Working from home may be an attractive option for some. Here we consider the tax implications of homeworking arrangements for the self-employed.
Your status is important
The tax rules differ considerably depending on whether you are self-employed, as a sole trader or partner, or whether you are an employee, even if that is as an employee of your own company. One way or the other though, if you want to maximise the tax position, it is essential to keep good records. If not, HMRC may seek to rectify the tax position several years down the line. This can lead to unexpected bills including several years’ worth of tax, interest and penalties. The below looks at the basis for the self-employed.
Wholly and exclusively
The self-employed pay tax on the profits that the business makes or their share of those profits. So, the critical issue is to ensure that costs incurred can be set against that profit. For day to day overheads, those costs generally have to be incurred ‘wholly and exclusively’ for the purposes of the trade to be tax deductible. What does this really mean in practice? Well, HMRC has issued a lot of guidance on the matter which is summarised below.
Use of the home
If the self-employed carry on some of their business from home, then some tax relief may be available. HMRC accepts that even if the business is carried on elsewhere, a deduction for part of the household expenses is still acceptable provided that there are times when part of the home is used solely for business purposes. To quote:
‘If there is only minor use, for example writing up the business records at home, you may accept a reasonable estimate without detailed enquiry.’
So that there is no confusion, wholly and exclusively does not mean that business expenditure has to be separately billed or that part of the home must be permanently used for business purposes. However, it does mean that when part of the home is being used for the business then that is the sole use for that part at that time.
HMRC accepts that costs can be apportioned but on what basis? Well, if a small amount is being claimed then HMRC will usually not be too interested. In fact, HMRC seems to accept that an estimate of a few pounds a week is acceptable. However, if more is to be claimed then HMRC suggests that the following factors are considered:
What sort of costs can I claim for?
Generally, HMRC will accept a reasonable proportion of costs such as council tax, mortgage interest, insurance, water rates, general repairs and rent, as well as cleaning, heat and light and metered water.
Other allowable costs may include the cost of business calls on the home telephone and a proportion of the line rental, in addition to expenditure on internet connections to the extent that the connection is used for business purposes.
So how does this work in practice?
As already mentioned, if there is a small amount of work done at home, a nominal weekly figure is usually fine but for substantial claims a more scientific method may be needed.
Subject to certain conditions you may also be able to apply the simplified expenses scheme in which a monthly home working claim can be made based on hours spent working at home. The monthly amounts that can be claimed are based on the monthly hours of home business use at the following rates: £10 - 25>50 hours £18 51>100 hours and £26 thereafter.
For self-employed businesses, the depreciation of assets is covered by a set of tax reliefs known as capital allowances. For equipment at home, such as a laptop, desk, chair, etc., capital allowances may be available on the business proportion (based on estimated business usage) of those assets. So, if Andrew uses his laptop solely for business, the whole cost will be within the capital allowances rules.
What about travel costs?
Another consequence of working from home is the potential impact on travel costs. The cost of travelling from home to the place of business or operations is generally disallowed, as it represents the personal choice of where to live. The fact that the individual may sometimes work at home is irrelevant.
Where an individual conducts office work for their trade does not by itself determine their place of business, so although many may be able to claim tax relief for the costs of working from home, far fewer will be able to claim travel costs of going to and from their home office.
Of course, this principle presupposes that there is a business or operational ‘base’ elsewhere from which the trade is run. Normally, the cost of travel between the business base and other places where work is carried on will be an allowable expense, while the cost of travel between the taxpayer’s home and the business base will not be allowable.
However, where there are no separate business premises away from the home, travel costs to visit clients should be fully allowable. The crux of the matter is where the business is really run from.
Capital gains tax contains a tax exemption for the sale of an individual’s private home, known as principal private residence relief (PPR). Where part of the dwelling is used exclusively for business purposes, PPR relief will not apply to the business proportion of the gain. However, HMRC makes clear in their guidance that ‘occasional and very minor’ business use is ignored.
This publication is produced by Francis Clark LLP for general information only and is not intended to constitute professional advice. Specific professional advice should be obtained before acting on any of the information Contained herein. Whilst Francis Clark LLP is confident of the accuracy of the information in this publication (as at the date of production), no duty of care is assumed to any direct or indirect recipient of this publication and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy.
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January and early February saw me fulfilling my intention to attend at least one meeting of each of DASLS Sub-Committees. Having done Contentious Business, Non-Contentious Business, International Relations, JLD and Social during the course of last year, I was pleased to have the opportunity to take part in meetings of Education and Training, the In House Lawyers’ Group and Practice Management in the first month and a half of 2019 and to witness lively discussion and contributions at all of them. Just for good measure, I took in another International Relations Sub-Committee meeting a couple of days before joining Chair Emma Mitcham along with Rebecca Parkman and former FBE Presidents, Michael Cosgrave and Rod Mole at the Annual Barcelona Bar Conference (14-16 February). This coincided with the celebration “Festivity Sant Raimon de Penyafort” the Bar’s Patron Saint. With 25,000 practising lawyers registered as members and around 10,000 non-practising, Barcelona is a heavyweight among European Bars/Law Societies. The conference attracted delegates from across Europe as well as the USA, Argentina and Japan, Osaka Bar attending to renew a friendship agreement with the hosts. Our national President Christina Blacklaws was there, speaking at one of the Friday morning working sessions on “The Power of Gender Equality” and she was accompanied by Lizzette Robleto de Howarth, The Law Society’s International Programmes Manager. Amongst other events on the Friday afternoon, there was a formal session chaired by Barcelona Bar President Eugenia Gay at which certificates of congratulation were awarded to some twenty plus Bar Members who have achieved 50 years’ service to their profession. The day (or rather the night) was rounded off with a Gala Dinner for over 1,200 guests at the Institut Nacional d’Educacio Fisica de Catalunya or, as it is better known, the Basketball Arena for the 1992 Olympics! The Spanish are happy to eat late. The programme indicated dinner at 9.00 p.m., but that turned out to be when the welcoming drinks were served. Guests sat down to eat around an hour later and the meal did not finish till almost midnight. With music and more drinks afterwards, while some of our delegation headed for the shuttle bus back to the hotel, Michael Cosgrave, my wife Val and I upheld the honour of DASLS, flew the flag for Britain and carried on networking until 2.00 a.m. Not too early on the Saturday, there was an International Legal Brunch on “International Commercial Tribunals, Arbitration and other ADR: a new arsenal for international dispute resolution in the 21st century.” In short, this gave delegates the chance to talk about the extent to which ADR has been adopted in their respective jurisdictions, the enthusiasm or otherwise of their Bar Members for it and the degrees to which it has or has not succeeded. International Legal Brunch on “International Commercial Tribunals, Arbitration and other ADR The countdown to 4th April and DASLS Awards and Annual Dinner continues, as do the working party meetings with Grow Marketing. It was very pleasing to hear that tickets sold out within a few days of the Box Office opening. This means we will have over 480 members and guests at Exeter Cathedral on the night, by far and away our biggest Awards Night yet. Tony Steiner and I made a site visit with Alice Bryan from Grow to meet Cathedral representatives, caterers and events co-ordinators to get a feel for the layout of table, bar, stage, sound and lighting and so on and so forth. It all promises to be a spectacular and memorable night. Before Exeter, there is one other Cathedral event I would like to draw to your attention, particularly if you work in Somerset. This is the Somerset Sunday Legal Service being held at Wells Cathedral on 24th March. I am unable to be there myself, but the High Sheriff of Somerset, Denis Burn, would be delighted for DASLS members t...
I recently had the pleasure of convening the inaugural meeting of the DASLS Environmental Sustainability Working Group (it’s a bit of a mouthful so let’s call it the ESWG). My thanks to those that have helped get this idea off the ground. We are all aware of the imperative to reduce our carbon footprint and conduct our lives and businesses in a more environmentally friendly way. Not only is this good for the planet but it is good for business as well. Increasingly staff and clients expect law firms to adopt responsible environmentally aware working practices and there are operational savings to be made. The ESWG want to make a difference that will show how solicitors in the South West value their landscape and communities. Over the coming months we will seek to source and signpost easy and effective ways in which firms can improve their performance. We have started by asking firms to complete a short survey about power usage, waste disposal and use of plastics. If your firm hasn’t responded yet, please contact me for details. If you are interested in this work, then please get in touch. The County Societies Group (CSG) has just met; regular readers will recall that this is the group of 6 of the more active local law societies consisting of DASLS with Cheshire & North Wales, Kent, Leicestershire, Newcastle and Surrey law societies. We were pleased to be joined for part of our meeting by the current Vice-President of The Law Society Simon Davis who talked about his forthcoming Presidential year and how he intended to put the Rule of Law at the very centre of everything he planned to do. We have also been briefed by Richard Miller, Head of Justice at The Law Society who spoke about the recent LASPO review. He is very upbeat believing that for the first time in 20 years things are beginning to move in the right direction. If there is interest, then we would invite Richard to come and speak to DASLS – let me know! The CSG meetings have proved to be lively with a useful exchange of ideas and news of developments across the country. Newcastle reported to us that their new Court will not offer a counter service and Cheshire & North Wales were able to update us about the new Graduate Apprenticeships that will be coming on stream in 2020 – more information to follow. Our Managing Partner/Practice Manager Forums continue to meet and in South Devon we were able to bring together the residential conveyancers with a view to ironing out some local procedures that will make life easier for them and providing a smoother transaction for the client. It is early days but if successful we will encourage the extension of this initiative to other areas. Look out for our series of management development courses that have been designed for aspiring partners and managers. These masterclasses cover client centric working, understanding accounts, pricing and managing your best asset – people. Full details on our website. It has been a busy start to the year and the office has been very busy with the 2019 Legal Awards – we are all looking forward to the big night on 4th April in Exeter Cathedral. Tony Steiner email@example.com...
As a DASLS Member you are invited to attend the Society’s Annual General Meeting on 30 April starting at 6.00 p.m. at the Exeter Golf & Country Club . The short business meeting will be followed by a members’ dinner. The Committee hope to see as many members as possible. The purpose of an AGM is to give members an opportunity each year to meet the directors i.e. the Committee members, to ask questions and receive information about the Society. The AGM notice will be sent out electronically with the e-bulletin Buzz. If you would prefer to receive a hard copy of the AGM documentation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Below the report from the President and Committee, part of the AGM documentation which members will be able to access on DASLS website prior to the AGM on 30 April. My year as DASLS President has passed as swiftly as I expected. It has been challenging in terms of time management but has also been a personally rewarding experience I would not have missed. Being President provided me with my first visit to 113 Chancery Lane when attending the Local Law Society Presidents’ and Secretaries’ Conference in June and, before that, the unforgettable experience of addressing Lords, MPs and fellow solicitors as a member of the County Societies’ Group deputation to Parliament in May. I would never have expected it before becoming President, but I have embraced social media to a greater extent, learning to tweet and quite enjoying it. My thanks to Tony Steiner for getting me started and to my small, loyal band of followers, but the DASLS President’s Twitter account still has a long way to go to match the following The Honorary Secretary attracts. I believe I fulfilled my aim of attending at least one meeting of each of DASLS Sub- Committees. I commend them all for the time their members give up from their busy day to day working schedules to attend meetings and to take appropriate follow up action on matters discussed. Where this involves interaction with The Law Society itself and our regulatory bodies, it all helps to cement the reputation and importance of DASLS as a voice and opinion of which note should be taken. I have also tried to