Providing services to a public sector – off payroll working

In the latest Employer Bulletin HMRC advise those providing services to a public sector client through their own limited company to ensure they are ready for the new rules which take effect from 6 April 2017.

The new rules for off payroll working, commonly referred to as IR35 or the Intermediaries legislation, take effect from 6 April 2017.

These changes mean individuals working through their intermediary in the public sector will no longer be responsible for deciding whether the intermediaries’ legislation applies and then paying the appropriate tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs). This responsibility will instead move to the public authority client, agency, or third party that pays the worker’s intermediary, and they will also now become responsible for making sure that, where the rules apply, the relevant income tax and NICs are deducted and reported through PAYE in real time.

The public authority client is required to tell any agency or third party its view as to whether the rules apply. HMRC have been consulting on these new rules and the legislation has yet to be finalised.

HMRC confirm that ‘work is continuing on the development of the new Employment Status Service, and the online tool should be available for use in March. We have launched an off-payroll working in the public sector page on GOV.UK where you can find guidance for fee-payers, PSCs and public authorities to use, and links to material such as the technical note’.

If you have concerns in this area please contact us.

Internet links: Employer Bulletin Technical note

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Over £9.2 billion released by pension freedoms

Hundreds of thousands of savers have cashed in £9.2 billion from their pension pots since pension freedoms were introduced in April 2015.

In April 2015, the government introduced significant pension reforms giving people the ability to access their pensions savings how and when they want. Over 1.5 million payments have been made using pension freedoms, with 162,000 people accessing £1.56 billion flexibly from their pension pots over the last three months, according to HMRC figures.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby, said:

‘Giving people freedom over what they do with their hard-earned savings, whether it’s buying an annuity or taking a cash lump sum, is the right thing to do. These figures show that people continue to take advantage of the choices on offer: choices ‎only made available since the government’s landmark pension freedoms were introduced in April 2015.

We are working with our partners, including Pension Wise, the regulators and pension firms, so that savers have the support they need to understand the options available to them.

The statistics show that in the first year of these new rules being available, more than 232,000 people have accessed £4.3 billion flexibly from their pension pots.’

Internet links: GOV.UK news Statistics

Year end tax planning

With the end of the tax year looming there is still time to save tax for 2016/17. We have set out some points you may want to consider.

  • Make full use of your ISA allowance – ISAs can offer a useful tax free way to save, whether this is for your children’s future, a first home or another purpose. Individuals may invest  up to a limit of £15,240 for the 2016/17 tax year. A saver may only pay into a maximum of one Cash ISA, one Stocks and Shares ISA and one Innovative Finance ISA per year. Savers have until 5 April 2017 to make their 2016/17 ISA investment.
  • Take advantage of capital allowances – By making the most of capital allowances, businesses may be able to write off the costs of capital assets against taxable profits. The Annual Investment Allowance allows businesses to claim a deduction of up to £200,000 of the year’s investment in plant and machinery (excluding cars). Businesses of any size and most business structures can make use of the AIA. However, there are provisions to prevent multiple claims.
  • Build a tax efficient retirement plan – Pension contributions must be paid on or before 5 April 2017 for them to be relieved against 2016/17 income. Annual contributions are limited to the greater of £3,600 (gross) or the amount of your UK relevant earnings may be eligible for tax relief. However, these will be subject to the annual allowance, which is generally £40,000. This is further reduced for those with net income over £110,000 and adjusted annual income (their income, plus both their own and their employer’s pension contributions) over £150,000. For every £2 of adjusted income over this figure, a person’s annual allowance is reduced by £1 (down to a minimum of £10,000).

This is only a selection of options that you may wish to consider as part of your tax planning strategy. For more information, and for advice on how we can help you to minimise your tax bill, please contact us.

Please contact us to discuss your personal situation.

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 March 2017. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 March 2017 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 11p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 22p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 14p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 13p

Other points to be aware of about the advisory fuel rates:

  • Employees driving employer provided cars are not entitled to use these rates to claim tax relief if employers reimburse them at lower rates. Such claims should be based on the actual costs incurred.
  • The advisory rates are not binding where an employer can demonstrate that the cost of business travel in employer provided cars is higher than the guideline mileage rates. The higher cost would need to be agreed with HMRC.

