Are you aware of this latest telephone scam?

scam

Scams are pretty common these days, whether it’s a suspicious looking e-mail, text or a direct message via social media, if we haven’t received one, we certainly all know someone that has and we are all getting better at spotting them and more importantly, avoiding them. However, there’s a new scam doing the rounds that can potentially catch people unaware, because it stems from a voicemail purporting to be from the UK Government’s HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)!!

The scam involves leaving a voicemail message telling the recipient that HMRC are filing a lawsuit against them for alleged unpaid bills, knowing the scare tactics will take you by surprise, the message then leads into the seemingly familiar HMRC options of “’press 1 to speak to a caseworker and make a payment” – but as you can probably guess by this point – it is most certainly not an HMRC representative at the end of the line.

Caller ID can detail that the call is being received from 0300 numbers, which are official HMRC numbers, but these have been cloned for the purpose of these scam calls.

The callers, who are targeting both mobile and landline numbers, suggest that the recipient owes money to HMRC (they have been reported to be intimidating and aggressive) and will often threaten arrest, a spokesman for HMRC team has said.

The nature of the scam is so convincing that finance expert Martin Lewis – founder of Moneysavingexpert.com – and Kay Burley from SKY News have used their TV forums to speak out, warning the public to be vigilant.

So how can you try and keep yourself safe from these fraudsters? Follow these helpful tips from HMRC…

  • Genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.
  • Do not give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren’t expecting.
  • Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk  and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use their online fraud reporting tool.
  • HMRC will never ask for payment in the form of a voucher, such as Amazon, Google Play or iTunes.
  • If you are uncertain of the caller hang up and call HMRC directly to check – you can confirm our call centre numbers on GOV.uk  if you are unsure.
  • For tax credits, we do not include your details in any voicemail messages.

Anyone in doubt about a call they receive can call HMRC back from a different phone and if using a landline always listen for a dial tone before making a call.

Should you be unfortunate enough to receive one of these calls you can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 1232040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk.

If you receive a call reported to be from HMRC but are unsure you are getting the correct information from them, do not be embarrassed to terminate the call and ask your accountant to call them back on your behalf, we deal with them on a daily basis and can verify that you are or are not being approached for legitimate reasons – Stay Safe!

 

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Tax can be taxing!!

Tax can be taxing

Accountants all across the country breath a sigh of relief when February rolls around – the tax return madness is over and we can get on with making you more tax efficient, rather than trying to beat the HMRC deadline.

If you left your tax return to the last minute this year, then our top tips below may ensure you are more organised next time, take a look…

 

  • Firstly – Do you actually need to submit a tax return?

You need to do a return if you: are self-employed; you received £2,500 or more in untaxed income, such as from renting out a property; your income (or your partner’s) was more than £50,000 and one of you claimed child benefit; your income from savings or investments was £10,000 or more before tax; you made profits from selling things such as shares or a second home and need to pay capital gains tax; you were a company director, unless it was for a non-profit organisation and you didn’t get any pay or benefits; or your taxable income was more than £100,000.

 

  • Have you registered?

If you have never filed a tax return before, you will need to register first – which can take up to 20 working days.

 

  • Get your paperwork in order:

Dig out all the bits of paper that you need, such as P60/P45/P11D, PAYE coding notices and tax certificates for investments. For self-employed income, you need your bank statements, sales invoices and so on.

If you are renting out a property, claim all revenue expenses associated with the letting including letting agent fees, mortgage interest, ground rent, replacement of furniture and appliances, but not capital expenditure such as improvements to the property.

If you are letting out a room in your own home, is it more tax-efficient for you to claim the annual £7,500 (£3,750 if you share the income with your partner) Rent a Room Scheme allowance?

If you use your car for business and your employer pays you less than the HMRC maximum approved mileage rate (45p for the first 10,000 miles and 25p a mile above this), you can claim the excess.

If you are a member of a professional body required for your employment, you can often include the cost of the subscription as an allowable deduction.

Don’t forget to include your state pension figures. Although the state pension is paid gross, it is still taxable and needs to be included on your tax return.

 

  • Avoid the most common errors!

Don’t leave things out – this is probably the most common mistake is to miss something out – maybe a source of income you have forgotten about, and estimate if you have to! If you have some paperwork outstanding that’s not going to get to you in time, you can submit an estimated return and update it when the paperwork arrives. You won’t pay a fine for this – whereas you will if you wait for the paperwork in order to submit the return.

 

  • Don’t confuse your numbers!

Another common error is, say, mixing up net with gross.

