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

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 

Are you ready for GDPR? 25 May 2018

As of 25 May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enforced on organisations that process personal data of EU residents. Although very similar to the current Data Protection Act, the GDPR will strengthen the current data protection requirements by introducing a number of key changes for organisations. Some of these changes include:

  • The definition of personal data being broader
  • Consent will be necessary for processing children’s data
  • The rules for obtaining valid consent have been changed
  • The appointment of a data protection officer (DPO) will be mandatory for certain businesses
  • There are new restrictions on international data transfers
  • Data subjects have the right to be forgotten

For more information on the GDPR’s key changes you can visit:

https://www.itgovernance.co.uk/data-protection-dpa-and-eu-data-protection-regulation

Some things to consider when preparing to become GDPR compliant are:

  1. Are key decision makers and key people in your organisation aware that the law is changing to the GDPR?
  2. Is a record kept of the personal information you hold, and a log of where it came from and who it is shared with?
  3. Do your procedures in processing personal data comply with the individuals rights? (how you delete personal data or provide data to others)
  4. If someone requests personal information, are procedures in place to ensure data protection is upheld?
  5. Do you seek, obtain and record consent you gain from clients?
  6. Do you have an assigned Data Protection Officer?
  7. Do your current procedures in place enable you to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach?

 There is plenty of time to decide what type of risk assessments need to be carried out to ensure compliance with the new regulation is upheld but organisations should start to act as soon as possible as the maximum penalties for non-compliance under the GDPR will increase significantly – from £500,000 to the greater of €20,000,000 or 4% of an organisation’s global turnover.

For more information you can visit our website https://www.torrwaterfield.co.uk/news/latest-news-for-business/archive/news-article/2017/september/get-ready-for-the-new-data-protection-rules 

If you wish to discuss this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400

Amy Fisher, Reception & Administrator 

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.

Hot Topic Making Tax Digital for Business

The government have issued information on how Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB) is expected to work for VAT once the rules are introduced in April 2019.

Under the proposed rules, which have been issued subject to consultation, VAT registered businesses with turnover over the VAT registration threshold will be required to submit their VAT return digitally using software. Businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to:

  • keep their records digitally (for VAT purposes only) and
  • provide their VAT return information to HMRC through Making Tax Digital (MTD) functional compatible software.

It has also been confirmed that MTD will be available on a voluntary basis to other businesses, for both VAT and income tax.

Exemptions will be available where HMRC are satisfied the business is run by a practising member of a religious society or order whose beliefs are incompatible with the use of electronic communications, some insolvent businesses; or where HMRC are satisfied that it is not reasonably practicable to make a return using an electronic return system for reasons of disability, age, remoteness of location or any other reason.

The proposed rules include provisions that where a business is in scope for MTD the business must use functional compatible software to meet the new requirements. This software will either be a software program or set of compatible software programs which can connect to HMRC systems via an Application Programming Interface (API). The functions of the compatible software include:

  • keeping records in a specified digital form
  • preserving digital records in a specified digital form
  • creating a VAT return from the digital records and providing HMRC with this information digitally
  • providing HMRC with VAT data on a voluntary basis and
  • receiving information from HMRC via the API platform that the business has complied.

Businesses will need to preserve digital records in the software for up to six years. The digital records include:

  • ‘designatory data’ including the business name, principal place of business and VAT registration number together with information about which VAT accounting schemes they use
  • the VAT account that each VAT registered business must keep, by law, and
  • information about supplies made and received.

Further information on the required information can be found in Annex 1.

The government will make the final detailed requirements available to the software providers by April 2018 to allow time for the software to be developed and tested prior to the rules coming into effect from April 2019.

VAT returns

Businesses within the scope of MTD for VAT will be required to submit their VAT returns using their functional compatible software.

The information contained with the VAT return will be generated by pulling information from the digital records. This information will contain as a minimum the 9 boxes required for the completion of the VAT return but can also contain a specific data set of supplementary information, all of which will be pulled from the digital records.

Businesses submitting monthly or non-standard period returns will be able to continue to do so. The VAT annual accounting scheme will also be retained with the current conditions. Businesses making these types of returns will also be required to keep digital records and submit their VAT returns through software.