play some part in encouraging more communication and interaction between DASLS itself, our Junior Lawyers’ Division and the local branches of CILEx. Attending and speaking at the J L D meeting in November for election of new committee members was a really worthwhile experience and it was a delight to attend the CILEx Devon branch Autumn Ball and to meet the CILEx National President, Deputy Vice President and Immediate Past President. DASLS continues to be a driving force behind the County Societies’ Group in which we are members with Kent, Surrey, Newcastle, Cheshire and North Wales and Leicestershire. Besides the joint delegation to Parliament in May, I was pleased to attend meetings of the group in London last June and then in November at the Local Law Societies’ National Conference which was hosted by Leicestershire Law Society. It has been my privilege to attend dinners and awards evenings hosted by our fellow Association of South Western Law Societies’ members Bristol, Monmouthshire, Plymouth and Cornwall and I was sorry to have to miss that of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. My presidency also coincided with the 70th anniversary of ASWLS itself and a dinner to celebrate this landmark at Celtic Manor last July. My very first official function last April was the Institute of Chartered Accountants South West Annual Dinner while, more recently, I also attended the Torquay and District Medical Society Medico-Legal dinner and talk. On the international front, prior to the 2018 Exeter Sunday Legal Service, it was my pleasure to host the dinner for lawyers from Bilbao, Erlangen, Gdańsk, Leuven, Rotterdam and Verona and also the new President of FBE, Michele Lucherini and Immediate Past President (and DASLS me...
Why did you join Devon & Somerset Law Society? Monique said I had to. What is your dream job? To be the skipper of a Scarab power boat giving boat trips to tourists out of Guernsey harbour. What has been the most embarrassing moment during your professional career? Having the Presiding Judge’s Labrador sniff my crotch during a bail application in his chambers. Which sort of work gives you the most job satisfaction? Exactly what I am doing now. What gets you up in the morning? Going to the gym. What do you do in your spare time? Go to the gym. What book are you reading at the moment? No ordinary life by Peter Stokes. It is the true story of a father who, on his death bed, handed his son a dusty journal containing details of his secret past as a Second World War hero and founding member of the 2nd SAS. What is the most recent film you have seen? Jason Bourne. What are your favourite food / restaurant? Anyone who knows me is aware that I eat anything. Where is your favourite holiday destination? The coastal footpath between Polzeath and Port Isaac in Cornwall. What is your favourite pet? A Jack Russell. What is your favourite lawyer joke? Q: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb? A: How many can you afford? What is your passion? I must say my wife Paula. Which famous person, dead or alive, would you most like to spend a day with? The libel barrister Sir Patrick Hastings QC. Tell us an interesting fact about yourself. I can back squat 600lbs. ...
Dear All, This year really is flying by. I have just had my birthday. After updating you previously on the excellent catch up I had with the Law Society CEO Paul Tennant on his visit to the south west last November, I had not expected to be back in touch with him quite so soon. Sadly, this time it was in less happy circumstances. I was, like many of you, shocked and saddened in January to hear the news and see the pictures of the substantial fire at Chancery Lane in London. I have emailed Paul Tennant and James Shepherd, our Law Society Relationship Management Executive, to send our best wishes and we are hoping that the building will be back to full use very soon. As I write this report, preparations are in full swing for the 2020 DASLS Legal Awards & Dinner. As you know the Annual Dinner is being held again this year at Exeter Cathedral. The event is to take place on the 30th April 2020. After the success of last year, we are hoping that once again the event is sold out which would mean we will have around 480 people attending. If you have not done so already, please contact Llew Nicholls and the team at our Awards partners ‘Grow Marketing’ who have worked very hard alongside our very own Tony and Monique to achieve full sponsorship of this event. You can contact Llew to book the remaining places by emailing Llew directly at Llew@growmarketinguk.com. There have been more nominations than ever before with more entries making the short list. Please do not miss this dazzling occasion. You will all have received DASLS latest 2020 training courses programme. Tony Steiner and the team have worked hard to arrange these events. You will see that as members you get preferential rates and if appropriate reduced rates for multiple attendees from your firms. Please take advantage of these services as a proportion of the monies do go to support our Society’s broad continuing education offering. If I do not see you individually before I look forward to catching up with you at the 2020 DASLS Legal Awards and Annual Dinner in April. With very best wishes Nigel Lyons President 2019-2020...
