PILON (Payment in Lieu of Notice) and Termination Payments

PILON (Payment in Lieu of Notice) and Termination Payments

 

Employees with more than one month’s service are entitled to a minimum statutory notice period upon termination of their employment contract.

The statutory notice provides that an employee must receive a minimum of one week’s notice for every full year that their employer has employed them for up to 12 weeks.

If they have been employed for less than one year but more than four weeks, they are statutorily entitled to one week’s notice.

In many cases, employers will extend the length of the notice period from the statutory minimum under the employee’s employment contract terms. Contractual notice cannot be shorter than the employee’s relevant statutory entitlement.

An employer may wish to terminate an employee’s employment immediately, irrespective of the notice period they are entitled to. This may be because the employee has requested it or has access to sensitive or confidential information. The employer is concerned that the employee may disrupt the rest of the workforce or not carry out their job properly if they work their notice period. Pay in lieu of notice (or PILON) is one way to achieve this.

PILON or payment in lieu of notice allows an individual’s employment to be terminated immediately without completing or working their notice period. Instead, the employer pays the exiting employee the amount they would have earned had they worked their full notice period.

PILON and different types of dismissal

If the employment contract makes the PILON, the contract will usually set out the payment terms, including what will be considered in calculating the payment. Benefits and other payments may not be included.

The contractual term should stipulate when PILON takes effect, e.g., whether it is on the date notice of termination is given, the date the PILON is made, or the end of what would have been the notice period. The contract should also stipulate the amount that will be paid, which could, for example, cover basic pay but not benefits, bonuses, or commissions during the notice period. Payment in lieu of notice does not have to include holidays that would have accrued during the notice period, i.e., beyond the termination date, unless the contract provides otherwise.

If the employment contract does not provide for PILON, the employer would generally not be able to terminate the contract with immediate effect without the notice period. They may be in breach of contract for dismissal with pay in lieu of notice. This also means any post-employment restrictive covenants would no longer be legally binding on the employee.

Suppose the payment is in breach of the employment contract. The employer will usually need to pay an amount equivalent to any benefits or other payments that the employee would have received had they worked their notice period and the salary they would have been entitled to. In the case of a breach, the payment is, essentially, an advance damages payment or compensation to the employee for the breach. The employer may also include an amount for holidays accrued during the notice period.

How does PILON apply in relation to redundancy?

Payment in lieu of notice is often made in redundancy situations.

If the employee has worked for the employer for more than one month, they will have a statutory right to be given a certain amount of notice. This has to be the minimum notice period by law:

  • At least one week’s notice if employed between one month and two years
  • One week’s notice for each year if employed between 2 and 12 years
  • 12 weeks’ notice if employed for 12 years or more

They may be entitled to more notice if the employment contract provides this.

In the case of redundancy, employers can terminate the contracts of employees being made redundant immediately, meaning the employees do not have to work their notice period. In such cases, the employees should still, by law, be paid for the notice period. This should be communicated to the employees as part of the redundancy consultation process.

Payment in lieu of notice would be in addition to the employee’s statutory redundancy pay entitlement. Payment may be wrapped up with any redundancy or termination payments made by the employer to the employee. However, it is important to be clear as to what constitutes the PILON and what is a termination payment for tax reasons.

How does PILON differ from garden leave?

PILON is not to be confused with garden leave which is a separate concept. Where PILON applies, the employee’s employment is terminated immediately, and the employee is paid the amount they would have earned had they worked their notice period. Because the employment has terminated, the relationship between the employer and employee has ended, the employment contract terms are no longer binding, and the employee is free, for example, to find work elsewhere.

If an employee is placed on garden leave, their employment contract will remain effective for the duration of the period of leave until the date the contract is terminated. This means they are still employed by their employer for the garden leave period but are not required to go into their place of work. They will continue to be paid and accrue their rights and benefits in the usual way during the garden leave period, and technically, they could be required by their employer to undertake work.

Is PILON taxable?

PILON is taxable, and this is the case regardless of whether the payment is made by the employment contract or otherwise. The rules and calculations are, however, complex.  Essentially, an employee will pay income tax and Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) on the basic pay they would have been paid had they continued to be employed during their notice period. This amount is known as PENP or post-employment notice pay. Any amount paid to PENP will be classified as termination payment and taxed accordingly.

Termination payments

Typical termination payments will include compensation for loss of office, redundancy payments, damages for dismissal, payments in lieu of notice (PILONs) and certain payments made on retirement.

Termination payments will be fully taxable, partially taxable, or fully exempt, depending on the nature of the payment.

If a termination payment is given to the employee in return for services performed under the employment contract, the termination payment will be earnings and taxable in full. However, a termination payment will generally compensate the employee for loss of office rather than being rewarded for service performed.

Most termination payments are not earnings from the employment and are taxed differently than other payments such as salaries and bonuses.

National insurance implications

Class 1 NICs are paid on earnings from employment.  As far as termination payments are concerned, where a payment is made to an employee under a contractual obligation, this payment will be regarded as earnings for Class 1 NICs purposes.

PENP is also treated as earnings for Class 1 NICs purposes.

Class 1 NICs are levied on both employees and employers.  Employees have an upper earnings limit for Class 1 primary NICs which is currently £50,270 per annum. Suppose a termination payment is made to an employee who earns above this upper earnings limit. If the termination payment is chargeable to Class 1 NICs, there will only be a 2% additional charge on the employee.  However, secondary NICs will be levied on employers in full.

Payments from an EFRBS will generally be subject to Class 1 NICs.

Where an ex-gratia payment is made – i.e., where there is no contractual obligation, and the payment is not PENP – the payment will not be regarded as earnings and will not be charged to Class 1 NICs.  Therefore, where a termination payment is made such that the £30,000 exemption rule applies or income tax, Class 1 NICs are not due, even on any payment over £30,000.

However, where a termination payment is not regarded as earnings (and therefore not subject to Class 1 NICs), a Class 1A NICs charge will be levied on the amount of the payment subject to income tax.  This means that the employer will be subject to Class 1A NICs at a rate of 15.05% (13.8%-2021/2022) on the amount of the payment over the £30,000 exemption. However, the full payment will continue to be free of NICs for the employee as Class 1A NICs are only payable by the employer. Where a termination payment is regarded as earnings, it is subject to Class 1 primary and secondary NICs as usual.

