Business Tax

Corporation tax rates

The main rate of corporation tax will be 21% from 1 April 2014. The current rate is 23%. From 1 April 2015 the main rate of corporation tax will be reduced to 20% and unified with the small profits rate.

The small profits rate will therefore remain at 20% until then.

Annual Investment Allowance (AIA)

The AIA provides a 100% deduction for the cost of most plant and machinery (not cars) purchased by a business up to an annual limit and is available to most businesses. Where businesses spend more than the annual limit, any additional qualifying expenditure generally attracts an annual writing down allowance of only 18% or 8% depending on the type of asset.

The maximum amount of the AIA was increased to £250,000 from £25,000 for the period from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2014. The amount of the AIA is further increased to £500,000 from 1 April 2014 for companies or 6 April 2014 for unincorporated businesses until 31 December 2015. The AIA will return to £25,000 after this date.

Comment

The increased AIA will mean that up to 99.8% of businesses could receive 100% upfront relief on their qualifying investment in plant and machinery. For example a single company with a 12 month accounting period to 31 December 2014 could obtain overall relief for the period of £437,500 (£250,000 x 3/12 plus £500,000 x 9/12). There is a restriction of £250,000 for expenditure incurred in that part of the accounting period which falls before 1 April 2014.

Members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)

Since their introduction in 2000, LLPs have become increasingly popular as a vehicle for carrying on a wide variety of businesses. The LLP is a unique entity as it combines limited liability for its members with the tax treatment of a traditional partnership. Individual members are currently deemed to be self-employed for income tax purposes and are taxed as such on their respective profit shares.

It is proposed to reclassify some members of an LLP from self-employment to employees of the LLP. As a consequence employer’s National Insurance Contributions will be due and PAYE will need to be applied to the ‘remuneration’ of the member from the LLP.

A member is potentially a salaried member if ‘Condition A’ is satisfied. However if caught by Condition A there are two further conditions which, if either apply, will result in the member not being treated as a salaried member.

The main part of Condition A is a test of whether it is reasonable to expect that at least 80% of the total amount payable by the LLP to the member will be ‘disguised salary’.

Amounts which vary by reference to the overall amount of profits of the LLP are not disguised salary. A disguised salary would include for example a salary or a guaranteed profit share. Whether a bonus based on personal performance is disguised salary will depend on the precise circumstance. For example, a bonus based only on the performance of the individual is not a profit share. A performance bonus calculated by reference to the LLP’s profits is not disguised salary.

However, a member is not caught if either of the following apply:

  • the individual has a significant influence in the running of the business as a whole, or
  • the individual has invested capital in the LLP that is at least 25% of their expected income from the LLP.

The new regime will come into force on 6 April 2014. The tests will need to be applied at that date for existing members. For the capital invested rule, the measurement of capital will include amounts the member has undertaken to contribute by 5 July 2014.

Comment

Many professional firms are now LLPs. The potential risk is that some junior members with a significant fixed element to their profit share may be treated for tax purposes as employees unless their contractual arrangements with the LLP are modified.

Those LLPs potentially affected may wish to consider increasing member capital contributions to allow the capital invested rule to be satisfied. Undertakings made by members by 6 April 2014 (and actually contributed by 5 July 2014) will be taken into account.

Employment intermediaries and ‘false self-employment’

The Government considers that employment intermediaries are increasingly being used to disguise employment as self-employment. The largest business sector affected will be the construction industry. However, there are other sectors such as the driving, catering and security industries where there is evidence of existing permanent employees being taken out of direct employment and being moved into false self-employment arrangements involving intermediaries.

The central proposal is to make a change to the agency legislation. If the agency legislation applies, payments received by a worker are treated as being in consequence of an employment between the intermediary (agency) and worker. This means that the intermediary must deduct PAYE and NIC.

Currently the agency legislation only applies to workers providing their services under the terms of an agency contract. This is defined as:

‘A contract made between the worker and the agency under the terms of which the worker is obliged to personally provide services to the client.’

This has led intermediaries to set up contracts which allow the worker to send someone else to do their job and thus it is argued that the worker is not obliged to personally provide services.

The Government proposes removing the obligation for the worker to provide their services personally. Instead the proposal is that the agency legislation will apply where the worker is:

subject to (or to the right of) control, supervision or direction as to the manner in which the duties are carried out

providing their services personally

remunerated as a consequence of providing their services

receiving remuneration not already taxed as employment income.

The legislation will be amended with effect from 6 April 2014.

It is proposed that the legislation will be supported by record keeping and statutory returns requirements. The intermediary will need to submit a quarterly electronic return containing details of any workers it has placed for whom it is not deducting PAYE and NIC. The aim of this requirement is to allow HMRC to identify possible cases of non-compliance with the new agency legislation.

The record keeping and returns requirements will come into force from 6 April 2015.

Comment

The use of intermediaries to facilitate false self-employment started in the construction industry as a way to reduce the risk to contractors of incorrectly engaging workers on a self-employed basis. The Government considers that around 200,000 workers in the construction sector are engaged through intermediaries.

Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC)

The Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) scheme provides a number of tax reliefs, similar to those available to charities, to support amateur sports clubs. For example an individual can make a donation to a CASC as Gift Aid.

The Finance Bill 2014 will include provisions to extend corporate Gift Aid to donations of money made by companies to CASCs. This will allow companies to claim tax relief on qualifying donations they make on or after 1 April 2014.

Comment

The corporate Gift Aid provisions will not only encourage companies to make donations to clubs which are registered as CASCs but will also encourage clubs with high levels of commercial trading to potentially benefit from CASC status. A club with significant trading receipts may well not qualify for CASC status because of the trading receipts. It could however set up a trading subsidiary and donate the profits to the club. The donation received by the club will not be treated as trading receipts and thus the club could apply for CASC status. The new Gift Aid relief will eliminate the corporation tax charge on the profits of the company.

Research and Development (R&D) relief

R&D relief gives additional tax relief to companies for expenditure incurred on R&D projects that seek to achieve an advance in science or technology. For an SME company which incurs losses when conducting R&D activity a tax credit can be claimed by way of a cash sum paid by HMRC. From 1 April 2014 the rate of the R&D payable tax credit will be increased from 11% to 14.5%.

Business Premises Renovation Allowance (BPRA)

BPRA provides for 100% tax relief on expenditure in bringing business premises in disadvantaged areas back into business use. Following a review of BPRA, the Government will make changes to clarify the type of expenditure which qualifies and other modifications to make it more certain in its application. The changes are to take effect from April 2014.

Enterprise Zones and capital allowances

Subject to certain conditions being met, 100% enhanced capital allowances are available for expenditure incurred by companies on qualifying plant or machinery for use primarily in designated sites within Enterprise Zones. The qualifying period was due to expire on 31 March 2017 and is proposed to be extended to 31 March 2020.

Mineral Extraction Allowance

Mineral exploration and access expenditure attracts an annual 25% capital allowance relief (100% for oil and gas) whereas the acquisition of a mineral asset only attracts 10% relief annually. Expenditure on successful planning permission costs is to be treated as mineral exploration and access rather than as expenditure on acquiring a mineral asset. This applies to expenditure incurred from the date of Royal Assent.