Avoid Tax Return Turmoil!

Many of us struggle in January – getting back to ‘normality’ after the festive break, commuting in the dark… the imminent tax return deadline!

31st January is the date that self assessment tax returns must be submitted. The period covered is the year ending 5th April of the previous year. It’s always the same deadline, yet it seems to approach many of our clients faster each year!

Does this feel familiar? Don’t worry – help is at hand!

Good news! If you haven’t already submitted your paperwork to the friendly tax experts at Spicer & Co, you still have a little time… but be quick! “We appreciate that everyone has busy lives,” says Suzanne Spicer. “Ideally, we would like to receive clients’ paperwork during December, however we can accept information up to the second week in January.

“Even better, if we receive information more regularly, we can help with practical tax planning advice before the end of the tax year. Plus, we can chat with you about your business performance and plans, offering proactive advice along the way.”

Submitting Self Assessment Details

At Spicer & Co, we aim to make life as easy as possible for our clients. We provide easy-to-use ways of capturing the details needed for your return. Plus, we suggest ways of keeping your records up-to-date along the way avoiding the last minute rush. Examples include:

  • Use of apps to capture receipts digitally
  • Cloud bookkeeping software
  • Simply dropping in your receipts to us more than once a year and having a catch up and a cup of coffee

“We can help by suggesting efficient ways of collecting the information needed,” explains Suzanne. “However receipts in shoe boxes or even washing powder tubs are common! Once we have the details needed, we minimise your tax liability and ensure that your return is submitted on time.” Phew!

Excuses for Late Tax Return Submission

HMRC will charge you a penalty if your tax return is submitted after 31st January. With each case assessed individually, there are however, some excuses that may be deemed ‘reasonable’ by HMRC. These include:

  • The recent death of a partner
  • An unexpected stay in hospital
  • Computer failures
  • Service issues with the tax authority’s online services
  • A fire which prevented the completion of a tax return or postal delays

Making Self Assessment Straightforward

At Spicer & Co, we aim to lighten the load – by minimising your tax bill and simplifying how you collate the details needed during the year. Even with our careful planning and regular communication, sticky situations sometimes happen… such as when a client lost all their receipts when their van was valeted – and the receipts thrown away!

To find out about our tax services, contact the friendly team at Spicer & Co. Based in Dunstable, we help people and business to minimise their tax across Dunstable, Houghton Regis, Leighton Buzzard and Luton as well as further afield. Find out more over a coffee and without obligation. Let’s have a chat.

Get Ahead of Your Tax

Most people have a dislike in common: completing their tax return! Whether you pay corporation tax, income tax or maybe both, you’ll need to complete a tax return. Despite generous timescales, it’s something that most people leave until the last minute.

“As accountants, it’s our job to gather the necessary details from our clients – businesses and individuals – to ensure that tax returns are completed and submitted in good time,” says Suzanne Spicer of Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants based in Dunstable.

“Our role is to minimise the amount of tax that becomes due and take away the headache of completing your tax return,” she adds. “Yes, we can complete tax returns just before the deadlines – late January is always very busy! But – receiving details in good time gives us greater opportunities to plan and track down all the information needed. In fact, the earlier we receive your details, the better!”

6 Reasons to Complete Your Tax Return Early
1. You know what you owe. Filing your tax return early gives you longer to budget and ensures that you know the exact amount of tax due.

2. Get your refund! You may be entitled to a repayment – it’s better in your account than HMRC’s!

3. Avoid panic and penalties. If you are employed, your P60 is available now. If you have benefits, you should receive your P11D by 6 July. Somehow, information is always easier to find when time is on your side! Avoid frantic searches for key details in December, or even worse – penalties for late tax return submission as you simply can’t find the information needed.

4. Tax planning for future years is more effective when some time can be dedicated to it. At Spicer & Co, we make a point of understanding your goals for your business and/or your personal finances. Earlier conversations give us a better opportunity for tax planning to meet your aims.

5. Avoid the unknown! Whether it’s extreme weather, illness or your hungry hound… unexpected events can result in late submissions and a financial penalty. The amount involved is a minimum of £100.

6. Tick that task! It’s often a relief to finish uninviting jobs. Crossing off your tax return from your ‘to do’ list allows you to concentrate on what you enjoy – from running your business to a well-earned holiday!

To find out about our tax services, contact the friendly team at Spicer & Co. Why not pop in for a coffee, without obligation? Let’s have a chat.

Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants Recognised at Dunstable and Houghton Regis Awards 2017

A glittering awards ceremony for the Dunstable and Houghton Regis Business & Community Business Awards took place last week. It was a fabulous evening celebrating the achievements of business, charities and individuals within Dunstable and Houghton Regis.

The awards were introduced in 2012. They are designed to:

  • – give local companies the opportunity to celebrate success.
  • – celebrate the achievements of the local residents in this area.
  • – recognition of all who are making a difference to the towns of Dunstable and Houghton Regis

Suzanne and Steve Spicer from Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants were delighted to attend the awards ceremony – and thrilled to learn that Spicer & Co won recognition as Highly Commended Business of the Year.

It was a lovely evening and we enjoyed meeting lots of other local organisations and community people at the event,” says Suzanne. “We are so proud to win Highly Commended Business of the Year. It’s a fantastic achievement and reflects the hard work and friendly, helpful attitude of everyone in our team. It’s nice to know that our clients appreciate the service we provide.”

Well done to our winning clients…

The evening celebrated the success of all the winners and finalists. (Over 350 nominations were received across the various award categories.) Many of the businesses recognised by the Dunstable and Houghton Regis Awards 2017 are clients of Spicer & Co. We would like to offer huge congratulations to our award-winning and highly commended clients:

  • Business of the Year – winner Lisa Roberts Catering Limited, highly commended Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants
  • Retailer of the Year – winner The Cake House, highly commended Deakin-White Limited
  • Hospitality Venue of the Year – highly commended Lisa Roberts Catering Limited
  • New Business of the Year – joint winners Gents Barbering and Perfect Personalised Parties

The Dunstable and Houghton Regis Awards 2017 evening is a ‘non-profit’ event with any profits donated to the Foodbank, helping to local residents. Suzanne adds: “It was lovely to win a bottle of champagne in the raffle – a perfect addition to our celebrations!”

Are you based in Dunstable or Houghton Regis?

If you would like to know more about these awards and maybe enter the 2018 competition? Visit the awards Dunstable and Houghton Regis Awards website to find out more.

What’s Involved with Limited Companies?

Business owners choose to create a limited company for two key reasons: limited liability and/or perceived credibility. But what is involved with running a limited company?

This may be the first time that you’ve had to complete a Corporation Tax return – or needed to issue dividends to shareholders. The Spicer & Co team enjoys talking about accountancy issues in plain English. If you have started a limited company – or are thinking about it – we hope that the information below will be helpful…

What roles are needed within a limited company?

Two distinct roles are involved with limited companies:

  1. Directors – are appointed by members (shareholders) to run the business day to day. You need to have at least one company director. This can be a person, or a corporate body. If shareholders would like more directors involved, there is no limit to the number of directors you can have! (Directors do not have to be resident in the UK – they can live anywhere.)

In its simplest form, a limited company can be operated by just one person. This individual would be the sole director and shareholder of the business. Many ‘one man band’ limited companies exist where the sole director is also the sole shareholder. For example – several consultants who use our accountancy services operate in this way.

A director must be:

  • At least 16 years old
  • Not be a discharged bankrupt
  • Not on the Disqualified Directors Register
  • Not the company auditor
  1. Secretaries – it is optional for private limited companies to have a Company Secretary; this role mandatory for public limited companies. Again, the Company Secretary role can be allocated to a person or a corporate body. 

A company can change directors/secretary at any time by informing Companies House of the changes.

What do these limited company roles entail?

It is the Director(s)’ job to run the company in accordance with Companies Act and the Articles of Association of the company.  (The Articles of Association is a document that contains the purpose of the company as well as the duties and responsibilities of its members. It is filed at Companies House.)

Directors are responsible for making sure all filing deadlines are met for business tax, payroll, and accounts.  Also, they must ensure that the accounting records and documents are complete and accurate.

These are personal obligations and Directors can be held accountable if responsibilities not met.  You can employ an accountant to carry out these tasks, but the ultimate responsibility lies with the Director(s).

The Company Secretary can assist the Director(s) and help reduce workload involved.

