Untangling the pensions ‘Webb’

26 June 2019

Today over 30 delegates gathered at Stanley House for the arrival of Sir Steve Webb (former Minister for Pensions and now Director of Policy at Royal London), to listen to him deliver ‘a tour of the pensions landscape’ as guest speaker at our wealth management seminar.

Whilst the topic of pensions isn’t necessarily known for being exciting, Steve’s witty and passionate presentation style quickly dismissed all doubts, as having spent 18 years as an MP, Steve’s public-speaking abilities are second to none. Steering away from the standard PowerPoint presentation, Steve entertained the room with a little role-play, inviting the audience to imagine themselves as Chancellor Philip Hammond as well as Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. The upshot of this was that the room quickly realised that the Treasury and the DWP have very different views on what to do, or not do with pension taxation and legislation. Steve went on to highlight the likely changes to the Annual Allowance and Lifetime Allowance, as well as the proposed introduction of a pensions dashboard.

A number of questions from within the room prompted further discussion around state pension ages and the need, more than ever, to plan well in advance. Golden nuggets to take away included voluntary national insurance payments as well as details on the ‘specified adult childcare credit’ regime which allows grandparents to increase their state pension entitlement ahead of their state pension age if they are looking after grandchildren.  As ever, Steve ensured there was never a dull moment – it was a masterclass of content and delivery.

The event was opened by Antony Keen who introduced Sir Steve as well as thanking those attending for their contribution to the local chosen charity for this event, Ynot Aspire. Afterwards Neil Welsh closed the event with reference to PM+M’s 100th year celebrations and once again highlighted the need to understand your own financial journey by using the SatNav analogy – you need to know where you are now and where you are going to!

Should you wish to discuss your own pension and retirement issues, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team. PM+M wealth management work collaboratively with our tax team to navigate you from the beginning to end of your pension journey, considering everything from investment choice to tax-relief, and lifetime allowance to tapered annual allowance and estate planning. Our specialists can help you to plan, understand your options and ultimately help you achieve more from whatever route you take. For a confidential, no obligation discussion, please contact us on 01254 679131 or via email at wealthmanagement@pmm.co.uk

How to ride the investment rollercoaster

 

An investment can often be compared to a rollercoaster ride – ups and downs are expected, with an element of risk.

Watching the market in the run up to Brexit, I am sure that even the most courageous investor is feel slightly uneasy.

As someone with an inherent dislike of rollercoasters, I can absolutely understand this feeling of trepidation, and the cure for this is similar to what I do when I go on a rollercoaster – I make sure I fully understand what I am getting on and remember to think of the feeling of accomplishment when the ride finally finishes.

I think the problem some people face when investing is that they don’t recognise the process as like a rollercoaster ride, so when the experience becomes uncomfortable or frightening, they want to jump off straight away.

Recent research has shown that had you invested in the UK Stock Market over the last 15 years, your annualised return would have been 7.7%.

However, missing the best 10 days during that period would have reduced your return to 3.4% and missing the best 20 days to 0.8%!

The golden rule to investing is allowing your investments plenty of time to achieve their full potential. Be patient – when stock markets become volatile it is usually best to resist changes to your long term strategy.  

‘Time, not timing’ remains key to investing.

You wouldn’t jump off a rollercoaster mid-way through, so jumping off where your investments are concerned is equally as bad a move.

Just think of the end result, enjoy the ride and reap the long-term rewards.

If you have any questions regarding investments or financial planning, get in touch with Antony Keen by emailing antony.keen@pmm.co.uk or call 01254 679131.

PM+M Wealth Management is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

When should I enrol for Making Tax Digital?

From the 1 April 2019 the majority of VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT registration threshold (currently £85,000) are required to submit their VAT returns via compatible software and keep their VAT records digitally. Whilst the legislation applies to a large number of businesses some more complex entities have been granted a deferment to October 2019 by HMRC.

It is important to note that HMRC will not automatically enrol qualifying businesses into the new legislation. It is the responsibility of the business owner to enrol into the new legislation at the right time.

In our latest blog we look at when you should enrol and start to submit VAT Returns under the new MTD system and the timing requirements for doing so.

When is the first Making Tax Digital for VAT return quarter?

The legislation applies to the first VAT quarter that starts on or after the 1st April 2019, the table below outlines your first VAT return under the new MTD rules:

 

 

 

 

 

 

For example:

Businesses with VAT quarters ending May, August, November and February would be able to submit the VAT quarter to May 2019 under the old rules providing they haven’t already enrolled.

The VAT return for quarter June – August 2019 would need to be submitted under new MTD rules.

When to enrol for MTD for VAT

Timing of enrolment is key, and it is vital that you get this right. Once signed up, HMRC will expect all future VAT returns to be filed through MTD software – including those VAT periods which have not yet been submitted. Businesses should ensure that all non MTD VAT returns have been submitted before enrolling.

HMRC offers the following guidelines as to when you should sign up to MTD for VAT

  • If your business pays via direct debit then you cannot sign up in the 5 working days after the submission deadline for the last non MTD VAT Return
  • Businesses that pay via direct debit must also sign up at least 7 working days before the first MTD VAT Return is filed
  • If you pay by non-direct debit methods, you must allow 24 hours after submitting your last non-MTD return before signing up.
  • You will receive an email acknowledgement from HMRC within 72 hours of registering, do not attempt to file the first MTD for VAT Return until this confirmation email has been received.
  • If you’ve filed your VAT return late, and you pay by direct debit, you must allow five working days after filing late before signing up. If you pay by non-direct debit methods then, as above, you must allow 24 hours before signing up if you’ve filed your VAT return late.

How we can help

PM+M can offer a wide range of services and support to help you become MTD compliant, including; reviewing your current VAT procedures, guiding you towards a suitable solution, assisting with quarterly submissions to HMRC and even providing training for your team.

If you have any questions in relation to becoming MTD compliant get in touch with our specialist MTD team by emailing MTD@pmm.co.uk or call 01254 679131.

Alison Brown joins PM+M VAT team

PM+M has appointed Alison Brown as VAT manager within its tax team.

Her role will include advising the firm’s clients on a range of VAT matters and transactions including property and partial exemption.

She will also be offering VAT health-checks to ensure clients are managing their VAT in line with current laws as well as assisting clients with handling HMRC compliance checks.

Alison previously worked for HMRC as a VAT specialist for 29 years before joining PM+M.

Jane Parry, managing partner at PM+M, said: “Alison brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience around VAT that complements our wider tax offering so we are delighted that she is now part of the team.”

Alison added: “I enjoyed working at HMRC but I was ready to move to a firm where I knew I could develop my career. PM+M really stood out and I’m now looking forward to working with my colleagues and helping to deliver great service to our clients.”

100 years of PM+M

We are thrilled to announce that this year, we are celebrating PM+M’s 100th anniversary.

Founded by Richard Porter, John Matthews and Walter Hindle Marsden back in 1919, our roots have remained firmly in Lancashire throughout our 100-year history and we are incredibly proud to have worked with and supported so many local businesses and individuals throughout this time.

It appears 2019 is a particularly notable year to be celebrating 100 years of success, with other British organisations such as Tesco and British Airways also recognising their centenary this year.

Over the past century, PM+M has grown from strength to strength, now operating from three office locations across the North West, adapting to changes in technology over the generations, growing and prospering whilst remaining fully independent throughout.

Recent achievements include being named as one of the UK’s top 100 firms by Accountancy Age, achieving our highest team headcount ever, and achieving our gold Investors in People status.

Of course none of these successes would have been possible without the fantastic support of our team and clients, past and present. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported PM+M throughout the past 100 years – we are so grateful.

Here’s to the next 100 years!

A topical tax tip – the substantial shareholding exemption (SSE)

The substantial shareholding exemption (SSE) is a wonderfully generous and flexible relief which allows companies to make tax free sales of shares in trading companies – typically subsidiaries, but can be any holding of 10% or more.

