News: March 2011

Business Tax

IR35 Review

The Office of Tax Simplification was tasked with reviewing the operation of IR35, or the provision of services through intermediaries as the legislation is more correctly called. Unfortunately the Government does not agree that IR35 should be abolished. However, it has promised to improve the way HMRC provide guidance to businesses who are trying to operate IR35.

Capital Allowances

The rates and thresholds of the main capital allowances will apply as follows for the year from April 2012:

  • Main pool writing down allowance: reduced from 20% to 18%
  • Special rate pool writing down allowance: reduced from 10% to 8%
  • Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) cap: reduced from £100,000 to £25,000
Short Life Assets

At present a business can elect for named assets (not cars) to be treated individually for capital allowance purposes rather than being included in the main pool or special rate pool. The assets subject to this election are called short life assets as they are deemed to have a useful life of less than 4 years. If the business sells or scraps the short life asset before the end of its deemed life, the business will get tax relief for the full cost of that asset while it is being used by the business. This would not apply when the asset is included in one of the capital allowance pools.

For assets purchased on or after 1 April 2011 (6 April 2011 for unincorporated businesses), the life of the short life asset will be deemed to be 8 years. This will benefit larger businesses that incurred expenditure on assets in excess of their Annual Investment Allowance cap for the year.

Enterprise Zones

The Government will create 21 Enterprise Zones around the country. Further details of the exact location and duration of these zones will be released later. All we know so far is that businesses within these zones will be able to apply for up to 100% discount on business rates.

Tax Reliefs to Go

The Office for Tax Simplification has suggested a list of more than 40 tax reliefs that could be abolished because they are rarely used, or are in fact obsolete. Most of these reliefs will be abolished after consultation. Reliefs on this list which may be of interest to small businesses include:

  • Tax free meals for employees who cycle to work
  • Tax free late night taxis for employees
  • Additional tax relief for companies that clean up contaminated land or buildings (land remediation relief)
  • Relief from CGT for grants for giving up agricultural land
Corporation Tax Rates

The small profits rate of corporation tax will be cut from 21% to 20% from 1 April 2011, and is expected to remain at that rate for the next four years, but this has not been confirmed. The small profits rate applies to profits of up to £300,000 where the company has no associated companies which are trading.

The main rate of corporation tax was due to be cut from 28% to 27% from April 2011, but that rate will now be 26%, reducing by 1% per year thereafter until the rate reaches 23%.

Research and Development Tax Credits

Small and medium sized companies could previously claim tax relief of 175% for qualifying revenue expenditure incurred on research and development (R&D) projects. This tax relief will increase to 200% for R&D expenditure incurred after 31 March 2011. A further increase in this tax relief to 225% is planned for qualifying R&D expenditure incurred after 31 March 2012.

The rules that govern what type of expenditure qualifies for this relief will also be revised with effect from 2012 to make it easier for small companies to claim this relief.

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