The Government have announced several new measures in an effort to safeguard jobs and help the economy -
1. Job Retention Bonus - There will be a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers that have used the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) for each furloughed employee that remains employed through to at least the end of January 2021. Employees need to earn at least £520 per month between November 2020 and January 2021, have been furloughed by the employer and claimed for under the JRS and be continuously employed until at least 31st January 2021. The bonus will be available in February 2021. More information will be available by the end of July with full details released later this year.
2. VAT Reduction - A temporary reduction in the rate of VAT to 5% has been announced for eat-in or hot takeaway food and drinks from restaurants, cafes and pubs, excluding alcohol. A similar reduction will apply to holiday accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, caravan and campsites, and attractions such as cinemas, zoos and theme parks. This will run from 15th July 2020 to 12th January 2021.
3. A temporary increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) threshold from £125,000 to £500,000, meaning no SDLT will be payable on the purchase of a main home up to £500,000. The reduction applies immediately and runs until 31st March 2021.
4. Eat Out to Help Out - Diners can get 50% off meals and non-alcoholic drinks, up to £10 per person, when eating out at participating restaurants, bars, cafes etc during August. The establishment will need to have registered for the scheme in order to claim the 50%/£10 per head.
5. Previously announced changes to the JRS also start to come into effect. Claims for periods up to 30th June need to be submitted by 31st July. From 1st August JRS will not cover employers National Insurance or pension contributions.
The Chancellor has today announced changes to both of these schemes.
The Job Retention Scheme (JRS) will continue in its current format until the end of July; however, employees may work part-time for their employers from 1st July and still remain on the JRS although claims will be amended accordingly. For August the Government will again contribute 80% of furloughed employees wages (up to a maximum of £2,500), but employers will not be able to claim back employer's national insurance and employer's pension contributions. For September the Government's contribution will be 70%, with the employer contributing 10%, and for October the ratio will be 60% and 20%. The scheme will cease on 31st October.
The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme has also been extended. Those eligible will be able to make a second and final claim in August for an additional 3 months average profit. This will be set at 70% of average profits. limited to a maximum of £6,570. The scheme will then close.
The Chancellor has today announced that the Furlough scheme will be extended by a further four months to the end of October. The scheme will continue to cover 80% of an employees normal salary up to £2,500 per month.
HMRC have issued updated guidance for self-employed businesses adversely affected by the Coronavirus outbreak to check if they are eligible for a grant under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
The Government have announced further support for small businesses in the form of 100% Government guaranteed loans of between £2,000 and £50,000. These will be interest free for the first 12 months and will be available from 9.00AM on Monday 4th May. Loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval.
The Job Retention Scheme and the portal for making claims is now up and running -
The Government have issued an online calculation guide and online calculator to assist employers with claims under the Job Retention Scheme.
The Government have issued a step by step guide for employers who need to make a claim under the Job Retention Scheme -
Following yesterdays announcement that lockdown would be extended by another three weeks, the Government have announced that the furlough scheme will be extended by another month to the end of June. This will be extended further if necessary.
The Government have confirmed that this should be up and running next week. Claims may take some time to process as HMRC carry out verification checks. Some important points to note include -
1. There needs to be written confirmation from the employer to the employee that they are being furloughed. This record needs to be kept for 5 years.
2. Furloughed employees need to have been on the payroll on or before 19th March 2020. Any employees on payroll at 28th February 2020 who were made redundant or stopped working may be re-employed and furloughed.
3. 80% of the employees wages, up to a maximum of £2,500, may be claimed per month. The 80% is calculated based on the last pay period prior to 19th March 2020.
4. Any employees you place on furlough must be furloughed for a minimum period of 3 consecutive weeks. When they return to work, they must be taken off furlough. Employees can be furloughed multiple times, but each separate instance must be for a minimum period of 3 consecutive weeks.
HMRC have updated details of available business support, including links on how claims can be made. However, systems to claim are not available yet.
