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How to Work Out Your Transitional Profit if You’re Self-Employed

With the new tax year basis reforms coming into effect for the 2023 to 2024 tax year, the self-employed must understand these changes to ensure they get their transitional profits right. This blog is here to help. We’ll walk you through figuring out your transition profit, splitting your profits, deducting Overlap Relief, and understanding how much of your transitional profit will be taxed in the 2023 to 2024 tax year.

Understanding Transitional Profit

Transition profit comes from the Basis Period Reform, which changes how self-employed people report their income. Before, you might have reported your profits based on an accounting period that didn’t align with the tax year. 

This reform aims to make the whole process more straightforward. So, getting the transition period right is key for accurate tax reporting and making sure you comply with the new regulations. It might seem a bit daunting at first, but understanding these changes will make managing your taxes much simpler in the long run.

Standard Part vs. Transitional Part

Let’s break down the standard part and transitional part of your basis period so you can better understand how to handle them:

  • Standard Part: This is the 12-month period right after the end of your basis period for the 2022 to 2023 tax year. It usually lines up with your accounting period from 2022 to 2023.
  • Transitional Part: This begins right after the standard part and goes until the 5th of April 2024, or your accounting date in 2023 to 2024 if it’s between the 31st of March and the 4th of April 2024. For example, if your accounting year ends on the 31st of December your transition period would run from the 1st of January to the 5th of April 2024.

Deducting Overlap Relief

Overlap Relief is important for reducing your taxable transition profit. If you’ve previously reported profits for overlapping periods, you can deduct these amounts from your transition profit to lower your tax bill. This figure may have been reported on the first tax return you declared your self-employment/partnership profits, which may have been long in the past, so the best way to check the amount to provide to your accountant is to use the HMRC service https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-your-overlap-relief-figure.

Spreading Your Transitional Profit

After deducting Overlap Relief, your transitional profit will be spread over five years, starting from the 2023 to 2024 tax year. This means in the first year (2023-24), you’ll need to include at least 20% of those transitional profits in your taxable income. You have the choice to include more if it suits your financial strategy. The rest will be spread evenly over the following four years. This gives you flexibility in managing how these profits affect your taxes over time.

It’s important to carefully consider the impact on your tax obligations for the 2023/2024 tax year. By spreading out the taxable amount over five years, you can potentially reduce the immediate tax burden while making sure you stay compliant with HMRC guidelines. 

If you opt to accelerate the recognition of transitional profits into an earlier tax year, you must make this election by the first anniversary of your normal Self Assessment filing date for that tax year. This strategic approach allows you to align your tax liabilities with your business’s financial circumstances more effectively.

Reporting on Your Tax Return

When filling out your Self Assessment tax return, you’ll need to include:

  • Your transitional profit
  • Your Overlap Relief
  • The amount of your transition profit after Overlap Relief that should be taxed in 2023 to 2024

If you decide to tax more than 20% in the first year, mention this amount and explain it in the ‘Any other information’ section.

Special Considerations

  • If your business ends before the 5th of April, 2027, any remaining transitional profits yet to be declared, after Overlap Relief, must be taxed in the year your business ceases.
  • Farmers and creative artists should remember that transition profit doesn’t count when calculating averaging adjustments.

Need Help?

Calculating your transition profit can be tricky, especially with needing to split profits accurately and deduct Overlap Relief. If you’re self-employed, use the HMRC transitional profit calculator for detailed help.

It’s a good idea to prepare your annual accounts to the 31st of March or the 5th of April to simplify future tax returns. Aligning your accounting period with the tax year removes the need for complex apportionment and makes tax reporting smoother. It will also reduce the complexity of your tax returns meaning you’ll be more likely to actually understand the figures you’re sending to HMRC.

By following these guidelines and using the available resources, you should be able to confidently handle the Basis Period Reform and ensure your tax return is accurate for the 2023 to 2024 tax year. Should you need any further guidance with the above, you can always get in touch with one of our in-house Tax advisors who are specialists on this subject.

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Merging R&D Schemes: What Changes in 2024

We’re diving into some exciting developments in Research and Development (R&D) tax schemes. Get ready to explore the changes shaking things up in 2024 and how they might impact your business. Let’s delve into the details.

A New Era for R&D Tax Relief

The Autumn Statement 2023 dropped significant news for businesses engaged in R&D activities. One of the biggest announcements was the merger of the Small or Medium Enterprise (SME) scheme and the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) scheme. This change kicks in from the 1st of April 2024 for accounting periods and aims to make life easier for businesses like yours when seeking R&D tax relief.

The Two Schemes: What You Need to Know

With the merger in full swing, here are the two options that businesses have:

  • The Merged Scheme: Think of this as the all-in-one package deal. With elements from both the SME and RDEC schemes, it’s your go-to for claiming R&D tax relief in a streamlined way.
  • Enhanced Relief for Loss-making R&D Intensive SMEs: This one’s tailored for R&D pros. If your business is about pushing boundaries in research and development, this scheme’s the one for you. Plus, it gives extra relief for those whose R&D game makes up a big chunk (30% or more) of their spending.

