Guidance protects against ‘ransomware’ attacks


The National Cyber Security Council (NCSC) has published guidance for small businesses about how they can prevent, detect and respond to ransomware attacks following the widespread ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack in early May.

Further guidance has been produced by the Charity Commission for England and Wales for charity trustees on this issue.

Internet links: NCSC GOV.UK

Tax-Free Childcare and childcare options


Tax-Free Childcare, the new government scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare launched at the end of April and is being rolled out to parents, starting with those parents with the youngest children first.

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 parents and partners in the household must generally meet a minimum income level of 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. Those eligible 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 have the option to remain in their existing scheme or change over to Tax-Free childcare as their child becomes eligible. It is not possible to benefit from tax-free childcare and employer supported childcare at the same time.

A calculator for parents comparing the options and guidance on the other government provided free childcare available are available on GOV.UK.

Internet links: Childcare calculator Childcare choices

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

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

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