Save Money This Year with Tax Breaks for Couples

It was Valentines Season, and as you celebrate with your significant other, I thought you could use a few pointers about how to make your status as a couple work for you – financially speaking. For this feature, couples will refer to married pairs (because marriage is recognized by the law).

Here are a few tips to help you put money aside for other household items.

How can I save money as a married spouse?

Under the current UK tax regulations, the following scenarios can result in tax breaks for married couples:

  1. Marriage Allowance

For couples in different tax brackets, marriage allowances present a great tax relief option. If you earn less than £11,500 and your partner falls within the £11,501-45,000 tax bracket, you can transfer 10% of your unused personal allowance to your partner. He/she will then be able to save up to £230 per annum.

  1. Sharing ownership of Buy to Let Property

Transferring ownership of a property between a married couple will incur no capital gains tax. This is what makes it a great tax relief strategy for couples. This strategy involves one spouse transferring shares of a property to the other. If your spouse earns lower income and pays tax at lower rate, this enables part of the property income being taxed at lower rate. However, the overall situations of both partners need to be assessed in order to determine whether or not this strategy is a good fit.

  1. Transfer of Business Ownership

If your partner makes a significant and legitimate strategic contribution and bringing him or her on board was part of your long-term business strategy, transferring shares of your business to them will help you save tax in the long term. Your business will enjoy the first £5,000 tax-free allowance, while the payment of dividends and salaries to you and your spouse will reduce the taxes owed by the business.

  1. Savings on Wedding Cost

This is a creative way for couples to save money through tax relief if they’re planning to get married. Donating valuable wedding decorations to your church, or a charity that is close to your heart, is considered as charitable donations and you can get tax relief from it. However, be aware of the limitations. For example, you will not get tax relief if the size of the donation is more than 4 times of the tax you’ve paid in previous year.

  1. Inheritance Tax

As a married couple, you and your spouse could double your nil rate band for inheritance tax purposes. What that means is that your inheritance value could go untaxed for up to £650,000 if your spouse did not utilize his/her inheritance tax.

P.S. If you find this content useful, we do provide tailored professional advice on your personal or business tax matters. If you are interested, please book me in via the link so we can arrange a chat: https://hannah-xu.youcanbook.me

Brexit: Looking at the Bigger Picture

A few interesting things happened this past week. The Eagles won the US SuperBowl for the first time in history. And EU leaders met to discuss one of the most crucial topics for UK companies: Brexit.

Since I felt that this issue concerns you, I invited an expert on EU trading to offer a new perspective on what Brexit means to business owners.

This week, my guest was Charles Markowicz. Charles runs a firm that helps companies from non-EU countries acclimate to the trading conditions of the EU. As a business owner working on issues of EU compliance for over two decades, Charles had some unique opinions to share about Brexit. Hopefully, you can learn from his insights.

Brexit is a time for evaluation

One of the first factors Charles noted is that the Brexit negotiations are volatile and business people should treat it as such. As Brexit negotiations are underway, you as a business owner should keep informed and look at all possible scenarios. What would a hard Brexit mean for your company? What would a soft one? How likely is either outcome? Are you prepared for both these scenarios? Do you have contingency plans in place? Only by evaluating the position of your business can you better prepare for any Brexit outcome.

You need to be ready for the cost

During our conversation, Charles pointed out a significant point: businesses based in the UK can expect the downside of losses in terms of time and money for as long as Brexit negotiations run. He cited a study that showed the UK’s economy could take a hit of about 2-3% from a soft Brexit and up to 15% from a hard Brexit.  Even the English pound has taken hits so far. You need to accept, that Brexit might have adversely affected your company, before moving on to step three.

The best course of action: prepare a plan

One path Charles proposed was expanding your market. For instance, setting up a subsidiary in an EU country or one per continent, preferably one with English speakers. The benefit of such market diversification is that your business would be able to source materials cheaply and export products despite the outcome of Brexit.

To summarize, being aware, staying informed and preparing for the consequences of Brexit is the best way to look at the bigger picture for your company.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook/Youtube for these and more interesting takes on emerging financial issues.

Have an engaged, informative week!