If you would like to discuss your car policy, please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Pensions auto enrolment

The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed the thresholds for pensions automatic enrolment for 2017/18.

The main qualifying threshold or ‘trigger’ for employees to be automatically enrolled will be maintained at £10,000 per annum. The lower limit of the qualifying earning band and will be £5,876 and the upper limit £45,000.

The written statement also includes:

‘Automatic enrolment has been a great success to date with almost 7 million people enrolled by more than 293,000 employers. It will give around 11 million people the opportunity to save into a workplace pension and we expect this to lead to around 10 million people newly saving or saving more by 2018, generating around £17 billion a year more in workplace pension saving by 2019/20.’

With over a million micro (1 – 4 employees) and small (5 – 49 employees) employers reaching their staging date for auto enrolment in the last quarter of 2016/17 and throughout 2017/18 it is important to ensure employers comply with their obligations. The Pensions Regulator has confirmed the exceptions which apply to employers which can be found at on their website (see the TPR link below).

Please contact us if you would like help with auto enrolment compliance or to determine whether or not your business is exempt from auto enrolment.

Internet links: Parliament written statement TPR exemptions

Pay the NMW – no excuses

The government has revealed ten of the most bizarre excuses used by unscrupulous business owners who have been found to have underpaid workers the NMW.

These employers used excuses such as ‘only wanting to pay staff when there are customers to serve and believing it was acceptable to underpay workers until they had ‘proved’ themselves’.

The government has launched an awareness campaign to encourage workers to check their pay to ensure they are receiving at least the statutory minimum ahead of the NMW and NLW increases on 1 April 2017.

Employers need to ensure they are paying their employees at least the NMW and NLW.

Rate from 1 October 2016 Rate from 1 April 2017
NLW for workers aged 25 and over (introduced and applies from 1 April 2016) £7.20 £7.50
the main rate for workers aged 21-24 £6.95 £7.05
the 18-20 rate £5.55 £5.60
the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 £4.00 £4.05
the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship £3.40 £3.50

This will be the second increase in six months for the NMW rates. Going forward the NMW and NLW rates will both be reviewed annually in April.

In a recent article in the Employer Bulletin, HMRC cite common errors:

  • not paying the right rate, perhaps missing an employee’s birthday,
  • making deductions from wages which reduce the employee’s pay below the NMW/NLW rate,
  • including top ups to pay that do not qualify for NMW/NLW,
  • failure to classify workers correctly, so treating them as interns volunteers or self employed and
  • failure to include all the time a worker is working, for example time spent shutting up shop or waiting to clear security.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

The penalties imposed on employers that are in breach of the minimum wage legislation are 200% of arrears owed to workers. The maximum penalty is £20,000 per worker. The penalty is reduced by 50% if the unpaid wages and the penalty are paid within 14 days. HMRC also name and shame employers who are penalised.

If you would like help with payroll issues please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK NMW news

Increase in NMW rates

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. NMW rates increases come into effect on 1 October 2016.

  • the rate for 21 to 24 year olds will increase by 25 pence to £6.95 per hour
  • the rate for 18 to 20 year olds will increase by 25 pence to £5.55 per hour
  • the rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase by 13 pence to £4.00 per hour
  • the apprentice rate will increase by 10 pence to £3.40 per hour.

The mandatory National Living Wage (NLW) applies for workers aged 25 and above. This is £7.20 an hour.

NLW and NMW rates will in the future be uprated every April starting in April 2017.

Penalties

Penalties may be levied on employers where HMRC believe underpayments have occurred and HMRC may ‘name and shame’ non-compliant employers.

National Living Wage hits small business costs

According to research, 47% of small business owners blame increased wages following the introduction of the NLW as the main contributor to rising costs.

The research, carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), revealed that a third of FSB members claim that the NLW has led to a small increase in their wage costs while one in five have said that their staff costs have increased significantly. Although 59% of FSB members absorbed the increased costs through reduced profitability, 35% have increased prices, 24% reduced staff hours and 23% cut investment.

Updated guidance

HMRC have updated their guidance on payroll reporting including what employers should include on the Full Payment Submission (FPS) and Employer Payment Summary (EPS) returns.

Please contact us if you would like help with your payroll.

Internet links: ACAS article FSB press release Payroll guidance