The marriage allowance is available to married couples and those in a civil partnership where a spouse or civil partner does not pay tax or does not pay tax above the basic rate threshold for Income Tax (i.e., one of the couples must currently earn less than the £12,570 personal allowance for 2023-24).
The allowance works by permitting the lower earning partner to transfer up to £1,260 of their personal tax-free allowance to their spouse or civil partner. The marriage allowance can only be used when the recipient of the transfer (the higher earning partner) does not pay more than the basic 20% rate of Income Tax. This would usually mean that their income is between £12,571 to £50,270 for the 2023-24 tax year. The limits for those living in Scotland may vary slightly from these figures.
Claiming the allowance could result in a saving of up to £252 for the recipient (20% of £1,260), or £21 a month for the current tax year. In fact, even if a spouse or civil partner has died since 5 April 2018, the surviving person can still claim the allowance (if they qualify) by contacting HMRC’s Income Tax helpline.
If you meet the eligibility requirements and have not yet claimed the allowance, you can backdate your claim to 6 April 2017. This could result in a total tax refund of up to £1,242 if you can claim for 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22, 2022-23 as well as the current 2023-24 tax year. Even if you are no longer eligible, but you would have been in all or any of the preceding years, you can still claim your entitlement.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 26-06-2023
HMRC is currently writing to UK residents who were named in the leaked Pandora Papers and offering them the chance to regularise their tax affairs. The letters are being sent to UK residents named in the files of 14 offshore financial service providers.
During 2021 and 2022, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released more than 11 million records from 14 offshore service providers, this is known as the Pandora Papers. HMRC has been analysing this data, which is the largest ever release of financial documents to identify UK residents with untaxed offshore assets.
HMRC’s letters, which started distribution earlier this month, warn recipients to report all their overseas income or gains on which they owe UK tax or face penalties of up to 200% of any tax due or prosecution.
There are typically two methods for making a disclosure.
- The Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF) is a facility for taxpayers to disclose serious tax fraud to HMRC. The CDF is only suitable for taxpayers who want to confess to tax fraud. It is not a method to notify HMRC about errors, mistakes or avoidance schemes where no fraud has taken place. HMRC will not criminally investigate and prosecute taxpayers over fraud disclosed as part of the CDF contract. This is in return for the taxpayer meeting some important conditions including making a full, open, and honest disclosure of all the tax fraud committed. If all the conditions are met, the investigation will be conducted using civil powers, with a view to a civil settlement for tax, interest and a financial penalty.
- The Worldwide Disclosure Facility (WDF) was launched in September 2016 and is open to those who want to disclose a UK tax liability that relates wholly or partly to an offshore issue. Unlike previous disclosure opportunities, the WDF does not offer any special terms for settling tax affairs and in most cases any interest and penalties levied will be charged in full. The WDF Facility does not provide any protection from prosecution and so where there is deliberate and/or fraudulent conduct, such as evasion, the CDF is the more appropriate facility.
Recipients of these letters should seek professional advice as a matter of urgency.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 19-06-2023
The settlement legislation is intended to prevent an individual from gaining a tax advantage by diverting his or her income to another person who is liable at a lower rate of tax or is not liable to Income Tax.
Where a settlor has retained an interest in a property in a settlement the income arising is treated as the settlor’s income for all tax purposes. A settlor can be said to have retained an interest if the property or income may be applied for the benefit of the settlor, a spouse or civil partner.
In general, the anti-avoidance settlements legislation can apply where an individual enters into an arrangement to divert income to someone else and in the process, tax is saved.
These arrangements must be:
- bounteous, or
- not commercial, or
- not at arm’s length, or
- in the case of a gift between spouses or civil partners, wholly or substantially a right to income.
However, there are a number of everyday scenarios where the settlements legislation does not apply. In fact, after much case law in this area, HMRC has confirmed that if there is no 'bounty' or if the gift to a spouse or civil partner is an outright gift which is not wholly, or substantially, a right to income, then the legislation will not apply.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 11-06-2023
HMRC has issued an updated version of their online guidance entitled ‘Check if a text message you've received from HMRC is genuine’. The guidance provides a current list of genuine text messages issued by HMRC.
The list has been updated to include details of a text message HMRC is sending to some taxpayers about a Self-Assessment tax check.
HMRC is also sending certain taxpayers a text message if they call an HMRC helpline from a mobile phone. These messages might include a link to relevant GOV.UK information or webchat.
Although these communications are genuine, taxpayers should still be wary of receiving phishing texts, emails and phone calls that are purported to come from HMRC. Messages from HRMC will never ask for personal or financial information.
Fake messages can appear to be genuine but clicking on a link from within the message or email can result in personal information being compromised and the possibility of computer viruses affecting your computer or smartphone. If you are unsure as to the validity of any message it should not be opened until the sender can be verified. Any suspicious text messages can be sent to 60599 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 04-06-2023
HMRC has issued a press release to remind employees that may be able to claim a claim tax relief for bills they pay that are related to their employment. The most recent figures show that more than 800,000 taxpayers claimed tax refunds for work expenses during the 2021-22 tax year with an average claim of £125. A claim can be made online by using HMRC’s online portal at GOV.UK.
A claim for valid purchases can be made against receipts or as a 'flat rate deduction'. The flat rate deductions are set amounts that HMRC has agreed are typically spent each year by employees in different occupations. These deductions range from £60 to £1,022. If an occupation isn’t listed, employees can still claim a standard annual amount of £60 in tax relief if they pay their own expenses.
This means that qualifying basic rate taxpayers can claim back £12 (20% x £60) and higher rate taxpayers £24 (40% x £60) per year. Claims can usually be backdated for up to 4 years.
Employees may also be able to claim tax relief for other expenses such as using their own vehicles, professional fees, union memberships, subscriptions and for buying work-related equipment. As a general rule, there is no tax relief for ordinary commuting to and from an employee’s regular place of work.
HMRC’s Director General for Customer Strategy and Tax Design, said:
'Every penny counts, and we want to make sure employed workers are getting what they deserve – their hard-earned cash straight back into their pockets. To make a claim just search ‘employee tax relief’ on GOV.UK. It is the quickest way of getting a tax refund on your work-related expenses and ensures you get 100% of the money back.'
There is no tax relief available if an employee is fully reimbursed by their employer.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 22-05-2023
There is an interesting anomaly that can affect taxpayers with homes in Scotland and other parts of the UK. Where this is the case, the question arises as to whether or not the taxpayer is liable to pay Income Tax in Scotland or elsewhere.
As a general rule, the Scottish rate of Income Tax (SRIT) is payable on the non-savings and non-dividend income of those defined as Scottish taxpayers. The definition of a Scottish taxpayer is generally focused on the question of whether the taxpayer has a 'close connection' with Scotland or elsewhere in the UK. The liability to SRIT is not based on nationalist identity, location of work or the source of a person’s income e.g., receiving a salary from a Scottish business.
Where a taxpayer has a home in Scotland and also elsewhere in the UK, they need to ascertain which is their main home based on published guidance and the facts on the ground.
HMRC’s guidance on the issue states the following:
- Your main home is usually where you live and spend most of your time.
- It does not matter whether you own it, rent it or live in it for free.
- Your main home may be the home where you spend less time if that’s where:
- most of your possessions are;
- your family lives if you’re married or in a civil partnership;
- you are registered for matters like your bank account, GP or car insurance; and
- you are a member of clubs or societies.
It is also possible to change which home counts as your main home if there has been a material change in the underlying facts. Scottish taxpayer status applies for a whole tax year. It is not possible to be a Scottish taxpayer for part of a tax year.
Source:The Scottish Government| 22-05-2023
There is a plausible link between a rise in tax payments if tax rates increase or if tax allowances and reliefs fall. But what happens if there is no change in tax rates or allowances?
In this case, there would be an assumption that taxes would not increase; why would they if rates and allowances remain stable?
However, whilst tax rates and allowances may not increase, your earnings may increase and create a larger tax bill.
Unfortunately, many of the tax rates and reliefs are frozen, remaining at the same level for a number of years. For example, the Income Tax personal allowance and the higher-rate threshold – at which point taxpayers will pay 40% Income Tax on income over this limit – will remain at the 2021-22 levels until 2025-26.
Inflation adds its own spike to this process. With inflation running at the present 10% rate, the value of your Income Tax personal allowance – presently £12,570 – would drop to just over £8,000 in real terms after 4 years. If you have managed to secure pay increases to maintain the value of your earnings, your income subject to tax will increase. In some circumstances this may push your earnings into the 40% Income Tax bracket.
This is unfortunate and means that your efforts to maintain your earnings in real terms will be reduced by increased tax and possibly NIC deductions.
Let’s hope that the Treasury will relieve its tax by stealth choke-hold on tax allowances in the next budget, and inflation proof taxes such that additional earnings to cover inflation will not be taxed unduly.
The Scottish rate of Income Tax (SRIT) is payable on the non-savings and non-dividend income of those defined as Scottish taxpayers.