HMRC has issued updated guidance for employers and employees on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme -
HMRC have released additional details of the scheme, which will reimburse up to 2 weeks sick pay for employees off sick due to Covid-19 commencing on or after 13th March 2020. The online service to make the claim is not available yet.
HMRC have announced further details on the deferral of VAT payments due between 20th March and 30th June 2020. Payment may be deferred until 31st March 2021 without penalties or interest being charged. You do not need to notify HMRC you are doing this, but you must cancel any direct debit instruction in place, otherwise HMRC will take payment as normal. VAT returns still need to be submitted on time and HMRC will process refunds as normal.
HMRC aim to have the Job Retention Scheme up and running by the end of April.
Additional guidance has been issued by HMRC -
The Government have announced financial support for the self-employed who have suffered loss of income due to the Coronavirus outbreak. 80% of their average monthly trading profit based on the last three trading years, or a shorter period if trading for less than three years, up to a maximum of £2,500 will be payable. Tax returns for at least 5th April 2019 must have been filed. Self-employed businesses with trading profits above £50,000 per year will not qualify. HMRC will be contacting self-employed individuals who qualify and invite them to apply online. It is expected that payments will be available in June.
The new rates from 1st April 2020 are: 25+ £8.72; 21-24 £8.20; 18-20 £6.45; Under 18 £4.55; Apprentice £4.15
The Government have announced a 3 month extension to the Companies House filing deadline for company accounts. Companies can apply for this from 25th March 2020 and so avoid late filing penalties if the accounts are filed late. Application needs to be made before the original filing date.
Following the Government announcement on Monday 23rd March self-employed people may find they now need to make a Universal Credit claim.
Details of how to claim are found on the gov.uk website here -
These will increase by £20 per week from 6th April 2020.The amount of benefit will depend on circumstances, but if you are already claiming Working Tax Credits there is no action necessary as the increase will be automatically applied.
The Government have announced several updated packages of financial support for employers and businesses. Whilst announcements can be 'headline grabbing', details can take several days to emerge. We will endeavour to update information as and when available.
JOB RETENTION SCHEME - set up to enable employers to pay employees salaries for employees who would otherwise have been laid off. The employer will designate the employee as a 'furloughed worker' and notify the employee. They will also notify HMRC of this through a new HMRC Online Portal, details to be announced. HMRC will reimburse 80% of the wage cost, up to £2,500, per month. The system to do this is still to be announced. It is planned to backdate this to 1st March 2020.
SHORT TERM BUSINESS LOANS - Businesses can apply for short term business loans of up to £5million. These are interest free for twelve months. All major banks will provide these, and they should be available this week. https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/
VAT DEFERMENT - VAT quarter payments have been deferred until 30th June 2020. This is automatic, and there is no need to apply.
SELF-ASSESSMENT - Self-assessment payments due on 31st July 2020 have been deferred to 31st January 2021. This is automatic, and there is no need to apply. HMRC will not charge penalties or late payment interest on these deferred payments.
UNIVERSAL CREDIT/WORKING CREDIT - these have been increased by £1,000 per year for 12 months. Self-employed individuals will be able to claim Universal Credit if off sick due to Covid-19. This will be paid from day one, at the same rate as Statutory Sick Pay. The Universal Credit minimum income floor has been removed.
The Government have launched a new online service for those unable to work for more than seven days due to the Coronavirus to obtain an isolation note.
The Government have announced that the £10,000 grant available for businesses that qualify for Small Business Rate Relief will be issued automatically by local councils in April.
In accordance with the Governments advice on the Covid-19 outbreak we have decided to implement working from home. Alyssia and I will still be in the office from 9:00am until 5:00pm every day, allowing clients to drop off paperwork, although we are asking all clients to keep visiting to a minimum.
Please contact us by either telephone (01543 273830), fax (01543 279713), post or e-mail rather than calling into the offices where possible.
