* You are viewing the archive for the ‘HMRC’ Category

A brief history of my time in tax

Income taxImage by alancleaver_2000 via Flickr

I am not going to tell you how long I have been working in tax, but suffice it to say I have a lot of experience. Things have changed so much that it seems to me that the public in general still entertains ideas about tax which are long outdated if indeed they were ever correct in the first place.Once upon a time in the UK tax system, people did not get … Continue Reading

What are golden hellos?

Having talked about golden handshakes I ought to mention the “golden hello”, which is a payment made to a future director or employee. It is just possible (only just!)that a payment received from someone other than the new employer – a third party – could be construed as non-taxable. Where a lump sum payment is made to a prospective new employee, it will be taxed as advance pay for future services unless it represents compensation for some right or asset given up on taking up the employment. An example going back to the 1950s was where an … Continue Reading

What are golden handshakes?

Golden handshakes are payments to an individual upon termination of employment and may also be known as lump sum payments.There are cases where such payments are not taxed at all, which are those post-death when an employee has died in service, and in some cases payments due to disability may qualify for exemption. Those are outside the norm.For the most part termination payments are taxable under special rules. The first £30,000 of a leaving payment will be exempt from tax if it is an ex-gratia payment and therefore non-contractual. One may have to make the case … Continue Reading

Weighing up whether your workers are employed or self-employed

There was an interesting tax case before the First Tier Tax Tribunal in respect of which the decision was announced in February. It was much reported in the tax press and tax circles, but also in the national broadsheets. The case involved a very well known company, Weight Watchers Limited, which is a subsidiary of Weight Watchers International. The case was not remarkable in the sense that many people treated as self-employed have subsequently been found to be employed, and it was unremarkable also in that the usual tests were applied, which are in respect of the amount … Continue Reading

Accountants’ tax “amnesty” – I was joking, you know!

When I wrote about the Tax Health Plan proposed by HMRC, and asked which profession might be next, I was joking when I added accountants to my list; really I was. My idle fantasy might be about to come true as it is reported “Accountants could be next for tax amnesty”. Of course the original report was in the Mail, so a pinch of salt may be needed. Flattered though I am that Dave Hartnett might be one of my loyal readers, I really do not believe that accountants, tax advisers, bookkeepers or any allied … Continue Reading

Scary tax planning in a changing world

I cannot remember a time when the tax regime in Britain was in a position of such flux. As we know the cost of the banking crisis and the recession has cost the government, or at least UK plc dearly. There is a huge deficit to be made up, exacerbated by the futile policy of reducing VAT from 17.5% to 15% for thirteen months. There is talk that after the election whoever is in power will have to raise VAT to 20%. There is not much we can do to mitigate this in advance, and from the Government’s point of … Continue Reading

Fairer and more reasonable – equitable liability survives

Not all was bad news in the Pre-Budget Report. I wrote in September about HM Revenue & Customs’ intention to abolish the practice of Equitable Liability. I said that if HMRC thought they did not have a legal basis for this discretionary power then legislation could correct this. Mr. Darling is to introduce just such a measure.I think this is a rare victory for the taxpayer and I congratulate Keith Gordon for his campaign and petition which I feel must have contributed to this change of heart.

Dodging the Excise Men – encouraging a tax evasion society

In my business we frown upon tax evasion. It is our duty to uphold the law through helping our clients in their self assessment of their income, profits and their company accounts. We have to tread a firmer line than Joe or Jo Public, though unrepresented taxpayers may make mistakes in the Revenue’s favour as well as their own. It is my experience that they do.This week we have seen further hikes in taxation, principally through National Insurance and more obviously the return to 17.5% VAT. Personal Allowances are frozen for next year, so there will be some … Continue Reading

Amateur tax management and why businesses need professional tax advice

I had a telephone call this week from a chap who said “I am phoning because I want to start a company”. My immediate reaction after thanking him for the call was to ask why he needed a company, if he meant a limited company. This is because from the tax point of view it is not necessarily a good idea to have a company, and there needs to be a commercial reason if profits are going to be limited initially or there might be trading losses which would be useful to an individual who is a current taxpayer-employee, or … Continue Reading

Tax disenfranchisement

It was reported this last week that 1.5 million UK pensioners are paying too much tax which is because too much is being deducted from their occupational and private pensions and from any employment earnings they have. Once upon a time of course, most pensioners with taxable income of any sort had to complete tax returns. Since the introduction of Self Assessment in 1996-97 and increased automation and exchange of information as well as significant job cuts in what has become HM Revenue & Customs, far fewer people have to complete tax returns. In itself this is sensible, because why … Continue Reading