Archive for April, 2019

Spring Statement March 2019

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

The following comments were written on the 13th March 2019 immediately following Philip Hammond’s presentation of the 2019 Spring Statement to Parliament. In theory, the government uses the Spring Statement to respond to the most recent forecasts made by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR).

However, what follows is a short summary of the points Philip Hammond did raise.


  • Since 2010 there are more than 3.5m more people in work.
  • Employment is forecasted to increase by a further 600,000 by 2023.

Public finances

  • Debt fell last year and is forecast to fall continuously to 2023-24.

Tech and the new economy

  • In response to a government sponsored consultation, moves are afoot to update competition rules and increase competition in the digital economy.
  • The tech market place will be encouraged to allow smaller firms to participate.
  • Regulation may be introduced to make users’ personal data portable. For example, transfer lists of friends to new platforms and search engine histories to new search engines.

Border access

  • From June 2019, citizens of a number of non-EU countries will be able to use e-gates at UK airports and border crossing points.
  • The process of abolishing landing cards will also commence from June 2019.

Clean growth

  • Government is to explore schemes to encourage energy efficiencies for smaller businesses.
  • Developers will need to build in increases in biodiversity.
  • The decarbonisation of gas supplies is to be increased by using green gas suppliers.
  • From 2025 new homes will need to meet new low energy standards.

Housing and infrastructure

  • The government is on track to increase housing supply to its highest level since 1970 by the end of this parliament with an average of 300,000 properties a year.
  • A number of new steps were set out in the Spring Statement including the use of the Housing Infrastructure Fund and the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme to help the supply of more new homes across the country.

National Living and National Minimum Wage changes

  • The government has tasked the Low Pay Commission to make recommendations for changes to these rates to apply from April 2020. A response is required by October 2019.

Retaining business records

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

Sole traders

If you are self-employed, and obliged to submit a self-assessment tax return, you must keep your tax records for at least five years after the 31 January submission deadline of the relevant tax year. For example, if you submit your 2018-19 tax return online on or before 31 January 2020, you must keep your records until at least the end of January 2025. Records for this purpose include those relating to personal income etc.

If you send your tax return more than four years after the deadline, you will need to keep your records for fifteen months after you submit your tax return.

If you keep your tax records on a computer, make sure you have sufficient backups of your data to meet these requirements. If you change software during the record retention period, you may need to print relevant reports if you are unable to maintain access to data backups.

Limited companies

If you run your business as a limited company you must keep records for six years from the end of the last company financial year they relate to, or longer if:

  • they show a transaction that covers more than one of the company’s accounting periods,
  • the company has bought something that it expects to last more than six years, like equipment or machinery,
  • you sent your Company Tax return late, or
  • HMRC has started a compliance check into your Company Tax return.

If you are not in business, the minimum period is 22 months after the 31 January filing deadline and at least 15 months after filing if later.


The new data protection regulations require that you don’t keep the personal data of your customers, staff or other contacts beyond the date required by law that they be retained.

Keeping this data online or in dusty boxes indefinitely is no longer an option, you risk heavy fines if you do.

Most online document management systems now have a filter process that will help you manage this search and destroy requirement. As for the storage boxes, you will have to resort to a more hands on approach.

Are home to work travel costs ever allowed?

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

Ordinary commuting between home and work incurs costs: either shoe leather, if you walk, or the cost of transport. For most employees these costs are considered to be personal costs and are not deductible for tax purposes.

This is so even if your employer requests that you attend out of hours, say the weekend. According the HMRC:

If an employee is sometimes required by his employer to attend their permanent workplace outside normal working hours, often at the weekend. This may mean that they incur extra costs on bus fares, meals eaten at their desk and sometimes even the cost of overnight accommodation near their workplace.

No deduction is due for any of these costs because all of the journeys between the employee’s home and their permanent workplace are ordinary commuting… It makes no difference that their employer requires them to make the journeys or that they are made outside their normal working hours.

This rule is expanded by the following example:

A health and safety inspector lives in Leicester and is employed in an office in Nottingham. His office is 500 yards from a bean processing plant that he has to inspect. He travels direct from home to the plant.

Although the plant is a temporary workplace his journey to the plant is substantially the same as his ordinary commuting journey. Therefore, his travel is treated as ordinary commuting and the cost is not deductible.

A journey to a temporary workplace that takes the employee in a completely different direction to his or her ordinary commuting journey is not substantially ordinary commuting even if the distance is the same. Conversely, a journey that is made in broadly the same direction and is substantially the same length as the ordinary commuting journey is substantially ordinary commuting even if the employee takes a different route.

And the above examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Who said tax was uncomplicated? If you are required to make journeys that you consider are not ordinary commuting, and for which you would like to claim the additional costs on your tax return, please call, we can help you decide if your claim is likely to succeed.