To some, their perception of the world around them is their reality. Unless factors physically intrude on them, the thought that other things are going on simply does not matter.
To others, the reality is that their world is more complex, and that even though they might not feel the direct consequences of actions they cannot see, they are aware that they exist and have an impact on their lives.
Does this matter? I guess it depends on your view, and the degree you want to know about things you feel you can’t influence. Take voting for example. Some perceive that their individual vote is small and insignificant. To others, taking part is a way of having some say in decisions that will (at some stage) really affect them. By abdicating this responsibility, history has many examples of what happens when too many individuals stop caring about the world around them.
As a child, our reality is only what we can see and feel, as we grow up our parents shield us from the world “out there”, at some point, we each must decide how engaged we will become in that wider world.
Starting from a position of perceiving that we are helpless and subject to the what the world throws at us, it is easier than we might imagine to take an interest and get involved, even though it is not immediately apparent how this shapes our reality.
To live a life on the basis that our perception is the limit of our reality runs the real risk of not understanding what is really going on. Sometimes we all need to think the unthinkable.
The question is very topical, as a number of companies are in the headlines for not paying an appropriate amount.
Whether you read the small print in the autumn statement, or the New Testament, there is a view on how much tax is right for everyone.
The answer to “how much tax” is due depends on your position:
The shareholder wants to pay as little tax as possible to maximise the return on their investment, the tax man wants as much tax to be paid as possible to pay the country’s bills, the government wants to keep the voter happy.
If the company was you, what would be your answer? To pay as much, or as little as possible? Or do you believe that “some” is the right answer? Who are you trying to please? Your neighbour, the person on benefits or the pensioner who depends on your contribution?
If you reclaim VAT on your expenditure, please note that HMRC have published new company car advisory fuel rates to take effect from 1 December 2011.
These rates apply to all journeys on or after 1 December 2011 until further notice, allowing them to reflect fuel prices more quickly. For one month from the date of change, employers may use either the previous or new current rates, as they choose. Employers may therefore make or require supplementary payments if they so wish, but are under no obligation to do either.
The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 December 2011 are:
1400cc or less
1401cc – 2000cc
1600cc or less
1601cc – 2000cc
Please note that most rates have not changed. However the rate for LPG cars has reduced for those with an engine size of 1400cc or less.
Other points to be aware of about the advisory fuel rates:
Employers do not need a dispensation to use these rates.
Employees driving employer provided cars are not entitled to use these rates to claim tax relief if employers reimburse them at lower rates. Such claims should be based on the actual costs incurred.
The advisory rates are not binding where an employer can demonstrate that the cost of business travel in employer provided cars is higher than the guideline mileage rates. The higher cost would need to be agreed with HMRC under a dispensation.
If you would like more information, please contact me.
HMRC does not mess around when it comes to late filing of your company’s records.
What are late filing penalties?
Late filing penalties were introduced in 1992 to encourage directors of limited companies to file their accounts on time because they must provide this statutory information for the public record.
What changes have been introduced?
All penalties have been increased to take account of inflation between 1992 and 2007.
A faster rate of increase in penalties for companies who file more than one month late.
A doubling of the penalty for any company which files late having also filed late in the previous year.
What are the new late filing penalties?
The new table of penalties is a follows:
How late are the accounts delivered
Penalty – Private Ltd Company
Penalty – PLC
Not more than one month
More than one month but not more than three months
More than three months but not more than six months
More than six months
In addition where there was a failure to comply with filing requirements in relation to the previous financial year (and that the previous financial year had begun on or after 6th April 2008), the penalty will be double that shown in the table.
I was asked to give my point of view on a local radio programme today, regarding the latest government statistics about the increase in the amount of time the average employee spends at work. The argument was that the average worker in the UK works harder than their EU counterparts.
To me, the statistic says we are working longer, not harder. To be working harder, the statistic would be about output, results, even job satisfaction; not about how long we sit at our desks.
As a freelancer, I am always conscious about how I am valued. I have learnt that my value is assessed first and foremost by whether I get the job done. How long I will take, or how much I will charge is a secondary issue. If I do the job well, but take longer to do it than is really necessary just makes me more expensive, not better. Who do you know that would pay for unnecessary hours, or for poor quality?
