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Should you register as a sole trader or form a limited company?

by Admin

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A key decision when starting a business is which legal structure do you choose when registering. The three most common options are sole trader, limited company and ordinary business partnership, although most people become a sole trader. Sole traders make up about 59% (3.5m) of the total UK business population of 5.9m, and they include many freelancers, contractors and agency workers.

Ordinary business partnership members make up about 7% (405,000) and basically these are sole traders who go into business together. The UK also has about 2m (34%) active private limited companies. So, why do so many people in the UK who work for themselves operate as sole traders?

What is a sole trader?

Being a sole trader is the same as being self-employed. In law, you and your business are the same thing, which makes you personally responsible for your sole trader business debts. If you don’t build up large debts and your business is successful, this won’t be an issue, of course.

To become a sole trader, you must register for Self Assessment (SA), the system (UK tax authority) HMRC uses to collect tax from sole traders. You’ll then pay Income Tax on your profits during the tax year (20%, 40% or 45% depending on your income/earnings). You work out your profits by deducting your expenses and any allowances from your income/earnings/sales.

Sole trader NICs

Most self-employed people pay their National Insurance contributions (NICs) via SA:

  • Class 2 if your profits are £6,515 or more a year (£3.05 a week) and
  • Class 4 if your profits are £9,569 or more a year (9% on profits between £9,569 and £50,270 and 2% on profits over £50,270 – all figures quoted are for the 2021/22 tax year).

Declaring sole trader earnings and VAT

Sole traders aren’t required to submit annual accounts to HMRC, but they must maintain accurate financial records (which can be checked) and submit details of their income and business costs in their annual SA100 tax return, which must be filed each year.

If your VAT-taxable earnings/turnover goes over £85,000 a year (the current VAT threshold) or you know they will, you must register for VAT. You’ll then have to charge VAT, collect it and pay it to HMRC. This also applies to limited companies.

The advantages of being a sole trader

It’s very easy to register online for Self Assessment so you can start your sole trader business. There are no costs and the process is very quick (minutes not hours or days). The tax admin is much easier when compared to a limited company, which means it can be done quicker. This saves cost, whether you do it yourself or pay an accountant to do it for you.

The paperwork and financial record-keeping requirements when you’re a sole trader are minimal; completing your SA tax return is more straightforward and any losses you make can be offset against other income.

Many customers won’t care whether you’re a sole trader or not, as long as your prices, products and/or services meet their expectations. In any case, you can easily change to a limited company structure later if you wish. And sole traders can employ others and their businesses can grow and prosper.

Being a sole trader can give you much more flexibility and control over your business, because you’re not answerable to shareholders – and you won’t have to share your profits with them either. You will enjoy more privacy, too, because the annual accounts of limited companies must be published on the Companies House website, which means anyone can view them. Sole traders do not have to publish their annual accounts.

Sole trader v limited company: which is more tax-efficient?

Example 1

Sole trader profit = £50,000 Net income = £38,717

Ltd co profit = £50,000 Net income = £40,109

Difference = £1,392

 

Example 2

Sole trader profit = £100,000 Net income = £67,752

Ltd co profit = £100,000 Net income = £69,469

Difference = £1,717

 

Example 3

Sole trader profit = £150,000 Net income = £91,723

Ltd co profit = £150,000 Net income = £92,057

Difference = £334

 

These examples assume that all profits are extracted from the business, salary up to Secondary National Insurance threshold (£8,840) is taken and the remainder paid as dividends (2021/22 rates).

Conclusion

As the above examples show, operating as a limited company can reduce your tax bill. However, if you need to pay an accountant each month to look after your tax admin and complete your annual accounts and Corporation Tax returns, in reality, any financial advantage as the director of a limited company can be minimal or non-existent.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who decide to work for themselves register as a sole trader and many go on to establish and grow highly successful small businesses. In many ways, being a sole trader is the easier and cheaper choice and it need not hamper your business or your ambitions.

About GoSimpleTax

Income, expenses and tax submission all in one. GoSimpleTax will provide you with tips that could save you money on allowances and expenses you might have missed.

The software submits directly to HMRC and is the solution for the self-employed, sole traders and anyone with income outside of PAYE to file their self-assessment giving hints and tips on savings along the way. GoSimpleTax does all the calculations for you so there is no need for an accountant. Available on desktop or mobile application.

Try for free – Add up to five income and expense transactions per month and see your tax liability in real time – at no cost to you. Pay only when you are ready to submit or use other key features such as receipt uploading and HMRC direct submission.

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Thursday, September 9th, 2021 Income Tax, Jobs, National Insurance No Comments

None of the content on this website, including blog posts, comments, or responses to user comments, is offered as financial advice. Figures used are for illustrative purposes only.

Social care tax proposed from April 2022

by Admin

The government announced yesterday plans to introduce new social care tax, intended to help reduce the costs incurred when a person goes into care. If the bill passes parliament, this will mean be an increase in National Insurance contributions of 1.25 percentage points from April 2022, to be replaced by a separate tax of the same amount from April 2023. The benefit of this additional tax, in England at least, is that care costs will be capped at £86,000 (less if you don’t have that much in savings / assets). Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own social care policies, but will receive additional revenue from the tax generated.

The plan has drawn criticism from many who see it is a tax paid by low- and middle-income employees to subsidise wealthy retirees. It also appears to be a break of a manifesto pledge not to raise income tax, National Insurance or VAT – the justification for which, put forward by the government, has been that the pandemic has changed things.

This BBC article has a clear summary of the changes in more detail, as well as a chart showing how much extra tax you’ll pay depending on how much you earn. The bill still needs to pass parliament, but when this and other changes from April 2022 are confirmed, The Salary Calculator will be updated with the latest rates so that you can see what a difference it will make to your take-home pay.

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Wednesday, September 8th, 2021 Income Tax, National Insurance, Savings No Comments

How to navigate pension scams

by Madaline Dunn

Pension scams are on the rise. According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), over £2 million has been lost to pension scammers in the last year, with victims, on average, losing out on £50,949. This number is double what it was in 2020. That said, small pots and big pots are being targeted, with victims being conned out of £1,000 to £500,000.

Of course, it’s incredibly worrying that such a nefarious scam has seen such an increase. Savers work hard their whole lives to make sure that they’re set for their golden days.

In response to this concerning trend, the government recently announced anti-pension scam plans to safeguard savers.

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll walk you through what the government’s Fraud Action Plan is, what it means for you and some steps you can take to protect yourself from pension scams.

This article will explain:

  • Latest statistics from the FCA
  • What the Fraud Action Plan contains
  • Tips to protect yourself against fraud

A warning from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

According to the FCA, pension scams have become increasingly common due to the pension freedoms introduced in 2015. This gave people much more flexibility around their investments; however, this flexibility also brought with it risk.

Now, the FCA says that pension holders were nine times more likely to accept pension advice from someone online than someone in person. Savers were also five times more likely to be attracted to a free online pension review by a stranger than one offered by a stranger in the pub. Worryingly, out of those surveyed, 28% were aware that this kind of offer was typically the sign of a scam.

As a result, Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, suggests that pension holders should challenge themselves and “flip the context”. “Imagine a stranger in a pub offering free pension advice and then telling you to put those savings into something they were selling. It is difficult imagining anyone saying yes to that,” he said.

According to Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, men aged 55 and over “who can access their retirement pot flexibly” are one of the main targets for this kind of scam. Of course, the current climate caused by Coronavirus has made people more vulnerable to pension scams too.

The Fraud Action Plan

The UK government recently admitted that it needs to do more to protect people from pension scams. So, it will soon publish its Fraud Action Plan 2022-2025, which will seek to bolster consumer protections by eliminating fraudulent infrastructure.

Reportedly, more emphasis will be placed on tackling ‘secondary scammers’ who go after those who have already been scammed, and the government will also pursue greater gathering and sharing of data relating to pension scams.

Tips to protect yourself

While you may think that you’re too savvy to be at risk of a pension scam, scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated with the tactics they use to trap victims.

The FCA has warned that overconfidence on the part of consumers puts people at risk. So, it’s always best to make sure that you take some steps to safeguard yourself.

Look out for red flags – As outlined above, those offering free reviews are unlikely to be legitimate advisors, equally those who promise you ‘high returns’ are likely to be pulling a fast one.

Keep yourself informed – In line with the UK’s pension rules, you typically can’t unlock your pension until you’re 55. So, if you’re promised an early cash release, it’s likely that this is a scam. Get in touch with the Pensions Advisory Service if you have any questions or concerns. Pension Wise is another service that can help you stay in the loop.

Be wary of cold calls – Back in January 2019, the government banned cold calling regarding pensions. So, unless you have given your pension provider prior permission to call you, ignore calls and texts regarding your pension because those who get in touch are likely to be scammers.

Take your time – Those who pile on the pressure or give you a limited time offer will likely be scammers. It’s important to take the time to research a provider to make sure everything is above board. Always check the Financial Services Register before making a decision.

