Concerned about tax inspections?

You don’t have to do anything wrong to be inspected

tax inspection protectionHMRC has the right to investigate your financial affairs whenever it likes.

Enquiries can be started entirely at random whether you have done something to arouse their suspicion or not.

This means that businesses of all sizes and categories have been subject to investigations of business records, tax returns, and PAYE/NIC/CIS/VAT compliance.

Even if your records are completely compliant and you have clearly done nothing wrong this can be a time consuming and potentially costly experience.

Lewis Smith & Co. has offered a Tax Enquiry Fee Protection Service, Taxwise Plus, to help you mitigate the costs of an investigation should you be selected by HMRC.

For an annual fee starting at only £125 exc. VAT you’ll get all of Lewis Smith & Co.’s considerable experience in dealing with the tax man without paying a penny more.

  • Lewis Smith & Co. will represent you for all compliance visits.
  • We will defend you against HMRC enquiries into your business or personal affairs.
  • You are covered for up to £75,000 of our fees in representing you.
The service has saved a number of our clients several thousand pounds on the costs of responding to enquiries and compliance visits. It has also more than paid for itself for other clients when they have needed to respond to initial enquiry letters and provide explanations of accounts and tax returns.
If you want more information then check out the Fee Protection page on our website or contact Andrew or Craig to arrange a free informal discussion of your needs.  Call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com, today.

 

Lewis Smith & Co. – Providing accountancy services for Stourbridge businesses for nearly 30 years

Quarterly Returns

Can you handle it?

Quarterly digital tax returnsAt the end of last year the government published a corporate report titled “making tax digital” (PDF opens in a new tab), which set out how HMRC would make the tax system “more effective, more efficient and easier for taxpayers”.

A lot of what report has to say may be broadly welcomed by businesses, large or small.  The report lays out a desire to simplify taxation by, for instance, making sure all of the systems that held relevant data are joined up.  It seeks to encourage further digitisation to speed up transactions, improve accuracy and reduce the opportunity for fraud.  It also seeks to make sure that HMRC offers a single point of contact to customers what ever their query.

As the Americans would say there is a lot of “motherhood and apple pie”.

One of the points raised in the report has raised alarm bells in the business community and amongst the accountancy profession. The point is stated blandly “businesses will keep their records using digital tools and send that information at least quarterly to HMRC”.

Although the “R-word” isn’t used, many commentators have said that this means quarterly returns will be required from limited companies, the self-employed and landlords. Software and apps may be made available to help the process but it may require greater on-going, diligence in collecting and managing data, and having more to do with us as accountants.

Lewis Smith & Co. will keep you posted on any news of what the government does on this topic, although the EU referendum and the Summer recess means that it will probably be Autumn before any formal activity.

As partners for both Xero and KashFlow online accounting packages we can offer help and advice on the process of going digital.  As to the advent of quarterly returns, you can be assured that we will do our best to minimise any cost implications.

If you have any questions about the impact of “making tax digital” on your business call us today on 01384 235549 or email us at info@lewissmith.com.

 

Lewis Smith & Co. – A complete tax planning service for businesses, partnerships, sole traders and social enterprises.

 

Directors Loans or Dividends?

charge interest on directors loan account credit balances instead of using dividends Could you save tax?

The shake-up of dividend taxation announced in the last budget lead us to to say that the key to tax planning now is to look at “total tax liability”.

That means it is worth us introducing a new tax saving angle to consider: using your directors loan account.  It doesn’t apply to everybody but it could present a good opportunity for some of you.

Paying a market rate of interest on directors’ loan account credit balances is now more tax efficient than paying dividends, once the new £5,000 dividend allowance has been used. This is because higher rate tax payers face a 32.5% tax rate on dividends.

Note, the company is still required to deduct 20% basic rate income tax and pay this quarterly using form CT61.

If you are unsure whether this applies to you just get in touch for a no-obligation discussion.

We’ll be able to tell you very quickly whether more detailed tax planning will help.

Call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com today.

 

 

Lewis Smith & Co. – Tax planning service. Income tax, CT, CGT and VAT

 

Employment Allowance – Single Director Companies

Employment allowance no entitlement for single directors£3,000 allowance is not for you

You may have seen in our budget coverage that the allowance for employers to set against their National Insurance liability has been increase to £3,000 in this tax year.

However if you are the director of a limited company where you are the only employee being paid above the secondary threshold for class 1 NICs, then sadly you won’t be able to claim it.

If you are unsure about the implications of this on your tax position then get in touch today.

Call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com to arrange an appointment.

 

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

 

Image source: Flickr courtesy of Dave Crosby

Client Success Update. Impact Metals

Impact Metal Services: Making an impression online

Impact Metals aluminium stockholder client management accountingIt’s time to celebrate another good news story about one of Lewis Smith & Co’s established clients, Rowley Regis based Impact Metal Services Ltd.

In 2008, as the financial crisis hit the Black Country’s traditional business hard, the company was close to going under. Eight years later Impact Metal is achieving success with some clear management thinking and innovative sales and marketing.

The company has become a leading supplier of aluminium sheets and extrusions with in-house finishing capability including anodising, powdercoating and polishing.  With a key focus on architectural door furniture and roller shutter components it is benefiting from the ongoing, but uncertain, improvement in the economy.

With growth being somewhat hesitant, close scrutiny of financials has become key, according to managing director Chris Potter:

“I asked Lewis Smith & Co. to give us quarterly management accounts.  It gives me the financial picture I need to make decisions about hiring people or investing in new equipment. It also means I get unbiased guidance from Craig and the team – very helpful”.

Lewis Smith & Co provides management accounts to Impact MetalsWhile Chris has shown healthy caution in financial matters, the resurgence of the company’s fortunes is down to some clever use of new technologies.

Impact Metals were amongst the first in the industry to offer an ecommerce facility for aluminium sheet and extrusions. They then added an eBay store to enhance their digital presence.  Chris believes it’s a strategy that has helped to increase orders and enquiries:

“We know that the challenge is to get in front of people so that we can show them what we do.  Making some of our basic products available to buy online gets attention, and some sales.

It also opens a conversation with the people who need someone to fulfil a different requirement or a bigger one.”

Lewis Smith & Co. director Craig Beale says that Impact Metal’s provides a clear example of how it is possible to combine prudence with progress:

“Accountants sometimes get accused of dragging businesses back. We see our role as giving clients as much information as we can guide them along the path safely and successfully.”

Find out more about Impact Metal’s aluminium sheet and extrusions, and roller shutter components online.

To find out how regular management accounts could help you manage business performance call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com today.

 

Lewis Smith & Co. – Stay in control with our management accounting service

Xero Software Partner

Xero in the Media

There’s been lots of media activity around the Xero cloud accounting software package recently.

So it’s a good time time to remind everybody that Lewis Smith & Co. is a qualified partner for Xero.  We ‘ll help you set it up so that you can run your business more efficiently. Xero allows you to reconcile bank transactions, pay invoices, create purchase orders and pay bills, amongst other things.

xero online accounting softwareUsing Xero allows Lewis Smith & Co. to support you more effectively too.  Whether you want regular management accounts prepared or simply annual compliance work, we can access your accurate, up-to-date data.

Xero is ideal for small and medium sized business.  For start-ups and micro businesses we also support KashFlow, which provides a cut down version of the functionality.

All you need to use Xero is an internet connection. It’s easy to move to Xero from Sage or Quickbooks and you can even get a 30 day free trial.

Find out today how Lewis Smith & Co. can help you use Xero.

Call 01384 235549 to arrange an appointment or email us at info@lewissmith.com.

 

Lewis Smith & Co. – Why not try our Xero-based bookkeeping service?

Effective Digital Marketing – Search Console

Are you using Google Search Console?

business benefits of googles search consoleIn the first of a series of articles on improving the impact of your digital marketing Gareth Edwards, from longstanding Lewis Smith & Co. client Arrowsmith Marketing, wants to highlight this useful free tool from Google.

