Coronavirus: Government Support for the Self-Employed

Rishi Sunak, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced the self-employed and those who run a business as a partnership are to receive 80% of earnings, calculated from the mean average of their trading profits for the 3 previous tax returns (2016/17, 2017/18, & 2018/19).  The trading profit is the taxable profit that is calculated as part of your income tax return, from either self-employment or as part of a partnership.

The scheme is called the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The average is determined by adding the trading profits for the three years, then dividing by three (if you’ve only been trading for two years, the government will add those two years and divide by two instead).  This average can then be divided by 12 to calculate you monthly income average.  80% of this average will be what the government will offer you as a grant which is taxable (-meaning it will need to be declared in your 2020/21 tax return as income received).

The grant is capped at £2,500 p/m and last only for 3 months (although this may be extended depending on how the coronavirus pandemic plays out in the UK).

For you to be eligible, more than half of your income must come from your self-employment. In other words, you can’t claim if more than half your income come comes from another source, such as full-time employment.

Similarly, if more than 50% of your income comes from other sources usually included on your Self-Assessment tax return, such as investment or rental income, then you are not eligible.

Furthermore, you aren’t eligible for the grant if the 2018-19 trading profit is equal to or greater than £50,000, and the average profits for previous years starting in 2016-17 are equal to or greater than £50,000.

If you have not yet submitted your 2018/19 tax return (that was due 31/01/20), you will NOT be eligible for the grant.  If you were self-employed during this period (06/04/2018-05/04/2019), then you have till the 23rd of April to submit your tax return and qualify for the SEISS.  Contact us at Taxfile to help submit your 2018/19 tax return on 020 8761 8000.

Who isn’t eligible?

You are not eligible for the SEISS grant if any of the following applies:

  • Your trading profits are equal to or more than £50,000 – for both tax year 2018/19 and when averaged across the tax years you traded in during last three full tax years starting in 2016/17.
  • You aren’t self-employed or in a partnership at the moment, or don’t intend to be in the future. It’s not enough to merely be enrolled for Self Assessment and to have undertaken self-employment work or have a role in a partnership at some point in the past year. You must be trading now and intend to do so in the 2020/21 tax year too.
  • You failed to submit a Self Assessment tax return for the 2018/19 tax year before 23 April 2020.
  • You haven’t lost trading profits due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Less than 50% of your income comes from your self-employment or partnership.

To apply for the SEISS, the government will contact you (via post) and invite you to apply online, using details they have via your self-assessment registration.  It is estimated that the scheme will be available from June 2020, and that will be the earliest that the grant will be available to the self-employed.

Other coronavirus measures for self-employed workers

There are other coronavirus emergency measures that the government has put in place that might help you, as a self-employed individual or member of a partnership.

Deferred income tax payments

Self Assessment payments due on 31 July 2020 (that is, income tax payments on account) can be deferred until 31 January 2021.

Anybody who fills in a Self Assessment return and who is liable for payments on account can make use of this, not just the self-employed.

Time to Pay

If you’re self-employed and struggling to meet outstanding tax obligations due to financial difficulties, you can contact HMRC to see if you’re eligible for support via the existing HMRC Time to Pay Scheme.  This allows more time to settle financial obligations if you can demonstrate a reasonable ability to pay in future. Contact HMRC on the special coronavirus helpline: 0800 0159 559.

Universal Credit increases

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the government has increased Universal Credit amounts beyond the already anticipated yearly increase as of April 2020.

The standard allowance will be £409.89 per month.

Grants for businesses that pay little or no rates

If your business operates from a property and is registered for the Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR), or Rural Rate Relief (RRR), then it will receive an automatic grant of £10,000 from your local authority.

You don’t need to do anything to receive this (note: the requirements differ depending on where in the UK your business is located).

However, if your business doesn’t pay any rates, you may need to contact your local authority to ensure it has your bank details for the payment.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Businesses can apply for a loan with approved lenders. The government will underwrite 80% of the loan, making the loan more widely available to those who might not normally be able to apply.

It will also pay the interest for the first six months.

MOTs have been suspended

Those who use a vehicle for their self-employed work will be pleased to hear that MOTs have been suspended for six months, provided the MOT falls after 30 March 2020.

The vehicle must be kept in a road-worthy condition but the exemption is automatic, so there’s no need to apply for it.

If in your self-employment business you use a lorry, bus or trailer then there are different rules – MOTs are suspended for three months as of 21 March 2020.

This again is automatic, although you may need to apply under certain conditions.

