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 info@torrwaterfield.co.uk

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 info@torrwaterfield.co.uk

Why do I need to keep my bookkeeping up to date?

Happy New Year! This is the 1st post of the year & hopefully it will help you to start thinking about how to organise your business over the next 12 months. 

As we are all aware, Making Tax Digital is fast approaching meaning you need to have bookkeeping software in place for your business that you like! 

It may take quite some time to find bookkeeping software that you get along with and understand. There are many out there including: Xero, Sage One and Iris Kashflow.

Keeping your bookkeeping up to date can be good for many reasons:

  • You can have an up to date profit and loss account to see how your business is doing and compare it to other periods
  • Review your VAT return to look at liabilities
  • You can make your own sales invoices on most bookkeeping software which can save a lot of time
  • You can also keep track of your creditors and debtors which will lead to better cash control and more reliable forecasting

In my experience the bookkeeping software that I have personally found best, and clients who have no bookkeeping experience have seemed to like the most, is Xero. This is for many reasons, some of them being the following:

  • Bank feeds – We all know that typing up your bank can be very time consuming and then you come to reconcile it you’re 1p out! This is why I love bank feeds. Everything is pulled through from your online banking, meaning you do not need to worry about that 1p; all you have to do is match the bank receipts against sales invoices and payments to purchase invoices. Xero also has the function of ‘rules’ meaning if you have a standing order set up for example £25.00 to Vodafone every month, you can create a rule to routinely post this bank payment to telephone expenses with the specified VAT treatment.

 

  • Submitting your VAT return online. Once you are happy with your VAT return on Xero you can ‘File it now’ meaning you just need to put your government gateway login information on to Xero and it will be submitted for you – unfortunately you still have to make the payment to HMRC!

 

  • Paperless record keeping – How many of us have an office full of the past 6 years of records? Everyone I’m hoping! This is a really handy feature with Xero, especially if you like a tidy office.  With Xero you can attach a pdf copy of the invoice online meaning there will always be a copy of that invoice and you will not have to keep a paper version of it.

 

If you are looking into starting your bookkeeping with online software and would like some advice on which one is best for your specific  needs, or would like some training, please get in touch with us on 0116 242 3400.

Georginda Hare, Bookkeeper 

VAT: Overseas sales

VAT: Overseas sales

Below are some very basic rules of how to deal with VAT on overseas sales. If you ever come across these, please contact us as there are a lot more details which should be reviewed before anything is submitted to HMRC.

The following are basic questions that need to be answered before being able to decide whether VAT should be charged or not:

Are you supplying goods or services?

Are you supplying to a business or a consumer?

Where are they located?

Are they VAT registered?

Goods

EU:

VAT Registered Business-

If the VAT number has been provided by the Business and there is a VAT number on the invoice as well as documentary proof of export, VAT can be charged at 0%.

Non-VAT Registered Business or Consumer-

If the customer is not VAT registered you will have to charge VAT at 20%. However this is only true until the distance selling threshold is exceeded, which depends on the country concerned.

 Outside the EU:

If the Customer resides outside the EU, VAT can be charged at 0%.

 Services

EU:

All VAT and Non-VAT Registered Businesses-

VAT can be charged at 0%, if the service is for business purposes.

Consumer-

VAT must be charged at 20%.

However, if it is an ‘e-service’ you would have to charge VAT at that country’s own rate.

Outside the EU:

All VAT and Non-VAT Registered Businesses-

VAT can be charged at 0%.

Consumer-

VAT can be charged at 0% for the following services:

Electronically supplied services

Advertising

Legal

Accountancy

Consultancy

Supply of staff

Hire of goods

Telecoms and broadcasting

 

VAT must be charged at 20% on all other services.

If you have any queries, or require any further information on this, please do not hesitate to contact us 0116 2423400

Jess Cooper, Accounts & Tax 

Important changes to HMRC payment methods.

Important changes to HMRC payment methods:

HMRC are making the following changes to the way you pay tax.

 Paying at the Post Office

HMRC are withdrawing this service from 15 December 2017.

 Paying by Personal Credit Card

HMRC will no longer accept payments of tax by personal credit card from 13 January 2018.

Please note that payments by company credit cards are still accepted.

The following methods of payment will continue to be accepted;

  • Direct Debit
  • Online or telephone banking, which includes Faster Payments, Bacs and CHAPS
  • Debit card online or by telephone

For further details please see;

https://www.gov.uk/pay-self-assessment-tax-bill

https://www.gov.uk/pay-corporation-tax

https://www.gov.uk/pay-paye-tax

Don’t overlook your December employer PAYE/NI payment

The December payment deadline is a little way off but will soon be upon us. Any electronic payment for the tax period ended 5 December 2017 must clear into the HMRC account by Friday 22 December 2017.

If you pay by cheque in the post, payment must reach the Accounts Office by 19 December.

If you shut down early for Christmas we want to remind you to pay on time or make arrangements to ensure your payment will be made on time.

If you pay the right amount at the right time and use your 13 character Accounts Office reference you won’t incur interest and Late Payment Penalties.

If you would like to discuss any of the above please contact us on 0116 2423400

Autumn Budget 2017

Yesterday saw a budget that focused, as expected, on housing and a stormy economic forecast. Our full summary is available on our website, but the key tax developments are summarised below.

Personal Tax Rates and Allowances

The personal allowance is currently £11,500 and will increase to £11,850 in April 2018. The higher rate threshold similarly increases from £45,000 to £46,350. Phillip Hammond reaffirmed his commitment to raise these thresholds to £12,500 and £50,000 respectively by 2020.

 National Insurance for the self-employed

 After the embarrassment of Mr Hammond’s U-turn earlier this year after attempting to abolish Class 2 National Insurance and increase Class 4, it was announced that in order to give sufficient time for a more popular proposal to be devised, there will be a delay of one year before any reform.

Capital Gains Tax

 After unfavourable consultation, the proposal for a 30-day window between Capital Gains arising and the tax being due has been deferred until April 2020.

 Research and Development

 Large companies claiming relief for research and development under the RDEC scheme will see their credit increase from 11% to 12% as part of plans to help the economy grow after Brexit.

Corporation Tax

Indexation Allowance – a long standing relief for companies making capital gains will be frozen from 01 January 2018. This allowance protected companies from gains that arise as a result of inflation and as a result no relief will be available for inflation accruing after this date. This move is perhaps unsurprising, with property investors more often operating through a limited company as a result of this allowance and the increased taxation of landlords in recent budgets.

 Stamp Duty

 With the youth vote rocketing in the last election, the government has decided to act further on the concerns that first time buyers are struggling to get on to the property ladder. Stamp duty will be abolished immediately for first time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £300,000. Those buying their first houses in expensive areas such as London will pay no stamp duty on the first £300,000 of properties costing up to £500,000.

 Value Added Tax (VAT)

 The VAT registration threshold will remain at £85,000 p/a for two years from April 2018. This will come as a relief for many, as some predicted this could be lowered to nearer the EU average of £25,000.

Making Tax Digital (MTD)

 As announced in July, no business will be mandated to use MTD until April 2019, and then only for VAT obligations. The scope of MTD will not be widened until April 2020 at the earliest.

The above are only the areas that I feel will be relevant to the majority of our clients, other areas and greater detail can be found on our website, click here. 

Please contact us on 0116 242 3400 if you have a specific query.

Matt Smith.

What is the VAT cash accounting scheme?

What is the VAT cash accounting scheme?

The VAT cash accounting scheme is a useful tool for many small businesses, as you only pay the VAT on your sales to HMRC once you have received payment yourself.

However, you may only reclaim VAT on your purchases from HMRC when payment of the invoice has been made.

You can join the cash accounting scheme if your turnover is less than £1.35m, and can continue to use the scheme until your turnover reaches more than £1.6m.

Your business should be eligible to use the scheme if you meet the threshold requirement, unless your VAT affairs are not up-to-date, you have been convicted of a VAT offence or have been penalised for evading VAT over the past 12 months.

What is the advantage of using cash accounting?

Clearly the main benefit of joining this VAT scheme is in the cash flow benefits it provides. If you have a late paying client for example, you will not have to account for the VAT on any outstanding sales invoices until you have been paid. In fact, if you incur any bad debts, the VAT will never need to be paid to HMRC.

What is the disadvantage of using cash accounting?

There may be some disadvantages, depending on your situation.  For example, as you cannot reclaim the VAT on any purchases you make until payment is made, this could cause cashflow problems if you buy a substantial amount of stock on credit.

Joining the cash accounting scheme

You do not need to inform HMRC if you want to join the scheme. However, you must start at the beginning of a new VAT quarter.

You can also leave the scheme at the end of any VAT quarter, if necessary, or if your taxable turnover reaches the £1.6m mark.

If you would like any assistance on joining, leaving or any further information on the cash accounting scheme, then feel free to contact  the office on 0116 242 3400.

Tom Luckett,  Accounts & Tax 

New Vehicle Tax Rates April 2017

We all know that there are a few things we need to consider before buying a new car.

These are some common questions which are asked by clients (hopefully before they go ahead and make that major purchase):

“Should I purchase a car through my business or should I use my own car for business use?”

“Should I lease or purchase a car?”

…and perhaps the most common question of all:

“How much tax will I have to pay?”

