The contractor’s Christmas wishlist

The contractor’s Christmas wishlist

It’s the end of another year and no doubt you’re planning what gifts to buy your loved ones for the big day. But hey, it’s not all about them! You’ve worked hard all year on your contracts, kept your business website up to date and read all of our ebriefs, so why not check out these cool new gadgets for contractors and treat yourself to something rather special. From digital dummies to brainwave reading headbands and gadgets that let you exercise your pet when you’re not even home, there really is something for every contractor.

 

One for the contracting mums and dads Pacif-i

If you’re working from home and you’ve got a little one to look after, then this gadget is for you. Sometimes the urge to keep checking on them can really break up your working day and worrying about their schedule and wellbeing can be detrimental to yours. Imagine if there was a way you could tell how your baby is doing by simply looking at your smartphone…

Those clever people at Blue Maestro have created a dummy that does just that! The Pacif-i can monitor your little one’s temperature, record medication levels and their whereabouts and displays all this information to you on your smartphone. So no more constant check ups getting in the way of your working day, as your smartphone will be able to tell you everything you need to know!

 

If you hate leaving your pets at home when you go to work pet cube

 

Then the Petcube can alleviate your heartache. By downloading the app and setting up the Petcube at home, it allows you to communicate with them and the built-in camera will keep an eye on your furry friends when you’re not around.

 

If they’re misbehaving you can use the app to tell them off (and they’ll hear you) or if you want them to hear your voice you can talk to them directly through your phone. If they look bored or need some mid-day stimulation, then you can control a laser that they chase around. Finally the app can be shared with your friends and family, so they can help out with checking in and keeping your pets happy. A great gift for pet loving contractors.

 

Desk dwellers with bad backs valedo

 

If like us, you spend the majority of your working day sitting at a desk, then you’re bound to think about the health of your back. If pilates and yoga aren’t really your thing, then Valedo have come up with an ingenious way of conditioning your back.

 

By attaching two sensors to your body and downloading the app to your smartphone or tablet, you simply follow a number of therapies that combine therapeutic exercises with motivating games. In these games you’ll be taken through a series of movements designed to strengthen your back and improve posture. It also records your progress and suggests exercises that will improve your overall back health. A must-have gadget for those of us who sit at desks for longer than we should.

 

Watering your plants The Power Flower Parrot

 

If your new contract requires you to go overseas, how do you ensure your plants are still alive when you return?

 

The Power Flower Parrot can do just that! It’s a nifty little gadget that you screw a standard water bottle into, then pop into the soil of your most beloved plant. Once you’ve downloaded the Parrot app and synced it to the plant type, the Parrot gadget alerts you if your plant needs watering, more sunlight, more warmth / cold or soil moisture. It will even allow the water from the bottle to drip into the pot’s soil when your plant needs watering, so you can rest assured that it’s being well taken care of.

 

Hard day contracting? muse

Then it’s time to chill out. If at the end of the day your mind is racing at a million miles an hour, then some meditation could really help. Muse have developed this fantastic headband that uses electroencephalography (EEG), which records electrical activity of the brain. You sync the headband with their app on your smartphone or tablet, then simply plug in your headphones and listen to the music. The headband reads your brainwaves and adjusts the sounds you’re hearing to your current mood, to help sooth and relax you.

 

A lot of professional people swear by it and have said how just three minutes a day can provide them with complete clarity and calm.

Final thoughts

So whilst Christmas is a time for giving, remember to treat yourself to something that will help make your contracting life that little bit easier in 2016. Or if you’re really lucky, someone else will treat you!

 

If you’re currently doing your accounts by yourself, one way you can certainly free up your time in 2016 is by letting a trusted contractor accountant manage your accounts. If you’re considering the move and need to talk to someone about your circumstances, give our team a call on 01202 375 562 or email us at enquiries@intouchaccounting.com

 

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 supports the Rainbow Trust once again this Christmas

Intouch supports the Rainbow Trust

From having paint thrown at us whilst fun running, to donating our Christmas card money, Intouch are proud to have shown our continued support in raising money for the Rainbow Trust throughout 2015.

Who are the Rainbow Trust?

The Rainbow Trust is a charity that provides support and care for families with seriously or terminally ill children. Through their positive work, families receive essential support at home, in their community and whilst in hospital. Rainbow Trust is there to offer their services from the moment a child is diagnosed, during their treatment and beyond – whenever the family needs help and support.

 

Take a little look below at all the good work the charity does for those in need:

Rainbow trust

 

The Rainbow Run

In April of this year our team of ‘Mo Farah wannabes’ took part in the Rainbow Run, a 3km fun run where different coloured paint powders were thrown at them! Needless to say they ended up every colour of the rainbow but had a fantastic time doing it, all in the name of raising money for this great cause. Here are a couple of pictures of the team at the finish line:

 

RT1 rt2

 

To see all of the photos from the event, take a look at our Pinterest page.

The Christmas card donation

At this time of the year, we’d like to think that helping others would mean more to our clients and partners then receiving a Christmas card, that’s why we’ve donated the cost of the cards and postage to the Rainbow Trust.

 

If you’d like to support the Rainbow Trust

Please visit their website and donate however much you wish here.

 

A big thank you to you all!

We’d like to say a big thank you to all of our clients for working with us in 2015. We will continue to support the charity throughout 2016 and will share all of our photos through our social media platforms. Make sure you’re following us to get all the latest news, blogs and photos.

 

Thank you again to you all and we wish you a peaceful and merry festive season!

 

From all of the team here at Intouch Accounting.

 

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.

Voting opens for this year’s ContractorUK awards!

Voting opens for this year’s ContractorUK awards!

This time of the year doesn’t just mean turkey and tinsel, it also marks an important part of Intouch Accounting’s annual calendar. We are pleased to have been shortlisted once again in the Best Contractor Accountant category in this year’s ContractorUK awards.

What are the awards for?

These awards are renowned throughout the industry and are indications of approval for the quality of services that accountancies provide to the UK’s contractor market. Winning this category or even coming second or third are huge achievements, as it really reinforces the service that we proudly provide to our clients on a daily basis.

 

In the past we have been placed second and joint third, so it’s an important category for us, as we see it as a recognition for the hard work and dedication our Personal Accountants and supporting team provide to our clients.

How can you vote?

These awards are the only awards dedicated to and decided by the IT contractor marketplace. It’s so easy to vote so please take a moment to support us now! Make your vote count here.

 

Voting closes on December the 18th, so please make sure you get your vote in by then!

 

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.

Let’s get social!

Let’s get social!

We know that in this technology driven world you’re probably asked daily to ‘like’ this and ‘share’ that from various company’s social media platforms, without possibly ever seeing any real value from doing so.

Here at Intouch we actively use our social platforms to share content which we feel is of real value to freelancers and contractors and not just pump out news for the sake of it. Take a look at some of the platforms we’re currently featuring on and the types of content we share, to see if there’s one (or many!) which you’d like to join us on. Let’s get social!

 

LinkedIn

Our LinkedIn page has it’s finger on the contractor pulse. It’s first for our thought leadership articles and opinion pieces. If something is going to affect our clients, we will make sure that we explain it and offer advice here first. Our MD, Paul Gough regularly discusses topics with the Intouch LinkedIn community, so if you want to know about the successes or challenges contractors are going to experience, then our LinkedIn page is for you.

 

Twitter

Interested in what’s going on within the wider scope of contracting? Wondering what Contractor UK is talking about, or when IPSE’s next self-employed event is? We make sure we share the topics and news that interests you, whilst also posting all the usual new blogs and ebriefs from our website.

 

Facebook

Looking for a little more light hearted contractor news, which still covers what you need to know? Then the Intouch Facebook page is for you! Whilst we still share our blogs and ebriefs, we also look at the fun side of contracting and celebrate what working for yourself truly encompasses. Keep an eye open for our Monday motivational post to help start your week off right and celebrate Fridays with our humour posts.

 

Google+

If you need a social feed that predominantly delivers our blogs and ebriefs, then our Google+ page should be on your follow list. Whilst we do occasionally share news stories and articles from other sources, our Google+ page showcases our latest content that is important to contractors. So if you don’t have time to visit our resources section to check if we’ve published new content, then let our Google+ page feed it to you.

 

Youtube

Prefer visuals to reading? Our Youtube channel features videos such as showcasing the top tips on how to increase your take home pay. Keep posted for new videos on hot topics that affect contractors.

 

Whichever social platform is your preferred choice, by connecting with at least one of the Intouch profiles you’ll always be connected to the latest contractor news. We look forward to sharing our content with 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.

What are the benefits of having Fee Protection Service?

Fee Protection Service

In our blog last week we announced that we have enhanced our monthly service to include professional fee protection service. In this blog, Paul Mason of Abbey Tax explains the benefits for contractors in having this service.