E-mails should be addressed as follows -
Accounts & Tax enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Payroll & VAT enquiries to email@example.com
General enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
If telephoning the office, please leave a message if your call is not answered. We will endeavor to respond to all enquiries as soon as possible, but please allow extra time in these current circumstances.
The implementation of IR35 Off-Payroll working rules was due to be implemented from 6th April 2020. Due to the current Coronavirus outbreak this has now been delayed by twelve months until 6th April 2021.
The Government have announced yesterday (17th March) additional financial support for businesses during the Coranavirus outbreak. £330billion is being made available in Government backed, low cost loans. Loans of up to £5million with no interest payable for 6 months will be made available for businesses in financial difficulty. Businesses that qualify for Small Business Rate Relief will be able to apply for a grant of £10,000 from their local authorities, an increase from the previously announced £3,000. Both these schemes should be in place by next week. Mortgage lenders will also provide a 3 month 'mortgage holiday' for those struggling to make their mortgage payments due to the virus.
Government advice on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak is being updated on a daily basis. Recent advice is for people to work from home wherever possible. We will endeavour to keep our offices open, but request that clients refrain from face-to-face appointments unless absolutely necessary. Please contact us by either telephone (01543 273830), fax (01543 279713), post or e-mail rather than calling into the offices where possible.
E-mails should be addressed as follows -
Accounts & Tax enquiries to email@example.com
Payroll & VAT enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
General enquiries to email@example.com
If telephoning the office please leave a message if your call is not answered. We will endeavour to respond to all enquiries as soon as possible, but please allow extra time in these current circumstances.
Advice for businesses can be found on the Government website - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses
You can also sign up for regular updates there.
In addition various support measures have been announced - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
HMRC also have a Coronavirus Helpline if you find that you cannot pay any tax due on time -
HMRC Coronavirus Helpline - 0800 015 9559, lines open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 8am to 4pm.
We assure all our clients of our continued support and will update information as and when appropriate.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have introduced new rules on the disposal of residential property (other than your main home) that will apply to all disposals from 6th April 2020.
* A return must be submitted, and any Capital Gains Tax (CGT) paid, to HMRC within 30 days of the completion date for each residential property sale where a CGT liability arises.
* The returns will be submitted through a new digital CGT on Property Service.
* Clients will need to set up a CGT Disposal Account with HMRC when a disposal is made and obtain a reference number for the disposal from HMRC.
* If a self-assessment tax return is due for the year, the property disposals and CGT due will be included in those returns also. Any CGT paid in the year will be treated as a Payment on Account towards the final tax liability.
In addition, HMRC are making two additional major changes to available reliefs –
* Principal Private Residence relief – The final period exemption (a deemed period of occupation for properties that have been occupied as a main residence) is being reduced from 18 months to 9 months.
* Letting Relief – This is currently available where all or part of the owner’s main residence is let for residential purposes. From 6th April 2020 this will only be available when the property is also occupied by the owner, which, in many cases, will mean that the relief is no longer available.
It is important that clients provide us with all information when disposing of a property as soon as possible so that any CGT liability may be correctly reported, and the return submitted to HMRC by the due dates (30 days from completion date).
It's Christmas! So, our office will close at midday on Monday 23rd December and reopen at 8.30am on Thursday 2nd January. We wish all our clients a peaceful and Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!
After 3 years Dallila Ion decided the time was right for her to move on and left us at the end of September. We thank Dallila for her service and wish her every success in her future career.
We are pleased to announce that Joanna Smith joined us at the start of December and welcome her to our team. Joanna will be responsible for payrolls, bookkeeping and VAT.
HMRC have announced a 12 month postponement in the introduction of the proposed VAT Reverse Charge scheme for the Construction Industry. The revised implementation date is now 1st October 2020.
Well I should be writing this blog on changes that would have occurred if we had left the EU, well that never happened. We are still in the same position as when Jo wrote her last blog back in March.
The government has now announced that all new cars in the UK will be effectively zero emission by 2040, under new plans to tackle air pollution. The government is under pressure to bring forward this deadline and ban all sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2032. So how will this work? Well, by banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. They have described the report on this as being very vague.
