To November’s Tax Tips & News, our newsletter designed to bring you tax tips and news to keep you one step ahead of the taxman.
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|The new normal for Christmas parties?
As we approach the end of the year, thoughts may be turning towards upcoming Christmas celebrations and alike – although this year, the traditional work’s Christmas party is likely to look very different.
Whilst the tax legislation does not include a specific allowance for an employer providing a Christmas party for employees, HMRC do allow limited tax relief against the cost providing social functions. Relief will still be available even where such an event is being held in a different format due to the coronavirus restrictions – possibly even ‘virtually’, providing certain conditions are met.
A social event – which of course, includes the annual Christmas party – will qualify as a tax-free benefit if the following conditions are satisfied:
– the total cost must not exceed £150 per head, per year;
The ‘cost per head’ of an event is the total cost (including VAT) of providing:
a) the event, and
divided by the number of those persons.
Provided the £150 limit is not exceeded, any number of parties or events may be held during the tax year, for example, there could be three parties held at various times, each costing £50 per head.
Note however, that the £150 is a limit, not an allowance – if the limit is exceeded by just £1, the whole amount must be reported to HMRC.
For the employer, the cost of staff events is tax deductible for the business. Specifically, the legislation includes a let-out clause, which means that entertaining staff is not treated for tax in the same way as customer entertaining. The expenses will be shown separately in the business accounts – usually as ‘staff welfare’ costs or similar.
There is no monetary limit on the amount that an employer can spend on an annual function. If a staff party costs more than £150 per head, the cost will still be an allowable deduction, but the employees will have a liability to pay tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) arising on the benefit-in-kind.
The employer may agree to settle any tax charge arising on behalf of the employees. This may be done using a HMRC PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA), which means that the benefits do not need to be taxed under PAYE, or included on the employees’ forms P11D. The employer’s tax liability under the PSA must be paid to HMRC by 19 October following the end of the tax year to which the payment relates.
The full cost of staff parties and/or events will be disallowed for tax if it is found that the entertainment of staff is in fact incidental to that of entertaining customers.
VAT-registered businesses can claim back input VAT on the costs, but this may be restricted where this includes entertaining customers.
HMRC review of import VAT deducted as input tax by non-owners
HMRC have recently clarified the correct treatment for the deduction of import VAT paid by a taxable person who is not the owner of the relevant goods.
Following the publication on HMRC Brief 2 (2019), which restated the long-standing policy of who is entitled to reclaim VAT paid on imports under current UK legislation, HMRC received a number of representations from businesses and business representatives about the application of the rules in specific cases. HMRC’s have now completed their review and have confirmed that the policy outlined Brief 2 (2019) is correct.
It is the owner, whose details (EORI) should be shown in box 8 of the import declaration, who is eligible to reclaim the import VAT, either in accordance with:
– VATA 1994, s 24 (if registered for VAT in the UK); or
HMRC looked at a number of specific examples raised by various businesses and representatives, these included:
From 1 January 2021, UK VAT registered businesses will be able to use postponed VAT accounting to account for import VAT on their VAT return for goods imported for use in their business from anywhere in the world.
Where a business initially declares goods to customs warehousing or into some other customs special procedure, they can use postponed VAT accounting when they submit the declaration that releases those goods into free circulation.
Businesses do not need to be authorised to use postponed VAT accounting, they simply make the appropriate entry on their customs declaration.
Ordinarily, postponed VAT accounting is not mandatory and businesses can start to use it at any time after 1 January 2021.
However, businesses must use postponed VAT accounting if they import non-controlled goods from the EU to Great Britain from 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021, and either defer their supplementary customs declaration, or use simplified customs declaration process where authorised and make an entry in declarants records.
As with existing processes, it is the owner of the goods who is using the goods in the course of their business who can use postponed VAT accounting. It means they can declare and recover import VAT on the same VAT return, subject to the normal rules on input tax deduction.
For businesses who currently import goods from non-EU countries, this relieves them from having to pay for the import VAT upfront through their deferment account. Non-owners cannot use postponed VAT accounting.
For further details, see HMRC Brief 15 (2020).
November Questions and Answers
Q. I am self-employed and my business has been struggling this year due to the coronavirus. I opted to defer my 31 July 2020 tax payment but I’m worried that I will not have the cash to pay the whole amount by the end of January 2021. What can I do?
A: The government is allowing self-employed people to defer self-assessment payments due, to help them manage their cash flow during the pandemic.
The government allowed taxpayers to defer their second 2019-20 self-assessment payment on account due on 31 July 2020 until 31 January 2021. The deferment was automatic which means that no late payment penalties or interest will be charged for the deferral period.
On 24 September 2020, the government announced that self-assessment payments due on 31 January 2021 (including payments on account deferred from 31 July 2020) can be paid by instalments over the 12 months to January 2022.
Taxpayers can apply for a payment plan by contacting HMRC’s time to pay self-assessment helpline (0300 200 3822), or taxpayers with up to £30,000 of self-assessment liabilities can use HMRC’s self-service time to pay facility. Interest is payable on time to pay instalments, but if the plan is set up prior to the payments becoming due there should be no late payment penalties.
Q. I am employed and pay tax on my salary at the basic rate through PAYE. I have no other income and do not complete an annual self-assessment return. My wife works part-time and earns £10,000 per annum and does not pay any tax. Can her personal allowances be transferred to me?
A: It is possible for a spouse or civil partner who is not liable to income tax or not liable above the basic rate for a tax year to transfer part of their personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner, provided that the recipient of the transfer is not liable to income tax above the basic rate. The transferor’s personal allowance will be reduced by the same amount.
For 2020/21 the amount that can be transferred is £1,250. The person receiving the allowance will be entitled to a reduced income tax liability of up to £250 for 2020/21. Note that married couples or civil partnerships entitled to claim the married couple’s allowance (for people born before 1935) are not, however, entitled to make a transfer.
Eligible couples can backdate their claim for the allowance for up to four years. This means that couples will have until 5 April 2021 to backdate a claim to the 2016/17 tax year.
Q. Why it is important to differentiate between items that are zero-rated for VAT and those that are exempt?
A: Although both zero-rated and exempt supplies result in no VAT being applied to the supply, the consequence is very different between them and it is important to get it right.
Zero-rating is a rate of VAT, albeit at zero per cent. The goods and/or services to which it applies are taxable supplies. This in turn renders any supplier of zero-rated goods and/or services liable to register for VAT, where appropriate (see the GOV.uk website at www.gov.uk/vat-registration for further information on registration). The advantage of VAT registration is that VAT can be reclaimed on costs.
However, a business making solely exempt supplies is not making taxable supplies, so cannot register for VAT. Consequently, all VAT incurred upon expenditure becomes an additional irrecoverable cost.
Where a supply could be either zero-rated or exempt, zero-rating takes priority.
November Key Tax Dates
1 – Due date for payment of Corporation Tax for the year ended 31 January 2020
2 – Last day for car change notifications in the quarter to 5 October – Use P46 Car
19/22 – PAYE/NIC, student loan and CIS deductions due for month to 5/11/2020