5G Networks

5G is the fifth generation of mobile phone and data networks. The rollout has already started – here’s what you need to know.

Today’s mobile phone and mobile data networks tend to use 4G and in some cases, 3G infrastructure. The latest 5G network is designed to work as a “network of networks” in that it will bind together multiple existing and future standards, including the current 4G networks.

5G networks are estimated to be up to 20 times faster than 4G. The new networks will offer lower latency and much greater capacity to support growth in traffic. However, 5G will offer more than just increased performance. It will enable new services such as fast mobile broadband without the need for landlines, on the road it will allow communication between vehicles (another step closer to self-driving cars), better connectivity between smart devices, smart infrastructure such as factories and airports, etc.

From a business perspective, some manufacturers are already experimenting with things like predictive maintenance and smart infrastructure. The current default connectivity mechanism is Wi-Fi but this is not always convenient, reliable or compatible with the working environment. Private networks, enabled by 5G’s capabilities and coverage characteristics, will help businesses to overcome these challenges.

The increased speeds available on 5G will accommodate and improve the lives of those who work remotely.

File sharing across networks and communication over services such as Skype will be faster, slicker and more stable. More reliable connectivity and better conference calls / video conferences will undoubtedly encourage more businesses to adopt remote working. This may help to cut down on commuting, putting less pressure on transport networks and reducing employee stress.

5G is being rolled out by various network providers including EE, O2, 3 and Vodafone. They have started by launching 5G in major cities such as London, Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol, etc.

Over time coverage in these cities will improve and the availability of 5G will grow. There are various online coverage tools which show the availability of 5G on a map and are useful for helping businesses to decide whether they are ready to invest in 5G now or wait until the new network is better established. A range of 5G devices and data SIM cards are already available from the various network operators.

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IHT RELIEF FOR BUSINESSES AND FARMS

There is currently a very generous 100% relief from inheritance tax for passing on businesses and farm land during lifetime and on death. The rationale for Business Property Relief (BPR) and Agricultural Property Relief (APR) is to enable businesses to be passed on without the need to sell off assets to pay the IHT due on the transfer.

Currently if a business is wholly or mainly for the purpose of investment, then it will not be eligible for BPR. This is not always straightforward to determine.  Many estates include both trading and non-trading business assets, and establishing whether this test is met can be difficult to establish. The ‘wholly or mainly’ test is generally considered to be a greater than 50% test and the OTS are suggesting that the test should be aligned with the much stricter 80:20 test that applies for CGT gift of business asset holdover and entrepreneurs’ relief. If introduced many more business transfers would be liable to IHT.

On the positive side the OTS have recommended that IHT business property relief should be extended to include Furnished Holiday Lettings aligning the tax treatment with that of Income Tax and CGT where they are treated as “trading” providing that certain conditions are met.

NO TAX FREE CGT UPLIFT ON DEATH

Although the OTS were tasked with simplifying inheritance tax, they also considered the interaction with CGT as many asset transfers potentially have both CGT and IHT implications. Currently there is no CGT on assets transferred on death and the recipient inherits the asset at its market value.

It has been suggested that the capital gains tax uplift on death distorts decision making relating to assets that benefit from an exemption from Inheritance Tax. Where an individual holds such an asset that has risen in value, and is considering transferring it during their life, they are often advised to retain it until death rather than giving it away during lifetime, because of the tax benefits.

Where a business is retained until death, any potential capital gains are wiped out and there is no Inheritance Tax to pay. This could lead to an asset being retained rather than being transferred to the next generation at the time that is right for the business.

We will again monitor the progress of this proposed change as it is likely to have significant implications on family business succession planning.

CGT LETTING RELIEF RESTRICTION

Currently letting relief provides up to a £40,000 deduction in computing the capital gain on the disposal of a property that was at some time the taxpayer’s main residence. The relief is the lessor of £40,000, the gain attributable to the let period, and the amount of private residence relief. For a couple this could potentially exempt up to £80,000 of the gain from CGT.

