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.

What every Limited Company contractor should know about the Personal Savings Allowance

Personal Savings Allowance

 

6 April 2016 was a big day for Limited Company contractors, with many new changes affecting their everyday professional lives. One of these changes was the introduction of a new Personal Savings Allowance (PSA) which will see around 95% of taxpayers no longer having to pay any tax whatsoever on their savings income, such as interest.

 

So what does this mean for Limited Company contractors? In this blog, our Director of Operations, Laura Hepworth, explores how you’re affected, what you need to know and how to make the most from the new PSA.

 

Back to basics – what is the PSA?

The PSA was introduced by the Government to reduce the amount of tax paid on people’s personal savings income. In short it means that any savings earned in building societies, banks, NS&I products company bonds and credit unions won’t be taxed up to a certain limit.

 

This is, however, decided upon depending on whether you are a basic, higher or additional rate taxpayer.

 

Basic rate taxpayers that earn up to £43,000 per year (20%), are able to earn up to a maximum of £1,000 of savings income before any tax is due. Higher rate taxpayers that earn up to £150,000 per year (40%), are able to earn up to £500 of savings income. Unfortunately if you are an additional rate taxpayer, then the allowance it not available to you.

 

How does the PSA work?

For basic rate taxpayers, banks and building societies used to deduct income tax from the interest earned on accounts (not including ISAs) at a flat rate of 20%. Higher rate taxpayers would see the additional 20% collected through their PAYE code, or when submitting a self assessment tax return. Additional rate taxpayers would have to inform HMRC of how much savings income they’d accumulated through a self assessment tax return, where they’d then pay the additional 25%.

 

Now it’s a much simpler system. Banks and building societies no longer take the flat rate income tax (20%) from the interest earned and instead they pay you gross and report interest details directly to HMRC.

 

More trust has been bestowed upon PAYE codes, as HMRC believes this new method will allow people’s tax codes to be identified by the amount of savings income they have earnt in previous years.

 

Whilst this is good news for those who’s tax code will be adjusted to now include tax free savings, for others who do not receive an income but do generate a savings income, will be expected to submit a tax return.

 

What happens when you exceed your PSA?

Your PAYE tax code will automatically be adjusted and HMRC will deduct any owed tax from your take home pay.

 

Should you exceed your PSA limit, you don’t have to wait until HMRC adjusts your code, you can notify them whenever.

 

Does the PSA have an effect on the £5,000 dividend allowance or existing ISAs?

Good news! As the dividend allowance is separate, it’s not affected. Existing ISAs are tax-free and are therefore also not affected.

 

What happens when you have a joint account?

Should you have a joint account, then both of you will receive a PSA. If one of you is a basic rate taxpayer and the other a higher rate taxpayer, then as a duo you will receive a PSA of £1,000 and £500 respectively.

 

How are multiple accounts affected?

HMRC will cross-reference all of the information they gather from each of the banks or building societies you hold accounts with, to understand your tax code and the amount of tax due.

 

How do monthly cashback / reward schemes affect PSAs?

The PSA includes savings income and interest, but it’s worth understanding that not all banks and building societies are considered as ‘savings income’. For example, if you receive a monthly monetary reward (such as a cash bonus for using a specific banking provider) then this is classed as ‘annual payments’ and are therefore not covered by PSA. So in HMRC’s eyes this means that annual payments are subject to tax.

 

If you’re not a taxpayer, you’re able to claim back the tax by using an R40 form and returning it back to HMRC.

 

How is the interest paid on PPI and other compensation payments treated?

Tax is still required to be taken from any compensation interest paid, as it’s not considered to be part of PSA. Whilst this is the case, you may still be able to claim back the tax by completing an R40 and returning it to HMRC.

 

Final thoughts

PSAs can sometimes be confusing, that’s why it’s always useful to have an unlimited source of expert advice at your fingertips. As an Intouch Accounting client, your Personal Accountant is on hand to guide you through the sometimes confusing world of contracting, to ensure you get the best and the most from your career.

 

Speak to our team today about the tailored, specialist advice and guidance we can offer you, to help you achieve your Limited Company contracting goals.

 

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 alphabet shares and why do contractors need to be aware of them?

What are alphabet shares?

 

Limited Companies are traditionally formed with a nominal number of ordinary shares. As the company grows and more shareholders are added, alphabet shares are certainly something to consider.

 

In this blog our Director of Operations, Laura Hepworth explores what alphabet shares are and how they could be of benefit to you as a Limited Company contractor.

 

Dividend waivers vs alphabet shares

Dividends are received by all the shareholders of a Limited Company, in proportion to their personal shareholdings. Should one shareholder be paid a different amount to the other shareholders, there either needs to be a dividend waiver or the share structure needs to be amended.

 

  • If you believe you’ll use dividend waivers on a regular basis to distribute company profits disproportionately to the same class of shareholder, then it’s advised to use alphabet shares as a permanent alternative method.
  • HMRC are more likely to question dividend waivers.
  • Waivers can be seen as unreliable as all shareholders must give their consent each time. Alphabet shares do not need the consent of all shareholders, as they are already pre-agreed.
  • Voting and other rights or restrictions are possible for alphabet shareholders (redeemable and non redeemable) to be assigned to the different classes of shareholders as required.
  • Alphabet shares allow the freedom and flexibility in paying dividends, so payments can be made to a certain class of share without having to pay the same amount in dividends to each company shareholder. If your Limited Company’s shareholders are taxed at higher rates than one another (if at all) then alphabet shares are a particularly good idea.

 

Settlement Rules

Whether you decide to use dividend waivers or alphabet shares, it’s important to understand whether either is caught by the Settlement Legislation.  In short, the Settlement Legislation is designed to expose and punish anyone who uses dividend waivers or alphabet shares purely to divert income from one person to another, thus resulting in a tax advantage.

 

For alphabet shares it’s particularly important to understand that a lack in voting rights (for example) could result in being caught by the Settlement Legislation.

 

To ensure you do not fall foul of the Settlement Rules, we advise you do the following:

 

  • Any new shares made under the alphabet scheme must be an outright gift and have exactly the same rights as the original ordinary shares. Restrictions cannot apply (such as being non-voting, carrying lesser rights to capital, or promise to return shares on demand). You must not make the shares redeemable preference shares.
  • If you decide to gift shares to spouses, it’s recommended to show that they have an active interest in the running of the company, such as becoming a director, the company’s secretary or even an administrator.
  • Only pay dividends into a bank account that holds the recipient’s name (such as joint accounts) to ensure you don’t attract unwanted HMRC attention.
  • Remember that in order to claim Entrepreneur’s Relief should you decide to sell the company, a 5% share is required.
  • Pay some dividends to each type of share, so as to minimise the risk of HMRC claiming that dividends should not be paid, unless one class of share was not allocated any dividend.

 

Should you have any questions about alphabet shares and how they could compliment your Limited Company, speak to one of our expert advisers today.

 

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.

Brexit: tax implications for contractors

Tax implications for contractors

Seven weeks after the EU Referendum vote and there has been little clarity on what will happen, when and by whom! In fact, until Article 50 is triggered, sparking the start of exit negotiations, we’re likely to remain in a haze of uncertainty at least until the Autumn. Our own political parties need to get their houses back in order before they can start divorce proceedings.

 

But a lot of people, understandably, are not keen on playing the waiting game and want at least some idea of what the future holds, now. Here we take a look at what Brexit is likely to mean for contractors and their taxes in the short-, medium- and longer-term. Before we get started, it’s important to stress that even once Article 50 is triggered it’ll be at least another two years until changes come into effect, following what will undoubtedly be complicated negotiations between UK and EU officials. Until that time, existing arrangements will remain in play.

 

In the short-term

Many in the accounting world expected progress to kick start on the Making Tax Digital consultations following a remain outcome. It now seems likely this will slip far down the priority list, unlikely to reemerge at least until a new Cabinet is in place. Any delay in progressing this already unpopular proposal will be music to many contractors’ ears.

 

With the Finance bill 2016 already behind schedule, further delays seem inevitable meaning a delay in the Finance Act due to be passed in October, while the Government sorts itself out.

 

There are already 40 pieces of tax legislation which have been already delayed during the Referendum so these will now be reactivated with a view to most coming into force later this year and early next.

 

One thing we can be pretty certain on, is that an emergency Budget will be held before the year is out.

 

In the medium-term

If the emergency Budget follows the blueprint which Osborne forecast when he was Chancellor during the Referendum campaign, then we can expect £15bn of tax rises and £15bn of spending cuts. If this does happen, we’re likely to see rises in income tax and National Insurance, with the campaign forecast suggesting a 2 pence rise in the basic rate of income tax; a 3 pence rise in the higher rate and a 5% inheritance tax rate to 45p.

 

As an incentive to companies to stay in the UK, it is expected that the rate of corporation tax will probably not increase.

