You may remember that a short while ago, I added a calculator for sick pay and unpaid leave. It was natural for me to consider the effects of maternity / paternity pay, too, as this can have a similar effect on your take-home pay – and Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Sick Pay are calculated in quite similar ways. I have now added this option to the maternity pay salary calculator.

You will notice that this is the same calculator – the Sick Pay Calculator has been expanded to include statutory parental pay as an option. If you will be taking some maternity or paternity leave, you can estimate the effect on your payslip by entering the details of your salary, days per week that you work, and how many days in the pay period you will be taking as leave. If your employer offers some of your leave at full pay then you don’t need to enter these days. If you are receiving some leave at 90% pay (you are normally entitled to this for the first 6 weeks of maternity leave) then use the % pay fields to handle those days. And for any days in the pay period that you will be receiving Statutory Maternity (or Paternity) Pay, currently £151.20 per week, use the Statutory Parental Leave field.

Important note! All calculations provided are estimates and indicative only. Different employers have different leave policies (for sick pay and for parental pay), they also calculate leave in different ways. You may not be entitled to statutory pay. The calculator does not know what you are entitled to, only what you have entered. If you are paid monthly, or have an irregular work schedule, Statutory Pay can fluctuate from pay period to pay period, which the calculator does not allow for. More information about maternity pay is available from Gov.UK.

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None of the content on this website, including blog posts, comments, or responses to user comments, is offered as financial advice. Figures used are for illustrative purposes only.

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The idea of working in Australia is a dream for many Britons and a reality for many more. Naturally though, the employment system – and more importantly, the wage payment system – is not always the same as that in the UK. In some cases, it’s just a matter of terminology, but in other areas it is more substantial.

However, thanks to one of the most popular and trusted finance organisations in Australia, figuring out what you can expect in your pay packet when you work Down Under, has been made a whole lot easier.

The Industry Super group (more about them later) recently added a simple, reliable salary calculator to their website. Its simplicity reflects the streamlined wage system in Australia and takes into account current tax rates – including whether you’re a resident or a visitor – and the Medicare Levy, as well as providing an estimate of the minimum superannuation (pension) payment from an employer. Let’s look at this one first.

 Superannuation

In Australia, the two main sources of income an employee can expect in retirement are the government age pension (much like the UK State Pension) and payments from their ‘superannuation’ (similar to our occupational or personal pensions).

By law, all businesses must make contributions to their employees’ superannuation (pension) account. This is called the Superannuation Guarantee, and currently, employers must contribute at least 9.5% of an employee’s wage on top of their salary. It is compulsory and cannot be bargained out of.

The theory is that businesses make regular payments into the fund, and when it comes time to retire, the worker has a healthy nest egg waiting for them, since super can’t be touched early and all funds try and achieve a good return on investment for their account-holders.

Every full-time and part-time employee is eligible for super, as are casual workers who are 18 years or over and earning more than $450 in a single calendar month. (The same rules apply for casuals under 18 who work more than 30 hours per week). This means that even those on a working holiday can be entitled to super.

There are two main types of super fund in Australia.

‘Retail’ funds are those owned and managed by banks and other financial services companies.

‘Industry’ funds are member-owned super funds with profits going to members, and for the past decade have tended to outperform their retail counterparts (source: Money Management Australia). As the name implies, industry super funds were originally set up for workers in specific industries, however nowadays, almost all of them are open to anyone.  Industry Super is the peak body for industry funds in Australia.

Tax rates and brackets

Australia’s tax system is managed by the Australian Taxation Office, usually just called the ATO. It looks after all aspects of national tax and also manages employers’ Superannuation Guarantee compliance.

Tax rates vary as a person earns more. There are also different tax rates depending on whether you are an Australian resident, a foreign resident or there on a working holiday. Thankfully, the Industry Super salary calculator can be customised to take your specific circumstance into account by clicking the ‘Adjust your situation’ button.

Medicare

An amount under ‘Medicare Levy’ is included in calculations.

Like the NHS, Australia has a modern, reliable and highly-regarded public health system through its universal health care insurance scheme called ‘Medicare’ (not to be confused with the US ‘Medicare’)

Instead of being funded through regular taxation however, it is primarily subsidised through the Medicare Levy, which is added to a person’s annual tax bill each year, based on their income.

Non-residents and those on a working holiday are generally exempt from paying the Medicare Levy, and again, this is recognised by the customisable calculator, and shown when you choose the ‘View tax breakdown’ option.

Other factors

The calculator also takes into account certain tax offsets that the Australian Government offers to low and middle income-earners once they submit their annual tax return, and also offers suggestions on reducing annual tax by making voluntary contributions to superannuation.

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Foreign Currency, Income Tax, Jobs, Pensions No Comments

It has been a turbulent few months for many of us, with jobs being cut, furloughing schemes, working from home and closure of many businesses (small and large). Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a number of measures which are designed to help us along the road to recovery. It is going to take several months (or even longer) and things may never quite be the same – but here are a few of the measures which have been announced:

A cut in VAT on hospitality – restaurants and hotels will see the VAT on their goods reduced from 20% to 5%. For consumers, it is possible that this will mean lower prices but businesses are under no obligation to pass this saving on. They may keep their prices the same and use the VAT saving to try to repair some of the damage caused by their enforced closure over the last few months, or to try to allow for fewer customers as social distancing regulations mean that they can’t seat as many people as before.

A temporary removal of stamp duty on house purchases under £500,000 – if you were planning to move house before March 2021, this may well save you a significant amount of money. Previously, any house sold for more than £125,000 attracted stamp duty (often thousands or tens of thousands of pounds) which the buyer had to pay on top of the purchase price. Until March of next year, the threshold has been increased to £500,000, in an attempt to encourage people to buy and re-energise the housing market.