Consistency in Contracted-Out R&D

To ensure everything is fair across the board there are some new rules in place. Now, when figuring out who can claim relief for R&D work, there’s a clear set of guidelines for both customers and contractors. These rules kick in for accounting periods starting on or after the 1st of April, 2024, bringing some much-needed clarity and consistency to the whole process. It’s all about making sure everyone’s on the same page.

Subsidised Expenditure: Streamlining the Process

With these fresh contracted-out R&D rules in play, some old rules about subsidised expenditure in the SME scheme aren’t as important anymore. As a result, they’ve taken those sections right out of the legislation for the merged scheme, simplifying the process for businesses wanting R&D tax relief.

Enhanced Tax Relief for R&D Intensive SMEs: A Lower Threshold and Grace Period

Starting from the 1st of April, 2024 the bar for qualifying as an R&D-intensive SME will be lowered from 40% to 30% of total expenditure. Plus, there’s a one-year grace period to help businesses transition smoothly to the new threshold requirements. This adjustment provides added flexibility while maintaining the focus on encouraging innovation.

Claiming the Enhanced Rate: Revised Forms and Procedures

From the 1st of April, 2024, an extra revamped information form will be available for businesses wanting to claim the improved SME rates. This form, which will streamline the process for submitting claims under the SME-intensive scheme, will be accessible after the Finance Bill receives Royal Assent.

Limiting Nominations and Transfers: Payments Go Straight to Your Company

From the 1st of April, 2024, HMRC will send R&D tax credits directly to the company making the claim, where the company will need to provide their payment details. There are some exceptions, though; if you want the payment sent to someone connected to your company, you’ll need to explain how they’re connected. 

Cancelling New Assignments: Making Sure Things Are Fair and Clear

To make things fair and transparent, any new deals to transfer R&D tax credit payments after the 22nd of November, 2023, won’t count once the Autumn Finance Bill becomes law. But if the deal was completed before that date it’s fine. HMRC will still accept nominations for claims made before the 1st of April, 2024, keeping everything straightforward and consistent.

Embracing Change for a Brighter Future

In a nutshell, prepare for some exciting shifts in the world of R&D tax schemes, set to shake things up for businesses in 2024 and beyond. With the merger of the SME and RDEC schemes, claiming R&D tax relief should be much smoother. Businesses now have two main options, the Merged Scheme and Enhanced Relief for Loss-making R&D Intensive SMEs, both geared towards sparking innovation while simplifying the process. Also, revised forms and procedures and direct payments to companies making a claim aim to improve business efficiency and transparency. While changes are underway, the goal to create an innovative and successful environment is clear. So, embrace these changes, stay informed, and continue pushing the boundaries.

Ask for Help

If you want to make the most of these R&D tax relief changes but are unsure where to start, give us a call on 01603 630882 or fill out our online form, and we’ll be happy to help. 

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Exploring Tax Reliefs and Allowances for Businesses and the Self-Employed

Tackling taxes can sometimes feel like trying to solve a puzzle, especially for businesses and the self-employed. However, tapping into the wide range of tax reliefs and allowances available can turn this task into a valuable opportunity. These benefits not only lower your tax bill, helping you keep more money in your pocket, but also support innovation, job creation, and business growth.

Imagine using the savings from tax deductions to invest in your business, like upgrading equipment, growing your team, or launching new offerings. The secret lies in staying up-to-date with tax benefits that match your business needs and knowing how to leverage them effectively. While this may sound overwhelming, our guide is here to simplify the tax landscape for you. We’ll cut through the technical terms and shed light on the opportunities you can use to your benefit.

Dive into Tax-Deductible Business Expenses

Firstly, let’s talk about tax-deductible business expenses. Imagine almost everything you spend to keep your business up and running can help lower your tax bill. We’re talking about everything from your office’s pens and paper to the cost of keeping the lights on. For those who work from home, this also applies to you. These necessary expenses can be deducted from your annual tax bill, so make sure to keep those receipts.

Unleash Innovation with R&D Tax Credits

For those of you who are constantly cooking up the next big thing, Research and Development (R&D) tax credits are your best friend. Whether your project succeeds or not, you can claim these reliefs for trying to make advancements in your field. It’s a fantastic way to fuel your innovative projects while easing your financial burden. And it’s not just limited to industries like science and tech; if you spend money on enhancing existing services or developing new products your project could be eligible. 

Boost Your Giving with Gift Aid

If your business supports charities, Gift Aid can amplify the impact of your donations. This scheme allows companies to get tax relief on charitable donations, making your generosity go even further. It’s a win-win – you support a good cause and reduce your tax bill at the same time.

Cut Your Costs with Business Rates Relief

Did you know that some properties are eligible for discounts on their business rates? This could be a game-changer for small businesses, shops, cafés, etc. As this relief can significantly lower overheads, it’s worth checking if your premises qualify, as it can make a big difference to your annual bills.

