Whatever your business sector you must prepare annual accounts which report on business performance and activities during the financial year.
What you may be unaware of, is that businesses are allowed a free choice of when to end an accounting year.
So, for 2012/13 tax, accounting dates can vary between 6 April 2012 and 5 April 2013. The date that you choose may be dictated by commercial reasons, but also by external factors such as interest rate movements, inflation, changes in rates of tax and changes to the tax system.
Generally speaking, using a date towards the end of the tax year leads to the simplest application of a current year basis of assessment, although this leaves very little time before tax is payable. Alternatively, businesses expecting an upward trend in profits may benefit from cashflow advantages if their accounting date is set on or shortly after the beginning of the tax year, although this also has its disadvantages including increased liability should the business cease less any applicable overlap relief.
Do you need us to review your accounting date?
Sole Trader Vs Limited Company
Corporation tax is currently 20%, for profits under £300,000 and 24% for profits above £1,500,000. Therefore conversion of your business into a limited company is more beneficial than before. You will enjoy a marginal rate tax saving of 9% from 1 April 2011, compared to 8% previously. This is compared to running your business under self assessment where Income Tax is 20% and Class 4 National Insurance is 9% for profits up to £42,475, profits up to £150,000 will be subject to 40% Income Tax and 2% National Insurance. Profits over £150,000 will be taxed at 50%. There are other factors to consider before incorporation its best to get in touch with us first.
Annual Investment Allowance
Where a business currently purchases plant and machinery, the first £25,000 of the expenditure qualifies for 100% tax relief in the year of the expenditure.
VAT Flat Rate Scheme
If you are mainly working for commercial customers it may suit your circumstances to register for VAT under Flat Rate Scheme voluntarily, even if your turnover is below the new VAT turnover threshold of £77,000 per annum. This is on the basis that you do not have much input VAT to reclaim (i.e. service companies). The scheme allows you to charge 20% to your customers, but only pay a smaller percentage of the gross turnover to HMRC. For example a computer consultant with a turnover of £50,000 would charge his customer 20% VAT and therefore receive £60,000, the additional £10,000 would be paid to HMRC, however under the Flat Rate Scheme only 14.5% of the gross turnover needs to be paid i.e. £60,000 x 14.5% = £8,700. Therefore a VAT saving of £1,300, which is taxable.
You will also enjoy a 1% discount during the first 12 months from date of VAT registration under the Flat Rate.
N.B - each industry has its own specific flat rate percentage.
There has been a fair amount of panic in the contractor community about a statement buried deep in the Budget documents about the reform of IR35. It says:
"The Government is bringing forward a package of measures to tighten up on avoidance through the use of personal service companies and to make the existing IR35 legislation easier to understand. This will include HMRC strengthening specialist compliance teams, simplifying the way IR35 is administered, and consulting on proposals which would require office holders/controlling persons who are integral to the running of an organisation, to have PAYE and NICs deducted at source."
This does not mean that everyone who is an office-holder of their own personal service company will have to be paid via PAYE. The proposed law change is aimed at the following situation:
A is an director of PLC such that he personally holds a position on the board of PLC, or has a controlling role within PLC. Instead of being paid a salary by PLC, A has agreed that his own personal service company (L Ltd), will send PLC an invoice for the time he spends on PLC business. PLC may be a large company, or a public department, or a local authority. In this case PLC will have to pay A through its payroll. PLC will not be permitted to pay A through L Ltd.
This change in the law will not affect genuine freelance workers or contractors who do not take up positions on the boards of their customers.
Get in touch if you need any advice on operating a personal services company.
If you fail to plan your planning to fail, this approach will help when it comes to tax planning without doubt.
1) PLAN YOUR TAX FROM THE BEGINNING
One of the reasons many small businesses fail is cashflow or the lack of it, if you put aside a provision for tax from the start, its easy to estimate your profits and transfer your tax provision on a monthly basis into a separate bank account, at the end of the year once your actual liability is calculated you may even have some funds left over!
2) KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR TURNOVER
The current VAT registration threshold is £73,000 based on a rolling 12 months, you need to register if you exceed this or expect to exceed it in the next 30 days, however, if you can demonstrate to HMRC your turnover in the following year will be below this amount you may be able to apply for exemption from registering.
3) PLAN AHEAD
The decisions you make at the beginning and during the year can have tax implications, you need to be thinking about the structure of the share ownership, remuneration, entity i.e sole trader, limited company or LLP
Its important to discuss your business discussions with your accountant as he/she may be able to advise you in the right direction or point out something you may not have considered.
Licenced Accountant in Brighton