According to Close Brothers, in terms of productivity – something assumed to be one of the largest challenges facing business – the UK lags behind the rest of the G7 by 16%. Nearly half of UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) say new technology would increase overall productivity by 46%, improve staff efficiency by 50%, and help upskill staff by 43%.
In this context, only 45% of UK small business have invested recently in technology, with three out of four businesses having no plans to invest in technology.
Below are three ways to improve productivity for your business.
Take your Accounting to the Cloud
The filing of VAT returns online – under the UK government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative – requires ongoing management of your company accounts, from invoicing and payments to expenses and payroll.
There are plenty of options in regard to platforms to help you do this, with each platform having the tools to effectively managing accounts. However, not all solutions on the market have been finalised for Making Tax Digital.
Recommended is QuickBooks Online, with the company suggesting that by filing VAT returns online, companies will have a better overview of cash flow in real time and will be able to manage human resources better – thus freeing time for more productive activities such as sales, marketing, and training.
MTD has the power to catalyse an immediate annual £6.9 billion net gain in productivity for the UK economy, or £46 billion over five years, according to Intuit QuickBooks.
Manage your Customer Journey through Customer Relationship Management
Modern businesses need to digitize the customer relationship through CRM, customer-relationship management. This will strengthen their understanding and management of their customers’ journey, so to increase revenues and reduce costs.
Whether this is accomplished by winning new customers, finding new ways to deliver more value to existing customers, or improving efficiency and productivity, it’s crucial to have good visibility of what’s happening in the business – and effective control over the key ways to improve performance.
CRM gives businesses that visibility and control. In addition, CRM provides improved communication and collaboration, automation of everyday tasks, and better reporting capabilities. All of these will be invaluable to upping your productivity – but potentially the biggest boon is centralisation: having all your information in one place.
Lastly, make sure CRM is integrated into your cloud accounting package, to drive a more effective and integrated front office back office approach.
Automate and Socialise your Marketing
Automated marketing amplifies what you’re already doing in marketing. It automates all the digital channels through which you push messages out.
A decade ago, this meant scheduling emails. Today, automated marketing systems have become more sophisticated and broader, handling online marketing campaigns whether it’s through Twitter or email or online advertising.
Marketing automation strengthens customer relationships, scales marketing campaigns, and makes it easy to integrate lead generation efforts into the sales cycle. Through this, it enables the company to be more creative with saved time, harnessing hard-won marketing leads to sales and measuring their campaign’s success. In turn, this allows marketers to quickly and easily profile and target customers, gather business intelligence, and run email campaigns and events.
Applying these three approaches will accelerate your business productivity and help your business survive and thrive.
The Spring Statement, delivered in March by Philip Hammond, included an update and open consultation on Structures and Buildings Allowance (SBA).
The relief is available for new commercial structures and buildings – and will also be available where an existing structure or building has been improved or against the cost of renovating existing structures and buildings.
The amount of relief available is limited to the initial cost of building or renovation and can be provided over a fifty-year period at a flat rate of 2%. Only some expenses will qualify for the relief, and the structures or buildings must be used for qualifying purposes, such as trades, professions, vocations and some UK or overseas property businesses or commercial lettings.
The Structures and Buildings Allowance, introduced 29 October 2018, is available to support businesses investing in the UK. The allowance aims to encourage the development of new structural assets and to provide tax relief.
The consultation on draft legislation was open until 24 April 2019.
The new Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) rules came into effect on the 1 April 2019. The new rules require businesses with an annual VAT-taxable turnover above £85,000 to keep digital records for VAT purposes, and to submit their VAT return to HMRC using MTD-compatible accounting packages, such as QuickBooks.
The HMRC scheme will ultimately require all taxpayers to move over to digital filing. However, at the moment, there is no proposal to widen compulsory MTD until at least April 2021.
Mel Stride MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, has said:
‘In a world where businesses are already banking, paying bills and shopping online, it is important that the tax system moves into the 21st century.’
Although the new rules are now applicable, VAT registered businesses with more complex requirements will not have to comply until the start of their first VAT return period after the 30 September 2019.
The government has also confirmed that there will be no penalties regarding the first year of digital filing and record keeping, in cases where a VAT registered entity has tried to comply with the digital record-keeping requirements and has failed due to software-related issues.
P11D forms are due, by 6 July 2019, for the year which ended on 5 April 2019.
The P11D is used to report benefits and some expenses provided to directors and employees. If, as an employer, you report your employee benefits by year, using payrolling, you do not need to complete a P11D.
In addition to payrolling or filing a P11D, employers will also need to pay Class 1A National Insurance Contributions at 13.8% in respect of the majority of employee benefits they provide. The amount owed can be calculated using the P11(b) form.
Employer’s need to pay Class 1A National Insurance Contributions by the 19th July (or 22nd, if payed electronically).
Warning: It can take time to gather the information required, so we would recommend that it is not left until the last minute!
The new tax year, effective from 6 April 2019, brings changes to income tax allowances and bands. The following updates now apply.
Rates of Tax
While the basic rate of tax will remain at 20%, the 2019/20 basic rate band – the threshold above which income is taxable at this rate – has increased by £3,000 from £34,500 to £37,500.
In addition, the threshold at which the 40% higher rate tax band applies reaches £50,000.
Individuals with taxable income over £150,000 will continue to pay income tax at an additional rate of 45% on their top slice of taxable income.
Interestingly, the personal allowance, previously £11,850, increased by £650 on the 6 April to £12,500. However, for individuals with an ‘adjusted net income’ of over £100,000, the personal allowance continues to be reduced by £1 for every £2 of income over £100,000 – until it tapers to nil as a person’s adjusted net income reaches £125,000.
Where one part of a couple, who are either married or in a civil partnership, does not pay income tax – or has a taxable income below their personal allowance – they are entitled to transfer 10% of their unused personal allowance to their partner or spouse. This is provided that the recipient is no more than a basic rate taxpayer.
Welsh Income Tax Updates
From April 2019, the Welsh government now enjoys income tax rate-setting powers. For the 2019/20 tax year, it has been decided that Welsh Income Tax Rates will be kept at a level that leaves Welsh taxpayers in the same position as their English and Northern Irish counterparts.
Scottish Income Tax Rates
The rates of income tax in Scotland are different from the rest of the UK, as follows:
Scottish income tax: 2019-2020
|Over £12,500 – £14,549||Starter Rate||19%|
|Over £14,549 – £24,944||Scottish Basic Rate||20%|
|Over £24,944 – £43,430||Intermediate Rate||21%|
|Over £43,430 – £150,000||Higher Rate||41%|
|Over £150,000||Top Rate||46%|
The UK Government has issued new advice to small businesses on how they could be affected by the UK’s leaving the EU. The documents contain advice regarding a range of issues, such as sending and receiving personal data and EU-UK trading.
The UK government recommends that businesses ensure they are prepared for Brexit, particularly considering the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the outcome. Businesses which import or export goods to the EU need to apply for a UK Economic Operation Registration and Identification number (EORI), to continue training with the bloc after Brexit.
Service-centred businesses and those that operate in the EU are likely to need to adhere to new rules after Brexit.
Businesses which own intellectual property in the EU are also likely to be affected, with regards to copyright, trademarks, patents, etc. If this affects you, you are recommended to seek advice from the EU Exit tool.
If the UK crashes out of the EU with no deal, many UK businesses will need to apply the same processes to EU trade that apply when trading with the rest of the world. For instance, they will need to register for an Economic Operator and Registration Identification number, commonly referred to as an EORI number.
HMRC is warning UK businesses that have only ever traded inside the EU that they will need to have an EORI number to continue their EU trading.
Worryingly, the latest figures from HMRC indicate only 17% of potentially affected businesses have registered for an EORI.
If you think that your business could be affected and you do not already have a UK EORI number, you’ll need to get one to import or export goods with the EU from 11pm UK time on 12 April 2019.
Warning: It could take 3 days to get a UK EORI number, so you should apply now.
You/your business should apply, if:
- you’re a sole trader who is resident in the UK;
- your company or partnership has a registered office in the UK;
- your company or partnership has a permanent place of business in the UK where they carry out their business activities.
Businesses that import goods into the UK from the EU may register for (TSP), Transitional Simplified Procedures, to allow import without having to make a full customs declaration at the border and to postpone paying any import duties. For imports using other locations, and for exports, standard customs declarations will apply.
Mel Stride MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, stated, “We want businesses to be able to continue trading with minimal disruption in any scenario, but we also know that people tend to leave things until the last minute and we would urge against that.”
To help drive more customers to your website, it is key to maximise the impact from search through SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Improved SEO enables your website to be discovered and to rank with relevance, so that it appears at the top of the search engine results. The process of optimisation is not a one-time process – but rather one that requires maintenance, tuning, and continuous testing and monitoring.
The following guide is a three-step strategy to help you achieve this.
Step 1: Target Market Business Analysis
Setting Goals and Objectives
Before you get started, ensure that you can measure the ROI (return on investment) from any changes you implement, deciding what is the expected number of visitors you will need to your site vs the baseline today. This is the measure that you can then track from.
Get specific on the goals to determine and set measures for specific pages visited and product / services reviewed.
Keywords are absolutely critical for getting located. These work through setting your “meta sets”, visible text and code.
Once you have the list, then look to prioritise the targeted search term related to what you expect your customers to look for. Keep this more in the framing of natural language rather than specific products you have – i.e. “looking for a parasol” rather than “name of brand parasol”. Think what you would type into a search engine. People rarely search to find a specific business – so you need to think of solving a customer problem or meeting a customer need. Test this with your customers and amend accordingly.
Keyword analysis follows, and this helps to further identify a targeted list of key words and phrases. Review competitive lists and other industry sources as well as prioritising keywords and phrases, plurals, singulars, and misspellings.
Step 2: Content Optimisation and Submission
Create page titles
Keyword-based titles help to establish page theme and direction for your keywords.
Create meta tags
Meta description tags can influence click-throughs but aren’t directly used for rankings. (Google doesn’t use the keywords tag anymore.)
Place strategic search phrases on pages
Integrate selected keywords into your website source code and existing content on designated pages. Make sure to apply a suggested guideline of one to three keywords/phrases per content page and add more pages to complete the list. Ensure that related words are used as a natural inclusion of your keywords. It helps the search engines quickly determine what the page is about. A natural approach to this works best.
the past, 100 to 300 words on a page was recommended. Many tests show that pages with 800 to 2,000 words can outperform shorter ones. In the end, the users, the marketplace, content and links will determine the popularity and ranking numbers.
Develop new sitemaps for Google and Bing
Make it easier for search engines to index your website. Create both XML and HTML versions. An HTML version is the first step. XML sitemaps can easily be submitted via Google and Bing webmaster tools.
Submit website to directories (limited use)
Professional search marketers don’t submit the URL to the major search engines, but it’s possible to do so. A better and faster way is to get links back to your site naturally. Links get your site indexed by the search engines.
However, you should submit your URL to directories such as Yahoo! (paid), Business.com (paid), and DMOZ (free). Some may choose to include AdSense (google.com/AdSense) scripts on a new site to get their Google Media bot to visit. It will likely get your pages indexed quickly.
Step 3: Continuous Testing and Measuring
Test and measure.
Analyse search engine rankings and web traffic to determine the effectiveness of the programmes you’ve implemented, including an assessment of individual keyword performance. Test the results of changes, and keep changes tracked in an Excel spreadsheet, or whatever you’re comfortable with.
Ongoing addition and modification of keywords and website content is necessary to continually improve search engine rankings, so growth doesn’t stall or decline from neglect. You also want to review your link strategy and ensure that your inbound and outbound links are relevant to your business.
A blog can provide you with the necessary structure and ease of content addition that you need. Your hosting company can typically help you with the setup/installation of a blog.
The Pensions Regulator has issued guidance for employers concerning the increase in minimum pension contributions, which took effect on 6 April 2019.
|Duration||Employer minimum||Total minimum contribution|
|6 April 2019 onwards||3%||8%|
While not mentioned within Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement, he made in his written response a strong reference to the Government’s commitment to Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV). He also declared himself satisfied with the way the MTDfV pilot is progressing.
The Chancellor’s statement confirmed a light touch (soft-landing) approach to penalties in the first year of implementation: “Where businesses are doing their best to comply, no filing or record keeping penalties will be issued. “
No further mandation before 2021
Hammond’s written response referenced an earlier promise not to extend the mandation of MTD to any new taxes or businesses until the MTDfV system had been shown to work well – and not before 2021 at the earliest.
Given that the immediate focus will be on supporting businesses to transition to the new service, this can only be described as a common-sense move, and one that provides some certainty.
Latest from HMRC
The publication of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement was followed immediately by a statement from Theresa Middleton (HMRC Director, Making Tax Digital Programme):
“Our VAT pilot service is progressing well, with over 46,000 businesses in the pilot and over 200 MTD compatible software products available, including some free products, and over 140 existing subscription products being updated at no cost at all.”
Middleton’s comments also referenced that HMRC “…continues to listen to feedback from business and recognises the importance of supporting businesses through the transition to MTD.”
What is MTDfV?
It is a major change to the way that VAT-registered businesses – only those with a VAT-taxable turnover of £85,000 or more – will keep their VAT records. These will be recorded entirely digitally, and businesses will need to submit their VAT returns using MTD compatible software for VAT periods starting on or after 1 April 2019.
The National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW), the legal minimum wage rates that must be paid to employees increased on the 1 April, with employers liable to be penalised for any failure to comply.
The new rates are:
|Rate from 1 April 2018||Rate from 1 April 2019|
|NLW for workers aged 25 and over||£7.83||£8.21|
|NMW main rate for workers aged 21-24||£7.38||£7.70|
|NMW 18-20 rate||£5.90||£6.15|
|NMW 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18||£4.20||£4.35|
|NMW apprentice rate for under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship||£3.70||£3.90|
HMRC has just published their new company car advisory fuel rates, which are effective from the 1 March 2019.
The rates only apply when, as an employer, you either:
- reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars; or,
- require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel.
You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.
|1400cc or less||11p|
|1401cc – 2000cc||14p|
|1400cc or less||7p|
|1401cc – 2000cc||8p|
|1400cc or less||10p|
|1401cc – 2000cc||11p|
In the February Bulletin, HMRC has included updates on the following:
- End of year reporting;
- Reporting expenses and benefits;
- Student Loan notices and a new type of Student Loan repayment that employers will need to be able to process via payroll (Post Graduate Loans);
- Updates to the Starter checklist – used for new employees;
- Reporting the Disguised Remuneration Loan Charge;
- Updates to P9 Notices of Coding;
- Payrolling benefits in kind;
- Scottish Income Tax; and
- the Welsh Rate of Income Tax and new codes for Welsh taxpayers.
To download the Bulletin, click here.
Most businesses with VAT return periods beginning on or after 1 April 2019 will need to comply with the regulations mandated for VAT.
For businesses with “more complex” VAT, this date has been deferred to 1 October 2019. This delay applies to trusts, not for profit organizations not set up as companies, VAT divisions, VAT groups, public sector entities such as government departments and NHS Trusts. The latter will have to provide additional information on their VAT return.
The delay also applies to local authorities, public corporations, traders based overseas, those required to make payments on account, and annual accounting scheme users.
For more information visit here for the statement on Making Tax Digital made by Mel Stride, The Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
If you have made the decision to move towards working for yourself, the options to consider are whether to be a sole trader, a shareholding director of a limited company, or to trade as a partnership.
Once you’ve decided, HMRC will need to be informed. If you choose to go self-employed or to enter into a partnership, HMRC will need to be advised so that they can register you to receive a self-assessment tax return. They will also need to know if you form a limited company.
As a self-employed person (including a partner) it is likely that you will be required to pay income tax and Class 2 and 4 National Insurance contributions under self-assessment.
1. Start-up costs
Starting up a new business can be a costly exercise, and you will need to open a new business bank account for all your future work-related expenditure. It is vital to always keep records of accounts to help ensure the correct taxable profit is reported to HMRC after the end of any tax year.
Budgeting and forecasting
When writing your financial forecast for the business, it is recommended that you factor in the following:
- Do you have access to funds which you can use to start up the business?
- Do you have savings to carry you through periods of no income or unexpected expenses?
- Are there any life changing events on the horizon, such as moving to a new house or having a new baby?
- When employing staff, have you considered sick pay and annual leave?
2. Are credits or grants available?
Understand if you are eligible to claim benefits, tax credits or even grants. You can check this easily by accessing organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau or Gov.UK websites to establish what you might be eligible for.
To go self-employed, you’ll need to decide where to locate your new business. It may be possible to run it from the comfort of your own home, or you may need to rent or purchase another property as your place of work.
When renting business premises, it is vital that you verify whether there are any rules in place restricting business activity, and you check if the environment is suitable for the type of work which will take place.
If you are renting an office space, you must ensure that you know the monthly costs, outside of the initial rental payments, such as services, or any upcoming upgrades to the building which may increase the rental costs in the future.
Don’t forget, if you convert part of your home into businesses premises, you may be required to pay business rates on top of any existing council tax commitment. You will also be asked to pay these rates if you convert any part of your property into a shop/workshop or if client visits become a daily occurrence and you have dedicated rooms in your home solely for business purposes.
Please call us, if you’re concerned that you might be affected by what we describe in the article. It is always best to be sure of your position.
Check your insurance policy and if in any doubt call your broker to see if you need to take out additional cover for any business activity within your household. This is not an expensive addition and most companies will combine additional cover into one domestic and business policy. If your business requires clients to enter your property, you may be advised to take out public liability insurance, another inexpensive addition to your insurance policy.
You may also be required to hold a license, depending on the nature of your business.
5. Business name
When deciding whether you are going to use a trading name for the business, you will need to be aware of any restrictions in place.
If you thinking of forming a company, you can check if your proposed company name is already in use by using the Companies House name availability checker.
If the business will have a website, you will need to check if there are suitable domains available for your business name.
Once everything is in place, you can get to work on your new business and enjoy working for yourself.
For more information on setting up as self-employed, forming a limited company, and selecting the right cloud accounting solutions, such as QuickBooks, then please contact us.
The Insolvency Service has urged individuals saving for retirement to protect their pension pots from criminals and ‘negligent trustees’.
Research carried out by the Service found that criminals use a range of tactics to convince savers to part with their funds, including persuading individuals to access their pension and invest in unregulated schemes.
Pension scam victims lost an average of £91,000 to criminals in 2018, according to Financial Conduct Authority research. Criminals often use cold-calls and offers of free pension reviews to convince their victims to comply.
The Insolvency Service has urged savers to be wary of calls that come out of the blue; to seek financial advice before altering their pension arrangements or making investments; and to not be pressured into making decisions about their pension.
Conservative Minister Kelly Tolhurst said:
‘If you are approached to make an investment from your pension, always do your homework and seek independent advice, if necessary, to help you make an informed decision.
‘The government continues to work closely with the Insolvency Service who are working to clamp down on rogue companies targeting vulnerable people.’
The “Be a smart investor” section of the FCA website has further information about scams, and if you suspect you have been the target of a scam you can report it through the UK’s national reporting Centre for fraud and cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Please speak to us if you want to know more about protecting yourself from fraud.
The non-profit organisation Big Brother Watch has made a report to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), claiming that HMRC has broken data protection laws by capturing millions of callers’ voice data on the HMRC Voice ID System, and that people have been ‘railroaded into a mass ID scheme by the back door’.
HMRC launched the system in 2017, and it works by having the caller say a key phrase instead of a password to gain access to their accounts.
A freedom of information request found that approximately seven million tax payers are enrolled in the Voice ID database. Around 162,185 individuals have chosen to opt out of the scheme and have their files deleted by HMRC.
An HMRC spokesperson has said:
‘Our Voice ID system is very popular with millions of customers as it gives a quick route to access accounts by phone.
All our data is stored securely, and customers can opt out of Voice ID or delete their records any time they want.’
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has announced that the government will respond to the forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in the Spring Statement on Wednesday 13 March 2019.
