Tax Free Allowances – Are you making the most of them?

With the self-assessment tax return deadline now well passed, we can start to look forward to 2017-18’s income and consider whether you are fully utilising your tax free allowances.

Using the following to their full potential can often be the most tax efficient way of accessing the income in your company or savings.

Personal Allowance

This is a tax free amount that everybody starts with which can be used against any type of income. For 2017-18 the personal allowance is £11,500, however, this figure may be reduced should your income go above £100,000.

If you are not using the entire personal allowance, then it may be an option to transfer 10% of this to your spouse under the marriage allowance. This can only be done though if they’re a basic rate tax payer. It means that they would receive an additional £1,150 of personal allowance thus saving them £230 in tax.

Starting Rate

For those that have a fairly minimal salary but a lot of savings income, the starting rate is something that can be used. It is an additional 0% rate band if the first £5,000 of taxable income (i.e above the personal allowance) is savings. This could be especially useful for those with large credit balances on director’s loans in limited companies as they can charge interest on this which would not only be tax free for the individual but tax deductible for the company.

Dividend Allowance

Changes in the 2016-17 tax year meant that the traditional method of receiving tax credits on dividends were scrapped and replaced instead with the ‘Dividend Allowance’. This is a £5,000 tax free band on dividends for everyone regardless of their other income. For those with a limited company this could be utilised by a spouse shareholder, regardless of if the work elsewhere, to get an additional £5,000 tax free income.

Personal Savings Allowance

The final tax free allowance is the personal savings allowance which you receive regardless of if you earn from other sources. These do however vary based on the tax band you are in as follows:                   

Basic rate £1,000
Higher rate £500
Additional rate Nil

These could potentially be utilised in the same way as the starting rate by charging a limited company interest on credit director’s loan account balances.

As each case is different, please contact us on 0116 242 3400 if you wish to discuss tax free allowances any further.

Sam Jefferson, Accounts & Tax 

Spring Statement 2018

The Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his Spring Statement on Tuesday 13 March 2018.

In his speech he provided an update on the economy and responded to the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts. In addition he launched consultations on various aspects of the tax system.

Changes to the timing of tax legislation

Chancellor Philip Hammond has implemented some fundamental changes to the UK fiscal timetable.

In the 2016 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced that he would be introducing a new Budget timetable, which would see the main annual Budget moving from its traditional spring setting to the autumn and the Autumn Statement being replaced by a Spring Statement. The first Autumn Budget was presented in November 2017.

The new process

While the general process of developing tax policy will remain the same, the timescales for policy making and consultation have changed significantly. The government hopes that the new system will allow more time to scrutinise and consult on draft tax legislation before it is introduced.

The new timing of the Autumn Budget will allow the announcement of most new measures well in advance of the tax year in which they are due to take effect. The Spring Statement also offers the opportunity for the government to consult during the early stages of policy making, and publish calls for evidence on long-term tax policy issues.

Under the new system, measures announced in the Autumn Budget will generally be consulted on during the winter and spring, with draft legislation being published in the summer, ahead of the introduction of the Finance Bill in the winter. This will then receive Royal Assent the following spring.

Click here to read our summary of the Spring Statement 2018

If you would like to discuss any of this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400

Dormant companies – obligations

What is a dormant company?

A company or association may be ‘dormant’ if it is not trading and doesn’t have any other income – for example from investments.

A dormant company has different obligations for corporation tax, annual accounts and returns for Companies House in comparison to a trading company.

Dormant companies and corporation tax

Your company is usually dormant for corporation tax if:

  • the company has stopped trading and has no other income
  • is a new limited company that hasn’t yet started trading

If HMRC think your company is dormant, you may get a letter informing you of the decision to treat the company as dormant, and that you don’t have to pay Corporation Tax nor file Company Tax Returns (form CT600.)

If you have not received a ‘notice to deliver a Company Tax Return’ HMRC can be informed of company dormancy by post or over the phone.

If the company becomes active after a period of dormancy, HMRC must be informed within 3 months.

Dormant companies and VAT

If the company was registered for VAT before becoming dormant the company should deregister for VAT within 30 days of the company becoming dormant, unless there are plans for the company to continue trading in the future, then NIL (empty) VAT returns should be sent while the company is dormant.

Dormant companies and employees

If the company has become dormant and there are no plans to restart trading in the financial year, the PAYE scheme in operation by the company should be closed.

Dormant companies and Companies House

A company must file a confirmation statement (previously an annual return) and annual accounts with Companies House, even if the company is dormant for Corporation Tax, and dormant according to Companies House.

