Taxing Times – April 2017

Happy New year!! New tax year that is….welcome to the first Taxing Times of 2017/18! 

Without further ado let’s dive straight into this edition.  We hope you enjoy and we’ll speak to you again in June (as Taxing Times will be taking a break next month). Tax OppsIn this edition we look at:

  • Your invitation to our FREE cloud accounting seminars
  • National stress awareness month
  • Change to probate fees
  • Keep calm and Brexit
  • Payroll update
  • What’s new in the world of tax?


FREE Covering Cloud seminars

FB Cloud slide 1We are pleased to invite you to our seminar which will introduce you to cloud accounting.

How much time do you spend looking at the keys on your keyboard rather than looking at your business direction and growth? Cloud accounting will revolutionise your bookkeeping practice. Accessible anytime, anywhere it is quick cheap and really easy to use. And that’s before we get to automated bank feeds and invoicing in seconds!

The seminars are at:

CARLISLE – Dodds office, Tuesday 9th May, breakfast and registration from 8.30am, speakers and questions 9-11am.

PENRITH – North Lakes Hotel, Thursday 11th May, buffet tea and registration from 5.30pm, speakers and questions 6-8pm.

For further information and to book please click here. 

Thin Green LineNational stress awareness month

Stress related illness costs UK businesses over £6 billion a year.  With April being stress awareness month, now might be a good time to engage with staff on the issue.

Stress is a body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When a person feels threatened, the nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouse the body for emergency action. This was very useful when we lived in trees and had to flee from things with fangs and claws, but perhaps less useful when it is an angry FD shouting at you, or competing deadlines causing you to lose your cool!

So it is important to recognise these stress reactions and either utilise them where we can – for example, adrenaline gives an “energy” spurt which can give us that much needed push to get a project finished, OR if we are in danger of stress overload, manage the factors causing them (as too much stress means people stop functioning – hence the loss of £6bn to UK employers!)

Some tips to help maAngry Office Worker 509970_lnage stress include:

Exercise – which releases happy hormones.  Start a fitness initiative at work such as a steps competition (get your staff to use their fitbits competitively with perhaps a small prize for the most steps managed at lunchtimes etc); start a lunchtime yoga class; offer staff discounts to the gym….

Diet – instead of bringing in cakes and biscuits as treats, provide lots of healthy fruit as an alternative. And don’t skip meals. It’s not good for you and can put you in a bad mood, which can actually increase your stress levels. We can’t be the only ones who get “hangry” (hungry angry) and then can’t concentrate at all!

Regular communication – instigate a weekly catchup with your staff to discuss upcoming priorities, and workloads for the week, and use it to flush out any issues, and anyone becoming bogged down or overstretched so you can re-delegate things around the team.  Talking about what is going on really does help and a fresh perspective on a problem might be just what someone needs to get them over a hurdle.

Breathe – sounds obvious – but breathing properly is an art. Stopping and taking a few deep breaths can take the pressure off you right away. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel if you take 5 to do it:

  • Sit in a comfortable position with your hands in your lap and your feet on the floor.  Close your eyes.
  • Imagine yourself in a relaxing place. It can be on the beach, in a beautiful field of grass, or anywhere that gives you a peaceful feeling.
  • Slowly take deep breaths in and out for a few minutes.

Slow Down – OK, we don’t mean to an absolute crawl or not much will be achieved – and some pressure is a positive thing which enables us to get on with things. But we do need to chill out a little.  In these days of emails and technology everybody wants everything NOW. How many times has someone sent you an email then less than an hour later asked if you have done it yet ?– which just adds to frustration and a feeling that there isn’t quite enough time to manage. So….find some small ways to chill out.  For example, set your watch 5 or 10 minutes ahead. That way you’ll get places a little early and avoid the stress of being late.  Break down big jobs into smaller ones.  Don’t try to answer all 100 emails today – prioritise. Have a “to do” list and write everything down so you don’t have the stress of thinking you’ll forget something. But split it into what is absolutely essential today and what can wait (and write the non essential things over the page so they don’t distract or worry you every time you look at your “priority” list).

orange-lineChanges to Probate fees – a climb down?

Last month we reported that Probate fees are increasing significantly from May 2017, from a flat rate fee of £215 to a sliding scale which reaches up to £20,000. However, the joint committee on
statutory instruments has said that the changes could breach the constitutional principle that there should be no taxation without consent. The Ministry of Justice has said that it is not a tax but a “charge for services” but the Committee has rejected this argument and has put it to both the House of Commons and the House of Parliament that the proposed increase would be a breach of power.

It will now be a case of “watch this space” to see what does actually happen.

Keep calm and Brexit

45106394 - united kingdom exit from europe relative imageDespite the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, SMEs are actually in a great position…they can move swiftly and react quickly to circumstances, unlike large PLCs.  So in these uncertain times, SMEs should focus on doing what they do well: managing cash, concentrating on key performance indicators and keep engaging with staff and your customers. Everyone is in the same boat – collaborate with others, discuss what customers need and don’t get distracted by the political furore.


Payroll Update

A year is not 52 weeks!!

