In today’s short blog, we’ve summarised the latest information on dealing with director’s loans and the section 455 charge for 2020/21, read more below.

Dealing with directors’ loans

For accounting purposes, cash transactions between a director and a personal or family company are recorded through the director’s account. At the end of an accounting period, if the director owes the company money (i.e. the account is considered overdrawn), and the company is close (broadly, one that is controlled by five or fewer shareholders (participators)), there will be tax consequences to consider.

A tax charge will arise under the Corporation Tax Act 2009, s 455 where a director’s loan account is overdrawn at the end of the accounting period and remains overdrawn nine months and one day after the end of that accounting period. The tax charge is the liability of the company and is calculated as 32.5% of the amount of the loan. The rate of the charge is equivalent to the higher dividend rate.

Example

Kim is the sole director of her personal company K Ltd. The company’s financial year end is 31 March.

On 31 March 2020, Kim’s loan account is overdrawn by £20,000 and it remains overdrawn by this amount on 1 January 2021 (the date on which corporation tax for the period is due). The company must pay a tax charge under s 455 of £6,500 (£20,000 @ 32.5%).

Can the charge be avoided?

Even if the loan account was overdrawn at the end of the accounting period, the section 455 charge can be avoided if the loan is cleared by the corporation tax due date of nine months and one day after the end of the period. This can be done in various ways:

  • the director can pay funds into the company to clear the loan;
  • the company can declare a dividend to clear the loan balance;
  • the director’s salary can be credited to the account to clear the loan balance; or
  • the company can pay a bonus to clear the loan balance.

It should be noted however, that with the exception of the director introducing funds into the company, the other options will trigger their own tax bills.

Two further points are also worth highlighting here:

  • Clearing the loan may not always be beneficial and paying the s 455 charge may be preferable. For example, if the tax on a dividend or bonus credited to clear the loan is more than the section 455 charge.
  • Once the loan is cleared, the s 455 tax is repayable. This happens nine months and one day after the end of the tax year in which the loan is cleared.

It should also be noted that anti-avoidance rules apply to prevent the director clearing a loan shortly before the section 455 trigger date, only to re-borrow the funds shortly thereafter.

In summary, the section 455 tax is essentially a holding tax payable by the company. The rules apply all shareholders, even if they are not directors. The charge is specifically designed to be equal to the higher rate tax on a dividend to deter shareholders from taking money from a company when it isn’t owed to them.

 

Partner Note: CTA 2009, s 54; CTA 2010, ss 455 and 458

Most businesses have suffered due to the pandemic, but should you take the option to defer your payment on account to 31 January 2021? We weigh up the option in our latest blog.

Deferring self-assessment POA – Is it is good idea?

To help those suffering cashflow difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government have announced that self-assessment taxpayers can delay making their second payment on account for 2019/20. The payment would normally by due by 31 July 2020.

Under self-assessment, a taxpayer is required to make payments on account of their tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability where their bill for the previous tax year is £1,000 or more, unless at least 80% of their tax liability for the year is deducted at source, such as under PAYE. Each payment on account is 50% of the previous year’s tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability. The payments are made on 31 January in the tax year and 31 July after the end of the tax year. If any further tax is due, this must be paid by 31 January after the end of the tax year. In the event that the payments on account are more than the final liability for the year, the excess is set against the tax due for the next tax year or refunded.

The normal payment dates for payments on account for the 2019/20 tax year are 31 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, with any balance due by 31 January 2021.

Delay not cancellation

The option on offer is a deferral option not a cancellation. Where this is taken up, the payment on account must be paid by 31 January 2021. As long as payment is made by this date, no interest or penalties will be charged.

Should I pay if I can?

The deferral option is clearly advantageous to those who have taken a financial hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly those operating in sectors where working is not possible during the lockdown, such as hairdressers and beauticians and those operating in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors.

For those who have not taken a financial hit or who are otherwise able to pay, from a cashflow perspective it may be attractive to defer the payment. However, this may simply be a case of delaying the pain; not only will the delayed payment on account be due on 31 January 2021 together with any Class 2 National Insurance liability, but also the first payment on account for 2020/21. This may amount to a sizeable bill.

