Posts tagged ‘National Insurance’

What’s happening?

The laws governing pensions provided to staff by employers are changing so that all employees will be enrolled in the pension scheme unless employees specifically opt out of it, compared to the current situation where all employees are offered the pension scheme but must apply to join it. This new regime is called “auto enrolment”.

What effect will it have on my organisation?

If a significant majority of your staff are already members of the staff pension scheme, then the change will make very little change other than to change the induction process for new employees. However for many organisations where staff have traditionally not joined the pension scheme, especially if this is through apathy rather than through a clear decision not to join, then this change could increase your staff costs in line with the employer contribution to the scheme – which for employers operating a final salary scheme could be as much as 20%.

When does it happen?

j0434804For the country’s largest employers the change has already taken place. The change is being rolled out, starting with the largest employers, over the next five years.

Your staging date will depend upon the number of employees registered for PAYE purposes and the PAYE reference code you use for paying over tax and national Insurance. For employers with fewer than 50 employees the roll-out starts in two years’ time.

What do I need to do?

First, you need to make sure that your staff pension scheme qualifies for registration for auto-enrolment. Most schemes that are open to all members will, and there is a tool available on the Pensions Regulator’s website, www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk, which will help you.

Secondly, you need to look at what it would cost if everyone that is entitled were a member of the pension scheme, and then compare that with what you are paying now. This will give you a view of the potential extra cost the organisation will have to take on after auto-enrolment. Consider this in the context of your business. You may decide that it’s not a significant increase, in which case all you have to do is change your process for induction of new staff, and start talking to your existing staff about the change.

The next thing you need to think about is how many of your staff are likely to opt out of the scheme. Remember that you are not permitted by law to encourage employees to opt out in any way, so people have to make an effort to opt out – they need to make an application. However some employees may choose to opt out. Finding out by consulting your staff may be difficult without giving the impression of encouraging staff to opt out, so be careful.

However you may feel that this is an unacceptable increase in costs. In which case you need to plan very carefully what you do next, and you will probably need some specialist advice. See the next section for more details.

The next thing you need to do is to work out when you will need to make the change. This is called the staging date. There is guidance on this on the Pensions Regulator website.

Once you know what your staging date is, you can then start to plan the implementation. You will need to

  • Decide whether you want to continue with your existing pension, or change to a new one with revised terms;
  • Plan how you are going to tell your staff about the change. You will need to allow at least three months for consultation, especially if you plan to change your scheme;
  • Prepare changes to your induction process for new employees, so that they are told about the pension arrangements when they join, and contributions are deducted from their pay and paid to your pension provider from the start of their employment;
  • Set a process for those who wish to opt out of the pension scheme (it is good practice for this to be administered by the pension provider, so that there is no grounds for claiming that the employer encouraged staff to opt out);
  • Appoint a point of contact which must be notified to the Pensions regulator;
  • Start automatically enrolling staff into the scheme from the staging date and paying contributions over to the pension provider;
  • Register the pension scheme with the Pensions Regulator.

Changing your pension scheme

You may decide that your current pension scheme is not suitable for auto-enrolment. This might be because

  • Employer contributions are too high and you as an employer cannot afford to pay contributions for all staff;
  • Employee contributions are too high and few staff will be able to afford it; or
  • The scheme does not qualify for auto-enrolment.

When you have decided this you will need to take advice from an expert pensions adviser. You will need to aim for a pension scheme which will

  • Be affordable to you as an employer;
  • Be affordable to your staff; and
  • Meet the pensions Regulator’s conditions for auto-enrolment.

So it’s probably a good idea if you have a clear view of what you would consider to be affordable to both employer and employee before you talk to the experts. Remember that in order to be acceptable to the Regulator there will need to be minimum employer contributions of 3%, and minimum total contributions of 8%.

Next, you will need to think about what you want to offer to those already in the existing scheme. You will need to think about the impact both on existing staff, on those not currently in the pension scheme, and on new staff. Options would include:

  • Closing the scheme to all further contributions, and auto-enrolling members into the new scheme;
  • Closing the existing scheme to new members, allowing those already in the scheme to continue to contribute in the scheme, and auto-enrolling all other existing staff into the new scheme.

