Business Advice

Speeding Up Your Invoicing Process | Accounting Software Advice | Business Invoicing Help
Speeding up your invoicing process 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Speeding up your invoicing process

Every business owner will agree that spending as little time as possible on your administration tasks and focussing on fee earning activities is critical to success. With the introduction of online accounting software (such as QuickBooks) business productivity has vastly improved and become more streamlined.

One of the most beneficial elements of implementing this type of software is the improvements that can be made with the invoicing process. Here are our top 5 reasons why:

  1. You can create personalised and professional looking invoices, on any device. If you are on a client site, you can access your software on the go and raise an invoice which is sent automatically to the client as soon as any work is completed. You no longer have to manually raise an invoice when you get back into your office or get home after a busy day on site.
  2. You can manage all your sales and invoicing in one place. Easily track your paid and unpaid invoices whilst also setting up automated payments through solutions such as PayPal and GoCardless.
  3. You can check all your payments in real-time, for example if you are called upon for an urgent job but there is already an outstanding invoice you can quickly request payment to be made before undertaking any more work. You can also set automatic reminders to chase up overdue payments.
  4. You can create custom invoices from different templates, displaying your professional brand at all times. Invoices can be e-mailed on any platform or printed for sending in the post.
  5. Any quotations or estimations can be quickly converted into an invoice. You can automatically apply discounts, promotions or VAT and you can also invoice in any currency.

If you would like to find out more about how you can improve your invoicing processing by implementing some online accounting software, feel free to call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk.

HMRC Explore Options for Changing Tax Payments | HMRC Tax Advice | Modern Tax Administration | HMRC Tax Help Bristol
HMRC exploring options of changing tax payments 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

HMRC exploring options of changing tax payments

The Government have recently announced a 10-year strategy to build a modern tax administration systems and as part of this they have begun a consultation period which lasts until 13 July 2021. This will involve a “call for evidence” approach which focuses on the benefits and challenges of the current tax payment system with a view to reducing the gap between when income/profits increase and income tax or corporation tax is paid. 

As with any new scheme there will be some issues to overcome. For example, how do you consider payments that are made under the income self-assessment heading or corporation tax for small companies, as these do not fall under the quarterly tax instalments?

How it currently stands

As it currently stands any self-employed taxpayer who has just started trading will have up to 22 months to pay their first tax bill. For an established trader, payment will typically be made twice a year and a balancing payment on any outstanding liability.

If we look at corporation tax there is also a delay between making profit and when a corporation payment is due. Payment is due in 1 instalment no later than 9 months after a company’s accounting period.

The need for change

The current situation brings with it a range of issues, having a large liability to pay at a specific time of the year can cause problems, especially when a tax bill comes out higher than what was expected. Changing this to a more regular payment based on the end of year reports could provide more accurate figures and greater control.

The issue

The HMRC are focussed on trying to improve how they receive funds, especially considering that 34% of their outstanding debts are for income tax and corporation tax.

What are the plans?

Consideration is being given to whether payments should be on either a monthly or a quarterly basis. As it stands HMRC are exploring all options.

Tax payments could be calculated in the year, developed as a result of up-to-date information and with projections on annual liability. Alternatively, tax payments could be based around the previous year’s tax liabilities. Finally, it could be based on estimations of the taxpayer’s liability for the operating year.

Of course, all ideas are on the table at the moment. The focus is to develop ideas that can be given careful consideration before a framework for moving forward can be finalised. HMRC also recognises that plans might need to be different for specific industries or taxpayer types.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your tax liabilities please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk.

IR35 Off-Payroll Working | Advice on Off-Payroll Working | Help with IR35 | Accountancy Help IR35
The changes to IR35 and off-payroll working 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

The changes to IR35 and off-payroll working

Historically, when a business engages with a freelancer or contractor to work on a project over a long-term basis they do not appear on any payroll, instead they receive payment once an invoice is submitted. This freelancer or contractor though will often only be working exclusively for the one company.

Due to the recent changes with the off-payroll working rules (also known as the IR35 rules), there is a potential that this will need to change and the contractor will have to become an employee and paid via the company PAYE system.

The following provides a little more information on the IR35 changes and what they mean to self-employed contractors and businesses.

What changes does the IR35 rules bring?

A company (considered to be a medium or large company operating in the private sector) can now determine what a contractors IR35 status is. Obviously the company needs to consider this carefully as it will have a negative impact on a contractor. The contractor will have to become considered an “off-payroll worker”, and added to the payroll system, covering all requirements for tax and national insurance.

If the company is considered to be a small private organisation then no changes are needed and the contractor is in control of their own assessments and employment status.

Contractors need to remember:

  • There is a stronger chance that you will now be considered as employed, impacting tax and national insurance contributions.
  • If you have the choice, you get better tax benefits when being classed as self-employed.

What is a medium/large company?

Within the new IR35 legislation, it will clearly show the criteria that dictates a medium/large company. In essence it has to meet 2 or more of the following conditions:

  • A turnover in excess of £10.2 million
  • Employing more than 50 staff
  • A balance sheet which is larger than £5.1 million

Any contractor working for this size of company will need to be made aware of these changes and the business will need to decide whether they fit in the scope of IR35 and become employed.

How do I deal with “off-payroll working”?

Obviously, with these changes there will be some significant paperwork and key steps a company will need to undertake (to commence at the start of 2021/22 tax year):

  • A company must take the lead in determining IR35 responsibilities (the HMRC CEST tool can assist with this) and they must advise all contractors of the outcome (normally by issuing a status determination statement).
  • As soon as a contractor is identified as being within the IR35 criteria they need to become an employee and be paid under the “off-payroll worker” classification. At this stage the company (or recruitment agency supplying the worker) will become responsible for deducting the income tax and national insurance contributions from the monthly payments.

If you have any questions in relation to IR35 and off-payroll working then the Stepping Stones team would be happy to help. Please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk.

Gain Control of your Self Assessment | Help with Self Assessment | Self Assessment Hints & Tips
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Gain control of your self assessment

It is surprising how a to-do list can achieve so much. The art of writing down a list of actions and then following them through to completion is nothing new but it still remains an incredibly powerful tool for efficient people. So how can this method help you get control of your self assessment?

Quite simply, if you follow some specific instructions to a set timeframe every year then you will have complete control of your self assessment. For example, if we look at the period of 2021 to 2022, it really is a very simple process based on 5 key steps:

  1. Monthly – keep track of all your monthly business transactions, logging a record of invoices, receipts and expenses.
  2. Register for self assessment by 5th October 2021 (if you have never done this before)
  3. When filing online submit your return by midnight on 31st January 2022
  4. Ensure relevant tax payments are made by midnight on 31st January 2022

In order to complete the self assessment you will need the following:

  • Your 10-digit unique taxpayer reference (UTR)
  • Your national insurance number
  • All details of your untaxed income for the period 2021/22 (this will include income from self-employment, dividends and interest on any shares
  • All records of expenses in relation to self-employment
  • Charity or pension contributions that should be eligible for tax relief
  • A P60 or any other records to demonstrate how much income you have received which has been paid on

Keeping in control of your self assessment can be a very simple exercise just follow your to-do list. Otherwise simply delegate and get your accountant to look after it for you.

Should you have any questions or need any help in relation to your self assessment please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk.

Translating The Accountancy Jargon | Accountancy Terminology |
Translating the accountancy jargon 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Translating the accountancy jargon

People usually go into business because they feel that they have something special to offer; a unique skill set or product that the market needs and a desire to offer the very best customer service to complement that offering.

Whether you are gifted at capturing the perfect photograph, capable of building distinct websites or have a unique talent for developing flavour combinations for that favourite of lunchtime foods, the humble sandwich, you are a specialist for a reason and you are no doubt passionate about what you do. However, as business owners there are lots of areas that you are not a specialist in. For example, apart from a web developer few people need to understand what CMS means or apart from a photographer only a small number of people will understand what the use of bokeh is. There are so many business acronyms and technical terms that we will probably never fully understand and perhaps have no need to understand.

If we look at the world of accountancy, how many people really know their accruals from their capital gains or their liabilities from their overheads?  To help you navigate the plethora of phrases commonly used in accountancy, here is an A to Z of some of the most popular ones and what they actually mean:

Accrual – an expenditure that has not yet been paid for or invoiced
Balance Sheet – a summary of the assets and liabilities within the business
Capital Gain – the profit that you make on the sale of asset which is purchased and used within the business (rather than sold on)
Depreciation – the devaluing of an asset purchased within the business
Equity – the value of the business to its shareholders
Fixed cost – a recurring cost that remains the same for a dedicated period of time
Goodwill – the intangible asset associated with the value of a business, e.g.  goodwill, brand recognition, copyrights, trademarks, customers, etc
HMRC – Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, the UK’s tax, payments and customs authority
IFRS – the accounting standards set by International Financial Reporting Standards
JSA – job seekers allowance is the money paid to people who are unemployed but that are actively seeking work
Kashflow – one provider of the many solutions for online accounting software
Liabilities – either money or debt which the business owes and results in funds quickly coming out of the business
MTD – a HMRC scheme called Making Tax Digital which is focussed on digitalising the tax system
NI – known as National Insurance which is a payment made by everybody who is employed with a salary over £9,500
Overheads – the fixed costs which do not relate to sales, e.g., rent, fees and depreciation
P45 – a formal document issued to an employee when they leave the company
Quarterly – accountancy processes that need to be completed four times a year e.g., VAT returns and MTD updates
Retained Profit – the sum of all profits when all taxes and dividends have been taken out of the business
Self Assessment Tax Return – personal tax used by HMRC to collect relevant income tax payments
Tax Planning – the process which can be completed to help reduce the burden of large tax payments
UTR – this will be a 10-digit number (known as the Unique Taxpayer Reference) which is given to self-employed professionals for either self-assessment or setting up limited companies
VAT – the tax payments that needs to be made on business purchased (also known as Value Added Tax)
Worker – the newest phrase predominantly used in the ‘gig economy’ for a person’s employment status
Xmas Party Tax Relief – for annual events such as a Christmas party there are tax free benefits as long as the costs is no more than £150 per person
Year End – the closing period of a business’s accounting year
Zero Rate – all goods that are rated zero rate means not VAT is applied to their cost

If you have any questions or unsure about any other accountancy terminology then please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk.

Anti Money Laundering Compliance | AML Compliance | Help with Anti Money Laundering | What is AML
Anti Money Laundering (AML) Compliance 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Anti Money Laundering (AML) Compliance

Anti Money Laundering (AML) is a set of laws and regulations that were formed to prevent criminal activity whereby people disguise legally obtained funds as legitimate income. Whilst AML only actually covers a small range of accountancy transactions and criminal behaviour, the implications of such activity can be incredibly broad.

Why Is AML Important to Accountants?

AML forms a vital part of the accountancy and financial profession; it ensures correct regulation and protection from money laundering. In the past, accountants might have been targeted to aid with these fraudulent transactions. According to the National Crime Agency, money laundering costs the UK over £100 billion every year, however with the implementation of AML compliance only 1% of this is related to applications submitted by accountants. All financial practice firms are required to put controls in place which prevent them from being used as part of a money laundering activity.

Who Does It Apply To?

The AML regulations apply to both accountants and financial professionals that provide the following solutions:

  • Bookkeeping services
  • General accountancy
  • Tax advice
  • Submitting tax returns
  • Business tax advice
  • Auditing

As part of the compliance, accountants should implement:

  • Risk management practices
  • Customer due diligence
  • Reliance and record keeping
  • Monitoring and management of compliance

The 5 Key Stages

In order to complete the AML compliance there are 5 key stages:

  • Identify – make sure you need to be compliant with the AML regulations (for example if you are a member of a supervisory body e.g., ICB, ICAEW or ICPA, then you might already be covered)
  • Collect – ensure you have the right tools in place to safely and correctly collect client data
  • Monitor – be vigilant throughout the relationship with your client, continue to assess all activities
  • Storage – all documentation should be safely secured, correctly filed and easily accessible
  • Report – If any unusual transactions or suspicious activities occur then these should be immediately reported.

If you have any questions in regard to AML or need some accountancy support please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk.

An Update on MTD | Making Tax Digital | Advice on Making Tax Digital | Accountancy Support with MTD | What is MTD
An Update on Making Tax Digital (MTD) 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

An Update on Making Tax Digital (MTD)

Making Tax Digital (MTD) was first introduced during the Spring Budget of 2015, its aim was to completely negate the need for an annual tax return. Instead, taxpayers would have all their information loaded directly onto a digital tax account. Alongside this, businesses would only have to worry about paying one simple business tax. The other key benefit announced was the simplification of tax for self-employed people along with the complete removal of the class 2 national insurance contribution.

Despite lots of discussion and various communications from HMRC, including a number of consultation papers that addressed various aspects of the MTD project, none of these objectives have been met. Indeed, back in July 2017 there was an announcement that the scheme would be delayed with MTD for income tax being introduced in 2020 and MTD for VAT being introduced in 2019.

As planned the MTD for VAT did commence in April 2019 but with the exclusion of specific businesses (classed as complex), who were delayed until October 2019. It was also decided that specific public sector bodies would also not be joining the scheme until sometime in 2022. The final implementation of the scheme will see a compulsory digital transfer on all VAT data to happen by April 2021 and the mandating of all VAT registered businesses to comply with MTD by April 2022.

If we look at income tax, this digitalisation involved a far more complex structure. The result is that a taxpayer will have to adopt four quarterly reports and a final report that in most cases will replace the annual self-assessment return. A pilot scheme for this was initiated in April 2018 however, there are currently only a small number of taxpayers and agents participating in this pilot and also only 6 of the major software companies (compliant with MTD) that have provision for recording this.

Although planned for 2017, the MTD for corporation tax and complex businesses (defined as large partnerships with income of over £20m or mixed partnerships that include companies, LLP’s and individuals) has yet been introduced. The HMRC issued a specific consultation documentation in November 2020 (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/making-tax-digital-for-corporation-tax), however this consultation will run until 5th March 2021, so in reality it is likely that developments within this field will not be seen until later this year.

The final item to note on MTD is that the reporting of corporation tax will be very similar to that of income tax rather than VAT. There will be a quarterly reporting structure for both income and costs. Companies will still need to assign all their accounting totals for iXBRL when submitting annual accounts to HMRC. Therefore, companies within MTD will have to submit 5 reports to HMRC for their annual accounts, along with the standard 4 quarterly VAT returns and relevant PAYE returns

Managing Cashflow 150 150 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Managing Cashflow

In our latest animated video we show how with a little bit of help from your accountant and a cashflow forecast report, you can budget for new equipment that is needed in your business.

A Change In VAT Charges As A Result Of Brexit | VAT Help Brexit | VAT Advice
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A change in VAT charges as a result of Brexit

As we prepare for the impact of Brexit, our European Union customers could be entitled to some VAT-free services.

Any business that is expecting their taxable supplies to be less than £83,000 (which is the deregistration threshold) for 2021 can deregister from VAT on 31st December 2020. Alongside this there are other scenarios of non-chargeable VAT.

If you are a business supplying to a consumer (B2C) that is a resident outside of the EU then no VAT needs to be charged. As an example, if you provide accountancy services to an EU country then prices will need to include the 20% VAT but if the customer is outside the EU (for example in Johannesburg) then no VAT is charged. 

As of 1st January 2021, legislation is being changed so that services provided to customers who are not in the UK, but who still remain in the EU, will not be charged VAT. This means that outside of the UK no VAT charges will apply for the direct business sales of items to consumers. Full details can be found via this link – https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1994/23/schedule/4A.   

Although companies can deregister for the VAT scheme if they will be solely working with clients outside of the UK, it is their choice, and they can still remain part of the scheme. This then means that any work within the UK which they receive from a supplier, classed as input tax, enables them to claim back as UK expenses.

In summary the new regulations coming in to force on 1st January 2021 will provide some VAT saving opportunities for UK suppliers of business-2-consumer products dealing with any company outside of the UK. The key benefit will be a decrease in tax yield from the HMRC.

If you have any questions or need some help in regard to VAT charges please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk.

Adapting Diversification & Your Accountant | Managing Company Data | Proactive Accountants Bristol
Adapting, diversification and your accountant 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Adapting, diversification and your accountant

The word adapt has never been so important. In today’s unusual landscape, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has affected everybody. Every business has had challenges to overcome and virtually all have had to adapt. The key element for most businesses was the need to embrace the digital world and implement key changes to stay connected with staff, clients and suppliers.

In the world of accountancy, the perception is of a behind-the-scenes company specialising in crunching numbers, completing mundane tax returns and taking care of payroll. However, modern accountancy practices are becoming a far more valuable asset, especially with the introduction of new technologies. Adapting to becoming people focussed and data-led is a must for any proactive accountancy firm. Where the use of technology allows for virtual conversations, managing data, creating automation and much, much more.

Real-Time Data

Having management data on hand that provides accurate and real-time information along with key insights is vital for any business. An accountant will process a lot of data and often will know much more about a business than its employees. Providing real-time data allows a business to effectively plan and manage both finances and business objectives.

Accurate Data

Remaining one step ahead is vitally important. Having accurate data on hand so immediate decisions can be made is crucial. Gone are the days of taking months to process business receipts and then manually checking figures for inaccuracies. Robust data is at hand for any business to use for making informed business decisions such as salary reviews, profit and loss analysis or payroll benchmarking.

Cloud Accountancy

One of the most effective accountancy solutions for a business is the switch to cloud accountancy. Utilising solutions such as Xero, QuickBooks or Clearbooks can be game changing and will help to tackle pain points. For example, late payments can be flagged immediately so that cash flow planning can be effectively managed.

A New Style of Business Coach

The role of an accountant is so important to any business. Over the past couple of years with advances in technology, the ever-changing business landscape and market demand, a business must have immediate access to all of their financial data. In fact, gone are the days where you don’t have any interaction with your accountant until the obligatory end of year accounts, they now form a vital part of a business. Building personal relationships of trust, advice and guidance is critical for an accountant to be recognised as an important cog in the business wheel. Today’s accountancy role can be seen as more of a business coach where advice can be given on data analysis, strategic growth guidance and diversification.

Should you have any questions or need some support please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk.

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