When you are required to register for PAYE

There are a multitude of rules that new businesses must follow when they start employing staff for the first time. These include ensuring registering for PAYE as an employer with HMRC. This must be done before the first payday and this process must even be completed by directors of a limited company who are employed by the company.

There is no requirement to register as an employer in the event that none of your employees are paid more than £123 a week, don’t receive expenses or benefits and don’t have another job or get a pension. However, even if this was the case you are still required to keep payroll records.

Setting up payroll for the first time can be daunting and we are here to help. As a general rule you have the choice between using a payroll provider or running your own payroll. If you decide to run your own payroll you must choose suitable payroll software.

HMRC also needs to be sent information about tax and other deductions from employees’ pay when the employee is paid. This is done using the Real Time Information (RTI) system which involves employers sending HMRC information each tax month. Tax months run from the 6th of one month to the 5th of the next.

You must also ensure that you are complying with the minimum wage legislation, check that any new employees have the legal right to work in the UK and to be aware that you will be required to offer a workplace pension scheme.

ISAs 2022-23

The maximum amount that can be invested in an ISA in the current (2022-23) tax year is £20,000.

ISA’s are a valuable and flexible relief and should be considered as an option for most investors.

An ISA is a tax-exempt savings account available to UK residents. Whilst the amount invested in an ISA does not benefit from tax relief the income and gains are free from most taxes including Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. Eligible holdings include cash ISAs, stocks and shares ISAs and innovative finance (including peer-to-peer loans) ISAs.

There is no minimum period for which an ISA must be held, and you can make withdrawals at any time without the loss of tax relief. The £20,000 limit can be used in one account or split across diverse types of ISA’s.

It is also possible for qualifying taxpayers to invest up to £4,000 of the £20,000 ISA limit in a Lifetime ISA. The Lifetime ISA is available to those aged between 18 and 40 to save for a new home or for their retirement. Under the scheme, the government provides a 25% bonus on yearly savings of up to £4,000 and once you start saving before you are 40, you can continue using the scheme until you turn 50. If you are approaching the age limit cut-off it is well worth opening a Lifetime ISA before you turn 40 as you can continue saving until the day before you are 50. The money invested in a Lifetime ISA can be used for other purposes but will be subject to a 25% withdrawal charge.

There are also Junior ISAs available for under 18’s which were introduced to encourage children to save money. The returns from Junior ISAs are also tax-free and are usually locked until the child reaches 18. The annual subscription limit for Junior ISAs is currently £9,000.

Structures and Buildings Allowances

The Structures and Buildings Allowances (SBA) allows for tax relief on qualifying capital expenditure on new non-residential structures and buildings. The relief applies to the qualifying costs of building and renovating commercial structures. 

The relief was introduced in October 2018 at an annual capital allowance rate of 2% on a straight-line basis. The annual rate was increased to 3% from April 2020, and the corresponding period reduced to thirty-three and one-third years. 

HMRC’s guidance sets out the process for making a claim. In order to make a valid claim a written allowance statement is required. 

The allowance statement must include:

  • information to identify the structure, such as address and description
  • the date of the earliest written contract for construction
  • the total qualifying costs
  • the date that you started using the structure for a non-residential activity

The claimant must also meet the necessary requirements in respect of the building itself and the chargeable period for the claim. 

The start date of the claim is the later of the following two dates:

  • the date when you started using the structure for a qualifying activity
  • the date that you are due to pay for the structure or construction.

No relief is available where parts of the structure qualify for other allowances, such as plant & machinery allowances.

Holiday lets occupancy check

The furnished holiday let (FHL) rules allow holiday lettings of properties that meet certain conditions to be treated as a trade for tax purposes. 

In order to qualify as a furnished holiday letting, the following criteria need to be met:

  • The property must be let on a commercial basis with a view to the realisation of profits. Second homes or properties that are only let occasionally or to family and friends do not qualify.
  • The property must be located in the UK, or in a country within the EEA.
  • The property must be furnished. This means that there must be sufficient furniture provided for normal occupation and your visitors must be entitled to use the furniture.

