Taxfile: Scholarship Income

By scholarship we mean an exhibition, bursary or any other similar educational endowment. If the holder of the scholarship is receiving full-time education at a university, college or school then the income from the scholarship is exempt from tax.
The rate of payment including lodging, subsistence and travelling allowances is now £15,480 a year, £1,290 a month or £297.92 a week. This rate has increased from £15,000 (rate used up to 01/09/2005) to £15480 (from 01/09/2007 onwards).
Important to note is that this exemption does not apply to payments of earnings made for any periods spent working for the employer during vacations.
If the rate exceeds £15,480 HMRC will look at the arrangements in detail. This is because the level of payment exceeds what might reasonably be described as a scholarship or training allowance. However, an increase in the rate of payment over the qualifying limit, part way through a course, will not affect the exemption applying to any payments for the earlier part of the course
One of the condition to be met by the employee receiving the scholarship, is that he/she must be enrolled at the educational establishment for at least one academic year and must attend the course for at least twenty weeks in that academic year.
Also, the educational establishments must be recognized universities, technical colleges or similar educational establishments, which are open to members of the public generally and offer more than one course of practical or academic instruction.
Very important to know is that the concepts of “earnings” and “scholarship income” are mutually exclusive.
In conclusion, it is important to remember that there are a few factors to consider when dealing with scholarship income:
•the relationship between the payer and the recipient;
•the nature of the course;
•where the course is being undertaken;
•whether it is full time;
• total amount.
So pop in to see us in our office in South London Monday to Friday and even Saturday now!
Any of our tax agents at Taxfile will be more than happy to help if you have any further queries.

Vat Flat Rate Scheme

The VAT flat rate scheme was introduced on 24th April 2002 and was designed to assist small businesses through calculating VAT payments as a percentage of their turnover.
This scheme was developed to reduce the cost of complying with VAT obligations and the time spent by removing the need to calculate and record output and input tax in calculating the net VAT.
The scheme is optional and available to businesses with a VAT exclusive annual taxable turnover of up to £150,000(£225,000 after 1 April 2009) and total turnover including the value of exempt supply and other non- taxable income does not exceed £187,500(not required after 1 April 2009).
The flat rate percentage depends on the trade sector of the business you are running and it can range from 2% to 13.5%.
To see the category of the business you are falling into and what percentage you need to use follow this link from hmrc. As you could probably notice, the flat rate percentages have been changed since the decrease of normal VAT rate from 17.5% to 15%.
Under this scheme, businesses charge their customers the normal rate for the supply of goods and services.
Although businesses do not need to calculate the VAT on each and every transaction they make, they still need to keep a record of their flat rate calculation showing their turnover, the percentage used and the tax calculation.
As far as capital assets are concerned,for those costing more than £2000 (including VAT), the VAT can be recovered in the normal way as long as they meet certain conditions.
There are a few special categories of businesses like farmers, barristers and florists where special VAT flat rate rules apply. About all this we can explain more in due course.
Taxfile‘s tax accountants in South London and Exeter will first assess your eligibility for the flat rate scheme then will weight up pros and cons and see how beneficial it is for you.
Then finally they will register you within the scheme and offer ongoing support.

Maintenance Payments Relief

Our blog today is dedicated to some of our clients who wanted to know more about tax relief on alimony or child support payments.This relief is officially known as Maintenance Payments Relief.
Maintenance Payments Relief can reduce your tax bill if you make maintenance payments to your ex-spouse or former civil partner or child.
If you make or get maintenance payments and/or child maintenance payments after 6th April 2000 it will not normally have any effect at all on the tax you pay.
Only people born before 6 April 1935 who make these payments need to think about their tax position.
You do not pay tax on any maintenance payments that you receive.
In order to qualify for this relief that would cut your tax bill there are certain conditions to be met:
•only applies if you pay tax;
•you or your ex-spouse or former civil partner were born before 6 April 1935
•you’re separated or divorced or the civil partnership has dissolved and you’re making the payments under a Court Order, in other words the payments are legally enforceable and your ex spouse or former civil partner can take court action if you don’t make the payments;
•the payments are for the maintenance of your ex-spouse or former civil partner (provided they aren’t now remarried or in a new civil partnership) or for your children who are under 21.
For the tax year ending on 5th April 2009, this relief can reduce your tax bill by the lower of the following two amounts:either 10% of £2,540 (£254) – this will apply where you make maintenance payments of £2,540 or more a year or 10% of the amount you have actually paid – where the amount is less than £2,540.
For the following tax year(2009-10) the Maintenance Payments Relief limit will be £2,670.
Very important to remember is that you cannot claim a tax reduction/relief for any voluntary payments that you make for a child, ex-spouse or former civil partner.
We hope you found this useful and if there are still questions to be answered, please feel free to pop in to see us in our office in Tulse Hill or drop an email. One of our tax agents will be more than happy to assist.

Tax Enquiries: Guilty Until Proven Innocent!

An enquiry is defined as seeking information, asking, questioning. Self Assessment is a process now/check later regime. According to HMRC,enquiries encompass all work carried out to check returns after processing – from a single enquiry about one entry in a return to a detailed examination of all the taxpayer’s affairs.
Under Self Assessment, taxpayers have clearly defined obligations while HMRC has defined powers in order to make sure that all taxpayers meet such obligations.
There are two types of tax enquiries:
•full enquiries (covering every single aspect of the return) and
•aspect enquiries(dealing with only one or more aspects of the return).
According to HMRC, a full enquiry is one which seeks to address all the significant risks of error in the return, including the risk of the return being fundamentally incorrect whereas aspect enquiries are those which fall short of a full, in-depth examination of the whole return but instead concentrate on one or more aspects of it.
Aspect enquiries, although more limited in scope than full enquiries, should not be seen as any less thorough or investigative.
If no enquiry is made within the allowed period (one year from the day the tax return is received by HMRC, for specific examples follow this link), the return becomes final unless the tax office makes a discovery assessment as a result of the return being incorrect or there was fraudulent or negligent conduct in making the return.
A very small proportion of returns will be taken up for enquiry on an entirely random basis. Most of the enquiries may start because either the return was sent in late, or some figures in the tax return did not match their records or just HMRC received a tip off.
All taxpayers should be aware that there is a chance of their returns being subject to enquiry.
Where a tax return has been selected for full enquiry, the enquiry officer aims to identify and examine all the significant risks of error in the return, including the risk that it is fundamentally incorrect. Also, where the business records do not prove to be as accurate as they should be, the officer in charge will need to look at the private side.
In order to make sure that there is no undisclosed source of income or additional cash coming from somewhere which was not taxed, the enquiry officer uses three main techniques:
Cash Flow Tests involved with an analysis of drawings;
means tests which determines the amount of money that is available to a taxpayer for living expenses.
capital statements dealing with a detailed accumulation of information about capital worth, income of all sorts and expenditure.
Individuals with complex tax affairs investigated by HMRC should seek early help from a professional advisor to guide them through every step of the enquiry from responding to the officer, arranging a meeting to negotiating a settlement.
Taxfile‘s tax agents in South London and Exeter will guide you through this process and try to save you tax, interest and penalties.
Taxfile is happy to announce that we have recently renewed our free-of-charge enquiry protection cover. The insurance will cover the whole costs involved in dealing with your tax investigation so you can give you piece of mind and save you hundreds of pounds at the same time.
So pop in to see us and make the best of it!