Less well known than Google Analytics, Google Search Console (previously known as Webmaster Tools) is a must have tool for anyone who gets sales or enquiries from a website.  It is billed as a tool for webmasters, the people who look after content, SEO, security and hosting, but some of the detail is essential to anyone responsible for sales and marketing.

Essentially Search Console provides insights into what Google sees and thinks about your website.  There is a lot of information available so I would like to focus in on just 5 of the most relevant to the non-techies amongst you.

  • Security Issues – Google can detect if your site has been hacked or if there is any malware. It will send you an email alert too so you can sort the problem before customers see them.
  • HTML Improvements – Problems with the code on your site will be flagged up.  Especially useful are the reports on meta descriptions and title tags, which are key elements of SEO (more details in future articles).
Search Console Search Analytics http www.customerchampions.co.uk

 

  • Crawl Errors – This highlights pages on your website that Google has a problem reading. If Google has a problem then so will people coming to your site, and it might effect your search ranking too.
  • Links to Your Site – Having links from good quality sites is another must for high ranking in the search results. Search Console tells you where links are coming from and what your most popular pages are.  Internal links are important too and so there is a report that features this too.
  • Search Analytics provides details on which search queries are being used to find your site. It tells you both which queries result in a click and the queries where your site featured in the listings (an impression) but not clicked.  When you know what people are looking and how the site current behaves then you can do something about.  For instance changing meta descriptions so your listing stands out or creating a new web page to focus on a query.

 

If you go to the Google Search Console page there are instructions on how to set it up on your site.  If you already have Google Analytics set up then it should be easy otherwise you may need to add a bit of code to your site.  It’s an easy job (therefore free or cheap) for your website developer and straightforward if your site is built with a content management system such as WordPress.

The Lewis Smith & Co. website has Search Console implemented and I use it regularly to make sure the site is functioning correctly and help the digital marketing process.  It’s an important part of understanding business performance.

If you need help understanding how your business is performing talk to Lewis Smith & Co. today about their management accounting services.  Call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com to set up an initial discussion.

 

Lewis Smith & Co. – Accountants for Halesowen businesses

 

 

 

Client Success Update. Superfast-IT

Superfast-IT Growing Super Fast

Superfast-IT support in STourbridgeLongstanding Lewis Smith & Co. client Superfast-IT is showing no signs of stopping as it moves into its 14th year of trading.

The Stourbridge-based IT Support company specialises in providing effective computer system management to organisations with 5 to 100 computer users.

In the early days that might have meant “a man in a van” paying a visit to your premises. Nowadays the company offers advanced a remote monitoring and maintenance capability, which means that they may have identified and fixed a problem before you have even noticed.

The big growth area for the business at present is helping people improve their IT Security, as Managing Director, James Cash, explains:

“Although people are aware of threats such as viruses, spam and hacking they don’t think it is going to happen to them.  You might be surprised how frequently problems occur, but of course they don’t get reported.”

IT Support for Birmingham companies from Superfast-IT

Superfast-IT has responded by enhancing both its technology and consultancy offerings. From James’s perspective IT Security requires a twin-track approach:

“We can make major improvements to security by implementing anti-virus packages, firewalls, application updates and back-ups, for instance.  At the same time we help clients develop and implement security policies and procedures to close both internal and external loopholes.”

Lewis Smith & Co. has met the challenge of Superfast-IT’s growth by offering new services. In particular, we draw up monthly management accounts to keep Superfast-IT right up-to-date with business performance. It means the company can see what’s working and make immediate changes if required.

James says this is a key part of his growth strategy:

“Having regular, accurate financial information means that I can quickly see where the opportunities for investment are. Lewis Smith & Co. are playing a key role in keeping Superfast-IT on track. “

You can contact Superfast-IT to discuss all of your IT Support and Security needs by calling 0121 309 0090 or using the enquiry form on their website.

To find out how regular management accounts could help you manage business performance call 01384 235549 or email info@lewissmith.com today.

 

Lewis Smith & Co. – Management accountants for Stourbridge businesses