A company is classified as dormant by Companies House if it’s had no ‘significant’ transactions in the financial year. Significant transactions could include operating a payroll, earning interest or paying bank charges and fees. Non-significant transactions that are allowed to be undertaken by a company include:

  • Payment of shares by subscribers
  • Fees paid to Companies House for filing a confirmation statement
  • Late filing penalties paid to Companies House

Companies House do not need to be informed if trading is restarted – the next set of non-dormant accounts filed will show the company is no longer dormant.

If you would like to discuss any of this further then please contact us on 0116 242 3400.

Aiden Hyett, Accounts & Tax 

Deadline: March 3rd 5% late payment penalty on any 2016/17 outstanding tax

5% late payment penalty on any 2016/17 outstanding tax which was due on 31st January 2018 and still remains unpaid.

This deadline is relevant to individuals who need to complete a self assessment tax return and make direct payments to HMRC in respect of their income tax, Classes 2 and 4 NI, capital gains tax or High Income Child Benefit Charge liabilities.

The balance of any outstanding income tax, Classes 2 and 4 National Insurance, capital gains tax and High Income Child Benefit Charge for the year ended 5th April 2017 was due for payment by 31st January 2018. Where the payment is made late interest will be charged. On 3 March 2018 a late payment penalty of 5% will be added to the outstanding liability.

If we have already dealt with this matter on your behalf you need take no action.

If you would like to discuss any of this further then please contact us 0116 2423400

Our Charity of the year – Coping with Cancer

Each year at Torr Waterfield we choose a charity, local or national, to represent and raise money for. 

This year we have chosen to support Coping with Cancer.  The charity provided much needed emotional and physical support for a very close friend of Denise Burley who is a senior member of our team; hence the link to Coping with Cancer.  The friend has a young family and was determined to make such a difficult time as normal as possible.  She cannot praise the counselling team highly enough for their therapy sessions nor for the complementary therapies which made her feel like a person again instead of a cancer patient.  It is often the smaller charities that get overlooked but they provide practical help on your doorstep and even the smallest of donations can make a big difference.  Denise explained this to the team at Torr Waterfield and they were eager to do as much as they can to help.

Over the course of the next year we will raise money through a variety of activities such as dress down days, staff cake sales and planned events.  In May we will run our annual Torr Waterfield Karting Cup where 12 teams of 4 compete in a two hour endurance race.  September is when we have our ‘Walking challenge’ where our team, friends and family take part in an organised walk.  These aren’t just walks in the park!  We have previously walked 48 miles in two days around the Lyn peninsula in Wales & on another occasion completed the National Three Peaks in just 48 hours.

We look forward to working with Coping with Cancer over the next year and raising as much money as we can for this fantastic charity. To find out more what Coping with Cancer do and upcoming events please visit their website 

Mike Waterfield, Director 

0116 2423400 

Tax-free childcare roll out

The implementation of Tax-Free Childcare, the new government scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare, is being rolled out to eligible parents in stages.

The scheme first made its debut in April 2017 and although there have been initial systems problems, HMRC’s aim is to have the scheme open to all eligible parents by 14 February 2018. Application is made online through the Childcare Choices site and applications can be made for all eligible children at the same time.

Under Tax-Free Childcare, for every £8 the parent pays, the government provides a £2 top-up, to a maximum of £2,000 per child each year – with a higher limit of £4,000 for disabled children. This gives a total childcare pot of £10,000, or £20,000 for disabled children. To be eligible, parents must generally have minimum weekly earnings of at least £120 each. There is also an upper earnings limit of £100,000.

Compensation may be available in certain circumstances where a parent:

  • is unable to complete an application for Tax-Free Childcare
  • is unable to access their childcare account
  • or doesn’t get a decision about whether they are eligible, without explanation, for more than 20 days.

Those employing a nanny should be able to use the childcare account to pay their PAYE tax and National Insurance. Delays in getting this system working may also give grounds for compensation. Application is made online GOV.UK childcare-service-compensation 

If you would like to discuss any of this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400 or 


I am sometimes asked, “What date should my company accounts be made up to?”. It’s a very important question because there are deadlines connected to the filing of accounts with both Companies House and HM Revenue and Customs.  Automatic penalties are issued to companies where their accounts have been filed late.  Being aware of your accounting period will help you to organise your accounting records in a timely manner and give you a chance to avoid missing these very important deadlines.

How to determine an accounting period

Every company must prepare accounts that report on the performance and activities of the company during the financial year. The financial year starts on the day after the previous financial year ended or, in the case of a new company, on the day of incorporation. Financial years are determined by reference to an Accounting Reference Period (ARP). The financial period ends on the accounting reference date.

For all new companies, the first accounting reference date is set as the last day in the month in which its first anniversary falls.  For example, if a company was incorporated on 7 January 2017 the first accounting reference date would be 31 January 2018.  The subsequent accounting reference dates will automatically be on the same date each year.  It is worth bearing in mind that a company may make its accounts up to 7 days either side of their accounting reference date which will be of interest to companies that organise their accounting records weekly, such as bars and restaurants.

Can the accounting reference date be changed?

The accounting reference date can be changed by using the appropriate form AA01. You can change the current or previous accounting period; periods can be shortened as many times as you like, but you can only extend once in five years (with exception in certain circumstances).  The minimum you can shorten a period by is 1 day and you can lengthen a period to a maximum of 18 months (or longer if your company is in administration).

The form AA01 must be received at Companies House within the delivery time of the accounting period if you wish to change the date and you cannot change it if the accounts are already overdue.

Basic delivery times for filing accounts:

 Deadline for first accounts (if covering a period of 12 months or more)
Private company/Limited Liability Partnership 21 months from the date of incorporation*
Public Limited Company 18 months from the date of incorporation*
 Normal deadline (after your first year)
Private company/Limited Liability Partnership 9 months after the end of the accounting period*
Public Limited Company 6 months after the end of the accounting period*
*or 3 months from the accounting reference date (ARD), whichever is longer.


It is important to note that changing the accounting reference date will also change the filing deadline date, unless the first financial year is being lengthened.  This can be particularly noticeable for shortened accounting periods where the deadline may be unexpectedly brought forward because the filing date becomes 9 months after the end of the new accounting period, or 3 months after the date the change was made, whichever comes later.

We always recommend that you send your accounting records to us well before the company accounts delivery date as this enables us to prepare your accounts in time to meet the filing deadline and avoid penalties. 

What should I do if I am unsure?

The above guide is only a summary, so please contact us on 0116 2423400 if you would like any further advice and remember, you can always check your accounting reference.

Beth Judd, Accounts & Tax 

National Minimum Wage – where are we now?

Falling foul of the National Minimum Wage rules can be expensive – as well as having serious implications for employer reputation. Many firms have been named and shamed for getting it wrong – are you compliant?

Employer errors

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) keeps appearing in the headlines. Recently the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced that some 230 employers had been named and shamed for failing to pay NMW and National Living Wage (NLW). The retail, hairdressing and hospitality sectors were among the most non-compliant. Because of BEIS intervention, more than 13,000 low-paid employees were due to receive £2 million in back pay.

But the final price tag for employers who hadn’t kept the rules was much higher. Between them, they were also fined a record £1.9 million. Business Minister Margot James said there was a clear message to employers. ‘The government will come down hard on those who break the law.’

BEIS report that common employer errors include deducting money from employees to pay for uniforms, not accounting for overtime and wrongly paying apprentice rates to workers. So, what is the latest on NMW and how do employers keep on the right side of the law?

NMW and NLW – the basics

NMW is the least pay per hour most workers are entitled to by law. The rate is based on a worker’s age and whether they are an apprentice. NLW applies to working people aged 25 and over. From 1 April 2017, the rate ranges from £7.50 per hour for those aged 25 and over, to £3.50 per hour for apprentices under 19, or for those aged 19 or over who are in the first year of an apprenticeship. Changes to NLW rates are in the pipeline from April 2018, so employers may need to plan for these now.

NMW/NLW rates are reviewed by the Low Pay Commission, but it is HMRC who police the system. Employers can be faced with court action if they don’t pay NMW/NLW. Penalties for non-compliance stand at 200% of the back pay due to workers. The maximum penalty per worker is £20,000. There is a provision to reduce a penalty by half if unpaid wages and penalty are both paid within 14 days.

Not everyone qualifies for the NMW/NLW. These include people who are self-employed: volunteers: company directors: family members, or people who live with an employer and carry out household tasks eg au pairs.

But most other workers are entitled to NMW/NLW, including pieceworkers, home workers, agency workers, commission workers, part-time workers and casual workers. There are also rules regarding agricultural and horticultural workers, with slightly different small print for England, Scotland and Wales.

In calculating pay for minimum wage purposes, the starting point is total pay in a pay reference period – before deducting income tax and National Insurance. Some payments are not included, such as loans and pension payments.

To add to the complexity, there is also something called the Living Wage, which is an hourly pay rate, set independently by the Living Wage Foundation. This isn’t anything to do with the government, and any employer who pays this does so entirely voluntarily.

