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 www.childcarechoices.gov.uk 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 https://www.torrwaterfield.co.uk/contact-us 

A GUIDE TO ACCOUNTING REFERENCE DATES AND PERIODS

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 info@torrwaterfield.co.uk

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 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

Tax Events are due on 19th January 2018

The following Tax Events are due on 19th January 2018:

Business Tax Events

PAYE quarterly payments are due for small employers for the pay periods 6th October 2017 to 5th January 2018

This deadline is relevant to small employers and contractors only. As a small employer with income tax, national insurance and student loan deductions of less than £1,500 a month you are required to make payment to HMRC of the income tax, national insurance and student loan deductions on a quarterly basis.

Where the payment is made electronically the deadline for receipt of cleared payment is 22nd January 2018. In year interest will be charged if payment is made late. Penalties also apply.

PAYE, Student loan and CIS deductions are due for the month to 5th January 2018.

This deadline is relevant to employers who have made PAYE deductions from their employees’ salaries and to contractors who have paid subcontractors under the CIS.

Employers are required to make payment to HMRC of the income tax, national insurance and student loan deductions. Contractors are required to make payment to HMRC of the tax deductions made from subcontractors under the CIS.  

Where the payment is made electronically the deadline for receipt of cleared payment is 22nd January 2018. In year interest will be charged if payment is made late. Penalties also apply.

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 

Charity law changes

Since 2 January 2013 new charities have been able to register as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

Prior to that date the only way to be an incorporated charity was to form a limited company, registered at Companies House, and then apply for charity registration with the Charity Commission.  This approach meaning that there were two sets of laws to comply with and two separate annual filings.

The CIO is registered solely with the Charity Commission and subject to charity law only.

This was a long-awaited and very welcome change to the law.

There was however one sticking point and that was for a charity that had already registered as a limited company and now wanted to benefit from the updated legislation.  The only way forward was to set up a new CIO and transfer the old charity over.

New legislation was published on 23 November allowing charitable companies, in England and Wales, to convert to CIOs.  There will be a phased implementation: Charities with income below £12,500 will be able to apply from 1 January 2018 and those with income greater than £500,000 from 1 August 2018.  There are four other income bands that fit in to the intervening period.

It has been stated in official releases that the process should be “simple and straightforward in most cases”.  The charity will need to adopt a new CIO constitution and pass a Special resolution to convert.

It appears that procedures have been put in place for the Charity Commission and Companies House to liaise with each other so that the date of conversion is consistent between both regulators.

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

Neil Ford, Technical Manager