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Is this the End of National Insurance?

 

Pay Packet And Banknotes

You pay National Insurance contributions to qualify for certain benefits including the State Pension.

You pay National Insurance if you’re:

  • 16 or over
  • an employee earning above £155 a week
  • self-employed and making a profit of £5,965 or more a year

The Office of Tax Simplification is currently beginning a process of looking at merging National Insurance with Income Tax.

OTS NI TOR

ACCA’s head of tax Chas Roy-Chowdhury warned that an alignment of NI and income tax rates would be crucial prior to a merger taking place.

Whilst This is Money reported…

Middle and high earners could see their tax bills jump under radical plans to merge income tax and National Insurance, a tax expert has warned.

People taking home £50,000 a year could be £230 worse off, but low earners on £20,000 would save more than £530, and those on £30,000 would come out around £380 ahead, according to snap research by Tilney Bestinvest on the potential tax shake-up.

Chancellor George Osborne wants to reduce ‘complexity’ in the tax system to make it clearer exactly how much people have to cough up, and has ordered the Office of Tax Simplification to see if there is a case for change.

This change is also likely to lead to changes to Pension tax relief reform, Your Money reported…
The government has already announced a consultation on the pension tax relief system, and I believe that a merger of income tax and NI would likely result in the floated idea of a pension with ISA-like tax treatment. This is because at present, a basic rate taxpayer gets 20% tax relief on pension payments but surely this would increase to 32% under a combined system. It seems illogical to increase tax relief at a time when they are actually trying to reduce the cost to the Exchequer. An equal tax treatment of ISAs and pensions could be a prelude to merging the two, potentially drawing ISAs into some form of lifetime allowance.
steve@bicknells.net

R&D – impact on director remuneration

It’s generally more tax efficient for a director shareholder to extract the majority of profit from a company as dividends rather than salary. But what if the company is undertaking R&D? Is this still the optimum remuneration strategy?

Example

You are the sole director in a company that undertakes some R&D.  The annual profit is estimated at £140,000 for the year ended 31 March 2016 before taking into account the director’s remuneration.

You might think that the most tax-efficient remuneration package is £10,600 for 2015/16 to cover the personal allowance and then net dividends of £28,606 to take the director up to the basic rate band. You also need to consider whether the company can make an R&D relief claim and, if it can, how this might affect your decision.

Salary vs Dividends

If the director takes a typical remuneration package, then the net tax and NI savings over taking a salary of £39,206 would be £5,265, assuming the £2,000 employment allowance is available.  This saving is made because dividends received within the basic rate band attract no further income tax plus no NI for the director or the company. This more than outweighs the additional corporation tax suffered on profits retained for dividends.

Taking R&D relief into account

From 1 April 2015 the R&D tax credit for SMEs increased from 225% to 230%.  There is no R&D uplift on dividends received – only on salary. This means that paying a £39,206 salary would actually result in a saving over taking a small salary and dividends of £1,208.

What about a larger salary? In fact, if the client wanted to take out more than the basic rate band, then the salary may become even more tax efficient.  A £70,000 salary would result in net tax/NI due of £1,366 after the R&D relief (assuming there was sufficient profit to offset the CT relief), whereas a salary of £10,600 and net dividends of £59,400 would result in net tax/NI of £5,883 – so the saving by taking a salary over dividends is £4,517.

HMRC will generally not accept 100% of a director’s salary costs within the R&D claim unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the director was exclusively involved in R&D activity.

Pension contributions

While dividends don’t qualify as eligible staff costs for R&D claims, company pension contributions do.  New pension freedoms make pension contributions a much more attractive option, so you might want to consider this as part of your remuneration package.

If a company makes pension contributions of £40,000 for the director and they spend 60% of their time on R&D, the R&D relief on this will be £55,200 (£40,000 x 60% x 230%). This means that the overall CT saving on the pension contribution will be £14,240 (((£40,000 x 40%) + £55,200) x 20%). As there’s no NI due on pension contributions, this is an even more efficient option than taking additional salary.

The default response of a dividend being more tax efficient than salary may not be applicable if the director undertakes R&D work for the company as there’s no R&D uplift on dividends. So it’s vital to crunch the numbers before agreeing the most tax-efficient remuneration strategy.

Get the best deal for yourself

For advice on the best split between salary and dividends or help with setting up a limited company and registering for VAT, please contact Alterledger.

New Childcare Vouchers from Autumn 2015

Childcare vouchers to be withdrawn for new employees

The existing benefits available in the form of childcare vouchers to employees will be withdrawn to new entrants in the Autumn of 2015.  The current scheme  saves National Insurance contributions for both employers and employees.  Employees also save income tax.

English: British National Insurance stamp.

English: British National Insurance stamp. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New scheme to start in Autumn 2015

The new scheme for childcare vouchers will not be as good for many employees who currently benefit from the current scheme, but where both parents work and are self employed, they can get the government to pay £2,000 towards registered childcare.

How do I set up childcare vouchers?

Childcare vouchers are set up through your payroll scheme and must be available to all eligible employees to receive the tax benefit.

Alterledger can help

For more information on saving employer’s national insurance and preparing for changes to childcare vouchers, contact Alterledger or visit the website alterledger.com.

New reporting requirements for intermediaries

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An intermediary is any person who makes arrangements for an individual to work for a third party or be paid for work done for a third party. An employment intermediary is also commonly referred to as an agency.

From 6 April 2015, intermediaries must return details of all workers they place with clients where they don’t operate Pay As You Earn (PAYE) on the workers’ payments. The return will be a report (or reports) that must be sent to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) once every 3 months.

Agencies will be required to let HMRC know the following details:

  • Contractor’s name, address, date of birth, etc.
  • PAYE reference.
  • National Insurance number.
  • How the contractor was engaged during the period (i.e. was he working via a limited company).
  • The duration of each assignment.
  • Details of the contractor’s limited company (e.g. company registered number).
  • How much was paid to the contractor.

The regulations will give HMRC information that will enable it to decrease false self-employment and abuse of offshore working. This will help HMRC to:

  • support intermediaries that comply
  • penalise intermediaries that don’t comply
  • make sure the right tax and National Insurance is paid by people working through intermediaries
  • reduce unfair commercial advantage

Here is link to the full reporting requirements – Legislation Link

This is the link to consultation – Consultation

steve@bicknells.net

Letters for under 21s

Changes for employees under 21

From 6th April 2015 employer national insurance contributions will be abolished for under 21s.  If you employ anyone over 16 and under 21 years old you will need to use one of the new letters for under 21s in the national insurance category setting of your payroll software.

English: British National Insurance stamp.

English: British National Insurance stamp. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Secondary contribution rates

This table shows how much employers pay towards employees’ National Insurance for tax year 2014 to 2015.  The contribution rate calculated by your payroll software is set by the category letter.

Category letter £111 to £153

a week

£153.01 to £770

a week

£770.01 to £805

a week

From £805.01

a week

A 0% 13.8% 13.8% 13.8%
B 0% 13.8% 13.8% 13.8%
C 0% 13.8% 13.8% 13.8%
D 3.4% rebate 10.4% 13.8% 13.8%
E 3.4% rebate 10.4% 13.8% 13.8%
J 0% 13.8% 13.8% 13.8%
L 3.4% rebate 10.4% 13.8% 13.8%

National insurance categories

Most employees will have a category letter of A or D depending on whether or not they are in a contracted-out workplace pension scheme.  There are categories for mariners and deep-sea fisherman; the more common categories are shown below:

Employees in a contracted-out workplace pension scheme

Category letter Employee group
D All employees apart from those in groups E, C and L in this table
E Married women and widows entitled to pay reduced National Insurance
C Employees over the State Pension age
L Employees who can defer National Insurance because they’re already paying it in another job

Employees not in contracted-out pension schemes

Category letter Employee group
A All employees apart from those in groups B, C and J in this table
B Married women and widows entitled to pay reduced National Insurance
C Employees over the State Pension age
J Employees who can defer National Insurance because they’re already paying it in another job

Employees in a money-purchase contracted-out scheme

This kind of scheme ended in April 2012 but some employees might still be part of one.

Category letter Employee group
F Tax years before 2012 to 2013 only: all employees apart from the ones in groups G, C and S in this table
G Tax years before 2012 to 2013 only: married women and widows entitled to pay reduced National Insurance
C Employees over the State Pension age
S Tax years before 2012 to 2013 only: employees who can defer National Insurance because they’re already paying it in another job

How to claim zero rate of employer contributions

You should already have proof of age for all your employees.  A copy of a passport, driving licence or birth certificate will be required to show that your employee qualifies for the new zero rate of employer’s contribution.  The seven new categories are valid from 6th April and must be applied from the first salary payment after 5th April 2015 to benefit from the new zero contribution rate for employers.

What does this have to do with Auto Enrolment?

You need to have proof of age for all your employees aged under 21 to claim the zero contribution rate for employer’s National Insurance.  By the time of your staging date you must assess all your workers, based on their earnings and age.  To help you prepare for Pension Auto Enrolment you can make sure that all your employee records are up to date and that your payroll software has the full details for all workers including their date of birth.  This is a good opportunity to clean up all your employee data.

Alterledger can help

For more information on saving employer’s national insurance and preparing for Pension Auto Enrolment, contact Alterledger or visit the website alterledger.com.

 

What a difference a day makes

How about three extra days?

HMRC has relaxed the rules on “Real Time Information” for payroll reporting.  UK employers are required to send electronic reports to HMRC with each payment of wages to employees.  HMRC are now saying that you can submit your RTI report up to three days after the payment date without incurring a penalty.

Any employer who has received an in-year late filing penalty for the period 6 October 2014 to 5 January 2015 and filed within three days, should appeal online by completing the “Other” box and add “Return filed within 3 days”.

Outsource your payroll

Despite the relaxation provided by three extra days, the burden on employers is only likely to increase over the coming months.  Auto enrolment is being rolled out to all UK employers over the next couple of years.  With the new payroll year about to start on 6th April, now is a good time to consider using a payroll bureau – or at least checking that your current systems will deal effectively with auto enrolment pensions.  For more information please and see how Alterledger can help please click here.

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

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