Newsletter – July 2017

Enews – July 2017

In this month’s eNews we report on the Queen’s speech and the legislative process. We also include articles on recommendations to simplify corporation tax, the extended deadline for returns for employment related securities, the introduction of Land Transaction Tax in Wales and the latest fines and guidance issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office following cyber attacks. With HMRC’s latest Employer Bulletin and advice on holiday pay and entitlement there is lots to consider.

Queen’s Speech and proposed legislation

The Queen delivered the 2017 Queen’s Speech on 21 June which set out the government’s agenda for the coming parliamentary session. The speech outlined the government’s proposed policies and legislation.

This Queen’s speech announced that the government will focus on:

  • delivering a Brexit deal that works for all parts of the United Kingdom and
  • building a stronger, fairer country by strengthening our economy, tackling injustice and promoting opportunity and aspiration.

The supporting documentation confirms 27 Bills and draft Bills which are expected to be in the legislative programme, which will deliver on these themes. Details of the Bills that the government propose to introduce are available via the links at the end of this article.

The Speech and supporting documentation make little reference to delayed tax measures which were put on hold prior to the Election or the progress of the legislation on Making Tax Digital for Business. The reference to tax legislation states:

‘The programme will also include three Finance Bills to implement budget decisions. Summer Finance Bill 2017 will include a range of tax measures including those to tackle avoidance. The programme will also include a technical Bill to ratify several minor EU agreements and further Bills, which will be announced in due course, to effect the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The government will also be taking forward a range of other measures which may not require primary legislation.’

We will update you on developments.

Internet links: GOV.UK summary what it means Speech GOV.UK background notes

Simplifying corporation tax

The Office for Tax Simplification has published their recommendations on simplifying the corporation tax computation.

This report sets out some significant steps towards creating a 21st-century corporation tax system in the UK, responding to calls from businesses of all sizes to make the calculation of corporation tax simpler, with fewer changes and more time to plan. The report looks at four broad themes:

  • simpler tax for smaller companies
  • aligning the tax rules more closely with accounting rules where appropriate
  • simplifying tax relief for capital investment
  • a range of further issues affecting the largest companies.

We will keep you informed of developments in this area.

Internet link: GOV.UK review CT

Employment Related Securities return deadline

HMRC are advising that there have been technical issues with their Employment Related Securities (ERS) annual returns online service. Employers have to complete returns for any schemes that have been registered on the ERS online service, such as Enterprise Management Incentives (EMI), a non-tax advantaged scheme or award, Company Share Option Plan, Save As You Earn Scheme and Share Incentive Plan

HMRC apologise for the difficulties which had prevented some returns from being submitted online. They have confirmed that the service is now working and allowing users to upload the necessary templates and files as part of the return process.

The deadline for filing annual returns is generally 6 July following the end of the tax year, so for the tax year 2016/17 it would usually be 6 July 2017. However, in view of the recent problems HMRC have extended the deadline to 24 August 2017 for the tax year 2016/17.

Penalties for late returns

Due to the change in deadline this year HMRC are advising that:

‘Penalties are charged if you file your return late. If your return isn’t filed by the extended deadline of 24 August 2017 the first late filing penalty of £100 will be issued on 25 August 2017.

Additional automatic penalties of £300 will be charged if the return is still outstanding 3 months after the original deadline of 6 July, and a further £300 if it’s still outstanding 6 months after that date. If a return is still outstanding 9 months after the 6 July, daily penalties of £10 a day may be charged.’

If you would like any help or guidance on share incentives or how these should be reported to HMRC please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK bulletin

Land Transaction Tax

From April 2018, Land Transaction Tax (LTT) will replace Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in Wales. Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) already applies in Scotland.

Like SDLT (and LBTT), LTT will generally be payable on the purchase or lease of a building or land. The new tax may therefore be relevant to house buyers and sellers and businesses including builders, property developers and agents involved in the transaction process (such as solicitors and conveyancers).

Rates of the new tax

The proposed tax rates and bands will be announced by October 2017.

