Register for The New Marriage Allowance

Tax break_TaxAgility Accountants LondonAnnounced in 2013, the Marriage Allowance is a much sought-after tax break for married couples (or couples in a civil partnership), with online registration to receive the allowance having opened last month.

From 6 April 2015, over four million married couples and 15,000 civil partners across the country will become eligible for the Marriage Allowance tax break, allowing a spouse or civil partner that doesn’t pay tax (receiving no income, or income below the £10,600 tax-free threshold) to transfer 10% (£1,060) of their tax-free allowance to their higher-earning spouse or partner, so long as they don’t earn above the basic tax band, currently set at £42,385.

How to Apply

The Government wishes for those interested in receiving the Marriage Allowance tax break to first register their interest online, so long as you meet the eligibility criteria detailed above. It should be noted that if you or your spouse/civil partner were born before 6 April 1935 you should instead apply for the Married Couples Allowance.

When you head to the Marriage Allowance online portal you’ll be asked for your name and email address, through which the Government promise to contact you when you can apply.

From 6 April 2015 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will begin sending out invitations to those who have previously registered their interest in applying for the Marriage Allowance. HMRC advise that applicants will be invited to register in stages; so don’t worry if it takes a while for you to receive your invitation. There’s no disadvantage to registering late: so long as you apply during the 2015 to 2016 tax year, eligible applicants will receive the full tax break.

The Marriage Allowance Registration Announcement

Speaking on the opening of the Marriage Allowance’s registration phase last month, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne commented that the new tax break will save most qualifying couples up to £212.00 on their annual tax bill. Speaking at the same event, Prime Minister David Cameron focused on both the economic and family-driven benefits of the allowance, saying:

I made a clear commitment to the British people that I would recognise marriage in the tax system - so I am delighted that we’re just a little over a month away from it coming into effect. We can afford to do it because of the growing strength of the British economy. And as a result, it means families up and down the country can get a little bit of extra support and more financial security.

Mr Cameron continued:

But this policy is about far more than pounds and pence. It’s about valuing commitment. Families are the bedrock of our society. It is families who raise our children, look after our old and keep our country going. And this tax change is about saying as a society, we recognise that.

Experienced Accountants

To speak with a professional to discuss your eligibility for the Marriage Allowance tax break, contact us today on 020 8780 2349 or get in touch with us via our contact page to arrange a complimentary, no obligation meeting.

Capital Gains Tax for Non-UK Residents on Residential Property

Property Tax_TaxAgility Accountants LondonFrom 6 April 2015 non-UK residents wishing to sell or dispose of a UK residential property will be required by law to contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to let them know, as Capital Gains Tax (CGT) may be due on any gains made.

This new capital gains tax for non-UK residents comes after an open consultation was held by the Government between 28 March and 21 June 2014 in a bid to discuss the best way to implement a CGT charge on non-UK residents.

Who’s Affected

According to the Government, the new CGT will affect non-UK residents (individuals or trustees), personal representatives of non-resident deceased persons, and certain non-resident companies.  These companies are mainly micro businesses controlled by five or less persons — speak with your accountant if you’re unsure if this includes your company.

Certain UK residents who dispose of UK property when abroad will also be affected, as will any of the above persons, trustees, or companies who are partners in a partnership.

If you fall into the affected group you’ll be required to contact HMRC within thirty days of selling or disposing of a UK residential property to establish whether you have a gain. You can tell HMRC of your sale or disposal online, and they advise that further information on this matter is due to follow.

Calculating Your Gain

When calculating your gain keep in mind that only the overall amount of gain after 5 April 2015 is chargeable, therefore the Government recommend that you work out your gain in one of two ways:

  • Rebasing: Establish the exact value of your property on 5 April 2015, after which you calculate your gain between then and the day your sale is completed.
  • Apportioning: Apportion the whole gain on the length of time you owned the property after 5 April 2015, compared to the total time you’ve owned it.

If you know you’ll be selling within the next few months it’s a good idea to record the overall value of the property at the start of April, as this will make the job of valuing it once it sells that much easier. We recommend bringing in an independent valuer (or two), as this will ensure HMRC are less likely to query it.

