A concept image of going paperless

Companies House is stopping paper reminders

A concept image of going paperless

With Companies House stopping paper reminders, directors of LTDs and partners of LLPs can opt for email reminders instead.

In the past, Companies House sent out paper reminders to limited companies and limited liability partnerships, informing them that their accounts and confirmation statement were due for filing. This process cost Companies House £1.2 million in 2019. Aiming to improve efficiency, Companies House is stopping paper reminders.

Companies House also makes it clear that it is the directors’ responsibility to file a company’s information on time. If you are working with our team at Tax Agility, then you already know that we file your accounts on schedule.

Email reminders

For directors and partners who have been relying on paper reminders, you can take this opportunity to switch to email reminders instead. The email reminder service is free and it allows you to:

  • Choose up to four email recipients to receive a reminder (including your agent)
  • File your document immediately from a link within the reminder

In essence, email reminders should be more convenient for business owners, while also cutting paper waste and helping Companies House to become a fully-digital organisation.

To sign up for email reminders, sign in to the Companies House online filing service, select ‘Get email reminders’ from your company overview screen, click ‘Add an email address’ and continue to add (up to four email addresses). After that, Companies House will send you an email asking you to validate your email address, which you need to follow to join the email reminder service successfully.

Company House takes filing seriously – directors who do not file company accounts on time face penalties. In addition, failure to file confirmation statements and accounts is a criminal offence which can result in directors being fined personally in the criminal courts. At Tax Agility, we take deadlines seriously too, which is why we file your accounts on time if you are a client of ours.

We can also assist with the confirmation statement on your behalf, should you choose to.

Contact our friendly Small Business Accountants today on 020 8108 0090. We’re always here to help and safeguard your business interests.


A concept image of business that is closed due to COVID-19

An update on COVID-19 support available to small businesses

A concept image of business that is closed due to COVID-19

As the daily number of people tested positive for COVID-19 continues to rise across England, many businesses and self-employed individuals are bracing for tighter restrictions.

(Updated on 7 November 2020)

On Friday (30 October), as the Furlough Scheme was coming to an end, we wrote this blog to talk about the Job Support Scheme (JSS) and other measures. But a day later, Prime Minister Johnson announced the second lockdown in an attempt to slow down the spread of Coronavirus. Accordingly, we have updated this post to reflect the latest support available to small business owners.

The Furlough Scheme is extended

Introduced in March, the Furlough Scheme (also known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or CJRS) was supposed to end on 31 October 2020, but as the second lockdown is set to begin on 5 November 2020, the scheme will be extended until March 2021. Essentially, it allows you to furlough your staff full-time, or ask them to work on a part-time basis and furlough them for the rest of their usual working hours. You will have to cover their wages for the hours worked, as well as National Insurance and employer pension contributions. You will be able to claim either shortly before, during or after running your payroll.

Employees who are being furloughed will receive 80% of the current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. All of the 80% is fully funded by the government – this is in contrast to how the scheme was administered previously. Before November, the scheme required affected employers to pay 20% and the government paid 60% to make up 80% of the salary.

Employee eligibility: You can claim for employees who were on your PAYE payroll on 30 October 2020. You must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee. If employees were on your payroll on 23 September 2020 (i.e. notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 23 September) and were made redundant or stopped working for you afterwards, they can also qualify for the scheme if you re-employ them. Neither you nor your employee needs to have previously used the Furlough Scheme.

For employers, the first task is to check if your employees are eligible for the scheme, based on the information above. Then talk to your employees so they know if they are being furloughed fully or part-time, and agree working hours if applicable. Keep the records that support the amount of the furlough grant you claim, in case HMRC needs to check it. You can view, print or download copies of your previously submitted claims by logging onto your CJRS service on GOV.UK

Other forms of support

Before the announcement of the second lockdown, local councils have different levels of support to help businesses based on the COVID alert level of the area. But as the second lockdown is affecting the whole of England, the government has announced the followings:

  • If your premises is forced to closed, you will get £1,334 per month (for properties with a rateable value of £15k or under), £2,000 per month (for properties with a rateable value of £15k to £51k), and £3,000 per month (for properties with a rateable value of more than £51k).
  • £1,000 for every furloughed employee kept on until at least the end of January.
  • £1,500 for every out-of-work 16-24 year-old given a "high quality" six-month work placement.
  • £2,000 for every under-25 apprentice taken on until the end of January, or £1,500 for over-25s.

