July 28th, 2011
If you work at or from home, the part of the property used for work may be liable for business rates.
If the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has given a rateable value to a part of your home then you will have to pay business rates on that part.
The remainder of the property will still be liable for council tax.
How is the assessment made?
There are a number of factors that the VOA will consider when they are deciding whether or not the part of your property used for work is liable for business rates. These include:
- the extent and frequency that the room (or rooms) is used for work
- if any modifications have been made to the building to accommodate work use
Each case is considered on its own merits, and the VOA will normally ask to visit your property to check the facts before an assessment is made.
Your local authority will use the rateable value to calculate the business rates bill and send it out annually.
There are several rate relief schemes available which may reduce your bill. Your local authority will administer these.
What is a composite property?
The Valuation Office Agency use the term ‘composite’, or ‘comp’, to indicate whether a property is mixed use. This means it contains both domestic and business/non-domestic areas, and these areas are used by the same occupiers.
Examples of composite properties include:
- a guest house with living accommodation for the owner
- a hotel with staff quarters
- a house that contains an area used exclusively for working from home
The domestic area of a composite property will be liable for council tax. The business or non-domestic area will be liable for business rates. You will not pay both taxes on the same part of the property.
Use of home as an office
Many small businesses use their home as the principle place of business. Where part of the house is used solely for business purposes there is a genuine risk that Business Rates will apply.
A balance needs to be made between maximizing the claim for tax relief for use of home as office and the extra cost of business rates compared with domestic council tax.
Generally those small businesses that merely set aside part of a room or use a study as a workplace, but also use the same room for domestic purposes are not especially at risk.
However where a person builds a loft or garage conversion, or builds a “summer house” in the garden for business use should consider themselves likely to be caught out as a composite property.
July 28th, 2011
Work related training:
If an employer pays for staff training, or reimburses an employee training costs, any benefit to the employee is not subject to tax.
An employee is generally unable to claim training costs as deduction for their own tax if the employer does not reimburse his costs.
Recent case law indicates that training costs will be deductible in the employee’s hands if training is part and parcel of the employee’s job specification.
The term “work-related” is defined very widely; it can include anything from a first aid course to a motivational team building activity course.
Other (non work related) training costs:
Training not related to the employees’ duties are taxable as benefits in kind for higher paid employees or taxable as earnings if employer reimburses employee (all employees).
July 28th, 2011
Directors owe a duty of care to the company’s creditors. If a company continues to trade when it is insolvent, its directors can be held personally accountable if their actions cause financial loss to any of the company’s creditors.
You will also be liable under any personal guarantees.
What do I do if my company is in financial difficulty?
Directors must use their judgement and known facts to establish whether the company is, or is about to become or is insolvent
They must establish whether or not a problem is only on a short-term basis and will be rectified by trading on, or means terminal failure, or something in the middle ground. Directors must be cautious, they should not do anything (writing cheques, committing the company to any action, paying creditors, taking deposits etc) without seeking professional advice.
In many situations one of the direct or indirect causes of insolvency is management failure. This may be accompanied by a lack of control, poor record keeping and a lack of accurate financial information.
Accurate and up-to-date accounts are vital in determining a company’s solvency.
How do I tell if my company is insolvent?
A company is insolvent on a cash-flow basis if it is unable to pay its debts as they fall due, or fails to satisfy a judgment debt. There is a second balance sheet test for solvency which asks.
The cash-flow test
Many companies will fail the cash-flow test on a short-term basis at some time in their existence. Temporary cash flow problems may be caused by
- The failure of a customer to settle a debt on time.
- Overtrading (having too much cash tied up in stock and debtors).
- As a course of a delay in refinancing.
- Not making the required sales to break even.
- Having to make unscheduled payments.
Short-term cash flow problems can be corrected by trading on or after rearranging overdrafts or loan finance.
The balance-sheet test
Very simply do the business liabilities exceed the business assets, taking into account the value of assets with the company in a distressed financial position and providing for all contingent costs, losses and provisions.
If a company does fail its balance sheet test, the directors must act to protect the interests of its creditors to avoid any allegations being made of wrongful trading under the Insolvency Act.
If the company is insolvent directors should take the following steps:
- Obtain and document professional advice and their actions and responses.
- Ensure that the company’s accounts are up to date with a full list of assets, debtors and creditors
- Consider whether any part of the company is worth saving.
- Discuss whether it will be possible to make a formal or informal arrangement with creditors.
- If the company cannot be saved the directors should put it into liquidation.
The accounts should be prepared on a break-up basis which means the fixed and current assets are valued to their net-realisable value.
To avoid personal liability for their actions when a company is in financial difficulties its directors should be careful not to:
- Dispose of company assets at undervalue.
- Show one creditor preference to the detriment of another.
- Accept customer deposits or payments on account if completion is uncertain.
Most important of all if a company is insolvent directors need a licensed insolvency practitioner