How do you tell HMRC your business is active? or dormant?

When you form a new limited company HMRC will send you a letter, the letter will tell you the company UTR and it also says ‘you must tell HMRC within 3 months of starting or restarting any business activity’.

Personally I think it would much better if this was covered within the formation process, most people form a companies because they want to start business activity immediately so it would make sense that business are automatically registered or at least able to choose a date on which they will start activity, for example the start of a month, this would avoid HMRC creating multiple returns for the same year, as Corporation Tax returns can only be for 12 month period and companies are rarely formed on the 1st day of a month.

I have seen may situations where businesses forget to tell HMRC that they have started, but do submit accounts and the corporation tax return and HMRC so far HMRC have been ok with this, but that’s no guarantee that they will always be sympathetic.

What does ‘Active’ mean

Generally your company or organisation is considered to be active for Corporation Tax purposes when it is, for example:

  • carrying on a business activity such as a trade or professional activity
  • buying and selling goods with a view to making a profit or surplus
  • providing services
  • earning interest
  • managing investments
  • receiving any other income

What’s interesting is that the definition is slightly different for

  • Other Taxes
  • Company Law
  • Accounting Standards

What does ‘Dormant’ mean

Your company is called dormant by Companies House if it’s had no ‘significant’ transactions in the financial year.

Significant transactions don’t include:

  • filing fees paid to Companies House
  • penalties for late filing of accounts
  • money paid for shares when the company was incorporated

You do not need to tell Companies House if you restart trading. The next set of non-dormant accounts that you file will show that your company is no longer dormant.

Your company will be considered dormant for corporation tax purposes in any of the following circumstances:

  • It is not trading and does not receive any other income. This includes investment income.
  • It is a new limited company that hasn’t started trading yet.
  • It is a flat management company.
  • It is an unincorporated association or charity that owes less than £100 corporation tax.

A dormant company can be, for example:

  • a new company that’s not yet trading
  • an ‘off-the-shelf’ or ‘shell’ company held by a company formation agent intending to sell it on
  • a company that will never be trading because it has been formed to own an asset such as land or intellectual property
  • an existing company that has been – but is not currently – trading
  • a company that’s no longer trading and destined to be removed from the Companies Register

To remain dormant – don’t make payments

  1. If the company pays an invoice for example from the accountant that would make the business active
  2. If the company pays its formation cost then it won’t be dormant
  3. If you have employees you will be active
  4. If you pay dividends you will be active

To stay dormant pay any costs personally and not via the company.

What are the Rules for Clubs

HMRC may treat your club or unincorporated organisation as dormant for Corporation Tax purposes if it’s active but both the following conditions apply:

  • your organisation’s annual Corporation Tax liability must not be expected to exceed £100
  • you run your club or organisation exclusively for the benefit of its members

For each year of dormancy your organisation must not have any:

  • allowable trading losses for which it may want to claim relief
  • assets it’s likely to dispose of, which would give rise to a chargeable gain
  • interest or annual payments to pay out from which tax is deductible and payable to HMRC

When you think your company is dormant

If your company has stopped trading and has no other income, you can tell HMRC that it’s dormant for Corporation Tax.

If you’ve never had a ‘notice to deliver a Company Tax Return’

You can tell HMRC your company’s dormant over the phone or by post.

If you’ve filed a Company Tax Return or had a ‘notice to deliver a Company Tax Return’

You’ll still need to file a Company Tax Return online – this will show HMRC that your company is dormant for this period.

Confirmation Statements

Dormant companies still need to file the annual confirmation statement and the dormant accounts.

How do tell HMRC you are active?

Within 3 months of becoming active you need to tell HMRC, you can do this via the Government Gateway but I think its easier to write to HMRC.

Your letter must include:

  • the company’s name and registration number
  • the date the company’s accounting period started
  • the date to which the company intends to prepare accounts
  • the company’s principal place of business
  • the nature of the business being carried out by the company
  • the name and home address of each director of the company
  • if the company has taken over another business, the name and address of the former business and also the name and address of the person from whom the business was acquired
  • if the company is a member of a group of companies, the name and registered office address of the parent company
  • if the company has been obliged to comply with the Income Tax (Pay as You Earn) Regulations 2003, the date on which that obligation first arose

The letter must be:

  • signed by a company director or company secretary
  • include a declaration that the information is correct and complete to the best of their knowledge

Send your letter to:

Corporation Tax Services
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AX
United Kingdom

What about the self employed and Landlords?

If you earn over £1,000, then you will need to register.

For the self employed use form LC Forms (hmrc.gov.uk)

For Landlords use this form LC Forms (hmrc.gov.uk)

There are other forms for Partnerships

From April 2023 the Self Employed and Landlords earning over £10,000 a year will need file quarterly under Making Tax Digital rules.

steve@bicknells.net

If you were not adversely affected what happens to your SEISS?

