HMRC can open an investigation into your tax affairs at anytime, and can request to go back up to 20 years (although it is normally no later than 6 years). When you receive a letter stating HMRC are pending an investigation, it can be a very tense and stressful time even if you have done nothing wrong.
Investigations can occur for a variety of reasons. The most frequent is an obvious mistake that HMRC can see whilst looking through the information you have submitted to them. The mistake can be on any scale of seriousness so should not be taken lightly. If you spot a mistake and tell HMRC about it, they will still have to open an investigation still but it will be less severe and strict. Sometimes, a business selected for an investigation is totally random, HMRC will pick a few businesses in an area, maybe that are tax-fraud hotspots, just to make sure there is no tax evasion going on. HMRC are also the epitome of suspicious. If your sales figure has gone drastically up or down from one year to the next or are hugely different to the industry average, they will look into why this is.
The letter from HMRC will normally have clues on it as to why you are being investigated. It will also detail what direction the investigation will be taking. When you receive this letter, the emphasis is to act fast as if you do not have all the required information ready and at hand when the investigation starts, you will be seen as unorganised.
HMRC have the ability to request information from third-parties such as banks and other businesses. This is the extreme as normally they will look for co-operation, from the person being investigated, which will not only speed the whole process, but reduce any fines or penalties incurred. This can be just allowing them access to your files or it could be letting them interview you for a day. If you have made clear and obvious mistakes but do not allow HMRC access to your documents, the fine can be doubled, making it much worse for you.
The effect of not co-operating on your business is as follows:
The general trend is that it is at this stage people will go and ask for professional help. The best people to see are tax accountants such as Tax Affinity Accountants who can help in various ways with the investigation. Some are below:
Even when the investigation has finished, there is no guarantee that you will not be investigated again. If you were randomly investigated one year and then the next year your profit figure increased dramatically, you could well actually be at risk of being investigated again. HMRC will not take to kindly either if you have already been found to be responsible in a previous investigation and then continue to make mistakes in subsequent years.
This blog might seem all doom and gloom but regulations are in place for the amount of tax that should be paid by either businesses or individuals. HMRC just apply this regulation as it would be unfair for some people to get away with not paying enough tax. If you have done nothing wrong, or even make an innocent mistake, HMRC will not be aggressive or disruptive. If you co-operative with them, they will ensure the investigation is as pain free for you as possible.
A Tax Accountant’s expertise and experience will help you greatly both financially and emotionally. As the fees that you may have to pay will be far outweighed by the amount of tax saved in direct negotiations with HMRC.
They know what the situation is and what the next move by HMRC will probably be. This means that anything unusual going on by HMRC will be noticed and prevents you from submitting too much information or making the investigation drag on longer than it should. The key is to co-operate with both your Tax Accountant and HMRC so the investigation is over quickly and as
By Owen Cain at Tax Affinity Accountants
BUDGET 2014 HIGHLIGHTS
The personal allowance is the amount of income you can receive each year without having to pay tax on it. This amount is to increase to £10,000 for 2014/15 and to £10,500 for 2015/16. The basic rate taxpayer will see a saving of about £112 in 2014-15 and a further £100 in 2015-16 on their annual income tax bill.
HIGHER RATE TAX PAYERS
The threshold for which individuals pay tax at the higher rate of 40% will increase by 1% for both tax years.
ANNUAL INVESTMENT ALLOWANCE
For businesses, the annual investment allowance will increase from £250,000 to £500,000 until 31 December 2015.
HIGHER ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION LIMIT FOR INDIVIDUAL SAVINGS ACCOUNTS FROM 1 JULY 2014
The chancellor has announced big changes to the Individual Savings Accounts (ISA). The new policy means that, from July onwards, it will be possible to save up to £15,000 in total. Furthermore, the whole sum could be in cash unlike before where only half of the limit could be saved in cash and the rest in shares. Also, the 10p tax rate for savers will be abolished.
