December 2018 Fuel Rates

HMRC have announced new fuel rates for journeys on or after 1st December 2018. For 1 month from this date, either the new rates or the old rates can be used. Hybrid cars, for this purpose, are treated as petrol or diesel cars. A fully electric car has a 4p per mile advisory fuel rate, even though electricity is not a fuel. These fuel rates can also be used for VAT purposes, but the employer must keep supporting receipts of the VAT claimed.

The new rates are :

Petrol   :  engine size 1,400cc or less 12p ; 1,401cc to 2,000cc 15p ; over 2,000cc 22p.

Diesel   :  engine size 1,600cc or less 10p ; 1,601cc to 2,000 cc 12p ; over 2,000cc 14p.

LPG     :  engine size 1,400cc or less 8p    ; 1,401cc to 2,000cc 10p ; over 2,000cc 15p.

Late Tax Returns

The 2018 self assessment tax return deadline of 31st January 2019 has now passed. If you have not yet submitted your tax return for that year, then you will receive an automatic late filing penalty of initially £100.

The penalties will continue to increase over time, the longer the delay in submission of the tax return continues.

In addition to the late filing penalties, there will also be additional interest charged on any tax paid late. Furthermore, there will be 5% penalty surcharges added to the amount payable, if the balancing payment for 2018 is not made by the 28th February 2019. Again, interest will continue to accrue on a daily basis, and the penalty surcharges will also continue to increase over time.

If you have not yet done so, then we strongly recommend that you bring your tax affairs up to date, and ensure that any outstanding tax returns are dealt with and submitted to HMRC as soon as possible.

Tax implications of Christmas Parties and Gifts

Staff Christmas parties are free of tax if the total cost per employee is £150 or less. Above this figure, even if only by £1, then the total amount becomes taxable on the employee, not just the excess. This cost is the total VAT inclusive cost, even if the employer can recover the VAT, and it also includes incidental costs such as travel and accommodation. The employer should simply divide the total cost by the number of attendees, and not the number of employees if this is more.

In addition to the £150 limit, the function should be primarily for entertaining staff, it must be open to all staff, and it should not be just for directors ( unless of course all staff are directors ).

The £150 limit applies to all of the company’s annual functions, so if there is a summer barbeque with a Christmas party, then the £150 limit is spread across both functions.

If you have exceeded these thresholds, then please speak to our office for further advice on reporting the amounts to HMRC.

Christmas Closure

Our office will be closed effectively from Thursday 20th December at 5:00pm. We are having our staff Christmas outing on Friday the 21st, and whilst there may be minimal skeleton staff in the office during the Christmas and New Year period, your usual point of contact may well be absent during this period until after New Year. Staff emails will also not be monitored during this break period.

If there is anything which is urgent, I would strongly recommend that you speak to the office no later than Thursday 20th December.

2018 Tax Returns

This is a reminder to all clients who have not yet sent on to us all the relevant information to prepare the 2017/18 self assessment tax returns.

The deadline for submission of this tax return is 31st January 2019. If a tax return is submitted after this date, then penalties will be incurred. These penalties initially start at £100, irrespective of whether a tax liability arises or not. These penalties increase over time, and from 1st May 2019 a daily penalty rate of £10 per day will be added.

If you have not yet done so, please send all relevant information on to us at the office, without further delay. During January, we will be preparing tax returns for clients on a strict basis of first in first out. If we are unable to prepare and submit the tax return for clients, due to insufficient time, then we have no responsibility whatsoever for any penalties that may be incurred.

Budget Summary 2019/20

Trick or Treat?

Philip Hammond joked that he had avoided giving his speech on Halloween night itself because it would have been simply too tempting for the caption writers, and had avoided Christmas because he did not want to appear in cartoons disguised as Santa Claus. Even so, he was determined to honour the Prime Minister’s recent declaration that austerity was over. He repeated again and again that ‘the British people’s hard work has paid off’ and the fiscal rigour of the past eight years has allowed him at last to share out some of the benefits.

Mrs May had already committed £20 billion of spending to the NHS, but Mr Hammond still managed to raise tax allowances to the level promised for 2020 in the election manifesto a year early, a tax ‘giveaway’ of nearly £3 billion next year. Other big figures include the freeze on fuel duty for the ninth successive year, help for the transition to Universal Credit, a temporary increase for tax allowances on plant and machinery, and extra relief from business rates for small retailers. Very few tax raising measures were announced, even in the small print of the mass of information that is released on the internet when the Chancellor sits down. There really has not been a Budget like this in recent years.

