Cooper Curtis is 5 years old!

Cooper Curtis Accountants, based near Southam, Warwickshire, celebrate their 5th anniversary this November.

Cooper Curtis provide specialised accountancy services for the recruitment industry.

Co-partner Brian Dormer says, '‘We are looking forward to introducing more client focussed services and to reaching out to others to share our success with them’

happy-birthday.jpg

For more information on the bespoke services we offer contact us on 0845 303 1144 or email info@coopercurtis.co.uk  to see how we can help. 

Agencies, are you up to date with Employment Intermediary Reporting?

Since 2015, it has been a requirement for all employment agencies who act as an intermediary to file quarterly reports to HMRC.

The workers details and payment details are supplied on a simple excel spreadsheet in a format given by HMRC, each quarter, by the 5th of the following month. If no workers were supplied in a particular quarter, a nil report must still be submitted by the deadline date.

The main reason HMRC brought in this reporting was to satisfy HMRC that PAYE should not have been operated on their payments and to tackle false self-employment.

Failure to submit these reports or submitting an inaccurate report can run into the £1,000's after a third offence so it is paramount that these are submitted with care. 

You will need to sign up to HMRC's unique online service in order to file these reports here.

You must use HMRC’s template to input the details which can be found here.

Should you require any assistance in preparing and submitting these reports, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Post by Caroline

Post by Caroline

Please note, all our content is for general guideline only, every case is different and we would recommend speaking to us before taking any action as a result of the content. The content was correct at the time it was published

Staying safe online...

Responding to the wrong email could spell disaster... Caroline looks at ways to prevent this happening in your company.

The recent ransom-ware cyber attacks brought chaos to companies across the world. Small to Medium size firms will often be the target for criminals because they believe their chances of defeating security and gaining access are higher and once in, they can attack larger potentially more valuable organisations that have a relationship with the SME using compromised email accounts to phish contacts, customers and suppliers. 

As much as 1 in 10 individuals will fall victim to phishing attacks via email and unwittingly allow criminals access to unsecured networks. 

Because the phishing email is personalised, and appears to come from a recognised contact, many of these beat email security and are delivered to the inbox. Not expecting an attack, the recipient unknowingly opens the email and downloads an attachment, or clicking on a link, or entering in passwords releasing malware or ransom-ware into the device and across the system. 

Criminals are getting more and more sophisticated with their attacks and they only have to get lucky once.

So what should I look out for in emails?

The sender

Look very carefully and ask yourself do you know this person and is this their usual email address?

Subject

You should always give your email a meaningful subject and expect to receive the same. Does the subject contain spelling mistakes, or excessive punctuation? Is it irrelevant or poorly written?

Content

Fraudulent emails will typically ask for you to do an action, such as download an attachment or visit a website. Be wary of emails that ask for personal information and wiht a phishing email there is usually an urgency to the email. 

Be wary of links in emails that could take you to a malicious website which poses as a normal looking one. 

Attachments

Attachments can transmit viruses so open only when expecting an email. 

Advice

You should periodically change your passwords, and make them tough to guess. Use letters, numbers and symbols if allowed. 

Check that security training is included in any induction process. It is important to explain phishing to reduce the risk of being caught by a cyber attack. Always be alert and follow the news and think before clicking links and replying to emails.

Shop only on websites with https and the padlock icon showing in the address bar.

When making purchases, use credit card over debit card as they are more likely to reimburse you for fraudulent transactions

Back up all your data regularly in the event of loss, theft or ransom demand and be careful when using wifi in cafe's, hotels etc and ensure it is the genuine network so ask the staff who work there. NEVER undertake purchases over an open network and remember if it sounds too good to be true, it's likely to be a scam. 

Post by Caroline

Post by Caroline

The benefits of Regular Accounting

 

  • See your profitability in real time

  • Up to date view of your business

  • Stay in control of your business

  • Allows a business to make informed decisions throughout the year

  • A better relationship with your Accountant - bounce ideas of each other and have more contact

  • Streamline processes

  • Access your accounts anywhere any time

  • Make better use of your time

  • improve efficiency

The Cooper Curtis team are all Xero Certified advisors, for more information contact us on 0845 303 1144 or email info@coopercurtis.co.uk.