The decision as to whether to pay or defer is a personal one; but the option to choose is a welcome one.

Partner note: www.gov.uk/pay-self-assessment-tax-bill

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Small employers can now reclaim statutory sick pay paid to employees who were absent from work due to the Coronavirus. The online claim service went live on 26 May 2020 – our latest blog covers everything you need to know about making a claim.

Reclaim SSP for Covid-19 absences

Small employers can now reclaim statutory sick pay (SSP) paid to employees who were absent from work due to the Coronavirus. The online claim service went live on 26 May 2020.

Employers can use the scheme to claim back SSP paid to an employee who is eligible for SSP due to Coronavirus if:

  • they have a PAYE payroll scheme that was in operation on 28 February 2020; and
  • they had fewer than 250 employees at that date.

Qualifying absences

SSP can only be reclaimed where the employee’s absence relates to Covid-19; where the absence is for another reason, the employer must meet the cost of any SSP paid. An absence counts as a Covid-19 absence if the employee is unable to work because:

  • they have Coronavirus;
  • they are unable to work because they are self-isolating because they live with someone who has Coronavirus symptoms; or
  • they are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.

Claims can be made for periods of sickness on or after 13 March 2020 where the employee has Coronavirus symptoms or is self-isolating because a member of their household has symptoms and for absences on or after 16 April 2020 where the employee was shielding.

Maximum claim

The employer can claim back the SSP paid in respect of qualifying Covid-19 absences up to a maximum of two weeks’ SSP per employee. Where the employer pays more than the weekly rate of SSP, rebates must be claimed at the SSP rate — £95.85 per week from 6 April 2020 and £94.25 per week previously.

Evidence and records

Employers do not need to get a Fit note where an employee is off work due to Coronavirus. However, you can ask for an isolation note from NHS111 where the employee is self-isolating or a letter from the NHS or the employee’s GP where the employee is shielding.

Records should be kept of the dates of absence, the SSP paid to each employee, their National Insurance number, the reason for their absence and, where provided, evidence in support of their absence. Records should be kept for three years from the date that the rebate is received.

Making the claim

Claims can be made online on the Gov.uk website. To make a claim, the employer will need:

  • their employer PAYE scheme reference;
  • contact name and phone number;
  • bank details (where a BACS payment can be accepted);
  • total amount of SSP paid to employees in the claim period in respect of Covid-19 absences;
  • number of employees in respect of whom the claim relates; and
  • the start and end date of the claim period.

Claims can be made for multiple periods and multiple employees at the same time. The end date of the claim is the end of the most recent pay period for which a claim is being made.

Partner note: The Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Funding of Employers’ Liabilities) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/512); see also www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19#paying-sick-pay.

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While some parts of life are on hold, unfortunately there are still tax deadlines! Employers have until 6 July 2020 to tell HMRC about taxable benefits and expenses provided to employees in 2019/20 – find out more in our blog.

Reporting expenses and benefits for 2019/20

Employers who provided taxable expenses and benefits to employees in 2019/20 need to tell HMRC about them by 6 July 2020, if they have not opted to tax them via the payroll.

Non-payrolled taxable expenses and benefits are reported to HMRC on form P11D. Employers must also file a P11D(b) by the same date. This is the employer’s declaration that all required P11Ds have been submitted, and also the statutory Class 1A return.

Taxable value

The taxable value of the benefit is normally the cash equivalent value. However, where the benefit has been provided under an optional remuneration arrangement, such as a salary sacrifice scheme, and is one to which the alternative valuation rules apply, the taxable amount is the relevant amount. Broadly, this is the salary foregone where this is higher than the cash equivalent value calculated under normal rules.

Exempt benefits

Benefits and expenses that are exempt from tax do not need to be included on the P11D. However, remember to check that all associated conditions have been met.

The exemption for paid and reimbursed expenses means that no tax liability arises where the employer meets or reimburses expenditure which would have qualified for tax relief if met by the employee. Paid and reimbursed expenses falling within the scope of the exemption do not need to be reported on the P11D.

