Deal with your tax return early and help with your cashflow
There is a tendency for many of us to leave our tax returns until the last minute. It’s human nature to want to delay dealing with something we find uncomfortable.
However, if you get your tax return for the tax year completed sooner rather than later, you will have some benefits that could help you through the cost-of-living crisis.
A primary benefit to dealing with your tax return early is knowing it is out of the way. For some this may be less of an issue, but as accountants get busier as the tax payment deadlines approach, it can be difficult to give a return as much attention as we could at other times.
By getting your tax return calculations done early, not only are you helping your accountant to spread his or her workload in a more manageable way, more importantly for you, you will know exactly what your bill is going to be early in the year. This may make it possible to free up some of the money you had set aside to pay the bill if it is lower than you had expected.
For businesses, this could mean having extra cash to invest in expanding the business, paying off debt, or hiring an extra full or part-time employee to move the business forwards. For individuals, this money could help offset the current cost-of-living crisis we are in by giving you extra cash to cover rising energy or food bills.
Paying tax early
Remember, just because you have had the tax return completed, it does not mean you have to file it with HMRC straightaway. If you want your accountant to hold off on this part and file it later in the year – especially if you think there may be any changes necessary to the tax return down the line – then that is not a problem.
If you prefer to pay early and get it out of the way, then that is also fine. The big benefit to you is that you have the option. It may be that you do not have enough money put aside for your tax bill when you find out what it is. So, the extra time you have built in before the tax needs to be paid means you have time to get those funds together. It could be the difference between setting aside an extra amount each month to pay the bill while storing money for the next tax year or having to saddle your company with a loan that will cost in interest payments too.
It will also ensure your accountant can maximise any tax reliefs you or your business can benefit from. This could include pension payments or offsetting costs against tax that may otherwise be difficult to include if the information is not given to him or her in a timely manner, in the last-minute rush to get the data to the accountant.
It may also mean, depending on how your accountant works, that you could benefit from having more time to pay your accountant’s bill too. Spreading this cost will also help with cashflow.
Take your time
Overall, it will mean that tax is a much more leisurely affair than it often is and that is never a bad feeling. Stress is not good for any of us and building in time to deal with something that is – for many – inherently stressful anyway is a good plan.
If you want us to start working on your tax return now or have a question about ways in which we can make your tax less taxing, please get in touch.
Where is the best place to hold your tax money?
Putting aside the tax money due each time you have an invoice paid is sensible planning, but is that money working as hard for you as it could be?
Many current accounts are paying no interest whatsoever, and when it comes to savings accounts, you would still be struggling to get anything meaty when it comes to interest payments. Businesses, in particular, will often leave this money sitting in an account that is paying nothing or next to nothing on the money building up.
However, when these amounts run into tens of thousands of pounds – if not hundreds of thousands of pounds depending on your personal or business status – not having this money work for you is a big opportunity to miss.
So, if you are currently using a separate current account paying no interest, or worse leaving the money in your existing business account without separating it out, then it would be sensible to look at what you can do to boost your returns.
Business easy access accounts
Let’s say you have around £250,000 sitting in your tax account waiting to be paid to the taxman. If you were to put it into an easy access account for businesses, you could currently get 1% interest on this, according to financial statisticians Moneyfacts at the time of writing. Over the year, that would give you £2,500 extra to play with for no effort on your part.
Business notice accounts
However, if you are prepared to give some notice before you make a withdrawal – which would mean not being able to access it whenever you wanted – you would be able to get more in interest. For example, by agreeing to give 95 days’ notice, you could get 1.3% at the time of writing. So, you would increase the amount you could earn from that same £250,000 to £3,250.
Remember, this is money you do nothing to get other than spend a bit of time on paperwork to open the account. For the time that takes, it is a return worth having.
There are even companies that provide services for businesses to help them boost the returns on their business income by finding the best accounts for their funds. In short, a specialist will manage these accounts for you, to maximise the returns you can make.
One firm that offers this type of service highlighted that if a company failed to move £903,000 in cash accounts to the best-paying accounts over five years, this could result in a loss of income of as much as £41,538 over that period. This would be enough to hire an additional part-time member of staff for most businesses.
These companies should never hold your money in their own accounts, they should simply be working under your direction to move funds to the best-paying bank accounts and you pay a fee for this service. This ensures you are still covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
We can help you
As your accountant, we are likely to have services that will help you to increase the returns you can make on the money you hold in your business accounts. So, please contact us for details on how we can help you make your money work harder for your business.
Currency exchange – why it can pay to not rely on your bank
International trading is something many businesses are involved in, whether it’s because you are selling your good or services abroad or buying raw materials in from overseas to help with manufacturing.
Either way, exposing yourself and your business to currency risk is a reality for many businesses, and how you reduce that risk as much as possible is something to think seriously about. For most businesses, the default option is to simply transfer money from your business bank account to the account of the company you are working with abroad. It’s easy, yes, but you could be paying more than you need to and cutting your profit margins as a result.
How much do you transfer abroad each year?
The best way for you to make your international money transfers depends very much on how much, and how often, you transfer overseas. If you make a one-off payment each year, then you will most likely need to take a different approach to a company making regular payments abroad every month.
So, the first thing to do is look at how and when your company is transferring money overseas. By checking through your bank statements, assuming you are using your business bank to make the transfers currently as many businesses do, you should also be able to get a sense of what the exchange rates you have been getting are, and how much you are paying in fees per transaction.
How much does it cost to send money internationally?
The problem you have is that when it comes to sending money internationally, pinning down the costs involved is not easy. This is because different companies will charge different amounts and will give you different exchange rates depending not just on how much you are transferring at a time, but also, they will each take a ‘margin’ on the exchange rate. This is a way of increasing the amount of money they can make on the international transfer.
For example, let’s say you want to transfer £100,000 to a company in Germany. Your transfer will go from sterling to euros and your bank may charge you, say, £25 to make that payment if you use telephone banking to make the transfer. It could be lower, say, £15 if you make the transaction online.
The company receiving the money may also be charged by their bank, which could add another, say, £6 to the cost of the transaction. So, without taking any currency exchange values into account, you and your receiving party could already be paying up to £31 just to move money overseas.
Exchange rates and other products
Then, you need to take into account the exchange rates you are going to pay. These can vary considerably from company to company. Banks will typically offer worse rates than international money transfer specialists, who do nothing other than currency transfers day in, day out.
Let’s say you are moving money from sterling to euros. If you want to send £100,000 then the Barclays rate at the time of writing was €1.1234. This would give you €112,340 in euros. Remember, you would need to pay the additional fees on top of this.
Compare that with a money transfer specialist such as OFX, and you would receive €1.1778 for the same transaction at the time of writing. This would give you €117,780 – an extra €5,440. Plus, you would not need to pay the extra fees charged by most banks.
The foreign exchange specialists also have a variety of products that will help you save more money, especially if you make regular payments overseas. There is something called a ‘forward contract’ that allows you to fix the exchange rate you will get for a period of time, taking the guesswork out of exchange rates and can help businesses set their budgets more effectively.
There are other products that can help you mitigate risks and boost the chances of getting a better exchange rate for the transfers your business needs to make. Remember, these products are also available to individuals if you need to make regular transfers to deal with bills associated with an overseas property, for example.
Let us help you
If you want to learn more about how you can reduce the risk you take when making currency transfers, then please contact us for more details.
End of bulk appeals for tax fines in May
If you are unlucky enough to be fined for a late filing, then the way in which any appeal can be made changed as of May 7.
Prior to this, HMRC had temporarily reintroduced the ability to bulk appeal late filing penalties for income tax in 2020 and 2021. But from now onwards, all such appeals need to be made individually.
To be fair, if you keep in close contact with your accountant and give sufficient time for all of the paperwork to be done, then you should not be in a position where you are facing a late filing penalty. But if you have either filed paperwork late yourself or had a late filing penalty for some other reason, then each appeal now must be made individually.
Even though you use an accountant to deal with your tax liabilities, you are still ultimately legally responsible for the correct and timely filing of your returns. There are several different penalties that could apply too.
Types of penalties
For example, there is an ‘inaccuracy penalty’ which can be applied across specific taxes, including income tax, PAYE, capital gains tax, inheritance tax and corporation tax. This penalty could be anything from 0% to 30% of the extra tax due if the error occurred due to a ‘lack of reasonable care’.
If the error is considered deliberate, this rises to between 20% and 70% of the extra tax due, and if it is both deliberate and concealed, it could rise to between 30% and 100% of the extra tax due.
You could also face a penalty for a failure to notify HMRC of a change in your liability to tax. This could be, for example, if your company makes a profit and becomes liable to corporation tax. Or it could be because your business has reached the turnover for the VAT threshold (£85,000) and you have not registered for VAT.
Other penalties could include ‘Offshore penalties’ and ‘VAT and Excise wrongdoing penalties’ – so it is important if any of these could potentially apply to you, that you speak to your accountant immediately. You can find more information on the types of penalties that could apply on the GOV.UK website.
We can help you meet your obligations
If you think there is a chance that you could fall foul of any of these rules and face a penalty, or that there is any other issue you need advice on to make sure you comply with all your HMRC requirements, please contact us as soon as possible. We will help you navigate any problems that arise.