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WE don’t have an IT department here at CEJ.
We often wish we did, having long ago discovered both that Google does not have the answer to everything and that the old joke about IT being all about turning your machine off and on again was not strictly true.
What we do have – thanks in no small part to our occasional computer-based traumas – is a healthy respect for those whose job it is to make everything ok again when our PCs decide to have a bad hair day.
It seems that we’re not the only ones who understand that IT professionals are worth their weight in iPad Pros and, if a new survey is anything to go by, more and more are moving into the contracting sector.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (who should know), there were 119,617 registered IT contractors in the UK last year, compared to just 76,972 back in 2010. That’s quite a jump.
Not growing quite so fast, but growing nevertheless, is the number of women in IT contracting, with the fairer sex now accounting for 14% of the workforce, compared to 9% in 2010.
At CEJ, for one reason or another, many of our clients work in banking - but contracting is contracting and if you’re an IT contractor looking for an accountant to make the whole business simpler then we believe you won’t find anyone better than us. Visit our “Why choose us?” page for more information about what CEJ can do for you.
And if you’re currently working in some big firm’s IT department and are getting mightily tired of being tied to your employer’s apron strings, then have a think about why working as a contractor and going limited is well worth thinking about.
As ever, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch: email Jo (email@example.com), Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter (email@example.com) and they will get back to you sharpish.
WE love the internet here at CEJ.
Watching sport on our laptops, online shopping (especially when it’s your anniversary the next day and you’d completely forgotten), having access to every film, song and TV series ever made, not to mention the delights of Facebook, Twitter and a million other social media platforms… we’re big fans of it all and we’re sure that many of you are too.
That said, we’re not convinced that any of you were exactly jigging with delight at the possibility of companies being forced to report tax online every three months as part of a government scheme called Making Tax Digital, which has been dressed up as a way of helping individuals and businesses keep on top of their affairs.
In reality, having to report tax every three months is likely to have been more like a headache for the people and businesses it is aiming to help.
Quite possibly with that in mind, the treasury has done something of a u-turn, recently announcing that “Businesses will not be mandated to use the MTD system until April 2019 and then only to meet VAT obligations.
“This will apply to businesses with turnover above the VAT threshold. Businesses with turnover below the VAT threshold will not be required to use the system but can choose to”.
Great news, we’re sure you’ll agree.
As ever, if you’re a CEJ client then we’ve got it covered anyway, but if you’ve got any questions you need answering then don’t hesitate to get in touch.As ever, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch: email Jo (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ben (email@example.com) or Peter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
SOMETIMES at CEJ we wish politicians were a bit more like teenagers.
Knowing several as we do – and also being young enough (Ben! Peter!) to remember being ones ourselves – we know for a fact that once a teenager has done something or been asked to do it, they promptly forget all about it until being reminded. Usually by their mums.
Despite having the entire summer off – just like teenagers – politicians are more like elephants. They NEVER forget. So after being forced to chop whole chunks out of the finance bill in order to get it through before June’s snap election, the chances of the Conservative Party failing to return to it once back in power always were slim.
They became even slimmer last week when the bill, which included cutting the tax-free dividend allowance from £5k to £2k, was officially re-tabled.
Just in case you’ve managed to remain blissfully unaware of it until now, cutting the allowance by a whopping £3k means that contractors paying basic rate tax would be £225 a year worse off.
The good news is that even if it is hurried through in September straight after the summer recess, the cut won’t affect contractors until April next year, which gives you plenty of time to make plans for it.
The even better news is that if you’re a CEJ client you don’t have to worry about it at all. We’ll keep you aware of any changes which need to be made and keep you informed along the way.
As ever, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch: email Jo (email@example.com), Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter (email@example.com).
Politics, like football, is a funny old game. In the run-up to the election, we were regularly told that a vote for the Labour Party was a vote for a “coalition of chaos”.
As it turned out, a coalition of sorts is just what we got, but with the Conservative Party needing support from the DUP to form a government despite being the biggest party in parliament.
Whichever way you voted, it turns out that, for now, the coalition is good news for contractors.
Because she has such a slim majority, it seems likely that PM Theresa May could well put any controversial plans on the back burner.
Plans like reducing the tax-free dividend allowance from £5k to £2k, which would mean contractors are likely to be £225 a year worse off. If you recall, that was axed from the finance bill back in April in order to get it through before the pre-election dissolution of Parliament.
Plans like new legislation which could mean that the 'off-payroll' rules that have recently hit public sector contractors, are extended to limited company contractors in the private sector.
And even if these things change (as they frequently do in politics), rest assured that, just like a hero in an action flick, we at CEJ have got your back. If there are any changes you need to know about then we will let you know as soon as we do.
