This measure makes changes to the income tax calculations of certain partnerships and is part of a wider policy of government to tighten the tax rules for partnerships.
The draft legislation is now out and the Treasury says that this ‘provides additional clarity over aspects of the taxation of partnerships’.
But it will raise costs for partnerships, as partners and some partnerships may be required to calculate partnership profit on all four possible bases of calculation (for example, UK resident individual, non-UK resident individual, UK resident company and non-UK resident company), and report these in the partnership return.
There will be some winners as around 1,300 investment partnerships will no longer have provide a tax reference for partners who have no charge to tax or business activity.
HMRC expects that there will be ‘fewer interventions, as a result of clarifying various partnership rules and requiring partners to return the profit/loss allocation shown on the partnership return, which will generate operational savings’.
Partners will be able to refer profit/loss allocation disputes to the tribunal. HMRC is going to set up a new IT referral system for partners to notify them about disputes referred to the tribunal, which is likely to cost up to £100,000 to develop.
The rules for the allocation of partnership profits and losses will have effect for accounting periods and periods of account starting after the date of Royal Assent to Finance Bill 2017. Likewise the changes to returns for overseas partners in investment partnerships will have effect for returns made after enactment of the Bill.
Other changes will have effect for 2018-19 returns.
The main issues focus on how the current rules and reporting operate in particular circumstances where a partnership has partners who are bare trustees for another person or that are partnerships; and the allocation and calculation of partnership profit for tax purposes.
Under the new rules, ‘the provisions ensure that partnership returns contain sufficient information to facilitate HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) assurance work,’ the Treasury stated.
In addition, the measure makes it clear that the allocation of partnership profits shown on the partnership return is the allocation that applies for tax purposes for the partners but provides a new, structured mechanism for the resolution of disputes between partners over the allocation of taxable partnership profits and losses shown on the partnership return.
It also reduces the amount of information which has to be shown on the partnership return for investment partnerships that report under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and who have non-UK resident partners who are not chargeable to tax in the UK.
The measure was first announced at Budget 2016 and was subject to a consultation published in August 2016, entitled Partnership taxation: proposals to clarify tax treatment.
Policy paper, HMRC Partnership taxation: proposals to clarify tax treatment is available here.
The government has announced a revised timetable for the introduction of Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB).
MTDfB introduces extensive changes to how taxpayers record and report income to HMRC. Unincorporated businesses, including landlords, were expected to be the first to see significant changes in the recording and submission of business transactions but the government has announced a delay to the implementation of the new rules and some exceptions for smaller businesses.
The government had decided how the general principles of MTDfB will operate after receiving responses to their original ideas first published in August 2016. Some legislation was published in Finance Bill 2017 but this was removed due to the General Election.
Under MTDfB, businesses will be required to:
- maintain their records digitally, through software or apps
- report summary information to HMRC quarterly through their ‘digital tax accounts’ (DTAs)
- submit an ‘End of Year’ statement through their DTAs.
The new timetable is being introduced following concerns raised by the Treasury Select Committee, businesses and professional bodies about the implementation of the new rules and to hopefully ensure a smooth transition to a digital tax system.
Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General said:
‘Businesses agree that digitising the tax system is the right direction of travel. However, many have been worried about the scope and pace of reforms.
We have listened very carefully to their concerns and are making changes so that we can bring the tax system into the digital age in a way that is right for all businesses.’
The government has confirmed that under the new timetable:
- only businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to keep digital records and only for VAT purposes
- they will only need to do so from 2019
- businesses will not be asked to keep digital records, or to update HMRC quarterly, for other taxes until at least 2020.
This means that businesses and landlords with a turnover below the VAT threshold will not have to move to the new digital system.
Ministers have also confirmed that the Finance Bill will be introduced as soon as possible after the summer recess and that all policies originally announced to start from April 2017 will be effective from that date.
The government has also confirmed that the proposed changes to VAT reporting will come into effect from April 2019. From that date, businesses trading above the VAT threshold will have to provide their VAT information to HMRC through Making Tax Digital software.
The original plan from the government and HMRC would have forced the smallest businesses and sole traders to start quarterly reporting from April 2017, but those below the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will now be exempt from requirements to quarterly report until the government can reassess the plans.
Vociferous opposition to the rollout timetable from MPs, business and the influential Treasury Committee has resulted in the climbdown.
Full-blown quarterly reporting will not start before ‘at least 2020’ according to the ministerial statement.
Changes at the Treasury after the election seem to have resulted in a more sensible approach to the whole Making Tax Digital debacle.
The new minister in charge of Making Tax Digital, Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury said: ‘Businesses agree that digitising the tax system is the right direction of travel. However, many have been worried about the scope and pace of reforms.
‘We have listened very carefully to their concerns and are making changes so that we can bring the tax system into the digital age in a way that is right for all businesses.’
It is likely that at least until 2020 Making Tax Digital will not be mandatory, and nearer the time (2020) the Treasury plans to reassess the situation and review mandatory requirements.
This will leave HMRC with a hole to fill as it had expected Making Tax Digital to generate an additional £500m in tax revenues a year, although many tax experts doubted whether this could be achieved, unless there was widespread abuse of the current system which the new digital reporting closed down.
The deferral will give more time for testing the system and HMRC will start the pilot for Making Tax Digital for VAT by the end of this year – this will give the tax profession time to test run a year’s worth of reporting before the VAT system goes live.
A Treasury source said that ‘the main concern is the pace of the change. We recognise that businesses need longer to adapt and so that is why we are saying that companies will not have to use quarterly reporting until at least 2020. VAT reporting under Making Tax Digital will be mandatory from 2019 but as companies already report VAT on a quarterly basis this will not be a major change.’
While the Treasury is totally behind the plans for digital tax reporting it is in listening mode and so has decided to back off the rather rapid timetable for introduction originally set out by HMRC and government officials.
This will also give HMRC more time to pilot quarterly reporting as there is only a limited pilot at the moment and some testing by software developers with their clients.
Software companies have welcomed the delay but warn that the government must not be complacent; the general lack of communications about the rollout of Making Tax Digital raised concerns with recent surveys of software clients showing low levels of awareness of the plans for Making Tax Digital.
In terms of quarterly reporting for incorporated businesses and large partnerships, ‘larger businesses will have to use Making Tax Digital for VAT only, regardless of the type of business, but not before at least 2020. Larger businesses will not have use Making Tax Digital for corporation tax reporting before at least 2020, although it is still not wholly clear whether they will ever have to enter the system due to the complexity of their tax compliance requirements.
Making Tax Digital will be available on a voluntary basis for the smallest businesses, and for other taxes. Businesses and landlords with a turnover below the VAT threshold will be able to opt to use the new digital reporting system but it will not be mandatory until ‘at least’ 2020.
The Treasury document states that under the new timetable:
- only businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to keep digital records and only for VAT purposes;
- they will only need to do so from 2019; and
- businesses will not be asked to keep digital records, or to update HMRC quarterly, for other taxes until at least 2020.
As VAT already requires quarterly returns, no business will need to provide information to HMRC more regularly during this initial phase than they do now.
All businesses and landlords will have at least two years to adapt to the changes before being asked to keep digital records for other taxes.
HMRC will start to pilot Making Tax Digital for VAT by the end of this year, starting with small-scale, private testing, followed by a wider, live pilot starting in spring 2018. This will allow for over a year of testing before any businesses are mandated to use the system.
The current pilots for non-VAT Making Tax Digital and quarterly reporting have been criticised as being too slow and lacking depth so the decision to delay the programme for at three years will be a major relief for tax advisers, accountants and small businesses.
John Preston, CIOT president, said: ‘Whilst we are supportive of the government’s long-term ambitions for digitalising the tax system, we have always called for this to be achieved in a measured and manageable way.
‘This deferral will give much more time for businesses, supported by their advisers, to identify for themselves, at their own pace, the benefits of digital record keeping. It will also ensure that many more software products can be developed and tested before mandation is reconsidered.’
Ministers also confirmed that the Finance Bill will be introduced as soon as possible after the summer recess. This will legislate for all policies that were included in the pre-election Finance Bill, raising over £16bn across the next five years to fund our vital public services. The wash-up Finance Act before the snap general election in June was a slimmed down version of the planned legislation, stripping out all but the most critical changes to tax rates and reliefs, and removing any complex tax changes due to the lack of time for effective scrutiny in parliament and through select committees.
The government has also re-confirmed that all policies originally announced to start from April 2017 will be effective from that date, including the changes to non dom rules and loss relief reform. Draft legislation for the Second Finance Bill will be issued today.
According to Home.co.uk, Scotland has seen the biggest fall with a 34.7% decrease in available properties to rent between July 2001 and June 2017. Wales has seen a fall of 28.1% while the south west has seen a decline of 26.5%.
Overall, seven out of 11 UK regions saw a fall in excess of the UK average. This includes a decrease of 24.6% in the East Midlands, a fall of 20.8% in the South East and a drop of 16.7% in the West Midlands.
Only the North East saw a rise in rental properties with 33.4% properties available to rent.
Due to people no longer being able to afford to buy they have no choice but to rent, this along with legislative changes in the sector mean that the number of rental properties available are falling.
Some landlords are selling up or downsizing their portfolios simply to avoid making a loss, resulting in falling supply, and those that remain in the sector are forced to raise their rents.
From April 2017, buy-to-let landlords are unable to offset their mortgage interest against their profits and over the next three years none of this interest will be tax deductible. The recent hike in stamp duty land tax (SDLT) has also hit landlords.
Due to these changes landlords have had to raise their rents. Wales has seen rents increase by 11.3% over the last year and, during the same period, Yorkshire has seen rents rise by 8.4%. In Scotland the last six months have seen an increase of 5.4% in the average rent.
In the South West rents are up 5.7% over the last 12 months while in the South East the average rent increase is 0.9% and in the East Midlands the rise over the same period has been 4.5%.
From April 2016 to March 2017 the median monthly rent in England recorded by the Valuation Office Agency was £675. The median rent in London (£1,495) was more than double the English median rent with the North East having the lowest median rent at £495.
Home.co.uk director Doug Shephard said: ‘It is ironic that the government’s justification for tax changes in the private rental sector was to ‘level the playing field’ for wannabe homeowners. The result of this barrage of red tape and taxation, at both local and national government levels, has meant that the supply of rental properties has fallen behind demand in most regions thereby driving up rents.
‘The “elephant in the room” for the government is that record low mortgage interest rates have driven unprecedented investment in the private rental sector over recent years. Simply put, those already with significant home equity have been able to come up with deposits for properties intended to let whilst aspiring homeowners are as cash-strapped as ever as they pay out huge sums in rent. However, ultra-low interest rates and the associated pain for renters look set to persist for the foreseeable future.’
Over 285,000 homeowners, including 240,000 first time buyers, were able to buy their homes with support from the government’s Help to Buy schemes. The average house price across the scheme is £193,826, which is below the average UK house price, and 90% of completions have taken place outside of London.
Stephen Barclay, Economic Secretary to the Treasury said: ‘We want to make sure that anyone who works hard and aspires to own their own home has that opportunity. That is why I am delighted that our Help to Buy schemes have now helped over 240,000 first time buyers across the country achieve home ownership.’
More than 120,000 completions have now taken place through the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme, which offers buyers up to 20% of a newly-built home’s costs so they only need to provide a 5% deposit.
The North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the South West have seen the highest number of property completions using the Help to Buy: ISA. In total, 62,528 completions across the UK using the ISA bonus have taken place since launch in December 2015.