You may be interested in purchasing an electric car because you are concerned about the environment.  The government have certainly put in place tax incentives to encourage us to think ‘green’ and, with BMW recently deciding to build their future electric cars in the UK, it would seem that the motor industry is following suit.

Despite the many obvious things we all have to consider when purchasing a new car perhaps there is one thing that you may not be aware of and that is the new vehicle tax rates that were introduced from 1 April 2017.

The way vehicle tax is calculated has changed for cars and some motor homes that were first registered with DVLA from 1 April 2017.  The change doesn’t affect any vehicle registered before 1 April 2017.

The rates explained

Vehicle tax for the first year is based on CO2 emissions.  From 1 April 2017 this rate has increased and is now between £0 for electric cars and £2,000 for the highest polluting cars.  Vehicle tax rates can be checked by visiting https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-tax-rate-tables.

After the first year, the amount of tax that needs to be paid depends on the type of vehicle. The rates are:

  • £140 a year for petrol or diesel vehicles
  • £130 a year for alternative fuel vehicles (hybrids, bioethanol and LPG)
  • £0 a year for vehicles with zero CO2 emissions (electric vehicles)

New vehicles with a list price of more than £40,000

If a vehicle has a list price (the published price before any discounts) of more than £40,000, the rate of tax is based on CO2 emissions for the first year.

After the first year, the rate depends on the type of vehicle (petrol, diesel, alternative fuel or zero emissions) as above plus an additional £310 a year for each of the next 5 years.

After those 5 years, the vehicle will then be taxed at one of the standard rates (£140, £130, or £0) depending on vehicle type.

So for vehicles with a list price of more than £40,000, from the second time they are taxed and for the next 5 years, the amount of tax to pay will be as follows:

  • £450 a year for petrol or diesel vehicles
  • £440 a year for alternative fuel vehicles (hybrids, bioethanol and LPG)
  • £310 a year for vehicles with zero CO2 emissions (electric vehicles)

If you are considering the purchase of a new car and would like more information about the new vehicle tax rates then please click on the following Youtube video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbV7Yfud1dE

There are certain accounting and tax issues associated with business vehicles so please get in touch if you have any questions about a vehicle you wish to use in your business.  Remember it is always a good idea to ask for advice before making a major purchase as it is important to know all the facts before making a decision.

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

Beth Judd, Accounts & Tax 

Late registration for VAT can be costly to your business.

Registering for VAT is a must if your turnover reaches a certain level; it’s part of your role to ensure that your business is suitably prepared and aware of when the registration needs to be made.

The VAT registration threshold is £85,000 – meaning that once your turnover crosses this level, in a 12 month rolling period, you may have to register for VAT. This can be a big change for a business and needs serious consideration as to the effects it can have.

A failure to comply with the HMRC rules to register on time can lead to penalties which soon tally up and leave you considerably out of pocket.

The penalty is worked out as a percentage of the VAT due, from the date when you should have registered to the date that HMRC either receive your notification or become fully aware that you were required to be registered. The rate of penalty depends on how late you were in registering:

If you registered: Then the penalty rate will be:
not more than 9 months late 5%
more than 9 months but not more than 18 months late 10%
more than 18 months late 15%

There will always be a minimum penalty of £50.

If you feel that your business could be approaching the VAT turnover threshold then get in touch so that we can help. 0116 2423400

Brook Lucas, Accounts & Tax

Did you look after your Grandchildren this summer?

Get paid to babysit!

Did you look after your Grandchildren this summer?  If they are aged under 12 you could be missing out on the chance to boost your future State Pension.

Top Grandparent facts:

  • 1 in 4 working families and 1 in 3 working mothers use Grandparents for childcare
  • 63% of all Grandparents with grandchildren under 16 help out with childcare
  • 1 in 5 Grandmothers provide at least 10 hours a week of childcare
  • the proportion of Grandparents who are of working age is set to grow as the retirement age gradually rises

Half of Britain’s 7 million working-age Grandparents have a Grandchild under the age of 16 and could qualify for Class 3 National Insurance credits for looking after children aged under 12 – which can be used to top up their income in retirement.

Applications for NI credits for caring for children under 12 need to be made to HM Revenue & Customs.  Applications need to be made in, or after, the October following the end of the tax year in which the caring took place.

Grandparents who have cared for their Grandchildren during the tax year 2011/12 are still able to apply for their credits now.

There is no minimum condition for the number of hours of care in a week as long as the credit is transferred for a full week.

This scheme will benefit women, and the self-employed who currently cannot qualify for state second pension.

If you have any questions or want to discuss this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400

Georginda Hare, BookkeeperGeorginda Hare BC.JPG