If you need assistance in employment taxes, please contact us at 02082271700 or info@wimaccountants.com

Charitable giving and tax relief for companies and individuals

Charitable giving and tax relief for companies and individuals

Defining ‘charity’ for tax purposes

A charity is a body of persons or trust that broadly meets all the following conditions:

  • It is established for charitable purposes only.
  • It is subject to the control of a UK court or any other court in an EU member state or in Iceland, Norway, or Liechtenstein (any impact of Brexit remains to be seen)
  • It is registered with the Charity Commission or has complied with any registration requirement on a corresponding register in a territory outside of England and Wales.
  • It is managed by a fit and proper person.

Companies:

A qualifying charitable payment made by a company, whether or not resident in the UK, is deductible from total profits, subject to certain restrictions. There is no need for the company to make a claim for this treatment.

Individuals:

INTRODUCTION TO GIFT AID

The gift aid scheme is designed to reduce the incidence of taxation on gifts to charity both by providing tax relief to the donor and by enabling the charity to top up the gift by reclaiming tax from HMRC.

Under the scheme, the amount of a ‘qualifying donation’ is treated as a net amount from which basic rate income tax has been deducted at source. Higher and additional rate relief is then given by extension of the basic rate and higher rate bands by reference to the gross equivalent of the amount donated. Provision is made for cases where the donor pays tax other than at the main UK rates, for example at the Scottish or Welsh rates.

Basic rate tax relief is dependent on the donor having sufficient tax liability for the year to cover the amount treated as deducted at source. The donor may elect for a qualifying donation to be relieved as if it had been made in the preceding tax year.

Relief for donations under the gift aid scheme may be denied under the ‘tainted donations’ rules

Payroll giving

It is possible to make regular donations to a charity via PAYE. The donations are made from gross income before tax is collected. For example, a donation of £5 a month costs an employee £4 from their take-home pay, where they pay 20% tax, or £3 if they pay 40% tax. Individuals who donate to charities using payroll giving are not required to make any further disclosure to HMRC, including working out the adjusted net income for personal allowances and married couples’ allowance. The charity is not required to apply for gift aid on the payroll gifted amount. Under gift aid the donations can only be increased by 25% for the charity regardless of the donor’s tax bracket, but payroll giving allows charities to receive the full tax relief.

International charities

The availability of UK tax reliefs for charitable donations made to non-UK charities has had a complex history, and there is still some uncertainty over the position of some international charities.

With effect from 1st April 2012, Charity can only include one that meets the definition above, broadly qualifying UK, EU, Iceland, Norway, or Liechtenstein charities.

This means that tax reliefs will not be available for gifts and legacies to non-qualifying EU charities, such as those that do not meet the Charities Act 2011 definition of charitable purposes. They will also not be available for donations to charities that are not established in the UK, an EU member state, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein.

Non-residents

A non-UK resident is entitled to claim gift aid relief regarding donations made to qualifying charities or for gifts of qualifying investments to charity. However, non-residents are the only subject to UK tax on UK source income, some of which may be excluded from UK tax under the ‘disregarded income’ provisions. Limited capital gains (primarily those on UK property-related assets), there is a risk that they may not be paying sufficient income tax and capital gains tax to cover the tax which the charity will reclaim on any gift aid donations. If there is a shortfall, the taxpayer will need to make an additional tax payment.

Non-residents should review their expected UK tax exposure and plan they’re giving accordingly.

Individuals planning to leave the UK and become non-UK residents should review the gift aid declarations that they have in place and revoke these if they do not expect to pay sufficient UK income tax and capital gains tax to cover any tax charity may reclaim.

Remittance basis users

Remittance basis users who have foreign income and gains that remittance basis claims have protected may wish to make charitable donations out of these funds. Unlike the position for qualifying business investments, where business investment relief permits foreign income and gains to be brought to the UK tax-free for a permitted purpose, there is no general exemption that allows a remittance basis user to remit mixed funds to the UK for charitable purposes. Therefore, foreign income and gains that are transferred to the UK bank account of a charity or otherwise gifted to the charity in the UK will be treated as a taxable remittance.

However, a remittance basis user can avoid a taxable remittance by donating to an overseas bank account of the charity or by gifting a foreign qualifying investment to the charity outside the UK. If the charity then brings the funds to the UK, this will not be taxable remittance for the donor unless the charity is a relevant person to the donor.

If a donor wishes to give to a specific UK charity that does not have an overseas bank account, they could explore whether it is possible to make the gift overseas through an organisation.

Payments made regarding the £30,000 or £60,000 remittance basis charge can be considered when calculating if the taxpayer has paid sufficient income tax and/ or capital gains tax to cover the tax reclaimed by the charity on a donation.

US connections

The US has its own tax relief regime for charitable giving, so particular care is needed when planning for individuals who have tax exposure in both the UK and the US. Donations to US-based charities are unlikely to qualify for relief in the UK, so taxpayers will need to consider alternative options if they wish to claim relief in both the UK and the US.

Some charities are set up on a ‘dual-qualified’ basis so that donations qualify for relief in both the UK and the US. Where this is not an option, then it may be possible to obtain relief in both jurisdictions via a dual-qualified donor-advised fund (DAF). Donors will need to explore the possibilities for themselves, but some organisations may be able to help.

Care is needed when selecting the charities to receive legacies from an individual who is likely to be liable to both estate taxes in the US and inheritance tax in the UK. As with income tax reliefs, donations to US charities are highly unlikely to qualify for an inheritance tax charitable exemption, so options such as dual-qualified charities and DAFs should be considered as an alternative.

Inheritance tax trap

With effect from 6th April 2017, individuals have been deemed the UK domiciled for tax purposes where:

  • They were born in the UK with a UK domicile of origin
  • They have acquired a domicile of choice outside the UK
  • They are currently UK resident
  • They were UK residents in one or both previous two tax years (this only applies to inheritance tax and not the other taxes).

Such individuals are at particular risk of having prepared a will under the law of another jurisdiction and potentially have provided legacies to overseas charities. Where this is the case, their worldwide estate will be within the scope of UK inheritance tax, subject to any treaty reliefs, and there will be no exemptions for legacies to overseas charities which do not qualify for UK tax reliefs.

If you have other questions or need more understanding, please contact our team at WIM Accountants at 02082271700 or email us at info@wimaccountants.com.

The most common mistakes made in R&D tax claims

The most common mistakes made in R&D tax claims

  1. Typical R&D claim

Not all R&D projects occur in laboratories, and your R&D team doesn’t need to wear white coats. Any company in any industry may be eligible to claim R&D tax credits, so long as the company is undertaking development activities that seek to achieve an advance in science and technology. If the project contained a level of technical uncertainty for the competent professionals involved- if there were moments where you and your team weren’t sure how to proceed, or you weren’t confident if your technological goal was achievable – that’s a good indication that qualifying R&D activities were taking place.