If there’s anything else we can help you with, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email Jo (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ben (email@example.com) or Peter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We never make a drama out of a crisis here at CEJ – but we still like a spot of amateur dramatics now and again.
That’s especially true of our esteemed business development manager Ben who is also known to rock a hi-vis jacket as part of amateur dramatic society the Hillbark Players.
Every two years, the Players take over a corner of Royden Park in Frankby to stage an open-air production of one of Shakespeare’s classics. This year it’s Hamlet, and Ben is part of the stage crew responsible for turning the small area of woodland into a pop-up theatre.
Tasks this year included freeing up an 11.5 ton wagon that had sunk into the newly turfed lawn, adding hardcore to an area of the site so that the toilets would not sink into the boggy ground, (which included using a mini-digger for the day) and trying to help with the seven-day set build.
Ben said: “Things are a little more relaxed during show week!
“My main responsibility was to drive a golf buggy to help people up to the site from the car park and be on hand to help make sure the cast are where they need to be.”
So far, the Players’ take on Hamlet has been well received by audience and reviewers alike, and there are still tickets available for the three remaining performances – tonight (Friday) and tomorrow night at 7.30pm, with a Saturday matinée at 2pm. Tickets are available from the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton, with more information about the play available at www.hillbarkplayers.co.uk.
There are many, many wonderful things about being a contractor.
So many, in fact, that we don’t have the space to list them here (but if you fancy a recap we do have space to list them here).
One of the less wonderful things about being a contractor is finding and buying somewhere nice to live.
Whether you fancy a three-storey townhouse in Chester or a one-bedroom flat in West Kirby, unless you’ve really done exceptionally well out of this whole contracting malarkey, buying your own property generally involves getting a mortgage. And getting a mortgage is not as easy as it is for those with “normal” jobs.
Or so you may think.
It’s true that most lenders only cater for either employed or self-employed borrowers and that contractors don’t really fall into either camp.
The mistake many contractors make is to think they are self-employed, which leads to an awful lot of extremely dull forms being filled out and an awful lot of time (mainly yours) being wasted.
As ever, here at CEJ we are here to help
Top tip number 1: If you’re looking for a mortgage, let us know. When you do, we’ll set you up on our HMRC portal and we’ll be ready to access your 'Tax Overviews' when they are requested. These are only ever needed for mortgage applications so we don’t do it unless we need to. Some accountants charge extra for proof of income and help with mortgage (and rent) applications; you won’t be surprised to find out that for CEJ clients it’s completely free.
Top tip number 2: When you’re looking for a mortgage provider, keep an eye out for brokers who are specialists in securing Contractor Mortgages. You might be surprised to discover that such things exist; you won’t be surprised to find that using such brokers will make it much easier for you to get the residence of your dreams.
Top tip number 3: We don’t usually include links to external websites here at CEJ (unless it’s YouTube or Spotify) but as we are accountancy experts rather than mortgage brokers, we’re happy to include this one, where you’ll find lots of other tips on getting a mortgage as a contractor.
Now all you need to do is find somewhere to live. Happy hunting!
As ever, if you have any questions, get in touch: email Jo (email@example.com), Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter (email@example.com).
IS THERESA May a football fan?
We’re not sure whether she’s ever been asked, but after the last two weeks we at CEJ are willing to bet that the Prime Minister is a huge admirer of Dutch footballing legend Johan Cruyff.
Those of you of a certain age may remember Cruyff as being arguably the greatest player in the world in the 1970s, famed for his trademark turn (there’s a link here if you’ve never seen it in action) which bamboozled many a world class defender from Berlin to Buenos Aires.
But back to Mrs May. After executing a world class turn of her own by declaring a snap election on June 8, the Prime Minister has done another Cruyff impression with another reversal.
Good news is, though, this is great news for contractors.
You will remember that Chancellor Philip Hammond used this year’s March budget to announce that, from April 2018, the tax-free dividend allowance will go down from £5k to £2k, meaning contractors are likely to be £225 a year worse off. There’s a link to our blog on that very subject right here.
That change was part of a finance bill which is now having to be rushed through Parliament before its pre-election dissolution onWednesday May 3 (at one minute past midnight to be precise). As a result, huge chunks of the bill have been wiped out – including the bit about the dividend allowance.
Result! Thanks, Mrs M!
It would, however, be remiss of us not to mention one small caveat: should the Conservatives win on June 8, they may well decide to redraft the Finance Bill AGAIN in order to get the changes into effect by next April.
We’ll keep you updated!
As ever, if you have any questions get in touch: email Jo (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ben (email@example.com) or Peter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tricky old customer, the postman. One day he’s delivering the new present you’ve bought yourself from Amazon with all the money you’ve saved by being a CEJ client, another he’s dropping off a less than welcome letter from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs department.