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Monday, August 23rd, 2021 Pensions No Comments

How to claim mileage allowance when you’re self-employed

by Admin

If you use your own car for business, you may be able to claim a proportion of the actual total cost of buying and running your vehicle, including such things as insurance, repairs, servicing, fuel, etc. However, keeping track of every cost and working out the exact proportion of business use for your vehicle takes time and effort.

Instead, many self-employed people claim mileage allowance, a flat-rate scheme that provides a much simpler way to claim back the cost of using your own vehicle for business. Mileage allowance is part of a range of “simplified expenses” options that HMRC offers to self-employed people. They’re designed to make tax admin easier and quicker.

How much mileage allowance can you claim?

If you’re self-employed, you can claim a mileage allowance of:

  • 45p per business mile travelled in a car or van for the first 10,000 miles and
  • 25p per business mile thereafter
  • 24p a mile if you use your motorbike for business journeys.

If you travel with someone else who also works for your business, as the driver, you can claim an additional 5p per mile for each extra passenger. So, if three of you travel together, you can claim 45p + 10p per mile (two x 5p per mile for the two additional passengers) for the first 10,000 miles, then 25p + 10p per mile thereafter.

Need to know! Claiming mileage allowance doesn’t stop you claiming for other business travel expenses, such as train tickets and taxi rides. Parking tickets and toll fees while on business can also be claimed as a legitimate business expense.

When can’t mileage allowance be claimed?

You can’t claim mileage allowance for personal journeys, they must be made “wholly and exclusively for business purposes”. And neither can you claim mileage allowance for journeys to and from your usual place of work (ie your commercial business premises). You can claim for travel to a temporary workplace, for example, if you’re a plasterer who needs to travel to different sites and jobs.

Need to know! You cannot claim simplified expenses for a vehicle you’ve already claimed capital allowances for or one you’ve included as an expense when you worked out your business profits. Where necessary, seek guidance from an accountant.

Working out your business mileage

Logging your business mileage is a good idea, as it can make it far easier to later work out and claim your mileage allowance. And your claim is more likely to be accurate and credible if HMRC can see precise details of dates, miles travelled, journeys and reasons. HMRC can request proof during an investigation.

Manually recording your business mileage takes more time and effort, while scraps of paper and notebooks can go missing, so it’s better to record and store your mileage details in a spreadsheet/software, with data stored safely online. Many apps have been created to help business owners track and record their business travel mileage (some even use GPS to automatically measure business mileage).

Some self-employed business owners simply estimate their business mileage, by claiming for a percentage of their vehicle’s total annual mileage. So, if your car does 1,000 miles a month and you can show that half of that is for business use, you can claim mileage allowance of 6,000 miles a year (ie £2,700).

How to claim mileage allowance

Good accounting software will do all of the hard work for you, saving you lots of time and hassle. You enter your business mileage and it calculates your mileage allowance, which you enter into your Self-Assessment tax return. The amount is taken into account and your tax liability is reduced as a result.

If you use simplified expenses to claim mileage allowance, you cannot claim for motoring costs such as insurance, road tax or fuel, because these are accounted for within the mileage allowance.

Need to know! Deliberately inflating your mileage allowance claim can lead to penalties. HMRC takes a very dim view of anyone who deliberately enters false information into tax returns.

Further reading

Visit government website Gov.uk to read Travel – mileage and fuel rates and allowances. There is also an online tool that enables you to Check if simplified expenses could save your business money.

About GoSimpleTax

Income, Expenses and tax submission all in one. GoSimpleTax will provide you with tips that could save you money on allowances and expenses you might have missed.

The software submits directly to HMRC and is the solution for the self-employed, sole traders and anyone with income outside of PAYE to file their self-assessment giving hints and tips on savings along the way. GoSimpleTax does all the calculations for you so there is no need for an accountant. Available on desktop or mobile application.

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Wednesday, July 14th, 2021 Income Tax, Jobs No Comments

Our guide to unpacking tax jargon

by Madaline Dunn

When it comes to tax, many people often feel intimidated and confused by the jargon used to explain certain terms and concepts. Of course, people must understand the ins and outs of tax jargon themselves because their personal finances can be affected by tax changes.

At The Salary Calculator, we’re here to make sure that you’re all clued up on the meanings behind complex tax jargon.

This article will go through some of the most common words and phrases used when discussing personal tax. So, don’t sweat it; you’ll know the score in no time at all.

Tax terms explained

Agent: This term refers to, usually, an accountant or advisor, who an individual appoints to take care of issues and processes related to HMRC on their behalf.

