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How do you calculate adjusted net income?

To calculate adjusted net income, you will need to look at a taxpayer’s total taxable income, before personal allowances, and then deduct any trading losses, gift aid donations, gross pension contributions and pension contributions where the pension provider has already provided tax relief at the basic rate.

Calculating the adjusted net income amount is necessary if any of the following apply:

  • A taxpayer is liable to an income-related reduction to the personal allowance – when their adjusted net income is over £100,000 (regardless of their date of birth);
  • A taxpayer is liable to the High Income Child Benefit charge – when their adjusted net income is above £50,000.

It is worth noting when reviewing a client's taxable income that if certain thresholds are exceeded the personal allowance may be withdrawn completely. For example, if a client decides to draw-down a significant lump sum from their pension pot, the payer may deduct 40% Income Tax, but this may not cover all the taxes due. If the amount tips their annual income over the required limit (£125,000 for 2019-20), perhaps for the first time, and their personal allowance is lost, additional taxes may fall due the following January.

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When are Class 1A NICs due

Class 1A NICs are paid by employers in respect of most benefits in kind provided to employees, for example, the use of a company car. There are no Class 1A employee contributions payable.

Class 1A NICs are due in respect of most benefits provided to:

  • directors and certain other persons in controlling positions,
  • employees,
  • members of the family or households of the above.

Where a benefit is provided as part of a salary sacrifice or other optional remuneration arrangement (OpRA), special rules apply and the Class 1A NICs are calculated as a percentage of the relevant chargeable benefit.

Certain conditions must apply before Class 1A NICs are due. These conditions are that the:

  • benefit must be from, or by reason of, an employee's employment and must be chargeable to Income Tax under ITEPA 2003 on an amount of general earnings as defined at Section 7(3) ITEPA 2003;
  • employment must be 'employed earner’s employment' under social security law and employment as a director or an employee;
  • benefit must not already attract a Class 1 NIC liability.

There is a statutory exemption for qualifying trivial benefits in kind costing £50 or less. The tax-free exemption (and therefore exemption from Class 1A NIC) applies to small non-cash benefits like a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers given to employees. It also applies to any other BiK classed as 'trivial' that falls within the exemption. An annual cap of £300 is applicable to directors or other office-holders of close companies and to members of their families or households.

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VAT and insurance claims

Insurance transactions are generally VAT exempt. However, there are many issues that can arise concerning the VAT liability of certain insurance transactions. One of these issues concerns the VAT treatment of insurance claims.

Insurers are unable to recover VAT incurred in obtaining replacement goods or having repairs carried out for a policy holder. This supply is treated as being made to the policy holder regardless of who makes the payment to the supplier.

However, a VAT registered insurance policy holder can, subject to the normal rules, recover the input tax incurred. For this reason, the insurer will normally pay the policy holder compensation exclusive of VAT. This is why most insurance claim forms ask the policy holder if they are registered for VAT. Where the insured party is able to recover the VAT charged the insurer will only be responsible for paying the net amount due.

There are scenarios, such as when a business is partly exempt, where the business may not be able to recover the input tax in full. This complication needs to be resolved between the policy holder and insurer. HMRC does not get involved in resolving issues that arise in this way.

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Child Benefit charge if income exceeds £50,000

The High Income Child Benefit charge (HICBC) applies to a parent whose income exceeds £50,000 in a tax year and who is in receipt of Child Benefit. If both parents have an income that exceeds £50,000, the charge will apply to the highest income earner. The charge claws back the financial benefit of receiving Child Benefit either by reducing or removing the benefit entirely.

If you or your partner have exceeded the £50,000 threshold during the last tax year (2018-19) then you must take action. If you or your partner continue to receive Child Benefit (and earn over the relevant limits) you must pay any additional tax owed (the HICBC), for 2018-19, on or before 31 January 2020. If you have exceeded the limit for the first time and do not currently submit a tax return you will be required to do so.

The HICBC is levied at the rate of 1% of the full Child Benefit award for each £100 of income between £50,000 and £60,000. If your income exceeds £60,000, the amount of the charge will equal the amount of Child Benefit received.

HMRC’s guidance on Child Benefit stresses that if the HICBC applies to you or your partner, it is still worthwhile to claim Child Benefit for your child. This can help to protect your State Pension and will make sure your child receives a National Insurance number. However, you can still choose to keep receiving Child Benefit and pay the tax charge through self-assessment or elect to stop receiving Child Benefit and not pay the charge.

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When you can claim back VAT on purchase of a car

There are complex VAT rules that determine the amount of VAT that can be recovered when purchasing a new car. The usual rule is that when you purchase a car for your business then no VAT can be reclaimed.

The main exception to this rule is when the new car is used solely for business use. This rule has been the subject of much case law over the years, but it has generally been established that to qualify for VAT recovery the car must not be available for any private use and you must be able to demonstrate that this is so. Accordingly, a car should only be available to staff during working hours and should never be used for personal journeys.

It is also possible to claim back the VAT on a new car that is purchased for a specific business related activity such as: use as a taxi, self-drive hire car or a car for driving instruction.

If your business leases a car for business purposes, you can normally reclaim 50% of the VAT paid on the lease rentals. If the leased car is used exclusively for business purposes, 100% of the VAT can be reclaimed.

The rules are less complicated when you purchase a commercial vehicle such as a van, lorry or tractor that is only used for business purposes. In these cases, all the VAT charged on purchase can be reclaimed. The VAT incurred on the purchase of motorcycles, motor-homes and motor caravans, vans with rear seats (combi-vans) and car-derived vans can also be recovered if they are used solely for business purposes.