P.S. If you find this content useful, we do provide tailored professional advice on your personal or business tax matters. If you are interested, please book me in via the link so we can arrange a chat: https://hannah-xu.youcanbook.me

Organise Your Finances the More Efficient Way

Dear Client,

I hope you had a great week.

Last time I was in your inbox, we went through how you can discover your ability to create wealth. This week, I picked out a topic that I hope will help you get through the tax season without any hitches.

Do you sometimes look through your books and wonder how to put all your finances in order before the tax man rolls in? Do you find it hard to sit down to spreadsheets to organize your finances? If you do not have a problem organizing your finances, then congratulations, I’ll just be helping you do it more efficiently. However, if you are like many entrepreneurs I know who think of bookkeeping as a chore, then you can thank me later for showing you that bookkeeping does not have to be expensive, exhaustive or time-consuming.

Below, I will take you three steps to help you organize your finances the more efficient way

Step 1: Embrace Technology

There are numerous applications and technologies available today that are dedicated to helping you manage your finances. For instance, you can switch from manual data entry to simply scanning receipts to track expenditure by using Receipt Bank? Or that cloud computing services such as Xero Accounting can feed your bank statements into your accounting system so that you do not have to? Those systems nowadays cost as little as £20 per month, and they are designed to make your life easier. All you have to do is take advantage of them.

Step 2: Seek Help In Cost-Effective Ways

As an entrepreneur, having others help you will save you time, money and energy as you organize your finances. An easy way to get help is to have your spouse or children to handle the admin and bookkeeping tasks, so that you focus on building the business. You can pay them a salary that do not trigger much tax burden, and help reduce tax for you business the same time.  However, if you are solo, you can also now outsource bookkeeping in affordable way by hiring an accountant in India (or somewhere else in the world). Make sure you do try those freelancers first before you commit, so that you have the reliable person work for you. Also do consider protecting your data by having proper system and Non-disclosure Agreement.

Step 3: How and when to hire the right accountant for your business

Sometimes you have to spend money to save money. Hiring an accountant is an efficient way to organize your finances because a) you won’t have to worry about doing it yourself b) accountants will leave you free to build your business and c) the right accountant will not only get your finances in order but also optimize your tax bill. Wondering who the right accountant is? Here are the criteria: It is important to hire someone who thinks more like a business owner, rather than an employee; the ones who understand your vision and values; the ones who understand your financial pressure and work towards helping you achieve your financial goals.

I hope that today, you have taken away a lesson that will help you organize your finances the more efficient way. Don’t forget to tune in for more financial tips next week!

P.S. If you find this content useful, we do provide tailored professional advice on your personal or business tax matters. If you are interested, please book me in via the link so we can arrange a chat: https://hannah-xu.youcanbook.me

How Cloud Technology Has Changed the Way Accounting Services Are Delivered

The rising of cloud technology has replaced a lot of labour intensive work. The old way of accounting, which focuses only on number crunching tasks, is going to be replaced by technology. But the new breed of accounting profession will look to interest their clients with the cause and prevention of high tax bills.

Cloud Accounting

Most of us might have been through some sort of technology change over the last couple of years. The digital accounting systems that used to cost thousands of pounds are now replaced by cloud accounting in as little as £20 per month. You do not need to install it onto your PC or on a laptop. You simply have a login and are able to look at your financial information. As it is cloud based, it is easy to sync it with your bank statements which will allow you to have direct bank feeds. All of these things have replaced a lot of labour-intensive work.

Entry-less Receipt Processing (e.g. Receipt Bank)

When it comes to accounting, in the past 5 to 10 years it has involved a tremendous amount of paperwork. Nowadays there are systems and apps like Receipt Bank that can help with the workload. Receipt Bank allows you to take a picture within the app on your smartphone and import it straight to the system. It also enables you to export it as an excel document from there. You do not have to input the name, category and amount as the system does that for you. It extracts the information and saves it as a draft, which you can approve eventually.

It is very handy as you do not have to keep the paper receipts once you have taken a picture of them as it is stored in the cloud. There is a study that shows that keeping physical copies of receipts is not good for your health as the ink on the receipts have a certain type of chemical in them. Receipt Bank not only saves you time and makes things easier, it benefits your health too. When you are digitally storing information, you must always keep in mind cyber security and data protection but in general accounting systems do have a certain level of security that they aim to maintain.

Benefits of Cloud Accounting

  • Most clients nowadays prefer to provide information via cloud accounting especially when it comes to bank statements. This is a benefit as you do not need as much space or storage as before. If some clients do send some paperwork, you can just store it temporarily and scan the document to store it in a cloud then send it back to the client.
  • Less space required and less storage means you do not need to spend much money hiring somewhere big. You can hire an open office and are able to still get the job done.

What System Should You Use If You Are Self-Employed?

When you become self-employed or start your own company you have to take care of your own tax and self-assess your accounts and your tax bill. This means you would need to keep track of how much profit you have made and keep track of your expenses so that you can run your business properly. Most people nowadays do own their own laptops or have access to one, it is very easy to pull out a spreadsheet to total all income and keep a note of all the receipts in order to categorise them etc.

Microsoft Excel is cheap and very easy to use, it is quite straightforward but the downside of it is that when you need to put out a report, it can be quite time-consuming as you would need to key in all the words and dates into the spreadsheet. Another downside of Excel is that if you have inputted data into the spreadsheet, anyone else can edit it and input other data which can eventually create errors and can be hard to track. With cloud technology, you can view what has been changed and can track who has edited it which makes things clear. You can always find out the root of a single mistake and are able to correct it.

There are several cloud technologies that you can use such as:

  • Xero
  • QuickBooks
  • KashFlow

Always go for the providers that are bigger, popular and have more recommendations because the smaller ones might end up being merged by the bigger providers.

When Is the Right Time to Start Using Bigger Providers Instead of Spreadsheet?

Spreadsheet is very straightforward to use, if you really want to keep track of your businesses it is more ideal to set up the company on a proper accounting system especially if you are planning for the business to grow. If you do not have a lot of transactions then you can take the time to get familiar with the accounting system. If you have a lot of transactions, you can outsource but you need to make sure you do have the knowledge and the wellness to know what is going on. If you are really serious about your business then it is important to have a proper system set up from day one.

There are people previously on desktop systems such as Sage and would like to transition. You can use a third-party system called Move My Books and you can take the Sage backup and use it to transition to Xero. It helps because you do not need to stress out too much, of course in the end you would need to double-check everything but if you take the right steps, everything should match perfectly.

Nowadays as long as your bank statements are synchronised with your accounting system and most things are automated then you are able to submit important information to HMRC or Companies House. All you or your accountant would need to do is just tweak the figures and then you are able to submit it which is less time-consuming. If you are doing your bookkeeping on Xero, you are able to submit your VAT Return straight from there which is very handy. Xero also allows you to customise your reports just to show you the numbers that really matter to the business. Just because a lot of the work that accountants have been doing has been replaced by technology does not mean that it will make all accountants redundant. It just means that is time for the profession to change the way that it delivers its service.

If Cloud Technology Replaced A Lot of Accountant’s Work, How Will That Change the Way Accountancy Services Are Delivered?

The idea is that cloud technology will automate most of the accounts and tax preparation work, the new breed of accountancy profession will focus more on caring about clients’ needs, help them ease their tension around cash flow problems and pay the right amount of tax through their proactive advisory services. Certainly, a cloud accounting system will make your life much easier. It also makes the accountants life much easier too and that means you can expect slightly reduced accountancy fees when you operate your business on a cloud accounting system.

What it really means is accountants need to change. They will no longer be paid for just adding up the numbers. Technology will do that. Instead, the accountant for the future will interest their clients in the care of their financial health, in tax saving, and in the cause and prevention of cash flow problems. Some accountants will make that change. Some won’t. Either way, it is a good thing for business owners.

If you find this content useful, we do provide tailored professional advice on your personal or business tax matters. If you are interested, please direct message the author of this article so we can arrange a chat.

 

Choosing the right business structure for your Start-Up

Have you been wondering if it is better for you to run your business as a sole trader or limited company? What are the pros and cons? When is it worthwhile to form a company? We will give you guidance of the pros and cons, as well as other options, in order to decide the right business structure for you. Many people may find themselves in this position and there are a lot of questions around business start-ups because it is something new to them. It is important to make sure that you know the tax implications and your responsibility because you are about to become a business owner/company director.

