Archive for December, 2016

The Scottish Budget

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Please click here to view our Scottish Budget review.

Do not have a fake Christmas

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

The Intellectual Property Office has issued a video setting out the dangers of buying counterfeit goods this Christmas.

They say:

Counterfeiting can be defined as the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of products which falsely carry the trade mark of a genuine brand without permission and for gain or loss to another. Counterfeits can bring many dangers to us as consumers. From fake alcohol to children’s costumes…if it can be made, it can be counterfeited. Make sure you understand the risks.

Do you really know what you’re getting for Christmas?

We recently broadcast live talking about IP crime and the dangers and impact of buying counterfeit goods in the run up to Christmas.

You can view the video on the website at

What taxes are payable if you set up in business

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

The answer to this question depends, in the first instance, on the business structure you select.

If you run your business as a sole trader, or in partnership with another person, you are deemed to be self-employed. Partnerships also include Limited Liability Partnerships where the partners’ personal assets are protected from business risks.

The alternative to the above self-employed options is to incorporate your business, to be a limited company. In this case the company legally owns the business and you are an employee of the company, and in most cases, a shareholder too.

Sole traders and partners

As defined above, tax payers in this group are self-employed and subject to self-assessment for income tax purposes. Profits of your business, adjusted for tax purposes, are included in your annual self-assessment tax return and provide the basis (together with any other income you earn) of your half yearly income tax payments under self-assessment.

Additionally, there are National Insurance considerations. Presently, you will pay Class 2 and Class 4 contributions and these are collected with your income tax payments. Class 2 is a fixed weekly amount, and Class 4 contributions are graduated, based on the amount of profit you make. The government is to phase out Class 2 contributions shortly and adjust Class 4 contributions to provide for basic State benefits such as the State Pension.

Limited companies

Companies do not pay income tax, instead, they are subject to corporation tax.

Corporation tax is based on a fixed percentage of adjusted profits plus any chargeable capital gains the company makes.

Directors are treated as employees by the company. Any salary taken is taxed under the PAYE system and forms part of the allowable costs of the company. The amount of any income tax or National Insurance due will depend on the amount of salary taken.

Directors, who are also shareholders, may also choose to take part of their remuneration as a dividend. This is a distribution of taxed profits by the company and so no further tax consequences apply to the company. Dividends received by shareholders are subject to personal tax if they exceed £5,000 in a tax year. The rate of tax payable depends where the dividends sit in the tax payer’s basic, higher or additional rate income tax bands.

As you can see, business structure determines tax treatment, and the selection of the most appropriate structure is of paramount importance, both to ensure you minimise taxes due and protect your personal assets.

The Land Registrys free property alert service

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

This service helps people to detect fraudulent activity on their property by sending them email alerts when there is certain activity on the property being monitored, such as a mortgage being taken out against it. The recipient can then decide whether they think the activity is suspicious and act quickly if so. The alert email tells them who to contact should they be concerned. The following notes are part of a recent announcement on this issue on the website.

Alasdair Lewis, Director of Legal Services, said:

Property is usually our most valuable asset so it’s important to protect it from the ever-increasing risk of fraud. Land Registry is doing all it can to detect and prevent fraud but no system can be 100 per cent fraud-proof, which is why we urge people to follow our advice about protecting themselves from property fraud, including signing up for Property Alert.

Property fraud

Property fraud is where fraudsters try to “steal” a property, most commonly by stealing the homeowner’s identity and selling or mortgaging the property without their knowledge. They then disappear with the money leaving the true owner to deal with the consequences.

Since 2009, Land Registry has stopped fraud on properties worth more than £92 million.

How Property Alert works

You can monitor up to 10 registered properties in England and Wales. You will receive email alerts when there is certain activity on the properties you are monitoring, such as an application to change the ownership details.

Although Property Alert won’t automatically stop fraud from happening, it’s a useful early warning of suspicious activity which the home-owner can investigate if they are suspicious.

Example of how Property Alert helped to prevent a fraud

A landlord was renting out a property in England while he lived overseas. He was aware that absent landlords are more at risk of property fraud and signed up to our free Property Alert service. When he received an alert email informing him of a mortgage application being made against his property worth over £300,000, he contacted our property fraud line immediately as he wasn’t expecting this. Using this intelligence, we investigated and discovered the fraud. We then prevented the application from being registered. His contact details were out of date, so we advised him to update them, which he did so that if we need to contact him in the future he will receive our emails or letters.

Most at risk

You’re more at risk if your property:

  • is rented out
  • is empty
  • is mortgage-free
  • isn’t registered with Land Registry

Other fraud protection measures

To help protect yourself against property fraud, make sure:

  • your property is registered. If you become an innocent victim of fraud and suffer financial loss as a consequence, you may be compensated. Properties most likely to be unregistered are those that haven’t changed hands or been mortgaged since 1990
  • Land Registry has up-to-date contact details so we can reach you easily. You can have up to three addresses in the register including an email address and/or an address abroad

You can find out more about this service at

Changes to the VAT Flat Rate Scheme

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

As we have noted in previous blog postings, Philip Hammond announced a significant change to the VAT Flat Rate Scheme (FRS) from 1 April 2017.

To join this scheme, businesses need to have turnover excluding VAT of under £150,000. VAT payable to HMRC is based on a fixed percentage of turnover including VAT. The percentage rates vary for different business sectors, and obviously the lower the rate, the lower the quarterly VAT bill.

Many users of the FRS have discovered that using the scheme means that they make a cash profit. This happens when the appropriate FRS rate produces a VAT bill that is lower than the cash collected from the VAT output tax added to sales (which FRS traders are required to do), less any input VAT added to goods and services purchased.

HMRC have decided that this is not the outcome they intended when setting up the scheme.

Accordingly, from 1 April 2017, users of the FRS scheme will be obliged to use the higher rate of 16.5% if they are classified as a “limited cost trader” (LCT). The LCT classification will apply to users of the FRS whose VAT inclusive costs are:

  • lower than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover in an accounting period
  • greater than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover but less than £1000 per annum if the prescribed accounting period is one year (if it is not one year, the figure is the relevant proportion of £1000).

Goods, for the purposes of this measure, must be used exclusively for the purpose of the business but exclude the following items:

These exclusions are required to prevent traders buying either low value everyday items or one-off purchases in order to inflate their costs beyond 2% and thus continue to pay VAT at a rate lower than 16.5%.

Existing users of the FRS are advised to seek advice before 1 April next year to determine if they are affected by these changes. In some cases, traders may need to discontinue use of the FRS and switch to the use of the standard VAT scheme.

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