 

  • Do you know your tax code?

Thousands of taxpayers may well be paying too much (or too little) tax as a result of having the wrong tax code!

 

  • Don’t forget gift aid!

Include all the gift aid donations you have made during the tax year to claim any higher-rate tax relief. If you donated £100 using gift aid, the total value of your donation to the charity was £125, so if you pay tax at 40% you can personally claim back £25.

 

  • Don’t forget to pay what you owe!

The deadline for paying any tax owed is also 31 January. Payments can clear on the same day if you pay by debit card, but will sometimes take a day to go through. If you pay by BACS or direct debit it can take three days, or five days if this is the first time you have paid HMRC by direct debit – so keep this in mind.

 

If you need help with anything tax-related, then please do get in touch with us here at DNA Accountants we are always happy to talk business.

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Will You Pursue Your Business Idea in 2019?

small business 2019

Many would be business owners take the opportunity of a new year to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. If you are going to use 2019 to launch your new business then it’s important to remember that finances are a necessary part of running a small business, so to get some insight on effective procedures that entrepreneurs can adopt to improve their money management we’ve compiled our top five tips for all small business owners:

 

  1. Don’t mix business and personal expenses.

There are so many reasons not to mix your business and personal accounts, including tax issues, personal liability, and jumbled accounting records, just to name a few. When things get tight, resist that urge to secure your business finances with personal funds. It may give you that quick fix you need at the time but it will no doubt create a mess that you are only going to have to deal with at a later date.

The best way to maintain a clear separation of your expenses is to set yourself a personal budget and a business budget. Try and adhere to them strictly and separately so that credit cards and loans for your business don’t get used for your personal finances and vice versa. Your bookkeeper and accountant will be eternally grateful if you separate the two when it comes to managing your books and paying your taxes.

 

  1. Negotiate with vendors before signing!!

Sometimes you have to do some digging or shopping around for a good bargain. When making purchases from vendors or contracting with suppliers, try negotiating for a better deal.

Also please don’t forget to examine purchase terms like late payment penalties when making a decision. You don’t want to be caught out at a later date.

 

  1. Pay your bills on time, every time.

Treat your business bills as you do your personal finances. You don’t pay personal finances late so business payments shouldn’t be any different.

Credit card and loan payment late fees can cost you dearly, but paying small late fees on vendor and utility bills consistently adds up, too. The same goes for taxes: paying too late can result in serious penalties.

It can be beneficial to set up monthly reminders to make sure there are no business bills falling through the cracks. For young businesses especially, the profit-loss margins are thin. Avoiding late fees could be the difference between ending the year in the red or in the black.

 

  1. Be a little Frugal.

Okay, we aren’t expecting you to become an extreme couponer like the ones on American tv shows to save money on ordinary business expenses but we do suggest that you follow through on rebate offers for office equipment and supplies, buy furniture and major equipment secondhand, and go green to save money on utilities.

 

  1. Spend some time on an accounting refresher. 

Being a small business owner doesn’t automatically make you a money whizz/expert, but you’ll still have to make big money-related decisions for your company and understand how cash moves in and out of your small business.

 

The more you understand your business finances and cash flow, the better prepared you’ll be to make smart money management decisions. And, while these tips will get you started, nothing replaces being proactive and hands-on when it comes to managing your money—no matter how big or small the financial challenge. If you need help with your business finances then please do get in touch with us here at DNA Accountants we are always happy to talk business.

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Ditch the gifts and do some good this Christmas…

gift aid christmas small business

At this time of the year many business owners and employees do tit-for-tat giving at Christmas – gifts to clients, gifts to contractors plus the office secret Santa, the result being, generally a whole lot unwanted tat. An alternative for individuals is to use the funds to make a gift to charity. UK taxpayers making charitable donations have the option to pay via Gift Aid. This allows charities to reclaim the tax from HMRC on donations, meaning any donation is increased.


The charity requires your name, address and a declaration that you’re a UK taxpayer and this can be done by telephone or in writing. Charities reclaim the tax at the basic 20% rate which, due to the way the numbers work, means they get 25% more than you donate (so if you give £10 the charity gets £12.50).

A higher-rate (40%) or additional-rate (45%) taxpayer is able to claim tax relief on the difference between the basic-rate and higher-rates (for example, 20% or 25%). For higher-rate taxpayers, on £10 that’s £2.50 and for additional-rate taxpayers, it’s a further £3.12. Higher and additional-rate taxpayers can claim the extra tax relief when filling out their tax self-assessment form; they could opt to donate this extra tax to charity.

A taxpayer may treat a Gift Aid donation before January 31 as being made in the previous tax year provided the total donations do not exceed the total chargeable income and gains. The claim must be made on or before the date the Tax Return for the previous year is submitted and no later than January 31 following the end of the tax year.

Also, everyone can donate to charity through their business. For a limited company, it’s the business that receives the tax benefit. For donations that count as “personal”, it’s the charity that can get the tax relief unless you’re a higher rate taxpayer, when you get a share too. It’s not just money that can be donated however each type of donations has its own specific rules and limitations.

So get inspired, choose your favourite charity or local sports club and you can support them through your business!

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Autumn Budget 2018 – how it affects your business…

autumn budget

This time last week we were absorbing the Chancellors Autumn Budget 2018 and overall it contained a lot of positives for small business owners. Here are the key points from the Chancellor’s speech and how they may affect you and your business…

  • Personal tax allowance will be raised to £12,500 for basic rate taxpayers, and £50,000 for higher rate taxpayers in 2019
  • £675 million will be put towards a Future High Streets Fund
  • Business rates bills for businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will be cut by a third over two years
  • Annual investment allowance will be increased from £200,000 to £1 million for two years
  • Small businesses will now only have to contribute five per cent to the apprenticeship levy
  • New mandatory business rates relief for all toilets made available to the public, whether publicly or privately owned
  • A £30 billion package for England’s roads, including repairs to bridges and potholes
  • Fuel duty will be frozen for the ninth year in a row, saving car drivers around £1,000and van drivers around £2,500
  • Beer, cider and spirits duties will be frozen, though wine duty will rise with inflation and tobacco duty will continue to rise by inflation plus two per cent
  • The VAT threshold won’t change
  • The national living wage will increase to £8.21

Other main areas concerning small business are…

Personal tax allowance

The personal tax allowance is the amount you are allowed to take home without paying tax. Anything you earn above that is taxable at a varying rate dependant on your total income. The chancellor announced that personal tax allowance will be raising to £12,500 for basic rate taxpayers, and £50,000 for higher rate taxpayers in 2019.

Up to £8,000 of savings for independent businesses

The Chancellor also declared he will be cutting the business rates bill for the smallest of small businesses. Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 and under will see their bill cut by a third over a two-year period.  According to the Budget announcement, this will lead to up to £8,000 worth of savings.

Green taxes on UK small businesses

While the Chancellor made mention of the environment in his Budget announcement, there was only one tax announced – companies manufacturing plastic that is less than 30% recycled material will face a levy.

He also said that he had considered a plastic cup tax, but decided that it wouldn’t make a substantial change. He will, however, continue to monitor progress, and may introduce another tax if things don’t improve.

If you need to speak to an accountant about any of these points and how they affect your company, get in touch – we’re always happy to talk business.

DNA Accountants

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Be Careful of This Phone Scam…

Phone Scam

In these days of hackers, cybercrime and phishing scams we are all very aware of the risks online from scam artists intent on getting their hands on our money. But are we as vigilant when it comes to telephone contact? Apparently not!!

Fraudsters pretending to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are expanding their unscrupulous activities after years of sending out fake emails to now calling unsuspecting victims and some are duping their targets into paying them thousands of pounds.

There is currently a telephone scam where a recorded message is left, allegedly from HMRC, stating that HMRC are bringing a lawsuit against the individual and is going to sue them. The recipient is asked to phone 0161 8508494 and press “1” to speak to the officer dealing with the case. This scam is becoming widely reported and seems to be targeting older people. Please do not reply to the message – ever!!

HERE are some tips from HMRC on how to avoid being taken in by the fraudsters:

Recognise the signs – Genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.

Stay safe – Don’t give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren’t expecting.

Take action – Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use their online fraud reporting tool.

Check – If you think you have received an HMRC related phishing/bogus email or text message, you can check it against the examples shown in this guide.

Contact HMRC directly – You can find the list of genuine numbers to call HMRC here.

If you are uncertain of the caller, hang up and call HMRC directly to check – you cannot be too careful, or contact your accountant who will be more than happy to speak to HMRC on your behalf.

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Do you know your numbers?

know your numbers

As a freelancer, sole trader or small business owner, other than knowledge of your own trade the most important thing to keep on top of in your business are the numbers. Income, expenses, cashflow, projections, first-hand knowledge of these will prove to be the most important information you will have to hand and without them, you could easily jeopardise your business!

But with efficient bookkeeping and a good accountant, you will be on the right path and will have full control of the fundamental financial areas of your business, such as…

  • Cost Control
    By looking at up to date information you can identify overspending in a particular area and nip that spending in the bud before it goes out of control. If you are reviewing your accounts once a year as part of filing annual returns, that overspend will mount up month upon month so a monthly review is great for cost control as well as cash management.

 

  • Improved Business Decision Making
    By reviewing up to date management accounts you can see month on month how much profit you are making and assess whether you can truly afford to take on additional expenditure, rather than just adopting a qualitative view.

 

  • Productivity
    The ability to view your result each month allows you to compare your actual results to those that you forecasted as part of your business plan or annual financial forecast. You can analyse out where there are differences and learn more about how your business is performing and make changes where appropriate. Say, for example, sales are ahead of your original forecast you can analyse out where your actual sales are coming from and adapt your sales plan to focus more on this more fruitful area if you desire.

 

  • Tax Planning
    Some tax planning needs to be carried out and implemented before year end for example: making capital purchases to taken advantage of the Annual Investment Allowance. If you provide your accountant or tax advisor with up to date management accounts before your year-end passes they can review your most recent position and work with you to offer you the best advice possible.

So, why is all of this important? You won’t be able to run your business for very long without sound knowledge of your business finances, and working month to month rather than waiting till year end, will keep you one step ahead of the game. Being prepared allows you to think about what your next moves are, whether that’s expanding your business, taking on an employee or investing in a new property.

If you are still feeling a little nervous about your numbers, get in touch with us here at DNA Accountants, we’re not afraid of taxes!

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When is a cake, not a cake?

VAT registration

When it is a biscuit! True…


No VAT is charged on plain biscuits or cakes. But when a biscuit is covered in chocolate it becomes a luxury and standard rate VAT at 20% is added to the price. Mcvities, famous for their Jaffa Cakes, added chocolate to the cake and tangy orange base, so classifying them as cakes, not biscuits. Although the taxman challenged this, claiming chocolate biscuit status, the court ruled in favour of McVities and we don’t have to pay VAT on our Jaffa Cakes.
The bottom line being, VAT is complex and shouldn’t be dealt with lightly, so here we have compiled the facts about VAT that every small business owner should make themselves familiar with:

When to register your business for VAT
Your company should make a VAT registration if the value of your taxable supplies in the past 12 months or less has exceeded the current VAT threshold, or the value of your taxable supplies in the next 30 days alone is expected to exceed this threshold.


Registering for VAT may be beneficial
Even if your business turnover lies below the current threshold for VAT, you can still register for VAT, since there may be business benefits in doing so. It is worth checking this with your accountant or directly with HMRC.
Basically, a business will pay VAT on all purchases it makes (input tax) and then charge VAT on all sales it makes (output tax). If a VAT-registered business receives more output than input tax in a VAT period, it will pay the difference to HMRC, otherwise the HMRC will refund the difference if the business pays more VAT than it receives.


How to register for VAT
If you need to make a VAT registration with HMRC. You can submit a paper application form or you can apply online but HMRC do encourage businesses to register online. The information you need to provide depends on whether you are running your business as a sole trader, partnership or limited company.


Charging and reclaiming VAT
Once you are VAT registered, you will need to include your VAT number on all your invoices. As well as charging VAT to your customers, when you are a VAT-registered business you can usually claim back from HMRC the VAT that you have paid on your business expenditure. To reclaim VAT you must have a valid VAT invoice for the expense. The information that needs to be included on a valid VAT invoice includes;
– Supplier’s invoice number
– Supplier’s name and address
– Supplier’s VAT registration number
– Details of the product or service supplied
– Date
– Total cost excluding VAT
– Amount of VAT charged
To ensure that you can reclaim the VAT you have paid, you should check the supplier’s VAT registration number.


Submitting your VAT returns
To submit your VAT returns online, you will need to sign up for VAT online services. If you aren’t already using HMRC online services you will need to get a User ID and password, which is sent out by post, to use the service.
There you go we, have just made VAT a piece of cake!


If you are still feeling a little nervous about your VAT registration, get in touch with us here at 
DNA Accountants, we’re not afraid of taxes!

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Tax-Saving Tips for Small Business Owners

tax-saving

Anyone running and owning a small business will tell you this one thing “be careful with tax – it’s not straightforward!”, in fact, it can be a real minefield for the unprepared. However, taking time and working closely with a good accountant (DNA Accountants), will ensure you do not get yourself in trouble with HMRC and should result in some tax-saving.