Cut Corporation Tax with Reliefs and Allowances

Corporation Tax relief allows you to deduct the costs of running your business from your profits before tax. This includes an Annual Investment Allowance on purchasing machinery or tools, which can be a major advantage for manufacturing or engineering businesses. This allowance reduces the amount of profit you’re taxed on, lowering your Corporation Tax bill. There are also a number of industry-specific reliefs such as Creative Tax Reliefs, which are beneficial.

Claim Pre-Trading Expenses

If you’re setting up a new business, you might be able to claim back some of the expenses incurred before you started trading. This can include research, financial, and legal costs, giving you a financial head start as you begin your entrepreneurial journey.

Reclaiming VAT: Your Cash Flow Booster

For VAT-registered businesses, reclaiming VAT on business expenses is key. It’s a way to improve your cash flow by recouping some of the money spent on business purchases. This can cover a wide range of expenses, from equipment to services, ensuring your business maximises all the reliefs and allowances available.

Planning Ahead with the Budget Payment Plan

Tax bills can be daunting, but HMRC’s Budget Payment Plan allows you to make regular payments towards your next tax bill, spreading the cost over the year and reducing the financial pressure. It’s a proactive way to manage your finances, helping you avoid surprises come tax time.

Innovate with the Patent Box

For businesses that create patented inventions, the Patent Box scheme offers a reduced Corporation Tax rate on profits earned from these patents. It’s an incentive to innovate and protect your intellectual property, potentially reducing your tax rate to just 10% on these profits.

Boost Your Business: Smart Tax Planning for Growth

Tax reliefs and allowances are designed to support businesses and the self-employed in their growth and innovation efforts. By taking advantage of these opportunities, you can significantly reduce your tax burden, invest more in your business, and support your employees and the community. Remember, it’s not just about saving money; it’s about making smart decisions that fuel your business’s future.

Get the Help You Need

If you want to unlock the full potential of tax reliefs and allowances for your business, that’s where we come in. Our team of experts is here to help you navigate these opportunities, making sure you’re taking advantage of every allowance and relief available. Whether you’re innovating, expanding, or just looking to optimise your finances, we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Call us now on 01603 630882 or fill out our online form to start transforming your tax strategy into a powerful tool for growth.

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Guidance on Selling Online and Paying Taxes

If you’ve ever dabbled in selling goods or services through an online marketplace in the UK, this blog is for you. We’ll break down the ins and outs of paying taxes on your online earnings in an easy-to-follow way so you can confidently navigate the tax world.

Understanding the Basics: Are You Trading or Making a Capital Gain?

First things first, when paying taxes on your online sales, you need to determine whether you’re trading or making a capital gain.

  • Selling Unwanted Items: If you’re just clearing out your attic or garage and selling personal possessions you no longer need, you’re probably not considered a trader. For example, if you’re like Sally, who sold some items from her attic for about the same price she bought them, you likely won’t have to pay tax on those sales.
  • Buying for Resale: On the flip side, if you’re actively buying items intending to sell them at a profit, like Josh, who hunts around car boot sales and charity shops, you’re in the trading game, and those profits are taxable.
  • Creating and Expanding: Now, if you’re like Gina, who started by making greeting cards for friends and family but expanded to sell them online with the intent of making a profit, you’re likely considered a trader. Gina’s profits would be subject to tax because she’s running her activities like a business.
  • Collecting with Purpose: Even collectors like David, who buys and sells model cars to complete sets for profitable resale, are often classed as traders because they’re buying and selling for profit.
  • Importing for Profit: If you’re importing goods like Steve and selling them online for a profit, you’re probably trading, too.
  • Offering Services: And then there’s Adam, who offers online language tuition. If you’re promoting and organising your services like a business, it’s likely considered trading, and you’ll need to pay taxes on your earnings.

Trading and Miscellaneous Income Allowance

Now, here’s a little ray of sunshine for those of you with a small online income. If your total earnings from online trading or providing services amount to less than £1,000 (before expenses) in a tax year, you won’t need to inform HMRC or pay any tax on the profits. This is thanks to the Trading and Miscellaneous Income Allowance. So, if you’re just getting started or selling on a smaller scale, you have some breathing room.

The Role of Online Marketplaces

In recent years, tax regulations have evolved to adapt to the digital age. From the 1st of January, 2024, digital platforms, like websites and mobile apps, have been required to collect and report seller information and income to HMRC. They must report this information by January 2025, in line with international agreements.

So, what does this mean for you as a seller? You’ll receive a copy of this information, which can help work out your income and expenses incurred through these platforms. This data can help you calculate whether you owe any tax on your profits.

Registering and Paying Taxes

If you have to pay taxes on your online earnings, you might wonder how to get started. Well, it’s not as daunting as it may seem.

  • Self Assessment Tax Return: For starters, if you’ve never declared income through a Self Assessment tax return, you’ll need to register. Don’t worry; it’s a straightforward process, and you can find all the information you need on the HMRC website.
  • Using the HMRC App: Once registered, you can easily check what you owe and pay your Self Assessment bill using the HMRC App. It’s available for both iOS and Android devices, making it super convenient.

