What are the Pros and Cons of Limited Companies? 1

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What is a Limited Company?

A limited company is an organisation that you can set up to run your business – it’s responsible in its own right for everything it does and its finances are separate to your personal finances.

Any profit it makes is owned by the company, after it pays Corporation Tax. The company can then share its profits.

What is a Sole Trader?

If you start working for yourself, you’re classed as a self-employed sole trader – even if you’ve not yet told HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

As a sole trader, you run your own business as an individual. You can keep all your business’s profits after you’ve paid tax on them.

You can employ staff. ‘Sole trader’ means you’re responsible for the business, not that you have to work alone.

You’re personally responsible for any losses your business makes.

The key Advantages and Disadvantages of Companies are shown below.

Companies

How do you form a Limited Company?

You can form your company directly with Companies House for £15, it normally takes 24 hours

You’ll need:

  • the company’s name and registered address
  • names and addresses of directors (and company secretary if you have one)
  • details of shareholders and share capital

Personally, I find it easier to use a formation agent such as Company Wizard for £16.99

Often using an agent will mean the company is formed quickly, sometime within a couple of hours.

What are the next steps?

Once your company has been formed you need to:

  1. Open a bank account for the Company, this can often take a couple of weeks
  2. Register for Corporation Tax
  3. Register for other taxes (if they apply to your business) – VAT, PAYE, CIS
  4. Appoint an accountant (recommended but not compulsory) – Form 64-8
  5. Set up your accounting software
  6. Create shareholder agreements, contracts and other legal documents (if required)

 

steve@bicknells.net

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When should you recognise revenue on services provided? Reply

Profitability

The International Accounting Standard IAS 18 states

‘where the outcome of a transaction involving the rendering of services can be estimated reliably, associated revenue should be recognised by reference to the stage of completion of the transaction at the end of the reporting period’ . In other words, the revenue is recognised gradually, rather than all at one ‘critical point’, as is the case for revenue from the sale of goods. IAS 18 further states that the outcome of a transaction can be estimated reliably when all the following conditions are satisfied:

(a) The amount of revenue can be measured reliably.
(b) It is probable that the economic benefits associated with the transaction will flow to the seller.
(c) The stage of completion of the transaction at the end of the reporting period can be measured reliably.
(d) The costs incurred to date for the transaction and the costs to complete the transaction can be measured reliably.

IAS 18 does not prescribe one single method that should be used for determining the stage of completion of a service transaction. However the standard does provide some examples of suitable methods:
(a) Surveys of work performed.
(b) Services performed to date as a percentage of total services to be performed.
(c) The proportion that costs incurred to date bear to the estimated total costs of the transaction.

If it is not possible to reliably measure the outcome of a transaction involving the provision of services (perhaps because the transaction is in its very early stages) then revenue should be recognised only to the extent of costs incurred by the seller, assuming these costs are recoverable from the buyer.

In the UK UITF40 and SSAP9 defined the way we report revenue and profit in relation to Services, although accountants and lawyers were among the most high profile casualties of the new regime back in 2005, which forced them to re-catagorise WIP and Revenue, many other service providers  also had to consider how they accounted for income. Professionals such as surveyors, architects, doctors and dentists all had to consider the impact of the new rules on their tax liabilities.

FRS102 has not changed the rules.

Revenue Recognition

steve@bicknells.net

Can you save tax by transferring your self employed losses to a company? 1

business man in a crisis

If you are self employed and your business makes losses you have the following options to use the losses:

  1. You can reduce your current year tax bill
  2. You can offset it against earlier years (up to 3 years)
  3. You can carry your loss forward

You can’t claim:

  • if you use cash basis
  • where you don’t run your business commercially for profit
  • for part of a loss (you must claim the loss in full) – so it could wipe out your personal allowance
  • if you are part of a limited liability partnership
  • where your losses are tax-generated

If you transfer your business in exchange for shares to another company, you can use any unused losses against your income from the new company.

Further details in HS227

What this might mean is that as a sole trader you waste your personal allowance because your profits are offset to zero by losses, however, if you had a company that paid you £10,600 you would keep your personal tax free allowance and be able to use the losses against the remaining profit.

The rules for company losses are noted below.