PAYE Settlement Agreements

An employer can use a PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA) to meet the tax liability on certain benefits and expenses on the employee’s behalf. Items included in a PSA do not need to be returned on the P11D. A PSA is a continuing agreement and remains in place until revoked. Review PSAs before 6 July 2020 to ensure they remain valid and to add any new items that you wish to include.

Payrolled benefits

Employers can opt to tax benefits through the payroll (‘payrolling’) instead of reporting them to HMRC on the P11D. This option is available for all benefits excluding low-interest and interest-free loans and living accommodation. However, the employer must register before the start of the tax year to payroll.

Payrolled benefits do not need to be included on the P11D; however if other benefits are also provided, these must be included.

Remember to include payrolled benefits in the calculation of the Class 1A liability on the P11D(b).

Online or paper forms

Expenses and benefits returns can be filed online using HMRC’s Expenses and Benefits Online Service, PAYE for Employers or commercial software.

However, there is no requirement to file online and paper returns can be filed if this is preferred.

The deadline is 6 July 2020. Employees should be given a copy of their P11D by the same date.

A nil return is required where HMRC have sent a P11D(b) or a P11D(b) reminder letter. It can be made online at www.gov.uk/government/publications/paye-no-return-of-class-1a-national-insurance-contributions.

Pay Class 1A National Insurance

Class 1A National Insurance contributions for 2019/20 should be paid by 22 July 2020 if payment is made electronically. If payment is made by cheque, as 19 July falls on a Sunday, the cheque should reach HMRC by Friday 17 July.

Partner note: Income Tax (Pay As You Earn) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/2682), reg. 85.

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If you have a holiday let but are worried you won’t meet the occupancy test this year, all is not lost. There are two routes by which it may be possible to reach the required occupancy threshold – an averaging election or a period of grace election.

Furnished holiday lettings – What can you do if you fail to meet the occupancy tests due to the Covid-19 pandemic?

Lets that qualify as furnished holiday lettings (FHL) enjoy special tax rules compared to other types of let, allowing landlords to benefit from certain capital gains tax reliefs for traders and to claim plant and machinery capital allowances for items such as furniture, fixtures and equipment. Profits from an FHL business also count as earnings for pension purposes.

To qualify as an FHL the property must be in the UK or (for the time being at least) in the EEA. It must also be let furnished and meet various occupancy conditions.

Occupancy conditions

To qualify as an FHL, all three occupancy conditions must be met. Where the let is continuing, the tests are applied on a tax-year basis; for a new let, the must be met for the first 12 months of letting.

Test 1 – Pattern of occupancy condition

This test is met if the total of all lettings that exceed 31 days is not more than 155 days in the year.

Test 2 – The availability condition

The property must be available for letting as furnished holiday accommodation for at least 210 days in the tax year (excluding any days in which the landlord stays in the property).

Test 3 – The letting condition

The property must be let commercially as furnished holiday accommodation to the public for at least 105 days in the year. Lets of more than 31 days are not counted unless the let exceeds 31 days as a result of unforeseen circumstances. Lets to family or friends on a non-commercial basis are also ignored.

Impact of Coronavirus

The hospitality and leisure sectors have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown means that many landlords with holiday lets will fail to meet the letting condition in 2020/21. However, all is not lost and there are two routes by which it may be possible to reach the required occupancy threshold – an averaging election or a period of grace election.

Averaging election

An averaging election can be used where a landlord has more than one holiday let and one or more of the properties does not meet the letting condition. Instead of applying this test on a property by property basis, it can be applied by reference to the average rate of occupancy across all properties let as FHLs. Thus, the test is treated as met if on average the holiday lets are let for 105 days in the tax year.

While, at the time of writing, it was unclear when all the restrictions may be lifted, an averaging election may help landlords with mixed portfolios including some winter holidays lets as well as those that are popular in the summer.

Period of grace election

A period of grace election can be used where the landlord genuinely intended to meet the letting condition but was unable to. The Coronavirus pandemic is a prime example of where this may be the case.

