5 Tips for a stress-free Self Assessment

5 Tips for a stress-free Self Assessment

in General Advice

by
Lynne Gowers
on

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

Don’t let the self assessment deadline whoosh by! If you don’t file your personal tax return by midnight on 31st January, you will immediately be hit with a £100 penalty with a further £10 added for every day after that up to 90 days, plus interest. You may be able to appeal the penalty, but it will take you time and effort, and there is no guarantee you will be successful.

Yet a huge number of people still leave it to the last minute. According to HMRC the busiest online filing days in the 2016 season were 30th and 31st January with close to 1 million returns filed over those two days.

You still have a couple of weeks left, so if you are yet to file, here are our top 5 tips for making the process as stress-free as possible.

1. Make sure you are registered

You won’t be able to submit your tax return online unless you have registered with HMRC and have a login for the Government Gateway. You will also need your Unique Tax Reference (UTR). This is a 10-digit number which will be on your self assessment paperwork from HMRC. What to do if you can’t find your UTR.

2. Get your paperwork together

Before you start, make sure you have all the paperwork you need to hand. This includes records of all your personal and business income and expenditure including a P60 or P45, P11D, invoices, dividend vouchers, bank statements and receipts.

3. Check and double check

Now to work your way through the form. Make sure you complete every section correctly and leave time to thoroughly check every part of your self assessment before you hit submit. Even a simple mistake, such as not ticking the box at the end to confirm everything is correct, could result in your return being rejected and HMRC imposing a penalty.

4. Learn from your mistakes

If you have spent hours tracking down paperwork or worrying how you are going to pay your tax bill, take steps now to avoid the same headaches next year. Get organised! Keep your financial records up to date – you can do it on paper, digitally or using specialist accounting software (like the Boox app) Put bank statements, bills and important forms in a file so you can locate them easily. You may also find it useful to open a specific savings account and regularly deposit a portion of your income to cover your tax bill.

5. Cut out the stress altogether with Boox

If the thought of doing your self assessment is filling you with dread, get in touch this week and our dedicated team will help you file on time.

Find out more about our Self Assessment service

 

New Business Venture in 2017?  – a checklist for starting up on your own

New Business Venture in 2017? – a checklist for starting up on your own

in Setting up your Business

by
Lynne Gowers
on

New Year, new business – exciting times! If you have made the decision to start your own business in 2017, there are number of considerations and steps to take in order to get up and running effectively as soon as possible.

Your accounting provider should be there to support and guide you, but ultimately, as a company director, the responsibility is on your shoulders.

To help you charter the waters of setting up in business, we have put together this comprehensive checklist. By ticking off each task, you’ll ensure your new new venture hits the ground running.

1. Incorporate your company:

  • Decide company name and check availability
  • Decide on your registered office address and director’s service address
  • Check internet domain availability
  • Select your shareholders and directors
  • Choose the date of your business year end (usually 12 months from date of incorporation)

2. Appoint an accountant – whilst you don’t always need an accountant it is usually a good idea to have one from the start.

3. Open a business bank account

4. Have your IR35 status and risk assessed (if you are a Personal Service Company)

5. Register for VAT– if needed, you can do that here

6. File your business with Companies House

7. Get your business insurances in place:

  • Public Liability
  • Professional Indemnity
  • Employers Liability

8. If you have employees, set up PAYE scheme to deal with payroll

9. Open business service accounts for landline, mobile and broadband

10. Subscribe or register with any relevant professional bodies

11. Decide on your company logo and branding for letterhead & invoices

12. Set up your website, social media profiles and business email

13. Get key documents to your agency or client:

  • Copy of certificate of incorporation
  • VAT Certificate
  • Confirmation of bank details
  • Verification of insurances
  • Draft terms and conditions

Whatever industry you are in, completing this checklist will put you  in a great position to start invoicing clients, building up your reputation and growing your business.

The experienced team at Boox can help you with many of the steps involved in starting up in business. Find out more

5 Easy Financial New Year’s Resolutions for 2017

5 Easy Financial New Year’s Resolutions for 2017

in General Advice

by
Lynne Gowers
on

Munching through the last of the leftovers, decorations packed away for another year… it’s out with the old and in with the new. So what are your New Year’s resolutions for 2017? Get healthy or active? Take up a new hobby? Or perhaps get your finances on track?

