Q. I am self-employed personal trainer. I pay rent to various local gyms where I train my clients, supply my own uniform and make my own appointments. I have to look the part to get work, so I take body-building supplements. Can I claim the cost of those supplements as a business expense? A. The supplements are a form of food, and as such it has a dual purpose; to keep you healthy and prepare you to undertake your work. So it is very unlikely that the Taxman would agree that your body-building supplements are tax allowable. If you would like any further information, please do not hesitate to contact Southside Accountants Wimbledon & London.
Q. I have decided to become VAT registered. Can I claim the VAT back on the van I bought two years ago, which I still use for my business?
A. You can reclaim VAT on goods and services purchased before VAT registration, but there are different time limits for goods as opposed to services. The VAT paid on goods held at the date of VAT registration can be reclaimed if they were purchased within four years before the registration date. VAT on services can only be reclaimed if the services were supplied for the on-going business with 6 months before the VAT registration. The van is classed as goods, so you can reclaim the VAT on purchase.
The tax treatment of businesses which involve the letting of property is not consistent across all taxes and tax reliefs. It’s not logical, but just because the letting business qualifies for one tax relief it will not necessarily qualify for an apparently similar tax relief.
For example if you have a property letting enterprise which you wish to transfer into a company in return for shares in the company, a capital gain will arise in your hands when you transfer the properties to the company. This gain can be rolled into the value of shares of the company if the property enterprise is deemed to be a ‘business’. This relief is known as incorporation relief, but it will only apply if the business owner is more than just a passive property investor. The courts have decided that the business must have some substance in terms of turnover, be conducted on sound business principles with a view to a profit, and be activity pursued with reasonable continuity.
The holding of let properties is considered to be a ‘business’ for the inheritance tax, but it is excluded from the IHT relief called business property relief (BPR), as letting is considered to be mainly the holding of investments (i.e. the let properties). In order to qualify for BPR the business owner has to offer the tenants additional services which would generally only be available in a holiday letting business, bed and breakfast, or hotel business. Even then the owners of self-catering holiday cottages have to jump through some hoops to get the letting business to qualify for BPR.
Losses made in a property letting business cannot be set against profits or income from other sources, such as other trading businesses, interest or dividends.
The Taxman is also causing RTI pains for employers and employees by issuing duff data.
Incorrect NI numbers
When you submit a FPS or NI number verification request (NVR), the Taxman should reply with any missing or corrected NI numbers. However, in some cases the NI numbers the Taxman has returned to employers have no suffix letter (A, B, C or D).
The Taxman says you should use the NI number he has sent to you in your payroll software, but to leave the last digit blank by typing a space using the space bar. This may not be a workable solution, because most payroll software will reject any NI number with less than nine characters. We’re hoping for an HMRC update on this issue!
Sometimes a long standing NI number has been replaced, but the old NI number is quoted on official notices. This indicates a possible data corruption problem within the HMRC machine. You should exercise caution when amending any NI numbers notified by HMRC since 6 April 2013, and talk to us if in doubt.
Incorrect PAYE codes
Where you have submitted an FPS or employer alignment submission (EAS), which did not include all the employees normally on your payroll, without indicating that the EAS was a part submission, the Taxman has assumed that any missing employees have left your employment.
Subsequently when you submit a FPS including one of those missing employees, that employee is treated as a new starter, with a new employment record. Any details of benefits in the PAYE code belonging to that employee haven’t been carried over to his new employment record. Thus his new PAYE code may be wrong.
The Taxman has advised employers in this position to use the old PAYE code for the employee. However, under the PAYE regulations employers are not permitted to take a view on which PAYE codes to apply and which to ignore. Many payroll software packages download the PAYE codes directly from HMRC and apply them automatically, with no human intervention.
The employer helpline will not discuss employee’s tax codes with an employer, so the only way to straighten out the mess is to get the employee to contact the Taxman directly.
Employers were told that they had to use real time information (RTI) to report PAYE deductions from the first pay day on or after 6 April 2013. But what if there has been no pay day since 6 April, because no one has been paid? In that case RTI does apply from 6 April 2013 onwards. You need to make an RTI report for every tax month, unless your PAYE scheme has been registered as an annual scheme. Annual PAYE schemes can make just one RTI report for the month in which the salary is paid.
If you are within RTI you can’t use the link on the HMRC website to report that no PAYE is due. You have to submit an employer payment summary (EPS) after the end of the tax month (5th) and before the payment date of the 19th.