  1. Not claiming under the right scheme

The R&D Tax Credits scheme is subdivided into two branches: the SME scheme (or small/medium-sized businesses) and the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) scheme for larger companies.

Before making a claim, it’s essential to understand which of these branches your business comes under. Legally, HMRC considers a larger company to have over 500 employees and a yearly turnover of more than €100 million OR a balance sheet above €86 million. A company falling below these criteria is considered an SME and should typically use the SME branch of the scheme.

  1. Non – qualifying expenditure

Everyone wants to maximise the qualifying R&D expenditure in their claims, including the costs of consumable items; for example, the components of a prototype used in testing and the scrapped have always been intended to qualify.

Likewise, an apportionment of water, fuel and power to the R&D activities will be accepted by HMRC.

However, where a company sells or otherwise transfers ownership of items produced in its R&D activity as part of its ordinary business, then the cost of consumable items that form part of those products is excluded from expenditure qualifying for relief.

Using the example above, if the prototype was sold to a customer, even at a discount or gifted to someone else as a goodwill gesture, the costs of the parts could not be claimed as qualifying R&D expenditure. This is the point that other firms often miss, and HMRC could successfully challenge their claims.

  1. Inaccurately accounting for workers outside of the company

Some companies undergo all their R&D projects internally using their employees, but others require work from external parties. When making an R&D Tax Credits claim, accounting for this is complex, but you must get it right. Something as innocuous as IP ownership and clauses around the future use of any IP can potentially kill off an entire R&D claim. It is also incredibly important to understand the differences between subcontracted R&D and work done by Externally Provided Workers (EPWs). Addressing this properly in the early stages of a claim can ensure R&D claims are maximised, particularly under RDEC, where subcontractor restrictions exist.

  1. Not claiming all qualifying costs

There are several areas of R&D expenditure that you can include in your R&D tax credits claim, including costs for staff (salary, employer’s National Insurance and pension contributions, and reimbursed expenses), agency workers, subcontractors, software licenses, and consumable items (light, heat, power, and materials or equipment used or transformed by the R&D process). You don’t want to leave any money on the table, so to make sure your claim includes all qualifying costs, work with your specialist R&D tax credits firm.

  1. Not consulting R&D Tax Specialist

The best way to make a successful R&D tax credits claim is to work with a tax consultancy specialising in R&D tax credit claims. Many companies with specialist knowledge and experience throughout the UK, such as WIM. If you’re not sure if your company was undertaking qualifying R&D activities or which of your activities qualify, it’s best to ask an expert in R&D tax credits. The experts will guide you through the claims process, ensuring that your claim is maximised and meets HMRC’s guidelines. Although it is possible to make an R&D tax credits claim through your accountant (or even on your own), your best chance of making a successful claim is through a specialist R&D tax credits firm.

To learn more about R&D tax credits and whether you should make a claim, please feel free to contact us via email: at info@wimaccountants.com or call us at 02082271700, and we’ll call you back to discuss your project. Our advisors are knowledgeable, professional, and friendly and will help you determine your eligibility at no cost.

Furnished Holiday Lettings

Furnished Holiday Lettings

What are furnished holiday lettings?

A Furnished Holiday Let is a specific category of rental property classification in the UK, Ireland, and other European countries. If your property is a Furnished Holiday Let, it allows you certain tax advantages and benefits as an owner. But how does your holiday home receive this status? To be given a Furnished Holiday Let status, you will need to meet certain conditions.

What are the advantages of a Furnished Holiday Let?

Holiday Let Tax Deductible Expenses

Capital allowances can be claimed on your FHL property. This means the cost of kitting out your cottage to a luxury standard (and, in return, increasing your potential rental income) can be deducted from your pre-tax profits. This isn’t an option available for long-term rental properties.

Make tax-advantaged pension contributions.

Income generated from an FHL property is classed as ‘relevant earnings’, which means you can make tax-advantaged pension contributions.

When you sell your property

If you should come to sell your FHL property, you can claim certain Capital Gains Tax (CGT) reliefs. These are unavailable to long-term rental properties and include:

  • Entrepreneur’s Relief
  • Business Asset Rollover Relief
  • Gift Hold-over Relief

Split the profits between your husband/wife

The 50/50 rule does not apply to income arising from a UK property business that consists of, or so far as it includes, the commercial letting of furnished holiday accommodation.

  1. If a spouse or civil partner carries on the activity alone: that spouse or civil partner is taxable on the income.
  2. If a spouse or civil partner carries on the activity with others: the income is split for tax purposes in the way the parties have agreed to split the profits amongst themselves.

Council Tax for Holiday Lets

Self-catering accommodation in England, which is available for short-term lettings for more than 140 days in any given year, is subject to Business Rates property tax.

Since all FHL properties must be available to let for a minimum of 210 days, they fall into this category. However, this isn’t necessarily bad news, as you can claim Small Business Rate Relief, which can be up 100% depending on what area you are in. in this case, you would not need to pay council tax.

If you have self-catering accommodation in Wales, you are eligible to claim Small Business Rates relief if the property is available for letting for up to 140 days per year and is let out for 70 days of the year.

If you own self-catering accommodation in Scotland, you may also need to pay business rates. You are advised to contact your local authorities to confirm your eligibility for Business Rates relief, as this is handled differently than in England.

What are the disadvantages of a Furnished Holiday Let?

VAT

As part of the 2021 budget announcement from Rishi Sunak, it was announced that a new rate of VAT at 12.5% will run from October 1st, 2021, until March 31st 2022, for the tourism and hospitality sector.

If your FHL property portfolio turnover exceeds the VAT threshold, you must become VAT registered. If you own an individual FHL property, to exceed the current VAT threshold, you will need to let your property for over £1,635pw for the entire year (52 back-to-back bookings), equating to £85,000 in total per year. Be sure to do the maths, but you’ll most likely need multiple FHL properties before VAT becomes something you need to consider.

If your income generated from guests exceeds £85,000 per year, you must register for VAT and pay the standard rates. This requires you to pay 20% (or the temporarily reduced VAT rates) above the fee you charge for guests to stay.