Deferral of VAT Payments

If you are a VAT registered business in the UK and have a VAT payment to make between 20/03/20 & 30/06/20, this payment can be now deferred till 31/03/2021 without any penalties or charges imposed.  If you pay via Direct debit, this needs to be cancelled with your bank for the deferment to occur.   More information can be found at deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Cloud-based accounting software

A Great Choice of Cloud-based Accounts Software Packages

Cloud-based accounts software packagesSign Up & Your Favourite Charity Gets £25 Too!

[UPDATE: Please note that this offer has now expired]. If you are a limited company client that signs up to a new cloud accounting software subscription from Taxfile, we’ll donate £25 to your favourite charity. So, as well as saving yourself time and making your life easier, you’ll get a warm glow from making the world that little bit better! The accounting software packages that we currently offer and recommend are FreeAgent, Xero and Sage One, which are all leading accounts packages.

With any of the 3 cloud-based packages you’ll be able to:

  • FreeAgent, Xero & Sage One cloud accounting softwareCreate and send invoices from within the software;
  • Automatically chase payments;
  • View real time cash-flow;
  • Track time and expenses;
  • Monitor Profit and loss;
  • Forecast your tax liability;
  • Connect and automatically import your bank statement data straight into the software;
  • And much more!

Best of all, though, will be the time-saving benefits that you’ll get from professional accounting packages like these. With the software working hard for you in the background, you’ll have more time to get on with something else.

Contact Ryan, our resident accounts package specialist, for advice on which package will best suit you and your specific circumstances. He’ll be able to walk you through the details of the many features and benefits of each package as well as any further information you require. Ryan can be contacted on the usual Taxfile number: 0208 761 8000 or, if preferred, fill in an enquiry form here and Ryan will call you back at a time that suits you.

Free accounting software package

AMAZING OFFER! Save Time, Money & Space with a FREE Sage Bookkeeping & Accounts Package!*

Free accounting software package[UPDATE: Please note that this offer has now expired]. Taxfile’s customers can benefit from an incredible offer on a range of Sage accounting packages at the moment. We’re offering a FREE or, in effect, heavily subsidised* Sage accounting package to all active Taxfile customers, whether existing or new. There are various different packages available so we’re sure we’ll have one which will suit every customer perfectly. The list of benefits is almost endless — here are just a few:

  • Firstly we’ll GIVE* Taxfile customers the package — you don’t have to pay Sage at all;
  • Say hello to quick and easy bookkeeping and record-keeping;
  • Quick and easy cash flow management tools;
  • Cloud-based record keeping means you can access accounts records from anywhere with an internet connection;
  • Automatic bank statement integration makes bank reconciliation a breeze, helping when receipts go missing and even recognising – and accounting for – regular transactions;
  • A mobile app module allows you to simply snap a photo of your receipt and it uploads to your Sage account (say goodbye to physical receipt storage!);
  • Less paperwork!
  • Automatic tax computations performed by the software;
  • Report and analysis options;
  • VAT handling;
  • Automatic VAT return options (or let us handle it for you as you prefer);
  • Shows you the taxes and National Insurance due so you can easily pay them on time;
  • Fast and easier tax returns;
  • Help from Taxfile at any point and from Sage’s own helpful videos;
  • Helps you stay in line with UK laws, taxes and regulations;
  • No experience needed;
  • Perfect for the self-employed, start-ups and small businesses;
  • Taxfile will even be happy to set you up;
  • Integrated invoicing and quotation options available (even from your mobile phone!);
  • A quick and easy payroll bolt-on is also available for limited companies, with payslips, RTI, Auto Enrolment integration etc.;
  • Auto enrolment communications included if you have a company pension scheme;
  • Option to automatically integrate online e-commerce records into your Sage account;
  • Fast and easier company accounts preparation;
  • … and much more!

But there is more major benefit – collaboration with us, your accountant!

The Sage packages we supply are not only free, or in effect heavily subsidised depending on the package involved, but also allow us, your accountant and tax adviser, to collaborate with you within your Sage package with your permission. So where you cannot do something yourself, we can log in using our own integrated Sage administration system to get involved on your behalf, for example to set things up for you, run reports, activate VAT returns, tax returns, end of year accounts, payroll and so on. It’s amazing really! So you do as much or as little as you want to … and we cover everything else!

You save money!

Using the easy but powerful Sage bookkeeping and accounting packages supplied by Taxfile
means that you’ll save money. It’s as simple as that. Customers using such packages makes our job easier, reducing our chargeable hours working on your accounts, so quite simply saves you money!

