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Do You Have Your EORI Number, In Case Of No Deal Brexit?

Do You Have Your EORI Number, In Case Of No Deal Brexit?

Economic Operator Registration Identification

As a UK business, you will need an ‘Economic Operator Registration Identification’, EORI number, to trade with the EU, after Brexit.

 

If There is A ‘No-Deal’ Brexit

In the event that the UK leaves the EU on 31 October 2019 without a deal, your business will need an EORI number, that starts with GB, to move goods in and out of the UK. An Economic Operator Registration Identification consists of a 12-digit number following the GB prefix. It includes your VAT registration number where your business is VAT registered.

 

How Do You Get An EORI number?

Depending on whether your business is registered for VAT, your number may be issued automatically or, where this is not the case, your business can apply for one.

 

When is your EORI number issued automatically?

In August and early September, HMRC sent out Economic Operator Registration Identification numbers automatically to businesses that are registered for VAT and which had not previously applied for an EORI number. If you are VAT registered, check that you have received your number. 

 

How do you apply?

Where your business is not registered for VAT, and it is likely that you will want to move goods in and out of the UK post Brexit, you will need to apply for an EORI number. You can apply for it online. The process is straightforward and should take you less than 10 minutes, with your number being sent out within 5 working days. Unless, HMRC need to undertake additional security checks.

 

Do You Trade with Ireland?

An EORI number is not needed if goods are only moved between Northern Ireland and Ireland. However, you are required to have one for imports and exports that move directly between Ireland and Great Britain, without going through Northern Ireland.

 

EU EORI Numbers

If you want to trade with the EU post-Brexit, you will need an Economic Operator Registration Identification number, starting with the country code of the EU country that you wish to trade with. This should be obtained from the Customs authority of the EU country that your business will first trade with, post Brexit.

 

Stay Up To Date

Brexit is something of a moveable first. The Government will update the guidance to reflect any changes. Check the Gov.uk website and register for email alerts.

 

 

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

 

 

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Is Work Efficiency In The Power Of Saying “No”?

Is Work Efficiency In The Power Of Saying “No”?

When it comes to work efficiency, it’s important to be able to say “no” at work without making enemies.

 

It’s a simple word, but one that far too many of us have trouble saying.  Perhaps it’s because you’ve become successful by saying yes to every business opportunity, every request that has come your way, in order to grow your business or develop your career. However, as you progress through your career, you become more successful and new opportunities will inevitably emerge. More people and more projects will vie for your time. For the sake of your work efficiency and productivity, you cannot do everything and this is when it may be necessary to start saying no to things.    

 

Focusing And Work Efficiency Is About Saying No

More than ever, we’re all working harder with less resources, which means that we can often take on too much work. Sometimes saying “yes” to another project when you’re already at full capacity, effectively means that you’re saying no to completing the tasks that you already have to do. Steve Jobs famously said that “focusing is about saying no”. Focusing on what matters, and work efficiency, not just what’s in front of you, is the key to driving the success of your business.

 

What About Objectives?

Just like most teams in most businesses, you set out your annual objectives at the start of the year, right? And your objectives should align with your overall business goals. And your individual projects and day-to-day tasks should also align with these objectives. So, if a new project or request doesn’t align with your team’s objectives, then it might be best to push back and say “no” to help your work efficiency. 

 

How To Say No

If a senior colleague asks you to do something, a flat “no” may not be an appropriate response. Instead it may be more suitable to say that you don’t have any capacity at the moment, outlining the key projects you’re currently working on. If the new request is to be prioritised, your colleague may suggest that one of your other projects is put on the back burner.

 

Say No and Manage Your Projects and Time More Effectively

When it comes to managing your time, your career, and your business, over-committing yourself isn’t a sign of success. If you’re struggling to say no, think back to all the times when you agreed to take on something new, and that in turn distracted you from your own priorities. How much time, energy, and stress you might have been saved, if you’d just been able to say no? If you don’t have time to take on more work, and you need to watch your work efficiency, next time simply say, “No, I can’t commit to that due to other priorities.” You don’t need to apologise or over-explain. Just be polite and move on. 

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

Watch the video here.

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Company Car Tax Break – Could you benefit?

Company Car Tax Break – Could you benefit?

Company Car Tax Break: Are you eligible?

 

You may be aware that the UK government recently announced its intention to exempt newly registered zero-emission company cars from a benefit in kind tax charge, for one year, from April 2020. In effect, this exemption underlines the key role, the company car has to play, in helping the government achieve its zero emissions ambitions. In addition, this company car tax break move is also intended to ensure that company car tax rates are not hiked, as a result of the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP).

Company Car Tax Break and WLTP – What’s It All About?

With that said, effective April 2020, WLTP will introduce a new CO2 emission-linked benefit in kind calculator to be applied to all new cars. And so, it has been developed using real driving data gathered from around the world. Consequently, the aim is to introduce a universal global test cycle across different world regions. In this way, pollutants, CO2 emissions and fuel consumption values can be compared. This ensuring a level playing field. WLTP is divided into four different average speeds: low, medium, high and extra high. Each speed has a variety of driving phases. As a result, it is considered more representative of everyday driving. Intentionally, the new bands have been made more sensitive to changes in CO2 emissions as a way to nudge companies and their employees to opt for lower emission vehicles in the future.

Why the Change?

Well, the new measure is intended to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by encouraging a move towards lower emission vehicles. Whilst we welcome this ambition, the Treasury has acknowledged that the WLTP measure will have significant impact on company car users. Similarly, this was also acknowledged in a recent Treasury document which stated: “Whilst the government’s view is that vehicle tax rates should more closely reflect the environmental impacts of driving, it is important that the transition to WLTP is managed.”

Carefully Managed

So you know, in response to this, and following a period of consultation, the government announced that appropriate percentages of new zero emission models will be as follows:

  • Nil in 2020-21;
  • 1% in 2021-22;
  • 2% rate in 2022-23.

By comparison, the appropriate percentage for most other cars registered from 6 April 2020 will be reduced by the following appropriate percentages:

  • 2% in 2020-21;
  • 1% in 2021-22;
  • 1% in 2021-22;
  • 1% in 2022-23.

A small number of company cars with the greatest CO2 emissions (170g/km and over) will continue to attract the maximum appropriate percentage of 37%. The Treasury has acknowledged: “Due to the range of WLTP impacts on CO2 emissions, this approach means some [new] conventionally fuelled cars will be liable to pay an equal amount of company car tax as of today, whilst others will pay more, and a small number of models could pay less.” The government has promised that it will set company car tax rates in advance of the tax year affected by the proposed change. This has normally been the position in recent years. In addition, it will continue to use the current NEDC-based measure for road tax (graduated vehicle excise duty, VED) for 2020/21. However, a public consultation is planned for later this year to establish the best approach to changing the wider road tax system, but avoid hikes in VED for the majority of car users.

Legislation & Company Car Tax

Legislation is to be introduced in the next Finance Bill to amend the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (ITEPA) in order to reflect the changes to the appropriate percentage(s) that will be applied to the list price of the car.