Even if you pay your PAYE over to HMRC on a quarterly basis, you still have to submit an EPS or a full payment submission (FPS) for every tax month.
If in earlier tax years you had a history of paying PAYE to HMRC for every month or quarter, and you haven’t submitted any RTI reports so far, HMRC may well send you an estimated PAYE demand called a specified charge. The only way to get out of paying a specified charge is to submit an EPS or FPS under RTI for the missing periods in 2013/14.
A change in the way loans are treated for inheritance tax (IHT) purposes could increase the taxable value of your estate on death, and the amount of IHT payable. This change will affect IHT calculated on deaths occurring after the Finance Act 2013 is passed, (expected mid-July 2013) but applies to loans which are already in place.
At present any debts owed by the estate are deducted from the net estate after reliefs, such as business property relief (BPR), have been given. Broadly BPR provides 100% or 50% relief from IHT of the value of your business assets and unquoted shares. After the Finance Act 2013 is passed, the value of a loan must be deducted from the asset it was used to acquire.
Say in the past you increased the loan on your home to invest in your business, and that loan is still outstanding on your death. To calculate the IHT due that business part of the loan must be deducted from the value of your business and not from the value of your home. This reduces the value of your estate exempt from IHT under business property relief, and increases the taxable value of the remaining estate.
Also if the loan owing at death is not actually repaid by the estate to the creditor after death, that loan can’t be deducted from the estate at all, unless there is some commercial reason for not repaying the loan.
Remember IHT is payable at 40% on the taxable value of your estate that exceeds £325,000. A lower rate may be payable if you leave at least 10% of your net estate to charity. There are other ways of mitigating IHT, but we need to discuss you individual circumstances to formulate a plan.
Q. My company has been trading since 1 March 2013, but my first sales invoices haven’t been paid yet, so there is no cash available to reimburse me for the expenses I’ve incurred personally. Do I have to complete a P11D for 2012/13?
A. The annual form P11D reports expenses reimbursed to, and benefits in kind made available to the employees and directors. As you haven’t been paid any expenses by the company, there is nothing to report on the form P11D. If you have any benefits in kind provided by the company such as a car a P11D would be required.
Q. I’ve heard about the great tax breaks available under the SEIS scheme. Is this something I can use for my business?
A. The seed enterprise investment scheme (SEIS) provides investors in small companies with 50% income tax relief, and an exemption from tax for 50% of the gains they reinvest in SEIS shares (for 2013/14). However, you can’t use SEIS to invest in a company you control, as the investor and his associates (basically close relatives), must not own more than 30% of the company. The trade undertaken by the company must also be less than two years old, so to use SEIS the company has to be undertaking a new venture, and be a new clean company.
If you have an idea for a new business and you are willing to involve other investors, you may be able to use SEIS to fund that business. But please talk to us first, as there are a number of trades that can’t use SEIS, and other conditions to meet.
Q. I am employed by my company M Ltd, and my wife’s company T Ltd. M and T have completely separate trades and operate independently. I currently take no salary from M Ltd and have a modest salary from T Ltd. However, HMRC have split my personal allowance 2/3 to the PAYE code issued to M Ltd and 1/3 to T Ltd. Can I get this changed, and if so how?
We can fix this by calling HMRC on the number shown on your PAYE code notice and ask them to change your PAYE codes. All we need is the expected level of dividends and interest or other income to be received in 2013/14.
If you are uncertain about whether you can make a claim for VAT you have incurred, or how to treat a certain transaction for VAT purposes, you could try searching the HMRC website for a solution to your query. Alternatively you may ring the HMRC VAT helpline but the adviser is likely to send you a copy of a VAT leaflet which is available on the HMRC website. This may, or may not, answer your query.
If you do get a straight answer out of the VAT helpline, be careful to record what you said, and exactly what the HMRC adviser to told you. This is important as if the advice from the helpline is later found to be incorrect you need to be able to prove you presented the full facts for the reply which you relied on. Even then a subsequent VAT inspection may determine you were wrong all along and charge you penalties and interest on any under-paid or over-claimed VAT.
The courts have recently decided that taxpayers cannot legitimately expect the advice given verbally by HMRC to be 100% correct, and this can include advice given in a VAT leaflet or online on the HMRC website. The only way you can count on advice given by HMRC is to apply for a written ruling known as a ‘clearance’. To get a clearance you have to set out the full facts in writing, in a clear and unequivocal fashion.