Additional residential properties

Higher rates of SDLT and LBTT apply to purchases of additional residential properties, including second homes. The National Assembly for Wales has confirmed these increased rates will continue to apply in Wales under LTT.

More details can be found at National Assembly for Wales.

Internet link:

Holiday entitlement

Now is the time of year when many of us turn our thoughts to holidays and it is important to get holiday entitlement and holiday pay right.

The June 2017 acas newsletter includes links to useful guidance on calculating holiday and holiday pay entitlements as well as guidance on hot weather working.

The GOV.UK website includes a useful calculator.

If you would like help with payroll matters please contact us.

Internet links: GOV.UK calculator acas newsletter

Latest guidance for employers

HMRC have issued the latest version of the Employer Bulletin. This edition has articles on a number of issues including:

  • P11D and P11D(b) filing and payment deadlines
  • Paying the right amount of tax through PAYE
  • Construction industry scheme repayment claims for limited companies
  • The Apprenticeship Levy and funding of apprenticeship training
  • Tax-free childcare rollout including guidance on dealing with employee opt outs of current childcare voucher schemes
  • Student Loan employer prompts where deductions have not been made
  • GCSEs in England – new grading system explained for employers.

If you have any queries on payroll matters please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK Employer bulletin

ICO warning as business fined £60,000 following cyber attack

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is warning SMEs to take care or face a fine. The warning comes after a company which suffered a cyber attack was fined £60,000.

The investigation by the ICO found Boomerang Video Ltd based in Berkshire failed to take basic steps to stop its website being attacked.

Sally Anne Poole, ICO enforcement manager, said:

Regardless of your size, if you are a business that handles personal information then data protection laws apply to you.’

‘If a company is subject to a cyber attack and we find they haven’t taken steps to protect people’s personal information in line with the law, they could face a fine from the ICO. And under the new General Data Protection Legislation (GDPR) coming into force next year, those fines could be a lot higher.’

‘Boomerang Video failed to take basic steps to protect its customers’ information from cyber attackers. Had it done so, it could have prevented this attack and protected the personal details of more than 26,000 of its customers.’

Further details of the case can be found using the links below together with guidance on data protection issues including guidance on the new General Data Protection Regulations which come into effect on 25 May 2018.

Internet links: ICO news ICO report Boomerang data protection reform updated toolkit for SMEs

Ignore the post at your peril!

We all hate to deal with paperwork, especially when it is from the taxman, or maybe from Companies House. It usually means bad news or a bill, so the best thing to do with it is to put it aside in the “I’ll do that later pile”. Of course. we all know what can happen to that pile, it becomes forgotten as we deal with the more important aspects of our businesses.

Sometimes we think we have got away with it, because nothing nasty happens, so it must have been ok to ignore it, mustn’t it. What a relief, what could possibly go wrong?

Let’s look at a possible scenario.

You have an old dormant company that you no longer use, you are busy working on your new business, so you ignore any post relating to the old company, because you don’t need it any more. This must be ok, because nothing nasty has happened, so far. All of the post for this company is going into the “I don’t need to worry about this” pile, this continues for many months.

Then, one day, you get a letter from the bank. You open it thinking it is a statement, but to your horror you read it – it says that they have received notification from Companies House that your old company has been dissolved, therefore the £5000, that you had left in the account for a rainy day, is no longer yours, the account has been closed and the balance transferred to “The Crown”

You ask yourself, “how on earth could this have happened”?

Well, it turns out that some of those letters, from Companies House, that you had ignored, were chasing you for outstanding accounts and annual returns. But, because you hadn’t replied, Companies House have assumed that the company was no longer required, so they have started the process of striking off the company. Some of the “filed” letters would have informed you, but of course you didn’t see them, “what could possibly go wrong”? After a few months, the process is complete, your company is dissolved, the bank are notified and the rest is history.

This “nightmare” scenario is one, which we at BirchCooper Accounting Services will help you to avoid. We specialise in offering a full compliance service, to make you are aware of all the important dates and to make sure you don’t miss them. Of course, we can’t make you open your post, but we have other “ways and means” to make sure you do (with our help), whatever is necessary to negotiate the minefield that is compliance.

Don’t get caught out like this, we all have a myriad of dates and deadlines to remember – let us do it for you.

About the author:

Henry Cooper has been involved with accounting and finance for over 30 years. He is an experienced Non-Executive Director, Board Chairman, owner of a successful High Street Accountancy practice and part-time university lecturer

Henry is passionate about small and micro-business compliance, and has regular motivational speaking engagements, where he talks to potential and current small business owners about the practicalities and pitfalls of starting and growing a business.

He is regularly involved in consultations with HMRC, Companies House and other Government departments and is a Past President and Board Chair of the Association of Accounting Technicians, a global membership body for accounting professionals, with over 130,000 members in over 90 countries.

Contact details:

Telephone: 01280 817799
Twitter: @birchcooperh

Don’t let this happen to you!

I was recently visited by a potential client, who had enquired about the possibility of using our services.  We had the usual discussion about the type of business, what was needed and the current situation.

The first alarm bell rang when they told me that they had been disengaged by their previous advisor, due to non payment of fees, but then things got a whole lot worse!

There were issues with VAT registration, PAYE registration, P11D issues, current accounts being overdue by nearly six months, previous accounts submitted late and outstanding tax returns, amongst many other things.  The potential for penalties and interest were becoming very large at this stage.

This got me thinking, how on earth does one get into this mess?  I might argue that a previous accountant might shoulder part of the blame, for not picking up the lack of VAT registration, due to the amount of turnover, but I only had the potential clients word for that!  And, why did he leave it so long to try to get it sorted?

So – how can you avoid this happening to you?

  • Engage an accountant that has been recommended to you BEFORE you start out in business.
  • Discuss with the accountant ALL of the relevant facts relating to your business and your personal tax affairs – make sure they have ALL of the information they require.
  • Make sure you are clear from the outset as to what is required from you and what the accountant will be doing – this is usually done in the form of an engagement letter, if not, make sure you clarify.
  • Make sure you are clear about your VAT, PAYE, corporation tax and personal tax requirements.
  • Make sure you keep accurate and up to date records, from day one.
  • Make sure you keep your accountant notified of ANY correspondence from HMRC, Companies House and any other Government bodies – do this on the same day that you receive it – IGNORE NOTHING!
  • Keep in regular touch with your accountant, if you’re thinking of doing anything with the business, ask your accountant first, just to make sure it won’t affect anything that you are unaware of.
  • Make sure you are aware or made aware of ALL of the deadlines that are applicable to your business (there will be many!), if in doubt either ask for a list or ask your accountant to remind you – BEWARE, there are more and more penalties now for late or incorrect submissions and there will soon be more scope when PAYE Real Time Information and Pensions Auto-Enrolment kicks in!
  • Make sure your accountant is aware if you need something urgently for any reason, so that they can factor this into their workload.  Above all – PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ANYTHING UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE

Don’t forget there is also lots of FREE advice on the web, such as DirectGov, HMRC, Companies House, BIS and many more.  These can’t and shouldn’t  replace the accountants advice, but can help for further understanding or maybe even give you more questions to ask your accountant!

Once you have done all of the above for a while, it will become second nature – you will have a much less cluttered mind, fewer worries and will be able to concentrate on what you do best – running your business, let your advisors do the rest.  And finally don’t forget to consider what other advisors you might need – Legal, HR etc.

You know where we are when you need us!



Newsletter – April 2012

eNEWS – April 2012

In this month’s enews we report on some issues pertinent to employers and employees.

Please contact us if you would like any further information.



P11D deadline looming

The forms P11D, and where appropriate P9D, which report employees and directors benefits and expenses for the year ended 5 April 2012, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2012. The process of gathering the necessary information can take some time, so it is important that this process is not left to the last minute.

Employees pay tax on benefits provided as shown on the P11D, either via a PAYE coding notice adjustment or through the self assessment system. In addition, the employer has to pay Class 1A National Insurance Contributions at 13.8% on the provision of most benefits. The calculation of this liability is detailed on the P11D(b) form.

HMRC have issued some guidance as to common errors on the forms in the latest Employer Bulletin. These include the following:

  • Not ticking the director box if the employee is a director
  • Not including a description or abbreviation where amounts are included in box A, B, L, M or N of the form
  • Leaving the cash equivalent box empty
  • Failing to report the full gross value of the benefit where it is provided for mixed business and private use
  • Not reporting a fuel benefit where one is due.

Correct completion of forms P11D can be a complex issue. If you would like any help with the forms P11D or the calculation of the associated Class 1A National Insurance liability please get in touch.

Internet links: HMRC P11D guidance Employer Bulletin

Rising employment statistics

According to the latest statistics issued by the Office of National Statistics:

‘The unemployment rate was 8.3% of the economically active population, down 0.1 on the quarter. There were 2.65 million unemployed people, down 35,000 on the quarter. This is the first quarterly fall in unemployment since the three months to May 2011.’

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

‘It’s good news that 53,000 more people are in work now than three months ago, which shows that the private sector is gradually regaining confidence to hire.’

‘While this is the best jobs news we’ve had in a year, the Government must step up its welfare reform programme. Worryingly, over a third of those unemployed have been out of work for more than 12 months.’

‘With youth jobless numbers still stubbornly high, helping young people find jobs must remain a joint priority for businesses and government.’

Internet links: CBI press release ONS Bulletin

Employer end of year forms

HMRC are reminding employers that in order to avoid penalties they must file the Employer Annual Return (P35 and P14s) online and on time. The vast majority of employers must file electronically and the deadline for submission of the forms is 19 May 2012, which this year falls on a Saturday.

Where employers do not file their annual return by 19 May they incur a penalty of £100 per 50 (or fewer) employees for every month (or part month) that their return is late.

HMRC have been criticised for failing to make employers aware that they were incurring penalties on a timely basis. In a change to procedure HMRC will now issue employers, who they believe have yet to make a return, with an ‘Employer Annual Return Reminder’ from the end of April.

From the end of May HMRC will issue ‘P35 Interim Penalty Letters’ to relevant employers.

If you are unsure whether you need to complete a return this year please do get in touch.

Internet links: HMRC end of year guidance Employer Bulletin

Outstanding self assessment tax returns

HMRC are urging anyone who has still not completed their 2010/11 self assessment tax return to send it online before the end of April, or be charged daily penalties from 1 May.

Anyone whose return is more than three months late will be charged a further £10 penalty for each day it remains outstanding, up to a maximum of 90 days. This penalty is in addition to the £100 late filing penalty they have already received.

HMRC are advising that if an individual receives a late filing penalty but does not think that they need to complete a return, they should call HMRC on 0845 900 0444. Alternatively contact us so that we can help, as it may be possible to cancel the penalty if HMRC agree that the return is not due.

HMRC’s Stephen Banyard said:

‘We want the returns and not penalties. So, if you haven’t sent us your 2010/11 return, you need to do one of two things urgently – either send it online by 30 April, or call us if you think you shouldn’t have to complete one.’

Internet link: Press release

HMRC issue guidance on RTI to employers

HMRC have updated their guidance on Real Time Information (RTI). This new system of monthly PAYE returns is to be piloted from April 2012 and is expected to be compulsory for all employers from October 2013.

If you would like to read more about the new system please follow the link below. If you would like help with payroll matters please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC FAQs

VAT on hot food

HMRC are consulting on changing the rules on hot takeaway food to ensure that all food (with the exception of freshly baked bread) that is above ambient air temperature when provided to the customer is standard rated.

Currently the rules are complex as if food is hot because it has just been cooked, such as freshly baked pies or roasted chicken, these items may in certain circumstances be zero rated for VAT purposes.

