What you need to know about payments on account

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If you’ve recently had notification from HMRC saying that you have a second payment due for the year 2016/17 on 31 July, this is known as a ‘payment on account’.

Each payment on account is half the amount of Income Tax and class 4 National Insurance that some business owners have to pay to HMRC for a future tax year. If your Income Tax and class 4 National Insurance total more than £1,000 for a tax year and you don’t pay tax at source on more than 80% of your income, you’ll have to make payments on account.

Here, Emily Coltman FCA – chief accountant at FreeAgent, which makes cloud accounting software for freelancers, micro-businesses and their accountants – explains what else you need to know about payments on account.

It’s easy to find out what you owe

If you haven’t received a letter and you’re unsure how much you owe, you can find out by logging into your HMRC online account and viewing your Self Assessment statement. Select ‘view statements’ to see how much you’ve already paid on account and how much you need to pay by 31 July.

The total relates to your previous year’s tax and class 4 NI bill

The amount you have to pay for this payment on account is half of your previous year’s tax and class 4 NI bill. So if your tax bill for 2016/17 was £1,500, then each payment on account you’d need to make in respect of your 2017/18 tax bill would be £750.

You’ve got until 31 July to pay

The deadline for payments on account to reach HMRC is 31 July. Different payment methods take different amounts of time to reach HMRC, so don’t get caught out. You can find out how long it takes for payment to reach HMRC and how you can pay according to how you choose to pay here.

You can apply to reduce your payments on account

If you know your tax and class 4 NI bill will be lower next year – for example, if you’ve lost a big customer or you pass State Pension age and no longer have to pay class 4 NI – then you can apply to reduce your payments on account. However, be careful when doing this: if you reduce your payments on account too far, HMRC will treat it as unpaid tax and will charge you interest,  so do leave a margin for error when you work out the reduction.

*Emily Coltman FCA is chief accountant at FreeAgent, which makes cloud accounting software for freelancers, micro-businesses and their accountants. Try it for free at www.freeagent.com



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