 

A bit of background may be useful to put HMRC’s enquiry regime into context.  Prior to the introduction of Self Assessment, when you submitted your business or personal tax return, you would receive confirmation that it had been received and its contents accepted in all but about 90% of cases.  The remaining 10% – usually businesses – would either be contacted with queries that were either minor in nature (what we refer to now as “Aspect Enquiries”) or would be subject to an investigation (“Full Enquiry”) where HMRC wanted all the books and records. It should be added that at this point, no-one had yet come up with IR35…

 

The problem for HMRC was that this involved a lot of administration and when they undertook a full blown investigation, they had to give a reason for their enquiry, which more often than not was hotly contested by the accountant, resulting in a long-drawn out process.

 

Self Assessment changed all this.  Now, you only know that you won’t get an enquiry into your most recently submitted Self Assessment return if a year has elapsed since it was submitted (and even then legislation introduced in 2009 gives HMRC a subsequent bite at the cherry); and if you do get an enquiry, you may be able to guess why you were selected from the questions asked, but you won’t actually be given a reason by HMRC. They closely guard their selection criteria for fear of taxpayers changing their behaviour patterns.

 

If selected, then the one thing that we can guarantee: whatever the outcome of the enquiry, it is likely to be an expensive process to deal with.  For many taxpayers, the cost of professional fees in dealing with the enquiry has been enough for them to ask their accountant to get the enquiry closed – even if they ended up paying more tax than they should.  For others, the insult added to injury was paying several thousand pounds in fees to defend themselves, only to find that HMRC had accepted their original Self Assessment!

 

A good example of how expensive – and ultimately frustrating – things can get is IR35.  HMRC start this process by issuing a ‘Check of Employer Records’ letter, which requests all of the contracts in the period under enquiry (usually the last tax year) and asks the following question:

 

“Will you please also tell me whether you have considered the possibility whether the company is subject to what is commonly referred to as the IR35 Legislation? If you have, and have concluded that the company is not subject to that IR35 Legislation, then please explain to me the basis upon which you have arrived at that conclusion.  I am asking this to help me be fully aware of and understand any view you may hold on the application of the IR35 legislation”.

 

By the time you have reviewed the contractual terms (preferably with a professional) and spoken at length to have a detailed understanding of your working practices, and this has been carefully communicated to HMRC making it clear why we believe IR35 does not apply to your engagement(s), you could be staring at the wrong end of a £1,500 bill.  If HMRC decide that they do not accept this response, they will issue you detailed questionnaires to be completed and pursue the end client for their view of the working arrangements.  The resulting professional fees might easily reach£5,000.  If the matter goes to Tribunal, then the costs will escalate by a further £10,000 – £15,000.

 

Thankfully, the fee protection service will take care of the enquiry costs.  We can therefore focus on providing the best defence without you worrying about how much it is costing you.

 

So whether HMRC are challenging your VAT returns (checking the operation of the Flat Rate Scheme has been a high priority in recent years); or they are wanting to enquire into any travel and subsistence claims on your tax return; or decide that your engagements are caught by IR35, the fee protection service is there to help us support you when you most need it.  We want to ensure that when the Inspector calls, the odds are never stacked against you.

 

Get the service and cover you need to contract successfully with total peace of mind. Call our advisers today on 01202 912 831 to discuss your circumstances, or take a look at last week’s blog to discover what’s included in the new fee protection service.

 

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.

Introducing Intouch Accounting’s new Fee Protection Service

Fee Protection Service

At Intouch Accounting we pride ourselves on offering the very best service and expertise to every single client and encourage them to let us know if there’s something they need in order to help them contract successfully.

 

Over the past twelve months our Personal Accountants have seen an increase in the number of clients expressing their concerns about the risk of being investigated by HMRC. Whilst we currently offer IR35 contract risk assessments as part of our monthly service, we could clearly see that our clients’ fresh concerns required extra protection and reassurance.

 

That is why we are pleased to announce that we are now including within our monthly all inclusive fee of £98 +VAT a fee protection service that will protect you against unwelcome additional costs should an HMRC enquiry be raised relating to your Limited Company.

 

Why do you need this service as a contractor?

HMRC collected over £26.6bn from compliance activity in 2014/15 and in the July Budget £800m was allocated to continue this work, with a view of delivering an extra £5bn a year. It’s anticipated that these increased targets will trigger a significant rise in the levels of enquiries over the next two years. These can be lengthy in duration and expensive to fund on your own, even though there may be nothing found to be wrong.