In Summary

So you are aware:

  • A zero rate of BIK tax for ‘zero emission vehicles’ from next April for tax year 2020-21, rising to 1% in 2021-22 and 2% in 2022-23;
  • A 2% reduction in scale charge from next April for cars registered after 6 April 2020, with a 1% discount in 2021-22;
  • A freeze on existing 2020-21 BIK rates for the following two years.

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you make sense out of these payment & tax rules and help your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

Watch the video here.

 

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Is Off-Payroll Working A Ticking Timebomb?

Is Off-Payroll Working A Ticking Timebomb?

Private Sector & Off-Payroll Working

While you might have been entertained over the last two years by the IR35-related tribunals involving celebrities such as Lorraine Kelly and Christa Ackroyd, a more significant issue closer to home has been looming large on the tax landscape. HMRC is planning to roll out their public sector version of ‘off-payroll’ working to the private sector. Although this might risk being blown off course by the ongoing Brexit uncertainty, all medium and large private sector businesses employing off-payroll workers (contractors and freelancers) will feel the impact of the new off-payroll working rules when they become mandatory in April 2020. As a signal-of-intent, HMRC published a consultation document on 5 March 2019 aimed at seeking views on how the off-payroll working rules will work. This period of consultation concluded on 28 May 2019.  Importantly, it proposed some changes to the existing public sector legislation and promised that any resulting amendments would be reverse-engineered into the 2017 public sector legislation.

Relief for Small Businesses

One piece of good news in response to feedback from AAT and other relevant parties on off-payroll working is that HMRC has excepted operators of ‘small businesses’ from any requirement to implement the proposed rules. HMRC has indicated that the definition of a small business will be in line with the Companies Act definition: 

  • Annual turnover: less than £10.2m
  • Balance sheet total: less than £5.1m
  • Number of employees: less than 50

While the definition may be apparent for companies, the definition of ‘small business’ for un-incorporated entities still needs to be adequately defined. Moreover, although the wording in the recent consultation document concerning the core deciding-components appears to be the same, what remains unclear is just how they are to be applied.

You Must Decide

According to the consultation document, it will be your responsibility (the ‘engaging party’) to determine whether or not a contractor is an IR35 deemed worker, based on the terms of the engagement. You will also be expected to set out the reasons for reaching a particular decision, as well as working out the practicalities, how you will be required to share this information with other parties within the supply chain and even directly with the contractor.

Off-Payroll Working and A New Improved CEST

To help you determine a worker’s employment status, HMRC is to revamp its much-criticised Check Employment Status Tool (CEST) tool. As part of the revision exercise, it has promised to consult with interested parties to improve the way that CEST currently works. It will be interesting to see how the department will rise to the challenge of addressing the full range of different concerns about the existing operational shortfalls levelled at CEST. One key area of interest is the Mutuality of Obligation (MOO), and the department’s ability to improve this will be seen by many as a critical test.

 Who Is Responsible?

As can be expected, any party in a lengthy supply chain that fails to meet its obligations under the proposed legislation will, at least in the first instance, be held liable by HMRC for any monies due. However, in a move intended to protect the public purpose, HMRC proposes that any liability will transfer back up the supply chain where HMRC finds itself unable to recover the monies due. This may ultimately fall back on you in some instances. In HMRC’s view, this, therefore, requires that the right incentives are in place so that all parties in the supply chain not only comply but are also ensuring the compliance of others further down the line.

 Right of Appeal

HMRC is also promising to introduce a statutory appeal process. The absence of any such process in the 2017 public sector legislation left many workers exposed to inappropriate decisions and even the subject of a blanket employment status decision without a right of appeal. This was seen as a severe oversight in AAT’s opinion.

What Action to Take

You should take steps to ensure that you’re aware of this new change and ask yourself how you might be affected. As HMRC has only recently closed its consultation response window, the department will still be sifting through a deluge of response, and the final legislation still resembles shifting sands. Consequently, we are issuing a health warning to the effect that nothing is certain until the underpinning legislation has been passed. Having acknowledged that our advice is built on nothing more robust than the legislative equivalent of these shifting sands, we are outlining the fundaments of what is currently proposed: 

  • From 6 April 2020, medium and large businesses will need to decide whether the rules apply to an engagement with individuals who work through their own company.
  • Where it is determined that the rules do apply, the business, agency, or third party paying the worker’s company will need to deduct income tax and employee NICs and pay employer NICs.
  • HMRC has promised to revamp its CEST tool to help businesses determine whether the off-payroll working rules apply.

Finally

We’ll be keeping a close eye on this challenging IR35 issue and closely monitoring future developments, and if there are any updates, we’ll let you know.

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you make sense out of these payment & tax rules and help your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

Watch the video here.

 

 

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What You Should Know About Commercial Vehicles

What You Should Know About Commercial Vehicles

When it comes to commercial vehicles, when is a van not a van?

If you use commercial vehicles, you’d want to urge HMRC to provide clarity and consistency on the tax treatment of commercial vehicles such as VW Kombi Vans marketed as goods vehicles. You may or may not be aware of a ruling in an important tax tribunal case involving “vans” provided to employees of Coca Cola. The court has upheld the HMRC view that certain vehicles are not goods vehicles, but motor cars for benefit in kind purposes. Consequently, the income tax and national insurance payable by you as an employee and you as an employer, is significantly higher than if the vehicles had been classified as goods vehicles.

Certain vans / commercial vehicles are exempt from income tax

In addition, there is no assessable benefit in kind, whether you use a van only for business journeys or for private use. Examples would include making a slight detour to pick up a newspaper on the way to work, or taking an old mattress or other rubbish to the tip once or twice a year.

Income tax definition of “Goods Vehicle”

So how does the income tax legislation define a “goods vehicle”? It is defined as “a vehicle of a construction primarily suited for the conveyance of goods or burden of any description…”  Although the VW Kombi vans failed this test, the Tribunal held that Vauxhall Vivaro vans provided by Coca Cola did fall within the definition of goods vehicles! We understand that this case is due to be heard at the Court of Appeal. This will undoubtedly provide legal precedent over the tax treatment. Until then it gives you, as an employer, a dilemma as to how to report such vehicles on employees’ form P11d and also whether the position in earlier years should be rectified. You should note that the tribunal had to seek evidence from automotive industry experts, so how are you, as an employer, expected to interpret the rules?! What is also particularly confusing, and thus difficult for your business to deal with, is that the benefit in kind rules are not the same as the rules for capital allowances and VAT.

Capital allowances definition of “Motor Car” 

The definition of a “motor car” for plant and machinery allowances purposes is a mechanically propelled vehicle except a vehicle:

  1.  Constructed in such a way that it is primarily suited for transporting goods of any sort, or
    2. Of a type which is not commonly used as a private vehicle and is not suitable for use as a private vehicle.

VAT definition of “Motor Car”

For VAT purposes, the definition of a motor car has been amended several times over the years. The current definition states: “Motor car” means any motor vehicle of a kind normally used on public roads which has three or more wheels and either:

a) Is constructed or adapted solely or mainly for the carriage of passengers; or

b) Has to the rear of the driver’s seat roofed accommodation which is fitted with side windows or which is constructed or adapted for the fitting of side windows;

There is a number of exceptions to this rule, notably vehicles constructed to carry a payload of one tonne or more. A common example would be a “double cab” pick-up such as a Mitsubishi L200 or Toyota Hilux. 