CLASS 2 NIC
From April 2016, Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (NIC) will be collected through self-assessment.
Parents paying 80% of childcare costs of up to £10,000 per child, aged up to 12, to a registered provider will get the remaining 20% tax-free from September 2015.
NEW TRANSFERABLE TAX ALLOWANCE
From April 2015, there will be an introduction to a new transferable tax allowance for married couples and civil partners.
All tax restrictions on pensioners' access to their pension pots to be removed, ending the requirement to buy an annuity. The taxable part of pension pot taken as cash on retirement to be charged at normal income tax rate, down from 55%. There is an increase in total pension savings people can take as a lump sum to £30,000
By Wilson Law at Tax Affinity Accountants
Tax Affinity Accountants are experts in Tax and Accountancy. Based in Kingston upon Thames they are considered to be small business experts helping and supporting business in the UK. They regularly help new business start up and provide valuable support for new businesses.
For more information visit www.taxaffinity.com. To read more interesting articles like this visit www.taxaffinity.com/blog. Please feel free to comment and share this with your friends.
No one in the UK likes paying the taxman. So here's how to pay less tax!
Research by professionals claim we’ll collectively gift the taxman £12.6 billion, or £421 per taxpayer, this year.
Tax Action reports highlight ten examples of tax wastage, either benefits we’re not claiming or tax breaks we’re not using.
Some of the biggest area of wastage in the report highlight income-related tax credits, which include Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits and Pension Credits.
The public's failing to take advantage of the tax relief available on pension contributions is the second biggest waste, with not using tax relief on charity donations third.
Here are the top ten list of biggest tax wastes:
List of Tax wastage and their amount of wastage:
Income-related Tax Credits: £7.26 billion
Tax relief on pension contributions: £2.45 billion
Tax relief on charity donations: £997 million
Savings on Inheritance Tax: £448 million
Making use of ISAs: £403 million
Child Benefit: £401 million
Avoiding penalties for late filing of tax return: £307 million
Savings on Capital Gains Tax: £133 million
Making use of Employee Share Schemes: £118 million
Income tax and Personal Allowances: £83 million
Total: £12.6 billion
So it should become clear where you’re paying tax unnecessarily, So to help we at Tac Affinity Accountants are going to show you six ways you can stop wasting your money and pay less tax.
Have an ISA One problem with saving money in a standard savings account is that you have to pay tax on any interest you earn on those savings. And with interest rates so low on many savings accounts right now, this really is the last thing we all need.
Related how-to guide Cut your tax bill by thousands Tax may be an inevitable fact of life, but there’s no reason to pay more than you have to!
So to avoid this, make sure you invest in an ISA. This is a tax-free way of saving and you can invest up to £10,680 in an ISA each tax year. You can invest the full amount in a stocks and shares ISA, or you can split your investment between a cash ISA (up to £5,430) and a stocks and shares ISA.
You can also stash tax-free cash for your children by opening a Junior ISA (up to £3,600 during the current tax year) or by saving into an existing Child Trust Fund (the savings limit on these have now been raised to £3,600 a year in line with the Junior ISA limit). We took a look at the top Junior ISAs on the market at the moment inthe article Your child could earn 6% from an ISA. Or you could consider starting a pension for them. Find out more about all these tax-efficient savings options for children in Top tax havens for babies, children and teens.
By using a pension to save for retirement, you’ll also avoid paying tax. That’s because your pension contributions qualify for tax relief. So if you’re a basic rate taxpayer, you’ll qualify for tax relief at a rate of 20%. Meanwhile, higher rate taxpayers qualify for tax relief at a rate of 40% and additional rate taxpayers will get 50%.
So pensions are a great way to build up a tax-free nest egg for your retirement. That said, once you start to claim your pension income, you will have to pay income tax.
You should note that the amount you can contribute to your pension is now limited to £50,000 a year.
If you’re a taxpayer, but your partner isn’t, a great way to save tax is to transfer any income producing assets to his/her name and receive the lower tax rate by using his/her personal allowance. Your personal allowance is the amount of money you can earn before having to pay tax.
The list below shows the personal allowance for the current tax year and next:
Allowance for those aged 65-74
Allowance for those aged 75+
4. Tax Code
Your employer uses a tax code to calculate how much tax should be deducted from your pay. But how many of us actually bother to check our tax code to see if it’s correct?
Your tax code is made up of a few numbers and a letter. If you multiply the numbers as a whole by ten, that’s how much money you can earn before you start paying tax. The most common number is 747, as for most people it’s only once you earn more than £7,475 that you start paying tax.
Meanwhile, the letter refers to your tax status and how that affects the preceding number. The most common letter is L, meaning you qualify for the basic personal allowance.
If you check your tax code and you think there’s been a mistake, you need to contact your tax office. In some cases you can claim up to £1,300 of your tax back.
5. Give it away
In each tax year, you can gift up to £250 to as many people as you like, completely free of inheritance tax. Just bear in mind you can’t give a larger sum of money and claim exemption for the first £250.
You can also give away £3,000 in total each tax year and if you don’t use your full allowance, you can carry it over into the next tax year. However, you can’t combine this £3,000 allowance with a £250 gift to the same person.
Wedding or civil partnership ceremony gifts are also exempt from inheritance tax – although there are limits to this:
Gifts to UK charities are also tax-free. So its worth finding out how to cut your tax bill without the effort of complex tax planning.
6. Capital Gains Tax allowance
Each of us has a yearly capital gains tax (CGT) allowance (£10,600 in 2011/2012), so only gains above this band will be liable to CGT.
In other words, each of us can make profits of £10,600 each tax year from selling assets or investments before we have to pay tax.
Any profits made above this level will be subject to tax at 18%, or 28% if you’re a higher-rate taxpayer.
So each year, before the tax year end, consider selling assets to use up your allowance and make a tax-free profit. It’s a good idea to spread this over a couple of years to make the most of your allowance. For example, if you sold some shares today and then more on 6 April 2012, you’d be able to take advantage of two years’ CGT allowances totalling £21,200.
Don’t forget that children also have a CGT allowance of £10,600, so if they hold an investment they can make tax-free profits up to this level each tax year.
Tax Affinity Accountants are experts in tax and accounting. For more interesting articles and help visit www.taxaffinity.com. Please feel free to comment and share this with your friends.
In the current economic climate everyone should be looking for ways to save tax. And to help, we at Tax Affinity Accountants have compiled a list to do just that.
The tax codes, allowances and deadlines
1. Tax code
Check your tax code each year (the numbers and letters on your payslip). If you're on the wrong code, you may be paying too much tax.
2. Capital gains tax allowance
Remember that capital gains under £10,600 are tax-free. Married couples and civil partners who own assets jointly can claim a double allowance of £21,200. CGT is charged at 18% if you are a standard rate taxpayer, and 28% if you pay tax at a higher rate.
3. Tax return deadlines
Don’t miss the 31 October deadline if you want to make a paper tax return. You can do your tax online up to 31 January, but paper tax returns need to be in three months earlier than online tax returns to avoid a £100 fine.
4. Annual investment allowance
If you are a landlord or run your own business, take advantage of the annual investment allowance (AIA) to claim for capital expenditure on items such as tools and computers. You can claim relief on up to £25,000 a year.
How to pay less tax if you're self-employed
5. Tax-deductible expenses
If you’re self-employed, don’t forget to claim all your tax-deductible expenses, including cash expenditure where eligible.
6. Self-employed car costs
If you're self employed, you can claim the running costs of a car, but not the cost of buying one. If you use the same car privately, you can claim a proportion of the total costs.
7. Cash-flow boost for self-employed
If you are setting up as self employed, you may be able to improve your cashflow by choosing an accounting year that ends early in the tax year. This maximises the delay between earning your profits and your final tax demand.
