Blog & Events

Dividend Tax – All Change from April 2018

What is Dividend Tax?

If you own shares in a private or a public limited company, you may receive dividends. This dividend income is taxable, and the tax on it is called dividend tax.

New Tax Threshold for Dividend Income

Currently, each person can receive £5,000 tax-free dividend income per person. From 6th April 2018, this amount is changing. The amount of dividend income you will be able to receive tax free as an individual will reduce to £2,000 per annum. This change will apply to all shareholders – from pure investors to director shareholders.

“Many small business owners trade through their own limited company and pay themselves via a small salary plus a dividend out of the retained profits of the business,” explains Suzanne Spicer of Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants in Dunstable. “The new, lower threshold for applying dividend tax may mean that a review is needed. This will ensure that each owner’s business and personal finances remain as tax-efficient as possible.”

This new threshold for applying tax to dividend income is expected to raise an extra £800m to £900m per year for the Treasury. (Source – budget documentation.)

Dividend Tax Exemptions & Rates

Dividend income from ISA investments is exempt from tax. Your first £2,000 income from non-ISA dividends is also tax-free. If you receive more than £2,000 income from your dividends, the tax rates that apply are:

– 5 per cent for basic-rate taxpayers

– 5 per cent for higher-rate taxpayers

– 1 per cent for additional-rate taxpayers.

How Does This Change Affect Small Limited Companies?

Small businesses often face the choice of being set up as a limited company, or operating as a sole trader/partnership. “Despite the changes to dividend tax, it is still more tax efficient to be a limited company at certain levels of income,” says Suzanne. “It’s best to check with your accountant, as your circumstances beyond your dividend income should be considered.”

Is Savings Interest Affected?

There is no imminent change to how your interest from your savings is taxed, although we think that dividends will be brought into line with savings eventually.

The threshold for paying interest on savings income is:

– £1,000 for basic rate taxpayers

– £500 for higher rate taxpayers

– Nil for additional rate taxpayers (all savings interest income will be taxable)

What Should You Do Now?

If you’d like to discuss how the change in dividend income tax thresholds affect you and/or your business, pop in for a chat. We’re here to help and always welcome the chance for a coffee!

Flipping Good Fun at Dunstable’s Pancake Race!

We were delighted to help organise this year’s pancake race in Dunstable. Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants teamed up with local estate agent Deakin-White to jointly host the event which took place this week.

The pancake race was fiercely and competitive and great fun, with 18 teams taking part, including our own! The event was open to local businesses or community groups – each team of four people paid a £20 entry fee. Proceeds went to the Mayor of Dunstable’s charities: the Dunstable and District Scout Council, Hospice at Home Volunteers and South Bedfordshire Dial-a-Ride.



“This is a great way of bringing people in Dunstable together to have fun and support some good local causes,” says Steve Spicer of Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants in Dunstable, (spot ‘Speedy Steve’ in the photo above!).

Congratulations go to the winners and joint organisers, Deakin-White. Take a look at their video of the event – and start practising your pancake flipping for next year!

Brilliant Book-Keeping

Keeping track of purchases and collecting receipts is a headache for most businesses. Spicer & Co Charted Accountants help businesses across Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard with their book-keeping and accounts. Their book-keeping advice? If in doubt keep all of your receipts – even they are simply stored in a box.

Why do you need every single receipt? “We will know what you can claim for – and what you can’t” explains Suzanne Spicer of Spicer & Co Charted Accountants. “If we don’t see the receipts then we don’t know what you’re spending your money on – you may be missing an opportunity!”

Three Big Reasons for Brilliant Book-Keeping

Not many of us enjoy book-keeping! However there are distinct advantages to being efficient and up-to-date with your records…

1. Late payments – the earlier you notice that a payment is late, the sooner you can chase it, helping your cash flow.

2. Accuracy – efficient book-keeping enables you to see what’s happening in your business, spotting any anomalies. This is vital as inaccurate book-keeping can harm your business and lead to penalties.

3. Action – identifying who hasn’t paid you is vital information you need to run your business.  You can send timely reminder asking for payment.  Up to date info enables you to look ahead more easily and plan for your business.

Four Common Book-Keeping Questions

1. Is frequency important?

Smaller businesses can usually manage with monthly book-keeping, however larger organisations should probably move to weekly or even daily record keeping. This is much quicker and easier than you may think thanks to cloud-based software.

2. What records should I keep?

The list will vary according to the type and size of business you are running. Common requirements are:

– Sales invoices

– Purchase invoices

– Expense receipts

– Mileage log

– Cash receipts

3. Should I keep paper copies of receipts, invoices and bank statements?

You only need to keep paper invoices if you don’t have electronic copies archived. Documents need to be kept for a number of years. If you are keeping them electronically, you need to make sure they are backed up securely. You can record invoices electronically by scanning them to the cloud (e.g. Dropbox), or send them to a service like Autoentry or Receipt Bank and they scan these for you.  You can even take a photo on your mobile phone and send to a cloud bookkeeping package such as Xero.

If you are sent paper copies of bank statements then you should keep these.

4. Why should I consider cloud-based book-keeping?

Cloud book-keeping is bookkeeping on the move, keeping up to date wherever you are.  You could be travelling to a job, on holiday on a beach somewhere, or at home with a cup of coffee – just login to your cloud bookkeeping package and you have your numbers at your fingertips.  For example, you could find out: who owes you money, who you owe money to, your business’ bank balance, how much profit you’ve made so far this month or year, how much you’ve invoiced and much more. You can even find out how much your VAT bill is going to be (the dreaded question)!

Summarising Book-Keeping

So much technology available now that it’s possible to link a couple of systems to make life simple.  Suzanne Spicer of Spicer & Co explains: “Instead of ending up with a carrier bag full of messy receipts, you can use a service like Autoentry or Receipt Bank to scan the invoices into bookkeeping software such as Xero or Quickbooks.  You can email, scan or take photos and send to Autoentry or Receipt Bank, and then they appear in Xero or Quickbooks. In today’s digital world, systems can link together to create the best solution for your business.”

Is book-keeping causing your business a headache? We have the perfect remedy – a chat and a coffee with the friendly team at Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants. Pop in for a no-obligation chat and we’ll happily offer you some book-keeping advice… and put the kettle on.

Level Trust’s Uniform Exchange in Luton

Level Trust is a local, Luton-based charity which exists to remove the barriers that poverty brings to a child’s education. Spicer & Co provides financial and accounting advice voluntarily to Level Trust. Suzanne Spicer is a trustee of the charity and is pleased to be actively involved with supporting the work undertaken by the organisation.

Last week, Level Trust was proud to open its new Uniform Exchange in The Mall, Luton. “Our pop-up Uniform Exchanges have always been extremely popular, so Level Trust felt that there would be a demand for a long-term space to offer this incredibly helpful service to the local community,” says Suzanne.

She explains: “We had been looking into potential space for our Uniform Exchange when The Mall’s team reached out to Level Trust to see how they could help us.”

The result? A newly decorated and fitted retail space on the first floor of The Mall in Luton. This is made possible by the wonderful volunteers who gave their time and skills to transform the unit and ensure that it’s now… officially… open!

Using Level Trust’s Uniform Exchange
Good news – anyone can use the Exchange! Simply bring along the uniform items you no longer use and swap them for those that you need.
Nothing to swap? Don’t worry – simply talk to your school and they can give you a gift card to swap instead of uniform items.
It’s easy to find! The Uniform Exchange is next to the Children’s Centre on the first floor of The Mall in Luton. It’s open on Tuesdays (1pm – 5pm), Wednesdays (2pm – 6pm) and Thursdays (12pm – 4pm).

By the way…
Level Trust is trying hard to become London Luton Airport’s next charity partner, (2018 – 2019). Whilst all the five nominees represent worthy causes, Level Trust is the only truly local charity involved.

If Level Trust became London Luton Airport’s charity partner, they would aim to provide 5,000 free school uniform items, 1,500 pairs of free school shoes, 1,000 free winter coats and 1,500 free learning resource packs to children in Luton who need them most.

Please support Level Trust by voting here:

Thank You.

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:

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.

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.

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: