Sunday, July 4, 2010
Start-up Sunday: Week 5 - Self Assesment, PAYE & VAT
Good Morning and welcome to Week 5 of our Start Up Sunday series.
Today we are going to touch on the subject that you have all told us scares the living daylights out of you. We are limited for space and taxes is such a wide ranging subject that I will touch on the most common problems or fears. If I do not cover anything you need to know, just leave a comment and we will pick it up at the end of the series. We all like to know how we are doing, so please leave us a comment and tell us what you like or would like to see being featured.
When you actually start your business, if you are a sole trader you automatically become regarded as self employed. You therefore have to register your self employed status with HMRC. You can do this online, or via telephone or post. I personally recommend registering by phone. You can find more about the 3 methods or registering on the HMRC website here.
You also become liable for Class 2 National Insurance contributions. If you expect your self employed earnings to be small, less than £5,075 for the tax year 2010-11, then you can apply for an earnings exception. However, please consider your position carefully - Class 2 National Insurance contributions are counted when calculation your entitlement to a basic state pension, incapacity benefit or ESA, bereavement allowances and maternity allowance. If you are over state pension age, you are automatically exempt from Class 2 National Insurance contributions no matter what your projected income may be.
Record keeping is quite simple; however, it is easy to muddy the waters which is why I recommend you attend the HMRC start up course so you can ask questions and get answers right away. Your records should comprise of 3 or 4 different books, you can keep records electronically and there is a wide variety of software availible for you to do so.
I personally find computers to be unreliable and, as records have to be kept for a minimum of 6 years, I prefer to use paper. You wil need a cash book, a sales ledger and a purchase ledger as wel; as a wages book if you have employees. You can make these out of regular A4 note pads with a ruler to seperate colums but you can buy pre made books from Staples, Amazon and all good stationers. Books can be bought in A6, A5 or A4 size - I personally prefer A4 size as I find the smaller books difficult if you need to write a lot.
The cashbook is the final record of what comes in and what goes out of your business, it is often referred to as the cash flow, To help complete your cash book, you need to keep cheque book stubs, cancelled cheques, paying in books, bank statements, copies of your own invoices, receipts and delivery notes, your suppliers invoices, receipts for all your cash purchases, remmittence advice slips from customers, copies of payments made or received using online banking systems.
A wages book is only required if you have employees - you can use P11's as the basis for your wages book. If you have employees, you should seek professional advise from either HMRC or an accountancy firm/payroll provider and either be taught how to keep wages records or turn that area of you record keeping over to the professionals.
So now we have registered you as self employed and you have kept full and complete records for a full accounting year. It is now time to complete your tax return.
Despite what I have said about my mistrust of computers when keeping records electronically, I always file my tax return online. Firstly, I feel its better for the enviroment - a tax return has quite a number of pages, many not applicable to you yet (on paper, it comes as a booklet and you just ignore the irrelevent bits). Secondly, when filing online, as you complete the sections of the form you can check double check and amend things before submitting which you cannot do with a paper form.
As we touched on briefly earlier, if you have employees you have to operate a PAYE scheme. If you decide to have employees, you will need to register with HMRC as an employer - you can do so here.
I cannot stress too much the importance of attending the HMRC new employer course that shows you how to keep PAYE records as well as covering statutory sick pay, maternity pay and student loan deductions. If you opt to be sent a new employer pack it will contain everything you need to set up electronic records for your employees. PAYE records should be kept electronically for submission to HMRC but this will all be explained both at the new employers course and in your new employers help pack.
If you supply good or services within the UK and your turnover of taxable goods or services within the UK was more that 70k in the last 12 monthsm then you will need to register for VAT.
There are all sorts of other reasons you may need to register for VAT, even if you do not live in the UK but do supply goods or services to the UK. There is more about this on the HMRC website here. VAT is an incredibly diverse and sometimes complicated subject. If you feel anything less than 100% confident in dealing with it, I suggest you employ a prefessional to deal with your VAT returns on your behalf.
So there we have it, a brief overview of self assesment, PAYE and VAT. Unfortunately, with everyones circumstance being different, it's impossible to go into specifics using a particular person or business - however, if you feel there is something that we did not cover, then please leave a comment or drop us an email.
If you do have a specific queary about anything specific related to taxes, PAYE or VAT and your liability for any of these, please do contact your local HMRC Office.
Don't forget to drop back next week when we'll be discussing our Week 6 topic - Legislation and Insurance.