Making Tax Digital: The Countdown Begins!

If you need to complete accounts and/or submit tax returns to HMRC, you need to know about Making Tax Digital, which starts next year. It’s the biggest change to tax since the introduction of self assessment in 1996.

Computer Mouse for Online AccountingWhat is Making Tax Digital?

This initiative will require businesses and landlords to use commercial software to maintain their business records and update HMRC quarterly.

What’s involved?

The team at Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants in Dunstable have summarised the key points of Making Tax Digital:

·       Your tax affairs are updated every three months, so no cramming it all in at the end of the year

·       Cloud software records all money in and out of your business bank account

·       You have an idea of your tax bill every quarter

·       Tax planning is easier

·       Compulsory use of technology

·       More reporting deadlines

“Making Tax Digital is good news for businesses overall,” explains Suzanne Spicer of the Chartered Accountancy practice. “It’s a huge change and many people will need to change their systems to meet the reporting requirements. However online accounting systems such as Xero offer big benefits to businesses and the self-employed. As well as easier record keeping and financial planning, digital accounting saves precious time on a day-to-day basis.”

When Will It Start?

Making Tax Digital is just a few months away! 

A phased introduction will start in April 2019. This first phase will involve businesses registered for VAT with a taxable turnover above the VAT registration threshold of £85,000. These businesses will need to keep VAT records digitally and file their VAT returns using compatible software, (this includes Xero and others).

From April 2020 (at the earliest), all other taxes – such as income tax and corporation tax – will be included. This will affect businesses and individuals with an annual turnover of more than £10,000.

How Will Making Tax Digital Work?

Firstly, businesses will be issued with a digital tax account.

Some information will automatically flow into the digital tax account (such as bank interest). Data will need to be checked and then any gaps in income and expenses completed before filing with HMRC.

What Happens Now?

Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants recommend three steps to prepare for Making Tax Digital:

1.     Check when you must start filing quarterly returns (April 2019 or April 2020)

2.     Investigate online accounting software options (if you don’t already use one)

3.     Keep up-to-date 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.

“The transition to the Making Tax Digital requirements will be much easier if your records are on a cloud platform accessible to both yourself and your accountant,” explains Suzanne. “Now is the time to make the changes – especially if you are VAT-registered and have a turnover of more than £85,000.”

She adds: “Above all, remember that we’re here to help with understanding how Making Tax Digital will affect your business and answer any queries about cloud-based accounting.”

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.

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.

Payroll Doesn’t Need to be Painful!

As soon as your business employs somebody, you need to meet your obligations as an employer. Payroll Services will be one of the aspects to consider. This affects anyone who employs at least one person – including individual directors who pay themselves via their limited company.

Payroll isn’t confined to limited companies. Services are needed when sole traders and partnerships employ someone too.

Good news! Payroll can be much easier than you think!

Our friendly experts are helping businesses throughout Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Houghton Regis, Luton and beyond. We hope that the payroll information below will help you too.

Payroll is More Than a Payslip!

Of course, paying employees is the main goal of payroll services. But – it’s paying everyone the right amount that counts. There are several aspects to take care of:

1. Deductions
There are laws and legislation which dictate how much Income Tax and National Insurance should be deducted from each person’s salary and paid to HMRC.

2. Pension Contributions
The new auto-enrolment Pension Scheme is impacting on businesses. Minimum contributions are being introduced gradually over time. You will usually pay pension scheme contributions either as a fixed amount or based on a percentage of earnings. These percentages are set to increase over time. Currently a minimum of 1% for employees and 1% for employers are paid into the chosen pension scheme. Further information about auto-enrolment is available at the Pension Regulator’s website.

3. Employee Changes
From new joiners to leavers and employees on sick/maternity/paternity leave… staff changes can affect the payroll system operating within the business. You need to be aware of the current requirements and levels at all times.

Payroll can be run weekly/fortnightly/monthly depending on the needs of your business. Linked to payroll services, we can offer advice for directors of companies about taking tax efficient wages alongside dividends.

Payroll and Beyond…

Many businesses especially value the services beyond the number crunching. Our clients enjoy peace of mind due to the extra support that’s available from our Payroll Services team, such as:

1. Pension Schemes
We can provide full support and help to set up your pension scheme, including:
– providing letters and information to your staff about your auto-enrolment
– enrolling employees in the chosen pension scheme and completing your compliance
declaration – which is a legal requirement
– updates on changes with the workplace pensions

2. PAYE Updates and HMRC Advice
You’ll receive monthly information regarding PAYE and National Insurance amounts due. Plus we offer support and advice about how to make payments to HMRC in the correct time frame to avoid penalties. Plus, we’ll provide P45’s and P60’s when required.

3. Employment Allowance Claim – up to a maximum of £3,000
Employers are entitled to claim £3,000 allowance each tax year. This allowance helps towards your contributions reducing payments throughout the year. Are you claiming yours?

4. HMRC Liaison
Do you need to raise a query with HMRC? Maybe ask questions about reclaiming statutory payments such as Statutory Maternity Pay? Or have queries regarding PAYE payments and account details? Help is at hand! We will call HMRC on your behalf with any queries regarding your payroll scheme.

5. Real Time Information Reporting (RTI)
RTI was introduced in April 2013 – the largest change to PAYE since it was first introduced in 1944. We track and send submissions to HMRC ensuring they are sent on time in line with RTI requirements. This is a legal requirement of employers and if PAYE information is not reported on time it is subject to penalties.

6. Legislation Updates
Notification of changes in the law like the change in minimum wage rates and ensure that as an employer you are in line with the law. The National Minimum Wage is set to increase again in April 2019:
– 25yrs+ over will increase from £7.83 to £8.21 an hour.
– 21-24yrs will increase from £7.38 to £7.70 an hour.
– 18-20yrs will increase from £5.90 to £6.15 an hour.
– Under 18yrs will increase from £4.20 to £4.35 an hour.
– Apprentice will increase from £3.70 to £3.90 an hour.

Why Outsource Payroll?

To save money and time! These are the key reasons that clients ask us to look after their payroll. Involving our expert support also offers you tremendous peace of mind. Outsourcing ensures that your business:
– complies with current legislation
– avoids late filing penalties
– operates a Payroll system that is accurate and correct
– receive full support with payroll – from wage slips to leavers and starters as well as pensions
and payments to HMRC

At Spicer & Co, we believe that every business is unique. Talk to us about our Payroll Services, without obligation. We’ll offer a flexible and tailored payroll package that allows peace of mind with friendly experts on hand for any questions or queries.

If you’re based in the Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Houghton Regis or Luton areas, call in and find out more. We’re always happy to put the kettle on!

National Minimum Wage: Avoid Hefty Payroll Fines

HMRC sets a national minimum wage to ensure that everyone is paid and treated fairlIMAGE - employeesy in the workplace.

Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage not only have to pay back arrears of wages to the worker at current minimum wage rates but also face financial penalties of up to 200% of arrears, capped at £20,000 per worker.

As well as facing financial penalties, those who don’t pay their employees correctly and have payroll arrears of more than £100 are ‘named and shamed’ in a public government list. The list is available online and draws the attention of the national press. The most recent list included nearly 240 employers. £1.44m in back pay was identified for 22,400 workers, with the employers fined additional £1.97m.

The list was topped by Sportswift Limited, trading as Card Factory (failed to pay £430,097.87 to 10,256 workers) and T.J. Morris Limited, trading as Home Bargains, (failed to pay £272,228.44 to 6,743 workers).

Be aware that it isn’t just large companies and big numbers that are named publically. The list includes sports clubs, car washes, care services, newsagents and restaurants – a convenience store was listed as owing £102.19 to one worker.

Low Paying Sectors

HMRC regularly targets sectors for investigation:

– Hospitality: 43 employers named for underpaying 5,726 workers a total of £460,459
– Hairdressing: 19 employers named for underpaying 152 workers a total of £43,938
– Retail: 18 employers named for underpaying 85 workers a total of £27,332

IMAGE - equestrian rosette wining horseAnother group in the spotlight is the equestrian sector. Some riders have been fined more than £30,000 for failing to pay their staff the National Minimum Wage (NMW). Lucy Katan, executive director of the British Grooms Association (BGA) and Equestrian Employers Association (EEA) told Horse & Hound magazine: “Non-compliant employers need to watch out, HMRC is coming to get them and they are putting their businesses at risk. The equestrian industry is not immune and as more and more people become aware [that employers must pay the NMW], more people will go to HMRC and they will investigate.”

What is the Current National Minimum Wage?

Age

– 25 years and over – £7.83

– 21 to 24 years – £7.38

– 18 to 20 years – £5.90

– Under 18 years – £4.20

Plus

– Apprentice – £3.70

(Please note that these rates are correct as of April 2018 and will change in April 2019.)

Are You Paying Your Employees Correctly?

Talk to the friendly team at Spicer & Co. We are proactive payroll experts and cut through the jargon of legislation to explain exactly what’s involved with paying your team the right amount at the right time. Contact us for an initial chat without obligation. We’re here to help.

Spicer & Co: Hand-Picked Chartered Accountants

Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants is pleased to announce that its accountancy firm is now part of Handpicked Accountants. This is an online portal which connects company directors and small business owners with qualified, reputable and trustworthy accountants in their local areas.

Wordle about accountancy“Handpicked Accountants is more than simply an online directory of accountants,” says Suzanne Spicer, Chartered Accountant and founder of Spicer & Co.

To help you make an informed choice, Handpicked Accountants has identified around 1,000 of the most reliable, reputable and experienced accountants across the UK; enabling you to search on a local level for the accountancy services you require.

“We work across the Dunstable, Luton, Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis areas,” explains Suzanne. “For example, if you’re looking for accountant near Leighton Buzzard to help you or your business, it’s much safer to talk to someone who has been recommended – that’s where Handpicked Accountants can help.”

Accountancy meetingHandpicked Accountants has carefully chosen a network of recommended, experienced professionals who can be trusted to do a good job, stating: “We believe that choosing an accountant is one of the key business decisions you will make. It is imperative that you can talk freely on a professional and, also, social level. Good open communication is important because you need to be able to pick up the phone and have a chat about how your business is going to grow over the medium to long term.”

You can read Spicer & Co’s profile on Handpicked Accountants here.

And the winner is… Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants!

Last Thursday was a special evening full of glamour, excitement and anticipation –  it was the awards ceremony for this year’s SME Bedfordshire Business Awards.

Dunstable’s Spicer & Co team was involved with three categories. The chartered accountancy practice was competing for two awards and its networking group, Pride of Dunstable, for another accolade. (Read more about our three nominations.)

Well… we did it!

Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants are award winners

Spicer & Co won the Dunstable Business of Year Award PLUS Pride of Dunstable was named as “Networking Group of the Year”. Wow!

Business Award winner logoThe judges commented that Spicer & Co is an “impressive Dunstable business – customer focussed and highly involved in local community.” Pride of Dunstable was described as “an enjoyable, fun looking supper club, proud of their town.” What amazing feedback!

Suzanne and Steve Spicer of Spicer & Co were at the ceremony to collect the awards. “We had a fabulous evening, made perfect by being announced as winners! We would like to congratulate all the winners and above all, we would like to thank our team for their hard work and our clients for their support.  This really is an incredible result – we are so proud!”

To discuss any accountancy needs and discover why Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants is Dunstable’s best business, call in for a no-obligation chat. We finished the bubbly, however we promise to put the kettle on!

Accounting Excellence Award Nomination for Spicer & Co

2018 is turning out to be the year of awards for Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants! Fresh from being nominated for two SME Business Awards and two British Accounting Marketing Awards, the Dunstable practice is proud to be shortlisted for the 2018 Accounting Excellence Awards.

“We are thrilled to be nominated for the Best Small Practice award,” says Suzanne Spicer, founder of Spicer & Co and Chartered Accountants. “This is a hotly contested category with only six finalists chosen from across the UK.”

The Practice category of Accounting Excellence Awards is for accounting firms that are leading the way with forward-thinking, innovative growth strategies, and are pushing the standards of excellence in the profession.

Accounting Excellence is AccountingWEB’s programme of excellence, inspiration and celebration for the accounting profession. Now in its eighth year, AccountingWEB’s annual awards programme has evolved to reflect the contribution of the whole accounting industry.

The winners of the coveted awards will be announced at a glittering black-tie event on 20 September in London. The team at Spicer & Co will have their glad rags on and everything crossed.

“Obviously it would be great to win the award,” adds Suzanne. “However we are so proud to be finalists that we’ll be definitely be celebrating – as winner or finalist!”

Business Award Recognition for Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants

Spicer & Co is proud to be involved as a finalist in three categories of this year’s SME Bedfordshire Business Awards.

SME Bedfordshire Business awards logo“Competing for three awards is amazing!” says Suzanne Spicer who founded the accountancy practice in 2001, working with clients across Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Houghton Regis and Luton. “We are proud finalists for two awards as Spicer & Co and are especially delighted that our networking group ‘Pride of Dunstable’ is a finalist in the ‘Networking Group of the Year’ category.”

Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants are finalists in the categories:

·       Bedford Borough Council Business of the Year less than 50 Employees Award and

·       Dunstable Business of the Year Award

Speaking about the award nominations, Suzanne adds: “Community, collaboration and equality are very important to us, underpinning how we work with our clients and get involved with our local community. It’s great that these qualities have been recognised by the judges.”

Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants jointly created Pride of Dunstable, a networking group for professional businesses based in Dunstable. Steve Spicer is Vice President of the group. He says: “Pride of Dunstable holds regular networking events to support our clients and other local organisations to build their businesses and work with each other. To be a finalist for the SME Bedfordshire Business Awards is a tremendous achievement and everyone involved with the networking group is very excited about the awards evening.”

The winners of each category will automatically go through to the finals of the SME National Business Awards a Wembley in December – a huge opportunity for recognition on a UK-wide scale.

A glittering awards ceremony takes place on 5th July 2018 where the winners will be announced. Here at Spicer & Co we’ll be crossing everything and enjoying our big night out!

Dunstable’s Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants is a Double Accounting Awards Finalist!

Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants has been selected as a finalist in two of the 2018 British Accounting Marketing Awards.

“We are delighted to announce our selection as a finalist in two categories of the British Accounting Marketing Awards 2018,” says Suzanne Spicer of the Dunstable-based practice. “We are one of only three finalists selected from across the UK in both the Event Marketing and Brand Building categories.”

Suzanne is the founder of Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants. She adds: “Being selected as a finalist in these inaugural awards is a team achievement and one which we’re very proud of. We are very enthusiastic about our marketing and are keen to ensure its style and content reflects the approachable, professional service that we provide to all of our clients.”

The British Accounting Marketing Awards, organised by TwentyTwo Agency in association with Accountex and My Firms App, showcase the best marketing from firms the length and breadth of the UK. They acknowledge firms who have made significant steps in connecting with, educating and providing value to their audience in innovative and inspiring ways.

The finalists across the four award categories are those who have made the biggest impression and impact over the past 12 months.

The finalists will now vie to be crowned the winner at the BAMA’s award presentation on May 23rd at Excel London.