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Your employer should have sent you a P60 certificate for 2018/19 by now. This shows your income from that employer in the tax year to 5 April 2019 and the total amount of tax deducted. If you also received taxable benefits in that year, such as a company car, you should receive a form P11D detailing the value of those benefits.

You will need both of those documents to complete your tax return for 2018/19, which must be submitted online by 31 January 2020, or by 31 October 2019 if you send in a paper tax return.

Don’t just blindly copy the figures from the P60 and P11D on to your tax return, think about what they represent. If your employer makes a mistake when completing the P60, and you reflect that mistake on your tax return, you are responsible for that error. An incorrect tax return can attract penalties of up to 30% of the underpaid tax, or 70% of the tax for a deliberate error.

A tax tribunal recently upheld penalties where a taxpayer didn’t check the P60 figure and as a result understated his salary by 45%. He also failed to declare his taxable benefits.

We can complete your tax return for you, to avoid such drama.

Occasional treats for employees can be provided as tax-free trivial benefits if four conditions are met:

1. the treat is not cash or a voucher that can be exchanged for cash
2. the cost of providing each treat doesn’t exceed £50 per employee
3. the employee is not entitled to receive it as part of any contractual obligation
4. it’s not provided in recognition of particular services performed by the employee as part of their employment duties.

Say the employer promises to provide bacon rolls to those employees who are required to do a stock-take before the business opens every Friday. That would amount to a reward for those early starters, so condition 3 is broken.

If the employer provides the bacon rolls as an unexpected treat to employees, that can be classified as a trivial benefit as the employees don’t have to do anything in order to receive the bacon roll.

The employer can provide an unlimited number of treats to the employees, but regular gifts could come to be expected as part of the reward for turning up to work, and so condition 4 would be broken.

Each gift also needs to be distinct and not part of another promise or item. Say the employees are each given a gift card, which is topped up at the employer’s discretion. That amounts to a single item (the gift card) per employee, so as soon as the value added to the card exceeds £50 the conditions for a trivial benefit would be broken. If the employer provided new gift cards to employees as treats, each card would be seen as a separate gift and thus could contain up to £50 of value.

Where trivial benefits are provided to a director of a close company or to a member of their family or household, there is an annual cap on the value of items which can be treated as trivial benefits: £300 per year.

If you are planning to sell your main home, a holiday home, or an investment property, you need to be aware of the rule changes around the corner.
When you sell your own home the gain is tax-free for the periods you lived in the property. If you move out before the property is sold, the gain for that final empty period is also tax-free, as long as that is no longer than 18 months. For sales from 6 April 2020, that final tax-exempt period will be limited to nine months, with an exception for owners who have moved into residential care or are disabled, when the final 36 months of gain is exempt.

The gain made on selling an investment property will normally be fully taxable at 28%, if you are a higher rate taxpayer, or at 18% for a basic-rate taxpayer. However, where that property was once your main home, the gain relating to the time you lived there will be exempt, plus the last 18 months, reducing to nine months for sales from April 2020.

There is also an exemption for letting a former home, which can amount to up to £40,000 per owner. But beware; for sales from April 2020, that letting exemption will only apply to periods when the property owners were also in occupation. This will effectively wipe out lettings relief for sales of investment properties made on and after 6 April 2020.

When a share in the main home is transferred between husband and wife, or between civil partners, there is no tax payable on that transfer. The recipient also inherits the tax history of the property, as if they had owned their share for the same period as their spouse. This generous tax treatment will change from 6 April 2020, which may disadvantage some couples.

Please talk to us before you sell your property so we can work out the likely tax due in advance.

A popular daytime TV programme follows people who renovate residential properties for a profit, but it rarely spells out the tax implications for those entrepreneurs.
If the property development business is operated as a sole trader, or a partnership, the profits made on selling the properties are subject to Income Tax at rates of up to 45% (46% in Scotland) plus Class 4 NIC.

Alternatively, if the renovated properties are held to generate rental income, the business is treated as property investment. In that case, any profits made on selling the properties are subject to Capital Gains Tax at 18% or 28%.

Where the business is operated through a company, the income and gains from property development or investment businesses are both subject to Corporation Tax at 19%. But companies are also liable to pay the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) for any residential property they hold which is worth over £500,000.

The ATED charge varies from £3,650 to £232,350 per year, but relief can be claimed for periods when the property is commercially let, or if the property is part of development trade. Renovating a single property can amount to a development trade, but to prove this the company should forecast the expected profits and produce a business plan.

Married couples tend to pool their resources and share fiscal burdens, but the UK tax system treats every individual as an independent person. This can lead to families paying more tax overall.

Where one person earns the majority of the family income, he or she may pay more tax than if both individuals each earned approximately half of the same total, and hence use their full personal allowance and basic rate bands.

Such inequality can be eased by the lower earner transferring 10% of their unused Personal Allowance to their higher earning spouse. This transferred amount is called the Marriage Allowance, as it can only be claimed by married couples or those in a civil partnership.

The marriage allowance is worth £250 for 2019/20. The person who is transferring their Personal Allowance must claim, and the recipient must be taxed at no more than 20% (21% for Scottish taxpayers). Claims can be back-dated to 2015/16, when the Marriage Allowance was introduced.

If you were widowed in the last four years, you can still claim the marriage allowance for years in which your partner was living from 6 April 2015 onwards.

You can claim the Marriage Allowance in your tax return, online, by calling 0300 200 3300, or by writing to HMRC. We can help you with this.

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Clarke Nicklin House, Brooks Drive, Cheadle Royal Business Park, Cheadle, Cheshire, SK8 3TD. Registered Number OC309225.
The firm is registered to carry on audit work in the UK & Ireland. Details about our audit registration can be viewed at www.auditregister.org.uk under reference number C001178544. The professional rules applicable are the Audit Regulations and Guidance which can be found at www.icaew.com/regulations, and the International Standards on Auditing (UK and Ireland) which can be found at www.frc.org.uk/apb/publications/isa.cfm.