 

There are two key guiding principles relating to the application of taxes within the UK:

1. Direct taxes are imposed by UK law but in accordance with EU law.

2. VAT is imposed and operated in accordance with EU law.

 

So for the next two years nothing can change relating to VAT without complying with the existing EU arrangements.

 

In the long-term

During the transition period (which is likely to continue to late 2018), VAT – like all the other tax and regulation tied to European law – won’t change. Despite the Leave campaign’s promise to cut VAT rates on domestic fuel, this is unlikely to happen in reality as it generates £115bn a year for the UK government. We may even see VAT rates increasing as it is easy to implement the change and is a more straightforward way to boost the government’s coffers.

 

Once fully out of the EU, sales going in and out of the UK will be treated as imports and exports and so subject to different VAT treatments to now, where they are considered as intra-EU movements. VAT on expenses incurred in other EU countries will probably be more difficult to recover.

 

For UK businesses selling digital services in the EU, VAT MOSS will continue to apply but on a non-EU basis, meaning the operation of VAT-MOSS is likely to become more complicated.

 

Since the decision was made to exit it has come to light that the UK and EU have disagreed on several occasions over the scope and operation of UK taxes including patent box, changes to the taxation of controlled foreign companies, differential rates of insurance premium tax and capital duty.

 

Once out of the EU, the powers in London, Edinburgh and Belfast will dictate tax rates and structures according to the UK’s needs and subject to whatever settlement is made with Europe. It is also anticipated that more tax incentives will be introduced to encourage investment in the UK as we break away from needing to seek EU approval on issues concerning R&D credits, the patent box, and executive investment schemes.

 

At Intouch we will, of course, be keeping a keen eye on developments and advising our clients on how to get the best from their Limited Company. To benefit from unlimited advice whenever you need it, sign up to our all inclusive monthly service and rest assured that we’re here for you, whatever the future holds.

 

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.

IR35 consultation hot off the press

IR35 consultation

HMRC has now published the anticipated consultation on IR35 and the public sector, following closely on the heels of the announcement made in this year’s Budget and the discussion document in 2015.

 

The consultation centres on a new online test that HMRC expects engagers to use to determine a worker’s status and therefore the tax they will suffer at source. The reliability and acceptance of that test is critical to the fair application of the new rules. HMRC are inviting interested parties to offer to assist in the development of this test. Intouch has already registered its willingness to contribute to the development of a test that is appropriate, fair and consistent with the legislation and case law, and not just HMRC’s view of the world.

 

We will be submitting a response in defence of the genuine self-employed contractors and we urge everyone who has a vested interest to respond to the consultation. It is our chance to influence HMRC’s understanding of our market and attempt to contribute to the shape of the future of tax, not only for public sector contractors, but the wider freelance and contracting market.

 

The consultation can be found here and it invites all to respond, so let’s have our voices heard.

We’ve unpicked the consultation to see just how fair it is…and whether it really is a consultation. Read our findings in our blog posted on Contractor UK.

 

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.

Dividends – how often should I take them, and when are they actually taxed?

Dividends

Dividends can sometimes be difficult to understand and many contractors find themselves wondering when they should take them and when do they actually get taxed?

 

In this blog our Director, Duncan Strike answers these two questions and covers the timing and tax point of dividend declarations.

 

Question 1: When are dividends taxed? Is it when they’re paid, or the date they’re declared?

 

Neither of these answers are correct. A dividend will be included on your tax return, according to the date the dividend was declared as becoming payable. The date it was paid is not relevant.

 

For example:

A dividend declared 1 April 2016, that was paid on 7 April 2016, is included as income for the 2016/17 tax year. The amount would be classed as a loan, if it was paid on 4 April, until 7 April. It would not change the tax year it’s regarded as a dividend.

 

Remember! Should HMRC decide to investigate, in order to support all dividends, keep copies of all dividend vouchers and minutes. Your contractor accountant should have a dividend template for you to use, then simply send them a copy every time you use it.

 

Tax planning opportunities

If you have some of your basic rate tax band left, have sufficient profits in your company and for whatever reason, you don’t want to pay yourself a dividend at that time, you’re able to declare a dividend immediately payable, if you intend to take the cash at a later date. This means you can fully utilise your tax allowances year on year, as it ensures the dividend falls into a specific tax year.

 

Don’t forget that as of 6 April, the new £5,000 dividend tax was introduced. It’s worth taking at least £5,000 in dividends, as this amount is tax free, regardless of which tax band you fall into. Use our new dividend calculator to find out how much you’ll pay in dividend tax this tax year.

