This year the traditional date for the Budget has been delayed for a month until 22 April. At the date of preparing this newsletter we are still “in the dark” regarding any changes Chancellor Darling will make to our tax position for 2009-10.
This month we have included information on PAYE code changes, changes to the National Minimum Wage penalty regime, the new penalties if you fail to register your liability to pay self employed National Insurance, and an update on medical check-ups provided by employers.
PAYE code number changes
If your local tax office sent you a demand to pay tax you would obviously take some interest in the issue – is this change correct? When do I have to pay it?
Would you feel the same if you received a notification of change to your PAYE code number?
Your tax code is set at the level at which you pay no tax. If your tax code is 600L, you can earn up to £6,000 a year (£500 per month) tax free. If towards the end of a tax year this reduces to say 400L, your annual tax free allowance will have dropped to £4,000. Depending on the degree of reduction and the timing of the adjustment, you may suffer an immediate and perhaps significant drop in your take home pay.
What to do?
Your tax code can be revised in a downwards direction for a number of reasons. Some of the more frequent causes are set out below:
National Minimum Wage changes
We urge all employers to read the following changes to the penalties that will automatically be levied after 6 April 2009 if you fail to observe your obligations regarding payment of National Minimum Wage rates.
From 6 April 2009, a new automatic penalty will be levied where HMRC compliance officers find arrears of the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
Penalties will range from £100 to £5,000 and those employers who settle within 14 days of notification will receive a 50 per cent discount of the penalty for prompt payment. The penalty must be paid in addition to any arrears owed to the workers. The most serious cases of non compliance may be tried in a Crown Court and subject to an unlimited fine.
To reflect this change, the current system of separate NMW enforcement and penalty notices will be replaced by a combined notice of underpayment and penalty. This will be issued whenever HMRC discover that arrears were outstanding at the start of their enquiries.
The notice will detail the amounts due to workers and any penalty due on those arrears. For PAYE reference periods starting on or after 6 April 2009 the penalty will be half the total underpayments shown on the notice. HMRC can pursue arrears claims for workers going back up to six years.
You will be able to appeal both the amount of the arrears and the penalty to an Employment Tribunal (an Industrial Tribunal in Northern Ireland) under new appeal rights. You can call the National Minimum Wage Help line in confidence on Tel 0845 6000 678.
Self-employed NIC penalties
From 6 April 2009 there is a change in the penalty you will pay if you are late notifying HMRC that you have commenced self-employment.
Up to 6 April 2009 the penalty was £100 and you had 3 months after commencement of trade to let HMRC know.
From 6 April 2009 the rules are changed as follows:
Medical check ups
HMRC have now agreed that all medical check-ups provided by employers to an individual employee will be treated as tax and NIC free, even if the check-ups are not available to all employees.
Tax Diary April/March 2009