Good news! We’ve gone Platinum

Good news! We’ve gone platinum

We’re very pleased and incredibly proud to announce that Saint & Co is now a certified Xero Platinum Partner.

This has been a long road, from Bronze to Silver, to Gold and beyond, but it represents our unwavering commitment to the Xero platform, and our staff’s dedication to learning and improving every single day.

They’ve put in the hard yards, earning the appropriate certifications and delivering expert advice and guidance to our clients. A massive congratulations must go to each and every one of them!

What Does This Mean for You?

So, what exactly does our newly acquired Platinum status mean for you? In a word: Value.

As Platinum Partners, we are now in a position to pass on even more value to you by the way of access to promotions, expert assistance, consultancy, and project support.

Your experience with Xero is incredibly important to us, and our shiny new status will go a long way towards making it even better.

Find Out How Xero Can Help Your Business

Our team of Xero Champions are primed and ready to help you discover the many benefits of switching to a cloud accounting system, and to Xero in particular. You’ll quickly save time, save money, and wonder how you ever did without it.

Simply click the link to Get Started with Xero, or call us on 01228 534371 to chat with one of our friendly advisors.

 

 

HMRC plans points-based overhaul of penalties for late tax payments

HMRC plans to overhaul the penalties for late payments by businesses and individuals for corporation tax, income tax and self assessment, using a brand new points-based system.

From 2020, late payment penalties will consist of two penalty charges, one charge based upon payments and agreements to pay in the first 30 days after the payment due date, and another charge based on how long the debt remains outstanding after the 30 days.

However, if a time to pay agreement is not agreed, then the payment window will only be 15 days.  There will be no penalty if payment in full is made before the end of the 15-day period.

If a time to pay agreement is made, but the taxpayer then breaks the deal and fails to pay, a second penalty will also be charged.

As with existing penalties, there is a ‘reasonable excuse’ clause, with the usual provisos that inability to pay and reliance on a third party are not acceptable excuses.

Although the new VAT penalty regime will take effect from April 2020, the government has not confirmed yet when the income tax and corporation tax penalty system will come into force.

In a statement, HMRC said:  ‘The changes will ensure that people who pay late can avoid a penalty if they take action to make arrangements to pay, and that those that do not will receive a penalty that is proportionate to both the value of the debt and the amount of time it is outstanding for.

What is the 2019 loan charge?

This is a tax charge on any outstanding loans that exist as a result of a disguised remuneration tax avoidance scheme. It applies to any loans that were taken out under a disguised remuneration scheme since 6 April 1999.

The most common schemes were Employee Funded Retirement Benefit Schemes (EFRBS) and Employee Benefit Trusts (EBT). When used for tax avoidance, both involved the diversion of employment income to a trust; the trust would then ‘loan’ the employment income to the individual (meaning no PAYE/National Insurance tax was paid) who sought to benefit from the Scheme.

It is the responsibility of the employer/company to pay the 2019 Loan Charge under PAYE legislation. The employer is then expected to pass this cost on to the individual. Whilst the initial liability falls to the employer, it can be passed to the individual beneficiary of the scheme by HMRC if unpaid.

By contacting HMRC to settle your tax affairs now, you can obtain certainty of what you owe and if required, arrange a payment plan.

Notify HMRC of employee benefit trusts and similar loans by 30 September

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have published revised guidance on settling tax liabilities in relation to the use of disguised remuneration schemes involving Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) and similar arrangements.

In order to settle on preferential terms before the outstanding loan charge arises on 5 April 2019, taxpayers must register with HMRC and provide all of the required information by 30 September 2018.

Are staff pension contributions affecting your margins? Here’s what you can do

Are staff pension contributions affecting your margins? Here’s what you can do

Pension contributions increased from a minimum of 2% of qualifying earnings to 5% in April of this year, and they’ll increase again in April 2019 to a minimum of 8%.

So, what exactly does this mean for your business and its margins?

Well, the truth is, you simply don’t have any choice in the matter. You’re legally required to pay these pension contributions. All eligible employees must be enrolled, and you must make the minimum statutory payments on their behalf.

But you don’t have to let this fact eat away at your profit margins. You can do something about it. And it boils down to two options:

1. Raise your prices
2. Look for savings elsewhere

In this brief blog post, we’re going to explain a few ways to improve your profit margin against the backdrop of increasing staff pension contributions.

How to improve profit margins: 4 simple tips

1. Review your customers – all of them

It’s all too easy to fall into a pattern with existing clients. You know what they want, they know what you charge, and things just keep trundling along. But ask yourself: Could you be making more?

Perhaps it’s time to review your customers and the prices you’re charging, and work out if it still makes sense. For instance, have you raised prices to match any supplier price increases over the years? Are you providing more value but charging the same? Are your products or services now of a higher quality? Are your clients even sensitive to the odd price increase? Or will it send them running for the hills? And if it does, were they even the right fit for you to begin with?

Clearly, there’s a lot to consider, but this is an important first step towards increasing your profit margins, closely followed by…

2. Increase your prices

After conducting your customer review, you might find that one or two have been coasting along on a legacy pricing model – one that your business has done well to outgrow. And with ever-increasing and often unavoidable overheads, it’s vitally important that you monitor and review your pricing structure at regular intervals.

Understandably, business owners can be hesitant when it comes to increasing prices. They worry that doing so will result in loyal customers flinching and leaving in pursuit of a better deal. But the truth is, if you’re providing a fantastic service or a top quality product, most customers will accept a small bump in price over time. And chances are, those who don’t weren’t going to be long-term customers anyway.

If you’re still worried about increasing your prices, think about it like this: Operating at a 30% gross margin and putting prices up by 15% means you can afford to lose up to 33% (one-third) of your customers and still maintain the same level of income as before.

3. Prevent theft, fraud, and waste

The choice shouldn’t simply be increase price OR look for savings. Do both. And one of the best ways of protecting your profit margin is to prevent theft, fraud, and waste from occuring in your company.

Whether you have products or cash being stolen by staff or customers, or you have inventory, resource, or time being wasted in your business, it all adds up.

Consider implementing anti-theft systems, fraud protection protocols, and workflow management software to grab back what was once being lost to inefficient or malicious actions.

Even a minimal change in approach could pay dividends further down the line.

4. Negotiate a better deal

Finally, just as you’ve taken the time to review your customers, be sure to do the same with your suppliers.

Are you really getting the best deal possible? Are you being overcharged? Could you switch and save? A quick internal audit of your supply chain could lead to big savings.

And don’t be afraid to expand your focus to every aspect of your business: Broadband, telephone, banking, stationery, the list is endless. It might seem like penny pinching, but every penny counts!

And don’t forget the intangible benefits!

Yes, the pension contributions are unavoidable, but they don’t have to be bad news. It’s a real positive that you’re putting money aside for your employees and their futures, and if you communicate this properly, it could lead to a boost in morale and a redoubling of efforts.

Happy employees are more often than not invested in doing a good job, and increased productivity and enhanced levels of quality will only ever work wonders for your profit margin!
Increase your profit margin with Saint

Need some advice when it comes to reviewing prices, introducing efficient workflows, or decreasing tax liabilities? We can help. Simply fill out our contact form, or call us on 01228 534371 to get started.

New VAT rules for building trade in 2019

building trade

Under new rules due to come in on 1 October 2019 builders, sub- contractors and other trades associated with the construction industry will have to start using a new method of accounting for VAT.

The measure is designed to combat VAT fraud in the construction sector labour supply chain which HMRC argue presents a significant tax loss. HMRC has now published draft legislation to introduce the Reverse Charge for Construction Services.

Under the proposed new rules, supplies of standard or reduced-rated building services between VAT-registered businesses in the supply chain will not be invoiced in the normal way. Under the reverse charge a main contractor would account for the VAT on the services of any sub-contractor and the supplier does not invoice for VAT. The customer (main contractor) would then account for VAT on the net value of the supplier’s invoice and at the same time deducts that VAT – leaving a nil net tax position. This is intended to ensure that VAT is correctly accounted for on supplies by sub-contractors.

CONSTRUCTION WORK AFFECTED

The reverse charge will apply to a wide range of services in the building trade, including construction, alteration, repairs, demolition, installation of heat, light, water and power systems, drainage, painting and decorating, erection of scaffolding, civil engineering works and associated site clearance, excavation, and foundation works. The definitions have been lifted directly from the CIS legislation.

EXCLUDED WORKS

Professional services of architects or surveyors, or of consultants in building, engineering, interior or exterior decoration or in the laying-out of landscape are not covered by the new rules. The draft legislation sets out other work to which the reverse charge does not apply.

It is hoped that the legislation and guidance will be finalized by October 2018 to allow businesses at least 12 months in which to make the necessary changes to systems. Please contact us if you are likely to be affected by these changes and we can work with you to ensure you are ready for the new system.

Vacancy for Accounts Assistants at our Millom and Whitehaven Offices

We are seeking two full time Accounts Assistants, one for our Millom Office and one for our Whitehaven Office.

The ideal candidates will be conscientious, self-motivated and have significant accountancy practice experience. The role will involve all areas of accounts preparation for both incorporated and unincorporated businesses and preparation of VAT returns. The candidates will also be IT literate, having a working knowledge of Microsoft Office and accountancy software.