 

Question 2: How often should you pay yourself dividends? What are the dangers of monthly payments looking like disguised salary?

 

We generally recommend our clients to pay themselves dividends, either monthly or quarterly. You can, however, pay them to yourself whenever you wish.

 

As long as the correct dividend voucher and minutes paperwork are in place and your company has sufficient funds to cover the distributions, there’s little chance that HMRC will see your dividends as salary.

 

We do advise all clients to keep their salary and dividend payments completely separate from one another and pay all shareholders separately in the correct proportions, so that a clear audit trail can be provided. Should you be subject to an HMRC review, having clear audit trails in place can make all the difference, as every item is easy to trace and nothing has been missed or hidden.

 

If you’re looking for specialist, tailored advice regarding dividends, that’s unique to you and your circumstances, speak to our team today to find out how Intouch can help you. Our Personal Accountants are here to be your guide, to ensure you get the best and most from contracting.

 

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 New Tax-Free Childcare Scheme

The New Tax-Free Childcare Scheme – how will it help contractors?

 

The recent Budget revealed more details about the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme, but what does this mean for contractors? Well the good news is, unless you want to, you’ll no longer have to mess around with childcare vouchers or setting up an Employer’s Scheme when you might be the only employee! And, perhaps most importantly, you will get more through the new Scheme.

 

The changes are a little way away yet and if you’re already an Intouch client, your Personal Accountant will be able to offer you advice and guidance nearer the time of the scheme being rolled out.

 

In this blog we address the top 12 questions contractors and freelancers will want answers to now.

 

1. When does it launch?

The scheme will start being rolled out from early 2017, firstly to those parents with youngest children.

You will be able to open an account online, which you can pay into for the cost of your childcare with your chosen registered provider. As soon as your youngest child becomes eligible you will be able to apply for any other children you may have.

 

2. How will the government support it?

For every 80p you pay in, the government will add 20p. They will top up the account with 20% of childcare costs up total of £10,000. That’s the equivalent of up to £2,000 per child, or £4,000 per child with a disability.

 

3. What’s the cut-off age?

Children up to the age of 12 and children with a disability up to the age of 17.

 

4. Who is it available to?

Parents who work and where individual earnings equal approximately £115 per week and not more than £100,000 per year.

 

5. What about your employer?

Unlike the current Employer-Supported Childcare scheme, you don’t need to rely on your employer to offer the new scheme to you. Any family that qualifies (see question 4) can apply. So if you run your own Limited Company you won’t have to go through the additional administration of setting up an employer-run scheme when you might be the only employee.

 

6. What about self-employed parents?

Freelancers are not being left out. Self-employed parents can get support through the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme.

A ‘start-up’ period will be introduced by the government, to ensure that those parents who are self-employed won’t have to reach the minimum weekly earnings threshold of £115. If parents are on paid or unpaid paternity/ maternity leave, paid sick leave, or adoption leave then they too will be eligible.

 

7. What’s happening to the Employer-Supported Childcare scheme?

Employer-Supported Childcare (childcare vouchers) will continue to run but won’t be available to new entrants from April 2018. If you’re planning on using it past this date, then you can continue to do so for as long as your employer offers it.

You don’t have to move across to Tax-Free Childcare, although the government predicts that it will be open to more than twice the number of parents as Employer-Supported Childcare.

 

8. Can other people pay into your childcare account?

Yes! If you have generous family members or friends then they can contribute.

 

9. What about the free childcare entitlement?

The new Tax-Free Childcare scheme will run alongside the 50% increase to free childcare (to 30 hours per week) for working families with three and four year olds from September 2017.

 

10. Will it be complicated to use?

The government intend to make the process as simple as possible. You will have to reconfirm your circumstances every three months.

 

11. What if you don’t use the money you put into your account?

If you decide to stop using the scheme, or if your circumstances change, you can withdraw the money from your account whenever you wish. You will, however, lose the money the government has contributed towards your payments.

 

12. Which scheme is best for you?

This all depends on your circumstances, but here’s a quick overview:

Tax-Free Childcare – who wins?

  •  Self-employed people or couples earning less than £100,000 each. They are eligible for this scheme but can’t get childcare vouchers
  • Parents who have more than one child and whose childcare costs are high. Under this scheme help increases with the number of children, unlike vouchers which are limited regardless of the number of children.

 

Childcare vouchers – who wins?

