SMEs will benefit from Autumn Statement says Thomas Coombs

Leeds based accountancy firm Thomas Coombs has today welcomed measures announced in the Autumn Statement that are set to benefit SMEs and ensure their success, but fears for individuals buying a second home.

Recognising the financial burdens faced by SMEs, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) in England will be extended until April 2017. This means that around 405,000 of the smallest businesses will continue to receive 100% relief from business rates, with a further 200,000 benefiting from tapering relief.

In addition, SMEs should be able to access finance more easily following news that the government plans for Experian, Equifax and CreditSafe to receive SME credit information from designated banks and provide equal access to this information to all financial providers.

Finally, for SMEs looking to take on an apprentice, George Osborne declared that small businesses will continue to receive support. First mentioned in the 2015 Summer Budget, the apprenticeship levy, which will be introduced in April 2017, aims to raise £3bn a year and will be set at 0.5% of the payroll bill. However, as there will be a £15,000 allowance, only around 2% of UK employers will pay it. The policy plans to redress the shortfall of skills in the British economy – which the Chancellor said is, “one of the enduring weakness of the British economy” – and create three million apprenticeship positions by 2020.

However, a new stamp duty rate for people buying homes as buy-to-let properties and second homes will be 3% higher than normal stamp duty.

Christopher Darwin, Partner at UK200Group member firm Thomas Coombs said: Today’s Autumn Statement has shown that the government sees the importance of SMEs for this country’s economy. By promoting competition for SME credit and encouraging more apprentices to start work, as well as extending the Small Business Rate Relief, the Chancellor has shown that he is committed to supporting the UK’s SMEs.

“The rise in stamp duty for buyers of buy-to-let properties and second homes will affect our clients as there are a great many scenarios that mean individuals could be affected. I would urge anyone that is unsure of their situation to contact me for advice.”

If you would like advice on any of the subjects raised in the Autumn Statement, please Christopher Darwin.

Stuart Adam, Thomas Coombs

HMRC has set its sights on the affluent, warns Thomas Coombs

Leeds – based accountancy firm Thomas Coombs is warning those with high incomes to get their tax affairs in order as HM Revenue & Customs bolsters its Affluent Unit.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced this week that it has doubled the number of inspectors trawling through the tax files of individuals earning £150,000 or more.

The so-called ‘Affluent Unit’, which concentrates on people who earn enough to pay the 45 per cent additional-rate tax, has increased its headcount by 54 per cent in two years, from 213 in 2012/2013 to 327 in 2014/2015.

Before now, the taxman has mainly investigated ‘high net worth’ individuals who earn £1 million or more.

However, Thomas Coombs believe the increase in the number of tax investigators may indicate that they are now turning their attention to those further down the income scale.

Stuart Adam, Partner of Thomas Coombs, said: “This growth in the Affluent Unit reflects HMRCs drive to improve revenue collection across the board.

“We have seen that this unit is especially interested in those owning property in the UK and abroad or who use offshore bank accounts. Individuals that have filed self-assessment returns late or anyone who has previously invested in a scheme devised to reduce tax bills may also be a target.

“If anyone is concerned that they might be the subject of a tax investigation now or in the future should contact a professional who can act on their behalf to minimise any potential penalties.”

For more information please contact Stuart Adam.

HMRC’s failings won’t go unanswered

Thomas Coombs is reminding people that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) could be forced to waive or reduce penalties for taxpayers who filed returns late or incorrectly because the tax authority did not answer their telephone calls.

Ministers have condemned HMRC for its customer service after an official report claimed that half of all calls received in the first six months of the year – totalling 12 million – were not answered.

HMRC commented: “We work very much on a case-by-case basis but if you phoned us and couldn’t get through we would take that into account. We know our customer service hasn’t been as good as it should be so we have moved a further 3,000 people into them and things are getting better.” Christopher Darwin, Partner at Leeds based Thomas Coombs said: “This really is a turnaround and shows that HMRC have accepted their poor service is not acceptable. The deadline for submitting online self-assessment tax returns is 31 January 2016 but this date should not be looked upon with complacency. Fines may still be issued for anyone that submits a late refund.

Thomas Coombs can take away the anxiety of self-assessment and allow you to focus on doing what you do best; running your business.”

For guidance and support with self-assessment tax returns, please Christopher Darwin.

Stuart Adam, Thomas Coombs

Thomas Coombs encourages businesses and home owners to consider capital gains tax when selling up

Leeds based accountancy firm Thomas Coombs is encouraging business and home owners to give greater consideration to capital gains tax (CGT) when selling.

The message comes after new figures show that the amount of CGT being collected by the government is growing at a rate of 43 per cent per year; one of the fastest areas of revenue growth for the Treasury.

According to the latest government figures, in 2013-14 the total amount of CGT collected rose to £5.5 billion; up from £3.4 billion in 2012-13.

The increase is believed to be due to further rises in the value of shares and property, as well as an increase in turnover for investments subject to CGT. In recent years HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has also become more vigilant in identifying those who have a liability through various targeted campaigns.

Basic-rate taxpayers pay CGT at a rate of 18 per cent, while higher and additional-rate taxpayers pay a rate of 28 per cent, which is offset by an annual CGT allowance. This is currently £11,100 for individuals and £5,500 for trusts.

Stuart Adam, Partner at Thomas Coombs, said: “The increase in CGT is not surprising considering the increase in the value of property and shares, stricter monitoring by HMRC and a number of other changes that have contributed to a larger tax take.

“However, there are still options available to individuals and businesses who wish to reduce their CGT tax bill, including schemes such as entrepreneur’s tax relief which is available to some companies.”

Stuart Adam added that it was important that individuals and businesses sought professional advice to reduce their tax liabilities, as there could be savings to be made.

For more information please contact Stuart Adam.