Monday, 30 November 2015

Tax Relief Under The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)

The Enterprise Investment Scheme allows unconnected investors to obtain a 30% set off against their income tax liability up to £1,000,000 investment each tax year. So a £10,000 investment reduces the investor’s income tax liability by £3,000.  In addition, provided those shares are held for at least 3 years, the gain on disposal of those shares is tax free.

However, as illustrated in a recent tax case, the capital gains exemption is only available where the investor has made a claim for income tax relief. In Ames v HMRC (2015) the taxpayer, Mr Ames, invested £50,000 in a new company but unfortunately had very little income that year so did not claim EIS income tax relief. When he sold the shares several years later for £333,000, he found that the exemption did not apply and the gain was taxable!

Note that Seed EIS for small start-up companies provides 50% income tax relief and the same CGT exemption when the shares are sold.

The connected persons rule means that existing employees, paid directors and their associates are not entitled to these reliefs. Shareholders with more than 30% of the company’s shares, together with their associates, are also excluded.

Note that these exclusions do not apply where the investor is merely seeking to defer capital gains tax via their EIS investment.

The rules for EIS and Seed EIS are very complex so please get in touch with us to discuss the tax implications if you are considering making such an investment.

Feel free to contact us for further advice.
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Friday, 27 November 2015

HMRC Business Records Checks To End… BUT

HMRC have recently announced that they have wound down their business record checks and will no longer initiate new checks using this process. HMRC say that they “remain committed to helping businesses to keep better records”.

A HMRC spokesperson said:

“We are honouring commitments made for checks but will not be undertaking any new ones. Best practice from the records checks will be embedded into routine compliance activities.”

He added:

“Our approach to supporting business in meeting their obligations changes over time as technology and the way we use data evolve. Business records checks have successfully helped many businesses to improve their record keeping and over time the checks delivered diminishing returns.

HMRC remain committed to helping businesses keep better records through online learning packages as well as digital tax accounts which mean businesses can easily interface with HMRC using their own accounting software.”

At the same time HMRC have updated their fact sheet on compliance checks.

…But They Can Still Visit Business Premises As Part Of A Compliance Check

Although HMRC have announced that they have wound down their business record checks, they may still need to visit business premises as part of a compliance check.

HMRC occasionally make unannounced visits to business premises, however they will normally give you at least 7 days notice of such a visit. This can include your home address where the business is run from home. You can ask us to be there when HMRC visit, and we would strongly advise this. If you prefer, we can request that HMRC look at your records at our offices or at HMRC premises.

HMRC do not usually need to talk to people who work for you about their checks but they may ask to speak to the people who keep your records up to date, such as payroll and finance records.

HMRC may also need to speak to some of the people who work for you if they are looking at their employment status and are trying to check whether or not they should be on your payroll.

Contact us if you have any issues or need help:

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Saturday, 14 November 2015

Apple iPad Pro - Things you need to know from business perspective!

The iPad Pro follows the general design principles of the iPad Air 2, but on a significantly larger scale. Aside from the increase in screen area, there are some key design differences, each corresponding to a functional difference.

One is that there are four speakers, as opposed to the twin speakers on the iPad Air 2. This results in far more volume output of course, and Apple says the device is also smart enough to adjust audio balance between the four units to maintain a consistent performance as you hold the iPad in different ways. There is also a new type of connector on the left hand side. Apple calls it the Smart Connector, and it's designed to fit the new Smart Keyboard accessory. Its not yet known if third parties will produce their own accessories to fit the Smart Connector, but it’s fairly likely that a range of accessories will be available in due course.
The iPad Pro gets a super-powered A9X processor chip, one that Apple claims is close to twice the speed of the iPad Air 2's A8X. It also comes with a 12.9-inch display, compared to the 9.7-inch display on the iPad Air and the 7.9-inch display on the iPad mini. That's 78 percent more screen space than the next-largest iPad. Apple claims the iPad Pro will last for 10 hours (of video play or web use) between charges. That figure is the same as the quoted battery life for the iPad Air 2.

A diagonal measurement of 12.9 inches makes for a device that is both sharply differentiated from the smaller iPads and a convenient size in terms of productivity and ease of use. The iPad Pro's screen is also pleasingly sharp, with a massive screen resolution of 2732 x 2048, the largest resolution ever seen on an iOS device. That's the same pixel density - 264.68 pixels per inch (ppi) - as the iPad Air 2, stretched across a much bigger screen. 