The draft legislation will limit letting relief to those situations where the owner remains in shared occupancy with the tenant, i.e. has lodgers living in the house.

If you were hoping to take advantage of letting relief on the sale of a property, you might want to consider disposing of the property before 6 April 2020 to take advantage of the current rules. Contact us for advice in this area as we can estimate the additional tax that might be due following the withdrawal of this generous relief.

CGT PRIVATE RESIDENCE RELIEF CHANGES

Draft legislation to be included in the next Finance Bill will make important changes to the calculation of CGT private residence relief. As announced in the Autumn 2018 Budget, there will be a reduction in the final period exemption to just 9 months and stricter conditions for letting relief to apply (see our next blog post).

Currently where a property has been the taxpayer’s main residence, the last 18 months of ownership counts as a period of deemed occupation. This will be reduced to just 9 months for disposals on or after 6 April 2020. It is understood that this is being introduced to counteract “second home flipping” allegedly used by MPs when they sell their London residences.

OFF-PAYROLL WORKING RULES GOING AHEAD

The draft Finance Bill clauses issued for consultation on 11 July include legislation to extend the “off-payroll” working rules to the private sector from 6 April 2020. These changes will have significant implications for workers providing their services through personal service companies and also the end user organisations that engage such workers.

End users will be required to determine whether the worker would have been an employee if directly engaged and hence the new rules apply to the services provided by the worker via his or her personal service company. This will be a significant additional administrative burden on the large and medium-sized businesses who will be required to operate the new rules. The current CEST (Check Employment Status for Tax) online tool would be improved before the proposed start date.

“SMALL” EMPLOYERS EXCEPTED

“Small” businesses will be outside of the new obligations and services supplied to such organisations will continue to be dealt with under the current IR35 rules, with the worker and his or her personal service company effectively self-assessing whether the rules apply to that particular engagement.

The draft Finance Bill confirms that the definition of “small” is linked to the Companies Act 2006 definition.

This is where the business satisfies two or more of the following conditions:

  • Annual turnover of £10.2 million or less
  • Balance Sheet total of £5.1 million or less
  • 50 employees or less

There will be an obligation to pass details of the status determination down the labour supply chain. The liability for tax and national insurance will be the responsibility of the entity, paying the personal service company. However, if HMRC are unable to collect the tax from that entity, the liability will pass up the labour supply chain, thus encouraging those entities further up the supply chain to carry out due diligence.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss how the proposed changes are likely to impact on your business.

USING A PAYE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT TO PAY SOME OF YOUR EMPLOYEE’S TAX

PAYE settlement agreements (PSAs) are arrangements under which an employer can settle the income tax and National Insurance liabilities on benefits in kind and expenses payments provided to employees and officeholders.

Setting up a PSA avoids passing on an unexpected, and potentially demotivating, tax charge to employees. Where a PSA has been agreed with HMRC, this will obviate the need for any reporting on the individual’s P11D.

The items that can be included in the PSA must meet one of three criteria: minor, irregular or impracticable to apply PAYE or apportion between the employees receiving the benefit.

Although reporting will eventually go online, applications for a PSA are currently made in writing to HMRC. The Revenue will then issue a P626 contract, which states that the employer will pay the tax and National Insurance liability on agreed benefits.

BUT NOT TRAVEL COSTS FOR NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS IN PUBLIC SECTOR

Until recently, HMRC allowed taxable travel expenses to be included in public sector PSAs in respect of normal commuting costs for Non-Executive Directors (NED). The Department of Business (BEIS) wrote to the bodies it oversees on 30 May 2019 instructing them that any payments for commuting made to non-executives and other office holders, will now have to be paid through payroll, with tax and National Insurance deducted at source.

Note also that fees for NED roles in the public and private sectors are always required to be subject to tax and NI through the payroll, as this is income for the holding of an office so it cannot be invoiced and paid gross to the NED.