Losses cannot be offset against other taxable income

If you make a loss in your UK Furnished Holiday Letting business, it can only be carried forward against a profit of the same UK Furnished Holiday Letting business.  Likewise, a loss in an EEA Furnished Holiday Letting business can only be carried forward against the profits of the same EEA Furnished Holiday Letting business.

Business rates

The criteria that decide whether or not you must pay business rates for Furnished Holiday Lets changes depending on which country the property is in.

Although owners of multiple holiday lets may be disadvantaged by business rates in some cases, business rates for holiday lets could be advantageous to you. If you let just one property and its rateable value falls below £15,000, then you could be eligible for Small Business Rate Relief.

What are Furnished Holiday Lettings allowable expenses?

Your FHL property is treated similarly to a business regarding expenses. This allows you to offset expenses against your revenue. Two crucial points are:

  1. Expenses claimed must be against commercial use only. If your family or friends use your property, your expense will be partly considered ‘private use’. This means you will need to calculate what percentage of the expense is commercial. For example, if you use the property privately for three months of the year, 75% of your expenses will be considered commercial.
  2. Expenses must not be capital. For example, one-off payments for the purchase or construction of the property or for its fixtures (capital allowances could cover these expenses).

Here are some examples of allowable expenses:

  • Utility bills or refuse collection
  • Interest on loans associated with the property
  • Advertising or letting agency fees
  • Products bought for the property (cleaning products and welcome packs)
  • Maintenance and cleaning costs
  • Insurance relevant to your FHL (e.g. public liability, buildings and contents insurance)

Furnished Holiday Let Capital allowances

Capital allowances are tax relief that you can benefit from when running a holiday let business. As holiday lets are classed as a business, this allows deducting the cost of certain items that will be used as a part of your business from your pre-tax profits. Holiday let capital allowances can be claimed for things such as furnishings, fittings and equipment that you will use to run your business.

What can I claim capital allowances on?

Capital allowances can be claimed against items purchased to be used as part of a business, under ‘plant and machinery. These items mainly include fixtures and fittings that help your property function as a business for holiday lets.

There are two main categories of items that can be claimed under capital allowances: loose and fixed items. Here are some examples from each:

Loose items (mobile items)

  • Furniture
  • Furnishings (Eg. bed linen, cushions, curtains etc.)
  • White electrical goods (Eg. washing machine, fridge, dishwasher etc.)
  • Electrical appliances (Eg. coffee machine, TV, kettle)

Fixed items (stationery items)

  • Electrical wires
  • Kitchen units
  • Water pipes and plumbing
  • Carpets
  • Repair and replacement required in the property (doors, windows etc.)

How to qualify to be a Furnished Holiday Let

Your property can qualify as a Furnished Holiday let if it meets the following criteria:

Your property must be finished.

Although this may seem a little obvious, it is part of the requirements. The rules do not specify to what extent your property must be furnished. Still, if you aim to provide everything you would expect from a self-catering holiday cottage, then you’ll be on safe ground (don’t forget, some of these expenses can fall under Capital Gains Tax relief).

Be within the UK or European Economic Area (EEA)

To qualify as a furnished holiday let, your property must sit within either the UK or one country that makes up the European Economic Area (EEA), including all European Union Members (EU).

Be available to let

For the first 12 months of being an FHL, your property will effectively be in a ‘probationary’ period. During this time, the potential and actual availability of your property will be reviewed, and for your FHL status to become a more permanent feature, in the first year, your property must:

  • be available to let for 210 days (30 weeks),
  • be let commercially as a holiday property for 105 days (15 weeks)
  • and if occupied for more than 31 days by the same person/people, there must not be more than 155 days of these longer lettings in total across the year

Any days that you, your friends or your family spend on the property, for free or at a discounted rate, do not count towards the total commercial occupation requirements.

While this requirement may seem somewhat strict, there is some reasonable flexibility if you are:

  • Unable to meet the required occupation figuresThese figures can be averaged out across multiple FHL properties – however, properties in the Republic of Ireland are considered separate from the rest of the UK.
  • Unable to meet the actual occupation figure (after your ‘probationary’ period)If you met the occupation requirements during the previous year, a period of grace could be granted (for a maximum of two consecutive years) by the HMRC. This means you will retain your FHL status, providing you meet the occupation requirements in the future.

When does a property stop being a furnished holiday let?

Property no longer qualifies as an FHL if it meets one of the following criteria:

  • The property is sold
  • The property is being used for private occupation
  • The letting conditions are not met, including election averaging and period of grace elections

R&D claims an “unbelievable” drain on company resources

R&D claims an “unbelievable” drain on company resources


Research & Development (R&D) tax credits have been in the news a lot of late – two significant changes to the scheme are expected to take effect from April 2023 while more imminently, HMRC is investigating the huge volume of what they call ‘spurious’ claims which have increased over the past few years.

R&D tax credits are intended to support companies investing in science and technology projects or schemes. To qualify, companies need to pay corporation tax, and the associated project already should involve either advancement, innovation or research in the science and technology areas. Staff costs, research contributions and software all qualify under the scheme.

Larger companies who claim R&D tax credits under the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) scheme are entitled to a 13 percent RDEC rate.

HMRC figures show a 16 percent increase in the number of R&D tax credit claims for the year ending March 2020. This equates to £7.4bn in total support claimed, up 19 percent from the previous year (£6.3bn).

Although, in theory, this paints a positive picture of innovation in the UK, a suspected uptick in spurious claims has sparked concern.

For instance, of the 85,950 R&D claims made, 85 percent were less than £100,000 in value – conceivably an indication of suspicious activity.

HMRC investigations (ongoing): HMRC is now clamping down on ‘spurious’ R&D claims. Their figures show that £612million has been lost through incorrect R&D claims. As part of this, HMRC has recruited 100 additional caseworkers to add a heightened level of scrutiny over R&D claims.

R&D tax credit changes (from April 2023): Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced during the budget that there would be two significant changes to the R&D scheme from April 2023, including:

  • Extension of R&D scheme. Currently, cloud computing and data costs are not included in the scheme. Still, under the changes, the scheme will be extended to include these key areas to recognise the increased use of cloud software and data hosting.
  • Focus on UK-only innovation. From April 2023, R&D claims will be restricted to UK-only activity, affecting companies who subcontract R&D overseas.

Qualifying R&D

  • Certain conditions have to be met in relation to the expenditure, as follows:
  • It must be revenue not capital in nature.
  • It must be related to a trade carried on or to be carried on by the company.

It must be incurred on:

  1. staff costs
  2. software or consumables
  3. relevant payments to the subjects of clinical trials
  4. subcontracted R&D costs or
  5. externally provided workers 

It must not be incurred in the carrying on of activities which are contracted out to the company by any person.

It must not be subsidised.

In respect of expenditure or activities contracted out to the company and subsidised expenditure, an SME is allowed to claim an equivalent to the R&D expenditure credit provided it would be available to a large company in the same circumstances.

In addition, the company must be a going concern. Companies in liquidation or administration are not going concerns.

Consumable R&D tax credit

The cost of items that are directly used and consumed in qualifying R&D projects may form part of the claim for R&D relief. This category includes materials and the proportion of water, fuel and power consumed in the R&D process.

Once your work to resolve the technological or scientific uncertainty is finished, any additional costs for consumables (such as materials for cosmetic fine-tuning or marketing) cannot be included in your claim. It would help if you were careful only to have the consumable costs related to your R&D work – this may differ from the consumable costs for your entire developed material, product, process, or service.

If you have questions or need any help with your R&D claims, please visit our website  wimaccountants.com/ or contact us at 02082271700 or info@wimaccountants.com.

R&D tax credits: what is an HMRC enquiry?

R&D tax credits: what is an HMRC enquiry?

What is an HMRC enquiry?

The government’s R&D tax credit incentives were introduced to help grow the UK economy and reward innovative businesses. HMRC manage and administer the government R&D tax credit incentives. Sometimes this can include an enquiry.

When you submit an R&D tax credit claim to HMRC, HMRC should swiftly process your claim – they try to work to an internal 28-day deadline. In most cases, a simple desktop review of the claim documents will be sufficient for HMRC to be satisfied and process your R&D tax credit claim.

Sometimes, however, HMRC asks for more information to clarify any questions. This process is known as an enquiry.

Why do HMRC open enquiries?

The reason why HMRC might open an enquiry can vary. For example, their reasoning might be related to your company’s change in your circumstances.

HMRC may have some questions about the nature of your R&D work: perhaps about your industry or a particular technology you were working with.

What is an HMRC compliance check?

A compliance check or ‘enquiry’ is essentially an investigation into your R&D Tax Credit claim.

They generally happen when the tax inspector reviewing your tax credit submission finds a discrepancy in your financial data or is unsure whether some aspect of your development work is eligible for funding.

Or is unsure whether some aspect of your development work is eligible for funding. Some enquiries are also launched for random sampling purposes.

To clear up their concerns, your inspector will write to you with a list of questions designed to collect more financial and technical data about your R&D.

Enquiries generally involve multiple rounds of questioning and can take weeks, months, and sometimes even years to resolve.

But while facing an enquiry can be extremely inconvenient, they are a vital mechanism for projecting the R&D Tax Relief scheme for abusive claims and ensuring that UK taxpayers receive value-for-money.

Why does HMRC launch enquiries?

Financial Discrepancies

At HMRC nothing raises a red flag quicker than numbers that don’t add up. If the figure in your claim report – the document containing a breakdown of your R&D costs – don’t match those in your corporate accounts, there’s a good chance your tax agent will initiate an enquiry to clear up the discrepancy.

Insufficient Proof of eligible R&D

To claim R&D tax credits, you must prove that your development work meets the government’s definition of eligible R&D.

You deliver this proof in your technical narrative, demonstrating that you pursued a genuine technological advance by tackling scientific or technical uncertainties through systematic experimentation.

If you fail to prove your eligibility – for example, by talking about business challenges in your narrative rather than technical ones HMRC will launch an enquiry to investigate whether your development work truly qualifies for R&D Tax Credits.

Please visit the link below for more information and if you have any questions, please get in touch with us at WIM Accountants at info@wimaccountants.com or call on 020822717000.

Insight to R&D eligible cost

Insight to R&D eligible cost

What costs qualify for R&D tax credits?

You can claim Research and Development (R&D) tax credits on revenue expenditure, i.e., day-to-day operational costs. But usually, capital expenditure (money spent on fixed assets such as land and buildings) is not eligible for R&D Expenditure within the claim.

Eligible R&D Expenditure

Revenue expenditure includes the following costs, which can be included in your R&D claim:

Staffing costs

For SMEs and large companies, the category can include:

  • Gross salaries (including wage, overtime pay and cash bonuses)
  • Employer NI contributions
  • Employer pension contributions
  • Certain reimbursed business expenses

Any benefits in kind, such as private medical cover and company cars, are specifically excluded from the staff costs category. You cannot include director dividends. And this can affect the value of your claim quite substantially if your directors spend time at work on the R&D activities.

Some employees or directors may be wholly engaged in R&D activities. However, it’s more common for staff to be partially involved in R&D. you should therefore determine the appropriate apportionment to their total staffing costs to include in your R&D claim.

Subcontracted R&D

The costs that you can include for subcontractors also differs between the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) scheme and the SME R&D tax credit scheme. If you make an RDEC claim, money spent on subcontractors does not usually qualify for tax relief, but some exceptions are explained below. If you make an SME claim, you can include 65% of payments made to unconnected parties.

SME R&D tax credits and subcontracted R&D

If you are an SME, you can include expenditure on subcontractors involved in R&D projects in your R&D tax credit claim. For ‘unconnected’ subcontractors, payments linked to R&D activities are restricted to 65% for the claim. For ‘connected’ subcontractors, the rules are more complex and based on the nature of the subcontractor’s expenditure.

R&D Expenditure Credits (RDEC)

Through the RDEC scheme, companies can only claim for expenditure on subcontracted R&D if the subcontractor is:

  • An individual
  • A partnership, where all partners are individual
  • A qualifying body (including charities, universities, and scientific research organisations).

The expenditure does not need to be restricted to 65% in the same way as SME claims.

Externally Provided Workers (EPWs)

Staff costs are paid to an external agency for workers engaged in the R&D project. Relief is restricted to 65% of the payments made to the staff provider. Special rules apply if the company and staff provider are connected or elect to be connected.

Consumable

The cost of items that are directly used and consumed in qualifying R&D projects may form part of the claim for R&D relief. This category includes materials and the proportion of water, fuel and power consumed in the R&D process.

Software

You may claim the cost of software directly employed in the R&D activity. Where software is only partly employed in direct R&D, an appropriate apportionment should be made.