So, what are the benefits of having an electric car? Pure electric cars are exempt from paying vehicle excise duty, to offer full support for those opting for the very cleanest cars and vans. All cars that emit less than 75g/km co2 will pay less road tax in the first year. The benefit in kind is currently at 16% for the 2019/20 year. However, the government has announced it will cut benefits in kind rates for zero-emission vehicles down to 2% to encourage their use as company car, (from the 2020/21 financial year onwards).
You also have the choice of salary sacrifice car schemes which are a popular benefit, allowing employees to sacrifice a portion of their monthly salary in return for a new car. Savings are generated because the employee is no longer liable for income tax on the proportion of the salary they sacrifice. It also has the bonus of improving employee satisfaction and retention. You have a role to play in ensuring you choose the right car for employees’ needs. Pure electric cars are perfect for those who travel short distances, while an electric car with a range extender works well for employees with a long but predictable commute.
Bye for now….
Spring is here, the clocks will change next week, heralding a new season and new beginnings. Lambs bouncing around the local fields and here at MAS we’ve been thankful for the safe arrival of Alyssia’s beautiful baby boy, though sadly missing her sunny face on reception.
For me I witnessed my own new beginning, last week I was with my daughter when she gave birth to her daughter, our first grandchild, she is the image of her mom, who is the image of me, its that lion king moment where life repeats and the circle starts again.
Sadly circles repeating themselves or ever decreasing ones seems to be our current climate… at present we are no nearer to the B word and this leaves our businesses and economy in limbo. How can you be prepared for Brexit when none of us at present know what that will mean, here’s what you can do now:
Passport: You may need to renew your British passport earlier if you’re travelling after 29 March and there’s no deal. You should renew your passport if, on the day you travel, your passport either: has less than 6 months left or is more than 9 years and 6 months old.
Travel Insurance: If there’s a deal, you’ll continue to get state-provided healthcare in the EU if you have a free (EHIC) card, some private travel insurance will only cover you if you have an EHIC card so regardless of a deal or not you should make sure you have one.
Driving abroad: My insurance company have already got in touch with me to say I’m still covered abroad however a no-deal brexit will mean that I will need a green card, so it’s advisable to apply for these at least 3 weeks prior to your travels.
EU National living in the UK: the government has already agreed a deal with the EU regarding this, get online at GOV.UK and they have a handy tool that can advice you what you need to do… Employers, check with your employees that they know this!
Preparing your business for leaving the EU: again there’s a handy little tool for this on GOV.UK which will point you in the right direction depending on your type of business, there’s a lot to look through but obviously with so many business sectors it’s a lot to cover.
Workplace rights: In most cases there will be no changes to workplace rights when the UK leaves the EU.However, for a ‘no deal’ scenario, employees working in an EU country should confirm whether they will still be protected under the national guarantee fund established in that country, by making themselves aware of the relevant implementing legislation in the EU country in which they work.
Temporary rates of customs duty (tariffs) on imports after EU Exit: If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, you may need to pay different rates of customs duty (tariffs) on imports, the current drafts are available online but are subject to change.
Lastly, in my opinion Prudence is the name of the game, if you can delay, I would…pay rises, investments, changing job, anything majorly financial is worth hanging back on until we have a little more certainty.
What are the chances of us actually leaving Europe this month? Who knows, but forewarned is forearmed, in the word’s of Lance Corporal Jones, "Don’t panic" and if in doubt, give us a call and we’ll do our best to advise.
Well, not quite. I am having my first baby, due on 7th February, but I’ve already had my orders to bring him into the office for plenty of cuddles. It’s an extremely exciting time for me and my partner and we’re over the moon that we will soon be parents. I would just like to thank the many clients that have wished me well during my pregnancy, I’m sure my colleagues will have great pleasure in letting you all know when he has arrived.