You also save time!

Our Sage packages will save you SO much time you’ll never look back! Once you’ve tried our Sage packages for a while you’ll Read more

Sage One Cashbook accounting package

Get Sage One Cashbook (online accounts package) FREE!

Sage online accounts package - free![UPDATE: Please note that this offer has now expired]. Get Sage One Cashbook FREE, only with Taxfile. If you are a Taxfile customer you can currently get this excellent online accounting and cashflow package totally free of charge. This is better than any special offer you’ll find online for the same product and an additional benefit is that it allows us, your accountants and tax advisors, to collaborate with you within the package (with your permission of course), making managing your income, expenditure, tax accounting and bookkeeping absolute child’s play. You can stop at any time; it’ll cost you nothing either way.

Features & Benefits of Sage One Cashbook online include:

  • It allows you to record income & expenditure for your business quickly and easily;
  • Access your records from anywhere with an internet connection, any time;
  • No accountancy experience is necessary – it’s simple;
  • Perfect for small businesses, sole traders, etc;
  • It allows you to Read more

Bank Base Rate to stay at 0.5% until 2016 (…probably)

Bank Base Rate changesMark Carney, the Bank Of England’s new Governor, has announced his ‘forward guidance’ that the Bank does not intend to raise Bank Rate from 0.5% until the unemployment rate falls to 7%, which it forecasts will happen in mid 2016 — three years away. The Governor hopes that the announcement of this 3 year plan will instil confidence in the economy and help to encourage companies and consumers to borrow money without having to worry about any sudden, unforeseen rises in interest rates. It may well help, but of course it does hinge on that all-important unemployment rate falling to the desired level.

The Governor also stated 3 additional scenarios in which earlier action would become necessary: Read more

VAT Accounting Schemes

Using Standard VAT Accounting, we must complete four VAT returns each year. Any VAT due is payable quarterly, and any VAT refunds due are also repayable quarterly.
In contrast to standard VAT accounting, there are several alternative ways we can account for VAT that could save us time and money. Each of the schemes has advantages and disadvantages.

Among these schemes we can mention the following:

Annual accounting for VAT

Using this method, VAT is paid on account throughout the year in nine monthly or three quarterly instalments. These instalments are based on the VAT paid in the previous year. If the business has been trading for less than a year, the instalments are based on an estimate of the VAT liability.

Advantages:

•we only have to send a VAT return once a year

•reduces the amount of time spent in sorting out paperwork

• improves the cash flow of the business

Disadvantages:

•this method is not suitable for businesses that regularly reclaim VAT as they would only get one repayment at the end of the year.

• if the turnover of the business decreases, the payments may be higher than under the standard VAT accounting.

Cash accounting for VAT

When using the standard VAT accounting, the VAT is payable when an invoice is issued.
Advantage:
•If we use the cash accounting scheme, we do not need to pay VAT until the customer has paid us.

• it is a beneficial method because it improves the cash flow

• we do not need to pay the VAT if the client never pays us.

Disadvantage:

•we cannot reclaim VAT on purchases until we have paid for them.

The flat rate VAT scheme

The flat rate VAT scheme is designed to help small businesses reduce the amount of time they spend accounting for VAT.

Advantage:

• we do not have to calculate the VAT on each and every transaction but just pay a flat rate percentage of the turnover as VAT

Disadvantage:

• one minus using this scheme is that we cannot reclaim VAT on our purchases, especially if we buy a lot of goods and services.

VAT schemes for retailers

Retailers, especially those who sell a high volume of low value goods to the general public, can find it very time consuming and costly to issue VAT invoices for every sale. The VAT retail schemes enable retailers to aggregate their sales and account for VAT on the total.

The main retail schemes are: apportionment schemes, direct calculation schemes and the point of sale scheme.

Margin schemes for second-hand goods, art, antiques, collectibles

The VAT we can recover when buying and selling second-hand goods is quite limited.

Advantage:

•This scheme comes in handy because it calculates the VAT on the difference between the purchase price and the sale price , that is the margin.

•Disadvantage:

•we need to keep very detailed records, otherwise we will be liable for VAT on the full selling price.

Tour operators’ margin scheme

Tour operators often buy goods and services from businesses in foreign countries, and cannot often reclaim their input tax. The Tour Operators’ Margin Scheme solves this problem by allowing tour operators to calculate the VAT on just the value that they add.

As every method comes with pros and cons, it is better to seek guidance from tax accountants like Taxfile in South London and Exeter to analyse your circumstances and tell you which scheme suits you best.