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Simplifying the capital gains tax on a property when a couple separate
Simplifying the capital gains tax on a property when a couple separate 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Simplifying the capital gains tax on a property when a couple separate

Many people are still not fully aware of the changes that took place on 6th April 2023 in regards to capital gains tax (CGT) on a property when a couple separate. Previously the old rules were very inflexible where the no gain / no loss treatment could only apply for a short period of time. Whilst it is almost a year since these changes were introduced many people are still unaware of what they mean.

This blog post will explore the details further.

It goes without saying that when a couple goes through a separation it can be a very stressful period. On top of that agreeing on what happens with the assets and associated property can only add to the problems. With the introduction of these CGT changes the following rules will apply:

  • Those involved in the separation can take up to 3 years from the date of the split to issue a no gain no loss transfer on all relevant assets thus minimising any capital gains tax.
  • Any timeframes previously in place for the transferring of assets following a formal split such as a divorce have been removed.
  • If any partner has remained in the shared home then they are entitled to claim private residence relief once the property is sold.

Another major positive with this change is that all parties involved in the separation can take their time and organise all their financial matters without worry or concern that they will face liabilities in relation to CGT. The process of transferring assets is a simple one and any previous issues around dates for separation are removed.

Although on the whole these changes see a number of benefits there are still some areas to be aware of:

  • Some fees around CGT could apply if there are cash agreements in place as part of any separation.
  • If any oversees assets are involved then the no gain no loss rule will not apply, meaning tax payments could occur.
  • If assets are transferred but then later sold there is a high probability that future tax charges will be incurred.
  • Anything in relation to income tax should be treated separately. For example if a family company exists between all parties and dividends are taken then liabilities could be applied.

To conclude when a civil or marital partnership breaks up and there is the requirement for a split of assets it is very important to consider the tax positions for each party. It can be a minefield for individuals to understand especially at a time which is incredibly stressful and emotionally draining. This is why it is recommended that specialist help is sought to assist with the entire process.

For anybody that does has any questions in regards to CGT or in need of any form of accountancy help, please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free 20-minute call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/20min

Reflecting on 2023
Reflecting on 2023 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Reflecting on 2023

December is always an exciting month; businesses start to slow down and everybody looks forward to a much needed break spending time with friends and family. It is also a perfect time for reflection.

For us here at Stepping Stones it has been another enjoyable year supporting the small business community with all their accountancy needs. We have further cemented relationships with existing clients and have introduced a number of new clients working with them as their in-house accountancy department offering standard compliance services of:

  • Payroll
  • Tax returns
  • Tax planning
  • Bookkeeping
  • VAT returns
  • Year end

We have also seen growth in our management accountancy services, offering more strategic advice within areas of:

  • Business advisory
  • Compliance and incorporation

With so many areas to be positive about we are excited to see what happens in 2024.

Of course, first though we are looking forward to putting our feet up and relaxing. Our offices will be closing on Friday 22nd December 2023 and we will be back open again on Tuesday 2nd January 2024.

Finally, thank you to all our staff, suppliers and clients for their support this year.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

For anybody that does need some accountancy help, please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free 20-minute call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/20min

What is invoice fraud?
What is invoice fraud? 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

What is invoice fraud?

There are daily occurrences of spam related issues impacting people and businesses. It could be via e-mail or a telephone call and usually involve a person trying to impersonate somebody else. Their ultimate goal is to access confidential information and extract as much money as possible.

If we put this into a business context, there is currently a very popular scam running focussed on invoices. Invoice scams are common and can have a serious impact on a business’s cashflow. Often the impact of this type of fraud will mean more than £10,000 being exploited from a business from just one single invoice.

Invoice fraud occurs when a business is tricked into changing the bank details displayed on an invoice. Criminals will target businesses by impersonating suppliers. They will look to contact accounts departments and request that records on account need to be updated so that future payments are swiftly paid.

When the criminals are successful, they get paid substantial amounts which in turn means that suppliers remain unpaid and businesses have to swiftly provide a resolution. Often having to pay the cost of the invoices twice will have a serious impact on the businesses cashflow.

There are several steps that a business can take to protect themselves from invoice fraud:

  1. Carefully scan all e-mail communications, if a request for changing payment terms is made, make sure you speak to the company requesting the changes to ensure that it is legitimate. 
  2. If there are any requests for urgent payments, check their validity. It will be very unusual for a supplier to suddenly change their payment terms so a red flag should immediately be recognised.
  3. Make sure that all staff working in accounts are aware of these scams and are given the correct training in all aspects of fraud.
  4. Always be careful with e-mail attachments. Deploy security software that can quickly identify spam messages.
  5. Don’t give too much information away, for example only display the most important business information on a website and make sure any data collection is accurate and secure.
  6. When paying new suppliers, complete due diligence and only make payment when everything is 100% legitimate.

If you have any questions in regard to invoice fraud or need some help with any aspect of business accountancy our team would be happy to help. Please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free 20-minute call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/20min

How to get a mortgage if you are self-employed
How to get a mortgage if you are self-employed 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

How to get a mortgage if you are self-employed

At various times in our working life, we may all have a desire to do something for ourselves and step into the world of business ownership. However, it is only a very small percentage of people that take the plunge and become self-employed. Those that do take the required steps benefit from total independence, a true love for what they do, flexibility in working hours and potentially unlimited earnings.

There are a number of excellent benefits of being self-employed. However, the one problem that can arise is with trying to secure a mortgage. Historically securing a mortgage when you are self-employed can be a challenge as lenders are concerned about the lack of evidence when demonstrating income. To help with this process there are several steps that can be taken to put a self-employed professional in a positive position when applying for a new mortgage.

  1. Preparation

Keep excellent bookkeeping records of income and expenditure, look to use an accounting system which, when populated, can prepare reports of accurate and meaningful data. Always ensure you have a positive credit score and if possible, have a good level of savings.

  1. Speak to the experts

There are several excellent mortgage advisors that specialise in self-employed mortgages. Seek their professional advice and guidance as they can complete an initial fact find, check on affordability scales and match you to the right lenders.

  1. Seek financial accounting help

Use a professional accountant to prepare all financial information. A lender will look more favourably on the application if the accounts have been prepared by experts. The credibility of providing accurate information gives a lender lots of confidence.

  1. Credit history

Try to maintain a positive credit score and if there are any negative connotations then work to address these and allow time before completing the mortgage application. It goes without saying the better your credit score, the better the chances of securing a mortgage.

  1. Positive cash flow

Try to ensure you have a positive cash flow which demonstrates that any bank accounts have a healthy credit. Where possible also have good levels of personal savings which, should income one month be slow, demonstrates that the repayment of mortgage fees will always be covered.

  1. Present the right documentation

Copies of trading history (for the previous two years), HMRC documents such as an SA302 and evidence of upcoming contractual agreements will be required when any mortgage applications are made.

Other personal information used for evidence will also be required these can include passport or driving licence, utility bills, council tax bills and bank statements.

Finally, being on the electoral register with the right to vote is also advantageous as a lender can research this and use it as verification for identification purposes and proof of address.

If you have any questions or need some help with any aspect of self-employment and accountancy support then would be happy to help. Please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/20min

Explaining Sustainable Finance | What is Sustainable Finance | Understanding Sustainable Finance
Explaining sustainable finance 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Explaining sustainable finance

The word sustainable is one of the more common “buzz” words being used currently. In essence it refers to the ability of being maintained at a reliable rate without causing damage. Typically, it will be associated with a social or environmental goal.

It is also being introduced into the area of finance under the heading of sustainable finance. Sustainable finance will take into consideration areas of environmental, social and governance. The money made available under this remit is as a result of longer-term investments in sustainable and economic projects.

With the government focused on transitioning to a sustainable economy, more and more businesses are dedicating time and resources to adopt processes which carefully consider these factors. With a target of net zero, the SME sector will play an important role in social and environmental best practices.

Sustainable finance has been introduced to help businesses with their commitment in reducing the carbon footprint. Funding initiatives like this help in 5 key areas:

  • Developing financial solutions which bring broad benefits and help deliver positive action in climate change.
  • Increasing awareness of sustainability and how it should be applied in a business scenario. At times this could also highlight areas or skills needed to complete these transitions.
  • Building knowledge across all areas so that when new purchases are made, they can be undertaken with sustainability in mind.
  • When employees are made more aware of their sustainable responsibilities they can be upskilled and retrained to help embed new initiatives and processes into the business.
  • Better access to products and services that are sustainably focussed and designed with helping protect the environment.

One final point, businesses need to start to recognise the importance of sustainability and adopt best practices. There are several great resources that can help successfully navigate through the changes needed.

If you have questions or need some help with any aspect of sustainable finance our team would be happy to help. Please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free 30-minute call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/30min

The Benefit of a Commercial Mortgage | Commercial Mortgages Explained | Commercial Mortgage Advice
The benefit of a commercial mortgage 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

The benefit of a commercial mortgage

Business stability is incredibly important, especially when trying to ensure the long-term future of an organisation. An area that is often overlooked, but which is immensely important, is with the ownership of a commercial property. A business in a rented location has nothing in return for their payments whereas a monthly fee towards the ownership of a property will help to increase the equity of the business.

