Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB)
Extensive changes to how taxpayers record and report income to HMRC are being introduced under a project entitled Making Tax Digital for Business.
The government has decided how the general principles of MTDfB will operate. Draft legislation has been issued on some aspects and more will be published in Finance Bill 2017.
Under MTDfB, businesses, self-employed people and landlords will be required to:
- maintain their records digitally, through software or apps
- report summary information to HMRC quarterly through their ‘digital tax accounts’ (DTAs)
- Make an ‘End of Year’ declaration through their DTAs.
DTAs are like online bank accounts – secure areas where a business can see all of its tax details in one place and interact with HMRC digitally.
The End of Year declaration will be similar to the online submission of a self assessment tax return but may be required to be submitted earlier than a tax return. Businesses will have 10 months from the end of their period of account (or 31 January following the tax year – the due date for a self assessment tax return – if sooner).
Businesses, self-employed people and landlords with turnovers under £10,000 are exempt from these requirements.
Changes announced in the Budget
The government has now announced a one year deferral from the mandating of MTDfB for unincorporated businesses and unincorporated landlords with turnovers below the VAT threshold. For those that have turnovers in excess of the VAT threshold the commencement date will be from the start of accounting periods which begin after 5 April 2018.
Cash basis for unincorporated landlords
As part of the wider proposals for Making Tax Digital, the government has decided that, from April 2017, many unincorporated property businesses will compute taxable profits for the purposes of income tax on a cash basis rather than the usual accruals basis.
The cash basis means a business will account for income and expenses when the income is received and expenses are paid. The accruals basis means accounting for income over the period to which it relates and accounting for expenses in the period for which the liability is incurred.
For affected property businesses, the cash basis will first apply for the 2017/18 tax year which means that a tax return for 2017/18, which has to be submitted by 31 January 2019, will be the first one submitted on the new basis.
Not all property businesses will move to the cash basis:
- property businesses will remain on the accruals basis if their cash basis receipts are more than £150,000
- there is an option to elect out of cash basis accounting and to use accruals basis instead
- the cash basis does not apply to property businesses carried out by a company, an LLP, a corporate firm (ie a partner in the firm is not an individual), the trustees of a trust or the personal representatives of a person.
Cash basis for unincorporated businesses
The government is also extending the cash basis option for the self-employed and trading partnerships. The cash receipts threshold for being able to move to the cash basis will increase from the current £83,000 to £150,000 and the threshold for having to move back to the accruals basis will increase to £300,000 from April 2017.
Currently, the rules for the calculation of profits under cash basis accounting do not allow a deduction for expenditure of a capital nature, unless that expenditure qualifies for plant and machinery capital allowances under ordinary tax rules. This results in taxpayers needing to consider whether items are capital in nature, and whether they qualify for capital allowances. New rules will be introduced that list types of expenditure which will or will not be allowed as a tax deduction.
It is proposed these changes will come into effect from the 2017/18 tax year.
There is no requirement for traders to switch to the cash basis. There are potential problems in adopting the cash basis including restrictions on interest relief on business finance and special calculations which need to be performed on moving to the cash basis. We can, of course, advise you of the issues involved.
Corporation tax rates
Corporation tax rates have already been enacted for periods up to 31 March 2021.
The main rate of corporation tax is currently 20%. The rate will then be reduced as follows:
- 19% for the Financial Years beginning on 1 April 2017, 1 April 2018 and 1 April 2019
- 17% for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020.
Corporate tax loss relief
Currently, a company is restricted in the type of profit which can be relieved by a loss if the loss is brought forward from an earlier accounting period. For example, a trading loss carried forward can only relieve future profits from the same trade. Changes are proposed which will mean that losses arising on or after 1 April 2017, when carried forward, will be useable against profits from other income streams or other companies within a group. This will apply to most types of losses but not to capital losses.
However, from 1 April 2017, large companies will only be able to use losses carried forward against up to 50% of their profits above £5 million. For groups, the £5 million allowance will apply to the group.
Class 4 National Insurance contributions (NICs)
It had already been announced in the 2016 Budget that Class 2 NICs will be abolished from April 2018. The government will now also legislate to increase the main rate of Class 4 NICs from 9% to 10% with effect from 6 April 2018 and from 10% to 11% with effect from 6 April 2019.
Both employed and self-employed earners who reached state pension age from 6 April 2016 have access to the same flat rate state pension. This means that the self-employed have gained £1,800 a year more than under the previous system. The government therefore think it is fair that the NIC differential between them is reduced as employees are paying 12%.
Research and development (R&D)
There are two types of tax reliefs for eligible R&D expenditure. Under one of these, qualifying companies can claim a taxable credit of 11% in relation to eligible R&D expenditure. This is known as the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC). To further support investment, the government will make administrative changes to the RDEC to increase the certainty and simplicity around claims and will take action to improve awareness of R&D tax credits among small and medium-sized enterprises.
Appropriations to trading stock
From 8 March 2017, the government will remove the ability for businesses to convert capital losses into trading losses when appropriating a capital asset to trading stock.
Disposals of land in the UK
The government will amend legislation to ensure that all profits realised by offshore property developers developing land in the UK, including those on pre-existing contracts, are subject to tax, with effect from 8 March 2017. This extends legislation introduced in Finance Act 2016.
Substantial shareholding exemption (SSE) reform
Changes are proposed to some of the qualifying conditions for the SSE. The good news is that the changes remove some of the obstacles of qualifying for SSE.
- The condition that the investing company is required to be a trading company or part of a trading group is being removed.
- The condition that the investment must have been held for a continuous period, at a minimum of 12 months in the two years preceding the sale is being extended to a continuous period of 12 months in the six years preceding the sale.
- The condition that the company in which the shares are sold continues to be a qualifying company immediately after the sale, is withdrawn, unless the sale is to a connected party.
- For a class of investors defined as Qualifying Institutional Investors, the condition that the company in which the shares were sold is a trading company has also been removed. The draft legislation contains a list of Qualifying Institutional Investors.
The changes have effect for disposals on or after 1 April 2017.
Restrictions on residential property interest
Legislation has already been enacted to restrict interest relief for landlords.
From 6 April 2017, landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income. They will instead receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability for these finance costs. Finance costs include mortgage interest, interest on loans to buy furnishings and fees incurred when taking out or repaying loans or mortgages.
The restriction will be phased in with 75% of finance costs being allowed in 2017/18, 50% in 2018/19, 25% in 2019/20 and be fully in place for 2020/21. The remaining finance costs for each year will be given as a basic rate tax reduction but cannot create a tax refund.
These restrictions apply to:
- UK resident individuals that let residential properties in the UK or overseas
- non-UK resident individuals that let residential properties in the UK
- individuals who let such properties in partnership
- trustees or beneficiaries of trusts liable for income tax on the property profits.
UK and non-UK resident companies are not affected nor landlords of ‘Furnished Holiday Lettings’.
Enlarging Social Investment Tax Relief
Significant amendments to the Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) will be legislated for in Finance Bill 2017 to:
- increase the amount of investment a social enterprise may receive over its lifetime to £1.5 million, for social enterprises that receive their initial risk finance investment no later than seven years after their first commercial sale. The current limit will continue to apply to older social enterprises
- reduce the limit on full-time equivalent employees to below 250 employees
- exclude certain activities, including asset leasing and on-lending. Investment in nursing homes and residential care homes will be excluded initially. However the government intends to introduce an accreditation system to allow such investment to qualify for SITR in future
- exclude the use of money raised under the SITR to pay off existing loans
- clarify that individuals will be eligible to claim relief under the SITR only if they are independent from the social enterprise
- introduce a provision to exclude investments where arrangements are put in place with the main purpose of delivering a benefit to an individual or party connected to the social enterprise.
The changes will take effect for investments made on or after 6 April 2017.