Guide to Business Rates

Just as you have to pay council tax on your home, so your business must cough up business rates for its premises. They can be a pain and an easily overlooked cost when you are starting your business. In some circumstances, you may even have to pay business rates if you run a business from home.

This guide will help you understand what business rates you might have to pay, how to challenge the rates set, and even if you can claim any relief.
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VAT pitfalls you should be aware of

If you are registered for VAT, have to file a VAT return in the near future, or are concerned about putting the wrong amounts on your VAT return, here are 5 VAT traps to watch out for.
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The self-assessment New Year hangover

It’s okay to have a hangover on New Year’s Day but don’t let the suffering continue into the year. January 31st has always been a key date in the small business calendar – it marks the deadline for submitting online tax returns.
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This Halloween, don’t be scared of your books

Are you tempted to duck under the bedclothes on the night of October 31st and try and shut out the “Ghosties and ghoulies and lang-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night”?

Is your business bookkeeping also something you try and hide away at the back of your mind and forget about?

Emily Coltman, ACA, Chief Accountant at online accounting provider, FreeAgent, gives her five top tips to help you lose your fear of bookkeeping.
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Guide to the main HMRC payroll forms for small businesses

When you run a small business, either as a sole trader, partnership or limited company, there will always be a number of HMRC forms you will need to be aware of. Although your accountant will typically take care of many of your form-filling duties, we have summarised what the most common forms are used for in this article.
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How small business owners can reclaim EC VAT

If you want to increase profits or cut costs, make sure you reclaim all the VAT you can.

It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But even before the global economic slowdown began Ernst & Young surveys revealed “a surprising tolerance of failures to track, fully report and legitimately reclaim indirect taxes”. Businesses of all sizes are losing significant sums this way.

In this summary, we will focus only on the mountain of foreign EC VAT that goes unreclaimed.
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What is the VAT cash accounting scheme?

The VAT cash accounting scheme is a useful tool for many small businesses, as you only repay VAT to HMRC once you have received payment yourself. If you have cashflow concerns, the scheme could be a lifesaver!
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VAT calculator for small businesses

This handy calculator will work out how much VAT you should charge a customer based on your net billing. Also use this script to work out how much VAT is included in a VAT-Inclusive sum.

The current VAT rate used in the calculations is 20%.
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Top 10 VAT Tips for small businesses

Here are some tips to help small businesses keep on top of their VAT responsibilities – from choosing the right VAT scheme in the first place, to avoiding getting on the wrong side of HMRC.
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Guide to the HMRC tax penalties regime

A new, tough, HMRC penalty regime came into play from 1st April 2009. Individuals and business owners can now face penalties of up to 100% for deliberately underpaying tax.

The new HMRC penalty system has been drawn up to encourage people to take more care when submitting tax returns and other documents, as well as to deter deliberate under-assessment of tax liabilities.
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Rewarding staff with bonus shares – Tax implications

Bonus payments may have been a bit thin on the ground this year. Hard pressed businesses, struggling to meet existing commitments, may balk at the prospect of parting with cash. However, the benefits of having a loyal and satisfied staff may prompt them to consider alternatives to the cash bonus.
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What is Entrepreneurs’ Relief?

Entrepreneur’s Relief can help business owners to cut the amount of Capital Gains Tax they need to pay when selling their business.

It was announced in the 2016 Budget that Entrepreneur’s Relief  would be extended to external investors in ‘unlisted trading companies’ from April 2016.

Here’s a guide for business owners explaining what Entrepreneur’s Relief is, how you qualify for the relief and what you need to do to claim it. (more…)

Annual Investment Allowance limit reduction from April 2012 – what should businesses do?

Businesses can currently write off 100% of the cost of acquiring qualifying assets against their taxable profits, up to an annual limit of £100,000. Assets that can be written off in this way include commercial vehicles, plant, computers and other equipment – cars do not qualify.

George Osborne’s Emergency Budget of 22nd June 2010 gave notice that the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) annual limit is to be significantly reduced from £100,000 to £25,000 from April 2012.
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Annual PAYE and NIC tax deadlines for small businesses

The table below highlights some of the key dates to look out for when returning paperwork to HMRC. Chances are, your accountant will be well aware of all tax deadlines, however business owners are ultimately responsible for ensuring that tax liabilities are paid on time.
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Self assessment – who needs to fill in a tax return form?

Most normal ’employees’ have tax deducted at source via the PAYE system and are unlikely to have to fill in a tax return unless they receive other income. If you receive income which is not taxed at source, or have complex tax affairs, you do need to complete a tax return.
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Self Assessment – prepare your paperwork in advance

Whether you’re filing your self assessment return online, or if you’re sticking with the paper return, you can save yourself a lot of hassle by getting prepared in advance.If you follow these tips, you’ll save yourself countless trips to your filing cabinet, and hopefully save a great deal of time.
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How company cars are taxed

In the old days, one of the perks of running your own business was the ability to run a decent car by getting your company to lease it, and take it as a company car.

That perk doesn’t really exist any more. Over a number of years the tax rules have changed, to the extent that many accountants now say it is more tax efficient for many business owners to run their own private car and claim mileage expenses.
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How to avoid Corporation Tax mistakes

In a way, HMRC expects very little of limited companies regarding Corporation Tax. All it asks is that as a director of the company, you comply with all tax laws, fill out your company tax return correctly, file it on time and pay up on time.

Sounds simple. But of course there are lots of different laws and conditions to comply with, and plenty of mistakes to be made.
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An overview of business expenses

For small business people, the separation between “allowable” and “non-allowable” expenses is complex. This guide aims to provide an overview of business expenses, with links to further resources which provide more in-depth information.
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National Insurance (NIC) Rates – 2011/12

This is the 2011/12 NICs table. The employers’ NI rate has increased by 1% to 13.8%, and the main Class 1 rate for employees has risen from 11% to 12%.

Class 2 and Class 4 contributions, paid by the self employed, have also increased.
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