In addition, the property must pass the following three occupancy conditions.

  1. Pattern of occupation condition. The property must not be used for more than 155 days for longer term occupation (i.e., a continuous period of more than 31 days).
  2. The availability condition. The property must be available for commercial letting at commercial rates for at least 210 days per year.
  3. The letting condition. The property must be let for at least 105 days per year and homeowners should be able to demonstrate the income from these lettings. 

Where there are a number of furnished holiday lettings properties in a business, it is possible to average the days of lettings for the purposes of qualifying for the 105 days threshold. This is called an averaging election.

There is also a special period of grace election which allows homeowners to treat a year as a qualifying year for the purposes of the furnished holiday let rules where they genuinely intended to meet the occupancy threshold but were unable to do so subject to a number of qualifying conditions.

Income excluded from a property business

HMRC publishes a list of income streams that are excluded from a UK property business. The list includes fishing concerns, hotels and guest houses, tied premises, caravan sites, lodgers and tenants in your own home, extra services to tenants and letting surplus trade accommodation. In most cases the income from these activities will be taxed as income of a trade and not as property income.

In addition, there are certain receipts that can arise out of the use of land, and which are specifically excluded by statute from a rental business. These include yearly interest, income from the occupation of woodlands managed on a commercial basis, income from mines and quarries and income from farming and market gardening.

There is also a £1,000 property income allowance that applies to income from property (including foreign property). If a taxpayer’s annual gross property income is £1,000 or less the amount is exempt from tax and does not need to be reported on their tax return.

Reminder to look out for tax credit renewal packs

HMRC is currently sending the annual tax credit renewal packs to some 2.1 million tax credit claimants and is encouraging recipients to renew their tax credits claim online. HMRC started writing to taxpayers at the end of April and expects all packs to be with recipients by 27 May 2022. 

A renewal is required if the pack has a red line across the first page and it says, 'reply now'. Families and individuals that receive tax credits should ensure that they renew their tax credit claims by 31 July 2022. Claimants who do not renew on-time may have their payments stopped. Around 630,000 taxpayers are expected to receive these packs and can renew their tax credits via GOV.UK or on HMRC’s app.

If the renewal pack has a black line across the front page and says, ‘check now’ then you will need to check your details are correct. Taxpayers need to notify HMRC where there have been changes to the family size, childcare costs, number of hours worked and salary. Details of previous year's income also need to be completed on the form to allow HMRC to check if the correct tax credits have been paid. Claimants must also inform HMRC of any changes in circumstances not already reported during the year such as new working hours, different childcare costs or changes in pay.

Taxpayers are not required to report any temporary falls in their working hours as a result of coronavirus. They will be treated as if they are working their normal hours until the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme closes.

Universal credit is expected to fully replace tax credits, and other legacy benefits (including Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance) by the end of 2024. HMRC restarted their managed migration process on 9 May 2022. This process was paused during the pandemic. This means that claimants will gradually be notified when required to move to Universal Credit. This process is due to be completed by 2024. Claimants can also elect to move from tax credits to Universal Credit if they would be financially better off. An independent benefits calculator can be used to check.

Writing off a director’s loan

An overdrawn director's loan account is created when a director (or other close family member) 'borrows' money from their company. Many companies, particularly 'close' private companies, pay for personal expenses of directors using company funds. Where these payments do not form part of a director’s remuneration, they are usually posted to the director’s loan account (DLA). 

The DLA can represent cash drawn by a director as well as other drawings by a director (including personal bills paid by the company). Whilst it is quite common for small company accounts to show an overdrawn position on a DLA, this can create some unwelcome consequences for both the company and the director. The rules are further complicated if the loan is for more than £10,000 as interest must be charged and be reported on the directors’ personal Self-Assessment tax return. 

There are also further Income Tax costs if the loan is written off or 'released' (not repaid) by the company. If this happens, the company must deduct Class 1 National Insurance through the company’s payroll. The director will be required to pay Income Tax on the loan through their Self-Assessment tax return.