It can be complicated to submit an R&D tax credit claim to HMRC’s exacting standards. Get in touch with our Tax Team at WIM accountants for guidance for your R&D claims on info@wimaccountants.com or call our offices on 02082271700

What do you know about Corporate Intangibles Tax Treatment

What do you know about Corporate Intangibles Tax Treatment

 

Corporate intangibles tax treatment

The corporate tax treatment essentially follows the treatment of intangibles in the accounts. There are, however, restrictions on the deductibility of debts about goodwill and other customer-related intangible assets depending on the date of acquisition or creation.

The corporate intangibles regime has gone through several iterations since its introduction in April 2002, most recently in July 2020, mainly about goodwill and other customer-related intangible assets.

The regime is complex and requires detailed recording keeping by companies and their advisers, particularly about acquisition dates, relationships between companies, and the asset’s market value at the time of the first acquisition under the new rules. Therefore, advisers need to confirm the history of an intangible fixed asset when it is being acquired from a related party.

Corporate intangible regime

Most intangible assets are within the corporate intangible’s regime, but some types of expenditure are excluded completely or excluded apart from royalties derived from the intangible asset. The corporate intangible regime also interacts with other corporate tax regimes where the same expenditure qualifies for both regimes.

Debits and credits on intangible assets are generally treated for tax in the same way as they are included in the accounts. Still, tax adjustments follow similar rules for other expenditure items. Alternatively, a company can write down an intangible asset at a fixed rate instead of following the accounts.

What is an intangible fixed asset?

Intangible assets include operational assets that lack physical substance. For example, goodwill is a fixed asset, patents, copyrights, trademarks, and franchises. A company’s intangible assets are often not reported on its financial statements, or they may be reported significantly less than their actual value. This is because assets are accounted for at their historical cost.

Unlike tangible fixed assets such as a building or machinery, intangibles are often developed internally without any direct, measurable cost that can be capitalised. When an intangible is purchased, however, or when costs can be directly traced to the development of the asset, the cost is recorded as an intangible asset on the balance sheet.

Date of acquisition or creation

Generally, an asset is treated as created or acquired on or after 1 April 2002 when expenditure on its creation or acquisition is incurred on or after that date. Where expenditure is incurred partly before and after this date, it is possible to apportion the expenditure on a just and reasonable basis.

This general rule is amended if the asset:

  • Was acquired from a related party
  • Is internally generated goodwill

For assets acquired from related parties before 1 July 2020, the relevant date to consider is the first date a related party acquired the asset from an unrelated party. For acquisitions made on or after 1 July 2020, the relevant date is simply the date of acquisition, unless the related party is a company within the same capital gains group (in which case, the pre-1 July 2020 rules still apply). If the relevant date is on or after 1 April 2002, the asset will fall within the corporate intangible’s regime.

Which assets fall within the corporate intangible’s regime?

After determining the date of acquisition or creation, broadly, an intangible fixed asset is within the corporate intangibles regime if it was:

  • Created by the company on or after 1 April 2002
  • Acquired by the company on or after 1st April 2002 from a person who is not a related party
  • Acquired by the company between 1st April and 30th June 2020 from a related party but only where:
  • the party is a company, and the asset was already within the corporate intangible’s regime for the related party.
  • That related party acquired the asset from a third party on or after 1st April 2002, and the third party is sufficiently unrelated
  • The asset was created (by any person) on or after 1st April 2002
  • Acquired on or after 1st July 2020 from a related party (but not from the same capital gains group company)
  • Owned immediately before 1st July 2020 by a company that was not within the charge to UK corporation tax in respect of that asset.

Which assets do not fall within the corporate intangible’s regime?

  • Created by a company before 1st April 2002 (and ownership has not changed since)
  • Acquired by a company before 1st April 2002
  • Acquired by a company between 1st April 2002 and 30th June 2020 from a related person where that related person created or acquired the asset before 1st April 2002
  • Acquired by a company on or after 1st April 2002 from a company where both companies are in the same group and the related company disposing of the asset created before 1st April 2002.

Assets that fall outside the corporate intangible’s regime require different tax analyses depending upon the type of asset in question. However, most will be treated as capital assets under the chargeable gain’s legislation.

Intangible fixed assets – common mistakes

HMRC highlighted five of the most common mistakes around the intangible’s regime:

  • Asset identification – it is important that companies and their advisers undertake a detailed analysis to support any asset identification
  • No business acquisition – where a company has not acquired a business, relief for goodwill is not available under the intangible fixed asset regime
  • Date of acquisition – any IFAs acquired should be correctly identified so that the correct tax treatment can be applied – especially when the acquisition falls close to the date of one of the regime legislative changes. Companies should keep contemporaneous documents to evidence the date of acquisition.
  • Valuation – companies must obtain at least one professional independent valuation of all assets to ensure that the correct assets are valued on the proper basis, mainly if the acquisition is from a related party.
  • Documentary evidence – related parties are expected to document transactions and agreements as if they were with an unrelated third party. Records should be kept for six years from the end of the financial year to which they relate.

How we can help

We can advise on the impact of the IFA rules ahead of any significant acquisition or disposal or about the purchase or sale of a business. We can also advise you on the potential benefits of making one of the claims or the interaction between accounting treatment and tax implications.

For more information, please contact us at WIM Accountants at info@wimaccountants.com or call us on 02082271700.

New VAT Penalties regime

New VAT Penalties regime

 

Penalties for late payment and interest harmonisation

  • For VAT taxpayers from periods starting on or after 1 January 2023.
  • For taxpayers in Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA), from the tax year beginning 6 April 2024 for taxpayers with business or property income over £10,000 per year (that is, taxpayers must submit digital quarterly updates through Making Tax Digital for ITSA).
  • For all other ITSA taxpayers, from the tax year beginning 6 April 2025.

First penalty:

The taxpayer will not incur a penalty if the outstanding tax is paid within the first 15 days after the due date. The taxpayer incurs the first penalty if the tax remains unpaid after day 15. This penalty is set at 2% of the tax outstanding after day 15. If any of this tax is still unpaid after day 30, the penalty will be calculated as 2% of the tax due after day 15 plus 2% of the tax outstanding on day 30. In most instances, this will amount to a 4% charge at day 30.

Second penalty:

If the tax remains unpaid on day 31, the taxpayer will begin to incur an additional penalty on the tax that remains outstanding. It accrues daily, at 4% per annum on the outstanding amount. This additional penalty will stop accruing when the taxpayer pays the due tax.