 

Sole Trader vs Limited Company

 

For pure tax purposes, a limited company has a lot of advantage. In particular, if you are running a profitable business the tax advantage is quite big because the company tax is only 19%. If you are making profit as a sole trader then effectively it can be taxed as high as 40%-45%. This proves that running a limited company is better for tax purposes.

 

For some people being a sole trader is a better option especially if you are a bootstrapping entrepreneur. This means you are a start-up but in the meantime, you’re still keeping your day job due to your business not making enough sales. Due to it being too early so you do not have enough income to cover your living expense. For example, if you are starting a consulting business or if you are a life coach and you start your business on the side, at the beginning you may have a lot of business expenses. It is worthwhile to stay as a sole trader because at this point you are effectively making a loss in your business. If you are making a loss, you can use that loss to offset any employment income. This can help you get some tax back in order to aid some cash flow to give you some more money to invest in your business.

 

Even if you are not keeping your day job and just starting out your business small, the structure is not too complicated. If you are providing services, it is worthwhile to remain as a sole trader because your responsibility is less than a limited company. You only have to file a self-assessment once a year as a sole trader.

 

At the same time, if your business structure is not that big and you are company director you have to file your company accounts every year. This is due to a limited company being a separate entity from yourself. You have to take care of your company’s tax return as well as your tax return so it’s double the responsibility. Filing company accounts is more complicated than doing sole trader accounts. You cannot randomly draw money from the company because you might get a tax charge if you are not careful enough.

 

When is it Worthwhile for You to Set Up a Limited Company?

 

Whether you are a sole trader or a limited company, you are taxed on the profits not on the top-line revenue. If you are earning £50,000 and you spend the same amount it does not make any difference because you don’t pay tax. But if you are making £20,000 in profit then at this point you might think it’s better to set up a limited company. If you do run a limited company, you can take £10,000 as your own salary because it is under the personal tax-free threshold. This does not trigger much personal tax burden and if you are running your own salary through the payroll it is a tax-deductible expense which is a tax benefit. As a limited company, you do not have to worry about the Class 4 national insurance. As a sole trader, you are not paying your income tax and national insurance as well. You might have to pay second payment on account which means you have to pay next year’s tax in advance. Cash flow wise it might not be suitable for you. Effectively, you will save company tax and then the rest can be taken as a dividend.

 

At the moment, even though dividend tax has changed, it is still cheaper than a salary or your sole trader income. If you are earning within the basic rate bracket, which is currently £45,000, then the dividend tax is only 7.5% which is an advantage. If you have a profit of £45,000 then 20% of it will be taxed.

 

When Limited Company is the ONLY option?

 

If you are a start-up, for example a technology start-up and you request funding or looking for investments at this point you have to set up a limited company structure. This is because you might have to give up your equity to your investors as a sole trader you cannot attract investors. As a sole trader, the business is relying on you.

 

If you as a business owner resign, you are ill and cannot work, or the sole trader has died then the business will die because of that person. But if you run your limited company even if you resign, you can give your share to other people and set up other people as the director so that the business can continue.

 

If you are looking for investors, you have to have a limited company structure. You will be able to set up a share structure for the investors, you will have A share and the investors could have B share. They will have different rights and you will have decision voting rights.

 

Should You Get an Accountant to Set Up the Limited Company?

 

It is important to consider that a limited company is more complicated and most people start looking for an accountant to help. You have to keep your books in a more comprehensive way as well as there being a double-burden. This is mainly due to filing accounts, filing the company tax and personal tax. You would need to find a professional to do it to make sure it is compliant and to keep the peace of mind. Even if you are confident to do it yourself, the time is also the cost so all of these elements need to be considered.

 

If you are confident and have the knowledge yourself then you can do it yourself. However, the benefits of using an accountant are:

 

  • They will save you time.

 

  • They will give you extra reassurance.

 

  • They will be able to take care of what is essential to you. Especially for your start-up, the accountant will make sure you understand what you are doing and what are the critical deadlines.

 

Other Structures

 

There are other structures apart from a sole trader and limited company. For example, there is a partnership or even a limited liability partnership. If you are a small business, it is more effective for you to be a sole trader as things are simple but it will not stop you from being a limited company in the future.

 

Please note that this is not a replacement of tailored professional advice. For personalised and confidential review of your taxes and tax saving opportunities, please contact the author of this article.