Of course, taking the decision to purchase a commercial property is the easy step the biggest issue will be finding the right finance option to fund the purchase. It will be very rare for a business to have the funds available to outright purchase a property, instead they will need financial help and the perfect solution is a commercial mortgage.

There are several commercial mortgage options available:

  1. Owner occupied commercial mortgage – used by the business for its day-to-day operations.
  2. Investment commercial mortgage – the financing of a property which is then leased out to business tenants.
  3. Buy-to-let mortgages – a business will purchase residential properties and then let-out to residential tenants.
  4. Mixed-use mortgages – ideal for when the property has both commercial and residential aspects for example a flat above a retail outlet.
  5. Property development mortgages – utilised to finance the construction of commercial and/or residential properties

Once a decision is made on the type of commercial mortgage required the next step is to identify who can help with this. There are again several options available:

  1. High street bank – historically the most popular choice as they can secure the best rates and terms for a business, however the application process and turnaround can be time consuming
  2. Specialist banks – often established to assist with more complex solutions such as commercial mortgages which results in them having more options available.
  3. Finance brokers – independent finance companies who adopt a whole of market approach and can match a business with a specific lender.

Having determined the best commercial mortgage option and the best funding choice the final stage is the application process. The steps are as follows:

  1. Identify the best funding option
  2. Make an offer for the commercial property
  3. Instruct professionals to undertake a valuation
  4. Agree the loan requirements
  5. Source and instruct solicitors to complete the deal 

In conclusion there are broad benefits to purchasing a commercial property but make sure that you source the right mortgage.

If you have any questions or need some help with any aspect of business finance or accountancy our team would be happy to help. Please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free 30-minute call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/30min

Why Are We Regulated | Regulated Accountants Bristol | Importance of Accountancy Regulation
Why are we regulated? 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Why are we regulated?

Did you know that not all accountancy firms are not created equal?

It’s perfectly reasonable for you to assume that your accountancy firm holds at the very least the appropriate qualifications and perhaps is regulated by a professional body, but this is not always the case. Remarkably, there is nothing to prevent anyone from setting up an accountancy practice, even if they hold no qualifications or insurance.

However, by employing a firm that is a member of a regulatory body, you can be assured that the company that you are dealing with are qualified and held to high standards both ethically and in the quality of the advice that they provide. Member firms will be monitored proactively to ensure that they comply with all appropriate regulations and standards. Education and continuous development are also often a requirement of being a member of a professional body as is abiding by a code of ethics and professional standards.

The systems and procedures put in place by the regulatory body can provide peace of mind to anyone using a firm that is registered with them and will also provide a framework should the need to complain arise. These firms must also hold a minimum level of professional indemnity insurance, providing peace of mind for clients should the worst happen.

So, to ensure that you can fully rely on your accountant, check that they are registered with a regulatory body which will provide you with peace of mind that the advice that they are providing is appropriate, ethical, accurate and up to date.

Naturally, here at Stepping Stones we are all appropriately qualified and insured and to help demonstrate this we are licenced with AAT (license number 1001767). Also we have an ACCA qualified accountant and 2 others who are currently in training.

If you have any questions or need some accountancy help, please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free 30 minute call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/30min

Bookkeeping and why to do it regularly | Bookkeeping Bristol | Help with Bookkeeping
Bookkeeping and why to do it regularly 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Bookkeeping and why to do it regularly

Whilst the words bookkeeping, spreadsheets and accountancy software can fill you with dread and the thought of inputting all that data and ensuring that it all adds up can be overwhelming, a little planning can make the whole process much more manageable.

By allocating your bank transactions on a regular basis you can save yourself a huge headache at the end of the year. Not only will it seem less daunting, but it can also provide you with many other benefits:

  • It delivers an accurate picture of how your business is doing.
  • By completing it whilst transactions are fresh in your mind, it can provide up to date profit reports.
  • It lessens the delay of completing tax returns and year end accounts.
  • Little and often is key. It will take much longer to complete if it is only done every 6 months or worse, once a year.
  • What takes longer, costs more!

If you are struggling with sticking to a regular bookkeeping routine, ask your accountant, they will be very happy to help.

Alternatively if you are looking for a new accountant we would be delighted to offer our support. Please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free 30 minute call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/30min

Implementing a monthly accountancy routine 150 150 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Implementing a monthly accountancy routine

This animated video explores the benefits of why a business or sole trader should immediately implement a monthly accountancy routine

Introducing the Stepping Stones team 150 150 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Introducing the Stepping Stones team

We thought it was time that we introduced you all to the Stepping Stones Accountancy team.

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