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.

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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]

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steve@bicknells.net

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If you are self employed have you tried the HMRC Simplified Expenses Checker?

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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 decide if it suits your business.

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.

Costs you can claim as allowable expenses

These include:

Use this checker to work out which method is best for you.

What you need to know:

  • you’ll be asked to make estimates about some of your business expenses – you don’t have to give accurate amounts
  • this checker doesn’t give exact figures to use in your tax return, it gives you an idea of which way of calculating your expenses might be best for you
  • limited companies aren’t eligible

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Start now

steve@bicknells.net

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How do you become self employed?

businesswoman is very multitasking

The UK saw the fastest growth in self-employment in Western Europe in 2014, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

The number of self-employed workers rose by 8%, faster than any other Western European economy, and outpaced by only a handful of countries in Southern and Eastern Europe.

The IPPR’s analysis shows that the UK – which had low levels of self-employment for many years – has caught up with the EU average. If this growth continues, it says, the UK will look more like Southern and Eastern European countries which tend to have much larger shares of self-employed workers.

Your responsibilities

You’re responsible for:

Naming your business

You can use your own name or trade under a business name – read the rules for naming your business.

You must include your own name and business name (if you have one) on any official paperwork, like invoices and letters.

When should you get help from an Accountant?

Often business owners wait too long before they realise that they need help from an accountant.

Key reasons are:

– not understanding the difference between a book keeper and an accountant
– thinking that an accountant will just be an extra cost – the reality is that most accountants will save the business many times their cost
– thinking that accountants are just bean counters.

But if you choose a qualified and experienced accountant they can bring huge benefits: management tools to improve profitability, cost controls, tax savings, growth strategies, business planning, business structures and much more. So don’t wait too long – getting an accountant should be a priority for all businesses!

Common Mistakes

First off – not having a separate bank accounts. Many start ups try mixing business and personal transactions in their personal bank accounts, its a total nightmare, don’t do it, get a business bank account. Mixing things up will almost certainly have tax implications.

Not registering for tax or filing returns is another one. Getting things right at the beginning is extremely important and a CIMA Accountant can make sure that you choose the right business structure and will help you register for VAT, PAYE, CIS and other taxes. Choosing the right VAT scheme will save you tax. Not registering and filing returns will have severe consequences and lead to fines and penalties.

Also – contract mistakes. Ask your Accountant to review your contracts, they will be able to give you lots of useful tips.

Running out of cash: draw up a Budget and Cashflow and forecast how much cash you will need to run the business, looking at your cash cycle and managing it will be vital. If you need funding ask your Accountant for help, they will be able to look at all the options and help you choose the option that’s best for your business.

Accounting – many start ups fail to keep control of their accounting, by working with an accountant and using Debitoor or Sage One you can avoid this problem.

 

 

steve@bicknells.net

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Online traders targeted by HMRC

Online Shopping

The Revenue has sent 14,000 letters to traders suspected of running a business and failing to declare this on their tax returns.

Of these, 1,000 letters are being sent to people where the taxman has already identified a shortfall on their self-assessment forms.

Some of those targeted make as little as £100 profit online.

It was reported in the Telegraph that eBay, Etsy, Amazon and Gumtree are being forced to hand over customer account details, including their selling activity, as part of the taxman’s legal powers that were extended last year.

The criteria used to assess if an activity is a hobby or a business are:

  • The size and commerciality of the activity.
  • The frequency of the activity and transactions
  • The application of business principles.
  • Whether there is a genuine profit motive.
  • The amount of time devoted to the activities.
  • The existence of arm’s-length customers (as opposed to just selling your wares to family and friends).

HMRC have some great examples to help you decided, for example

Gail is a full-time employee working for a stationery company. She pays her PAYE tax on this employment every month.

In her free time Gail makes cushions and uses most of them in her home. Occasionally she sells them to friends and work colleagues for an amount that just covers the cost of materials of £15. Sometimes she makes a loss. Any money she does make goes towards her holiday fund.

She decides to make extra cash by selling cushions on an Internet auction site and starts auctioning three or four to see how they go. They all sell for more than £50, a profit of at least £35 each.

She uses this money to buy more materials and within a month she is selling around ten cushions a week, always at a profit, and is considering setting up her own website.

