purposes, this means that businesses trading with the rest of EU do not have to make any customs import or export declarations, and their trade with the EU is not subject to import duty.

In the event of a “no deal” Brexit there would be immediate changes to the procedures that apply to businesses trading with the EU. It would mean that the free circulation and movements of goods between the UK and EU would end.

HMRC is currently introducing its new Customs Declaration Service (CDS), which replaces its Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

From 11pm on 29 March 2019, for businesses trading with the EU, the impacts would include businesses having to apply the same customs and excise rules to goods moving between the UK and the EU as are currently applied in cases where goods move between the UK and non- EU countries.

This means customs declarations would be needed when goods enter the UK (an import declaration), or when they leave the UK (an export declaration).

For imports into the UK, a separate safety and security declaration needs to be made by the carrier of the goods (usually the haulier, airline, freight train operator or shipping line).

For exports from the UK, the export declaration includes the safety and security declaration.

CORPORATION TAX RELIEF BACK FOR ACQUIRED GOODWILL

A further late change to the Finance Bill will re-introduce relief for acquired goodwill on the acquisition of businesses with eligible intellectual property from 1 April 2019.

This relief was withdrawn back in July 2015 and the restoration of relief for goodwill and customer-related assets is very welcome although the new form of relief will be more restricted.

The proposed new relief will be given at a fixed rate of 6.5% on up to 6 times the value of any qualifying intellectual property assets in the business being acquired. Qualifying assets will include patents, registered designs, copyright and design rights and plant breeders’ rights. This means that the qualifying costs will be written off over just over 15 years and will not follow the treatment in the company accounts as currently applies to other intangibles.

IF NO DEAL BREXIT – VAT ON LOW VALUE CONSIGNMENTS

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, VAT will be payable on goods entering the UK as parcels sent by overseas businesses. Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) will no longer apply to any parcels arriving in the UK. For parcels valued up to and including £135, a technology-based solution will allow VAT to be collected from the overseas business selling the goods into the UK.