Support for businesses during the Coronavirus Outbreak

The situation is changing daily, and we are receiving updates regularly. We have decided to share what we know are facts. If more help becomes available, we will update you.

If you own a business or you are self-employed, we know this is a worrying time for you. People are misinterpreting the help available. Much of the available help is for companies with employed staff and premises.

These options are available to everyone: 

Mortgage payments

Speak to your lender. Most are providing up to 3 months payment holiday. You will still have to make up the payments and do consider the interest implications we recommend you get advice from your lender.

Embargo on evictions                                

This will help people who rent their property. This will be hard for landlords. Talk to your landlord and negotiate.

Tax payment deferral 

By calling HMRC you may be able to negotiate payments for any impending taxes due (corporation tax, PAYE, VAT, income tax). They will want to know more about your circumstances, and this is decided on a case by case basis.

Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments can be deferred for 3 months. The deferral will apply to payments due between 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

No applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020/21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Self-Assessment for income tax, payments due by the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.

No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period for VAT or income tax.

Tax helpline number 0800 0159 559.

You will still have to pay any VAT or income tax you owe; you just can defer it with no late payment fees. 

Universal Credit 

If you are self-employed you may be entitled to Universal Credit – check here for more details

Council Tax reduction 

Check if you can claim a council tax reduction – apply to your local council. This is a standard benefit for people on a low income.

For companies with employees and/or premises

Statutory Sick Pay 

The government will refund Statutory Sick Pay which has a rate of £94.25 per week per person for two weeks from the start of sickness. Applies to businesses with up to 249 employees from 13 March 2020. The system to claim is not yet in place. It will probably be an enhanced credit through the PAYE system. Make sure your records are up to date. More details here We suggest you (or your payroll provider) keep manual records of dates of sick leave to enable the claim once a system is in place.

Business Loan Scheme (CBILS)

A maximum loan of £5m per business can be applied for which is interest-free for 12 months. This will be available to all businesses without adequate security to support the level of borrowing needed to keep their business trading. More details here

Small Business Grant Scheme 

This is to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs. You are eligible if:

  • your business is based in England
  • you are a small business and already receive SBBR and/or RRR
  • you are a business that occupies a property

You will be contacted by your local authority if you are eligible.

Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme

This is for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000.

For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000. You are eligible if:

  • your business is based in England
  • your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector

and if you trade:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

All UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

How to access the scheme you will need to:

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers. If we run your payroll we will be monitoring this and help you with your reimbursements.

Business Rates Holiday 

For retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year, there will be a business rate holiday. Types of businesses this will apply to are –

Shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues. Any venue used for assembly and leisure which includes as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

You will be contacted by your local authority.

Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

Other advice

  • Keep on top of your credit control
  • Think twice about business decisions in such a critical time
  • Be mindful of expenditure

Where else can you find information?

For more information visit the Coronavirus Government Website pages CLICK HERE

Telephone: 0300 456 3565

Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm

 

Posted in Website Blog | Tagged Coronavirus, Coronavirus Outbreak

Budget 2020 – The budget for business

Amidst all the concern surrounding the coronavirus, the government issued their budget on 11th March 2020. It was a budget for business with several measures being relevant to small business owners and the self-employed.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £7bn support package for small businesses including tax cuts, loans and grants for small businesses. He also included a coronavirus business interruption loan scheme offering loans of up to £2m to small businesses, unlocking up to £1bn of capital for SMEs.

We have summarised the main points here relevant to SME’s.

Statutory sick pay for SMEs

The Government will cover statutory sick pay to all those advised to self-isolate from the virus. They will refund the cost of statutory sick pay for up to 14 days to small- and medium-sized businesses at a cost potentially of up to £2bn. This will apply to businesses with up to 250 employees. Statutory sick pay will be offered from day one (as opposed from day four) for all those advised to self-isolate even if they haven’t shown symptoms. The government will also make it quicker to access benefits for the self-employed, enabling them to claim from day one instead of day eight, and temporarily removing the minimum income floor from Universal tax credit.

National Insurance Changes 

National insurance threshold to be raised to £9,500 from £8,632, providing a tax cut for 31m people. The National Living Wage is set to reach £10.50 an hour by 2024.

Currently, the Employment Allowance gives small employers £3,000 off their National Insurance payment. This will be increased to £4,000, meaning that small businesses can benefit as they will be able to employ four full-time employees without paying any employer National Insurance contributions which is good news for small businesses who want to employ staff.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

This scheme will support up to a further £1bn lending to smaller businesses. The government will guarantee bank loans to small businesses on amounts of up to £1.2m. The government will cover bank losses of up to 80%.

