Category: Income tax

A Twitter endorsement and my offer to explain all about Self Assessment

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Let me know if you would like a copy of the Simple Guide to Self Assessment by sending me a tweet @StuartJones or an email

How do I pay my tax to HMRC once I’ve completed my tax return?

The first thing to remember is you don’t pay HMRC through the HMRC website.

You pay HMRC as you would anyone else by going to your own online bank account.

You’ll need the HMRC reference which is on your payslip.

If you don’t have your reference, use your Unique Tax Reference (UTR) and add the letter K after the ten figure number.

Your bank will probably have set up HMRC‘s details already.

Make sure you choose the account which refers to Self Assessment, Self, or something similar.

If there is a choice between Shipley and Cumbernauld choose Cumbernauld.

And then follow the bank’s instructions.

Make sure you’ve remembered your login details if you haven’t submitted your tax return yet

The countdown has begun to the 31 January Self Assessment deadline, with just days left for anyone with an outstanding 2011-12 tax return to send it online to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

If you haven’t sent a tax return online before, you’ll need to sign up for HMRC’s online service by Monday 21 January. This is because it can take up to seven working days to complete the process, as an Activation Code has to be posted to you.

But, more importantly, if you’ve filed online before, but have lost your password or user ID and need a replacement, you must  also contact HMRC by this date.

I would also keep a record of when you applied for the details, just in case they are delayed in the post and you are unable to submit your return on time. Penalties are automatic and you will need to appeal and submit evidence of why the return was late, in the hope that HMRC will cancel the penalty.


Is tax avoidance an unacceptable exploitation of the tax system? Your chance to vote.

As yet another high street retailer closes the shutters, we have an opportunity to vote on the following

Tax avoidance: fair or foul?

Don’t be put off by the fact that its being run by AccountancyAge or because its only for professionals, it isn’t.

The arguments for and against are put simply by Richard Murphy, the director of Tax Research UK, and Stephen Herring, a tax partner in BDO.

Please vote by clicking here.

It will make a difference.


Can I “do a Starbucks” with my business?

Just before Christmas this question was asked in Taxation.

Like most readers, I suspect, I have been intrigued by the ongoing saga of whether companies such as Starbucks, Amazon and Google are paying the “right” amount of tax in the UK. Thinking about this made me wonder whether this strategy might be something that smaller businesses such as my clients might use….should they pay a royalty to a family member, etc?

A few of the comments published this week reveal why in the tax world it’s definitely them and us.

The first problem is to ensure that the payment is treated as tax allowable for the paying entity – if not, there is the risk of creating taxable income for the recipient without a matching reduction in the taxable profits of the business.

HMRC’s increasing sensitivity to convoluted tax planning arrangements, must mean that the advice for business owners would be to remunerate themselves (and their family members) by way of customary, and still tax efficient, salary and/or dividend payments where possible.

Setting up an overseas entity such as a British Virgin Isles company is expensive (these low-tax jurisdictions are well aware of their appeal and will charge accordingly)


Tax avoidance and the Autumn Statement

The Treasury has already announced that it would provide HMRC with £77m in new money to help it track down wealthy individuals and companies who tried to avoid paying tax.

Leaving aside the question of whether this is extra money or just “less cuts”, most observers are convinced that George Osborne will use his Autumn Statement as an opportunity to tell us that the government will stop multinationals avoiding UK tax on their UK profits.

At the same time, I think he will announce that HMRC is being encouraged to use new methods to tackle evasion in the small business sector. Today’s news mentioned HMRC checking up to two million credit reference agency files to assess (self employed) taxpayers’ lifestyles.

I don’t, obviously, have a problem with this initiative. What concerns me is the emphasis placed on the two sectors by HMRC.

Until HMRC stop regarding small businesses as easy targets and attack tax avoidance by multinationals with equal enthusiasm,the UK’s two tier tax system will continue unchanged

If your business records look like this you may fail HMRC’s Business Records Check

HMRC have reintroduced their Business Records Check.

Their pilot programme started in April 2011. More than a third of the 3,500 businesses checked “had some issue with their record-keeping” and just under 5% had “issues serious enough to warrant a follow up visit”.

Since 2011 HMRC have reviewed their procedures and are now targeting businesses “who are more likely to be at risk of inadequate records”, whatever that means!

Under the new system HMRC will write to you and then contact you by telephone to ask about your records. When they phone they will ask you questions to help them work out if you are keeping the business records you need. The telephone call should last between 10 and 15 minutes.

  1. If your records are adequate HMRC will tell you during the phone call and confirm it in writing and that will be the end of it (thankfully).
  2. If they think you need more help they will pass your details to their Business Education & Support Teams to tell you about self-help and training.
  3. HMRC may, however, decide your records are inadequate and you need a face to face visit. If your records    they will specify what changes need to be made and arrange a follow up visit within three months to check you’ve made those changes.If you haven’t you’ll be fined.

The chances of being phoned are small but you don’t want HMRC visiting your business. Despite their apparent willingness to help you “pay the right amount of tax at the right time to avoid interest and penalties” these visits are nothing more than fishing expeditions.

They will use it as an opportunity to make sure you are operating PAYE correctly (don’t forget there is no such thing as casual labour), to check benefits in kind (if you’re trading as a limited company) have been recorded properly and to make sure your VAT is correct.

Next week I shall give you some advice to make sure HMRC, at worst, just phone you because they realise your records are “adequate”.

The Autumn Statement – what will be in it for small businesses?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer will give his Autumn Statement at 12.30 on Wednesday 5 December.

Let’s hope there is more in it for small businesses than this year’s Budget which without a doubt was aimed at big business.

The Economist summed it up neatly

There was lots of talk about helping small business. The budget sent a different signal.

P.S. Personally I think the small business sector will be ignored yet again. It will be interesting, however, to see what he does about the low tax bills of the multinationals which trade in the UK. Probably the same as for SMEs ……..nothing!

What HMRC do if you “understate” your income (aka evade tax)

I read Taxation every week to keep my tax knowledge up to date but have never considered the Westmorland Gazette to be another source!

This week they have published a story about a back street bookie who didn’t declare all his earnings and has been landed with a £26,000 bill.

A couple of things stand out from this case which are worth bearing in mind if you’re in business:

  • I haven’t seen HMRC use this method of calculating “omitted” income for a few years, which surprises me because it’s very easy for them to use and very difficult for the taxpayer to disprove. Perhaps it’s making a comeback!
  • The bookie’s failure to keep proper records was actually used against him to prove he had suppressed his takings!

How to pay your Self Assessment if you don’t have a payslip

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) recommend that you pay electronically. This is safer, more secure and very efficient. If you pay using one of the following methods you do not need your HMRC payslip:

  • Internet banking
  • Direct Debit
  • Debit or credit card over the internet using BillPay
  • Bacs Direct Credit, telephone banking or CHAPS

If you want to pay by cheque you should use the HMRC computer printed payslip which you should have received recently.

If the payslip hasn’t arrived or it’s been lost you can generate your own payslip on the HMRC website

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