Trading losses that you’ve not used in any other way will be offset against profits from the same trade in future accounting periods. You don’t have to make any claim for this to happen. It’s done automatically if you fill in your Company Tax Return.

Corporation Tax Act 2010, Section 45

Carry forward of trade loss against subsequent trade profits

(1)This section applies if, in an accounting period, a company carrying on a trade makes a loss in the trade.

(2)Relief for the loss is given to the company under this section.

(3)The relief is given for that part of the loss for which no relief is given under section 37 or 42 (“the unrelieved loss”).

(4)For this purpose—

(a)the unrelieved loss is carried forward to subsequent accounting periods (so long as the company continues to carry on the trade), and

(b)the profits of the trade of any such period are reduced by the unrelieved loss so far as that loss cannot be used under this paragraph to reduce the profits of an earlier period.

(5)In this section and section 46 references to profits of the trade are references to profits of the trade chargeable to corporation tax.

(6)Relief under this section is subject to restriction or modification in accordance with provisions of the Corporation Tax Acts.

 

steve@bicknells.net

How does s455 tax apply to Directors Loans? what if you ‘bed and breakfast’ the loan? 1

Scaring amounts

Directors (participators in a closed company) often borrow money from their companies with the intention of paying a dividend to repay the loan.

If the loan is outstanding more than 9 months after the company year end, then an extra 25% corporation tax charge is due, this is the s455 tax which is refunded when the loan is repaid as explained in this blog

https://stevejbicknell.com/2015/02/04/new-tax-procedure-for-directors-loans-s-455/

HMRC were concerned that some participators were avoiding this tax by raising funds short term to repay an outstanding loan.  They would then draw a new loan very shortly afterwards – HMRC refer to this as “bed and breakfasting”. New anti-avoidance rules were therefore  introduced in 2013.

These new rules incorporate two provisions – the “30-day rule” and the “intentions and arrangements” rule.

30-day rule

This applies where within a 30-day period:

  • a shareholder makes repayments of their s455 loan; and
  • in a subsequent accounting period, new loans or advances are made to the same shareholder or their associate.

So basically prevents the use of ‘Bed & Breakfasting’

‘intentions and arrangements’ Rule

Relief is denied regardless of the 30 day rule, if prior to repayment there is an outstanding amount of at least £15,000 and at the time the amount is repaid to the company, any person intended to redraw any of that amount or had made arrangements to make a new withdrawal; and a new withdrawal is made.
The relief denied is the lower of the amount repaid and the amount redrawn.

 

steve@bicknells.net

New reporting requirements for intermediaries Reply

with computer

An intermediary is any person who makes arrangements for an individual to work for a third party or be paid for work done for a third party. An employment intermediary is also commonly referred to as an agency.

From 6 April 2015, intermediaries must return details of all workers they place with clients where they don’t operate Pay As You Earn (PAYE) on the workers’ payments. The return will be a report (or reports) that must be sent to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) once every 3 months.

Agencies will be required to let HMRC know the following details:

  • Contractor’s name, address, date of birth, etc.
  • PAYE reference.
  • National Insurance number.
  • How the contractor was engaged during the period (i.e. was he working via a limited company).
  • The duration of each assignment.
  • Details of the contractor’s limited company (e.g. company registered number).
  • How much was paid to the contractor.

The regulations will give HMRC information that will enable it to decrease false self-employment and abuse of offshore working. This will help HMRC to:

  • support intermediaries that comply
  • penalise intermediaries that don’t comply
  • make sure the right tax and National Insurance is paid by people working through intermediaries
  • reduce unfair commercial advantage

Here is link to the full reporting requirements – Legislation Link

This is the link to consultation – Consultation

steve@bicknells.net

Can you claim a tax allowance for clothing? 2

You need to follow the code

 

Employees may be able to get tax relief if they – and not their employer – spend money on any tools or specialist clothing they need to be able to do your job. Employees can go back several years to get the relief – the time you’ve got depends on whether you’ve previously sent in a Self Assessment tax return.

As a general rule an employee can’t get tax relief for the cost of clothing they wear to work – but there are some exceptions. For example, if you work in a sector like the building trade or the metal working industry you’ll have to wear protective clothing like:

  • overalls
  • gloves
  • boots
  • helmets

If you must pay for the cost of repairing, cleaning or replacing this type of specialist clothing yourself and your employer doesn’t reimburse you, then you are entitled to tax relief. However, you cannot claim for the initial cost of buying this clothing.

EIM32712 sets out some flat rate expenses that can be claimed and EIM32485 allows £60 per year for laundry.

If you are an employee who wants to claim the laundry allowance you should send HMRC a letter as follows:

Re: Uniform Tax Rebate

I have been employed at……… since….. My job title is ……. and I wear a company uniform.

I am obliged to launder the uniform, which is supplied to me by the company. I therefor wish to claim any payment to cover the laundry costs.

The uniform provided is not suitable to be worn outside of the work environment due to having the company logo on it.

I would like to receive the rebate in the form of a cheque….

Self Employed workers have tried to claim for clothes but whilst HMRC have allowed claims for ‘Uniforms’ and ‘Costumes’ they have rejected claims for everyday clothes.

BIM37910 explains to HMRC Inspectors…

You should disallow expenditure on ordinary clothing worn by a trader during the course of their trade. This remains so even where particular standards of dress are required by, for example, the rules of a professional body.

The case of Mallalieu v Drummond [1983] 57 TC 330 (which is discussed in detail below) established that no deduction is available from trading profits for the costs of clothing which forms part of an ‘everyday’ wardrobe. This remains so even where the taxpayer can show that they only wear such clothing in the course of their profession. It is irrelevant that the person chooses not to wear the clothing in question on non-business occasions, the only question is whether the clothing might suitably be worn as part of a hypothetical person’s ‘everyday’ wardrobe.

Most professionals have to keep up appearances but their clothing costs are not allowable (even where they amount to a quasi uniform as in Mallalieu v Drummond).

The cost of clothing that is not part of an ‘everyday’ wardrobe (for example a nurse’s uniform or evening dress (‘tails’) worn by a professional waiter) faces no such bar to deduction.

You should therefore allow a deduction for protective clothing and uniforms.

This was recently tested by Sian Williams who claimed, unsuccessfully…

In her 2004/05 tax return, a newsreader claimed certain deductions from employment income with the BBC for “travel and subsistence costs”, and “other expenses and capital allowances”.

Of these, the following were in dispute:

  • Professional hairdo and colouring £975
  • Professional clothing for studio    £3,231
  • Laundry of professional clothes   £325

She also claimed that as a taxpayer she had the right to be treated fairly, HMRC should offer up details of the amounts which had been agreed as allowable expenses for other news readers and entertainers.

See articles by Ross Martin and the Guardian

 

steve@bicknells.net

What are the differences between employees and contractors? Reply

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics last week, self-employment is at its highest level since records began almost 40 years ago.

There are currently 4.6 million people self-employed, with the proportion of the total workforce that are making a living for themselves sitting at 15%, compared to 13% in 2008 and less than 10% in 1975.

As highlighted by Everreach and the Daily Mail.

A worker’s employment status, that is whether they are employed or self-employed, is not a matter of choice. Whether someone is employed or self-employed depends upon the terms and conditions of the relevant engagement.

Many workers want to be self-employed because they will pay less tax, this calculator gives you a quick comparison between being employed, self employed or taking dividends in a limited company.

HMRC have a an employment status tool to help you determine whether a worker can be self-employed or should be an employee http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/calcs/esi.htm

Workers

steve@bicknells.net

Are you ready for the OTS to check your employment status? Reply

And now round two of justify it

Contractor Weekly reported on th 29th July 2014…

As part of the ongoing mission to create a simpler and fairer tax system the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has been tasked with carrying out reviews of employment status and also tax penalties, with a view to producing a report in time for next year’s Budget.

According to the OTS, the boundary between employment and self-employment no longer reflects modern working patterns, particularly in recent years. Many people have multiple jobs and can be classed as employed in one whilst self-employed in another. The rise of the freelancing business model has also caused some to suggest this is a ‘third way’ between employment and self-employment.

A worker’s employment status, that is whether they are employed or self-employed, is not a matter of choice. Whether someone is employed or self-employed depends upon the terms and conditions of the relevant engagement.

Many workers want to be self-employed because they will pay less tax, this calculator gives you a quick comparison between being employed, self employed or taking dividends in a limited company.

HMRC have a an employment status tool to help you determine whether a worker can be self-employed or should be an employee http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/calcs/esi.htm

It will be interesting to see the report that the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) produce, especially if they find a ‘third way’

steve@bicknells.net

Key Points from the Autumn Statement 2013 Reply

Tax Money

The Chancellor George Osborne presented the Autumn Statement to the House of Commons on 5th December 2013 and things are getting better, economic growth forecasts for this year have more than doubled from 0.6% to 1.4% but the austerity plan is set to continue.

Here is a summary of the key announcements:

Business Rates

Business rate increases in England will be capped at 2% in 2014/15 (they were set to increase by 3.2%) and businesses will be able to pay over 12 months rather than 10.

The Retail Sector will also get a £1,000 discount in 2014/15 and 2015/16, this applies to pubs, cafes, restaurants and charity shops with a rateable value below £50,000.

A reoccupation relief of 50% is being introduced for up to 18 months on premises that have been empty for a year or more and it will apply from 1st April 2014 to 31st March 2016.

Small Business Rate Relief has been extended to April 2015 under the scheme small businesses with a rateable value of £6,000 or less can get 100% relief, the relief is scaled down to zero on rateable values of £12,000 and there is a lower multiplier on rates between £12,001 and £17,999.

Income Tax

As previously announced the personal allowance will be £10,000 for the tax year 2014/15.

From April 2015, a spouse or civil partner who is not liable to income tax will be able to transfer £1,000 of their allowance to a basic rate tax paying spouse and as a result save £200 in tax.

State Pension Age

By 2020 it will be 66, by 2028 it will be 67 and by mid 2030’s 68, then in 2040’s 69.

Capital Gains Tax

The annual exempt amount will be £11,000 for individuals for 2014/15.

But there was an exemption for principle private residence  letting for 36 months and from 6th April 2014 it will be reduced to 18 months.

Consultation will start in April on non-residents paying capital gains on property disposals.

Individual Savings Account (ISA)

The limit will rise to £11,880 for 2014/15 and of this £5,940 can be invested in cash ISA’s

Mortgage Guarantee Scheme

The scheme started in October will run for 3 years and end in January 2017.

Buyers will only need a 5% deposit and the government and the funder will guarantee 15% of the loan in return for a fee.

IR35

Legislation will be tightened from April 2014.

Anti-avoidance

A range of measures were discussed in addition to IR35 and these included:

  • Partnership Tax
  • Controlled foreign companies
  • Charities
  • High risk tax avoidance schemes
  • Dual contracts

Other headline measures

  • Employers NI for under 21’s to be scrapped in 2015
  • Rolling back green levies to allow an average saving of £50 on energy bills
  • Free school meals for infants
  • Scrapping of 1% above inflation rail fare increases
  • Electronic tax discs
  • Abolition of next years 2p per litre fuel duty rise

 

steve@bicknells.net

 

IR35 HMRC Enquiries increase – are you at risk? Reply

Scaring amounts

On the 25th November 2013, the House of Lords Select Committee on Personal Service Companies met with Rowena Fletcher (Deputy Director with special responsibility for the Employment Status Team) and Robin Wythes (Team Leader of the Employment Status Team).

You can read the full minutes by clicking on this link http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/Personal-Service-Companies/uc131125Ev1FletcherWythes.pdf

HMRC estimate there are 200,000 Personal Service Companies in the UK compared to their estimate in 1999 of 90,000. Interestingly, HMRC admit to employing 8 Occupational Phychologists through Personal Service Companies. The risk to the Exchequer is valued at £475 million and  despite the large increase in PSC’s this estimate hasn’t changed since the introduction of IR35 in 1999.

In 2012-13 opened 256 enquiries into cases believed to be high risk and the tax year 2013-14 112 cases were opened in the  first 6 months. In 2011-12 only 59 cases were opened.

Currently it is taking 28 weeks per enquiry which is faster than in previous years when it took between 110 and 140 weeks.

Currently only 5 cases under investigation which are expected to go to tribunal.

HMRC have 40 specialist staff working on IR35 Compliance, they had 1,200 calls in 2012-13 requesting advice and 80 detailed contract reviews were sought. If a contract review is carried out HMRC will issue a written certificate of opinion, the committee was assured that any contract review is totally confidential and not passed to the compliance team.

So are you happy that your PSC would be safe if HMRC carried out an enquiry?

steve@bicknells.net