You will have noticed on your self assessment return and partnership returns for 2021 extra boxes for showing grants.

You must tell HMRC if, when you made the claim, you were not eligible for the grant. For example:

  • for the first or second grant, your business was not adversely affected
  • for the third or fourth grant, your business had not been impacted by reduced activity, capacity or demand or inability to trade in the relevant periods
  • you did not intend to continue to trade
  • you’ve incorporated your business

You must also tell HMRC if you:

  • received more than we said you were entitled to
  • amended any of your tax returns on or after 3 March 2021 in a way which means you’re no longer eligible or are entitled to a lower fourth grant than you received

You must reasonably believe that you’ll suffer a significant reduction in trading profits due to reduced business activity, capacity, demand or inability to trade due to COVID-19- between 1 May 2021 and 30 September 2021. You must keep evidence that shows how your business has been impacted by COVID-19 resulting in less business activity than otherwise expected.

HMRC expects you to make an honest assessment about whether you reasonably believe your business will have a significant reduction in profits.

What HMRC mean by impacted by reduced activity, capacity and demand

This applies to your business if it has been impacted by reduced activity, capacity or demand due to COVID-19. For example, you:

  • have fewer customers or clients than you’d normally expect, resulting in reduced activity due to social distancing or government restrictions
  • have one or more contracts that have been cancelled and not replaced
  • carried out less work due to supply chain disruptions

You must not claim if the only impact on your business is increased costs. For example, if you’ve had to purchase face masks and cleaning supplies. This would not be considered as reduced activity, capacity or demand.

When you must tell HMRC

In most cases, if you’re not eligible and have to pay the grant back, you must tell us within 90 days of receiving the grant.

The 5th SEISS Grant

Full details of the fifth Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant, including a new turnover test which determines the level of the grant, were published by HMRC on 6th July.

Although the eligibility for the fifth grant is the same as the fourth grant, the amount of the fifth grant will be determined by how much the turnover of the business(es) have reduced compared to the turnover in the reference year.

See: Check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The fifth grant is 80% of three months’ average trading profits capped at £7,500 for those whose turnover has reduced by 30% or more. Those with a turnover reduction of less than 30% will receive a grant based on 30% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850.

We have been waiting for the precise rules for determining turnover, but HMRC guidance provides more questions than answers and further clarification is still required.

See:  Work out your turnover so you can claim the fifth SEISS grant – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The turnover figure required is for a 12-month period starting on any date between 1 and 6 April 2020. Those who prepare accounts on a tax year basis will be able to use the same figure that will appear on the 2020/21 tax return.

That turnover figure is then compared to the turnover in the “reference period” which for most individuals will be the turnover figure from their 2019/20 tax return and there is an option to use 2018/19 if 2019/20 was not a normal year for the business.

The turnover figure will be the sum of all of the taxpayer’s businesses but should exclude coronavirus support payments (for example previous SEISS grants, eat out to help out payments and local authority grants). The rules for partners seem particularly illogical, especially where they are also involved in another business.

steve@bicknells.net

What is the Self Employed Income Support Scheme?

The scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant of 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months, and capped at £7,500 altogether. This is a temporary scheme, but it may be extended.

If you receive the grant you can continue to work, start a new trade or take on other employment including voluntary work, or duties as an armed forces reservist.

The grant will be subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance.

There is other support available if you’re not eligible for the grant.

HMRC will work out if you’re eligible and how much grant you may get.

Last week HMRC contacted all tax agents (accountants), here is what they said….

As an agent you won’t be able to make a claim on behalf of your clients.

Designing a scheme that enabled agents to apply on behalf of clients would have taken substantially longer to deliver, at a time when speed is the priority.

Instead, we have designed the scheme to be as simple as possible for customers to use, and we will calculate the amount a customer is entitled to based on the information we already hold.

How to use the checker

To use the online checker, your client or you, on their behalf, will need their Unique Taxpayer Reference Number and their National Insurance Number.

If your client is eligible, they will be given a date, between 13 and 18‌‌ May, from which they can apply. This date is assigned randomly to help HMRC manage demand on the service, making sure that everyone who needs to make a claim can do so.

Your client will also be asked to provide their Government Gateway credentials (user ID and password) and check that their bank and contact details are up to date. This is important so that we can we can remind them by email or text message when it’s their turn to make a claim.

If your client doesn’t have Government Gateway credentials, they can set those up simply if they follow our guidance and use the SEISS eligibility checker. There will be no requirement for customers to wait for pins or codes through the post.

So it vitally important that you get a Gateway account with HMRC if you are self employed.

steve@bicknells.net

The new era of high flying self employed workers?