We will let you know the outcome of the consultation.

Internet link: HMRC consultation

Charitable giving – cap on tax relief

The government is proposing to restrict tax reliefs available to individuals such as charitable giving.

Currently individuals can offset their entire income against income tax reliefs, and as a result may pay no income tax at all. It was announced in the Budget 2012 that from 6 April 2013 there will be limits to the amount of income tax relief individuals can claim.

This cap will apply only to reliefs which are currently unlimited. This cap will be set at 25% of income (or £50,000, whichever is greater).

HMRC propose to issue a consultation document on the detail of the policy, including the implications for philanthropic giving, in the summer. We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: HMRC press release

Newsletter – September 2011

In this month’s enews we report on increases to the NMW rates. Please contact us if you would like any further details on any of the issues covered.



National Minimum Wage rates

The adult rate of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) increases to £6.08 (£5.93) an hour from 1 October 2011. This is payable to those age 21 and over.

The rate for those aged 18 to 20 increases to £4.98 (£4.92) and for 16 and 17 year olds to £3.68 (£3.64) an hour.

The apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship, increases to £2.60 (£2.50) and hour.

Updated guidance available on the Business Link website includes specific situations such as those engaged on work experience or internships and their entitlement to the NMW. The guidance also includes a new worker checklist for employers and case study examples.

The press release confirms:

‘Entitlement to the NMW does not depend on a job title but on whether the arrangement they have with an organisation makes them a worker for NMW purposes. Where an individual is a worker – and no exemption applies – then they must be paid at least the NMW.’

Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey said:

‘Internships and work experience of all forms offer an excellent opportunity in helping to bridge the gap between education and the workplace. And for businesses it allows them access to a wide talent pool of some of our best and brightest who didn’t take the traditional route into a job.

Fairness though is absolutely paramount with all placements. When a worker is entitled to the minimum wage, they should be paid it and we will continue to enforce the law. Today’s publication will help clarify this for employers and will also make sure that all interns and those on work experience placements have a better understanding of their entitlement to the minimum wage.’

HMRC are able to charge penalties to those employers found to be in breach of the NMW rules.

If you have any queries on the NMW please do get in touch.

Internet links: NMW rates Business link guidance Press release NMW Penalties

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published to take effect from 1 September 2011. HMRC’s website states:

‘These rates apply to all journeys on or after 1 September 2011 until further notice. For one month from the date of change, employers may use either the previous or new current rates, as they choose. Employers may therefore make or require supplementary payments if they so wish, but are under no obligation to do either.’

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 September 2011 are:

Engine size Petrol LPG
1400cc or less 15p (15p) 11p (11p)
1401cc – 2000cc 18p (18p) 12p (13p)
Over 2000cc 26p (26p) 18p (18p)
Engine size Diesel
1600 cc or less 12p (12p)
1601cc – 2000cc 15p (15p)
Over 2000cc 18p (18p)

Please note that only one rate has changed and that has been reduced and care must be taken to apply the correct rate after the one month period of grace.

Other points to be aware of about the advisory fuel rates:

  • Employers do not need a dispensation to use these rates.
  • Employees driving employer provided cars are not entitled to use these rates to claim tax relief if employers reimburse them at lower rates. Such claims should be based on the actual costs incurred.
  • The advisory rates are not binding where an employer can demonstrate that the cost of business travel in employer provided cars is higher than the guideline mileage rates. The higher cost would need to be agreed with HMRC under a dispensation.

If you would like to discuss your car policy, please contact us.

Internet link: HMRC advisory fuel rates

Agreement with Switzerland to secure billions in unpaid tax

The government has agreed measures with Switzerland to tackle offshore tax evasion. Under the terms of an agreement, existing funds held by UK taxpayers in Switzerland will be subject to a significant one-off deduction of between 19% and 34% to settle past tax liabilities.