8. Annual losses
If you are self employed, you can carry forward losses from one year and offset them against profits from the next. See our page on when the self-employed pay tax for more.
9. Payments on account
If you are self-employed and expect to earn less in 2012-13 than you did the year before, apply to reduce any payments on account that HMRC ask you to make.
Saving tax on property income
10. Rent a room
Rent a room relief is an optional scheme that lets you receive up to £4,250 in rent each year from a lodger, tax-free. This only applies if you rent out furnished accommodation in your own home.
11. Landlord's energy-saving allowance
If you rent out property you can claim special tax allowance of up to £1,500 for insulation, draught proofing and installing a hot water system.
12. Landlord's expenses
If you rent out property, you can deduct a range of costs before declaring your taxable income. These include the wages of gardeners and cleaners, and letting agency fees.
13. Tax relief on your mortgage
You can claim tax relief on the interest on a mortgage you take out to buy a rental property – even if it the rental property is abroad.
14. Reduce capital gains tax (CGT) on a rental property
Landlords are normally liable for CGT when they sell a rental property. If it has been your main home at some time in the past, you can claim tax relief for the last three years of ownership.
Pay less tax on savings and investments
15. Isa allowance
Use your tax-free Isa allowance. This year, the overall limit is £10,680, of which £5,340 can be put into in a cash Isa.
16. No CGT on shares held in an Isa
There is no capital gains tax to pay when you sell shares or units held in an Isa. For more details see Tax on savings and investments.
17. Junior Isas
Use Junior Isas or Children’s Bonus Bonds to avoid being taxed on gifts you make to your own children.
18. Transfer assets
Transfer savings and investments to your husband, wife or civil partner if they pay a lower rate of tax than you do. See our guide to tax and your partner for more information.
19. Children's savings
Stop children being taxed at source on their savings by completing a simple form (R85) on their behalf.
Tax savings for older people
20. Age-related allowance
If you are aged 65-plus you may be eligible for an increased personal allowance. This means you pay a lower income tax rate. See Tax in retirement.
21. National Insurance
Make sure you stop making National Insurance contributions if you carry on working beyond state retirement age (currently 62 for women and 65 for men).
22. Gift Aid
If you are over 65, making donations to charity through Gift Aid can reduce your taxable income to below the threshold at which you start to lose out on age-related allowances.
23. Tax relief on gifts
If you are in a higher tax bracket, you can claim back the difference between the basic and higher rate of income tax on any Gift Aid donations.
24. Inheritance tax
Lifetime gifts are not normally counted as part of your estate for inheritance tax purposes if you live for a further seven years after making them. Known as potentially exempt transfers (PETs) they can reduce your residual estate significantly. See our blog on inheritance tax.
Tax savings through employee benefits
25. Season ticket loan
If you are a commuter, check to see if your employer will give you a tax-free loan to buy your season ticket.
26. Pool cars
Use a pool car for occasional business travel, if your employer provides these.
27. Childcare schemes and tax credits
If you are an employee and pay for childcare, ask your employer if they have a childcare scheme. Salary sacrifice childcare schemes are easy to establish and can result in substantial savings for both employees and employers. For more details see working for an employer. Child tax credits can also save you money.
28. Company car?
If you are entitled to a company car, consider whether it would be more tax-efficient to take a cash equivalent in pay instead.
29. Going green
If you are changing your company car, consider a low-emissions model . These are now taxed at a lower percentage of their list price, than cars with a high CO2 rating.
30. Pay in to a pension scheme
Contributions to your employer's pension scheme (including any additional voluntary contributions you make) can be made from your gross pay, before any tax is charged.
For the most up to date and accurate advice speak to tax accountant, as these allowances and benefits do change every year.
Tax Affinity Accountants are expert Qualified Tax Accountants in Kingston upon Thames. To read more visit www.taxaffinity.com/blog and please feel free to comment and share this with your friends.
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