Corporation Tax Returns and more…

There are several documents that all limited companies, regardless of size, must submit annually:

  • Corporate Tax Return – so that corporation tax can be calculated
  • Confirmation Statement – confirming the company information held at Companies House

Accountancy support for limited companies

Many directors choose to use accountants to support their limited companies. Whilst you are not obliged to do so, some people prefer the peace of mind that their accountants will assist them with:

  • Correct collation and presentation of financial information
  • Compilation of year-end accounts
  • Completion and submission of Corporate Tax returns
  • Calculation of Corporate Tax and dividend payments due
  • Submission of information to Companies House, how and where needed
  • Dealing with company-related correspondence (Companies House, hmrc)

Beyond these tasks, the financial planning and tax advice available from accountants helps to optimise your company’s profitability and efficiency.

For more information…

Helpful information can be found at Companies House website, with more details for businesses, the self employed and employers available at: www.gov.uk.

For a tailored, no obligation discussion about your own situation and plans, pop in for a chat with the team at Spicer & Co. Let’s talk.

Making Tax Digital – A New Timescale

Making Tax Digital is HMRC’s planned changes to the requirements for submission of tax returns and accounts. In a nutshell, the programme increases the frequency of accounts submission (from annually to quarterly) and online tax accounts will become compulsory.

Making Tax Digital is huge – the biggest change to tax since the introduction of self assessment. (Read our ‘What is Making Tax Digital?’ blog for more details.) It has understandably caused huge shockwaves amongst business owners and the self employed, many of whom need to change from their current systems.

A phased implementation of Making Tax Digital was planned from April 2018. Those affected were: self employed, partnerships and landlords with turnover above the annual VAT threshold of £85,000.

Big Making Tax Digital News!

HMRC has announced a revised timescale for Making Tax Digital, explaining that: “There is widespread agreement that Making Tax Digital for Business is the right approach for the future. However a number of concerns about the pace and scale of change have been raised. As a result the government has announced that the roll out for Making Tax Digital for Business has been amended to ensure businesses have plenty of time to adapt to the changes.”

The website goes to state: “Businesses will not now be mandated to use the Making Tax Digital for Business system until April 2019 and then only to meet their VAT obligations. This will apply to businesses who have a turnover above the VAT threshold – the smallest businesses will not be required to use the system, although they can choose to do so voluntarily.”

HMRC adds: “The government remains committed to ensuring we can deliver a modern digital tax system for all businesses and their agents, supporting them to get their tax right and reducing the amount of tax lost through avoidable error.”

Revised Making Tax Digital Timescale

Under the new timetable:
– 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

Making Tax Digital will be available on a voluntary basis for the smallest businesses and other taxes.

Do You Have Any Making Tax Digital Queries?

At Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants we offer a wide range of tax services and are supporting our clients to ensure that they meet their Making Tax Digital obligations. Our friendly team is happy answer any questions about Making Tax Digital – and to put the kettle on! Let’s talk.

Tax Investigation Services – Don’t Worry!

Insurance. We hope we never need it, but it’s good to know that we’re covered… just in case.

Some insurances are mandatory – such as motor insurance. Others are optional – such as house insurance – and give us peace of mind that the policies are there if we need them.

This applies to businesses too. Employers’ Liability is required by law if you employ people. It isn’t compulsory to have insurance to protect you from accountancy fees incurred via a HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) investigation. But – with the number of investigations rising, it offers peace of mind to business owners who want to avoid the extra cost and stress of being probed by HMRC.

Why is Croner Taxwise protection a good idea?

An increasing number of individuals and organisations are being selected for investigation. This can be done randomly, or because someone you’re working with has been investigated. (7% of tax inspections are triggered at random.) Or – you could have been chosen by “Connect”.

“Connect” is HMRC’s new £100 million computer. It analyses data from a variety of sources – UK-based and overseas. It finds discrepancies between identified and reported income. The result? More investigations.

In addition, Making Tax Digital will be phased in from 2018. It is anticipated that this new system could also create additional investigations.

What does Fee Protection insurance include?

Fee Protection insurance ensures that:

  • All accountancy fees incurred as a result of a tax investigation by HMRC are paid by the insurers – not by you or your business
  • – You enjoy peace of mind that you will receive all the professional support you need from your chartered accountant – without the worry of the final bill.
  • – You receive expert advice throughout a HMRC tax inspection – without incurring a penny in costs

Accountancy Expertise and beyond…

Taxwise protection from Spicer & Co offers support beyond expert tax investigation advice. Additional benefits include:

  • – Unlimited access to Employment Law and Business Safety specialists
  • – Commercial legal advice on a broad range of commercial law subjects
  • – Tax and VAT consultancy services

All of these services – and the peace of mind that accompanies them – are available for an annual fee of just £149 + VAT.

