04 December 2023

Online applications for lasting powers of attorney (LPAs)

The administrative process of registering lasting powers of attorney has long been considered confusing and time-consuming, but new legislation will modernise this by introducing an online system and improving the paper process. After receiving Royal Assent in September, the Powers of Attorney Act 2023 will update the current paper-based system and bring it online, speeding up registration and strengthening safeguards against fraud to make it more secure. Digitalisation aims to reduce processing times and human errors, ensuring that vulnerable members of society have better protection if they lose the mental capacity to make their own decisions about their healthcare and finances. Not everyone is aware of the importance of lasting powers of attorney, or the changes to the system in the works – so here is a quick guide to help.

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01 December 2023

Digital by default: VAT registration goes online only

Tax authority HMRC is removing paper VAT registration from November 2023, pushing ahead with the move to ‘digital by default’ with online-only tax services. As of 13th November, businesses and tax agents must go online to register for VAT. If they are digitally excluded or unable to use the service, then they will have to call the helpline to make a special request for a paper form. The switch to online-only VAT registration aims to make the application process faster, easier, and more secure, with the majority of businesses already using the digital service – but what if registering by post is the only option?

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27 November 2023

Have you registered for 2022–2023 Self-Assessment?

If you earn money through self-employment or running your own business, it’s very likely that you’re obligated to file annual tax returns with HMRC. Self-Assessment involves submitting your income and expenditure details for the previous tax year so that HMRC can calculate how much Income Tax you owe, then paying your tax bill by the annual deadline of 31st January. This means the deadline for filing returns for the 2022–2023 tax year is looming – they must be submitted and outstanding tax paid by midnight on 31st January 2024. If you have not submitted a Self-Assessment tax return before but need to do so this year, you’ll have to register for a digital tax account with HMRC. This involves waiting to receive an activation code and Unique Taxpayer Reference in the mail before you can use the account, which can take 2 weeks (or 3 weeks if you’re based overseas). Therefore, if you’re due to complete a Self-Assessment return for the first time in 2022–2023, it’s crucial that you don’t leave it until the last minute to register with HMRC.

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16 November 2023

Landlords can sign up for free property alerts

If you are a property owner, you should make sure that you are actively protecting yourself, your property, and your land from fraud. Though it is not as common as other types of fraudulent activity, the Land Registry has prevented over £100 million in property fraud in the last 5 years. To help property owners in England and Wales, especially landlords with multiple properties, the Land Registry has a free service called Property Alert. Landlords may not be aware that they can sign up to receive notifications whenever changes are made to a property’s register, such as a new mortgage application.

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14 November 2023

Will the Triple Lock continue in 2024?

There has been plenty of speculation in recent months that the UK government would suspend the Triple Lock for State Pensions due to soaring inflation rates. With State Pension increases possibly outpacing inflation by the start of the next tax year, and the government’s fiscal management leaving a lot to be desired, the future of the Triple Lock is in question ahead of the next General Election. But what exactly is the Triple Lock, and how does it affect your pension? Here is a quick summary of what’s happening with the State Pension Triple Lock.

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09 November 2023

Landlords no longer required to upgrade energy efficiency

The UK government is facing criticism for ‘backtracking’ on energy efficiency targets for rental properties in England and Wales, but this news is likely to be welcomed by landlords who own older properties that may be expensive or difficult to upgrade. Currently, any property to let in England and Wales must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with a rating of E or above, otherwise it cannot legally be let. Under previous proposals, new tenancies would be expected to have a rating of C or above by 2025, while existing tenancies were expected to comply with this upgrade by 2028. Not having a valid EPC can incur a penalty of £5,000, which was due to be increased to a £30,000 penalty under the discarded proposals. However, in his recent speech on Net Zero, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that these proposals are now being scrapped, as it is believed to be too costly and difficult for most households to meet those targets in such a short timeframe. /.

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06 November 2023

Will the government abolish IHT in 2024?

Earlier this year, the government was reportedly discussing the abolition of Inheritance Tax (IHT) in the UK – which is catching more and more bereaved families in its net due to the nil rate band threshold freeze in place until 2028. While only around 4% of deaths resulted in an Inheritance Tax bill in 2020–2021, this is expected to increase to 7% by 2032–2033, affecting 1 in 8 people. The latest reports suggest that the Conservatives are looking to slash the IHT rate in the Spring Budget next March, which could be a prelude to abolishment – but how likely is this to actually happen, and how might it affect you?

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02 November 2023

Mitigating Corporation Tax rates with an SIPP

According to HMRC, around 1.5 million companies paid Corporation Tax in the financial year up to 31st March 2022 – but only 7% of these exceeded the small profits threshold of £50,000 a year. Though less than 100,000 companies are likely to face the marginal rate of Corporation Tax at 26.5%, which applies to profits between £50,000–£250,000, these will mostly be owner-managed companies keen to mitigate the increased tax. As an example, a company with year-end profits of £200,000 will have a Corporation Tax bill that’s £11,250 higher this year than the previous year. One approach that could help company owners to mitigate the impact of this tax increase is a self-invested personal pension or SIPP – and here’s how.

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17 October 2023

Should you defer your State Pension?

Did you know that you don’t have to take your State Pension when you reach State Pension age? The majority of workers may plan to retire as soon as they’re eligible, which is currently at 66 years old, but some may continue to work past this age. If you put off claiming your State Pension, this means you are deferring it to claim at a later date. It will automatically be deferred if you don’t actively claim it. Delaying your State Pension claim can be beneficial, as you could end up with a bigger pot and higher payments when you do decide to draw your pension. However, deferring your State Pension may not be a good idea for everyone, as there are pitfalls to navigate – from tax implications to life expectancies. Here, we look into what it means to defer a State Pension and the potential pros and cons you should consider when deciding whether to defer or not.

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09 October 2023

Don’t get caught out by VAT penalties

This year was the 50th anniversary of the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the UK, but despite being around for so long, many businesses still find managing this tax too complicated. Unsurprisingly, more registered businesses than ever are now receiving penalties from HMRC for inaccuracies in their VAT returns. A new VAT penalty system for submitting returns or paying tax bills late came into force on 1st January 2023, replacing the old regime and also applying to nil or repayment returns. HMRC is now issuing correspondence to businesses that have incurred VAT penalties under the new system – some of which may not be aware of their errors.

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