News

Taxbreaks – May 2016

Welcome to taxbreaks, your regular update designed to keep you informed of the latest business and tax issues.

Parking fines ruled not deductible 

A tribunal has ruled that security firm G4S cannot reduce its profits for tax purposes by deducting parking fines.

The company, G4S Cash Solutions, tried to reduce their corporation tax bill by approximately £580,000 but the first-tier tribunal has ruled in HMRC’s favour in rejecting the claim for the deduction of the fines.

The company G4S incurred a substantial amount of parking fines usually while delivering consignments of cash over the pavement. The business tried to claim these were a business expense and so could be used to reduce the company’s profits for tax purposes.

The tribunal ruled G4S staff consciously and deliberately decided to break parking restrictions for commercial gain.

The ruling upholds HMRC’s long standing view that fines for breaking the law cannot be used to reduce a tax bill.

HMRC’s Director General of Business Tax, Jim Harra, said:

‘We’ve always said fines incurred for breaking the law are not tax deductible. The tribunal has now established a clear precedent for rejecting any future such claims.’

Farmers’ averaging  

Changes have been made to the rules which allow farmers to average their profits for tax purposes. Under the new rules unincorporated farmers will be able to average their profits for income tax purposes over five years rather than the previous two years.

The amendment to the rules which took effect from 6 April 2016 is aimed at helping farmers with fluctuating profits better manage the ‘risk and the impact of global volatility which has become an inherent feature of the agricultural industry’.

Chancellor George Osborne said:

‘… reforms will provide farmers with additional security to plan and invest for the future, allowing them to spread profits over a longer period of time. Over 29,000 farmers can benefit from the changes, saving an average of £950 a year.’

As well as having the new option to average tax over five years, farmers will also retain the choice to average profits over two years.

VAT fuel scale charges

HMRC have issued details of the updated VAT fuel scale charges which apply from the beginning of the next prescribed VAT accounting period starting on or after 1 May 2016.

VAT registered businesses use the fuel scale charges to account for VAT on private use of road fuel purchased by the business.

Pensions Freedom Update 

According to HMRC figures over 230,000 people have used the new pension freedoms introduced one year ago and accessed over £4.3 million in pensions saving.

In April 2015, the government introduced significant pension reforms giving people the ability to access their pensions savings how and when they want. The statistics show that in the first year of these new rules being available, more than 232,000 people have accessed £4.3 billion flexibly from their pension pots.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Harriett Baldwin said:

‘It’s only right that people should have a choice over what they do with their money and in their first year our successful pension freedoms have already given thousands of people access and responsibility over their hard-earned savings.

We will continue to make sure that the pension freedoms work well for everyone, including through working with our partners to ensure consumers are protected and that there is simple information to help people understand their options.

The government has already taken action to ensure the new freedoms work for consumers and that they have the right information to make informed decisions.

It has announced that it will be capping early exit fees, allowing earlier access to Pension Wise guidance, and working with industry to introduce a Pensions Dashboard.

It has also announced that it is extending the popular freedoms even further, giving millions more people the right to sell their annuities if it’s best for them from April 2017.’

Since the pension flexibility rules took effect from 6 April 2015:

  • 232,000 individuals have accessed their money flexibly
  • People have flexibly accessed over £4.3 billion of their own money through 516,000 payments.
  • In the most recent quarter, 74,000 individuals withdrew £820 million. In the previous quarter, 67,000 individuals withdrew £800 million.
  • Figures are taken from information voluntarily reported to HMRC by pension scheme administrators from 6 April 2015 to 31 March 2016. It is not mandatory for scheme administrators to flag these up as pension flexibility payments until April 2016.
  • HMRC statistics cover ‘flexible payments’, which means partial or full withdrawal of the pension pot, taking money from a flexible drawdown account, or buying a flexible annuity.

Register of people with significant control  

From April 2016, rules are introduced which require companies to keep a register of people with significant control (PSC register). In addition, the details of people with significant control (PSCs) will have to be filed with Companies House from 30 June 2016.

A PSC is defined as an individual that:

  • holds, directly or indirectly, more than 25% of the shares or voting rights in the company; or
  • holds the right, directly or indirectly, to appoint or remove a majority of the board of directors of the company; or
  • has the right to exercise, or actually exercises, significant influence or control over the company; or
  • where a trust or firm would satisfy any of the above conditions, any individual that has the right to exercise, or actually exercises, significant influence or control over the activities of that trust or firm.

The details of the individuals which need to be entered on the PSC register include:

  • name and address
  • usual residential address, country of residence and nationality
  • date of birth
  • date when they became a PSC
  • the nature of their control over the company.

Failure to comply with the requirements of the PSC regime could lead to the company or directors, or identified PSCs committing a criminal offence. The company and its directors could face a fine or imprisonment or both.