Going green – The financial benefits of investing in a cleaner future

As a small business owner, embracing environmentally friendly practices not only supports a sustainable planet but can also unlock significant financial benefits for your business.

It is important to explore the tax reliefs and allowances available to your business when you adopt green operations so that you can navigate and mitigate your environmental tax responsibilities effectively.

Understanding environmental taxes and reliefs 

Environmental taxes are designed to encourage businesses to operate more sustainably.

Depending on your business type and size, you may be eligible for certain tax reliefs or exemptions.

These are particularly applicable if your business:

  • Consumes significant energy due to its operational nature.
  • Is a small enterprise with minimal energy usage.
  • Invests in energy-efficient technology.

Proactively engaging in schemes that demonstrate your commitment to efficient operations and reduced environmental impact can also lead to substantial tax savings.

Speak to your accountant if you are unsure if these criteria apply to you.

Navigating the Climate Change Levy (CCL) 

The CCL is a tax imposed on the use of electricity, gas, and solid fuels, such as coal.

Typically, businesses in the industrial, commercial, agricultural, and public service sectors are subject to the main rates of CCL, which you will find itemised on your energy bills.

However, there are notable exemptions, including:

  • Small-scale energy consumers.
  • Domestic energy users.
  • Charities engaged in non-commercial activities.

Additionally, certain fuels are exempt under specific conditions, like renewable electricity generation or in certain transport scenarios.

If your business is energy-intensive, you could qualify for significant CCL rate reductions by entering into a climate change agreement with the Environment Agency.

It is advisable to consult with your accountant to determine your eligibility for CCL relief as non-compliance could lead to penalties.

Capital allowances and reliefs 

Small businesses can claim capital allowances when investing in energy-efficient or low/zero-carbon technologies, thus reducing taxable income.

In this case, you are entitled to deduct the full cost of qualifying new and unused eco-friendly assets from your pre-tax profits.

These assets include, but are not limited to:

  • Electric vehicles.
  • Gas refuelling equipment.
  • Equipment for use in freeport tax sites.

Understanding and claiming these allowances can significantly decrease your tax liabilities, boosting your financial health.

Embracing a greener path for business success 

Failing to adopt green practices can lead to increased tax obligations, such as higher rates of CCL and Carbon Price Support (CPS) for using non-low carbon technologies.

Neglecting available reliefs and allowances, therefore, not only increases operational costs but also affects your competitiveness in an increasingly eco-conscious market.

To discuss environmental taxes and reliefs with a professional tax adviser, please get in touch.  

Scaling up – How you can grow your business in 2024

In 2024, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will face a brand-new set of challenges and opportunities.

As the economy continues to react to the events of the last few years, one thing remains important – high-quality business advice.

Below, we look at some practical tips for SMEs aiming to scale up and grow their operations and finances in 2024.

Efficient budgeting and forecasting 

Without a well-crafted budget, it is almost impossible to grow and scale your business efficiently.

For SMEs looking to scale, it is crucial to develop a budget that aligns with your strategic goals, both short and long-term.

This budget should be a living document, adaptable as your business grows and evolves and constantly under review by your senior leadership team.

Just as important is the ability to forecast future revenues and expenses because properly anticipating these allows you to make informed decisions about where to allocate resources.

Effective forecasting helps you prepare for growth, ensuring you have the necessary funds to capitalise on new opportunities.

Speak to your accountant if you require help formulating a budget or forecasting for 2024.

Managing cash flow effectively 

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any growing business and managing it effectively ensures that your business has the liquidity to meet its obligations and invest in growth opportunities.

Key strategies for proper cash flow management include:

  • Timely invoicing: Ensure your invoicing process is efficient as delays in invoicing can lead to cash flow problems.
  • Inventory management: Overstocking ties up valuable cash, while understocking can lead to lost sales so keep a close eye on your inventory.
  • Receivables and payables: Stay on top of your accounts receivable and extend payables where possible, without incurring penalties.

Exploring funding options and investing in growth 

For many SMEs, external funding is a necessary step in the scaling process, but few business owners are aware of the range of possibilities available for funding their growth.

Options range from traditional bank loans to venture capital and Government grants.

Each funding source has its advantages and drawbacks, and the right choice depends on your business’s specific needs and circumstances.

Again, an experienced accountant can help you decide which funding to go for and which to avoid.

Investing in growth often means entering new markets, developing new product lines, or embracing technological advancements.

When considering these opportunities, you should conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis to ensure that the investment aligns with your long-term business goals.

Tax planning and compliance 

Be aware that as your business grows, so does the complexity of your tax situation. As such, effective tax planning is essential for maximising savings and remaining compliant with the latest corporate tax rules.

As you expand in 2024, having a professional to guide you through the intricacies of tax laws and the various reliefs available to your business could be an integral part of your success.

Speak to your accountant about your 2024 plans to see how they could help your business grow and expand.  

10 steps to prevent insolvency

Despite many owners’ fears, insolvency is avoidable through well-thought-out financial strategies and careful planning.

There are several practical strategies for averting insolvency that you and your business should implement during times of strife and economic difficulty.

Rethinking staffing strategies 

During a downturn, businesses should evaluate their current staffing needs and consider adjusting staff levels to align with operational demands.

This may involve tough decisions like layoffs or reduced hours, but it is crucial for financial stability.

You will have to ensure compliance with employment laws, especially regarding notice periods and redundancy pay, and include these costs in your financial planning.

Prioritise debtor collections 

Effective debtor management is essential for maintaining healthy cash flow.  Prioritise the collection of outstanding debts, especially from overdue accounts.

Implementing stricter credit control procedures and offering incentives for early payments, such as small discounts, can accelerate cash inflow.

Regularly reviewing debtor lists and following up persistently helps ensure that receivables are collected promptly.

Expand and diversify income sources 

Diversifying your income streams can significantly reduce the risk of financial instability and you should explore opportunities in new markets or introduce new products or services to do so.

This approach not only reduces reliance on a single income source but can also open new customer bases and revenue opportunities.

In this case, creativity and innovation in product or service offerings can be a game-changer in financial resilience.

Cash flow management 

A robust cash flow forecasting model, like a 13-week rolling forecast, is vital for identifying potential shortfalls in cash.

This tool enables businesses to anticipate and prepare for upcoming cash needs, ensuring that they can meet financial obligations.

Regular cash flow management helps in making informed decisions about spending, investment, and borrowing, crucial for avoiding insolvency.

Optimise overhead expenditures 

Conducting a thorough review of overhead costs can reveal areas where expenses can be cut without impacting core business functions.

Non-essential spending should be reduced or eliminated, which might include renegotiating contracts with suppliers, cutting back on discretionary expenses, or finding more cost-effective ways to operate.

Streamlining overheads can also improve financial health and provide more room to manoeuvre financially.

Enhance creditor payment terms 

Negotiating with creditors for extended payment terms can provide critical breathing space for businesses under financial strain.

It is important to approach creditors with a realistic plan and ensure that the new payment terms are achievable.

Maintaining good relationships with creditors and communicating openly about the company’s financial situation can lead to more favourable terms and avoid potential conflicts.

Leverage assets for funding 

Exploring financing options by leveraging business assets can provide an immediate influx of cash.

This might involve selling non-essential assets or using them as collateral for loans. Options, such as equipment financing or sale-leaseback arrangements, can also be considered.

This strategy can be a lifeline for businesses needing quick access to funds to cover short-term financial gaps.

Pursue borrowing options 

In situations where immediate cash is required, considering various borrowing options can be beneficial.

This may include traditional bank loans, setting up an overdraft facility, or utilising invoice financing to advance funds against unpaid invoices.

It is important to assess the cost of borrowing and ensure it aligns with the business’s ability to repay, to avoid exacerbating financial difficulties.

Engage with HMRC for flexible payments 

Negotiating with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for extended payment plans for Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE), National Insurance Contributions (NICs) or VAT liabilities can ease cash flow pressures.

HMRC may offer Time to Pay arrangements, allowing businesses to spread their tax payments over a longer period.

This requires a realistic proposal and clear communication about the company’s financial situation.

Timely engagement with HMRC can prevent penalties and provide much-needed relief in managing tax liabilities.

Negotiate with property owners 

Discussing rent reductions or deferred payments with landlords can help reduce immediate financial burdens.

Landlords may be open to negotiation, especially considering the alternative costs associated with finding new tenants or potential vacancy periods.

Propose a realistic plan that benefits both parties, possibly including a plan to catch up on reduced rent in the future.

Good communication and a clear understanding of each other’s positions can lead to mutually beneficial arrangements.

Bonus tip 

All the strategies above can help to prevent insolvency knocking on your door but, as a bonus tip, we advise creating a proactive communication channel with your accountancy professional.

By having open and honest discussions about your finances you can catch problem areas early and notice opportunities in time to act upon them.

Get in touch with an expert accountant today to help you prevent insolvency and lay the groundwork for financial stability growth.

Can you afford to miss your Companies House deadline?

For limited companies registered and operating in the UK, one of the requirements that directors must meet is filing annual accounts with Companies House.

Comprising a collection of different documents, filing with Companies House ensures that the publicly available information about your company is correct.

Because it is so important, there are penalties for not providing this information at the right time, including significant fines for non-compliance.

This should leave you asking the question – can I afford to miss my Companies House deadline?

Accounting obligations explained

At the end of your company’s financial year, you must prepare full – or ‘statutory’ – annual accounts and a Confirmation Statement for Companies House.

You must file your annual accounts with Companies House nine months after the end of your company’s financial year, and they must include:

  • A balance sheet – setting out the value of the company’s assets, debts and monies owed on the last day of the financial year
  • Profit and loss – an account of the company’s sales, costs and profit or loss for the financial year
  • A director’s report
  • Notes about the accounts

If you have fulfilled two or more of the following criteria you will also need to submit an auditor’s report:

  • Annual turnover of £10.2 million or more,
  • Assets worth £5.1 million or more
  • 50 or more employees

Your accounts must meet either the International Financial Reporting Standards or the New UK Generally Accepted Accounting Practice.

You will also have to submit a Company Tax Return (CT600) separately to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) 12 months after the end of your accounting period.

After this, you will usually have nine months and one day to pay your Corporation Tax bill.

The confirmation statement

As mentioned, in addition to submitting your accounts, you must also submit a confirmation statement – a written statement declaring that key information about your company is still correct, including:

  • Your registered office
  • Directors and their salaries
  • The address where your records are kept
  • Your SIC code
  • Your statement of capital and shareholder information, if your company has shares
  • Your register of ‘people with significant control’ (PSC).

This must be filed with Companies House by the deadline, although this may be different to the deadline for your accounts.

Typically, the deadline is one year after your company was incorporated, and then annually on this date.

Companies House offers an email reminder service through its online filing system if you are worried you will not remember this date.

Failure to submit

If you miss your Companies House deadline for submitting your accounts, you may face significant penalties.

Late filing of your accounts will result in an automatic penalty notice of up to £1,500 if your accounts are late by six months or more.

This will double if you file late two years in a row, so it is important to remain compliant with your deadlines whenever possible.

Filing your Company Tax Return after the deadline can also result in a fine of £100 for a single day, up to 20 per cent of your unpaid tax after 12 months, in addition to your existing Corporation Tax bill.

Companies can also run into unexpected trouble if they fail to file a confirmation statement.

While it may seem tedious, it is important to let Companies House know that your information is up to date. You could be fined up to £5,000 or struck off if you fail to do so.

Can I appeal against penalties?

You can appeal against a late filing penalty if you have a reasonable excuse as to why you have missed the deadline. To do this, you will need to provide:

  • Your company’s Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
  • The date on the penalty notice
  • The penalty amount
  • The end date for the accounting period the penalty is for

You will also need to explain why you did not file the return by the deadline.

However, it is best to avoid late penalties by applying for an extension to your deadline before it arrives.

If an unexpected obstacle stops you from submitting your accounts, you should apply to extend your deadline as soon as possible and before you submit your accounts, otherwise you may face a late filing penalty.

Seeking support

Filing annually with Companies House is essential, as it lets the Government know that your company information is up to date and that you are financially compliant.

For help and guidance on preparing your accounts for Companies House, please contact us and speak to a member of our team.

HMRC sets its sights on unpaid crypto tax

As the crypto asset sector grows, with an annual growth rate predicted to reach around 12 per cent, taxpayers with digital assets need to remain tax compliant.

Tax regulations and knowledge have struggled to keep pace with this investment type’s rapid growth, resulting in significant levels of unpaid tax and underreported income.

In a bid to prevent tax avoidance and underpayment by holders of crypto assets, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has taken the lead on a global campaign to combat tax avoidance related to crypto assets – the first of its kind.

Those with crypto assets need to understand how this campaign will work and what they can do to remain compliant.

The Crypto-Asset Reporting Framework (CARF)

CARF is the latest flagship crypto tax transparency programme, spearheaded by the UK and run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Among other requirements, it mandates that crypto platforms, such as Coinbase and Gemini, report taxpayer information to HMRC and other European tax authorities.

This is not currently done, which has created significant potential for asset holders to pay less tax than they owe – deliberately or accidentally.

The OECD estimates that tax non-compliance could affect between 55 and 95 per cent of all crypto asset holders. The Government hopes that this will help to recoup millions of pounds of unpaid tax.

I own crypto assets – what do I need to pay?

In the UK, the taxation of crypto assets, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, has become an important consideration for investors and traders.

HMRC does not recognise cryptocurrency as currency or money, but rather as property, which means it is subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

As a private investor, when you sell, swap, spend, or gift crypto assets and make a profit, it is subject to CGT in the UK, regardless of where the asset is held or traded.

This means that if the value of the crypto assets has increased since you acquired them, you are liable to pay CGT on the gain.

The rate of CGT depends on your marginal tax band and can vary between 10 and 20 per cent.

Gains from crypto assets should be reported on your Self-Assessment tax return. You have an annual CGT allowance, and only gains above this allowance are taxable. Currently, the CGT annual exemption is £6,000, but this will be cut in half to £3,000 from April 2024.

It is crucial to keep detailed records of all crypto asset transactions, including dates, values, and types of transactions, as this information is needed for your tax return.

However, in some cases, such as mining or crypto trading as a business, profits may be subject to Income Tax rather than CGT. This will depend on the nature and frequency of your activities involving crypto assets.

Add expertise to your portfolio

Crypto assets are rapidly changing and subject to evolving regulations and tax rules.

Their value can cause complex issues because it can be volatile. This can make it hard to know whether you have made any capital gains or taxable income.

You may even be left wondering what to report and how to do it. We can provide the support that you need to stay compliant and benefit from your investment without concerns about a large tax bill or penalty.

For further guidance on your tax liability as a crypto asset owner, please contact us today.

Trivial benefits in kind: A quick guide for employers

Making employees feel valued is critical for their morale, engagement, and overall well-being.

Often, it’s the smaller gestures that have the most significant impact on employees’ perceptions of their work environment and employers.

What are trivial benefits in kind?

The term ‘trivial benefits in kind’ refers to minor token gifts that employers can offer staff as a token of appreciation. Examples include chocolates, wine, gift vouchers, theatre tickets, or team lunches or dinners.

Under UK tax law, trivial benefits provided by an employer are exempt from income tax and National Insurance Contributions.

This means neither the employee nor the employer must pay tax or National Insurance on these benefits, as long as certain conditions are met. You can also reclaim the VAT on trivial benefits if they meet eligibility criteria.

Eligibility criteria

To be considered a trivial benefit, the gift must:

  • Cost £50 or less
  • Not be given in cash
  • Not be a reward for work or performance
  • Not be included in the employee’s contract

Is there a tax-free gift limit?

Beyond the £50 per employee limit, there’s no annual ceiling on trivial gifts for an individual employee throughout the year.

An exception exists for “close” companies, like family businesses controlled by five or fewer people. If the recipient is a director, office holder, or a family member, the exemption limit is £300 per tax year.

Parties and events

It is important to note that costs related to staff parties are mostly tax-free if the event is open to all staff.

There is an annual limit of £150 (including VAT) per person for these events. Spending even slightly over this makes all expenses from the party or event taxable benefits.

Tax benefits

Trivial benefits are exempt from tax, National Insurance, and HMRC reporting, making them a cost-effective way to show appreciation.

However, trivial benefits provided under salary sacrifice don’t receive a tax exemption.

If a gift is made this way, tax and National Insurance must be paid on these expenses, and the difference between the trivial benefit and the salary sacrifice reported via the individual’s P11D form.

Ready to make the most of trivial benefits in kind?

Trivial benefits in kind are strategic investments in your employees and, by extension, your business.

They offer advantages ranging from improved morale and engagement to tax benefits. If you haven’t considered implementing them yet, now is a great time to start.

For more details or personalised advice on how trivial benefits in kind can benefit your organisation, feel free to contact us today.