Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Companies House flexes new legislative muscles

Friday, May 24th, 2024

In the latest of new legislative changes that have granted Companies House new powers, the Registrar has turned it’s attention to the registration of company names. Here’s what they have announced on this topic:

“We’re running stronger checks on company names which may give a false or misleading impression to the public.

This will help us improve the accuracy and quality of the data we hold and help tackle the misuse of company names.”

The new powers explained

Companies House can now reject an application to register a name where they have reason to believe:

  • the name is intended to facilitate fraud;
  • the name is comprised of or contains a computer code; or
  • the name is likely to give the false impression the company is connected to a foreign government or an international organisation whose members include two or more countries or territories (or their governments).

They can also direct companies to change their name. If a company fails to change its name within 28 days, Companies House can determine a new name for the company, for example, changing the company name to its registered company number.

They can also suppress a name from the register while a company responds to a direction to change its name

The new powers have teeth

If a company does not respond to a direction to change their company name within 28 days, an offence is committed.

It is also an offence to continue using a company name that Companies House have directed to change

The Company Names Tribunal continues to be responsible for considering objections to the use of a name which is:

  • the same as an existing name in which another person has goodwill; or
  • sufficiently similar to that name that it is likely to mislead.

 

If you receive a directive to change your company name

 

If by chance you receive correspondence from Companies House regarding your company name do not ignore the correspondence.

 

Let us know and we will help you reach an amicable solution with the registrar.

Don’t forget, if your name is changed, you may need to change a range of data, including:

 

  • Your company email addresses and URL
  • Bank Account names
  • Data protection registration
  • VAT registration
  • HMRC registration details
  • Payroll details
  • Contracts of employment
  • Your website
  • Stationery
  • Contracts
  • Advertising campaigns
  • Social media accounts

Act now to claim dormant funds

Thursday, May 23rd, 2024

Recent legislation changes have been made which affects how the Court Funds Office (CFO) holds dormant funds. From 1 June 2024 any account that has been held dormant within the CFO for 30 years or more will be surrendered and any future right to claim the funds will be extinguished. Funds are classified as dormant if they have been held by CFO for an extended period, with no activity on the account, and any efforts to trace the intended beneficiary have been unsuccessful.

There is now less than one month remaining to claim funds that have been held dormant by CFO for 30 years or more before the funds will be surrendered and any future right to claim will be extinguished.

Following this initial deadline entitled people will still be able to claim any account that has been held by CFO for less than 30 years as normal, but any account that subsequently reaches 30 years of dormancy will be surrendered on the date that this milestone is passed.

What are dormant funds?

There are a range of reasons why CFO hold funds including, but not limited to, the following:

  • damages that were awarded to children as a result of civil legal action in a county court in England, Wales, or the High Court of Justice;
  • assets belonging to people who lack capacity to manage their own financial affairs and where the Court of Protection has appointed someone else to do so; or
  • pending settlements of civil court action, or on behalf of dissenting shareholders, widows, and other clients.

If you believe that you, or someone you are responsible for, may be eligible to claim an account held by the CFO for 30 years or more then the time to act is now.

How to make a claim

You can search the online database on GOV.UK. Alternatively, you can contact CFO enquiries direct. The online database will contain information such as the case name, the date the account was opened as well as the final date when the account will be eligible to claim.

If you are successful in locating an account which you believe you are eligible to claim through the online database, you will be directed to contact the Court Funds Office. CFO will then direct you to the relevant court to make a claim, if you can provide evidence which links you to the account.

If you submit a claim to the relevant court for an account which is within 12 months of the last claim date shown on the online database, you must then inform CFO. This will allow CFO to ensure that any accounts with ongoing claims will not be surrendered. You will need to provide the title of the account, court case number, account number and the date you submitted the claim to court. This information should be provided via email to UCM-claiminprogress@cfo.gov.uk or by phone to CFO on 0300 0200 199.