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you make sense out of these payment & tax rules and help your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

Watch the video here.

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How To Organise Your Tasks More Effectively

How To Organise Your Tasks More Effectively

Your Tasks Organised And Simplified

 

Tasks Balancing Act

The daily grind, for most of us, can feel like a constant juggling act. You attempt to balance work, household chores, bills, family – and hopefully some leisure in between if there’s any time leftover. In fact, trying to find time for things you enjoy – or for projects to improve yourself – can often feel impossible. And you could feel it’s incredibly frustrating to not move forward with things you truly value. Besides, It’s just as frustrating for you to get stuck under a tower of tasks that never seems to get any smaller…

Tasks Stats

Did you know that an online poll by the Mental Health Foundation found that “in the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope”. In addition, a report by ACAS, the workplace experts, had similar findings. You might be surprised to further know that 66% of poll respondents, had felt stressed or anxious about work over the past year – and that 35% struggled to balance home and work lives. This, in turn, encouraged us to look into a helpful and less disheartening way to improve task organisation.

Tasks Apps and Tools

One example of this is for you, to embrace online apps and tools available to you. As these can support your progress, and break an expanding task list into manageable segments. What this then does, is to prevent you from falling into the pattern of trying to complete multiple tasks simultaneously, while considering other items that may need to be started soon. This is a common mistake that can lead you to feel overwhelmed. As your effort to move forward becomes mentally taxing and prevents your progress. So, we encourage you to condense the mass of tasks you may currently be working on, into a more manageable and visually pleasing format. And to help you do that, you could use scheduling style techniques, such as Personal Kanban, and post-it note-style tools, like Trello boards. Both strategies encourage you to break down your to-do list into two main areas – which are followed by a “done” or “complete” column.

To Do / Options / Ideas

Right, so you should use this column (or two columns if you would like to separate your ideas from the general to-do list) for everything you currently have pending. Trello will allow you to organise this further, with handy coloured labels and due dates, etc. If you actually view this list alone, you can unfortunately slip back into your habit of trying to tackle as many tasks as possible, and struggle to complete tasks at a standard you’re happy with.

Doing / In progress

Carrying on, the “In Progress” list, according to the Personal Kanban, should be restricted to three tasks. Effectively allowing you to clearly focus on your tasks, and also giving you the ability to complete them, without reaching a mental block. You should resist the temptation to add any more than three, or to add tasks that should be broken down into multiple tasks. For example, if your task is to start a new business or write a new business strategy, it will obstruct your progress instantly. These need to be broken down further.

Complete / Done

Although this column may appear self-explanatory, not all your tasks are indefinitely complete. For example, self-assessment is an annual business task you complete on a yearly basis. Once you have completed it, you can then add a due date, and, once relevant, you can move the card back to the To Do column. For your other completed tasks, it’s simply rewarding to see them move over to the completed column. And enjoy the sense of satisfaction as the list grows!

We hope this simple concept can help you manage your planning and task lists.  

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

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Did You Know About These Tax-Free Benefits?

Did You Know About These Tax-Free Benefits?

Tax Doesn’t Have To Be Taxing!

When it comes to tax, it’s not every day you can enjoy tax free benefits, which, incidentally, also apply to Summer activities… Here are 2 great benefits you can take advantage of right now!

A Staff Summer Party Can Be A Tax-Free Benefit

Your organisation may have an annual Christmas party for staff, but the tax rules also allow staff parties at other times of the year, which are a tax-free benefit, if certain conditions are satisfied. The exemption applies to an annual party (for example, a Christmas party. Or similar annual function (for example, a summer barbecue), provided for employees and is available to all employees. Or it is available to all employees at that location, where the employer has more than one location. If the employer provides two or more annual parties or functions, no tax charge arises in respect of the party, or parties, for which cost(s) per head do not exceed £150 in aggregate. For each function the cost per head should be calculated. The cost per head of subsequent functions should be added. If the total cost per head goes over £150, then whichever functions best utilise the £150 are exempt, the other is taxable.

 

Make School Holidays Easier with Tax-Free Childcare

Did you know there is a government scheme available that can help contribute towards childcare costs? Which may mean fewer of your employees will need time off at the same time this summer. Tax-Free Childcare is a scheme available to working parents, with children from 0-11 years, and many parents are not taking advantage of the scheme. HMRC has said it would welcome help from employers in changing that. So please tell your employees about Tax-Free Childcare, and how it can reduce their childcare costs. Eligible parents can get up to £2,000 per child, per year to spend on qualifying childcare (effectively a 25% top up). Note that Tax-Free Childcare isn’t just for everyday childcare costs, such as childminders and nurseries, parents can also use it to pay towards the cost of: 

  •  After school clubs
  •  Summer camps
  • School holiday activities 

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you make sense out of tax and help your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

Watch the video here.

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How To Manage Employees With A Side Business

How To Manage Employees With A Side Business

25% of UK Employees Run A Side Business

Did you know that a recent study suggests that 25% of UK employees are running at least one business project alongside their day job?

What Is A Side Business?

You would define a side business as a secondary business or job that brings in, or has potential to bring in, extra income. As such, It is particularly popular among millennials, who tend to start a side project as a hobby or in order to explore a new challenge. And millennials tend to have different attitudes towards work and technology. They are also used to being able to work from anywhere, using a smartphone or a tablet.

Employees With A Side Activity Feel more Content

Did you also know that various studies have shown that employees who have a side business, report feeling happier and more content. However as a business employer, you may view a side activity as a negative distraction from your employee’s day jobs.

The truth is that many of your best employees may have a side activity and you might need to be more supportive. A side job can actually be a good thing as long as it doesn’t involve working for one of your competitors or doing anything that might damage your main business, as an employer.

Employees With A Side Job Learn New Skills With No Cost To You

Your employees could actually learn new and useful skills from running their own side activity. They can gain real-life experience, in customer service, as well as project management or budgeting that can be applied,  in their day job. From your perspective as an employer, your employees are gaining new skills that can make them better at their jobs and you won’t need to pay for any training. In addition, and you may not realise this, but further research studies have found that employees who have the drive to work a side job, are more likely to be innovative, proactive, and organised. They are also more likely to come up with new ideas, which they have gained through their own new experiences. Hence benefitting you and your business two-fold.

Employees With A Side Activity Want to Remain In Full Employment

However, and you should note that, according to a well-known careers website recent survey, over 70% of employees with a side business want to remain in full time employment. They don’t want their side job to become their full time job, as it’s more of a hobby / passion that just happens to create an income.

Get Used To The Side Business Trend!

It seems that the side business trend is here to stay and if you are an employer, you need to shift your view – a side business is a positive thing. However, you should also consider adding a non-compete clause to contracts, just to ensure that there is no temptation for your employees, to side hustle in any way that could damage your business.

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

Watch the video here.

