Archive for February, 2015

Year end tax planning 2014-15

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

The 2014-15 tax year finishes midnight, 5 April 2015. There are a number of tax planning opportunities that need to be considered before this date. Only a few weeks to go. If you have not already done so we recommend you speak with your professional advisor without delay.

Who should be concerned?

Tax year end planning should be considered by:

  • Anyone in business
  • Individuals who are paying income tax at the 40% or 45% rate, and
  • Individuals with multiple sources of taxable income.

All tax payers in these groups should consider their tax planning options before 6 April 2015.

What should you consider?

It is beyond the scope of this blog posting to cover all the planning issues that may be of benefit. The following list is for general information only. The strategies outlined may or may not benefit your situation as everyone’s circumstances are unique. There is no substitute for a conversation with your tax advisor.

  1. High income earners should consider options to reduce their income for tax purposes in 2014-15. For example, if your income exceeds £100,000 you will not only be paying income tax at 40%, but you will suffer a reduction in your personal tax allowance. There are a number of strategies you could consider to avoid this.
  2. If you are in business, and your accounting year end coincides with the tax year end, generally 31 March 2015, there are a number of timing issues to consider:
  1. Are you planning a significant capital purchase (equipment etc) that would qualify for the 100% write off by claiming under the Annual Investment Allowance? Would the expenditure win you more tax relief by being delayed until after 31 March?
  2. In a similar vein, should you defer significant revenue expenditure?
  1. If your business is incorporated what is the best way to extract profits in order to minimise corporation tax for your company and income tax for shareholders and directors?

 

Once the 5 April deadline passes numerous planning opportunities lapse. Please call if you would like to discuss strategies that may benefit your tax position.

Landlords Energy Saving Allowance ends 5 April 2015

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Landlords can reduce their tax bill by up to £1,500 a year with the Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance. Unless extended in the forthcoming budget, this scheme is due to end 5 April 2015.

What you can claim

You can claim Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance for the costs of buying and installing the following energy-saving products for properties you rent out:

  • cavity wall and loft insulation
  • solid wall insulation
  • draught-proofing
  • hot water system insulation
  • floor insulation

Owning property abroad

You can claim Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance for properties you rent out abroad, as long as you pay UK tax on profits from those properties.

Owning more than one property

You can claim a maximum allowance of £1,500 for each house, flat or bedsit you rent out. For example, if you rent out a building that contains 4 flats, you can claim up to £1,500 for each flat.

Owning a property with others

If you own the property with others, you can claim a share of the allowance in one of 2 ways:

  • based on the amount of the property you own (e.g. if you own half of the property you can claim up to £750)
  • based on the amount of money you spent on the improvements (e.g. if you covered half of the costs, you can claim up to £750)

Owners can claim a maximum £1,500 in total for each property owned.

Installing energy-saving items yourself

If you install the energy-saving items yourself, you can claim Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance for the costs of buying them, but not for installing them.

What you can’t claim

You can’t claim Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance on a property if:

  • you’re claiming an allowance under the ‘Rent a Room’ scheme
  • you’re renting out the property as furnished holiday accommodation

How to apply

Please call our office if you would like more information regarding this scheme.

2014-15 Tax Guide

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Now that we have passed the deadline for submitting 2013/14 Self Assessment Tax Returns, it is time to turn our mind to pre-year end tax planning for 2014/15!

It is always easier and more effective to plan during a tax year, by 6th April your options will be very limited.

 

We have just published or 2014-15 Tax Guide, download your copy here 2014-15 Year End Tax Guide

The 2015 Budget – What Does it Mean to You?

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

On the 18th March George Osborne will deliver his last budget before the election, what will it mean to businesses in Northern Ireland?

 

We will be running our usual post budget seminar on Friday 20th March to address this issue, to book your free place simply click here or email info@mcclearyaccountants.com .