The great unknown, of course – not quite an elephant in the room, because the Chancellor did refer to it – is the outcome of the negotiations with the EU on the terms of our leaving. If we get a good trade deal, as the Chancellor confidently expects, there will be a ‘double dividend’ – an end of uncertainty, and no more need for the reserves he has been holding back in case we do not reach agreement. If ‘no deal’ is the outcome, he hinted that the outlook would then be so different that it might be necessary to upgrade the Spring Statement to a full ‘fiscal event’ – another Budget with a different plan.

An opposition MP shouted that Mr Hammond ‘won’t be here next year’. He affably responded that she had made the same interjection during his previous two Budgets as well. He clearly expects to implement the plans that are summarised in this booklet. In the meantime, we will be happy to discuss the impact of his proposals on you and your finances.

Significant points
  • Manifesto pledge to raise Personal Allowance to £12,500 and higher rate threshold to £50,000 fulfilled a year early, in 2019/20.
  • Off payroll working reforms to be extended to private sector engagers from April 2020.
  • No changes to pension relief apart from inflation uplift to Lifetime Allowance.
  • Tightening of CGT rules on Entrepreneurs’ Relief and Main Residence Exemption.
  • Annual Investment Allowance for plant and machinery increased to £1 million for two years from 1 January 2019.
  • New capital allowance for construction of commercial buildings introduced for expenditure from 29 October 2018.
  • First-time buyers’ relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax extended to shared ownership schemes.


New Advisory Fuel Rates

HMRC have announced new fuel rates for journeys on or after 1st September 2018. For the month of September, either the old rates or the new rates can be used. Hybrid cars are treated as petrol or diesel cars for this purpose. These rates can also be used for VAT purposes but receipts must be retained by the employer. In addition to these rates, the advisory rate for full electric cars is 4p per mile, and electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes.

The new rates are :

Petrol           :          1,400cc or less 12p ; 1,401cc to 2,000cc 15p ; over 2,000cc 22p.

LPG             :          1,400cc or less 7p  ;  1,401cc to 2,000cc 9p   ; over 2,000cc 13p.

Diesel          :          1,600cc or less 10p ; 1,601cc to 2,000cc 12p ; over 2,000cc 13p.

Abolition of Class 2 NIC Halted

The proposed abolition of Class 2 National Insurance Contributions has been scrapped by the Government. The reasons behind the abolition is that it would hit the lowest earners in society most.

For those wanting to build up an entitlement to contributory benefits such as the state retirement pension would have to pay the higher rate of Class 3 National Insurance Contributions.

The reform was supposed to have taken effect in April, but the implementation had been delayed because of these same concerns.

Making Tax Digital—Spread sheets

Following on from our recent client seminars on the subject of Making Tax Digital, we are now aware of compatible software for those who prefer to keep their records on a spread sheet, rather than accounting software.

Absolute Accounting Software Limited have developed an Excel VAT filer, and the software enables users to keep spread sheets and submit this data in the required MTD format to HMRC.

The software uses HMRC’s API and is MTD compliant; it is said to be easy to use; it doesn’t require any other software; is backed up by a support team; and is cost effective. Pricing starts at £40+VAT for a 13 month period.

We are not promoting this product in any way, and you must make your own decisions on what is best for your own business.

But more information can be obtained direct from Absolute Accounting Software Limited, including a video demonstration, by going to or calling 01869 255797 or email at

Making Tax Digital

Making Tax Digital ( MTD ) will come into force for all VAT registered businesses with turnover above £85,000 with effect from the start of the first VAT return period commencing 1st April 2019 onwards.

From this date, the Government Gateway will be disabled, and no VAT returns will be able to be submitted to HMRC via the Gateway. Every VAT return must then be submitted by MTD compliant software. Currently around 85% of all VAT returns are submitted via the Gateway, and therefore the new legislation will affect a significant number of our own clients.

We have notified all clients already about MTD by way of a newsletter, and we are running in house seminars on MTD for any client who would like more information.

We still have spaces available on our seminars to be held on Wednesday 10th October at 8:00am, and also on Monday 15th October at 5:00pm. If you would like to attend one of these seminars ( which should last no longer than 60 minutes ), then please contact Laura in our offices as soon as possible.