Either way, you’ll need to consult your staff and take their views into consideration when you make your decision. You need to allow at least three months for this process.

Conclusion

The arrangements around auto-enrolment are complicated. It’s important to make sure you understand the implications for your business, cost out the options, and leave yourself enough time to make alternative arrangements if necessary. This could involve extensive consultations with your employees or their representatives. So it’s worth starting your planning now to allow enough time to make a well-considered choice.

Need help?

Clover 1062The author of this post is an experienced Finance Director and Consultant and can help you to

  • Identify your Staging Date
  • Establish whether your current pension arrangements will meet the criteria of the Pensions Regulator after your staging date
  • Project the annual cost
  • Cost out some alternatives
  • Explain pensions to your staff

Melanie Digney at Tailored HR Limited is an HR professional who can help you

  • Explain and communicate the pension scheme’s details to all your staff
  • Consult with your employees about pension arrangements or arrange individual staff meetings with the scheme provider at your office to set up the scheme.
  • Put arrangements in place for employees who wish to opt out
  • Change your induction processes to reflect auto-enrolment
  • Provide advice on Employment Law

Antony Moyes of Moyes Financial Planning Limited is an Independent Financial Adviser authorised by the FCA to advise on pensions. He can

  • Help you select a pension plan
  • Advise your employees on investment options within the plan
  • Establish whether your current pension arrangements will meet the criteria of the Pensions Regulator after your staging date
  • Explain pensions to your staff
  • Register your pension scheme with the Pensions Regulator

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Clients often ask us “what is the best way to buy a vehicle?”  If they plan to use it in their business, should they own it personally? Should they buy it through the business? Should they lease it? The list of questions is endless and many of the answers will depend upon your particular situation and requirements but beware getting it wrong could prove costly in terms of time and money.

Your options

Martin Bessell from Midland Autolease Contracts says “The type and terms of your finance will be dictated by your circumstances, if you require a mid range car for business use this often lends itself to Lease purchase or Hire purchase.  An executive car which is mainly used for private use will often be better bought outside the business, so a personal contract purchase should be considered. If you simply need a reliable car for a short period leasing may be the answer, but talk to your accountant about each type they may have a better solution”

Taxation

1959 Porsche 356A Carrera GS CabrioletThe tax position regarding the purchase of your vehicle can be quite complex.

Firstly you will need to consider the VAT position. Generally you can not claim VAT on the purchase price but may be able to claim a proportion of the VAT on lease costs, this is providing it is a car you are purchasing. If the vehicle is a van different rules apply, and the debate as to what is a car and what is a van is not something I wish to discuss here!

You will also need to consider the costs that you can deduct in arriving at your taxable business profit. The rules on both Capital Allowances and Lease rental deductions changed significantly in the last budget and many clients are now taking a more serious look at leasing.

Finally don’t forget if a vehicle is provided as a company car there will be PAYE and National Insurance arising from the benefit.

Get advice

The important aspect is to seek advice when buying a vehicle don’t just be blinded by that shiny new car.  Make the right commercial decision for you and your business, search the market and then present the facts to your accountant who will crunch the numbers and tell you what the tax consequence will be.  HAPPY SHOPPING :-D

 

Disclaimer: This article is for general guidance only.  All taxation planning should only be undertaken after appropriate professional advice.  George Hay Chartered Accountants are registered to carry on audit work and regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

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If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

I am regularly contacted by people who are new to business, or at least considering starting their own business.

Excited

Naturally, they are all really excited about the prospect of working for themselves, being their own boss, making the decisions and being able to directly enjoy the results of their efforts.

Apprehensive

However, I find that when I start to talk them through the statutory accounting and taxation requirements, it becomes obvious that they are worried and some even start to question if they are doing the right thing.  Despite assuring them that my team will handle 

  • Companies House administration anc correspondence,
  • Preparation and submission of statutory accounts,
  • Corporation Tax computations and returns,
  • PAYE administration and National Insurance,
  • VAT reporting,
  • Returns of benefits and expenses and other HMRC returns,
  • Construction industry scheme online monthly filing
  • Potential HMRC visits

and provide ongoing bookkeeping support, it is understandable that the overwhelming sense of responsibility causes concern for those who have been in the relative ‘safety’ of employment or education.

Discouraged?

I think it is a shame that budding entrepreneurs can be stopped in their tracks by all the bureaucracy that surrounds a business, and I would urge any aspiring business owners not to be discouraged, it sounds a lot worse than it really is.

Get support

If you are thinking about starting up your own business, you should really go and talk to an accountant who can explain what is required, help you understand your duties and responsibilities and then take away as much of the fear and worry from you so that you can get on with the exciting bit!

It is also a good idea to join a networking group.  They not only provide you with valuable contacts, they are full of potential friends and peers who can guide and support you with first hand experience.

Find someone you can trust

For some people starting up their own business isn’t a big deal, but remember that the best entrepreneurs are surrounded by the best people for each and every part of their business, so do your new business a favour and find someone who can be the best for you.

Outsource

Delegate the ‘red tape’ of administering your business, and non-essential or non-profit making tasks to a team of carefully selected professionals so that you can make the most of your time and  simply…

…..enjoy running your own business!


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

Along with the England flags and hopes of World Cup success the emergency budget is becoming a distant memory, but if you are in business you shouldn’t be so hasty.

Here at George Hay, we regularly advise on the advantages of incorporation and strongly believe that for the majority of small businesses it is the most tax efficient structure, as remuneration (profit distribution) for the owners/directors can be carefully planned to benefit their personal tax circumstances.  These savings can be particularly advantageous if you are operating as a family business.

Corporation Tax reduction

One of the main headlines of the budget was the reduction in the Corporation Tax rate by 1% making the Small Companies rate 20% from April 2011. This was good news for business owners but of course it only applies to those which are incorporated. Those who operate their business as either a sole trader or partnership are subject to Income Tax and National Insurance on their business profits so will instead be hit by the rise in National Insurance rates from April 2011.

The changes in the Corporation Tax rate and National Insurance rate along with forecast reductions in the basic rate threshold for individuals poses the usual question of should those in business consider incorporating and is it beneficial for everyone to do so?

Indicators do strongly suggest that it is widely beneficial for most owner managed businesses to incorporate and when doing the sums at the new rates from April 2011 the tax savings as a result of incorporation increase even more.

Risky Strategy?

There have been many attempts to try to curb the incorporation trend in the past due to the significant tax savings that can be achieved.  Gordon Brown aired his view that business owners are not paying the ‘right amount of tax’,  and we are sure HMRC will continue their expensive and difficult case in the courts.   But I personally have been advising on incorporation for over 10 years and it continues to be a successful strategy, so why not take advantage whilst the regulations allow it?  It is not something that can not be withdrawn from if circumstances change.

Real life example

In 2007 I was recommended to a small business that was earning very handsome profits due the unique nature of its trading activity.  On engagement I quickly did some sums (good old Excel!) and explained the value of Incorporating.  The owner immediately understood and asked me to incoporate the business without delay.  By involving his wife in the business strategy, she was able to take a ‘very nice’ Company Car and between them they saved and continue to save over £15,000 per annum in Tax and National Insurance.  If only they had sought advice years before…..

It’s not all about tax

Careful consideration should be given to incorporation and expert advice sought. It is not always the right choice for everyone and other factors come into play such as legal liability, increased regulation and therefore costs, disclosure of financial information and future business plans such as sale of the business but it is always worth thinking about.


For further details on the key announcements in the ‘Emergency Budget’ download a copy of our budget summary.

Disclaimer: This article is for general guidance only.  All taxation planning should only be undertaken after appropriate professional advice.  George Hay Chartered Accountants are registered to carry on audit work and regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.


The new Chancellor, George Osborne  delivered his first budget on 22 June 2010. He said his budget was ‘tough  but fair’ but described it as being ‘unavoidable’ due to ‘the years of debt and spending’ by the previous labour government.

