Protect Your Assets for your Loved Ones Today – Check out these Advanced Inheritance Tax Planning Strategies

I think it’s time we walked about a topic we have put on hold for weeks. Today, I want you to picture what life will be for your loved ones when you are gone.

For many of my clients, inheritance tax planning is not something they are open to talking about. After all, it is hard to envision the outcome for your family upon death. However, today we will look at two strategies you can use to protect your family from financial backslides due to poor estate planning.

A few weeks ago, I had a guest over to talk about the basics of inheritance planning (use of wills and gifting). This week, you will be learning more about inheritance tax planning from our guest Mr. Aidan Dow of Aidan Dow Wealth Management.

Aidan talked about two main inheritance tax planning strategies you can pay attention to in order to secure your family’s future. They are:

  • Using Family Trusts

You may use family trusts to keep your estate within your family. With a trust in place, your beneficiaries have a legal standing to inherit your estate. You set up a trust and transfer assets. You then name your beneficiaries – those to whom your wealth will transfer – and trustees to enforce the conditions of the trust.

Trusts protect inherited property, as Aidan pointed out. One circumstance where having a trust matters is when you want to ensure the inheritance still passes to your children even with the remarriage and divorce of your surviving spouse.

  • Investing in Assets with Tax Benefits

If you are passionate about propagating small businesses and hold no fear for high-risk investment, this method of inheritance tax planning would be suitable for you, Aidan affirmed during our session.

Assets such as in-shares and venture capital trusts fall outside your estate when owned for more than two years. With such assets, you can save your beneficiaries from paying the 40% inheritance tax usually charged on property worth above £325,000.

So, the next time you are thinking about taking care of your loved ones with inheritance tax planning, remember these strategies. Additionally, consult with an expert to help you plan your estate the best way you can.

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

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

VAT in the Healthcare Industry

In the healthcare industry, there are some VAT related issues that can arise. Today we will be giving some guidance on VAT, this will be helpful for you as we will cover the important areas such as how you can account for VAT and when you need to register for VAT etc. Even if you are not in the medical industry, some of the points we will discuss might apply to you too. We will also share some questions commonly asked and some scenarios that some of our clients have been through.

What Services Can You Register for VAT?

If you become a locum doctor and you are doing freelance work, for the treatments and services that has a primary purpose of restoring human health, you will not be able to charge VAT for this so you do not register for VAT. This is due to the fact that it is necessary for people and the government want it to be affordable which is why it is exempt for VAT registration.

On the other hand, if you are a freelancer but also do a bit of medical legal work on the side, you are able to register the legal work for VAT. However, you do not have to if you do not reach your threshold. Currently, the threshold is £85,000 for any role in 12 months. If you are doing that level of medical legal work then VAT is something that you would need to watch out for. However, if you only do it on an ad hoc basis then it is probably not worth for you to register yourself for VAT and having to do all of the paperwork as it does cost money to submit a VAT and it takes up a lot of your time.

Another similar situation is a dental practice. As a dental practice, you are not only providing a treatment but you are also selling products, which you may register VAT for. In this case, you are able to register for VAT only when your business has reached the threshold mentioned.

Locum Doctors and Agency Workers

VAT implications for locum doctors who are working under a limited company and/or work via an agency can be a grey area. The limited company might become a staff supplying service as the company is supplying medical staff. You would need to be clear within your contract between yourself and your agency as well as any clients. You need to figure out whether you are working as a service provider as a medical professional or if your company providing medical staff. If you are providing medical staff, that service can be registered for VAT. If you are providing medical services as a medical professional then you cannot register for VAT.

Providing Work and Services Under a Company

Some people ask whether they are able to set up a different company just for medical legal work. If you put all of the VAT-able work to that company just to receive a payment and provide medical legal service then you can set up a company for this purpose. This can apply to you especially if you are a self-employed medical professional or if you are doing medical legal work it can also be classed as self-employment. Setting up a company can be tax efficient for you because you can get tax-free dividends and dividends cost less than your personal income tax. It is important to note that when it comes to setting up a company, please do seek legal and professional advice.

One thing you cannot do is split a company. For example, if you do medical legal work and use two companies to run it, you may think that each of the companies will be under the threshold. However, this isn’t the case as you are the person who provides the service which means you control both companies. In this case, you would need to combine the revenue when it comes to considering the VAT.

When Do You Need to Register and What Happens Once You Register?

You are able to voluntarily register even if you are under the threshold. You might be worried that you will not be notified once you reach the threshold and you forget to register so it is important to take care of this when you can so you do not forget about it.

Whenever you do register, you need to set-up an effective date. For example, if it is November but you want the effective date to start on the 1st December, any services/invoices you provide would need to start charging VAT from this date. There may be some delay from the date you register and the date you receive the VAT certificate, which means you might receive it after the effective date. You must not charge VAT until you receive the certificate. But within that time period you can do either of the following:

  • Increase the price by 20% and state it is a service fee. Once you do receive the certificate, you can just reverse the service fee and start charging VAT, OR
  • Invoice the service as it is, and issue a VAT-only invoice once you have received the VAT certificate.

You need to make sure you are transparent and let your clients know what is happening so that you have set some expectations for them.

From the effective date, any overhead expenses that you have paid VAT for you are able to claim it back from HMRC by doing your quarterly VAT return. It is something you would need to be really organised with and make sure you are able to record and provide the relevant paperwork on a quarterly basis. It is always beneficial to be compliant especially if HMRC decide to do a VAT investigation.

What to Reclaim

  • You are able to claim Any bill that clearly states you have paid VAT for, you need to make sure you keep the bill for your records. If something is VAT inclusive but it does not show the VAT on the actual bill then you would still need to include the VAT when you reclaim it.
  • If you are newly VAT registered, you can backlog some expenses. For services, you can backlog for 6 months and if you have any equipment or any goods that you have paid VAT and still own you can backlog for 4 years.
  • You need to watch out for things like entertainment as if it is for business purposes such as entertaining your staff then you can claim the VAT but if you are entertaining clients then you cannot. You might not be able to claim 100% of the VAT if it is a combination of business and personal use.
  • When it comes to a medical practice, anything directly related to the medical legal work you can claim the VAT on. For the overheads, such as rent, you can only claim an apportion of the VAT back if you are using the office to do treatments but also medical legal work.

De-registration

If you see yourself doing less VAT-able work, you can choose to deregister VAT. When your revenue goes down and do not want to be registered anymore, HMRC will not automatically deregister you so it is important to evaluate your situation yourself. You need to make sure is based purely on business decisions instead of tax mitigation strategies.

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.