We want you

New research by the resolution foundation and reported by Start Up Donut states

The analysis shows that 60% of the growth in self-employment since 2009 has been in “privileged” sectors, despite them making up just 40% of the self-employed. The fastest growing sectors have been advertising (100% growth), public administration (90%) and banking (60%).

What we do know is that Self Employment has been growing in popularity as demonstrated by ONS statistics.

The level of self-employment in the UK increased from 3.8 million in 2008 to 4.6 million in 2015. While this strong performance is among the defining characteristics of the UK’s economic recovery, the recent rise in self-employment is the extension of a trend started in the early 2000s.

So why would you want to be a Freelancer.

      1. Pay rates – generally contractors are paid considerably more than employees
      2. Flexibility – you are your won boss but the downside is that you have to find work
      3. Tax – the following is from Contractor Weekly and is a quote from Seb Maley (QDOS)

“Operating through a limited company as opposed to an employee brings significant financial benefits. By taking a small salary and high dividends you pay far less National Insurance, saving around 26%. There are obviously associated costs involved in running your own company, such as accountancy fees and insurance, but the overall ‘take home’ pay will still almost certainly exceed that of an employee.”

https://stevejbicknell.com/tax-calculators/

We also have a growing ‘Gig’ economy

The ‘Gig’ economy describes the growing popularity of using workers on short term contracts on an on demand basis.

This type of work seems more popular with female workers

 

self-employed-chart

If you do become Self Employed ….

You’re responsible for:

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.

steve@bicknells.net

Are you part of the ‘Gig’ economy?

Concert Rock

The ‘Gig’ economy describes the growing popularity of using workers on short term contracts on an on demand basis.

gig

There of course several issues to consider:

  1. Are these workers really employees? or self employed?
  2. How should they be taxed?
  3. What rights should they have?

These issues are being considered carefully by the Office for Tax Simplification (OTS).

What we do know is that Self Employment has been growing in popularity as demonstrated by ONS statistics.

The level of self-employment in the UK increased from 3.8 million in 2008 to 4.6 million in 2015. While this strong performance is among the defining characteristics of the UK’s economic recovery, the recent rise in self-employment is the extension of a trend started in the early 2000s.

Full-time and part-time workers each account for around half of the rise in the absolute number of self-employed workers, but the growth rate of the part-time mode has been much stronger. Part time self-employment grew by 88% between 2001 and 2015, compared to 25% for the full-time mode. As a result, part-time self-employment accounts for 1.2 percentage points of the 1.6 percentage point increase in the self-employment share of all employment between 2008 and 2015.

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/trendsinselfemploymentintheuk/2001to2015

What is also interesting is the split between male and female

self-employed-chart

Statistically Self Employed earnings are lower than those who are employed, however, Self Employed earnings are masked by fluctuating work patterns and the use of tax planning for example cars and expenses.

What are your views on the ‘Gig’ economy? is it good for Britain?

steve@bicknells.net

 

Do you want to work for yourself?

group of successes people

4.75 million people are now self employed, thats 15% of all people in work in the UK.

Why become self-employed – Citizens Advice

There is encouragement from the government for people to become self-employed and at first it seems attractive, especially if you have recently become unemployed or redundant. Although one of the main attractions of becoming self-employed is no longer having to work for somebody else there are several disadvantages you should consider. These include not being certain of having a regular income, having to arrange your own sick pay and pension and probably having to work long hours.

What should you do before you start your business?

  1. Create a Business Plan – research shows it will increase your profitby 20%
  2. Create a cashflow forecast – work out how muc money you will need to run your business and where you will get the funding from
  3. Choose the right structure – its important to consider carefully whether to be a Sole Trader, Partnership or Limited Company
  4. Talk to an Accountant – Accountants will help you register and set up your business and avoid the risk of penalties
  5. Market Research – is there a market for your product or service, how big is the market and why will customers buy from you

Your responsibilities

You’re responsible for:

hmrc-expenses

 

steve@bicknells.net

 

Why are Freelance workers so popular with businesses?

Why is it attractive to use Freelancers?

  1. Skill is more important than location in many business sectors – we live in world where the internet can allow you to work with anyone at anytime, you can now track down the best person to work with even if they live thousands of miles away
  2. Lower fixed costs – Using Freelancers will lower your fixed costs (in similar way to Zero Hours Contracts), you employ them for a specific project and only pay for what you need so there isn’t any surplus capacity
  3. Tax advantages – Freelancers run their own business and that means they pay less tax than employees. Employers save tax too, such as Employers NI.
  4. Competitive Advantage – You can put together a team for a contract rather than finding contracts that fit your workforce, this means you can hire the best.
  5. 110% Commitment – A Freelancers success and future work depends on them performing to the highest level on every contract, failure is not an option for a successful contractor.

 

invoice2go_freelance_stats_x2_v03

Graphic created by https://invoice.2go.com/en-us/
https://invoice.2go.com/en-us/

steve@bicknells.net

Can you start a business with no money?