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6 Ways an App Can Support Your Business Growth

6 Ways an App Can Support Your Business Growth

The use of smartphones has changed dramatically over the past decade: it’s gone from being merely a gadget to an increasingly used and important lifestyle and business tool. A report by Ofcom (the UK regulator for the communications services) referred to this change in our use of this technology as the ‘Smartphone obsession. Ofcom’s Director of Market Intelligence, Ian Macrae, said: “Over the last decade, people’s lives have been transformed by the rise of the smartphone, together with better access to the internet and new services. “Whether it’s working flexibly, keeping up with current affairs or shopping online, we can do more on the move than ever before. “ The report found that 72% of adults say that their smartphone is their most important device for accessing the internet; 71% say they never turn off their phone; and 78% say they could not live without it. The amazing thing is that these figures still appear to be rising. So, most importantly for you, how can mobile phones and mobile apps support and help your business grow? We have six approaches for you to consider.

1. Access to tools and resources around the clock

In general, our demands and expectations towards finding information, and towards the length of time it should take to find it, have vastly increased. The information we need, should be readily available, and, buffering and tedious searching will often be cut short, so we can try something else. Generally, we’re always on the lookout for a better user experience. Apps provide you with the opportunity to compile your information and resources into one streamlined solution, which can be accessed whenever it is convenient for you – with no waiting time. Apps can provide solutions for all your downloadable resources, communication requests, client referrals, marketing incentives, video content, up-to-date news, software, secure content sharing, tax updates, tax calculators and so much more.  

2. A new marketing and communications channel

An app can be an additional channel in your current marketing mix. Use it for targeted marketing, with geolocation tools which can filter customers according to where they are based. Your user can also set permissions and personalisations which tailor the app to be suitable to their preferred working methods. You can also send Push notifications to bespoke categories allowing only the most relevant alerts and reminders – for example, a deadline notification, an event RSVP, perhaps a special offer, or new content which is available in the app. Video content can be added to your app where your clients can access your most recent uploads with business advice, tutorials, and any other content you wish to include.

3. Gather consumer data

By fully utilising your app to streamline business processes, you can collect data on how your clients engage with the app. What content are they accessing, and how regularly do they use it? Which resources are most popular, and which resources are not used? You can then investigate what other services your clients require to get them more engaged with your service offering. Naturally, and in line with privacy regulations, this provides a directional view of your customer behaviour. In order to get more specific, you will then need to ask permission from your clients and to store their information securely, and in line with GDPR regulation.

4. A new contact and sharing solution

Today, there are plenty of quick options enabling your clients to get in touch with you, and any of them can be featured on your app.  It just depends on what you would prefer. To name a few, you could take client referrals via an app module, through meeting requests, and even by video calling.

5. Optimising business workflows

Whether your business is a complex manufacturing process or whether it manages a sales pipeline, apps can provide a convenient and efficient way to optimise your business workflow. For example, consider your salesperson taking business cards, who later records your client information from them. Through an app, you could streamline this process, through an off-the-shelf CRM, or through a bespoke module which can take a photo and automatically scan the data into the system.

6. Improved user experience through Smartphone capabilities

When considering using or developing your own app for your business, consider how you can leverage the technology inherent in the smartphone device – whether that’s Bluetooth, GPS, face recognition, or voice recognition. A common example is to use your camera to interact with QR Codes. If you are a firm with stock management, this approach can be used so that you can quickly assess product details through a simple scan of the code. In addition, consider how you can use GPS tracking, for example, to indicate where your package is being delivered and the estimated time of arrival. Lastly, interactions don’t need to be limited to typing. With voice recognition, apps can take on more of an “assistant” role, which you can engage with through voice commands and instructions.  In summary, whatever your business, there is an ever-growing need for the mobile workforce to have their office in their hand. Apps provide this capability, and, through bespoke development, your app can take on its own unique form and help accelerate and grow your business.

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

 

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Freelancer: 5 Top Tips For Successful Freelancing

Freelancer: 5 Top Tips For Successful Freelancing

What does it take to be a successful freelancer?

Here are 5 top tips for keeping your freelancer work organised, healthy, and successful! Although it’s not possible to provide a one-size-fits-all plan, these tips will certainly help to keep your freelancing affairs in shape. 

 

1. Draw up a freelancer contract

Regardless of your skillset – whether it’s graphic design, project management, or writing – every new client project needs to be issued with a contract. While, at the outset, dispute might be far from your mind, this is the go-to document that others will seek to review should any disagreement arise later. If you’re new to freelancing, then a contract template is a great place to start – to avoid you getting too preoccupied with creating the perfect contract. You can then add more information, where necessary and make improvements along the way. Even the simplest contract should include all the following key terms:

  • The nature of your engagement and the services you’ve agreed to perform
  • Assurances your client’s information will be kept confidentially
  • How much you will be paid, and when, throughout the project
  • Details of any ownership of intellectual property
  • Once your work has been accepted by the client, the client also accepts full responsibility for any use of the project files moving forward
  • Details of liability insurance
  • Cancellation procedure for you and your client
  • Membership of relevant professional bodies

2. Agree payment terms before starting a project

A big issue with freelancing is ensuring you’re paid enough, you’re paid on time – and you are actually paid. Therefore, to ensure you’re going to get paid, it’s best to agree your payment terms upfront. This is better than diving into a new project, and trying to resolve payment later. Depending on the nature of your contract under negotiation, a successful payment structure could be to request 50% upfront, and the remaining 50% upon completion – but before you deliver the completed project files. In cases where the contract is of an ongoing nature, you may wish to agree staged payments, whereby money is paid after you have passed milestones, pre-agreed in your contract. You may also want to consider regular instalments. The price you choose to charge as a freelancer should include time spent on tasks such as sourcing clients, preparing proposals, sending/managing invoices, meetings, and other items which are required to run your freelancing business. By not considering these tasks in your pricing, you run the risk of not being paid sufficiently.

3. Be prepared to say ‘no’

When in the process of agreeing the terms of your project, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. It’s too easy to get caught up in the moment and agree to everything your client asks – because you want the project and you want a happy client. But promising too much can come with a whole array of problems. It could end with you spending too long on an increasingly unprofitable project, and risk you not being able to deliver the project in the agreed timescale.

4. Create a freelancer portfolio

Create a portfolio of projects, in which you specialise, to showcase to prospective clients. We encourage you to include projects specifically in your specialist area – rather than putting together a portfolio of everything you’ve ever worked on. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to stick to, then make sure you do. Don’t take on those projects you fear you’re going to struggle to complete, or that may take you too long to deliver. This portfolio will also ensure clients best understand the work you’re able to deliver, and the expected standard they’re going to receive. If a client’s asking for work outside of this scope, be transparent about what you are / are not able to offer them.

5. Stay on top of your finances!

As a freelancer, it’s vital to view your finances as a small business owner would. Make sure you’re on top of your numbers, and ask yourself the following:

  • What is my business revenue?
  • What is my monthly living expenditure?
  • How many visits is my website getting each month?
  • What is my most popular service?
  • How much time is spent on each project, and am I providing accurate estimates?

If you’re a long-term freelancer, then you may want to consider how you’re allocating your earnings. For example, are you saving for VAT, business expenses, and making pension contributions? These are hugely important considerations in the long run. If you’re unsure how to best plan for these business costs, please contact us for more guidance, around planning for your business, and your personal financial affairs!  

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

Watch the video here.

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Do You Have Your EORI Number, In Case Of No Deal Brexit?

Do You Have Your EORI Number, In Case Of No Deal Brexit?

Economic Operator Registration Identification

As a UK business, you will need an ‘Economic Operator Registration Identification’, EORI number, to trade with the EU, after Brexit.

 

If There is A ‘No-Deal’ Brexit

In the event that the UK leaves the EU on 31 October 2019 without a deal, your business will need an EORI number, that starts with GB, to move goods in and out of the UK. An Economic Operator Registration Identification consists of a 12-digit number following the GB prefix. It includes your VAT registration number where your business is VAT registered.

 

How Do You Get An EORI number?

Depending on whether your business is registered for VAT, your number may be issued automatically or, where this is not the case, your business can apply for one.

 

When is your EORI number issued automatically?

In August and early September, HMRC sent out Economic Operator Registration Identification numbers automatically to businesses that are registered for VAT and which had not previously applied for an EORI number. If you are VAT registered, check that you have received your number. 

 

How do you apply?

Where your business is not registered for VAT, and it is likely that you will want to move goods in and out of the UK post Brexit, you will need to apply for an EORI number. You can apply for it online. The process is straightforward and should take you less than 10 minutes, with your number being sent out within 5 working days. Unless, HMRC need to undertake additional security checks.

 

Do You Trade with Ireland?

An EORI number is not needed if goods are only moved between Northern Ireland and Ireland. However, you are required to have one for imports and exports that move directly between Ireland and Great Britain, without going through Northern Ireland.

 

EU EORI Numbers

If you want to trade with the EU post-Brexit, you will need an Economic Operator Registration Identification number, starting with the country code of the EU country that you wish to trade with. This should be obtained from the Customs authority of the EU country that your business will first trade with, post Brexit.

 

Stay Up To Date

Brexit is something of a moveable first. The Government will update the guidance to reflect any changes. Check the Gov.uk website and register for email alerts.

 

 

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

 

 

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Is Work Efficiency In The Power Of Saying “No”?

Is Work Efficiency In The Power Of Saying “No”?

When it comes to work efficiency, it’s important to be able to say “no” at work without making enemies.

 

It’s a simple word, but one that far too many of us have trouble saying.  Perhaps it’s because you’ve become successful by saying yes to every business opportunity, every request that has come your way, in order to grow your business or develop your career. However, as you progress through your career, you become more successful and new opportunities will inevitably emerge. More people and more projects will vie for your time. For the sake of your work efficiency and productivity, you cannot do everything and this is when it may be necessary to start saying no to things.    

 

Focusing And Work Efficiency Is About Saying No

More than ever, we’re all working harder with less resources, which means that we can often take on too much work. Sometimes saying “yes” to another project when you’re already at full capacity, effectively means that you’re saying no to completing the tasks that you already have to do. Steve Jobs famously said that “focusing is about saying no”. Focusing on what matters, and work efficiency, not just what’s in front of you, is the key to driving the success of your business.

 

What About Objectives?

Just like most teams in most businesses, you set out your annual objectives at the start of the year, right? And your objectives should align with your overall business goals. And your individual projects and day-to-day tasks should also align with these objectives. So, if a new project or request doesn’t align with your team’s objectives, then it might be best to push back and say “no” to help your work efficiency. 

 

How To Say No

If a senior colleague asks you to do something, a flat “no” may not be an appropriate response. Instead it may be more suitable to say that you don’t have any capacity at the moment, outlining the key projects you’re currently working on. If the new request is to be prioritised, your colleague may suggest that one of your other projects is put on the back burner.

 

Say No and Manage Your Projects and Time More Effectively

When it comes to managing your time, your career, and your business, over-committing yourself isn’t a sign of success. If you’re struggling to say no, think back to all the times when you agreed to take on something new, and that in turn distracted you from your own priorities. How much time, energy, and stress you might have been saved, if you’d just been able to say no? If you don’t have time to take on more work, and you need to watch your work efficiency, next time simply say, “No, I can’t commit to that due to other priorities.” You don’t need to apologise or over-explain. Just be polite and move on. 

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

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Company Car Tax Break – Could you benefit?

Company Car Tax Break – Could you benefit?

Company Car Tax Break: Are you eligible?

 

You may be aware that the UK government recently announced its intention to exempt newly registered zero-emission company cars from a benefit in kind tax charge, for one year, from April 2020. In effect, this exemption underlines the key role, the company car has to play, in helping the government achieve its zero emissions ambitions. In addition, this company car tax break move is also intended to ensure that company car tax rates are not hiked, as a result of the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP).

Company Car Tax Break and WLTP – What’s It All About?

With that said, effective April 2020, WLTP will introduce a new CO2 emission-linked benefit in kind calculator to be applied to all new cars. And so, it has been developed using real driving data gathered from around the world. Consequently, the aim is to introduce a universal global test cycle across different world regions. In this way, pollutants, CO2 emissions and fuel consumption values can be compared. This ensuring a level playing field. WLTP is divided into four different average speeds: low, medium, high and extra high. Each speed has a variety of driving phases. As a result, it is considered more representative of everyday driving. Intentionally, the new bands have been made more sensitive to changes in CO2 emissions as a way to nudge companies and their employees to opt for lower emission vehicles in the future.

Why the Change?

Well, the new measure is intended to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by encouraging a move towards lower emission vehicles. Whilst we welcome this ambition, the Treasury has acknowledged that the WLTP measure will have significant impact on company car users. Similarly, this was also acknowledged in a recent Treasury document which stated: “Whilst the government’s view is that vehicle tax rates should more closely reflect the environmental impacts of driving, it is important that the transition to WLTP is managed.”

Carefully Managed

So you know, in response to this, and following a period of consultation, the government announced that appropriate percentages of new zero emission models will be as follows:

  • Nil in 2020-21;
  • 1% in 2021-22;
  • 2% rate in 2022-23.

By comparison, the appropriate percentage for most other cars registered from 6 April 2020 will be reduced by the following appropriate percentages:

  • 2% in 2020-21;
  • 1% in 2021-22;
  • 1% in 2021-22;
  • 1% in 2022-23.

A small number of company cars with the greatest CO2 emissions (170g/km and over) will continue to attract the maximum appropriate percentage of 37%. The Treasury has acknowledged: “Due to the range of WLTP impacts on CO2 emissions, this approach means some [new] conventionally fuelled cars will be liable to pay an equal amount of company car tax as of today, whilst others will pay more, and a small number of models could pay less.” The government has promised that it will set company car tax rates in advance of the tax year affected by the proposed change. This has normally been the position in recent years. In addition, it will continue to use the current NEDC-based measure for road tax (graduated vehicle excise duty, VED) for 2020/21. However, a public consultation is planned for later this year to establish the best approach to changing the wider road tax system, but avoid hikes in VED for the majority of car users.

Legislation & Company Car Tax

Legislation is to be introduced in the next Finance Bill to amend the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (ITEPA) in order to reflect the changes to the appropriate percentage(s) that will be applied to the list price of the car.

In Summary

So you are aware:

  • A zero rate of BIK tax for ‘zero emission vehicles’ from next April for tax year 2020-21, rising to 1% in 2021-22 and 2% in 2022-23;
  • A 2% reduction in scale charge from next April for cars registered after 6 April 2020, with a 1% discount in 2021-22;
  • A freeze on existing 2020-21 BIK rates for the following two years.

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you make sense out of these payment & tax rules and help your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

Watch the video here.

 

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Is Off-Payroll Working A Ticking Timebomb?

Is Off-Payroll Working A Ticking Timebomb?

Private Sector & Off-Payroll Working

While you might have been entertained over the last two years by the IR35-related tribunals involving celebrities such as Lorraine Kelly and Christa Ackroyd, a more significant issue closer to home has been looming large on the tax landscape. HMRC is planning to roll out their public sector version of ‘off-payroll’ working to the private sector. Although this might risk being blown off course by the ongoing Brexit uncertainty, all medium and large private sector businesses employing off-payroll workers (contractors and freelancers) will feel the impact of the new off-payroll working rules when they become mandatory in April 2020. As a signal-of-intent, HMRC published a consultation document on 5 March 2019 aimed at seeking views on how the off-payroll working rules will work. This period of consultation concluded on 28 May 2019.  Importantly, it proposed some changes to the existing public sector legislation and promised that any resulting amendments would be reverse-engineered into the 2017 public sector legislation.

Relief for Small Businesses

One piece of good news in response to feedback from AAT and other relevant parties on off-payroll working is that HMRC has excepted operators of ‘small businesses’ from any requirement to implement the proposed rules. HMRC has indicated that the definition of a small business will be in line with the Companies Act definition: 

  • Annual turnover: less than £10.2m
  • Balance sheet total: less than £5.1m
  • Number of employees: less than 50

While the definition may be apparent for companies, the definition of ‘small business’ for un-incorporated entities still needs to be adequately defined. Moreover, although the wording in the recent consultation document concerning the core deciding-components appears to be the same, what remains unclear is just how they are to be applied.

You Must Decide

According to the consultation document, it will be your responsibility (the ‘engaging party’) to determine whether or not a contractor is an IR35 deemed worker, based on the terms of the engagement. You will also be expected to set out the reasons for reaching a particular decision, as well as working out the practicalities, how you will be required to share this information with other parties within the supply chain and even directly with the contractor.

Off-Payroll Working and A New Improved CEST

To help you determine a worker’s employment status, HMRC is to revamp its much-criticised Check Employment Status Tool (CEST) tool. As part of the revision exercise, it has promised to consult with interested parties to improve the way that CEST currently works. It will be interesting to see how the department will rise to the challenge of addressing the full range of different concerns about the existing operational shortfalls levelled at CEST. One key area of interest is the Mutuality of Obligation (MOO), and the department’s ability to improve this will be seen by many as a critical test.

 Who Is Responsible?

As can be expected, any party in a lengthy supply chain that fails to meet its obligations under the proposed legislation will, at least in the first instance, be held liable by HMRC for any monies due. However, in a move intended to protect the public purpose, HMRC proposes that any liability will transfer back up the supply chain where HMRC finds itself unable to recover the monies due. This may ultimately fall back on you in some instances. In HMRC’s view, this, therefore, requires that the right incentives are in place so that all parties in the supply chain not only comply but are also ensuring the compliance of others further down the line.

 Right of Appeal

HMRC is also promising to introduce a statutory appeal process. The absence of any such process in the 2017 public sector legislation left many workers exposed to inappropriate decisions and even the subject of a blanket employment status decision without a right of appeal. This was seen as a severe oversight in AAT’s opinion.

What Action to Take

You should take steps to ensure that you’re aware of this new change and ask yourself how you might be affected. As HMRC has only recently closed its consultation response window, the department will still be sifting through a deluge of response, and the final legislation still resembles shifting sands. Consequently, we are issuing a health warning to the effect that nothing is certain until the underpinning legislation has been passed. Having acknowledged that our advice is built on nothing more robust than the legislative equivalent of these shifting sands, we are outlining the fundaments of what is currently proposed: 

  • From 6 April 2020, medium and large businesses will need to decide whether the rules apply to an engagement with individuals who work through their own company.
  • Where it is determined that the rules do apply, the business, agency, or third party paying the worker’s company will need to deduct income tax and employee NICs and pay employer NICs.
  • HMRC has promised to revamp its CEST tool to help businesses determine whether the off-payroll working rules apply.

Finally

We’ll be keeping a close eye on this challenging IR35 issue and closely monitoring future developments, and if there are any updates, we’ll let you know.

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you make sense out of these payment & tax rules and help your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

Watch the video here.

 

 

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What You Should Know About Commercial Vehicles

What You Should Know About Commercial Vehicles

When it comes to commercial vehicles, when is a van not a van?

If you use commercial vehicles, you’d want to urge HMRC to provide clarity and consistency on the tax treatment of commercial vehicles such as VW Kombi Vans marketed as goods vehicles. You may or may not be aware of a ruling in an important tax tribunal case involving “vans” provided to employees of Coca Cola. The court has upheld the HMRC view that certain vehicles are not goods vehicles, but motor cars for benefit in kind purposes. Consequently, the income tax and national insurance payable by you as an employee and you as an employer, is significantly higher than if the vehicles had been classified as goods vehicles.

Certain vans / commercial vehicles are exempt from income tax

In addition, there is no assessable benefit in kind, whether you use a van only for business journeys or for private use. Examples would include making a slight detour to pick up a newspaper on the way to work, or taking an old mattress or other rubbish to the tip once or twice a year.

Income tax definition of “Goods Vehicle”

So how does the income tax legislation define a “goods vehicle”? It is defined as “a vehicle of a construction primarily suited for the conveyance of goods or burden of any description…”  Although the VW Kombi vans failed this test, the Tribunal held that Vauxhall Vivaro vans provided by Coca Cola did fall within the definition of goods vehicles! We understand that this case is due to be heard at the Court of Appeal. This will undoubtedly provide legal precedent over the tax treatment. Until then it gives you, as an employer, a dilemma as to how to report such vehicles on employees’ form P11d and also whether the position in earlier years should be rectified. You should note that the tribunal had to seek evidence from automotive industry experts, so how are you, as an employer, expected to interpret the rules?! What is also particularly confusing, and thus difficult for your business to deal with, is that the benefit in kind rules are not the same as the rules for capital allowances and VAT.

Capital allowances definition of “Motor Car” 

The definition of a “motor car” for plant and machinery allowances purposes is a mechanically propelled vehicle except a vehicle:

  1.  Constructed in such a way that it is primarily suited for transporting goods of any sort, or
    2. Of a type which is not commonly used as a private vehicle and is not suitable for use as a private vehicle.

VAT definition of “Motor Car”

For VAT purposes, the definition of a motor car has been amended several times over the years. The current definition states: “Motor car” means any motor vehicle of a kind normally used on public roads which has three or more wheels and either:

a) Is constructed or adapted solely or mainly for the carriage of passengers; or

b) Has to the rear of the driver’s seat roofed accommodation which is fitted with side windows or which is constructed or adapted for the fitting of side windows;

There is a number of exceptions to this rule, notably vehicles constructed to carry a payload of one tonne or more. A common example would be a “double cab” pick-up such as a Mitsubishi L200 or Toyota Hilux. 

