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The Chancellor appears to have it in for landlords at the moment. There is the stamp duty land tax supplement of 3% on purchases of second and subsequent residential properties where completion is on or after 1 April 2016, the restriction in interest rate relief from April 2017 onwards, and the failure to benefit from the cut in capital gains tax from 6 April 2016.
In this harsher climate, it is perhaps worthwhile making sure you have not overlooked any deductible expenses when working out your profit for your property rental business.
Wholly and exclusively
The wholly and exclusively rule applies to determine whether an expense is deductible – if it has been incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the property rental business, it passes this test.
Revenue not capital
A deduction against profits is only available if the expenditure is revenue in nature rather than capital. Broadly, revenue expenses are those incurred in the day-to-day running of the business. By contrast, capital expenditure is that incurred in purchasing or improving an asset, and would include costs of extending or improving the property, a fitted kitchen or expenditure on office equipment or vehicles. However, a deduction is available for replacement furnishings from April 2016.
The following is a list of common expenses that may be deducted when computing profits (as long as the wholly and exclusively test is met):
- interest on loans to buy the property (but not capital repayments);
- letting agents’ fees;
- accountants’ fees;
- legal fees for lets of a year or less or for renewing a lease of 50 years or less;
- utility bills (e.g. gas, electricity);
- buildings and contents insurance;
- cleaning costs;
- maintenance costs (but not improvements);
- costs of a gardener;
- telephone calls;
- stationery and postage;
- staff costs;
- ground rent and service charges; and
- council tax.
This list is not exhaustive.
Replacement of furnishings
From April 2016 a deduction is available for the costs of replacing furniture, furnishings, appliances (including white goods) and kitchenware. The amount of the deduction is the cost of the replacement item (capped at the cost of an equivalent to the item replaced if the replacement is superior to the original) plus any incidental costs of acquiring the new item (such as delivery) or disposing of the old item, less anything received for the old item.
This deduction replaces the 10% wear and tear allowance but, unlike the wear and tear allowance, is not limited to furnished lets.
Need to know: Make sure you have taken out all of your deductible expenses when working out the tax on your property rental income.
It’s not uncommon for Directors personal expenses to get mixed up with business expenses, for example the director is out buying things for the company and picks up some items for themselves at the same time and it goes on the same bill.
In a perfect world the Director would just repay the cost of personal purchases to the company, but we don’t live in perfect world, so what are the options?
Directors Loan Account
You could post the cost to the Directors Loan Account. These accounts are normally repaid when the Director is paid either salary or dividends.
If the loan is not cleared by year end then the company will have to pay a temporary corporation tax charge of 25% and reclaim the tax when the loan is repaid using form L2P
There may also be a notional amount of interest (4%) charged as a benefit in kind on the loan.
Benefit In Kind
You could have the expenses as a benefit in kind, some benefits may even be tax free, here is a list of my favourite tax free benefits
- Pensions – Up to £40k can be paid in to you pension scheme by your employer (2015/16) and you can use carry forward to pay in even more
- Childcare – Up to £55 per week but check the rules to makesure your childcare complies (HMRC Leaflet IR115) – new rules coming soon
- Mobile Phone – One per employee
- Lunch – Tax Free Lunch Blog
- Cycle Schemes – Cycle to Work Blog
- Fitness – Fitness Blog
- Parties and Gifts – Christmas Blog
- Parking – Parking Blog
- Business Mileage Allowance – 45p for the first 10,000 miles then 25p
- Long Service Award – A bit restrictive as you need 20 years service, the tax free amount is £50 x the number of years
- Eye Tests and Spectacles – The Eye Test must be needed under the Health & Safety at Work Act
- Suggestion Schemes – Suggestion Scheme Blog
- Insurance such and Death in Service and Income Protection – Medical Insurance Blog
- Travel Expenses – Travel Blog
- Working From Home – Working from Home Blog
Private Use of Company Assets
It may also be worth considering private use of company assets.
- The cost of the asset is allowed against Corporation Tax and you can claim Capital Allowances and the Annual Investment Allowance.
- The Assets could be purchased from the Director but they must be transferred at Market Value.
- The Benefit In Kind is generally 20% of the market value
The rates only apply when you either:
- reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars
- require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel
If you pay a rate per mile for business travel no higher than the AFR, for the particular engine size and fuel type, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will accept there is no taxable profit and no Class 1A National Insurance to pay.
You can use your own rates which better reflect your circumstances if, for example, your cars are more fuel efficient, or if the cost of business travel is higher than the guideline rates.
Advisory Fuel Rates from 1 March 2015
These rates applied from 1 March 2015. You can use the previous rates for up to 1 month from the date the new rates apply.
|Engine size||Petrol – amount per mile||LPG – amount per mile|
|1400cc or less||11p||8p|
|1401cc to 2000cc||13p||10p|
|Engine size||Diesel – amount per mile|
|1600cc or less||9p|
|1601cc to 2000cc||11p|
COMPANY car mileage rates have been slashed by up to 18% as HMRC cut the tax allowance across all six of the petrol and diesel categories in response to continuing fuel price falls.
Hardest hit by the rates, known as advisory fuel rates (AFR), are drivers of company cars with petrol engines greater than 1,401cc which have suffered a 3p cut in rates applicable from 1 March.
Making a profit and generating cash is vital to all businesses and a key way to improve profit is to reduce overheads, here are a few ideas:
- Re-think your office/premises requirements – Premises are big cost for most businesses, could you operate in a smaller space and sub-let part of your offices? could you work from home?
- Telecommute – Technology effectively reduces distance, so there is no need to require administrative people or specialists to be physically located together. Use VOIP, Skype and Video Conferencing.
- Cars – Company Cars can be expensive, time consuming to manage and emotive, why not consider car allowances
- Staff – Generally the biggest overhead is people, consider outsourcing rather than having the fixed overhead of in house staff
- Shop around – Are you getting the best deals on Stationery, Printing, Insurance, Light & Heat…..
- Students – Students, apprentices and interns are eager to learn and will be less expensive then experienced employees
- Refinance Debt – Could you reduce the cost of borrowing? could you borrow from your Self Invested Pension Plan?
- Paper – Sorting, filing, and finding files requires time and space. Purchase a scanner and scan all important papers and keep them in well organised electronic files to save space and administrative costs.
- Go Green – Reducing waste and saving energy will save money too
- Buy Second Hand – Second hand office furniture is plentiful and its cheaper than buying new
You’ve completed your tax returns, you think you can now breathe a sigh of relief, but can you?
HMRC can inspect any taxpayer’s records under Schedule 36 by FA08, FA09 and FA10. They can check the tax records for:-
Pay as You Earn (PAYE)
Value Added Tax (VAT)
Income Tax (IT)
Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
Corporation Tax (CT)
Insurance Premium Tax (IPT)
Inheritance Tax (IHT)
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)
Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT)
Petroleum Revenue Tax (PRT)
Aggregates Levy (AGL)
Climate Change Levy (CCL)
Landfill Tax (LFT) and
Bank Payroll Tax (BPT)
The technical term for the inspection is a Compliance Check. They will check that the tax payer has:-
- Complied with their obligations
- Paid the correct amount of tax and at the right time
- Claimed the correct reliefs and allowances
This can be completed by anything from a short telephone call to confirm a single fact, to a detailed investigation of a person’s entire financial affairs over a period of years.
HMRC may undertake checks by either asking for information or documents or by arranging a meeting or visit.
- Require taxpayers by notice in writing to provide information and produce documents (a “taxpayer notice”)
- Require third parties by notice in writing (for example a supplier or bank) to provide information and produce documents (a “third party notice”)
The caveat being that these requirements are reasonable for the purpose of checking a tax position. The generic term for these types of notice is information notice.
The recipient has the protection of a right of appeal to, or prior approval by, an independent tribunal. There is no right of appeal however where the notice only refers to information or documents that form part of a taxpayer’s statutory records, or any person’s records that relate to:
- The supply of goods and services
- The acquisition of goods from another member state, or
- The importation of goods from outside the European Union (EU) by a business
If the taxpayer is not forthcoming with the information, HMRC may invoke their statutory powers to obtain them.
They may also request assistance with aspects of a tax check from other government departments.
