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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.

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.

Being true to yourself – Helen Clayton’s thoughts on International Women’s Day

As it is International Women’s Day, I thought I should follow up on an article I wrote a couple of years ago. That article was about finding balance in my life as a working mum and recognising that my balance isn’t the same balance that another working mum might have found or indeed be looking for.

We’re all different and that’s exactly what makes life fun, allows us all to achieve and be successful in whatever way we choose.

Since writing that article, that balance that I talked about has been tipped here and there.  Everyday life, the stuff you can’t plan for – it all arrives and needs dealing with, which is fine.  Life cannot be perfect.

In that time however, what I have come to realise that being true to yourself is critical.  I write this still as a working mum, as someone that has renovated their whole house over the course of the last nine months and as someone who is now a very proud part owner of my business. As much as today is about celebrating women across the globe, I absolutely recognise that being true to yourself isn’t about being a female – it applies to us all.

What does being true to me mean though?

To put on what some might call my ‘selfish hat’ (I prefer a self-love hat), I make time for me.  I need time out, I need time to do my ‘stuff’.  I find this provides far more mental and physical stability than anything else.  Really, it’s just looking after myself far better than I ever did.  Building resilience in myself, as well as helping those around me to do the same, moves us towards being more robust individuals. We should all treat the past as learning experiences, nothing more.

Time

Time is a funny thing.  The saying that time ‘flies by’ seems to become more prevalent the older we get.  Yet it doesn’t at all! It moves at the same rate that it always has and always will.  I’m currently learning how to use my time more effectively for this to make my life more enjoyable and, increasingly, to create more memories.

Purpose

I’ve also worked out what my sense of purpose is.  As business owners, the word ‘purpose’ is cropping up more and more.  What is the purpose of PM+M?  We thrive by helping our clients succeed.

I also have a personal purpose – my reason for being is to leave this life with a huge sense of pride and with a fantastic legacy across everything I get chance to influence and be a part of. I don’t like to put in half an effort – what’s the point? Creating the memories is a huge part of this purpose.

To conclude, I believe that personal development in the world we live in is vital.  Self-reflection, listening and adapting are great to have in your tool belt – man or woman.

Legal insight: Is your firm due a spring clean?

PM+M partner Helen Clayton takes a look at how the legal sector can look towards the future to ensure more productivity.

Springtime is a period of growth – new shoots, bulbs showing off their colour and beauty, baby lambs finding their feet.

What does this period look like in a law firm though? Is there appetite for new life and a spring clean or are will it be a case of “let’s do things like we did last year plus a bit more effort here and there (maybe)”?

The financial picture and the out turn for the remainder of the financial year will hopefully have more certainty and firms will be looking to set next year’s budgets. Discussions around recruitment and overheads might be taking place alongside more strategic discussions. Questions may be being raised such as:

  • where is this firm heading?
  • who and where is our target market?
  • who and where is our succession?
  • are we structured appropriately for the future?
  • should we venture into new services?
  • do we want to grow or do we want to refocus our efforts?
  • what does Brexit mean to us and our clients?

A snapshot of the legal industry

Despite several firms closing their doors in recent years, a perhaps surprising number of new firms are being opened. Last year, there were still almost 10,500 firms in England and Wales, and as a result the industry continues to witness fierce competition.

A significant number of these law firms are sole practitioners. To get in to the heady heights of the top 200 firms, a turnover of more than £10 million is required.

The generational gaps are widening; no longer is partnership or ownership seen as the end goal. Priorities have changed with lives outside of work having more focus for many.

And of course, regulation continues to increase for legal practices, placing a stronger and more intense focus on compliance than ever before.

So how does a law firm survive and thrive with all this being thrown at them?

Being prepared for change and being adaptable must be a high priority for firms to survive.

Opportunities should be grabbed with both hands to get ahead of competitors. To take advantage of opportunities at the right time means that firms should have the following:

  • robust financial management and working capital
  • a strong and open relationship with funders, with regular dialogue
  • systems that provide certainty around quality, minimising risk and being able to support an upturn in workload
  • support teams providing administrative tasks that, again, can cope with an upturn in workload as well as teams in IT, HR and marketing that are up to speed and understand the direction of the firm
  • an understanding of the marketplace and the client base
  • a strong culture
  • a purpose

If a leadership team is not looking at all of these aspects on a regular basis, I don’t perceive the firm can be fit for purpose for the long term. It certainly won’t look attractive to potential succession from outside of the firm, lenders will be nervous about the lack of leadership and mixed messages will be being received internally.

The leadership should be challenging themselves to be accountable. Tone from the top is critical and that tone has to be consistent.

A spring in the leadership’s step (in the right direction) can never be a bad thing.

Jill Morris, director of PM+M’s Run My Business division, cuts through the confusion of Making Tax Digital for VAT.

What is Making Tax Digital?

Making Tax Digital (‘MTD’) is an attempt to do exactly what its name suggests. Businesses will have to keep electronic records of their accounts (using HMRC MTD approved software) and file their tax information digitally.HMRC claims it wants to make tax administration more effective, more efficient and simpler.  In practice, it means that business and taxpayers will need to start using accounting software to digitally submit the returns instead of completing their VAT returns by typing numbers into the existing online HMRC portal.

When does MTD for VAT come into force?

Officially on 1st April. There is a stagger depending on the business quarter end date. This is when affected businesses will no longer be able to keep manual records. After that date, digital records must be maintained in software or spreadsheets which can connect to HMRC via an Application Programming Interface (API).

Who will be affected?

All VAT-registered businesses and organisations with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold of £85,000 per annum.

Are there any exemptions?

In the main, no. HMRC’s online VAT return will remain available only to businesses and organisations that are not within the scope of MTD for VAT. So, just those which complete a VAT return but have taxable turnover below £85,000.00 per year. However, the only exception to this is a small minority of VAT-registered businesses and organisations with more complex requirements. These include trusts, ‘not for profit’ organisations that are not set up as a company, VAT groups, VAT divisions, traders who are based overseas, annual accounting scheme users and any organisation that makes payments on account. Those which fall into any of these categories have a six month deferral until October 2019.

What do businesses need to do to be ready for MTD for VAT?

Firstly, take time to understand the facts and what MTD actually means for you. It’s a huge change and one that can’t be avoided. On a more practical level, speak to your accountant or carefully research the types of compatible software products that use HMRC’s API platform. There are a lot on the market – some better than others.  It will also take time to learn how to use so don’t leave it until the last minute.

What are the implications of not being compliant?

If your business is affected by MTD for VAT and you don’t use compatible software then you simply won’t be able to submit your returns and pay what is owed. If that happens, HMRC will consider your business to have defaulted on its VAT bill. When a   business fails to pay its VAT, it enters into a 12-month period called a ‘surcharge period’. During which time, it will be charged an additional fee on top of its VAT bill based on its annual turnover and past default history. If it still fails to pay VAT, its account will go into arrears and HMRC will take steps to recoup the monies – often through the courts.

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). Get in touch with our specialist MTD team to find out more by emailing MTD@pmm.co.uk or by calling 01254 679131.