Please email your C.V. to Ian Scott by 21st July 2018

Common Quickbooks errors and how to fix them

I am often approached to help with or solve errors on Quickbooks.    A few common errors I have come across, with steps to resolve the problem, are outlined below:

Bank account does not balance to statement

Whether the bank transactions are set up to be downloaded via the online bank feed or uploaded manually from a .CSV file there is still a need to manually reconcile the transactions to those on the bank statements.

Click on the company cog in the top right-hand corner, under Tools select Reconcile. Select the account you wish to reconcile then enter the date and the closing bank balance as per the bank statement you wish to reconcile.

This will bring up all the transactions that have been entered on to Quickbooks. If these have come in direct from the bank feed (the authorised online link with your banking provider) they will feature a little green box in the corner.  Highlight the transactions as you see them appear on the bank statement until the difference box on the right-hand side shows £0 with a big green tick next to it.

This reconciliation will highlight any duplicates or missing transactions and give you chance to edit these from here to allow the bank to balance to the statement at your chosen date.

A supplier or customer is still showing a balance that I know has been paid/received:

If you know this has been paid or received and has gone through the bank, the chances are it has been entered as a new payment/receipt rather than matched to the supplier/customer invoice.

To rectify this click on the banking tab, make sure the bank you want to look in is highlighted in blue along the top and click the ‘In Quickbooks’ tab. Scroll until you find the transaction you wish to edit and click ‘Undo’ on the right-hand side. This will then put the transaction in to the ‘For Review’ tab where you can click in and click ‘Find match’ to match it against the necessary invoice. This will then show the invoice as paid and clear the outstanding amount from the ledger.

Please note: this could result in an adjustment to your VAT if the transaction resulted in the VAT being paid/reclaimed twice. Should this relate to a period where the VAT return has already been finalised this adjustment will appear in the ‘Exceptions report’.

Amending/deleting customers, supplier or accounts

Any customer, supplier, account name or information can be easily amended.

Customers

Sales tab  arrowCustomers arrow click into the relevant customer arrow click the ‘Edit’ box in the top right-hand corner.

Suppliers

Expenses tab arrow Suppliers arrow click into the relevant supplier arrow click the ‘Edit’ box in the top right-hand corner.

Account names

Accounting tab arrow Chart of accounts arrow select the required account name you wish to edit arrow on the right there is a drop-down arrow which will bring up a box where you can choose ‘Edit’.

Marking VAT return as filed

It is important that when the VAT return is finalised that the period is closed down. This will stop any transactions being paid or reclaimed more than once.

When the VAT return is ready to submit click into the taxes tab. The large figures at the top of the screen will show the VAT calculation of the transactions which have yet to be submitted.

The box underneath will show ‘Open Returns’ – showing the return which is due for submission.

Please make sure you check the dates of these returns tie in with the VAT quarters which have been agreed with HMRC.

On the right there is an option to select ‘submit return’, click this. This will take you through to the VAT return which can then be submitted directly to HMRC using your Government Gateway credentials or to be submitted manually on to HMRC’s website. Should you submit directly to HMRC the return will mark itself as ‘Filed’, should you wish to submit manually you will need to adjust the drop down option in the green box on the bottom right hand side to ‘Mark as filed’.

This will then close off all the VAT that has been marked on a return and will not attempt to feature on any future returns. Any adjustment to figures which do feature on a filed return will be brought in as an automatic adjustment in the ‘Exception report’ on the next return.

If you need any help with Quickbooks, please contact me at the Penrith Office or email me nina.jacobs@saint.co.uk

Nina Jacobs Accounts Department Penrith Office
Nina Jacobs
Accounts Department
Penrith Office

 

Simplification of inheritance tax

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) have been tasked with carrying out a review of Inheritance Tax (IHT) with a view to simplifying how the tax operates.   IHT is perceived to be complicated and currently yields a relatively small amount of tax compared to income tax and national insurance.

There are a number of reliefs and exemptions currently available which may be withdrawn or simplified as a result of the review. Major changes to the tax are probably a year or so away and we will keep you updated as the review progresses. It may be necessary to review your Will and plans for passing on your business and estate when we see any new rules.

EMI share option scheme receives state aid approval

EMI share options scheme

 

On 16 May 2018 the European Commission gave formal state aid approval to  Enterprise Management Incentives (EMI). Qualifying companies can now resume awarding EMI options to attract and retain employees.

There are considerable tax advantages for employees and employers of introducing a tax advantaged share incentive scheme.

Please contact us if you would like to consider introducing a share incentive scheme for your employees.

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