Mastering Online Sales: Navigating Taxes with Confidence

In a nutshell, selling goods or services online can be a great way to earn extra income, but it’s important to be aware of your tax obligations. Whether you’re selling vintage treasures, crafting homemade goods, or providing services, it’s important to understand when you need to pay taxes.

Remember, if you’re selling a few items here and there for a bit of pocket money, you may not need to worry about taxes. But if you’re actively trading and making a profit, it’s time to consider your tax responsibilities.

Stay informed, keep track of your income and expenses, and make good use of the information provided by online marketplaces.  If you’re unsure about your tax situation, it’s a good idea to consult a tax professional who can provide personalised guidance.

Selling online can be rewarding, and with a bit of tax knowledge under your belt, you can navigate this digital marketplace confidently. Happy selling, and remember to pay your taxes on time.

We’re here to help
If you’re ready to take control of your online business taxes, give us a call today on 01603 630882, or take a moment to fill out our online form. Let’s make sure your online ventures are tax-savvy and hassle-free. Your financial peace of mind is just a call or click away.

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Guidance On Claiming Capital Allowances For Business Cars

As a business owner or finance professional, finding out about the facts for capital allowances for business cars is a must if you want to make the most of your company’s tax efficiency. In this blog post, we’re diving into the world of capital allowances, with the spotlight on how they play out when it comes to business vehicles. We’ll be looking at key factors like CO2 emissions, purchase dates, and the various rates of allowances available. Think of this as your trusty GPS for making savvy decisions about car purchases and navigating tax planning.

Capital Allowances 101

First things first, let’s establish a clear understanding of capital allowances. They’re a form of tax relief available to businesses in the UK. They allow you to deduct a portion of the value given to qualifying assets from your profits before tax. This deduction can help reduce your tax bill, making it an important consideration for any business.

Capital Allowances on Cars

Now, let’s shift gears and talk about the specifics of capital allowances for business cars. Your four-wheeled friends have their own set of rules. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Writing Down Allowances (WDAs): WDAs are the most common way to claim capital allowances on cars. The rate you can claim depends on the CO2 emissions of the car:

  • Main rate allowances (18%): Applicable to environmentally friendly cars emitting 50g/km or less.
  • Special rate allowances (6%): Reserved for vehicles with CO2 emissions exceeding 50g/km.

2. First-Year Allowances (FYAs): If you’re eyeing low or zero-emission cars, you’re in for a treat as you can claim a 100% FYA, allowing you to offset the entire cost against your taxable profits in the year of purchase. Welcome news for electric car enthusiasts.

3. Exclusions: It’s important to note that cars don’t qualify for the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA), which offers a 100% write-off in the year for other types of assets.

For Sole Traders and Partnerships

If you’re a sole trader or in a partnership, there’s an alternative route: simplified mileage expenses for business vehicles. It’s like taking the fast lane, but remember, you can’t have this and claim capital allowances for the same vehicle.

For Employees

Employees, we haven’t forgotten you. Unfortunately, you can’t claim capital allowances for cars, motorbikes, or bicycles used for work. However, you may still be eligible for reimbursement of your business mileage and fuel costs.

What Counts as a Car?

For capital allowance purposes, a ‘car’ is a vehicle designed for personal use, not primarily intended for transporting goods. This includes motorhomes but excludes the heavyweights – lorries, vans, trucks, and motorcycles (unless purchased before April 6, 2009).

Claiming Rates for Cars

The rate you can claim depends on your car’s CO2 emissions and the purchase date. Here are the key points for different periods:

  • Cars Bought from April 2021 Onwards:
  • New and boasting zero emissions (including electric cars) qualify for 100% first-year allowances.
  • Second-hand electric cars join the main rate allowances club – good for the environment and your finances.
  • If your car’s emissions are ≤ 50g/km, you’re still eligible for main rate allowances.
  • If your car’s emissions are > 50g/km, you’ll fall into the special rate allowances category.
  • Cars Purchased Between April 2018 and April 2021: Similar rules as before, but with adjusted CO2 limits.
  • Purchases Made from April 2015 to April 2018:  Again, the same CO2 rules apply, just tweaked for that timeframe.
  • Cars Acquired Between April 2013 and April 2015: It’s like a rerun of the previous rules, but now tailored to the CO2 emissions during this period.
  • Cars Bought Between April 2009 and April 2013: No surprises here – the CO2 limits stay the same, maintaining consistency for this time period.
  • Cars Purchased Before April 2009: If you own a car that was bought before this date, you’ll have to shift its balance into your main rate allowances pool when you’re working out your claim. 

Using Cars Outside Your Business

If you use your car for business and personal purposes, you must allocate the capital allowance claim based on your business usage.

Providing Cars to Employees

If your business provides a car to an employee or director, you can claim capital allowances based on the full cost. But, if the employee uses the car for personal reasons, you may need to report it as a company benefit to HMRC.

Maximising Your Business Car Tax Perks

Getting the hang of the capital allowances game for business cars might feel complicated, but it’s worth it to supercharge your tax efficiency. Don’t forget to keep a close eye on those CO2 emissions and the purchase date of your vehicle – they’re the factors that can improve the allowances you can get.

And here’s a tip: When in doubt, speak to a tax professional to guide you. They can give you the personalised advice you need to stay on the right track, ensuring you follow the rules and excel in optimal tax planning. 

If you’re ready to make the best use of your tax savings and would like some help, give us a call today on 01603 630882 or complete our online form here

 

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Guidance On Recent Changes In Reporting Self-Employment Income

If you’re self-employed or running a trading partnership, navigating tax regulations can be daunting. The UK’s tax reporting system has had some recent changes, which began with the 2023 to 2024 tax year, so it’s important to stay informed and be prepared. This blog will walk you through these new changes, especially if your business’s financial year doesn’t align with the usual tax year (from the 31st of March to the 5th of April).

This year is a transitional phase. You’ll report profits from just after your last financial year-end in 2022 to 2023, to 5th April 2024. This could mean considering two financial years to figure out your taxable income.

If you end up with profits for more than 12 months, that’s your ‘transition profit’. You can shrink this down with Overlap Relief, and the remaining profit gets spread out until the tax year 2027 to 2028.

Here are the steps you’ll need to take: 

  1. Calculate your overlap relief
  2. Work out your transition profit
  3. Include these figures in your 2023 to 2024 self-assessment tax return

Specific Cases

If your financial year ends close to the tax year, between the 31st of March and the 4th of April, you can treat it as ending on the 5th of April, saving you the hassle of splitting profits for a few days.

Reporting Profits from the 5th of April 2024

From the 2024 to 2025 tax year onwards, your profit reporting will align with the tax year (the 6th of April to the 5th of April the following year). This involves combining profits from the 6th of April up to your financial year-end and the start of your new business year to the 5th of April the following year. In a leap year, count 366 days instead of 365.

Examples of Dividing Up Your Profits

You can split up your profits daily, monthly, or in any way that makes sense. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

  • Daily Splitting: Say your business year is from the 1st of October 2025 to the 30th of September 2026, with a profit of £45,000, and then from the 1st of October 2026 to the 30th of September 2027, making £75,000. For the 2025 to 2026 tax year, you’ll calculate profit from the 1st of October 2025 to the 5th of April 2026, and so on.
  • Monthly Splitting: If your business runs from the 1st of January 2026 to the 31st of December 2026 (making £50,000), and then from the 1st of January 2027 (earning £15,000), you’d divide the profits based on the months in each tax year.

Estimating Profits

Sometimes, you might not know your exact profit for the entire tax year when you file your return. In that case, use provisional figures and update your return when you get the exact numbers. Doing it this way keeps everything neat and accurate, ensuring your tax records truly mirror what’s happening in your business. 

Keeping Up With the New Tax Year Basis

These changes are fairly big for self-employed individuals and partnerships. It’s crucial to understand them, how they’ll impact your tax returns, and what you need to do. Staying informed and maybe even getting some advice can really help. Preparing for tax changes can make your life easier and avoid unwelcome surprises later on.

If you’d like to prepare for these changes, start now to make your future tax experience smooth sailing. You can call us at 01603 630882 or fill out our online form. Taking steps today will secure your financial future and keep you up-to-date with these evolving tax rules.

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Government Autumn Statement Key Takeaways For SMEs

The UK government’s Autumn Statement brings some long-awaited and welcome news for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In a bold move aimed at strengthening the economy, the Chancellor unveiled a comprehensive plan prioritising growth, resilience, and productivity. Here’s a breakdown of the key takeaways from the Autumn Statement that SMEs need to know.

Historic Tax Cuts for Business Investment

The standout feature of the statement is the launch of Permanent Full Expensing. This significant policy means that businesses can fully deduct the cost of qualifying investments in plant and machinery from their taxable income. Companies can receive up to 25 pence in tax savings for each pound invested. This policy represents an extraordinary £10 billion annual incentive, marking it the most substantial permanent tax reduction in recent British history. This move sends a positive message about the government’s commitment to encouraging investment and fostering growth within the business sector.

Business Rates Support Package

Recognising the challenges businesses face, especially on high streets, the government has introduced a £4.3 billion business rates support package spread over the next five years. This package includes a continuation of 75% relief for retail, hospitality, and leisure properties and a freeze on the small business multiplier. These measures are expected to benefit around 90% of ratepayers, providing much-needed relief and stability.

Embracing the Green Transition

To align with environmental goals, the Climate Change Agreement Scheme will be extended. This offers approximately £300 million in tax relief annually until 2033 to energy-intensive businesses like steel and ceramics. The aim is to encourage investment in energy efficiency and aid in the transition to Net Zero, an important step towards a sustainable future.