Time-to-Pay arrangements:

HMRC will offer taxpayers the option of requesting a Time-to-Pay (TTP) arrangement. This enables a taxpayer to stop a penalty from accruing further by approaching HMRC and agreeing on a schedule for paying their outstanding tax. A TTP arrangement, if agreed, has the same effect of paying the tax and stops penalties accruing from the day the taxpayer approaches HMRC to agree on it, as long as the taxpayer continues to honour the terms of the TTP agreement. The examples below illustrate how TTP work and the effect of a TTP is shown in this chart:

Days after payment due date Action by customer Penalty
0-15 Payments made or TTP is proposed by day 15 and then agreed No penalty is payable
16-30 Payments made or TTP is proposed by day 30 and then agreed The penalty will be calculated at half the total percentage rate (2%)
Day 30 Some tax is still unpaid; no TTP agreed. The penalty will be calculated at the total percentage rate (4%)

If tax is still unpaid on day 31 a second, an additional penalty will start to accrue at 4% per annum.

Where HMRC might not assess a late payment penalty

HMRC has discretionary power to reduce or not charge a penalty for late payment if it considers that appropriate in the circumstances. This will include special circumstances that cause a taxpayer to pay their tax late.

HMRC recognises that moving to the new system of late payment penalties is a significant change for some customers, especially those who might have more difficulty getting in contact with HMRC within 15 days of missing a payment to begin agreeing on a Time-to-Pay arrangement. HMRC will therefore take a light-touch approach to the initial 2% late payment penalty for customers in the first year of operation of the new system under both VAT and ITSA.

A taxpayer is doing their best to comply; HMRC will not assess the first penalty at 2% after 15 days, allowing taxpayers 30 days to approach HMRC in the first year before HMRC charges a penalty. However, if a taxpayer has not approached HMRC by the end of day 30 and there is still an amount of tax outstanding, the first penalty will be charged 2% of the amount outstanding at day 15 plus 2% of what is still outstanding at day 30. In most instances, this will amount to a 4% penalty.

Additionally, there is no penalty if the taxpayer has a reasonable excuse for late payment. If HMRC is satisfied, a taxpayer has a reasonable excuse, HMRC will agree not to assess. This will prevent the taxpayer from unnecessarily having to appeal.

How the new late payment and repayment interest charges work

HMRC will charge late payment interest on tax outstanding after the due date, irrespective of whether any late payment penalties have also been charged. The late payment interest will apply from the date the payment was due until the date on which HMRC receives it. Late payment interest will be calculated as simple interest at a rate of 2.5% plus the Bank of England base rate.

Where a taxpayer has overpaid tax, HMRC will pay Repayment Interest (RPI) on any tax due to be repaid (the difference between the amount owing and the amount paid) either from the last day the payment was due to be received or the day it was received, whichever is later, until the date of repayment. RPI will be paid at the Bank of England base rate of less than 1% (with a minimum rate of 0.5%).

Late payment interest and Time-to Pay arrangements

Late payment interest is charged when tax is paid late. HMRC will always try to help taxpayers in temporary financial difficulty manage payment of their debt. Late payment interest will continue to accrue on amounts not paid on time, even if those amounts are included in the Time-to-Pay arrangement.

If you need any advice on the late payment changes by HMRC, please get in touch with us by calling 02082271700 or email info@wimaccountants.com

 

Can I get Tax Relief on Pension Payments?

Can I get Tax Relief on Pension Payments?

What is a pension, and how does it work?

A pension is a financial product that lets you save up to fund your retirement. Technically, it’s a kind of tax wrapper with specific rules around what you can save and when you can access your cash.

There are broadly three types of pensions – defined contribution, defined benefit and the state pension.

Defined contribution:

Most workplace pensions are the defined contribution type. Private pensions, including Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs), are too. With this kind of saving, the amount you get when you retire depends on how much you contributed to your pension fund during your working life, your investment returns, and the charges you’ve paid.

Whatever you save attracts tax relief, which means the government boosts your contributions. If you have a workplace scheme, your employer usually has to contribute.

Your employer sets up workplace pensions, and you won’t get a choice over the provider. You should be automatically enrolled if you earn over a certain amount a year with one company. Those who haven’t enrolled automatically can usually register voluntarily because they don’t make enough or are under 21.

Defined benefit:

These are also sometimes known as final salary or career-average salary schemes. How much you get at retirement depends on your salary when you work and your length of service. You get a guaranteed income for life and don’t have to worry about investment returns.

State pension:

The state pension is a qualifying benefit paid by the government. To get the full amount, you need to have 35 years’ worth of National Insurance contributions. You can also get NI credits in some cases if you are out of work – for instance, if you’re looking after small children and have applied for child benefit.

Why pay into a pension?

Even though retirement can feel like a million miles away, saving early is generally a good idea. Most people want to retire at some stage, and you need enough money to keep you going, often for more than 30 years.  That means the cash you save while you’re working needs to last decades.

The more you put away when you’re younger, the more your investments will grow, and the more comfortable your retirement will be. Burying your head in the sand could mean you have to keep working past the point at which you’d like to slow down. The state pension only works out at £179.60 per week, which is less than most people need to live on.

While there are many ways to save and invest for your retirement, a pension is often the most attractive because you can get:

  • Tax relief (free government money). When you contribute to your pension, you get tax relief. In simplistic terms, this means that the government gives you free cash to top up your savings. Depending on how much income tax you pay, you’ll usually get added between 20% and 45%. There’s a limit, though; you can only save £40,000 a year or your total salary – whichever is lower.
  • Employer contributions (free money from your bosses). A workplace pension legally requires employers to contribute on your behalf. Not only do you receive contributions from the government in the form of tax relief, but you also get free cash from your boss. The minimum employers have to pay is 3%, but many will pay more if you increase your contributions. Ask your employer if they offer contribution matching.

Pension investments are free from the capital gains tax, so that you won’t pay tax on any profits made from the investments within your pension pots.

Pension 2028

  • Clarity is required for people who reach the new normal minimum pension age in 2028.
  • Real estate investment trust regime broadened.
  • Higher rates of tax relief for new theatrical and orchestral productions.
  • Reporting deadline for residential capital gains extended from 30 to 60 days.
  • Cross-border group relief inequalities removed.
  • Dormant asset scheme amended, so a tax charge arises only when the investor claims the asset.

Annual allowance charge:

You can only get tax relief up to your current annual allowance, made up of the current year’s allowance (currently £40,000) and any unused allowance from the previous three tax years.

Since April 2016, anyone whose total income, pension contributions and employer pension contributions are over £150,000 in a year will get a reduced allowance. However, it was announced in the Budget in March 2020 that the annual allowance will only begin to taper for those who have an income above £240,000 – the £200,000 allowance plus the £40,000 you can save into a pension.

