The Town That Took on the Taxman

  There was a great programme on the TV last night. “The Town That Took on the Tax Man’” You can catch up with it on iPlayer here: http://bbc.in/1nnmfQJ A group of traders from Crickhowell, set up a multinational tax avoidance scheme using the same techniques used by the likes of Starbucks, Amazon & Facebook to highlight the inequality in the tax system.* It comes to light that these large corporations have a special relationship with HMRC, they also have very expensive barristers and accountants and the deep pockets required to pay them in order to fight off HMRC when they are ultimately challenged. The sad truth is that the tax system is unfair. As a small business the relationship with HMRC is very different. You can be on the phone, listening to their on-hold music for an hour before ‘the computer’ will decide you should try again later and hang up. They will write to you with a deadline which has already passed by the time the letter is delivered and they will not respond to your letter for several months. So, the question I suppose many are asking is, can I set myself up an offshore company? Can I have a Dutch Sandwich? For many SMEs the answer will be no. The tax saved will be less than the legal fees in getting such a scheme set up and then successfully defended. It’s still not fair though is it? That’s what really hurts, we’re writing out the cheques while the multinational corporations are cutting deals. We’ll help our clients minimise their tax liability within the legal framework available, more importantly we’ll guide our clients through their business growth ensuring they know what they’re doing and are profitable. At the end of the day, we all should pay our taxes if we want to have an NHS, state-pension, roads and the emergency services etc but we would like to think it’s fair. Perhaps if the multinationals played along then the SMEs wouldn’t have to pay as much. I hope we get to find out how the Crickhowell traders get on, ultimately I think they’ll get stuck but good on them for trying and highlighting the inequity in the system. *I think Amazon and Starbucks have rearranged their tax affairs to ensure they do pay UK Corporation tax...

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Starbucks (Tax Planning) vs The EU

The US coffee chain, Starbucks has been receiving some fairly heavy criticism over the last couple of years after it has emerged that they have paid almost no tax in the UK between 2002 and 2012. Actually, it’s amazing that a company which has posted such significant losses within the UK is still trading. Since the vilification which has been all over the media, Starbucks have started to pay some corporation tax in the UK and just as the public might have forgiven Starbucks for their creative tax planning. They’ve hit the headlines again… The EU has said that an arrangement between Starbucks and The Netherlands could amount to illegal state aid. Despite, Starbucks deciding to move their European HQ to the Netherlands to the London thr EU may still take action. The EU have said, “The commission’s preliminary view is that the Advanced Pricing Arrangements in favour of Starbucks Manufacturing EMEA BV constitutes State aid. The Commission has doubts about the compatibility of such aid with the internal market.” The Dutch government and Starbucks are confident that any investigation will lead to nothing. Starbucks responded to the EU allegations with, “We agree with the Dutch Government that this investigation by the European Commission announced in June will find that there is no selective advantage and that we comply with all tax laws and OECD guidelines.” And the cynical among us will remember that the EU has failed it’s annual audit for the last 20 years. So it’s all just a big mess isn’t...

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2014 Budget Summary

Please find below our 2014 budget summary with the most relevant changes in the budget for our customers. Individuals Personal allowances For people born after 6 April 1948, the personal tax allowance for 2014/15 is £10,000. This will increase to £10,500 from 6 April 2015. For people born on 5 April 1948 or before, the personal tax allowance for 2014/15 is £10,660. From April 2015, spouses and civil partners will be able to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to each other, which means £1,050 in 2015/16. To be eligible to make or receive the transfer, neither party must be liable to tax at the higher or additional rate. Tax rates 2014-2015 The basic rate of 20% will be charged on income up to £31,865. The higher rate of 40% will be charged on income from £31,866 to £150,000. The additional rate of 45% will be charged on income over £150,000. Companies The main rate of corporation tax will be 21% from April 2014, falling to 20% from April 2015.   VAT The VAT registration threshold with effect from 1 April 2014 will be as follows:                                                                         Registration (£)                                            Deregistration (£) UK taxable supplies                       81,000                                                                   79,000   ‘Relevant Acquisitions’ from other EC Member States              81,000                                                                   81,000   Annual Investment Allowance   To continue to support business investment, the Government is doubling the Annual Investment Allowance to £500,000 from April 2014 until the end of 2015.   Other news   From 1 July 2014, cash and shares ISAs are to be merged into a New ISA – NISA – with an annual tax-free savings limit of £15,000. Savers will now have complete flexibility over the cash and shares mix within the overall limit of £15,000.   From April 2015, the starting rate of tax for savings income will be reduced from 10% to nil. The maximum amount of taxable savings income that will be eligible will rise to £5,000 from £2,880.   From 1 June 2014, the cap on Premium Bonds will rise from £30,000 to £40,000, increasing further to £50,000 in 2015/16. From August 2014, two £1 million prizes per month will be on offer, instead of the current one.   And finally…   HMRC is going to be given debt collection powers to recover money direct from the bank and building society accounts, including ISAs, of debtors who owe over £1,000 of tax or tax credit debts. HMRC will use this route after the debtor has been contacted ‘multiple times’. A minimum of £5,000 will be left ‘across’ debtors’ accounts after the debt has been recovered. I think we’ll blog more about this later, this is a new tactic by HMRC who don’t have a reputation for getting their calculations right and so this is probably something to be concerned...

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Submit the tax refund request

Have you received an e-mail from HMRC entitled, “Submit the tax refund request”? These things always seem to be going around and it comes as no surprise that as the 31st January tax return filing deadline approaches, the scammers are up to their tricks again. If you receive an email purporting to be from HMRC, advising that you are due a refund, do NOT open it. You should delete it. HMRC will never email you to advise of a refund, all refunds are advised in writing and they will never email you asking to verify your card. Here is an example of a scam (phishing) email: HMRC didn’t send this email. It is just an attempt to get your financial details.    ...

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When Should I Register For VAT?

 As a growing small business you should consider when you should register for VAT. If you’re in business, supplying goods or services within the UK and your turnover for the previous 12 months is more than the registration threshold (£79,000 at the time of writing), or if you expect it go over the threshold in the next 30 days alone then you must register for VAT. If you don’t want to register for VAT you may be able to apply for an exception if you have exceeded the limit temporarily. If you have taken over a VAT-registered business from someone else and your VAT taxable turnover over the last 12 months when added to the same for business you’re taking over exceeds the threshold, then you must register for VAT. The temporary exception mentioned above may also be available. If you are in the UK & have received goods from other European Union countries (known as acquisitions) with a total value of £79,000 or more in the current year since 1 January or you expect to acquire more than that value in the next 30 days alone then you must register for VAT. If you are supplying goods or services from the UK to other countries we suggest you give us a call or have a look at the HMRC website as this can be a complicated area. www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/start/register/when-to-register.htm#4   If you have any queries regarding VAT registration please feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to...

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Big Business Tax Avoidance?

Here at Courtley West, we had a good chuckle at this short video the BBC put up explaining how the large multi-national organisations are cutting down on their tax bills. We hope you enjoy it. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23961470  

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