The Government advise that the amount you’ll pay will depend on the value of your gain between 6 April 2015 and the day your sale is completed, whether or not you have unused losses to take advantage of, and the amount of private residence relief you may hold. Other factors that could affect the amount you pay include whether or not you have an annual exemption limit, the amount of indexation allowance (if you’re a company), and the current CGT rate.

Experienced Capital Gains Tax (CGT) Accountants

To speak with a professional to discuss this new Capital Gains Tax for non-UK residents, contact us today on 020 8780 2349 or get in touch with us via our contact page to arrange a complimentary, no-obligation meeting.

Quarter of Government’s Procurement Budget Spent on SMEs

Small Business_TaxAgility Accountants LondonThere’s never been a better time to start a small business, with new Government data showing that a quarter of the country’s procurement budget for tax year 2013-14 was spent on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Announced in Parliament by Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude, the £11.4 billion spending total, 26.1% of the Government’s procurement budget for that year, represents 10.3% of direct spending on SMEs, and 15.8% of indirect spending.

Contracts Finder

Touched upon in our earlier article on the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment (SBEE) Act, in a bid to remove the barriers to public procurement that small businesses so often face, the recently launched Contracts Finder website from the Government is designed to make it easier for small businesses to land public sector contracts.

Speaking on the new website, Lord Young, Enterprise Adviser to the Prime Minister commented:

"Contracts Finder is a world first in terms of scale and ambition. It opens up government business like never before and levels the playing field for SMEs who in the past, didn’t know how to find public sector contracts, let alone bid for them."

Lord Young’s enthusiasm for Contracts Finder was echoed and elaborated on by Piers Linney, a member of the Government’s SME panel and a former ‘Dragon’ on the popular Dragon’s Den television show:

"We know government business has been incredibly complicated and costly to bid for in the past, and that was reflected in the tiny proportion of spend going to SMEs. This new legislation and the new site create a huge opportunity for SME businesses with reduced cash flow risk. They need to educate themselves on their rights under the new legislation and really get under the skin of Contracts Finder to make sure they can seize that opportunity."

Free to use by all small and medium-sized business owners, Contracts Finder works to show current and prospective SME owners across the UK that not only has there never been a better time to start a small business, but that public sector contracts are both easy to find and easy to bid on; an effort designed to level the playing field between new business owners and large corporations that have been dominant in their sector for decades.

Including both current and future public sector contracts worth over £10,000 (in central Government) and £25,000 in the public sector, the message is clear; small business owners have an equal shot at winning contracts of which they’re qualified to bid on.

Contact an Accountant

Needless to say, if you’ve recently started up in business or you’re planning on doing so soon, you’re going to need to speak with a qualified, experienced accountant to discuss your plans going forward, both with regard to your opening finances and your financial plan.

To speak with such an accountant, and to gain our thoughts on the best use-cases of Contract Finder and other Government legislation that can be of benefit to small business owners, contact us today on 020 7129 1199 or get in touch with us via our contact page to arrange a complimentary, no-obligation meeting.

Understanding The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act

Questions_TaxAgility Accountants LondonFirst announced on 4 June 2014, and billed as a way to help make the United Kingdom be seen as a trusted, attractive, and fair country in which to do business, the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act (SBEE) finally came into law last month. If you have questions about how this will affect your small business, read on for a brief summary of the key changes.

Defined by Business Minister Matthew Hancock as “the first set of laws specifically to help level the playing field for small business,” the act has been designed to open up new opportunities for small and medium-sized business (SME) owners.

Speaking on the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act, Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

Small businesses provide jobs for millions of people across the country and are driving the economic recovery. The Small Business Act will create the right environment for small businesses to continue to thrive by giving them greater access to finance to help them innovate and grow, and make it easier for them to export goods and services made in Britain.

Mr Cable continued, highlighting the act’s hard stance on ‘exclusivity clauses’ which prevent zero-hour contract workers from taking on contracts with other employers:

The Bill’s measures also mean there is nowhere to hide for firms who do not play by the rules, whether by abusing zero-hours contracts or not paying the minimum wage.