Under the new rules some businesses may choose to voluntarily provide further information:

Periodic updates
Businesses will be able to submit VAT information more frequently than their VAT return obligations require on a voluntary basis as a ‘voluntary update’.
Supplementary data
HMRC believes that businesses and HMRC could benefit from the submission of supplementary data detailing how the figures in the return are arrived at. HMRC believe this additional data will help them target non compliance. The software will allow for the voluntary submission of supplementary VAT data as part of a VAT return or a voluntary update. This will allow HMRC to test with businesses the extent to which they and HMRC can benefit from such supplementary data.

Timescale

VAT is the first tax to be reportable under MTD and businesses within the scope of MTD will need to keep their records digitally, using approved MTD functional compatible software, from 1 April 2019. The software will create the return from the digital records and this will need to be submitted under MTD for return periods starting on or after 1 April 2019.

We will keep you informed of developments in this area and ensure we are ready to deal with the new requirements. Please contact us for more information 0116 2423400

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 

Applying for a Mortgage? SA302’s are no more. A Tax overview is what you need.

HMRC’s form SA302 is a tax calculation produced when you have filed your Self-Assessment Tax Return online.

It is a calculation for a particular tax year showing your income, your tax allowances, the amount of tax you’ve already paid and what tax, if any, you still owe or which should be repaid to you.

If your Tax Return has to be amended and it affects the tax payable, HMRC will send you a revised SA302 showing the up to date position for that particular year.

If you are asked to provide evidence of your income, for example if you’re applying for a mortgage, and you have been paying through self-assessment, you are likely to be asked for an SA302 for one or more tax years.  Another document you may also be asked to produce is a tax year overview.  This is a simple summary or statement of the tax due and tax you’ve paid during the tax year.

If you have filed your own tax return online, you can access your HMRC account and print off both the SA302 and tax year overview as required.

HMRC have been encouraging taxpayers to obtain a copy of the ‘Tax overview’ and ‘Full Calculation’ from the online service for some time and, from 4 September 2017, they have confirmed that they will no longer send paper SA302s to agents on behalf of their clients.

There are a number of lenders that will accept the tax overview and printed calculation in place of a paper SA302 and HMRC are working on educating other lenders to increase acceptance so that, once the SA302’s are no more, mortgage advisors will be happy with these documents instead.

If you don’t know where to start getting your tax year overview or tax calculation, most accountants, including torrwaterfield, use commercial software to produce tax returns for their clients.  This automatically generates a tax calculation which is roughly equivalent to a form SA302.  The majority of mortgage providers have agreed with HMRC to accept this Tax Calculation and the Tax Year Overview which your accountant can print off for you.

For a complete list of mortgage providers and lenders who accept Tax Year over views please click here. 

If you would like any assistance on this, then please contact the office on 0116 242 3400.

James Yarnall, Accounts & Tax 

MATERNITY LEAVE AND PAY

I must admit that for most of my career to date I didn’t really think much about maternity leave and pay.  While training to be an accountant, just getting on with the job (apologies if that sounded a little like Theresa May!), it wasn’t really on my radar.  There did however come a point when I started thinking about it and realised that I didn’t really know anything about it, so here’s the basics:

Who is entitled to maternity leave?

 Any employee with an employment contract is entitled to maternity leave, no matter how long they have worked for their employer, as long as they give notice of the date they want to start their maternity leave at least 15 weeks before the baby is due.

How long is maternity leave?

Maternity leave is split into ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ and ‘Additional Maternity Leave’ which total 52 weeks.

All new mothers must take at least 2 weeks off after childbirth (or 4 weeks if they are a factory worker) but do not have to take the full 52 weeks.

 When does maternity leave start?

If there are no complications with the pregnancy, the employee can choose when to start maternity leave, but the earliest it can be started is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth (EWC).  If the baby is born early, leave starts the following day; it will also start automatically if the employee is off work for pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the EWC.

What about maternity pay?  Who is entitled to that?

To be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, the employee must be on the payroll in the ‘qualifying week’ (the 15th week before the EWC) and have worked for that employer for at least 26 weeks before that week.  In addition, they must provide proof of their pregnancy (a MATB1 form usually obtained from their midwife around the midpoint of the pregnancy) and earn at least £113 per week (gross) in the 8 weeks before the qualifying week.

Therefore not all those that are entitled to maternity leave will get maternity pay from their employer, but they may be able to get Maternity Allowance from the government instead. 

How much is maternity pay?

Statutory maternity pay is payable for up to 39 weeks as follows:

  • The first 6 weeks: 90% of the gross average weekly earnings (AWE)
  • The remaining (up to) 33 weeks: £140.98 or 90% of the AWE (whichever is lower)

So while maternity leave can be up to 52 weeks, statutory pay isn’t for that whole time.