Job Support Scheme (JSS)

The Job Support Scheme (JSS) aims to help employers retain their employees if they are struggling or when they are required to close. The JSS, which was scheduled to come in on 1 November, has now been postponed.

Professional services grant

In July 2020, the government announced £20 million in new grants to help small and medium-sized businesses recover from the effects of this pandemic. The scheme will offer grants between £1,000 to £5,000 to these businesses, helping them purchase new technology and equipment, as well as paying for professional services (legal, financial, HR and other qualified services).

The schemed is administered through the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and each LEP has a minimum of £250,000 to get the program going.

For businesses in London, you can access the businesshub.London page for more information.

Deferral of VAT

Back in March, the government announced that VAT-registered companies could opt-in to defer their VAT payments (between 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020) and pay them by 31 March 2021. This scheme is now closed, but those who have opted-in have the option in pay in smaller payments until 31 March 2022 instead, a much longer period than previously announced.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

Introduced in March 2020, the SEISS allows self-employed individuals whose businesses had been adversely affected by the pandemic to claim a taxable grant. To be eligible, you must have:

  • Traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and submitted your Self Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year
  • Traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
  • The intention to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • Trading profits less than £50,000 and at least equal to your non-trading income (if you are not eligible based on the 2018 to 2019 Self Assessment tax return, HMRC will look at the previous tax years)

The first SEISS grant ended on 13 July 2020 and the second grant ended on 19 October 2020. On 5 November 2020, the chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that a third grant – and a more generous one – will be made available to help self-employed individuals. The third grant will cover 80% of profits for November, December and January, up to a total limit of £7,500. Applications will be open from 30 November 2020. Details for the fourth grant, covering three months from February 2021 to April 2021, will be announced later.

Deferral of second payment on account

Self-employed individuals are aware of the two payments on account taking place each year, with the first one due on 31 January during the tax year and the second one on 31 July following the end of the tax year. The second payment on account for the 2019/20 tax year was supposedly due by 31 July 2020, but taxpayers with up to £30,000 of Self Assessment liabilities could defer the second payment (due July 2020) to 31 January 2021. In September 2020, the government further announced that you could pay instalments (by entering into a Time to Pay arrangement) if you couldn’t pay in full by 31 January 2021 – this means you could stretch the final payment to January 2022.

Other things to be aware of

Before the announcement of the second lockdown, the government had already encouraged companies to allow employees to work from home if they can carry out their normal duties without going to the office. Now people are told to stay at home, except for education, work (if cannot be done at home), exercise, medical reasons, shopping for food and essential items, or to care for others.

If an employee must self-isolate (either they have tested positive or been in contact with someone who has tested positive), the business owner must not knowingly allow the employee to come into the office or attend meetings elsewhere. Violating this provision is an offence with fines starting at £1,000 for the first offence, rising to £10,000 for the fourth and subsequent offences.

Be careful of COVID-19 scams

The pandemic has already affected millions of people across the UK, yet scammers are still actively targeting small business owners, their employees, as well as self-employed individuals. Apart from criminals pretending to be government agencies ‘phishing’ for information, some of us have also received emails from supposedly company server informing us of unread messages – but taking us to a phishing site instead.

Members of the public have also seen texts informing them of tax rebate from ‘HMRC’ and encountered fraudulent products, anything from hand sanitisers to COVID-19 swabbing kits. Remain vigilant is key, and report the scams to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040 or online).

Disclaimer
The information contained in this newsletter is of a general nature and no assurance of accuracy can be given. It is not a substitute for specific professional advice in your own circumstances. No action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore, no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a consequence of the material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.


Summary of government support available

White text of blog title over image of people in face masksWe highlight some guidance and advice the government has for employers and self-employed individuals.

At TaxAgility, we continue with business as usual, although operating remotely until further notice. We are contactable by email at taxsupport@taxagility.com or on our landline 0208 780 2349.

