News: March 2011

For Employers

NIC

When business owners and accountants are asked what single action could simplify the tax system, most suggest merging income tax and NI. This message has finally been heard by the Government, who will start consulting on how the operation of NI and income tax could be combined.

This does not mean these two taxes will be merged. The Government has stated that NI will not be applied to savings, dividends or pensions. The likely changes will involve aligning the rules and mechanics of collecting the two taxes. However, don’t expect big changes any time soon!

From 6 April 2011 the rates and thresholds for the main NI contributions were already known with most increasing by 1%. The main figures for 2011/12 are:

  • Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) for Class 1 NICs – £102/week
  • Employer’s class 1 above £136/week not contracted out – 13.8%
  • Employee’s class 1 not contracted out from £139 to £817/week – 12%
  • Employee’s additional class 1 above £817/week – 2%
  • Self-employed class 4 from £7,225 to £42,475 per annum – 9%
  • Self-employed class 4 additional rate above £42,475 per annum – 2%
  • Self-employed class 2 – £2.50 per week
  • Voluntary contributions class 3 – £12.60 per week
Approved Mileage Rates

Where an employee uses his or her own car for business journeys their employer can pay them an approved mileage allowance payment (AMAP), free of tax and NIC.

This AMAP rate has been stuck at 40p per mile since about 2002, and at current petrol prices many employees who need to use their car for business cannot afford to do so. The AMAP will increase to 45p per mile from 6 April 2011 for the first 10,000 business miles per year, any additional miles can be reimbursed at 25p per mile. If the employer does not pay the full AMAP rate the employee can claim the additional amount in tax relief from HMRC.

The tax free AMAP can also be paid by charities to volunteers. The self-employed, who have turnover below the VAT registration threshold (£73,000 from 1 April 2011), may also use the AMAP rate as a substitute for motor expenses claimed in their accounts.

Where an employee carries a fellow employee as a passenger on a business journey, an additional 5p per mile tax free can be paid. The rate will also now apply to volunteer drivers who take other volunteers on business/ charity related journeys.

Car Benefit

The tax charge for personal use of a company car is based on a percentage of the list price of that car when new.

From 6 April 2011 the percentages are all increased by 1% for those in the 15% to 35% range but with 35% kept as the maximum. The taxable benefit of using a car with CO2 emissions of 121-129g/km is 15% of the list price. This percentage increases by 1% for each additional 5g/km of CO2 emissions to a maximum of 35% for cars with CO2 emissions of 225g/km or more.

Where a company car driver receives free fuel, the taxable benefit is calculated as the percentage of the list price for the car applied to a set value, currently £18,000. This value will increase to £18,800 from 6 April 2011. The maximum taxable benefit of receiving fuel for personal use will increase from £6,300 (for 2010/11) to £6,580 (for 2011/12).

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