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VAT: changes on the horizon for the construction industry with huge potential impact on cashflow

Significant VAT changes for the construction industry are due to come into force on 1 October 2019.

New legislation is designed to combat what HMRC describe as “missing trader fraud”, whereby the suppliers charge and collect VAT, but do not pay it over to HMRC.

In essence, the legislation will require the recipient rather than the supplier to account for the VAT due on certain construction services.

The new regime requires careful planning from all construction businesses in order to avoid a cashflow crisis.

How will the new rules work?

Under the new rules, businesses supplying construction services must not charge VAT where their customer:

  • is registered for VAT; and
  • will use the services to make an onward supply of construction services.

Instead of the supplier charging VAT, the recipient must self-account for VAT on the services received. This is known as ‘reverse charge’ accounting.

With each business transaction, the VAT will be calculated as a paper exercise and registered on the invoice as a ‘reverse charge’. Only client-facing organisations at the top of the construction supply chain will be required to pay the tax.

Who will be affected?

As a general rule of thumb, any company that is registered with the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) – HMRC’s construction-specific tax-collecting regime will fall into the reverse charge category.

The new rules will apply to construction services supplied from 1 October 2019, regardless of value, even if construction is not the main business activity.

The definition of ‘construction services’ is extensive and duplicates the definitions used for the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). It also includes goods, such as building materials, but only when supplied as a single package within the construction service being provided (e.g. a builder providing bricks).

Exclusions

There are some exclusions, such as the installation of seating, blinds, shutters and security systems. Also excluded are professional services of architects, surveyors and consultants. However, where excluded services are supplied as a package with other services which fall within the new criteria, the whole package will be subject to the reverse charge.

There are further exclusions for construction services which are to be used by the recipient to make an onward supply to a connected party or to make a supply between a landlord and tenant.

Clearly if the construction services qualify to be treated as zero rated then the reverse charge will not apply. For example, a sub-contractor supplying construction services to a main contractor who is building a new residential property would currently charge VAT at 0%. This treatment is unaffected by these new reverse charge rules and the sub-contractor would continue to charge VAT at 0%

In addition, the reverse charge rules will not apply where the recipient of the construction service is not VAT registered. In these circumstances, VAT must be charged in the normal way. However, the non-VAT registered recipient must add the value of construction services received to the value of its sales, when deciding whether it has exceeded the VAT registration threshold (currently £85,000). This is likely to mean that many small contractors who are not currently VAT registered will need to be registered in the future.

HMRC to be strict from 1 October 2019

As an anti-fraud measure, it is expected that HMRC will enforce the new rules strictly:

  • If a supplier charges VAT in error, HMRC may not allow the recipient to reclaim it
  • If a supplier applies the reverse charge rules in a situation where it should have charged VAT, HMRC will most likely seek to collect the under declared VAT from the supplier

In both situations, penalties and interest could apply. The main message we are delivering is that businesses within the construction sector need to have a sound understanding of the new rules and have systems in place ahead of the deadline to ensure that VAT is accounted for correctly.

Many subcontractors will find they are in a regular VAT refund position in the future. They will have VAT to claim on materials and overheads but will not charge VAT on sales where the reverse charge rules apply.

Some businesses will suffer a cashflow disadvantage, where VAT collected from customers is currently used as working capital before being paid over to HMRC.

To correctly apply the new rules, the supplier needs to know what its customer intends to do with the services and will need to be able to evidence this to HMRC. HMRC are undertaking a detailed technical consultation on this issue.

How should you prepare?

Final legislation and HMRC guidance is due to be issued in October of this year, giving businesses 12 months to prepare. Affected businesses should ensure they are fully up to date with the changes and when the VAT should be charged and, likewise when a reverse charge is required.

Well in advance of October 2019 construction businesses need to conduct a full review of supplies made to and received from other VAT registered contractors to establish whether these will be subject to a reverse charge from October 2019.

It is of course right that the problem of missing trader fraud within the construction industry be tackled, but if traders have not picked up on the forthcoming changes they may be faced with unwanted penalties and interest as a consequence of failing to implement the reverse charge correctly. We would recommend that in the event of doubt, seek guidance from your professional adviser to ensure there are no such unwelcome surprises.

If you would like to discuss how the above changes could impact on your business, please contact our property tax specialist, Jonathan Cunningham, on 01254 604318 or via email at jonathan.cunningham@pmm.co.uk.

Inheritance tax planning is best when it’s simple

Inheritance tax planning is something that many of us don’t want to think about. Facing your own mortality isn’t easy and can involve some difficult decisions, particularly in complex and extended families.

That said, there can be significant benefits from doing some basic planning at the right time, providing reassurance that your affairs are in order and your family aren’t going to face a huge tax bill.

I always tell my clients to keep it simple. There are some fancy schemes out there, but they usually bring lots of complexity and can reduce future flexibility. More often than not, some sensible advance planning can achieve substantial benefits without the complexity.

That might be a mix of getting your will right, ensuring that ownership of assets between you, your spouse and your family is structured properly, making appropriate lifetime gifts, fully using available allowances and exemptions and getting your investment strategy right. Our experienced tax team works closely with our financial planning specialists on the latter.

Trusts can be a great way of passing on wealth without losing control of it. You may be wary of trusts and think they are too complex, but that really isn’t the case. They can be simple and achieve exactly what the client wants, without significant cost or complexity.

Family investment companies can also be effective under the right circumstances, and they are becoming increasingly popular.

The key to inheritance tax efficiency is to think about it early and be open with your family.  Having conversations now can avoid problems later and pave the way for some effective tax planning.

We would be more than happy to help you begin the planning process. Please do not hesitate to speak to either myself (Jane Parry – jane.parry@pmm.co.uk), or member of our tax team to arrange a discussion on 01254 679131, or via email at tax@pmm.co.uk.

PM+M raises almost £800 for East Lancashire, Pendleside and Bury Hospices at annual professionals quiz

We recently raised almost £800 towards the East Lancashire Hospice, Pendleside Hospice and Bury Hospice corporate challenges at our annual professionals quiz, which took place at Ewood Park on Thursday 20 September.

Over 40 professionals from the region attended our event, with 15 teams from the banking, insolvency, legal and recruitment sectors answering questions on topics such as current affairs, sport and music.

The winning team was Leonard Curtis with 81.5 points. The runners up were Handelsbanken and Lloyds Bank with 66.5 and 64.5 points respectively.

Jane Parry, managing partner at PM+M, said: “Once again we’d like to thank our friends and colleagues for supporting us at our annual professionals quiz and helping us to raise so much for such worthwhile causes. This was the fifth time we’ve staged the quiz and it’s fantastic to see its popularity grow year on year.”

Is ‘Buy and Build’ a winning strategy?

‘Buy and build’ activity within Europe is at its highest level ever recorded with a total of 619 add-on deals recorded in 2017, up from 574 in 2016.

This is reflected within Lancashire with the deals market remaining buoyant, which is good news for all. The market appears especially good for buy and build deals, most notable is the recent acquisition of 762 American convenience stores by Blackburn-based EG Group.

The buy and build strategy is when a company expands its operations by acquiring a platform company with a developed expertise that it can then build out. Buy and build strategies are an increasingly popular way for both trade and financial buyers to achieve additional scale and profitability.

Private Equity firms often use buy and build to speed up growth and improve returns, particularly in a slow economy where, even after improving operational efficiency, organic growth may not deliver the required return on investment. However, over the last few years we have witnessed an increased level of financial buyers also deploying this strategy.

For vendors, this type of acquirer is often more attractive because the buyer will be taking a long-term view and vendors, who are often concerned for the future security of their businesses, are reassured knowing that the company they founded will form part of a larger, growing entity that will receive attention and investment from the acquirer.

For acquirers these strategies can be challenging as it takes longer to acquire several companies and integrate them. This is largely evident for privately owned trade buyers inexperienced in post-deal integration. Buy-and-build strategies give rise to numerous financial, legal and tax considerations that are not necessarily inherent in a one-off transaction. However, this doesn’t need to be a stumbling block; with the correct tactics in place and robust planning on how future acquisitions will be funded, this method of growth can be extremely rewarding.

A successful integration also requires specific skills and experience in areas such as change management, risk management and operational metrics. For this reason, the appointment of a suitably experienced management team is essential.

The rewards of a buy and build strategy can be significant; many of the world’s leading companies have been created through buy and build acquisitions. Transactions of this nature can represent a win-win deal for both vendors and acquirers.

Appetite for buy-and-build activity continues to be extremely strong across the board, with large organisations continuing to target smaller companies to gain market share and additional revenue streams.

Also, more and more private equity firms are focusing on enhancing their portfolio companies’ operating results to create value. With the right strategy in place at the right time, buy-and-build deals can be a proven method of achieving the desired results.