The government has announced numerous measures in the past week and has now updated their guidance for employers and self-employed individuals. The following is a summary of some of the measures available.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough guidance)

This scheme is aimed to encourage employers to retain staff through these unprecedented times. Where employees are no longer required to perform work duties due to the coronavirus impact, the employer can make a claim for a grant from the government amounting to 80% of their furloughed wages and employer’s national insurance up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee per month.

These employees are termed furloughed. You must notify your staff that they are being furloughed formally in writing. HMRC are working as quickly as possible and anticipate to have the online portal ready by the end of April 2020 for claims to be made by the business.

The salary used to compute the funding for furloughed employees would be based on the February 2020 payslip.

As an illustration, if your gross salary was £719 in February 2020 you could receive funding of £575.20 for any months in which you were officially furloughed. At present, the measure is in place for three months but may be extended.

As a director of a limited company, you may be able to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if you are being paid a salary through a PAYE scheme. Directors can be furloughed in the same way as other employees. The furloughed employee must not undertake work for the company during this time.

Deferring VAT payments

HMRC are supporting businesses by offering to defer your VAT payments for 3 months if your VAT payment is due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount deferred as a result of the announcement. You will still need to submit your VAT returns to the HMRC on time. Refunds will be paid by the HMRC as normal.

If you choose to defer your VAT payment it will need to be paid up by 31 March 2021. You do not need to tell the HMRC you are deferring your payment.

It is your responsibility to cancel your VAT direct debit which you can do by contacting your bank or you can cancel the direct debit payment online which will prevent your VAT liability from being automatically paid when your VAT return is submitted.

VAT payments after the deferral payment will need to be paid as normal within the normal time frame which you will need to do manually as your direct debit will have been cancelled.

Deferring Income Tax payments

For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 may be optionally deferred until 31 January 2021. You do not need to be self-employed to be eligible for the deferment. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment until January 2021.

HMRC Time to Pay Scheme

If you can’t pay any other taxes due to the impact of Coronavirus a payment plan can be negotiated through calling the HMRC Payment Support Service line on 0300 200 3835, open Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Self-employment Support Scheme has been announced and expected to be made available in June 2020. HMRC will contact individuals who are eligible to apply for the scheme. You may only be eligible for this scheme if you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and you have traded in the 2019-20 tax year and have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to Coronavirus.

You must have submitted your self-assessment tax return for the year ended 5 April 2019, if not this needs to be submitted by 23 April 2020. HMRC will use this data to determine eligibility for the scheme and they will invite you to the scheme if you qualify, you cannot apply for the scheme.

This scheme is only available to individuals who have a trading profit of less than £50,000. The grant will be 80% of the average trading profit from the last 3 tax years and it will be up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The initial scheme is available for three months.

Please note the Self-employment Support Scheme is not available to directors of limited companies who draw a salary and dividend income. Directors who take a salary may be eligible for the Job Retention Scheme as mentioned above.

Statutory Sick Pay relief packages for SME businesses

SME businesses and employers can reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to Coronavirus. The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of Coronavirus. It is available to businesses with less than 250 employees claiming SSP due to Coronavirus.

12 Month Business Rate holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied properties that are wholly or mainly being used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues for assembly and leisure and for hospitality, as hotels, guest & boarding premises or self-catering accommodation.

Cash Grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 may be eligible for a one-off grant of £10,000 to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of between £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

This temporary Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.

The government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments. The loans will be guaranteed by the government up to 80%.

These loans are accessed through the bank used by your business. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments, you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

As of 3 April 2020, the government has made several changes to the scheme. It is now applicable to businesses regardless if they have been refused a loan on commercial terms. It also aims to help larger firms (with revenues between £45m and £500m) by offering government-backed loans of up to £25m.

Scams

Please be aware of scams relating to any of the above. If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it is a scam.

More information can be found at this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Please keep safe.

TaxAgility Chartered Accountants

Disclaimer

The information contained in this newsletter is of a general nature and no assurance of accuracy can be given. It is not a substitute for specific professional advice in your own circumstances. No action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore, no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a consequence of the material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.


Concept of a businessman fighting the COVID-19 crisis

Helping small businesses during this COVID-19 pandemic

Concept of a businessman fighting the COVID-19 crisis

The UK government has announced measures to support companies affected by the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, learn what the measures are and how you can get assistance.

Many countries in the world have announced drastic stimulus measures to keep companies afloat and help people stay employed. In the UK, the government has also announced a string of measures. Quite a few of these announcements are made in a hurry with an attempt to abate fear first, while the exact processes are being worked out. As a result, the announcements have caused confusion among business owners. In this article, we aim to discuss what we know so far.

Government to pay up to 80% of wages

Known as Coronavirus job retention scheme, this measure is applicable to all UK employers who would otherwise have to lay off their workers during this crisis. A few important points are:

  • The government plans to have the grant available by the end of April, although the grant can be backdated to March.
  • You (the employer) must first classify the affected employees as furloughed workers and inform your employees accordingly.
  • Once the government portal is made available, you can submit the information of your furloughed employees and their wages.
  • HMRC will then reimburse 80% of wages of these furloughed workers, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

You probably have heard from small business owners who are worried that they have to shut their business down because they do not have enough short-term cash flow to keep it going. If you are in this situation, explore the temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme first.

  • There are 40 accredited lenders (including major banks) offering this scheme.
  • You can access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.
  • While you must repay the loans, the government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees to help small businesses.
  • To be eligible, you must be a UK-based business with a turnover of less than £45 million per year. Your business must also meet the other British Business Bank eligible criteria.
  • To apply, talk to your bank now. Alternatively, talk to one of the accredited lenders available on the British Business Bank website.

Deferring VAT

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. If your business is VAT-registered, you can defer VAT from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020, meaning you do not need to make a VAT payment during this period. This is applicable to all UK businesses. Please note that it doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay VAT, you are simply delaying the payment.

Deferring Income Tax payments

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. If you are self-employed, your Income Tax Self-Assessment payments (originally due on 31 July 2020) will be deferred to 31 January 2021. No penalties for late payment will be charged during the deferral period.

Statutory Sick Pay relief

Applicable to UK-based small and medium-sized businesses (with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020), this relief covers up to 2 weeks’ Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. How it works is that you (the employer) will have to reclaim expenditure for any employee who claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19. The process to which you can reclaim is still being developed.

Small business grand funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief

If you own a small business that pays little or no business rates, your local authority will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

  • Your business must already receive Small Business Rate Relief and/or Rural Rate Relief.
  • Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.
  • This will only happen when your local authority has received the money from the government, which is likely to be after 1 April 2020.

A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure businesses in England

If your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector, your next council tax (April 2020) should automatically exclude the business rate charge and it should continue to the 2021 tax year. You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.

Grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

If your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector, you can get a cash grant.

  • For businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under, you can get a £10,000 cash grant.
  • For businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, you can get a £25,000 cash grant.
  • Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant once they have received the money from the government. Any questions, contact your local authority accordingly.

Support for nurseries

Nurseries that pay business rates will be eligible for a business rate holiday, which your local authority will re-issue your bill to exclude the business rate charge. Nurseries that will benefit from the relief are:

  • Occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register
  • Wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage

Time to Pay Scheme

If you have unpaid taxes and your business is struggling due to COVID-19, you can call HMRC on 0800 0159 559 to discuss a payment plan. Please note that HMRC will review each case independently. If you are worried about a future payment, please call HMRC nearer the time.

For more information, check out this gov.uk page. Alternatively, email us on taxsupport@taxagility.com if you are worried about VAT, bad debt, and the cash-flow in your business. We are London’s small business accountants and have helped countless entrepreneurs and small business owners to get their finances right. We can help you too.

This blog is a general summary. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstance.


A message from our Managing Director

In light of the current global health concern, our Managing Director has a message for customers.

As per government advice, our staff are working remotely, therefore, our office has temporarily closed. Our team will continue to work as normal and can be contacted via email or mobile phone. If you do not have their email address to hand or are a new client looking to use our services, please email us on taxsupport@taxagility.com.

Although we can’t offer face-to-face meetings at present, we are operating conference calls and therefore can proceed as normal be it at a distance. We are monitoring all post that comes into the office as normal and ensuring this is distributed and actioned accordingly.

Keeping up-to-date with COVID-19 information

We are monitoring all news and government guidance very closely to ensure that our team have the latest knowledge. Government information for the public about COVID-19 can be found here:

For COVID-19 guidance and support for businesses and employees, please read the following pages:

Many thanks for your understanding during this time.

