Massey Accounting Company

making your business less taxing


Leave a comment

8 tips to avoid a tax investigation by HMRC

Can you reduce your risk of a tax investigation by HMRC?

I believe that you can – and I’d like to share with you 8 tips on how to do that.

HMRC’s resources are stretched meaning that they’re far more likely to investigate where they have reason for suspicion.

This being the case how can you avoid attracting the attention of HMRC?

1. Appoint an accountant – Errors on Tax Returns are one of the most common reasons HMRC has for taking a look at your file. An accountant will significantly reduce the risk of errors.

2. Review your Tax Returns – Ultimately the book stops with you, not your accountant. When you receive your documents for review make sure you give them the due attention.

3. Submit your Returns nice and early – HMRC makes no secret of the fact that it views you as “risky” if you persistently file late returns.

4. Pay your tax on time – same reason as above

5. Keep business expenses sensible – HMRC compares sector averages – it knows how much you should earn before it even receives your Tax Return. Significant deviations from the norm will raise eyebrows. If you’re unsure if a particular expense is legitimate – ask your accountant.

6. Use the “white space” – Your tax return includes a box “Additional Info” (aka “white space”) – use this if you are declaring something out of the ordinary. It may help avoid questions which can lead to an investigation.

7. Beware of easily overlooked omissions – one-off capital gains, interest on savings or small second incomes can easily be forgotten about when it comes time to prepare your Tax Return. But these are not forgotten by HMRC. Since 2010 it uses it’s Connect software to trawl publicly available databases, e.g. Land Registry (provides details of property ownership and transactions), eBay and Airbnb (might give clues of second incomes), even Facebook and other social media websites have become a treasure trove of information to compare life-style with declared earnings.

8. Avoid avoidance schemes – the scheme promoters will tell you that these are legal avoidance of tax, not illegal evasion. However, aggressive schemes such as Employee Benefit Trusts (EBT’s) or Icebreaker (famously used by Gary Barlow) are constantly being shut down by HMRC. Worst of all the participators of these schemes find that some years later the government enacts retrospective tax laws (as controversial as that is) to recover lost tax since the inception of the scheme.

Three months free tax investigation insurance

If the dreaded happens your best defence is your accountant – for between £6 – £10 per month we can insure you against the professional fees incurred in defending your case. Sign-up within 30 days of this post and we’ll give you three months free cover. To better understand our tax investigation insurance please read our blog post Can you insure against a tax investigation?


Enjoy saving tax?

We have two videos to help on ourYouTube-logo-full_colorchannel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on Google+ or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Making Tax Digital – When will it affect you?

Are you ready to throw away those paper invoices and do your bookkeeping using only online software? Do you need to prepare for such a change?

If your turnover is above the £85,000 VAT threshold then yes, you have just 12 months to prepare. Smaller businesses are expected to go digital sometime after 2020.

MTD – in the making
March 2015 Chancellor Osborne announces “the end of the Tax Return” with the introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD). The idea being that all self-employed people and businesses will be required to keep digital records (paper seemingly being outlawed) and the usual Tax Return will be replaced with 4 quarterly statements + a year-end statement submitted electronically to HMRC.

Over the following months accounting bodies and business groups identify a mountain of hurdles before this grand idea could possibly be implemented.

Summer 2016 and Brexit happened – which seems to have dramatically slowed down the implementation of MTD. The idea lives on but it’s very much a shadow of its former self.

MTD – where are we now?
The most recent government update was 13th July 2017 in which the following implementation timetable was outlined:
• only businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to keep digital records and only for VAT purposes
• they will only need to do so from 2019
• businesses will not be asked to keep digital records, or to update HMRC quarterly, for other taxes until at least 2020

What does MTD mean for you?
• Smaller businesses trading under the VAT threshold can breathe easy for now. At the earliest digital records and quarterly reports will be required from April 2020 (I suspect later).

• Businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold should use 2018 to review which cloud software would best suit their needs. Now, this is where things become a little uncertain as the government are still to define exactly what will be required to comply with MTD for VAT. It is so far thought that such businesses will no longer be allowed to keep their records on spreadsheets and then manually transfer the figures into HMRC’s online VAT submission tool. HMRC’s aim is that VAT Returns are submitted directly from the software on which your records are kept. Whilst we still await precise guidance this year is probably a good time to consider using cloud accounting software from the start of your next financial year. Unfortunately, such software isn’t free but it does offer excellent reporting facilities and automation of processes (inc. bank feeds). We, like many of our clients, already use cloud accounting and wouldn’t look back.

The two most popular offerings being Xero and QuickBooks (Xero being our preferred choice).

Clients of ours that are most likely to be affected will be contacted by email shortly.

For now, even if you’re not immediately affected, it’s worth knowing that HMRC are pushing ahead with MTD – although, sensibly, at a much slower pace than originally announced.

Source info: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/next-steps-on-the-finance-bill-and-making-tax-digital

Enjoy saving tax?

We have two videos to help on ourYouTube-logo-full_colorchannel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on Google+ or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.


Leave a comment

National Minimum Wage Rise from April 2018

National Living Wage (NLW) rates (for those over 25 years old) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates (for those under 25 years old) are to rise from 1 April 2018.

The NLW increase of 33p represents a 4.4% rise, equivalent to an annual increase of about £600 for a full-time worker.

In summary and effective 1 April 2018 the follow minimum wage rates will apply

Year 25 and over 21 to 24 18 to 20 Under 18 Apprentice *
April 2017 £7.50 £7.05 £5.60 £4.05 £3.50
April 2018 (new rates) £7.83 £7.38 £5.90 £4.20 £3.70

* The apprentice rate is for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. All other apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age.