 

 

With less than 2 weeks to go until Brian's Cycle Challenge for Maggie's, find out how his training is going!

Brian at Tissington Hall, Derbyshire

Brian at Tissington Hall, Derbyshire

On Sunday 30th April at 9am, Brian will embark on a challenging 50 mile cycle from Maggie's Oxford to Maggie's Cheltenham in aid of raising money for the fantastic support Maggie's centres offer to people living with cancer and their families. Brian has been training hard since January and here is a recent update from him; 

‘Well, there's less than 2 weeks to go until my 50 miles Charity Cycle ride for Maggie’s Cancer Charity. My training is going well and my cycle team member, Sarah Allen has kindly accompanied me to help spur me along. I cycled 40 miles on the Tissington Trail in Derbyshire 2 weeks ago and completed another 20 miles over the Easter weekend. 

A big thank you to those who have kindly sponsored me so far and there is still time for you to help me reach my £1,000 target for Maggie’s.’

You can donate to Brian's just giving page below, or email him on brian@coopercurtis.co.uk to make an offline donation.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/CooperCurtis

When do I need to fill in a Tax Return?

You may be wondering why you have been sent a notice to complete a tax return, or whether or not you should be completing one for the year.

The list below explains when you need to prepare a self assessment, but should you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us; 

  • You were self employed at any point of the tax year (runs from 6 April to 5 April)
  • You received more than £2,500 of un-taxed income for renting property or from un-taxed savings
  • You received dividend income of over £5,000 in the year
  • Your investment income was £10,000 or more before tax
  • You made a profit from selling a second property or shares and owe Capital Gains Tax
  • You are a company director
  • Your income was more than £50,000 and you or your partner claimed Child benefit
  • You received overseas income and need to pay UK tax on it
  • You lived abroad and need to pay tax on your UK income
  • Your income was over £100,000 for the tax year
  • You were trustee of a trust or registered pension scheme
  • If HMRC have issued you with a tax return, you must still complete and submit it

If you would like any advice on whether or not you should be completing a Self Assessment, or would like help completing and filing a tax return, please call 0845 303 1144 or email info@coopercurtis.co.uk 

Post by Caroline

Post by Caroline

 Please note, all our content is for general guideline only, every case is different and we would recommend speaking to us before taking any action as a result of the content. The content was correct at the time it was published.

The Not so 'Trivial' Benefits Exemption

Tax-free Trivial Benefits

A little known and underused tax free perk is the trivial benefits exemption.

A benefit provided to an employee is classed as a trivial benefit and therefore tax free for not only them, but a tax deduction for the employer too, provided that;

  1. It is less than £50, if given as a voucher it is non cash transferable,
  2. It is NOT a reward for services,
  3. And, it isn't included in the terms of an employee’s contract.

Examples

Trivial benefits could include, a gift voucher, a bunch of flowers, a meal out for employees under £50 per head.

To avoid the reward for service rule, the benefits could be given for a birthday, or a turkey or bottle of wine at Christmas, the birth of a child or a bereavement.

There is no limit to employees!

HMRC’s legislation does not state how many times per year you can give a trivial benefit to your employees. But be wise! Obviously a £50 gift every working day of the year would ring HMRC's alarm bells so we would advise that any trivial benefits made in the year are made as a gesture rather than a frequent payment.

Does this apply to company directors too?

Yes it does! To limit company directors taking advantage of this tax freebie, HMRC will allow trivial benefits provided to directors up to a value of £300 per year. So that’s a payment up to £50 once every two months. If your spouse is also a director that is another saving of £300 and a potential tax saving of £335 if both higher rate tax payers!

For more information on trivial benefits and other tax saving opportunities, contact Cooper Curtis on 0845 303 1144 or email info@coopercurtis.co.uk

POST BY CAROLINE

POST BY CAROLINE

Please note, all our content is for general guideline only, every case is different and we would recommend speaking to us before taking any action as a result of the content. The content was correct at the time it was published.

Chancellor makes shock U-Turn! Cooper Curtis comment on Spring Budget

Last week saw Philip Hammond deliver his first Spring Budget as Chancellor. There were a few shock announcements on the day, one being the dividends allowance now reduced to just £2,000 from next year prompting some in-year tax planning for our limited company clients. 

After a heavy backlash from his opposition about tax rises, the chancellor has now abolished his plans to raise the Class 4 National Insurance from April 2018 one week after delivering his budget bringing a sigh of relief to many self-employed people. 

The changes proposed where the contractors IR35 status will be decided by the public body they are contracted with is still going ahead beginning from April 2017. 

If you have any questions regarding any topics covered in the Budget or would like any advice, please give us a call on 0845 303 1144 or email info@coopercurtis.co.uk.

 Please note, all our content is for general guideline only, every case is different and we would recommend speaking to us before taking any action as a result of the content. The content was correct at the time it was published.

Help Brian on his way to raise money for Maggies' centres

Cooper Curtis announced that Maggies' centres would be our charity of choice for 2017 earlier in the year and in our first fundraising event of 2017, Brian will be cycling from the Maggies' centre in Oxford, to the Maggies' centre in Cheltenham on Sunday 30 April 2017 totalling 50 miles!

Brian decided to challenge himself having been used to little or no exercise and has been training hard since January and hopes to reach his target of £1,000 for the Maggies' centre based in Oxford.

You can help Brian on his journey by reading his story and visiting our Justgiving page here;

Donate here and support Brian's journey

 

New National Minimum wage and living wage rates

From 1 April  2017, rates for minimum wage and living wage will be rising to;

  • National Living Wage (For workers 25 and over) £7.50 per hour
  • Workers between 21 and 25 is £7.05 per hour
  • Workers between 18 and 20 is £5.60 per hour
  • Workers under 18 is £4.05 per hour
  • Apprentice rate is £3.50 (aged 16-18 or 19 if in first year ) All other apprentices are entitled to min wage according to their age

For more information on the national living wage or minimum wage, please contact us on 0845 303 114 or info@coopercurtis.co.uk

Please note, all our content is for general guideline only, every case is different and we would recommend speaking to us before taking any action as a result of the content. The content was correct at the time it was published

Employment Intermediary Reporting

In 2015, employment intermediary reports became compulsory for agencies supplying workers and filed on a quarterly basis.

The workers details and payment details are supplied on a simple excel spreadsheet in a format given by HMRC, each quarter, by the 5th of the following month. If no workers were supplied in a particular quarter, a nil report must still be submitted. 

The main reason HMRC brought in this reporting was to satisfy HMRC that PAYE should not have been operated on their payments and to tackle false self-employment.

Failure to submit these reports or submitting an inaccurate report can run into the £1,000's after a third offence so it is paramount that these are submitted with care. 

You will need to sign up to HMRC's unique online service in order to file these reports.

The intermediary report template can be found on our website under Recruitment resources

For more information on intermediary reporting, please contact us on 0845 303 114 or info@coopercurtis.co.uk 

Post by Caroline

Post by Caroline

Please note, all our content is for general guideline only, every case is different and we would recommend speaking to us before taking any action as a result of the content. The content was correct at the time it was published

How will changes to the VAT Flat Rate Scheme affect your business?

From April 2017, those businesses classed as 'limited cost traders' will be automatically required to use the flat rate percentage of 16.5% when calculating their VAT.

The VAT Flat Rate scheme is available to businesses with turnover of £150,000 per annum or less. Before April, is it calculated as a percentage determined by the type of business performed by the sales figure in that quarter and the balance paid over to HMRC. It provided advantages to those service companies who's overheads were low. 

What's a 'limited cost trader'?

Changes to the scheme will mean a business will be required to check actual spending it's spending on 'goods' each quarter and if spending is either less than £250 in the quarter or less than 2% or its gross sales for that period, then the business will have to use 16.5% as their VAT flat rate percentage.

Goods includes, supplies of gas and electricity and exclude vehicles, fuel, motor expenses, capital goods and food and drink. Rent, telephone and internet are classed as services so are also excluded. 

Conclusion

HMRC have brought in the changes to not only limit the advantages to using the flat rate scheme but also, it is gearing up to HMRC's 'making tax digital' changes next year where quarterly reporting will become mandatory. 

The changes will see more time spent on administration by the business owner on analysing purchases made in the quarter. It would be necessary to see whether it is worth continuing under the scheme and paying 16.5% or deregistering depending on the circumstance.

If you have any concerns regarding changes to the VAT Flat rate scheme, please contact us on 0845 303 1144 or email info@coopercurtis.co.uk.

POST BY CAROLINE

POST BY CAROLINE

Please note, all our content is for general guideline only, every case is different and we would recommend speaking to us before taking any action as a result of the content. The content was correct at the time it was published

Please beware of scam HMRC emails!

It's that time of year when scammers prey on cash strapped tax payers after Christmas. If you receive ANY email from HMRC saying that your are entitled to a refund there is a high probability that it will be a scam. HMRC will not contact you via an email address they are just not sophisticated enough to have these details for every tax payer.

Some of our clients have received very convincing emails asking them to fill in their bank details. PLEASE do not click on any links within the email or fill out ANY forms. It could not only download harmful viruses onto our computer, but unfortunately if you get that far, scammers could wipe your entire bank account.

HMRC will only contact you about a possible refund via post. If you are still unsure always ring the HMRC helpline to confirm that you are in fact entitled to a refund.

Here is an example of the beginning of a convincing scam email we have recently received;

If you would like any help on anything we have mentioned in our blog, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0845 303 1144 or email info@coopercurtis.co.uk. 

POST BY CAROLINE

Higher earning family?... Your state pension may not be protected!

The child benefit claw back for higher earners (those earning over £50,000) was first introduced back in January 2013, and meant those who claimed the benefit had to pay it back through a charge on their tax return. 

However, mothers with children born after 6 April 2013 may not realise that by not claiming this benefit as their partner is a higher earner, this could leave them with a big gap in their national insurance record affecting their state pension entitlements.

If this applies to you, take action now!

If you or your partner fall into this category, you should either claim child benefit and include the tax charge on the higher earner's tax return, or fill out the form CH2 to claim the child benefit at 0%. Those qualifying years will then be protected up until the child is 12.

Those who claimed child benefit before 2013 will still be protected until their child is 12. If you don't claim for children born January 2013 and onwards, you could be missing out on those all important contributions especially for those not returning to work once the child has reached 12.

To qualify for a state pension, you now need 35 years of NI contributions. 

Blog by Caroline

Blog by Caroline

 

 

If you would like further information on anything outlined above, please contact Cooper Curtis on 0845 303 1144 or email info@coopercurtis.co.uk.

Please note, all our content is for general guideline only, every case is different and we would recommend speaking to us before taking any action as a result of the content. The content was correct at the time it was published

 

Our chosen charity for 2017

Our chosen charity that we will be supporting in 2017 will be Maggie’s, who's centres provide practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their families. We will be kicking off our 2017 Sponsorship with a Christmas donation to them. A sponsored bike ride from Oxford to Cheltenham is planned by our team in early 2017 so we will be in training after the Christmas excesses!

We hope that you find our 2017 content interesting and helpful to you and look forward to interacting with you in future.

Best Wishes,
Brian and the team

Running your Recruitment Agency from home

In our latest blog, Brian discusses the benefits of running a Recruitment Agency from home

 

Most newly established Recruitment Agencies we meet operate from their home address with possibly their registered company address held at their accountants, a way of keeping overheads to a minimum which is so important in the initial first few years of trading.

A 24 hour business landline telephone can be easily purchased to point at your mobile to receive business calls.

There are also companies who offer managed admin services answering your calls in your agency name and then passing the details onto you to follow up as soon as you can. This creates the impression of you being a larger agency.

You may have considered, or put into action some or all of the above but what if you reach the point of overload and need help in-house?

In my next blog, I will discuss taking on another fee earner and support staff to accommodate your business expansion and the issues you might face.

Blog from Brian

Blog from Brian

Meanwhile, please feel free to contact us anytime on 0845 303 1144 to see how we can improve on the services you currently receive

Please note, all our content is for general guideline only, every case is different and we would recommend speaking to us before taking any action as a result of the content. The content was correct at the time it was published.

 

Are you looking to save money through a Childcare voucher Scheme?

A question we get often asked by our recruitment director clients' is; 

'Should I be operating a childcare voucher scheme through my own limited company?'

The facts.

An employer operating the Childcare voucher scheme will allow each parent paying basic rate tax, up to £55 per week or £243 per month tax free childcare for children up to the age of 15. Higher rate tax paying parents are allowed up to £28 p/wk and £124 p/mth respectively. Any vouchers exceeding this amount are subject to tax and NI and must be included on a form P11D. 

So, many limited company directors who employ their spouses, have use of twice the amount of vouchers. 

It works by having either a deduction in your salary (via a salary sacrifice) saving tax &NI, or having an addition to your salary, and having it as a company expense. 

Care needs to be taken when coming to a decision on which option to take. 

How it's done.

  • Your childcare provider must be registered with the OFSTED scheme. You can find out this information from the OFSTED website.

  • Set your scheme up IN YOUR COMPANY'S NAME through HMRC or pay for a scheme administrator such as Kiddivouchers or Edenred to do this for you.  

  • If you choose to use a scheme administrator they will charge commission on supplying the vouchers for this but is allowed as an additional business expense. (Yet more tax savings!) 

  • Payments MUST be made through the company bank.

The future of the Childcare Voucher Scheme.

The childcare voucher scheme is running out and no further parents can apply to join the scheme after April 2018.

You may already be aware of the Government's new 'Tax-free childcare' scheme which is being introduced from 2017. It will then be necessary for parents to decide which scheme would be more beneficial to them. There are more strict conditions with this new scheme. For example, both parents must be working and earning over a certain amount to enter the scheme.

How it works under the new 'Tax-free childcare' for every 80p paid into the scheme, the government will top this up by 20p up to a total of £10,000. For parents with lower childcare costs such as a couple of days a week, the current childcare voucher scheme may be more beneficial to them.

To conclude, in my opinion it is beneficial to enter the scheme and operate the vouchers through your limited company as long as your administration costs stay low and the costs don't outweigh the benefit. We will see what happens when the new 'Tax-free childcare' scheme is introduced next year and whether my view will change.

post by caroline

post by caroline

If you would like further information on how to set up a childcare scheme through your own limited company, please contact Cooper Curtis on 0845 303 1144 or email info@coopercurtis.co.uk.

Please note, all our content is for general guideline only, every case is different and we would recommend speaking to us before taking any action as a result of the content. The content was correct at the time it was published

National Minimum Wage change to age bands from 1st October

From the 1st October 2016, the national minimum wage rates for the different age bands and for apprentices are increasing.

The new rates from next month will be as follows;

From October 2016 - April 2017

Adult rate (21+)NLW (25+)        £7.20

 Adult Rate (21-24)                    £6.95

YDR (18-20)                               £5.55

16-17 Yr Old Rate                       £4.00

Apprentice Rate                        £3.40

 

Please ensure your current payroll system is compliant in advance of the changes.

POST BY CAROLINE

POST BY CAROLINE

 

If you would like more information on the minimum wage requirements or have a payroll query, please contact us on 0845 303 1144 or email info@coopercurtis.co.uk. 

Please note, all our content is for general guideline only, every case is different and we would recommend speaking to us before taking any action as a result of the content. The content was correct at the time it was published

Key person protection

Key person protection is a business insuring itself against the financial loss it would suffer if a key person in their business died or were diagnosed with a critical illness.

The policy is owned and paid for by the employer, so any pay out is payable to the employer. A key person is an individual whose skill, knowledge, experience or leadership contributes to the financial success of a business and could be one of a number of people within the business such as the;

  • Chairman
  • Managing director
  • Marketing manager
  • Computer specialist
  • Sales manager

Anyone whose death could lead to financial loss for the business through:

  • Loss of profits
  • Having to recruit or train a replacement
  • Important business contracts being lost if the key person is not there to maintain relationships
  • Customers and suppliers losing confidence in the busines

Why do I need Key Person Protection?

Key Person Protection is designed to pay out a lump sum on the death of the insured key person, during the length of the policy. It is paid as a lump sum and could significantly help the business to recover. The proceeds can be used to help replace lost profit or finding and hiring a replacement.

post by brian

post by brian

 

If you would like to consider the possibilities of how your business can benefit from protecting itself against the loss of key people or shareholders please contact me on 0845 303 1144 or email brian@coopercurtis.co.uk to discuss this further. 

Please note, all our content is for general guideline only, every case is different and we would recommend speaking to us before taking any action as a result of the content. The content was correct at the time it was published