Topical thoughts on finance, tax and accounting for business and charities.
There’s more to accounting than tax. Here we post some of our comments about tax of course, but there are also views on other aspects of finance for business and charities. If you read anything here that you want some advice about then just phone us on 01243 788041.
On Sunday 10th April the Sunday Times published their first supplement listing the Top 200 Accountants in the UK based on reviews on the independent consumer ratings website VouchedFor.co.uk. We are proud, but not at all surprised, to say that Helen Alexander was featured.
To be included Helen was highly recommended by 10 of her clients. All had rated her services over 4 stars out of 5, which is a fantastic achievement. We’d like to thank all of the clients who took the time to share their positive feedback on VouchedFor.co.uk.
Comments Adam Price, Founder of VouchedFor.co.uk: “At VouchedFor we’re passionate about helping people to find great financial and legal advice. At certain points in life the majority of us would benefit from expert help with complex issues such as pension planning, securing a mortgage or for advice on a legal issue. Listing professionals … Read More »
Is a business partner right for you?
Going into business on your own is hard work. Not only do you have to provide the service or product you are selling but you also have to come up with the ideas, market your business and cover all of the admin.
It’s no surprise that businesses with more than one founder get off the ground more quickly. But supposing you and a friend have a cracking idea for a business, what else should you consider?
Before you spend too much time on the more exciting tasks like finding a name or thinking about your marketing there are some practical matters to consider. Each prospective partner should declare:
1. What he/she would like and expect the business to achieve.
2. How and why the business will be successful.
3. What skills he/she brings to the business.
4. How much capital … Read More »
If a member of your staff asks for extra holiday – what do you say?
Your gut reaction will probably be No!
But if you allow the staff member to BUY holiday from you then it could work to your advantage. In today’s job market it can be expensive and time consuming to find the right people to join your team. Allowing staff to buy more annual leave can help you to retain staff and improve morale.
So what are the benefits to you?
You will save the cost of the salary for the days bought and 13.8% employer’s national insurance on top of that.
You may reduce the number of days absence for family emergencies or sickness.
To make this work you need to make sure that you could apply this to all staff if requested. A maximum number of days should be agreed to … Read More »
The Annual Investment Allowance enables a business to reduce its tax bill by claiming for the cost of capital equipment in the year it bought the equipment. Up until December 2015 the maximum Annual Investment Allowance is £500,000. But from January 2016 this amount drops to £200,000.
This might seem very straight forward but in fact it is slightly more complicated than that. For a business with an accounting year that is partly in 2015 and partly in 2016 the amount that can be claimed is a proportion of each limit. There are transitional rules that affect how much can be claimed and it all depends on the timing of your purchase. So if you buy a number of pieces of equipment for fairly low costs this may not be a problem. Alternatively you may buy one large piece of machinery … Read More »
The annual investment allowance is the amount you can claim in your business tax return for money you spend on capital equipment in the year you spend it.
HMRC separates your business costs into revenue and capital costs. Revenue costs are generally those that you might incur every year such as repair costs and stationery or printing costs. Capital costs will be for items of equipment or sometimes things like websites which you expect to benefit the business over several years.
In the accounts we allow for these capital costs by charging depreciation. We spread the cost over the years we expect the business to use the asset. But HMRC will not allow depreciation as a cost so we have to claim capital allowances.
But this can cause a problem because capital allowances are claimed over many years but the business would like … Read More »
People’s Pension have just announced that they are introducing a set-up charge for their auto-enrolment pension schemes.
Employers with an auto-enrolment staging date of 1st January 2016 onwards will have to pay a set up charge of £500 per employer from November 23rd 2015 for the support they need during the set up process. This will be reduced to £300 however if an employers uses an adviser such as an accountant or financial adviser to set up the scheme. In return for this additional charge People’s Pension are offering an “enhanced support package” for both new and existing customers to guide them to compliance.
This announcement follows on from the announcement by NOW pensions of a monthly £40 employers’ charge for their scheme.
NEST the government backed scheme has not so far unveiled any plans to charge employers, and large employers who have … Read More »
From 1st October 2015 the government has introduced a compulsory 5p charge on carrier bags in England.
The charge has been in place for some time in Wales with favourable feedback and a reduction in plastic carrier bag use.
But the scheme will only apply to businesses with more than 250 employees so in theory it doesn’t apply to smaller retailers. So a good piece of pragmatic lawmaking here. Compulsory for the big business but choice for the smaller one.
Although not compulsory you may choose to adopt the charge on carrier bags if this fits with your business ethos.
