Tax-Free Childcare rolled out

Tax-Free Childcare, the new government scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare, launched on 28 April 2017.

For every £8 a parent pays in, the government will pay in an extra £2. Parents can receive up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare costs making a total amount of £10,000. Higher limits of £4,000 and £20,000 apply for disabled children.

To qualify for Tax-Free Childcare all parents in the household must generally meet a minimum income level, based on working 16 hours a week (on average £120 a week) and each earn less than £100,000 a year.

The scheme will be available for children up to the age of 12, or 17 for children with disabilities. All eligible parents will be able to join the scheme by the end of 2017. Parents will be able to apply for all their children at the same time although the government rollout will start with the youngest children first. Parents will need to open an online account, which they can use to pay for childcare from a registered provider.

For those employers who currently offer Employer Supported Childcare, usually in the form of childcare vouchers, these schemes can remain open to new entrants until April 2018. Existing members will have the option to remain in their existing scheme or change over to Tax-Free childcare as their child becomes eligible

A calculator is available on GOV.UK so that parents can check their eligibility for the new scheme and other government provided childcare available.

Internet link: Childcarechoices.gov.uk

Changes to the PAYE Tax system using Real Time Information

HMRC have announced that from the end of May 2017 they will be using Real Time Information (RTI) to make adjustments to employee tax codes in-year as and when the need arises.

HMRC states that this change in procedures will:

  • offer more certainty to employers and their employees
  • reduce the instances of unexpected tax bills arising
  • ensure that more employees end the tax year having paid the right amount of tax.

Details of the change in procedures can be found in the HMRC Policy Paper briefing 'Changes to our PAYE Tax System - helping customers pay the right amount of tax on time'. Further information about the changes can be found on page 4 of the Employer Bulletin April 2017 (Issue 65).

The Policy Paper confirms that individuals will be issued with a new tax code if their circumstances change. This brings about a marked change from the current system which deals with adjustments after the tax year end and codes any underpayment out via a coding notice adjustment in a subsequent tax year.

Affected employees should shortly be in receipt of tax code notices explaining the changes to the system and what they can do if they need help and support to manage their taxes.

Under the new procedures, once HMRC are aware that an employee's circumstances have changed, they will amend the individual's tax code and follow it up with a notification of the amendment to the employee. A copy notification will also be sent to the employer. It is important for employers and employees to ensure that HMRC are made aware of any changes in an individual's circumstances as soon as possible.

Employers are advised to expect, from 1 June onwards, some employee enquiries relating to tax code changes. In the longer term, HMRC envisages reduced contact from employees regarding under or overpayments of tax.

If you would like help with Payroll or checking your tax code please contact us.

Internet links: GOV.UK Briefing Employer Bulletin 65

Investment Bond launched

National Savings and Investments (NS&I) has recently launched a government-backed Investment Bond. The main details of the Bond are as follows:

  • minimum deposit of £100
  • balances on the account must be between £100 - £3000
  • applications can only be made online and up to April 2018
  • applicants must be aged 16+ years
  • fixed interest rate of 2.2% for three years paid yearly and without tax deduction
  • early withdrawals incur a penalty equal to 90 days' interest on the amount cashed in.

According to Moneyfacts, the NS&I offering is a market leader on the interest rate with similar three-year fixed term bonds having an average interest rate of 1.24%. Competitors' minimum investment thresholds are generally higher, typically starting upwards from £1,000 and caps on the maximum capital invested are significantly higher than the NS&I limit of £3,000.

Internet links: GOV.UK news NS&I Moneyfacts

Off payroll working in the public sector rules amended

From 6 April 2017, new tax rules were introduced which potentially affect individuals who provide their personal services via their own companies (PSCs) to an organisation which has been classified as a 'public authority'. Amendments have now been made to the definition of a public authority.

Where these rules apply:

  • the public authority (or an agency paying the PSC) calculates a 'deemed payment' based on the fees the PSC has charged for the services of the individual
  • the entity that pays the PSC for the services must first deduct PAYE and employee National Insurance contributions (NICs) as if the deemed payment is a salary payment to an employee
  • the paying entity will have to pay to HMRC not only the PAYE and NICs deducted from the deemed payment but also employer NICs on the deemed payment
  • the net amount received by the PSC can be passed onto the individual without paying any further PAYE and NICs.

The rules were intended to cover those engaged by public sector organisations including government departments and their executive agencies, many companies owned or controlled by the public sector, universities, local authorities, parish councils and the National Health Service.

However, prior to this amendment, private sector retail businesses including high street pharmacies and opticians would have inadvertently been within the scope of the off payroll working in the public sector measure. As a result, such businesses would have been required to consider whether the new rules applied to all contractors working for them through an intermediary. This was not the intention of this policy and the rules have been amended.

The rules operate in respect of payments made on or after 6 April 2017. This means that they are relevant to contracts entered into before 6 April 2017 but where the payment for the work is made after 6 April 2017.

If you would like any help with these new rules contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK amendment

Business response to General Election on 8 June

In response to the announcement of a General Election on 8 June Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said:

'With a snap General Election now called, businesses will be looking to each political party to set out their plans to support economic stability and prosperity over the next Parliament in a way that is fair and sustainable for communities across the UK.

Distraction from the urgent priorities of seeking the best EU deal and improving UK productivity must be kept to a minimum.

Firms will want to hear commitments from all parties to work in close partnership with business and back a new Industrial Strategy to make the UK economy the most competitive in the world by 2030.

It is essential to get the UK's foundations right, from building a skills base for the next generation, to investing in infrastructure, energy and delivering a pro-enterprise tax environment.

As EU negotiations now get underway, firms are clear about the serious risks of failing to secure a deal and falling into World Trade Organisation rules. It is vital that negotiators secure some early wins and all parties should commit to working to ensure businesses can continue to trade easily with our EU neighbours, while seeking new opportunities around the world.

Whoever forms the next Government, they should seek to build a partnership between business and government that is the best in the world, based on trust and shared interest.'

Internet link: CBI News

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