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Its time to review your subscription to company information databases!
Companies House is to make all of its digital data available free of charge. This will make the UK the first country to establish a truly open register of business information.
As a result, it will be easier for businesses and members of the public to research and scrutinise the activities and ownership of companies and connected individuals. Last year (2013/14), customers searching the Companies House website spent £8.7 million accessing company information on the register.
Until it becomes free in 2015, you will still have to pay
|Companies House WebCHeck||Charges|
|Company record report||£1|
|Current appointments report||FREE|
|Monitor Service (per company, per year)||FREE|
This change will come into effect from the second quarter of 2015 (April – June).
Dormant is a term that HMRC and Companies House use for a company or organisation that is not active, trading or carrying on business activity. But HMRC and Companies House use the term dormant in slightly different ways.
For Corporation Tax purposes, HMRC views a dormant company as a company that’s not active, not liable for Corporation Tax or not within the charge to Corporation Tax.
A dormant company can be, for example:
- a new company that’s not yet trading
- an ‘off-the-shelf’ or ‘shell’ company held by a company formation agent intending to sell it on
- a company that will never be trading because it has been formed to own an asset such as land or intellectual property
- an existing company that has been – but is not currently – trading
- a company that’s no longer trading and destined to be removed from the Companies Register
Generally your company or organisation is considered to be active for Corporation Tax purposes when it is, for example:
- carrying on a business activity such as a trade or professional activity
- buying and selling goods with a view to making a profit or surplus
- providing services
- earning interest
- managing investments
- receiving any other income
This definition of being active for Corporation Tax purposes is not necessarily the same as that used by HMRC in relation to other tax areas such as VAT, or by other government agencies such as Companies House.
If your limited company has been dormant but is now active, you must tell HMRC within three months of starting your tax accounting period. The best way to do this is to use HMRC’s online registration service.
HMRC have further details on this link
To contact HMRC you will need your Company UTR number and the 3 digit tax office number, then you can use this link to find out contact details for you Corporation Tax Office
When you call, Option 3 is for Dormant Companies and Option 4 is for Active Companies.
Then you will need to write to HMRC to advise them of the change in activity status.
Companies House still require Annual Returns and Annual Accounts even if the company is dormant, but these are obviously easy as there are no changes from the previous year.
If you have a company which is no longer needed you have the following options:
- You can just keep it as a Dormant company
- You could strike it off at Companies House
- You could carryout a Members Voluntary Liquidation
If the company has assets the shareholders will want to release the assets and get hold of the money, so keeping it Dormant isn’t going to help.
Since March 2012, in the case of Strike Offs, ESC C16 has allowed the distribution of up to £25,000 as a Capital Distribution rather than as Income.
However, if you have assets in excess of £25,000 distributions can only be treated a Capital if the distributions are made through a formal liquidation.
With Entrepreneur’s relief, money paid to shareholders will only be subject to tax at 10% on the capital gain.
There could also be other benefits too.
Economy in recovery
It now looks like the UK economy is in recovery. Even if this isn’t the case, when people think that times will get better they start to spend money again. With interest rates at historic low rates there is little incentive to stockpile cash in the bank for consumers and for entrepreneurs debt is relatively cheap to finance a new venture.
What’s your plan?
If you are starting a new business, it is important to work out what you will be selling, but to survive the early days of a start-up you will need good projections of your cash flow. As you grow you may need investment from banks or other third parties. Without good quality management accounts is it more difficult to persuade a potential investor to part with their cash.
Ask for help!
You can’t do everything on your own. Work out what your core activities are and how much time you need to do them. If you have time left over for ancillary activities then you are better completing these yourself too. The cost of hiring specialist help, whether it be an accountant, web designer or lawyer can seem to be too much for a nascent company to bear. However if you are spending so much time working out your accounts that you don’t have time for your customers you will cost yourself more in the long-term.
Business booming in Scotland
According to this article from the BBC more Scots are starting up their own business. Records from Companies House show that more than 340,000 companies were formed in Scotland last year. Glasgow and Edinburgh are at the forefront of the economic recovery in Scotland. If you have a good business idea, now could be the time to let that idea take form, especially if you have a service that supports other new businesses.
Give yourself a break
To give your business the best start, make sure you understand your finances. Don’t forget that if you registered a company you are obliged to file accounts with Companies House as well as HMRC. For more information on company formation see my blog here.
For support and advice on the finances of your business contact Alterledger or visit the website alterledger.com.
Micro-entity accounts are a new type of accounts that can be submitted to Companies House. They will provide the smallest companies with the opportunity to prepare and publish simplified financial statements (profit & loss account; and balance sheet) if they wish.
A micro-entity is defined as meeting two of the following criteria:
- Balance sheet total: £316,000
- Net turnover: £632,000
- Average number of employees during the financial year: 10 (or fewer)
Micro Entities are exempt from filing their profit and loss with Companies House.
Business Minister Jo Swinson said:
“Thriving micro-businesses are a vital ingredient for a stronger economy. However, because of their size they don’t always have dedicated finance teams behind them. We therefore need to make sure that they can focus on growing their business – rather than completing unnecessarily detailed paperwork.”
There are approximately 1.56 million micro-entities in the UK, as compared with a total number of companies on the UK register of approximately 2.8 million.
I don’t think this is going to help much? Micro Businesses still need to file corporation tax returns, deal with PAYE, RTI, VAT, minimum wage, Auto Enrolment Pensions, and a wide range of other requirements
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.
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).
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: