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Minimum wage increases

23 Feb, 2017

The new National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) rates are due to come into effect on 1 April 2017. This is the first time that the NMW and NLW rates will be uprated in parallel. Historically, the NMW increased annually in October and explains the smaller than usual increase in the NMW as the last increases were only effective on 1 October 2016.

Using the Lifetime ISA

23 Feb, 2017

The new Lifetime ISA will be available from April 2017. The Lifetime ISA is designed to help those aged between 18 and 40 to save for a new home or for their retirement. The new scheme will see the government provide a bonus of 25% on yearly savings of up to £4,000 and these benefits continue until the saver's 50th birthday. This could mean an extra £1,000 for every £4,000 saved annually from the age of 18 to 50. In total this could see savers who invest the maximum contributions of £128,000 receive a maximum government bonus of £32,000.

Pension automatic enrolment

23 Feb, 2017

Automatic enrolment for workplace pensions is intended to encourage employees to start making provision for their retirement with employers, with government contributing to make a larger pension pot.

The timetable for employers to begin enrolling their staff started with the UK’s largest businesses in 2012, followed by medium, and then small and micro companies. It is expected that all employers will be part of the scheme by early 2018.

Online database of employment tribunal decisions goes live

20 Feb, 2017

The government’s promised new online database of employment tribunal decisions has finally gone live. It covers employment tribunal decisions in England, Wales and Scotland. At the moment, it includes 2017 decisions, plus some from 2016 and a couple from 2015. It is not yet known to what extent other existing decisions will be added to the database.

It has a search facility enabling users to search for particular decisions and it also has a facility allowing users to subscribe to email alerts.

Registration for online apprenticeship service is now open

20 Feb, 2017

The apprenticeship levy will come into force on 6 April 2017 and it requires UK employers to pay 0.5% of their wage bill that is in excess of £3 million to fund the costs of apprenticeship training and assessment. Businesses in England which are subject to the levy should now create an online “apprenticeship service” account as the registration process is officially open. The apprenticeship service is the platform through which payment of the apprenticeship levy will be managed. The new system for apprenticeship funding in England will then begin to operate from 1 May 2017.

Pension auto-enrolment penalties

16 Feb, 2017

Automatic enrolment into workplace pensions has been rolling out across the UK since 2012 beginning with the largest employers in the country. The first batch of small and micro employers started to enrol in the scheme in mid-2015. There are estimated to be 1.8 million small and micro employers in the UK.  It is expected that all employers will be part of the scheme by early 2018.

The Apprenticeship Levy

16 Feb, 2017

The new Apprenticeship Levy comes into effect from April this year at a rate of 0.5% of the employer's 'pay bill'. To exclude smaller employers a £15,000 annual allowance can be claimed. The effect of this limit means that only employers with a pay bill in excess of £3 million will be required to contribute to the levy. The £3 million limit also applies to companies who are connected to other companies or charities for Employment Allowance which in total have an annual pay bill of more than £3 million.

Late filing of self-assessment tax returns

16 Feb, 2017

Taxpayers that have not yet filed their 2015-16 self-assessment returns will have been charged an automatic £100 penalty for late submission. The penalty applied from 1 February 2017 even if no tax was due or the tax due was paid on time.
 
However, taxpayers who were meant to file online by 31 January 2017, and have still not filed their 2015-16 return, are reminded that they will face far greater penalties. A daily penalty of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900 (90 days) will be charged from 1 May 2017. 
 

Tax avoidance – Spotlights

16 Feb, 2017

HMRC Spotlights identify specific tax avoidance schemes that HMRC have become aware and which they consider are not likely to have the legal effect desired by those thinking of using them. According to HMRC, the Spotlights series is designed to help taxpayers avoid unwittingly entering into arrangements that HMRC are likely to see as tax avoidance.

In the Spotlights series HMRC:

The new £1 coin is coming

16 Feb, 2017

The new £1 coin enters circulation on 28 March 2017. The new £1 coin will be 12-sided and will replace the round shaped £1 coin that has been in use for 30 years. The new coin is being introduced to help combat the problem of counterfeit coins and will according to the Royal Mint be the most secure coin in the world.

Pensions Advice Allowance

08 Feb, 2017

A new Pensions Advice Allowance will come into force from April 2017. The allowance will allow those nearing retirement to take up to £1,500 out of their pension pots tax-free to put towards the cost of financial advice. The advice provided can relate directly to the pension as well as to other financial products that help build retirement income such as multiple pension pots and other assets like ISA savings.

Housebuilder loses tribunal case

08 Feb, 2017

A recent tribunal case examined a VAT refund claim in respect of the VAT DIY Builders scheme. The scheme is a set of special VAT rules which allow the qualifying construction costs of new homes and certain conversion works to be zero-rated.

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