Business rates changes 

Business rates will be abolished altogether for smaller firms in retail, leisure and hospitality – this is a tax cut worth up to £1bn. The scrappage will only apply to premises with a rateable value of up to £51,000 to help with losses potentially suffered from decreased demand until the end of 2020. Our view is that this will really help small high street businesses who are going to see a downturn in business during the coronavirus period.

Small businesses cash grant

Small businesses that pay no business rates will receive a £3,000 cash grant, worth a total of £3bn. It is unclear at this stage how businesses can access the cash. We will advise further on this.

Entrepreneurs’ Relief to be scaled back

Despite rumours that this would be abolished, the Chancellor opted for reform instead.

This means that enterprising small business owners will continue to benefit from this scheme. This scheme enables businesses owners to pay reduced capital gains tax of 10% instead of 20% up to a lifetime allowance of £10m. The limit will now be £1m of gains.

£130m of new funding to extend start-up loans

The start-up loan scheme will be extended. This will aim to support up to 10,000 more startups between 2021 and 2022. There was also news that £5 billion of new export loans would be available for businesses to enable them to build business overseas. In addition, £200m in new funding for British Business Bank to invest in scale-ups.

Businesses given HMRC tax payment extension

To help further with cash flow the Government’s ‘Time to Pay’ service is also being scaled up, allowing businesses and the self-employed to defer tax payments. HMRC will accept deferred corporation tax payments over pre-agreed periods of time.

Other changes worth noting 

  • VAT for digital publications from 1st December 2020 will be scrapped and this will include books and newspapers.
  • R&D tax credit to be increased from 12 per cent to 15 per cent
  • Employment allowance to be increased by one third – we already mentioned this?
  • IR35 planned changes are going ahead.

Our thoughts on the budget

Some good news for small businesses in terms of business rate relief. Not such good news regarding the reversal of the proposed cut in corporate tax to 17%. The change to entrepreneurs was not a surprise as we were expecting this. Our overall view is that this is a positive budget in very uncertain times.

The full budget summary can be found here

If you need any help or advice on how this relates to your business, please contact us.

Posted in Website Blog | Tagged 11th March 2020 budget, 2020 budget, budget, budget 2020, budget for businesses

The Top 12 Tax Deductible Expenses You Should Be Maximising

Are you a business that regularly pays more tax than you need to every year? Do you understand exactly what expenses you can legitimately claim for to reduce the tax you pay? This is where we aim to help you by outlining the top 12 things a business should be claiming as tax deductible expenses. This is not a complete list so do contact us for more help and advice.

What exactly is a business expense?

The first thing to consider is that a business expense is defined by HMRC as something that is ‘wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred for business purposes’. So if the list of tax deductible expenses below resonates with you, make sure you apply this test first. If your expenses do not meet those requirements, you may still be able to demonstrate that they do so partially and claim the relevant proportion against your tax.

Keep accurate records

Record keeping is particularly important to ensure accurate expenses are itemised in your accounts. And you must retain those records for SIX years. You could receive a penalty from HMRC if you fail to keep your records in order.

Top 12 Tax deductibles

So what can you claim for? Follow our advice and you may save a lot of money in the next tax year.

Capital Allowances

Taking advantage of capital allowances available for operating your business is an essential part of reducing your tax bill. Most businesses own some physical assets (this does not cover any items that are leased or hired). These could include computers, office furniture, specialist tools and equipment and vans. Also included are fixtures and what are known as integral features on your premises. These include: air conditioning systems, fire and burglar alarms, CCTV systems, fitted kitchens, electrical and lighting systems and so on. All items covered are subject to the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) giving you the opportunity to offset 100% of the value of your purchased qualifying assets up to £1 million, so clearly an area you must leverage.

If you have bought any cars, have items you use in your business that you already owned or have spent more than £1 million on assets leaving a surplus that cannot be included in the AIA, these assets are subject to written down allowances.

Capital allowances can be a complex area, subject to numerous rules and rates, and one we would be very happy to help you with when completing your accounts.

Travel Expenses

 The likelihood is that you use your car from time to time to travel to meetings, to pick up equipment or materials or for any number of other business related reasons. Remember that if you travel to your office or a specific place of work, those journeys cannot be included in your business mileage. It is important that you log all of your mileage, separating business from personal journeys. You can then claim the Government Approved Mileage Rate of 45p for every mile up to 10,000 and 25p for every mile thereafter.

There are also several other costs you can claim as long as your trip was purely for business purposes. These include:

  • Public transport costs
  • Taxis
  • Parking fees
  • Food and drink (HMRC states that these costs must be ‘reasonable’ but don’t define what that is. Be sensible and do not dine at Michelin starred restaurants and order vintage wines!).
  • Hotel accommodation
  • Congestion charges and tolls

Motoring Expenses

 If you have purchased or leased cars or vans through your business, you can claim a number of expenses specific to the running of those vehicles. Motor insurance, road fund tax, breakdown cover, tyres, servicing and repairs are all examples of specific expenses against your company vehicles that you can claim for. Remember though, that if you use a car purchased through your company for personal use or you provide a company car to another employee, you or your employee will be liable to benefit-in-kind taxation for having a company car. You will also be liable for national insurance contributions as an employer.

