Autumn Statement 2014 – Business Tax

September 21, 2014 | By

Corporation tax rates

From 1 April 2015 the main rate of corporation tax, currently 21%, will be reduced to 20%.

As the small profits rate is already 20%, the need for this separate code of taxation disappears. The small profits rate will therefore be unified with the main rate.

Research and Development (R&D) tax credits

The government will increase the rate of the ‘above the line’ credit from 10% to 11% and will increase the rate of the SME scheme from 225% to 230% from 1 April 2015.

It is proposed to restrict qualifying expenditure for R&D tax credits from 1 April 2015 so that the costs of materials incorporated in products that are sold are not eligible. There will be a package of measures to streamline the application process for smaller companies investing in R&D.

Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) improvements

In Budget 2014 the government announced that it would consult on options to improve the operation of the scheme for smaller businesses and to introduce mandatory online CIS filing for contractors. The consultation has now taken place.

A key reform concerns changes to the requirements for subcontractors to achieve and retain gross payment status. There are proposals for simplifying and improving the compliance and turnover tests which will enable more subcontractors to access gross payment status. There is no intention to change the £30,000 turnover test for sole traders, but the government proposes lowering the threshold for the upper limit of the turnover test to help more established businesses with multiple partners or directors qualify for gross payment status. The current upper threshold of £200,000 could fall to as little as £100,000.

Some compliance tests would be relaxed so that it would be easier for subcontractors to retain their gross payment status.

For contractors the government is proposing mandatory online filing of monthly CIS returns. Improvements will be made to the IT systems to provide a better CIS online service. These will include the online system for verification of subcontractors by contractors.

Comment 
About two thirds of CIS contractors are also employers who therefore file Real Time Information PAYE returns online. It is no surprise that the government wants to extend the scope of mandatory online filing. The improvements to the online verification process would be welcome but the government is also proposing to remove the option of verifying subcontractors by telephone. 

Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NIC)

From 6 April 2015 liability to pay Class 2 NIC will arise at the end of each year. Currently a liability to Class 2 NIC arises on a weekly basis.

The amount of Class 2 NIC due will still be calculated based on the number of weeks of self-employment in the year, but will be determined when the individual completes their self assessment return. It will therefore be paid alongside their income tax and Class 4 NIC. For those that wish to spread the cost of their Class 2 NIC, HMRC will retain a facility for them to make regular payments throughout the year. The current six monthly billing system will cease from 6 April 2015.

Those with profits below a threshold will no longer have to apply in advance for an exception from paying Class 2 NIC. Instead they will have the option to pay Class 2 NIC voluntarily at the end of the year so that they may protect their benefit rights.

Corporation tax relief for goodwill on incorporation

Corporation tax relief is given to companies when goodwill and intangible assets are recognised in the financial accounts. Relief is normally given on the cost of the asset as the expenditure is written off in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Practice or at a fixed 4% rate, following an election.

An anti-avoidance measure has been announced to restrict corporation tax relief where a company acquires internally-generated goodwill and certain other intangible assets from related individuals on the incorporation of a business.

In addition, individuals will be prevented from claiming Entrepreneurs’ Relief on disposals of goodwill when they transfer the business to a related company. Capital gains tax will be payable on the gain at the normal rates of 18% or 28% rather than 10%.

These measures will apply to all transfers on or after 3 December 2014 unless made pursuant to an unconditional obligation entered into before that date.

Comment 
Prior to this announcement it was possible, for example, on incorporation of a sole trader’s business to a company which is owned by the sole trader, for the company to obtain corporation tax relief on the market value of goodwill at the time of incorporation. The disposal by the sole trader would qualify for a low rate of capital gains tax. The government considers this is unfair to a business that has always operated as a company.

Corporation tax reliefs – creative sector

Two new reliefs and a change to an existing relief are proposed:

  • Children’s television tax relief – the government will introduce a new tax relief for the production of children’s television programmes from 1 April 2015. The relief will be available at a rate of 25% on qualifying production expenditure.
  • Orchestra tax relief – The government will consult on the introduction of an orchestra tax relief from 1 April 2016.
  • High-end television tax relief – the government will explore with the industry whether to reduce the minimum UK expenditure for high-end TV relief from 25% to 10% and modernise the cultural test, to bring the relief in line with film tax relief.

Overarching contracts of employment and temporary workers

The government will review the increasing use of overarching contracts of employment by employment intermediaries such as ‘umbrella companies’. These arrangements enable workers to obtain tax relief for home to work travel that would not ordinarily be available. The government will publish a discussion paper shortly which may result in new measures at Budget 2015.

Banks – loss relief restriction

The government will restrict the amount of a bank’s annual profit that can be offset by the carry forward of losses to 50% from 1 April 2015. The restriction will apply to losses accruing up to 1 April 2015 and will include an exemption for losses incurred in the first five years of a bank’s authorisation.

Diverted profits tax

A new tax to counter the use of aggressive tax planning techniques by multinational enterprises to divert profits from the UK will be introduced. The Diverted Profits Tax will be applied using a rate of 25% from 1 April 2015.