Check out the Trivial Benefits rules

Thursday, May 16th, 2024

Trivial benefits are small gifts or perks given to employees that are exempt from tax and benefit reporting obligations. But bosses must adhere to certain conditions, such as a cost limit of £50 per employee – or the average cost per employee if provided to a group of employees.

Additionally, the benefit cannot be cash or a cash voucher, and it cannot be provided in recognition of particular services performed as part of an employee's normal employment duties or as a reward.

Providing these conditions are met, the benefit is exempt from tax and reporting obligations. However, if any of the conditions are not satisfied or if the cost of the benefit exceeds £50, the whole amount will be taxable rather than just the excess.

For employees who are not directors or stakeholders in the business, there are no limits on the number of gifts you can make in this way

Director/shareholders beware

However, if you are a director or stakeholder in the business there are limits on the number of gifts that can be made.

For example, if you are the director of a ‘close’ company – a limited company that’s run by five or fewer shareholders – the exemption is capped at a total of £300 in the tax year.

Examples of trivial benefits include:

  • taking a group of employees out for a meal to celebrate a birthday
  • buying each employee, a Christmas or birthday present
  • flowers on the birth of a new baby
  • a summer garden party for employees

What else is non-taxable?

Other non-taxable benefits that can be provided to employees include payments for business mileage in an employee's own car, employer payments into a registered pension scheme, medical treatment to help an employee return to work, and meals provided in a staff canteen.

Workplace nursery places for the children of employees and childcare vouchers (if entered into the voucher scheme prior to October 2018) are also non-taxable benefits, as are removal and relocation expenses up to a maximum of £8,000 per move, or use of a pool car.

Expenses that are paid or reimbursed by employers, as long as they were incurred entirely for business purposes, are also exempt from tax.

Trivial benefits and other non-taxable benefits can be a good way for employers to incentivise employees while also being tax-efficient. However, it is important to ensure that the conditions for exemption are met and that any benefits provided are reasonable and not excessive.

If you are in any doubt, speak to us to ensure you are complying with all relevant regulations and guidelines.

Please call of you would like to discuss the implementation of this relief for your business.

Death and taxes

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

Death and taxes are certainties of life, according to Benjamin Franklin, and if you are in business, you should be aware which taxes you are liable to pay.

Our mantra is – by understanding the taxes that your business is required to pay – you can plan and budget accordingly. No surprises…

There are several types of taxes that businesses may be required to pay, depending on their structure and other factors. These include:

Corporation Tax: Limited companies pay corporation tax on their taxable profits. Companies making more than £250,000 profit, will pay the main rate of Corporation Tax, currently 25 per cent, but smaller companies, with taxable profits of £50,000 or less, will pay the ‘small profits rate’ of 19%. If profits are between £50,000 and £250,000 marginal relief will apply – in effect, the rate gradually increases from 19% to 25%.

These thresholds will be reduced if companies have associated companies.

Income Tax: Sole traders and partners pay income tax on their adjusted business profits earned in the tax year. The amount they pay depends on their taxable income. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland rates vary from a 20% basic rate, a 40% higher rate and a 45% additional rate.

Scotland has different rates to the rest of the UK. They vary from 19% to 48% and for 2024-25 there are six rates.

Dividends. Dividends are taxed as income but at different rates. The rates in England and Wales are:

  • Up to £500 per year – no tax payable.
  • Above £500 up to £12,570 (if personal allowance is not used elsewhere) no tax to pay.
  • If dividends form part of basic rate band – taxed at 8.75%.
  • If dividends form part of higher rate band – taxed at 33.75%.
  • If dividends form part of additional rate band – taxed at 39.35%.

VAT: VAT is added to most goods and services with the rate of 20 per cent. You can take a look on gov.uk for guidance on what items are zero-rated, like books, children’s clothing and, oddly, motorcycle helmets. If your business has a turnover of more than £90,000, you must be VAT-registered. If your turnover fall beneath the threshold, you can still register for VAT.

Business Rates: Business rates are charged on most business premises, based on the value of the property.

Employers' National Insurance contributions: If your business has employees, you must pay employers’ National Insurance contributions (NICs) on their wages and any benefits you provide. Smaller firms may be eligible to claim the Employment Allowance and reduce the impact of employer’s contributions in certain circumstances.

Capital Gains Tax: Sole traders, partners and companies may have to pay capital gains tax when selling assets that have increased in value. For sole traders and partners this tax is collected as part of self-assessment, company capital gains are added to trading profits and subject to corporation tax.

Business assets you may need to pay tax on include disposals of:

  • land and buildings
  • fixtures and fittings
  • shares
  • registered trademarks
  • your business’s reputation

Tips for business owners

Keep accurate records: Keeping accurate records is crucial to ensure that you pay the right amount of tax. You must keep track of all your business transactions, expenses and income, and make sure to file your tax returns on time.

Plan ahead: Planning ahead can help you budget for your tax payments and avoid any surprises. Make sure to know when your tax payments are due and set aside money to cover them.

Seek professional advice: Tax laws can be complicated, and seeking professional advice can help you navigate them. We can help you understand your tax obligations and identify any tax reliefs that you may be eligible for.

Take advantage of tax reliefs: There are several tax reliefs available for businesses, such as small business rates relief and capital allowances. Make sure to check if your business qualifies for any of these reliefs.

Consider your business structure: Your business structure can have a significant impact on your tax liabilities. See if a limited company or a sole trader/partnership structure is more suitable for your business.

Consideration of taxes is an essential part of any business planning operation. Being aware and planning accordingly are key to meeting your tax obligations.

We are here to help. Get in touch if there is anything you would like to discuss.

What to expect in the coming year

Wednesday, May 8th, 2024

It will not have escaped your attention that Prime Minister Sunak will need to call a general election at sometime during 2024. The very latest election date that can be held is 28 January 2025.

If results follow the polls, we are likely to see the Labour Party in charge once more.

New brooms

Politics being the moveable feast that it is, the crystal ball to forecast how a change of government will affect us has yet to be invented, but what will be the likely impacts?

The new incumbents will want to apply their legislative agenda as soon as possible and so we can expect a formal budget following the election.

 

Labour’s five point plan for growth

Their published agenda covers:

  • Putting economic stability first by introducing a new fiscal lock to bring economic security back to our national and family finances.
  • Getting Britain building again by reforming planning laws to kickstart 1.5 million new homes, transport, clean energy, and new industries in all parts of the country.
  • Backing British business with a new industrial strategy created in partnership with business to maximise Britain’s strengths in life sciences, digital, creative, financial industries, clean power and automotive sectors. Creating a National Wealth Fund to unlock billions of pounds of private investment, crowding in 3 times the amount of public investment.
  • Kickstarting a skills revolution. A new generation of Technical Excellence Colleges, offering more high quality apprenticeships and training opportunities tailored to local jobs in all parts of the country.
  • Making Work Pay by introducing a new deal for working people and delivering a genuine living wage, banning zero hours contracts and ending fire and rehire.

Affordability will be a key issue, where will the money come from? Will we see higher taxes at the higher rates, will there be VAT changes (VAT charged on private school fees for example).

Of course, it is one thing to have the intent to drive home these agendas, it is quite another to achieve these lofty ideals if present international uncertainties are factored into the mix.

 

Expect change later rather than sooner

Whichever party or parties win control of the next parliament, initially, we are unlikely to see a rapid improvement in economic activity.

Interest rates are sticking at higher levels and many of us are faced with increasing mortgage repayments. Perhaps the Bank of England will lower bank rates as the year progresses.

Barring further unrest in the world – and with events in Israel and Ukraine continuing to unsettle world markets – the free flow of goods is likely to be disrupted and will provide upward pressure on prices.

On the basis that everything changes, let us hope that before we are faced with a further election in five years’ time, things will have changed for the better whoever takes charge of government in that period.

 

Meantime, we must soldier on

There is no doubt that the last few years have been extraordinarily difficult and challenging times. Let us hope that the new government will have the skills and will to ease the effects of these challenges and show us the light at the end of the tunnel.

Would it be too much to ask?

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