Thursday, 12 October 2017

What’s the best pressie you’ve ever received from work?

Well, it depends how trivial it is…

Brace yourself: we’re about to mention the c-word.

No need to be alarmed though – Hallowe’en hasn’t arrived yet and no one’s mentioned Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night, so it’s perfectly acceptable timing to jump on the bandwagon and bring up Christmas 3 months early…

Because Christmas is a time for giving and goodwill to all, now is the ideal time for (ahem, great) employers to start thinking about what presents to get their highly-appreciated and hard-working employees.

Which is why it’s good to know about what gifts are tax-exempt and which ones you need to report on your P11D or PAYE Settlement Agreement.

That’s right; we’re talking about trivial benefits here.

So, what’s allowable and what isn’t?

Well, thanks to the work of Sir Tufty Rough-Bonce and his aides Preston Garstang and Compton Bassett in the Department of Trivial Affairs, all of the finer, pointless details have already been thrashed out.

Lengthy discussions have been had and painstaking decisions made. A Definitive History of HMRC didn’t quite make it (not trivial enough) and life-size knitted sheep were rejected immediately (too woolly).

However, within the conclusive guidelines, a nice bottle of wine or festive turkey is deemed acceptable. As is a £49.00 personalised Winter Wonderland snow globe.

In short, for the gift to be exempt, here’s what you need to know:

It can’t be cash or a cash voucher (but can be a gift voucher).
It shouldn’t exceed £50 in value.
It can’t be provided as part of a salary sacrifice or other contractual arrangement.
It shouldn’t be given in recognition of roles or services that the employee performs as part of
        their job.

Hopefully then (and unless you’re an insomniac), the wait for just what you've always wanted is only 77 sleeps away. But, if you think there’s more chance of Bing Crosby carol-singing White Christmas at your place of work than your employer having a seasonal treat lined up for you, remember, you could always lead by example…

Apparently, we hear that an ornamental turkey in a bottle is all the rage this year and selling fast. Of course, where you invite the recipient to put the decorative stuffing is entirely up to you.

Until next month...

Friday, 8 September 2017

Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?

We can help. But first, it’s time for the Chapman Worth quiz…

Bake Off’s back and so is Strictly, but whatever happened to another old favourite?

Here’s our industry-topical homage to one of the most popular quizzes of all time. (Unfortunately, there’s no money up for grabs although winners will have the opportunity to unsubscribe from to our mailing list.)

Ready?

Q1: What expenses can landlords now claim?
A. Whatever they like.
B. Whatever they can get away with.
C. Those that are wholly and exclusively for the purposes of renting out the property.
D. None. It’s not worth being a landlord.

Q2: What is Form 17?
A. A millennial hip-hop group from Grove.
B. The document that follows Form 16.
C. A shampoo for poodles.
D. A HMRC declaration for cohabiting couples to acknowledge unequal property ownership and be taxed proportionally.

Q3: What’s the definition of ‘people with significant control’?
A. Someone with authority or skill – e.g. a teacher, traffic warden, or juggler.
B. Someone who can drink 11 cups of tea without the need to powder their nose.
C. An individual who exerts significant control over a UK company or LLP through shares or voting rights.
D. Your other half.

Q4: What is disincorporation relief?
A. An annual, televised fundraising event.
B. Relief that allows the transfer of a business from a private limited company to a sole trader or partnership; and due to end on 31 March 2018.
C. The feeling you get when you leave behind corporate life.
D. An over-the-counter medication.

Q5: What does OTS stand for?
A. Office of Tax Simplification.
B. Office of Tax Simpletons.
C. Oh. Tax. S**t.
D. Overly Tense Subtraction.

If you’re dying to know the correct answers or want to read more on the topics covered here, you’ll find everything you need in this month’s email newsletter.

And if you’ve still no idea what quiz show we’ve been talking about, it might be time to ask the audience.

Either that, or shout in exasperation: “I’ll have a ‘P’ please, Bob!” Anything to let you escape the room.

Until next month...

Friday, 4 August 2017

Final score (AET): Tax Avoidance Scheme 0 – 1 HMRC

How a complex Employee Benefit Trust resulted in a catastrophic own goal…

With the new football season warming up, we’ve decided to get you in the mood with a match report of a recent (albeit long-running) encounter between HMRC and a well-known football club.

So, it’s over to our roving reporter in the north, Mike Hardigan-Fitzbaddely…

“Well, this one’s been a cracker, full of twists and turns.

Although the season’s just now starting for some, this marathon of a contest has only just finished for others. And yes, while one side can claim to literally be over the moon, the other is, without doubt, feeling as sick as a parrot. With psittacosis.

I’m talking about the former incarnation of Rangers Football Club (who subsequently went into liquidation) and the case brought against them by HMRC for tax avoidance.

From the off, Rangers were keen to keep things tight around the fringes and keep something extra in their locker – about £47m – rallying at every opportunity to keep HMRC at bay. Their strategy worked well and for much of the tussle, they remained untouchable. Their opponents had seen this formation and tactics before though, and continued to probe relentlessly until the cracks in Rangers’ rearguard action started to show.