Gail’s initial sales of cushions to friends are not classed as trading. It lacks commerciality and she does not set out to make a profit. The occasional sales are a by-product of her hobby. Once she begins to auction her cushions, she has moved into the realms of commerciality.

She is systematically selling her goods to make a profit. She will need to inform HMRC about her trade, and keep records of all her transactions. On the level of sales shown in the example the potential turnover of around £26,000 is well below the VAT annual threshold so Gail does not need to register for VAT.

Many traders start off in a small way and don’t realise that they need to register with HMRC, they assume their activity will be treated as a hobby, but things can grow quickly.

You should register as Self Employed as soon as your hobby becomes a commercial venture, even if you are losing money!

If you don’t register, HMRC will be looking for you and if you have an online business it won’t be hard for them to find you.

steve@bicknells.net

A new type of employment status

The Office of Tax Simplification – Employment Status Report – March 2015 suggests we could see a new type of worker being created, part way between Employed and Self Employed. We could also see the term office holder removed from legislation.

Contractor Weekly reported – This involves the introduction of a new category of worker, a ‘third way’ between the employed and self-employed, acknowledging that some workers do not fit easily into either of the two traditional positions and that they should be subject to a modified set of tax rules. Freelancers might fall into this ‘third way’ and who might be seen as people who have chosen this route of working and want certainty over their status.

Click on this link to read the Employment Status Report

Will this solve the IR35 problem? who will it defined? what should the rules be?

Workers

 

steve@bicknells.net

New reporting requirements for intermediaries

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

Are you one of the third of workers with a part time business?

Business people group.

Almost a third of British workers run some kind of creative business outside their main job contributing an estimated £15bn to the UK economy, according to new research from Moo.com. Profitability among this group of enterprises has increased by 32% in the past year. One in ten part-time creative entrepreneurs plans to leave their job to focus on their business full-time within the next year. However, 60% said it was their passion for the business, and not making money, that motivated them. The most popular part-time creative ventures are in food and cooking, gardening, photography and knitting. (According to Law Donut)

So why are micro businesses taking off:

  1. You can start off working at home
  2. Your start up costs are low
  3. You can do it part time when it suits you
  4. With wages frozen and costs rising it can provide a useful additional income
  5. Its easy to be price competitive with low overheads
  6. The Internet makes it easy to sell your goods and services
  7. Your social capital can be used to generate sales ie use your contacts and connections
  8. There could tax advantages – employees generally pay more tax than sole traders
  9. Some clients prefer the personal touch
  10. It could be start of something big

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 http://www.netmums.com/back-to-work/working-for-yourself/direct-selling-opportunities
  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 are the differences between employees and contractors?

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

We love Self Employment in UK…..

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).

The number of self-employed workers rose by 8%, faster than any other Western European economy, and outpaced by only a handful of countries in Southern and Eastern Europe.

The IPPR’s analysis shows that the UK – which had low levels of self-employment for many years – has caught up with the EU average. If current growth continues, it says, the UK will look more like Southern and Eastern European countries which tend to have much larger shares of self-employed workers.

According to Tax Research UK

Something like 80% of all the new jobs created since 2010 are, in fact, self-employments, and there are a number of things that very significantly differentiate self-employments  from jobs.

The first is security:  there is none.

The  second is durability:  vast numbers of new small businesses fail, which is one reason why I doubt the official statistics.  I am sure they record the supposed start-ups  correctly but seriously doubt if they have properly counted the  failures.

Then there is  the issue of pay. The evidence is  overwhelming  that in recent years earnings from self-employment have, on average, declined significantly.

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

In summary, why is it attractive to use Self Employed Freelancers?

  1. Skill is more important than location in many business sectors – we live in world where 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.

So do you think self employment is good for the UK?

steve@bicknells.net

What is your status – Self Employed or Employed?

Business people group.

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

If a worker should be an employee HMRC will seek to recover the employment taxes from the employer not the worker, so there are considerable risks for the employer if the status of its workers is wrongly assessed.

Some employers might decide to insist that sub-contractors must be limited companies, as companies can’t not be reclassified as employees.

The sub-contractor would then need to assess whether IR35 applies to their contract. If IR35 does apply then please read this blog on Deemed Payments

steve@bicknells.net