Breaking news! Does today’s Autumn Statement harm or help Limited Company contractors?

Breaking news! Does today’s Autumn Statement harm or help Limited Company contractors?

Philip Hammond today delivered his first Autumn Statement as Chancellor of the Exchequer (and his last). He and the Prime Minister continue to compete for control of economic policy and are arm wrestling for the “glory sound bites”. Unless they get on the same page, the losers of this Pyrrhic victory will be you and I.

 

Famous for ill-conceived strategies implemented at a dangerous pace in the face of universal criticism, and ignoring calls for caution from industry experts (who HMRC asked for advice in the first place), HMRC and the Treasury just keep ploughing their own furrow regarding the flexible workforce.

 

Today’s statement offered public sector contractors no surprise good news, and worse no reason for private sector contractors to be optimistic. HMRC’s vision for a level playing field between employees and the UK’s flexible workforce continues to be deployed in the face of all arguments to the contrary. Mr Hammond continues to imply that anyone who is not taxed under PAYE is a tax dodger, and that any independent worker wanting to trade as a Limited Company is only doing so for the tax benefit. I wonder if this is a real belief or a view necessary to keep his job in a post-Brexit, post-Trump world of pragmatic politics.

 

HMRC are JAM (“Just about managing”)

“Passing the buck” is now officially written within the Autumn Statement. When policing employment status compliance gets too tough for HMRC and they end up in a JAM, they outsource the problem to the public sector supply chain (only affecting public sector contractors) and ignore advice from stakeholders telling them it will not work!

 

It’s such a pity that the Chancellor refuses to accept that the positive contribution from a vibrant flexible workforce is widely recognised by stakeholders as essential to the prosperity and economic recovery of UK plc, and therefore dangerous to ignore.

 

“Hammond and May never listen” ( I sound like Jeremy Clarkson)

Throughout the summer HMRC have “consulted” Industry experts, Accountants, Business leaders, Trade Associations and even the man on the “Clapham omnibus” searching for views and comment on key topics including: IR35 reform in the Public sector, and Making Tax Digital.

 

I wish that I could understand why HMRC are not listening. A significant proportion of stakeholder responses on both consultations are consistently negative about:

 

  • the unrealistic timetables being imposed
  • the lack of attention to detail in the implementation guidance
  • the absence of the digital tool for IR35 status assessment
  • the administrative burden being outsourced from HMRC to employers, service providers and taxpayers in an attempt to reduce HMRC’s cost of delivery
  • blanket self-justifications from HMRC of their own actions, which ignore the advice of the wider community and which do not stand up to intellectual scrutiny

 

There seems little evidence from today’s statement that smart people who work at HMRC are using their ears. A consultation process, which has merit in concept, becomes a waste of everyone’s time if consistent contributions from stakeholders across the UK are continually ignored.

 

“Hammond’s way”

So Mr Hammond let’s try it your way: Push on with the policy of forcing independent flexible workers in the public sector into a taxation straitjacket against their will, and against the will of the end hirers. Engagers (even public bodies) want control over the ease with which their business units can expand, they do not want to provide employment rights, and flexible workers are not asking for them. But to do that you will need to continue to vilify and call “tax dodgers” hardworking and proud independent workers, who are trying to put their family’s wellbeing ahead of their own.

 

Make sure that the public don’t work out that by passing the buck for determining Employment Status (because HMRC have failed to find a way to get it right) and by passing the costs of doing so on to the engager or supply chain, saves the Government plenty of cash (because I doubt you will ever find c£400m of “tax gap” that you’re looking for from contractors). Make sure also that the workers don’t blame you for the fact that their take home pay is being reduced, as the supply chain adjusts to protect its margins.

 

Proposals to remove abuse under existing flat rate VAT rules will follow in December and could affect the many innocent parties seeking fairness not abuse.

 

I am not saying that non-governmental stakeholders have exclusive access to crystal balls, but we do have ears and we use them more than you do. Your statement today affecting the contractor community is only as strong as your ability to get the implementation right. If I were to buy you and your colleagues at HMRC a Christmas present, it would be a large hearing aid. If you wanted to give independent contractors in the UK a Christmas present, just turn it on.