Focused Support for SMEs

The Autumn Statement sets out a series of measures designed to support SMEs. These include extended access to growth funding through the Future Fund: Breakthrough and management training via leading business schools through the Help to Grow scheme. What’s more, the expansion of Made Smarter will aid manufacturing SMEs in adopting advanced digital technologies. These initiatives are aimed at improving productivity and growth potential for SMEs.

The tax rate for unprofitable firms in the merged scheme will drop from 25% to 19%, and the support threshold for R&D-centric, loss-making SMEs will lower to 30%, aiding 5,000 more SMEs. SMEs will also benefit from regulatory changes, including tougher regulations on late payments and improved price transparency for consumers.

Sector-Specific Support

Recognising the importance of strategic sectors, the government has set aside £4.5 billion, including £960 million for clean energy, and a further £10 billion-a-year tax break for companies that invest in equipment and technology. Through the Advanced Manufacturing Plan, more than £2 billion over the next five years has been set aside for the automotive industry. The allocated funding is set to support the UK’s manufacturing industry and its supply chain, particularly focusing on the advancement of zero-emission vehicles. What’s more, two British Business Bank programmes will receive further funding, focusing on long-term investments in the science and technology sectors.

Assistance for Hospitality

In a welcome move for the hospitality sector, alcohol duty will be frozen for six months until August, offering relief to pubs, breweries, and distillers. This temporary measure will support these businesses as they recover from recent challenges.

Extending Freeports Tax Relief

The government has also announced an extension of Freeport tax reliefs in England from five to ten years. This extension until September 2031 is set to provide a more stable investment environment, promoting growth and job creation and contributing to boosting the economy.

Launch of the Growth Fund

A new initiative, the Growth Fund, will be established within the British Business Bank. With a permanent capital base of over £7 billion, this fund aims to attract pension scheme capital into the UK’s most promising businesses. This move could significantly boost investment and growth prospects.

Support for Employees

In a move that will impact many SMEs, the National Living Wage will increase by over a pound an hour from April 2024. This substantial increase, the largest in over a decade, extends eligibility to 21-year-olds for the first time. This hike represents a significant uplift in earnings for many workers and could have broad implications for SMEs in terms of wage bills and employee satisfaction.

Navigating the New Era of Opportunities 

The Autumn Statement presents a mix of ambitious policy shifts and targeted support measures aimed at creating a more resilient and dynamic SME sector. From historic tax cuts to sector-specific support and employee wage increases, these initiatives reflect a coordinated effort to stimulate economic growth and productivity. As we navigate these changes, SMEs stand at the forefront of a new era of opportunity and innovation in the UK economy.

Unlock your SME potential

If you’re inspired to explore how these changes can benefit your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Let’s start a conversation and work together to utilise these new opportunities. With our expertise and your vision, we can unlock the full potential of your business in this new economic landscape.

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The Future of UK R&D Funding: Tax Credits and Beyond

The UK government has announced an update on its plans for the largest-ever R&D budget from 2022 to 2025, showing its commitment to fostering innovation and technological advancement. The comprehensive strategy for R&D funding, underpinned by significant budget allocations and tax relief reforms, underscores the UK’s ambition to remain a competitive hub for cutting-edge research. Let’s look in more detail at what this means for the future of R&D funding.

Record Budget Allocation for R&D

The UK government has confirmed its largest-ever R&D budget, totalling £39.8 billion for 2022-2025. This unprecedented level of funding, an increase of £5 billion to £20 billion per annum by 2024-2025, represents a 33% rise over the current parliament. The allocations under this budget are poised to strengthen the UK’s R&D system, with the overarching goal of elevating the country as a global leader in science and innovation​​. 

Strategic Investments

The government’s R&D investments are strategically directed to support the UK’s Innovation Strategy, to increase total R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. Key areas of focus include climate change, new technology sectors such as clean tech and AI, and levelling up opportunities across the nation. The UK Space Agency will see its budget grow to over £600 million by 2024-2025, emphasising the economic and strategic importance of the space sector​​.

Regional Development

In line with the Levelling Up White Paper, the government has committed to increasing public R&D investment outside the greater South East by at least a third, ensuring fair regional distribution and economic balance. This approach is expected to bolster confidence in business investment in R&D, leveraging private investment and fostering innovation across the country​​.

Reforming R&D Tax Relief

To complement direct budget allocations, the government has introduced significant reforms to R&D tax reliefs, affecting companies under the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC), the small or medium enterprises (SME) R&D relief, and those with Patent Box elections​​.

Extending Qualifying Expenditure

From April 2023, the scope of qualifying expenditures for R&D tax relief expanded to include the costs of datasets and cloud computing. These changes aim to incentivise R&D using digital approaches and include previously excluded areas like pure mathematics​​.

Refocusing on UK-Based Innovation

To maximise the benefits of R&D activities within the UK, the government is refocusing relief on domestic activity. Restrictions will apply to subcontracted work and costs of externally provided workers, with certain exemptions for specific international research needs​​.

