Experts call for introduction of 'pudding tax' to combat sugar consumption
Public health experts have called for the government to introduce a so-called 'pudding tax' in order to help tackle high rates of sugar consumption amongst children.
The calls for the introduction of a pudding tax come following the recent publication of research which suggested that the average child consumes 18 years' worth of sugar by the time they reach the age of ten.
The tax would cover such foods as biscuits, sweets and cakes, and would aim to encourage manufacturers to reduce the sugar content in their products.
Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, is backing the introduction of a pudding tax. She recently stated that more taxes on unhealthy foods need to be introduced, as she is 'not yet convinced' that manufacturers can be relied on to reduce sugar content voluntarily.
Confidence amongst small businesses 'falls to seven-year low'
Confidence amongst UK small businesses has 'fallen to its lowest point since 2011', the quarterly Small Business Index (SBI) published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed.
The SBI currently stands at -9.9 – which, according to the FSB, reflects a 'level of pessimism not seen since the aftermath of the financial crash'.
The FSB also found that 43% of firms expect their performance to worsen over the coming months. A further 67% of businesses do not expect to increase capital investment in the next three months, according to the SBI.
'We've not seen political uncertainty weighing on small business confidence like this for many years. Planning ahead has now become impossible for a lot of firms as we simply don't know what environment we'll be faced with in little more than 100 days' time,' said Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB.
'A pro-business Brexit is one that ensures we can trade easily with the EU and have access to the skills we need. The latter is already proving a challenge, and – if we crash out of the EU on 29 March without a deal – the former will go out the window.'
However, the SBI also revealed that some small firms are continuing to recruit, with 16% having taken on a new member of staff in the past three months. An additional 68% have increased pay, and 50% of firms plan to grow their business over the next 12 months.
Clients late payment of invoices leads to demise of many small and medium sized businesses
A new report published by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has highlighted how 'bad payment practices' have led to the 'failure' of many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The government's Prompt Payment Code, which was created to address poor payment practices, has 'too often' been 'ineffective', according to the Committee.
A 'statutory requirement' for companies to pay within 30 days should be introduced, the Committee stated. It also recommends giving the Small Business Commissioner the power to fine large businesses who pay their suppliers late.
Commenting on the report, Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: 'Eliminating the scourge of late payments would see 50,000 businesses saved each year, [and] add £2.5 billion to GDP, which would be a real boost to UK productivity.
'The government must respond to this report with tough action on late payments, supporting smaller businesses to further develop their leadership and management capability, and to improve the adoption of basic digital technologies that small businesses need to grow and become more productive.'
Capital Gains Tax on UK Property Sales
A capital gain by UK resident individuals on UK property sales is reportable through the self-assessment tax return regime. This means that, if an individual disposes of a property between say 6 April 2018 and 5 April 2019, it will be notified on his or her 2018/19 tax return, which will need to be submitted by 31 January 2020. The corresponding Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is payable on the same day.
Budget 2018 - A Summary
A package of measures to stimulate business investment and signal "Britain is open to business", with an increase to Annual Investment Allowance from £200,000 to £1m for two years.
Mr Hammond is raising the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 from April 2019 "one year early". He says it is a "tax cut for 32 million people" putting £130 in the pocket of a typical basic rate taxpayer.
He says: "Our careful management of the economy allows me to go further: So I will raise both the Personal Allowance and the Higher Rate Threshold to these levels from April 2019 delivering our manifesto commitments one year early."
Boost to National Living Wage
Hammond reveals a rise in the National Living Wage by 4.9% in April from £7.83 to £8.21.
He also announces the government will give the Low Pay Commission a new remit for national minimum wage rates beyond 2020, to be confirmed at next year's budget.
Fuel duty frozen, cigarette prices up, but beer and cider stays the same
Hammond announces "a series of measures to help families across Britain with the cost of living".
This includes confirmation of a freeze on fuel duty.
But, the price of tobacco will rise at the rate of inflation plus 2%.
Although, duties of beer and cider will stay the same.
Duties on spirits will also be frozen, with Hammond noting: "We can all afford to raise a wee dram to Ruth Davidson on the arrival of baby Finn."
Hammond says the measures will save 2p on a pint of beer, 1p on a pint of cider, and 30p on a bottle of Scotch or gin.
Some shops get business rates cut by a third
For the next two years all retailers in England with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will have their business rates bill by a third, Hammond announces.
Private sector workers to get same employment taxes
Hammond announces that the off payroll working rules - known as IR35 - will apply to the private sector, after being rolled out in the public sector last year.
But the changes will be delayed until April 2020 - and only to large and medium-sized businesses.
Lettings relief changes
Hammond announces tax changes.
He reveals from April 2020, the Employment Allowance will be targeted at "small and medium businesses with an Employer NICs bill under £100k a year".
He also announces from April 2020 the government will limit Lettings Relief to properties where the owner is in shared occupancy with the tenant, and reduce the final period exemption from 18 months to 9 months.
VAT registration to stay the same for two years
Hammond says he is exploring options to address the "cliff edge effect" of VAT registration.
"I will leave the threshold unchanged for a further two years," he announces.
Landlords Finance Cost Relief
Landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income to arrive at their property profits. They will instead receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability for their finance costs.
Landlords will be able to obtain relief as follows:
in 2017 to 2018 the deduction from property income (as is currently allowed) will be restricted to 75% of finance costs, with the remaining 25% being available as a basic rate tax reduction
in 2018 to 2019, 50% finance costs deduction and 50% given as a basic rate tax reduction
in 2019 to 2020, 25% finance costs deduction and 75% given as a basic rate tax reduction
from 2020 to 2021 all financing costs incurred by a landlord will be given as a basic rate tax reduction.
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HMRC urged to reverse the burden and complexity of the UK tax system
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has urged HMRC to ‘reverse the burden and complexity’ associated with tax administration and compliance.
A survey carried out by the BCC and software company Avalara revealed that 75% of businesses believe the overall burden of tax administration and compliance has increased, when compared to five years ago. 64% of firms surveyed stated that VAT generates ‘the biggest administration and compliance burden’, whilst many businesses reported that the ‘vast array of rules and rates’ can be confusing.
According to the survey, firms also feel under pressure to be ready for the April 2019 introduction of the government’s landmark Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative. The BCC stated that there is a ‘real need’ to reduce compliance costs, transaction costs and the complexity of business tax. It is calling for HMRC to make compliance easier and improve its process for collecting tax.
‘Companies now routinely cite tax administration and compliance, rather than regulation, as their biggest single source of administrative headaches,’ said Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC. ‘If the government wants its ‘global Britain’ vision to become a reality, it is time to tackle the huge costs and complexities of the UK tax system, which sap away time and resources that could be better spent raising business productivity and growth.’
HMRC tax investigations into SMEs are 'too intensive'
New research commissioned by HMRC has revealed that more than half of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe that HMRC’s tax investigations are ‘too intensive’.
Insurer Professional Fee Protection (PfP), who undertook the research, found that 52% of SMEs believe that tax probes are ‘too rigorous’, while an additional 56% think HMRC investigations are ‘too costly and time consuming’.
PfP warned that tax investigations often prove to be disruptive for SMEs, with many resulting in significant professional fees.
Commenting on the issue, Kevin Igoe, Managing Director of PfP, said: ‘Small businesses think they are getting rough treatment from HMRC and are making this clear. [They] are often at the receiving end of lengthy tax investigations, which can be very disruptive. Many of these businesses also do not have the resources at their disposal to manage an inquiry or negotiate with inspectors.’
According to the research, 48% of SMEs ‘do not believe that HMRC’s penalties are fairly distributed’, and many think that small firms are ‘unfairly targeted’.
PfP also revealed that, in 2016/17, HMRC’s investigation teams collected an additional £16 in taxes for every £1 spent on investigatory staff.
Making Tax Digital
VAT registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (£85,000) will be mandated to keep digital VAT records and send returns using Making Tax Digital (MTD) compatible software from April 2019.
Training for Self-Employed to be tax deductible?
A government proposal to make training for new skills for the self-employed tax deductible is being welcomed by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).
IPSE have said that the tax relief should not be limited to formal qualifications, but also include the training many sole traders need which are specific to their individual trade such as general training on how to run a business – such as marketing or accounting.
IPSE does however, question the necessity of an annual cap on tax relief spending on the self-employed, an issue which has been raised in the consultation papers. Imogen Farhan, IPSE Policy and External Affairs Officer, commented:
“We would also recommend the government follow the lead of many OECD nations by not imposing an annual cap. It is difficult to imagine a cap that would be suitable for all sectors and earning levels. Instead, the government could minimise the risk of misuse by introducing clear rules on the types of training people can undertake.”
Marriage Tax Allowance – What is it?
The marriage tax allowance is a tax break designed to allow you or your partner to transfer one another part of your personal allowance.
Your personal allowance is the amount you can earn tax free every year. For 2018/19 this amount is £11,850.
Being able to transfer over your personal allowance means that you or your partner could save up to £238 in tax this year.
Once you have signed up for marriage tax allowance, as long you continue to meet the following criteria, you will get the tax break every year:
You are married or in a civil partnership.
Either yourself or your partner are a non-taxpayer (earn less than this tax years personal allowance of £11,850).
The other person in the relationship must earn less than £46,350, which is the upper limit of the basic tax rate of 20 per cent.
You both have to be born on or after April 6 1935.
You can still claim the allowance if your partner died after April 2015.
The partner who doesn't pay tax can transfer up to a limit of £1,190 of their unused personal allowance to the other person in the relationship, saving the tax paying partner up to £238 in tax.