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August Question and Answer Section

Newsletter issue - August 2010.

Q. I work as a self-employed decorator. If I transfer my business to a new company will I be able to take advantage of the NIC holiday announced in the last Budget?

A. The full details of how the NIC holiday scheme will operate have not yet been released, but we do know it won't apply to businesses established in London, the South East or East regions of England. However, even if you are based outside of those areas, we also know the scheme will only apply to new businesses set up after 21 June 2010. 'New' will be defined as a new economic activity, so where an existing sole-trader business such as yours, is transferred to a new company the business is unlikely to qualify as 'new' for the NIC holiday scheme.

Q. My brother and sister in law each lent my company £10,000 some years ago. The company is still trading, but it is unlikely to ever be able to repay those loans. If I write off the debt in the company accounts will my relatives be able to claim tax relief for the irrecoverable loans?

A. Lenders in this position can sometimes treat the irrecoverable loan as a capital loss, which can be set against capital gains, but not against income. However, the Taxman will only grant this tax relief if the loan really is irrecoverable. This is taken as read where the business has gone broke. While the company is still trading there is a possibility that the money could be repaid, even if the amounts have been written off in the company accounts. The Taxman will need some considerable evidence from the company's bankers and other sources, such as Court judgements, to be convinced that the loans cannot be repaid by a trading company.

Q. I have volunteered for redundancy at the age of 59 and expect to receive a pay-off worth £60,000. The first £30,000 will be paid free of tax, but is there anything I can do to reduce the 40% tax I will be charged on the balance?

A. You could ask your employer to divert some of the redundancy payment into a registered personal pension scheme for you. You will not be taxed on this pension contribution as long as your total income for this tax year is not more than £130,000. You also need to have income below this level in the previous two tax years. If your employer is not willing to make the pension contribution, you could make the contribution yourself, but be sure to make the payment in the same tax year in which you receive the redundancy payment. Your pension contribution will be treated as being made net of 20% tax and you can reclaim a further 20% tax relief through your tax return. In both cases, as you are already over 55, you can withdraw 25% of the pension fund value as a tax free lump sum immediately. You should take advice from a pensions expert before embarking on any investment in pensions.