While Hammond has already stated that the Spring Statement is not a mini Budget, he may take the opportunity to announce consultations concerning future tax changes.
Don’t worry about missing anything. We will keep you posted regarding any important developments.
UK VAT-registered businesses which trade with the EU are being urged by HMRC to be prepared for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. HMRC sent letters to 145,000 firms advising businesses to take three actions ahead of the 29th March 2019 leave date:
- Register for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.
- Decide whether a customs agent will be used to make import and/or export declarations, or whether declarations will be made by the business via software which is compatible with HMRCs systems.
- Contact the organisations responsible for moving goods (such as haulage firms) in order to ascertain whether the business will need to supply additional information to complete safety and security declarations, or whether it will need to submit these declarations itself.
A report jointly published by HMRC and the National Audit Office (NAO) recently revealed that approximately 55 million customs declarations are currently made by British businesses every year. This figure may rise to 255 million when the UK leaves the EU.
For more information please contact us. We’re here to help.
HMRC has extended the Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) pilot scheme to all eligible businesses, on the mandated compliance for VAT return periods beginning on or after 1 April 2019. However, MTDfV for some ‘more complex’ businesses has been deferred until 1 October 2019. This deferral applies to:
- Not-for-profit organisations which are not set up as companies
- VAT divisions, VAT groups, public sector entities such as government departments and NHS Trusts, which have to provide additional information on their VAT return;
- Local authorities
- Public corporations
- Traders based overseas
- Those required to make payments on account
- Annual accounting scheme users.
Businesses with a taxable turnover below the £85,000 threshold are also being encouraged by HMRC to sign up for MTD or MTD for income tax on a voluntary basis. They would gain the benefits of MTD, improve their business processes, and gain a better view of how their business is performing via accountancy software.
HMRC has also reiterated that Brexit will not affect the introduction of MTDfV. For more information please contact us. But, remember with VAT mandation coming in from the 1st August, you really can’t afford to delay.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is beginning to write reminders to all employers that, from 6 April 2019, the minimum amount to be paid to a workplace pension is increasing to 8% – and that they, the employers, must contribute at least 3% of the total contribution.
To be prepared for this increase, TPR have recommended seeking further guidance from their website, and to ensure that the payroll software used is compliant with the changes.
Alternatively, if you want informed, proactive advice, you can talk to us.
The Scottish Draft Budget took place on 12 December 2018. To assist those of you who might be affected, we have published a table containing the 2019/20 proposed rates and bands (for non-savings and non-dividend income), along with the 2018/19 rates and bands.
|Scottish Bands 2018/19||Scottish Bands 2019/20||Band Name||Scottish Rates|
|Over £11,850* - £13,850||Over £12,500* - £14,549||Starter||19%|
|Over £13,850 - £24,000||Over £14,549 - £24,944||Scottish Basic||20%|
|Over £24,000 - £43,430||Over £24,944 - £43,430||Intermediate||21%|
|Over £43,430 - 150,000**||Over £43,430 - 150,000**||Higher||41%|
|Over £150,000**||Over £150,000**||Top||46%|
* assuming the individual is entitled to a full UK personal allowance.
** The personal allowance will be reduced if an individual’s adjusted net income is above £100,000.
The allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 of income over £100,000.
The personal allowance is currently £11,850 for 2018/19 and will increase to £12,500 for 2019/2020.
- For UK taxpayers entitled to a full personal allowance, the higher rate is set at £50,000.
- The tax rates for non-savings and non-dividend income remain at 20%, 40%, and 45% for income over £150,000.
The rate for 2019/2020 will mean that Scottish employees earning approximately £27,000 from employment income will pay the same income tax as the rest of the UK on a similar income. Higher rate earners in Scotland with income of £150,000 and over will pay, approximately, £2,670 of income tax more than those on a similar income in the rest of the UK.
In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has mandated that the nine largest current account providers must offer standardized Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for current accounts to Account Information Service Providers (AISPs) and for payments to Payment Initiation Service Providers (PISPs).
What does this mean? By providing access to this data from third parties and banks, Open Banking provides small businesses with the opportunity, through technology such as QuickBooks Online, to have a real-time view of their banking and transactional data.
This will help to more accurately predict tax liability (VAT payments), to proactively manage cashflow, to more quickly provide credit scores for loan and finance applications, and to offer the ability to analyse spend and buying patterns – all to help small businesses best budget their finances.
The UK is not at the forefront of Open Banking innovation globally, but it is estimated that Open Banking has the potential to create a revenue opportunity of at least £7.2bn by 2022 across retail and SME markets.
HMRC have published an updated list containing details of taxpayers who have been penalised for deliberate errors in their tax returns or have purposely failed to comply with tax requirements.
HMRC are able to publish details where an investigation has been made and where the taxpayer has been charged one or more penalties for deliberate tax evasion on tax of more than £25,000.
The 2019/20 Scottish Draft Budget includes changes to Scottish Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT).
The policy priority for residential Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) continues to be to help first-time buyers and those moving through the property market.
The policy has helped over 80% of taxpayers to pay less LBTT than in England – or none at all.
The current rates and bands are as follows.
0 - £145,000
£145,001 - £250,000
£250,001 - £325,000
£325,001 - £750,000
£750,001 and over
The rates apply to the portion of the total value which falls within each band.
First-time buyers’ relief
Relief is available for first-time buyers of properties costing up to £175,000. The relief increases the zero-tax threshold from £145,000 to £175,000. First-time buyers purchasing a property which is more than £175,000 will also benefit, and the relief will be apportioned only to the price below the threshold.
Higher rates of Land and Buildings Transaction Tax
Certain residential properties, such as buy-to-let and second homes, incur higher rates of LBTT.
From the 25 January 2019, the Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) increased from 3% to 4% and will apply to transactions which occurred before the 12 December 2018. ADS is applicable where an individual owns, or partially owns, a property, or purchases another which is not replacing a main residence. There is an eighteen-month rule which will prevent some purchases incurring the additional rates.
Non-residential rates and bands
The Government has reduced the non-residential LBTT rates from 3% to 1%, and increased the upper rate from 4.5% to 5%, with the starting threshold reduced to £250,000 from £350,000.
These changes will not apply where a transaction was started before the 12 December 2018.
The revised rates and bands for non-residential LBTT transactions are as follows.
0 - £145,000
£145,001 - £250,000
£250,001 - £325,000
£325,001 - £750,000
£750,001 and over
As the deadline approaches for submitting returns, here are HMRC’s strangest reasons for late or failed submissions, from taxpayers who missed the Self-Assessment deadline last year.
- My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me.
- I’m too short to reach the post box.
- I was just too busy – my first maid left, my second maid stole from me, and my third maid was very slow to learn.
- Our junior member of staff registered our client in Self-Assessment by mistake because they were not wearing their glasses.
- My boiler had broken, and my fingers were too cold to type.
There were also some dubious expenses claims for unconvincing items like woolly underwear and pet insurance for a dog. Some of the most questionable include:
- A carpenter claiming £900 for a 55-inch TV and sound bar – to help him price his jobs.
- £40 on extra woolly underwear, for five years.
- £756 for a dog’s pet insurance.
- A music subscription, so someone could listen to music while they worked
- A family holiday to Nigeria.
None of these excuses and expenses were successful!
HMRC have updated the online guidance available, now providing a detailed list of income tax and NIC rates applicable to employers for 2019/20. The comprehensive list can be used by employers for 2019/2020 for payroll and employee expenses.
The list includes:
- PAYE tax and Class 1 National Insurance Contributions
- Tax thresholds, rates, and codes
- Class 1 National Insurance thresholds
- Class 1 National Insurance rates
- Class 1A National Insurance: expenses and benefits
- Class 1B National Insurance: PAYE Settlement Agreements (PSAs)
- National Minimum Wage
- Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental Pay
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Student loan and Postgraduate loan recovery
- Company cars: Advisory Fuel Rates (AFRs)
- Employee vehicles: Mileage Allowance Payments (MAPs)
A new online guide has been published by HMRC to aid employers in determining which benefits and expenses need to be declared in the P11D forms.
These forms can be completed online using:
- the PAYE online for employers’ service;
- or the online end-of-year expenses and benefits forms.
More details are available in the HMRC expenses and benefits guide.
MTD VAT Pilot is Now… Open to All
HMRC announced (10/1/2019) that their Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) pilot is now open to all those mandated to keep digitally compliant records and to file MTD-compatible VAT returns for return periods commencing after 31 March 2019.
In an email issued, HMRC stated: “this marks a significant milestone towards our ambition to become one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world.”
HMRC boasts that over one hundred VAT-registered businesses are now signing up to the scheme on a daily basis, with more than 3,500 having already joined.
Even though the majority will not need to file their first MTD-complaint return until early August, the department wants “as many eligible businesses as possible to join the pilot ahead of the mandation of the service in April”, as it will provide assurance that the service works for all types of customer.
What does it mean?
This means that all VAT-registered entities with an annual VAT-able turnover in excess of the £85,000 compulsory registration threshold – i.e. those mandated to onboard from April – will now have the chance to test their accounting systems prior to April.
A minority of compulsory registered businesses – those with the most complex VAT affairs – have had their mandation date deferred to their first return period starting on or after 1 October 2019.
VAT groups now able to join the pilot
HMRC has also opened its MTDfV pilot to VAT groups with immediate effect, in order to enable them to start testing the service – even though they are not mandated to join until October.
The department “will continue to update you as we open up the pilot to the remainder of the population who are mandated to join from October.”
Want to know more?
As we leave 2018 behind, it’s worth taking stock of this period of increased regulation on customer data protection and privacy – in parallel with its acceleration in marketing technology capabilities.
This blog provides an overview of what to consider in terms of the evolving expectations of and demands on customer journeys and the impact they may have on the marketing aspect of your business. The following are the top three marketing trends and strategies to consider for 2019.
Evolving customer experience and journeys
2018 has brought more paths through which customers can satisfy their ideal approach to buying. With the onset of conversational user interfaces through voice search and recognition from the likes of Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa, this is adding a key customer touchpoint that many marketing approaches are yet to adopt and adapt to.
Such examples help fuel the customer need for convenience, being able to request what they want, when they want it, and how. As data becomes richer in terms of what we understand about customer behaviour, the personalisation of the customer experience can become deeper – albeit at a time when the use of data is being re-evaluated by companies such as Facebook.
If you are continuing with the over-used approach of marketing to “millennials”, this will limit how your brand or customer experience connects with twenty- to thirty-year olds today – as building your marketing approach will be subject to change in observing this consumer group.
There is a huge opportunity in blending customer data from silos, such as combining what you know from your business data on your customers with that which is coming from social data. Marketing teams will need to best balance the careful use of client data, segmenting based on specific personas and on an experience personalised on how customers wish to interact.
Be more than a service. Be a trusted brand with values
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” (Jeff Bezos)
For companies who have not yet positioned their brand to a set of values, you should do so in 2019. The majority of today’s customers are belief-driven buyers, harnessing their brand loyalty to what the company stands for – whether that is helping others, trust, quality, innovation etc. Although there maybe the danger of alienating some customers, brand values can deepen the customer-company relationship at an emotional level.
Manage your reputation; be prepared for a crisis
“It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it” (Warren Buffett)
“With Google, if a result is based on an established view, it will find its way on to the first page. Taking this approach, if the sentiment about your brand is a bad one, intentionally or accidently, then this may cause significant collateral damage for a long time – if a suitable response is not deployed.
“With the depth of opportunity for brands to advertise on nearly every website and platform consumers use, negative reviews can proliferate rapidly, and it is essential you are able to respond to help mitigate, correct, or address the perception. For example, this might be by listening to what people are saying online and making adjustments accordingly.
“No company is safe from reputation or brand crises and, as such, it is recommended to have a dedicated owner in your team to manage such an unfortunate event.
From 1st December 2018, there have been new company car advisory fuel rates published, stating that the previous rates can be used for up to one month from the date the new rates apply. The rates only apply to employees using a company car, and the advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1st December 2018.
|1400cc or less||12p|
|1401cc – 2000cc||15p|
|1600cc or less||8p|
|1601cc – 2000cc||10p|
|1600cc or less||10p|
|1601cc – 2000cc||12p|
On the 12 December 2018, Derek Mackay, the Scottish Finance Secretary, unveiled the Scottish Budget for 2019/20 .
You will recall that this time last year he introduced two additional tax bands, which meant that Scottish resident taxpayers would now pay income tax at five different rates on their non-savings non-dividend income. Meanwhile, their income from savings, dividends, and any capital gains were to be taxed by reference to the rates and tax bands effective in the rest of the UK.
The effect of last year’s changes means that, in many instances, it is necessary to perform two parallel tax computations to establish the total income tax due and the applicable CGT rate.
This year, it’s okay – you can breathe a sigh of relief. Mackay has resisted the temptation to introduce further divergence in the rates of income tax this year.
For 2019/20, a Scottish taxpayer will be entitled to the same £12,500 personal allowance as the rest of the UK. The Scottish allowance will also be withdrawn at the same rate of £1 for every £2 of adjusted net income over £100,000.
|Band in 2019/20||Name of band||Income tax rate %|
|12,501 – 14,549||Starter rate||19|
|14,550 – 24,944||Basic rate||20|
|24,945 – 43,430||Intermediate rate||21|
|43,431 – 150,000||Higher rate||41|
Due to the fact that the power to set NIC rates and thresholds has not been devolved, the rates and thresholds applicable in Scotland are the same as in the rest of the UK.
In her recent AccountingWEB article, Rebecca Cave drew attention to the fact that “Combining the NIC and income tax rates for a Scottish taxpayer produces some very odd marginal rates”.
Land and Building Transaction Tax changes
Mackay is to increase Scotland’s Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) from 3% to 4%, effective from the 25 January 2019. This will take it out of line with the English equivalent Stamp Duty Land and Tax (SDLT) ADS rate of 3%.
The LBTT changes do not stop there. On the same date (25 January), the LBTT rates applicable to commercial property are also set to change:
|Up to 150,000||0||0|
|150,001 – 250,000||3||1|
|250,001 – 350,000||3||5|
The shape of things to come
Unless the Chancellor’s threat of a Spring Budget comes to fruition, we will have to wait until next autumn to see if the changes to LBTT will be mirrored by similar SDLT changes in England and Northern Ireland.
What about Wales?
Many of you reading this article will recall that since the 1 April 2018, the Welsh Assembly replaced SDLT with a Land Transaction Tax (LTT). It is, therefore, entirely possible that Wales might choose to adopt similar rates to those proposed by Scotland, or even to do something entirely different.
Shortly before Christmas, HMRC started to send out “encouragement letters” to businesses within the scope of Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) and to those who were eligible to join the MTDfV pilot. In total, over a million letters will be sent out before the end of February.
Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee has warned HMRC that small businesses “could pay a heavy price for the proposed change.” It also stated that HMRC has “failed to adequately support small businesses” ahead of the introduction of MTDfV, set to start from 1 April 2019. The Committee has urged HMRC and the Government to “start listening” to small businesses’ MTDfV concerns.
The legislation affects businesses which have a VAT-able turnover above the current VAT registration threshold of £85,000. Affected firms will need to keep a digital record of their business transactions and submit their VAT returns through third-party software, or spreadsheets, linked to HMRC’s own systems – via an application programming interface (API).
Please contact us for more information about the forthcoming MTDfV and how it may impact on your business.
The first of two reports on inheritance tax (the second will be shared in Spring 2019) has been published by The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS).
An unprecedented 3,000 people shared their views about Inheritance Tax with the OTS, far more than in any previous review. Many of the respondents told the OTS that, at what is such a difficult time, they felt they were being asked to fill in complicated forms even when the relative who had died had only left a small amount.
The OTS’s own website stated:
“Too many people have to fill in Inheritance Tax forms, and the process is complex and old fashioned.
“Although Inheritance Tax is payable on less than 5% of the estates of the 570,000 people who die in the UK each year, around half of the families have to fill in the forms. Many also told us that their relative had worried about inheritance tax during their lifetime, even though it was not going to affect them.”
The first report gives an overview of concerns raised by the public and by professional advisors during the review and highlights the benefits of:
- Reducing or removing the requirement to submit forms for smaller or simpler estates, especially where there is no tax to pay;
- Simplifying the administration and guidance;
- Having banks and other financial institutions standardise their requirements;
- Automating the whole system by bringing it online.
It will be interesting to see what the second report has to say…
According to HMRC, more than 180,000 first-time buyers have benefitted from First Time Buyers’ Relief (FTBR) from Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).
Introduced in the November 2017 Budget, FTBR has saved homeowners more than £426 million.
FTBR is a relief from a charge on SDLT for first-time buyers of residential property situated in England and Northern Ireland – where the market value purchase price is no more than £500,000.
If you, and anyone else you’re buying with, are a first-time buyer of a residential property, you can claim relief on purchases:
- made on or after 22 November 2017;
- Where the purchase price is no more than £500,000.
You will pay:
- 0% on the first £300,000;
- 5% on the remainder up to £500,000.
In the 2018 Autumn Budget, it was announced that FTBR had been extended to cover purchases of qualifying shared ownership properties where the first-time buyers did not elect to pay SDLT on the market value of the whole property when acquiring their initial interest.
The extension of the relief will apply retrospectively from 22 November 2017, meaning that a refund of tax will be payable to those who have paid SDLT after 22 November 2017 in circumstances which now qualify for first-time buyers’ relief.
- Scotland replaced SDLT with Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in 2015 and then, in February 2018, brought in its own version of FTBR.
- In April 2018, Wales replaced SDLT with Land Transaction Tax (LBT). While Wales does not have a version of FTBR, the residential property threshold at which LBT becomes payable (£180,000) is higher than in any other part of the UK.
Please do not hesitate to talk to us if you want to know more about any of the property transaction taxes within the UK.
In preparation for the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement, the Government has published a collection of documents outlining what a “no deal” Brexit could mean.
They have stated: “The government does not want or expect a no deal scenario. However, it is the duty of a responsible government to prepare for a range of potential outcomes, including the unlikely event of no deal. In the event of leaving the EU without a deal, legislation will be necessary to ensure the UK’s Customs, VAT and Excise regimes function as intended after the UK leaves the EU and so, on a contingency basis, HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs will lay a number of Statutory Instruments (SIs) under the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 (TCTA) and the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 (EUWA).”
As events unfold in the rundown to 29 March, please reach out to us for help to understand how it may impact your business.
With Amazon’s recent decision on the new location for their business, here are some aspects to consider when making a similar investment of your own. The location should be consistent with your particular style and image. If your business is retailing, do you want a traditional store, for example? Or would you like to try operating from a kiosk or a cart that you can move from place to place?
Consider who your customers are
Demographics play an important part in your choice of location. Consider who your customers are and how important might be their proximity to you. For a retailer and some service providers, this is a critical consideration. For other types of businesses, however, it might not be as important.
Research and review the community to establish whether there is a sufficient percentage of that population that matches your customer profile. Do however think about communities that are largely dependent on a particular industry for their economy, as a downturn could be bad for business.
In addition, consider the work force skills required. Are there people with these skills in the community, with sufficient housing, schools, recreational opportunities, and culture?
Foot fall, traffic, and parking
If you are a retail business, then consider where shoppers are likely to pass by, rather than being hidden away. Monitor traffic outside of the location at various times throughout the day and assess how accessible the facility will be for customers, employees and suppliers.
If requiring deliverables, establish whether suppliers will be able to easily and efficiently courier. Be sure that there is convenient parking for both customers and employees. As with foot traffic, take the time to monitor the facility at various times and days, to see how the demand for parking fluctuates.
Competition and other services
Are competing companies located nearby? Sometimes that’s good, such as in industries where comparison shopping is popular, as you can catch the overflow from existing businesses. If a nearby competitor is only going to make your marketing job tougher, look elsewhere.
Consider what other businesses and services are in the vicinity, whether there is any benefit from customer traffic, and whether there is a suitable range of places and restaurants for employees. You might also want to think about the location of other facilities nearby, such as child care, convenient shops, etc.
Infrastructure, utilities and costs
Check that the building has the infrastructure – adequate electrical, air conditioning, and telecommunications services – to support your business requirements and to meet your present and future needs. For utilities, check what is included in rent, as this can be a major part of the expense.
Lastly, verify the medium- to long-term rental expectations and commitments, so as to mitigate any rental rise.
The deadline for submitting 2017/18 self-assessment tax returns online is 31 January 2019 with a penalty of £100 if the return is late.
Last year approximately 11 million taxpayers completed the return with 10.7 million being on time. In a statement, Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services:
“Time flies once the festive period is underway, yet the ‘niggle’ to file your tax return remains… We want to help people get their tax returns right, starting the process early and giving yourself time to gather all the information you need will help avoid the last minute, stressful rush to complete it on time. Let’s beat that niggle.”
For help with completing your tax return please contact us.
The Budget includes an increase to the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) for two years up to £1 million. This is in relation to qualifying expenditure incurred from 1 January 2019, currently at £200,000 per year. Additional changes to the rules outlined include the following:
- Reduction to the rate of writing down allowance on the special rate pool of plant and machinery. This includes long-life assets, thermal insulation, integral features, and expenditure on cars with CO2 emissions of more than 110g/km, from 8% to 6% in April 2019.
- Confirmation and clarification as to the costs of altering land, for the purposes of installing qualifying plant or machinery for capital allowances, for claims on or after 29 October 2018.
- The 100% first year allowance and first year tax credits for products on the Energy Technology List and Water Technology List will come to an end from April 2020.
- An extension to the current 100% first year allowance for expenditure incurred on electric charge-point equipment until 2023.
- The introduction of a new capital allowances regime for structures and buildings will apply to new non-residential structures and buildings. Relief will be provided on eligible construction costs incurred on or after 29 October 2018, at an annual rate of 2% on a straight-line basis.
For disposals on or after 29 October 2018, the Chancellor announced changes to the Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER) rules.
During his October Budget, he introduced a requirement for a person claiming ER to have at least a 5% interest in the distributable profits and the net assets of the company. This stands in order for one to be deemed to have an interest in a ‘personal company’.
The new ‘tests’ are in addition to the existing tests and they must be met throughout the specified period in order for relief to be due.
The existing tests require a 5% interest in the ordinary share capital and 5% of voting rights.
In addition to the new tests, the Chancellor extended the minimum qualifying period from one year to two years. For this, certain conditions must be met by the claimant.
The measure will take effect on disposals on or after 6 April 2019, except where a business ceased before 29 October 2018.
Draft legislation has been issued which, if enacted, will ensure that, where an individual’s qualifying holding is reduced below 5%, they can elect to exercise their entitlement to ER by claiming a deemed disposal. Furthermore, where there arises a charge to capital gains tax, a further election can be made to defer the payment of the tax due until actual disposal.
The relief will only apply where the reduction below 5% occurs as a result of the company raising funds for commercial purposes by means of an issue of new shares wholly for cash consideration. The new rules will apply for share issues which occur on or after 6 April 2019.
In the Autumn Budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond stated that “austerity is coming to an end, but discipline will remain”. He outlined a promise for a “double deal dividend” from Brexit and referenced that there is likely to be a full-scale Spring Budget if Brexit negotiations don’t go well.
In the middle of October, HMRC opened the Making Tax Digital for VAT pilot. This is now available for nearly 70% of those mandated to file MTD-compliant VAT returns for all future VAT-return periods starting after the 31 March 2019.
The requirement to join VAT-MTD applies to all VAT registered entities with a VAT-able turnover of above the £85K compulsory VAT-registration threshold. This applies whether they file their returns on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Businesses wishing to join HMRC’s pilot must complete an online registration process, they must keep their VAT records digitally from the first day of their next VAT Return period, and they must submit subsequent VAT returns using MTD-compliant software such as QuickBooks Online.
There is a six-month deferral of mandation for the approximately 3.5% who have complex requirements. These include trusts, not for profits, VAT divisions and groups, local authorities, overseas traders, and annual accounting scheme users. Pilot testing for these groups is expected to open in Spring 2019.
HMRC have released a timeline with more details on Pilot eligibility, which you can view here.
The end is nigh.
During what one could be forgiven for thinking was a pre-election budget, the Chancellor confidently stated that ‘austerity is coming to an end – but discipline will remain’.
He then went on to promise a ‘double deal dividend’ if Brexit negotiations turned out to be successful and he warned that there would be a full-scale Spring Budget in 2019 if not.
This budget Newswire focuses on the tax measures which may affect you.
Main Budget Tax-Related Proposals
- Increases to the Personal Allowance and the Basic Rate Band.
- An extension of Off-Payroll Working (IR35) for the private sector.
- A temporary increase to the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA).
- VAT registration threshold is frozen for a further two years.
- Changes to Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER) and Private Residence Relief (PRR).
- Measures to tackle the plastic problem.
Budget proposals are often subject to amendment during their passage through Parliament or in the subsequent Spring Statement.
In a welcome, but surprise, move the Chancellor announced he would accelerate his delivery on the government’s manifesto promise of a £12,500 personal allowance (currently £11,850) in April 2019, instead of 2020.
- There’s a reduction to the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000.
- The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000.
- Once adjusted net income exceeds £125,000 (currently £123,700), personal allowance is extinguished.
The marriage allowance
The marriage allowance enables couples, whose income does not exceed the basic rate, to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner.
The marriage allowance reduces the recipient’s tax bill by up to £238 a year in 2018/19.
Rates and bands
Hardly had Hammond dispensed the personal allowance good news before he revealed a significant increase in the basic rate band from its current £34,500 to £37,500, also from next April. Thus, he delivered another manifesto promise a whole year early.
Taking into account the personal allowance and the increase to the basic rate tax ceiling, the threshold at which the 40% band will apply will be £50,000 from the 6 April 2019.
The basic rate and additional rate of tax remain at 20% and 45% respectively, with the additional rate payable on taxable income above £150,000.
- In the 2018/19 Scottish Budget, the Finance Secretary for Scotland introduced five income tax rates ranging between 19% and 46%.
- The Scottish income tax rates and bands for 2019/20 will be announced on 12 December 2018 as part of the Scottish Draft Budget.
- Scottish taxpayers are entitled to the same personal allowance as individuals in the rest of the UK.
- From April 2019, the Welsh Government has the right to vary the rates of income tax payable by Welsh taxpayers. The UK government will reduce by 10 pence each of the three rates of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers. In turn, the Welsh Government has provisionally set the Welsh rate of income tax at 10 pence which will be added to the reduced UK rates. This means the rates of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers will continue to be the same as those paid by English and Northern Irish taxpayers. The Welsh Government will need to confirm this proposal prior to their final Budget.
Tax on dividends
The UK Dividend Allowance will remain at £2,000 for 2019/20.
Dividends received above the allowance are taxed at the following rates:
- 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers
- 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers
- 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.
- Dividends within the allowance still count towards an individual’s basic or higher rate band and so may affect the rate of tax paid on dividends above the Dividend Allowance.
- To determine which tax band dividends fall, dividends are treated as the last type of income to be taxed.
Tax on savings income
The Savings Allowance, introduced for the 2016/17 tax year and applied to savings income, remains unchanged.
- Individuals taxed at up to the basic rate of tax have an allowance of £1,000.
- For higher rate taxpayers the allowance is £500.
- No allowance is due to additional rate taxpayers.
Some individuals qualify for a 0% starting rate of tax on savings income up to £5,000.
The starting rate is lost where taxable non-savings income exceeds £5,000.
In an interesting U-turn, the Chancellor announced that he will not be introducing a shared occupancy test as he previously indicated he would.
The current £7,500 relief is to remain in place.
Gift Aid – donor benefits
Draft legislation has been issued to simplify the donor benefits rules that apply to charities who claim Gift Aid tax relief on donations.
National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW)
The government is adopting the Low Pay Commission (LPC) recommendation to increase the NLW by 4.9% from £7.83 to £8.21 from April 2019.
It is also accepting all other LPC recommendations for next April’s NMW rates:
- 21-24 year-olds up by 4.3% from £7.38 to £7.70 per hour.
- 18-20 year-olds up by 4.2% from £5.90 to £6.15 per hour.
- 16-17 year-olds up by 3.6% from £4.20 to £4.35 per hour.
- apprentices up by 5.4% from £3.70 to £3.90 per hour.
Corporation tax ratesThe main rate of corporation tax, currently 19%, will remain at this rate for another year. It still looks set to fall to 17% in April 2020.
Class 2 and 4 National Insurance contributions (NICs)
We had already been told that Class 2 NICs will not be abolished during this Parliament. After the embarrassing U-turn in March 2017, we have been told that there will not be any increases to Class 4 NICs rates either.
UK property income of non-UK resident companies
Confirming a pre-Budget announcement, from 6 April 2020, non-UK resident companies that continue with a UK property business, or have other UK property income, will be charged corporation tax. This will be charged rather than income tax, as at present.
Annual Investment Allowance
In a surprise move – which may be considered to be mainly a hollow gesture, due to the fact that few businesses will be in the position to take advantage of the offer – Chancellor Hammond increased the Annual Investment Allowance for two years starting from 1 January 2019. The allowance will change from £200,000 to £1,000,000 in respect of qualifying expenditure.
In common with similar moves in the past, complex calculations may apply to straddling accounting periods.
- Writing down allowances on the special rate pool of plant and machinery – including long-life assets, thermal insulation, integral features, and expenditure on cars with CO2 emissions of more than 110g/km – will reduce to 6% from April 2019. Currently it is set at 8%.
- 100% first year allowance and first year tax credits for products on the Energy Technology List and Water Technology List are set to be abolished from April 2020.
- 100% first year allowance for expenditure incurred on electric charge-point equipment is to be extended to 2023.
- There will be a new capital allowances regime with an annual rate of 2%, on a straight-line basis, for structures and buildings. This will be applicable to new non-residential structures and buildings on eligible construction costs incurred on or after 29 October 2018.
Change to the definition of permanent establishment
From 1 January 2019, the exemption will be denied if they are part of a ‘fragmented business operation’.
Preventing abuse of the R&D tax relief for SMEs
HMRC is said to have identified and prevented £300 million worth of R&D tax relief fraud.
To help prevent abuse of the Research and Development (R&D) SME tax relief by artificial corporate structures, the amount that a loss-making company can receive in R&D tax credits is to be capped at three times its total PAYE and NICs liability from April 2020.
Around 95% of companies currently claiming the payable credit will be unaffected.
HMRC preferential creditor
From April 2020, HMRC will have greater priority to recover taxes paid by employees and customers – namely, PAYE and VAT in the case of the insolvency of a debtor.
Existing rules will remain unchanged for taxes owed by the business.
HMRC will remain below other preferential creditors such as the Redundancy Payment Service.
- Corporate capital losses claims will be restricted to 50% of annual capital gains that can be relieved by brought-forward capital losses. This will apply as of April 2020.
- Changes to the Diverted Profits Tax have been introduced as of 29 October 2018.
- There will be an increase in the small trading tax exemption limits for charities, as of April 2019 it will be £5,000 per annum or, if the turnover is greater than £5,000, 25% of the charity’s total incoming resources. It is subject to an overall upper limit of £50,000, to £8,000 and £80,000 respectively.
- An income tax charge will be introduced on amounts received in a low tax jurisdiction in respect of intangible property. it will apply to the extent that those amounts are referable to the sale of goods or services in the UK, from 6 April 2019, and includes targeted anti-avoidance rules for arrangements entered into on or after 29 October 2018.
Digital Services Tax
In response to growing public disquiet, the Chancellor announced he will introduce a Digital Services Tax (DST), but only if agreement on an international way forward cannot be reached.
Hammond predicted that the new tax would raise £1.5 billion over four years from April 2020.
- DST is to be set at 2% on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms, and online marketplaces, where their revenues are linked to the participation of UK users.
- Businesses will need to generate revenues of at least £500 million globally to fall taxable under the DST.
- The first £25 million of relevant UK revenues are also not taxable
Intangible fixed assets
The Intangible Fixed Assets regime introduced on 1 April 2002 is now more than fifteen years old. The Chancellor announced that the government will seek to introduce targeted relief for the cost of goodwill in the acquisition of businesses with eligible intellectual property from April 2019.
With effect from 7 November 2018, the government will also reform the de-grouping charge rules, which apply when a group sells a company that owns intangibles, so that they more closely align with the equivalent rules elsewhere in the tax code.
Interestingly, in a nod towards Making Tax Digital, Mr Hammond announced a further freezing of the £85,000 registration, now until 2022.
While not a total shock, it is fair to say that it lays to rest, at least for the time being, any scope for the adoption of the Office of Tax Simplification proposals to greatly reduce the registration threshold.
VAT fraud in the construction sector
In a reannouncement of a 2017 commitment, Hammond confirmed that the government will pursue legislation to shift responsibility for paying VAT along the supply chain. This comes with the introduction of a domestic VAT reverse charge for supplies of construction services, with effect from 1 October 2019.
VAT treatment of vouchers
Draft legislation has been issued to introduce a new tax code for the VAT treatment of vouchers, such as gift cards, for which a payment has been made and which will be used to buy something.
The legislation separates vouchers with a single purpose (e.g. a traditional book token) from the more complex gift vouchers, and it sets out how and when VAT should be accounted for in each case. The new legislation is not concerned with the scope of VAT and whether VAT is due. Rather, it is concerned with the question of when VAT is due and, in the case of multi-purpose vouchers, the considerations upon which any VAT is payable.
VAT collection – split payment
The government wants to combat online VAT fraud by harnessing new technology. It is consequently consulting on VAT split payment.
The intention is to utilise payment industry technology to collect VAT on online sales and transfer it directly to HMRC.
In the government’s view, this would significantly reduce the challenge of enforcing online seller compliance and offer a simplification for businesses.
Draft legislation has been issued to change the VAT interest rules so that they will be similar to those that currently exist for income tax and corporation tax.
This will mean:
- Late payment interest will be charged from the date the payment was due until the date payment is received.
- HMRC will pay repayment interest when it has held taxpayer repayments for longer than it should.
- The provisions are expected to take effect for VAT returns from 1 April 2020.
Off-payroll working in the private sector
In what can hardly be described as a surprise move, the public sector changes to IR35, commonly referred to as off-payroll working, introduced in April 2017, are to be extended into the private sector from April 2020.
The thrust of the proposal is that responsibility for operating the off-payroll rules will be transferred from the contractor to the private organisation, agency, or third party engaging the worker.
One crumb of comfort is that the rule will only apply to large and medium-sized employers.
The Employment Allowance provides businesses and charities with up to £3,000 off their employer NICs bill.
From April 2020, the Employment Allowance will be restricted to employers whose employer NICs bill was below £100,000 in the previous tax year.
Most cars are taxed by reference to bands of CO2 emissions, multiplied by the original list price of the vehicle. The maximum charge is capped at 37% of the list price of the car.
The scale of charges for establishing the taxable benefit in respect to an employer-provided car is announced well in advance. This tax year there was generally a 2% increase in the percentage rate applied to each band.
This applies to all diesel cars (unless the car is registered on or after 1 September 2017 and meets the Euro 6d emissions standard), but the maximum is still 37%.
A new development for the current tax year is an increase in the diesel supplement from 3% to 4%.
There is no change to the current position in which the diesel supplement does not apply to hybrid cars.
For 2019/20, rates will increase by a further 3%.
Charging facilities for electric and hybrid cars
A new, backdated, exemption from a taxable employment benefit is being introduced, for those employers providing charging facilities for employee-owned all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles at or near the workplace.
When introduced, the exemption will be effective from 6 April 2018.
Employer-provided cars and vans are already exempt from this benefit.
Exemption for travel expenses
Legislation that will be effective from April 2019 will remove the requirement for employers to check receipts when making payments to employees for subsistence when they use benchmark scale rates.
Exemption will apply to standard meal allowances paid in respect of qualifying travel and overseas scale rates. Employers will only be asked to ensure that employees are undertaking qualifying travel.
The legislation puts existing concessionary accommodation and subsistence overseas scale rates on a statutory basis.
Self-funded work-related training
After consulting on extending the scope of tax relief for employees and the self-employed for work-related training costs, the government has decided not to introduce any changes to the existing rules. The National Retraining Scheme is being launched to help those in work, including the self-employed, to develop further skills.
No changes to the current Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rates were announced
The CGT annual exemption, currently £11,700, will increase to £12,000 from April 2019.
For disposals on or after 29 October 2018, two new tests are to be added to the definition of a ‘personal company’. These will require the claimant to have a 5% interest in both the distributable profits and the net assets of the company.
The new tests must be met, in addition to the existing tests. The existing tests already require a 5% interest in the ordinary share capital and 5% of voting rights.
ER – minimum qualifying period
From 6 April 2019, legislation will be introduced to extend the minimum ER qualifying period from one year to two years.
The measure will have immediate effect, except where a business ceased before 29 October 2018.
ER – dilution of holdings below 5%
Following consultation, draft legislation has been published to provide a potential entitlement to ER where an individual’s holding in a company is reduced below the normal 5% qualifying level.
The relief will apply where the reduction below 5% occurs as a result of the company raising funds for commercial purposes by means of an issue of new shares, wholly for cash consideration.
Shareholders will be able to make an election treating them as if they had disposed of their shares and immediately reacquired them at market value just before dilution.
To avoid an immediate CGT bill on this deemed disposal, a further election can be made to defer the gain until the shares are sold.
ER can then be claimed on the deferred gain in the year the shares are sold, under the rules in force at that time.
The new rules will apply for share issues which occur on or after 6 April 2019.
Gains for non-residents on UK property
Draft legislation has been issued to charge all non-UK resident persons, whether liable to CGT or corporation tax, on gains arising on disposals of interests in any type of UK land (whether residential or non-residential).
Certain revisions are likely to be made, following a further technical consultation, when the full legislation is introduced. However, the key points are covered here:
- All non-UK resident persons will also be taxable on indirect disposals of UK land.
- The indirect disposal rules will apply when a person has made a disposal of an entity that derives 75% or more of its gross asset value from UK land. There will be an exemption for investors in such entities who hold a less than 25% interest.
- All non-UK resident companies will be charged to corporation tax rather than CGT on their gains.
- There will be options to calculate the gain or loss on a disposal by using the original acquisition cost of the asset or by using the value of the asset at the commencement of the rules in April 2019.
- The CGT charge relating to the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings will be abolished. The legislation will broadly have effect for disposals from 6 April 2019.
The main effect of the new legislation will be to extend the scope of UK taxation of gains to include gains on disposals of interests in non-residential UK property.
Payment on account and 30-day returns
As previously announced, draft legislation has been issued to change the reporting of chargeable gains and their associated CGT liability arising from the disposal of property.
From April 2020, UK residents will be required to make a return and a payment on account of CGT within thirty days of their completion of a residential property disposal. This applies not only in the UK, but on a worldwide basis.
The requirements will not apply in cases where the gain on the disposal is not chargeable to CGT – for example, where the gains are covered by private residence relief.
CGT private residence relief
The Chancellor announced his intention to make two changes to Private Residence Relief:
- The final period exemption will be reduced from 18 months to 9 months.
- Lettings Relief will be reformed so that it only applies in circumstances where the owner of the property is in ‘shared-occupancy’ with a tenant.
The government will consult on the details of both changes, as well as on other technical aspects.
The proposed changes are intended to be effective from April 2020.
There will be no changes to the current 36 months that are available to disabled persons or those in a care home.
Inheritance tax (IHT)
The nil rate band, at £325,000, is set to remain frozen until April 2021, the same level at which it has been since April 2009.
IHT residence nil rate band
On the 6 April 2017 a new nil rate band, called the ‘residence nil rate band’ (RNRB) was introduced, meaning that the family home can be passed more easily to direct descendants on death.
The RNRB is being phased in:
- For deaths in 2018/19 it is £125,000.
- Rising to £150,000 in 2019/20.
- Finally reaching £175,000 in 2020/21.
Thereafter it will rise in line with the Consumer Price Index.
- There are a number of conditions that must be met in order to obtain the RNRB, which may involve redrafting an existing will.
- The RNRB may also be available when a person downsizes or ceases to own a home on or after 8 July 2015 – where assets of an equivalent value, up to that of the RNRB, are passed on death to direct descendants.
- Amendments are to be introduced to the RNRB relating to downsizing provisions and the definition of ‘inherited’ for RNRB purposes.
- The amendments are to clarify the downsizing rules and are to provide certainty over when a person is treated as ‘inheriting’ property. They will have effect for deaths on or after 29 October 2018.
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)
First time buyers’ relief
The relief for first time buyers is to be extended to purchasers of qualifying shared ownership properties who do not elect to pay SDLT on the market value of the whole property when they purchase their first share.
Relief will be applied to the first share purchased, where the market value of the shared ownership property is £500,000 or less.
The relief is to apply retrospectively from 22 November 2017 and means that a refund of tax will be payable for those who have paid SDLT after 22 November 2017 in circumstances which now qualify for first time buyers’ relief.
Higher rates for additional dwellings (HRAD)
A minor amendment will extend the time allowed to claim back HRAD, where an individual sells their old home within three years of buying their new one.
The measure also clarifies the meaning of `major interest` in land for the general purpose of HRAD.
Consultation on SDLT charge for non-residents
The government will publish a consultation, in January 2019, concerning a SDLT surcharge of 1% for non-residents buying residential property in England and Northern Ireland.
Extension of offshore time limits
Draft legislation, intended to increase to twelve years the assessment time limits for offshore income and gains and the recovery of inheritance tax, has been issued.
Where an assessment involves a loss of tax brought about deliberately, the assessment time limit remains twenty years from of the end of the year of assessment.
The legislation does not apply to corporation tax, or where HMRC has received information from another tax authority under automatic exchange of information.
The potential extension of time limits will apply from the 2013/14 tax year, where the loss of tax is brought about by careless behaviour, and from the 2015/16 tax year in other cases.
The amendments will have effect once Finance Bill 2018-19 receives Royal Assent.
- The current assessment time limits are ordinarily four years (six years in the case of carelessness by the taxpayer).
- The legislation cannot be used to go back earlier than 2013/14.
- If there has been careless behaviour, HMRC can make an assessment for up to twelve years from 2013/14 in respect of offshore matters, but HMRC cannot raise an assessment for 2012/13 or earlier (unless there is deliberate error by the taxpayer).
Penalties for late submission of tax returns
A new points-based penalty regime for late return submission is to be introduced.
Depending on the frequency of the filing obligation, a defined number of penalty points will accrue. Once a triggering threshold has been reached, a fixed penalty will be charged.
Further late submissions will attract a fixed penalty, until the taxpayer meets all submission obligations by the relevant deadline for a set period of time.
Once this happens, and a taxpayer has provided any outstanding submissions for the preceding 24 months, the points total will reset to zero.
Points will generally have a lifetime of 24 months after which they expire, so if a taxpayer accrues points but does not reach the threshold, the points will expire after 24 months.
Taxpayers will have a separate points total per submission obligation.
Penalties for late payment of tax
Draft legislation has been issued to harmonise the late payment penalty regimes for income tax, corporation tax, and VAT.
The penalties will consist of two penalty charges, one charge based upon payments and agreements to pay in the first thirty days after the payment due date, and another charge based upon how long the debt remains outstanding after the thirty days.
As part of the government’s response to tackling plastic waste, the following announcements were made:
- Single-use plastics will be addressed in the Resources and Waste Strategy, later in the year, for situations in which recycling rates are too low and producers use too little recycled plastic.
- The issue of excess and harmful packaging will be addressed with a tax on the production and importation of plastic packaging which does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic.
- This tax will be implemented in April 2022.
- The Resources and Waste Strategy will also consider ways to reduce the environmental impact of disposable cups.
- Although the government does not believe that a levy would be effective at this time, it will return to the issue if insufficient progress has been made by those businesses already taking steps to address the matter.
Whenever the Chancellor announces the results of his Budget, there’s always an awful lot to digest. Don’t suffer in silence. Call us; we are here to help
When setting out on a new venture or business idea, so many businesses do not succeed. This could be down to a combination of factors. Yet, one common factor is the challenges associated with executing the idea and establishing it in the market.
To ensure your idea or business has the best start, or if you are reviewing current plans and progress, you must first develop an effective business strategy to support you. To help, here are five steps to guide you.
- Build up your data and knowledge
- Build Your Vision and Mission Statement
- Define your Strategy and Tactical Plans
- Track and Manage Performance
- Execute, Learn and Review
To know where you want to go is first to understand where you are today. The best way to do this is to investigate the past. This could be through data from your market, so you understand the size of the opportunity at stake. Investigate the total market size, the number of potential customers, and the growth rates of similar projects. Using the SWOT framework helps you identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, both internally and externally.
You might want to use the PESTLE model to explore deeper into external factors that may affect your business. This looks into the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental aspects of your business and market. It is key to make sure you involve the right people in this process to help you build up your data and knowledge.
Once you understand the market, begin to narrow down your idea, exploring the unique business problem you are looking to solve, and the market opportunity associated to it.
Your vision should be used to describe the future direction of the business and its aims in the medium to long term. It’s about describing your organisation’s purpose and values. This should be built in parallel to your mission statement, which defines the organisation’s purpose and outlines its primary objectives.
In simple terms, organisations summarise their goals and objectives in mission and vision statements. These serve different purposes but are often confused with each other. While a mission statement describes what a company wants to do now, a vision statement outlines what a company wants to be in the future.
The mission statement focuses on what needs to be done in the short term to realise the long-term vision. So, for the vision statement, you are asking where do you want to be in three to five years’ time. The mission statement, alternatively, asks: what do we do? how do we do it? for whom do we do it? what value do we bring?
Amazon’s Corporate Vision Statement: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Google’s Corporate Mission Statement: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
At this stage, the aim is to develop a set of high-level objectives for all areas of the business. These need to highlight the priorities and inform the plans that will ensure delivery of the company’s vision and mission. By reviewing your work in step one across the SWOT and PESTLE analyses, you can layer these into your SMART Objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related).
Your objectives must also include factors such as KPI’s, resource allocation, and budget requirements. It is key to align your resources and structure according to the strategy, so to clarify everyone’s role and accountability.
All the planning and hard work may have been done, but it’s vital to review continuously all objectives and action plans – to ensure you’re still on track to achieve that overall goal. Managing and monitoring a whole strategy is a complex task, which is why many directors, managers and business leaders are looking to alternative methods of handling strategies. Creating, managing and reviewing a strategy requires you to capture the relevant information, break down large chunks of information, plan, prioritise, and have a clear strategic vision.
Firstly, execute your business strategy with excellence and, throughout, capture learning so that it can be reapplied or used to adjust the plan if necessary. Do not be afraid to make mistakes, but make sure each mistake is an opportunity to apply learning to the strategy. Executing at the highest level is key: anyone can have a good idea, but those who can execute make a lesser idea into a successful business.
Remember always to celebrate your team and business successes. It can be quite easy to get dragged into the here-and-now and forget to reflect on the great achievements of the organisation.
A daunting prospect
If after reading our article, you feel daunted by what you need to do, don’t worry. We are here to help you every step of the way. Simply give us a call and we will guide you through the challenging start-up maze.
The government has decided not to abolish Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from April 2019. This is today paid at a rate of £2.95 per week by self-employed individuals with profits of £6,205 or more annually.
Robert Jenrick, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury stated, “We delayed the implementation of this policy in November to consider concerns relating to the impact on self-employed individuals with low profits. We have since engaged with interested parties to explore the issue and further options for addressing any unintended consequences.”
He added, “Having listened to those likely to be affected by this change, we have concluded that it would not be right to proceed during this parliament, given the negative impacts it could have on some of the lowest earning in our society.”
The government has issued notices that aim to help both businesses and individuals prepare in the event of a UK-EU agreement not being realized. The notices cover passports and driving licenses, together with data protection and mobile phone roaming charges. With concerns surrounding the possibility, on 29 March 2019, of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed:
- 14% of small businesses have started planning for a No Deal Brexit. Another 41% believe that a No Deal Brexit will have an impact on their business but have not yet started planning for the possibility.
- 10% believe that a No Deal Brexit will have a positive impact on their business. 48% believe a No Deal scenario will have a negative effect.
Reflecting on the research, FSB National Chairman, Mike Cherry, stated:
“It is obvious that our small firms are not prepared or ready for a chaotic no deal Brexit and the impact that it will have on their businesses. If you sell your products to the EU, buy goods from the EU or if your business relies on staff from the EU, you now see this outcome as a clear and present threat to your business.”
To see the FSB survey press release visit here.
It’s coming whether we like it or not. But don’t worry! We can help you navigate your way through the uncertainty that is Brexit.
It’s official. Sole traders and companies with up-to-date VAT affairs are now able to join HMRC’s test phase for VAT Making Tax Digital (MTD). While testing of VAT-MTD started last April, until now it has been on a limited, controlled, invitation-only basis.
In what can be taken as a clear indication of the department’s confidence, the VAT MTD pilot has now been opened to accept everyone.
In support of the public test phase, a suite of new and updated guidance is available to help VAT-registered businesses and their agents get to grips with the new requirements.
The newly published guidance covers:
- Use of software to submit VAT returns. A guide outlining how to sign up a business for the MTD-VAT pilot and how to join.
- For agents: use of software to submit VAT returns. A guide outlining how an agent and their clients can sign up for the MTD-VAT pilot.
- Find software suppliers for sending VAT returns and Income Tax updates. This lists third-party HMRC-recognised software packages that support the Income Tax and VAT-MTD pilots.
HMRC has also published a series of videos on its Help and Support page:
- How to sign up for Making Tax Digital for VAT.
- How does Making Tax Digital for VAT affect you?
- Making Tax Digital for VAT – what software is compatible?
- Digital record-keeping for VAT.
- Creating an Agent Service Account.
Can everyone join?
As of last month, provided they haven’t incurred a default surcharge in the last two years, just over 40% of the approximate 1.1 million VAT-registered entities, who are required to keep digital records and file MTD-compliant VAT returns from April next year, will be able to apply to onboard early.
A further 100,000 will be able to join the public pilot by the end of this month.
Those who can’t join
There’s a small but significant list of VAT registered entities who yet remain unable to join the pilot. These include those who:
- trade with the EU;
- are based overseas;
- submit VAT returns annually;
- make payments on accounts;
- use the flat rate scheme;
- are newly registered and have not yet filed a return;
- are members of VAT groups or VAT divisions;
- have received a Default Surcharge notice in the last 24 months. However, they will be allowed in by the end of this month;
- are unincorporated not-for profit organisations;
- are trusts;
- are Local Authorities who complete VAT form 21;
- Public Corporations;
To help them plan, HMRC has published a timetable indicating when each of the embargoed cohorts will be able to join the pilot.
3.5% to get a deferral
HMRC has reported that 3.5% of those mandated will not be able to onboard before the end of December.
This cohort will have their mandation date pushed back to October 2019.
Those affected include:
- VAT groups or VAT divisions.
- Overseas traders registered for VAT.
- Local Authorities.
- Public Corporations.
All of those in the deferral group will be written to by HMRC.
What is Making Tax Digital?
Making Tax Digital is a key part of the government’s plans to make it easier for individuals and businesses to get their tax right and to keep on top of their affairs. This will ultimately result, for millions of people, in the end of the annual tax return.
As the first stage of a wider roll-out process, VAT-registered businesses with VAT-able turnover above the compulsory £85,000 registration threshold will be mandated to join the VAT Making Tax Digital for Business regime. To meet their VAT return obligations, this will apply to all return periods commencing April 2019.
As a minimum, they will be required to maintain their VAT records digitally and to file MTD-compliant VAT returns using third party software. Those mandated to join will no longer be able to log on to HMRC’s portal to complete and file their online return.
Those businesses who voluntarily registered for VAT, with a VAT-able turnover under £85,000, will not be required to use the system, although they can choose to do so voluntarily.
Contact us if you’re confused about what MTD will mean for your business. We’re here to help.
HMRC Employer bulletins are magazines published every two months, giving up-to-date information on payroll topics for employers and agents.
The latest edition has useful information on reporting payroll information, information on the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage, and also information on fully electric company cars. There are also articles on Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) webinars and Welsh Rates of Income Tax. The Employer Bulletin is used to inform you about new products and any changes which may affect your employees. This information provides information on the following:
- Reporting your payroll information accurately and on time.
- Irregular payments and your completion of Full Payment Submissions.
- Starter Declaration on a Full Payment Submission (FPS).
- PAYE Settlement Agreements and Scottish Income Tax.
- National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage.
- Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric company cars.
- Welsh Rates of Income Tax.
- Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) webinars.
- Postgraduate Loans.
- Benefits and Expenses: Company cars.
- Tax avoidance loan schemes.
- Completing an EYU in respect of employee’s National Insurance Contributions
- Employment Income: Draft Legislation
- Deadline for post-16 Child Benefit.
Running and managing your own business can be one of the hardest challenges of your life. The ups, the downs, the cash flow challenges, finding the right people – the list is endless. Likewise, though, are the ups in terms of success: winning the next deal, finding the best employees to help you.
However, one common trait business leaders possess is their ability to battle through the hard times, by way of resilience – a heroic struggle that is not for all. Resilience is not something we are born with, but instead is something we develop during our lifetimes. Below are the five essential tips on how to become more resilient.
- Keep a positive attitude.
- Develop your moral compass.
- Find a resilient role model and develop your coping skills.
- Build your social network and physical fitness.
- Remember the 8-8-8 rule.
This is key to deflecting stress scenarios, to restructuring your pessimistic or negative thoughts. You need to ask yourself whether there is any rational basis to feel negatively about a situation.
It is also important to recognize that you are in control as to whether the glass is half-empty or half-full. Reframing your thoughts can also help you to be positive, so that you can alter the perceived value of the challenging event by accepting it and recovering from it.
Altruism is strongly related to resilience – and strengthening your set of core beliefs can help. The authors note that there is a strong correlation between faith and religious or spiritual beliefs and resilience.
Consider taking a resilient role model, such as a world leader or a successful business or sports star, so that you can consider how they would respond to stress. Also consider how spiritual beliefs help towards a deeper management of challenging times.
Rather than withdrawing and surrendering to your stress situations, the most resilient individuals use active rather than passive coping skills. You could minimise the self-questioning caused by the stress situation by creating positive thinking and in turn facing the fear directly.
Rather than going solo, it is important to build a safety net of friends and family to help cope with stress situations. Regular exercise is one of the keys to cleansing your mind of stress – as it has been linked to improvements in mood, cognition, regulation of emotion, immunity, and overall self-esteem. Try to think of exercise as a welcome reprieve rather than a task, framing your mindset in a positive way.
On a typical day, many people are over-worked, with lack of sleep and limited social or personal time. By breaking the day into thirds – eight hours for work, eight hours for personal / family time and eight hours for sleep – is recommended as a suitable routine to help you keep on top of the mental daily stresses.
With less than six months to go until the UK leaves the EU – and with no post-Brexit deal yet on the table – there’s no doubt that we are entering unchartered waters. So, what should we do?
The UK’s Government insists that preparations for a no-deal scenario are part of its overall Brexit preparation strategy. Indeed, the Prime Minister’s Chequers statement, issued after her cabinet’s infamous July away day, included a pledge to step up preparedness for all possible outcomes to the negotiations, including a no deal scenario.
August technical notices
On the 23 August, a little over a month after May’s statement, the Department for Exiting the EU published 25 ‘technical notices‘.
The documents covered such diverse areas, as:
- Applying for EU-funded programmes
- Driving and transport
- Money and Tax
- Importing and exporting
- Regulating medicines
The notes were supported by guidance entitled “UK government’s preparations for a ‘no deal’ scenario”. Its aim was to put the technical notices in context by explaining the Brexit negotiation’s progress to date and what might happen if the UK were to crash out of the EU.
September White paper
In early September, the House of Commons joined the party by publishing a briefing document (white paper) called “What happens if there’s no Brexit deal?”
At 172 pages, it’s not exactly a bedtime read. Nevertheless, its fifteen chapters cover all areas from “how could no deal happen?” through to “external relations”, and it is an excellent source of no-deal Brexit information.
HMRC publish a letter
In an unprecedented move, HMRC wrote to 145,000 businesses across the UK about the ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, should Britain crash out of the EU and the Customs union on the 29 March 2019.
The letter, written by HMRC’s Deputy Chief Executive Jim Harra and published on the 17 September, started positively by acknowledging:
“The UK government has reached agreement with the EU on the vast majority of withdrawal issues, including the terms of an implementation period. Full agreement on this will mean that trading with the EU during the implementation period would broadly stay the same until 31 December 2020.”
It then sought to give a degree of reassurance by stating “The approach of continuity does not mean that everything will stay the same, but the priority is maximising stability at the point of departure.”
After referring to the government’s focus “on securing a future partnership with the EU following the end of the implementation period in December 2020”, the letter’s tone changed. Harra referred to a no-deal eventuality being unlikely and continued to reassure readers: in the event of no-deal, the government is committed to prioritising stability for businesses.
He added that:
“we will continue to work closely with industry to ensure that interventions in a no deal scenario are conducted in a way which minimises delays and additional burdens for legitimate trade, while robustly ensuring compliance.”
If a disorderly exit happens there would, of course, be immediate changes to the way British businesses trade with the EU. Jim’s letter set the position out very clearly:
“If we leave the EU without a deal in March 2019, there would be immediate changes to the way UK businesses trade with the EU that impact on your business.
- UK businesses having to apply customs, excise and VAT procedures to goods traded with the EU, in the same way that already applies for goods traded outside of the EU.
- Trading partners in the EU having to apply customs, excise and VAT procedures to goods they receive from you, in the same way that they do for goods received from outside of the EU.
In particular, if your business currently trades only with the EU then you’d have to start completing customs declarations from March 2019 and customs checks would apply to your business for the first time.”
The letter concludes by saying, “there is no need to contact HMRC at this stage”. However, it suggests, “If you’re a member of a trade body, they might have useful information on their website. VAT advisers, customs agents, freight forwarders and other businesses also have services to help you to follow customs rules”.
There are many sources of information on Brexit, from listening to the TV and radio through reading newspapers to searching the web. However, some are more reliable than others. To get a balanced and informed view of what is going on, it is wise to access information from more than one source.
Government sources of information
- GOV.UK “Brexit” pages – you can sign up to receive regular updates.
- Government has published technical notices across a range of topics on GOV.UK to explain what will apply if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, including:
- The House of Commons published a white paper in early September
- HMRC’s Jim Harra’s “advice and guidance” letter
To discuss how this may impact your business, please contact us.
New company car advisory fuel rates were published, on September 1st, with the guidance indicating that the previous rates may be used for up to one month from the date the new rates applied. This only effects employees using a company car. The listed rates are shown below.
1400cc or less
1401cc – 2000cc
1400cc or less
1401cc – 2000cc
1600cc or less
1601cc – 2000cc
As of 1 October, the new Requirement to Correct (RTC) rules are upon us. Previously, under HMRC Offshore Disclosure Facilities, taxpayers had been encouraged to come clean with an offer of lower penalties than would have been incurred if “the error” had been discovered by HMRC.
All that has now changed. Failure to Correct rules, introduced alongside RTC, leave non-compliant taxpayers facing penalties of up to 200% of the resultant tax liability – or even more. Where the tax involved exceeds £25,000 per tax year, an additional penalty of up to 10% of the value of the asset concerned may be charged.
RTC only applies if HMRC is able to raise an assessment to recover the tax unpaid on 6 April 2017. Normal assessing rules apply to decide whether HMRC is able to raise such an assessment.