There are so many things to think about when finding out that you’re expecting a baby, especially when it’s your first like me. If I can take this opportunity to highlight a little bit of useful information, then maybe that’s one less thing to worry about for expectant Mom’s.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid for up to 39 weeks. You get:
90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks
£145.18 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks
SMP is paid in the same way as your wages (for example monthly or weekly). Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.
There is also a useful SMP Calculator on https://www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents
SMP usually starts when you take your maternity leave. It starts automatically if you’re off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that your baby is due.
Tell your employer you want to stop work to have a baby and the day you want your SMP to start. You must give them at least 28 days’ notice (in writing if they ask for it) and proof that you’re pregnant. Your employer must confirm within 28 days how much SMP you’ll get and when it will start and stop. If they decide you’re not eligible, they must give you form SMP1 within 7 days of making their decision and explain why.
Statutory Maternity Leave (SML)
Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks. It’s made up of:
Ordinary Maternity Leave - first 26 weeks
Additional Maternity Leave - last 26 weeks
You don’t have to take 52 weeks, but you must take 2 weeks’ leave after your baby is born (or 4 weeks if you work in a factory).
There is also a calculator to help you work out the dates for your ordinary and additional leave and to work out to the earliest date your maternity leave can start at https://www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents. Usually, the earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.
Leave will also start:
The day after the birth if the baby is early
Automatically if you’re off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that your baby is due.
You must give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice if you want to change your return to work date.
Employee rights when on Maternity Leave
Keeping in touch days
Employees can work up to 10 days during their maternity leave. These days are called ‘keeping in touch days’. They are optional and both the employee and employer need to agree to them.
Terms and Conditions Protection
The employment terms and conditions are protected, and employees are entitled to any pay rises and improvements in terms and conditions given during the leave. Pension contributions usually stop if a period of leave is unpaid, unless your contract says otherwise. For example, during unpaid periods of maternity leave or parental leave. Employees continue to build up holiday entitlement and can take any holiday they’ve accrued (built up) before or after the leave.
Employees must tell their employer about the pregnancy at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week the baby is due. If this is not possible (for example because they did not know they were pregnant) the employer must be told as soon as possible. Employees must also tell the employer when they want to start their Statutory Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay.
Paid Antenatal Care
Employers must give pregnant employees time off for antenatal care and pay their normal rate for this time off. The father or pregnant woman’s partner has the right to unpaid time off work to go to 2 antenatal appointments.
Health and Safety for Pregnant Employees
When the employee tells their employer they’re pregnant, the employer should assess the risks to the employee and their baby.
Risks could be caused by:
Heavy lifting or carrying
Standing or sitting for long periods without adequate breaks
Exposure to toxic substances
Long working hours
Where there are risks, the employer should take reasonable steps to remove them. For example, offering the employee different work or changing their hours.
It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of being pregnant.
See you all soon!
Our office will close for Christmas on Friday 21st December at 1pm and reopen on Wednesday 2nd January at 8.30am. We wish all our clients a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!
As it's also the time of year for Christmas parties, just a little reminder of HMRC's rules. Staff entertainment is normally considered to be a taxable benefit in kind, with employees paying tax on the value of the benefit and employers also paying Class 1A National Insurance on the value. However, there is an exception to cover events such as a Christmas Party. The event has to be annual, open to all employees and the cost (including VAT) must not exceed £150 per person. In such circumstances the cost is an allowable expense of the business, VAT is recoverable (but may be restricted if customers are included), and there is no tax charge on the employees or Class 1A charge on the employer. So, enjoy! But, be warned, if the cost goes over the £150 per head limit then the full amount is taxable.
Just to keep our clients up to date with the 2018 budget which Philip Hammond delivered as chancellor.
Here are the key points of his 72-minute speech.
-The personal allowance threshold, the rate at which people start paying income tax at 20%, to rise from £11,850 to £12,500 in April - a year earlier than planned.
-The higher rate income tax threshold, the point at which people start paying tax at 40%, to rise from £46,350 to £50,000 in April.