“The unexpected brown envelope or email from HMRC is worrying for business owners and individuals alike,” says Suzanne Spicer of Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants in Dunstable. “The Taxwise insurance policy protects you from the professional accountancy fees that are incurred during tax investigations. It’s very reassuring to know that you’ll receive all the expert advice and action you need during the inspection without incurring any costs.”

To find out more about tax services or Taxwise protection, contact the team at Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants.

Local Accountants Host Bingo Night for Luton Charity

On Thursday 18th May we hosted our Charity Bingo Night, held at HQ Sport’s Bar in Dunstable who kindly offered the venue for free.

At Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants, we support Level Trust – a Luton charity which works tirelessly to support the young people and children in Luton who live below the poverty line. Whilst we are based in Dunstable, our work spans across the region and we are delighted to support this local Luton group.

Our bingo night was great fun and raised £1,545 for Level Trust, Luton.

Level Trust exists to remove the barriers that poverty brings to a child’s education. The charity works in partnership with schools and families to ensure that every child has what they need to do their very best at school. We provide financial and accounting advice voluntarily to Level Trust.

The whole team at Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved – the organisers, venue, those who donated prizes and – of course – all the bingo players! Your support will make a huge difference to a wonderful Luton charity.

Visit their website to find out more information: www.leveltrust.org.

What is Making Tax Digital?

What is Making Tax Digital?

April next year will see the biggest change to tax since self assessment.  Making Tax Digital brings compulsory online tax accounts and quarterly submission of accounts and tax returns.

Digital accounts will track professional and business transactions automatically. The biggest change is the need for quarterly, rather than annual, submissions to HMRC.

Why are these changes needed? Making Tax Digital aims to help taxpayers budget for their liabilities.

When Does Making Tax Digital Go Live?

The changes will be introduced from April 2018

Who Does Making Tax Digital Affect?

The Chancellor confirmed in the recent Spring Budget, that Making Tax Digital will be implemented with the following criteria:

  • Self employed, partnerships and landlords with annual turnovers of less than £10,000 are exempt from these requirements
  • Self employed, partnerships and landlords with turnover above the annual VAT threshold of £85,000 are required to report from April 2018
  • Self employed, partnerships and landlords with turnover less than the annual VAT threshold of £85,000 are required to report from April 2019
  • Companies are required to report from April 2020

Will Tax Payment Dates Change?

Under the new Making Tax Digital proposals paying tax on a quarterly basis is voluntary, but many experts are concerned that at some time in the future this may become mandatory.

Why is Making Tax Digital being introduced?

The government states four advantages of MTD:

1. Simplified tax – avoiding duplicate submission of HMRC information and enabling easy viewing and updating of information held by HMRC
2. Faster understanding of tax owed – instead of waiting until the end of the tax year – or longer – before knowing how much tax is owed, quarterly updates will be available.
3. Online access to a personalised picture of tax affairs – as every individual and small business will have access to a digital tax account.
4. A single view – taxpayers will be able to see their complete financial picture via their digital account, including liabilities and entitlements.

How does our current system compare with MTD?

The biggest change is having to prepare four set of accounts per year (quarterly).  Returns will need to be submitted within one month of the quarter end and need to include income from self employment, partnerships and rents.  There will be penalties for late returns, although there is a possibility of a “soft landing period” of 12 months where late penalties are not charged.

Three actions to take NOW:

1. Make sure your accounting system will be able to meet the new requirements. If you are uncertain speak to us, we will be able to suggest ways to prepare yourself ahead of time so that when the changes are in place you will be ready to go.

2. Think about cloud bookkeeping/accounting, selecting the right package that will support MTD. The transition will be much easier if records are on a cloud platform accessible to both client and accountant. (Look out for information and updates from software companies over the coming months as they develop their MTD software.)

3. Stay fully informed – by signing up to our newsletter and keeping an eye on our blog. We will guide you through the changes with regular updates, including jargon-free explanations of the details issued by HMRC. Plus – you are welcome to contact us if you have any queries.

Would you like to know more about how Making Tax Digital affects you?

Contact the friendly team at Spicer & Co. Our tax experts are always happy to have a chat and a coffee without obligation. Let’s talk.