Maternity pay is paid in the same way as wages, with tax and national insurance deducted.

Additional contractual maternity pay, over the minimum statutory amount, can also be paid and is common in some industries and the public sector (for example 6 months at full- or half-pay).

What about Dads?

As a Mum-to-be myself I have focused this blog on maternity aspects, but Dads have an entitlement too!  Dads are entitled to up to 2 consecutive weeks of leave but it can’t start before the birth and must finish within 56 days of the birth (or due date if the baby is early).  Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) is paid at the lower of £140.98 per week or 90% of average weekly earnings.

Alternatively, a couple may choose “Shared Parental Leave” – our Payroll Manager, Becky Edwards wrote a blog earlier in the year specifically on this subject please click here to read this. 

Unpaid Parental Leave

 Many people don’t know that this exists!  Parents who have been with their employer for over a year can take unpaid time off to look after their child’s welfare, for example to spend more time with the child, settle them into nursery or look into schools.  It is available for a total of up 18 weeks per child, up to their 18th birthday.  It must be taken in whole weeks, at a maximum of 4 weeks at a time, unless the employer agrees otherwise.

Unpaid parental leave can be taken at any time (subject to giving 21 days notice) right from the birth of the child, so can be used in conjunction with maternity, paternity or shared parental leave.

The Employer Perspective

 Employment rights continue while an employee is on maternity leave, for example the right to employer pension contributions, returning to a job and paid holiday (which accrues while on maternity leave at the employee’s number of days worked prior to leave, even if they come back to work part-time).

You can reclaim at least 92% of SMP/SPP paid to employees – this increases to 103% if you qualify as a Small Employer (if you paid less than £45,000 in Class 1 National Insurance in the previous tax year).  The reclaim should be calculated by your payroll software and deducted from your PAYE/NI liability for the tax month, however if you can’t offset it in full you can ask for a repayment, but not until the start of the next tax year.

 Katie Kettle

Technical Manager (and Mum-to-be)Katie Kettle Colour

The Employment Allowance

What is employment allowance?

Employment Allowance is a National Insurance credit that is offset against Class 1 Employer’s NI. The maximum amount that can be claimed in each tax year is £3,000, although you can still claim if you pay less than £3,000. When it was first introduced in 2014 you could claim up to £2,000 but it increased to £3,000 in April 2016.

Eligibility

You can claim if:

  • You are a business, including sole traders and partnerships, or charity paying Employers Class 1 NI.
  • You can claim if you employ a care or support worker.

You can’t claim if:

  • You are a director and the only employee.
  • You employ someone for domestic work e.g. Cleaner or Gardener
  • You are a business that does more than half of your work in the public sector, for example the NHS.
  • If you have more than one employer PAYE reference, you can only claim against one of them.

How to claim Employment Allowance?

You would claim through your Payroll software and tick the box next to the “Eligible for Employment Allowance”. This will then send an EPS (Employer Payment Summary) to HMRC to let them know you’re eligible and to start claiming it.

In Sage 50 Payroll:

  • Go to “Company” on the left hand menu.
  • Then “Settings”.
  • Tick the box as shown.

If you use HMRC’s Basic PAYE tools:

  • Select the relevant Employer in the menu on the homepage.
  • Then select “Change employer details”.
  • Tick “Yes” in the “Employment Allowance indicator”.
  • Send an EPS as normal.

Stopping your claim:

You only need to stop your Employment Allowance claim if you stop being eligible. You do not need to stop your claim manually if you reach the £3,000 limit before the end of the tax year, this doesn’t make you ineligible. If you do stop this claim before the end of the tax year, any credit you have already been given will be removed and you will have to pay any Class 1 NI due.

When to claim?

You can claim at any time in the tax year. If you claim late and you don’t use your Employment Allowance against Class 1 National Insurance you have already paid to HMRC you can ask them to offset it against other liabilities e.g. Corporation Tax and VAT. If you have no outstanding liabilities you can also ask them to refund it directly to you.

If you were eligible, you can claim unused Employment Allowance for up to 4 previous years. Currently you can claim back the allowance from when it was first introduced in 2014.

If you need any further guidance HMRC’s employer guide to Employment Allowance is a very useful resource https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employment-allowance

If you have any questions on the above or would like any more information, please feel free to contact us on 0116 242 3400.

Polly Dennis, Payroll Apprentice