And yet, that is what many employers do. They pay workers to be at their desks, measuring their contribution in time and cost, not quality. This charade is also played by employees, who are willing to put in extra time at work for free, perhaps hoping that this show of commitment secures their place in the company.
Do you value each employee by their cost, by how much time they spend at work, or by what they do for you?
I was put in a difficult position by a client recently. I was helping them with their self assessment tax return, and was being pressured to include a couple of expenses that I did not consider to be legitimate business costs.
Within reason, and subject to some legal exceptions, a business is allowed to incur a wide range of expenses in the furtherance of its objectives. When you are self employed, or a sole trader, the onus of responsibility is the other way round – the basic assumption is that all expenditure is personal, unless you can demonstrate that it is business related.
In particular, I was being asked to include two items of significant value as business expenses, based on their presence on a credit card statement and the client’s insistence that they were business related. Bearing in mind that I had already had to consider whether towels and a set of weighing scales could be included, I felt the lack of any appropriate or independent evidence of the two items, such as a copy of the invoice and the fact the two large expenses were bought in the previous accounting period, I decided that, in my professional judgement, I would not allow them. This did not please my client.
Accounting is often considered an exact science. In my view, it is an art. Its purpose is to paint a true and fair picture of what has happened, in a way that makes sense to the person looking at the information.
It is the responsibility of whoever is putting the accounts together to ensure that there is appropriate evidence to support their view. Of course, what you might want to see may vary depending on whether you are the business or the tax man.
If you miss the Self Assessment filing deadline you will be immediately liable for a £100 late filing penalty. The penalty will apply even if there is no liability, or if any tax due is paid in full by 31 January 2012.
These new penalties will apply to all Self Assessment tax returns from 2010-11 onwards. The fixed £100 penalty for failing to file a tax return on or before the filing date will therefore apply to:
• paper returns received on or after 1 November 2011.
• online returns received on or after 1 February 2012.
Daily penalties of £10 per day will also take effect if the tax return is still outstanding three months after the filing date. So if you file a paper return after 31 October 2011, you will be liable to a daily penalty on 1 February 2012 – that’s three months earlier than online filers. All the more reason to file your tax return online.
It’s not often that there is good news regarding funding for training and development, so this is worth shouting about!
If you have been in business for at least 12 months, have between 2 and 249 employees, and want your business to do better, then read on…
The Skills Funding Agency is offering grants to help leaders of eligible organisations to pay for training and development to help their businesses grow. The grant will pay for 50% of approved training (excluding VAT) up to £1,000. For example, if the training costs £1,000 plus VAT, you can claim back £500. If the solution costs £2,500 plus VAT, you can claim back £1,000.
Solutions need to be linked to one or more of the following:
Developing a highly effective personal leadership and management style,
Creating an effective business culture,
Planning and developing your business and its teams, or
Building high performance across your business.
These are quite broad headings, and I would be surprised if you can’t think of something you would like to improve that doesn’t fits into this criteria.
For more information, or a no-obligation chat, call me on 07913 895798 or email me on email@example.com today!
I was weighing up some options for a client over the weekend. They are worried about what might happen if a plan didn’t work.
It got me thinking. What was the worst thing that could happen? If the plan didn’t work, there was still a business, a reputation, and a lot of goodwill. Life might not be easy, but life would carry on.
When starting a business, it is essential to know what your bottom line is. If the idea doesn’t work, when is the right time to walk away, or change the plan?
To some, running a small business is almost a hobby – the impact of financial failure is minimal due to other streams of income (for example a partner’s salary). But if the consequences of failure are more material (no money to pay the rent, buy petrol, or eat), then knowing when enough is enough starts to seem sensible.
Motivation to succeed is often fuelled by an appreciation of the consequences of failure.
In the same way that success can be measured in terms other than pounds in the bank, so can failure. Working out what you want, or what you don’t want to lose, is harder than you think when you start to think beyond the bank balance.
I am not suggesting that businesses should always worry about the worst case scenario, but I would suggest that having the option to quit while still ahead is better than the alternative.
So, having identified the worst case scenario, now it’s time to focus on the positives, aim high, and succeed!