To make a period of grace election, the pattern of occupation and availability conditions must be met. Also, the letting condition must have been met in the year before the first year in which the landlord wishes to make a period of grace election. If the letting condition is not met again in the following year, a second period of grace election can be made. However, if the test is not met in year 4 after two period of grace elections, the property will no longer qualify as a furnished holiday letting.

The election provides a potential lifeline to landlords of holiday lets unable to meet the letting condition in 2020/21 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It can be made either on the self-assessment tax return or separately (either with or without an averaging election). A period of grace election for 2020/21 must be made by 31 January 2023.

Partner note: Self-assessment Helpsheet HS253.

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Reporting employment income earned abroad on a self assessment tax return

Pro-taxman in Hounslow strongly advises that you initially need to determine your residency status for the tax year in question. This is decided using the ‘Statutory Residence test’. Assuming you were working abroad for 4 months, you would therefore have been resident in the UK for more than 183 days and as a result considered to be a UK resident for tax purposes. You would consequently need to pay tax in the UK on all worldwide income within the tax year.

To declare your foreign employment income, you will need to complete the ‘Employment’ pages of the Self-Assessment Tax Return (SATR), which is SA102. You’ll need to fill in a separate ‘Employment’ page for each job, directorship or office held within that tax year. One of PRO-TAXMAN’s experienced team can help with this.

If your foreign employment income was taxed abroad, you DO NOT include the tax paid on the SA102. You need to complete the ‘Foreign’ pages of the SATR (SA106). On page F6, there is a section titled: Foreign tax paid on employment, self-employment and other income. As well, as this section, you need to include details in the ‘Any other information’ box (on page TR 7) of where on your tax return this income is included (in this case, the ‘employment’ pages). This will then create a Foreign Tax Credit, which can be used to reduce any UK tax payable on the same employment income.

If no foreign tax was suffered, you do not need to complete the ‘Foreign’ pages.

If you were non-resident, then you do not need to include any foreign employment income on your UK SATR.

Finally, if you qualified for split-year treatment, you only need to include the foreign income earned in the UK part of the year.

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Not putting a property in joint names prior to selling is an easily avoided mistake – read our blog to see if this would benefit you.

Potential benefits of putting a property into joint names prior to sale

Where a property qualifies in full for private residence relief, it is perhaps academic, from a tax perspective at least, whether a couple own it jointly or it is the one name only. In either case, the relief shelters any gain that arises and there is no tax to pay.

However, where a gain is not fully sheltered by private residence relief, as may be the case for an investment property or a second home, there can be very different tax consequences depending on how it is owned.

Take advantage of the no gain/no loss rules for spouses and civil partners

There are some breaks in the tax system for married couples and civil partners, and one of them is the ability to transfer assets between each other at a value that gives rise to neither a gain nor a loss. This can be very useful from a tax planning perspective to secure the optimal capital gains tax position on the sale of property where full private residence relief is not available. This enables a couple to utilise available annual exempt amounts and lower tax bands.

Capital gains tax on residential property gains is charged at 18% where total income and gains do not exceed the basic rate limit (set at £37,500 for 2019/20) and 28% thereafter.

Case study

Ron and Rita have been married a number of years and in addition to their main residence, they have a holiday cottage, which is owned solely by Ron. As their lives are busy, they no longer use the cottage much and decide to sell it. They expect to realise a gain of £100,000.

Rita does not work and has no income of her own. Ron is a higher rate taxpayer. Neither has used their annual exempt amount for 2019/20 (set at £12,000).

If they leave the property in Ron’s sole name, they will realise a chargeable gain of £88,000 after deducting his annual exempt amount of £12,000. As a higher rate taxpayer, this will give rise to a capital gains tax bill of £24,640 (£88,000 @ 28%).

However, as Rita has her basic rate band and annual exempt amount available, making use of the no gain/no loss rule to put the property in joint names prior to sale can save the couple a lot of tax. Each will realise a gain of £50,000.

As far as Ron is concerned, £12,000 of his gain will be sheltered by his annual exempt amount, leaving a chargeable gain of £38,000 on which tax of £10,640 will be payable.