If you are considering engaging in a buy-and-build strategy as a means of growth, make sure you get in touch with us today. With years of experience in advising business owners like yourself, we are ideally placed to guide you down the right path for you.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me on 01254 679131, or via email at tim.mills@pmm.co.uk.

PM+M payroll shortlisted at The Rewards 2018

We are pleased to announce that for a second year running, our PM+M payroll team have been shortlisted for The Service Provider Team Award at The Rewards 2018.

The popular ceremony, The Rewards, previously the payroll world awards, is returning for its 7th year and is known as the leading independent awards for payroll, HR and reward professionals in the UK.

The ceremony will be taking place at Hilton London Bankside on November 7 and is the most distinguished event on the industry’s calendar. It is the perfect opportunity to celebrate high achievements and excellence in payroll, reward and related sectors.

Entrants must demonstrate outstanding performance and the judges will be looking for evidence of success in one or more of the following criteria;

  • Outstanding effort under testing circumstances
  • Significant improvements in performance
  • Achievement of targets/incentives
  • Achievement of training/qualifications
  • Implementation of new procedures or systems
  • Excellent teamwork within their own team or with other departments
  • Excellent customer service record

Providing outsourced payroll solutions to over 400 clients, our payroll team at PM+M are highly regarded as one of the leading payroll providers in the North West. Over the past year we have seen many changes to our way of working, having implemented several changes that have enhanced both our procedures and our service delivery to clients.

Julie Mason – head of payroll at PM+M – commented: “The PM+M payroll bureau has grown tremendously and seen a digital transformation over the last twelve months. We have introduced new systems and procedures to improve our services for clients and ensure we provide great value for money.  We work really hard to help our clients and are thrilled to be nominated.  We can’t wait to find out the results!!”

Welcoming more members to our growing payroll team

In celebration of National Payroll Week, we are pleased to welcome two members to PM+M’s growing payroll team, our new payroll administrator, Andrea Wellock and payroll apprentice, Mohammed Aamir Patel. The addition of Andrea and Mohammed to PM+M has taken our payroll department to a team of eight, allowing us to dedicate even more time to helping our clients achieve more through their outsourced payroll solutions.

Whilst Andrea joined our team a few months ago, Mohammed joined our team only this week, following our appointment of six other apprentices across the firm. Working across all teams at PM+M, each apprentice will be studying towards a recognised qualification over the next three years, as well as gaining invaluable ‘on the job’ training.

Jane Parry, managing partner of PM+M, commented: “As a firm, we are fully committed to making sure that we invest in young local talent, so the apprenticeship programme is a hugely important part of the business. We are confident that these new recruits will further enhance the level of service that our clients have come to enjoy and we are really pleased to guide them through their studies and watch them develop as professionals.”

 

24/7 work culture – are you complying with minimum wage?

The advent of new technology has transformed the way we work and live. This dramatic change has wiped-out the 9-5 office culture, creating endless possibilities and making it far easier to work outside of the workplace. The average working week in the UK has risen to 42.7 hours for full time employees* so, how does this impact on your team and their salary?

 

What does this mean for employers?

Recently, a case was highlighted in Ireland where an executive was rewarded €7,500 after arguing that she was required to deal with out-of-hours work emails. This led to the individual working more than the maximum 48 hours a week set out in Ireland’s Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

Obviously, enhanced communication can make our lives easier, but we can equally fall victim to constantly being tied to our job. In National Payroll Week our payroll team are encouraging employers to address the necessary policies to ensure that their employees can switch-off entirely.

No emails out of working hours or during holidays, no staying at the office outside normal hours, unless necessary and no calls to mobiles outside of the employees normal working hours, are just a few suggestions. Other measures include work-sharing and ensuring employees have a healthy and productive work-life balance.

Our digital mobility and capacity to work for longer periods of time and at differing hours can be very productive but also counter-productive for employee’s well-being and ultimately affect the salary. It is important that organisations work with individuals to produce guidance that is effective for all.

Julie Mason, who heads up the PM+M payroll team said: “Individual requirements for flexibility can make ‘a one for all policy’ difficult, but what is most imperative is to ensure that everyone can benefit and that a supportive culture is developed which focuses on the well-being of all team members. This in turn will mitigate any risk to the employer on dropping below the minimum wage.”.

If you would like to discuss any payroll issues with Julie Mason or any member of the payroll team, please contact our Payroll Services Manager, Julie Mason, on 01254 679131 or via email at julie.mason@pmm.co.uk.

Childcare Vouchers vs Tax-Free Childcare

Do you offer the childcare voucher scheme to your team ? The current tax-free scheme has proven very popular with working parents, allowing them to earn up to £55 per week in childcare vouchers. The scheme will soon be replaced by a new government initiative meaning that there are a few things that you, as a business owner, will need to consider.

You are still able to offer the current scheme to any eligible employees if they sign up before October 4, 2018. However, it is advised that you encourage your team to apply as soon as possible, as they must have received the first set of vouchers before the cut-off date. Alternatively, you could take this opportunity to stop your involvement in the scheme altogether. Whichever way you decide to proceed, it is vital that you inform your employees appropriately.

After the cut-off date, employees will only be eligible for the government led programme, which requires no input from yourself. The new scheme will require team members to deposit funds into an account on the HMRC website where the government will also contribute up to £2000 per child, per year.

The new scheme: what is Tax-Free Childcare?

The new scheme will be open to single parents/couples who work eight or more hours a week (including self-employed individuals), and who pay for Ofsted registered childcare for a child under the age of 12, or under 17 if the child is disabled.

Eligible families will receive 20% of their annual childcare costs paid for by the government. In other words, for every 80p in the £1 contributed by parents, an additional 20p will be funded by the government up to a maximum total of £10,000 per child per year.

The new scheme is open to all qualifying parents, unlike the current childcare voucher scheme which is only available to people whose employer offers the scheme.

New scheme vs current scheme

Childcare voucher scheme Tax free childcare
You can only apply for them if your employer offers them Anyone can apply
You do not have to earn any minimum amount and only one parent needs to be working You will need to earn a minimum of £115.00 per week and both parents need to be working
The maximum age where a child’s childcare can be paid for is 15 years (16 years if disabled) The maximum age where a child’s childcare can be paid for is 12 years (17 years if disabled)
There is no maximum amount of monies earned Parents must earn less than £100,000 per year

If you have any questions regarding the changes to the childcare scheme, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Payroll Services Manager, Julie Mason, on 01254 679131 or via email at julie.mason@pmm.co.uk.

PM+M apprentice James Cocker appears on Sky News

Yesterday saw thousands of students across the UK receive their highly anticipated A-Level results, which for many acted as a deciding factor of where they were going to spend the next three years at university.

Recent statistics however have shown that more and more students are opting for apprenticeships over university degrees, as a way of kickstarting their careers through work-based learning without the burden of debt.

As a firm committed to supporting the region’s young people and producing home grown talent, PM+M recruits a number of apprentices each year. This year’s intake of 7 apprentices was our largest to date. We are so pleased that the first 5 are settling in well and taking working life in their stride and are looking forward to the remaining 2 joining us in September.

Yesterday was a particularly eventful day for James Cocker, one of our new Run My Business team apprentices, who alongside receiving his own A-Level results, also made an appearance on Sky News discussing the benefits of apprenticeships compared to university tuition.

In his interview, James commented, “I know there’s a chance I’m missing out on some of the social aspects of university, but I can easily visit my friends at uni and I’m already making new friends at work, so I’m definitely going to have a good social life.

“Plus, instead of being £60,000 in debt after three or four years, I might have earned a similar amount, so I’ll effectively be £120,000 better off.”

We would like to offer our congratulations to James and our corporate services apprentice, Rebecca Nuttall, on their outstanding A-Level results, and a huge thank you to all of our apprentices for choosing to join us at PM+M.

Introducing new Xero Expenses

Expense claims are a part of running any business, from fuel to office supplies and everything in between. However, a what should be simple task of reimbursing employees can quickly turn into a laborious, paper work nightmare.

Well, not anymore. Recently Xero launched their new Xero Expenses to tackle several issues within Xero. The new function will run along aside the existing and gives accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses all the tools needed to process expense claim simply and efficiently.

What’s new?

  • Faster expense capture – Reduces the need to keep paper receipts, a quick picture taken on a smart phone can be automatically scanned in.
  • Push notifications – To keep businesses, employees and advisors up to date with claims from anywhere.
  • More flexible user permissions –  Giving complete control of who can view, submit, and approve an expense claim for or on behalf of someone else.
  • Simple and intuitive workflows – Making it easy to monitor, review and approve any unpaid expenses.
  • Greater insights and powerful analytics – Helping businesses to understand their spending habits and patterns with a detailed and real-time understanding.

If you have been using classic expense claims in the six months prior 10 July 2018, you can continue using it for the foreseeable future. However, you’ll also be able to try out Xero Expenses for free until 28 September 2018.

For any further information, help or advice with Xero, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01254 679131 or email cloudaccounting@pmm.co.uk.