Spring Statement

Everything at the moment feels rather provisional. A high likelihood this year of some mid-tax year changes, depending on what happens or doesn’t with Brexit.

The new digital platform for VAT is going ahead from April 2019. The information needed and the rules on what is included in the VAT return stay the same. It is the method of storing and transmitting the information to HMRC which are changing. Further details on my Making Tax Digital page.

Digital returns for income tax are not planned until 2021 at the earliest.

Budget Day 2018

A great deal of spending was outlined, all worthwhile and much sorely needed, including for example funds going into mental health services, help for small retailers, and some measures to take the sting out of the move to Universal Credit. Pledges to ‘leave more of people’s hard-earned money in their pockets’ include raising the tax-free personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher-rate (40%) threshold to £50,000 in April 2019, earlier than preannounced.

On first glance, it isn’t obvious to me where the savings or extra tax are coming from to balance these (although the Chancellor seems willing to accept a greater deficit for longer, and a new Digital Services Tax has been announced to tax giant online businesses trading in the UK). I shall be looking carefully to see whether ‘Fiscal Phil’ has in fact made some unannounced, ‘back door’ tax increases in the detail of the Budget documents. Otherwise, it feels as though in the face of storm warnings, the rainy day fund is being spent. And not on umbrellas.

Detail will be added into my BUDGET NEWS page (above) as I go. I certainly see the freezing of the VAT registration threshold for a further two years as a revenue raiser, because this will mean that more traders will need to register for VAT in the coming years.

Scam contact

Bogus ‘HMRC’ emails offering tax refunds have been going round for some while.

More recently, telephone scams have started up. As one of my clients has recently received one of these calls, which was very unpleasant even though they saw through it, I thought I would alert others to this.

Clients are always welcome to forward on to me any suspect emails about tax. A phone call, especially one calculated to be alarming, is harder to deal with in the moment. There is always the option to end the call saying that you would like to speak to your adviser, or just put the phone down without giving a reason. Any scam relating to tax will always hinge on tax owed – either an overdue payment, or a repayment owed by HMRC. Your tax position can quickly be checked by me or by clients with online access to Government Gateway, which usually removes any doubt as to whether a call is genuine.

Meanwhile, the usual precautions over giving any details, especially bank details, over phone or email apply if you are unsure where these are going.

HMRC publishes details of typical scams here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/phishing-and-bogus-emails-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples/phishing-emails-and-bogus-contact-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples

Spring Statement 2018

An overview of the Chancellor’s future plans. Not the Budget. And not a great deal about tax, other than a proposal to bring in a tax on disposable plastics. This follows the trend of the plastic-bag charge already in place.

No immediate changes to the tax rates and rules already announced in the autumn 2017 Budget: these are already in legislation passed back in November.

Tax tables will go out early April to clients, showing current tax rates and allowances.

Budget Day

We are into the new Budget calendar. Instead of a spring Budget, we now have an Autumn Budget with a spring statement from next year to pre-announce some changes. The revised calendar is potentially good news, with more notice of changes for the next tax year going forward. Though this does depend on whether the Government sticks to what has been announced. The backtracking on Class 4 NICs (going up/going back down) and the recent Class 2 NIC change (it was about to go, now it’s back in for at least another year) suggests there is still a rather whimsical selectiveness as to whether measures announced are then followed through.

Today it is expected that the Chancellor will focus mainly on housing issues. I shall add details later today on key points relating to tax – see BUDGET NEWS above.

Making Tax Digital – small steps

A new and longer-term timetable for the Making Tax Digital project has been announced today.

This is excellent news and seems a much more realistic timescale. Currently, 2019 will signal the first move into the digital regime, but only for businesses trading about the VAT threshold (£85,000 income per year). Requirements for others to join the regime will be later, the record-keeping requirements are being relaxed, and some aspects of MTD will be voluntary for the smallest businesses.

There is a link to the announcement on the right under Tax Links in MTD latest.