It means that for every £2 of ‘adjusted income’ that goes over £240,000, the annual allowance for that year reduces by £1. Meaning anyone earning a total income of £300,000 or more will only get £4,000 tax relief annually.

This example shows how the annual limits can be used and carried over…

Current annual allowance = £40,000 (NB reduces to £4,000 if you’ve started taking money from your pension). You can top up your allowance for the current tax year with any allowance you didn’t use from the previous three tax years.

Say you have been investing £10,000 a year in a pension in recent years. You would then be able to carry forward three lots of £30,000 – a total of £90,000 on top of the standard £40,000 annual allowance. That’s £130,000 overall.

Normal pension age:

You are eligible for the state pension provided that you have at least ten qualifying years on your National Insurance (NI) record. A qualifying year means a year in which you earn over the Lower Earnings Limit as salary (dividends don’t count). How much you receive will also depend on how many qualifying years you have. You need at least 35 qualifying years to qualify for the full amount.

Do I need to pay NICs to qualify for the state pension?

You don’t need to have paid National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to qualify for the state pension, though usually, you will. To build up qualifying years, your salary must be at or over the Lower Earnings Limit (currently £6,136). However, you don’t start paying NICs until you take a salary over the NIC Primary Threshold (now £8,632). So if your salary falls between these two figures, you’ll build up qualifying years without paying any NI. For this reason, some company directors deliberately set their salaries at this low level and take the rest of their income as dividends.

How much is the state pension?

If you qualify for the full amount of the new state pension, you will receive £175.20 per week, or £9,110.40 a year (the tax year 2020/21). This amount rises each year, at least in line with inflation, and often more. If you have fewer than 35 qualifying years, the amount you receive will be reduced proportionally.

If you reached state pension age before 6 April 2016, you would receive the old state pension instead, a different amount.

How much can I earn while taking the state pension?

You can earn as much as you like and continue to qualify for the state pension. However, you will pay tax on any income above the personal allowance.

Here’s an example. The full new state pension gives you an annual income of £9,110.40. The personal allowance is £12,500, so you could earn up to £3,389.60 a year on top of the state pension before having to pay any tax at all. If you were to earn (for example) £10,000 a year while drawing the state pension, your taxable income would be £6,610.40, and you’d have a tax bill of £1,322.08 However, you wouldn’t pay any NI contributions.

If you’re still earning and drawing the state pension, talk to us at WIM accountants for financial advice to ensure you’re not wasting too much of your state pension in tax. It may make sense to scale back your hours or find another solution.

Does HMRC have too` much power or not enough?

Does HMRC have too` much power or not enough?

The taxes collected by HMRC – £584.5bn in 2020-21 – run the UK and, as such, the right amounts must be managed.

To this end, HMRC has myriad powers to review returns and check taxes have been correctly calculated and paid. For civil cases, these powers include the ability to:

  • open and close enquiries.
  • request information and documentation.
  • inspect business premises; and
  • raise assessments for up to 20 years.

Most people will agree that the powers are not ‘bad’, but how they are used affects how they and HMRC are perceived. Unfortunately, many tax investigations practitioners have experienced HMRC misapplying its powers or abusing them.

Legal interpretation

For the past few years, HMRC has been pushing a narrative that ‘anyone who completes a tax return incorrectly is deliberately depriving the general public of essential services to further its agenda. Increasingly the department uses the phrase ‘tax avoidance and evasion’ in various marketing and other initiatives, with avoidance and evasion being grouped. Speaking to the man on the street, it is common to see that individuals do not understand the difference between avoidance and evasion (let alone ‘aggressive tax avoidance). HMRC is partly to blame for propagating the idea that they are the same.

Further highlighting this is HMRC’s interpretation of the ‘tax gap’. HMRC says: ‘The tax gap is the difference between the amount of tax that should, in theory, be paid to HMRC, and what is paid.’ The causes of the tax gap, other than taxpayers making errors on their returns, are stated as ‘legal interpretation, evasion, avoidance and criminal attacks on the tax system’ as per the most recent tax gap estimates for 2019-20. Technically, tax avoidance is legal (let’s not go into ‘morality’ just now), and tax legally avoided should not be paid to HMRC. Therefore, it should not form part of the tax gap. However, lumping avoidance and evasion together and saying that they both contribute to a tax loss is misleading at best.

‘Legal interpretation’ is the tax due should taxpayers interpret the legislation differently from HMRC. If there is any disparity until the courts have defined the interpretation, I would argue that the tax gap resulting from legal interpretation should not exist. After all, if HMRC loses at the tribunal, the tax gap disappears.

Erosion of taxpayer safeguards

The reduction of safeguards for taxpayers indirectly contributes to HMRC’s powers and directly increases the perception of the department being omnipotent when it comes to tax affairs. Since the loan charge, we have seen more retro action in HMRC’s arsenal.

When HMRC becomes aware through losses at the tribunal that its interpretation of tax legislation is incorrect, it changes the legislation with retrospective effect. This has the dual effect of preventing people with open inquiries from having their day in court concerning the legislation in force when the potential tax loss arose and without any recourse to claiming back costs sunk in legal fees.

Examples include the legislation on:

  • TMA 1970, s 8 notices and penalties issued by computers – any open appeals against automated penalties or appeals on the basis that notices to file were invalid because they were automated is now subject to debate; and
  • HMRC’s new policy that the high-income child benefit charge is (and has now permanently been) assessable as income (unless the taxpayer appealed HMRC’s assessment on or before 30 June 2021). This will be legislated for in the next Finance Bill.

Does HMRC need more powers?

Unsurprisingly, our answer to this question is ‘no’ – because of how the current powers are being used. We would suggest better training for the enquiry staff in the first instance.

The people at the top of HMRC management and the Treasury also need to be selected independently of the government. For example, the financial secretary to the Treasury should not be an MP as well. HMRC can then request powers, and if independent of government, the lens through which these requests are made may be more objective.

If taxpayers could rely on HMRC, particularly those on a budget, their finances would not limit the quality of the advice. If we look at those caught by the loan charge, many individuals say they spoke to HMRC, which told them the arrangements were not subject to the disclosure of tax avoidance schemes regime. Raising standards of advice given by HMRC would significantly reduce the tax lost due to taxpayers being duped into using schemes. We would respectfully suggest that before accusing tax advisers of poor-quality work, HMRC should perhaps consider the quality of customer service it provides.

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