A bonus paid to employers who retain furloughed employees – if an employer keeps an employee who was furloughed on the payroll until the end of January 2021, they will be eligible for a one-off £1000 bonus. This is to encourage employers to keep people on and prevent unemployment, even if business doesn’t pick up immediately now that lockdown has been loosened.

There were several schemes announced which are intended to encourage employers to employ 16-24 year olds.

A full run-down of the measures announced is available from the BBC.

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If you are self-employed, or have additional income on top of your salary from things such as a buy-to-let property, you need to complete a Self Assessment tax return each year, and then pay HMRC any additional tax due. If all of your income comes from employment and you pay your taxes through PAYE (Pay As You Earn) then you do not need to complete a tax return and the following does not apply to you.

For those that are new to the Self Assessment tax return process, payments on account are one of the most common stumbling blocks. Despite being introduced as an initiative to help taxpayers spread their tax payments, it often results in annual frustration and can actually harm your cash flow if you’re caught unaware.

That’s why, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HMRC announced that they would allow taxpayers to defer their second payment on account (that would have normally been due on 31st July 2020). It is hoped that this gives taxpayers the chance to prepare. But is that the right course of action? We’ve brought in Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to set the record straight.

What is a payment on account?

Payments on account are advance payments towards your next tax bill. They’re calculated based on the amount that you paid the previous year.

HMRC splits this amount into two, and places the deadline for payment six months apart from one another. For the 2019/20 tax year, the first was due by midnight on 31st January 2020, and the second would normally be made by midnight on the 31st July 2020.

This latter payment is what can now be deferred, as long as it is eventually paid by the 31st January 2021.

If you had a £5,000 tax bill for the 2018/19 tax year, for instance, you would need to make two £2,500 payments on account towards your 2019/20 tax bill.

But if your 2018/19 Self Assessment bill was less than £1,000 or if over 80% was deducted at source (such as employment), then you will not need to make a payment on account – you would simply need to pay any outstanding tax by the 31st January.

What are your options?

If you are required to make payments on account, you will still need to pay your second one. Although, as HMRC has offered taxpayers the opportunity to delay this, you can choose to make your second payment as late as the 31st January 2021, alongside the submission of your Self Assessment tax return.

HMRC will not charge any interest or penalties should you choose to do this. However, by delaying your second payment to January, you do run the risk of having to fulfil all your tax responsibilities at once. This could result in you having insufficient funds in place to cover all your tax liabilities.

Your therefore have three options:

Pay in accordance with the original July deadline

If you can afford to pay your tax bill as you would do normally, you should do. If anything, it creates a sense of ‘business as usual’ in an otherwise tumultuous time.

I appreciate that, for many, paying in July will harm their cash flow. However, it is my view that clearing debt where possible is more sustainable and allows January to mark the start of a new financial year – and a fresh start.

Reassess and reduce liability

If you’re doubtful that you can afford a second payment on account right now, calculate your 2019/20 tax liability before the 31st July 2020. This will confirm the actual amount to be paid in July 2020, January 2021 and July 2021, and give you clarity. To do this, you need to file your 2019/20 Self Assessment tax return early.

Filing early won’t mean that you have to pay your tax bill early, after all – but it does allow you to determine what your total tax bill will be ahead of time. From here, you can consider two key points:

  1. Does the July 2020 payment on account need to be deferred?
  2. Do the January 2021 and July 2021 payments on account (for the 2020/21 tax year) need reducing to reflect the impact that COVID-19 has had on them?

Defer to later in the year

Of course, there will be some cases that are unable or unwilling to pay anything towards their tax bill in July now that they can defer. In this instance, it’s important that they are reminded of the Self Assessment late penalties should they wish to push this all the way back to 31st January and be unable to make payment at that time.

Deferring could have an impact on cash flow in 2020/21. If you are also VAT-registered and have deferred your VAT payment, then it is worth noting that this also needs to be paid by 31st March 2021.

Ultimately, it falls to you to make the decision that best suits you. However, it is my view that, by planning your 2021/22 payments now, you will be in a much safer position.

About GoSimpleTax

With GoSimpleTax, you can get a clear picture of your obligations. All your income and expenses can be logged in an easy-to-understand format, and their software will highlight areas where you can potentially reduce your tax liability through tax relief.

Register for their free trial today and stay abreast of all the latest tax changes. When you’re ready to file your Self Assessment tax return, upgrade to their full service and submit straight to HMRC.

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Income Tax No Comments

If you are thinking of retiring soon, you might be wondering what kind of effect taking your pension would have on your take-home pay. This is not quite as simple as it might sound at first – the deductions from your pension income will not be the same as those on your salary. For example, you might be paying into a pension with some of your salary, which of course you would not do with income from a pension. And National Insurance is not deducted from pension income, whereas it is deducted from your salary if you are below state pension age.

With this in mind, I have combined a few options from the Two Jobs calculator (which shows you the take-home pay if you have two income at once) and put them in the Two Salaries Comparison Calculator (which compares two incomes side-by-side). Now, you can enter different options for the two different incomes you are comparing (e.g. different bonuses or overtime) – and you can also tick a box on the “Additional Options” tab to indicate that one or other of the incomes is a pension. This income will then not have National Insurance deducted from it – so you can enter the details of your employment for the first income and the details of your pension in the second income, tick the box to say the second job is actually a pension, and the calculator will deduct NI only from the first income.

If you are thinking of retiring, or just investigating a new job which would have a different salary and different deductions, try out the Two Salaries Comparison Calculator.

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