  • For those earning between £100,000 and £150,000 the vouchers are the better option.
  • Couples where one parent doesn’t work – although they are not eligible for Tax-Free Childcare, the employed parent is eligible for vouchers.
  • Basic rate taxpayers who pay less than £9,336 in childcare costs. Below this threshold the amount you save with vouchers exceeds the amount you can save with Tax-Free Childcare.
  • Higher rate taxpayers who pay less than £6,252 in childcare costs. Below this threshold the amount you save with vouchers exceeds the amount you can save with Tax-Free Childcare.
  • Additional-rate taxpayers – anyone earning £150,000 or more isn’t eligible for the scheme but additional-rate taxpayers can claim vouchers.

 

Find out more about childcare vouchers.

 

So what’s next?

More information will be made available ahead of the scheme’s launch and Intouch Accounting will be first to announce any developments, so keep a close eye on our blog section for the latest updates.

 

We know how important preparation is when you’re contracting whilst looking after a family, that’s why we’re here to inform and aid you in any way we can. Got questions about the new scheme? Simply leave us a comment and we will get back 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.

Budget changes: IT contractor worries in 2016

Budget changes amongst top worries for IT contractors in 2016

 

With the 2016 budget just around the corner, we look at the key concerns of the IT contractor sector and the challenges that the new budget may pose.

 

When we talk about contracting, people often think about IT contractors first. This is in part due to the historical demand for contractors in the IT industry, who often amass a huge breadth of experience by working for lots of different clients.

 

Research by IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, shows a 71% increase, over the past seven years, in the number of independent professionals working in Information Technology and Communications.

 

This steep rise in interest is likely to be thanks in part to the lucrative contracts often enjoyed by IT professionals, who tend to receive financial benefits beyond what their permanently employed counterparts receive.

 

Nevertheless, even the IT sector faces challenges ahead in 2016. According to CUK, demand for temporary technology workers has slowed over the last two years. However the market for freelance IT skills as well as hourly pay rates are still growing.

 

Another area of opportunity for the IT industry in 2016 is to promote itself more to women. In a previous article on women in contracting that I wrote for IPSE, I discussed how the IT industry is taking steps to attract more women to IT roles and to get more school age girls interested in coding.

 

The inaugural Women in IT Awards launched in London last year with the aim of celebrating the outstanding innovation achieved by women in the IT industry. Despite all this, more still needs to be done to remove the existing boy’s club reputation of the IT industry.

 

In an article on recruitment website Uniting Ambition, recruiter Tina Bicknell says it’s difficult sourcing women for programming roles and that this is a genuine issue for the sector. In her article, Tina believes women are drawn to management rather than coding – a product of industry stereotyping.

 

State of the IT Nation

So how are such IT professionals feeling about the state of the industry and contracting in general? We wanted to find out so, in December, Intouch carried out a survey – including both permanent employees and contractors – to get a better picture of the IT landscape.

 

Looking ahead to 2016, those polled who are already contracting or freelancing said the 2016 Budget, proposed changes to travel and subsistence (T&S) and the negative impact on take home pay were their top worries, each with 16% of the votes.

 

Many of our respondents had completed the survey prior to the publication of the draft Finance Bill, released on 9th December. Those who are Umbrella workers now know for certain that they will lose tax relief on T&S expense claims in April this year – a huge blow to them.

 

Those operating their own Limited Company breathed a huge sigh of relief as it was confirmed that if they are truly independent and are not “disguised employees” (outside IR35) they can still claim tax relief on T&S after April 2016.

 

These hot talking points were closely followed by changes to dividends, which was the main worry for 15% of temporary IT workers.

 

They are right to be concerned as Limited Companies have not escaped entirely unscathed by recent tax changes. From April 2016 the way dividends are taxed is changing to increase the amount of tax paid, although the first £5,000 of dividends will be tax free. Overall, post April 2016, most Limited Company workers remain financially advantaged over Umbrella company employees.

 

IR35 is another key worry for 13% of contractors. The proposed changes to IR35 (Intermediaries Legislation) is something I have discussed at length in a previous blog and although no announcements were made in the Autumn Statement it’s unlikely this debate is over.

 

Understanding the ins and outs of IR35 is certainly a complex issue. My advice to anyone who is concerned about the proposed reforms or their compliancy position is to speak to a contractor accountant to find out where you stand.

 

Another subject I have frequently discussed on the blog since the 2015 Budget was announced is the proposed changes to supervision, direction or control. This is a worry for 12% of IT contractors and freelancers.