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What you can do with your pension pot

Pension Wise is a free government service that was launched in 2015 to help provide individuals with general pension advice. However, the service does not answer specific questions relating to your pension. The main advice the service provides is generic and covers what you can do with your pension pot, the different pension types, how they work and what’s tax-free and what’s not.

The website lists the following six options:

  1. Leave your whole pot untouched – You don’t have to start taking money from your pension pot when you reach your ‘selected retirement age’. You can leave your money invested in your pot until you need it.
  2. Guaranteed income (annuity) – You use your pot to buy an insurance policy that guarantees you an income for the rest of your life – no matter how long you live.
  3. Adjustable income – Your pot is invested to give you a regular income. You decide how much to take out and when, and how long you want it to last.
  4. Take cash in chunks – You can take smaller sums of money from your pot until you run out.
  5. Take your whole pot in one go – You can cash in your entire pot.
  6. Mix your options – You can mix different options. Usually, you would need a bigger pot to do this.

We would like to remind our readers that you can usually take 25% of your pension pot as a one-off lump sum without paying tax, but the remaining 75% is subject to Income Tax. Aside from the special tax-free benefits, pension income is treated as earned income for Income Tax purposes.

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Pregnant women and new parents to get enhanced redundancy protections

The government has published its response to its January 2019 consultation on “pregnancy and maternity discrimination: extending redundancy protection for women and new parents” and has confirmed that it will now take action to address such discrimination.

As the law currently stands, employees who are placed at risk of redundancy when they are absent on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave have an absolute right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy, where one is available, in priority to other employees who are also at risk of redundancy. They do not need to apply for the vacancy, nor must they undertake a competitive interview process. However, this protection does not currently apply to pregnant employees who have not yet started their maternity leave, nor does it apply to those who have recently returned to work from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave. 

The government has now stated that it will:

  • Ensure the redundancy protection period applies from the point the employee informs the employer that she is pregnant, whether orally or in writing
  • Extend the redundancy protection period for six months once a new mother has returned to work (and it is expected this period will start immediately once maternity leave is finished, notwithstanding any additional leave which may immediately follow)
  • Extend the redundancy protection into a period of return to work for those taking adoption leave, following the same approach being provided for those returning from maternity leave, i.e. protection for six months
  • Extend the redundancy protection into a period of return to work for those taking shared parental leave, taking account of the following key principles and issues: (a) the key objective of the policy is to protect pregnant women and new mothers from discrimination; (b) the practical and legal differences between shared parental leave and maternity leave mean that it will require a different approach; (c) the period of extended protection should be proportionate to the amount of leave and the threat of discrimination; (d) a mother should be no worse off if she curtails her maternity leave and then takes a period of shared parental leave; and (e) the solution should not create any disincentives to take shared parental leave. The government will therefore consult further on the design of this protection over the coming months
  • Establish a taskforce of employer and family representative groups to make recommendations on what improvements can be made to the information available to employers and families on pregnancy and maternity discrimination. It will also develop an action plan on what steps the government and other organisations can take to make it easier for pregnant women and new mothers to stay in work.
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Inheritance Tax and domicile

Domicile is a general legal concept which in basic terms is taken to mean the country where you permanently belong. However, determining domicile status can be complex. HMRC guidance states that domicile cannot be defined precisely, but the concept rests on various basic principles.

Although domicile can change, there is generally a presumption in favour of the continuation of an existing domicile. To change a domicile, many factors are considered, for example, the location of family, property and business interests.

There is also a concept in the UK of deemed domicile whereby under rules introduced from 6 April 2017, any person who has been resident in the UK for more than 15 of the previous 20 years, will be deemed to be domiciled in the UK for tax purposes. This would make them liable to Inheritance Tax (IHT) on their worldwide assets.

IHT is generally chargeable to people domiciled (or deemed domiciled) in the UK or with assets sited in the UK. For example, HMRC’s manual states that if someone creates a settlement with assets outside the UK, when they are not domiciled in the UK, the settlement could be excluded from the charge to IHT. There are also many double tax agreements that can, depending on the circumstances change a person's liability to IHT.

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Working after State Pension age

There are many taxpayers that have reached the State Pension age and continue to work. It should be noted that the requirement to pay any employee or self-employed National Insurance Contributions (NICs) ceases once a taxpayer reaches the State Pension age, subject to the following clarification. Taxpayers remain liable to pay any NICs that were due to be paid on earnings before they reached the State Pension age. The self-employed will need to pay Class 4 NICs for the remainder of the tax year in which they reach State Pension age but will be exempt from the following year.

Certain occupations have a compulsory retirement age after which you are no longer allowed to work. An employer must have a good reason for setting a compulsory retirement age if there is an age limit set by law, or the job requires certain physical abilities. Apart from these special circumstances there is no official retirement age and taxpayers usually have the right to work beyond the State Retirement age. There is also no requirement to provide a date of birth when applying for a new job.

Taxpayers can usually claim their pension whilst they continue to work, as long as they have reached the State Pension age, or the age agreed with their pension provider (if drawing from a personal pension or workplace pension arrangement).

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Clients exporting to EU if a no-deal Brexit

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, any UK business that exports goods to the EU will be responsible for making customs declarations (as is the case for businesses currently exporting goods outside the EU).

If you have clients that trade with the EU, you should check that they have a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. If they have not applied, it is important that they apply for an EORI number as soon as possible. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, they will need an EORI number to move goods into and out of the UK. This identification number will be required even if your client appoints a customs agent to assist in making customs declarations.

An EORI application is made to HMRC and usually takes up to 3 days to be processed. UK EORI numbers start with the letters ‘GB’. Most are then followed by a 12-digit number based on the businesses VAT number. There is an EORI checker available to check EU-wide numbers on the Europa website.