Not many people would suggest that 2009 will go down as a great year. However there have been some good things going on for both Lewis Smith & Co. and our clients.
Lewis Smith & Co. has continued to expand and as you know we have made the move into new offices this year. The reason we have been able to grow is because new businesses continue to start-up and many of our existing clients have worked hard to find new opportunities and new markets and have been able to resume growth themselves.
What’s interesting to us is that our role in the success of our clients is changing. Of course we continue to provide expert accountancy services but increasingly people are calling on our capabilities in business planning and our knowledge of alternative sources of finance.
We are proud that we are seen by many clients as a trusted advisor across all aspects of their business and delighted that we have been able to help so many of them ride the recession and begin to take advantage of the recovery.
From everybody at Lewis Smith & Co. we hope you have a Happy Christmas and let’s all look forward to a prosperous New Year.
If you have heard people talking about Social Media but weren’t sure what it was all about then perhaps Lewis Smith & Co. can help.
We have just started experimenting with some of the new technology and we would be pleased to help you learn about it along with us.
We have set up a Twitter profile where we have started to put out posts about what we have been up to. You can also see what our “followers” have to say too. Visit http://twitter.com/lewissmithandco to find out more.
Several member of the Lewis Smith & Co. team also have profiles on LinkedIn, which is a business-oriented social networking site. It is a good place to connect up with old friends and new business contacts, and there are various ways for you to talk about you and your business.
In a move which could affect up to 4 million people across the UK the government is increasing the minimum age at which pension benefits can be drawn down from 50 to 55 years old from April 6th 2010. This impacts any of you who were born between April 6th, 1955, and April 6th 1960.
Dealing with this change depends on whether you are considering full retirement or simply drawing down some of your accrued benefits whilst still working, and potentially continuing to make pension contributions. The type of pension you have should also influence your decision: personal or stakeholder pensions should have the greatest flexibility.
Our advice is to discuss how this change affects you with your financial adviser. We are also here to provide specific advice if your pension arrangements are tied into your company ownership or directorship.
Feel free to call Lewis Smith & Co. on 01384 235549 to discuss the implications of this change on you and your business.
The government has announced plans to introduce additional paternity leave and pay for fathers of children due on or after 3 April 2011.
The scheme has, according to the government, been structured in such a way as to minimise the administrative burden on small businesses. You will still need to understand what the changes are and be ready to put them into place if the circumstances arise though.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills press release highlighted the following key areas of the new scheme;
Families will have the choice to transfer up to six months leave to the father should they want to, which can be taken by the father once the mother has returned to work;
This new provision will be available during the second six months of the child’s life, giving parents the option of dividing a period of paid leave entitlement between them
Some of the leave may be paid if taken during the mother’s 39 week maternity pay period. This would be paid at the same rate as Statutory Maternity Pay (currently £123.06);
Parents will be required to “self certify” by providing details of their eligibility to their employer. Employers and HMRC will both be able to carry out further checks of entitlement if necessary.
If you need to understand more about how these changes will affect your bookkeeping and payroll then give Lewis Smith & Co. a call on 01384 235549 to arrange a free consultation.
Lewis Smith & Co., working with one of our IFA (Independent Financial Adviser) partners, has identified an opportunity for business owners to unlock some of the value of their pension pot.
Company owners can legitimately use their pension fund to make an investment in the business (by buying unlisted shares) or even into commercial property providing they adhere to HMRC regulations. Transactions like this would be subject to CGT (Capital Gains Tax) at 10% but this still could be an attractive proposition in many circumstances. At a time when credit has been difficult to come by from traditional sources this could be a way of financing investment or supporting management buy-out activity.
However this is not an option for everybody. There are a number of restrictions which limit how and when pension funds can be used in this way and as a general rule of thumb we suggest reserves of between £300-400k are required in order to optimise the potential benefits.
Lewis Smith & Co. just wanted to remind you that the temporary reduction of VAT to 15%, that started on 1st December 2008, is coming to an end on January 1st 2010.
So you need to remember to apply VAT at 17.5% again on sales of products or services after that date. You will also need to remember to apply the change in your books or finance systems to make sure everything adds for your VAT return.
Not too difficult a change to sort out but one that could cause a few problems if you forget.
If you have any questions about the change in VAT rates then feel free to give us a call on 01384 235549 and we’ll do our best to help.
HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) has responded to an increase in the number of people receiving emails that offer tax rebates. They have issued a new warning not to follow weblinks in such emails or provide confidential information.
They have stressed that they never notify individuals of a tax rebate using email, nor will they request that online forms are completed.
More details of HMRC’s guidance can be found on their website.
If you have received a suspicious email, related to tax rebates, and you aren’t sure what do do about it then feel free to check it out with Lewis Smith & Co. get in contact by phone or email.
The Information Commissioners Office (ICO), which upholds information rights in the UK, seems to have taken a more aggressive stance on companies that it deems to be operating as “data controllers” but who haven’t registered as such under the Data Protection Act. The Accountancy sector has been hit hard recently with a number of practices suffering fines of more than £1,000 for breaching the act – but it could easily your business that gets targeted.
According to the ICO a data controller means a person or an organisation who (either alone, or jointly, or in common with others) decides how and why any personal information is to be processed. This is distinct from a data processor, who only processes personal data under instruction from the controller. So in small and medium sized businesses the data controller is very likely to be one of the directors.
There are exemptions from notification that relate to the nature of the organisation (not for profits are exempt) or where the only personal information being referenced is for staff administration purposes such as payroll. Looking at the exemption list, however, it becomes quickly apparent that registration is more likely to be the normal requirement.
In the first instance it is probably prudent to register anyway and then start checking your Data Protection Act obligations a little more thoroughly.
If you have any queries about how the management of financial and payroll data is impacted by the Data Protection Act then give Lewis Smith & Co. a call on 01384 235549 to arrange a free consultation. It is an area we have a lot of experience in.