On a different day, and if Rangers’ gameplan had been on target, it might have worked. But, as the battle of wills wore on, all their attempts to think outside the box caused them to fall into their own offside trap. 

And, despite a valiant, backs-to-the-wall defensive display, they ultimately found themselves not in acres of space, but a quagmire of red-card trouble. Caught in their own net, they paid the ultimate penalty.

What might have first appeared as a game of two halves and ‘a bit of handbags’ has now been decisively concluded. To lose the dressing room is one thing; to lose the entire football club is something that will cause them nightmares for years to come.

This is Mike Hardigan-Fitzbaddely, North of Watford. In the rain.” 

For those of us not versed in empty footballing parlance, following an appeal, The Supreme Court finally ruled in favour of HMRC who claimed that Rangers’ complex Employee Benefit Trusts and sub-trusts structure amounted to avoidance of liability to pay Income Tax and Class 1 National Insurance contributions. This involved the payments of over £47m to players, managers, and directors of the football club between 2001 and 2010.

We’ve all heard of schoolboy defending, although, in this case, it seems nowhere near as damaging as schoolboy accounting. Sometimes, claiming to give 110% clearly doesn’t work.

And remember, it’s only a cliché if it doesn’t have that certain je ne sais quoi.

Until next month...

Monday, 10 July 2017

Tour de France? On yer bike!

But a Cycle to Work scheme might tempt you back in the saddle…

It’s cycling season and, depending on where you sit as a commuter, it can be the best or worst time of the year.

If it’s atop a razor-thin saddle, well, there’s still the joy of the open road and the freedom of gliding past standstill traffic. If it’s behind a steering wheel, you can find yourself averaging 15mph thanks to the pair of cyclists riding abreast in front of you. 

So, if you can’t beat them, why not join them?

Since the Cycle to Work scheme was introduced to promote a healthy commute to work, countless employees have made the most of its tax-free benefits, with some of their employers also enjoying NIC savings. But that’s only half the fun.

Just look at some of the other benefits it offers…

You’ll feel fitter.
Maybe. Eventually. But only once you’ve become used to exercising for the first time since the Penny Farthing was invented, and after you’ve recovered from the aches and pains emanating from parts of you that you never knew you had until now.

It promotes quicker and more efficient work meetings.
Because even though you’ve invested in a deluxe air-cushion saddle and won’t leave the house without 3 pillows attached to your derrière, you still can’t sit down for the rest of the day. As a result, not only have you never moved around so gingerly, standing-only meetings have never proven so popular with you – despite everyone else in the room wondering why you’re being so restless.

It’s great for team-building.
Especially if you club together with colleagues and buy a seven-seater tandem. And don’t sit at the back not pedalling, or eating crisps there without telling anyone.

You’ve an excuse to kit yourself out in head-to-toe lycra.
Either as someone who actually knows what they’re doing, or as a fully-fledged member of the All-The-Gear-And-No-Idea Brigade (and often found as part of a peloton of MAMILs – Middle-Aged Men in Lycra).

It will save you a fortune in petrol.
Provided that:
A) You’ve not invested an equivalent fortune in kitting yourself out in head-to-
     toe lycra. 
B) You’ve not spent your savings treating yourself to a well-earned pastry or 
     five on your arrival to work each morning. (This is particularly inadvisable for   
     MAMILs.) 
C) You still have the energy to cycle home and don’t have to pay someone to    
     come and fetch you.

Convinced? We thought not.

In that case, how about the next best thing? Why not book some holiday in front of your TV this summer and watch a load of lunatics cycle 200km per day en route to Paris? 

It’s not tax-free but it’s a lot more relaxing.

Until next month...

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Bands, Burgers, and a Beer Festival…

What’s better than an approachable accountancy firm?

An approachable accountancy firm with beer, that’s what!

Which is why we’re involved with one of our local Beer Festivals this June...

Have you ever wondered what a Beer Festival run by accountants would be like? If you’re thinking drab, dry, and an empty barrel of laughs, you’d be wrong. Well, certainly on this occasion.

Although if we were living up to stereotypes, here’s our take on what some of the beers would be:

‘VAT Ninja’ 5.7%
Smooth and sleek dark ale that creeps up on you and packs a punch. Comprises delicate hops with no hint of what comes next. Other than a heavy chocolate flavour and you feeling 20% more tipsy than you should be.

‘Late Return’ 4.5%
Convivial and perky IPA with a moreish, decadent taste of warm summer and “Okay then, just one more...” Before you know it, you’ve missed your bus home and it’s 4am.

‘Liquid Asset P60’ 4.6%
A refreshingly hydrating, silky lager that’s bursting with citrus zing and energy. So hydrating, in fact, that you’ll need that extra zip to get up to powder your nose every hour.

‘Double Digit’ 10.1%
Light and fragrant craft beer with notes of tropical fruits. Eminently drinkable but extremely potent such that it’s limited to two pints per customer. Aptly named not just because of its alcohol rating but because, after a couple, one finger always looks like two.