Sincerely,

Donovan Crutchfield FCA BFP

This page was first published on 18 March 2020 and updated on 23 March 2020.


Accounting concept

How to find a good accountant in London

Vector image of money, receipt, calculator, pen and laptop screen

Don’t undervalue your accountant by meeting up only once a year. Also, the right accountant should go above and beyond for you, understand your business completely and offer solid advice that you need to manage and grow your business.

What services should a good accountant offer?

A well-rounded accountant offers services that can address the current and future needs of your business, which can include but not limited to:

  • Company secretary services
  • Corporate tax planning and advice
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Payroll services
  • VAT
  • Cash flow forecast
  • Short and long-term strategies

Essentially, you are looking for someone to take over the administrative work (like bookkeeping and PAYE) as well as someone who can help review your numbers and make sound recommendations so that your business has the best chance to succeed.

Every business is unique too. Perhaps you have just launched a start-up which is in need of funding, a contractor who struggles with IR35, a small business owner whose business is experiencing consistent growth, or you may be looking for an exit strategy – this is why our accountants are divided to teams that specialise in start-ups, contractors, small businesses and individuals respectively in Central and Greater London. Having expert knowledge in your area means we can provide relevant accounting and tax advice that help you manage and grow your business.

How do I check their qualifications?

While most people find their business accountant through word-of-mouth referrals, it is always worth checking if they are ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) accountants.

Guided by strict codes of conduct, ICAEW accountants uphold the highest standards of professional conduct and business ethics. At Tax Agility, we are ICAEW chartered accountants and we follow these principles:

  • Integrity
  • Objectivity
  • Professional competence and due care
  • Confidentiality
  • Professional behaviour

This means that as our client, you will receive honest answers from our knowledgeable accountants who keep abreast with the latest developments in practice, legislation and techniques. We also act diligently and respect confidentiality. With us working alongside you, you know you are in good hands.

Top key traits of a good accountant

  • Knowledge and skills – A good accountant should be able to assist you in areas that you need.
  • Listen to you – Only by understanding your situation first, then your accountant can come up with ideas that will make an impact to your business.
  • Excellent communication skills – Having the ability to interpret data and convey the information in a meaningful way to you.
  • Adaptable – Your needs evolve and how a good accountant assists you should evolve too.
  • Honesty – A good accountant should provide honest answers, as well as excellent work without any hidden charges.
  • Efficient – A good accountant will make sure that your financial records are managed efficiently, so you can concentrate in other aspects of your business.

At Tax Agility, our fees are transparent – most of our clients pay a fixed monthly fee with no hidden charges. In the event that you have additional projects that need our attention, we will discuss the work and cost with you upfront.

What can Tax Agility do?

At Tax Agility, our accountants specialise in start-ups, contractors, small businesses and individuals across London respectively.

Our accounting services include but not limited to:

  • Annual compliance with Companies House
  • Maintenance of statutory books
  • Bookkeeping
  • Management accounts
  • Accounts payable and receivable
  • Cash flow
  • Sales reporting
  • Tax returns
  • Tax planning
  • VAT returns
  • PAYE registration
  • PAYE administration
  • Pensions

We have offices in three locations – Putney, Cavendish Square (Central London) and Richmond.

For more information on our services, talk to us on 020 8108 0090 today or use our enquiry form to get in touch.

If you liked this post, you might also like:

This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business/ accounting issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.


Businessman turnimg tap - coins are falling out

Five ways to improve your company’s cash flow

Businessman turnimg tap - coins are falling out Owning a business is undoubtedly a rewarding experience – it allows you to set your goals and create tremendous financial opportunities, but it can also keep you awake at night especially if cash flow becomes an issue.

As experienced chartered accountants working with SMEs across London, we understand very well some of the trials you face when running your business. To protect your investment and maximise your business’s potential, it is essential that you have the right support and advice when it comes to tackling some of the challenges so you and your business can come out stronger. For the purposes of this article, we aim to discuss issues pertaining to cash flow and how to better manage it.

What is cash flow?

Cash flow is the total amount of money going into and coming out of a business. At any one time, your business should have more money coming in to cover everything that needs to be paid out. If the cash outflows are more than the cash inflows, then you have something called a cash flow gap – most businesses address this gap by relying on overdrafts to help them meet the obligations.

The good news is, cash flow is something that you can plan and control in advance with some guidance, meaning you can actually avoid cash flow gaps and maintain healthy business growth. Now let’s take a look at five tried and trusted methods to improve cash flow.

1. Always collect debts promptly

When it comes to collecting overdue money, many SME owners know the pain too well. According to research by Bacs Payment Schemes Limited in December 2018, more than a third of SMEs wait two months beyond agreed terms to be paid, making late payment a serious threat to the survival of SMEs.

To overcome this, it is crucial that you let your customers know your payment terms before both parties agree to work together. If you are offering a professional service, ask for part payment up-front and tie the remaining balance to each milestone, and make it clear that you won’t start the next phase unless the previous invoice is settled.

As soon as you become aware that certain clients still fail to pay despite knowing the payment terms, following up with phone calls and reissuing invoices will usually do the trick. If it becomes apparent that they don’t attempt the settle the payment soon, then it may be worthwhile to consider a debt-collecting agency. Speed is key to debt recovery – the longer you wait, chances are the more resources and effort will be required to recover payments.

2. Use an invoice template and accept multiple forms of payment

Although simple in theory, many SMEs neglect to make the payment process easier for their customers. Invoices addressing to the wrong customer, having an incorrect address or failing to include the issuing date and adequate bank details are common occurrences. One of our customers shared a story in which they tried for six months to get a vendor to issue a correct invoice – this may seem bizarre to those who keep a watchful eye on your accounts, but similar stories do happen daily due to all sorts of reasons. If you have already made use of an invoice template and the issue is largely because you lack a dedicated staff to properly manage this process, then consider outsourcing it.

For payment between businesses (B2B), bank transfer is the most common payment method and other payment methods like credit card, direct debit and Paypal are less so. Direct debit certainly deserves special mention as it reassures business owners that payments will come on time, so opting to accept direct debit and other forms of payment can help to cut down debt and maintain healthy cash flow.

3. Create accurate cash flow projections

It is essential for the longevity of your business to create accurate cash flow projections – an estimate of money you expect to flow in and out of your business, including all projected income and expenses. A cash flow forecast usually covers a year but you can also design it to cover a shorter period.

At Tax Agility, our small business accountants are experts in cash flow forecasts and we can help you to plan for multiple scenarios, accurately factor in fixed and variable costs, consider seasonality that may affect your business and put in place contingency plans, to name but a few.

An accurate cash flow forecast is invaluable because it gives you the visibility that you need to stay in control. For example, you know that you have to settle a major expense at the beginning of January and your clients are likely to miss payments in December due to the holiday season, then you can take pre-emptive actions like offering discounts to clients if they pay before the due dates, arrange for a short-term facility, or opt for invoice factoring (selling the invoices to a financial company at a discount for immediate cash injection).

4. Review your overheads

Business overheads are expenses that are related to the day-to-day running of your business and they do not correlate to a product sale or service. Overheads can include fixed monthly or annual costs, such as insurance, salaries and leases, or expenses that differ every month – repairs to your business’s building or advertising.

Typical overheads include:

  • Utilities – gas, water and electricity
  • Rent – the lease costs of the business premise
  • Administrative – salaries and office supplies
  • Insurance - which can include Property Insurance of General Liability Insurance
  • Maintenance and repair

By putting the overhead figures down in your cash flow forecast, you can see which areas (or when) you can cut down expenses or consider a cheaper alternative. In our post “Hiring specialist contractors can reduce SME costs”, we share good tips on how SMEs can optimise the use of resources and achieve maximum customer value, so follow the link to read more if you’d like.

5. Use an exceptional online accounting software

To stay on top of your finances, ditch cumbersome spreadsheets and opt for an easy-to-use online accounting software like Xero. Cloud-based accounting software Xero is built for small business owners who don’t necessarily possess a good level of accounting knowledge as its user-friendly interface makes it easy to understand key financial information.

The cash flow statement in Xero contains three useful sections:

  • Cash flows from operating activities such as salaries paid to employees, payment received from customers etc.
  • Cash flows from investing activities such as new office equipment or the sale of assets.
  • Cash flows from financial activities such as loan repayments, money invested in a business or money taken out by directors.

Xero allows you to customise the layout of your cash flow statement by dragging and dropping items on the interface, as well as showing more granular information like where you have spent cash. To make the most of it, it is best to discuss the cash flow statement with one of our chartered accountants so you can continue to make informed decisions.

Follow the link if you’d like to know more about Xero and how it can help to organise your business account and finance.

Tailored advice to improve your company cash flow

At Tax Agility, our small business accountants have built a strong reputation helping SMEs across London to build a robust set of business fundamentals including managing cash flow and using it to their advantages. If you’d like to know more about cash flow, tax and accounting matters, as well as statutory compliance, get in touch today on 020 8108 0090 or via our contact page to arrange a complimentary, no-obligation meeting.

This article was updated on 24/07/19

If you found this helpful, take a look at:

This blog is a general summary. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstance.


Trusts for Vulnerable People

Trusts for vulnerable people, also known as trusts for vulnerable beneficiaries, are a type of trust that can be set up for:

  • someone under eighteen whose parent(s) have died.
  • a disabled person who is eligible to receive a Personal Independence Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance, or Armed Forces Independence Payment, even if they don’t receive any of these allowances.

Trusts, as we’ve been exploring in recent weeks, are a method of organising money, investments, land, or buildings (known collectively as assets) for a person or group of people, including children. But how are trusts for vulnerable people different from standard trusts, if at all?

Vulnerable Person Tax Treatment

59042400_sIn order for a beneficiary to be treated as a ‘vulnerable person’ for trust tax purposes they have to fill in, with help, if necessary, the Vulnerable Person Election (VPE1) form. The form must be signed by both the beneficiary and the trustee(s).

Income Tax Treatment

Trusts with a vulnerable beneficiary may receive a deduction in income tax payments.

To work out this deduction, the trustee(s) must calculate what tax would be payable if there was no deduction available, before calculating what income tax the vulnerable beneficiary themselves would have owed if the income from the trust had been paid to them as an individual. The difference between these two figures can be deducted.

Capital Gains Tax Treatment

Capital Gains Tax is only paid when assets within a trust with a vulnerable beneficiary are sold, transferred, exchanged, or given away, and the assets in question have increased in value above the ‘annual exempt amount’.

This figure currently sits at £11,100 for beneficiaries with a mental or physical disability, and £5,550 for others.

Inheritance Tax Treatment

Trusts for vulnerable people may get special tax treatment depending on their level of vulnerability, as defined by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), when the trust was set up, and how long the person who set up the trust continues to live after the trust is created.

These definitions are highly specific, so rather than restating the same information here we recommend you read through the different cases the Government have put forward here (scroll down to the ‘Inheritance Tax’ section).

Multiple Beneficiaries

Keep in mind: It’s possible for a trust to have multiple beneficiaries who are and aren’t deemed to be vulnerable people.

For this reason, and to keep everything above board, all income and assets for any vulnerable beneficiaries must be kept separate from income and assets for non-vulnerable beneficiaries, with only the vulnerable beneficiary’s income and assets being eligible for any special tax treatment.

When a vulnerable beneficiary dies or is no longer deemed to be vulnerable, the trustee(s) must inform HMRC as soon as possible.

Experienced Trust Accountants

To speak with a professional accountant to discuss trusts for vulnerable people, or for anything else, contact us today on 020 8780 2349 or get in touch with us via our contact page to arrange a complimentary, no obligation meeting.


Trustee Responsibilities

38203872_sWhether you’ve recently been asked if you can be a trustee for a friend or family member’s trust, or you’ve been a trustee for some time and you want to brush up on what your responsibilities to the trust are, this article will answer all (and any) questions you may have.

In the simplest possible terms, a trust is a method of organising money, investments, land, or buildings (known collectively as assets) for a person or group of people. There are three types of people involved in a trust: the settlor, the trustee, and the beneficiary. The settlor is the person(s) who place the assets into a trust. The beneficiary (or beneficiaries) is the aforementioned person or group of people who benefit from the assets over time, and the trustee…

The Trustee

As a trustee you will be expected to manage the trust in the best interests of the beneficiary or beneficiaries. In the words of the Money Advice Service:

“As a trustee, you’re responsible for using the money or assets in a trust to benefit someone else. You won’t be able to benefit from the trust yourself (unless the trust agreement says you can). What you can and can’t do may be set out in detail in the trust document.”

Tax Responsibilities

Trustees hold the sole responsibility for reporting and paying tax on behalf of the trust. If there is more than one trustee (you’re not the only trustee for your specific trust), one of you must be nominated the ‘principal acting trustee’ and manage the trust’s tax affairs by yourself.

Assuming you’re the only trustee, or you’re nominated the principal acting trustee, you are required to register the trust with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by 5 October of the tax year after the trust is set up. To do this you’ll need to complete form 41G and send it to HMRC’s trust and estates department.

Once the trust is registered you’ll be required to send HMRC an annual Self Assessment tax return regarding the trust’s income and any gains.

Reporting Responsibilities

As a trustee you are also expected to report to the trust’s beneficiary or beneficiaries on what tax has been paid and what income has been created whenever they ask for this information.

If the beneficiary is a close friend or family member they will, fingers crossed, not be asking you for this information every few weeks. But as and when they do ask for this information you will be required to complete form R185, or form R185 (Settlor) if you need to report this information to a settlor who has an interest in the trust.

Experienced Trust Accountants

To speak with a professional accountant to discuss your responsibilities as a trustee, or for anything else, contact us today on 020 8780 2349 or get in touch with us via our contact page to arrange a complimentary, no obligation meeting.


Ban on Anti-Invoice Finance Terms in Work Contracts

Pay_TaxAgility Accountants London

From next year (2016) small and micro-businesses across the country will have a new option for growing their business and improving their cash flow thanks to a decision by The Department for Business, Innovations, and Skills (BIS) to allow small business owners the right to secure finance against money owed to them through invoices for all working contracts.

This decision was made possible due to a ban on anti-invoice finance terms, with the ban being seen as a direct method of speeding up economic growth and, as a result, helping to create jobs.

Invoice finance is particularly beneficial for small and micro-businesses because it give them the option to receive the income that’s owed to them sooner, thus avoiding falling into negative cash flow. Speaking on the ban, Small Business Minister Anna Soubry said “While invoice finance may not be right for everyone and is absolutely no excuse for late payment, I want small businesses to have the option of using it to increase their cashflow. This is all part of our plan to maintain the UK’s position as the best place in Europe to start and grow a business.”

What is Invoice Finance?

Invoice finance is a option that allows small and micro-business owners to receive finance for invoices that contain money (often late payments) owed to the business. The Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) estimate that over 44,000 businesses in the UK receive over £19 billion of invoice finance in this manner at any given time.

Invoice finance allows small and micro-businesses to receive the majority of the money owed to them much faster (often within a standard thirty-day invoicing cycle) than if they simply waited for their customers to pay their invoice.

Regular, positive cash flow is the lifeblood of small business, which is why invoice finance has become increasingly popular among small and micro-businesses in recent years, with the ban on anti-invoice finance terms likely to increase this. Despite this excellent new change, it would still be advised to keep up to date with the best practices on How to Minimise Late Payments.

The Changes

In the past clauses within working contracts looking to prevent sub-contracting would often (and sometimes inadvertently) make it impossible for invoice finance to take place on said contract.

The ban on anti-invoice finance terms in contracts, which was made possible by terms set out in this year’s Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act, received cross-party support in Parliament, with almost-identical bans in Australia, Canada, and the United States said to confirm its necessity.

Speaking of the importance of small businesses, Small Business Minister Anna Soubry said: “Small businesses are the economic backbone of Britain and we will do everything possible to make sure they continue to grow and create jobs. By scrapping restrictions on invoice finance, thousands of firms across the country could benefit from faster access to hard-fought funds.”

The Federation of Small Businesses was also complimentary of the ban, with National Chairman John Allan stating that “The decision to outlaw the ban on terms in contracts to prevent businesses from choosing who they want to go to for invoice financing is overwhelmingly positive for businesses around the country.”

For more tax information in relation to business, click here.

Experienced Accountants

If you’re looking to start applying for invoice finance, or you just want to know how to go about applying when the time comes, your accountant can work with you to simplify this process.

To speak with a professional accountant to discuss the new anti-invoice finance terms, or for anything else, contact us today on 020 8780 2349 or get in touch with us via our contact page to arrange a complimentary, no obligation meeting.