The Office of Tax Simplification has made a number of recommendations to the government to simplify the tax rules for reporting benefits in kind and expenses paid on behalf of directors and employees.
One recommendation was to replace a number of extra statutory concessions and legislate that trivial benefits in kind, where the cost to the employer is no more than £50, will not need to be reported in future and will be exempt from tax. HM Revenue and Customs raised concerns that some directors of family companies might abuse the new rules and have insisted that the exemption should be limited to £300 per annum in the case of directors and family members of such companies and this has now been included in the draft Finance Bill to be introduced from 6 April 2016.
The exemption is expected to cover the provision of small gifts to employees and former employees such as flowers on the occasion of a wedding or funeral and should not be in recognition of particular services performed by the employee in the course of their employment.
Please get in touch with us for further guidance on which benefits will qualify for this new exemption.
One of the controversial measures included in the draft Finance Bill 2016 was the proposed restriction of the deduction for travel and subsistence expenses incurred by certain workers caught by the IR35 rules. This proposed change was consulted on during summer 2015 and, if enacted, will significantly restrict the tax relief available for those affected.
The original proposals have been toned down to a certain extent and will only apply if the IR35 rules apply to the engagement and there is supervision, direction and control (SDC) over the worker. This now seems to be the key test to determine whether the new rules will apply and ignores the other employment status factors. The examples in the consultation document seem to suggest that if there is no expertise within the end user organisation then there is likely to be limited SDC and the worker will be entitled to relief for travelling to the client’s premises.
Any tax debt arising from the deliberate misapplication of the rules is to be transferred ‘jointly and severally’ from the ‘intermediary company’ to its director(s). It would appear that the ‘engager’ will not now be liable, which was one of the proposals in the consultation. It is intended that these rules will be implemented where it can be shown that the ‘intermediary’ had knowingly failed to apply the rules correctly.
Please get in touch with us if these new rules are likely to have an impact on your business.
Following a recent case in front of the Upper Tier Tax Tribunal involving a doctor with a private practice (Dr Samadian), HMRC are applying the rules for business travel much more strictly.
The “wholly and exclusive” principle states that where there is both a business and a personal reason or benefit in meeting an expense, there is no tax relief for any of the expense. The doctor in question argued that as he was based at home (where he saw some of his patients and ran the business), the expenses of travelling to and from various hospitals and nursing homes should be an allowable business expense. Based on earlier cases, the Tribunal decided that the “habitual” journeys to two hospitals should not be allowed but less regular “itinerant” journeys to other locations would be allowed as a deduction.
Although this case involved a doctor, it has wide ranging implications for other self-employed individuals who operate their business from home and travel regularly to one or two locations. It will become increasingly important to keep a detailed mileage log of business journeys should HMRC challenge the deduction in the business accounts.
Many employees and employers find the current tax rules for dealing with travelling and subsistence claims difficult to understand. This is an area that the Office of Tax Simplification is seeking to make more comprehensible. Consequently, the treasury are consulting on possible changes to the rules, and the way that such expenses are reported. The government intends for any new rules to reflect, rather than drive, commercial decisions and that it will be responsive to 21st century working patterns. As is currently the case, any new system would not provide tax relief for private travel or ordinary commuting.
Note that unless the employer holds a dispensation from reporting such expenses, they need to be included on the employee’s or director’s end of the year Form P11d.
If the tax rules or reporting requirements change, we will get in touch to explain the implications for your business.