‘Accountant’s Delight’ 6.2%
The jewel in the crown and our favourite. Deceptively good with intense malt flavours and almost magical qualities. Just one of these and you’ll instantly find everyone around you witty, engaging, and oozing personality. Especially accountants.

As for the music, you’d have to include classics like Money, Money, Money (by ADDA) and N.I.S.A. (by The Pillage People). And, of course, We Can Work It Out, Don’t Get Me Wrong and anything by The Magic Numbers…

Okay, we’re not actually running a Beer Festival but we are delighted to be the main sponsor of one – this month’s 6th West Hendred Beer Festival, being held over the Friday evening and Saturday all-day of 16th and 17th June.

And if you've been to the festival before you’ll know what a fun event it is. This year it’ll be better than ever with the introduction of a marquee, more live music, and the soon-to-be-famous Chapman Worth Chilli Burger – it’s going to be hot, hot, hot!

For any clients who haven't been before, why not pop along and let us buy you a beer?

Most of the Wantage team will be there and all talk of accountancy and tax is strictly off-limits – which is definitely worth raising a glass to.

And at least you’ll get the right change.

Cheers!

Until next month...

Friday, 12 May 2017

There’s a snap election on its way...

So how about this for a new way of voting?

Finance Bill has been eavesdropping again and thinks he could be on to something.

Having become lost in the corridors of Whitehall before Parliament is dissolved, he somehow found himself in the Private Members’ Bar, ensconced in his favourite Chesterfield club chair and sipping a Gloriously Clueless cocktail. Right next to a couple of Honourable Members who appeared to be discussing horseracing…

Now, even though listening to others’ conversations is somewhat rude, at times it’s just impossible not to hear what’s being said – especially when you’re straining as best you can to filter out the background noise.

And despite knowing how rumours can be started like this, Finance Bill was in no doubt. His ears pricked up when he heard the words “Prime Minister” and “wanting to secure a strong stable” for “National Interest”. And then “one-horse race”. Whoever would have guessed that the PM was entering a filly at Ascot!

Still straining, he heard talk turn to gambling and the members’ Thursday-night bridge and poker games; intermingled with comments about other Right Honourable Members and exclamations of “Oh, what a card!”

And then Finance Bill’s ears well and truly pricked up. Was he really hearing this correctly? Either he’d uncovered a cunning ruse, or else he’d completely got the wrong end of the stick. Not for the first time.

There was going to be a snap election! An election decided by one of the oldest and simplest card games ever invented. How ingenious! Finance Bill ordered another cocktail and filled in the gaps for himself. Party candidates would be entered into the draw and matching pairs elected with a jubilant cry of “Snap!”. And to prevent anyone unwanted taking office, for effect, a candidate would still be entered, but, rather cunningly – and unbeknownst to them – would only have one card…

Just in case you’ve been living in blissful isolation, the Prime Minister has decided to ever-so-slightly bring forward the general election originally planned for 2020; and called a snap election for 8th June 2017. And, as far as we know, it will still be conducted in the traditional way.

Finance Bill remains unconvinced though. He can’t stop thinking about the possibility of pulling out two Jokers.

Brenda from Bristol, over to you…

Until next month...

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A Free Easter Gift from Us to You…

What’s the connection between Easter and MTD for Business?

None whatsoever.

Nor is it anything to do with ‘Month To Date’ or ‘Match of the Day’.

And the free gift doesn’t involve chocolate.

But it is worth knowing that MTD stands for Making Tax Digital, and it’s the biggest change to the UK tax system for a generation.

It’s part of the government’s plans to make it easier for individuals and businesses to get their tax right first time and keep on top of their affairs – meaning the end of the annual tax return as we know it.

Moreover, its new guidelines will affect you…

The introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD) will fundamentally change the way businesses, the self-employed and landlords interact with HMRC.

We’re moving towards a fully-automated digital tax system and it’s starting now.
By 2020, the vast majority of businesses will be required to monitor their tax affairs digitally and update HMRC at least quarterly via their digital tax account.
More specifically, businesses and landlords will be required to use commercial accounting software to maintain their records and submit their updates.

Here are the timelines:

From April 2018:   Sole traders/self-employed, partnerships and landlords with      
                                 income above £85,000.

From April 2019:   Sole traders/self-employed, partnerships and landlords with 
                                 income above £10,000.

From April 2019:   Quarterly VAT reporting to commence (instead of traditional VAT returns).

From April 2020:   Quarterly corporation tax reporting for companies.          


Want to know more? Here’s a copy of our MTD brochure.
For more information on the new guidelines, check out our Chapman Worth Making Tax Digital brochure here: 



And your free gift?                                                                                                

If you’re a business client and don’t yet keep electronic records, get in touch before the end of April for your no-obligation MTD review!

Will you be ready in time for Making Tax Digital?

Need more help knowing what software you’ll need and how the new legislation will affect you?

Want to claim your free gift so that you can just sit back and relax?

Then get in touch with either our Wantage or Witney office before the end of April, and we’ll arrange a free review and consultancy appointment to take you through everything.

We may even have some chocolate left over.

Until next month...