 

Want to know more?

Before the statement, we released our own set of predictions and wish lists on what we thought would happen and what we wanted to see announced. So were we correct? We will be sending out our full Autumn Statement review tomorrow, simply leave us your email address and we will ensure you are sent a copy.

 

cat catch the mouse

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

How to invest in another company tax efficiently

How to invest in another company tax efficiently

 

Picture the scene; you have a friend that has offered you shares in their own company. You want to invest, but is it more tax efficient to purchase them through your Limited Company, or personally?

 

Duncan Strike, Director of Intouch Accounting, explores below what it really means to invest in another company tax efficiently, and how to ensure you come out better off.

 

Tax: investing in a private company

When buying ordinary shares in a company you have two opportunities to make money:

 

1. As an income (in the form of dividends)

2. An increase in share value

 

Should you personally purchase the shares, dividend tax will apply on dividends and capital gains tax (CGT) on increased share values. The position of tax is different when you invest through your company; the dividends the company receives are normally exempt from Corporation Tax, and it pays corporation tax on any increases in the share value.

 

Tax on dividends

6 April 2016 saw many changes for individuals, but remained untouched for companies. With that in mind, the differences for individuals and companies are irrelevant should your company receive the dividends then pass them onto you.

 

Beware! Your company will not pay any tax on dividends but as soon as they are passed to you, you will have to pay tax on them in the normal way.

 

Remember: During the period where your company retains dividends but does not pass them onto you, it will not have to pay tax on those dividends. So effectively your company could store up your dividends, and then you only pay tax on them once you receive them.

 

Tax: capital growth

If you personally own the investment shares, you’ll only have to pay CGT on any growth in value at the point when you sell them. The position is traditionally the same if your company owns them (i.e. it will pay the CT owed on capital growth when it sells them).

 

However, bear in mind that different rates, reliefs and allowances apply, which can in turn make the tax bill for personal ownership completely different from that payable with company ownership. These include the CGT personal allowance, entrepreneurs’ relief and the new Investors’ Relief.

 

Beware! In respect of the increased value of shares, it is near impossible to be certain if personal or company ownership will result in the lowest tax bill, until all the circumstances are known and the entitlement to relief is established. But remember that by personally owning shares, it will avoid the double taxation which can apply with company owned investments.

 

For example: You use your company to buy 1,000 shares, costing £10,000, in your friend’s company. After five years your friend’s company’s shares are worth £50,000. Ignoring CGT reliefs your company pays CT at 18%, on the £40,000 gain (ie £7,200). When the net amount of £32,800 is paid to yourself, you will have to pay personal tax on it, even though your company has also already been taxed. This could result in an overall tax rate of up to almost 51%.

 

Income vs capital growth

Personal ownership is likely to result in a lower tax bill on capital growth, whereas the tax position for dividends favours company ownership. It’s worth considering whether your company or you personally should invest based on what type of return you can expect – capital growth or dividends.

 

Confused by investments?

You’re not alone! That’s why it’s always important to run your plans past your Personal Accountant to ensure you’re on the right track to achieving your Limited Company contracting aspirations.

 

Are you still hunting around for the perfect contractor accountant? Why not speak to our team of expert advisers today, who will run you through our monthly all inclusive service, that’s tailored to the needs of Limited Company contractors. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

The ten stages of CV rejection grief

CV rejection grief

Pitching for business is a big part of being a successful Limited Company contractor, after all it’s how you bag those clients and all important contracts. But here at Intouch we like to mix it up a little bit, and see the humour in what it’s really like to work for yourself.

 

So please, sit back, enjoy, and take our blog on the ten stages of CV rejection with a very big pinch of salt. After all, we’re sure everyone can all identify with at least one of these stages!

 

1. Denial

There’s no way your potential client would have said ‘no’ to hiring you. Maybe they’ve lost your CV, or maybe mistaken you for someone else?

 

You hold out in hope that they’ve made a terrible mistake, and are soon to rectify this unexplainable situation with an offer and extravagant apology…

 

2. Obsession

You refresh your email inbox so many times that you develop an email obsession.

 

With your Apple watch buzzing every five minutes and your phone flashing at you demanding your attention, it’s tough not to take a peek (even if it is spam).

 

3. Paranoia

You start to wonder if the client has been struck by lightning, kidnapped, or worse – lost their internet connection. You begin to worry about their wellbeing, even though you’ve never met them.

 

Trawling their personal Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts has become a daily occurrence, in the quest for signs of life.

 

4. Disbelief

Wait a minute! The client has just shared a hilarious cat video, clearly demonstrating both vital life signs and successful internet usage. In your overly excited euphoric state, you must resist the urge to like, share or comment on the post.

 

But before you hit that ‘post’ button, remember! Social stalking is creepy, so resist the urge…

 

5. Envy

A contracting colleague posts a recent project with accompanying glowing testimonial from said client you’re trying to impress. You instantly delete all forms of contact with your colleague and deny all knowledge of ever knowing them.

 

What about the unwritten code of contractor brother / sisterhood, how could they?

 

6. Anger

You see other contractors’ work which they’ve completed for said client, and know you could do a better job.

 

Anger takes over and you begin to question whether the client has undergone a recent lobotomy.

 

7. Contradiction….whatever

Actually, the client doesn’t deserve you or your skills, and by not getting back to you they’ve done you a massive favour.

 

You didn’t want to work for them anyways…..(silently scowls).

 

8. Bargaining

After much deliberation and soul searching, you realise that it might have been your fault.

 

You re-read the job specification and the response you gave, checking whether every word articulated your skills and professionalism as you had hoped.

 

Maybe it was your latest LinkedIn photo that put them off? One of your mates told you it was a great photo, but recent events have left you questioning your friendship…

 

9. Depression

That’s it, you’re never approaching another client for work ever again.

 

You start to google ‘professional cat trainer’ as that was your dream career as a child. There must be a demand for it somewhere…

 

10. Acceptance

You’ll never win every contract you apply for, and the sooner you realise this the sooner you can stop beating yourself up over it.

 

Maybe you’re too qualified, or not qualified enough, or maybe the client has moved the goalposts since you applied. Whatever the circumstances, you’ve chosen a career in contracting for a reason, so don’t ever let rejection stop you from doing what you do best – being the contracting superstar that you are!

 

Got a funny contracting emotion you’ve experienced? Share them with us! We’d love to read them.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

I QUIT! 5 signs you’re ready to leave permanent employment for a career in contracting

Leaving permanent employment

According to a recent study conducted by Perkbox, 6.5 million workers in the UK are unhappy with their current job within the permanent employment sector.

 

With long hours, the feeling of being micro-managed, and toxic work cultures as the main culprits for unhappiness, it’s no surprise that so many people are looking elsewhere for alternative employment.

 

But what if you’ve had enough of working within the permanent sector and like the sound of being your own boss? In this blog we highlight the five signs that you’re ready to leave permanent behind and take the leap into contracting. You might just find your perfect career and never look back….

 

You feel shortchanged

If at the end of every month you feel like your pay doesn’t reflect your skills, experience or the amount of hours you’ve put in, then it’s time to consider your options.

 

With many Limited Company contractors charging day rates that clients who are willing to pay for their skills, they are able to get paid a wage which truly reflects their professional value. This is usually much higher than what their counterpart would get in a permanent position. Take a look at some contractor job boards to get a feel for what your contracting double could be earning.

 

Your work / life balance is off kilter

Ever feel that because you’re working so hard, you end up missing out on life? Do you use your weekends to recharge your batteries for the following week at work, rather than work charging your batteries for life?

 

Contractors can choose when, who for and for how long they work, so they are able to design their professional life around their personal, rather than the other way round.

 

Permanent employment is affecting your health

Consider how healthy your job is, for both your body and mind. If you’re constantly left feeling drained from long hours, low pay, and general unhappiness, then it’s time to make some changes.

 

By being your own boss you’re able to design your own working lifestyle, one which fits around your own personal needs and wellbeing. For example, you can work from home and create your own working environment, or decide how many months out of the year you want to take out from contracting to focus on other areas of your life, such as travelling, looking after your family or pursuing a passion. The world’s your oyster!

 

Your hard work goes unnoticed

We’ve all been there – either a colleague steals your thunder, or your efforts go completely unnoticed after you’ve worked your socks off. Both scenarios are unacceptable and can give your sense of wellbeing a real blow.

 

As a Limited Company contractor your professional accomplishments are what wins you contracts, so there’s no danger of your efforts going unnoticed. Your calibre is measured on your skills, experience and passion for what you do, so if this sounds like you then it’s time to get the recognition you deserve.

 

You feel constrained by the inflexibility of 9 to 5

Ever get the feeling you’re starring in Groundhog Day? You have the same daily routine, which yields the same results each month, with the same people. Whilst it offers stability and a guaranteed wage with employee benefits, for you personally it’s not enough.

 

When contracting you can choose when and where you work, meaning that no two working days would ever have to be the same! Whilst you’ll have to go out and win contracts, liaise with potential clients and always be on the lookout for your next gig, the thrill of the chase could be exactly what you need to reignite the passion you once had for your career.

 

Happiness at work can help you achieve great things

Life is way too short to be unhappy at work, so if you think the world of contracting might be for you, then you owe it to yourself to explore its possibilities.

 

For more information on how to get started, take a look at our free ebrief, or explore our resources section for everything you need to help make your decision. Alternatively why not discuss your options with our team of expert advisers? Call them today on 01202 901 385.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

5 steps to take when defusing an unhappy client

Defusing an unhappy client

Quite possibly one of the worst parts of contracting or freelancing is when you’ve put your best into a contract, only for the client to be upset or dissatisfied with your work. Clearly at some point something has gone wrong and, whilst it may not be you that caused it, you’re left to pick up the pieces and salvage what’s left of the working relationship.

 

Hopefully you’ll never need this blog, but should you ever find yourself in this situation we’ve devised 5 steps to take, to help turn the situation around.

 

Step 1 – Keep calm and carry on

A tough step to begin with, especially when your talent and professionalism is being questioned, but one which you must start negotiations off with. Remember that as soon as you lose your temper you’ve also lost your ability to argue your case, so keep a level head when discussing the issue with your client.

 

Let them tell you how they’re feeling and take notes, as this will help you to understand what the issue is and how to prevent it from happening in the future. By remaining neutral during this time you’ll also be demonstrating to your client that you’re willing to hear their side of the story, that you’re able to listen, and that you’ve remained professional throughout.

 

Step 2 – What’s the problem?

Whatever the issue is, you must get to the root of why they are unhappy. In this industry reputations precede contractors, therefore if you wish to continue contracting in the future you must make amends with your current client before moving on. After all, you never know who they may know or what influence they could have on you in future.

 

At some point during the contract your expectations did not meet theirs, so ensure you identify when and why this happened, and who the blame lies with.

 

Step 3 – Is there a solution?

If you have fulfilled your side of the contract exactly as requested and have no reason to offer a solution, then you must let the client know this at this stage.

 

If you have made a mistake, as we all do from time to time, apologise and offer a solution. Whatever this may be (rectifying the issue or maybe offering a refund) consider what value the client holds to you professionally, your reputation and whether doing extra work is worth it in the end.

 

Step 4 – Find out what they’re thinking

If you do rectify the issue, ensure you ask your client whether you have satisfied their expectations as soon as you have completed the work.

 

We’re not suggesting you grovel to your client, but once they believe the contract has been completed it’s never a bad idea to apologise once more. After all, you’ve admitted your mistakes, rectified the issue and then apologised – there’s not much else you could have done!

 

Step 5 – Learn from the experience

Now that the issue is in the past, it’s time to consider what’s happened, what it has taught you and how to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

 

Even clients can get it wrong sometimes (although we doubt they’re more forthcoming when admitting their faults!) so it’s worth taking a step back to see how this experience has made you a better Limited Company contractor. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

 

Have you dealt with an unhappy client before?

If the answer is ‘yes’, what tips do you have that helped defuse the situation? Share them with us, your contracting colleagues will thank you, especially if they ever have to use one!