News PhotoThe Chancellor’s package included various tax increases and spending cuts, some measures had been widely anticipated such as the increase in the VAT rate and an increase in Capital Gains Tax. The Chancellor stressed that his measures were intended to be fair ‘Everyone will pay something but the people at the bottom of the income scale will pay proportionately less than those at the top’.


As tax is not my preferred subject (I have highly experienced colleagues for dealing with that!) I will be brief:

The key announcements included:

VAT Rate rise – As anticipated the VAT rate will increase from 17.5% to 20% with effect from 4 January 2011.

Personal Allowance increase – The personal income tax allowance is to increase by £1,000 in April 2011 to £7,475. This is worth £200 a year to a basic rate taxpayer.

Capital Gains Tax increase – The Capital Gains Tax rate for higher rate taxpayers will increased from 18% to 28% from 23 June 2010. It remains at 18% for basic rate tax payers.

Entrepreneurs Relief extended – Entrepreneurs relief has been extended to a rate of 10% on the first £5m of gains as opposed to the first £2m.

Corporation Tax Rate cut – The Corporation Tax rate will be cut by 1% each year over the next four years until it reaches 24%. The Small Companies rate is to be cut to 20%.

National Insurance rise to stay – The National Insurance rate increases announced by labour remained intact and will still take place however the threshold at which employers start to pay will rise.

No change to Cigarettes, Alcohol and Fuel – No changes were made to duty on cigarettes, alcohol or fuel and the plan to increase the duty on cider from July was scrapped.

Freeze on Child Benefits – Child benefit is to be frozen for the next three years.

Changes to Tax Credits – Tax credits will reduce for families earning over £40,000 next year but for low income families they will receive more Child Tax Credit with the amount per child increasing by £150 above the rate of inflation.

State Pensions – The state pension is to be linked to earnings from April 2011 and is guaranteed to rise in line with earnings or 2.5% whichever is greater. The increase in the state pension age to 66 is to be accelerated.

For further details on the key announcements download a copy of our budget summary.

Alternatively come along to one of our Budget Seminars which we are holding on the 24th and 25th June where we will be providing planning advice as a result of the changes.


Disclaimer: This article is for general guidance only.  All taxation planning should only be undertaken after appropriate professional advice.  George Hay Chartered Accountants are registered to carry on audit work and regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

PAYE notices of coding are notorious for being erroneous, but HMRC have surpassed themselves with this computer generated nightmare that not only leads to extra work and a lot of confusion but may even leave you paying too much tax.

Multiple Notices

In the last few months you may have received several Notices of Coding all showing different codes for the tax year 2010/11. There have been a number of instances where taxpayers have been receiving one tax code one day followed by a different one the next or even more than one code in one day. This has left many people bewildered and uncertain about exactly what tax code will be operated against their income and many of the codes issued are wrong anyway.

New HMRC  system

The problems have occurred as a result of HM Revenue & Customs recently introducing a new system for issuing coding notices called the National Insurance and PAYE Service (NPS). The new service has brought to light various discrepancies in their records and so they have been trying to rectify the errors, hence so many codes being issued all at once. They expect to complete their review by mid April 2010 which will hopefully bring an end to all the confusion.

Resolution?

Any problems occurring as a result of an incorrect code will ultimately be resolved at the end of the tax year once a taxpayer submits their 2010/11 Tax Return to HMRC. However if serious problems are not dealt with near the beginning of the tax year it could result in a large underpayment arising for some people which it may not be possible to collect via a later year’s tax code.  If you are not required to file a Tax Return, over or underpayments may go undetected for quite some time.

A careful review is necessary

In view of the problems which have occurred it is important that any codes received for 2010/11 are reviewed fully. If you believe that your code is incorrect you should either contact your advisor if you have one or HMRC as soon as possible.

Need help?

As agents we receive a copy of the majority of PAYE Coding Notices issued to our clients and therefore we are able solve many of the matters arising before problems begin to appear. We have discovered various reasons for an incorrect code but the problems particularly appear to have affected those with multiple employments. Close scrutiny of your code is therefore important.