Rita will also have a gain of £50,000, of which the first £12,000 is covered by her annual exempt amount, leaving a chargeable gain of £38,000. As her basic rate band is available in full, the first £37,500 is taxed at 18% (£6,750), with the remaining £500 being taxed at 28% (£140). Thus, Rita’s tax liability is £6,890, and the couple’s total tax bill is £17,530.

By taking advantage of the no gain/no loss rule to put the property into joint names prior to sale, the couple will be able to make use of Rita’s annual exempt amount and basic rate band, reducing the capital gains tax payable on the sale from £24,640 to £17,530 – a saving of £7,110.

Partner note: TCGA 1992, s. 58.

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What to do if you need to change your tax return

You made it and filed your self-assessment return for 2018/19 by the 31 January 2020. However, having felt pleased with yourself, you realise to your horror that you have made a mistake and need to correct your return.

Can you do this and if so, how and by when?

Yes, you can

If you have made a mistake on your return, for example entered a number incorrectly or forgotten to include something, all is not lost. As long as you are within the time limit, the error can be corrected by filing an amended return.

How?

If you are in time to file an amended return, the process that you need to follow will depend on whether you filed your return online or on paper.

Online returns

If you filed your return online, you simply amend your return online. To do this:

  1. Sign in to your personal tax account using your User ID and password.
  2. Once in your account, select ‘Self-Assessment Account’. If this does not appear as an option, simply skip this step.
  3. Select ‘More Self-Assessment details’.
  4. Choose ‘At a glance’ from the left-hand menu.
  5. Choose ‘Tax Return options’.
  6. Choose the tax year for the year you want to amend.
  7. Go into the tax return, make the changes you want to make, and file the return again.

Remember to check that it has been submitted and that you have received a submission receipt.

Check the revised tax calculation too in case you need to pay more tax as a result of the changes, but remember to take account of what you have already paid.

Paper return

If you opted to file your return on paper by 31 October 2019, to make a change you will need to download a new tax return. This can be done from the Gov.uk website. Fill in the pages that you wish to change and write ‘Amendment’ on each page. Make sure you include your name and unique taxpayer reference (UTR) on each page too. Send the corrected pages to the address to which you sent your original return.

Commercial software

If you used commercial software to file the return, contact your software provider to find out how to file an amended return. If your software does not allow for this, contact HMRC.

When

You have until 31 January 2021 to make changes to your 2018/19 tax return.

If you have missed the deadline, you will need to write to HMRC instead. This may be the case if you find a mistake in your 2017/18 return after 31 January 2020. In the letter, you will need to say which tax year you are amending, why you think you have paid too much or too little tax and by how much. You have four years from the end of the tax year to claim a refund if you have overpaid.

Changes to the tax bill

If amending the return changes the amount that you owe, you should pay any excess straight away. Interest will be charged on tax paid late. If your 2018/19 liability changes, your payments on account for 2019/20 may change too.

If as a result of the changes made to the return you have paid too much tax, you can request a repayment from your personal tax account.

Partner note: See www.gov.uk/self-assessment-tax-returns/correction.

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“Just because a gift is provided each year, or is provided to all staff members, does not mean that the employee has a contractual entitlement to it.”

Trivial benefit traps – Contractual obligations

The trivial benefits exemption allows employers to provide employees with low cost benefits free of tax and National Insurance and any reporting obligations. For the purposes of the exemption, a benefit is trivial if the cost per head is not more than £50. Where trivial benefits are provided to an officer of a close company or a member of their family or household, an annual cap of £300 per tax year also applies.

For the exemption to be available, the benefit must not be provided in return for services provided and the employee must not be contractually entitled to receive the benefit.

Contractual entitlement

Contractual entitlement is wider than simply inclusion in the contract of employment. Consequently, the fact that the contract makes no reference to the provision of trivial benefits is not enough to satisfy the conditions for the exemption.

In the December 2019 issue of their Employer Bulletin, HMRC highlighted a number of ways in which a contractual obligation may arise, including:

  • a letter to the main contract document
  • a staff handbook
  • a redundancy agreement
  • an employer union agreement

If any of these provide for the employee to receive the trivial benefit, the exemption will not apply.

