National Minimum Wage 2016

Are you ready for the big rise?

minimum wage 2016 The national minimum wage rises by 50p in April this year from £6.70 to £7.20 for people aged 25 and over.

The government has softened the blow for small businesses by a 50% increase in the National Insurance contributions (NICs) employment allowance, which rises to £3,000 per year.  According to George Osbourne the reduction in employer NICs offsets the increase in minimum wage for the equivalent of 4 full time members of staff.

So it’s high time to check your payroll to make sure that you are ready for both the wage rise and the increased allowance.

Not paying £7.20 might upset your staff.  Not claiming the allowance will definitely up set you.

If sorting all of this out has become too much hassle then why not talk to Lewis Smith & Co. about our payroll bureau?  We can take care of everything right down to the payslips.

Call us today on 01384 235549 or email to find out more.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for Netherton businesses

Happy New Year

2016 tax and accountancyHow to start 2016

The last cork has popped on the bubbly and the Christmas decorations have come down.

There’s a New Year to look forward to starting with…

Tax returns.  Or to use the proper terminology “self-assessment tax return”.

Remember that the online forms for the 2014-2015 tax year must be completed and filed by January 31st 2016.  If your form is received late then you will get fined.

Once that’s out of the way then maybe it’s time to do a little tax planning?

With changes such as a large increase in the minimum wage, auto enrolment pensions and new rental property taxation amongst others, both your personal and business tax affairs might need some tweaking.

How about setting up a free, no-obligation meeting with one of our partners?

Lewis Smith & Co. has a reputation for offering practical, helpful advice to our customers and ensuring they pay no more tax then they should.

Make an appointment today. Call 01384 235549 or email


Lewis Smith & Co.  – Use our Pensions Auto-Enrolment Service to take away the hassle



Photo credit to K.D. Schroeder, Crystal_ball_by_Ron_Bodoh.JPG, User:KDS4444, License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Christmas Office Times

Happy Christmas from Lewis Smith & Co.

Just to let you know that our team are recharging their batteries over Christmas ready tax return time in the New Year.

Our offices will be closed on Wednesday 23rd December 2015 and reopen on Monday 4th January 2016.

Have a wonderful festive season and lets all look forward to a prosperous New Year.


Autumn Statement 2015

What West Midlands small businesses need to know
Full personal allowance

George Osbourne’s latest Budget made the headlines primarily for the change in tack on tax credits.  Improved forecasts on the state of the public finances have allowed the planned cut in credits and some of the proposal to reduce police spending to be dropped.

There were still some areas of particular interest to small businesses however – let’s take a quick look at what might affect you.

  • The doubling of small business rate relief will be extended for another year, until April 2017.
  • An apprenticeship levy will be introduced in April 2017.  This will be set at 0.5% of the wage bill where it exceeds £3m.
  • Restrictions will be imposed from April 2016 on tax relief for travel and subsistence expenses for workers working through personal service companies where intermediaries legislation applies.  There is no final guidance on this matter and we will keep an eye on what the exact arrangements will be.
  • An extra 3% on stamp duty will be levied on buy-to-let properties and second homes from April 2016.  This does not apply to corporates or funds making large investments in residential property.
  • The 3% differential between diesel and petrol engined cars, applied to bands of CO2 emissions, will now be retained until April 2021.
  • A National Living Wage (NLW) for workers aged 25 and will be introduced from April 2016 at a rate of £7.20 an hour.
  • The Chancellor announced plans to consult next year on a major update to the tax system.  The outline plan is that most businesses will have a digital tax account which will give them oversight of all relevant taxes in one place.  In return HMRC will expect them to provide updates at least quarterly.

The details of many of these points have not yet been worked out.  Lewis Smith & Co. will be keeping track of the actual changes in legislation and reporting requirements and making sure its clients comply with what is needed.

If you are unsure how the latest Budget affects you or your business then contact Lewis Smith & Co. to arrange a no-obligation discussion.  Call 01384 235549 or email today.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for West Bromwich start-ups

Image courtesy of Stewart Miles/

R&D Tax Credits – It could be you.

SMEs are missing out on an important tax break

R&D tax relief for SMEs in Stourbridge businessesBelieve it or not HMRC is keen for you to claim tax relief on research and development costs if you are a small or medium-sized business

HMRC has recognised that many SMEs have either not seen the tax saving opportunity or haven’t believed that they would be eligible.  Because R&D is seen as vital to the long term health of the UK economy there is a push to clarify the breadth of activity that could be counted and make it easier to apply for relief.

SME Definition
The definition of an SME is an organisation with fewer than 500 employees and either turnover less than €100m (approx. £75m) or a balance sheet of €43m (approx. £30m) or less.  These criteria may not apply if your business is a subsidiary or if another company has a shareholding of 25% or more.