 

As usual, the venue is the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre at Oxford Island.  The day will start with Bacon Rolls and coffee at 9.00am for a 9.30am start.  We will finish at around 11.00am with Tea and Scones, so even if it’s a boring Budget, at least you’ll be well fed!

 

Our Budget Seminar is usually well attended and we look forward to seeing many of our clients and friends of the firm on the day.  As always our event is open to anyone, so feel free to bring colleagues and friends, all we ask is that you register them, so that we have enough food to go round.

 

REGISTER HERE

Gift Hold-over Relief

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

This relief will help you to defer capital gains tax (CGT) when you give away chargeable assets or if you sell something subject to CGT for less than its market value. The relief is called Gift Hold-Over Relief and could be claimed if you give away business assets (including certain shares) or sell them for less than they are worth to help the buyer.

Gift Hold-Over Relief means:

  • you don’t pay Capital Gains Tax when you give away the assets
  • the person you give them to pays Capital Gains tax (if any is due) when they sell (or ‘dispose of’) them

Tax isn’t usually payable on gifts to your husband, wife, civil partner or a charity.

Eligibility

The conditions for claiming relief depend on whether you’re giving away business assets or shares.

If you’re giving away business assets you must:

  • be a sole trader or business partner, or have at least 5% of shares and voting rights in a company (known as your ‘personal company’)
  • use the assets in your business or personal company

You can usually get partial relief if you used the assets only partly for your business.

If you’re giving away shares the shares must be in a company that’s either:

  • not listed on any recognised stock exchange
  • your personal company

The company’s main activities must be in trading (e.g. providing goods or services) rather than non-trading activities like investment.

Business plans

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

 

Why you need a business plan 

A business plan is a written document that describes your business. It covers objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts.

 A business plan helps you to:

  • clarify your business idea
  • spot potential problems
  • set out your goals
  • measure your progress

 

You’ll need a business plan if you want to secure investment or a loan from a bank.

It can also help to convince customers, suppliers and potential employees to support you.

Initially, you should aim to convince yourself that your new business idea is feasible. There is no point in approaching your bank or a potential investor, until you have researched and proven that there is a real possibility that you can achieve two key financial objectives:

  1. Make a profit after paying all expected costs, your remuneration or drawings and taxation. Retaining profits in your business year on year will gradually make you independent of banks and provide you with the funds to expand.
  2. Make a decent return on your investment. You should aim to grow your business by an amount that compensates you for the risks you have taken in starting the business. Most new entrepreneurs invest their own cash and you should ensure that your business plan demonstrates that any retained profits, as a percentage of the net assets of your business, is a decent rate.

 

Find a business mentor

Learn from the mistakes and successes of others. See if you can strike up a friendship with someone who has been successful in business. Someone who you can test out your business ideas and achieve a measure of objectivity.

Take professional advice

Most accountants will have assisted numerous businesses in starting up their business. When you have all your facts and figures to hand take them to your professional advisor who will help you put the finishing touches: prepare the actual business plan.

New rules to safeguard value for money in workplace pensions

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

From April, people automatically enrolled into a workplace pension will see their charges capped at 0.75%, unless they have chosen a more expensive option. The details are set out in draft regulations laid before Parliament on 4 February 2015.

For an average earner currently paying into a fund with a charge of 1.5%, this new cap could save them around £100,000 over the course of their working life. Over the next decade, the default fund charge cap will transfer around £200 million from the pensions industry to savers.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said:

Today is an excellent day for pension savers. It is vital that workplace pension schemes are run in the interests of their members and that their hard-earned savings are not eaten away by excessive charges.

Over 5 million people have now been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension and by 2018 millions more will be saving for the first time, or saving more. This is why we are building a pensions system that these workers can save into with confidence – and not see their money disappear in opaque charging structures.

There is an understandable buzz around what April will bring for those retiring now, with the unprecedented pension freedoms coming in. But these reforms show we are also determined to help the pensioners of tomorrow – people working hard and saving hard for their families’ future.