It used to be that the company had to be owned for a year pre-sale to qualify.  The rules were relaxed a couple of years ago and now, as long as the trade has been owned for at least a year, you can transfer it into a company and sell the company that same day and be eligible for SSE.

However, you have to have had a group of companies for a year pre-sale to qualify.

Therefore if you have already got a group, you’ve got lots of flexibility.

Moreover, if you have one company with a couple of divisions and they want to sell one, you’ve got a problem – you will pay corporation tax on that sale.  You would need to create a group and wait a year to qualify for the SSE relief.

Therefore, it is worth considering incorporating a dormant subsidiary as an insurance policy in case at some point in the future you may wish to sell part of your company’s trade.  This will give you the ability to sell that part of the trade tax free without having to wait 12 months and possibly losing the opportunity of the sale.

We are always happy to review your capital tax position as well as annual corporation tax and income tax. For more information on eligibility for SSE as above, or Entrepreneurs’ Relief and inheritance tax Business Property Relief, please contact Claire Astley on claire.astley@pmm.co.uk.

Employers should be planning for cost increases effective from 1 April 2019

National Minimum Wage

From 1 April 2019, changes to National Minimum Wage rates become effective meaning that employers from all over the UK will be affected as employment costs increase.

From this date onwards, National Minimum Wage rates will be applicable as follows:

Age Rate
25+ (National Living Wage) £8.21
21 to 24 £7.70
18 to 20 £6.15
16 to 17 £4.35
Apprentice* £3.90

*Applicable only to apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. All other apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age.

Auto-enrolment contributions

Effective from 6 April 2019 will be a change to auto-enrolment legislation, meaning that pension contributions will have to total 8% with a minimum of 3% being paid by employers.

This change to legislation, alongside the National Living Wage increase outlined above, will contribute a double cost increase for employers throughout the country.

PM+M recommends that all employers begin preparing for the above changes as soon as possible, if they haven’t done so already, to ensure that all payroll procedures are updated and ready in time for the deadlines of 1 April 2019 and 6 April 2019.

As part of our standard payroll service, PM+M will increase contribution levels for our clients as necessary to meet the minimum requirements when the changes come into effect, unless you instruct us to issue higher contribution rates.

For further information about the changes or a discussion about how the changes may affect you, your business or your employees, 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.

VAT: ‘Deal or No Deal’ – Brexit

These are uncertain times but if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, we will no longer be able to enjoy the free movement of goods that membership of the Single Market allows.  The supply of services may also be affected.

These are the key things you need to be aware of should a ‘no deal’ Brexit occur with some helpful links through to the Government’s website:

Then there are various complex areas where additional action may be needed, these include:   

Goods

  • Low value consignment relief
  • Distance selling
  • Call off stock
  • Buying and selling a new means o
  • f transport
  • Movement of own goods
  • Export and import requirements
  • Use of customs warehouses
  • Entry Summary Declarations
  • Common Transit Convention

Services

  • Broadcasting, telecommunications & e-services (BTE) and the mini one stop shop (MOSS)
  • Use and enjoyment provisions
  • Travel services
  • Financial services and specified supplies
  • Restaurant and catering services provided on board transport
  • Business to consumer freight transport
  • Reverse charge services
  • Goods sent for processing and repair
  • Express courier services

Other considerations

  • EC Sales Lists
  • Intrastat
  • Fiscal representatives
  • Invoicing

 

If you would like any advice on any of the information above, please get in touch with our VAT manager Alison Brown, on 01254 679131 or email alison.brown@pmm.co.uk.

 

David Gorton reviews Chancellor’s 2019 Spring Statement announcement

Considering what happened last night, it came as no surprise that Philip Hammond avoided any major tax changes or spending announcements in today’s Spring Statement.

The advocate of a ‘soft Brexit’ certainly delivered a ‘soft Spring Statement’. That’s no criticism of him though as the dire uncertainty of Brexit has cast – and will continue to cast – a shadow over the economy for the foreseeable future. Only when we know for sure what’s going to happen in terms of a deal can he move forward with potential spending increases in public services, cutting taxes and reducing the deficit. In reality, his hands are tied and he is faced with the unknown; the only certainty seems to be that a no deal Brexit will prolong economic weakness.

