2008 Pre-Budget Report

In his 2008 Pre-Budget Report speech on 24 November, the Chancellor has set out his actions for supporting people through the difficult times of the current global financial crisis. Among the most important changes to do with tax, VAT and benefits, we can mention the following:
•Personal tax allowance increases to £6475, and the basic rate tax limit to £37,400 from April 2009. This means that basic rate taxpayers will pay £145 less tax a year in 2009-10;
•Basic Personal allowance for individuals with income over £100,000 to be reduced to half its value from April 2010;
•Personal allowances will be scrapped for those earning in excess of £140,000 a year from April 2010.
•A new, higher rate of Income Tax of 45% will be introduced for incomes above £150,000;
•Employee, employer and self-employed rates of National Insurance Contributions will increase by 0.5 per cent from April 2011 but those earning less than £20,000 will be exempted.
•The child benefit increases was brought forward to 5th January 2009 instead of April. This is worth an additional £22 on average to families. The commitment to increase the child element of the Child Tax Credit by £25 above indexation in April 2010 will also be brought forward to April 2009.Children will receive a one-off £70 payment for Christmas.
•All pensioners will be paid £60 in the New Year, the equivalent of bringing forward the April increase in the Basic State Pension for a single pensioner to January.In April 2009 the level of a full State Pension will rise in line with prices from £90.70 to £95.25 a week.
•Pensioners on modest incomes will get an increase in pension credit from £124 to £130 and for couples from £189 to £198 from January 2009;
•The standard rate of VAT will be reduced by 2.5% from 17.5% to 15% on 1 December 2008. This new rate will apply until 31 December 2009, when it will revert to 17.5%.This reduction will be offset by increased duties on alcohol, tobacco and petrol.
•The planned increase in the Small Company Rate from 21% to 22% from 1 April 2009 will take effect from 1st April 2010.
•SMEs will be allowed to spread business tax payments over a period to help to ease cashflow and credit constraints.
•Business losses of up to £50,000 could now be offset against profits made in the past three years rather than just one;
Taxfile‘s tax agents recommend the following link for more details regarding the Pre-budget Report.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

If you are expecting a baby, you might be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)to help you take time before and after the baby is born. This is a weekly payment from your employer.
Payments of SMP count as earnings so your employer will deduct tax and National Insurance contribution in the normal way.
In order to be eligible for Statutory Maternity Allowance you must meet certain conditions.
Firstly, you must have worked for the same employer continuously for at least 26 weeks up to and into the 15th week before the week the baby is due.
Secondly, you must give your employer sufficient notice of taking your SMP (28 days)and give him/her a form called MAT B1 Maternity Certificate from signed by a doctor or midwife after the 20th week of your pregnancy.
Finally,your earnings as an employee must be at least an average of £90 a week (before tax).
Statutory Maternity Leave is for 52 weeks. You may be entitled to receive Statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks of the leave.
For the first six weeks, your employer must pay you at the rate of 90% of your average weekly earnings.
For the next 33 weeks , your employer must pay you at either the standard rate of £117.18 or 90% of your average gross weekly earnings (if this 90% rate is less than the standard rate).
If your employer concludes that you do not qualify the he/she must give you a form SMP1.
Most women employees have the right to take up to one year’s (52 weeks’that is 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave) maternity leave. This does not depend on how long you have worked for your employer. The only employees who don’t have this right are:
•share fisherwomen;
•women who are normally employed abroad (unless they have a work connection with the UK);
•self-employed women;
•policewomen and women serving in the armed forces.
Taxfile‘s tax agents in South London and Exeter are here to help you if you have any questions regarding your entitlement to SMP.

Childminders and tax

Registered childminders are people that work in their own homes to provide care and learning opportunities for other people’s children.
Childminders need to declare their income from their self-employment by filling in a self-assessment tax return every year.
Many childminders are members of the National Childminding Association (NCMA).The NCMA had an agreement with with HMRC in terms of allowable expenses that a childminder can have. They agreed that receipts for items of expenditure will not be required for items costing less than £10.
Also they agreed with the HMRC that full-time childminders (40 or more hours a week)can deduct as expenses a third of their heating and lighting costs and 10% of water rates and Council tax. Food and drink provided for children are acceptable and receipts are not required provided that the figures are reasonable.
Probably not everyone is aware of 10% Wear and Tear relief available to childminders. 10% Wear and Tear of total childminding income may be deducted as an expense to cover the wear and tear of furniture and household items. Once a childminder claims this relief, he/she cannot claim for replacing such household items.
Other expenses allowable in calculating the taxable profit are the cost of toys, books, safety equipment, travel fares, NCMA subscription, Public Liability Insurance, stationary, the cost of phone calls for childminding purposes, cleaning, accountancy fee, children gifts,training costs, resources (like paint, arts/craft)and Ofsted Registration fee(Office for Standards in Education).

For more details regarding childminders and their relationship with tax, you can seek guidance from Taxfile’s tax agents in South London (Tulse Hill) and Exeter.

Foster Carers and their tax relief

Fostering is looking after someone else’s children in your own home at a time when his or her family is unable to do so. Foster care relief applies to people who get income from providing foster care to children and young people.
Anyone receiving this type of income is considered by the tax office to be self-employed and therefore liable for tax.
If total receipts from fostering no dot exceed a certain amount, often referred to as qualifying amount, than the foster carer will be exempt from income tax for that year.
A qualifying amount is made up of two elements added together.
One element is the fixed amount of £10,000 per year for each household. Only a proportion of the fixed amount can be claimed if the foster carer is registered for less than a year.
The second element consists of an amount per week for each foster child which varies depending on the child’s age.
If total receipts from fostering exceed the qualifying amount than there are two ways of calculating your tax. One is called the profit method and it is calculated by deducting the allowable expenses from the receipts.
The other one is called the simplified method and is calculated by deducting from the receipts the qualifying amount with no additional relief for expenses. Capital allowances are not available if such a claim is made. The election must be made on or before the first anniversary of 31 January next following the end of the year of assessment to which it relates. If they do not make such an election the will need to calculate their profit in the normal way (the profit method).
As profits from fostering as treated as earnings from self-employment, than National Insurance Contributions will be due (Class2 £2.30 per week and Class4 8% on the profit).
As a foster carer need you to keep good records consisting of total receipts for the year from their local authority, HSS trust or independent fostering provider.You also need to keep a record of the number of weeks that you care for each child placed with you in the year.
Also you need to keep a record of the date of birth for each child.
If your total receipts from fostering exceed the qualifying amount and you are using the profit method than you would need to keep records of your expenses as well.
If you are a foster carer and need help with filling in your tax return, Taxfile‘s tax agents in South London and Exeter are here to help.