The Government has previously said it plans to raise the national living wage to £9 per hour by 2020.

Ensure your payroll procedures are up to date. For further details and more rates visit gov.uk

Enjoy saving tax?

We have two videos to help on ourYouTube-logo-full_colorchannel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on Google+ or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.


Leave a comment

Optimum Directors’ Salary and Dividends for 2018/19

What is the optimum directors’ salary and dividend mix for 2018/19?

Small companies will usually pay their directors with a mix of salary and dividends. The level of the directors’ salary is usually set in order to avoid any income tax and national insurance. On this basis the recommended remuneration package for the forthcoming tax year is:

 

Upper limits (if intention is to fully utilise the basic rate tax band)


2018/19


2017/18

Directors’ salary – per annum

£8,424

£8,164

Dividends – per annum

£37,926

£36,836

 

It should be noted that dividends exceeding both the personal allowance and the dividend allowance of £2,000 (previously £5,000) will be taxed via the directors’ personal income tax return at 7.5%. Meaning that if dividends are paid all the way up to the basic rate band of £46,350 (2017/18 was £45,000) there will be a personal tax bill of £2,438 (last year £2,138)

For those companies that have more than just a single director on their payroll then they will continue to benefit from the Employment Allowance which reduces the company’s Class 1 National Insurance contributions (Employer’s N.I.) by up to £3,000.

In such cases there may be an opportunity for directors to eke out a little more tax savings by paying themselves a salary of £11,850 and dividends up to a maximum of £34,500 (the overall tax saving between the director and the company being around £240).

This second option will not be the best fit for everyone. More than ever, personal circumstances must be carefully considered to give the best results.

Each client of Massey Accounting Company will be receiving a personalised recommendation shortly.

Enjoy saving tax?

We have two videos to help on ourYouTube-logo-full_colorchannel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on Google+ or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.


Leave a comment

Pension contribution rates increase from April 2018

If you employ staff and run a pension scheme the minimum contributions rates are increasing from April 2018 as set-out in the table below. This has long been the intention of The Pension Regulator (TPR) and is known as phasing.

 

 

Date Employer minimum contribution Staff contribution Total minimum contribution
Until 5 April 2018 1% 1% 2%
6 April 2018 to 5 April 2019 2% 3% 5%
6 April 2019 onwards 3% 5% 8%

If we provide your payroll services then we will of course implement the increased rates on your behalf but because this represents an increased cost for both employer and employee we highly recommend that you let your staff know in advance of this change. To do so you may like to use this TPR letter template.

Source info: http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/employers/phasing-increase-of-automatic-enrolment-contribution

Enjoy saving tax?

We have two videos to help on ourYouTube-logo-full_colorchannel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on Google+ or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.


Leave a comment

Autumn Budget 2017 – Small Business Guide & Tax Rates

2017.03 Hammond Budget

An uneventful budget, thank you Phillip!
Here’s a brief round-up of the main points for you as a small business owner:

Personal tax free allowance – to increase to £11,850 for 2018/19 (from £11,500)

Marriage Allowance – increase to £1,185 worth a possible tax saving of £237 (from £230)

VAT Threshold – has been frozen at £85,000 for two years (there’s a hint that this could be lowered in line with other EU countries after April 2020)

Tax free dividend allowance – will be reduced to £2,000 (from £5,000) as we already knew from April 2018.

Corporation tax – to remain at the current rate of 19%.

Making Tax Digital – VAT registered businesses will be required to maintain digital records from April 2019 – meaning that most such business will need to consider using cloud accounting apps.

IR35 – Unsurprisingly, it was announced that HMRC will consult on reforms to IR35 for the private sector (public sector having already undergone reforms).

Self-Employed NI – Will delay the abolition of Class 2 NICs by a year until 6 April 2019. Class 4 will remain at 9%.

National Minimum Wage – increase to £7.83 starting April 2018 (from £7.50)

We have two downloads available for our clients:

Our Complete Guide to the Autumn Budget 2017, and our most recent Tax Rates Sheet covering 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19

Enjoy saving tax?

We have two videos to help on ourYouTube-logo-full_colorchannel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on Google+ or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.


Leave a comment

Spring Budget 2017 – A Business Owners Guide

2017.03 Hammond BudgetSmall business owners will probably find that yesterday’s budget was not as bad as some of the headlines are making out. Yes national insurance will increase for the self-employed and company shareholders will again see an increase in their personal tax bills but a quick look at the numbers shows that, for now, these increases are likely to be modest.

Mr Hammond suggested that the self-employed earning below £16,250 will actually end up paying less National Insurance – and this seems about right. In fact even if profits were around the £25,000 mark then the increase (which will start from April 2018) will be only around £140.

As for small company owners that pay themselves using a mix of salary and dividends (for the best 2017/18 salary and dividend mix see here) the announcement means a basic rate taxpayer who receives £5,000 in dividends will have to pay an extra £225 tax from April 2018. A higher rate tax payer will pay an extra £975.

On The Bright Side

Very welcome was the postponement to Making Tax Digital for the self-employed which for those under the VAT threshold means that quarterly reporting will not now become mandatory until April 2018 (starting April 2020 for limited companies).

And any firm coming out of Small Business Rate Relief will receive an additional cap next year on increases of no more than £50 a month.

Download our more detailed guide to the budget (including current and newly announced tax rates and thresholds) here.

Enjoy saving tax?

We have two videos to help on ourYouTube-logo-full_colorchannel; and for regular tax-tips follow our blog on Google+ or click +Follow at the bottom of this page.