Welcome to the April 2015 Newsletter from Connolly Accountants Ltd

Chancellor George Osborne gave his Budget speech on 18 March, and now businesses are looking to the new financial year, as the nation awaits the General Election in May. But regardless of the outcome, there are always steps you can take to help secure the future of your business and your personal finances.

Meanwhile, business groups and retailers have welcomed plans to conduct a 'radical review' of the business rates system in England. The move comes amid concerns that the existing system is 'contributing to the demise of the UK High Street'.


Planning for a prosperous year ahead

With the coming of the new tax year, business owners are looking to the future and making preparations for the coming months and beyond. With new rates and allowances coming into effect, we outline some of the actions you can take to help ensure your financial plans come to fruition.

Utilise the personal allowance

With all earners born after 5 April 1948 entitled to earn up to £10,600 (2015/16) free from tax, using your personal tax reliefs to their fullest is the simplest first step towards enhancing your income. If you are a business owner you could consider paying your spouse/partner a salary, or taking them into partnership, in order to maximise your joint allowances. However, certain rules apply so please seek our advice before taking action.

Consider savings and investments

Are you making the most of tax-free savings vehicles? The ISA subscription limit is increasing to £15,240 from 6 April 2015, while the Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund limits will rise to £4,080. From Autumn 2015 first-time buyers are also set to benefit from a new Help to Buy: ISA, into which those saving for a first home can pay in a maximum monthly sum of £200 (with an opportunity to deposit an additional £1,000 when the account is first opened). The Government will then provide a tax-free contribution equal to 25% of the total amount saved.

Be mindful of capital gains tax

Be sure to make use of your capital gains tax (CGT) allowance, which is increasing to £11,100, and plan your disposals appropriately to make them more efficient. For example, delaying a sale until 6 April means you will not have to pay CGT on it for a whole year. And don't forget to claim losses on assets that have become worthless. Also, claiming Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) deferral relief means you may defer CGT against investment in qualifying small trading companies - a bonus for you and for small businesses.

Pay into a pension

With pensions auto-enrolment now in place, employees with a workplace pension (or any other private pension) may want to consider making additional payments in order to maximise their wealth in later years. According to a recent Government report, over 12 million people are estimated to not be saving enough for their retirement. Individuals are encouraged not to rely on the state pension of £115.95 / £185.45 for a couple (2015/16 rates) as their sole source of income in their later years.

Think about the long term

If you are planning to retire soon, now is the time to begin thinking about how you will exit your business in the most tax-efficient way for you and your family. Take time to review your estate planning strategy and your Will. Lifetime gifts or trusts could benefit the most important people in your life, and gifts to spouses are exempt from inheritance tax.

For the longer term planner, life insurance policies can be an effective means of gifting to your family in the future. Your surviving spouse's annual £3,000 inheritance tax exemption can be carried forward to the following year, and utilised in conjunction with the exemption for that year. The standard threshold for inheritance tax remains £325,000.

With so many options to consider, and an abundance of information to take into account, be sure to contact us for advice tailored to your particular circumstances.


Retailers welcome business rates review

Retailers and business groups have welcomed government plans to carry out a 'radical review' of the business rates system in England.

Chancellor George Osborne confirmed the review in his 2015 pre-election Budget, stating that the current business rates system 'has not kept pace with the needs of a modern economy and changes to our town centres'.

Business rates, which date back to the Poor Law established in 1601, are currently calculated according to the rental value of the property a company uses.

However, businesses have long campaigned for an overhaul of the system, with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) arguing that its 'outmoded, clunky and regressive' nature is contributing to the demise of the UK High Street.

The review will examine how businesses use property, what the UK can learn from other countries about local business taxes, and how the system can be modernised so it better reflects changes in the value of property.

John Longworth, from the British Chambers of Commerce, applauded the move: 'It is good to see that the Government is looking at a wide-ranging review of business rates, as this iniquitous tax hammers businesses across the country, before they've even made [a] single pound in profit.'

Helen Dickinson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium, said: 'To guarantee that this review is a success it's absolutely crucial that the Government seeks authoritative and independent analysis as it progresses, with solutions based on the objective consideration of supporting evidence.'

However, some experts have warned that the scope of the review may be limited if the outcome is to be 'fiscally neutral', as many reports have suggested.

The review is set to report back by the 2016 Budget.


ESSENTIAL TAX DATES FOR APRIL

5 April
Last day of 2014/15 tax year.
Deadline for 2014/15 ISA investments.
Last day to make disposals using the 2014/15 CGT exemption.

14 April
Due date for income tax for the CT61 period to 31 March 2015.

17/22 April
Quarter 4 2014/15 PAYE remittance due.

20 April
Interest will begin to accrue on unpaid PAYE/NI for 2014/15.

30 April
Normal annual adjustment for VAT partial exemption calculations (monthly returns).


QUOTE OF THE MONTH

'One important consequence of all of this is that implied public services spending is on a roller coaster profile through the next Parliament.'

Robert Chote, Chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), reacts to George Osborne's revised austerity cuts.


WEBSITE OF THE MONTH

www.smeweb.com

Helpful tips, articles and opinions for small and medium-sized enterprises.


ON OUR WEBSITE

Tax Information
Everything you need to know from the Budget to newly updated Tax Rates, our Tax Information page can help you.

Your Business
Our concise tips and guides can be an excellent first step and point of reference. Visit the Your Business section of our website today.

Britons saving more money than at any time in last decade
People in Britain are managing to put more money into savings accounts than at any time in the past decade, according to National Savings and Investments (NS&I).
Click here for the full story

Accountancy group predicts slower growth
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has warned that the slowdown in business spending could have an impact on economic growth.
Click here for the full story

Number of small businesses in profit 'reaches pre-2008 levels'
The number of small businesses reporting increased turnover, profits and an expansion to their workforce has risen to pre-2008 levels in the last 12 months, according to a recent business survey.
Click here for the full story

HMRC offers small concession for late RTI returns
HMRC has revealed that employers who file Real Time Information (RTI) returns no more than three days after the deadline will not incur a penalty.
Click here for the full story

Mid-sized companies key to job creation, says CBI
The CBI has urged the next government to help medium-sized businesses to gain access to funding.
Click here for the full story