Mike Tombs's Blog

This blog provides information about tax, accounting and other issues affecting small owner-managed businesses in the UK. It is intended as a general source of information but you should not assume that everything applies to your specific circumstances. We are always happy to discuss providing tailor-made solutions to suit your individul needs. Visit www.tlaservices.co.uk to sign up for our free monthly Tax Tips and News newsletter.

Monthly Archives: January 2015

Incorporating a Business

When a business incorporates and transfers its trade and assets to a company controlled by the seller, the assets must be transferred at open market value for tax purposes. The assets may include “goodwill” which is defined as the business reputation or customer relationships, including the value of continuing contracts.

The transfer of the assets may generate a taxable capital gain in the hands of the seller, as the assets will have appreciated in value during the time they were used or created by the first business.

Capital gains tax will arise on those gains, but there are various tax reliefs that can be used to postpone or reduce any tax payable. One of those reliefs is entrepreneurs’ relief, which can reduce the tax payable to only 10%.

The use of entrepreneur’ relief has been blocked for gains arising on the transfer of goodwill as part of an incorporation on or after 3 December 2014. Entrepreneurs’ relief is still available to reduce tax from gains arising on other transferred assets, but not from the goodwill.

If you are thinking of incorporating your business, we should talk about which assets you want to transfer to the company, and which you want to leave in your own name. Transferring land and buildings will often carry an additional cost of stamp duty land tax. Planning the transaction well in advance is the best way to reduce any tax payable.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

Where a child is due to be born (or adopted) on or after 5 April 2015, its parents will be entitled to share the 52 weeks of maternity leave and 39 weeks of maternity pay or maternity allowance which is currently available only to the mother. This ability to share parental leave and pay will not apply in Northern Ireland until the Northern Ireland Assembly passes the relevant regulations.

As an employer you need to be ready to deal with claims from employees to share leave and pay, and to report details of shared statutory parental pay in your RTI reports.

The parents generally have to give 8-weeks’ notice of a period of shared parental leave, which can be taken at any time within the child’s first year (or first year after adoption). The leave and pay must be taken in blocks of full weeks, but can start on any day of the week.

The parents need to self-certify that they both meet the following conditions for shared parental leave:

  • they must be employed or self-employed in Great Britain for 26 weeks in the 66 week period that ends with the week before the birth (adoption) week; and
  • they must have average earnings of £30 or more each in at least 13 of those 26 weeks.

To qualify for shared parental pay the parent must also have earned an average salary of at least the lower earnings limit (£112 for 2015/16), for the 8 weeks prior to the 15th week before the expected birth date. That pay threshold must be met by both parents if the statutory pay is to be shared.

You don’t have to check the facts supplied on self-certified claim by the parents, but you must record the name and NI number of the other parent (who is not your employee), who is sharing the leave/pay to report to HMRC. We can help you with the reporting requirements.

More on VAT MOSS Scheme

On 1 January 2015 the VAT law changed for electronic services that are supplied digitally to non-business customers. Those customers must now pay VAT on the e-service at the rate that applies in the country where they receive the service. It’s up to the supplier to work out the VAT due, and pay that VAT to the local tax authority. There is no minimum threshold of sales below which VAT is not due.

The UK has set up the VAT-MOSS system to collect and pay over the overseas VAT payable by UK based suppliers. However, in order to use the VAT-MOSS system a UK business must first be registered for UK VAT.

HMRC say a business which is not currently VAT registered in the UK, can register for UK VAT and the VAT-MOSS system in one online application. After that the small business will not have to apply VAT to its sales to customers in the UK, as long as the total value of those UK sales are below the VAT registration threshold of £81,000. This is a change in the VAT law, as previously a business which was VAT registered was required to charge VAT on all its sales from the date it became VAT registered.

HMRC make it clear that the small business does not have to formally split into two entities to use this special VAT-MOSS status, in order to protect its UK customers from VAT. Only one business entity will exist, but it will need to file nil VAT returns in the UK every quarter, and VAT-MOSS returns for the overseas VAT collected in each calendar quarter.

We can help you with those VAT returns and answer any questions you have about you overseas VAT obligations.

January 2015 Q&A

Q. My company has some surplus cash which I would like to use to support a local charity. Can the company make the donation directly or do I have to make a personal donation so it qualifies for Gift Aid, and the charity can claim the tax back?

A. Companies can make charitable donations under Gift Aid, but those gifts are made without deduction of tax, so the charity does not reclaim tax on the gift.

The company’s gift is treated as an expense and deductible from its profits as long as the company has profits for the accounting year in which the gift was made. The value of the gift cannot change a profit into a loss, increase a loss, or be carried forward as an expense for a future period. The gift must also not be subject to conditions which would make it repayable by the charity, and you or the company must not receive significant benefits from the charity.

Q. I recently turned 60 and I have an idea for a new business venture. I want to take £20,000 from my personal pension scheme to invest in my new business. Can I do that without paying tax and may I continue to make pension contributions after I extract that lump sum?

A. You will be able to make any withdrawals you wish from your pension fund after 5 April 2015. Before that date there are restrictions over how much you can withdraw, but you can still take 25% of your fund as a tax-free lump sum. Any amount taken in excess of the 25% tax-free lump sum (before or after 5 April 2015) will be taxed at your marginal tax rate, and that will depend on the level of your other income for the tax year. However, you don’t pay national insurance on your pension scheme withdrawals.

You can continue to make pension contributions after you withdraw the lump sum of £20,000, but your contributions may be capped at £10,000 per year. The conditions surrounding this cap are complex and will depend on the specific attributes of your pension scheme.

Q. I love knitting, and I sell the occasional knitting pattern I have designed through my website. Do I have to charge VAT when I sell to overseas customers? This is a tiny part of my income and I am not registered for VAT in the UK.

A. The requirement to charge VAT to the overseas non-business customers depends on exactly how you supply those knitting patterns, and where those customers are based.

If you receive an order through your website, and send out a paper version of the pattern, that is not an electronic service, so no VAT applies.

If you send out the patterns as PDF files or similar electronic images attached to an email, which is an electronic service, so you may have to charge VAT at the rate that applies in the EU County where your customer is located. However, that VAT is only chargeable if the knitting pattern is automatically delivered over the internet. This means there is little or no human intervention in the delivery process. As you sell only a few patterns to overseas customers you will probably personalise your email to each customer containing the requested pattern. That human intervention removes requirement to charge VAT to the overseas customer.