HMRC OFFERS TIPS ON AVOIDING SELF ASSESSMENT TAX SCAMS

HMRC is giving information to taxpayers to help them avoid scams ahead of the Self Assessment deadline.

HMRC is warning millions of Self Assessment taxpayers to be aware of fraudsters in the run up to the 31 January deadline.

Over the last year, HMRC received almost 900,000 reports from the taxpayers about suspicious HMRC contact, in the form of phone calls, texts or emails. Of these more than 100,000 were phone scams and over 620,000 reports related to bogus tax rebates.

According to HMRC the most common techniques fraudsters use include phoning taxpayers offering a fake tax refund, or pretending to be HMRC by texting or emailing a link to a false page, where their bank details and money will be stolen. Fraudsters are also known to threaten victims with arrest or imprisonment if a bogus tax bill is not paid immediately.

HMRC’s Customer Protection team identify and close down scams but taxpayers should recognise the signs to avoid becoming victims. HMRC does not contact taxpayers asking for their PIN, password or bank details. Taxpayers are warned that they should never give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in texts or emails which they are not expecting.

HMRC COUNTDOWN: FILE YOUR TAX RETURN

With less than 100 days until the self assessment tax return deadline of 31 January 2020, HMRC is urging taxpayers to complete their tax returns early, in order to avoid the last minute rush.

HMRC report that last year more than 2,000 people submitted their tax returns on Christmas Day. Taxpayers should consider submitting their returns early to avoid the stress of a last minute rush.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said:

‘The deadline for completing Self Assessment tax returns is only 100 days away, yet, so many of us wait until January to start the process. Avoid the last minute rush by completing your tax returns on time and then enjoy the upcoming festive period.

We want to help people get their tax returns right – starting the process early and giving yourself time to gather all the information you need will help avoid that stressful, late rush to file.’

Not all taxpayers need to complete a tax return as tax is automatically deducted from the majority of UK taxpayers’ wages, pensions or savings. For people or businesses where tax is not automatically deducted, or when they may have earned additional untaxed income, they are required to complete a Self Assessment tax return each year.

HMRC is also reminding people who are liable for the High Income Child Benefit Charge that they may need to file a tax return before the deadline. Those with income over £50,000 who receive child benefit, or those whose partner gets it, are liable for the charge. Taxpayers can check their annual income via their P60 or Personal Tax Account, and use HMRC’s child benefit tax calculator.

The deadline for filing paper tax returns was 31 October 2019 and the deadline for online tax returns and paying any tax owed is 31 January 2020. If taxpayers miss the deadline, they face a minimum £100 penalty for late submission.

Contact us for help with your self assessment tax return.

VAT DOMESTIC REVERSE CHARGE FOR BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION SERVICES DELAYED

HMRC has announced a one-year delay to the introduction of the VAT domestic reverse charge for building and construction services.

The reverse charge represents part of a government clamp-down on VAT fraud. According to the government, large amounts of VAT are lost through ‘missing trader’ fraud. As part of missing trader fraud, VAT is charged by a supplier, who then disappears, along with the output tax. The VAT is thus lost to HMRC. The construction industry is considered a particularly high-risk sector.

The reverse charge when introduced will not change the VAT liability but instead it will change the way that VAT is accounted for. In the future, the recipient of the services, rather than the supplier, will account for VAT on specified building and construction services. This is called a reverse charge. The reverse charge is a business-to-business charge, applying to VAT-registered businesses where payments are required to be reported through the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).

The charge was due to come into effect on 1 October 2019. It has now been delayed by 12 months until 1 October 2020 due to fears that businesses in the construction sector were not ready.

HMRC says it remains ‘committed to the introduction of the reverse charge’, and has put a robust compliance strategy into place in order to tackle fraud in the construction sector.

If you require any further information or help regarding this, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) are the legal minimum wage rates that must be paid to employees. Employers are liable to be penalised for not complying with the NMW and NLW rules.

There are different levels of NMW and NLW, depending on age and whether the employee is an apprentice. The rates are due to increase from 1 April 2019 as shown in the following table:

  FROM 1 APRIL 2018 (£) FROM 1 APRIL 2019 (£)
NLW for workers aged 25 and over 7.83 8.21
NMW main rate for workers aged 21-24 7.38 7.70
NMW 18-20 rate 5.90 6.15
NMW 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 4.20 4.35
NMW apprentice rate * 3.70 3.90

*for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

There are no exemptions from paying the NMW on the grounds of the size of the business.

If you would like help with payroll matters please get in touch.

PENSIONS AUTO ENROLMENT CONTRIBUTIONS TO RISE

Minimum pension contributions are set to increase from 6 April 2019:

DURATION EMPLOYER MINIMUM (%) TOTAL MINIMUM CONTRIBUTION (%)
Current contributions 2 5
6 April 2019 onwards 3 8

The Pensions Regulator has produced guidance for employers on dealing with the increase including a letter template to advise employees of the change.  

Contact us if you would like help with auto enrolment.

START DATE LOOMING FOR MAKING TAX DIGITAL FOR VAT

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, has made a statement to the House of Commons setting out HMRC’s progress on delivery of Making Tax Digital (MTD). He confirmed there would be no further delays in implementation.

For most businesses, compliance with the regulations is mandated for VAT return periods beginning on or after 1 April 2019. However, MTD for VAT for some ‘more complex’ businesses has been deferred until 1 October 2019. This deferral applies to trusts; not for profit organisations not set up as companies; VAT divisions; VAT groups; public sector entities such as government departments and NHS Trusts, which have to provide additional information on their VAT return; local authorities; public corporations; traders based overseas; those required to make payments on account; annual accounting scheme users.

Contact us for help and advice on MTD for VAT.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OWEN ON PASSING HIS AAT EXAM

We would like to congratulate Owen on passing his AAT level 3 Management accounting exam.

Owen is looking forward to starting his next module Advanced bookkeeping, we wish him all the best for his studies and for the exam

UNBELIEVABLE EXCUSES’ FOR LATE FILING OF TAX RETURNS

HMRC has revealed some of the most ‘bizarre excuses’ taxpayers have given for failing to file their self assessment tax return on time.

Excuses included ‘I’m too short to reach the post box’, and ‘my boiler had broken and my fingers were too cold to type’. One taxpayer claimed that a junior member of staff ‘forgot to wear their glasses’, and accidentally registered a client for self assessment. Another told HMRC that their mother-in-law was a witch, and that she had put a curse on the taxpayer, which prevented them from filing their tax return on time.

In addition to these excuses, HMRC also stated that, every year, they receive some unconvincing expenses claims.

One individual attempted to claim £40 for ‘extra woolly underwear’, whilst another taxpayer tried to claim £756 for pet insurance. Meanwhile, a carpenter attempted to claim £900 for a 55-inch TV and sound bar, which he claimed would ‘help him price his jobs’.

HMRC Director General of Customer Services, Angela MacDonald, said:

‘Help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time, but it’s unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.’

 

Internet link: GOV.UK news

SPRING STATEMENT DATE ANNOUNCED

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has announced that the government will respond to the forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in the Spring Statement on Wednesday 13 March 2019.

The Chancellor may take the opportunity to announce tax changes and consultations.

PENSION CONTRIBUTION INCREASES AHEAD

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is reminding employers that from 6 April 2019, the amount that will need to be paid into a workplace pension will increase to an overall minimum of 8%, with employers contributing at least 3% of this total amount.

TPR is now starting to write to all employers to remind them of their duties. TRP website provides further information on the increases and a link to a letter template advising employees of the increase.

TPR is advising employers that they should also check with their payroll software provider and pension provider to ensure plans are in place ahead of 6 April 2019.

Please contact us if you would like help with your payroll or pensions auto enrolment compliance.