Move quickly if you want early retirement

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.

Lewis Smith & Co. – Supporting entrepreneurs and new businesses in Dudley, Stourbridge and Wolverhampton

Additional paternity leave and pay

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. – Accountants for Kingswinford businesses

Company owners – unlock your pension pot

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.

If you believe that your business could benefit from unlocking the value of your pension fund then contact Lewis Smith & Co. today for a free, confidential discussion of your options.
Lewis Smith & Co. – Bookkeeping, payroll and credit control for Blackheath, Netherton and Cradley

Get ready for the VAT rise

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.

Lewis Smith & Co. – Solving tax, accounting and business issues for clients in Brierley Hill, Rowley Regis and Wednesbury.

Tax scam email warning

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.

Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountancy, tax and business advice for start-ups in Dudley, Stourbridge and Wolverhampton

Don’t fall foul of the Data Protection Act – Check your status now!

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.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Tax planning and compliance for Wednesbury businesses

Lewis Smith & Co. get the gold

Black Country chartered certified accountants, Lewis Smith & Co., are delighted to announce that they have been awarded gold level status as an Approved Training Practice by the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

ACCAThis means that ACCA trainees get provided with excellent training and practice experience to enable them to obtain their own Practicing Certificate. Only trainees working in an approved training practice can obtain this certificate.

Lewis Smith & Co. Director, Andrew Smith, sees this as great accolade.

“For Lewis Smith & Co. developing the skills of our team has been a vital element in growing the business. We’ve worked hard to create the right training environment and achieving gold status from the ACCA shows that the effort has paid off. Lewis Smith & Co. will have a pool of experts to help us support new clients as we continue to expand.”

For more information on how Lewis Smith & Co. can support your business give us a call on 01384 235549 or email us at

Lewis Smith & Co. – Chartered Certified Accountants for Wolverhampton

Protect directors’ addresses from disclosure

October 1st 2009 sees the final stage of the implementation of the Companies Act 2006.

One provision that we at Lewis Smith & Co. will be of particular interest relates to directors’ addresses. From October 1st directors will have a service address and a residential address. By default the service address will be the same as the residential address but you will have the capability to change the service address (to, say, the registered office) on the Companies House website.

The residential address will still be available to public authorities and credit reference agencies but not publicly accessible.

Lewis Smith & Co. provides a registered address for many companies and if you need any information on how to respond to this change then please contact us for advice today.

Lewis Smith & Co. – A dedicated team of accountancy, tax and business advisors for Halesowen and Quinton