The key to tax-saving is to stop and think, look at your business from every angle and to ask yourself are yourself “Am I doing everything I can do to save tax?”, these questions will help you along…

  • Are you really the best person to do your bookkeeping or VAT returns?

Your business will benefit from you spending time working on it, whilst letting the bookkeepers and accountants do what they do best. For what you may think you are saving in fees you are probably losing out by not claiming for everything you are entitled to.

  • How well do you know your VAT?

VAT is a common area where business owners are losing out. Are you paying the right amount? Have you looked at the Flat Rate Scheme? Many businesses are unaware of the Flat Rate VAT scheme, but for the right business, it can be an unexpected source of profit.

  • How closely do you work with your accountant?

Business owners often complain about their accountant and how they have too much tax to pay. The truth is that the business owners who regard their accountant as trusted advisors and someone who can help them save tax are often the ones who are paying as little tax as possible. If you don’t talk to your accountant; change accountant.

  • Are you claiming all the expenses you should?

HMRC allow generous tax savings for self-employed businesses that spend time working from home. Make sure you are aware of them. For businesses that use a dedicated room in the house for work, the ‘Use of Home’ claim can be very generous indeed.

  • Are you passing on tax-saving to your staff?

There are several tax-free benefits that can be paid to staff to save both you and them tax. For example, the “cycle to work scheme” has been in operation for several years and can save up to 25% of the cost of a new bike, as well as making a tax-saving. Also, tax-free childcare vouchers are also a great way to save tax, as well as being a tax-free benefit to staff.

  • Are you paying yourself efficiently

The amount you pay yourself from your business obviously has an impact on the amount of tax you pay. How you pay yourself can also have a significant impact – Salary, dividends, benefits in kind, all need consideration on an on-going basis. A common benefit in kind is the use of a company car. Each case needs to be considered on a case by case basis, but generally, business owners can save tax by having a company car. Also, dividends can be a great method of paying key people within the business, but care needs to be taken so not to fall foul of Company Law, and ultimately HMRC.

  • Are you organised?

A common reason for HMRC to disallow expense claims is a failure of the business to keep proper supporting records. Don’t fall into that trap.

  • Do you have the business support you need?

Even a sole trader can have a good team to call on. Make sure you have a trusting, approachable accountant.

If you are still feeling a little nervous about your business tax-saving, get in touch with us here at DNA Accountants, we’re not afraid of taxes!

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Which road should your business take?

business

Starting a business isn’t easy, your wish may be to create a lifestyle and have unlimited income opportunities, but let’s face it in order for that to happen you need focus and motivation, without these you just won’t know which road to take.

Success isn’t going to happen overnight and you will need to put in the work. You may find yourself sitting at your desk when everyone else is in bed, feeling despair when your bank balance is looking the worse for wear and worrying that new leads aren’t appearing as quickly as expected but having the momentum to get you over these initial hurdles, will take you a long way

If you lack motivation, you and your business will take the hit. Here are a few ways to stay motivated while you’re building your start-up from the ground-up:

  • Know Your “Why?”

What do you want to accomplish and how will your new business venture help you get there? How will your start-up help you make a difference to your life? Knowing your “why” will get you through the tough times and give you a more positive attitude on a daily basis.

  • Set Goals and Milestones

Write down what you want to achieve in your life and your career. Write down those goals and create a plan of how you’re going to get there. They will remind you of why you are doing what you are doing, especially when things get tough. Then, break your plan down into smaller sections and set realistic targets to work toward.

  • Celebrate Achievements

When you have hit a milestone, celebrate! This will keep you energized, give you confidence and keep you motivated to keep working towards the next phase in your business.

  • Network

As you build your business, it is important to socialize with not only prospective clients, but mentors and like-minded entrepreneurs. They know what you are going through. They will see situations from a different perspective, and you will be able to bounce ideas off someone. Additionally, like-minded entrepreneurs are just as ambitious as you so they can provide a form of accountability to help you reach your goals.

  • Stay Positive

This is one of the most important things you can do while building your business. Failure is inevitable, but how you deal with failure determines whether you will be successful. Getting stuck in a rut will hinder you from getting where you want to go.

  • Empower Yourself

Take online courses, read books, attend business conferences and go to learning sessions. Gaining knowledge stimulates the mind, improves memory, reduces stress, expands your vocabulary, and most importantly–teaches you new things. If you regularly expand your knowledge of things relevant to your life and business, you’ll be a better business owner while your motivation level increases dramatically.

Finally and maybe most importantly “Be Patient” it will be worth all the effort.

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