Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Saving the High Street

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

In his Autumn Budget delivered 29 October 2018, Philip Hammond made a number of promises including measures to improve the lack-lustre retail sector in our High Streets.

There is no doubt that the major online retailers have caused a major shift in the way we shop. As faster broadband has become more commonplace, and the use of computers a regular feature at home, the drift away from viewing and buying goods on the shelf to viewing pictures and click and buy on the internet, will likely continue.

At present, online retailers have a competitive advantage over their High Street competitors. They don’t have to pay:

  • business rates or rent for shop front property or
  • salaries to sales staff.

And in the case of the mega online retailers, who can afford to exploit the use of tax havens to shelter their trading profits, they do not pay comparable tax on their trading profits.

The recent Budget offered a one-third reduction in business rates for retailers with smaller shop premises: those with a rateable value below £51,000. Although this reduction is for a limited period, two years from April 2019.

He has committed what seems to be a modest sum, £675m, to rejuvenating city centre areas. This will support the cost of:

  • improving traffic flows to shopping areas,
  • the renovation of empty retail premises to provide residential accommodation, and
  • the repurposing of older or historical property.

City centre shops depend on foot-fall, if shoppers don’t pass by, then it’s unlikely they will become customers. In this respect, the above investment should encourage people to live and shop in city centre areas.

Mr Hammond also committed to start the process of increasing the UK tax take from online retailers, social media outlets and search engines, who sell goods and services to UK users. A new digital services tax will commence April 2020 and will levy a charge of 2% on the revenues generated by these concerns to customers in the UK.

Increase in the Annual Investment Allowance

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

The Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) is being increased from 1 January 2019 to £1m from the present base level set some years ago of £200,000. The increase is due to be available for two years, until 31 December 2020. At this later date, the AIA will presumably return to the £200,000 limit.

The AIA is a 100% write down of qualifying asset purchases against business profits. For profitable companies, partnerships (excluding partnerships where one of the partners is a company or another partnership) and sole traders this is a generous tax break.

The AIA is available for most plant and equipment purchases, for example:

  • items that you keep using in your business, including commercial vehicles and cars if they are working assets, for example taxi cabs or driving school, dual control vehicles;
  • costs of demolishing plant and machinery;
  • parts of a building considered integral, known as ‘integral features’;
  • some fixtures e.g. fitted kitchens or bathroom suites;
  • alterations to a building to install other plant and machinery – this doesn’t include repairs.

The AIA is not available for purchase of:

  • cars that are not working assets;
  • items you owned for another reason before you started using them in your business; and
  • items given to you or your business.

Please call if you would like more information about this generous tax allowance.

Making Tax Digital timeline

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

As many readers of our newsletter will be aware, HMRC is moving forwards with their digitisation of taxpayer VAT and Income Tax reporting requirements under their much publicised Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative. We have reproduced below recent announcements made by HMRC on this issue.

Mandatory filing of VAT returns using MTD compliant software will commence for all returns submitted after 1 April 2019. This will apply to VAT registered traders with turnover in excess of the present VAT registration limit of £85,000.

Traders in the following list can apply for a six month deferral, to October 2019 from this requirement. Those eligible for the deferral are:

  • trusts,
  • ‘not for profit’ organisations that are not set up as a company,
  • VAT divisions,
  • VAT groups,
  • those public sector entities required to provide additional information on their VAT return (Government departments, NHS Trusts),
  • local authorities,
  • public corporations,
  • traders based overseas,
  • those required to make payments on account and
  • annual accounting scheme users.

Finally, a reminder that the MTD process will not be rolled-out to other taxes (Income Tax and Corporation Tax for example) until April 2020 at the earliest.

Reporting tips for building contractors

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

HMRC recently published a list of helpful reminders regarding the submission of monthly returns to HMRC. This article lists some of the points highlighted.

Each month contractors must send HMRC a complete return of all payments made to subcontractors within the scheme in the preceding tax month. This is regardless of whether the subcontractors were paid:

  • net of the standard deduction of 20%
  • net of the higher deduction of 30% or
  • gross (you still need to include gross payment status subcontractors on your monthly submission if you pay them in the month even though no deductions have been made from their payments).

This monthly return must reach HMRC within 14 days of the end of the tax month it is for.

You can make your monthly returns using either:

  • the free HMRC CIS online service or
  • commercial CIS software

Contractors who know they won’t be paying any subcontractors for several months should let HMRC know. You can do this by selecting the ‘Inactivity Request’ box under the declarations section of the return. HMRC will make your CIS record ‘inactive’ for 6 months which means you will not need to send any monthly returns (including nil returns) during this period of inactivity. If, however the situation changes during that time and you start to pay subcontractors again, you must tell HMRC.

If you stop using subcontractors within the Construction Industry Scheme permanently or stop using subcontractors but continue to have employees liable to PAYE deductions, you need to tell HMRC and they will update your records to show you are no longer a contractor. Once all the required contractor monthly returns have been received up to the requested date of cessation then no further monthly returns (including nil returns) should be submitted. If, however you start making payments to subcontractors under the Construction Industry Scheme again you will need to advise HMRC.

Childcare scheme update

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

The childcare voucher and directly contracted childcare schemes closed 4 October 2018. In time, these schemes will be replaced by the roll-out of the new Tax-Free Childcare: this offers parents £2,000 per year per child towards approved childcare costs. (This is extended to £4,000 for disabled children.)

In a recent article HMRC confirmed the following instructions for employers:

  • Employees who joined a scheme and had the necessary changes made to their salary on or before 4 October, will see no change. Both you and your employees will continue to benefit from any Income Tax exemption or National Insurance contributions (NICs) disregard.
  • Applying to the scheme before the deadline is not sufficient and a new applicant needs to have had the necessary changes made to their salary by the deadline (4 October 2018) in order to benefit from the Income Tax exemption and NICs disregard.
  • If you continue to offer a scheme for new entrants after 4 October, you’ll need to deduct Income Tax and NICs on any vouchers given and pay employer NICs after this date.
  • Your employees need to tell you in writing (for example, by email) within 90 days if they start getting Tax-Free Childcare, so you can stop giving them vouchers and directly contracted childcare with Income Tax and NICs reliefs. If this means stopping or changing their salary sacrifice arrangement, you’ll need to update their contract and your payroll software. Employees won’t be able to return to your scheme once they’ve left.

Parents reading this post can check out what is available to their family under the new arrangements for child care support at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/

Fifty pound note gets new lease of life

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

The Treasury has confirmed that the £50 note will continue to be part of the UK’s currency, and further, that the Bank of England will reissue it as a new modern polymer note. According to Treasury sources this will help clamp down on crime.

The announcement follows a public consultation and the government has confirmed that the current mix of coins and notes will remain. The move will apparently give us more flexibility over how we spend and manage our money while making it harder for criminals to counterfeit the new note.

Originally introduced in 1981, there are currently 330 million £50 notes in circulation – with a combined value of £16.5 billion. According to the Bank of England, demand for the note is continuing to rise.

The Bank of England has also confirmed that the new £50 polymer note will be printed in the UK to accompany the existing £5, £10 and upcoming £20 notes. This will ensure that the UK’s currency continues to be secure.

Tax Diary November/December 2018

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

1 November 2018 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 January 2018.

19 November 2018 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 November 2018. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 November 2018.)

19 November 2018 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 November 2018.

19 November 2018 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 November 2018 is payable by today.

1 December 2018 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 29 February 2018.

19 December 2018 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 December 2018. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 December 2018)

19 December 2018 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 December 2018.

19 December 2018 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 December 2018 is payable by today.

30 December 2018 – Deadline for filing 2017-18 self assessment tax returns online to include a claim for under payments to be collected via tax code in 2019-20.

Are you about to buy a second-hand commercial vehicle?

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

When you buy a new commercial vehicle, you will pay 20% VAT on the purchase price and in most cases this VAT can be reclaimed. This assumes of course, that the motor trader selling you the vehicle is VAT registered.

If you purchase a second-hand commercial vehicle there are three VAT options:

  1. The second-hand dealer is not registered for VAT and therefore, you will not be charged VAT.
  2. The second-hand dealer is registered for VAT and only charges you VAT on the profit he is making on the sale under the VAT margin scheme, in which case you will not be provided with a VAT invoice and you cannot reclaim the VAT charged.
  3. The second-hand dealer is registered for VAT and charges you VAT at 20% on the sale price. In this case you will get a VAT invoice and can reclaim the VAT charged.

Let’s say that Jerry is looking at a second-hand van at his local dealers that has a sales price of £20,000. Primed by his accountant, he asks if the VAT included is calculated under the margin scheme.

After a hasty conversation with their accounts department, the rather flustered sales person says “yes, it is,” and after more enquiries Jerry is advised that the VAT element is £700. Jerry switches on his phone accesses the calculator, taps in £700 divides by 20 and multiplies by 100. The number £3,500 emerges.

Jerry knows that he cannot recover this £700 and he also knows that the dealer will have to pay the £700 out of his profit margin. Armed with this information, Jerry asks if he can pay outside the margin scheme, and more importantly, could he and dealer split the £700 saved by dropping the sales price to £19,650 plus VAT at 20%.

In this way, the dealer will collect and pay the VAT added of £3,930 and will receive £19,650 for the van instead of £19,300 (£20,000 less the £700 margin scheme VAT).

Jerry will have to pay out £23,580 initially but will be able to claim back the full £3,950 of VAT and will have acquired the van for £19,650 instead of £20,000.

The dealer accepts. A classic win-win outcome.

Small Business Saturday – 1 December 2018

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

Did you know that there is going to be a Small Business Saturday on 1 December 2018? We have reproduced below some of the help that will be available.

Access finance available to support small businesses

Are you and your business looking to start up, scale up or stay ahead? Start Up Loans of up to £25,000 can give you a much-needed boost if you’re just starting out. Or take a look at the Finance Hub and the British Business Bankfor more finance options for smaller businesses.

Call the Business Support Helpline

The free Business Support Helpline can help businesses of all sizes find the right advice and support at all stages of the business journey – whether you’re starting out, growing or looking to stay ahead.

You can email enquiries@businesssupporthelpline.org, live chat or call 0300 456 3565 Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 6:00pm.

Contact the Small Business Commissioner to resolve late payment disputes

If you’re having issues with not being paid on time, the Small Business Commissioner can provide advice on late and unfair payment, help you act and work to resolve disputes.

Put your business up for a Queen’s Award

Winning a prestigious award can give your small business a boost. The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are recognised globally as a mark of quality for UK business and entrepreneurs. Almost any UK business can apply for free. The next round of applications opens in May 2019.

Apply for government contracts

Our Contracts Finder lets you search for information about government and agency contracts worth over £10,000 and explore information on previous tenders to see whether one might work for you.

See which large businesses pay their invoices on time

Large businesses have a duty to report on their payment practices. You can access this information to find out whether a business you’re intending to trade with is likely to pay on time.

Take advantage of support for innovation

If you’re a UK-based small business developing an innovative product, process or service, Innovate UK could help you get your idea off the ground.

Become more competitive by making a few simple changes

Be the Business can help small and medium sized companies across the UK supercharge productivity and earning power by making a few small but effective changes.

Get advice on selling overseas

If your small business sells overseas, UK Export Finance can help you access the right finance and insurance to help you win vital international contracts.

Get involved in Small Business Saturday

Visit the Small Business Saturday website to register and advertise your business for free on their Small Business Finder and find out how else you can get involved. Don’t forget to use local small businesses near you and encourage others to do the same this 1 December.

Are you in training for the Brexit Marathon?

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

March 2017 was the date we declared we were going to exit from the EU. This set the deadline for our national drawbridge to be raised on the rest of Europe at the 29 March 2019. This is the first time we have separated ourselves from our largest trading partner since we joined the Common Market – the precursor to the EU – 1 January 1973.

It is useful, when considering the effective strategies we could employ to weather the changes that this process will likely create, to visualise the exit as running a marathon.

The comparison may seem to be a little left-field but bear with us.

If you have ever participated in a marathon you will have embarked on a fairly rigorous training program prior to running the race. In like manner, it may be prudent if you are running a business to get into shape before the Brexit transition starts next year. Whatever the outcome, a deal or no-deal conclusion, change will be upon us, and until we get used to the new paradigm, there will be a possible dip in economic activity.

We are all holding our breath, waiting for the politicians to reach an agreement, and hopeful that the outcome will lead to a positive increase in our international trading status with the rest of the world.

However, there is work we could engage in now that will prepare us in a positive way for whatever variety of Brexit is secured. In short, we could get into training, only this time to get financially fit, not race fit.

There are no downsides to this process. Even if there is a smooth Brexit you will be match fit and ready to hit the ground running, ready to take advantage of businesses opportunities as they become available.

At the very least businesses could:

  • Create an impact assessment if they import or export goods from and to the EU, and
  • Undertake a comprehensive balance sheet review. This would involve converting unused assets into cash and shortening the time it takes your business to transform sales into money in the bank.

We would request that all our readers seriously consider these options, unless they are already ahead of the game. We would be delighted to help.