The most common reasons for failing to declare offshore tax are in relation to foreign property and holiday homes, investment income, and moving money into the UK from abroad.
HMRC have said the following:
“Offshore non-compliance occurs when there is tax owed to HMRC as a result of tax non-compliance and that non-compliance involves either an offshore matter or an offshore transfer.
The tax non-compliance involves an offshore matter if the unpaid tax is charged on or by reference to:
- income arising from a source in a territory outside the UK
- assets situated in a territory outside the UK
- activities carried on wholly or mainly in a territory outside the UK, or
- anything having effect as if it were income, assets or activities of a kind described above.
The tax non-compliance involves an offshore transfer if it is not an offshore matter, but the income (or sale proceeds in the case of a capital gain), or any part of the income, was either received abroad or was transferred abroad before 6 April 2017.
For inheritance tax, the tax non-compliance involves an offshore transfer if it is not an offshore matter, but the disposition that gives rise to the transfer of value involves a transfer of assets, and after that disposition, but on or before 5 April 2017, the assets, or any part of the assets, are transferred to a territory outside the UK.
In all cases, references to the income, proceeds or assets transferred includes any assets derived from or representing the income, proceeds or assets.
If the non-compliance meets these definitions, the RTC rule applies and failure to correct the position will result in the new tougher FTC penalties.”
Mel Stride, The Financial Secretary said, “Since 2010 we have secured over £2.8 billion for our vital public services by tackling offshore tax evaders, and we will continue to relentlessly crack down on those not playing by the rules.”
RTC is supported by the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), an international legal framework permitting the automatic exchange of information, between different country’s tax authorities, regarding financial accounts and investments held by non-residents, in order to help stop tax evasion. CRS came into force in the UK in 2016. In excess of one hundred countries are already signed up to CRS and are starting to share information. It has already significantly increased HMRC’s ability to detect UK taxpayers’ overseas non-compliance.
If you would like to discuss this, or any other matter further, then please contact us.
Since November 2017, more than 120,000 first-time buyers have saved £284,000 following the introduction of first-time buyers’ relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). SDLT is a tax on properties in England and Northern Ireland. It is estimated that, over the next five years, this relief will help over a million people get onto the property ladder.
The relief ensures that first-time buyers purchasing homes valued up to £300,000 do not incur a SDLT charge at all – with those paying up to £500,000 also benefiting from a reduction.
Mel Stride, MP, The Financial Secretary to the Treasury said, “once again, we can see that our cut to stamp duty for first-time buyers is helping to make the dream of home ownership a reality for a new generation – exactly as we intended…”
He added, “In addition, we’re building more homes in the right areas, and have introduced generous schemes such as the Lifetime ISA and Help to Buy.”
Scotland and Wales
Those buying property in Scotland pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), whilst those in Wales (since 1 April 2018) pay Land Transaction Tax (LTT). Earlier this year, Scotland introduced its own version of a new LBTT relief for first-time buyers of properties up to £175,000.
The Scottish relief raised the zero-tax threshold for first-time buyers from £145,000 to £175,000. It is estimated that around 80 per cent of first-time buyers in Scotland will pay not LBTT at all.
Furthermore, Scottish first-time buyers acquiring properties above £175,000 will also benefit from relief on the portion of the price below the threshold – meaning all first-time buyers will benefit from the relief by up to £600.
In Wales, where SDLT has been replaced by a LTT from 1 April 2018, the starting rate will be £180,000, benefiting not just first-time buyers but all home buyers in Wales.
Three million UK couples have claimed their Marriage Allowance. However, it is estimated that a further one million have not.
The Marriage Allowance allows married couples or those in a civil partnership, where neither pay beyond the basic tax rate, to transfer 10% of their unused personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner. This, in turn, can reduce their tax bill by up to £238 a year in 2018/19. The allowance was introduced in April 2015, and appropriate claims can be back-dated to prior years.
For the Finance Bill 2018-19, the government has published draft legislation that could affect a range of taxes, from Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) to Income Tax. This is now open for consultation and is aligned to the commitment from the government for a ‘competitive and fair tax system’.
The payment of taxes is also outlined, with businesses and individuals who do not pay their taxes on time potentially facing a penalty.
Running until 31 August 2018, the consultation will conclude on the final contents of the Finance Bill 2018-19, which will be subject to confirmation expected in November at the Budget 2018.
Around 80% of first-time buyers will pay no Scottish Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT).
30 June 2018 saw the introduction of the First-Time Buyers tax relief. The change has meant that the zero-rated LBTT threshold has increased from £145,000 to £175,000 for first-time buyers.
It is expected that this initiative will benefit 12,000 first-time buyers per year.
The recent Bank of England 0.25% interest rate increase (to 0.75%) sees UK interest rates at their highest since March 2009. This change will have an immediate impact on interest costs, such as mortgages for those on variable or tracker rates, whilst the rise may take a little longer before it benefits savers.
In response, CBI Principal Economist Alpesh Paleja stated ‘The Monetary Policy Committee has signaled further rate rises over the next few years, if the economy evolves as they expect’. He added, ‘These are likely to be very slow and limited, particularly over the next year, as uncertainty around Brexit takes its toll on business investment.’
To help you kick-start your business, there are several ways in which to raise finance to get your idea underway or to further accelerate your growth.
At the time of writing, these are the most common routes to explore for finance. However, new offerings for finance are constantly evolving in line with financial innovations – so it is recommended to keep a close eye on what is happening. For now, these are the recommended routes, meaning that you don’t have to rely exclusively on traditional avenues, such as banks, to raise funds:
Keep it in the family
When transforming a new idea into a business, many people first go to their friends and family to help raise funds. Whilst many start-ups do this to help fund their new venture, it is recommended that you seek legal advice to ensure that you capture all aspects of the agreement in writing. This could be a simple contract between parties, including a detailed business plan and financial forecast for their review.
This will help to prevent challenges that may appear in the future, protecting your business and the investments of your friends and family. Most importantly, it will help you to maintain your personal relationships.
Business Angel investment
Angel Investments is a means for private and industry investors to explore opportunities to use their personal finance in exchange for shares in your business. Their expectation is usually for a return on their investment between three and eight years.
The good news here is that Angel Investors typically play an active role in your business, offering support and guidance to your strategy and plan. Obviously, then, an investor familiar with your industry would in most cases be the best choice.
For more information, the UK Business Angels Association, here, is a good place to start.
One option, rather than asking a few people to contribute large sums, is to ask a large amount of people to each invest smaller amounts. This is known as Crowdfunding and can appear in different forms:
- Equity is when the investment is exchanged for shares or for a stake in the business.
- Debt is when the money is provided with the view to receive money back with interest.
- Donations are for when people believe in your idea and base their contribution on their belief in that cause. Donors will expect nothing in return for their provision of funds.
Grant and Loans for Start-Ups
The government aims to accelerate the UK economy and as such provides grants and loans for businesses.
Grants are where a portion of taxpayers’ money each year is saved to drive new business ideas. With the money offered nationally, you will need to apply so that the government can assess whether you are eligible for the grant.
Start Up loans are provided through a government scheme aimed at entrepreneurs, with the average loan estimated at £6,000. Applications can go to £25,000 however, supported by twelve months of business mentoring. The loan must be paid back within five years, typically with an interest rate of 6%.
HMRC recently issued a consultation concerning draft technical regulations to ban pension cold calling
The consultation document sets out the policy intentions behind the proposed ban and invites comments on the draft regulations to implement the ban set out at Annex A.
Since the government has already consulted on the policy, this consultation is a technical consultation intended to seek final views on the draft regulations to ensure they meet policy objectives.
This draft also outlined the ban on cold calls promoting retirement income products. The consultation ended on 17 August 2018.
HMRC has published a new VAT Notice (700/22), ‘Making Tax Digital for VAT’.
The new notice provides information on the new rules with which VAT-registered entities will have to comply.
For VAT return periods commencing after 31 March 2019, VAT-registered entities with annual VAT-able turnover above £85,000 will legally be required to keep digital records for VAT purpose, using MTD compatible software and providing the data of the VAT return to HMRC through an API application programming interface.
This will take effect from 1 April 2019, for taxpayers who have a ‘prescribed accounting period’ which begins on that date, or from the first day of a taxpayer’s prescribed accounting period beginning after 1 April 2019.
Throughout the summer holidays, the government has been reminding parents seeking help for childcare costs that they can use Tax-Free Childcare (TFC). This is worth up to £2,000 per child per year, to pay for regulated holiday clubs. Findings from a recent survey by YouGov suggest that:
- 31% of parents feel stressed about arranging childcare for the school holidays.
- 30% of parents are concerned about balancing their job and school holiday childcare.
- 54% of parents indicate that they look forward to their children returning to school in September.
1. Have clear goals and be realistic about what you want to achieve.
Consider what you want to achieve, whether this be the dream of building your business, eventually having staff, or giving something back to society. Do you want to work less hours, have a better work / life balance, or just be your own boss?
Once you decide, make sure you make your goals realistic and ensure you determine your process goals – the things you will need to do to get you to your overall goal.
Have your goal and objective clear and written down at the start, and keep referring to it to avoid straying off course. Building a business takes time and any distraction is time you will not get back.
2. Be brutal with your time and leverage support around you.
Be strict about working hours, as this may be one of the main reasons you went self-employed in the first place. Don’t be tempted to waste your time: balance your working hours between building your new prospect base, networking for business, and delivering to your customers.
Make sure you have a support network around you. It can be lonely working alone and it is great to have others with whom to share ideas and thoughts to help you and your business improve. These can be colleagues, networking groups, or industry bodies.
3. Have professional standards.
Consider all you do to put the customer at the heart of your business and be professional at all times. Be on time for all appointments and be dressed appropriately, acting professionally on the clients’ premises and following appropriate business etiquette.
Balance what you do as a professional off-line with that online. Make sure your website, invoices and methods of payment are all to a high professional standard. With cost effective business solutions such as QuickBooks Self-Employed, you can easily manage all aspects of your business process in a professional way.
4. Keep close and connected to your industry.
Whatever industry you are in, it will be constantly evolving, and it is key to keep connected, staying close to new developments, compliance, regulations, and best practices. This will help you get the training and certifications you need, as well as remaining an expert in your industry.
5. Maintain your work / life balance.
Focusing only on work is not good for anyone, so do consider what other hobbies or family activities you might enjoy. Maintain your social and family balance and avoid being over-worked.
HMRC has published the Making Tax Digital for VAT Guide, the Software Suppliers Supporting Making Tax Digital List, and HMRC Stakeholders Communication pack on the GOV.UK website. All can be found on the MTD for VAT collection page.
The notice gives guidance on digital record keeping and should be read in conjunction with other VAT notices.
- HMRC notes that more than 150 software suppliers have stated their interest in providing software for Making Tax Digital for VAT. Currently, there are just over twenty developers with VAT-MTD ready products.
- Of the 150, over forty have said they’ll have software ready during the first phase of the VAT-MTD pilot.
- The pilot will be opened to allow more businesses and agents to join later this year.
There is also the MTD for Business – Stakeholder Communications pack, which is intended to support businesses that need to make the transition to digital VAT business record keeping as well as the submission of VAT returns using MTD-compatible software from 1 April 2019.
If your business is above the VAT turn-over threshold of £85,000, please discuss with your accountant how QuickBooks Online can help get you ready to file for MTD for April 2019.
Subject to consultation, HMRC proposes to introduce new VAT rules for construction services, which have been published in a draft statutory instrument for consultation. It suggests, under the draft legislation, that supplies of standard or reduced-rated construction services between construction or building businesses will be subject to a domestic reverse charge. The result would mean that the customer will be liable to account for VAT due rather than the supplier. This legislation is expected from the 1st October 2019.
In the latest edition of the Employer Bulletin, published by HMRC, there are a number of articles, including:
- P11D and P11D(b) filing and payment deadlines.
- Benefits in kind with cash allowances, flexible benefit packages, and salary sacrifice.
- National Living and Minimum Wage increases.
- Student Loans – to update payroll if you receive an SL1 for an employee.
- Fitness at Work – to help employers cut these costs and take advantage of the significant tax savings.
- Childcare voucher information and contracted childcare schemes.
- The Apprenticeship Levy – Levy-paying employers can then create an account on the apprenticeship service to spend levy funds on apprenticeships.
- CIS – Construction Industry Scheme with key pointers for subcontractors.
Fraudsters have been tackled by HMRC, with a focus on the use of premium rate phone numbers for services HMRC provide for free. The reported fraudsters create fake websites for HMRC and then look to charge for what are actually free services from HMRC, through re-direction to premium rate phone numbers. HMRC has confirmed that its genuine 0300 numbers are mainly free, or at least charged only at the local landline rate.
Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said, ‘We know that HMRC is the most spoofed government brand, as criminals try to take advantage of the fact that everyone has some involvement with the tax authority. In this particular case, scammers try to dupe the public into paying large sums for services that are available for free or low cost.’
She added, ‘This is a brazen con, charging premium rates whilst simply redirecting calls to the real HMRC numbers that are available at low or no cost. It is a testament to the hard work of HMRC that they have prevented criminals extracting £2.4 million from the public.’
The payroll Real Time Information (RTI) late filing easement has been extended by HMRC until April 2019. For the RTI payroll, it is a requirement for employers to submit details of payments made to employees on or before the day that salaries/wages are paid. The new amended easement applies when a Final Payment Submission (FPS) is late but is completed within three payment days of the employee’s pay day.
The easement applies from 6 March 2015 to 5 April 2019, but it must be noted that HMRC has clarified that employers who persistently file after the payment date but within these three days may be contacted or considered for a penalty. This could range from £100 to £400, depending on the size of the company.
The tax gap for 2016 – 2017 has fallen to 5.7%, HMRC has confirmed. The “tax gap” relates to the tax that should be paid and the actual tax paid to HMRC.
In a statement, Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘These really positive figures show that the tax gap is the lowest in the last five years, which reflects the hard work that HMRC and I have been doing to ensure we support businesses to pay the right tax at the right time and clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance.’
She added, ‘Collecting taxes is essential for funding our vital public services such as the NHS. Indeed, had the tax gap remained at its 2005/06 level the UK would have lost £71 billion in revenue destined for public services, enough to build 200 hospitals.’
It is understood that HMRC considers the improvement to be linked to the department’s sustained efforts to tackle evasion and avoidance. From the findings in the Tax Gap publication, it was noted that small businesses made up the largest proportion of unpaid tax of £13.7 billion.
Additional findings include:
- 9.2 billion of unpaid taxes were due to errors and failure to take reasonable care.
- £5.4 billion made up by criminal attacks.
- £7.9 billion from income tax, national insurance contributions, and capital gains tax, equivalent to 16.4% of self assessment liabilities.
- The VAT gap indicates an improving trend, falling from 12.5% in 2005/06 to 8.9% in 2016/17.
Are you asking, how can you continue to prospect for new sales without breaking the new General Data Protecting Regulations (GDPR)?
From May 2018, the way you used to prospect will have received a major update, due to the EU data protection regulation. Failure to comply with GDPR can result in fines of up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover, whichever is greater. Will GDPR affect your sales team?
If you still rely on purchased leads to fill up the sales pipeline, or if you automatically add business card contact data to mailing lists and ask existing customers for referrals and recommendations, then GDPR has an impact on you and your business.
This is because GDPR provides EU citizens with greater control over personal data regardless of where the data is processed. Such personal data is in several forms – such as name, email, phone number, and interests, as well as IP address, social media posts, bank details, and medical information.
The resolution to this is to request and obtain permission from customers and prospects to collect, store, and use personal data, as well as clearly to outline the company privacy statement. Under GDPR, individuals have the right to be informed about what data you collect, why you are collecting it, and how you intend to use it.
So, what does this mean for sales prospecting?
Here are three key points you can adopt:
- Stop automated emails to prospect lists without getting their permission first.
- Leverage social media platforms.
- Pick up the phone.
If this is the first contact with a prospect, then you will need to indicate that you have tried to contact them by phone prior to emailing them.
That being said, you can continue to send cold sales emails to prospects, if the email is sent to an individual and not to a group of recipients. You will need to include a link to your privacy statement explaining why you are contacting them in the first place (i.e. you have a legitimate interest). Be cautious about purchased lead lists.
If you acquire leads that contain personal data from third-parties, they will need to have consent to share that information with you. But you will also be required to get specific consent to use the email addresses on the list – unless they have given their consent to be approached by associated partners.
The new legislation does not stop sales agents finding and connecting with potential customers on social media, be it for a recommendation, or for reaching out to new prospects directly.
Examples include Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, which can help to get the discussion underway. Once connected, consent must be given for future emailing contact.
This is the most effective way to build new relationships with potential customers, as this approach – cold calling – is not under the same regulation as the GDPR. Once connected with a new prospect, you will need to have their consent to add their information to your CRM database – before any promotional emails can be sent.
You can formally record their consent by sending an email summarising the discussion and establishing consent for future email contact.
Other options to consider are networking events and asking customers for referrals, reaching out to their contacts on your behalf. Once again, if there is agreement to partner, this requires their consent for future prospecting emails.
The main message to take away from our article is that GDPR is not about being restrictive. Instead, the discipline it introduces around the handling of client and prospect data, combined with a more personal approach to building networks – over the phone and through social media – will enable you to build deeper and more targeted relationships.
If you find GDPR challenging, talk to us. We can guide you through the maze.
A recent report published by the government,“Universal Credit: supporting self employment,” considered the impact of the Monthly Income Floor (MIF) earnings requirement. To be eligible for Universal Credit (UC) claimants must earn the at least the MIF.
The MIF is aimed at the self-employed, who have been in business for more than twelve months. It assumes a level of earnings based on what an employed person might receive in similar circumstances.
It is calculated through multiplying National Minimum Wage rates with the number of hours a self-employed person is expected to look for and be available for work. It also includes a notional deduction for tax and National Insurance.
Where a self-employed person’s earnings are below the MIF it will be used to calculate an entitlement award instead of the actual self-employed earnings.
Recent growth in self-employment means that there are now five million self-employed persons in the UK. This equates to 15% of the workforce.
The Department for Work and Pensions rightly wants to support, through Universal Credit (UC), low-paid people to work and to progress in work. In doing this for the self-employed, it must balance its support of entrepreneurship with its protection of the public purse. The DWP’s key means of doing this is UC’s MIF: an assumed level of monthly income for calculating benefit payments.
The Department hopes the MIF will incentivise business owners to increase their earnings and develop their business, while ensuring that the Government does not subsidise unsustainable low-paid self-employment indefinitely. Given the growing importance of self-employment, getting this balance right will be a key determinant of the success of UC.
This does, however, assume self-employed individuals aiming to make a UC claim are earning a regular income at least equal to the National Minimum Wage. The report identifies that the problem with MIF is that it has been designed with monthly paid employed individuals in mind rather than the self-employed – many of whom may have more volatile earnings.
It also considers that the current system, which allows self-employed individuals to be exempt from meeting the MIF for the first 12 months of self-employment, is insufficient. The report urges the Government to extend the exemption period.
If you are just starting self-employment or you are on a low income, talk to us. We can help you to understand the UC maze.
Who would have thought that the Intermediaries Legislation – commonly known as IR35 – is almost twenty years old? Despite the passage of time, issues regarding employment status are less clear than ever.
This is certainly no less true in the last few months, which has seen three IR35 related cases pass through the First-Tier Tribunal (FTT) – with conflicting outcomes…
Christa Ackroyd Media Ltd
The BBC engaged (contracted) Christa Ackroyd through her Personal Service Company (PSC), Christa Ackroyd Media Limited (CAM), to co-present their Look North Program on a seven-year contract. In 2013, after a three-month period off air, Ackroyd was sacked. It was reported at the time that the sacking was because of an alleged dispute concerning her employment status and payment of tax. This was later supported by documents produced to the Courts, revealing that the BBC terminated CAM’s contract after HMRC issued to Ackroyd’s company a formal demand for unpaid tax.
Employed or not?
Despite Ackroyd’s insistence to the contrary, HMRC successfully argued before the FTT that she was engaged under a contract of service (employed contact), rather than one for services (a self-employed contract).
The FTT’s ruling stated that she was “economically dependent on the hypothetical contract with the BBC,” which took up most of, if not all of, her working time and that a “hypothetical contract of that length […] terminable only for a material breach points towards a contract of employment.”
The First-Tier Tribunal ruled that the TV personality’s contract was caught by IR35, and they landed her company with an eye-watering £420,000 bill.
Mark Daniels – MDMC Limited
A few weeks later (March 2018), a second IR35-related case came before the FTT, and with it came further layers of complexity and uncertainty. Mark Daniels provided his services to Structured Tone Limited (SLT) though a PSC (MDMC Limited) – which in turn was engaged by Solutions, a recruitment agency.
In 2016, HMRC determined that the contract to provide services on large construction projects should have been caught by IR35, and that the service company should have paid PAYE and NIC. In effect, there had been a contract for service.
Daniels successfully appealed, with the FTT finding that the engagement was for services, not for service, and that Daniels should not be treated as an employee.
Lack of rights
An absence of rights under the hypothetical contract – the lack of a notice period, holiday pay, or any employment benefits – proved to be a key factor influencing the FTT. All of these would have had to be present if Daniels had been engaged directly as an employee.
Interestingly, the FTT dismissed “control” as a factor by concluding that, in a large project, there is a clear structure to the work which had to be done, and that an individual working within that structure was not being controlled by the end user; they were merely working within the structure.
Ian Wells – Jensal Software Limited
Details of an October 2017 case have recently received publicity. Its focus was on weak Mutuality of Obligation (MOO).
Wells worked on a project concerned with DWP’s Universal Credit (UCs) rollout.
It involved him attending a DWP office and travelling to different sites. He had the use of a secure DWP laptop and the tribunal heard evidence of meetings between Wells and DWP managers involved with the project.
HMRC concluded that there been a direct contract between Wells and the DWP during the period of engagement – a contract of service, not a contract for services. Wells was asked to pay £14,658 in income tax and £12,011 in respect of Class 1 NICs.
At the FTT stage, the judge examined in detail three conditions determining employment status.
- Mutuality of obligation (MOO),
- The degree of control,
- Sufficient mutuality of work-placed obligation.
On the question of MOO, the judge stated: ‘The essence of the relationship was that there was no continuing obligation on the part of the DWP to provide work; if it chose to abandon the project there was no contractual basis upon which Mr Wells could demand further work…” The MOO was too weak, and, as a result, the relationship did not go far enough to be classed as one of employment.
Lack of control
When he turned to degree of control, the judge said ‘The level of control exercised did not go beyond that which was usual for an independent contractor…”
He concluded that Mr Wells was not subject to a degree of control to an extent that would constitute a contract of employment.
Off-payroll working for the public sector
New IR35 rules concerning “Off-payroll Working” in the public sector came into effect on 6 April 2017.
The effect has been to shift responsibility for decisions on whether IR35 is applied – from the intermediary-worker providing their services via a PSC, to the public-sector engager.
Where an engagement is deemed to fall within the new IR35 rules, the person paying the PSC (that is the public-sector body or third-party-agency) is responsible for deducting tax and NICs under PAYE.
In many instances, public-sector bodies have made blanket decisions. In these cases, workers providing their services through an intermediary have been caught under the new rules even when they clearly are not.
New Off-payroll consultation
Things could become even more complicated if Phillip Hammond’s stated intention to widen the reach of Off-payroll working legislation to the private sector becomes reality.
On the 18 May 2018, HMRC and HM Treasury published a consultation document called “Off-payroll working in the private sector”.
Where does this leave us now?
The recent flurry of FTT cases, combined with last year’s legislative changes and the recently published private sector worker consultation, only serve to underpin how difficult it is to navigate the intermediaries’ taxation legislation.
If you are concerned that you might be caught by IR35, or if you are considering working through a PSC, contact us for the right advice.
Residential landlords with simple tax affairs will now be accepted into quarterly updates with the HMRC’s expansion of the Making Tax Digital (MTD) income tax pilot.
This is not a total surprise. Indeed, it was predicted back in March, when the MTD business-related Income Tax side emerged from a near yearlong controlled go-live phase. While this is another step in the right direction, the list of software developers with Income Tax MTD-compliant software remains low (four, at the time of publication).
The low availability of MTD-compatible Income Tax products is due to Financial Secretary Mel Stride’s Ministerial Statement (July 2017), in which he reversed early HMRC policy by mandating for VAT-MTD ahead of income tax.
Since the announcement, most software companies have refocused their resources to ensure that their delivery of MTD-compliant VAT products comes well before next April’s deadline.
The MTD Income Tax pilot is open to the self-employed and residential landlords (or their agents) with simple tax affairs, who wish to opt out of the current self-assessment regime.
To join the pilot, they must be willing to keep digital records of their business transactions and commit to sending Income Tax updates to HMRC at least on a quarterly basis – using MTD-compliant software, instead of filing a self-assessment return. At this stage, those with income from furnished holiday lets are not included.
If you are interested in joining HMRC’s MTD pilot, or if you would just like to know more about what it will mean for your business, contact us for the right advice.
There have been warnings issued by HMRC regarding tax scams that approach individuals through SMS and emails. At present, HMRC are processing real refunds for the previous year and the scam is intended to replicate this approach through messages claiming the taxpayer is entitled to a rebate. This subsequently leads to the request of personal account details in order to facilitate that rebate.
It is key to understand and to stress that HMRC will only ever inform individuals of a tax refund by post or through their employer – and that they will never provide this communication through email, SMS, or voicemail. It is advised not to access or click any links, downloads, or attachments from any suspect messages from HMRC.
In a recent comment on the issue, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, stated, “We know that criminals will try and use events like the end of the financial year, the self-assessment deadline, and the issuing of tax refunds to target the public and attempt to get them to reveal their personal data.”
If you are concerned that you might have been approached by a scammer, or if you would just like more information, contact us for the right advice.
In early May, HMRC issued an e-mail to stakeholders acknowledging that the result of the 2016 EU referendum has resulted in major changes in priorities for the department.
The Department is now being required to deliver essential programmes to support access to European markets and boost worldwide free trade. Many of these projects will need to be underpinned by sophisticated digital systems.
At the end of 2017, HMRC had 15 major programmes and more than 260 running projects. It is hardly surprising in this context that Jon Thompson, HMRC’s Chief Executive, felt the need ‘to take a step back and look carefully at what we could, and should, deliver in light of those challenges.’
Simple Assessment on hold
The reorganisation of priorities includes halting expansion of the rollout of Simple Assessment (the removal from Self Assessment of those with limited taxable income from pensions or employment) and suspending real-time tax code changes.
‘The things that we’re stopping or pausing will slow our journey,’ Thompson continued, ‘but they don’t change our overall ambition to become the world’s most digitally-advanced tax authority. But crucially, they will allow us to support EU Exit while continuing to deliver ambitious changes for our customers.’
In its e-mail, HMRC acknowledged: ‘While our transformation is on track, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. We were overly ambitious about the number of customers who would stop contacting us by phone and post after we introduced digital channels. Demand is falling, but not by the amount assumed in 2015.’
VAT-MTD remains on track
HMRC, however, remains on track to deliver VAT mandation in 2019, for the VAT-registered with a turnover above £85,000. Indeed, a limited pilot has just started.
However, the convergence of business taxes into a new single system (ETMP) – from HMRC’s many legacy systems – is set to slow. The department states this will not impact on the delivery of Making Tax Digital.
MTD for individuals slowed
While this might be the case for MTD for business, clearly this is not the position for MTD for individuals. Back in his March 2015 Budget, then-Chancellor George Osborne promised us the death of the tax return. It seems that the demise of the self-assessment tax return has been greatly exaggerated – at least for the time being.
In the e-mail, HMRC also took the opportunity to list some of its transformation highlights, including:
* More than 15 million people now have Personal Tax Accounts, which were accessed 32 million times last year.
* Three million businesses now use Business Tax Accounts.
* Powerful new data sources helped to secure a record £28.9 billion through compliance work last year.
In what can only be described as a momentous achievement for Intuit, QuickBooks, the world’s leading online accounting software provider, has submitted its first Making Tax Digital (MTD) VAT filing to HMRC – through QuickBooks Online on 15th May 2018.
Dominic Allon, Vice President and Managing Director of Intuit Europe said ‘There has been a lot of talk about Making Tax Digital, but with the official roll-out fast approaching it’s crucial that we offer a simple, fast solution to help accountants file their taxes digitally. We’ve been working closely with HMRC, taking part in workshops, insight sharing sessions and hackathons to ensure the product is developed in line with the VAT requirements set by HMRC, and to make life easier for our customers.’
QuickBooks is set to continue working closely with all its stakeholders – government, accountants and small businesses – to ensure that it fulfils its ongoing commitment to deliver a best-in-class experience for individuals and organisations that wish to file tax digitally.
For more information on how QuickBooks Online can help your business be ready for MTD, please contact us.
With the new Scottish Income Tax rates and bands introduced from 6 April 2018, UK tax reliefs will continue to work north of the border as intended. The following will apply:
Transferable Marriage Allowance
Taxpayers can transfer 10% of their tax-free Personal Allowance to their spouse or civil partner. This can reduce their tax bill by up to £230 in 2017 to 2018, and £238 in 2018/19.
This allows charities to claim back 25p for every £1 donated, with the UK government making changes to ensure Scottish taxpayers benefit from the right rate of tax relief on Gift Aid. Charities will continue to pay Gift Aid at the basic rate. Higher and additional rate taxpayers will still be able to claim the difference between basic rates recovered by the charity and their own margin rate of tax.
Pension relief at source
For 2018/19, Scottish taxpayers will continue to receive 20% relief on their contributions at source. There will be no adjustment for those taxed at a rate less than 20%, but scope for those taxed at a rate higher than 20% to claim additional relief.
Finance cost tax relief (for private landlords)
This will be restricted to 20% for 50% of the eligible expense, with the balance attracting relief at an individual’s highest margin rate of tax during the rest of this tax year – as applicable to landlords across the rest of the UK.
Please contact us if you have any questions or need support.
For the year ending 5 April 2018, P11D reports detailing expenses and benefits are due for submission by 6 July 2018. It is important not to leave this task until the last minute, as it can take time to process the relevant information.
Employees pay tax on benefits provided as shown on the P11D, generally via a PAYE coding notice adjustment or through the Self Assessment system. Significant changes were introduced to the rules for reporting expenses from 6 April 2016. To understand more, please refer to the HMRC expenses and benefits toolkit which includes a checklist that helps employers check that their employees’ forms are completed correctly.
With effect from 1 May 2018, the VAT fuel scale charges have been amended. VAT-registered entities who calculate and apply the charges must use the new scales from the start of the next VAT return period, starting on or after 1 May 2018.
VAT-registered businesses use the fuel scale charges to account for VAT on private use of road fuel purchased by the business.
In the Autumn Budget 2017, it was announced that the government intends to implement an exemption; for the benefit of electricity provided by an employer, at the workplace, to charge electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. This means that there are no requirements for employers to report the electricity value provided for workplace vehicle charging.
From the 25 May 2018, companies that collect data on citizens in European Union (EU) countries need to comply with strict new rules regarding the protection of customers – in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) warned that time was running out for small businesses to be ready, and that these businesses may face an ‘uphill challenge’ in ensuring that they are compliant.
‘As the GDPR deadline swiftly approaches, there is a real danger that many small businesses are yet to have adequately prepared for the changes. Fortunately for these businesses, there is still time on the clock to start, or finish, their preparations.
‘The GDPR is the largest shake-up of data protection laws for years, and, whether you are a personal trainer or a consultant, most businesses will have to implement changes to their current practices to make sure they are complying with the new rules.’
If you are not compliant yet, then here is a quick guide to help you get there.
What types of privacy data does the GDPR protect?
- Basic identity information such as name, address, and ID numbers
- Web data such as location, IP address, cookie data, and RFID tags
- Health and genetic data
- Biometric data
- Racial or ethnic data
- Political opinions
- Sexual orientation
Which companies are affected by the GDPR?
Any company that stores or processes personal information about EU citizens within EU states must comply with the GDPR, even if they do not have a business presence within the EU. Specific criteria for companies required to comply are:
- A presence in an EU country.
- No presence in the EU, but the processing of personal data of European residents.
- More than 250 employees.
- Fewer than 250 employees but whose data-processing either impacts the rights and freedoms of data subjects, is not occasional, or includes certain types of sensitive personal data.
What are the benefits of GDPR for customers?
- It strengthens the rights individuals have over their personal data.
- It seeks to unify data protection laws across Europe.
What happens if my company is not in compliance with the GDPR?
The GDPR allows for steep penalties of up to €20 million or 4 percent of global annual turnover for non-compliance.
Five steps to prepare immediately for GDPR:
- Involve all the stakeholders:
- Conduct a risk assessment:
- Create a data protection plan:
- Implement measures to mitigate risk:
- Set up a process for ongoing assessment:
This should be done as soon as possible, and across all functions, to understand what is required and by when. Consider appointing a Data Protection Officer to be the one source of co-ordination and accountability to ensure compliance. Ensure there is no conflict of interest in their role.
This could be achieved via a deep dive into understanding what data you store and process on EU citizens – and where you store it. This must include all “shadow IT systems” that might be collecting and storing personal client / customer information. Mobile platforms must be reviewed, including how they also store and record data.
Ensure the plan is in line with the requirements of GDPR and report on your progress across the business, completing the Record of Processing Activities (RoPA) (article 30 of the GDPR regulation).
Once you’ve identified the risks and how to mitigate them, you must put those measures into place. For smaller companies that may not have the resources, look outside for advice and technical experts to guide you through the process and to test incident response plans. This is key, as GDPR requires that companies report breaches within 72 hours – so go through this as a test to see how your company can perform.
You want to ensure that you remain in compliance, and that will require monitoring and continuous improvement. Some companies are considering incentives and penalties to ensure that employees follow the new policies. According to a survey by Veritas Technologies, 47% of respondents will likely add mandatory GDPR policy observances to employee contracts. 25% might withhold bonuses or benefits if a GDPR violation occurs, and 34% say they will reward employees for complying with GDPR.
Phillip Hammond was in a playful mood when he presented his first Spring Statement on Tuesday 13 March 2018. He even referred to himself as being “at my most positively Tigger-like”.
Hammond opened with an update on our economy and reported on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) latest forecasts.
He revealed better-than-expected short-term growth figures and shared that inflation is set to reduce by the end of the year.
The Chancellor announced a package of measures to help small businesses, including:
- An investigation into ways to eliminate late payments.
- The release of up to £80 million of funding to support small businesses in engaging apprentices.
- A Call for Evidence to understand how government can help the UK’s least productive businesses to learn from, and catch up with, the most productive.
He also announced that the next Business Rates Valuation will be brought forward by one year, from 2022 to 2021, and that it will be followed by a regime of triennial reviews.
Unlike the UK’s previous Chancellor, George Osborne, he stuck to his word and did not attempt to pull any rabbits out of the proverbial hat.
Hammond also promised the publication of a number of consultation documents. While several covered taxes, none grappled with the longer-term fiscal challenges, as we had been led to expect.
The State of the Nation
What Phillip did not tell us was that we have just lived through the worst decade of economic growth since the 1940s.
Ten years ago, in 2008, Alastair Darling presented forecasts suggesting that our economy would grow at a healthy 2% a year, that deficit and debt would be steady, and that things would carry on much as before.
Since then, productivity has doggedly refused to pick up. In fact, it is now amongst the worst performing in the G20.
The UK economy is at least £300 billion smaller than had been expected ten years ago.
In a post-Spring Statement event, Paul Johnson of the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) said:
“Dismal productivity growth, dismal earnings growth, and dismal economic growth are not just part of the history of the last decade – they appear to be the new normal.”
The good news…? The OBR is predicting productivity to recover to 2% per annum. However, this is not until 2030.
In the short term
This year, the UK deficit is projected to come in at about £4 billion less than expected in the Autumn, and a full £13 billion less than projected in the March 2017 Budget. The improvement has largely been driven by better-than-expected tax receipts – however, it is expected to be short-lived.
The anticipated structural deficit in 2019/20 remains almost unchanged.
The problem appears to be that the UK economy is thought to be operating at full capacity.
Without the potential for further productivity growth, the Chancellor will be increasingly challenged over how to meet the already growing demands for public spending increases on the NHS, schooling, and prisons – against his desire to balance the books by the mid-2020s.
On a more positive note, the Chancellor was bullish on inflation, saying that it had peaked at 3% and that it now looked set to fall back to 2% by the end of this year.
After stating “this government is determined that our generation should leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it and improve the quality of the air we breathe,” Hammond announced that he would publish Calls for Evidence on:
- Whether the use of non-agricultural red diesel tax relief contributes to poor air quality in urban areas.
- The whole supply chain for single-use plastics, “to look at how the tax system can help drive the technological progress and behavioural change we need.”
This was in addition to the consultations released on the day, which will be covered shortly. There will more to follow, as outlined below:
Corporate tax and the digital economy
The Chancellor started this part of his Spring Statement by making reference to a consultation which is already underway. It covers the challenge of how to raise tax from the digital economy.
The international norm is to try to allocate business profits to the countries in which value is created.
The government is concerned that we are getting the allocation of taxable profits wrong, because we don’t account for the fact that, for some businesses, value creation is intimately linked to ‘users’.
For example, users of digital platforms such as Facebook may directly generate content in the form of social media posts or videos. This in turn attracts other users and is the basis upon which advertising revenues are generated.
Users may also generate value by providing data on their preferences, or by being part of a network that underpins the success of a business model.
It is with regards to this style of operating that the UK government thinks it should get a bigger slice of tax, because of the high number of UK users who help create value for digital businesses.
Ultimately, it would like to see the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) take a leading role in reshaping international tax norms so that a greater share of taxable profits flows to the countries in which the users of digital platforms are based.
However, as the IFS points out:
“This is extremely difficult, not least because, even at a conceptual level, we don’t know how to assess the value created by users. And even if we could find practical ways to allocate profits based on user input, this would imply a reallocation of taxable profits away from some countries, including the US, and towards others, such as the UK. Getting general agreement on that will be challenging, to say the least.”
In the short term, the UK could move unilaterally to raise revenue from tech-giant users by instigating an ‘interim revenue-based tax’.
The IFS tell us we shouldn’t expect this to represent a long-term fix for business tax. Indeed, Paul Johnson observed:
“It certainly won’t provide the kinds of revenues that would alleviate long-term spending pressures.”
Tackling the Plastic Problem
This published Call for Evidence explores how changes to the tax system might be used to reduce the production of single-use plastics. It also looks at how innovation might help achieve the same outcomes.
As part of the exercise, government wants to look across the whole supply chain, to gain the best possible understanding of the entire landscape before deciding on the best course of action.
This seems eminently sensible, as a failure to consult properly could result in a knee-jerk reaction – leading to all sorts of unintended consequences, as in the recent government sponsored switch from Diesel to Petrol engines.
Cash and Digital Payments
With cash-use falling from 62% of all payments in 2006 to only 40% in 2016, the government has issued a Call for Evidence to help it better understand the shrinking role of cash in the growing digital economy.
The paper seeks to draw attention to the fact that six out of ten 1p and 2p coins are only used once. As a consequence, the Royal Mint has to produce 500 million replacement coins a year.
At the other end of the scale, it observes that £50 notes are rarely used as currency. Instead, many disappear abroad to act as a store of wealth.
The paper also stresses a determination to further strengthen the crackdown on the use of cash as a method of money laundering and tax evasion.
Well-intentioned it might be, but this paper has already been beset by controversy.
Hardly had the chancellor sat down before the press started to seize upon the impact to charities, and possibly to inflation, if our coppers are to be done away with. This forced Theresa May to say publicly, in less than twenty-four hours of the Spring Statement, that there would be no change to the current mix of coins.
VAT Registration Threshold
In the wake of an Autumn 2018 Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) paper, concerning “how to simplify VAT to ensure it is fit for purpose in the UK’s modern economy”, the government has issued a Call for Evidence to review whether the VAT registration threshold may be disincentivising small businesses from growing their business and improving their productivity.
Different policy options are considered as well as whether any different options could better incentivise growth.
It is worth mentioning that, at £85,000, the UK VAT threshold is the highest in Europe.
VAT Collection – Split Payment
Following feedback received in response to an earlier Call for Evidence, views are being sought concerning potential options for a viable split payment mechanism.
The purpose of such a mechanism would be to address the failure of some overseas online sellers to hand over to HMRC the VAT they’ve collected.
A number of different parties are involved in any online payment, including some or all of the following:
- The issuing bank (the customer’s bank);
- A merchant acquirer (the bank that processes card transactions for the merchant);
- A payment service provider (the entity that provides the services enabling the merchant to accept payment);
- A card scheme (a payment network linked to payment cards)
The key objective for this consultation is to identify how best to utilise industry technology in order to collect VAT on online sales and transfer it directly to HMRC.
In other words, after an online sale involving an overseas vendor has taken place, one of the above parties involved in the transaction would be required to withhold an amount equivalent to the VAT charged, pay it over to HMRC, and pay the balance (after their charges) to the vendor. The vendor would then be left to recover any overpayment as part of their normal VAT return filing process.
This Call for Evidence is concerned with the role of online platforms in ensuring their users’ tax-compliance.
The types of online platforms in which the government is principally interested are those that:
- Allow people to earn money from spare resources such as cars and spare rooms;
- Allow people to use their spare time to generate extra income;
- Connect buyers with individuals or businesses offering services or goods for sale, e.g., Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, or eBay.
Its purpose is to ensure that, where people receive taxable income associated with engagement with the online platform, it is made easy for them to comply.
Self-funded Work-related Training
After previously announcing that it would consult on extending the scope of tax relief available to employees and the self-employed for work-related training costs, the government has now issued a Call for Evidence on exactly this topic.
Its purpose is to gain a better understanding of how an extension to the existing reliefs may be designed to upskill or retrain those who want or need to change their career.
The government intends to learn lessons from previous initiatives and to ensure that tax relief on work-related training is not obtained on recreational activities.
Allowing Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER) – after dilution of holdings
Pre-announced in the Autumn 2017 Budget, this consultation has been issued to explore how access to ER might be given to those whose holding in their company reduces below the normal 5% qualifying level (meaning 5% of both ordinary share capital and voting power) as a result of raising funds for commercial purposes by means of an issue of new shares.
The proposal would allow shareholders to elect to crystallise a gain on their shares before the dilution occurs.
Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) knowledge-intensive fund consultation
This previously announced document is consulting on the introduction of a newly approved fund structure within the EIS, with the possibility of additional incentives to attract investment.
Such a fund structure would mainly focus on investment in knowledge-intensive companies.
This consultation outlines and seeks views on possible elements and constraints of such a fund structure, while also seeking to better understand the capital requirements of innovative knowledge-intensive companies.
Extension of Security Deposit Legislation
In response to a commitment made at the end of last year, a consultation has been published to invite comments on ways to implement changes to legislation in order to extend the scope of existing security deposits. The proposed changes will include, in these security deposits, corporation tax and Construction Industry Scheme deductions – with effect from April 2019.
The legislation will allow HMRC to require high-risk businesses to provide an upfront security deposit, in cases where it believes there is a serious risk to revenue.
Currently, HMRC has the power to require a security deposit in regards to other taxes such as VAT and Pay As You Earn.
Other Consultations to Be Issued
Toward the end of his speech, the Chancellor announced that a raft of further consultations would be issued in the wake of his Spring Statement. These would cover a range of areas:
- How to help the UK’s least productive businesses to learn from, and catch up with, the most productive;
- How to eliminate late payments, particularly for small business;
- Whether the use of non-agricultural red diesel tax relief contributes to poor air quality in urban areas;
- Reductions of Vehicle Excise Duty rates for the cleanest vans;
- Sanctions for late submission or payment.
VAT Fraud in Labour Provision in the Construction Sector
The government is also pursuing legislation to shift responsibility for paying VAT along the supply chain, with the introduction of a domestic VAT reverse charge for supplies of construction services, with effect from October 2019.
The long lead-in time reflects the government’s commitment to give businesses adequate time to prepare for the changes.
Chancellor’s Broken Promise
Prior to the start of his Spring Statement, we had been promised a fifteen-minute speech. However, by the time he had completed his delivery, he had been on his feet for just under half an hour!
That concludes our coverage of Chancellor Hammond’s first Spring Statement.
As promised, we will devote the rest of our update to bring to your attention some of the key tax changes lurking just around the corner.
The Personal Allowance
The 2018/19 Personal Allowance is £11,850, up from £11,500.
However, don’t forget that it is reduced by £1 for every £2 that a taxpayer’s ‘adjusted net income’ exceeds £100,000.
So, the Personal Allowance is extinguished when your adjusted net income exceeds £123,700.
The Marriage Allowance
In April, the Marriage Allowance, which enables spouses or civil partners to transfer 10% of their unused Personal Allowance, will increase by £30 from £1,150 to £1,190.
This will enable affected couples to reduce their tax liabilities by up to £238 a year.
Note: This can only be done in cases where both parties are only in receipt of income taxable at the basic rate.
Tax rates and bands
- The basic rate of tax remains at 20%,
- The higher rate of tax at 40%,
- And the additional rate is still 45%
- The band of income taxable at the basic rate rises by £1,000 to £34,500 (after deduction of the Personal Allowance).
- The higher rate of 40% is applied to the next £34,501 to £150,000 of taxable income, and
- 45% applies on taxable income that exceeds £150,000.
Note: The tax on income (other than savings and dividend income) is different for taxpayers who are resident in Scotland.
Last December, the Finance Secretary for Scotland announced significant changes to income tax bands and rates for Scottish resident taxpayers, with the introduction of five possible income tax rates ranging between 19% and 46%.
Scottish taxpayers are entitled to the same personal allowance as in the rest of the UK.
Tax on dividends
The Dividend Allowance, whereby the first £5,000 of dividends are chargeable to tax at 0%, decreases to £2,000 from 6 April 2018.
Dividends received above the allowance will continue to be taxed at the following rates:
- 7.5% up to the ceiling of the basic rate tax band; and then
- 32.5% up to the ceiling of the higher rate band; and then
- 38.1% for any balance taxable in excess of £150.000.
Note: Dividends are treated as the last tier of income to be taxed when determining one’s tax band.
Tax on savings income (income such as bank and building society interest)
The Savings Allowance:
- Individuals taxed at the basic rate have an allowance of £1,000.
- Higher-rate taxpayers’ allowance is halved to £500.
- There is no allowance for additional-rate taxpayers.
Starting rate of tax on savings
Individuals qualify for a 0% starting tax rate on savings income up to £5,000.
Every £1 of further income over your Personal Allowance reduces your starting rate for savings by £1.
Since 6th April 2017, landlords have been unable to deduct from their property income all of their finance costs to arrive at their property profits.
Instead, they receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability.
Landlords will be able to obtain relief as follows:
- In 2017/18, the deduction from property income (as is currently allowed) has been restricted to 75% of finance costs. The remaining 25% is available as a basic rate tax reduction.
- This is falling, in 2018/19, to a 50% finance costs deduction and a 50% given as a basic rate tax reduction.
- In 2019/20, this will fall again to a 25% finance costs deduction, with 75% given as a basic rate tax reduction.
- From the start of 2020/21, all financing costs incurred by a landlord will only be given a basic rate tax reduction.
Corporation tax rates
Corporation tax rates have already been enacted for periods up to 31 March 2021.
- The rate remains at 19% for 2018/19.
- This will fall to 17% on 1 April 2020.
Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rates
The rates of CGT
CGT rates remain:
- At 10%, when an income tax basic rate band is available, and 20% thereafter.
- And at 18% and 28% in the case of chargeable gains on residential properties (with the exception of any element that qualifies for private residence relief).
The CGT annual exemption
Individuals only pay Capital Gains Tax on their overall gains above their annual tax-free allowance (called the Annual Exempt Amount).
An individual’s Annual Exempt Amount for 2018/19 is £11,700 (up from £11,300 in 2017/18).
A trust’s Annual Exempt Amount for 2018/19 is £5,850 (up from £5,650 in 2017/18).
Inheritance Tax (IHT)
IHT Nil Rate band
The Nil-Rate band has remained at £325,000 since April 2009 and is set to remain frozen until April 2021.
IHT Residence Nil Rate Band
The ‘Residence Nil Rate Band’ (RNRB), which was introduced in April 2017 to make it easier for a family home to be passed to direct descendants upon death, is rising from £100,000 to £125,000 this April. It will continue to rise to £150,000 in 2019/20 and then to £175,000 in 2020/21.
Thereafter, it will rise in line with the Consumer Price Index.
There are several conditions that must be met in order to obtain the RNRB, which may involve redrafting an existing will.
The Residence Nil Rate Band may also be available when a person downsizes or ceases to own a home on or after 8 July 2015, in cases where assets of an equivalent value, up to the value of the Residence Nil Rate Band, are passed to direct descendants upon death.
Review of Inheritance Tax
The Chancellor has requested that the OTS carry out a review of the Inheritance Tax regime, to ensure that the system is fit for purpose.
Their review should include a focus on administrative issues, such as the submission process, as well as on practical issues concerning routine estate planning.
Making Tax Digital
On 15th March, after a near year-long private period of testing, HMRC announced that their self-employed beta has now been opened out to a public phase of testing. This beta is only for the self-employed. The version for unincorporated landlords is set to follow next month.
Class 2 and 4 National Insurance Contributions (NICs)
Class 2 NICs are to be abolished from April 2019, rather than from April 2018, as originally announced.
There will be no increases to Class 4 NIC rates during the lifetime of this Parliament, as the Chancellor confirmed in March 2017.
Most cars are taxed by reference to the band of CO2 emissions, multiplied by the original list price of the vehicle.
This is with the maximum charge capped at 37% of the list price of the car, as well as a 3% diesel supplement.
- From 6 April 2018, there will be a 13% rate for cars with CO2 emissions of up to 50gm/km.
- This rate is currently at 9%.
- It will see a further increase to 16% on 6 April 2019.
There will generally be a 2% increase in the percentage applied by each band from 6 April 2018, increasing by a further 3% from 6 April 2019/20.
The diesel supplement is set to increase to 4% – unless the car is registered on or after 1 September 2017 and meets the Euro 6d emissions standard.
The maximum charge will remain at 37%.
There is no change to the current position whereby the diesel supplement does not apply to hybrid cars.
Employer-Supported Childcare schemes close to new joiners
Many employers help employees with childcare costs, often by providing childcare vouchers by way of a salary sacrifice.
However, following the Chancellor’s Statement, Education Secretary Damian Hinds made a concession, to delay scrapping the scheme by six months.
Employees already using ESC can choose whether to remain in existing schemes or to switch to Tax-Free Childcare. However, parents cannot be in both Tax-Free Childcare and ESC at the same time.
Changes to termination payments
The government announced changes to align the rules for tax and employer NICs, by making an employer liable to pay Class 1A NICs on any part of a termination payment that exceeds the £30,000 threshold that currently applies for income tax. This will not now come into effect until April 2019.
From April 2018, ‘Non-contractual Payments In Lieu Of Notice (PILONs) will be treated as earnings, rather than as termination payments. They will therefore be subject to income tax and Class 1 NICs.
Foreign Service Relief
Employees who are UK-resident in the tax year in which their employment is terminated will no longer be eligible for Foreign Service Relief on termination payments.
- Reductions in the case of foreign service for seafarers is to be retained.
- The changes will apply to those whose employment contract is terminated on or after 6 April 2018.
Entrepreneurs’ and Investors’ Relief
Left untouched are the two specific types of disposal which potentially qualify for a 10% rate, both of which have a lifetime limit of £10 million for everyone:
- Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER), targeted at working directors and employees of companies who own at least 5% of the ordinary share capital in the company, as well as at the owners of unincorporated businesses.
- Investors’ Relief. The main beneficiaries of this relief are external investors in unquoted trading companies who have had newly-subscribed shares.
Increased limits for knowledge-intensive companies
The government is hoping to stimulate investment in knowledge-intensive companies, under the Enterprise Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs)
From 6 April 2018:
- The annual limit that individuals may invest under the EIS doubles to £2 million – provided that the additional £1 million is invested in one or more knowledge-intensive companies.
- The annual investment limit doubles to £10 million for knowledge-intensive companies receiving investments under the EIS and from VCTs.
- However, the lifetime limit remains at £20 million, and
- Knowledge-intensive companies are now permitted to use the date on which their annual turnover first exceeded £200,000 to determine the start of the initial investing period under the permitted maximum age rules.
This replaces the date of the first commercial sale rule.
Property transaction taxes
From 22 November 2017, there has been an exemption from SDLT on the first £300,000 on the purchase of a home, where the total price of the property is not more than £500,000.
5% is payable on purchases between £300,000 and £500,000.
Buying a property in Scotland can bring different tax consequences.
In Scotland, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) applies, rather than SDLT. Therefore, a LBTT relief, for first-time buyers of properties up to £175,000, has been proposed in the Scottish Draft Budget 2018/19. This is subject to a government consultation before the relief launches in 2018/19.
Welsh first-time buyers benefit from the Budget SDLT relief until 31 March 2018. After this date, Land Transaction Tax (LTT) replaces SDLT.
The starting rate threshold for LTT will be £180,000, benefiting not just first-time buyers, but other home buyers in Wales too.
A higher rate, of 3% over standard rates for additional residential properties, applies to purchases throughout the UK, regardless of whether SDLT, LBTT, or LTT applies.
Talk to us:
Our Spring Statement has covered a lot of ground. If you wish to know more, concerning any of the tax topics covered and concerning what impact they might have on you or your business, why not speak to us?
A small amount of timely advice could save you thousands later on.
Whether you are a small business owner, or you are self-employed, embracing cloud accounting and technology could help your business transform and succeed. Here are five ways this can happen.
- Avoid paperwork and errors
- Proactive tax management and planning
- Cash flow management: getting paid faster
- Highly secure, MTD ready, and GDPR Compliant
Having to manage multiple data sources in manual format, from bank statements, receipts, and invoices – as well as handling spreadsheets – if often a difficult way to get a true and accurate reading on business performance. Time is wasted in manually entering data, causing frustration and distraction from your day-to-day work. To make it easy, with cloud accounting, start by connecting your bank feed and then raise all invoices and expenses from within the cloud accounting software. This can automatically match bank transactions with invoices and expenses.
Many businesses are hit with the shock of their quarterly VAT or annul tax bills. In some cases, having not budgeted for the right amount can have a substantial cash flow impact. By using cloud accounting, VAT and tax is calculated in real time, providing an up-to-date view of liability and helping you to manage cash proactively and to establish a VAT-control account. Budgeting throughout the year thus lets you avoid the tax end-payment shock. Cloud accounting also allows you to connect live with your accountant or book-keeper, so they can provide proactive tax advice in real-time.
A clear and up-to-date picture of your current financial position, means that you can be confident about how your business is doing and enable you to work out which type of customer is the best (and most profitable) for you to target.
Cloud accounting can track unpaid invoices, flagging up where there is aged debt for any outstanding invoices. Creating invoices is easy online or via your mobile, and it can include payment solutions through which to get paid. Thus avoiding lengthy and unnecessary payment terms. Most of the cloud offerings have integrated payment gateways, making it easy to take payment from your customers.
It is easy to get started by downloading the cloud to your phone. Take, for example, QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed, which cost less than a high street cappuccino per month. The return on investment is almost immediate from time-savings alone.
Cloud accounting is the most secure means through which to store and protect your data. Leaving information on your desktop, laptop, or your phone is an easy way to have your data compromised. This is highly important not only for data security but also data privacy: the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) – a legal framework covering the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union which comes into force on 25 May 2018.
With the mandation of Making Tax Digital for VAT registered businesses, with turnover above £85,000, less than a year a year away, cloud accounting software is ideally poised to play a vital role in ensuring that those affected are ready to submit MTD-compliant VAT returns, are for the first return period starting on, or after, 1 April 2019.
In summary, cloud accounting provides you with the capability to manage your business finances proactively, to work more closely with your accountant or book-keeper, to take more time to focus on your business and to ensure your business is compliant in the digital age.
Interested to learn how cloud accounting can help your business, please contact us.
HMRC has announced this month that they are opening out of their Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB) Income Tax pilot, which has developed from its near year-long, limited, invitation-only testing phase to allow all-comers to join. This is good news, given the VAT-MTD pilot is projected to start next month. Only the self-employed will be able to ‘on-board’ (join) the MTDfB Income Tax Pilot and commence filing quarterly updates of their trading income and expenditure figures. It is anticipated that unincorporated landlords will be able to follow next month.
There will be shared a full list of software developers that can offer a capable means of filing quarterly. Currently, there are only two, however more are expected to follow.
In the meantime, we can help you prepare for MTD – please contact us for more information.
Before the deadline of 30 September, HMRC are urging Accountants and Taxpayers who suspect that they have unpaid tax relating to overseas assets, income, or activities, need to act to avoid incurring much higher penalties for non-compliance and falling foul of the new Requirement to Correct (RTC) rules.
The RTC rules require taxpayers to make a disclosure of unpaid tax on assets, income, and activities in other countries, and on transfers from the UK to other countries.
Failure to do so would lead to, the minimum penalty of 100% of the tax owed – and it could be much higher depending on circumstances – There is also no minimum level cut-off point, so all those with any unpaid offshore tax will need to make a disclosure.
it, or those who have moved to the UK from overseas but who have assets or income from other international businesses. All will need to declare on their tax position.
The ruling applies to income tax, capital gains tax, and inheritance tax, and mainly affects individual taxpayers. There will be circumstances in which companies that pay income tax as non-resident landlords, will also need to make sure the appropriate amount of tax is paid and disclosed – The recommendation is that trustees, settlors, and beneficiaries of trusts with overseas interests should also check.
If you are concerned that you may be affected, let us help you. There is time to check and to be proactive in terms of tax compliance and adherence to RTC.
- Make full use of your ISA allowance, a tax-free way to save, with individuals permitted to invest up to a limit of £20,000 for the 2017/18 tax year. A saver may only pay into a maximum of one Cash ISA, one Stocks and Shares ISA, and one Innovative Finance ISA per year.
- Make the most of capital allowances, as businesses may be able to write off the costs of capital assets against taxable profits, such as the use of AIA, the Annual Investment Allowance. They can claim a deduction of up to £200,000 of the year’s investment in plant and machinery (excluding cars) – aligned, however, to the provisions to prevent multiple claims.
- Maximise pension contributions, being paid on or before 5 April 2018, to gain relief against 2017/18 income. Annual contributions are limited to the maximum of £3,600 (gross), or the amount of your UK relevant earnings may be eligible for tax relief.
Don’t delay and run the risk of being less tax efficient…many tax reliefs are only available until the end of the tax year. Contact us today for professional, fast, and efficient information and advice.
IR35 is tax legislation implemented nearly 20 years ago to combat perceived tax avoidance by workers supplying their services to clients via an intermediary, such as a limited company, but who would be an employee if the intermediary was not in place.
Such workers are also referred to as ‘disguised employees’ by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). If caught by IR35, the workers have to pay income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICSs) as if employed.
The financial impact of IR35 is significant. It can reduce the worker’s net income by up to 25%, costing the typical limited company contractor thousands of pounds in additional income tax and NICs.
Recently this controversial legislation has been thrust back into the full glare of the media when a BBC Look North newsreader (Christa Ackroyd), who was engaged via a personal service company, was ruled by a First Tier Tribunal to be caught by the IR35 rules.
For seven years she had been engaged, effectively on a full-time basis. Now, subject to any appeal and the determination of final figures, Ms Ackroyd could be liable for an amount around £420,000 before any offset of corporation tax.
IR35 requires those providing their services through an intermediary to a private sector employer to determine whether they should be deemed to be an employee. If they are to pay tax and NICs on their earnings as if employed.
Last year the rules were changed to shift the onus for the determination of employment status from the worker to Public Sector organisations.
Where a worker is deemed to be an employee, the engaging organisation must deduct tax and NIC. If the worker is paid by an agency or other labour provider, they will need to make the same deductions.
The government has announced its considering introducing similar changes for private sector at a later date.
Are you currently providing your services through an intermediary or thinking of branching out and starting to work in this way in the future – talk to us we can help lead you through the employment status maze.
It has been announced that approximately 9.3 million people are now saving into a pension according to the Pensions Regulator, a milestone has been achieved of one million employers having rolled out the scheme.
In the past, many workers have missed out on valuable pension benefits, either because their employer did not provide or offer them access to a pension scheme, or because the employee did not sign up to join the company pension scheme. This has led to many people not having enough in terms of savings in later life for retirement. Automatic enrolment, however, makes it compulsory for employers to enrol their eligible workers automatically into a pension scheme, with the employer contributing money into the scheme. This was required from 1 Feb 2018.
This has been warmly received as a sign of progress, by the Pensions Regulator Director of Automatic Enrolment, Darren Ryder. He stated, “By successfully meeting their responsibilities, employers have helped reverse the downward trend in workplace saving, so that putting earnings into a pension has now become the norm…. The industry has helped us ensure employers have the tools, information, and services they need to comply with the law. We are now focused on the challenges ahead, so that employers continue to understand what they need to do so that staff receive the pensions they are entitled to.”
From 6 April 2018, the minimum pension contributions are set to increase:
Over £11,850 - £13,850
Over £13,850 - £24,000
Over £24,000 - £43,430
Over £43,430 - £150,000
If you already operate a payroll, or are thinking of starting to employ a workforce, why not talk to us. We are here to help you navigate through the challenges of enrolment.
With the General Data Protection Regulation regime coming into force in the UK from 25 May 2018, key changes will be introduced to the way personal data is handled. The question, therefore, is whether your business is prepared for the forthcoming change. It is important first to understand the requirements of the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), which is now concerned about misinformation being shared in the media. The following outlines the key features of the change, with a view to how you can prepare.
What is GDPR and why is it necessary?
The purpose of GDPR is to reflect the importance of safeguarding individual personal data in the digital age. Currently, the maximum fine for a breach of data protection law is half a million, whereas, under GDPR, this will increase to a maximum of £17 million or, if higher, 4% of worldwide annual turnover. Key also to mention is the negative public implications for failure to protect personal data.
The areas to consider are:
- Those who are “controllers” and “processors” of data within your company
- The principles of data protection
- Accountability and governance
- New rights for data subjects
- Data security breaches
What is affected?
The definition of personal data is expanded under GDPR and includes a range of online identifiers, such as IP addresses, as well as sensitive personal data coming under special categories as genetic data and biometric data. Data relating to criminal convictions and offences is not included, although there are extra new safeguards relating to how the information is processed.
Who is affected?
GDPR will affect anyone handling personal data, from customer and employee records, through to manual data, regardless of where this information is stored – be it in a filing cabinet or digitally accessed via a laptop or computer – This applies to both “Controllers and Processors”.
A controller is defined as someone who is in charge of how and why personal data is being processed. A processor acts on behalf of the controller to process the data. It may be that, in a business, this role is fulfilled by the one person.
For the processor, this means that, in order to remain compliant with GDPR, they now need to keep records of how they process personal data and they can now be held legally responsible for breaches of security.
Principles of data protection
Personal data must be:
- Processed lawfully, fairly, and transparently
- Collected for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes
- Adequate, relevant, and limited to what is necessary for the purpose
- Kept in an identifiable format for no longer than is necessary
- Processed securely and protected from unauthorised or unlawful processing, accidental loss destruction or damage.
Accountability and Governance
Companies must be able to demonstrate how an organisation is GDPR compliant and, implementing the required technical and organisational measures. These include data protection policies such as:
- Internal audits of processing activities
- HR policies review
- Employee training and adherence to policies
- The conducting of Data Protection impact assessments and, in some cases, the appointment of a Data Protection Officer (DPO). Note, a DPO becomes a legal requirement in public authorities and in organisations carrying out large scale processing of special categories of data.
The new rights that have been outlined for individuals cover the following points:
- The Right to be Informed – providing a privacy notice giving details of how information is being processed and controlled.
- The Right of Access – providing clients with the option to request details of how their information is being held, for which the company has a maximum of 30 days to deal with the request, under a chargeable fee of £10.
- The Right to Rectification – such that any inaccurate data will be corrected.
- The Right to Erasure – the right to be forgotten such that the client can request data to be deleted.
- The Right to Restrict Processing – such that data can be stored but not processed.
- The Right to Data Portability – such as to obtain and reuse personal data across different services, allowing the movement, copy or transfer of personal data, provided that it is in a structured format.
- The Right to Object – such that processing of personal data must stop immediately, unless there are compelling and legitimate grounds for processing.
- Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling, ensuring safeguards are in place to protect against damaging decisions taking without human intervention.
Lastly, when there are breaches of data security, the ICO must be informed within 72 hours, with all organisations having a plan for how to cope with and to resolve the situation.
Given that the requirements of GDPR are complex and do not exactly offer a quick fix, don’t run the risk of incurring significant penalties, please contact us for more support.
In a recent survey by Microsoft, for which 20,000 European workers were provided with a questionnaire in relation to work-communication tools, employees indicated that a steady stream of emails, messages, and notifications impacted their levels of productivity and concentration – with one expert indicating that staff suffered elevated levels of technostress. The report, which sampled views from 21 European nations, including the UK, found that only 11.4% of European workers said they felt highly productive.
This research outlines the challenges to concentration and productivity created by employees having an abundance of communication technology at their fingertips, bombarded and distracted by endless amounts of notifications, updates, and alerts. The research also pointed to the dangers of being connected constantly, drawing on the expectation that employees would respond to messages and requests at all hours of the day.
Social media platforms have taken this condition of distraction to the next level. Speaking at an industry event recently, early Facebook investor and founding president, Sean Parker, said that the massive social network is “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology” in order to attract and retain users’ attention. He went on to say, “The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'”.
To improve your productivity, the following pointers are advice to consider:
- Prioritise the important, not the urgent
- Give yourself dedicated time to work To avoid distractions, provide yourself with the time to work on the most important but not urgent (Quadrant 2) activities. To do this, make sure to allocate two slots of 45 minutes, with a 15-minute break at half-time. This length of time allows your brain to get into the zone of concentration and productivity is accelerated. Make sure to switch off distractions such as pop-up alerts from email and social media feeds.
- Manage email communication
When missing deadlines is not an option, the Covey Time-Management Matrix can help you to manage your available time more efficiently, allowing you to package your tasks into one of four different quadrants in the Matrix. The key is to ensure that your time is balancing the short-term aspects of your role or business with the long-term. Here we break the Matrix into each quadrant:
Quadrant 1 – urgent and important activities. These are items that could not have been foreseen, such as emergencies, problems, last-minute preparations, etc.
Quadrant 2 – not urgent but important. These are tasks without a high urgency, but that can play a significant role in the future, such as strategic planning, health, education, exercise, and career.
Quadrant 3 – urgent but not important. This is for items that appear to have a high urgency but that are not at all important and that can impair your ability to deliver on your goals. Try to delegate or reschedule them. These types of tasks and requests can impact productivity. Therefore, try to avoid being constantly interrupted – by appointing timeslots in which to address all issues at the same time without your concentration having to suffer. Examples include interruptions, meetings, etc.
Quadrant 4 – not urgent and not important. This is the space of time-wasters: nothing more than distractions, such as surfing the internet, Facebook, TV, trivia, etc.
There is a tendency for many employees to start work using their inbox as their to-do list. This inevitably becomes a distraction and wastes time, with employees trawling line-by-line through every email. A recommended approach is to use the 4 D’s for email communication, shown below, in order of the best approaches one should adopt:
- Delete it. If you can remove the email on an initial scan, all the better.
- Delegate it. If you have a team, or contacts, to whom you can delegate, consider this as your next option.
- Diarise it. To avoid distractions and impacts to concentration, identify a time in the calendar to address the task at hand.
- do it. In the event of none of the above working, you may need to perform the task requested right there and then. This, however, should always be the last consideration.
Lastly, consider some freedom from email. Some firms have recently introduced ‘no email’ days once a week, as well as banning emails being sent to people in the same building and removing the ‘cc’ culture (covering one’s back) – ultimately forcing face-to-face or phone call engagements with team members, which can lead to improved productivity and team morale.
To be highly productive, technology needs to be handled with care and needs to be a supportive solution to your delivering on your business goals – rather than a designed distraction reducing your personal and business impact.
A recent poll, conducted by Canada Life, highlighted the confusion surrounding Inheritance Tax thresholds.
It was found that 70% of UK adults over the age of 45, and with assets over the £325,000 individual Inheritance Tax threshold (IHT), were not aware that their assets had met this threshold. This is said to be an increase from 61% in 2016. A further 55% of people were not aware of the rates at which assets above the threshold are taxed.
60% were unaware that the following items are liable for Inheritance Tax:
- Business assets
- Life Insurance Policies (not held under trust)
- Non-exempt gifts given in the last 7 years.
25% of people did not know that their main home is liable for Inheritance Tax; 28% were unaware that savings are liable; and 42% did not know that ISAs are. 51% also did not realise that pensions are liable.
The Head of Distribution Services at Canada Life, Karen Stacey, said:
“There is a disturbing lack of knowledge which will undoubtedly translate into unnecessarily high IHT bills.
“For many people, their single largest asset is their house – it’s what they have worked their entire life to own and many have benefited from an extraordinary increase in its value. Their hopes for securing their children’s and beneficiaries’ financial futures rest on being able to pass on as much of its value as possible.
“Unless people learn more about taxes and actively plan the future of their estate, the government is in line for a large, ongoing, and often unnecessary windfall.”
Although the Government has requested that the Office of Tax Simplification make recommendations on how to simplify IHT, this will take some time.
Confused about Inheritance Tax or about what to do to mitigate its impact? Call us; we’re here to make it easier to understand.
From 14 February 2018, HMRC has made the scheme available to all parents of eligible children, who can now apply online.
The Tax Free Childcare scheme is available to help towards the cost of childcare for working parents. The scheme has been rolled out in stages to those who are eligible. After its initial launch in April 2017, there have been some issues, some of which have meant users can apply for compensation where they have been unable to receive the beneficial top-up to childcare costs.
Under the tax-free scheme, for every £8 the parent pays, the government pays an additional £2 top-up, up to a maximum of £2,000 per year per child. There is a higher limit of £4,000 per year per child for parents of children with disabilities. To be eligible, parents must have a weekly minimum earning of £120 per week, and a maximum of £100,000.
Think you might be entitled to claim, but unsure what to do? Call us – we’d be happy to talk you through the maze.
Due to “an anomaly that meant some higher rate taxpayers saw their bills fall while others on slightly lower incomes saw a rise, due in part to changes in the personal allowance,” Derek Mackay, Scottish Finance Secretary, has amended the proposed Scottish Income Tax bands for 2018/19.
Scottish taxpayers’ Income Tax rates, on income other than savings and dividend income, are now expected to be as follows:
Over £11,850 – £13,850
Over £13,850 – £24,000
Over £24,000 – £43,430
Over £43,430 – £150,000
Mr Mackay has said:
“As a parliament of minorities, we must work across the chamber to find compromise and consensus in order to give support, sustainability, and stimulus to our economy and to our public services. … Our changes to tax ensure Scotland has a progressive tax system – with 70% of taxpayers paying less next year than they do currently and 55% paying less than they would across the rest of the UK – while businesses benefit from support for investment.”
If you are living in Scotland, or you are concerned that this update will impact you, please contact us for more guidance.
HMRC have announced that they have prevented thousands of convincing scam text messages from reaching customers’ phones, up to 90% of all HMRC related scam messages being sent.
The HMRC press release states:
“Fraudsters alleging to be from HMRC send text messages to unsuspecting members of the public. In these messages they will make false claims, such as suggesting they are due a tax rebate. Messages will usually include links to websites that harvest personal information or spread malware. This can in turn lead to identity fraud and the theft of people’s personal savings.”
HMRC’s Director of Customer Services, Angela MacDonald, said:
“HMRC is focused on becoming the most digitally advanced tax authority in the world, and a big part of that relates to keeping our customers safe from online scammers.
“As email and website scams become less effective, fraudsters are increasingly turning to text messages to con taxpayers. But as these numbers show, we won’t rest until these criminals are out of avenues to exploit.
“We have made significant progress in cutting down these types of crime, but one of the most effective ways to tackle it is still to help the public spot the tell-tale signs of fraud.”
If you receive an email or text message from HMRC, please be aware that HMRC have confirmed that they will never contact a taxpayer via email or text regarding a tax refund. Such messages will be fraudulent and should be deleted.
Cybersecurity is of fundamental importance to all of us. If you are unsure of the authenticity of any piece of correspondence from HMRC, don’t delay: call us to today.
From April 2019, new rules will apply to companies with annual taxable profits in excess of £20 million. These companies will be categorised as ‘very large’ and will be required to make QIPs four months earlier than smaller companies. However, a company will not qualify as ‘very large’ if the liability for the accounting period is £10,000 or under. For accounting periods of less than a year, this sum will be reduced pro-rata. Should a smaller company periodically move in and out of the ‘very large’ category, there is no introductory period, and the accelerated rates will apply straight away.
If you want to know more about this article, or if your Corporation Tax is still a mystery, why not just give us a call?
Since 31 January, HMRC has released the latest list of rejected excuses for late filing for Self Assessment. HMRC does this every year, and this year certainly did not disappoint!
- I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.
- I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.
- My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.
- My business doesn’t really do anything.
- I spilt coffee on it.
- A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my accounts.
- Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub.
- Vet fees for a rabbit.
- Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco.
- £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days.
The HMRC Director General of Customer Services, Angela MacDonald, said:
“Each year we’re making it easier and more intuitive for our customers to complete their tax return, but each year we still come across some questionable excuses, whether that’s blaming a busy touring schedule or seeing aliens. However, help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time.
“We also receive absurd expense claims from vet fees for a rabbit to room service at a hotel. It is unfair to make honest taxpayers pick up the bill for other people’s spurious claims, so HMRC will only accept sincere claims such as legitimate expenses for a job.”
Self Assessment can now be submitted online via a Personal Tax Account (PTA). If you are struggling to access your PTA, why not give us a call? We’re here to help.
It can be daunting for a small business starting out or looking to grow “online”. The general perception of how to increase your online presence may be the need for deep pockets – with which you can handle funding PPC, SEO, SMM, and marketing campaigns. However, it really shouldn’t be so scary. To help, here are five obsessions to help optimize your business online.
Whether you are just getting started, or have been in business for a long time, ensuring that the needs of your customers remain at the heart of all you do is the way to drive real success.
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon states, “If you’re truly obsessed about your customers … it will cover a lot of your other mistakes.” Becoming customer-obsessed must come from your company’s culture and value proposition – for example, to truly improve your customer experience and loyalty.
Appealing to your customers by delivering what they want, when they need it, should come as a priority.
As soon as your customer has made the decision to click to order your product or service online – regardless of your brand – the marketing activity and PR for your product should become your main focus.
When it comes to delivering a high-quality service, it is essential to consider all aspects of the service, from the way the product is packaged and delivered to how any returns and complaints are handled.
By being service obsessed, you can be sure always to exceed customer expectations.
The most successful businesses are not just driven by their levels of creativity, but by being producers of quality products, based on customer feedback. Beyond your product or service, you can internalise quality packaging, simple usability and prompt responses to customer queries.
To build your brand online, being obsessed with high-quality, compelling content on your company blog is key to increasing interest. This needs to be on-going, and consistently aligned with both your brand or culture and what you deliver to your customers. Compelling content can help improve your customer experience and can provide a source of amusement and entertainment that puts your brand at its heart.
Writing compelling posts has nothing to do with your level of experience, or whether or not you’re a native English speaker. It’s about how you make readers feel. That’s why every writer of your content must be creative, imaginative, and innovative.
Any business that stands still is likely to be out of business in the near term. Being obsessed with driving innovation is critical for your business’s growth. In the words of Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them … by the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
Innovation is the key to driving new ideas and products that will gain the most attention online. Your business will require a level of commitment to experiment and test new ideas. Jeff Bezos states, “If you double the number of experiments you do per year, you’re going to double your inventiveness.”
By being obsessed with these five areas, it will help you increase your success. And by being obsessed, your obsession becomes such a driving factor that your work remains your passion – the highest level of drive to make any business succeed.
The “open banking” regulation requires that banks share with other companies, from fintech to retailers, the spending data that they have collected from customers, with their consent, and to facilitate payments from their accounts. The idea behind the regulation is to offer superior banking services to customers, which is better aligned with their own activities such as online shopping.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has stated that Barclays, RBS, HSBC, Santander, and the Bank of Ireland will be delayed in adopting these regulations, with delays expected to range from a few weeks to several months. RBS Bankline Business customers are expected to take until February 2018, whilst Santander’s Cater Allen Private bank (with forty thousand active business current accounts) are not expected to be ready for the regulation until January 2019, due to the necessity to update their IT systems.
On the other end, AIB Group, Danske, Lloyds Banking Group, and Nationwide stated that they are ready for the regulation. The extension for the banks, issued by the CMA, is for six extra weeks.
Open banking is a legislation required by the Second Payment Services Directive (P2D2), with the vision being a space where businesses can share financial data with third parties, in order to get better deals on loans and financial services. Ultimately, the legislation aims to create more competition within the banking industry and to encourage innovation, creating opportunities in terms of data-pricing and customer-validation, such as KYC and fraud checks. If you are running your own business, this legislation opens a new perspective on how to manage your finances, and on how to get paid faster, on your Cloud accounting solution.
To understand more about how this can benefit your business, as well as on using Cloud accounting with QuickBooks Online to get paid faster, please talk to us directly.
Under the auto-enrolment scheme for pensions, employers are required to enrol automatically all eligible workers into a workplace pension scheme and pay a minimum contribution. Employees do have the right to opt out.
At present, employees between the ages of twenty-two and state-pension age, and earning £10k per year or more, are eligible for auto-enrolment. The government plans to reduce the lower age limit to eighteen during 2020, in order to help younger employees to save for their future. This would allow a further nine hundred thousand young people to save an additional £800 million through the workplace pension scheme.
To make compliance easier, the government is exploring opportunities to work with companies who act as ‘touch points’ for the 4.8 million self-employed, such as banks and those who contract labour – to explore how technology can be used to increase their pension savings.
However, concerns remain about the impact of these changes to employers, with Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), stating, “… by 2019, hundreds of thousands of small employers will have to pay up to £180 more per employee each year. For employers in certain sectors, such as care and hospitality where margins are tight, this will really add up”.
More information in regards to this important topic can be found on GOV.UK. Alternatively, contact us for more guidance.
With effect from 15 December 2017, HMRC has announced that the option will no longer be available to provide payment for tax via the Post Office, and that after the 13 January 2018, HMRC has removed the ability to pay with a personal credit card. This is due to the expiry of the contract with Santander which was used for this method of payment. This is also aligned with credit card payment fees no longer being permitted.
HMRC advises that, for tax payers who have previously paid via the Post Office or with a credit card, payments can still be made at banks using a payslip, and that payments for self-assessment can still be posted to HMRC.
Worried about how to make payments to HMRC? Speak with us for more guidance.