10thJun
News article

New homeowners warned over tax refund claims

New homeowners are being warned about cold calls from rogue tax repayment agents advising them to make speculative Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) refund claims, which could leave them with large tax bills.

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New homeowners are being warned about cold calls from rogue tax repayment agents advising them to make speculative Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) refund claims, which could leave them with large tax bills.

The warning comes after a recent spate of Stamp Duty refund claims to HMRC failed to meet specific criteria.

The agents have been known to call new property owners after finding them through Land Registry records and property search websites, promising money back on 'unknowingly overpaid' SDLT.

Recent analysis undertaken by HMRC suggests that up to a third of claims for 'multiple dwelling relief' refunds were incorrect.

HMRC raise enquiries on these claims, but sometimes that is after the agent has taken their fee, leaving the homeowner to pick up the difference. Incorrect refund claims must be repaid with interest, with some potentially facing penalties as well.

Nicole Newbury, HMRC Director for Wealthy and Mid-sized Business, said: 'We are seeing obviously spurious refund claims that are never going to succeed; but will lead to an unnecessary bill for the customer.

'So, we are warning new homeowners not to get caught out by tax repayment agents promising easy money on a 'no win, no fee' basis. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We want to help people get it right and avoid unnecessary tax bills, so treat promises of easy money with real caution.'

9thJun
News article

UK economy will 'grind to a halt', warns the BCC

Britain's economy will 'grind to a halt' before shrinking in the second half of this year as rising inflation and tax increases take their toll, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

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Britain's economy will 'grind to a halt' before shrinking in the second half of this year as rising inflation and tax increases take their toll, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The business group downgraded its 2022 growth forecast from 3.6% to 3.5% It also said inflation would reach 10% in the last quarter - outpacing wage increases.

The BCC also cut investment growth expectations for this year, from 3.5% to 1.8%.

The bleak outlook follows a warning from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), that the UK's growth next year will be worse than any G20 country except Russia.

The OECD said the UK is threatened by rising interest rates and taxes, as well as high inflation.

Alex Veitch, Director of Policy at the BCC, said: 'With inflation forecast to race ahead of wages, we are concerned about a dip in consumer spending which would further impact businesses and hamper growth. We forecast that if trends continue, inflation will only return to the Bank of England's target rate at the end of 2024, implying a prolonged period of difficulty for the UK.

'Against this backdrop, the government must put in place stable and supportive policies that help businesses pull the UK out of this economic quagmire. Firms must be given confidence to invest, only then can they drive the growth the economy so desperately needs.'

8thJun
News article

Give people more control over their energy bills, says CBI

Energy efficiency measures are 'missing piece' of tackling the cost-of-living crisis, says the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

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Energy efficiency measures are 'missing piece' of tackling the cost-of-living crisis, says the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

In a speech to business leaders CBI Director-General, Tony Danker, said people must not be left 'at the mercy of global oil and gas prices'.

According to the CBI, the best solution is to give people the tools to manage their demand via energy efficiency measures like home insulation.

The CBI points to research that shows retrofitting UK properties to improve energy efficiency could save households around £500 and cut energy costs for small and medium sized businesses by up to a quarter.

Tony Danker, CBI Director-General, said: 'People feel powerless, some are at breaking point. Their lives at the mercy of global storms that they and even their own government have little ability to control. While the government's recent support package will help ease some of the pressure, they're clear it's a temporary solution.

“Energy prices are likely to be higher for longer than we imagined. Reimagining the supply side to reduce our fossil fuel use further will take years not months. This is a long-term crisis that needs a long-term solution, but people need a fix now.

'Business and government must take this seriously. We must show decarbonisation is the solution, not the problem, or we'll lose that support. We must show now how it delivers lower bills, better jobs, and brighter economic prospects.'

7thJun
News article

HMRC criticised over IR35 implementation

HMRC needs to demonstrate that off-payroll working rules, commonly known as IR35, can operate effectively and fairly in the real world, according to a report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

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HMRC needs to demonstrate that off-payroll working rules, commonly known as IR35, can operate effectively and fairly in the real world, according to a report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The tax authority should also investigate whether the costs and unintended consequences of IR35 are proportionate to the additional tax revenue that the reforms raise.

The PAC concluded that it is too difficult for workers to challenge incorrect status determinations.

It also said that HMRC is not doing enough to understand the impact of the reforms on workers and labour markets.

Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said: 'While workers in the gig economy have challenged their work and tax status in the courts, there is no recourse for workers deemed subject to IR35 tax rules despite the confusion and non-compliance that persist even in central government itself.

'After years of fiddling with these reforms and with central government spending hundreds of millions of pounds to cover tax for individuals wrongly assessed as self-employed, the fundamental problems underlying UK taxation of work remain.

'It is now up to HMRC to demonstrate that the system can work fairly in the real world; to prove that it is correctly claiming revenues under the system and that the additional revenues raised are worth the costs and unintended consequences in the labour market.'

6thJun
News article

UK companies trial four-day working week with same pay

A four-day week with no loss of pay is being trialled at dozens of companies across the UK from today.

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A four-day week with no loss of pay is being trialled at dozens of companies across the UK from today. 

Firms from a variety of industries are taking part, including banking, hospitality, care, and even animation studios. 

The trial is based on the 100:80:100 model – 100% of pay for 80% of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain 100% productivity. 

It is being billed as the biggest four-day week pilot to take place anywhere in the world Organisers are working alongside university researchers who will measure the impact

on productivity and the wellbeing of staff. 

They will also look at how it affects the environment and gender equality. 

The 70 companies that have signed up to the trial include Charity Bank, games maker Hutch, manufacturer Rivelin Robotics, digital marketing group Loud Mouth Media, car parts supplier Eurowagens, loan provider Evolution Money, recruiter Girling Jones and Yo Telecom. 

Joe O'Connor, Chief Executive of the not-for-profit group 4 Day Week Global, said: 'As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognising that the new frontier for competition is quality of life, and that reduced-hour, output-focused working is the vehicle to give them a competitive edge.'

1stJun
News article

NICs increase has immediate impact on businesses

Four out of five employers stated that they were immediately impacted by the increase in national insurance contributions (NICs), according to research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

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Four out of five employers stated that they were immediately impacted by the increase in national insurance contributions (NICs), according to research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The BCC surveyed more than 1,100 UK employers and found that the NICs increase has caused negative impacts to 81% of businesses.

Firms said the rise in employer NICs from 13.8% to 15.05% has increased staffing costs, forced some to put up their prices and meant they would be limiting their investment.

As part of its call for an Emergency Budget, the BCC said the rise should be immediately reversed for at least a year, as firms battle surging costs on multiple fronts.

The BCC is calling for action to give businesses a chance to keep a lid on rising prices, boost productivity and ease cost pressures.?

Hannah Essex, Co-Executive Director at the BCC, said:?'Businesses are telling us that the rise in NICs has been a body blow as they try to get back on their feet. With firms' profits also taking a further hit, after two years of the pandemic, it is no surprise that their investment intentions are also weakening.

'But it is not too late to change tack and push the increase back until firms are in a better place to take on the extra burden. The costs crises facing firms and people in the street are two sides of the same coin. If we can ease the pressure on businesses, then they can keep a lid on the price rises.'

31stMay
News article

Tax credits customers warned about scammers posing as HMRC

HMRC is warning tax credits claimants to be aware of fraudsters who imitate the department and try to steal individuals' personal information or money.

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HMRC is warning tax credits claimants to be aware of fraudsters who imitate the department and try to steal individuals' personal information or money.

Almost 2.1 million tax credits customers are expected to renew their annual claims by 31 July 2022 and could be more susceptible to the tactics used by criminals who mimic government messages to make them appear authentic.

In the 12 months to April 2022, HMRC responded to nearly 277,000 referrals of suspicious contact received from the public. Scammers use phone calls, text messages and emails to attempt to dupe individuals – often trying to rush them into making decisions.

HMRC says it will not ring anyone out of the blue threatening arrest.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC's Director General for Customer Services, said: 'We're urging all of our customers to be really careful if they are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or bank details.

'There are a lot of scams out there where fraudsters are calling, texting or emailing customers claiming to be from HMRC. If you have any doubts, we suggest you don't reply directly, and contact us straight away. Search GOV.UK for our 'scams checklist' and to find out how to report tax scams.'

30thMay
News article

Lending to small businesses hits all-time low

Lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK is the lowest it has ever been, with fewer than one in ten small businesses applying for finance in the first quarter, according to data from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

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Lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK is the lowest it has ever been, with fewer than one in ten small businesses applying for finance in the first quarter, according to data from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The FSB's quarterly Small Business Index also revealed that of those who apply for finance, only 43% of applications are approved, which is also a record low.

Only 19% of the index's 1,200 respondents described the availability of credit as 'good', which is the lowest seen since 2016.

Of the SMEs that did manage to secure finance, 42% planned on using the credit to manage cashflow. Only 21% of SMEs plan to use the funds to update their equipment, while 19% plan to use it for an expansion, and 4% are using it for recruitment.

Martin McTague, National Chair of the FSB, said: 'Lenders pulling up the drawbridge for small firms will threaten our already faltering economic recovery.

'Businesses are born every day across the UK – many need funding to get off the ground, ensuring they reach a stage where they're profitable and creating opportunities.

'A lot of those who've worked tirelessly to adapt, survive and thrive over lockdowns need finance too, empowering them to take their firms to the next level, driving our economic recovery and the transition to net zero in the process.'

27thMay
News article

Chancellor announces windfall tax on energy firms

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will impose a windfall tax on energy firms alongside a package to help households with the cost-of-living crisis.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak will impose a windfall tax on energy firms alongside a package to help households with the cost-of-living crisis.

Mr Sunak said a 'temporary, timely, and targeted' 25% Energy Profits Levy will be introduced for oil and gas companies, reflecting their extraordinary profits.

The levy is expected to raise £5 billion for the Exchequer and the legislation will include a sunset clause to ensure it is temporary. As an incentive for energy companies to invest, the levy will include a new 80% investment allowance.

The Chancellor also announced a £15 billion package of support for households.

Eight million of most vulnerable households across the UK will receive a new one-off £650 cost-of-living payment. There will also be separate one-off payments of £300 to pensioner households and £150 to individuals receiving disability benefits.

The October discount on energy bills will be doubled from £200 to £400 and the requirement to repay it over five years has been scrapped.

Mr Sunak said: 'We know that people are facing challenges with the cost of living and that is why . . . I'm stepping in with further support to help with rising energy bills. 

'We have a collective responsibility to help those who are paying the highest price for the high inflation we face. That is why I'm targeting this significant support to millions of the most vulnerable people in our society. I said we would stand by people and that is what this support does.

'It is also right that those companies making extraordinary profits on the back of record global oil and gas prices contribute towards this. That is why I'm introducing a temporary Energy Profits Levy to help pay for this unprecedented support in a way that promotes investment.'

26thMay
News article

Statistics reveal more than 500,000 families used Tax-Free Childcare in past year

New data published by HMRC has revealed that 512,415 families made use of the Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) scheme in the past year.

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New data published by HMRC has revealed that 512,415 families made use of the Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) scheme in the past year.

Under TFC, the tax relief available is 20% of the costs of childcare, up to total childcare costs of £10,000 per child, per year. The scheme is therefore worth a maximum of £2,000 per child (£4,000 for a disabled child). Parents are able to apply for TFC for children under 12 (up to 17 for children with disabilities).

Parents are able to register with the government and open an online account. The government will then 'top up' payments into this account at a rate of 20p for every 80p that families pay in.

The figure of 512,415 for the 2021/22 tax year is significantly up from 374,135 recorded in the previous year.

HMRC has warned that thousands of families could be missing out on the benefits that TFC brings – it has estimated that 1.3 million families could be eligible for the scheme.

Myrtle Lloyd, Director General for Customer Services at HMRC, said: 'TFC can make a big difference to families, helping with the bills for things like nurseries, childminders and after school clubs.

'It's easy to register – search 'Tax-Free Childcare' on GOV.UK.'