Minimum Wage Rates 2017

Rates Change on April 1st 2017

Minimum wage rates 2017

Time to update your payroll system because National Minimum Wage rates are changing from April 1st.

Here’s a before and after list for you to check.

 Age 2016 2017
 25 and over £7.20 £7.50
 21 to 24 £6.95 £7.05
 18 to 20 £5.55 £5.60
 Under 18 £4.00 £4.05
 Apprentice £3.40 £3.50

Remember that Real Time Information (RTI) means you must use the correct data to ensure your reporting is accurate.

Lewis Smith & Co. offers a payroll bureau service to take away all of the hassle of managing changes like this. Make sure you remain HMRC compliant and sign up today.

Call us on 01384 235549 or email to discover more.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountancy services for Kingswinford businesses

Happy New Year

How Are You (Tax) Planning The Year Ahead?

All good things come to an end don’t they.  No more champagne breakfasts, tinsel on the Christmas tree or tables groaning with food.

2017 has started and no doubt you will be getting down to some serious work…on your tax return.

Online forms for the 2015-2016 tax year must be completed and filed by January 31st 2016. Don’t post your return late because you will get fined.  After that have you thought about next year’s taxes?

We thought not.

plan your tax for 2017 so you should pay no more tax than you shouldParticularly if you run a business there are lots of changes related to tax going on. Digital tax proposals, the minimum wage increase, auto enrolment pensions and new rental property taxation amongst others.  Thinking about tax now makes it easier for us to help you pay no more than you should in the future.

How about setting up a free, no-obligation tax planning discussion with one of our partners today?

Call 01384 235549 or email


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for Charities and Not-For-Profit Organisations

Ready to Make Tax Digital?

It could start as soon as 2018!

We first mentioned this process back in September 2016 (“HMRC wants you to be software savvy“) after HMRC announced it’s intention to shift as much of the tax system as it can online.

Is your business ready for Making Tax Digital. Will your software cope?

Fundamentally businesses will be required to:

  • Keep digital records
  • Update HMRC with quarterly reports
  • Provide an end of year submission/annual taxable profit calculation

There is likely to be a staged introduction to the changes, starting in 2018.  Although that sounds a long way off Lewis Smith & Co. suggests that you start considering how you intend to fulfill HMRC requirements sooner rather than later.

Larger firms using accountancy software such as Sage will be naturally compliant with the new requirements.

For smaller businesses currently using spreadsheets or manual cash books the transition to simple accountancy packages such as KashFlow or Xero (which Lewis Smith & Co. supports) should be straightforward. The issue to consider is making sure you can put in place the processes to keep the systems updated and produce the required reports.

The real challenge may be for companies using bespoke management system (legal firms, dentists and doctors for instance) which handle financial transaction but don’t currently communicate with HMRC.  We recommend that you approach your system providers now to understand whether they will be making appropriate upgrades.  If they aren’t aware of the necessity or have decided not to make the required changes then you might to make a bigger transition than you thought.

Why not discuss Making Tax Digital with Lewis Smith & Co.?  We can help you plan for the changes well in advance and ensure your business is fully compliant.

You can arrange a free, confidential discussion today. Call 01384 235549 or email


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for Quarry Bank businesses


Pre-registration of VAT

VAT is deductible on assets used prior to registration

recover pre-registration VAT on assetsThe fact that HMRC allows businesses to recover VAT on goods and services used before registration isn’t new (if you didn’t realise then now is your opportunity).

What’s different now is that HMRC has clarified the rules because of inconsistencies in the way businesses have been treated.

The clarification goes as follows:

  • VAT on services received within six months of EDR and used in the business at EDR is recoverable in full
  • VAT on stock is deductible to the extent that the goods are still on hand at EDR (for example apportionment may be required)
  • VAT on fixed assets purchased within four years of EDR is recoverable in full, providing the assets are still in use by the business at EDR.

Full recovery only applies if the business is fully-taxable. Businesses who are partly-exempt, have non-business activities, or need to restrict VAT deduction for any other reason, will need to take that into account when calculating deductible VAT.

HMRC will accept corrections for overpayment of VAT in the following circumstances:

  • the business has reduced the VAT it deducted on fixed assets, to account for pre-EDR use
  • HMRC have raised an assessment of tax to account for pre-EDR use of fixed assets
  • HMRC have reduced a repayment claim to account for pre-EDR use of fixed assets

HMRC will consider claims for repayment of penalties and interest charged as a result of assessments.

If you want to recover VAT on assets used by your business prior to registration or you are unsure whether or not you can, then Lewis Smith & Co. can help.

Get in contact for a free, no-obligation discussion today. Call 01384 235549 or email


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

Fundraising Regulator for Charities

New body to maintain standards for charitable fundraising

Our charity clients will be interested in the introduction of the Fundraising Regulator, a body established following concern about the way in which charities contact potential donors.

The regulator is tasked with developing a register of organisations who have signed up to its code of practice, investigating poor practice, working with the Charities Commission and Information Commissioner’s Office to act upon wrongdoing, and implementing a Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) to allow opt-outs from communication.

Signing up to the FR register is voluntary but a levy will be made on registrants that spend £100,000 or more each year on generating voluntary income. The levy is based on spending bands – the charge for £100,00 to £100,499 spending is £150, for example. Smaller charities that fall below the £100k threshold can still register with the FR for an annual £50 fee (although the registration system is not yet open).