Money management is a bit like dieting. If you resolve to live on kale smoothies for the month of January, you’ll probably be down the kebab shop with Auld Lang Syne still ringing in your ears. Likewise, when it comes to setting financial goals, you need to be realistic. Like the best diet, the best budget is easy to maintain and is a long term undertaking, rather than a quick fix.

To help you get your personal finances off to a great start in 2017, here are 5 simple steps to help you save money and improve your financial outlook for the coming year:

1) Do a money audit

Sit down with a cuppa and go through your bank statements with a fine tooth comb. Go back at least 6 months and categorise all of your outgoings – such as rent / mortgage, loans and credit card repayments, household bills, food and going out. Once you have totted up each category you will have a very real picture of where your hard-earned income is actually going. You will then be in a position to see what areas you can reasonably rein in your spending or where you may be paying too much.

2) Be honest with yourself about debt

If you are struggling with debts, the worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand. Your money audit will have shown you exactly what you are spending on debt repayments. If this is more than you can afford, get in touch with your creditors and make a plan to restructure or consolidate your debts. You can get a copy of your credit report from the likes of Experian or Clearscore.com

3) Shop around

Following on from step 2, if you are paying extortionate interest on credit cards or loans, consider transferring the balances to lower-interest options.

It also pays to shop around for all kinds of other outgoings such as utilities, TV & broadband and insurance. You can do the lot on comparison sites such as USwitch or Moneysupermarket

4) Set a budget

Here the diet analogy holds true! When deciding a budget, don’t tighten your belt to the extent that you are miserably watching every penny or you’ll soon fall off the wagon. Small sacrifices make a big difference. For example, by giving up your weekday morning Costa Latte, you’ll save £663 over the year!

5) Save by standing order

So you have now audited your expenditure, put a plan in place to manage your debts, switched providers to get the best deals and honed down your everyday expenditure.

Our final New Year’s resolution for your financial well-being is to put some away for a rainy day (or household emergency).  Financial experts recommend that you start small and then gradually increase the amount. Setting up a standing order to go directly into a savings account once a month, means you won’t see the money, so you won’t miss it.

Happy New Year from all of the team, here’s to financial health in 2017!

Start the New Year off with a bonus – Refer a friend to Boox and we’ll give you £100

10 Accounting Jokes that should come with an ‘elf’ warning!

10 Accounting Jokes that should come with an ‘elf’ warning!

in Fun & Interesting

by
Lynne Gowers
on

For some festive fun, we have polled our number crunching pros and scoured the web for the best (or worst?) accounting jokes around. These classics are straight out of a Christmas cracker!

Where do homeless accountants live? In a tax shelter

There are 3 types of accountant. Those who count and those who can’t

Where do elves hedge their bets? On the stocking exchange

What do you call an accountant without a spreadsheet? Lost!

Why was the accountant in rehab? Solvency abuse

What do you call a trial balance that doesn’t balance? A late night

Why do accountants make good lovers? They’re great with figures

Why did Santa get in trouble with the tax man? He missed the deadline on his elf-assessment

What do you call an accountant who works through lunch, takes 1 day holiday a year and leaves every night at 10pm? Lazy

What did the accountant say when he retired? Goodbye accrual world

Opening Hours over Christmas

We are closed on the Bank Holidays, otherwise it is very much business as usual, so if there is anything you need please do not hesitate to get in touch

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Seasons greetings to all of our clients, associates and partners from all of the team at Boox

 

 

Why you need to act now if you can’t find your UTR

Why you need to act now if you can’t find your UTR

in Contracting Tips & Advice, General Advice

by
Lynne Gowers
on

As we approach the end of the year and get caught up in all the chaos of the festive season, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact the January 31st deadline for self-assessment is just around the corner.

One thing you will need to submit a self-assessment tax return is a personal UTR (Unique Tax Reference) number. This 10-digit reference is what identifies you to HMRC and will be quoted on any correspondence you get from them related to your personal tax affairs.

If you haven’t got a UTR yet, or have lost yours, you need to act now or you risk missing the self-assessment deadline and incurring hefty penalties from HMRC.

Your responsibility

Even if you haven’t received any information about self-assessment, that is not reason to assume that you don’t need to do one. All limited company directors are required by law to submit a self-assessment, as is anyone else who isn’t taxed at source, such as the self-employed.

It is your responsibility to tell HMRC that you need to do a self-assessment and register in time for a UTR number. HMRC classify not registering as “failure to notify” and may penalise you for it.

If you haven’t yet registered for a UTR

If you don’t yet have a personal UTR number, you need to apply for one as soon as possible. You can register online here or by calling HMRC on 0300 200 3310. You’ll need your National Insurance number and all your personal and limited company details to hand. Once you have registered HMRC will send your UTR number by secure post. You do not need to register every year and you’ll use the same UTR on all your self-assessments going forward.

If you have lost your UTR

If you know you have registered but just can’t seem to lay your hands on your UTR, your best bet is to contact HMRC on the helpline number quoted above.

They will ask you a number of security questions to verify your identity after which they will post your UTR to you.

Further advice if you have lost your UTR

A word of warning…

HMRC will only issue your UTR by post. They normally advise to allow 7 days but with the Christmas post and bank holidays around this time of year, it could be longer. If you get your UTR late you may be given an extension to submit your self-assessment return, but this extension does NOT extend to tax. You will still need to calculate and pay any tax due by 31st January 2017.

Help with self-assessment

If you don’t want the hassle of filing your self-assessment this year, let us do the work for you.

All you need to do is complete a quick questionnaire and we’ll do the rest.

This easy, great value service starts at just £100 + VAT but get in early! Our self -assessment team gets inundated during the month of January, so if you leave it until the New Year, it will cost you more. Get started

 

 

 

 

Capital Gains Tax – a coffee break guide!

Capital Gains Tax – a coffee break guide!

in General Advice

by
Lynne Gowers
on

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is the least common tax on income, mainly because you need to come into significant financial gain to incur it and it doesn’t apply to things like main homes, cars or lottery wins.

What is it?

CGT is the tax payable on any gain you make when you sell or give away any asset worth more than £6000. The main point to remember is that it is the gain you make which is taxed, not the amount you receive in total.

For example, you buy a painting for £5000 and some years later sell it for £25,000. You will be taxed on the gain of £20,000.

CGT applies to the following:

  • Most personal possessions worth more than £6000 (other than your car)
  • Property that isn’t your main home
  • Your main home if you have let it out, used it for business purposes or if it is very large and has grounds exceeding the permitted area of half a hectare (1.25 acres).
  • Business assets
  • Shares which aren’t in an ISA or PEP

These are known as “chargeable assets”.

When you don’t pay it

You only have to pay Capital Gains Tax on your total gains above an annual tax-free allowance.

If you dispose of an asset by gifting it to your spouse or civil partner, or to charity, it will not normally attract CGT.

You also don’t pay CGT on any gains you make from:

  • ISAs or PEPs
  • UK government gilts and Premium Bonds
  • Betting, lottery or pools winnings

CGT rates 2016/17

For every asset you dispose of in a particular tax year, you need to calculate how much you made when you sold or otherwise disposed of it.
If it is under the annual exemption amount, then you are off the hook for CGT.
The CGT rates were substantially reduced in the recent Autumn Statement, (except for gains on residential property which will continue to be taxed at the old rates) and apply to all other disposals which take place on or after the 6th April 2016.

  • Annual exemption amount – £11,100 for individuals
  • Standard capital gains tax rate – 18% on residential property, 10% on other assets
  • Higher capital gains tax rate – 28% on residential property, 20% on other assets

Further information

Click here for the Boox guide to Capital Gains Tax or visit HMRC

Autumn Statement 2016 – Key Points

Autumn Statement 2016 – Key Points

in News

by
Lynne Gowers
on

We have put together the main points to come out of this week’s Autumn Statement. Click here to download our full synopsis.

The Chancellor’s decision to proceed as planned with reforms to IR35 and also the announcement to negate the benefit of the Flat Rate VAT Scheme from April 2017 will have a discernible impact on many people working through a limited company and delivering services in the public sector (this encompasses anything from NHS to local authorities to the BBC). We will be sending more information out on this in the coming weeks and work with those affected to help them decide their best way forward in their circumstances.

Effective immediately

  • From 23 November 2016 to 31 March/5 April 2019, businesses will be entitled to a 100% First Year Allowance for the cost of installing electric charge-point equipment for electric vehicles.
  • From 1 December 2016, income tax and CGT advantages of new shares issued in return for “employee shareholder status” will be withdrawn (shares already held not affected).

From April 2017

  • Income tax rates and allowances confirmed as announced at Budget 2016: tax-free personal allowance will be £11,500, threshold for 40% tax will be £45,000.
  • National Insurance thresholds for employers and employees to be made consistent at £157 per week (currently £1 apart at £155 for employees, £156 for employers).
  • Tax and National Insurance advantages of “salary sacrifice” schemes to be withdrawn, apart from arrangements involving pensions, childcare, Cycle to Work and ultra-low emission cars.
  • As previously announced, new trading and property allowances for £1,000 each for individuals with low levels of income from these sources.
  • New tax-free childcare arrangements to be introduced on a trial basis in early 2017 and rolled out later.
  • As previously announced, tax advantages of foreign domiciled status will be lost for those resident in the UK for 15 of the last 20 years, and UK property held by a foreign domiciled individual through offshore structures becomes chargeable to inheritance tax.
  • ISA investment limit rises from £15,240 to £20,000 per year.
  • Public sector employers become responsible for tax due from individuals working for them through personal service companies and similar arrangements.
  • Limit on pension contributions for those who have already made a flexible income drawdown from a pension scheme will fall from £10,000 per year to £4,000 per year. Limit for those who have not made such a drawdown remains £40,000.
  • Rural rate relief doubles to 100% to match small business rate relief.
  • Benefit of VAT Flat Rate Scheme almost completely withdrawn for businesses spending less than 2% of their turnover or less than £1,000 per year on goods, excluding capital goods, food, vehicles and fuel.
  • Reforms to restrict interest relief and relief for brought forward losses for corporation tax.
  • From 1 June 2017, Insurance Premium Tax rises from 10% to 12%.
  • New penalty for taking part in tax avoidance schemes that are held to be ineffective: VAT measures to be introduced from 1 September 2017.
  • New penalty for being connected with a VAT fraud in circumstances in which the person “knew or ought to have known” that a fraud was going on to be introduced from Royal Assent to Finance Bill 2017.

From April 2018

  • Class 2 National Insurance Contributions abolished; self-employed retain contributory entitlements through Class 4 NIC on profits or voluntary Class 3 contributions.
  • “Making Tax Digital” reforms apply to income tax, according to present Government plans; responses to consultations on the proposals to be published in January 2017.

 

Making Tax Digital – HMRC reassures small businesses

Making Tax Digital – HMRC reassures small businesses

in News

by
Lynne Gowers
on

Last year, the government set out their vision for a digital revolution of the tax system, announcing a £1.3 billion investment to transform HMRC into one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world.

The aim of Making Tax Digital (MTD) was ostensibly to “reduce burdens for taxpayers and build a transparent and accessible tax system fit for the digital age” (Gov.uk’s policy paper on MTD)

The government’s end game is that by 2020, HMRC will have moved to a fully digital tax system; out with tax returns and spreadsheets, in with real time information and online accounting.

For businesses, this means that they will not have to wait until year end before finding out how much tax they owe. HMRC will collect and process information in as close to real time as possible, giving businesses more clarity over their tax position and helping them budget accordingly and avoid penalties.

By 2020, most businesses, including individual taxpayers who are self employed, will be required to manage their tax affairs digitally and report to HMRC at least quarterly via their digital tax account.

Allaying concerns

Some representative bodies including the Federation of Small Businesses have lobbied against these reforms, citing the considerable cost, in both money and time, of software and the migration to new systems. There are also concerns over the perceived additional administrative burden, particularly on smaller enterprises.

Last week, in a letter to the Financial Times, Jim Harra from HMRC addressed some of these concerns, stating that: “HMRC will not be asking anyone to file accounts five times a year, nor will we be introducing in-year quarterly payments. Businesses will simply send in-year updates to HMRC using information collated automatically by the same software used to record day-to-day transactions. This will help businesses pay the right amount of tax, taking away the need to put things right at a later date. Businesses already keeping their records digitally should see no additional costs at all.”

Mr Harra went on to urge businesses to look at the big picture when it comes to Making Tax Digital: “We fully recognise that this is a significant change for some businesses, which is why we’re introducing it gradually as well as exempting some of our smallest businesses, but at the heart of digital transformation is a simpler, more efficient tax system that frees business people from red tape and form-filling.”

We are already there!

MobileInHandWhether you are a small business, a contractor or a sole trader, as a Boox client you have access to simple but sophisticated online tools and mobile apps which are perfect for the sort of digital interaction the Making Tax Digital initiative is aiming to achieve.

Find out more

 

Turn your commute into valuable time

Turn your commute into valuable time

in Fun & Interesting, General Advice

by
Lynne Gowers
on

The average UK commuter will spend 400 days of their life commuting. That’s enough time to listen to the Beatles’ entire back catalogue 990 times or read War and Peace 294 times! (Research by Totaljobs)

You probably treat your journey to and from work as empty time, a daily grind, something to be endured. But it doesn’t have to be any of those things. Whether you drive, car share, take the train or tube, cycle or walk, there are things you can do to turn your commute into valuable time.

Set your to-do list

Your commute is an ideal time to create or refine your to-do list for the day. If you are driving you can just do this mentally or ask Apple’s Siri to remind you of things. This will focus your mind to your priorities  and set you up for a more productive working day.

If you have a long train journey, you could use a to-do list  app such as Wunderlist to organise your day on your smartphone or tablet. It allows you to drag and drop tasks between days and categories and set alerts and due dates

Get a head start on your day

Use the time to get caught up with your emails and voice messages, so you are getting to work with a clean slate. For most people, mornings are the most productive time of their day, so you don’t want to be spending the first half hour deleting spam from your inbox.

Keep learning

Use your commute to expand your knowledge by catching up on some reading (whether work related or not) or listening to an audiobook or podcast. You could even learn a language – there’s a great app called Duolinguo with bite-sized interactive lessons in a range of languages, including French, Spanish and German.

Relax and reflect

Perhaps the best way to turn your journey into valuable time is stop looking at it as a necessary evil! Your commute can be the perfect opportunity to take some time for yourself and unwind. Spending just 10 minutes breathing deeply and just being present in the moment will help you feel more focused and energized.

Check on your accounts

Whether you are a contractor, sole trader or small business owner, Boox provides simple, reliable accounting tools. You can view and manage your accounts, raise invoices and record expenses anytime and on any device – a useful way to spend your commute!  Try a Free Demo (But not if you’re driving!)

Halloween deadline for paper self assessment returns

Halloween deadline for paper self assessment returns

in Fun & Interesting, General Advice

by
Lynne Gowers
on

All of a sudden it’s that time of year again – firework smoke in the air, hearty casseroles and that annoying friend who already has all their Christmas presents bought and wrapped.
As Halloween creeps up on us (sorry), in accounting terms it means the first of the self assessment deadlines.

As well as being All Hallows’ Eve,  31st October is the cut off for completing a paper self assessment tax return. So if you are a fan of pen and paper, you need to download a copy of the self assessment form SA100 here , complete it and post it to HMRC at the address below:

Self Assessment
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AS
United Kingdom

Missed the deadline? Don’t panic!

If you miss the paper deadline of midnight on October 31st, don’t worry, you still have until 31st January 2017 to file your self assessment tax return online, using HMRC’s Government Gateway.

If you haven’t filed this way before you need to open an online account.
For this you will need your UTR and either your NI number or postcode.
Once you have done this HMRC will send you an activation code by post. You must use this to activate your government gateway account within 28 days.
You will then be able to log in and file your return.

Hand it over to us

HMRC have gone some way in recent years to make the online filing process more user-friendly, and these days it is how the vast majority of people complete their returns.

But if it all sounds like too much hassle, Boox offer a complete self assessment service from £100 + VAT. You get the peace of mind that your return is being handled by experts and we’ll file it directly with HMRC, saving you valuable time. Find out more about this service

Happy Halloween!

halloween

Whether you are having a party, trick or treating with the kids or just watching a horror flick from the sofa, we hope you enjoy the spooky celebrations.

We’ll leave you with some Halloween trivia:

  • The ancient Celts thought that spirits roamed the countryside on Halloween night, so they began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognised as human.
  • A fear of Halloween is known as Samhainophobia.
  • Orange and black are the traditional Halloween colours because orange is associated with the autumn harvest and black is connected with darkness and death.
  • If you see a spider on Halloween night, it is said to be the spirit of a dead loved one watching you.
  • Jack O Lanterns originated in Ireland when candles were placed in hollowed out turnips to ward off evil spirits. Irish immigrants brought this tradition to America, where pumpkins were more readily available.

Contact our spookily good accounting team