Improving Compliance and Tackling Abuse

All claims for R&D reliefs must be made digitally, with detailed cost breakdowns and descriptions of the R&D projects. Pre-notification to HMRC is required, along with disclosure of any advising agents, aiming to improve compliance and prevent abuse of the system​​.

Future Outlook and Stakeholder Engagement

The government’s target to raise total investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 is ambitious. The R&D tax reliefs are crucial in reducing innovation costs and encouraging private-sector investment. Following extensive stakeholder consultations, reforms to the R&D tax relief system were announced, ensuring that these reliefs remain competitive and up-to-date, and effectively target taxpayer funds towards meaningful innovation​​​​.

Embracing Feedback for Enhanced Guidance

Before announcing its commitment, HMRC published draft guidance reflecting the upcoming reforms to the R&D tax reliefs, taking into account feedback from stakeholders, including industry groups, businesses, and accountancy professionals. This collaborative approach has been vital in refining the guidance, ensuring it effectively addresses the needs and concerns of those engaging in R&D activities​​.

A Dynamic and Robust Future for Research and Development

The future of UK R&D funding is dynamic and robust, marked by substantial government investment and strategic reforms to tax reliefs. These initiatives aren’t just financial mechanisms but represent a concerted effort to cultivate a fertile environment for innovation and technological progress in the UK. 

The focus on regional development, alongside the emphasis on modernising and securing R&D tax relief systems, sets a precedent for sustainable and inclusive growth in the research and innovation sectors. As these changes unfold, businesses and stakeholders in the R&D world can expect to see a landscape ripe with opportunities, supported by a government keen on nurturing a global science and innovation superpower.

Find out more

Find out more about the recent government announcement here

Read the full policy paper ‘Research and Development Tax Relief Reform’ here 

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Accurate Tax Payments: HMRC’s Compliance Checks Unveiled

HMRC’s compliance checks might sound daunting, but they’re a key part of how the UK tax system stays fair and on track. It’s not just about keeping an eye on things; these checks help make sure everyone’s paying what they should, so it’s fair for all of us. This guide is here to break down what these checks are all about, why they’re important, and give you some handy tips on handling them. Think of it as your go-to resource for navigating these checks with less worry and more confidence.

Understanding HMRC Compliance Checks

His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) conducts compliance checks to ensure that everyone pays the right amount of tax at the right time, claims the correct allowances and tax reliefs, discourages tax evasion, and maintains tax system fairness. These checks can be triggered by various factors, such as inconsistencies in tax returns or significant changes in your financial situation. You can find out more about what triggers an HMRC compliance check here

The Role of Tax Agents and Advisors

If you have a tax agent or advisor, it’s important to make sure they have formal agent authorisation to handle your compliance checks with HMRC. This authorisation allows them to communicate and deal with HMRC on your behalf. If they don’t have this authorisation, you must arrange temporary authorisation. If you’re an agent yourself, it’s important to apply for formal agent authorisation or arrange temporary authorisation for your clients to manage compliance checks efficiently.

Why Does HMRC Carry Out Checks?

HMRC may initiate a compliance check for reasons such as:

  • Figures entered on a return that appear incorrect.
  • A large VAT refund claim is made when turnover is low.
  • A small amount of tax is declared when turnover is high.

HMRC will contact you and your tax agent (if you have one) to explain what they wish to check and why. If you believe the check is unnecessary, you can communicate this directly with HMRC.

Continuing Your Tax Obligations

Even if a check is underway, it’s important to continue filing tax returns and paying taxes if they’re due. Compliance checks can also extend to tax credit claims to make sure you receive the correct amount.

Cooperation During the Checks

During the checks, HMRC might ask for information or documents, and they may ask to meet with you or visit your business premises. If you don’t think this is necessary or it is unreasonable, you can speak to the officer in charge. If an agreement can’t be reached, HMRC may use legal powers to get the information needed. HMRC does this by sending you an information notice. If you receive this, it is important to give HMRC what they’ve asked for; otherwise, you may be issued a penalty. 

The Importance of Accurate Information

You’re responsible for providing accurate information to HMRC. If you have a tax agent, make sure they’re fully informed about your financial situation. Cooperation can lead to a quicker resolution and potentially reduce any penalties if inconsistencies are found.

Need Help During the Checks?

HMRC understands that dealing with compliance checks can be challenging, especially if you face personal difficulties or health issues. If you communicate these to HMRC, they can work with you to put reasonable adjustments in place. Also, if you need more time for a valid reason, don’t hesitate to request it.

Appointing Someone to Speak on Your Behalf

You can appoint a friend, relative, or adviser to handle communications with HMRC. Just make sure to appoint them officially first.

Seeking Independent Help

There are charities and organisations available to help if you’re struggling with the compliance check process. If the checks are affecting your mental health, speak to your GP, or organisations like TaxAid, Mind, or Samaritans can offer support.

Outcomes of Compliance Checks

If the check finds everything is in order, HMRC will quickly close the case. If you have overpaid tax, you’ll receive a refund with interest. On the other hand, if you’ve underpaid, you’ll need to repay the amount, possibly with interest and penalties.