Once again highlighting the Government’s desire to provide real, tangible encouragement to cultivate small business growth across the country, Business Minister Matthew Hancock stated:

The government has backed small businesses like never before to build a Britain where entrepreneurs can break the mould and take on the world. Coming from a small business background myself, I know first-hand how cumbersome bureaucracy can stifle your ambitions to grow.

Key Changes for Small Businesses and Enterprises

The Government have announced that all small and medium-sized businesses will be affected by at least some of the changes coming into effect over the next twelve months, as many encompass certain legal requirements; such as a business’s filing date with Companies House.

The main changes for small businesses and enterprises are as follows:

Improved Access to Finance

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act provides small businesses with much improved access to finance by increasing the sources through which financing will become available, in order to allow small businesses to grow and create jobs well into the future.

This includes the following:

  • Giving banks the power to pass on a business’s details to alternative lenders (with the business’s permission) should they be denied a loan.
  • Providing open access to small business credit data, making it easier for small business owners to contact alternative lenders in the first place.
  • Increase the speed in which cheques clear using ‘cheque imaging’ to allow small businesses to receive payments sooner.

Increasing Transparency and Reducing Red Tape

Seen as a way to provide small businesses with the key information they need in order to negotiate fairer deals — information which has traditionally been reserved for larger companies willing to pay for it — the SBEE act introduced a new reporting requirement for large companies to help balance the playing field for small businesses.

The act also focuses on reducing red tape for small businesses, allowing them to spend less time worrying about unnecessary, outdated regulations and more time serving their customers. This coincides with the appointment of an independent Small Business Appeals Champion to listen to and campaign on behalf of the needs of small businesses.

Providing Assistance for Overseas Expansion and Public Procurement

In order to make the UK an attractive and fair country in which to do business, the Government want to ease the pathway for small businesses by increasing the support from UK Export Finance to any small business looking to start exporting overseas and expanding into international markets.

In a similar vein, the SBEE act also looks to remove the barriers to public procurement for small businesses, making it easier for small business owners to have a greater chance of landing public sector contracts, as well as to make their thoughts on current procurement practices known.

Ending Abuse of Zero Hours Contracts

Needless to say, if you’ve been abusing zero-hours contracts by preventing contractors from taking on contracts with other employers while they have a contract in place with you, you must stop doing so immediately.

The SBEE act also states that employers who pay workers under the National Minimum Wage (for their age bracket) will now face increased maximum penalties that can be amended on a case-by-case basis, depending on the number of workers being underpaid.

Strengthened Rules for Corporate Directors

From October 2015 the SBEE act will introduce a prohibition on appointing corporate directors that will require companies with a director already in place to successfully explain why their director should be exempt, or have this individual step down from their role.

In a bid to ensure that incorrectly appointed company directors are removed from their register, Companies House will make an effort to write to all newly-appointed directors to inform them that their details have been filed on the public register. In addition, the time in which it takes Companies House to strike companies from the register will be reduced.

The SBEE act will also introduce a new process to help protect businesses and individuals that are having their address used as the registered office of a company without their authorisation.

The People with Significant Control (PSC) Register

In April 2016 companies will need to file a People with significant control (PSC) register at Companies House, therefore the Government recommend you and your accountant start preparing this information as early as January 2016.

During this month companies will also be required to notify Companies House of any changes to their company information that needs to take place, after which point you’ll be required to make them aware of any new changes on an annual basis. You’ll also be given the option to keep certain pieces of information on the public register only; making it unavailable on statutory registers.

Next April Companies House will also be updating the ’disqualified directors regime’ with regard to directors misconduct at home and abroad, in a bid to strengthen the database.

Experienced Accounting Professionals

With an estimated five million businesses operating across the United Kingdom, it’s hoped that the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment (SBEE) Act will help provide greater opportunity for small businesses to compete with larger companies, improve their speed of innovation, and ultimately grow.

To speak with an accountant to discuss how the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act will affect your business, contact us today on 020 7129 1199 or get in touch with us via our contact page to arrange a complimentary, no-obligation meeting.