The FreeAgent Blog

The best of 2014 at FreeAgent

Posted on 19 December 2014 by 0 Comments

It’s been a busy year for us here at FreeAgent Towers, and before we turn our sights to 2015 and beyond, here’s a review of the new features that we released this year, along with the best bits of company news. Hold on to your hats...

We started the year off with a bang: just in time for the tax deadline, we launched a huge new Self Assessment filing feature. FreeAgent can fill in up to 90% of our Sole Trader customers’ tax returns, and then they can file them directly to HMRC. We followed this by completely revamping FreeAgent’s time tracking features, launching a new timer that makes time tracking even easier. We were also thrilled to find out that we had been shortlisted in the prestigious FinTech 50; the annual rundown of Europe’s 50 most innovative financial tech companies.

In February, we unveiled the winner of our first “win your tax” competition - Moray Metals - and gave them £5,000 towards their next tax bill - if that sounds like something you’d like to enter, we’re running it again this year! We also launched a dedicated accountant division focussed on improving the way we work with UK accountancy practices (which we marked by becoming an official 2014 ICAS partner), and also spread a little love on twitter with a special Valentine’s giveaway for our lovely customers.

Then, in March, we unveiled support for reverse charge VAT in FreeAgent, and followed this up with additional support for the Employment Allowance in April. We also kicked off the first of our “Get Growing” roadshows, where we joined forces with companies including PayPal, Elance, and Constant Contact to support small businesses across the country.

At the start of the Summer, more than 40 keen FreeAgent team members signed up to the Global Corporate Challenge, a worldwide effort to improve employee health. Together, the FreeAgent team clocked up 32,674 kilometers worth of steps, burning enough calories for over 8,500 slices of pizza!

In Summer, we also released one of the most eagerly-anticipated FreeAgent features we’ve ever had: support for multi-currency banking. We also expanded Self Assessment filing for Limited Company directors and launched an integration with PayPal’s shiny new mobile payment service PayPal Here.

By the time Autumn rolled around, we had a new ScotlandIS Digital Business Award on our trophy shelf, and were delighted to be named as one of the “Ones to Watch” in the 2014 Tech Track 100 initiative. We followed this success by winning the Practice Software Product of the Year at the British Accountancy Awards and featuring in the Deloitte Fast 50 list of the fastest-growing UK tech companies for the second year running.

To round off the final few months of the year, we signed some major accountancy practice deals with JSA and Umbrella.co.uk, received accreditation from the Institute of Chartered Bookkeepers (ICB), co-hosted the official Scottish event for National Freelancers’ Day and won the PC Magazine Business Choice award for accounting software (with the highest customer ratings that they had seen all year). We were also selected by Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland for their new "Business Toolbox" designed to help small business owners.

And finally, in December we not only hosted a social media #DecorateYourDesk Christmas competition, but also launched our first-ever Self Assessment Survival Kit.

Safe to say, it’s been an incredible year for us and a lot of the success we’ve had has been not just down to the hard work and dedication of our team, but also the commitment and loyalty of our amazing customers. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped us on our journey so far.

There’s a lot more to come and, hopefully, this will include some very exciting developments in the New Year - so here’s looking towards a great 2015!

The 2014 FreeAgent Year in Review

If you’ve been looking at our twitter feed today you’ll have noticed that we’ve busted out our best winter woollies here at FreeAgent Towers.

But in addition to this being a cheap excuse to showcase our best fashion skillz (and let’s face it, there have been some stunning examples of festive finery on display) there’s been a serious reason for this outpouring of Christmas cheer.

We’ve been raising money for Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day - the annual event where people across the UK don their ugliest Christmas sweaters on December 12th and donate much-needed funds for vulnerable children, both in the UK and abroad.

It’s a great cause which we’re delighted to get behind - and if our impressive selection of knitwear has inspired you too, you can either visit the Christmas Jumper Day website for more info, or donate £2 to the campaign by texting TEAMRUDOLPH to 70050.

Ho Ho Ho!

If you’ve decided it’s the right time to close down your limited company – whether you’re retiring or returning to a staff position after contracting – you have some options. Here, our guest author Donald McNaught from Contractor MVLs talks you through why you might want to use an MVL (Members’ Voluntary Liquidation) if you have funds remaining in your business bank account.

Closing your solvent limited company

The most common way to end a solvent limited company is to take any remaining profit as a dividend, and then pay income tax on that dividend amount. But depending upon how much profit is left, closing it through an MVL may be more tax efficient and could potentially save you thousands of pounds.

What’s an MVL?

A Members’ Voluntary Liquidation is a statutory process where any cash in the company can be distributed to shareholders as a capital distribution instead of as a dividend. When a limited company wishes to close down, it can use an MVL if it’s solvent (i.e. if it owns more than it owes), and still has more than £25,000 in funds.

Depending on the circumstances of each shareholder, they may be able to benefit from an annual capital gains allowance (£11,000 for 2014/15) as well as the possibility of utilising Entrepreneurs’ Relief to reduce the amount of tax paid.

What’s Entrepreneurs’ Relief?

Not all businesses qualify for Entrepreneurs’ Relief – for the full details, check the eligibility criteria at gov.uk and speak to your accountant. With it, you’ll pay tax at 10% on qualifying assets when you liquidate your company instead of paying the normal rate of 18% or 28%.

How an MVL works

Let’s take a contractor whose retained capital is in excess of £40,000 in his company. In other words, once he's sold off all the company's assets and paid all its debts, he still has more than £40,000 available to withdraw and keep for himself. All distributions from the company outside an MVL would be treated as income and taxed at the shareholders’ marginal rate of tax (i.e. highest rate of tax they’ll pay). When using an MVL, contractors benefit from an annual capital gains allowance (£11,000 for 2014/15) as well as the possibility of utilising Entrepreneur’s Relief. If they meet the criteria, contractors may only pay tax at the lower rate of 10%.

An MVL may not work for everyone, so speak to your accountant about your own circumstances to see whether it’s a good option for you.

We always love it when people go out of their way to say how much they enjoy using FreeAgent, whether it’s through writing an online review about us or even just tweeting something nice. It helps us know we’re on the right track and that we’re making a difference for small businesses and freelancers when it comes to managing their books.

But we were absolutely delighted to discover this week that some of this awesome customer feedback had gone even further: helping us to win a prestigious award from one of the world’s biggest computer magazines.

FreeAgent was announced as the winner of PC Magazine’s 2014 Business Choice Award for accounting software, beating some of the biggest names in the sector. And while that’s an amazing achievement in itself, the most important thing is that it was all down to the high scores that you - our amazing customers - provided the magazine with in their surveys.

In fact, PC Magazine revealed that the overall Net Promoter Score (NPS) that they calculated based on this feedback was so high (92 out of a possible 100) that it beat every single other company they have reviewed this entire year. And yes, that even includes Bose who make those funky headphones that everyone raves about.

Needless to say, we’re blown away with the results. It’s a huge validation for FreeAgent - not only in terms of what we’re doing as a company, but also in how we try to listen to our customers and help give them the best possible service we can.

So here’s a big, heartfelt thank you to everyone who completed one of PC Magazine’s Business Choice surveys and to anyone who has ever said something awesome about us. You know who you are, and I hope you now also know how grateful we are for all your support.

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