Professional Fees

 Most companies will at some point use the services of an accountant (or bookkeeper), a lawyer or another specialist consultant.  With the exception of using an accountant to assist in a HMRC enquiry, you can claim all of these expenses against your tax.

Insurance Payments

 Many businesses have to hold multiple insurance policies in the running of their operations. Whether it be buildings and contents insurance for your office, professional indemnity, public liability or insurance for your tools, any insurance costs can be offset to reduce your tax bill.

Salaries

 If you pay yourself or any employees a salary from your company, these costs are an allowable expense, as indeed are any National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

 Premises and Office Costs

If your company runs out of an office, shop, warehouse or factory, you will regularly incur costs that are tax deductible. These include rent, phone bills, stationery, utility bills and so on. If you pay for a hot desk membership, which is the trend these days, then you can claim for this cost against your business.

Advertising and Marketing Costs

 Marketing your business is essential to maintaining and growing your brand awareness and customer base. The good news is that these costs, being completely incurred by your business, are allowable against tax. This includes networking events and networking group memberships.

Workwear, Protective Clothing and Uniforms

 If you or your staff have any need to wear specific clothing or protective items in carrying out your company’s work, these costs are all tax deductible.

Donations to Charity

 Everybody wants to feel that they are giving back as well as making money for their business. So take the opportunity to choose a charity or two for the year that you wish to support and any contributions you make can be deducted as long as you are in profit. You cannot claim for charity donations if they result in your business making a loss.

Bad Debts

Hopefully you will suffer little in the way of bad debt in your business i.e. debt that is unsettled for at least six months. However, if you do, you can claim it as a deductible expense. Bear in mind that if some or all of that debt is paid at a later date, you must declare the income in your accounts.

Membership Subscriptions

 If your company benefits from being part of a professional body such as The Law Society or the Royal Institute of British Architects listed as an approved professional organisation by HMRC, those membership fees can be offset against your profits. Please note that HMRC expects membership to be relevant to your business so signing up to the gym will not be allowed!

What other expenses are there?

Depending on your business there might be other tax deductibles which is why the services of an accountant is vitally important, so you do not miss out!

Our blog about your company Christmas Party is another good example of where a lot of confusion exists!

The most important thing is to meet with your accountant and take their advice to ensure you are maximising those tax-saving opportunities. We are always happy to help.

 

 

 

Posted in Website Blog | Tagged tax, Tax Deductible Expenses

Use your ISA limit before 5th April 2020

2019-2020 ISA limits and unused allocations

Did you know that you can save up to £20,000 each year – tax free?

UK residents over the age of 16 have a tax-free personal savings allowance of £20,000 which they can invest across various ISA accounts each tax year. For Junior ISAs it’s £4,368. To qualify, you simply need to invest before midnight on 5th April 2020.

The interest earned on these savings won’t count towards your personal savings allowance and you don’t need to declare any ISA interest, income or capital gains if you complete a tax return.

Don’t panic if you miss the ISA deadline, it simply means that you didn’t utilise your tax-free allowance for this tax year. It won’t impact your allowance in future tax years, which reset with the start of the new tax year.

Types of ISAs

There are six types of ISAs:

  • Cash ISAs
  • Stocks and Shares ISAs
  • Lifetime ISAs
  • Innovative Finance ISAs.
  • Junior ISA
  • Help to Buy ISA

Note, ISAs can vary depending on type of account and provider.

Who can open an ISA?

To open an ISA account, you must be:

  • 16 or over for a cash ISA
  • 18 or over for a stocks and shares or innovative finance ISA
  • 18 or over but under 40 for a Lifetime ISA
  • resident in the UK.

 

How many ISAs can I have?

You’re free to split your tax-free allowance across a variety of ISAs, but you can only pay into one of each type of ISA each tax year. For example, you could pay £6,000 in a Cash ISA, £7,000 in a Lifetime ISA and the remaining £7,000 in a Stocks and Shares ISA.

Can I withdraw money from my ISA?

Yes, you can but it does depend on the type of ISA you have and there’s certain rules you need to follow to continue to benefit from your tax-free allowance.

Check the terms of your ISA to see if there are any rules or charges for making withdrawals.

With ‘ISA Flexibility’ you can withdraw and replace money without it counting towards your annual personal savings allowance. To benefit from this flexibility, you must put the money back in the same tax year. If you pay it back the following tax year it will count towards your new annual allowance.

What happens if I exceed my Isa allowance?

Because you have the freedom to open several ISAs with different providers, there’s a risk that you could accidently pay in too much during a single tax year. It’s always best to check.

