The FreeAgent Blog

Self Assessment filing for 2015/16 is now live

Posted on 25 July 2016 by - Jump to comments

Filing cabinet marked Self Assesssment with completed tax return pages marked filed

Attention all early birds and eager beavers - you can now file your 2015/16 Self Assessment literally months ahead of the January deadline. Perfect if you just want it out of the way and a gold star from HMRC!

Every year thousands of people file their Self Assessment returns through FreeAgent, simultaneously achieving a sense of profound inner calm and avoiding the last-minute hassle of HMRC online services. You still have until 31 January 2017 to file online but if you want to beat the rush, then sole traders and limited company directors can now file their 2015/16 return.

As ever, FreeAgent builds much of your return from the data you enter over the year. When it comes to filing you just need to check it over and add any other details we don’t know about. Then file in one click and look forward to that smug glow of self-satisfaction when everyone else is totally freaking out after Christmas. Priceless.

If you want a bit more help then our video on using FreeAgent to file your Self Assessment is a good place to start.

Happy filing,
Roan and the team at Freeagent

Mobile time tracking is here!

Posted on 11 July 2016 by - Jump to comments

Squeeze the most out of summer, and work from anywhere with the help of time tracking on FreeAgent Mobile.

We like to make the most of summer here in Scotland, which means getting out of the office as soon as the temperature manages to scrape into double digits. So whether you’re working from the garden or just on-site with a customer, you can now record your time on FreeAgent Mobile for iOS and Android.

How it works

The new Timeslips section shows all your recent recorded time, and there’s a handy week view so you can see which days you still need to add timeslips for if you forget to do it in the moment.

From here, or the Overview screen, you can quickly add a timeslip by selecting the project and task, and then the time worked. Timeslips default to the number of hours set on the project - making it even quicker to get those timesheets in if you’re working the entire day for the same customer!

So go forth and track time! Just remember the factor 50.

See you out there,
Roan and the team at FreeAgent

Directors' loans get more expensive

Posted on 4 July 2016 by - Jump to comments

If you run your business through a limited company, make sure you plan carefully how the company will pay you for your services.

As from 6th April 2016, the rate of tax charged on loans to close company participators has risen from 25% to 32.5%. This is so that the rate of tax on these loans matches the increased rate of tax on dividends for higher-rate taxpayers.

Who counts as a participator in a close company?

A close company is a limited company with five or fewer 'participators', or a limited company of which all the 'participators' are also directors.

'Participators' are individuals who have a financial interest in a company, for example, they own shares in the company or have a right to receive shares when the company is wound up, or they have voting power in the company.

Typically, close company participators will be individuals who are both directors and shareholders of the company.

A “loan to a participator” means that the individual owes money to the company, for example if the individual has withdrawn more cash than the company owes to him/her.

Example of a loan to a participator

Jenny is a director-shareholder of her own company, Jar of Jam Ltd.

She uses her own credit card to buy a train ticket to visit her client. This costs her £50. It’s an out-of-pocket expense she’s incurred on the company’s behalf.

She’s also previously lent Jar of Jam Ltd £5,000 in start-up funds.

Jenny takes £6,000 out of Jar of Jam Ltd’s bank account. That’s £950 more than the company owes her.

Unless she decides to treat the £950 as a salary or a dividend and to pay tax on that accordingly, she’ll owe Jar of Jam Ltd £950.

What’s reason for the increased rate?

The new rate was introduced at the start of the 2016/17 tax year with the intention of preventing owners of close companies paying less tax through loans than they would by taking dividends or salaries, since at this date the higher rate of tax on dividends also rose to 32.5% and the higher rate of tax on salaries is 40%.

Had the rate of tax on loans to participators not been increased, then it would have become more attractive to participators to simply withdraw cash from the company, rather than taking a salary or dividend, since the loan would have been taxed at 25% as opposed to 32.5% or 40%.

The increase in this tax rate is part of the tax avoidance measures announced in the Summer Budget 2015.

If you’re not sure what the most tax-efficient way to extract money from a limited company is, speak to your accountant for specific advice relating to your situation.

Forming a limited company? From 30th June you’ll need to give Companies House this extra information

Posted on 30 June 2016 by - Jump to comments

If you’re planning on setting up a new limited company, from today you’ll need to provide Companies House with some additional information when you apply to incorporate your company. Here’s what you need to know:

You must provide details of the company’s PSCs

From 30th June onwards, companies will be required to to keep details of persons with significant control (PSCs) and make the information publicly available. A PSC is a person who has the right to exert significant influence, or control, over the business and management of a limited company.

Company directors must provide the following information when applying to incorporate the company:

  • Assuming there is at least one PSC, the directors must disclose who the person is, stating their name, service address (where documents relating to their involvement with the company would be delivered), date of birth, and residential address. The last two pieces of information don’t go on the public record as they could put the PSC’s identity at risk of theft, but the first two items will be publicly available.
  • The directors must disclose how each PSC has control, whether that is by:
    • ownership of shares
    • ownership of voting rights
    • the right to appoint or remove a majority of the directors
    • another right to exercise, or the actual exercise, of significant influence or control

    Any of these methods of control may be exercised by an individual who is either operating in their own right, or acting as a representative of a firm or trust that they control, but which is not in itself a legal entity. If the firm or trust is a legal entity, such as a limited company, it would be classed as an Relevant Legal Entity (RLE) rather than a PSC.

  • If a Relevant Legal Entity (RLE) has significant control over a company’s affairs, the directors need to disclose that entity’s name and address, legal form and governing law, and how it has control over the company’s affairs.
  • If an Other Registrable Person (ORP), such as a government department, has significant control over a company’s affairs, the directors need to disclose that person’s name and address, legal form and governing law, and how it has control over the company’s affairs.
  • You must tell Companies House your company’s business activity

    From 30th June onwards, you will have to provide at least one Standard Industry Classification (SIC) code to explain what business activity the new company will be carrying out. If the company will have more than one business activity, you must give a SIC code for each activity (you can provide a total of up to four SIC codes per company). If you can’t determine an appropriate SIC code, you must provide a written description of the company’s business activity.

    Prior to 30th June 2016 directors did not have to tell Companies House what a new company would be doing and did not have to give an SIC code until they filed the company’s first annual return (which is set to be replaced by a new document called the confirmation statement on 30th June).

    All of this means that if you are intending to form a limited company, you will have to give Companies House extra information if you form that company after 30th June. These changes won’t affect sole traders or partnerships, neither of which are required to register at Companies House.

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