The SME relief scheme offers 230% tax relief on allowable costs.  That means if you have an R&D expenditure of £10,000 in a year you could deduct £23,000 from the income on which Corporation Tax is paid.

R&D Activities
Importantly HMRC is at pains to stress that the activities covered by the scheme are very broad.  HMRC’s definition of R&D refers to:

“Projects that project seeks to achieve an advance in science or technology through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty. “

Although this sounds quite technical, in practice it covers improvements in processes, materials, devices, products and services. For example:

  • New methods of construction in the building sector.
  • IT systems integration for an insurance company.
  • The design of specialised electronics.

Allowable costs
The range of costs that you can claim relief on is also quite broad:

  • Employee costs in proportion to the amount of time they spend on the project.
  • Staff providers who supply external workers to the project – again in proportion to R&D project time.
  • Materials used in R&D.
  • Directly applied utility costs (excluding telecoms).
  • Software costs.
  • Subcontracted R&D costs at a reduced rate of relief of 65%.

Claiming relief
R&D relief is claimed through your annual company tax return and there is a 2 year time limit after the end of the relevant tax accounting period.  If your company makes a loss during the relevant accounting period then you can apply to receive relief in the form of a tax credit.

HMRC doesn’t require specific records to be kept in relation to the R&D relief claims. However they make a compliance check in relation to your claim so it makes sense to identify and document R&D activities and costs as clearly as possible.

Do you need help?
If you are considering undertaking some R&D activity and you want to know if it will be eligible for relief or if you want to make an R&D relief claim then Lewis Smith & Co. can help.

We can provide set-up advice, on-going management support and and expertise in completing your company tax return.  All you need to do is get in contact.

Call us today on 01384 235549 to arrange a confidential discussion or email


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for Kingswinford businesses.

VAT Registration

Are you over the compulsory VAT registration threshold?

vat-threshold-1You must register for VAT with HMRC if your VAT taxable turnover exceeds the registration threshold (currently £82,000) in any 12-month period.

  • Registration is also compulsory if you expect to go over the threshold in a single 30 day period.
  • If you believe your VAT taxable turnover is exceeding the threshold for a temporary you can apply to HMRC for an exception.
  • If you register later than 30 days after exceeding the threshold you may face penalties.

Voluntary registration is permissible even if VAT taxable turnover is below the threshold.

VAT taxable turnover is essentially your UK sales including zero rated items but excluding VAT exempt items such as insurance and charity fundraising events.

Once you have registered for VAT you will have to start managing a variety of VAT responsibilities;

  • Charge the correct rate of VAT on sales
  • VAT record keeping
  • Manage VAT submissions (including reclaiming VAT and payments to HMRC).

HMRC offers VAT registration advice and assistance on its website.  If you need help deciding whether or not you need to register or want someone to manage the hassle of all the admin then Lewis Smith & Co. can help.

Our tax experts will help you with all of the VAT tax planning and we can deal with the day-to-day administration through our bookkeeping bureau service.

All you have to do is call us on 01384 235549 or email


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for Sandwell businesses



2015 Minimum Wage Rates

Rises From October 1st 2015 

2015 minimum wage ratesNew minimum wage rates apply from Thursday October 1st 2015. The rates for different ages of workers are, ascending order, as follows;

  • £6.70 – the main rate for workers aged 21 and over
  • £5.30 – the rate for 18-20 year olds
  • £3.87 – the rate for 16-17 year olds above school leaving age but under 18
  • £3.3 – for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

Remember to update your payroll scheme Real Time Information (RTI) to ensure your reporting is accurate.

Lewis Smith & Co. offer a payroll bureau service that’s designed to take away the headaches of both payroll and RTI.

Just give us a call on 01384 235549 or email us at if you want to find out more.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for businesses in Tipton




Self-assessment Tax Return Deadlines

Submit Paper Tax Return by Oct 31st!

It’s tax return time again and HMRC has been issuing reminders for those of you who wish to submit your 2014-2015 self assessment return in paper format.

Deadline for self-assessment tax returns

The return must be filed (not just put in the post) with HMRC by midnight October 31st 2015 or you will be fined £100.  If you don’t think you can fill your return in and get to the tax man by that date then file online instead to avoid the penalty.

Online returns must be received by midnight on January 31st 2016 to avoid penalties.  If you want want HMRC to automatically collect the tax you owe then the deadline is December 30th 2015.

Whatever happens you need to pay the tax you owe by January 31st 2016 and if you are late then expect both penalties and interest charges to apply.  HMRC has provided a handy online calculator to work out what the penalties will be.

Lewis Smith & Co. has a team of experts on hand to help you complete and file your self assessment return if needed.

All you have to do is call us on 01384 235549 or email


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for Dudley businesses for over 30 years