The definition of a Scottish taxpayer depends on whether the taxpayer has a 'close connection' with Scotland or elsewhere in the UK. The liability to SRIT is not based on nationalist identity, location of work or the source of a person’s income e.g., receiving a salary from a Scottish business.
HMRC’s guidance states that for the vast majority of individuals, the question of whether or not they are a Scottish taxpayer will be a simple one – they will either live in Scotland and thus be a Scottish taxpayer or live elsewhere in the UK and not be a Scottish taxpayer.
If a taxpayer moves to or from Scotland from elsewhere in the UK, then their tax liability for the tax year in question will be based on where they spent the most time in the relevant tax year. Scottish taxpayer status applies for a whole tax year. It is not possible to be a Scottish taxpayer for part of a tax year.
You may also pay Scottish Income Tax if you live in a home in Scotland and also have a home elsewhere in the UK. In this case, you need to identify which is your main home based on published guidance and the facts on the ground. You may also be liable to SRIT if you do not have a home and stay in Scotland regularly, for example you stay offshore or in hotels.
The Scottish rates and bands for 2023-24 are as follows:
Personal allowance – 0%
Up to £12,570
Starter rate – 19%
£12,570 – £14,732
Basic rate – 20%
£14,733 – £25,688
Intermediate rate – 21%
£25,689 – £43,662
Higher rate – 41%
£43,663 – £125,140
Additional rate – 46%
Source:The Scottish Government| 24-04-2023
The rent-a-room scheme is a set of special rules designed to help homeowners who rent-a-room in their home. If you are using this scheme, you should ensure that rents received from lodgers during the current tax year do no exceed £7,500. The tax exemption is automatic if you earn less than £7,500 and there are no specific tax reporting requirements. If required, homeowners can opt out of the scheme and record property income and expenses as usual.
The relief only applies to the letting of furnished accommodation and is used when a bedroom is rented out to a lodger by homeowners in their home. The relief also simplifies the tax and administrative burden for those with rent-a-room income up to £7,500. The limit is reduced by half if the income from letting accommodation in the same property is shared by a joint owner of the property.
The rent-a-room limit includes any amounts received for meals, goods and services provided, such as cleaning or laundry. If gross receipts are more than the limit taxpayers can choose between paying tax on the actual profit (gross rents minus actual expenses and capital allowances) or the gross receipts (and any balancing charges) minus the allowance – with no deduction for expenses or capital allowances.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 17-04-2023
The Personal Savings Allowance (PSA) was launched in April 2016. For basic-rate taxpayers the first £1,000 of interest on savings income is tax-free. For higher-rate taxpayers the tax-free personal savings allowance is £500. Anyone earning over £125,140, in the current 2023-24 tax year, does not benefit from the PSA.
Interest from savings products such as ISA's and premium bond wins do not count towards the limit. So, a basic-rate taxpayer with ISA interest and premium bond wins can still benefit in full from the relevant PSA limits.
Savings income covered under the PSA includes account interest earned from bank and building society accounts as well as accounts with other providers such as savings and credit unions.
It also includes interest from:
- unit trusts, investment trusts and open-ended investment companies
- peer-to-peer lending
- trust funds
- payment protection insurance (PPI)
- government or company bonds
- life annuity payments
- some life insurance contracts.
Taxpayers who still need to pay tax on savings income need to pay tax on any interest over their allowance at their usual rate of Income Tax.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 17-04-2023
A reminder that there are two separate annual £1,000 tax allowances for property and trading income. If you have both types of income highlighted below, then you can claim a £1,000 allowance for each.
The £1,000 exemptions from tax apply in the following circumstances:
- If you make up to £1,000 from self-employment, casual services (such as babysitting or gardening) or hiring personal equipment (such as power tools). This is known as the trading allowance.
- If your annual gross property income is £1,000 or less, from one or more property businesses, you will not have to tell HMRC or declare this income on a tax return. For example, from renting a driveway or power tools. This is known as the property allowance.
Where each respective allowance covers all the individual’s relevant income (before expenses) the income is tax-free and does not have to be declared. Taxpayers with higher amounts of income will have the choice, when calculating their taxable profits, of deducting the allowance from their receipts, instead of deducting the actual allowable expenses.
You cannot use the allowances in a tax year, if you have any trade or property income from:
- a company you or someone connected to you owns or controls;
- a partnership where you or someone connected to you are partners; and
- your employer or the employer of your spouse or civil partner.
