Strategies for saving tax ahead of the 5 April year end

With the end of the 2017/18 tax year approaching, now may be the ideal time to think about strategies to help mitigate your tax liability. There are many different options to consider so do contact us for further advice.

Reducing your personal tax liability…

Are you making the most of your tax-free personal allowance (PA)? Individuals are entitled to their own PA, which is set at £11,500 in 2017/18. Therefore, if your spouse or partner has little or no income, you could stand to benefit by spreading your income more evenly to ensure that each PA is being fully utilised.

Some married couples may also be eligible to transfer 10% of their PA to their spouse under the Transferable Tax Allowance, or ‘Marriage Allowance’. It means £1,150 may be transferred in 2017/18, which could help to reduce a couple’s tax liability by up to £230 in this financial year. Certain rules apply.

And despite relatively low interest rates, for many individuals ISAs are still an attractive tax-free way to save. For 2017/18, the overall subscription limit for ISAs is £20,000, of which no more than £4,000 can be deposited into a Lifetime ISA. With a range of ISAs to choose from, you have until 5 April 2018 to make your 2017/18 ISA investment.

… and your business’s tax bill

Are you maximising claims for capital allowances? The majority of businesses are able to claim a 100% Annual Investment Allowance on the first £200,000 of expenditure on most types of plant and machinery (except cars). In many cases, a purchase made just before the end of the current accounting year will mean that the allowances are available a year earlier than if the purchase was made just after the year end.

Business owners may also wish to consider tax-efficient ways in which they can extract profit from their business. There are many ways to achieve this. Some may opt to take dividends instead of a salary or bonus, as these are paid free of national insurance contributions. Others may wish to talk to us about incorporating their business, while employer pension contributions can be another tax-efficient means of extracting profit.

As always, it is important to seek our advice before taking action. For more information on tax-saving strategies to implement ahead of the 5 April 2018, please visit the Hot Topics section of our website.

Backdated ‘staircase tax’ bills branded unfair to small firms

The Head of the Treasury Select Committee, Nicky Morgan, has branded the sending of backdated business rates bills to small businesses in England and Wales as ‘particularly unfair’.

Dubbed the ‘staircase tax’, businesses which occupy space on multiple floors of a communal commercial property now receive separate business rates bills for each floor they occupy, where the areas separating the offices are communal (for example lifts, corridors and stairs). Some firms in England and Wales have seen their business rates rise significantly as a result.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) determines business rates for firms in England and Wales, and made the changes as a result of a previous Supreme Court ruling which considered how different storeys under common occupation in the same block are assessed for business rates purposes.

Business rates are calculated separately in Scotland, using the rateable value which is set by a local assessor, and the ‘poundage rate’ which is set by the Scottish government. For 2017/18, a Large Business Supplement of 2.6p is being added to all business properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or more.

Commenting on the so-called staircase tax, Ms Morgan said: ‘It seems unfair to tax businesses differently depending solely on whether the staircases between their rooms are communal or private.

‘It seems particularly unfair for the increase in rates to be backdated.’

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: ‘No small business should receive a sudden tax hike of 5,000% simply because a workplace has been separated, for years, by a communal area, stairway or lift.

‘Some small business owners are discussing whether to knock holes in their walls or stick a staircase on the outside of their premises.

‘This is no way to run a tax system in the 20th century, let alone the 21st. Ministers have the power to provide relief, and they should do this urgently – to correct this defect in the UK tax system.’

Finance Bill confirms Dividend Allowance reduction

The publication of Finance Bill 2017-19 ushers back in a raft of measures that had previously been dropped from Finance Bill 2017.

One such measure is the forthcoming reduction in the Dividend Allowance, which is set to fall from £5,000 to £2,000 next April. With 2.7 million individuals in receipt of dividend income, many are likely to feel the effects of the change.

Chancellor Philip Hammond stated that the cut would help to ‘address the unfairness’ that may be associated with the tax advantage enjoyed by director-shareholders.

The Chancellor initially announced the plans in the 2017 Spring Budget, but the measure was dropped from Finance Bill 2017 to pave the way for the General Election.

The reduction is likely to affect director-shareholders who opt to take dividends on top of a salary. It may also have consequences for savers with investments in stocks and shares worth £50,000 or more outside of an Individual Savings Account (ISA). According to HM Treasury, the average loss is expected to be around £315 – but it could be significantly more for individuals paying tax at the higher or additional rate.

Other measures reintroduced to Finance Bill 2017-19 include the planned reduction in the pensions Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA), which has fallen from £10,000 to £4,000. The measure is being enforced retrospectively, and has been backdated to the beginning of the 2017/18 tax year.

The Finance Bill also outlines a framework for VAT reporting, under the government’s new Making Tax Digital initiative.

Recommended App – TAX READY

TAX READY

With cloud-based technology becoming a feature of everyday life, businesses are wise to implement good, modern software and apps where possible. The right apps can simplify your life and work; improving efficiency and profitability (time is money)!

So, continuing with our regular app recommendations, this month we’d like to recommend TAX READY – our very own, brand new app!

What is it?

Tax Ready is a smartphone app (available on Apple, Android and Windows devices). It has been designed with business owners and managers in mind; providing a range of useful tools to help with the operational aspects of running a business.

How much does it cost?

£0 – it’s free!

What are its features?

  • Tax calculators – there’s a calculator for almost everything but, as an example, the income tax and NI calculator enables you to work out the gross cost of employing a new staff member – or help your employees to understand their net pay.
  • Tax tables – quick access to up-to-date tax rates.
  • Key tax dates – keep track of deadlines and easily add them to your phone’s calendar (just one-click and the reminder’s there) .
  • News – regular news articles on a variety of useful topics.
  • Mileage and expense recording – keep track of your mileage and expense claims whilst on the move, then download them as a spreadsheet when required.

Why do we recommend it?

Although somewhat biased, we genuinely believe the app is a useful resource for our clients and contacts. We think it’s easy to navigate, has a fresh, modern design, and it’s free!

How do I get the app?

To add the app to your device, search ‘Tax Ready’ in your app store … then download and enjoy exploring the features.

 

 

 

Our new app – Tax Ready – is now available to download!

Our brand new smartphone app – Tax Ready – is now available to download on Apple, Android and Windows devices!

Created with business owners and managers in mind, Tax Ready provides key tax rates and convenient access to a range of useful tax tools, news and tips in one app.

The app comes with tools such as mileage and expense trackers – which make it easy to keep a track of your claims whilst on the move.

To find the app, search ‘Tax Ready’ in your app store. It’s completely free to download and use.

We hope you find it a useful and informative resource.

Business groups respond to Brexit customs papers

Some of the UK’s leading business groups, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) have responded to the publication of Brexit customs position papers by the Department for Exiting the European Union.

The government states that it is seeking to secure a new customs arrangement which ‘facilitates the freest and most frictionless trade possible’ between the UK and the EU. Its newly published paper outlines two customs approaches: a ‘highly streamlined’ customs arrangement between the UK and the EU, and a new customs partnership with the EU.

The ‘streamlined’ approach would seek to continue some of the existing customs arrangements between the UK and the EU, as well as reducing or removing barriers to trade by establishing new arrangements. Meanwhile, the new customs partnership would ‘remove the need for a UK-EU customs border’.

Responding to the publication of the papers, Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director General, said: ‘Companies will welcome the progress government has made . . . in publishing these papers. Over the past year, businesses have been providing policymakers with the evidence, ideas and solutions to make a success of Brexit.’

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, called for clarity on future customs arrangements, stating: ‘Business needs to see the government’s resources focused on the conclusion of a successful customs deal with the EU. At this stage, it is critically important to keep a number of different options open in order to achieve this goal.’

Meanwhile, the IoD welcomed the government’s ‘first concerted push on trade after Brexit’. The Institute’s Allie Renison said: ‘This is a hugely positive step from government in putting pen to paper to spell out its objectives for customs arrangements with the EU after Brexit. The paper outlines options for a transitional period and for the longer term, proving that both are crucial to achieving a smooth and orderly exit.’

A second Brexit customs paper has outlined proposals to ensure that existing trade in goods and services can continue after the UK leaves the EU in 2019. It calls for goods already on the market to be allowed to remain on sale in both the UK and the EU, ‘without restrictions’.

Exciting Opportunity! Job Vacancy for an Accounts Assistant…

An opportunity not to be missed!

Due to continued growth, The Shepherd Partnership Ltd have an exciting opportunity for a PRACTICE ACCOUNTS ASSISTANT to join our friendly team.

We are looking for a committed, hard-working team member to support our senior staff and Directors… and make a real difference to our business!

Responsibilities

We envisage that key responsibilities will include, but not necessarily be limited to;

  • Preparation of annual accounts for limited companies, partnerships, sole traders and other entities
  • Maintenance client records/ book-keeping
  • Preparation of VAT returns and management accounts
  • Preparation of tax returns
  • Payroll

Qualifications & Experience

  • Candidates must have GCSE grade C or above in Maths and English.
  • A formal accountancy qualification is desirable but not essential.
  • The ideal applicant will have a minimum of 3 years’ experience gained within an accounting practice, ideally including knowledge of cloud based accounting packages and payroll processes (including auto-enrolment).

Work Pattern

This position is full-time (some flexibility in working hours may be possible for the right person). The successful candidate will primarily work from our Skipton premises.

To Apply

If you feel you are the ideal person to join our supportive and experienced team, please send a covering email and your CV to skipton@shepherdpartnership.com.

Salary

Competitive – negotiable depending on experience.