The recent naming of 359 businesses who failed to pay their employees the minimum wage has resulted in some queries around the calculation of annual hours for salaried wClock faces office workers 1795518_morkers.

After the latest list of national minimum and living wage offenders, there was publicity about certain employers having been found to not be calculating pay correctly.  HMRC has stated that a worker is entitled under their contract to be paid their salary in respect of a number of hours in a year and in order to comply with this requirement, employers need to either specify the annual hours in the workers’ contracts or provide sufficient information in the contract to allow the annual hours to be ascertained for the full calendar year.

HMRC does not specify the use of a particular divisor to use and if an employer has a credible system for determining the annual hours HMRC will use that when investigating potential NMW breaches.

Clearly using the 52 weeks divisor is not acceptable.

No Payroll Scheme? – You still have workplace pension duties

Are you an employer who does not need to operate a payroll scheme because:

  • none of your employees earn over the National Insurance Lower Earning Limit (£113 per week from April 2017) and
  • none of your employees have any other job/earnings

The Pension Regulator will not have been able to issue you with a staging date as this is linked to your payroll reference but the small print on The Pension Regulator website states that you do indeed have a staging date which is 1 April 2017.

You need to call The Pension Regulator to confirm you are an employer and you have to write to each of your employees to offer them the option to join your employer pension scheme.  The low earnings will mean there is no obligation for you to contribute to the pension if an employee asks to join but they still have the right to contribute themselves.  You will also need to complete a Declaration of Compliance with The Pension Regulator.

There is no indication as to how The Pension Regulator will monitor who is complying with their duties however there are severe penalties, should you not comply.

If you need any help with your Auto Enrolment duties please contact Julie in our payroll team.

Croatia is the best place to have your baby!!

Family - 10137351_xlA recent report states that UK mums get one of the lowest amounts of decently paid maternity leave in Europe and the UK ranks 22 out of 24 among European countries that offer statutory maternity leave.  While mums in the UK only get six weeks’ decently paid maternity leave, most European countries offer three months or more.

For example:

Six months: Croatia
More than four months: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic
More than three months: Estonia, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, France, Malta and Switzerland

orange-lineWhat’s new in the world of tax?

Unhappy families

An elderly couple locked in a feud with their children over their £600m estate are demanding they hand back paintings and jewellery worth £17m. The children are countersuing for a separate collection of items, which includes £3m of jewellery.

Takes family disputes to a whole new level!

Greedy sons lose out

Two brothers attempted to block their stepmother getting an extra £25,000 in their father’s will. Richard and Jonathan Powell have been ordered to pay £200,000 in legal fees after claiming that their disabled father, David, was unfit to make his final will that gave his second wife £125,000. They claimed that an earlier document under which the lady would get £100,000 was his true will. The Judge criticised the brothers as “unreasonable” for not accepting that their father and stepmother were a devoted couple and condemned the sons for forcing her to go to court.

Oh dear, more unhappy families!

Tax affairs confidential, unless you appeal

Actor Martin Clunes has been forced to reveal that he tried to claim the cost of cosmetic surgery on his tax return. HMRC refused the claim and Clunes appealed but lost the private hearing, which allowed his atShady man 15059865_stempt to be made public.

One can only speculate on what procedure was performed!!

Accountant jailed for £5m fraud on friend

An accountant from Cambridgeshire has been given an eight-year prison sentence for stealing more than £5m from three companies owned by a personal friend of 25 years’ standing.

Between January 2005 and July 2011, the accountant Mr Tully was given an increasing level of responsibility for his friend Mr Skolnick’s UK business interests in three companies. During this period Tully processed unauthorised payments by writing out cheques and transferring funds from the company accounts to his own personal account or to third parties for personal items and services.  The money was used to fund a luxury lifestyle which included building his own house, financial support for his accountancy practice, renovations to a hotel and general cash to support him.

Detective Sergeant Lee Nelson of City of London Police said: ‘Tully lied to his friend of 25 years to cover up the sheer scale of his crimes. He only admitted his guilt when faced with no alternative.

With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Accountants viewed as boring but well-paid

Stereotypes of accountants being boring but wealthy have not changed over the years as 44% of people consider accountancy to be the most boring career while over a quarter (27%) believe that it is the best paid profession

In a survey by Kaplan, the accountancy and tax training provider, two fifths of respondents chose accountancy as the most boring profession, which was five times more than a human resource manager which was voted second (12%).

Despite being viewed as boring, only 3% saw accountancy as a stressful career which ranked it far behind a nurse (37%), teacher (28%) and chef (11%).  Accountancy is still deemed to be one of the best paying professions, losing out on top spot to business consultants (32%).

It is also rated as one of the top professions for work/life balance.

Boring? Never!!  But not as well paid as ex- accountant Rachel Ray……!

Former accountant cleans up

48344542 - cleaning.Former accountant Rachel Ray who left her role as a business consultant ten years ago to set up Bright & Beautiful, a professional domestic housekeeping franchise. Her business now employs nearly 500 people and is worth £5m. Last year, she was named Outstanding Entrepreneur at the Northern Power Women Awards.


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