Business Startup word design

Recent surveys suggest that nearly have of start ups didn’t require any funding to get started, so how is that possible?

Here are some business models where it could work.

Subscriber based businesses

This can apply to many situations ranging from Networking and Memberships to Sky TV or Microsoft Office 365, get your clients hooked on paying a monthly or periodic payments and  it should work wonders for your cash flow.

High Demand Products

Any product in short supply creates a situation where clients are prepared to pay now in order not to miss out.

Pay In Advance

Often used in the home improvement market for example conservatories, kitchens, bathrooms, getting customers to pay a deposit or in some cases all the money upfront (or on finance) puts you in the best possible position especially if you can set up accounts to pay your suppliers on 30 or 60 days.

Market Place

Getting paid to bring people together is a great business model think of ebay, dating sites, or any on line market place where the owner gets paid when a deal is done.

Self Employed Freelancers

We are now in culture where freelancing is common

https://stevejbicknell.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/workers.jpg

Working from Home

Here are my top 20 home based business ideas:

  1. Get a lodger – Under rent-a-room a taxpayer can be exempt from Income Tax on profits from furnished accommodation in their only or main home if the gross receipts they get (that is, before expenses) are £4,250 or less
  2. Ironing and Laundry Services – Always popular and you can start with friends and family
  3. E Bay Trading – as E Bay say… The first task is to sort through those bulging drawers and messy cupboards, finding stuff to flog. Get a big eBay box to stash your wares in, and systematically clear out wardrobes, DVD and CD piles, the loft and garage. Use the easy 12-month rule of thumb to help you decide what to offload: Haven’t used it for a year? Flog it.
  4. Blogging – Blogging has taken off and many businesses are looking for people to write blogs for them
  5. Candle Making – You can sell the candles on line and its easy to buy the wax and things you need to make the candles
  6. Car Boot Sale – As with E Bay but without going on line
  7. Cake Making – Make sure everything is labelled correctly and you comply with Health & Safety issues
  8. Data Entry – The internet makes it easy to enter data from where ever you are
  9. Social Media – Similar to blogging, businesses need help to manage Twitter, Facebook and Linked In
  10. Website Design – If you have the expertise, go for it
  11. Sales Parties –  Cosmetics to Ann Summers, there is a long list of opportunities
  12. Sewing and Clothes Alterations – Perfect before and after Christmas
  13. Jewellery – Making and selling jewellery is always popular and great for Christmas presents
  14. Car Repairs – Assuming you have the skills needed and comply with legal requirements
  15. Pet Care – Walking dogs or grooming is popular
  16. Virtual Assistant – Also personal organiser or personal shopper
  17. Wedding Planner – You could start by creating a blog about your expertise
  18. Direct Sales – For example Utility Warehouse
  19. Computer Repair – Great provided you have the skills
  20. Marketing – Telesales to leaflet design and freelance writing

https://stevejbicknell.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/home-worker.jpg

steve@bicknells.net

What do you need to do to become self employed?

Business people group.

First, you should create a business plan.

Approximately a third of all SME’s in the UK don’t have a Business Plan, that’s about 1.5m businesses, here are some reasons why you should prepare one….

  1. Research by Exact Software shows that SME’s with Business Plans make 20% more profit
  2. Having a business plan doubles your chances of increasing profits, increasing revenue, attracting new clients
  3. A well-researched business plan which includes the right figures and realistic forecasts will reassure potential investors you are a sensible investment opportunity
  4. A Business Plan will help you set out and achieve your goals
  5. It will help you set goals for your managers and staff
  6. The Business Plan will help you plan your cash flow and forecast Capital Expenditure
  7. A Business Plan will help you secure Business Finance and Loans
  8. You can plan your succession strategy or prepare the business for sale
  9. A Business Plan tests the feasibility of your business idea
  10. It will help you plan for the recruitment of Staff

Your responsibilities

You’re responsible for:

Ask an Accountant for Help with…

  • 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 structures
  • Choose the best VAT Scheme you might be better off with Flat Rate or Cash Accounting
  • Choose the most suitable accounting software
  • Don’t mix up Business and Personal Expenses – always have separate bank accounts
  • Reconcile your Bank Transactions regularly – its easy to forget what you have spent checking the bank account keeps you in control
  • Understand and manage your cash cycle – how long does it take to get paid and what credit terms do you suppliers give you?
  • Manage customer payments and make it easy to pay your invoices
  • Understand and Comply with rules like National Minimum Wage and Holiday Pay
  • Understand and set money aside for Tax, don’t be late paying your tax

steve@bicknells.net

What expenses can the self employed claim?

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.

https://stevejbicknell.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/workers.jpg

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]

http://www.sage.co.uk/~/media/markets/uk/images/business-advice/infographic-starting-your-business.gif

steve@bicknells.net

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