The first big social event of the year was the annual DASLS Quiz which is the grand finale of the Challenge Cup. It is an event I thoroughly enjoy and I make no apology for making it a bit challenging. This year did not disappoint there being just ½ point between first and second place and resulting in joint winners of the Challenge Cup. Congratulations to Ashfords and Michelmores both of whom knew that the study of birds’ eggs is Oology. The next Challenge Cup kicks off with the usual Skittles match in Dawlish when the magnificent Skittles Cup will be contested. The latest meeting of the County Societies Group took place in February when we were guests of the SRA in Birmingham. DASLS Deputy Vice-President Adrian Richards and I attended. We were welcomed by their Chief Executive Paul Philip who set out some key messages around SRA activity emphasising their desire for light touch engagement with solicitors and good channels of communication. He said that the SRA was working well with The Law Society and was focused on creating an environment where solicitors could be innovative and use the latest in technology. AML is a key area of activity and following the appointment of the new Chair, Anna Bradley, they are working to provide better customer care. He also explained that until now the SRA had not taken any position on issues such as Access to Justice, Rule of Law and Advice Deserts. They were considering looking at, and taking a position on, one or two of these issues each year. There followed several presentations by senior staff at the SRA dealing with Enforcement Strategy and reporting concerns; Customer information – Transparency Rules and clickable logo.; the SQE and Anti-Money Laundering. Comprehensive slides were produced to accompany each presentation which I will forward together with my notes to any member who wishes to see them. Just email me —email@example.com. There followed an interesting tour of the building. SRA have around 600 staff members with the majority based over three floors at the Cube. The next meeting of the County Societies Group will be in the summer and we also plan a Parliamentary Liaison event at Westminster later in the year. I am pleased to announce that DASLS has two new Partners; Moneypenny who look after your telephone calls when you are not available and Dictate Now who offer Dictation Systems and outsourced document preparation. They join our current Partners: Alchemy; PKF Francis Clark; Landmark; Lockton; Unoccupied Direct; WebBoss and Wessex Searches. We are thankful for the support our partners give us and encourage you to use them where you can. Depending when you read this our joint event with the Legal Sustainability Alliance on 5th March will be about to take place or will have passed. Regular readers will know that the Society has formed a small working party to encourage and identify how firms can improve their sustainability. The main Committee have suggested that this forms a Sub-Committee. We will arrange a meeting of the working party after the event on the 5th March with a view to progressing this. Anyone who is interested in this please let me know. Tony Steiner, Executive Director DASLS....