You cannot use the property allowance if you:
- claim the tax reducer for finance costs such as mortgage interest for a residential property; and
- deduct expenses from income from letting a room in your own home instead of using the rent-a-room scheme.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 10-04-2023
If you earn over £100,000 in any tax year your personal allowance is gradually reduced by £1 for every £2 of adjusted net income over £100,000 irrespective of age. This means that any taxable receipt that boosts your income over £100,000 will result in a reduction in personal tax allowances. Accordingly, your personal Income Tax allowance would be reduced to zero if your adjusted net income is £125,140 or above.
Your adjusted net income is your total taxable income before any personal allowances, less certain tax reliefs such as trading losses and certain charitable donations and pension contributions.
For the current tax year if your adjusted net income is likely to fall between £100,000 and £125,140 you would pay an effective marginal rate of tax of 60%.
If your income sits within this band you should consider what financial planning opportunities are available in order to avoid this personal allowance trap by reducing your income below £100,000. For example, by giving gifts to charity, increasing pension contributions and participating in certain investment schemes.
A higher rate or additional rate taxpayer who wanted to reduce their tax bill could make a gift to charity in the current tax year and then elect to carry back the contribution to 2022-23. A request to carry back the donation must be made before or at the same time as the 2022-23 Self-Assessment return is completed and filed, i.e., by 31 January 2024.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 10-04-2023
Students that work may need to pay Income Tax and National Insurance. Employers are required to calculate the amount of tax they need to pay on the basis that the students would be working for the rest of the tax year.
This means that an overpayment of Income Tax can occur when a student or temporary worker earns more than their monthly tax-free allowance of £1,042, but over the course of the tax year earn less than their annual allowance. For example, a student only working over the summer period and earning more than £1,042 a month is unlikely to have exceeded the current £12,570 tax free personal allowance.
Students (and other temporary workers) are not required to pay Income Tax if their earnings are below the tax-free personal allowance, currently £12,570.
A refund of overpaid tax can be requested using an online version of the P50 form entitled Claim for repayment of tax. The P50 form can only be used if you are not going to work for at least the next 4 weeks and are not claiming certain state benefits.
Any students that are continuing to work for the rest of the tax year in part-time jobs should consider waiting until the end of the tax year to make a claim.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 10-04-2023
The Gift Aid scheme is available to all UK taxpayers. The charity or Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC) concerned can take a taxpayer’s donation and, provided all the qualifying conditions are met, can reclaim the basic rate tax allowing for an extra 25p of tax relief on every pound donated to charity.
Higher rate and additional rate taxpayers are eligible to claim tax relief on the difference between the basic rate and their highest rate of tax. This can be actioned through their Self-Assessment tax return or by asking HMRC to amend their tax code.
If a taxpayer donates £500 to charity, the total value of the donation to the charity is £625. The taxpayer can claim additional tax back of:
- £125 if they pay tax at 40% (£625 × 20%),
- £156.25 if they pay tax at 45% (£625 × 20%) plus (£625 × 5%).
Taxpayers should be aware that one of the conditions of qualifying for tax relief is that you must have paid enough tax (or any tax) in the relevant tax year. The rules state that your donations will qualify for tax relief as long as you have not claimed more than 4 times what you have paid in tax in that tax year. If you have claimed more tax relief than you are entitled to you will need to notify the charity and pay back any excess tax relief to HMRC.
Taxpayers can also give money to a charity from their wages using the payroll giving scheme. The scheme allows taxpayers to make a tax-free donation to charity directly from their pay or pension if their employer runs a suitable scheme, which has been approved by HMRC.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 02-04-2023
There are a number of reasons why you might need to complete a Self-Assessment return. This includes if you are self-employed, a company director, have an annual income over £100,000 and / or have income from savings, investment or property.
Taxpayers that need to complete a Self-Assessment return for the first time should inform HMRC as soon as possible. The latest date that HMRC should be notified is by 5 October following the end of the tax year for which a Self-Assessment return needs to be filed.
HMRC has an online tool www.gov.uk/check-if-you-need-tax-return/ that can help you check if you are required to submit a Self-Assessment return.
The list of taxpayers that are usually required to submit a Self-Assessment return includes:
- The self-employed (earning more than £1,000);
- Taxpayers who had £2,500 or more in untaxed income;
- Those with savings or investment income of £10,000 or more before tax;
- Taxpayers who made profits from selling things like shares, a second home or other chargeable assets and need to pay Capital Gains Tax;
- Company directors – unless it was for a non-profit organisation (such as a charity) and you didn’t get any pay or benefits, like a company car;
- Taxpayers whose income (or that of their partner’s) was over £50,000 and one of you claimed Child Benefit;
- Taxpayers who had income from abroad that they needed to pay tax on;
- Taxpayers who lived abroad and had a UK income; or
- Income over £100,000.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 20-03-2023