Professional September 2021


Tax year-end review

The CIPP policy and research team discuss some of the potential implications were the end of the UK tax year to bemoved as outlined in a recent scoping paper

T o some it’s just another day in the year, but to the payroll profession 5 April is a momentous date as it marks tax year end – but could that soon change? The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has announced a review that could see this date move to 31 March or even to 31 December ( Whilst some may wish to cling onto the centuries-old, traditional end date, there are legitimate arguments to pursue the move. Globalisation means many businesses operate internationally, and the lack of alignment across borders increases complexity for global companies. Given the economic implications of the pandemic, the Treasury will inevitably want to take a cautious approach to ensure that any change does not have a detrimental impact on economic recovery. So, any change to the tax year will take considerable planning to be successful. Income tax and NICs A move to a new tax year would result in either a 270-day transition year (to 31 December) or a 360-day transition year (to 31 March). An obvious consideration of this shortened tax year will be the effect on the annual thresholds that attach themselves to calculations for income tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs). The latter thresholds are usually applied on a weekly

Statutory payments Typically, every April features changes (usually increases) to a range of statutory payments, including sick pay, maternity pay, paternity pay, and a week’s pay for various purposes, such as redundancy pay. The exact date at which an increase might apply varies: it can often be from the first Sunday in April (regardless of whether this is before or after 5/6 April), but for statutory sick pay and a week’s pay the changes normally occur on 6 April. Though increases to statutory payments etc in April are controlled by social security and employment law, they are related to the start of the UK fiscal year. So, a change to 31 March would not create a significant change to timings but moving to 31 December might well do so. Budgets and announcements Although this year saw Budget announcements in March, many if not all of them would usually be expected in the autumn preceding the new tax year, thereby giving payroll teams and payroll software providers the chance to prepare and react to the proposed changes. Whilst a tax year end change to 31 March would not warrant changes to the existing Budget schedule, a change to 31 December would mean the government having to adjust their schedules quite significantly. It could mean that the transition year would feature two Budget announcements within six to nine months of each other. Software implications Payroll software is built to deliver accurate and timely results based on the existing

or monthly basis and will need to be adjusted to reflect the shortened year. Would government opt to amend the thresholds applied every month to reflect the transition, or would employers be required to adjust a single pay period in a different way? Thresholds, however, are only part of the story. The income tax personal allowance will need to be adjusted to reflect the shorter transition year year and to avoid providing individuals with too much tax relief. Tax codes can be made up of multiple allowances; for example, the working from home allowance, and the marriage transfer allowance. All the elements that can impact the overall tax calculation must be reviewed and prorated to prepare for a shortened tax year. Annual allowances are not the only consideration. Tax codes can often be amended to recoup monies owed from earlier or current tax years. During the transition tax year, HM Revenue & Customs will need to consider how these recoveries can be accurately collected, and whether recovery should take place over more than one year – particularly if the move takes the UK to a tax calendar year. Legislation underpins many elements here, and government must also work to implement amendments to these so as to deliver a new tax year effectively.

...the Treasury will inevitably want to take a cautious approach to ensure that any change does not have a detrimental impact ...

| Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward | September 2021 | Issue 73 24

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