You may know that DASLS is fortunate to be twinned with Bilbao, Erlangen, Gdańsk, Leuven, Rennes and Verona. Such twinning arrangements underpin a sense that we belong to one community of values on the basis that these relationships are based on reciprocity. Each year, we meet to discuss and debate important legal issues of the day, whilst discovering the cultures and languages of our partners. 2020 is DASLS turn to host such an event, which will be rounded off with the Sunday Legal Service at Exeter Cathedral on 7 June 2020 and to which DASLS members are cordially invited! The subject of our conference (on 5 June at County Hall in Exeter) will be around the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in the sphere of human rights. Rather than understanding AI in terms of a terrifying post-apocalyptic vision of a world controlled by robots, AI features in our everyday lives from Alexa and smart home devices to controversial facial recognition technologies and even Uber! AI is built by lines of code called algorithms. Put simply, an algorithm is a step by step method of solving a problem and is commonly used for data processing and calculation. However, the use of automated data processing techniques in public and private sectors, especially by internet platforms and its impact on the exercise of human rights is somewhat of a hot topic. When it comes to AI, there is a focus on the usage of huge datasets. AI bias means when an algorithm produces results that may be prejudiced due to erroneous assumptions in the machine learning process and the data used to train the algorithm by data scientists. Bias runs deep in humans and it can be unconscious in nature. AI systems are created by individuals who have their own unique experiences and blind spots all of which can lead to fundamentally biased systems. This issue is compounded by the fact that those responsible for AI (including its deployment and training) may not be representative of society. Accordingly, unfair treatment of a group can result from the use of an algorithm to support decision making whether that decision relates to criminal sentencing, loan applications or self-driving cars. The language of AI is undoubtedly complex, but it is drastically changing the way we live. Understanding AI and its implications in the context of its growth is important so that we are all better placed to push companies to develop new technologies both ethically and responsibly. If you would like to receive more information once the June 2020 programme is finalised, please contact Monique Bertoni at DASLS office – firstname.lastname@example.org . Emma Mitcham Chair, International Relations Sub-Committee...
New AML Regulations and the pursuit of the beneficial owner. Introduction The new Money Laundering & Terrorist Finance (Amendment) Regulations 2019 which came into force on 10 January have modified a number of aspects of the 2017 AML Regulations, with which we have been complying for some time. However, many firms’ procedures hark back to the earlier days of the 2007 Regulations and have not been modified or updated much over recent years. This article seeks to set out what the new Regulations in fact require, and the steps we should be taking in relevant cases. The Policy It has been true for some time that the ultimate aim of all the regulatory rules is transparency – it has always been the case that the use of artificial structures such as trusts, companies, bearer shares, foundations and charities – whilst perfectly legal – have to some extent also benefitted from the extra anonymity they offer to the true owner and recipient of the funds and services we provide. If we offer services to these types of entity, the Regulations require us to go some way to identifying the individuals who are actually benefitting from our services, and this entails uncovering the true ownership of the organisation. Whilst this would be difficult in many instances – Cayman Island companies with bearer shares, for example – we must nevertheless attempt to get some assurances from the creators of the companies, accountants or registrars as to the ownership of the shares, and have some way of being notified of any change in ownership. We also need to be aware of the PEP and Sanctions status of these individuals. Further, for UK companies, the PSC Regulations 2016 impose an exactly similar obligation on the companies themselves to identify their beneficial owners and notify Companies House of any shareholder with 25% or more of the shares or exercising control over management of the business. The Regulations The Regulations provide that we must, as part of our CDD procedures Identify the client – this means coming to know who they are, by name and some other characteristic, e.g. address, date of birth, date of incorporation Verify that identity – by means of reliable and independent data and documentation Identify the beneficial owner (if the client is an entity) – though not necessarily verifying that identity Identify and verify the identity of the person actually instructing us (if not already done). What this means for us When acting for a COMPANY (that is not a listed company) the Regulations require us to obtain Details of the company as registered (which must be proven by a copy of the register entries available from Companies House or equivalent registry) – name, number, registered office address, principal place of business the law to which it is subject details of its governing documentation (its memorandum) names of the directors. Names of any beneficial owners, and the identity of any individual owners of legal entities which own the client Names and verification of the persons instructing us on behalf of the company, and their authority to do so. Note that we cannot rely on the information provided by the company under the PSC Regulations but we must undertake our own research in order to fulfil our CDD duties. Further, if as part of that research, we discover that the Companies House data on PSC’s is incorrect, then we are now under a further obligation to notify the Registrar of Companies of this fact. We also need to establish that PEPs and Sanctions checks are also undertaken. If genuinely positive entries are revealed in response we should undertake enhanced CDD steps or cease to act, accordingly. Electronic searches are a permissible avenue to use provided the search provider can offer us the necessary assurances that the person actually claiming an identity is IN FACT that person. Check also whether ...
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