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Budget 2011 - Tax Summary (Part 2)

Published by NeilHarries in the blog NeilHarries's blog. Views: 224

Continued from part 1.

Business Tax

IR35 Review
The Office of Tax Simplification was tasked with reviewing the operation of IR35, or the provision of services through intermediaries as the legislation is more correctly called. Unfortunately the Government does not agree that IR35 should be abolished. However, it has promised to improve the way HMRC provide guidance to businesses who are trying to operate IR35.


Capital Allowances

The rates and thresholds of the main capital allowances will apply as follows for the year from April 2012:

Main pool writing down allowance: reduced from 20% to 18%
Special rate pool writing down allowance: reduced from 10% to 8%
Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) cap: reduced from £100,000 to £25,000

Short Life Assets
At present a business can elect for named assets (not cars) to be treated individually for capital allowance purposes rather than being included in the main pool or special rate pool. The assets subject to this election are called short life assets as they are deemed to have a useful life of less than 4 years. If the business sells or scraps the short life asset before the end of its deemed life, the business will get tax relief for the full cost of that asset while it is being used by the business. This would not apply when the asset is included in one of the capital allowance pools.

For assets purchased on or after 1 April 2011 (6 April 2011 for unincorporated businesses), the life of the short life asset will be deemed to be 8 years. This will benefit larger businesses that incurred expenditure on assets in excess of their Annual Investment Allowance cap for the year.

Enterprise Zones
The Government will create 21 Enterprise Zones around the country. Further details of the exact location and duration of these zones will be released later. All we know so far is that businesses within these zones will be able to apply for up to 100% discount on business rates.

Tax Reliefs to Go
The Office for Tax Simplification has suggested a list of more than 40 tax reliefs that could be abolished because they are rarely used, or are in fact obsolete. Most of these reliefs will be abolished after consultation. Reliefs on this list which may be of interest to small businesses include:

- Tax free meals for employees who cycle to work
- Tax free late night taxis for employees
- Additional tax relief for companies that clean up contaminated land or buildings (land remediation relief)
- Relief from CGT for grants for giving up agricultural land

Corporation Tax Rates
The small profits rate of corporation tax will be cut from 21% to 20% from 1 April 2011, and is expected to remain at that rate for the next four years, but this has not been confirmed. The small profits rate applies to profits of up to £300,000 where the company has no associated companies which are trading.

The main rate of corporation tax was due to be cut from 28% to 27% from April 2011, but that rate will now be 26%, reducing by 1% per year thereafter until the rate reaches 23%.

Research and Development Tax Credits
Small and medium sized companies could previously claim tax relief of 175% for qualifying revenue expenditure incurred on research and development (R&D) projects. This tax relief will increase to 200% for R&D expenditure incurred after 31 March 2011. A further increase in this tax relief to 225% is planned for qualifying R&D expenditure incurred after 31 March 2012.

The rules that govern what type of expenditure qualifies for this relief will also be revised with effect from 2012 to make it easier for small companies to claim this relief.


Employers

NIC
When business owners and accountants are asked what single action could simplify the tax system, most suggest merging income tax and NI. This message has finally been heard by the Government, who will start consulting on how the operation of the NI and income tax could be combined.

This does not mean these two taxes will be merged. The Government has stated that NI will not be applied to savings, dividends or pensions. The likely changes will involve aligning the rules and mechanics of collecting the two taxes. However, don't expect big changes any time soon!

From 6 April 2011 the rates and thresholds for the main NI contributions were already known with most increasing by 1%. The main figures for 2011/12 are:

Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) for Class 1 NICs - £102/week
Employer's class 1 above £136/week not contracted out - 13.8%
Employee's class 1 not contracted out from £139 to £817/week - 12%
Employee's additional class 1 above £817/week - 2%
Self-employed class 4 from £7,225 to £42,475 per annum - 9%
Self-employed class 4 additional rate above £42,475 per annum - 2%
Self-employed class 2 - £2.50 per week
Voluntary contributions class 3 - £12.60 per week

Approved Mileage Rates
Where an employee uses his or her own car for business journeys their employer can pay them an approved mileage allowance payment (AMAP), free of tax and NIC.

This AMAP rate has been stuck at 40p per mile since about 2002, and at current petrol prices many employees who need to use their car for business cannot afford to do so. The AMAP will increase to 45p per mile from 6 April 2011 for the first 10,000 business miles per year, any additional miles can be reimbursed at 25p per mile. If the employer does not pay the full AMAP rate the employee can claim the additional amount in tax relief from HMRC.

The tax free AMAP can also be paid by charities to volunteers. The self-employed, who have profits below the VAT registration threshold (£73,000 from 1 April 2011), may also use the AMAP rate as a substitute for motor expenses claimed in their accounts.

Where an employee carries a fellow employee as a passenger on a business journey, an additional 5p per mile tax free can be paid. The rate will also now apply to volunteer drivers who take other volunteers on business/ charity related journeys.

Car Benefit
The tax charge for personal use of a company car is based on a percentage of the list price of that car when new.

From 6 April 2011 the percentages are all increased by 1% for those in the 15% to 35% range but with a 35% maximum kept. The taxable benefit of using a car with CO2 emissions of 121-129g/km is 15% of the list price. This percentage increases by 1% for each additional 5g/km of CO2 emissions to a maximum of 35% for cars with CO2 emissions of 225g/km or more.

Where a company car driver receives free fuel, the taxable benefit is calculated as the percentage of the list price for the car applied to a set value, currently £18,000. This value will increase to £18,800 from 6 April 2011. The maximum taxable benefit of receiving fuel for personal use will increase from £6,300 (for 2010/11) to £6580 (for 2011/12).


VAT

VAT Rates and Thresholds
There were few changes announced for VAT. The rates and thresholds are as follows from 1 April 2011:

Lower rate - 0%
Reduced rate - 5%
Standard rate - 20%
Registration turnover - £73,000 (up from £70,000)
Deregistration turnover - £68,000 (up from £71,000)

Low Value Consignments
Low value consignment relief allows goods to be imported into the UK by post from outside the EU, with no VAT or duties charged, if the value of the package is less than £18. This has encouraged suppliers of CDs, DVDs and other durable items, to supply goods via the Channel Islands and other non-EU territories to avoid VAT being applied on the sale price. The monetary limit for low value consignments will be reduced to £15 from 1 November 2011, and this limit will be reviewed in March 2012. The Government will also look at other ways of closing this loophole.

Online Filing
It will be compulsory for all VAT registered businesses to file their VAT returns online from 1 April 2012. At present only businesses who became VAT registered from April 2010 or those with turnover of £100,000 or more must file VAT returns online. Also from 1 August 2012 all requests to register or deregister for VAT will have to be made online.

Neil Harries tax editor at totalinvestor.co.uk and director at Bridgend Accountants Harries Watkins Jones.

The author does not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided in this article and recommends that you do not take any action, whatsoever, based on the information provided. By the fullest extent permitted by law, the author does not accept any responsibility for any actions you may or may not take based on information contained in this article. This article contains general information and is not a substitute for specific independent professional advice. In addition it is emphasised that much of the information provided in this article is time sensitive and information contained within it may be out of date.
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