Annuity: This is a type of retirement income product that pays an individual a fixed payment stream.

Capital Gains Tax: This is a type of tax that is applied to the profits an individual earns in the sale of an asset. It is charged at a flat rate of 18%.

Defined Benefit Pension: Otherwise known as a “final salary” pension, this is the traditional pension plan that pays out a retirement income, calculated based on one’s salary and the number of years they’ve worked.

Defined Contribution Pension: Also referred to as a “money purchase” pension, this is a pension savings product that allows employers and employees to contribute and invest funds to build the pension money pot. 

Earned Income: This refers to the income that an individual receives from employment, self-employment or directorships. This includes wages, salary, tips, bonuses, and commissions.

Foreign Income: This is the income an individual receives from work or services performed outside of the UK. Income received from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man is also classified as foreign income.

Individuals must pay income tax on foreign income if it comes from:

  • Wages earned abroad
  • Foreign investment
  • Overseas properties
  • Overseas pensions

HMRC: This is an abbreviation that stands for HM Revenue & Customs and is a non-ministerial department responsible for dealing with tax and financial obligations.

Income Tax: This refers to the tax that the government levies on an individual’s personal income. Once income exceeds the personal allowance, an individual will pay tax. The amount of tax they pay will vary depending on earnings. 

Inflation: This is an economic term that refers to the rate at which goods and services rise.

Inheritance Tax: This is the tax an individual pays when they have inherited money or property from someone who has died. The standard inheritance tax rate is 40%. However, this is only charged once an individual’s estate exceeds £325000.

IR35: This is a piece of UK tax legislation that exists to identify contractors and businesses that avoid tax by working as “disguised” employees.

Minimum Wage: The National Minimum Wage is the minimum amount of money an employer must pay an employee per hour. These rates vary depending on age and role. The current rates are:

  • National living wage for employees aged 23 and over: £8.91
  • Age 21-22: £8.36
  • Age 18-20: £6.56
  • Under 16-17: £4.62
  • Apprentices: £4.30

National Insurance (NI) Contributions: Employees and self-employed workers must make National Insurance (NI) contributions if they are over 16-years-old. The amount of NI contributions you make impact your entitlement to state benefits. Individuals must complete at least 35 years of NI contributions to get the full new state pension.

There are a few different types of NI contributions, this includes:

  • Class 1 contributions are made by employees who earn £183 a week, who are below the State Pension age
  • Class 2 contributions are made by self-employed workers who earn £6,515 or more per year
  • Class 3 contributions are voluntary contributions made by individuals to fill in contribution gaps
  • Class 4 contributions are made by self-employed workers who earn £9,569 or more per year

PAYE – “Pay As You Earn”: This was introduced way back in 1944 refers to the system through which employers deduct income tax and National Insurance contributions from employees’ salary and send it to HMRC. It’s calculated based on earnings and eligibility for personal allowance.

Personal Allowance: This is the amount of money an individual can earn before they are taxed. The personal allowance amount for 2021/22 is £12,570. It will be frozen at this amount until 5 April 2026.

P45: When an individual stops working for their employer, their employer must give them a P45. This outlines the amount of tax an individual paid on their earnings in the tax year and their tax code.

A P45 is made up of 4 different sections:

  • Part 1, an employer must send to HMRC
  • Part 1A is given to the former employee for their records
  • Part 2 and 3 are for the individuals’ new employer

P60: This is the form that a worker receives each year, outlining the amount of money earned in a year. It also states the amount of National Insurance contributions made and the amount of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) income tax. 

Self Assessment: This is the system used by HMRC to calculate and collect income tax and National Insurance (NI) contributions. Self-employed and freelance workers must submit a self-assessment form for each tax year.

Starter checklist (formerly the P46 form): This is the form that replaces the P45 form in cases where their former employer did not give an individual one.

Take-home Pay: Take-home pay, otherwise known as net pay, is the amount of money an individual receives per month after tax and any other deductions have been made.

Tax Code: In the UK, everyone paid via the PAYE scheme is allotted a tax code from HMRC, which indicates how much tax must be deducted. The most common tax code appears as a set of numbers followed by a suffix. 

Tax Credits: This is a type of government benefit payout given to individuals who receive lower incomes. This benefit comes in two forms, working tax credits and child tax credits.

Tax Rebate: This is a refund of tax given to an individual when they have overpaid tax.

Tax Year: This is the time period covered by a tax return. It begins on 6 April and ends the following 5 April.

Unique Taxpayer Reference: This is a 10-digit number issued to every taxpayer in the UK.

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