HMRC will check your records and know if you’ve paid in too much. They may issue a warning if it’s the first time it’s happened. But they also have the power to instruct your ISA provider to remove over-payments and apply tax to any income or growth generated by that money.

It’s also important that you don’t try to fix your mistake by withdrawing the money.

Can I change ISA provider mid-year?

You can transfer your ISA from one provider to another at any time. You can also change the type of ISA account you have. If you’re changing provider/account during the current tax year you must transfer the full amount. If it’s money you’ve saved in previous years, you can transfer all or part.

To change providers, contact the new ISA provider and fill out an ISA transfer form. If you withdraw the money without completing a transfer form, you will not be able to reinvest that money as part of your tax-free allowance.

Get your self-assessment tax return done now!

 

The Tax year ended on 5th April 2019 and if you are a business owner who is organised then your accounts will have been submitted to your accountant and in turn, they will have told you how much tax you need to pay. So, you do not need to read this blog any further! Plus, a big ‘WELL DONE ‘from us.

Procrastination is common!

Unfortunately, many business owners procrastinate over completing their tax return and if you are one of these then you are not alone.

Last year around 750,000 people filed their tax return on the last day of January and around 750,000 missed the cut off date! If you submit last you receive an automatic fine of £100. More than 3 months you will be charged a further penalty of £10 a day for a maximum of 90 days.

Our advice is do not leave things to the last minute! This is because you will then struggle to find all the information you need to get the submission ready.

Do you need to complete a tax return?

The first question to ask yourself is ‘Do I need to submit a tax return?

The answer is clear cut –

You must send a tax return if, in the last tax year (6 April to 5 April), you were:

  • self-employed as a ‘sole trader’ and earned more than £1,000
  • a partner in a business partnership

What do you need to do now?

If you are using an accountant (and of course we would love to help you if you have not appointed one) you must send in all the documentation they need to compile the tax return for you.

Ideally, you will be using an online cloud-based accounting system such as Xero to record your income and expenditure. This makes tax returns much quicker and easier. Plus, you can keep track and your business progress and easily chase payments, keep an eye on expenses and even reconcile your bank statements.

The days of using manual ledgers are over and excel spreadsheets are becoming extinct.

If you are using an online cloud-based software send your accountant details of how to log in and they can use this data to compile the return.

If you are still on excel spread sheets, then email those across to your accountant.

You will also need details of:-

  • Pension income (if you are receiving this)
  • Details of pension contributions
  • Any interest on bank and building society accounts. You should be able to provide a statement or certificate detailing this.
  • Any income from property
  • Any other additional income – discuss with your accountant. Do not ignore as there are fines for under reporting your income and in some cases, you may face prosecution.
  • Details of expenses. Including any Gift Aid payments, car mileage information and wages. Discuss with your accountant all your expenses and they will be able to clarify what is classed as a business expense.

Make sure you keep records of receipts. This is really important and ideally, keep them in date order. You can also consider using receipt bank an App where you can scan receipts into your phone quickly and easily. This interacts with cloud-based systems such as Xero saving you time adding them later on.

If you do your tax return yourself be extra careful!

Making a mistake will cost you! You could be charged a penalty of anything from 15% to 30% of the additional tax owed if you are found to have underpaid your tax. You can also end up paying too much tax because you haven’t claimed for allowable items. If you have overpaid, you can claim back overpayments going back 4 years, but you need to write HMRC and prove the error to them. Using a good accountant will give you peace of mind and ensure your tax return is correct.

HMRC bogus scam emails and texts

Be careful when opening emails and texts if it says it is from HMRC about your tax affairs. HMRC will never send notifications by email about tax rebates or refunds.

Do not:

  • visit the website
  • open any attachments
  • disclose any personal or payment information

Fraudsters may spoof a genuine email address or change the ‘display name’ to make it appear genuine. If you are unsure, forward it to us and then delete it.

Visit the HMRC website here to find out more and if in doubt speak to your accountant or call HMRC to check.

Accountants do much more than tax returns!

Our job isn’t just about completing tax returns once a year. We fully understand and are up to date with all the tax regulations. We can ensure you pay the right amount of tax.

In addition to this, we love to work with our clients to ensure their business is making progress and help you to make the best decisions to grow your business.

We pride ourselves in giving you an honest review of your business and making suggestions about where you can improve. We also offer a business consultancy service so do contact us if you are interested in this. Find out more here .

Relax over Christmas and New Year and let us do the work!

Do not spend the festive season worrying about tax, spend it with your family and have fun at Christmas and not fear about HMRC!

Posted in Website Blog | Tagged income tax, self assessment, tax return deadline, tax returns

Align your business with a charity

As a business, it’s very important to give back. There are many ways you can support charities and projects through your business which can be beneficial to your business as well as knowing you are helping others.

Who do you want to support?

Consider carefully the type of charity you want to support and the best way to get the most out of the relationship between you and the charity. What kind of charity would be best aligned with your business?

  • For example – an optician might support the RNIB
  • A wealth and retirement planning company might support AGE UK

If you are a UK wide company or a business serving customers internationally you will want to think carefully about a charity which has that coverage.

If you are based in a local geographical area, getting involved with a local charity or project gives you the opportunity to give something back into your local community. It also raises your profile in the area.

We have chosen a few local charities to support and these include – Level Trust, Keech Hospice Care, DLDD Trust ( Don’t Let Dunstable Die) and Mary Seacole Housing Association. We have organised quiz nights, bingo nights, cheese and wine evening, pancake races and coffee mornings. We also support events as much as possible by attending or sponsoring or both. Our staff are also encouraged to engage and support our chosen charities.

Building your business into the community

Community life as we used to know it is dwindling and businesses whatever their size can make a big difference to a charity or projects by getting involved.

Your business is part of the community and being part of a community is vital for any business. We live in a world which seems so materialistic at times. With so many small shops and business closing all the time it feels as if the community spirit has begun to close too. Through supporting local events, projects and charities, you will understand the needs of the community and be able to find ways to meet them.

It’s hard to buy that kind of market research anywhere, but almost impossible for many businesses. Customers are more likely to support businesses they feel are engaged and understand the needs of others.

It can be difficult to sustain a business but being involved with a charity is one way to ensure that your business thrives in your community as you are helping and doing something to build a community!

You could either give ad-hoc support to several or one charity or choose one charity per year and any fundraising or support goes to that charity and then change it annually.

The amount of time will depend on how much you have!

Being involved provides you with additional marketing opportunities.

Examples of how your business can support charities or local projects and how to maximise the publicity.

Take part or organise an event

For example – a race, abseil, skydive or organise a quiz, race night or party this will provide you with additional marketing and PR opportunities. Plus, brand awareness of your company.

Publicity for you and the charity

Include your charitable involvement in newsletters, brochures, signs, displays and adverts, press releases and inform local radio.

Mention it on your website, profile the charity and the reason for your support add their logo (you must get permission first) and a link to their website. Ask them to reciprocate.

Add to your social media sites and use this as a way of spreading the word about the cause.

Getting involved in high profile causes might attract additional media attention. You might want the charity to add your company name to a project you support or sponsor if the donation is significant.

Ask the charity to add your details in their literature. You can make offers to the charity staff and their users if this is applicable with your business.

Donate a percentage of sales or raffle prizes.

Donating a percentage of sales to a charity often works well – maybe certain months of the year. For example, if you are in health and beauty you might want to donate during Breast Cancer awareness month. Or if you have a business aimed at men you could choose Prostrate Cancer. Consider donating to charities that have an audience aligned with your business. Create a club of people who support the charity and your business. Donating raffle or auction prizes.

Organise an annual event.

Arrange an annual event promoting your company where all the profits from the event go to a local charity- could be a product or service launch or a company birthday or Christmas event.

Create seasonal offers

Create special packages at key times of the year Christmas, Easter that either you sell, or the charity sell on your behalf with profits all or part donated.

Work with charities to find out what support they need.

Charities want to grow their support as much as you do so brainstorm ways with them you can support each other. They expect to give support to businesses in return for their support.

 

Posted in Website Blog | Tagged accountant dunstable, corporate social responsibility, CSR

Increase your profits by building your profile

As accountants, we are always suggesting ways in which you could improve your turnover and profits.

One of the major ways you can do this is by really building your business profile both locally and nationally. Even an online business can benefit from doing this. As a business, we have worked hard to elevate our business in our local area of Dunstable and Luton, throughout the county of Bedfordshire and nationally. Here are some ideas of some of the things you can do to make your business more prominent. We have shared some of the things we have implemented which have worked for us.

Networking

Being part of networking groups and attending events regularly has been beneficial. We have been able to build our brand in this area and we are a known face at events.

For the past 3 years, Suzanne Spicer has been part of the Women in Business (WIBN) Network. This is a networking group for women which meets for a monthly lunch and has one person per business type per group. The advantage is she is the only accountant in the room and has been able to gain referrals from other members for the practice. She is also a member of The Athena Network which works on the same principles.

Spicer and Co are also a member of the Bedfordshire Chamber Of Commerce. This helps support our business in the Bedfordshire area and we have made some meaningful connections through their events.

Our business development director Steve Spicer attends a wide range of events from local lunches to events in London.  Business development is his role. He loves to engage with new clients by building relationships. Attending events has helped to build our brand with the local community.

Where can you find networking events near you?