The next stage of the government’s work to ensure full disclosure of costs and charges throughout the value chain is also set out in the February paper – with the plan to publish a joint call for evidence with the Financial Conduct Authority in spring 2015.

Most of the updated draft regulations will come in to force on 6 April 2015, subject to Parliamentary approval.

Staff loans for would be tenants

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis announced recently government-wide support for a new scheme that will become available to thousands of potential tenants.

The minister said he was determined to “create a bigger, better private rented sector”.

All of Whitehall has now agreed to offer deposit loans to staff looking to take up new tenancies in the private rented sector, following in the footsteps of the Department for Communities and Local Government. This includes the Home Office, Ministry of Defence, Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs and the Department of Health.

More help for tenants

The scheme, which works in the same way as a staff season ticket loan, will allow employees to borrow some of their salary upfront in order to pay for rental deposits, which is then repayable from salary payments over up to a year. It is available to be taken up in both the public and private sectors.

The Department for Communities and Local Government last October became the first government department to roll the scheme out to its staff, with ministers pushing other parts of government and the public sector to follow suit. The department is working with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills to increase availability across the private sector.

Brandon Lewis said:

With millions of people across the country renting their home we are determined to create a bigger, better private rented sector that is fair to tenants.

Today’s move will mean thousands of people will be offered a helping hand to rent privately through season ticket style loans from their employers.

I hope to see more employers in the public and private sector joining the scheme in the near future.

The tenancy deposit scheme can be adapted by different employers to suit their needs, but generally employees are offered interest-free loans to pay their deposits when they move into a privately rented home, which are then paid back through their salary over the course of up to a year.

Business rates revaluation 2017

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

In preparation for the 2017 Revaluation, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is sending out forms to ratepayers from January asking for information about their property and business. This is to help the VOA update the rateable values of all business properties which are used by councils to calculate the business rates they pay.

If you receive one of these forms, you should complete and return it quickly and accurately as failure to do so could mean you pay the wrong amount in business rates. It could also mean a fine of £100 if not returned to VOA within 56 days.

The next revaluation will come into effect on 1 April 2017 and will assess all business properties in England and Wales, based on the rental value as at 1 April 2015.

This revaluation will not apply to business property in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

SEMINAR – \’ A New Dawn for Pensions?\’

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Retirement means different things for different people though one thing is clear; individuals will need income to enable them to enjoy the lifestyle they want and do the things they desire. Where this income comes from and how it is received tax efficiently are issues that need to be considered.

 

2014 saw the Government introduce a host of radical changes to pensions specifically in relation to how benefits can be taken and how death benefits are paid. These changes, the majority of which come into effect from 6th April 2015, remove many of the perceived barriers in relation to pension planning.

 

But what exactly do the changes mean to you? If you are building assets for the future should pensions be the vehicle of choice? If you are approaching ‘retirement’ and want income should the new pension flexibility be utilised or with the new death benefits should you spend your pension money last? The new rules will bring welcome changes however they will also bring a need for planning to ensure the you achieve the maximum benefit.

 

This educational seminar will provide you with full information on the changes to pensions, what they mean to you and what steps you need to consider taking. There will be relevant case studies to illustrate these new rules and an opportunity for questions.

 

9:00 for bacon roll and tea/coffee for 9:30 start.  Finish at 11 with tea/coffee after.

 

The seminar is being delivered jointly by Jason Holmes of Lumen Financial Planning Ltd and Warren McCleary of McCleary & Company Ltd, Chartered Accountants. Jason is a Certified and Chartered Financial Planner. Lumen Financial Planning offers independent financial advice and is an accredited Financial Planning Firm; 1 of only 3 in Northern Ireland. Warren is a Chartered Accountant and Managing Partner for McCleary and Company.

To Register for this event please click on the link: A New Dawn – Should pensions be your vehicle of choice for providing retirement income?

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