You’ll no doubt have seen certain umbrella companies making bold claims of high take-home pay percentages and figures. This could indicate that the company might not be paying the correct amount of tax and NICs on behalf of their employees. If you receive a take-home pay quote of around 80% (or more, in some cases!) of the contracted rate, it could well involve a contractor loan scheme. This could result in an investigation, landing you - the contractor - in a lot of trouble with the tax man. If found guilty, you could be forced to pay back thousands in unpaid taxes.
Hence why compliance should be particularly high on your agenda when selecting an umbrella company. So, be on the lookout for things like loan charges and other hidden fees. Your prospective take-home pay is a strong indicator of how compliant an umbrella company is. For instance, when selecting an umbrella company, conspicuously high take-home pay should raise alarm bells about compliance. Contractor calculators provide important information about your earnings. They consider your rate, pension, payment cycle, tax commitments, and your hours of work, as well as the latest legislation. Working out what you’ll get paid after tax and National Insurance is important, particularly if you’re a contractor or freelancer. So, you can use the information gathered to make informed predictions.
The Apprenticeship Levy came into force in April 2017. It means that all companies whose annual wage bill exceeds £3m are expected to pay a percentage of their payroll costs to HMRC. That money is then earmarked for the training of apprentices. The idea being that those employers who commit to training will be able to get back more than they put in by training sufficient numbers of apprentices.
The Apprenticeship Levy is payable through PAYE. It is to be paid alongside Income Tax and National Insurance contributions. Each employer (including those operating multiple payrolls) receives an annual allowance of £15,000, which they offset against their levy payment.
All employers are legally obliged to pay Employer's National Insurance to HMRC. Along with other deductions, Employer's NI, must be paid to HMRC by whomever establishes themselves as your employer. So, under our employment umbrella, you're our employee. Therefore, we bear the cost of employment.
What this means in practice is that the rate you're paid for your assignment gets uplifted. This is to account for costs such as tax and Employer's NI, etc. So, the money you take home is similar to what a permanent employee would earn for the same job. What's more, all the deductions required by law have been compliantly taken.
Your payslip should clearly outline any deductions, including Employer's NI. With us, your take-home is completely transparent, with no hidden fees. Hence the importance of selecting a consistent and compliant umbrella provider.
Certain deductions are required by law and should not differ between providers. This includes things like Apprenticeship Levies and Employer’s NICs. However, some umbrella companies have been found to exploit their clients by inflating these deductions for their own gains. Take notice, for instance, if there’s a variance in rates between providers. Hidden fees may be an underhand method of extracting more from your payslip.
You’re entitled to ask prospective umbrella companies how they get, or plan to get, the money from your agency or end client. After all, it’s you who’ll pay the price if you fall foul of compliance as a result of their practices.
It’s also an idea to ask how those deductions will affect your all-important take-home pay. Before deciding who to go with, look for a company who promotes transparency by providing full illustrations of projected take-home pay and reconciliation sheets with detailed payslips. Make use of our contractor calculator and work out what your take-home pay will be. Question your payslip and seek professional advice on your umbrella company’s practices. Clarity and understanding hold the key to ensuring the safety and security of your finances.
Changes came in during 2016 that affect people working under ‘supervision, direction and control’ (SDC). As a result of the changes, those individuals can no longer claim certain expenses. They might, though, still be able to claim certain allowable expenses. These are expenses which, according to HMRC, are “incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of your duties”. Workers not under SDC are eligible to claim mileage expenses. For more information on expenses and SDC, download our FREE guide here.
All providers are required to carry out an SDC - or working practices - questionnaire. The Government introduced this to ascertain whether you’re eligible for work-related expenses. If any expenses do get added to your umbrella quote - without any questions relating to your assignment or working practices - they may have been done so incorrectly.
Upon registering, you’ll complete a ‘worker questionnaire’. This determines whether you’re eligible to claim allowable expenses. Then, if you are permitted to claim expenses, you can do so through our exclusive online portal.
HMRC uses tax codes to decide what tax you need to pay. For instance, our contractor calculator is based on the 1257L code. Your code is dependent on your personal circumstances. You can find your tax code on either your payslip or P45.
You should always be aware of what your tax code is. If it's incorrect, you could be paying HMRC more money than you need to be. By the same token, you risk penalties - usually in the form of a tax bill - for paying too little.
The numbers in your code inform employers and pension providers about the amount of tax-free income you're entitled to during that tax year.
A Personal Allowance is the amount of income you’re allowed to earn before you start paying tax. The standard amount currently (as per the 2019/20 tax year) stands at £12,500.
According to HMRC, if you claim things like ‘Marriage’ or ‘Blind Person’s’ Allowance, your Personal Allowance may be bigger. Likewise, it’s smaller if your income is above £100,000.
To learn more about Income Tax rates and Personal Allowances, click here.
The letters in your code, on the other hand, impact your Personal Allowance. They're determined by your individual circumstances.
If you believe your code is incorrect or outdated, contact HMRC. If you'd like to learn more about your tax code and what it means in practice, check out our video below.
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