Doctors are facing many changes around the tax system and rates – and these may have a significant impact on your private practice business. Some of these measures have already been introduced and others are planned for the near future.
BASIS PERIOD REFORM
Basis period reform applies to sole traders and partnerships where their financial accounts are drawn up to a date that is not coterminous with the fiscal year-end, which is 5 April – or 31 March for many in practice.
These year-end dates have often arisen from the commencement of the business or, for older businesses, when the self-assessment tax system was introduced.
Legislation has now been introduced so that you have to report your profits to 31 March/5 April 2024, which may be a change to your usual year-end.
You do not officially have to change the date of your accounts, but it is expected that most businesses will, unless you are expecting significant differences between accounting years, in which case some planning may be required.
The impact of the change is that it can accelerate income tax due on the profits, as it unwinds the timing difference for the disclosure of earnings.
This creates overlap profit, or in other words, you have used the same profits twice on the first period of 1 July 2010 to 5 April 2011.
This can be a benefit if profits are rising, as it builds in a timing difference that you are effectively paying the tax on profits later.
Over the life of your practice, this would naturally unwind with usually a higher tax liability in the final year, often well after the business has, in fact, ceased.
The basis period reforms basically unwind the timing difference to align the disclosure for tax to the tax year-end. In doing so, the first period that was included twice is deducted from the longer period. More...
Value Added Tax is a levy applied to most products and services. It is a complex tax, but for many businesses it is part of the day-to-day finances. VAT is charged on invoices and recovered on certain costs incurred.
There are special provisions within the VAT legislation specific to medical services, but reviewing and evidencing that those exemptions apply is extremely important. Alec James gives some wise advice.
Generally speaking, VAT is not on the radar of many doctors. The reason is that there is an exemption which covers the majority of your work in the private sector.
There is detailed HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) guidance regarding VAT for medics, referred to as VAT notice 701/57.
Fundamentally, where your income meets the following two requirements, the income is deemed to be exempt from VAT and therefore your business has no VAT obligations:
1 The services are within the profession in which you are registered to practice;
2The primary purpose of the services is the protection, maintenance or restoration of the health of the person concerned.
As registered doctors providing medical care to patients, your private practice income would usually pass these two tests and therefore is exempt from VAT.
This means you are not required to charge the current VAT rate of 20% on your invoices.
Where an income stream does not meet the two requirements for VAT exemption, you need to consider your VAT position, because the income will be considered to be a ‘VAT-able supply’ – or ‘standard-rated’ as it is formally known. More...
During the lockdown many of you with limited companies may have resorted to withdrawing funds from your company bank accounts over and above any normal salary and/or dividend payment taken in the past. This may have been withdrawn as a loan as opposed to a salary or dividend payment.
Below is a guide to help explain the consequences of taking a ‘loan’ from your company and what is known as the Director’s Loan Account ("DLA").
Although your company is owned and controlled by you, legally and for tax purposes it is a separate legal entity. This is important and it is because of this separate legal status and the control you exert over it that HMRC has safeguards to ensure that the funds held and owned by the company are afforded safeguards.
The Revenue pays particular attention to the DLA.
A DLA can sometimes be referred to as a Directors Current Account ('DCA'). This directors loan/current account represents monies owing to you or monies owing back to the company from you. If you borrow money from your company (instead of say declaring a dividend) then assuming the company didn't already owe the same amount of money to you, then this would show within your company accounts as a directors loan account.
Financial year end
When it comes to the financial year end an account is drawn up internally within the More...
In our previous private practice post we set out some points for you to consider as the lockdown eases and there is some return to normality. This is available on our website.
Independent Practitioner Today has also kindly published our pointers here.
Towards the end of the article we highlighted some tax planning opportunities and advice that will be set out below and for which further detailed guidance can be provided on a personal basis.
The tax planning will be split between those who practice as individual practitioners or in partnership say with their spouse or partner and those of you that have limited companies.
If you have a 31 March or 5 April financial year end then for the year 2020/21 the first part of the year will have seen little or no private practice activity.
The Revenue will allow the 31 July 2020 tax payment (your second payment on account for the tax year 2019/20) to be deferred until 31 January 2021.
From 6 April 2018 the £5,000 dividend allowance will reduce to £2,000.
If you are a shareholder of your own company and have not yet taken advantage of the £5,000 dividend allowance since 6 April 2017 then you may wish to consider whether or not you should make the most of the larger dividend allowance whilst it is still available.