 

Many other contractor accountants would charge extra for this service, as HMRC investigations can quickly become very expensive and time consuming. But we believe in offering one fixed price service that includes everything you need to contract with confidence. So why not opt for a contractor accountant that offers what you need, without any nasty surprises.

 

What’s included and how does it work?

On top of what’s already included in our comprehensive monthly service, you’ll also receive:

 

  • all the assistance you require to deal with any HMRC enquiries or investigation, no matter how detailed
  • unlimited access to a business legal helpline that offers 24 hour, 365 days a year advisory lines covering all aspects of commercial, employment, health and safety and business legal matters
  • payment of up to £75,000 in professional defence fees in the event of a tax enquiry.

 

We firmly believe this protection is essential to contractors and we want everyone to benefit from it should HMRC come knocking.

 

If you have any questions relating to the new fee protection service offering inclusion within our all inclusive monthly fee of £98+VAT, please do speak to one of our advisers on 01202 912 831.

Our next blog will look more in depth at the benefits of having fee protection service.

 

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.

Thank you to everyone who took part in our Contractor DNA survey

Thank you to everyone who took part in our Contractor DNA survey

At Intouch we pride ourselves on our personal service and we are always looking at ways to develop our offering and the solutions we provide. We regularly do this by listening to the feedback our clients give us, but in May we launched our Contractor DNA survey to get even closer to the heart of contracting.

The survey was conducted by a third party and was designed to find out what makes contractors tick and we’re delighted with the number of responses we received. We offered respondents the chance to be entered into a prize draw and we’re pleased to announce the winners.

Congratulations to:

  • Amanda Green, Green Training & Development Limited
  • Ato Owede, Amadea Ltd
  • Bruce Danbury CBS consulting
  • Daniel Homer – Homer IT
  • Keith Miller, Ksphere Limited
  • Mark Delaney – Systems Managed
  • Mo Amin – Cyber Guidance Limited
  • Peter Simeon – Sanyu Suubi Limited
  • Senthil Natesan – Senthoor Ltd
  • Vicky Rodgers – VWR Consulting Limited

 

Existing Intouch clients will enjoy one month’s free accountancy service while those who are not Intouch clients will receive a £50 Amazon voucher.

We will now be using the findings to continue to build and develop Intouch in 2015 and serve the contractor community. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey.

 

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 find contract work

Top tips to find contract work

Looking for contract work is a different kind of process to looking for permanent roles. This is partly because contractor vacancies often need to be filled quite quickly and partly because the very nature of contracting means that looking for your next role is an on-going process. If you’re currently working in a contract it can be tempting to put off the task of looking for your next role. However, it’s advisable to keep on the lookout for potential roles on a regular basis, whether you’re currently working or not. This way you’re less likely to miss a potential work opportunity.

1. Tailor your CV to the role applied for

Keeping your CV up to date is, of course, essential.  Just as important is highlighting elements which are directly relevant to the role you’re applying for. Don’t assume that others will understand what your previous roles have involved. Instead, ensure that what you have to offer is clearly stated to make it easy for the recruiter to match your skills to the role they want to fill. This may mean that you have to create several versions of your CV, but the effort involved is worthwhile.

2. Use keywords in your CV

When uploading your CV online, remember to include relevant keywords in the CV text. This alone can result in your CV being picked up in a search by a potential recruiter. For example, if you’re an ‘IT contractor’ with ‘public sector’ experience, try to include these terms within the text.

3. Make use of online Job Boards and CV Databases

Job Boards are online services which recruiters use to advertise roles which you can apply for. Most allow you set up email alerts to send you details of roles as they appear. This makes it easy for you to keep up with what’s available with minimal effort.

CV Databases are online services where you can upload your CV and profile for recruiters to search through when they’re looking for a match to vacancies they have. If you have the skills they need for a role they will contact you. The advantage of this kind of service is that your ‘shop window’ is permanently visible to those who may need your skills. Once again, make sure that your CV clearly highlights your capabilities and make sure you keep the most up to date version visible.

4. Register with contractor job agencies

Take a look online for agencies which specialise in your area and register with them. With their contacts they often hear of roles before they’re advertised so you potentially have access to jobs you would not hear of otherwise.