If you choose to adopt the charge on carrier bags make sure you get the VAT right. The 5p charge will be treated as standard rated goods.
New tax free childcare scheme for 2015
A new tax free childcare scheme is being introduced in autumn 2015 that will save families up to £2,000 per year for each child. Working families with children aged under 12 will be able to use the tax free child care scheme
How will the tax free childcare scheme work?
Parents will be able to open an on-line account with National Savings & Investments. For every 80p eligible families pay in, the government will contribute 20p up to £10,000 a year per child. Parents will be able to use the vouchers for any Ofsted regulated childcare in England and the equivalent bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Parents can then choose to spend their tax free child care vouchers with any Ofsted registered provider.
Children up to age 16 with disabilities will also … Read More »
If you decided to reward yourself or an employee with a new company car for Christmas don’t forget to let HMRC know. Changes in company car ownership need to be notified to HMRC every quarter on a P46 return.
You will need to tell HMRC by 5th February.
If you’re not sure how to report the benefits you give to your employees then get in contact here and find out how we can help you.
Business Rates are a substantial cost for most businesses and there are key changes coming up on 1 April 2015.
• New business rates appeals on or after 1 April 2015 will only be effective from that date. So if you want to appeal your current assessment and backdate it to 1 April 2010 you need to appeal before 1 April.
• 1 April 2015 is also the next revaluation date. The open market valuation at this date will be the valuation used for business rates from 1st April 2017.
• Over the next year the Valuation Office will be sending out “Requests for Information” regarding the rent you pay and your lease terms. Pay careful attention to this as it will directly affect the business rates you pay in the future.
Just in case you missed them – as published by HMRC – here is the top 10 list for filing your tax return late:
1. My pet dog ate my tax return… and all the reminders.
2. I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a postbox or get an internet signal.
3. I fell in with the wrong crowd.
4. I’ve been traveling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency.
5. Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.
6. I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.
7. A work colleague borrowed my tax return, to photocopy it and didn’t give it back.
8. I live in a camper van in a super-market car park.
9. My girlfriend’s pregnant.
10. I was in Australia.
Failing to meet the 31st January deadline and filing your tax return late will … Read More »
How does Auto Enrolment affect the employee?
If you’ve worked for a large organisation chances are you’ve benefited from being able to join a company pension scheme. So you’ll be familiar with the idea of saving from your pay packet into a pension scheme with a limited choice of funds.
But for the millions working in micro and small businesses it will be the first opportunity to join a low cost pension scheme. Over the next 3-4 years all employees will have the opportunity to join a pension scheme with much lower charges than those offered in the past by financial advisers.
Both your employer and the government will contribute to the Auto Enrolment scheme.
But it will mean reduced take-home pay. Although your employer will make contributions, you will also be expected to pay a minimum of 4% into the fund after tax. … Read More »
Whether you are running your own payroll or using an accountant it is your responsibility to pay the National Minimum Wage to all of your staff. and that includes teenagers.
I came across a case this week of a 16 year old who had not received the payrise due when the National Minimum Wage went up in October. It might not seem a lot, but 7p per hour is a lot to a 16 year old. Maybe you set your pay rises for January or April – at the start of your business year. Well don’t forget to review them in October when the National Minimum Wage usually rises.
So just a recap, what should you be paying:
National Minimum Wage from 1st October 2014:
£6.50 per hour 21+ years
£5.13 per hour 18-20 year
£3.79 per hour Under 18
£2.73 per hour Apprentices aged 16-18, or … Read More »
The Credit Card Sales Campaign is an opportunity to bring your tax affairs up to date if you’re an individual or business that accepts credit or debit card payments.
Who can do this
This opportunity is for you if:
you accept card payments for goods or service
you haven’t declared all your UK tax liabilities
Get the best terms
You need to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if you either:
haven’t registered with them
have failed to declare all your income
This is called a ‘voluntary disclosure’.
What happens if you should disclose but don’t
HMRC has details of all credit and debit card payments to UK businesses. This information is used to identify individuals and businesses that might not have paid what they owe.
Credit Card Sales Campaign Helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 9272
From outside the UK: +44 300 123 9272
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
So are you ready for VATMOSS – or are you still wondering what it means?
Well, let me help you.
From 1st January 2015 selling digital services to customers in the EU just gets a whole load more complicated. Because from 1st January 2015 you will have to charge VAT at the rate that applies in the country of the consumer. AND you will have to adopt their invoice rules – so you may need to add extra information to the invoices.
So why do we call it VATMOSS and not something else?
Well VATMOSS stands for VAT Mini-One-Stop-Shop. To overcome one of the hurdles HMRC have set up a single place online to register for all the countries you sell into.
