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Free access to accounts filed at Companies House

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60% of the 3.5 million companies in the UK now file accounts electronically and you can access those accounts free of charge via http://companies.corefiling.com/search

 

Paul Driscoll is a Chartered Management Accountant, a director of Central Accounting Limited, Cura Business Consulting Limited, Hudman Limited, and AJ Tensile Fabrications Limited, and is a board level adviser to a variety of other businesses.

The Risk-Based Approach – Risky business for SMEs? – Part I

HMRC

HMRC (Photo credit: Images_of_Money)

The issue:

Risk-based approaches to manage Compliance Service delivery are undergoing a maturity model evolution.

This per se is not a negative issue, however, do risk-based approaches leave us exposed to more or less compliance risk?

We pose this question because a number of process advances, including technological drivers have over the past few years increased the incidence of the risk-based approach (r)evolution.

As an example, HMRC launched their risk based approach pilot scheme related to business record keeping called ‘Business Records Check‘ a few years ago (2011), only for the initiative to ‘go quiet’ and then suddenly to rear its head again late in 2013.

The facts:

From the HMRC web site, the following information was published:

Up until 17 February 2012, 3,431 BRC had been carried out. These found that 36 per cent of businesses had some issue with their record-keeping of which 10 per cent had issues serious enough to warrant a follow up visit.

By extrapolation, HMRC also publish within their background report the following table:

HMRC BRC Checks

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VAT Simplified Invoices

 

man looking at invoice

HMRC have released an update this month to their notice on Keeping VAT records.  One of these changes relates to VAT simplified invoices which were introduced earlier this year as part of the simplification and harmonisation of VAT rules in the EU. Previously only retailers were exempt from providing full VAT invoices to unregistered businesses.

However the changes mean that any business issuing VAT invoices for £250 or less (including VAT) can issue simplified invoices.

What to include in a simplified invoice:

Your name, address and VAT registration number

The time of supply (date)

A description which identifies the goods or services supplied

The each VAT rate charged, the amount of VAT charged.

How does a simplified invoice differ from a full VAT invoice:

In addition, a full VAT invoice must include:

A sequential number based on one or more series which uniquely identify the document

The date of issue (if different from the time of supply)

The name and address of the person to whom the goods or services are supplied

For each description, the quantity of the goods or the extent of the services, and the rate of VAT and the amount payable, excluding VAT, expressed in any currency

The gross total amount payable, excluding VAT, expressed in any currency

The rate of any cash discount offered

The total amount of VAT chargeable, expressed in sterling

The unit price

The reason for any zero rate of exemption.

VAT invoices over £250

If issuing VAT invoices over £250, a full invoice must still be issued or a modified VAT invoice showing VAT inclusive rather VAT exclusive values.

 

Rebecca Taylor ACMA

Fake email alerts from HMRC and Companies House

Red button spam with icon envelope, internet concept.Fake email alerts from Companies House and HMRC have become increasingly sophisticated. There was a time when it was relatively easy to spot a fake email alert but even accountants have been caught out by recent fake email alerts. And it isn’t just Companies House and HMRC. Be careful of emails from banks, other institutions, postal services, voicemail services and even Skype. Previously harmful emails have tried to direct you to a fake website to steal your personal details but these recent emails have attachments which could harm your computer.

What to look for

These fake email alertss have an attachment which appears to support details in the email message. For example, it could claim to be a customer complaint from Companies House, a missed delivery or a bank transaction. The email address could give you a clue that it is a fake email alert but many now look like they have come from a genuine email address. Some fake emails have footers which have been obviously copied from another email. If you are not expecting an email from the sender, think twice before opening any attachments, particularly .zip files.

Why

These emails are all trying to get you to do one thing: open the attachment. The attachment invariably contains malware or a virus and will either damage your computer, steal your details or even demand a ransom (see an article from the National Crime Agency on Cryptolocker).

Advice

The National Crime Agency provides this advice:

This is a case where prevention is better than cure.

  • The public should be aware not to click on any such attachment.
  • Antivirus software should be updated, as should operating systems.
  • User created files should be backed up routinely and preserved off the network.
  • Where a computer becomes infected it should be disconnected from the network, and professional assistance should be sought to clean the computer.
  • Various antivirus companies offer remedial software solutions (though they will not restore encrypted files).

Example of fake emails

Follow the links for some examples of fake emails:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/examples.htm

http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/securityAdvice/index.shtml

How long to keep your records

As a general rule, you should keep your records for a minimum of six years. However,

if you are:

• an employer, you need to keep Pay As You Earn (PAYE) records for 3 years

(in addition to your current year)

• a contractor in the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), you need to keep your CIS

records for 3 years (in addition to your current year)

• keeping records to complete a personal (non business) tax return, you only need to

keep them for 22 months from the end of the tax year to which they relate.

If you need to keep records for other reasons, for example the Companies’ Act

requires limited companies to keep specific records and you also use those records

for tax purposes, you need to be aware that there may be different time limits for

retaining them. Be careful not to destroy any records you also use for tax purposes

too soon.

 

niall@odfinancialservice.co.uk

Life after submitting a tax return

You’ve completed your tax returns, you think you can now breathe a sigh of relief, but can you?

HMRC can inspect any taxpayer’s records under Schedule 36 by FA08, FA09 and FA10. They can check the tax records for:-

Pay as You Earn (PAYE)

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Income Tax (IT)

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

Corporation Tax (CT)

Insurance Premium Tax (IPT)

Inheritance Tax (IHT)

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT)

Petroleum Revenue Tax (PRT)

Aggregates Levy (AGL)

Climate Change Levy (CCL)

Landfill Tax (LFT) and

Bank Payroll Tax (BPT)

 

The technical term for the inspection is a Compliance Check. They will check that the tax payer has:-

  1. Complied with their obligations
  2. Paid the correct amount of tax and at the right time
  3. Claimed the correct reliefs and allowances

 

 

 

The inspection

This can be completed by anything from a short telephone call to confirm a single fact, to a detailed investigation of a person’s entire financial affairs over a period of years.

HMRC may undertake checks by either asking for information or documents or by arranging a meeting or visit.

They may:

  • Require taxpayers by notice in writing to provide information and produce documents (a “taxpayer notice”)
  • Require third parties by notice in writing (for example a supplier or bank) to provide information and produce documents (a “third party notice”)

 

The caveat being that these requirements are reasonable for the purpose of checking a tax position. The generic term for these types of notice is information notice.

 

The recipient has the protection of a right of appeal to, or prior approval by, an independent tribunal. There is no right of appeal however where the notice only refers to information or documents that form part of a taxpayer’s statutory records, or any person’s records that relate to:

  • The supply of goods and services
  • The acquisition of goods from another member state, or
  • The importation of goods from outside the European Union (EU) by a business

 

If the taxpayer is not forthcoming with the information, HMRC may invoke their statutory powers to obtain them.

 

They may also request assistance with aspects of a tax check from other government departments.

 

This could include a situation where there is reason to believe that a taxpayer:

  1. did not notify chargeability to tax
  2. did not register for VAT if required, or
  3. is operating in the informal economy

Restrictions on Information Powers

The taxman is not all-powerful; some safeguards have been installed, set out in the law and with guidance so that in carrying out compliance checks

  • HMRC’s powers are used reasonably and proportionately
  • Taxpayers are clear about when a compliance check begins and ends
  • Officers have no right to enter any parts of premises that are used solely as a dwelling, whether to carry out an inspection or to examine documents produced under an information notice. They can, however, enter if invited
  • FA09 adds to Sch 36 FA08 a power to inspect all property for the purpose of valuation (for direct taxes purposes). This requires either the taxpayer’s agreement or Tribunal approval
  • Unannounced visits will only be made where agreement has been given by an authorised officer

Other safeguards include the fact that officers can’t require certain things to be provided:

  1. Information relating to the conduct of appeals against HMRC decisions
  2. Legally privileged information
  3. Auditors or tax advisers advice to a client about their tax affairs
  4. Information about a person’s medical or spiritual welfare
  5. Journalistic material

Time constraints

  • Information over six years old can only be included in a notice issued by or with the approval of an authorised officer
  • HMRC cannot give a notice in respect of the tax position of a dead person more than four years after the person’s death

 

The Power to Visit Business Premises and Check Assets and Records

Inspection powers allow an officer of HMRC to enter business premises and inspect the premises, business assets and statutory records.

 

If an information notice has been issued earlier, the documents required in that notice could be inspected at the same time.

 

FA09 incorporates into Schedule 36 inspection powers in respect of the:

  • business premises of Involved third parties
  • valuation of premises for Income Tax or Corporation Tax

These inspections:

  • must only be undertaken where it is reasonably required to establish the tax position and
  • will normally be by prior arrangement, the date and time being convenient to the taxpayer

The Power to Visit Business Premises and Check Assets and Records

Inspection powers also allow any officer to enter any premises when they believe the premises are to be used in connection with taxable supplies of goods or taxable acquisition of goods from Member States, and such goods or documents relating to such goods are on the premises.

There is no right of appeal against an inspection but the occupier can refuse entry and prevent the inspection from being completed.

The occupier can be penalised for such obstruction, where the inspection has been approved by a Tribunal.

There may be occasions when a pre-arranged visit will be inappropriate, for example where there is a strong risk that the taxpayer would move the business or remove stock or other assets. In such cases, an unannounced visit may be undertaken subject to prior agreement by an authorised officer.

If a formal statutory approach is needed, and it has not been possible to agree the time of inspection and give written confirmation, the inspection must be approved by a Tribunal and 7 days written notice of the time of the inspection given. The application for approval must be made by, or with the approval of, an authorised officer.

When a Penalty can be charged where a person:

  • Fails to comply with an information notice
  • Conceals, destroys or otherwise disposes of documents required by an information notice
  • Conceals, destroys or otherwise disposes of documents that they have been notified are, or are likely to be, required by an information notice
  • Deliberately obstructs an inspection that has been approved by the Tribunal.
  • In complying with an information notice provides inaccurate information or produces a document that contains an inaccuracy,
  • Fails to comply with a notice requiring contact details of a tax/duty debtor to HMRC.

These rights are covered in sections 38 FA 08 and 09

 

Types of Penalties

There are four types and amounts of penalty:

  • An initial penalty of £300
  • A daily penalty of up to £60 for every day that the failure or obstruction continues after the date the initial penalty is assessed
  • A tax-related penalty
  • A penalty not exceeding £3000 for providing inaccurate information or documents in response to an information notice

A tax-related penalty is in addition to the initial penalty and any daily penalties. The amount of the penalty is decided by the Upper Tribunal having regard to the amount of tax which either has not, or is unlikely to be, paid by that person.

 

A person is not liable to a penalty if they have a reasonable excuse for:

  • Failing to comply with an information notice, or
  • Providing inaccurate details or documents, or
  • Deliberately obstructing a tribunal approved inspection

If they correct their failure as soon as the excuse ends, the excuse will then be treated as continuing until the correction is made.

Normally, daily penalties will not be assessed after the failure has been remedied.

Record Keeping

Schedule 37 of FA08 amended existing record keeping legislation in respect of PAYE, VAT, IT, CGT and CT, whilst Schedule 50 to FA2009 extends this approach to IPT, SDLT, AGL, CCL, and LFT with BPT being included from 8 April 2010. Following consultation it was accepted that SDRT and PRT did not require separate statutory provisions, whilst IHT will be addressed through guidance.

These provisions are aimed at alignment and clarification.

This approach is designed to be flexible across a range of business and non-business taxpayers.

There are penalties for failure to keep adequate records.

The basic requirements in relation to record keeping have not changed but rules have been aligned on how long records are kept.

 

niall@odfinancialservice.co.uk

12 really quick and easy tax tips for PAYE workers

  1. Child care vouchers –  if you have children attending a nursery or looked after by a professional childminder, your employer can join a Childcare voucher scheme. This allows for £55 of the weekly cost to be deducted free of tax and NI if you are a basic tax rate payer, or £28 if you are a higher rate tax payer.
  2.  Pensions – if you pay into a work pension scheme, 20% tax is automatically deducted. For high rate tax payers, you can claim additional relief either by declaring it on your Self-Assessment or calling the taxman.
  3.  Company cars – are a pain and the tax is huge BUT if you have a company van, the benefit in kind is capped at £3,000 so for a basic rate tax payer the cost of driving is only £600 or £1,200 for a higher rate payer.
  4.  Professional membership fees – your membership to a recognised trade or professional body it is a deductible expense, but not for your hobbies.   
  5.  Share incentive schemes – there are loads of schemes that allow either NI or Capital Gains Tax to be saved, you don’t have work for a listed company either.
  6.  Giving your work colleagues a lift to work – if your employer encourages car pooling you can claim 5p a mile for the passenger without incurring any additional tax charge.
  7.  Cycle to work – get your employer to provides a bike both for travel to work and play, it’s not considered as a benefit in kind.
  8. Then after a time you can buy it off them at market value.
  9.  Season ticket loans – your company can advance the cost of an annual season ticket up to £5,000, much cheaper than buying a ticket weekly.
  10. From April 2014 this increases to £10,000 (not really sure if that’s a blessing?)
  11. Electric Cars – from April 2015 there’s no benefit in kind.
  12.  Working from home – it is becoming increasingly more common for staff to work from home. You can claim £4 a week allowance without having to produce receipts.

Any questions contact the author at niall@odfinancialservices.co.uk

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