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

If you contract from home, you’ll want to read this…

6 ways to beat loneliness when working alone

Contracting from home can be great; you get to design your perfect working space, what radio station you listen to and enjoy endless cups of tea whilst wearing your slippers (should you wish to). But whilst it can sound like the perfect working environment for many, loneliness can creep in – especially if you have minimal client contact and few other contracting colleagues to talk to.

 

Even introverts can feel lonely, so if you enjoy working alone and think this blog isn’t for you – read on anyway. You might just discover a new tip that will improve your productivity when contracting from home.

 

1.What fuels your professional fire?

It could be an early morning 5K before breakfast, a lunchtime catch up with an old friend, or even jumping on the contracting forums to share your thoughts on what’s currently affecting the contracting community.

 

Whatever it may be, ensure you have a few options that you can call on when you feel your fire burning low. Your professional productivity will thank you!

 

2. Speak to your suppliers

Your Personal Accountant isn’t just there to answer your accountancy and tax questions, they can also give you advice on all the areas that surround self employment. The same can be said for your business insurance provider or financial adviser for example, should you enlist their services.

 

They speak to individuals just like you every day about a whole host of topics, so why not give them a call? Or better yet, schedule a monthly call with them to discuss your career and how they can help you achieve your goals for the month. They may have just launched a new product or service that could make your contracting life easier.

 

3. Ban your home office as your meeting location

It’s all too easy to update your client from the comfort of your home office, or liaise with prospective clients from behind your computer screen. But doing it too often can lead to feelings of isolation, which isn’t good for you or your client.

 

Remember the good old days when people actually enjoyed meeting face-to-face? Why not bring it back! The next time you have a planned meeting, go to your client or prospective client’s office and actually meet with them. Not only will they get to see who you are as an individual and get a taste for your personality, you’ll also have more of a sense of purpose by actually getting ready and leaving your home office.

 

And remember, as a Limited Company contractor you can claim your travel and subsistence expenses, so there really is no excuse not to!

 

4. The legend of the invisible contractor

As a group of professionals, the UK’s micro business community (those with 1-9 employees) currently stands at an impressive 5.25 million*, so as a Limited Company contractor you are certainly not alone.

 

Whilst you may feel as though your contribution to the UK’s economy as a one-person band is minimal, collectively you’re a force to be reckoned with! So why not reach out to your contracting colleagues to find out their thoughts on being a contractor, what trends they’re seeing for desirable skills or even if they have any contacts that could be of use to you? With such a large community, there’s no reason to feel alone.

 

5. Be strict with your time

As a contractor your time is just that, yours – so ensure your work does not encroach on your personal life. After a hard day of working it’s too easy to swap plans with friends or family for a quiet night in. Once in a while it is a great way to recharge your batteries, but do it too often and you’ll cut yourself off.

 

Set yourself a daily schedule, stick to it and don’t let work be the reason why your personal life is put on hold.

 

6. Get moving

A little exercise now and then is the perfect way to blast away any loneliness. Was there a sport you loved to do as a child that you’d like to try as an adult, or local sports team whose social events sound as much fun as the actual sport itself?

 

Healthy body = healthy mind, so get out there and start having some fun!

 

Final thoughts

It can be tempting and easy to fall into the trap of becoming a lone wolf, so ensure you have a personal plan that works for you to help banish those entrepreneur blues.

 

And remember, your career is something you love so tailor it to suit you. Don’t let loneliness stop you from reaching contracting greatness!

 

*The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

 

The top five contractor tips on how to get paid upfront

Get paid upfront

Limited Company contracting is fantastic in many ways – you’re your own boss, you can choose when you work and for how long, and have total freedom to design your professional career as you see fit. But like any great opportunity, there are still some downsides…

 

Not being paid on time is one of the unpleasant sides of contracting that almost everyone has experienced. Whilst it is considered the ‘nature of the beast’ by many contractors, there are some things you can do to avoid it. In this blog we show you the top five ways to prevent late payments.

 

1. Know how much you’re going to get paid

Seasoned contractors will know this point well, but if you’re just starting out then this is a valuable tip to adopt.

 

Never accept a contract that is yet to set out how much you’ll get paid – either as a day rate or total amount for the completed project in a set time frame. Whilst this may seem blatantly obvious, many contractors accept roles without scoping this out first, which can then lead onto either not being paid what they expected, or at all.

 

By doing so you’re showing the client that you understand their timescale, their expectations within that time period and how much they’re willing to pay for your professional time and skills.

 

2. Exude your professional presence

As a contractor it’s down to you to find your next contract. But remember that whilst you’re busy trawling job sites, speaking to previous clients and contacts, or liaising with other contractors, your potential clients are looking you up online.

 

Ensure your professional profiles (such as your LinkedIn profile or personal website) are up to date and display your experience and testimonials from completed contracts. If you look the part and mean business, you’ll be less likely to get messed around.

 

3. Charge deposits or milestone payments

A travel agent wouldn’t fly you out to a destination, let you stay in a hotel, then fly you home before taking payment – so why should contracting be any different?

 

Consider making an agreement with the client whereby a deposit is paid upon signing the contract, or lump sums of the final amount are paid in increments over the duration of the contract. That way you’re guaranteed payment for the work completed thus far and the client has faith that you will complete the job in full.

 

4. Haggle (but not by too much!)

Firstly, get a feel for how much clients are willing to pay for your skill set, experience and type of contract required to complete. Then, add 10-15% onto this amount.

 

When speaking to a potential client about your costs, pitch to them first with your inflated price and offer them a reduced price off your original cost. That way you’re showing the client that you’re willing to negotiate and you are considerate of their costs and budget restrictions, when in reality you are achieving your desired day rate without compromising.

 

This discount can also be applied to tip number three, whereby if your client agrees to a deposit or milestone payment, you could offer a discount to sweeten the deal.

 

5. Don’t ask – don’t get

Being upfront about payment and setting out parameters when it comes to guaranteeing payment can sometimes be tough, especially when you feel as though you’re telling the client you don’t trust them to pay you!

 

But remember it’s your livelihood you’re protecting, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Many contractors create written agreements with terms of engagement for their client to sign, which can remove the need to verbally discuss any potentially uncomfortable topics, so find what’s right for you.

 

Payment protection is key to a successful career in contracting

By setting out your own upfront payment strategies you’re protecting yourself against those clients who, for whatever reason, don’t pay you correctly or on time.

 

Why not try these five top tips when you win your next contract? You’ll never regret taking charge of your professional finances and will only gain confidence in becoming the contractor you want to be.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Four tips to help you stop wasting time on emails

Stop wasting time!

In today’s tech-savvy world, you’re only ever a click away from checking your emails. You could be up the side of a mountain or deep in a jungle (depending on your 4G coverage, of course) and you’d still have access to what’s going on in the wider world.

 

Be it human curiosity or the fear of missing something important, we’re all guilty of checking our emails more than we should. In this blog we explore the top four tips all serious Limited Company contractors and freelancers should adopt, in order to reclaim wasted email management time.

 

Tip no. 1 – Get to the point

This is a tough skill to master and few have managed it, but if you can it will surely save you time when replying to client emails. Before you compose your reply, think ‘what do I actually want to say?’, then just write that – it’s that simple!

 

This skill saves you (and your client) time in two different ways – you spend less time compiling the email and they spend less time reading it. They will also tend to reply to you in the same manner, so over time you’ll both create a harmonious working relationship, that doesn’t waste each other’s time.

 

Tip no. 2 – Have a good clear out

If you could unsubscribe from the junk mail that came through your front door, you would. So your inbox should be no different.

 

Take a couple seconds to unsubscribe from each spam email you receive. You may have signed up to a newsletter a few months ago, thinking their content will be of use to you. But if you haven’t read any of their recent communications, then it’s time to get rid.

 

Tip no. 3 – Organisation is key

Chaos is defined by the sensitivity to slight changes in conditions, whereby even small alterations can create enormous consequences. Now imagine your inbox without any organisation – utter chaos right?!

 

Make the small alteration of adapting a filing system for your current and past clients and include filters so that they automatically end up in their correct client folders. The amount of time you save will be the enormous consequence you need.

 

Tip no. 4 – Have different accounts for work, personal and spam

Your work email should be just that, for work. So ensure your email address is related to your Limited Company name and that all past, current and future client correspondence is kept here. This is the account you’ll probably monitor the most, as it will form part (or all) of your client communication.

 

Your personal email should be where friends and family’s emails go. This account is for emails that are important to your personal life, but not so much that they will interrupt your working day. Save them for after hours, a break in your working day, or for weekends.

 

Finally your spam account is for when you need to provide an email address to access content that you’ll only ever want to look at once. You’ll probably never use this account, but you’ll be grateful for it’s existence! You’ll also never end up on a random third party mailing list, which you’ll only have to repeat point number two from this blog!

So there you have it, four great ways in which to reduce the amount of time you spend on your emails. Do you have a tip that has saved you time? Share it with us on one of our social profiles, we’d love to hear it.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Humblebragging – the art of selling yourself without the big headedness

Humblebragging

Humblebragging

 

Picture the scene: you’ve spotted a new contract that’s perfectly suited to your experience and skills, so much so that you could have written the contract requirements yourself. You know there’s a whole host of other contractors probably sat there thinking exactly the same thing, so now is the time to act.

 

But how do you go about letting the prospective client know you’re the contractor for the job, without sounding like a jerk? Jenny Winslow, Senior Marketing Executive at Intouch Accounting shows you know to blow your own professional trumpet, without making a racket.

 

Let’s start at the very beginning

If you were the one looking to hire a contractor, where would you go for information about that person? Your LinkedIn profile and personal website hold the most value when it comes to self promotion, so ensure both (should you have them) are up to date and showcasing your skills, talents and latest work.

 

It’s your space to use as you please, so state the facts and what you brought to previous positions. Afterall, this information is the ‘bait’ on the hook which will catch you an interview.

 

Gauge whether a personal shout-out is appropriate

Once you’re in an interview, timing is everything. If the interviewer asks you specific questions about a previous contract or skill, you then have free rein to talk about anything and everything to do with it. You will be expected to show passion for your previous work and pride in your achievements where you’ve excelled, so don’t ever feel embarrassed about letting your interviewer know this.

 

But remember! Whilst it’s good be proud of your work and achievements, gushing about them unprompted can make you sound arrogant. Wait until the time is right to showcase your talents, or you could be seen as steering the interview without meaning to.

 

One-upmanship

When promoting your self worth, it’s important to focus on your own personal development rather than demonstrating how your skills outweigh those of your peer group. Whilst most Limited Company contractors work solo, you will be expected to work well with the client, so resist the urge to showcase how much better you are than other contractors, as this will expose a lack in ability to work as a team.

 

Have a wingman

If you heard someone singing their own praises you’d change the channel pretty quickly, but if someone else was doing the singing you’d be more likely to listen. Especially if the singer was someone with a position of authority, such as an organisation’s MD or Project Manager, that had personally worked with a contractor.

 

When a contract is coming to a close, be sure to ask your client for a testimonial which you can share on your LinkedIn profile or personal website. Word of mouth recommendations are powerful tools, so be sure to ask for one.

 

Finally, don’t talk yourself down!

Whilst being too enthusiastic about your skills can make you sound big headed, being too quiet can show signs of shyness, a lack in confidence or even disinterested in the contract or industry as a whole.

 

To find that happy medium, make sure you make balanced statements that highlight both your strengths whilst acknowledging your flaws. Whilst you might be the rock star of contracting you are also human, so celebrate your wins where appropriate and accept your failures within reason.

 

Like this kind of advice? Our Personal Accountants offer unlimited advice and support on all areas related to Limited Company contracting. If you’re missing that level of personal service from your current account or want it from the offset, speak to us today about becoming an Intouch client.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Intouch reviews the Office of Tax Simplification’s response to HMRC’s proposed IR35 status tool

HMRC’s proposed IR35 status tool

Last month, Intouch Accounting’s MD Paul Gough shared his thoughts on HMRC’s proposed IR35 status tool within the public sector. In this article he drew attention to the weaknesses in HMRC’s proposals and discussed the likely implications which HMRC appear to have neither fully considered nor understood.