This doesn’t help you to get your invoicing system ready but it is a small acknowledgement of the complexity involved.
If you think this … Read More »
“What Scares Me Most…
…is that you know more about my customers after three months than I know after 30 years!”
It’s hard to imagine a world where supermarkets don’t know what we spend our money on, and consumers aren’t rewarded for their regular custom where – as Bruce Forsyth once said – points make prizes.
Today, we don’t think twice about whipping out our loyalty cards and collecting points as we shop. And we think even less about the discount coupons that land on our doormat; all of which give us money off the things we buy the most.
But back in 1994, supermarket giant Tesco had no idea what their customers were spending their money on. They had no idea who their customers were, what made them tick, and what they bought week in, week out.
All this changed though, when the owners … Read More »
Every company wants to make more profits right? And to do that you have to take the right decisions.
Companies that rely heavily on data are far more likely to report significant improvement to profits when making important business decisions, but only one in three managers says his or her company is highly data-driven.
A recent global survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit and PwC has shown that more big decisions are based on gut feeling or the advice of others than are made based on data.
And these are not just occasional decisions, they are happening as frequently as every 3 months.
Although just 32% would describe decision making as data driven, the research has found that companies that use data are three times more likely to report solid improvement than those who don’t.
The main obstacle to making use of data is the … Read More »
Look out for changes to the National Minimum Wage from October 1st. The rate for adults rises by just over 3%.
For most employers this will have little effect as employees are paid more or substantially more than the minimum wage. And it seems on the surface, a pretty straight forward calculation – amount paid divided by numbers of hours worked.
But it can catch you out as an employer, particularly when you take on casual employees to achieve a specific task. For example you may agree a fixed amount, say £500 for an employee to lay a patio. You need to make sure that the rate you pay actually covers the average hours it takes to do the job.
Have a think about the way you decide to reward employees and make sure that you have methods in place to check that … Read More »
Did you know that the information that HMRC give you is often incorrect?
A civil Service Capability Review has found that one in four of us contacting HMRC is given incorrect or incomplete information. ONE IN FOUR!
That’s a massive problem.
The official message is that Self Assessment is easy, but it clearly is not true. Tax is complicated and it changes every single year. Even for small mounts of money, tax is taxing!
Imagine you are the owner of a shiny, bright new cafe? How would you decide your opening hours? Well you could look at what all of the other cafes do and follow the trend.
Or you could do what this cafe does and close for lunch!
Yes, you did read that correctly. No, I couldn’t quite believe it either.
Let’s think about this in terms of the costs of the business
Cost of the food
Heating and lighting
Rent, rates and water rates
Other fixed costs like accountancy, food hygiene certificate etc.
By closing for lunch, what does the owner actually save in costs? Well only the staff wages, cost of the food and some light and heat.
If he stayed open then presumably he would have more customers. It’s a very simple calculation to make. It is worth staying open for longer if the value of your … Read More »
How will the VAT Mini One Stop Shop (VAT MOSS) work?
You may opt to use the VAT Mini One Stop Shop (VAT MOSS) online service to save you having to register for VAT in every EU Member State where you supply digital services. This will be available from 1 January 2015, but you will be able to register to use it from October 2014.
If you are an EU business, you may register and use the VAT Mini One Stop Shop (VAT MOSS) online service in the Member State where you have your business establishment (usually the principal place of business or head office). Using the VAT MOSS online service means you can submit a single calendar quarterly VAT MOSS return and payment covering all your EU digital service supplies. For example, if you register for the VAT MOSS online service … Read More »
Did you know that you will have to charge VAT on digital services to consumers from 1st January 2015?
On 1 January 2015, The European Union (EU) VAT place of supply of services rules will change for business to consumer (B2C) supplies of broadcasting, telecommunications and e-services (digital services). A consumer means a private individual.
These changes will affect all businesses that supply digital services to consumers, whether or not they are registered for UK VAT. This is because there are no registration limits for digital service supplies made to consumers outside the UK. Any business supplying digital services to a consumer in another Member State therefore has to charge VAT on the supply in that Member State and register for VAT in that Member State.
If your customer does not provide you with a VAT Registration Number (VRN), and you have no … Read More »
We all know that poor time management is important. But if we really accounted for our time in the same way that we did every other cost we would probably be in for a shock. According to research by global consulting firm Bain & Co and enterprise analytics company VoloMetrix, company executives receive 30,000 external communications a year compared with 1,000 in the 1970s.
The research revealed big productivity losses related to time management because businesses to not track and monitor employees’ time as closely as they track other resources, such as capital.
Do you record time spent as a cost against individual sales in your P&L or does it just fall into the salaries line in your overheads? Knowing how much time directly supports your sales is a critical performance measure. So if you already do this where does the rest … Read More »
If you have never looked at Xero Add-ons it is well worth considering what these packages can do.
Moving from desk-top accounting software to a cloud package like Xero can be a revelation in itself. But start to think of all of the other activities needed to support the actual business of selling products or services to your customers.
Here’s a list of Xero Add-ons to get you thinking:
Bills and expenses to convert your receipts into Xero data
Debtor tracking to automate debt chasing and collection activities
Point of sale
Management reporting and analysis
Cash flow forecasting
Just like Xero, these packages are provided on a monthly subscription service. With no large upfront costs it certainly makes the transition to a new way of working much less risky.
Effective use of technology is becoming the key to future efficiency.
Could using Xero Add-ons transform the efficiency … Read More »
Tax Summaries are coming soon as announced by HMRC.
Tax Summaries are part of the government’s commitment to a transparent personal tax system. Nobody likes to pay tax but the government hopes that we will become more supportive of taxation if we have a better understanding of how our taxes are spent.
Tax Summaries will detail an individual taxpayer’s income and National Insurance contributions for the tax year, and will include a table and a chart to show how each individual contributes to public expenditure such as healthcare, education and defence.
This is not entirely new as the Tax Calculator has been around for a few years now. However, the Tax Calculator is an estimate based on numbers entered by the user. Tax Summaries will be based on actual figures taken from the tax-payers Self Assessment tax return.
Tax summaries will be rolled out … Read More »
The Statutory Residence Test was introduced from April 2013 to determine your tax residence; it sets out what makes you UK resident for tax purposes.
With the ease of global travel we have a lot more freedom to choose where we want to live and work. So why should it matter whether we are resident in the UK for tax? Well, if you are UK tax resident then you pay tax on all of your worldwide earnings. And if not, then you will not be entitled to the same tax allowances as a UK resident.
The Statutory Residence Test works as follows:
If you spend 183 days or more in the UK then you are a UK resident for taxes.
But you will automatically be resident overseas for tax and not the UK if
1. You spend less than 16 … Read More »
The 2014 budget was few weeks ago now and as life moves on you may have forgotten what was in it. So here is our newsletter with a couple of the highlights to remind you.
Plus there’s more so have a read and let us know what you think. With a new tax year now is the time to plan ahead for small businesses, so give me a ring on 01243 788041 if you know a business who would like help with their business finances, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Millbrookfm Newsletter 2
You are allowed to provide your employees with one tax free mobile phone each. But you have to do it the right way otherwise it could cost you and your employee tax and national insurance.
The tax free mobile phone
The contract must be between the employer and the mobile phone company.
There are no reporting requirements
There is no tax or NI to pay
Tablets are not included but smartphones are.
Employee’s own phone – employer pays supplier direct
The contract is between the employee and the phone company
You have to report on a P11D
Add the value of the benefit to earnings through the payroll
Employer pays class 1 NI
Employee pays NI, but no tax
No NI is payable if it was acquired for business use only but still have to report
Employee’s own phone – employer reimburses monthly contract
The contract is between the employee and the phone company
You … Read More »
If your business has a payroll then you may, like me, have received an RTI non-filing notice from HMRC. “Rubbish” is a polite version of my reaction. RTI should be the most straight-forward part of the payroll. The hard part is often calculating who is owed what if you have many non-salaried staff. So it would be fair to say that I was a bit miffed. And, understandably, my client was a bit miffed too.
OK, so what is the consequence? Well until April, nothing. But, after April, possibly a fine from HMRC. So to preserve client relations I phoned HMRC. Their assumption (incorrectly) was that I had not filed a return, hence the RTI non-filing notice. More worrying was that they could not tell me specifically why I had received the notice. My theory is that it was caused … Read More »
How often do you attend a networking meeting and see a number of your competitors?
If you get the sinking feeling then maybe you need to think again. Last night I found myself in a packed room with at least three other accountants. Joining in a brief conversation with one, I learnt that this accountant is taking on audit work. That’s great because I have never had any desire to carry out audits for companies. Now I know who to turn to when I need an auditor.
Another of my competitors, again a qualified accountant spoke for a minute on his practice’s strengths and mentioned inheritance tax planning. Again – this is not an area that I wish to cover.
Every business has its niche and area of expertise. I am a management accountant and finance director with a focus on profitability, cash … Read More »
Does it matter whether the dividend is final or interim if the tax treatment is the same? Dividends are used by many business owners as a tax-efficient way to extract profit from a company. So it is important to understand the procedure for paying them.
The Companies Act 2006
It isn’t HMRC that makes the distinction between the two dividend types, but company law. The Companies Act 2006 says “The company may by ordinary resolution declare dividends, and the directors may decide to pay interim dividends”
So one group of people, the directors,may pay interim dividends, but shareholder approval must be obtained before a final dividend is paid.
So why is HMRC interested?
HMRC doesn’t particularly care which type of dividend is
paid. It is interested in whether the payment is really a dividend or whether
it was salary a bonus or a loan payment. As … Read More »
If you have employees then by now you should be filing on-line payroll returns every time you pay your employees. From 6 April 2013 employers started reporting payroll information to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in real time. You may see this referred to as Real Time Information – or RTI. This means that employers (or their accountant or bookkeeper) have to:
send details to HMRC every time they run the payroll and pay an employee, at the time they pay them
use payroll software to send this information electronically as part of their routine payroll process
But we don’t have any employees!
Really? Are you sure?
Think very carefully about all of the people you make payments to. Are you really sure that they are self-employed?
Now that I have planted a seed a doubt in your mind take a look at the Employment Status … Read More »
Deadline to register for self assessment tax return is 5th October
You may never have worried about filling in a tax return before now. Unfortunately you could be in for a shock and a penalty if you fail to register a new source of income for the tax year ending April 2013. You have until October 5th to register any change in circumstances with HMRC. This is particularly likely to affect those employees with earnings over £50,000 still claiming child benefit.
So Who Needs to complete a tax return?
You need to complete a self assessment tax return if any of the following apply:
You are self-employed
You are a company director, unless it is a non-profit organisation and you don’t receive payments or benefits
You are a Minister of Religion of any faith
You are a Lloyds Name/Member
You have annual income over £100,000
You are an employee/pensioner … Read More »
The Government has announced an extension to the Listed Places of Worship Scheme which will take effect from 1 October 2013. The Listed Places of Worship Scheme makes a grant available towards the cost of the VAT on building work for listed places of worship.
More churches will be eligible to claim from 1 October 2013 when works to pipe organs, bells and bell ropes, and turret clocks may be included for claims under the scheme. Just as importantly professional fees will also become eligible when directly related to eligible building work. This reverses a previous change which forced local communities to find the additional cost of VAT on services such as architect’s fees.
In addition to these changes to the scope, administrative changes should simplify the claim procedure. This will allow applicants to make one claim every 12 months for eligible … Read More »
Chichester based selective invoice specialist, Tandem Invoice Finance Limited has been offering flexible, single invoice finance facilities free from any long term commitments throughout the region for a number of years. Tandem are pleased to announce a new partnership with Helen Alexander at Millbrook Financial Management.
Tandem director Malcolm Piper says “from our initial meeting with Helen at Millbrook Financial Management the decision was easy, Helen’s vast experience across a number of sectors coupled with her dedication to help clients realise their growth plans impressed us immensely. At Tandem we have earned an enviable reputation for going beyond merely providing funding to help ease cash flow. We are one of the fastest growing businesses in the sector, which is a testament to our focus on competitive pricing and exceptional customer service.”
This is proof if ever it was needed that progressive businesses … Read More »
We often view the New Year as a clean start – an opportunity to improve on the previous year. Perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to become more efficient in 2013? Recently I helped an organisation to draw up their budgets for 2013 and it revealed a few interesting problems.
The first request for information drew a disappointing response – a couple of minor items and some estimates that gave the impression they were based on last year plus a bit for inflation. Further prompting generated a little more discussion, a few new items and not much else.
Two things became clear.
That the budget was seen as something finance people prepare and nothing that anyone else should have to worry about.
Although there was a target profit level, there were no plans as to how this would be achieved.
My concern was that either … Read More »
Most people will now be aware that higher earning parents will be entitled to less child benefit from today, but it seems that rather a large number of parents are unaware that this will draw them into completing Self-Assessment tax returns.
HMRC estimates that there are around 700,000 households with one parent earning over £60,000. HMRC wrote to higher earning child benefit recipients giving them a deadline of 6th January to opt out of receiving child benefit or pay the Higher Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) where one parent earns over £50,000. From today where a parent continues to receive child benefit it will be repayable as HICBC at a rate of 1% of child benefit paid for every £100 of income over £50,000.
Around 200,000 taxpayers took the opt-out and will no longer be paid child benefit. The remaining 500,000 will … Read More »