You can find out about events in your area by checking Google, Find Networking events, Meet Up or Eventbrite. There will be breakfast meetings, coffee morning events, lunch and evening events so decide the time that suits you best and your budget. Also, consider the amount of time you can commit.

Build relationships

Networking is about building relationships. You need to attend regularly to build your business name in your area. Arranging 121’s is really important as this is where you can learn so much about the other person and their business.

Being part of a networking group builds vital support around your business and means you have people to call on when you need help. Over a period of time people get to know you, they then might refer customers to you who need your business.

Start your own event

You might decide to start your own networking event or maybe a professional group that targets your client base or industry.

You will need to source a suitable venue and then market the event. There might be costs involved so consider partnering with other businesses in your area to reduce the costs and share the workload.

You might also decide to run some events to bring your clients together. We do this a few times each year. We find it’s a great way to catch up with clients and thank them for their business.

Speaking at Networking Events

Suzanne has spoken at an event organised by Metro Bank. These events provide you with an opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise. Talk to networking event organisers and try and secure a slot. This isn’t about promoting your business but demonstrating what you know about your industry.

Business Exhibitions

We love attending business exhibitions. This allows us to showcase our business and connect with new potential clients. We often see people we know as well and it’s a great chance to catch up. With a mix of networking, guest speakers and other exhibitors these events are a great way of meeting several new people in one place in one day! 

Check out The 3 Counties Expo which covers Herts, Beds and Bucks. Make a point of researching regional expos, industry-specific expos and London shows. Entry is usually free for visitors. Check them out and decide which ones will work best for your business.

Business Awards

This gives your business a chance to shine! There are local awards, industry awards and national awards. Over the past few years, we have entered them all and been a finalist and a winner!

Awards give your business credibility as they are independently judged. Most awards have a gala final which means you are creating more awareness and publicity about your business.

Suzanne was a finalist in The Best Businesswomen Awards 2019, a UK wide competition. We were also finalists in the FSB awards and SME Bedfordshire awards this year.

In 2018 we were a finalist in The British Accountancy Marketing Awards and The Accountancy Excellence Awards.  We also won SME Bedfordshire Awards – Dunstable Business of the Year 2018

We have also been a sponsor of local awards including the Pride of Houghton. 

Whether you are a finalist or a winner awards do help raise your profile. Awards give you lots of PR opportunities plus it is also great for staff morale!

 Join your industry or governing body

Suzanne Spicer is a member of the Practice Committee of The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Being part of your industry body gives you a voice. It is another way to raise your business profile.

 Take action!

Work through this list and add your ideas into your business plan. Just promoting your business on social media isn’t enough to increase your profits. It is important to get out there and build a network, meet people face to face and be part of the local community.

 

 

How to change accountants

Changing accountants can be a very difficult decision.

Every year make a point of reviewing your relationship with your accountant. Your relationship with your accountant is integral to the success of your business.

Consider the following-

Is your accountant proactive?

You need an accountant that can advise you on the best way to progress your business, increase profits and expand. Are they proactive in ensuring you are paying the right tax and making savings where possible?

Are you being supported to use a cloud accounting platform?

With Making Tax Digital now implemented for VAT registered business and the full roll out on the horizon its vitally important you are using an online platform for your accounts.

Do you feel your accountant is friendly and approachable?

There is nothing worse than calling up your accountant with questions and being made to feel you should already know the answer! Ideally you need an accountant that is happy to answer any questions you may have and reassure you. You also want phone calls returned and emails answered within a sensible time limit!

If you feel you are not getting the service you require then it might be time for a change. You might feel it’s a very daunting but here are some tips to help you transition from one accountant to another without too much pain!

Find a recommended accountant.

The best place to start is among your network of connections and ask for a recommendation. If you don’t have a network, check out the trusted accountants listed at Handpicked Accountants. Or you can use Google to find an accountant in your area. Look for companies with recommendations online or check other social media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn and see what testimonials they have.

Arrange a meeting with a prospective new accountant

Before making a final decision arrange a meeting to disusss your accounts. Find out the costs, which online platform they are using and what support they can offer you.

Give notice to you existing accountant

Once you have decided send and email to your existing accountant advising them you are changing and give them the details of your new accountant.

Notify HMRC

You will need to notify HMRC of the change, some accountants will do this for you. Just check.

Register with your new accountant

They will require proof of I.D which is part of the law surrounding money laundering. They will also ask you to sign a form to allow them to deal with HMRC on your behalf. Your new accountant will also write to your existing accountant and ask them for any existing records and information. This is called professional clearance and they will also ask if there is any reason, they should not work with you! Sometimes accountants will charge a small fee for compiling the paperwork. An hour’s rate is reasonable.

If you experience problems

Changing accountants should be seamless. Problems can arise. This can be when fees are not paid which you may be disputing or consider unreasonable. If you cannot resolve this then you can contact the body your accountant is registered with.  Or you contact the fee arbitration officer at the the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW) who can help you settle a dispute.

