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Archive for December, 2012

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As a small business owner, there is always the possibility that HMRC will choose to pay you a visit to audit your PAYE records as part of a compliance visit.

If they do pay you a visit, their focus is usually on the following contentious items;

  • Payments to casual employees
  • Private Petrol
  • Payments to Spouses or spouses travel costs
  • Travel to work from home
  • Travel for purpose other  than 100% business – eg – social events, golf days etc
  • Home telephone
  • Entertaining payments
  • Expenses for use of home as an office
  • Goods and services provided for free or below market value
  • Clothing
  • Accommodation
  • Medical Expenses

As part of a visit, HMRC will wish to inspect;

  • PAYE deduction working sheets
  • Reconciliation of payroll records with P35 forms
  • Treatment of starters and leavers
  • Expense payments and paid benefits and P11D forms
  • Compliance with dispensation agreements
  • Compliance with National Insurance regulations
  • Compliance with Contractors rules

 

Accountant RomfordTransform AccountingEssex Accountants

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cogs

Finance functions in the UK have always had a strong focus on costs and cost reduction. Most CFO’s like to set a good example by constantly looking at their own Finance department for cost efficiencies.

Traditional productivity levers like workforce reduction and automation for most organisations finance departments have been used extensively over the last two decades.

This focus has increased in its intensity over the last 4 years since the global recession began.

For most companies in the UK, this is a well trodden path however most are now experiencing diminishing returns as they attempt to repeatedly “transform” their finance functions in this way for cost reduction.

The days of easy simple staff reductions and automations are now behind most finance functions.

Treading this same path over again just results in a choice of either consciously taking decisions to do less with less resources and choosing which activities to stop, or the more common and far worse situation of attempting to do the same activities but with less resource. As many have found out, this path only leads to increases in risk, compliance and business support issues.

So, given the diminishing returns, what is the CFO under pressure to reduce costs to do?

The finance function is mainly made up of four key processes.

A good place to start is a benchmark exercise to consider the current in house processes against best practice and consider how these processes can be improved and streamlined where necessary.

Business Planning – The entire planning cycle.

Source to Pay (S2P) – The entire process from purchase requisitioning, supplier and product selection, order processing and payment.

Order to Cash – The process from sales order processing through to cash collection.

Consolidation To Report – The process of reporting at low local level, through to financial consolidation and subsequent management and statutory reporting.

For each of the above processes, the cost conscious CFO needs to look carefully at the three main areas of cost generation – staffing, consulting and systems costs.

The streamlining of a process may involve investment in systems and consulting, but the key is to take a bottom line cash view to any review.

Benchmarking of these key processes is always the right place to start, but is one that is so often overlooked by finance departments. It is only when current practices are carefully reviewed and compared to best practice that  a lack of investment in modernisation of techniques and systems can become apparent.  Comparison then of “as is now” with the best of breed should point the way to running a finance department that is as efficient and cost effective as the best can be achieved.

Accountant LoughtonTransform AccountingAccountant Essex

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loan

Pay Less Tax – Director Loans and Interest – How the Tax Works

If the owner of a limited company makes a loan to the company, then he is entitled to charge interest to the company.

Here is how the tax works.

When the company makes a payment on the loan, this payment will include an element of interest.
The company has to deduct basic rate tax at 20% on the interest – this is effectively the same as a bank that must deduct 20% basic rate tax on interest paid to savers.

Remember – this 20% is only levied on the interest, and not on any repayment of principle.

The company must also complete a form CT61 each quarter.  This form sets out the interest paid, and tax deducted and must be submitted to HMRC along with the withheld tax.

For the owner of the limited company – if you are a lower rate tax payer, then this 20% withheld tax will be sufficient and there is no further tax to be paid.
However, should you be a higher rate tax payer, then there will be additional tax to pay on the interest received and this will be included in your annual tax return.

Ongar AccountantTransform AccountingAccountant Essex

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Recent surveys have shown that over a quarter of small business owners are still unaware of incoming changes to the way PAYE tax details must be filed.

And even more worrying, in the survey of 1,700 small businesses by the Federation of Small Businesses, only 16% of business owners stated that they were fully aware of what Real Time Information meant for their business and had made the appropriate preparations.

There is now less than 6 months before the changes are due to come into force in April 2013.

The survey also reported that of the firms that had prepared for RTI, over 30% had to buy new payroll software for their business.

If you have any concerns regarding Real Time Information and how it might affect your business, be sure to discuss this with your accountant in good time before April 2013.

Accountant EppingTransform AccountingEssex Accountants

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charity

Charitable Donations and Your Business Tax

If you wish to make a charitable donation through your business, there are tax implications that should be considered to ensure that you do not pay too much tax.

Charity Must be Registered

If the charity that you intend to make a donation to is a registered charity, then you are able to claim corporation tax relief for the full amount of your donation.

You Must Not Exceed Your Current Year Profits

However, the amount of the donation must not exceed your profits in the current year – ie – you cannot claim corporate tax relief on losses.

Also, you cannot use carried forward tax losses from previous years to offset a charitable donation – it is only the current year’s profit that can be used.

A Real Donation

Finally, in order to receive the full tax relief benefit, you must not receive any benefit from the donation such as advertisements.

If you require assistance with your tax planning and charitable donations, please contact a suitably qualified accountant.

Loughton AccountantTransform AccountingEssex Accountant

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The Card Payment Protection Company (CPP) faces a fine of £10m after being censured by the FSA for mis selling insurance products.

In addition to the fine, CPP have been ordered to set aside £14 m to pay compensation to customers wrongly sold their card protection insurance.

The ruling from the FSA stated that CPP sales agents were 2overly persistent” when selling their products, aimed to protect people against identity thefts.
In many cases, customers were already covered by their banks and credit card providers.

Tracey McDermott of the FSA said in her statement that “this exposed a large number of customers to the unacceptable risk of buying products they did not want or need”.

So, if you have bought CPP insurance in the last decade, this could be another opportunity for a PPI claims.

Accountant HarlowTransform AccountingEssex Accountants

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The wholesale price of a litre of petrol fell from 54pence at the beginning of October to 45pence at the end of the month.

Wouldn’t it be great if that was the price that motorists could pay, but the “wholesale” price is the price that retailers pay for their petrol before adding profit margins, fuel duty and VAT and selling it on to the UK’s motorises.

So, if the price to retailers has fallen by nearly 10pence, how much has the cost to consumers fallen in that same time period?

The answer? Less than 4p.

Something seems very wrong here, as VAT should have increased this difference from 9p to 11p, not decreased it to 4p.

So where has this difference gone?

There is very little transparency about wholesale fuel costs so it can be hard to identify where the blame lies. The obvious candidate is fuel retailers, but in the summer the Daily Telegraph newspaper identified that motorists had been paying too much for their fuel because banks and other traders are likely to have manipulated oil prices in the same was as they rigged the libor interest rate.

Calls from groups such as the Automobile Association for the Chancellor George Osborne to get a grip on price manipulation are now increasing in volume, but for now, it appears that an increase in fuel prices is passed on to the motorists almost immediately whilst a fall in the wholesale price seems to take an age to be seen at the pumps.

Accountant ChelmsfordTransform AccountingEssex Accountants

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