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you make sense out of these payment & tax rules and help your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

Watch the video here.

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How To Organise Your Tasks More Effectively

How To Organise Your Tasks More Effectively

Your Tasks Organised And Simplified

 

Tasks Balancing Act

The daily grind, for most of us, can feel like a constant juggling act. You attempt to balance work, household chores, bills, family – and hopefully some leisure in between if there’s any time leftover. In fact, trying to find time for things you enjoy – or for projects to improve yourself – can often feel impossible. And you could feel it’s incredibly frustrating to not move forward with things you truly value. Besides, It’s just as frustrating for you to get stuck under a tower of tasks that never seems to get any smaller…

Tasks Stats

Did you know that an online poll by the Mental Health Foundation found that “in the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope”. In addition, a report by ACAS, the workplace experts, had similar findings. You might be surprised to further know that 66% of poll respondents, had felt stressed or anxious about work over the past year – and that 35% struggled to balance home and work lives. This, in turn, encouraged us to look into a helpful and less disheartening way to improve task organisation.

Tasks Apps and Tools

One example of this is for you, to embrace online apps and tools available to you. As these can support your progress, and break an expanding task list into manageable segments. What this then does, is to prevent you from falling into the pattern of trying to complete multiple tasks simultaneously, while considering other items that may need to be started soon. This is a common mistake that can lead you to feel overwhelmed. As your effort to move forward becomes mentally taxing and prevents your progress. So, we encourage you to condense the mass of tasks you may currently be working on, into a more manageable and visually pleasing format. And to help you do that, you could use scheduling style techniques, such as Personal Kanban, and post-it note-style tools, like Trello boards. Both strategies encourage you to break down your to-do list into two main areas – which are followed by a “done” or “complete” column.

To Do / Options / Ideas

Right, so you should use this column (or two columns if you would like to separate your ideas from the general to-do list) for everything you currently have pending. Trello will allow you to organise this further, with handy coloured labels and due dates, etc. If you actually view this list alone, you can unfortunately slip back into your habit of trying to tackle as many tasks as possible, and struggle to complete tasks at a standard you’re happy with.

Doing / In progress

Carrying on, the “In Progress” list, according to the Personal Kanban, should be restricted to three tasks. Effectively allowing you to clearly focus on your tasks, and also giving you the ability to complete them, without reaching a mental block. You should resist the temptation to add any more than three, or to add tasks that should be broken down into multiple tasks. For example, if your task is to start a new business or write a new business strategy, it will obstruct your progress instantly. These need to be broken down further.

Complete / Done

Although this column may appear self-explanatory, not all your tasks are indefinitely complete. For example, self-assessment is an annual business task you complete on a yearly basis. Once you have completed it, you can then add a due date, and, once relevant, you can move the card back to the To Do column. For your other completed tasks, it’s simply rewarding to see them move over to the completed column. And enjoy the sense of satisfaction as the list grows!

We hope this simple concept can help you manage your planning and task lists.  

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

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Did You Know About These Tax-Free Benefits?

Did You Know About These Tax-Free Benefits?

Tax Doesn’t Have To Be Taxing!

When it comes to tax, it’s not every day you can enjoy tax free benefits, which, incidentally, also apply to Summer activities… Here are 2 great benefits you can take advantage of right now!

A Staff Summer Party Can Be A Tax-Free Benefit

Your organisation may have an annual Christmas party for staff, but the tax rules also allow staff parties at other times of the year, which are a tax-free benefit, if certain conditions are satisfied. The exemption applies to an annual party (for example, a Christmas party. Or similar annual function (for example, a summer barbecue), provided for employees and is available to all employees. Or it is available to all employees at that location, where the employer has more than one location. If the employer provides two or more annual parties or functions, no tax charge arises in respect of the party, or parties, for which cost(s) per head do not exceed £150 in aggregate. For each function the cost per head should be calculated. The cost per head of subsequent functions should be added. If the total cost per head goes over £150, then whichever functions best utilise the £150 are exempt, the other is taxable.

 

Make School Holidays Easier with Tax-Free Childcare

Did you know there is a government scheme available that can help contribute towards childcare costs? Which may mean fewer of your employees will need time off at the same time this summer. Tax-Free Childcare is a scheme available to working parents, with children from 0-11 years, and many parents are not taking advantage of the scheme. HMRC has said it would welcome help from employers in changing that. So please tell your employees about Tax-Free Childcare, and how it can reduce their childcare costs. Eligible parents can get up to £2,000 per child, per year to spend on qualifying childcare (effectively a 25% top up). Note that Tax-Free Childcare isn’t just for everyday childcare costs, such as childminders and nurseries, parents can also use it to pay towards the cost of: 

  •  After school clubs
  •  Summer camps
  • School holiday activities 

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you make sense out of tax and help your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

Watch the video here.

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How To Manage Employees With A Side Business

How To Manage Employees With A Side Business

25% of UK Employees Run A Side Business

Did you know that a recent study suggests that 25% of UK employees are running at least one business project alongside their day job?

What Is A Side Business?

You would define a side business as a secondary business or job that brings in, or has potential to bring in, extra income. As such, It is particularly popular among millennials, who tend to start a side project as a hobby or in order to explore a new challenge. And millennials tend to have different attitudes towards work and technology. They are also used to being able to work from anywhere, using a smartphone or a tablet.

Employees With A Side Activity Feel more Content

Did you also know that various studies have shown that employees who have a side business, report feeling happier and more content. However as a business employer, you may view a side activity as a negative distraction from your employee’s day jobs.

The truth is that many of your best employees may have a side activity and you might need to be more supportive. A side job can actually be a good thing as long as it doesn’t involve working for one of your competitors or doing anything that might damage your main business, as an employer.

Employees With A Side Job Learn New Skills With No Cost To You

Your employees could actually learn new and useful skills from running their own side activity. They can gain real-life experience, in customer service, as well as project management or budgeting that can be applied,  in their day job. From your perspective as an employer, your employees are gaining new skills that can make them better at their jobs and you won’t need to pay for any training. In addition, and you may not realise this, but further research studies have found that employees who have the drive to work a side job, are more likely to be innovative, proactive, and organised. They are also more likely to come up with new ideas, which they have gained through their own new experiences. Hence benefitting you and your business two-fold.

Employees With A Side Activity Want to Remain In Full Employment

However, and you should note that, according to a well-known careers website recent survey, over 70% of employees with a side business want to remain in full time employment. They don’t want their side job to become their full time job, as it’s more of a hobby / passion that just happens to create an income.

Get Used To The Side Business Trend!

It seems that the side business trend is here to stay and if you are an employer, you need to shift your view – a side business is a positive thing. However, you should also consider adding a non-compete clause to contracts, just to ensure that there is no temptation for your employees, to side hustle in any way that could damage your business.

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

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6 Ways an App Can Support Your Business Growth

6 Ways an App Can Support Your Business Growth

The use of smartphones has changed dramatically over the past decade: it’s gone from being merely a gadget to an increasingly used and important lifestyle and business tool. A report by Ofcom (the UK regulator for the communications services) referred to this change in our use of this technology as the ‘Smartphone obsession. Ofcom’s Director of Market Intelligence, Ian Macrae, said: “Over the last decade, people’s lives have been transformed by the rise of the smartphone, together with better access to the internet and new services. “Whether it’s working flexibly, keeping up with current affairs or shopping online, we can do more on the move than ever before. “ The report found that 72% of adults say that their smartphone is their most important device for accessing the internet; 71% say they never turn off their phone; and 78% say they could not live without it. The amazing thing is that these figures still appear to be rising. So, most importantly for you, how can mobile phones and mobile apps support and help your business grow? We have six approaches for you to consider.

1. Access to tools and resources around the clock

In general, our demands and expectations towards finding information, and towards the length of time it should take to find it, have vastly increased. The information we need, should be readily available, and, buffering and tedious searching will often be cut short, so we can try something else. Generally, we’re always on the lookout for a better user experience. Apps provide you with the opportunity to compile your information and resources into one streamlined solution, which can be accessed whenever it is convenient for you – with no waiting time. Apps can provide solutions for all your downloadable resources, communication requests, client referrals, marketing incentives, video content, up-to-date news, software, secure content sharing, tax updates, tax calculators and so much more.  

2. A new marketing and communications channel

An app can be an additional channel in your current marketing mix. Use it for targeted marketing, with geolocation tools which can filter customers according to where they are based. Your user can also set permissions and personalisations which tailor the app to be suitable to their preferred working methods. You can also send Push notifications to bespoke categories allowing only the most relevant alerts and reminders – for example, a deadline notification, an event RSVP, perhaps a special offer, or new content which is available in the app. Video content can be added to your app where your clients can access your most recent uploads with business advice, tutorials, and any other content you wish to include.

3. Gather consumer data

By fully utilising your app to streamline business processes, you can collect data on how your clients engage with the app. What content are they accessing, and how regularly do they use it? Which resources are most popular, and which resources are not used? You can then investigate what other services your clients require to get them more engaged with your service offering. Naturally, and in line with privacy regulations, this provides a directional view of your customer behaviour. In order to get more specific, you will then need to ask permission from your clients and to store their information securely, and in line with GDPR regulation.

4. A new contact and sharing solution

Today, there are plenty of quick options enabling your clients to get in touch with you, and any of them can be featured on your app.  It just depends on what you would prefer. To name a few, you could take client referrals via an app module, through meeting requests, and even by video calling.

5. Optimising business workflows

Whether your business is a complex manufacturing process or whether it manages a sales pipeline, apps can provide a convenient and efficient way to optimise your business workflow. For example, consider your salesperson taking business cards, who later records your client information from them. Through an app, you could streamline this process, through an off-the-shelf CRM, or through a bespoke module which can take a photo and automatically scan the data into the system.

6. Improved user experience through Smartphone capabilities

When considering using or developing your own app for your business, consider how you can leverage the technology inherent in the smartphone device – whether that’s Bluetooth, GPS, face recognition, or voice recognition. A common example is to use your camera to interact with QR Codes. If you are a firm with stock management, this approach can be used so that you can quickly assess product details through a simple scan of the code. In addition, consider how you can use GPS tracking, for example, to indicate where your package is being delivered and the estimated time of arrival. Lastly, interactions don’t need to be limited to typing. With voice recognition, apps can take on more of an “assistant” role, which you can engage with through voice commands and instructions.  In summary, whatever your business, there is an ever-growing need for the mobile workforce to have their office in their hand. Apps provide this capability, and, through bespoke development, your app can take on its own unique form and help accelerate and grow your business.

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

 

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Freelancer: 5 Top Tips For Successful Freelancing

Freelancer: 5 Top Tips For Successful Freelancing

What does it take to be a successful freelancer?

Here are 5 top tips for keeping your freelancer work organised, healthy, and successful! Although it’s not possible to provide a one-size-fits-all plan, these tips will certainly help to keep your freelancing affairs in shape. 

 

1. Draw up a freelancer contract

Regardless of your skillset – whether it’s graphic design, project management, or writing – every new client project needs to be issued with a contract. While, at the outset, dispute might be far from your mind, this is the go-to document that others will seek to review should any disagreement arise later. If you’re new to freelancing, then a contract template is a great place to start – to avoid you getting too preoccupied with creating the perfect contract. You can then add more information, where necessary and make improvements along the way. Even the simplest contract should include all the following key terms:

  • The nature of your engagement and the services you’ve agreed to perform
  • Assurances your client’s information will be kept confidentially
  • How much you will be paid, and when, throughout the project
  • Details of any ownership of intellectual property
  • Once your work has been accepted by the client, the client also accepts full responsibility for any use of the project files moving forward
  • Details of liability insurance
  • Cancellation procedure for you and your client
  • Membership of relevant professional bodies

2. Agree payment terms before starting a project

A big issue with freelancing is ensuring you’re paid enough, you’re paid on time – and you are actually paid. Therefore, to ensure you’re going to get paid, it’s best to agree your payment terms upfront. This is better than diving into a new project, and trying to resolve payment later. Depending on the nature of your contract under negotiation, a successful payment structure could be to request 50% upfront, and the remaining 50% upon completion – but before you deliver the completed project files. In cases where the contract is of an ongoing nature, you may wish to agree staged payments, whereby money is paid after you have passed milestones, pre-agreed in your contract. You may also want to consider regular instalments. The price you choose to charge as a freelancer should include time spent on tasks such as sourcing clients, preparing proposals, sending/managing invoices, meetings, and other items which are required to run your freelancing business. By not considering these tasks in your pricing, you run the risk of not being paid sufficiently.

3. Be prepared to say ‘no’

When in the process of agreeing the terms of your project, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. It’s too easy to get caught up in the moment and agree to everything your client asks – because you want the project and you want a happy client. But promising too much can come with a whole array of problems. It could end with you spending too long on an increasingly unprofitable project, and risk you not being able to deliver the project in the agreed timescale.

4. Create a freelancer portfolio

Create a portfolio of projects, in which you specialise, to showcase to prospective clients. We encourage you to include projects specifically in your specialist area – rather than putting together a portfolio of everything you’ve ever worked on. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to stick to, then make sure you do. Don’t take on those projects you fear you’re going to struggle to complete, or that may take you too long to deliver. This portfolio will also ensure clients best understand the work you’re able to deliver, and the expected standard they’re going to receive. If a client’s asking for work outside of this scope, be transparent about what you are / are not able to offer them.

5. Stay on top of your finances!

As a freelancer, it’s vital to view your finances as a small business owner would. Make sure you’re on top of your numbers, and ask yourself the following:

  • What is my business revenue?
  • What is my monthly living expenditure?
  • How many visits is my website getting each month?
  • What is my most popular service?
  • How much time is spent on each project, and am I providing accurate estimates?

If you’re a long-term freelancer, then you may want to consider how you’re allocating your earnings. For example, are you saving for VAT, business expenses, and making pension contributions? These are hugely important considerations in the long run. If you’re unsure how to best plan for these business costs, please contact us for more guidance, around planning for your business, and your personal financial affairs!  

 

Lotuswise Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants can help you and your business succeed. To find out how, please contact us. To also get even more useful business and finance information and tax advice tips, check out our app on Google or Apple stores.

Watch the video here.

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