The FR code of practice was formulated after an investigation into the death of Olive Cooke, whose name appeared on numerous charity databases and who was pressured into making donations that she couldn’t not afford.

The code (available in full at the FR website) sets out a set of general principles and specific behaviours that fundraisers should adhere to.  Most people reading the code will be dismayed that any charitable organisation would have acted against the principles it lays out.  Two examples from the code are “organisations MUST NOT exaggerate facts relating to the potential beneficiary” and “organisations MUST NOT take advantage of mistakes made by the donor”.

Hopefully the main impact for the small charity sector is a levelling of the playing field where the curbing of the most aggressive fundraising tactics of the larger organisations allows their voice to be heard.

Lewis Smith & Co. provides specialist accountancy services for charities and and not-for-profit organisations.

Talk to us today to set-up a free, confidential discussion about your accountancy needs. Call 01384 235549 or email


Lewis Smith & Co. – Tax accountants for Kingswinford businesses.

Self-Assessment Return Documentation

What documentation do you need?

what documentation do you need to submit your self-assessment tax return?Filling in the tax return forms might be straightforward. Having the right information is the challenge.

The deadline for online submission of your self assessment returns is coming up fast.  If you haven’t completed your return (and there are some clear benefits for submitting your tax return early) then remember that while filling in the form is usually simple, you need to have lots of information to hand to get it right.

Why not check the following list to make sure you have the relevant documentation or records available before you start.

Employee Returns:


  • P60, P45 and P11D from your employer
  • Pension records (state and private)
  • State benefits such as sick pay and maternity pay
  • Interest payments from bank and building society accounts
  • Dividends and annuities
  • Maintenance
  • Capital gains
  • Asset disposal
  • Property income
  • Foreign income
  • Capital gains


  • Employment expenses
  • Pension contributions
  • Employee share schemes
  • Student loans

Sole traders will need to pull together:

  • Invoices
  • Mileage logs
  • Expenses receipts
  • Bank statements showing transactions, charges and interest
  • Transaction details
  • VAT returns
  • Payroll

If your tax affairs are a little more complicated than the norm then Lewis Smith & Co. offers a complete tax return service to make sure you pay no more than required.

For more details contact us today.  Call 01384 235549 or email


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for businesses in Wombourne, Wall Heath and Himley


Image source: Flickr courtesy of Dave Crosby

Autumn Statement 2016

Small Business Highlights

dudley business autumn statement 2016

New Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, has made his first formal statement of intent for the country’s finances after the EU referendum.

At a strategic level the government has promised greater investment in both infrastructure (e.g. £1.1bn extra investment in local transport networks in England and £220m to reduce traffic pinch points) and housing (e.g. £2.3bn housing infrastructure fund for new builds in high-demand areas and £1.4bn to help build 40,000 affordable homes).

There were also plenty of points of specific interest for Black Country businesses.  Here’s Lewis Smith & Co.’s selection of the highlights:

  • Confirmation that the National Living Wage will rise from £7.20 to £7.50 from April 2017.
  • Fuel duty rise to be postponed because of an increase in the price of oil.
  • Income tax threshold to be raised to £11,000 to £11,500 in April 2017
  • Higher rate income tax threshold will increase to rise to £50,000 by 2020
  • Commitment to a cut in the CT rate to 17% by 2020.
  • As mentioned in our “HMRC targets salary sacrifice” article in August, tax savings on salary sacrifice schemes will be widely curtailed – pensions, childcare and cycling schemes excepted.
  • Employee and employer NI thresholds will be equalised at £157 per week from April.

The Chancellor also announced a particular area of VAT will be subject to review to cut down on, as the government sees it, an unfair tax loophole.

HMRC is keen to stop “limited cost” businesses (ones where VAT inclusive expenditure is below certain thresholds) unduly benefiting from flat rate VAT scheme. From 1 April 2017 businesses operating flat rate schemes will have to check whether they fall in to the status of a limited cost trader.  If they do then their flat rate scheme percentage increases to 16.5%.

Anti-forestalling (forestalling is the practice of paying or invoicing in advance to avoid tax increases) legislation has been published to stop limited cost traders using lower flat rates after 1st April 2017.

Clearly this introduces an extra level of compliance for many of our small businesses customers.  You will need to check your status as a limited cost trader and apply the higher percentage if necessary.  This could be an annual check for some of you if you are close to the threshold.

If you are concerned about the impact of any of these changes on you business talk to us today.  Call 01384 235549 or email to set-up a free discussion today.


Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for businesses in Halesowen


Tax Free Christmas Gifts

HMRC spreads some Xmas cheer

As of 6th April 2016 employers can provide staff with some “trivial” benefits in kind, tax free.  The rules were designed to allow companies to give small gifts at Christmas or for birthdays.  They save employees from having to report the benefit on their P11D, or employers dealing with tax and NI.

tax free gift for your employees from the HMRC

The benefits need to meet the following conditions:

  • The cost must be £50 or less and not given as cash or a voucher.
  • The benefit shouldn’t be something an employer was already entitled to.
  • The benefit is not given in recognition of normal employment duties.

This is in addition to £150 per employee tax free allowance for Christmas party expenditure.

Happy Christmas HMRC.

If you want any help sorting out the implication of this benefit then please get in touch today.

Call 01384 235549 or email to set-up an appointment.


Lewis Smith & Co.  –  Accountants for businesses in Brierley Hill