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How HMRC can make a Discovery

The tax authorities are entitled to look at and ask questions on any tax return within an enquiry window which normally ends 12 months after the tax return was filed with them. But they can also do this outside that window, by making what is termed a discovery, if they can show that all relevant information was not supplied to them with the tax return so they had no way of knowing that all might not be well.

Company Car Changes

The income tax charge on the valuable benefit of having a company car available for your private use is often changed, so as to encourage car makers and drivers to lower CO2 emissions. Plenty of notice is usually given of each change, given that naturally it is not realistic to expect anyone to be able to change the company car without a good deal of lead time.

Here is what is happening over the next few tax years, and don’t forget that diesel cars face a 3% supplement on the tax charge which is not planned to change.

Search Engine Optimisation

As business people, many if not all of us have been contacted at some stage by a salesperson offering to “optimize” our company’s website in order to improve the site’s ranking on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, etc.

These sales calls can give the impression that search engine optimization (SEO) is a one off, quick-fix deal. This is certainly not the case. Each and every website is different and in order to optimize your website you need to devote time to analysing your own site, your target audience and your competitor’s sites.

Cutting Employee Training Costs in a Recession

As businesses further tighten the purse strings the likelihood of training budgets being cut increases. However, employees still need to learn new skills and keep up to date in order to realise their full potential. As such here are a few ways to reduce your training spend without neglecting training entirely.

Don't just work "IN" the Business - Work "ON" the Business

Today’s business owner/managers are short on time and therefore need to prioritise the most important tasks. Many business owners and/or managers become caught up in the day to day “workings” of the business such as closing sales, invoicing, staff rosters and so on but neglect the strategic aspects of running the firm.

National Minimum Wage Increases

On 1 October 2011 the national minimum wage increase takes effect. The new hourly rates are as follows:

£6.08   Aged 21 and over
£4.98   Aged 18 to 20
£3.68   Aged 16 to 17
£2.60   Apprentice Rate*

*This applies to apprentices under 19, or 19 and over  in the first year of their apprenticeship.

New CIS Penalties 2011

HMRC have announced changes to late payment penalties for late or none filing of Contractor Monthly Returns (CIS300).

The first return affected by these changes is for the month to 5 November 2011 which must be filed by 19 November 2011 to ensure penalties are avoided.

The new penalties are as follows:

Self Employed Contractor - Or are they an employee?

The recent supreme court judgement upheld the court of appeals decision in Autoclenz vs. Belcher and others that workers engaged as car valeters were in fact employees and not self employed.

The claim by Autoclenz that a substitution clause in the contracts which obligated the workers to provide a substitute to carry out the service when they were unable to do it meant the workers were self employed.

New Rights for Agency Staff

The Agency Workers Regulations 2011 comes into force on 1 October 2011. The act will give temporary agency workers unprecedented new rights.

From day 1 of an assignment an agency worker will be entitled to access the same facilities (e.g. canteen, childcare, parking, etc.) and information on job vacancies as permanent employees.

Once an agency worker completes 12 weeks in the same position they are entitled to the same basic employment and working conditions (pay, annual leave, etc.) as if they had been employed directly by the company.

Gifts of Pre-Eminent Objects and Works of Art to the Nation

The aim of this new scheme is to stimulate lifetime giving by encouraging
taxpayers to donate pre-eminent objects, or collections of objects, to the

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