This could include a situation where there is reason to believe that a taxpayer:
- did not notify chargeability to tax
- did not register for VAT if required, or
- is operating in the informal economy
Restrictions on Information Powers
The taxman is not all-powerful; some safeguards have been installed, set out in the law and with guidance so that in carrying out compliance checks
- HMRC’s powers are used reasonably and proportionately
- Taxpayers are clear about when a compliance check begins and ends
- Officers have no right to enter any parts of premises that are used solely as a dwelling, whether to carry out an inspection or to examine documents produced under an information notice. They can, however, enter if invited
- FA09 adds to Sch 36 FA08 a power to inspect all property for the purpose of valuation (for direct taxes purposes). This requires either the taxpayer’s agreement or Tribunal approval
- Unannounced visits will only be made where agreement has been given by an authorised officer
Other safeguards include the fact that officers can’t require certain things to be provided:
- Information relating to the conduct of appeals against HMRC decisions
- Legally privileged information
- Auditors or tax advisers advice to a client about their tax affairs
- Information about a person’s medical or spiritual welfare
- Journalistic material
- Information over six years old can only be included in a notice issued by or with the approval of an authorised officer
- HMRC cannot give a notice in respect of the tax position of a dead person more than four years after the person’s death
The Power to Visit Business Premises and Check Assets and Records
Inspection powers allow an officer of HMRC to enter business premises and inspect the premises, business assets and statutory records.
If an information notice has been issued earlier, the documents required in that notice could be inspected at the same time.
FA09 incorporates into Schedule 36 inspection powers in respect of the:
- business premises of Involved third parties
- valuation of premises for Income Tax or Corporation Tax
- must only be undertaken where it is reasonably required to establish the tax position and
- will normally be by prior arrangement, the date and time being convenient to the taxpayer
The Power to Visit Business Premises and Check Assets and Records
Inspection powers also allow any officer to enter any premises when they believe the premises are to be used in connection with taxable supplies of goods or taxable acquisition of goods from Member States, and such goods or documents relating to such goods are on the premises.
There is no right of appeal against an inspection but the occupier can refuse entry and prevent the inspection from being completed.
The occupier can be penalised for such obstruction, where the inspection has been approved by a Tribunal.
There may be occasions when a pre-arranged visit will be inappropriate, for example where there is a strong risk that the taxpayer would move the business or remove stock or other assets. In such cases, an unannounced visit may be undertaken subject to prior agreement by an authorised officer.
If a formal statutory approach is needed, and it has not been possible to agree the time of inspection and give written confirmation, the inspection must be approved by a Tribunal and 7 days written notice of the time of the inspection given. The application for approval must be made by, or with the approval of, an authorised officer.
When a Penalty can be charged where a person:
- Fails to comply with an information notice
- Conceals, destroys or otherwise disposes of documents required by an information notice
- Conceals, destroys or otherwise disposes of documents that they have been notified are, or are likely to be, required by an information notice
- Deliberately obstructs an inspection that has been approved by the Tribunal.
- In complying with an information notice provides inaccurate information or produces a document that contains an inaccuracy,
- Fails to comply with a notice requiring contact details of a tax/duty debtor to HMRC.
These rights are covered in sections 38 FA 08 and 09
Types of Penalties
There are four types and amounts of penalty:
- An initial penalty of £300
- A daily penalty of up to £60 for every day that the failure or obstruction continues after the date the initial penalty is assessed
- A tax-related penalty
- A penalty not exceeding £3000 for providing inaccurate information or documents in response to an information notice
A tax-related penalty is in addition to the initial penalty and any daily penalties. The amount of the penalty is decided by the Upper Tribunal having regard to the amount of tax which either has not, or is unlikely to be, paid by that person.
A person is not liable to a penalty if they have a reasonable excuse for:
- Failing to comply with an information notice, or
- Providing inaccurate details or documents, or
- Deliberately obstructing a tribunal approved inspection
If they correct their failure as soon as the excuse ends, the excuse will then be treated as continuing until the correction is made.
Normally, daily penalties will not be assessed after the failure has been remedied.
Schedule 37 of FA08 amended existing record keeping legislation in respect of PAYE, VAT, IT, CGT and CT, whilst Schedule 50 to FA2009 extends this approach to IPT, SDLT, AGL, CCL, and LFT with BPT being included from 8 April 2010. Following consultation it was accepted that SDRT and PRT did not require separate statutory provisions, whilst IHT will be addressed through guidance.
These provisions are aimed at alignment and clarification.
This approach is designed to be flexible across a range of business and non-business taxpayers.
There are penalties for failure to keep adequate records.
The basic requirements in relation to record keeping have not changed but rules have been aligned on how long records are kept.
- Child care vouchers – if you have children attending a nursery or looked after by a professional childminder, your employer can join a Childcare voucher scheme. This allows for £55 of the weekly cost to be deducted free of tax and NI if you are a basic tax rate payer, or £28 if you are a higher rate tax payer.
- Pensions – if you pay into a work pension scheme, 20% tax is automatically deducted. For high rate tax payers, you can claim additional relief either by declaring it on your Self-Assessment or calling the taxman.
- Company cars – are a pain and the tax is huge BUT if you have a company van, the benefit in kind is capped at £3,000 so for a basic rate tax payer the cost of driving is only £600 or £1,200 for a higher rate payer.
- Professional membership fees – your membership to a recognised trade or professional body it is a deductible expense, but not for your hobbies.
- Share incentive schemes – there are loads of schemes that allow either NI or Capital Gains Tax to be saved, you don’t have work for a listed company either.
- Giving your work colleagues a lift to work – if your employer encourages car pooling you can claim 5p a mile for the passenger without incurring any additional tax charge.
- Cycle to work – get your employer to provides a bike both for travel to work and play, it’s not considered as a benefit in kind.
- Then after a time you can buy it off them at market value.
- Season ticket loans – your company can advance the cost of an annual season ticket up to £5,000, much cheaper than buying a ticket weekly.
- From April 2014 this increases to £10,000 (not really sure if that’s a blessing?)
- Electric Cars – from April 2015 there’s no benefit in kind.
- Working from home – it is becoming increasingly more common for staff to work from home. You can claim £4 a week allowance without having to produce receipts.
Any questions contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keeping track of income and expenses can hard when you are busy so why not try using a phone app? HMRC suggest the following:
|Forbes Computer Systems Ltd (Opens new window)||Forbes Receipt Keeper||Android|
|FreeAgent Central Ltd (Opens new window)||Earnest||iPhone, iPod touch, iPad|
|Immagini Ltd (Opens new window)||ZipZipBooks||Android|
|Intuit (Opens new window)||MyBizTracker||iOS (iPhone, iPod touch)|
|Mr Tax Software Ltd (Opens new window)||Text 2 Save Tax||Android.|
|Quick File Ltd (Opens new window)||Quick File||All – free web-based application|
|Sage (Opens new window)||Sage Record Keeper||iPhone, iPad iOS|
|123 Tax (Opens new window)||123 Tax application||Windows Phone|
I have been trying out the Sage Record Keeper Mobile on my iPhone, its pretty good for free, here is an overview:
- Record cash in and cash out
- See your balances at a glance and track CIS deductions – Standard or Higher Rate
- You can even take photos of your receipts – no longer worry about losing them- multiple photos if needed
- Estimate the current year’s tax and refer back to previous ones (up to 6 years)
- Quick links to record income and expenses in seconds
- Enter details, specify type of payment used and add notes
- Add and customise tags for transactions to group them into categories
- Add several tags to each transaction
- Search and filter by category, supplier / customer, amounts or other details
- Backup your information using iCloud
For use outside of the app you can export all or just a selection of transactions and photos as CSV and image files. They’re automatically attached to an email for sharing with anyone.
So no excuses, use your phone and stay organised.
Apart from Business Mileage, what can you claim and what counts as a business trip?
Assuming your employer or supplier or customer aren’t reimbursing your costs….
If you’ve got to make journeys for business purposes you can deduct your travelling expenses from your taxable income – so you’ll pay less tax.
In addition, there is no restriction on the standard of travel and accommodation, provided the main purpose of the trip is that of business, you can travel first class and stay at the best hotels.
But what if the trip is partly business and partly pleasure, in this case you will need to apportion the costs and only claim for the business element.
You can only get tax relief on the cost of business journeys. These are when, as part of your job:
- you have to travel from one workplace to another – this includes travelling between your main ‘permanent workplace’ and a temporary workplace
- you’ve got to travel to or from a certain workplace because your job requires you to
But business journeys don’t include:
- ordinary commuting – when you travel between your home (or anywhere that is not a workplace) and a place which counts as a permanent workplace
- private journeys – which have nothing to do with your job
If you’re not sure if a place you travel to counts as a permanent workplace telephone HM Revenue & Customs for advice.
Travel expenses include the actual costs of travel and also the subsistence expenditure and other associated costs that are incurred as part of the cost of making the journey.
The cost of business travel includes
- the cost of any necessary subsistence costs incurred in the course of the journey
- the cost of meals necessarily purchased whilst an employee is at a temporary workplace.
If an overnight stay is needed then the cost of the accommodation and any necessary meals is part of the cost of business travel. Even where an employee stays away for some time and the travel expenses are deductible, the cost of meals and accommodation is part of the overall cost of the business travel.
Travel expenses that qualify for relief
You can get tax relief on the necessary costs of business travel like:
- public transport fares
- hotel accommodation
- congestion charges
- parking fees
- business phone calls, fax or photocopying costs
But you can’t get tax relief for things that aren’t directly related to the business journey.
So far so good, but what about…..
Alcohol – claiming for a few drinks with your meal will be fine but other than with meals they would generally be considered a personal expense
Your Family – if you take your wife, husband or partner on a business trip their costs will be taxable unless they are on the trip for a business reason
Newspapers, Laundry and Phone Calls Home – HMRC allow claims for incidental overnight expenses up to £5 per night in the UK and £10 per night outside the UK
Learning the Lingo – no you can’t claim for language lessons
Staying with Friends – until 2009 HMRC were happy to agree a scale rate of £25 per night but now its based on actual costs
Basically, before you claim, stop and think, can you justify the expense as being a business expense for business purposes.
When you are operating a business as a sole trader, you will need to complete a self-assessment return for your income. Self-employed income is taxable after deducting allowable expenses. None of us want to pay more money than necessary to HMRC so use this guide as a starting point to ensure that you are claiming all you can.
There are two main types of expenditure:
Capital expenditure is money spent on items (assets) that will have a useful life to the business of more than one year, for example premises, furniture, machinery, vehicles, tools, IT equipment.
These costs cannot be included when working out taxable profits. However you can claim Capital Allowances which give tax relief for the reduction in value of the assets.
Revenue expenditure is the allowable expenditure which is incurred in the general day to day running of a business. This can include:
Cost of goods bought for resale and cost of producing goods that you are going to sell or use in providing your goods or services to sell.
Employee costs including wages, employers’ National Insurance, benefits for employees, agency fees, subcontractors and training.
Business premise costs including rent, rates, utilities, maintenance and cleaning.
A proportion of your home costs if you work from home, including a proportion of the costs for rent, rates, utilities, mortgage interest, maintenance and cleaning. The costs should be apportioned based on how much of the home is used for business and for how much time if not exclusively. Or you can claim a fixed rate of £4 per week (from 2013-14).
Office running costs like phones, mobiles, broadband, email hosting, postage, stationery, printing, software and small office equipment.
Vehicles including the running costs (petrol, car tax, insurance, repairs, MOT and servicing). If the vehicle is also used privately, you can only claim for a proportion of the cost in relation to how much the vehicle is used for business mileage. Business mileage includes trips to the bank, post office, business meetings and networking events.
Mileage can be claimed instead of a proportion of the running costs of a vehicle if your turnover is below the VAT threshold when you acquired your vehicle. Mileage rates are 45p a mile for the first 10,000 business miles a year, then 25p a mile.
Travel, meals and accommodation including hotels when an overnight stay is required for business.
Business insurance including public liability, professional indemnity and employer liability.
Marketing and advertising including PR, free samples, networking, website maintenance costs, printed ads and brochures.
Magazine subscriptions if they are relevant to your business or are for client reading in a reception area.
Professional fees are usually allowable. Legal fees for drawing up contracts and terms and conditions are allowable as are your accountant’s fees for completing the year end accounts. Architect and surveyors fees are also allowable.
Bank, credit card and other finance charges including overdraft charges, hire purchase interest and lease payments.
If the expense relates to business and personal cost, only the business cost is deductible but also if the expense is dual purpose then no deduction is allowed. Always remember to keep detailed records of your transactions and keep copies of receipts and invoices as back up (these can be the originals or scanned copies on your computer).