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The 10 worst excuses for not paying Minimum Wage

the dog ate my homework

On the 3rd April, to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the introduction of National Minimum Wage, HMRC issued a list of the worst and most elborate excuses given to their officers in the last 12 months.

  1. An employer said a woman on the premises was not entitled to NMW as she was his wife. When asked what his wife’s name was the employer said “err.. her name, err what’s your name love?..”
  2. An employer told HMRC: “I don’t think my workers know anything about the NMW because they don’t speak English.”
  3. Another employer told HMRC: “When the NMW goes up I do increase the amount I pay a little, even if the total pay is still below the NMW. I don’t think its right to ignore the rises in NMW.”
  4. A number of employers were paying rates below NMW, suggesting that accommodation they provided workers made up for their shortfall in wages.
  5. Upon inspection an employer told HMRC: “I know I am paying them too little, but they are happy to work for this amount because they are getting experience.”
  6. An employee claimed to be just working for a few days with a view to buying the business. When HMRC checked food safety records, the employee’s name was found on historic food temperature records.
  7. An employer claimed they realised they were not paying employees NMW and had just this week increased their wages… to an hourly rate which was still below the minimum wage.
  8. An employer told HMRC: “It wasn’t a conscious decision to say ‘I’m not going to pay this’, but I’ve never really considered doing it because I’ve not had people come to me and say, ‘I’m not getting paid enough’ or ‘Is this the minimum wage?’”
  9. An employee ran out of the premises when HMRC officers arrived to check for NMW infringements. The same employee then returned – minus the work pinafore – pretending to be a customer.
  10. Another employee claimed to be a friend of the owner and only in the restaurant as they were in the area. HMRC officers returned another day to find the person in the kitchen preparing food.

Jennie Granger, Director General of Enforcement and Compliance, HMRC, said:

Most employers are honest and pay their staff the correct rate. But this research shows that some still view the National Minimum Wage as a choice and will even try these crazy excuses to avoid paying workers what they are due.

Last year, HMRC’s investigations resulted in over 26,000 people getting a share of £4 million in back pay. HMRC investigate all complaints of employers failing to pay minimum wage. We will take action to recover back pay for employees and fine employers who are not playing by the rules.

HMRC officers work hard across the UK to ensure that everyone is paid at least the National Minimum Wage, and anyone who isn’t should call us.

steve@bicknells.net

HMRC are going to let you tell them your tax code…

Close up of payslip

It’s true, from April 2014, you can tell HMRC what you think your code should be by explaining why you think its wrong, here is a link to the HMRC structured E Mail

HMRC Link

This form can only be used for queries relating to your PAYE Coding Notice. Any other queries will not be answered.

HMRC aim to respond within 15 days of receiving your E Mail.

Checking your tax code

You’ll find your tax code on:

  • your pay slip
  • your PAYE Coding Notice – you usually get this a couple of months before the start of the tax year and you may also get one if something has changed but not everyone needs to get one
  • form P60 – you get this at the end of each tax year
  • form P45 – you get this when you leave a job

Your tax code can be wrong for lots of reasons so being able to sent a structured E Mail to HMRC should help to get things corrected faster.

steve@bicknells.net

Are you ready for your first RTI year end?

Close up of payslip

Basically you will need to:

  • Prepare P60′s (but no P14 and P35) by 31st May
  • Submit your final FPS or EPS
  • Update your Payroll Software for the New Tax Year

You can order your P60′s for free from HMRC http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/payerti/forms-updates/forms-publications/onlineorder.htm

Here is a great video from HMRC

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) plans to make its Basic PAYE Tools product for the 2014-15 tax year available on 3 April 2014.

The 2014-15 version of Basic PAYE Tools will be provided as an update to the existing version rather than a separate download, so existing users do not need to go to the HMRC website to get the update.

steve@bicknells.net

Do you think National Insurance should be merged with Income Tax? it could happen soon

Close up of payslip

The Tax Payer’s Alliance have been  campaigning and it looks like the Chancellor, George Osborne, has agreed that the first step is to re-name National Insurance as “Earnings Tax”. The change is to be proposed in legislation this week.

This story was reported in the Telegraph on 23rd February. There is also an interesting article on Tax Research UK (Richard Murphy).

You pay National Insurance contributions to build up your entitlement to certain state benefits, including the State Pension.

You pay National Insurance if you’re:

  • 16 or over
  • an employee earning above £149 a week
  • self employed and making a profit over £7,755 a year (Class 4) plus £2.70 per week Class 2 NI (you may not have to pay any Class 2 NI if your profits are below £5,725)

If you’re employed, you stop paying Class 1 National Insurance when you reach the State Pension age.

If you’re self-employed you stop paying:

  • Class 2 National Insurance when you reach State Pension age (or up to 4 months after this to pay off any contributions you owe)
  • Class 4 National Insurance from the start of the tax year after the one in which you reach State Pension age

Income Tax is whole different ball game. Whilst I can see its simpler to have one tax the changes that would be required to achieve it would be huge!

