Spring Statement 2018

March 13, 2018: By the time Chancellor Philip Hammond rose to his feet in the House of Commons to deliver the first Spring Statement, he had already offered plenty of hints that this would be a low-key affair. Gone was the primetime Wednesday slot after Prime Minister’s Questions, gone was the trailing of policy announcements in the days... Read more

Tax-Free Childcare launches for all parents of under-12s

March 1, 2018: A scheme, enabling parents of children aged 12 and under to benefit from up to £2,000 towards the cost of childcare, has now been extended to all working parents with children in the age group. The scheme provides a Government top-up worth £2 for every £8 contributed by parents, up to a maximum of £2,000... Read more

SMEs invest three working weeks a year on tax compliance

March 1, 2018: A new study, prepared by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), has found that the UK’s average small business spends nearly three working weeks every 12 months complying with tax rules. This costs SMEs around £5,000 a year on average, according to the survey of 1,000 small businesses. Of the challenges they face, around half... Read more

Does Nesquik attract VAT? It depends on the flavour, Revenue says

March 1, 2018: An apparently counterintuitive judgement was handed down last month by the Upper Tier Tribunal as it ruled VAT should be applied to the strawberry and banana flavours of Nesquik milk powder, but not to the chocolate equivalent. The case arose after Nestlé, the manufacturer of the powders made a repayment claim to HM Revenue &... Read more

Only a third of EIS taken up by companies outside London

March 1, 2018: New data from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) shows that businesses in London and the South East account for 66 per cent of the Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS) uptake. Despite accounting for 62 per cent of the UK economy, businesses outside London and the South-East only account for £610 million out of nearly £1.9 billion... Read more

Cash payments plunge as digital payments become the default for many consumers

March 1, 2018: New research from finance and banking trade body, UK Finance, has found that debit card transactions will overtake those made with cash this year. Meanwhile, ATM usage peaked several years ago, with more than 2.9 billion transactions taking place in 2012, falling to 2.7 billion in 2016, which amounted to £6 billion less than in... Read more

Chancellor calls for Inheritance Tax review to make regime “fit for purpose”

March 1, 2018: The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has asked the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) to undertake a review of the Inheritance Tax (IHT) system to ensure that it meets the needs of modern households. In a letter to the OTS, an independent branch of the Treasury, Mr Hammond said that the current system is “particularly complex” and... Read more

Remain-supporting former minister strikes optimistic note on post-Brexit economy

February 6, 2018: Former Conservative Treasury Minister, Lord Jim O’Neil has told the BBC that gloomy predictions for the post-Brexit UK economy are likely to be ‘dwarfed’ by global growth figures surpassing expectations. He said: “I certainly wouldn’t have thought the UK economy would be as robust as it currently seems. “That is because some parts of the... Read more

Millennials set for ‘inheritance boom’… but not until the 2030s

February 6, 2018: A new report from think-tank, the Resolution Foundation, predicts that so-called ‘millennials’, those aged between 17 and 35, will receive the biggest inheritance of any post-war generation from their baby boomer parents and grandparents. The think-tank estimates that the average value of inheritances will more than double over the next two decades, peaking in 2035.... Read more

Ban on passing credit card fees on to consumers hits small businesses in the pocket

February 6, 2018: A ban on passing on charges from credit card providers to consumers, which came into effect last month, is hitting small businesses in the pocket. Businesses are now faced with the option of either increasing prices for all customers to cover the charges or taking a hit to their own bottom lines. Before the ban... Read more

Excuses, excuses: HMRC reveals top late tax return apologies

February 6, 2018: HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has once again revealed the worst excuses that taxpayers have given them for failing to meet the 31 January Self-Assessment (SA) deadline. Whilst there are sometimes reasonable excuses for a late submission, such as a serious illness, disability or a serious mental health condition that makes a person incapable of... Read more

HMRC offers practical support to businesses affected by Carillion’s collapse

February 6, 2018: The start of 2018 saw the somewhat unexpected collapse of one of the UK’s largest construction and contracting businesses, Carillion. Despite winning a number of new public sector bids, including a £1.4 billion contract for HS2, it was revealed in early January that the company would be going into compulsory liquidation. In the months prior... Read more

Are you ready for the latest minimum wage rise?

February 6, 2018: On 1 April 2018, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) will increase for all age groups. Aimed at improving the prospects of young workers, the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the Autumn Budget that statutory wage rates would once again increase this year. For those currently receiving the NLW, i.e. anyone... Read more

Are you ready for the latest minimum wage rise?

February 6, 2018: On 1 April 2018, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) will increase for all age groups. Aimed at improving the prospects of young workers, the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the Autumn Budget that statutory wage rates would once again increase this year. For those currently receiving the NLW, i.e. anyone... Read more

Revenue aims for 100 serious and complex tax crime prosecutions by 2022

January 5, 2018: With tax avoidance and evasion continuing to be high on the political agenda, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced its intention to achieve 100 serious and complex tax crime prosecutions by the end of the current Parliament in 2022. The announcement was included in HMRC’s Single Department Plan, published last month, which sets out... Read more

Points mean penalties in HM Revenue & Customs late filing reforms

January 5, 2018: A shake-up of penalties for late submissions and payments under the Government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) programme is to see a points-based system introduced, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has confirmed. The new system is set to be introduced in tandem with the launch of MTD for VAT in 2019 and will see taxpayers receiving... Read more

Don’t PIN your hopes on paying your tax by credit card

January 5, 2018: If you have in the past paid your tax bill using a credit card, you will need to use a different method this year. That is because credit card payments to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have fallen victim to a Government initiative originally intended to make it easier to pay for goods and services... Read more

Recently given your staff a gift?

January 5, 2018: Maybe you have recently given your staff members a bottle of wine or a voucher to help celebrate the New Year or as a thank you for their services in 2018, but did you know this could be classed as a trivial benefit in kind. While the cost may not be ‘trivial’ to some, this... Read more

New Year, New Home – Self-employed reminded about changes to SA302

January 5, 2018: With many people looking to get on to the housing ladder in 2018, it has never been more important to have easy access to a mortgage. However, since HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) changed the way it issues details of tax calculations and tax year overviews for submission with mortgage applications last year, self-employed workers... Read more

Auto-enrolment to be expanded to younger workers, as minimum contributions rise

January 5, 2018: The majority of businesses across the UK are making preparations to increase their minimum workplace pension contributions, having successfully enrolled more than 8.5 million staff into schemes. Auto-enrolment minimum contributions were due to rise in October 2017 under the original plans and then again in October 2018, but the Government took the decision to push... Read more

Chasing outstanding debts from an individual or sole trader? The process has changed

December 20, 2017: Outstanding payments can be a major headache for SMEs as they can have a significant effect on cashflow and seeking payment can take up time that would be better spent on running the business. In fact, according to Bacs, the not-for-profit entity that runs the eponymous payment service, late payments cost UK SMEs more than... Read more

Poisoning a child against the other parent could lead to loss of contact for divorcing parents

December 20, 2017: New rules being trialled by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) could see divorcing parents lose contact with their child if they are found to have been trying to turn the child against the former partner. The organisation said that the phenomenon – known as parental alienation – occurred in a... Read more

Consultation on Electronic Wills closes

December 20, 2017: The Law Commission, the independent body which makes recommendations to the Government on reforms to the law, is preparing its recommendations in respect of the introduction of Electronic Wills, following the close of a consultation exercise in November. The consultation covered all aspects of making a Will, but crucially included questions relating to the making... Read more

The devil is in the detail when it comes to gig economy judgements

December 20, 2017: Three recent gig economy cases have underscored the importance of detail in determining whether or not an employee is a worker. The high profile cases involved food delivery firm, Deliveroo, taxi service, Uber, and an SME glazing firm. In the Deliveroo case, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWUGB) had argued at the labour... Read more

First-time buyers exempted from SDLT on homes up to £300,000

December 20, 2017: First-time buyers across the UK are celebrating after the Government brought an immediate end to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on first home purchases on properties worth up to £300,000 – as well as savings on homes worth up to £500,000. With property markets across the UK stalling and with fewer first-time buyers purchasing homes,... Read more

Are interest rates on savings finally set to rise following change in the base rate?

December 20, 2017: In November, the Bank of England took the decision to raise its base rate for the first time in a decade, from 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent. While the increase may only be small, savers across the country may now be hopeful that rates on savings accounts will rise, following years of historically... Read more

Women nearing retirement have half the savings of men

December 20, 2017: A committee of MPs has been told by a leading economist that women aged between 60 and 65 have on average less than half the pension pots of men of the same age. Michael Johnson, research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, told the Treasury Select Committee that only 3.5 million women had defined contribution... Read more

Don’t forget the Self-Assessment deadline

December 20, 2017: While most people will be focused on the festive celebrations at this time of the year, businesses and their owners must not forget the all-important Self-Assessment deadline. The deadline for sending 2016-17 tax returns to HMRC is midnight on 31 January 2018. The penalty regime for missing the 31 January filing deadline includes an initial... Read more

SMEs risk losing out on Christmas income totalling £2bn if they don’t accept cards

December 20, 2017: A new study has revealed that almost half of all shoppers will not spend money with a business this Christmas if it doesn’t provide facilities to pay by card. A study, commissioned by card machine provider Paymentsense, has found that 45 per cent of UK shoppers walk out of cash-only smaller retailers and independent outlets... Read more

Business rates to switch from RPI to CPI, saving SMEs billions of pounds

December 20, 2017: Businesses across the UK have welcomed the Chancellor’s decision to bring forward plans changing the way business rates are set by two years. In the Autumn Budget, Philip Hammond announced that from April 2018 business rates would rise in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation, not the Retail Price Index (RPI).... Read more