If there are believed to be any accounting irregularities, you may also find problems switching accountants. Your existing accountant may discuss this with your new accountants.

There shouldn’t be any issues changing accountants if you are running your business correctly and have complied with all the relevant HMRC tax laws.

Speak to Spicer and Co!

We pride ourselves on ensuring our new clients have a seamless and stress free experience.

Part of our onboarding process is an initial meeting to discuss your requirements. Once you have decided that we are the right accountants for you we can arrange a further meeting if required. Our team will send you all the relevant paperwork and we will send you a welcome pack.

 

Demystifying the Domestic Reverse Charge VAT

Update from HMRC – DATE CHANGED from October 2019 to October 2020

Industry representatives have raised concerns that some businesses in the construction sector are not ready to implement the VAT domestic reverse charge for building and construction on 1 October 2019.

To help these businesses and give them more time to prepare, the introduction of the reverse charge has been delayed for a period of 12 months until 1 October 2020. This will also avoid the changes coinciding with Brexit.

CLICK HERE FOR HMRC BRIEF 


On October 1st 2020 there is a big change being implemented in the way VAT is being collected in the building and construction industry. It is called the Domestic Reverse Charge VAT.

This has been set up to tackle fraud. This will mean that fraudsters will no longer be able to set up a construction business, charge VAT to customer then disappear before paying the VAT to HMRC. This practice is known as missing trader fraud and the change means that the customer receiving the service will have to pay the VAT due to HMRC instead of paying the supplier. It will only apply to individuals or businesses registered for VAT in the UK (although it will not apply to consumers).
This will affect you if you supply or receive specified services that are reported under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).

We would like to draw your attention to the details on the HMRC website which states the following –
You need to prepare for the 1 October 2020 introduction date by:
• checking whether the reverse charge affects either your sales, purchases or both
• making sure your accounting systems and software are updated to deal with the reverse charge
• considering whether the change will have an impact on your cashflow
• making sure all your staff who are responsible for VAT accounting are familiar with the reverse charge and how it will operate,

What contractors need to do
If you’re a contractor you’ll also need to review all your contracts with sub-contractors, to decide if the reverse charge will apply to the services you receive under your contracts. You’ll need to notify your suppliers if it will.

What sub-contractors need to do
If you’re a sub-contractor you’ll also need to contact your customers to get confirmation from them if the reverse charge will apply, including confirming if the customer is an end user or intermediary supplier.

The reverse charge does not apply to consumers or final customers of building and construction services. Any consumers or final customers who are registered for VAT and Construction Industry Scheme will need to ensure their suppliers do not apply the reverse charge on services supplied to them.

For reverse charge purposes consumers and final customers are called end users. They are businesses, or groups of businesses, that do not make onward supplies of the building and construction services in question, but they are registered for CIS as mainstream or deemed contractors because they carry out construction operations, or because the value of their purchases of building and construction services exceeds the threshold for CIS.

Services affected by the domestic reverse charge
The reverse charge will affect supplies of building and construction services supplied at the standard or reduced rates that also need to be reported under CIS. These are called specified supplies.
There is an important difference between CIS and the reverse charge where materials are included within a service. The reverse charge applies to the whole service whereas CIS payments to net status sub-contractors are apportioned and no deductions are made on the materials content.
The reverse charge does not apply if the service is zero rated for VAT or if the customer is not registered for VAT in the UK.

It also does not apply to some services.

These are those supplied to end users or intermediaries connected with end users. Find out more found in the End users and intermediary supplier businesses section.
Employment businesses who supply staff and who are responsible for paying the temporary workers they supply, are not subject to the reverse charge. Read the Applying the domestic reverse charge for construction services to certain sectors or types of transactions section for more information.

You will have to apply the reverse charge if you supply any of these services:
• constructing, altering, repairing, extending, demolishing or dismantling buildings or structures (whether permanent or not), including offshore installation services
• constructing, altering, repairing, extending, demolishing of any works forming, or planned to form, part of the land, including (in particular) walls, roadworks, power lines, electronic communications equipment, aircraft runways, railways, inland waterways, docks and harbours
• pipelines, reservoirs, water mains, wells, sewers, industrial plant and installations for purposes of land drainage, coast protection or defence
• installing heating, lighting, air-conditioning, ventilation, power supply, drainage, sanitation, water supply or fire protection systems in any building or structure
• internal cleaning of buildings and structures, so far as carried out in the course of their construction, alteration, repair, extension or restoration
• painting or decorating the inside or the external surfaces of any building or structure
• services which form an integral part of, or are part of the preparation or completion of the services described above – including site clearance, earth-moving, excavation, tunnelling and boring, laying of foundations, erection of scaffolding, site restoration, landscaping and the provision of roadways and other access works

For more detailed information please visit the HMRC website or give us a call to check what you need to do if you are affected by this change. Click here

Please also see our graphic below which explains this in simple terms!

6 Top Tips for Smarter Bookkeeping

To be successful in business its vitally important to have a good accountancy system in place. Knowing your numbers is essential for you to track your progress and to ensure your business is profitable.

Most small business owners hate doing accounts – we know this because they tell us! For many it’s the most boring, mundane job they must do to run their business and consequently many do not have a system for doing their business accountants efficiently and therefore leave doing their tax returns to the last minute. It also means they do not know the trading position, which will reflect in the progression of the business.

If you are a small business owner who finds themselves working late in the day or weekends to keep up with the accounts and do not know at a click of a button your figures in your business then you need to start thinking how you can work smarter with your book keeping.

Keep your business finances separate from personal finances

We all hate paying bank charges but there are ways around this. Sole traders (not a limited company), can sometimes use normal bank account for business, transactions with all the better terms that involves but check your terms & conditions – some banks won’t allow this.

Most banks offer the first 18months- 2 years for new business banking customers. So, you could avoid charges by simply switching banks when the free banking ends. Money supermarket shares some tips here on the best banking deals and tips to save on bank charges,

If you have an FSB membership you can qualify for free business banking with the Co-Op, worth checking as there are a lot of other benefits too.

Keeping your business finances separate is important as it helps you to be clear which expenses relate to what and should you ever get a tax inspection this will make things much easier.

Choose an online accounting cloud software package

Using a cloud-based accounting software package means you have immediate access to your financial data. There is a huge choice of online cloud bookkeeping software packages on the market. Which one you choose will depend on what your business does. We recommend Xero because we think it is user friendly, you can access your accounts anyway and you can sync it with payment portals. Plus, you can quickly get a picture of how your business is performing, payments which are outstanding and your day to day bookkeeping tasks will be reduced dramatically. You can also use this to monitor your orders and customer activity, vital knowledge about your products or services.

HMRC plans to make all business report their tax information digitally, companies who are VAT registered are already using this system. It makes sense to start using an online package now to be ready for this change. Find more about this here.

Get into a bookkeeping routine

Ensure at least once a month you ensure all transactions have been recorded, payment owed to you have been made, you have invoiced your clients, enter your expenses into your accounting system and reconcile your bank statements. If you find you are spending a lot of time doing this, it might be more cost effective to use a bookkeeping service. Discuss this with your accountant who can advise you, many accountants offer this service. Time spent doing your books could be time spent building your business. Outsourcing activities like bookkeeping often makes more sense.

Weekly
  • All invoices are raised
  • All receipts and expenses are up to date
  • Ensure supplies are paid
Monthly
  • Reconcile your bank account
  • If you have staff you will need to run your payroll
  • Chase any unpaid invoices from customers
  • Ensure all receipts and expenses are up to date for the month
Quarterly

You may have a VAT return to submit

Review your business and how it is trading

Apps to support your bookkeeping

Are you always losing receipts? Or do you find the job of entering them online boring and time consuming then there are 2 apps we recommend both are very easy to use. Check out Auto Entry or  Receipt bank

If you use your vehicle for business and find keeping track of your business mileage difficult then try using an app called MileIQ. It will save you a lot of time by logging the trips automatically. You just have to categorize them by swiping left for Personal and right for Business

Cash in no longer King

Try and get all your customer to pay via a digital payment. This makes tracking payments easier and simpler. You do not want to be holding large sums of cash on your premises anyway!  HMRC regularly target cash-based businesses as they know many do not declare their full income or keep good records. If you are a cash-based business keep very clear, detailed records and receipts.

Create a filing system

Have a folder, box file or some means of creating a filing system for paperwork relating to your business finances. Filing monthly receipts, invoices in chronological order for most businesses works best.  Keep your records safe. Sole traders must keep their paperwork for at least 5 years after the 31st January submission deadline of the relevant tax year, as if you do get an inspection HMRC may ask to see it.  Here is a guide from HMRC for sole traders about what records you must keep.

If you are a Director of a limited company, you can be fined £3,000 for not keeping adequate business records and even be disqualified. Records should be kept for at least six years from the end of the last company financial year which they relate to.

In both cases, if paperwork is missing, be sure to inform HMRC that you’re using estimated or provisional rather than actual figures.

Next Steps

Our overall advice is firstly sit down with your accountant, discuss a system which works for you both. Ensure you get into a proper routine and review your business finances on a regular basis. This way any issues or problems can be picked up and quickly corrected.

If you aren’t using an accountant- why not? They are experts in tax and most accountants will pay for themselves in the savings you make on your tax bill. Plus, by using an expert you know you are paying the correct tax! If you want some initial free advice contact us.