Making Tax Digital for Business: VAT
HMRC is phasing in its landmark Making Tax Digital (MTD) regime, which will ultimately require taxpayers to move to a fully digital tax system. Regulations have now been issued which set out the requirements for MTD for VAT. Under the new rules, businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) must keep digital records for VAT purposes and provide their VAT return information to HMRC using MTD functional compatible software.
The new rules have effect from 1 April 2019 where a taxpayer has a ‘prescribed accounting period’ which begins on that date, or otherwise from the first day of a taxpayer’s first prescribed accounting period beginning after 1 April 2019. HMRC has recently announced that the rules will have effect for some VAT-registered businesses with more complex requirements from 1 October 2019. Included in the deferred start date category are VAT divisions, VAT groups and businesses using the annual accounting scheme.
HMRC has recently opened a pilot service for businesses with straightforward affairs and the pilot scheme will be gradually extended for other businesses in the next few months.
Keeping digital records and making quarterly updates will not be mandatory for taxes other than VAT before April 2020.
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 19% and will remain at this rate for next year. The rate will fall to 17% for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020.
Class 2 and 4 National Insurance contributions (NICs)
The government has recently announced that Class 2 NICs will not be abolished for the duration of this Parliament. The Chancellor confirmed in March 2017 that there will be no increases to Class 4 NICs rates in this Parliament.
Annual Investment Allowance
The government has announced an increase in the Annual Investment Allowance for two years to £1 million in relation to qualifying expenditure incurred from 1 January 2019. Complex calculations may apply to accounting periods which straddle this date.
Preventing abuse of the R&D tax relief for SMEs
To help prevent abuse of the Research and Development (R&D) SME tax relief by artificial corporate structures, the amount that a loss-making company can receive in R&D tax credits will be capped at three times its total PAYE and NICs liability from April 2020.
Protecting taxes in insolvency
From April 2020, HMRC will have greater priority to recover taxes paid by employees and customers.
The changes appear to be mainly targeted at the distribution of funds to financial institutions as creditors. The rules will remain unchanged for taxes owed by the business and HMRC will remain below other preferential creditors such as the Redundancy Payment Service.
VAT registration limits
The government had previously announced that the VAT registration and deregistration thresholds would be frozen at £85,000 and £83,000 respectively until April 2020.
The government has now announced that this freeze will continue for a further two years from 1 April 2020.
VAT fraud in labour provision in the construction sector
The government will pursue legislation to shift responsibility for paying VAT along the supply chain with the introduction of a domestic VAT reverse charge for supplies of construction services with effect from 1 October 2019. The long lead-in time reflects the government’s commitment to give businesses adequate time to prepare for the changes.
VAT treatment of vouchers
Draft legislation has been issued to insert a new tax code for the VAT treatment of vouchers, such as gift cards, for which a payment has been made and which will be used to buy something. The legislation separates vouchers with a single purpose (e.g. a traditional book token) from the more complex gift vouchers and sets out how and when VAT should be accounted for in each case. The new legislation is not concerned with the scope of VAT and whether VAT is due, but with the question of when VAT is due and, in the case of multi-purpose vouchers, the consideration upon which any VAT is payable.