George Osborne’s recent Budget announcements offered little in terms of tax incentives to UK’s hard-pressed business community. Two up and coming changes, to childcare reliefs and a National Insurance ‘discount’ for employers, are mentioned below together with details of mortgage support for homebuyers and a further update on a relaxation of reporting obligations for smaller employers using HMRC’s Real Time Information payroll filing process from 6 April 2013.
New Childcare Scheme from autumn 2015
A new Childcare Scheme will be introduced to support working families with their childcare costs and will replace the current salary sacrifice scheme. Unlike its predecessor, the new scheme will be available to the self-employed and those on a minimum wage. Also parents will be able to choose their own voucher provider, as the new system will not be administered by employers.
Claimants will fund 80% of their childcare costs up to £6,000 per child. The remaining 20% (up to £1,200) will be subsidised by Government. From the first year of operation all children under 5 will be eligible and the scheme will build over time to include children under 12.
The scheme will provide support for families where:
The scheme has been widely criticised in the press as it seems to discriminate against parents who elect to stay at home to take care of their children.
Support will be provided through a childcare account redeemable at any registered childcare provider. The new scheme will be phased in from autumn 2015 as the current system of Employer Supported Childcare is phased out. The Government will shortly consult on the detail of delivery.
National Insurance £2,000 employment allowance
The Government is to introduce an allowance of £2,000 per year for all businesses and charities to be offset against their employer Class 1 secondary NICs’ bill from April 2014. The allowance will be claimed as part of the normal payroll process. The Government will engage with stakeholders on the implementation of the measure after Budget 2013 and is seeking to introduce legislation later in the year.
Although this change is a year from now, the allowance should be factored into your payroll budgeting for next year. It is likely that payroll software will be updated to allow for the £2,000 reduction in employers’ Class 1 secondary NICs. For smaller businesses contemplating their first or further appointments into the employment arena this will be a welcome support.
Employers’ Class 1 secondary contributions are 13.8% of any wage or salary that exceeds the secondary threshold, currently £148 per week (£641 a month, £7,696 per annum). New employers could pay a salary or wage of up to £22,189 per annum to one employee and be liable for no employer’s National Insurance ? ordinarily, employer’s NIC on this level of salary would amount to £2,000.
This scheme is not intended to replace salary sacrifice arrangements that will continue to offer employees and employers NIC savings. Whether it will help to stimulate new job creation or reduce unemployment is an open question.
Mortgage support – Help to buy
In the distant past Government supported home buying by offering tax incentives. It has been some years now since UK taxpayers could obtain tax relief for mortgage interest payments. The MIRAS arrangement, where tax relief at the basic rate was deducted from mortgage interest payments by the lender, was the last and fading effort at stimulating home buying in this way.
Instead George Osborne and his team have elected to try out two alternative systems: an equity loan scheme and a mortgage guarantee.
Help to buy: equity loan
This scheme will run for three years from 1 April 2013 and is proposed to provide £3.5bn of additional investment.
Lenders using this scheme will share ownership of their property with Government, if the value of your property increases so will the equity loan.
Help to buy: mortgage guarantee
This scheme will run for three years from 1 January 2014. Buyers will need to secure a mortgage from a lender who should be encouraged to offer better access to low deposit mortgages by the Government guarantee.
Real Time Information (RTI) slow down
The following quote is from information recently published to HMRC’s website:
‘HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) recognise that some small employers who pay employees weekly, or more frequently, but only process their payroll monthly may need longer to adapt to reporting PAYE information in real time. HMRC have therefore agreed a relaxation of reporting arrangements for small businesses.
Until 5 October 2013, employers with fewer than 50 employees, who find it difficult to report every payment to employees at the time of payment, may send information to HMRC by the date of their regular payroll run but no later than the end of the tax month (5th).
This is a temporary relaxation to give some extra time to small businesses that pay weekly (or more frequently) but who only run their payroll (or use an agent to run their payroll) at the end of the month. This extra time will enable these businesses to adapt their processes or change their arrangements with their payroll service supplier so that they can comply with the new legislation.
From April 2013, employers who choose to take advantage of this relaxation will still need to report their PAYE in real time by the last payday in the month or the end of the tax month (5th) at the latest.
This is not a withdrawal of the requirement to report PAYE in real time. All employers are still required to operate PAYE in real time and we expect most employers to be reporting PAYE in real time from their first payday on or after 6th April.
From 6th October all employers will be required to report PAYE in real time each time they pay their employees. However HMRC will continue to work with employer representatives during the summer to assess and understand the impact of RTI on the smallest businesses and consider whether they can make improvements to real time reporting which will address their concerns without compromising the benefits of RTI or the success of the Department for Work & Pension’s Universal Credit.
HMRC recommends that employers and agents move to real time reporting as soon as possible in order to give them time to refine business processes before automated penalties are implemented.
Employers using commercial payroll software will find that their payroll software is designed to submit their PAYE information as part of their integrated payroll processes. So these employers should continue to or start to report “on or before” each payment is made to employees as this will be the easiest and quickest way of operating their payroll.
Software developers have been informed that they do not need to change their products to accommodate this relaxation.’
Therefore, this should be considered a temporary relaxation of the obligations imposed on employers by the switch to RTI reporting. Readers who are still unsure how these changes affect their business should contact us immediately.
Tax Diary April/May 2013