-After that, the two rates will rise in line with inflation.
-National Living Wage increasing by 4.9%, from £7.83 to £8.21 an hour, from April 2019.
-Fuel duty to be frozen for ninth year in a row.
-All first-time buyers purchasing shared equity homes of up to £500,000 will be eligible for first-time buyers' relief.
-Lettings relief limited to properties where the owner is in shared occupancy with the tenant
-Annual investment allowance to be increased from £200,000 to £1m for two years.
-Contribution of small companies to apprenticeship levy to be reduced from 10% to 5%.
-Business rates bill for firms with a rateable value of £51,000 or less to be cut by third over two years.
Bye for now.....
On Wednesday 17th October we will be hosting our first, free of charge, training day for our clients. As a result our offices will be closed for the day on Wednesday, and re-open at 8.30am on Thursday. Should you have an urgent query on Wedneday we will still be contactable by telephone on 01543 273830.
I love the changes of the seasons, Saturday brought clear skies over the chase and frost in the valleys, we dropped our youngest off at Springslade Lodge for his first Duke of Edinburgh hike and took the opportunity for a brisk early morning walk towards seven springs. I love this season, the promise of walks on crunching leaves, Chestnut foraging, bonfires… I’m always a bit sad to say goodbye to summer but look forward to the winter.
So the last two weeks have been packing away summer clothes, writing Christmas lists… yep I’m that person… and finding boots, coats, gloves again, to quote Bear Grylls and my father in law there is no bad weather just bad clothing! So are you equipped and prepared for the next few months?
Here at MAS we do our best to equip you in advance, Merv and Alyssia have been beavering away in advance of next years “making tax digital” to source and provide software and training for clients and staff. Scores of engagement letters have been written to comply with GDPR, end of year checklists have been sent to clients and chase up letters for accounts have all been sent out well in advance. This is all part of our ongoing commitment to provide the best for our clients.
So… is there a letter unanswered lurking somewhere in your to do pile, a pile of paperwork to just drop in, a reminder from HMRC that your accounts need filing? January is fast approaching and that dreaded tax return deadline…the sooner it’s bought into us the sooner it’s out the way and it saves poor Alyssia having to write another score of chase up letters… We look forward to seeing you soon.
As part of our continuing commitment to our clients to ensure that they meet all the compliance requirements of making tax digital we have already become recognised FreeAgent experts.
In addition, we are delighted to announce that we are also now officially Platinum ProAdvisors for QuickBooks Online.
QuickBooks Online addresses many of the issues businesses have with their day-to-day running. Amongst other things it's features and functions will help clients improve efficiency (save time), get paid faster and improve the information available to help you stay in control of your business.
QuickBooks features that can help include -
Bankfeeds, integration with other key cloud software, creating recurring transactions, creating banking rules, using the QuickBooks mobile app to create invoices when with clients or logging expenses when traveling.
Raising invoices as soon as possible via the mobile app, linking your invoices to services such as PayPal to get paid as soon as an invoice is issued, linking with Go Cardless to take payments via Direct Debit, Effortlessly sending payment reminders.
Scheduled and regular reports, QBO’s Management report function including fully automated reports, automated debt chasing, secure back ups, access from any device anywhere at anytime.
If you would like more information on how we can help you give us a call on 01543 273830.
April 2019 is not that far away. From that date the way many businesses prepare and submit their VAT returns is changing. You will no longer be able to prepare your sales invoices in one system and re-key them into another that you use for your VAT returns. This link will need to be electronic using API (application programming interface). If your turnover is above the VAT registration threshold you will also not be able to submit your VAT returns through HMRC's portal by typing in the information. These VAT returns will need to be submitted electronically.
Here at MAS Associates we have taken steps to ensure our clients can be compliant with the new requirements with the minimum of fuss. Not only that, but they will also be able to benefit from significant improvements in efficiency and access to information. We will be announcing some exciting news on how we can assist you later this week!
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.