 

As we wait for the outcome from the consultation phase, we read with interest the recently published response from the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) in regards to the consultation document.

 

Who does the OTS side with?

The contracting community. The OTS believe the proposals will add unnecessary complexity to the already confusing subject of IR35. In particular, they believe it will:

 

  • increase administrative burden, as more information will be needed in order to help determine a contractor’s IR35 status
  • create boundary issues between the private and public sector, as the test’s final decision may not be binding and therefore lack certainty
  • the OTS have previously encouraged the use of a digital employment status tool, but now warn that a tool could only ever simplify the current process if, clear and easy to follow rules and regulations will show (without question) an individual’s working status
  • require two versions, to allow for different circumstances and businesses
  • finally, need to be updated on a regular basis

 

The Public Sector

It would be unfair to subject all contractors to these changes, without explaining in detail how their sector is affected and whether they should be operating within the proposed rules.

 

There’s also the ongoing concern that by enforcing such rules they will create an imbalance between private and public sectors. This in turn would make it harder for the public sector to hire contractors with specialist skills.

 

Protection for the engagers

There must be enforced protection for engagers who can demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps to obtain reliable information from the other parties in the supply chain that should have supplied it, but for whatever reason have not done so.

 

5% allowance

The OTS believe that should a contractor fall ‘inside’ IR35, the 5% deemed payment allowance should be eliminated, as it adds unnecessary complexity for the engager. Instead, the PSC should claim it separately.

 

VAT

If a contractor is found ‘inside’ IR35, then there should be no VAT implications. It is unfair for HMRC to make a PSC pay employer’s VAT whilst being forced onto the payroll.

 

Tests and the online tool

Parts one and two of the test (before progressing to the online status indicator) do not show conviction, as the decision is not final. The OTS believe that even if the first two parts did show conviction, it still may not apply as it does not allow wiggle room for any changes to the contract, which the engager / contractor may not be aware of.

 

Materials for the job

The majority of contractors and freelancers provide services which are predominantly knowledge based. If 20% or more of a contract is for materials which are wholly consumed in the services required to complete the contract, then it is automatically deemed to be ‘outside’ of IR35.

 

There are very few circumstances whereby Limited Company contractors, (such as those who specialise in the IT or finance sector for example), would use 20% of materials to complete a contract and therefore cannot be classed as ‘outside’ under this rule.

 

Personal service and control

If the 20% test is failed, the engager must then move onto the second part, two questions on personal service and control questions. Should these two questions deliver a positive answer then IR35 will apply. If the engager is unable to answer ‘yes’ to both of these questions, they will then have to progress onto using HMRC’s online status tool.

 

Attempting to rely primarily on personal service and control tests to determine a contractor’s IR35 status is simply not appropriate for the majority of highly skilled contractors and freelancers. Whilst a highly skilled contractor may not be able to send another contractor in their place, this does not provide a definitive indication of their employment status.

 

HMRC should also consider the fact that for some contractors, especially those who work within the public sector where security is an issue, that sending a substitute to complete their work is simply not an option.

 

For skilled workers, the ‘control’ aspect of the test does not always give a clear-cut answer for whether the contractor is a disguised employee or not. Many stakeholders are of the opinion that such a test is more relevant for the lower skilled flexible workforce, where more direct oversight and control over how the work is performed is more common.

 

The OTS believe that unless the coding for the status tool is based on new employment status case law, then it will be considered biased in HMRC’s favour.

 

Penalties

The OTS completely agree that any tax rules should be supported with financial penalties and interest, but that it must be fair. The rules and procedures must therefore be easy-to-follow, to allow the engager to operate correctly and to avoid penalties.

 

The consultation period outcome

Whilst the exact date for the consultation outcome is still unconfirmed, Intouch will be reviewing it as soon as it’s published, so ensure you’re following us on social media and be first to get all the information and support you need.

 

Worried about how the proposed changes to IR35 could affect you? Our team of expert Personal Accountants are on hand to offer Intouch clients bespoke advice and support, that’s tailored to their circumstances and future contracting goals.

 

If this sounds like the type of specialist support you need as a serious contractor, why not get in touch? We look forward to speaking to you.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.