Beware of creating a ‘legitimate obligation’

Employers seeking to make use of the trivial benefits exemption should also be wary of falling into the ‘legitimate expectation’ trap; a contractual obligation may also arise is the employee has a legitimate expectation to receive the benefit.

In the December 2019 issue of Employer Bulletin, HMRC illustrate this with an example of an employer who provides employees with a cream cake each Friday. While there is no contractual obligation for the employer to provide the employees with a cream cake on a Friday, the fact that the employer does so every Friday creates a legitimate expectation, taking the provision of the cakes outside the trivial benefits exemption.

Frequency seems to be a problem here – HMRC seemingly do not apply the legitimate expectation argument where a benefit is provided annually, even if it is provided each year. HMRC’s Employment Income Manual at EIM21867, states:

“Just because a gift is provided each year, or is provided to all staff members, does not mean that the employee has a contractual entitlement to it.”

The guidance instructs HMRC officers that they “should not normally challenge modest gifts that are provided infrequently to employees, just because they are given to employees each year – for example, a Christmas or birthday gift”.

Good practice

To avoid falling into the legitimate expectation trap, vary both the nature and timing of trivial benefits provided to employees.

Partner note: ITEPA 2003, s. 323A.

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Making the most of pension tax allowances

Pension savings can be tax efficient as contributions to registered pension schemes, attracting tax relief up to certain limits.

Limit on tax relief

Tax relief is available on private pension contributions to the greater of 100% of earnings and £3,600. This is subject to the annual allowance cap.

Tax relief may be given automatically where your employer deducts the contributions from your gross pay (a ‘net pay scheme’). Alternatively, if you pay into a personal pension yourself or your employer pays contributions into the scheme after deducting tax, the pension scheme will claim basic rate relief (‘relief at source’). Thus if you pay £2,880 into a pension scheme, your scheme provider will claim basic rate relief of £720, meaning your gross contribution is £3,600. If you are a higher or additional rate taxpayer, the difference between the basic rate tax and your marginal rate can be reclaimed from HMRC via your self-assessment return.

Annual allowance

The pension annual allowance caps tax-relieved pension savings – contributions can be made to a registered pension scheme in excess of the available annual allowance, but they will not attract tax relief. The annual allowance is set at £40,000 for 2019/20; although this may be reduced if you have high earnings. The annual allowance taper applies where both your threshold income is more than £110,000 (broadly income excluding pension contributions) and your adjusted net income (broadly income including pension contributions) is more than £150,000. Where the taper applies, the annual allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 by which adjusted net income exceeds £150,000 until the annual allowance reaches £10,000. This is the minimum amount of the annual allowance. Only the minimum allowance is available where adjusted net income is £210,000 or more and threshold income is more than £110,000.

The annual allowance can be carried forward for up to three tax years if it is not used, after which it is lost. The current year’s allowance must be used first, then brought forward allowances from an earlier year before a later year.

Example

Harry has income of £100,000 in 2019/20. He has received an inheritance and wishes to make pension contributions of £60,000. In the previous three years he has used £10,000 of his annual allowance, leaving £30,000 to be carried forward for up to three years.

To make a contribution of £60,000 for 2019/20, Harry will use his annual allowance of £40,000 for 2019/20 and £20,000 of the £30,000 carried forward from 2016/17. The £10,000 remaining of the 2016/17 allowance will be lost as cannot be carried forward beyond 2019/20. The unused allowances of £30,000 for 2017/18 and 2018/19 can be carried forward to 2020/21.

Reduced money purchase annual allowance

A lower annual allowance of £4,000 (money purchase annual allowance (MPAA)) applies to those who have flexibly accessed pension contributions on reaching age 55. This is to prevent recycling of contributions to secure additional tax relief.

Lifetime allowance

The lifetime allowance places a ceiling on your pension pot. For 2019/20 it is set at £1,055,000. A tax charge will apply if you exceed the lifetime allowance.

Partner note: FA 1994, s. 227ZA, 288, 228ZA, 218.