Thursday heralds the start of the new tax year and for many businesses, just as on New Year’s Day, it’s a good time to make resolutions, turn over new leaves, do some positive planning and make sure you are compliant.
As with any tax year, April 2017 heralds changes for businesses and contractors. Some will be welcome, others less so.
As always, keeping on top of business finance, staying compliant, and – perhaps most important of all – having a robust business plan, is key to running a successful enterprise.
- Keep records up to date and accurate. As the Making Tax Digital plans to digitalise the taxation system are rolled out over the next few years, information will need to be submitted to HMRC quarterly, so keeping on top of records is vital.
- Make sure you’re claiming the right expenses. You may be surprised how small changes to the way you do things can make a real difference.
- Check out your online HMRC Personal Tax Account. HMRC is collating details here of interest, salaries, pension and (soon) rental income received by you from third parties. This is great news for keeping on top of your affairs and tax planning but it also means that HMRC is querying even the smallest differences between this and your tax return.
- Check through any complex or foreign transactions with your accountant. Rules governing overseas transactions can be complicated, so it is important to get it right.
- It may seem obvious but make sure your tax return agrees with any backing information (including financial accounts); it is surprising how often this isn’t the case.
- Online filing is making tax reporting quicker and simpler but make sure that you register for relevant taxes and online filing well in advance of when you need them. It can take some time to set up these up.
- File your returns and make any payments to HMRC on time. It is very easy to forget this when bogged down in the day to day running of your business, but this oversight can be costly.
- And when you’ve submitted a return, check it has been received by HMRC or by Companies House – even if filed electronically. It could have gone missing in cyberspace!
- Be vigilant. There’s a marked increase in fraudsters posing as government agencies to try to part you from your money. Check before you provide any information or payments.
- Finally, HMRC sometimes gets things wrong. So if you have an issue, check your carefully-kept records and be prepared to argue your position.
The good news is that working with an accountant who embraces technological change and is ready for Making Tax Digital, such as Regulatory Accounting, will ensure that you are kept compliant and up to date.
Jon Lacey is accounts director with Swindon-based chartered firm Regulatory Accounting www.regaccounting.co.uk