Builders – when you may not have to charge VAT

VAT for most work on houses and flats by builders and similar trades, like plumbers, plasterers and carpenters, is charged at the standard rate of 20%. However, there are a number of exceptions where special VAT rules apply and a reduced or zero rate of VAT may apply. 

A builder may not have to charge VAT (zero rate) on some types of work if it meets certain conditions, including:

  • building a new house or flat
  • work for disabled people in their home

A builder may be able to charge the reduced rate of 5% for some types of work if it meets certain conditions, including:

  • installing energy saving products and certain work for people over 60
  • converting a building into a house or flats or from one residential use to another
  • renovating an empty house or flat
  • home improvements to a domestic property on the Isle of Man

There are also special VAT rules for work on certain types of buildings that are not houses or flats, including approved alterations and substantial reconstructions to protected buildings and converting a non-residential building into a house or communal residential building for a housing association. 

In addition, there are certain other types of communal residential building that builders do not have to charge VAT. These include children’s homes, residential care homes, hospices and student accommodation.

In all cases, it is the supplier’s responsibility to charge VAT correctly and to ensure they hold proper evidence to support the fact that a customer is eligible for a supply at the reduced or zero VAT rate.

Mortgage interest on rented property

Under new rules that came into effect from April 2017 the tax relief on mortgage costs for residential landlords was restricted to the basic rate of tax. The finance costs restriction was phased in over a number of years and is now fully in place since 6 April 2020. This means that all finance costs, such as mortgage interest on rented properties, are disallowed as expenses and any tax relief is restricted to the basic rate of tax (20%) tax reduction.

The definition of finance costs include interest on mortgages, loans – including loans to buy furnishings and overdrafts as well as alternative finance returns, mortgage fees and other costs and discounts, premiums and disguised interest. No relief is available for capital repayments of a mortgage or loan.

These changes have affected many higher rate and additional rate taxpayers and particularly those with highly leveraged properties, i.e., loans form a significant part of property values. The rules also mean that relevant taxpayers are pushed into paying higher tax rates than previously was the case. This could mean losing some or all of their personal allowances as well as restricting the amount of tax relief on money invested in their pension.

The finance cost restrictions apply if you are a UK resident individual that lets residential properties in the UK or overseas, a non-UK resident individual that lets residential properties in the UK or if you are involved with a partnership that lets properties or are a trustee or beneficiary of a trust liable for Income Tax on the property profits.

Interestingly, landlords of furnished holiday lettings are not affected by the restriction on finance costs.

Tax benefits of switching to electric cars

There are many benefits to encourage the use of electric cars including lower running costs, the environmental advantages and reduced noise pollution. There are also tax benefits to encourage the purchase of electric cars.

We have listed some of these benefits below.

The benefit-in-kind (BIK) due on company cars can be significantly reduced. For example, most electric cars will incur a BIK rate of only 2% in 2022-23. Compare this with the benefit charge for a gas-guzzler pumping out 160 g/km or more of CO2 which would be based on 37% of the list price when new. This means that company car drivers who switch to an electric car should see their tax bill significantly reduced. This also benefits employers who may see a significant decrease in Class 1A National Insurance charges.

Businesses purchasing electric cars can expect to recover more of their investment in direct tax relief. For example, businesses can write-off 100% of the cost of an electric vehicle against the profits of the year of purchase and there are no restrictions on the value of the vehicle. The car must be new and unused to qualify for the 100% relief.

Companies can also benefit from the super-deduction, which offers 130% first-year allowance on qualifying electric charging points for cars and vans. To qualify for the relief the company must use the charging point in their own business. This relief is available until 31 March 2023.

The road tax, or Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rates for all fully electric vehicles have been reduced to £0 until at least 2025. There are reduced VED rates for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

There is no benefit-in-kind charge for the private use of a company van if the private mileage is insignificant. If the van is an electric vehicle, there is no benefit-in-kind charge even if the private mileage is significant.

There are also other benefits including an EV charge-point grant that provides funding of up to 75% towards the cost of installing electric vehicle smart charge-points, up to a maximum of £350 (including VAT) per household/eligible vehicle. Electric cars are also exempt from the London congestion charge when applying for a Cleaner Vehicle Discount.