 

The thought of HMRC investigations is keeping another 12% of IT professionals up at night. This is a worry we are well aware of at Intouch, which is why we now include professional fee protection cover in our all-inclusive monthly services – it means our clients are covered if HMRC raise an enquiry into their tax affairs or challenge their IR35 status.

 

Some of the IT professionals we spoke to are not currently contracting, although over half (56%) have done so previously. Of those we spoke to in permanent employment, nearly two thirds (60%), would not consider contracting in 2016, whilst one in five (20%) are very likely to take the plunge.

 

The number one concern preventing 29% of employed IT professionals from contracting is the perceived fear of leaving the ‘safety’ of permanent employment. This is followed by personal worries for 22% of employed respondents, such as family commitments, personal finances and keeping on top of mortgage repayments.

 

When speaking to IT contractors and freelancers about their trading model, over two thirds (69%) are using a Limited Company – a significant majority. Of the remainder, 17% are using an Umbrella Company and 11% are classed as self-employed, either as a Sole Trader or partnership.

 

Reasons for going Limited include having greater control and independence, tax efficiency and being able to operate as a small family company. Those operating through an Umbrella company said flexibility and low cost when not working were the main appeals. For the self-employed (Sole Trader / partnership), being able to spend more time at home with their children was a major benefit.

 

If you are unsure which trading model to use, our popular guide Limited Company or Umbrella – which is the right choice for you? explores the different trading models available to you and which is best for your circumstances.

 

When it comes to managing their finances, 44% of IT contractors and freelancers use a specialist accountant. Nearly a third (31%) are using a high street accountant and 13% are doing their accounts themselves. The survey also shows 6% of people are using online accountancy software to do their accounts.

 

Whether you’re an employed IT professional considering a move to contracting or a seasoned temporary worker looking to maximise your earnings, our team of expert contractor accountants can help you work out what trading model is best for your circumstances. Speak to us today on 01202 375562 or email 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.

Mr Newspaperman: detention for shoddy homework

One month then payroll

Dear Mr Newspaperman,

 

Your recent article in the Guardian reminds me of an essay I wrote at school in Year 10. I too failed to do proper research and thought that sensationalism would save me from the wrath of people who know better. Alas in Year 10 the consequences were that I got a grade D for some shoddy work. You on the other hand have caused needless criticism of hardworking freelancers and contractors, who for a number of important reasons choose to operate their businesses through small companies.

 

Claiming tax relief for business expenses as a flexible worker is not exploiting a loophole, any more than your using any form of tax relief is a loophole. For your article to be taken seriously it needs to be factually and emotionally accurate.

 

Ever since I was born Her Majesty’s Government has given me an annual Personal Allowance to be used before I start paying income taxes, but does my accepting or using this allowance in times of austerity make me a tax dodger? Am I a bad person for using my tax free allowances? So what is the difference?!

 

If you or the other hacks in offices along the corridor, can show me that you don’t claim tax relief on items you are perfectly entitled to, for the reasons they exist in the first place, I will send you £1.

 

The other thought that struck me is that rather than reporting a ‘scoop’ from an unnamed government source you are being used as puppet. A scaremonger designed to upset the economy and create unfair, unjustified, unwarranted, unhelpful, unnecessary and undefended animosity between different categories of worker. Well I am sorry to disappoint you. The UK contractor and freelancer workforce is stronger than that, they are bold and proud and like many others have placed their trust in Cameron’s boys and girls to steer the economy further into the Black.

 

If the flexible workers of the UK are let down it is not because they shirk hard work, neither is it because the vast majority do not fully respect tax legislation. It will once again be because the people advising David and George have failed to do their homework properly.

 

If I read your article as a Year 10 assessment, my advice would be to make sure you do more research in future, don’t get your words mixed up and worst of all don’t be so easily influenced by the other boys. The only level playing field they are used to is the topography in the grounds of their public school! 4/10.

 

Paul Gough

Another flawed proposal

 

This latest reported plan for ‘one-month-then-payroll’ has already received huge amounts of criticism from IPSE, FCSA and the contractor community at large. Of course, with the Autumn Statement less than two weeks away we will be posting our reactions and summaries with the issues affecting contractors. Now is a good time to make sure you have a contractor accountant you can trust – with Intouch Accounting you get everything you need to run your company efficiently, including unlimited advice from your Personal Accountant to make sure you’re up to date with everything you need to know and do.

 

Everything you need for one fixed fee. Call 01202 375 562 or email 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.