Is it worthwhile?

steve@bicknells.net

RTI Payroll Year End

ID-10035142
Thanks to http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

RTI Payroll Year End

Payroll year end under RTI should now be a much more straightforward affair than in pre-RTI times. Our suggested procedure is as follows.

1. Last FPS submission will be the last payment date (not necessarily payroll date) on or before 05-Apr-14: for monthly paid this will normally be payroll for the month of Mar-14, but for weekly paid it may be less clear.

If for example your pay week ends on a Friday and is paid Wednesday the following week then week ending Friday 28-Mar-14 will be paid Wednesday 02-Apr-14, and this will be your last payroll for 2013-14 tax year; the week ending Friday 04-Apr-14 will be paid on Wednesday 09-Apr-14 which is in 2014-15 tax year (CAERP: users should check the Company Settings ‘Tax & Payroll details’ tab).

2. Make sure you ‘tick the box’ (CAERP: “This is the final FPS submission of the tax year.“) to indicate that this is your last FPS submission for the tax year, and answer the additional questions.

3. If you have made no employee payments and do not therefore need to make a FPS submission then you will need to make an EPS submission as soon as possible after 05-Apr-14 (CAERP: users will find this at the bottom of the P32 report), and tick both the “No payments were made” box and the “This is the final EPS or FPS submission of the tax year.”

HMRC provide further guidance at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/payerti/end-of-year/tasks.htm

4. Run your P60 reports and forward to all the individuals who have been employed in the 2013-14 tax year.

5. Update the tax codes for those individuals where notices for 2014-15 have been received from HMRC.

6. Update ‘L’ tax codes by adding 56 so that for example ‘944L’ becomes ‘1000L’.

7. Remove any ‘Week 1’ or ‘Month 1’ indicators (CAERP: untick ‘Wk 1 Mth 1 Basis ‘ in employee records).

HMRC provide further guidance at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/payerti/payroll/year-start.htm

New for tax year 2014-15

8. From 06-Apr14 you will no longer be able to recover a proportion of SSP paid to employees and the NIC holiday arrangements will come to an end.

9. There is however a new employer’s national insurance ‘Employment Allowance’ whereby eligible employers can reduce their Employer Class 1 NICs bill by up to £2,000 per year. Employers who qualify should submit an EPS as soon as possible after 05-May-14 and tick the ‘Employment Allowance Indicator’ box.

HMRC provide further guidance at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/news/nic-emp-allowance.htm

10. Perhaps the biggest change for the new tax year is that HMRC will be taking a much harder line on late submission of FPS/ EPS returns with automatic penalties, so please be sure that you make a submission at least monthly, even if only a ‘nil’ EPS return.

Paul Driscoll is a Chartered Management Accountant, a director of Central Accounting Limited, Cura Business Consulting Limited, Hudman Limited, and AJ Tensile Fabrications Limited, and is a board level adviser to a variety of other businesses.

RTI non-filing notice?

If your business has a payroll then you may, like me, have received an RTI non-filing notice from HMRC. “Rubbish” is a polite version of my reaction. RTI should be the most straight-forward part of the payroll. The hard part is often calculating who is owed what if you have many non-salaried staff. So it would be fair to say that I was a bit miffed.

OK, so what is the consequence? Well until April, nothing. But, after April, possibly a fine from HMRC. So  I phoned HMRC. Their assumption was that I had not filed a return, hence the RTI non-filing notice. More worrying was that they could not tell me specifically why I had received the notice. My theory is that it was caused by correctly filing a return on Feb 6th for a Feb 7th payroll which is after the HMRC PAYE month-end of Feb 5th.

I can only hope that HMRC get their act together with the RTI system. A quick look on the web revealed a tidal wave of RTI non-filing notices this week.

Of course if you really haven’t kept on top of things then you need to take a deep breath and file your RTI returns. And get some help from a Chartered Management Accountant if you need to.

Helen Alexander

Millbrook Financial Management Ltd

Will Temp Agencies avoid Auto Enrolment by using Postponement?

Close up of payslip

The date workers are enrolled depends on the size of the company they work for and is being rolled out over the next six years (this is called a staging date).
  • Large employers (with 250 or more workers), have started automatically enrolling their workers and will continue to February 2014 (some employers may choose to start earlier)
  • Medium employers (50 – 249 workers) will have to start automatically enrolling their workersfrom April 2014 to April 2015
  • Small employers (49 workers or less) will have to start automatically enrolling their workers from June 2015 to April 2017
  • New employers (established after April 2012) will have to start automatically enrolling their workers from May 2017 to February 2018
  • Employers who chose to use Defined Benefit or Hybrid Schemes can delay their staging date until 30 September 2017

You can postpone the start of Auto Enrolment for up to 3 months and then re-test for eligibility using this method could mean that Temporary Staff Agencies could avoid Auto Enrolment for their temps. This also means that many agencies will use NEST because other pension schemes will not want to sign them up as they many not actually receive any contributions.

