Ok, I’ll admit it – I am the worst at opening my post. I am forever in trouble with the other half for leaving an ever-growing pile of unopened post in the kitchen. He on the other hand, opens all his post as soon as he receives it, deals with everything immediately, file’s what is important and shreds what is not. However, the years of him nagging me are finally starting to pay off, I’m becoming a little bit more pro-active with my post and not burying my head in the sand any more. I must admit, although its easier to ignore it I have learnt one valuable lesson – it’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be!
If you are already a client of MAS Associates, you may have already met me, we may have had a few conversations on the phone, but you will have certainly received something in the post from me. Recently, I was tasked with the rather large job of renewing our engagement letters to allow for the new GDPR laws that were made effective 25th May 2018. If you’re one of the lucky ones, this will have been an envelope with just a few engagement letters, schedule of services and terms and conditions. For companies that we provide a large amount of services too and that have a number of directors that we act for as an individual, you will have received quite a few letters. All of which have been sent with duplicate copies, one for your files and one for you to return to us signed.
We have already received many of these back signed – fantastic! But a few of our clients have asked questions about the letters like “Do I really need to sign these?” & “What even is GDPR?”
These letters are important, engagement letters are the contract between you as a client and MAS Associates Ltd that defines the scope of work, responsibilities and obligations of each of the respective parties. By signing and returning these you are agreeing that you have understood the scope of work that we will carry out for you, our company policies and terms and conditions.
GDPR is the new EU "General Data Protection Regulation" and is the most significant shake-up in data privacy and data security in 20 years. It has replaced the "Data Protection Act". The biggest change to our engagement letter is the “Privacy Notice” section. As MAS Associates Ltd is both a Data Controller and Data Processor, the Privacy Notice section explains purposes for which we intend to process personal data, how long we will retain records for and your rights regarding the information we hold about yourself.
If you have not yet returned the engagement letters to us because you have questions that need answering or any concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Alternatively, if you’re like the old me and you’re currently storing the large unopened envelope with a MAS Associates Ltd stamp on, underneath a pile of washing that you should probably see too as well – get proactive! Give it a read, sign where prompted and return to me as soon as possible. You can always pop in with the letters and we’ll be happy to help you through them.
England’s World Cup campaign brought a feel-good factor to football fans up and down the country. Whilst football didn’t quiet make it home, it got a lot closer than in many previous attempts!
Now that the World Cup is over, the attention of football supporters will be returning to their domestic leagues. For many, this will involve following the multi-million-pound professional game. For others, it will be supporting the local non-league team.
Here at MAS Associates we have been supporting several local non-league clubs for a number of years and look forward to continuing to do so for the years ahead.
In recognition of England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals we are making a special offer to new clients that will benefit both you and the non-league team of your choice.
If you become a client of ours before the end of the 2018/19 football season we guarantee to save you 10% on your accounts fees for the first year you are with us, AND, we will also donate a further 10% of the fee you pay us to your chosen non-league club for each of the first three years.
Who knows, this may just help a potential star of the future, and possibly even England bring football home in 2022!
We have seen a number of clients receive bogus calls, supposedly from HMRC, informing clients that a warrant is about to be issued against them and they should contact the number in the message urgently to prevent this. In one case a client was told they owed £4,000 from several years ago. These calls have all originated from Manchester based numbers, but be aware that they could come from anywhere.
HMRC have confirmed that they are aware of this and that this is a scam. If you receive one of these messages do not respond, and most certainly do not make any payment over the telephone.
If in any doubt please check with us first!
Being the mother of two teenagers, every month seems to be expensive, but especially this time of year – what with the summer holidays just around the corner, July can be one of the most expensive of the year!
Not just for parents though, as this month, those of you who are self-employed will be digging deep into your pockets to pay your second payment on account for the tax year 2017-18.
If you have increased your income for 2017-18, your payments on account January and July 2018 may not cover your actual liability for the year. In this instance, your payments will not automatically be increased but it would be more than prudent to identify this possibility early on so that provisions can be made for your January 2019 payment in advance.
Equally, talk to your accountant if you now have evidence that your income is falling, as you can lodge an application with HMRC to reduce payments on account. Your July payment may be reduced, and dependent upon the circumstances perhaps significantly.
Just a reminder that the deadline to avoid late payment interest and penalties is 31 July 2018.
Time goes to quickly, I moved house last year, it’s almost been a year, I just can't believe how quickly the time has gone, changes happening all the time, especially with HMRC, making tax digital, make sure you look at digital software now, so you know which one works for you, time goes so fast, you don't want to be leaving it to the last minute.
From April 2019 businesses above the VAT threshold will be mandated to keep their records digitally and provide quarterly updates to HMRC for their VAT.
In the meantime, business can start researching which bookkeeping software might suit their enterprise. For instance, a business that is VAT-registered will need digital tools that have VAT capabilities. If another firm spends a lot on business travel, it could look at apps that allow employees to record expenses on their smartphones. The key is to match the needs of your business with the features of a product. Somebody who does jobs on their own, like a gardener or window cleaner, may need to get smartphone software which they can enter financial information into as they go along.
At MAS we are looking at two digital bookkeeping software packages, FreeAgent and Quickbooks. All staff have experience in FreeAgent, we as a team are qualified in FreeAgent and we are currently updating our qualifications in Quickbooks, all staff will be able to help with any queries, we will be able to login to the cloud, if we have permission and help with any queries. MAS has chosen these two because FreeAgent is at the moment free to NatWest customers, and we have also chosen Quickbooks because we have found this to be very popular will our clients.
If you have concerns or any queries, then please do not hesitate to contact the office, to speak to one of our friendly staff, we are always happy to hear from you and deal with any queries you may have
Bye for now
There will be various changes to pay, tax, National Insurance and pensions all taking effect from April. The most relevant ones are -
1. Minimum Wage - From 1st April 2018 the hourly rate will rise to £7.83 for those aged 25+. For 21-24 year olds it will be £7.38. For 18-20's it will be £5.90 and £4.20 for 16-17 year olds. The apprentice rate will be £3.70.
2. Tax codes will change from 6th April. For 2018/19 L codes will increase by 35, M codes by 39 and N codes by 31. The personal allowance will be £11,850, giving a basic tax code of 1185L.
3. Also from 6th April the National Insurance Primary Threshold will be £8,424 per year (or £702 per month / £162 per week).
4. Minimum pension contributions under automatic enrolment also increase from 6th April to 5% (3% employees and 2% employers).
Our offices will close for Easter at 5.30pm on Thursday 29th March and reopen at 8.30am on Tuesday 3rd April.
Bob Dylan told us so back in the 1960’s. What was true then is certainly true now and in the coming months.
Here at MAS Associates we have seen a few changes over the last year. Our new website is finally active, having lay dormant for too long. We have two new staff members who have joined us this year. Michelle officially joined us at the beginning of January, following a three-month temporary assignment. She is responsible for payroll, bookkeeping and VAT returns. Alyssia also joined us in January as Administrator. She’s usually the person you will hear answering the telephone and, amongst other things, will be responsible for ensuring clients meet their filing deadlines – or at last giving them plenty of reminders!
Over the next few months we’ll tell you more about our staff, as well as keeping you up-to-date on significant changes in accountancy, tax and other areas that may affect your business.
From 25th May this year the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in the UK. This will give people more control over personal data that is held about them and also aims to have identical data protection law throughout the single market (I know, only we can vote to leave the EU and then bring in EU regulations!). Under the new legislation Data Controllers must ensure personal data is processed lawfully, transparently, and for a specific purpose. Data should be deleted when it is no longer required, or when the purpose it was obtained for is complete. There are requirements to obtain consent from individuals to use their data, and Data Controllers must record how and when this consent was obtained. People have the right to access their data, correct any errors, and also have the data removed – the ‘right to be forgotten’. Any breaches of security have to be reported to the Data Protection Authority within 72 hours of becoming aware, where peoples’ rights are at risk. The individuals should also be notified. More information can be found on the Information Commissioners Office website at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/. Organisations should review their data protection policy and data security systems, including file encryption, as there can be significant fines for non-compliance.
Another significant change on the horizon will affect all VAT registered businesses that are above the VAT threshold. From April 2019 ‘Making Tax Digital’ will start to apply. We will cover this in more detail in a future post; but for now, from that date VAT returns will need to be submitted electronically to HMRC. In addition, the records from which they are prepared will need to be digital records. Where more than one system is used, these will need to link together via an Application Programming Interface (API). So, no more preparing invoices in excel or word and keying in your VAT return via the HMRC website.
And, of course, from March 2019 we will be leaving the EU and the single market. Whilst many see this as a major disaster, others will see it as a great opportunity. It waits to be seen how this will impact on tax legislation and reporting requirements.
We will keep you informed of significant developments along the way. If you don’t do so already, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and/or Linkedin to be kept up-to-date. You can also subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to ensure you get the latest information.