A new ‘Help to Buy’ ISA initiative is being introduced this autumn to encourage first time buyers to save regularly for a deposit for a home, and these are now being offered by several major financial institutions.
Each saver will be able to invest up to £2,400 a year (up to a maximum of £12,000) and the government will top up the savings by 25% (up to a maximum of £3,000). For further information please see this HMRC factsheet.
From 6th April 2015 there has also been a new ‘inherited ISA allowance’. Spouses and civil partners of ISA holders who have died since 3rd December 2014 can now have an additional allowance equivalent to the value of funds held in their ISAs when they died.
The inherited ISA allowance is in addition to the normal annual ISA allowance, and can be used for up to three years from the date of death.
Since the rules for obtaining a mortgage or loan have been tightened up, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain sufficient evidence of earnings for the application process.
Previously, many lenders would request an original HMRC ‘SA302’ tax calculation as proof of earnings. However, as HMRC were getting deluged with requests for these forms, they have devised a new process to enable individual taxpayers and Agents to access the forms themselves.
If you submit your tax returns yourself using the HMRC online filing software, you can print the documents yourself – the instructions can be found here.
If your accountant submits your tax returns on your behalf, they can print the forms for you.
Many employers have been enjoying the benefits of the Employment Allowance, which started in April 2014.
Currently, employers can reduce the amount of National Insurance contributions they pay for their employees by up to £2,000. The good news is that it was announced in the recent Budget that with effect from April 2016, the allowance is set to increase to £3,000.
The bad news is that the allowance will no longer be able to be claimed by companies whose only employee is the sole director.
From 6th April 2015, all company cars are liable to benefit in kind charges, including electric cars.
Zero-emission cars now incur a benefit of 5% of their list price, whilst low emission cars (those between 51-75g/km) give rise to a benefit of 9%, an increase of 4% from last year.
All other company cars have seen an increase in the taxable benefit of up to 2%, with the maximum rate being 37% of the list price.
Although this maximum rate is set to stay at 37%, more cars will be brought into that band over the next four years – currently it applies to cars with emissions of 210g/km and above, but by 2019-20 it will include cars with emissions of 165g/km and above.
HMRC have recently changed the process for dealing with landlords who are resident overseas, but own and let property in the UK.
Letting agents within the UK must release details of income received by non-resident landlords to HMRC, and they must also deduct basic rate tax from the receipts, before paying it over to the landlord.
As well as this, the agent (or tenant) must submit an annual return to both HMRC and the landlord by 5th July each year, despite the fact that HMRC will no longer be sending out these annual return forms!