Dispute Resolution and Appeals

If you disagree with HMRC’s decision, you can appeal. You usually have three options: providing new information, having your case reviewed by an unrelated officer, or arranging for an independent tribunal to hear your appeal.

Penalties and Criminal Investigations

If inconsistencies are found during the check, you may face penalties. However, the extent of your cooperation can influence the penalty amount. HMRC generally handles fraud through civil investigation procedures, reserving criminal investigation for particularly severe cases.

Compliance and Expert Help

Understanding HMRC’s compliance checks is important for every taxpayer. By maintaining accurate records, seeking professional advice, and cooperating with HMRC you can confidently navigate these checks. Remember, these checks are in place to ensure the tax system is fair and efficient for everyone. If you need help or have concerns about a compliance check, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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What Triggers an HMRC Compliance Check

For the tax affairs of individuals and businesses in the UK, the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is the governing authority that makes sure you’re toeing the line when it comes to tax laws. To maintain the integrity of the system, HMRC conducts compliance checks, also known as tax investigations. These can be daunting for anyone who finds themselves on the receiving end. Understanding what can trigger an HMRC compliance check is crucial for any taxpayer.

Common Triggers for HMRC Compliance Checks

  • Discrepancies in Tax Returns: The most common trigger is a discrepancy or anomaly in the tax return compared to previous years or similar businesses. This could include significant changes in income and expenses or making a large claim for a VAT refund when turnover is low. HMRC uses a sophisticated system to analyse returns, highlighting any that fall outside the norms for further inspection.
  • Late Filings and Payments: Consistently late filings or tax payments can raise red flags. This suggests to HMRC that there may be deeper issues with your financial management or a potential for incomplete or inaccurate reporting.
  • Informant Tips: Yes, HMRC receives tips, sometimes from disgruntled employees or competitors. If someone informs HMRC that a business or individual isn’t complying with tax laws, it may initiate a check.
  • Random Selection: Sometimes, there’s no specific reason; HMRC randomly selects tax profiles for investigation. It’s their way of keeping everyone on their toes and ensuring taxpayers maintain accurate records.
  • Sector-Specific Checks: HMRC periodically targets specific sectors where they believe tax avoidance or evasion is widespread. If your business operates within one of these sectors, your chances of a compliance check might increase during these campaigns.
  • Business Performance Inconsistencies: If your business shows markedly different performance metrics compared to others in your industry, HMRC might investigate to understand why. This doesn’t just apply to underperformance – unusually high success can also trigger a check.
  • International Transactions: With global transactions under increasing scrutiny, those who conduct a high volume of international business might find themselves subject to checks, especially if there are transactions from jurisdictions considered high-risk for tax evasion.

The Process of a Compliance Check

  • Initial Contact: A compliance check typically starts with HMRC notifying you, either through a letter or phone call. They will inform you of the check and what they need from you.
  • Gathering Information: HMRC will request specific documents, which could include personal or business bank statements, receipts, invoices, and accounting records. They may also want to look at your tax calculations and self-assessment returns in detail.
  • Meeting and Interviews: Sometimes, HMRC will ask to meet you or your accountant, or they may want to interview you to gather more information.
  • Outcome: Once HMRC has reviewed the necessary documentation and information, they will communicate their findings. If they find everything in order, they will close the investigation. If not, they may request additional payment of unpaid taxes, apply penalties, or, in severe cases, pursue criminal prosecution. In general, the more help you give, the lower the penalty will be.

How to Reduce the Risk of a Compliance Check

  • Accurate and Timely Filing: Ensure all tax returns are accurate and filed on time. Use professional accountancy services if you’re unsure about your ability to do this correctly.
  • Consistent Records: Maintain consistent and detailed financial records. This can make a compliance check much smoother and quicker.
  • Seek Professional Advice: If you’re in doubt about your tax affairs, it’s wise to seek advice from a qualified accountant or tax advisor. They can help you avoid pitfalls that might lead to a compliance check.
  • Disclose All Income: Declare all sources of income, including those from overseas. Full disclosure is always your safest bet.
  • Understand the Rules: Have a good understanding of the tax rules applicable to your business. If HMRC updates tax laws or guidance, make sure you’re following the new rules.
  • Report Changes: If there are legitimate reasons for changes in your income or business performance, report these proactively in your tax return.

Navigating Compliance Checks with Confidence

An HMRC compliance check can be a stressful experience, but understanding what can trigger an investigation is your first line of defence. Remember, most checks are initiated by anomalies or suspicions of incorrect tax reporting. By maintaining good records, submitting accurate and timely returns, and seeking professional guidance when necessary, you can minimise the chances of an HMRC compliance check disrupting your business or personal finances. If you need help keeping your records in order, don’t hesitate to reach out and speak to one of our tax return specialists. Our motto is ‘Tax Returns: Stress Deducted’ because we’re here to help keep your taxes on track, headache-free and hassle-free.