Is your Expense Checking System up to scratch? Reply

Angry tax inspector looking serious and determined

HMRC have guidance in EIM30275 and EIM30270 which set out what they expect, so for example, this is what they expect the expense checking process to be for a one man company

Model D – One man company

Single employee of a one man company working at a series of temporary workplaces. Claiming benchmark scale rates.

Employee maintains a diary and time sheet to confirm occasions when travelling in the performance of their duties and retains receipts in respect of subsistence costs.  An independent third party performs regular monthly checks on a sample of the employees’ records to confirm that the relevant conditions for the exemption were met on each occasion. Checks are performed at random and the employee does not know in advance which journeys will be checked.

Independent third party would generally mean your accountant, but as HMRC encourage people to file themself many One Man Companies won’t have an accountant, so who does the checking then?

Lets see what bigger companies need to do?

Model C – Small employer

Small employer with less than 100 employees who regularly travel in the duties of their employment. Employer pays benchmark rates

Employer checks a random 10% of all claims.  Checks to be independently checked and authorised, and vouched by reference to employee diaries, work schedules and time sheets to confirm that employees were travelling in the performance of their duties on the date of the claim, and receipts to demonstrate that employees had in fact incurred costs whilst travelling. Employees should be aware that they might be subject to review at any time, and not be given notice that any particular claim will be subject to review.

The employer will have to be able to satisfy HMRC that their 10% sample really is a random one – for example, every 10th claim received.  HMRC will accept the evidence produced by such an exercise as being random for the purposes of confirming that employees meet the qualifying conditions for payment of the scale rate.

Employees required to retain receipts for a period of twelve months from the date of expenditure.

I think for small employers this would probably work and is achievable.

What system do you use? Do you think HMRC would accept your system?

steve@bicknells.net

Will Making Tax Digital (MTD) make life easier for you? Reply

mtd

 

One of the big areas of concern has been over the quarterly tax reporting requirements and concerns over data accuracy, as a result, the government has given exemptions for small businesses which will mean 5.4 million small businesses won’t now need to report quarterly.

Data accuracy is going to be critical, are most businesses up to providing data in real time? RTI has worked for payroll but could it really work for accounting information? many businesses rely on their accountants and book keepers to get the information correct.

steve@bicknells.net

What expenses can the self employed claim? Reply

Business people group.

The UK has seen the fastest growth in self-employment in Western Europe over the past year, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

There are many types of expense that you can claim and HMRC have just created a new guide…

HMRC expenses

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/courses/SYOB3/syob_3_exps/html/syob_3_exps_menu.html

Pre Trading expenses

Many business owners incur in costs before they actually start in business. You can go back up to 7 years can claim costs as pre-trading expenses.

Let’s says you want to start a home based business, you need to create an office at home or build an office in the garden. This means that you have building costs as well as equipment costs before you start trading. These costs are submitted to the new business as an expense claim by the owner on the first day the business starts.

Also you might have legal cost for contracts or renting offices or equipment, you could have costs for product development, stock, samples, or even a motor vehicle.

You can check more about pre-trading expenses legislation.gov.uk or at HMRC.

However, what happens when you have paid VAT prior being VAT registered? You can reclaim any VAT you are charged on goods or services that you use to set up your business.

Normally, this will include:

  • VAT on goods you bought for your business within the last 4 years and which you have not yet sold
  • VAT on services, which you received not more than 6 months before your date of registration

You should include this VAT on your first VAT return. If you have doubts as to whether you should be VAT registered or not, take a look at VAT Notice 700/1: should I be registered for VAT.

Simplified or Actual Expenses

Simplified expenses are a way of calculating some of your business expenses using flat rates instead of working out your actual business costs. You don’t have to use simplified expenses. You can just decide if it suits your business or not.

Simplified expenses can be used by:

  • sole traders
  • business partnerships that have no companies as partners

You can use flat rates for:

  • business costs for vehicles
  • working from home
  • living in your business premises

You must calculate all other expenses by working out the actual costs.

In order to find out which method works best for you, you can use the Government expense checker

Don’t forget Capital Allowances and the Annual Investment Allowance

Buying equipment, even if it’s on finance, is a great way to reduce your tax bill, the 100% AIA can be used on the date you buy the asset.

Currently, the Annual Investment Allowance is £500,000 and this has been reduced to £200,000 in January 2016.

It is not necessary to claim the maximum capital allowances available or even claim them at all, crazy as it might sound there are situations when not claiming capital allowances can reduce your tax bill!

Sole Trader Example

The personal tax allowance is currently £10,600 (2015/16)

Let’s assume profits are £15,000 and Capital Allowances available are £5,000, so that would reduce taxable profits to £10,000 which would waste £600 of the personal tax allowance.

It would therefore be better to only claim £4,400 in capital allowances and claim the remaining £600 in the following year.

Employers are saving £6k by opting for Self Employed Freelancers…

A survey by PeoplePerHour has shown that the self-employed segment of the labour market in both the UK and USA is growing at a rate of 3.5% per year – faster than any other sector. Should this growth continue for the next five years, researchers predict that half of the working population could be self-employed freelancers by 2020.