Disclaimer: This article is for general guidance only.  All taxation planning should only be undertaken after appropriate professional advice.  George Hay Chartered Accountants are registered to carry on audit work and regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

Forms and more forms, rules and regulations, sign here, don’t forget this, do that…

Entrepreneurs are often discouraged by the bewildering amount of bureaucracy and problems which they come up against.  But with a simple checklist of tasks and a little support, your small business could be up and running in no time.

Do I need an accountant?

It is not essential, but advisable.  An accountant will have the specialist knowledge and experience to assist your business, help you make decisions about the future and relieve you of most of the administrative burden associated with being self-employed; enabling you to devote more time to developing your business and earn that all important cash.

If you are going to engage an accountant it is essential that you involve them from the outset.  Decisions taken at the early stages can affect your business for many years to come.  For example, they can advise you on the best structure for your business and how to deal with other people that have a stake in your business.  (I will deal with some of these points in a future ‘accountancy’ post)

How do I find an accountant?

There are many ways to source professional services, but the key is to find someone you can trust and can work with.  You may be discussing sensitive issues so you need to be comfortable communicating with them.  Ask other business people for recommendations and introductions or attend networking events where you have the opportunity to speak to a potential adviser and find out whether they suit you and your business. Check that they are qualified, as this will ensure the quality of their services is regularly monitored.     Look no further! www.georgehay.co.uk

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Assuming you plan to operate a sole trader, here are a few pointers for you to consider.


  • Inform H M Revenue and Customs

You must inform the Tax Office that you are operating a business as a self-employed person so that  a ‘self-assessment record’ can be created. This will ensure you are issued with a Tax Return

You will also pay Class 2 National Insurance.  This ensures you are paying enough NIC to keep a continuous record should you need to claim benefits or a state pension in the future.  

If your household income is low, also ask them for tax credits application pack.


  • Open a business bank account

It is important to open a business bank account, not only will your bank be disgruntled if you continue to use your personal banking facilities for business, it will be difficult to segregate business transactions from personal, which may lead to complications later.  Shop around for the best deals, most high street banks offer free business banking for the first year for start-ups and don’t forget to build a relationship with your business bank manager, they have a lot of business experience to share with you.


  • Keep adequate records

You do not have to be a trained bookkeeper to maintain adequate business records; however failure to do so could make life very difficult if H M Revenue and Customs randomly pick your business for an enquiry as you will be unable to substantiate the amounts you have declared. In fact, you may find that you are not claiming relief for all that you are entitled if you do not have a clear record of your transactions.

Maintaining records is also a key part of managing an effective business as they will allow you to review your performance, check your customers are settling their accounts and assist you in managing cash flow.
  • VAT Registration

If your turnover exceeds the registration limit in any rolling twelve month period, registration is compulsory.  Until then, the decision whether to voluntarily register is dependant on your customers.  Generally, if they are registered, you may as well be.


  • Taxation

The tax year runs to 5th April.  Soon after this date you will receive a Tax Return.  You may need professional assistance with completing this, but if the business is very small and you have kept adequate records, it is fairly straight forward so should not cost you an arm and a leg!  This form must be completed and submitted to H M Revenue and Customs by the following 31st January.  If you are not completing the form online, it must be submitted 31st October. The Tax Office will calculate your liabilities for you, before they fall due on 31st January.


  • Business Support

There are many sources of business support for small businesses.  Search on the internet for local networking organisations, where you will find like minded individuals who are experiencing similar anxieties as you.  You may also find these networks are a valuable source of contacts for developing your business.

Find out if you have an Enterprise Agency or Business Link in your area.  These supply consultancy and workshops at heavily subsidised rates.

Ask your professional advisers, such as your accountant or bank manager, if they don’t know the answer, they should know some one who does.


  •  Business insurance

Can be an expensive overhead for a new business, but needs to be considered carefully.


  • Think positively

You are only as good as you believe you are….


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.