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March 24. 2016

Easter Eggs are an allowable business expense aren't they???

Sadly Easter Eggs are not an allowable business expense.

This maybe a good time to mention some expenses that are not allowed. In other words, those expense that do not meet the HMRC test of ‘wholly and exclusively for business purposes.’
 
There are a whole raft of expenses that could be deemed allowable but in fact are not.  The most commonly asked about are:
 
-Personal insurance and sickness policies.  It probably makes sense to have such insurance but unfortunately the costs are not an allowable business expense. The fact that they are personal expenses is a bit of hint.

-Work clothes and shoes.  You may quite rightly claim to your accountant: ‘I have to look good whilst I teach’.  True, but so do most people who go to work in any professional capacity and they have to personally pay for their suits, shirts and ties. It is no different for a driving instructor or any other similar profession.  However, shirts and tops are allowed for tax purposes if they display a prominent logo promoting your business.  Shoes are a definite no: we all have to wear shoes.

-Spectacles and eye tests. This is an interesting one but at the end of the day we all have to take regular eye tests, wear glasses if required, and pay for them personally.  The same applies to sunglasses.

 
The list of non-allowable expenses is understandably endless. Some of the strangest requests that have made the non-allowable list include chewing gum, gym membership and solar panels.
 
Making a claim for an expense that is not allowed for tax purposes on your tax return could land you in hot water with HMRC if they investigate the detail of your return. Usually the cost to you of that investigation will be far in excess of the expense you were endeavouring to offset against tax.  Seek expert advice before deciding whether to include an item on your tax return, if you are not 100% sure about it. Call us 0344 984 2515!

What about a chocolate calculator then??   

Happy Easter....

March 14. 2016

Your Home is no Tax Haven!

We recently wrote about ‘employing’ someone to take care of your paperwork, answering your calls and basically all things office related. A common question relates to utility bills and what can and cannot be claimed as business expenses.  Your driving school business is predominantly run from your tuition vehicle but it still may be possible to gain tax relief against certain utility bills.               

Some of your business, such as preparing lesson plans and bookkeeping is carried out at home but this would probably account for less than 10% of your time. So what expenses are allowable for tax relief?  In most cases, it will be small proportion of your heating and lighting bills.  Unfortunately, rent, rates, council tax and water rates are not allowed for tax purposes. It may be possible to gain relief by making a claim for ‘home use as office’ but whether this is beneficial is heavily dependent upon your personal circumstances and you should certainly seek expert advice before proceeding down this route!

If you decide to ‘build’ an office in your home or add an extension in which to house an office you should ask yourself if it is justifiable and necessary for the running of your business.  However, it is possible to gain tax relief on items that you purchase to ‘kit out’ your ‘office’ such as filing cabinets and the like, but not the cost of construction or converting a room into an office.

Generally, for a small business, a table in the kitchen will suffice for your paperwork! 

What would your dream office look like???

If you’d like further advice on this or any accountancy matter please contact FBTC on 0344 984 2515.


March 2. 2016

Will someone please answer the phone?

Telephone calls and paperwork! And all you want to do is go out and do what you are good at – teaching people to drive. Why not ask a family member to manage your diary, take telephone calls and more importantly keep your accounting records up to date? There is nothing like having a free administration service on hand when you need it.

But is having your family member work for free the best way? Not necessarily and it can benefit you as a self-employed individual if you ‘pay’ someone to run your ‘office’ and keep your paperwork in order as the cost is tax deductible against your trading income. 

However, in the complex labyrinth of UK tax rules, regulations and do’s and don’ts, paying someone is not as straight forward as you would think:

-You must pay the person the average hourly ‘going rate’ for the type of work they carry out;

-You have to consider whether the person already receives any other form of taxable income.  If they do, the addition of your ‘pay’ may push their total income over the taxable limit and they could end up having to register for self-assessment and paying tax themselves on this new income;

-There has to be a paper trail of payment.  This is one of the areas HMRC will look into closely if you are ever unlucky enough to be picked for an investigation, specifically transactions between family members.

Paying a family member to help you out could open a can of worms and could prove quite costly if it not administered correctly but done properly is a good way to reduce your tax bill.

If in doubt, ask! 0344 984 4445

February 22. 2016

Ensure you make time!

How often do you keep your accounting records up to date?  Once a week?  Once a month? Do you play catch up at the end of the tax year when your records are requested from your accountant?

You should try and set some time aside each week to update your accounting records and get into the habit of doing it daily or weekly, whilst the week is still fresh in your memory.  The FBTC online cashbook is a great tool to do this! Click here to find out more about our online cashbook.

You will find it much easier to recollect what has happened in the last seven days, than trying to think back over fifty two weeks, if you are trying to complete your records after the tax year has ended.

The advantages of sticking to this regime are plentiful.  As well as being able to keep a track on how your business is performing, it will assist you in answering the questions from the dreaded ‘Business Record Check’ letter should you be unlucky enough to receive one from HMRC.  Based on a set of answers you give in relation to questions about your accounting records, HMRC will decide if they will need to pay you a visit to carry out further checks.  The more accurate information you can supply them with, the better your chances are for not getting a visit.

If you’d like further advice on this or any accountancy matter please contact FBTC on 0344 984 2515.

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February 3. 2016

PLANNING FOR YOUR TAXES

Plan ahead! Look forward and see where you are heading! Plan for your taxes……

Let's get organised! Start a saving account or maybe a payment scheme with HMRC, prepare yourself for your final liability.
 
Don’t forget as well as income tax,
Class 4 National Insurance also needs paying and you should be planning and accruing for this too.

Always contact HMRC should you need to discuss your tax bill, don't stick your head in the sand. They may agree a payment plan which is a much better option than accruing interest on what you owe.

If you’d like further advise on this or any accountancy matter please contact FBTC on 0344 984 2515.

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