He skirted around the complexities of the announcement this morning of customs rates in the event of No Deal – there are lots of losers and not many UK winners from these plans and there really isn’t time for anyone to prepare.

Moving on…It was interesting (but not exactly a surprise) that the Chancellor decided to skim over the Office for Budget Responsibility’s decision to mark down its growth forecast for 2019 from 1.6% to 1.2%. His approach was instead to focus on some of the UK economy’s strengths; most notably inflation being below the Bank of England’s 2% target. This has meant a 3.4% rise in real wages last year which, in turn, he claimed as evidence of a robust labour market. The employment rate stands at 75.8% but the OBR’s predictions are that this will continue to grow at only a modest rate over the next five years. In reality, no-one really knows and until Brexit is sorted that will continue to be the status-quo. His rhetoric around businesses needing to do more on productivity once again sounded vaguely familiar.

On a positive note, Mr Hammond was able to shout about the improved forecasts by the OBR for the public finances – thanks mainly to strong income tax receipts, its prediction for the government’s future debt interest payments and recent consumer spending. However, it’s a pity business investment wasn’t in that mix.

The biggest immediate tax change for business is the implementation of Making Tax Digital for VAT on 1 April.  The real cost for most businesses in complying with the MTD requirements is proving to be considerably in excess of the optimistic figures bandied around by Government when it was first announced.  There are also still a significant number of businesses who have not yet got their MTD arrangements in place.

My key takeaway and observation from the Spring Statement can be summed up in one sentence: The UK faces yet more uncertainty and the government’s priority needs to be on negotiating an exit deal that works for its people, businesses and the economy.

The impact of Brexit on statutory audits

Many people have been apologising for mentioning the ‘B’ word recently. I’m apologising for not apologising.

On the topic of Brexit, there are some important considerations for PM+M as auditors that you should be aware of as well as, critically, information you should know about as a business owner.

One of PM+M’s values is Quality and we pride ourselves on providing a high quality audit every time. Therefore, we want to let you know about how these factors might impact your company/group’s audit.

We need to understand your business

We are required, in line with our professional auditing rules, to understand your business. This will therefore include the potential impact on your business and your accounts of any potential Brexit-related risk factors. These might be economic, regulatory or industry specific. For example, considering existing supply chains, lead times on stock deliveries and possible additional duties.

Going concern status

As a director, you are required to review the going concern status of your business by considering forecast financial performance and the ability of your business to meet its liabilities for the foreseeable future. Depending on the industry in which you operate, there may be significant factors arising from Brexit which could impact your financial results and stability of your business, and you should ensure you consider these.

As your auditors, we will review these considerations and it may be appropriate to include additional wording in your directors’ report, strategic report and/or accounting policies to explain the considerations and assumptions made. Equally, as well as potential risks that your business may need to face, there may be significant opportunities. Where your accounts are required to include a strategic report, this should be a balanced view of what is going on in your business, how risks are being managed and how opportunities are being sought.

More thinking required

Additional work may be required around certain accounting areas, including:

  • the impairment of assets
  • whether long-term contracts will remain profitable
  • requirement for restructuring provisions.

Impact on group audits and exemptions

Since 2012, an exemption from statutory audit has been available for qualifying UK businesses whereby its parent company provides a guarantee of the liabilities of the subsidiary company, under the law of an EEA state.

Post Brexit, subject to change in UK law in the Companies Act, this will only be available to subsidiaries of UK parent companies. The impact of this will be that numerous UK companies will now be required to complete a statutory audit in the UK.

In summary, there remains significant uncertainty as to how Brexit will impact our businesses, PM+M included. Being resilient and open to discussion around risks and opportunities will be critical to continuing to run a successful business.

If you have any queries around how Brexit might impact your financial reporting, forecasting or the financial management of your business, please contact Helen Clayton on 0161 641 8684 or email helen.clayton@pmm.co.uk.