The survey also suggests that small businesses that hire freelancers instead of full-time employees could save £6,297.17 per annum. The survey shows that the average waste or spare capacity for each employee in a SMEs is 1.9 hours per day.

The research identifies a number of key drivers behind the shift from employment to self-employment, including “the availability of ubiquitous and inexpensive computing power, sophisticated applications and cloud-based services“. [Lawdonut]

steve@bicknells.net

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Highest number of UK Businesses ever! Reply

Business people group.

According to Government figures, there has been a net increase of 146,000 businesses in the past year, taking into account all start-ups, closures, takeovers and mergers. It means more businesses have started than closed.
The Business Population Estimates also show the number of businesses that employ people has grown for the second year running, with 35,000 more at the start of 2015 than in 2014.
Small businesses continue to make up 99.3% of all businesses and generate over £1 trillion turnover for the UK’s economy.

steve@bicknells.net

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10 things a new business must do to pay less tax Reply

Entrepreneur startup business model

A record breaking 581,173 businesses were registered with Companies House in 2014 showing an accelerated increase on previous years with 526,447 and 484,224 recorded in 2013 and 2012 respectively.

In 2014 the UK had the fastest growth in Self Employed workers in Western Europe!

So what should start ups do to pay less tax?

  1. Choose the right business structure for your business – most businesses start out as sole traders but once they start making profits convert to limited companies, this is because sole traders pay more tax than company structuresComparison Calculator
  2. Choose the best VAT Scheme you might be better off with Flat Rate or Cash AccountingFlat Rate Calculator 2
  3. Get an Accountant and use accounting software – the penalties and fines for getting your tax wrong can be huge!
  4. Employ your family – Children can legally work from the age of 13 which means they can perform activities which are relevant and justifiable in your business. Each member of your family has a tax free allowance of £10,600 (2015/16).
  5. Avoid earning more than £100,000 – For all ages, the personal allowance reduces where taxable income is above £100,000 – by £1 for every £2 of income above this limit, so that the personal allowance is lost once taxable income exceeds £121,200 (2015/16).
  6. Pay into your Pension – Currently you can pay £40,000 per year into to your pension
  7. Pay Dividends – Generally directors will take a low directors fee and the rest of their income in Dividends
  8. Claim Expenses – You may well have an office at home and use your car for business
  9. Use Company Assets – Sometime the Benefit in Kind Tax works in your favour, so you could get the business to buy the assets for you to use for example a commercial vehicle or computer equipment
  10. Buy Assets – You should be able to buy assets with a loan or on credit but you will get the tax relief as soon as you take ownership

steve@bicknells.net

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Why aren’t you claiming R&D Tax Credits? 2

Business people group.

R&D Relief is a Corporation Tax relief that may reduce your company or organisation’s tax bill.

Alternatively, if your company or organisation is small or medium-sized, you may be able to choose to receive a tax credit instead, by way of a cash sum paid by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

But your company or organisation can only claim R&D Relief if it’s liable for Corporation Tax.

The Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Scheme

This scheme has higher rates of relief. Since 1 April 2015, the tax relief on allowable R&D costs is 230% – that is, for each £100 of qualifying costs, your company or organisation could have the income on which Corporation Tax is paid reduced by an additional £130 on top of the £100 spent. It also includes a payable credit in some circumstances.

The Large Company Scheme

If your company isn’t small or medium-sized, then you can only claim under the Large Company Scheme.

Since 1 April 2008, the tax relief on allowable R&D costs is 130% – that is, for each £100 of qualifying costs, your company or organisation could have the income on which Corporation Tax is paid reduced by an additional £30 on top of the £100 spent. If instead there’s an allowable trading loss for the period, this can be increased by 30% of the qualifying R&D costs – £30 for each £100 spent. This loss can be carried forwards or back in the normal way.

Government Statistics show a steady growth in claims

R&D

Construction Examples of R&D

  • The investigation into the removal of contamination from sites, including land remediation
  • Advancements in structural techniques that aid construction relating to  unusual ground conditions
  • The innovative use of green or sustainable methods and technology
  • Development or adaptation of tools to improve efficiency
  • The use of new or unique materials, e.g. recycled products
  • Improvement on existing construction methods or development of new ideas to solve ongoing issues related to the site environment or project specifications
  • Innovative architectural design

IT Systems Examples of R&D

  • The design, construction and testing of systems, devices or processes e.g. new hardware or software components, digital interface and control systems
  • Integration of legacy and new systems e.g. following a corporate merger or acquisition, the adoption of an Enterprise Architecture or externally with partners in joint ventures
  • Advances in network management and operational tools, development of wired or wireless technologies, designing mobile and interactive services, evolution of new generation network switching and control systems
  • Data intensive activities e.g. the collection, storage and analysis, distribution and retrieval. Defining or working with new or emerging data models and metadata standards, integration with third party content

These examples and more are shown on the Cost Care Website

There are also examples by Industry on the Alma CG website

http://www.taxdonut.co.uk/blog/2014/12/beginners-guide-claiming-rd-tax-credits-infographic

These are the key questions that you will be asked when requesting an R&D Tax Credit from HMRC:

  1. How was it decided that R&D had taken place
  2. A description of the scientific & technological advance sought
  3. The uncertainties involved
  4. How and when the uncertainties were resolved
  5. Why the knowledge being sought was not readily deducible by a competent professional
  6. Were any grants, subsidies or contributions received for the project within the claim
  7. Who owns the Intellectual Property of the products resulting from the R&D
  8. Was the R&D carried out for others ie clients, this could mean your claim is rejected

This HMRC Spreadsheet will help you calculate your Claim

R&D Google

steve@bicknells.net

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Why taking a dividend now, could save tax – Dividend Tax Calculator 1

Dividend Calculator 2

When you take dividends has never been more critical due to changes in the Summer Budget 2015, so if you have distributable reserves you might want to take more dividends this tax year, try the Dividend Calculator above to see how much difference it could make.

Dividend tax rates before April 2016

Tax band Effective dividend tax rate
Basic rate (20%) (and non-taxpayers) 0%
Higher rate (40%) 25%
Additional rate (45%) 30.56%

 

This will change from April 2016, see the table below

Dividend tax rates after April 2016

Tax band Effective dividend tax rate
Tax Free £5,000 0%
Basic Rate Tax Payers (20%) 7.5%
Higher Rate Tax Payers (40%) 32.5%
 Additional Rate Tax Payers (45%)  38.1%

 

The new rules are easier to follow, the 10% tax credit in the current rules is hard for most people to follow.

There is a Dividend Allowance factsheet which helps to explain how dividend tax will be calculated.

But be warned!

While these rates remain below the main rates of income tax, those who receive significant dividend income – for example due to very large shareholdings (typically more than £140,000) or as a result of receiving significant dividends through a closed company – will pay more.

So far we don’t know how much more!

steve@bicknells.net

It’s a Pool Car isn’t it? Reply

Black Elegant Vintage Car

Yet again, we have another case on Pool Cars which could have been prevented had the right procedures been put in place.

The Case was decided in May 2015 and involved Mark and Trudie Holmes and their company KMS Logistics (UK) Ltd. The company owned 7 prestige cars which were used assist in maintaining and attracting clients.

There was no prohibition (not even a verbal one) on the private use of the vehicles, mileage logs showed that the cars were mainly used by Mr & Mrs Holmes. Until 2003/4 they had been declared as a benefit in kind but then the stopped being declared! There even seemed to be confusion over who owned the cars.

So not surprising Mr & Mrs Holmes lost the case.

Read the full details by clicking here

So what should you do to prove there is no private use:

  1. Keep the car on the company’s business premises
  2. Keep the keys at the company’s business premises
  3. Prepare a Board Minute
  4. Make sure your contract of employment bans private use
  5. Keep a mileage log
  6. Insure the car principally for business use

HMRC have specific rules on keeping vehicles at home in EIM23465

Even if you do meet the 60% rule you still have to prove ‘no private use’

steve@bicknells.net

 

 

Small Business Saturday 2015 – Register Now! 2

Small-Business-Saturday-UK-Facebook-Banner-2015-White

The UK’s most successful small business campaign, Small Business Saturday, has been launched and this year it will be on Saturday 5th December.

In 2014, approximately 16.5 million adults supported at least one small business on Small Business Saturday, with almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of the British people aware of the campaign.

The organisers say…

We want all kinds of small businesses to get involved, so know that whether you are a family business, local shop, online business, wholesaler, business service or small manufacturer, Small Business Saturday is supporting you!

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities. The day itself takes place on the first shopping Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses. In 2015 Small Business Saturday will take place on Saturday, December 5th.

Sign up and get involved https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com/

steve@bicknells.net

What do FD’s want their ERP system to do? Finance Transformation 1

ERP CIMA

The chart (Figure 8) is an extract from the CIMA report on Improving Decision Making in Organisations, it demonstrates the huge potential to reduce costs by implementing systems and shows how the role of FD’s is changing to become business partners participating in decision making.

So how does ERP reduce cost and improve profitability

Top Tips for your ERP Implementation:

  1. Start by drawing up a specification of your requirements – what do you want to achieve with the new system, what is the scope of the system, where will cost savings be made, how could more information lead to better decision making?
  2. Get Buy In – its really important that the ERP system gets the support of the Senior Management Team and that key staff are given the chance to put forward their ideas and are involved in the project. People are often resistant to change and getting them involved early will breakdown barriers to change.
  3. Rationalise – changing systems is an ideal chance to look at how can you do things differently and stop doing things that don’t add value, this will also reduce potential customisation requirements
  4. Allocate time to the project – If you don’t allocate time to the implementation project you will regret it later but that doesn’t mean you need to do everything yourself, budget to bring in temps and consultants to help
  5. Measure the savings and benefits – make sure you achieve your goals

Below are details of the Dynamics NAV system I implemented in 2007

SJB Tekton

steve@bicknells.net