The Office of Tax Simplification has made a number of recommendations to the government to simplify the tax rules for reporting benefits in kind and expenses paid on behalf of directors and employees.

One recommendation was to replace a number of extra statutory concessions and legislate that trivial benefits in kind, where the cost to the employer is no more than £50, will not need to be reported in future and will be exempt from tax. HM Revenue and Customs raised concerns that some directors of family companies might abuse the new rules and have insisted that the exemption should be limited to £300 per annum in the case of directors and family members of such companies and this has now been included in the draft Finance Bill to be introduced from 6 April 2016.

The exemption is expected to cover the provision of small gifts to employees and former employees such as flowers on the occasion of a wedding or funeral and should not be in recognition of particular services performed by the employee in the course of their employment.

Please get in touch with us for further guidance on which benefits will qualify for this new exemption.


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One of the anti-avoidance measures announced in the Autumn Statement on 25 November was to introduce legislation to counter the distribution of income accumulated in a company to the shareholders in a capital form, potentially subject to the 10% capital gains tax rate with the benefit of entrepreneurs’ relief. This is a much lower rate than the rate of income tax on dividend payments, particularly when the new higher dividend tax rates are introduced in 2016/17.

The anti-avoidance legislation is now included in the draft clauses to be included in Finance Bill 2016 and, if enacted, will apply from 6 April 2016. The proposed changes appear to go much further than we originally thought and potentially catch schemes of capital reduction and even certain situations where a company buys back shares from a shareholder. It is hoped that the changes will not apply to genuine commercial transactions.

If you are considering closing your company down and distributing the retained profits it may be advantageous to do so before 6 April 2016. If so, you should contact us as soon as possible so that the transaction can be completed before the new rules take effect.

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Training your Team to be More Resilient

Why do some people bounce back from difficult situations more easily than others? How is it that they are more resilient? Training can help. Managers can help their teams to become more resilient and confident. Training your people to handle difficult situations helps them to respond appropriately.


Letting people fail – Allowing people to fail builds resiliency. People need to try, to risk, and then try some more. This comes from failing a few times along the way. Resilient people are not people who have never failed. They are people who have learned from trying, failing, and trying again. Richard Branson for example, has failed several times along the way to becoming a billionaire business leader. Steve Jobs failed – he was pushed out of Apple in 1985 even though he was one of the founders of the company. He returned to the firm in 1997 and it is now the worlds largest company by revenue. One of the issues today is that people are afraid to allow for mistakes, and they want to protect others from failure. However, every good manager knows that if we never fall over, we won’t learn how to get back up again.


Teaching your team to solve problems – Solving problems doesn’t mean solving them all yourself. The most difficult task a manager has is to resist doing something themselves even though they may be able to solve the problem more quickly. Instead, managers need to step back and ask their people: “What is the next step?” or “What do you think you should do?” It is really hard watching people make mistakes without stepping in, but your team will never learn if someone else is doing their job for them. It will pay off in the long term as your team becomes more capable and confident.


Focus on the big picture – It is easy for your team to get discouraged if they only see the failures. Teach them to consider the big picture. They should be encouraged to see every step of the learning process as being a step towards success, even if that attempt doesn’t result in a solution to whatever problem they are facing. Getting it wrong along the way should be ok in the grand scheme of things. Equally when they get it right, encourage them to see how this has contributed to the overall success of the business.


Accountability – Making allowances for people to fail does not mean that people shouldn’t be held accountable. Failure without a lesson is failure in its worst form. By contrast, failure with a lesson is a learning process. Encourage your teams to consider what went right and what went wrong, and to note what lessons have been learned from the process. Your team should take note of the failures and figure out a way to avoid failing in the future. They should be encouraged to accept responsibility for the problem and move to create a better outcome.


A problem versus an inconvenience – Problems are serious issues that are a real threat to the business. Inconveniences are when you get stuck in traffic on the way to the office, for example. You and your team should focus on letting the inconveniences go and focus on solving the real problems.

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Following the restriction of tax relief for mortgage interest and the 3% increase in Stamp Duty Land Tax all is not doom and gloom for buy to let landlords. Following on from the consultation this summer the draft Finance Bill 2016 includes the legislation to reintroduce tax relief for the replacement of furnishings in buy to let properties from 6 April 2016.

This will apply to both furnished and unfurnished lettings and will mean that the cost of replacing items such as cookers and washing machines will again qualify for relief following the withdrawal of a concession from 6 April 2013.

Note that the alternative, and simpler, 10% wear and tear allowance will be withdrawn from 6 April 2016 for those letting properties fully furnished.

Those letting properties under the more stringent furnished holiday letting rules will continue to be able to claim the Annual Investment Allowance which provides 100% tax relief for the initial furnishing as well as renewal of furniture in holiday properties.

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The legislation to introduce the new system of dividend taxation announced in the Summer Budget has now been included in the draft Finance Bill. Although individuals will be able to receive £5,000 of dividend income tax free each year from 2016/17, once that has been used up there will be a 7.5% increase in the rate of tax on dividends so you may wish to consider increasing your dividend payments before 6 April 2016.

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Marketing Messages – Getting to the Point

Regardless of the type of business that you run, your customers will have one thing in common. As a result of technology, they are bombarded by marketing messages. Customers are more time-poor than ever before so if you want your marketing communications to stand out, you should consider cutting down the length of your messages and getting to the point.


Identify the message that matters most and make sure it’s memorable. Marketers have known for decades that there’s value in identifying and driving home the most important point or benefit. It goes all the way back to when the best businesses began to identify their unique selling proposition (USP) for every client.


The difference today is the way that viewers and readers consume media. Today’s reader or viewer is overwhelmed with an astounding number of media choices and channels. In fact, consumers are exposed to so many messages that they notice fewer of them. Here are a few tips to help you get your point across.


Focus on what is most relevant to your customers – Focus on what your target audience see first and outline what is most important and relevant to them. Avoid the temptation to use that first impression to deliver what you or the management team finds most interesting, unless you’re also the target audience.


Write active rather than passive sentences – Active sentences are more vigorous and put more life into the message. Here’s an example: “We deliver shipping services to clients nationally.” This is much punchier than saying “Shipping services are delivered by us to clients nationally.”


Avoid jargon – Try to avoid formal, overly corporate language. Where possible avoid using big words with several syllables. The business world is now very much a global market and English may not be your customer’s first language.


Make it about them – Use the words “you” and “your” much more than “I” and “we.” If you catch yourself saying “I” and “we” a lot, then you’re talking about yourself too much. Get back to being focused on your reader and their needs and concerns.


Be concise – If you can say something in 10 words don’t use 120 words instead. Cut out the fluff and keep your message concise. Remember, your potential customer is time-poor so you need to keep the message relevant.

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One of the controversial measures included in the draft Finance Bill 2016 was the proposed restriction of the deduction for travel and subsistence expenses incurred by certain workers caught by the IR35 rules. This proposed change was consulted on during summer 2015 and, if enacted, will significantly restrict the tax relief available for those affected.

The original proposals have been toned down to a certain extent and will only apply if the IR35 rules apply to the engagement and there is supervision, direction and control (SDC) over the worker. This now seems to be the key test to determine whether the new rules will apply and ignores the other employment status factors. The examples in the consultation document seem to suggest that if there is no expertise within the end user organisation then there is likely to be limited SDC and the worker will be entitled to relief for travelling to the client’s premises.

Any tax debt arising from the deliberate misapplication of the rules is to be transferred ‘jointly and severally’ from the ‘intermediary company’ to its director(s). It would appear that the ‘engager’ will not now be liable, which was one of the proposals in the consultation. It is intended that these rules will be implemented where it can be shown that the ‘intermediary’ had knowingly failed to apply the rules correctly.

Please get in touch with us if these new rules are likely to have an impact on your business.

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