5. Network online and offline

Having at least a LinkedIn account is essential for contractors to increase online visibility. It provides a way to keep your contacts updated with projects you’re working on, enables you to add testimonials and allows you keep in touch with people you may not be able to meet with on a regular basis in person. Read our blog about the benefits of LinkedIn for contractors to help maximise your professional visibility. As well as LinkedIn there are many other ways of being visible online and demonstrating your expertise, on contractor discussion forums for example.

Face-to-face networking can also be an invaluable way of making contacts and finding work. Remember, if you meet someone face-to-face, follow up with an email or LinkedIn invite to keep the contact fresh.

The keys to finding contracting work are: use agencies, Job Boards and CV databases; stay visible to potential recruiters both off and online; and make good use of your contacts.

Thinking of moving over to contracting and unsure of the practical factors to consider? Read our blog on moving from a permanent role to contracting to help make your transition to contracting life easier and smoother from the start.

 

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.

Is your business insurance sorted?

Is your business insurance sorted?

As of today, Intouch Accounting is delighted to recommend Kingsbridge Professional Solutions as its preferred partner to Limited Company contractors looking for business insurance.

Many contractor and freelance professionals are required to have insurance as a requirement in their engagement contract. Even if it’s not a requirement it makes sound financial sense. Not only will it help you protect your assets if anything goes wrong, it also shows a level of commitment to being an independent contractor and recognition of the risks that need to be managed. Kingsbridge specialise in contractor business insurance and offer everything a contractor needs, in one policy. They already provide comprehensive business insurance solutions to thousands of freelancer, contractors and independent professionals in the UK. Intouch clients now have access to this complete business insurance solution at a competitive price. Kingsbridge Solution’s comprehensive package offers employers’ liability insurance; personal accident insurance; and public liability insurance all of which are important to have in place when running a personal Limited  Company.

Having as a preferred partner one of the industry’s leading insurance brokers further strengthens Intouch’s position as one of the UK’s leading contractor accountancy companies. We were recently voted third in the Contractor UK Awards’ Best Contractor Accountant of 2014 category.

Intouch Accounting Managing Director Paul Gough said “At Intouch our focus is to help make our clients’ lives easier and take the hassle out of being a contractor. We chose Kingsbridge because they offer what our clients need in one policy so we can recommend them with confidence, knowing our clients will be well looked after. We want our clients to benefit from their expertise so it makes sense to work with them. Our responsibility to our clients is to make them aware of the risks they face by not having suitable insurance. The ultimate choice of which provider best suits their needs is our clients’ but with Kingsbridge we have confidence in their professionalism, market expertise and business values.”

Zubair Ahmed, Partnership Development Manager at Kingsbridge Professional Solutions said: “We have been providing a specialist insurance solution to freelancers and contractors for nearly eight years. We’re extremely pleased to have teamed up with Intouch and look forward to helping their clients with their business insurance needs.”

Looking for business insurance? Not sure what you need? Visit our business insurance page for more information and to get an instant quote.

 

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 Accounting recognised in the Contractor UK 2014 Awards

Intouch Accounting recognised in the Contractor UK 2014 Awards

We are delighted to announce that Intouch Accounting has been recognised as one of the leading contractor accountants in the UK. We are pleased to once again feature in the top three in the Best Contractor Accountant category in this year’s Contractor UK Awards. These awards are renowned throughout the industry, and Intouch Managing Director Paul Gough said being awarded within this category is fantastic news for the company:

“I am delighted that our clients have taken the time to cast their vote in this year’s Contractor UK Awards. We pride ourselves on our personal service and this award shows that our clients appreciate the level of service the team deliver. Thanks to all who voted for us, and we share this award with you”.

What is the award for?

The Contractor UK Reader Awards are the only awards dedicated to and decided by the contract IT marketplace. The Best Contractor Accountant award recognises those accountancy companies that have provided an unsurpassable level of service to their clients, and is known to be the most competitive of all the categories in this year’s awards.

Who votes?

Contractors across the UK get the opportunity to cast their votes via the Contractor UK website. Having been selected for the award demonstrates that our clients value us and we are grateful to those who took the time to vote. We are pleased that the result in this award mirrors results of a recent customer satisfaction survey undertaken in which our clients were given opportunity to feedback their views on our service. We now look forward to a busy 2015, continuing to provide the highest level of service to all of our clients.

Read more about the Contractor UK awards.

Want to join us?

If you are thinking of setting up your own Limited Company; moving away from your Umbrella or are looking to leave your current accountant, get in touch and explore your options.

If you’re already a client, why not recommend us to a friend? They’ll thank you for it and we’ll give you £150 of Amazon vouchers!

 

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.