From 2013, a new withholding tax of 48% on investment income and 27% on gains will ensure the effective future taxation of UK residents with funds in Swiss bank accounts. This will be accompanied by new information-sharing rules which will make it easier for HMRC to find out about Swiss accounts held by UK taxpayers. The new charges will not apply if the taxpayer authorises a full disclosure of their affairs to HMRC.

Internet link: Press release

Unemployment figures

The latest unemployment figures show the number of people out of work rose by 80,000 to 2.51 million in the three months to July 2011.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment Policy, said:

‘This rise in unemployment is troubling, particularly the growing number of young people out of work.

With one in five 16-24 year olds currently unemployed, tackling youth unemployment must be a priority. Businesses are eager to play their part through apprenticeships, training and work placements, but now the government must do all it can to create the right conditions for the private sector to create much-needed jobs.’

Internet link: Press release

HMRC reminder on new tax return penalties

HMRC are reminding individuals and businesses about new Self Assessment penalties for late returns and late payments, which come into effect this autumn.

The changes will apply to Self Assessment returns for 2010/11 which must be submitted by 31 January 2012. As stated on the HMRC website:

‘The new penalties for late Self Assessment returns are:

  • an initial £100 fixed penalty, which will now apply even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time
  • after 3 months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900
  • after 6 months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater; and
  • after 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater. In serious cases, the penalty after 12 months can be up to 100% of the tax due.’

If you would like help or advice on your Self Assessment return please do contact us.

Internet links: Press release HMRC deadlines and penalties

School Charities – Gift Aid and Payroll Giving guide

HMRC have published a Gift Aid and Payroll Giving guide for School Charities.

The guide contains information and simple examples specifically related to funds received by school charities to help make the most of these donations and identify what qualifies for Gift Aid. The guidance covers the following scenarios:

‘Appeals to fund extra lessons

Non-uniform days

School fees

Appeals towards school running costs

Appeals to fund scholarships

Appeals to a general reserve fund

Educational school trips

Appeals to buy a minibus or other equipment

Sponsored events

Payments to e-Learning Foundations

Building appeals

Other fundraising events’

Internet links: HMRC website Guidance

Revised construction industry penalties

From October 2011 the late submission Construction Industry Scheme monthly returns will result in revised penalties. The penalties are as follows:

  • a basic penalty of £100 for failure to meet due date of the 19th of the month
  • where the failure continues after two months after the due date, a further penalty of £200 will be charged
  • after six months an additional penalty will be due, rising to the greater of 5% of the tax or £300
  • after 12 months a further penalty will again be due being the greater of £300 or 5% of the tax but, where the withholding of information is deliberate and concealed, it will be 100% of the tax (or £3,000 if greater) and where information is withheld deliberately 70% of the tax (or £1,500 if greater).

Please get in touch if you would like help or advice on the Construction Industry Scheme.

Internet link: HMRC guidance on CIS penalties

HMRC report increase in phishing scams

HMRC have confirmed that reports of fraudulent ‘phishing’ emails have risen by 300% over the past year. The figure for August 2011 was 24,000. HMRC are currently helping to shut down around 100 scam websites a month.

They are stressing that if anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC advising that they are due a tax repayment that they do not follow the email’s instructions.

The emails provide a ‘click-through link’ to a cloned replica of the HMRC website, where the recipient is asked to provide their credit or debit card details. HMRC advise that victims risk not only having their bank accounts emptied but also their personal details being sold on to other organised criminal gangs.

Joan Wood, Director of HMRC Online and Digital, said:

‘We only ever contact customers who are due a tax refund in writing by post. We currently don’t use telephone calls, emails or external companies in these circumstances. If anyone receives an email claiming to be from HMRC, please send it to before deleting it permanently.

The increase in reports is partly due to improved awareness of this scam. However, I have no doubt that more of these “phishing” emails are in general circulation than ever before.

HMRC will do everything possible to ensure those receiving this email know what steps to take to protect their information, and we are working closely with other law enforcement agencies to target the criminals behind this serious crime and see them brought to justice.’

Internet link: