Tax helpline for people affected by severe weather and flooding


HMRC have made available a telephone helpline (0800 904 7900) for anyone affected by severe weather or floods. The helpline allows anyone affected to get practical help and advice on a wide range of tax problems they may be facing. These could be financial issues regarding making payment, issues regarding lost or damaged records and may include cancelling penalties where deadlines are missed due to severe weather and flooding.

Internet link: GOV.UK helpline

Tax Return Deadline


Have you filed your Self Assessment Tax Return? There are 9 days left for you to file your Self Assessment Tax Return and hit the Tax Return Deadline. If you have not started compiling it you need to act now. If you have been issued with a Tax Return then you must submit one. Remember if you don’t then you may have to pay a fine of £100 per return. In addition to this you may also have to pay interest on the tax paid late. ACT NOW. If you are in a partnership remember that the partnership also has to complete a return. As we are now past the paper deadline your return will need to be filed online either by an accountant or through HMRC’s online system. Remember if this is your first time you need to register with the Government Gateway and receive your pin BEFORE you can complete and file your return.

Not only does your return have to be submitted but any tax owing also needs to be paid by the 31st. Payment can be made easily online at https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/pay-online. Don’t leave it too late so you pay more than you have to.

If you are struggling and need help contact us by phone, email or through social media. MGD – Making Good Decisions

National Insurance changes – winners and losers


Tax campaigners have warned that the abolition of Class 2 National Insurance contributions from April 2018 could result in the lowest earners among the self employed being hardest hit.

Class 2 NICs are flat-rate weekly contributions paid by the self-employed to gain access to contributory benefits. The self-employed also pay Class 4 NICs on profits above the Lower Profits Limit. Class 4 NICs do not currently give access to contributory benefits. At Autumn Statement 2016 the Chancellor confirmed that Class 2 contributions would be abolished from 6 April 2018.

At present, self-employed earners whose profits exceed £5,965 a year, the small profits threshold (SPT), are required to pay Class 2 NI contributions at £2.85 a week. These contributions then count towards their state retirement pension and entitlement to certain other contributory benefits. If their profits fall below the SPT, they have the option to make voluntary Class 2 payments.

When Class 2 is abolished, payment of Class 4 NI contributions will count towards state benefits. In order to protect some people on low incomes, Class 4 contributions will not be payable until annual profits reach £8,060. However, as long as profits exceed the SPT, the self-employed will be given Class 4 credits, so they will be treated as making contributions even though none was actually paid.

A point to note though is that, unlike Class 2, Class 4 NI cannot be paid on a voluntary basis meaning that the only way that self-employed people on profits below the Class 4 threshold will be able to build up a contribution record, if they did not obtain NI credits through receipt of other benefits, eg tax credits, child benefit or Universal Credit, will be by paying Class 3 voluntary contributions at £14.10 a week.

Anthony Thomas, Chairman of the Low Income Tax Reform Group commented:

‘Some parts of these proposals are good news for self-employed workers on low earnings, but by no means all. Those with profits between £5,965 and £8,060 will be better off because they will pay no NI but be credited with contributions. Our concern is for those with lower earnings than £5,965 who would have to pay voluntary Class 3 contributions in the future to protect their benefits entitlement if they did not obtain NI credits through receipt of other benefits, for example tax credits, child benefit or Universal Credit. Class 3 contributions will cost almost five times the amount they are paying now (£14.10 per week compared to £2.85 per week) and may mean the cost is unaffordable, leading them to rely more on means-tested benefits in the future.’

Internet links: GOV.UK policy paper Low income tax group

Charity fines


An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has revealed that two national charities, the RSPCA and the British Heart Foundation, secretly screened millions of their donors so they could target them for more money. The ICO said that this practice breached the Data Protection Act as the charities failed to handle donors’ personal data in accordance with the legislation.

The charities also traced and targeted new or lapsed donors by piecing together personal information which was obtained from other sources. In addition, they traded data with other charities to create a pool of donor data which was available for sale. As the donors were not informed of these practices, they could not give their consent or object.

The investigation was one of a number by the ICO into the fundraising activities of charities sparked by media reports about pressure on donors to contribute. The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, fined the RSPCA £25,000 and the British Heart Foundation £18,000.

The ICO can take action, including penalties of up to £500,000, against organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal data. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with the eight principles of the Data Protection Act which make sure personal data is:

  1. fairly and lawfully processed
  2. processed for limited purposes
  3. adequate, relevant and not excessive
  4. accurate and up to date
  5. not kept for longer than is necessary
  6. processed in line with an individual’s rights
  7. secure and
  8. not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.

Internet link: ICO news

Apprenticeship Levy


The Apprenticeship Levy is being introduced from 6 April 2017 and will be payable by large employers. The Levy will be 0.5% of the employer’s pay bill, which is explained later in this article, but there is an annual allowance of £15,000.The allowance will be given on a pro-rata basis throughout the tax year.

The recent HMRC guidance confirms employers will need to report their Apprenticeship Levy liability each month:

  • from the start of the tax year if:
    • their annual pay bill (including any connected companies or charities) in the previous tax year was more than £3 million
    • they believe their annual pay bill (including any connected companies or charities) for the tax year will be more than £3 million
  • if an employer’s annual pay bill (including any connected companies or charities) unexpectedly increases to more than £3 million. In which case the employer will need to start reporting when this happens.

An employer’s annual pay bill is all payments to employees that are subject to employer Class 1 secondary NICs. Broadly wages but excluding benefits and expenses. HMRC have confirmed that employers must include payments to employees for whom there are no employer NICs including:

  • all employees earning below the NIC lower earnings and secondary thresholds
  • employees under the age of 21
  • apprentices under the age of 25

The Apprenticeship Levy will need to be reported each month on the Employer Payment Summary (known as the EPS) and should include the following:

  • the amount of the annual Apprenticeship Levy allowance which has been allocated to that PAYE scheme
  • the amount of Apprenticeship Levy you owe to date in the current tax year

HMRC have confirmed that it is not necessary to report Apprenticeship Levy if the employer has not had to pay it in the current tax year.

If you would like advice on the Apprenticeship Levy or other payroll matters please contact us.

Internet Link: GOV.UK apprenticeship levy

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