Pinsent Masons blogged:

Agency workers are different from other workers and so present particular challenges. Many are seeking work for only a short period. Many will register with a number of different agencies and will, in fact, only be ’employed’ by a particular agency for a short period. The auto-enrolment obligation applies to all workers who meet the age and earnings thresholds, but there are options which may assist those employing high churn groups of workers.

Employers can make workers wait up to three calendar months before enrolling them into a pension scheme. If the worker has left by the end of that three-month period, then there is no need to provide that worker with a pension.

If you do postpone, make sure you follow the rules otherwise there could be harsh penalties under the Pension Act 2008 Section 45

Offences of failing to comply(1)An offence is committed by an employer who wilfully fails to comply with—

(a)the duty under section 3(2) (automatic enrolment),

(b)the duty under section 5(2) (automatic re-enrolment), or

(c)the duty under section 7(3) (jobholder’s right to opt in).

(2)A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine, or both;

(b)on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.

steve@bicknells.net

What can you include in a PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA P626)?

Businessman looking at a small present with a magnifying glass

PAYE Settlement Agreements (PSA’s) are requested by Employers and subject to agreement with HMRC. Under this agreement the employer will be responsible for accounting for any tax and national insurance liabilities arising. Any items covered by a PSA will not need to be shown on forms P35 and P11D at the end of the tax year.

Applications for PSA’s should be made before 6th July 2013 if you want to use them for the tax year ended 5th April 2013, once approved by HMRC payment of the Tax and NI is due by the 19th October (payments by cheque) or 22nd October (payments online).

The tax due is grossed-up at the employee’s marginal rate. For example, £5,000 of benefits provided to higher rate taxpayers (40 per cent) would be grossed-up as follows:

Benefits of £5,000 x 40 per cent = £2,000 tax

Grossed-up tax = £2,000 x 100/100-40 = £3,333.33

Benefits plus grossed-up tax = £8,333.33 x 13.8 per cent Class 1B = £1,149.99

Total due to be paid £3,333.33 tax plus £1,149.99 Class 1B = £4,483.32

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PAYE Settlement Agreements can only be created for:

Minor Benefits

HMRC (PSA1060) examples (not exhaustive) of what may constitute a minor item.

  • incentive awards
  • reimbursement of late night taxi fares outside s248 ITEPA 2003
  • personal incidental expenses in excess of the statutory daily limit
  • present for an employee in hospital
  • staff entertainment, for example a ticket for Wimbledon
  • use of a pool car where the conditions for tax exemption are not satisfied
  • subscriptions to gyms, sports clubs etc
  • telephone bills
  • gift vouchers and small gifts

Irregular Expenses

HMRC (PSA 1070) examples (not exhaustive) of what may constitute an irregular item.

  • relocation expenses where the amounts concerned exceed the £8000 tax exempt threshold (Section 287 ITEPA 2003)
  • occasional attendance at an overseas conference where not all the expenses qualify for relief
  • expenses of a spouse occasionally accompanying an employee abroad
  • occasional use of a company holiday flat
  • one off gifts which are not minor.

Impracticable Items

HMRC (PSA 1080) examples (not exhaustive) of what may constitute an impracticable item

  • free chiropody care
  • hairdressing services
  • Christmas parties and similar entertainment provided by the employer which do not already qualify for relief
  • cost of shared taxis home which do not satisfy s248 ITEPA 2003
  • shared cars.

Gov.uk has guidance on How to get a PSA

steve@bicknells.net

EMPLOYER’S £2,000 NIC ALLOWANCE

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Why the Ostrich?  Well I think she’s pretty!

This valuable allowance is due to start for all businesses on 6 April 2014, and simply exempts the employer from the normal employer NICs of 13.8% of the earnings paid.

The mechanics are that the allowance will be obtained via standard payroll software and HMRC’s RTI system. A facility will be added to the RTI Employer Payment Summary referring to the allowance in the form of a “yes/no” indicator, with payroll software providers doing the same. The employer then offsets the allowance against each monthly Class 1 secondary NICs payment until fully claimed or the tax year ends. For the following tax year the allowance is available against NICs as the liability arises during the year.

For a small company rewarding working shareholders by way of dividends, the current thinking is that from 6 April 2014 it will usually be best to receive remuneration of £10,000 per annum instead of limiting it to the NIC secondary threshold of (currently) £7,696 as is normally done. This is because earnings of £10,000 will fully utilise the new level of personal allowance, whereas dividends effectively waste the allowance.

fiona@grant-jonesaccountancy.com

 

Can I process my payroll once a year?

Close up of payslip

Yes, HMRC are now able to process requests for annual payrolls.

An annual scheme must meet all of the following requirements:

  • all the employees are paid annually
  • all the employees are paid at the same time/same date
  • the employer is only required to pay HMRC annually

Once a business is registered as an annual scheme, an Employer Payment Summary (EPS) is not required for the 11 months of the tax year where no payments are made to the employees.

We all have busy schedules………

Annual schemes are likely to be adopted mainly by very small businesses and single person companies as you can pay all your salary in one go and save yourself 11 months of RTI reporting.

steve@bicknells.net

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