With a total of 5.6 million pixels on show, Apple boasts that the iPad Pro has more pixels than the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. And it's supposed to be power-efficient too, with the ability to adjust refresh rate as and when the movement on the screen warrants it. "For the first time in any of our devices," says Apple, "iPad Pro knows when the content on your screen is static and cuts the refresh rate in half, to 30 times per second instead of 60. This means that the screen isn’t just big, beautiful and bright. It's also incredibly energy efficient."

Apple has finally given way and launched a stylus, called the Apple Pencil, intended to offer pressure-sensitive drawing and painting rather than a standard control method. The Apple Pencil charges by plugging directly into the the iPad Pro’s Lightening Connector port.

The new iPad Pro will come in 64GB or 128GB versions, the latter coming with or without 4G LTE. The iPad Pro is backed by some new accessories: a detachable fabric keyboard and the aforementioned Apple Pencil stylus.


Friday, 6 November 2015

How to Segment Customer List & Focus on Your Best Customers?

Some Customers are More Equal than Others

Businesses will always say that all of their customers are important to them. However, when it comes to making money, your best customers are always going to be the ones who buy the most from you.

Customer Segmentation. Source: PanoramaStock

So how do you identify which customers you should focus on? 

 First segment your customer list, and separate your best customers from the rest. You know that they're more serious than others, and chances are, the reason they're spending that money with you is because they have more money to spend. The secret to growing your business is to continue to get these customers to re-buy from you and if possible, attract more customers like these.

Segment your customer list data in different ways. 

First, split clients up by the amount they spend. You can also segment them by the type of products or services they buy from you. In some cases, you can segment them by the year or the quarter that they start buying from you. Now rank your lists as A, B, C and D, with A being your best customers.

When you're developing a new product or service offering, do so with your very best customers in mind. Present the offering to the A list first. You have built a relationship of trust with these customers so they will want to buy from you. As long as your product or service offers them an attractive benefit (faster, cheaper, better, etc.) they are more likely to buy from you than anybody else.

Once you get through the A list, move on to the B list and so on. By the time you get to the C list you need to consider how well you are doing. Is selling to the C list taking far more time and effort than selling to your A list? If so then perhaps it’s time to stop. Maybe your time would be better spent creating a new product or service to sell to your A list.

With your client list segmented this way, every time you have an idea for a new product or service, take it straight to your  best customers and try to sell it there first, maximising your chances of success. You will have to try harder and invest more resources (time and money) to sell to the rest of your customer base or indeed, to new customers.  Since all customers aren't equal, those who spend more money with you deserve more.

As such your business can afford to spend more money on them in an attempt to cross sell to them and to retain their custom.  
You should reward your best customers. 
Show them that you appreciate them by making them feel special. 
Send them a card at Christmas and invite them along to an annual client drinks party. 
Anything that shows them that your company values their custom will help to maintain their loyalty.

How will you segment your customers? or will you treat all your customers the same?

Monday, 2 November 2015

Restriction Of Buy To Let Interest

In the Summer Budget it was announced that mortgage interest relief for buy to let landlords would start being phased out from 2017/18 onwards and restricted to basic rate only from 2020/21.

Now that the Finance Bill has been published the full impact of this change is starting to emerge and for some landlords this will result in a significant increase in the tax payable as their rental profits will now be taxed at higher rates. This is because mortgage interest will no longer be an allowable deduction in arriving at rental profits.

For example a landlord with £60,000 of gross rental income, £6,000 of agent’s commission, £8,000 of repairs and other expenses and £40,000 of interest would currently have £6,000 of net rental profits.

However, from 2017/18 the interest relief will start being restricted, and from 2020/21 there will be no deduction for interest, which would mean that, assuming the rent and expenses remain the same, the taxable rental income would be £46,000.

For many landlords this will mean that the rent will fall into the higher rate tax bands and the £40,000 interest will result in a £8,000 basic rate tax reducer to set against the tax liability.

Feel free to contact us for further advice.
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VAT On Mixed Supplies

Care needs be taken when invoicing if your business makes supplies, some of which are standard rates and others which are potentially zero rated or exempt for VAT.

A recent VAT Tribunal case has reinforced the rule established in the Card Protection Plan case that if the supply comprises a single service from an economic point of view it should not be artificially split.

In the recent case, a company provided marketing and promotional services including brochures and other publications. It was held that the supply of printed matter (potentially zero rated) was merely ancillary to the principal supply of marketing and promotional services so the entire services should follow the principal supply and be standard rated, even if separately invoiced.

Please get in touch with us if these rules potentially affect your business and you need advice on your invoicing.

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