Latest guidance: social care workers

HMRC have updated their guidance to clarify how NMW applies in the social care sector for workers carrying out ‘sleepover shifts’, following confusion over whether such shifts qualified for NMW. BEIS had suggested sleepover shifts carried out before 26 July 2017 qualified for a flat rate allowance, not NMW. But the decision is that NMW does apply, and applies retrospectively.

This could have left employers with bills of up to six years in back pay and penalties. But from 26 July, enforcement activity for sleepover shift pay is suspended until November, with retrospective penalties for sleepover shifts before 26 July 2017 waived. The actual back pay is still due, unless employers can show they can’t pay. Although it is envisaged that underpayments will be pursued from this date, the government says it is committed to minimising the impact of future minimum wage enforcement in the social care sector.

If you would like to discuss any of this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400

Running a payroll can be time consuming and complicated and divert resources from the core activities of your business. We can address this by installing payroll software and training your staff. Outsourcing this activity also helps relieve the pressure and we can offer cost-effective solutions. We are able to provide the complete service, what ever the size or complexity of your business, or simply provide support when needed. If you would like a quote then please call 0116 2423400 or email

Proposals to extend pensions auto enrollment to younger workers

The government has announced proposals to extend pensions auto enrolment to include younger workers and to amend the way in which contributions are calculated.

According to the press release:

The review’s recommendations, which will now be progressed and legislated for where necessary, will see:

  • automatic enrolment duties continuing to apply to all employers, regardless of sector and size
  • young people, from 18 years old, benefiting from automatic enrolment, introducing 900,000 young people into saving an additional £800 million through a workplace pension
  • workplace pension contributions calculated from the first pound earned, rather than from a lower earnings limit – this will bring an extra £2.6 billion into pension saving, improving incentives for people in multiple jobs to opt-in, and simplifying the way employers assess their workforces and calculate contributions
  • the earnings trigger remaining at £10,000 for 2018/19, subject to annual reviews
  • contribution levels reviewed after the implementation of the 8% contribution rate in 2019
  • the government testing a series of ‘targeted interventions’ – including through opportunities to work with organisations who act as ‘touch points’ for the 4.8 million self-employed people, such as banks and those who contract labour – to explore how technology can be used to increase their pension saving.’

Under auto enrolment, employers are required to automatically enrol all eligible workers (generally employees) into a workplace pension scheme and pay a minimum contribution into their pension. Employees do, however, have the right to opt out of auto enrolment.

Currently workers who are aged between 22 and the State Pension Age with earnings of £10,000 per annum are eligible to be auto enrolled. Younger employees and those who do not meet the minimum income requirement can opt to make pension contributions.

The government plan to reduce the lower age limit to 18 by the mid 2020s, in order to encourage younger workers to get into ‘the habit of saving’.

David Gaulke, Work and Pensions Secretary said:

‘We are committed to enabling more people to save while they are working, so that they can enjoy greater financial security when they retire. We know the world of work is changing, so it is only right that pension saving does too. This ambitious package will see more people than ever before helped onto the path towards building a secure retirement.’

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), stated:

‘Requiring employers to contribute from the first pound of earnings will mean that, by 2019, hundreds of thousands of small employers will have to pay up to £180 more per employee each year. ‘For employers in certain sectors, such as care and hospitality where margins are tight, this will really add up.’

Contact us if you would like help with payroll and auto enrolment. 0116 2423400 or

14 Days left to submit your 2016/17 self assessment return

The following Tax Events are due on 31st January 2018:

Personal Tax Events

Deadline for submitting your 2016/17 self assessment return (£100 automatic penalty if your return is late) and the balance of your 2016/17 liability together with the first payment on account for 2017/18 are also due.

This deadline is relevant to individuals who need to complete a self assessment tax return and make direct payments to HMRC in respect of their income tax, Classes 2 and 4 NI, capital gains tax and High Income Child Benefit Charge liabilities. 

There is a penalty of £100 if your return is not submitted on time, even if there is no tax due or your return shows that you are due a tax refund.

The balance of any outstanding income tax, Classes 2 and 4 NI, capital gains tax and High Income Child Benefit Charge for the year ended 5th April 2017 is due for payment by 31st January 2018.  Where the payment is made late interest will be charged.

The first payment on account for 2017/18 in respect of income tax and any Class 4 NI or High Income Child Benefit Charge is also due for payment by 31st January 2018.

If we have already dealt with your self assessment return on your behalf you need take no action.

If you haven’t completed your self assessment return yet please contact us, we can help. 0116 2423400 or send us an email