Such a letter may well have landed on your doormat recently – or be winging its way to you around about now – about getting your tax returns in for the financial year that’s just ended (April 6, 2016 - April 5, 2017).
As ever with CEJ, the important thing to remember is this: Worry not, we’ve got it all in hand.
Very few of you will need reminding that the actual deadline for submitting that return isn’t until January 31 next year (that’s 10 whole months away), but if you’d like to get it sorted early that’s fine too.
For those of you who have never got the return in before 11.59 on January 31, doing it early does offer one distinct advantage: you have almost an entire year to be prepared for how well off you will or won’t become next April.
So, in summary: We’ve got it all in hand.
One thing we do need you to do for us is to update your bookkeeping spreadsheet up until the end of this April (that’s April 2017) and let us know when it’s done. That’s it.
If there’s anything else we can help you with, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email Jo (email@example.com), Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter (email@example.com) and we’ll get back to you.
It can’t have escaped your attention that this week’s budget has not been a popular one in the newspapers.
Most of the coverage has been about Chancellor Philip Hammond attacking White Van Man with his increase on National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed. More about that later.
It wasn’t a perfect budget for contractors, with Hammond also announcing a reduction in the tax-free dividend allowance from £5k to £2k. Theresa May has also been attacked for laughing so much in the House of Commons before Hammond got up to speak. Perhaps she’s a secret contractor because in the main it was pretty positive stuff for CEJ clients.
Although the dividend allowance cut will mean you’re likely to be £225 worse off if you’re a contractor, the first bit of good news is that it won’t be felt until the tax returns due in by January 2020.
That’s nearly THREE YEARS AWAY! Phew.
Secondly, the NIC increases won’t affect you because technically you’re an employee of your own limited company and don’t pay National Insurance.
Thirdly, next month two changes come into effect which will actually BENEFIT (we were shocked too) limited company contractors and Personal Service Companies as well as mainstream employees. The first is that the personal allowance will increase by £500 (a saving of £37.50 per year) and secondly the basic rate threshold will increase to £45k from £43k (a saving of £650 per year).
As well as all that, the Chancellor also chose not to extend the public sector IR35 changes into the private one, which won’t be much consolation to those of you in the public sector but is good news for the rest of you. What’s also worth remembering is that from April 1 this year corporation tax will fall by 1%, another gain for PSCs.
So not a bad budget after all!
As ever, if you have any questions get in touch: email Jo (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ben (email@example.com) or Peter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Even in the middle of storm season, it’s apparently bad luck to open an umbrella indoors.
But we at CEJ are a defiant lot. We say “Pah!” to such superstitions, so we’ve gone ahead and opened one anyway. It goes by the name CEJ Umbrella and if you work in the public sector you might just want to get underneath it.
In case you’re not sure what an umbrella company is, it’s fairly simple: It’s a way of working as a contractor while still picking up regular pay cheques and without having to worry about ever getting in touch with HMRC.
As a company which has spent many years now emphasising the advantages of contractors going limited rather than working for umbrella companies, it might seem like a case of having our cake and eating it too.
If you’re a contractor in the public sector, from April both you and the recruitment agency or other third party nearest to your limited company in the food chain will be responsible for declaring your IR35 status. That may mean that for some of you, going with an umbrella will be a better solution all round.
It might also appeal to those of you who fancy the idea of regular payslips and really, really can’t stand paperwork.
So, to meet that need and give our public sector clients an umbrella company they can trust, we have created CEJ Umbrella, with a simple £15 a week or £59 a month payment plan.
If you’re happy with the way you are, that’s great. We still believe that going limited is the best option for the majority of you. But if you’d like to find out more, all the details are on the company website at www.cejumbrella.co.uk.
If you’d like to raise any issues with us before then, or if there’s anything else we can help you with, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Email Jo (email@example.com), Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter (email@example.com) and we’ll get back to you.
We like to think at CEJ that our blogs aren’t your average accountancy blogs.
We dutifully give you updates on the latest tax changes and CEJ news but you’d have to look long and hard to find another accountant writing about that much-missed staple of Saturday night TV, Stars in their Eyes!
If you’re too young to remember it, Stars in their Eyes gave members of the public the chance to appear on primetime TV having been transformed into their favourite singer thanks to the wonders of TV, before performing said star’s biggest hit.
The programme played a huge role in the rise in popularity of tribute acts, with many contestants on the show going on to tour the world.
What has this got to do with CEJ, you may well ask. Well, one of our CEJ clients is not just a former Stars in their Eyes contestant but continues to perform up and down the country today. Professional soul/Motown singer Paul Stokes, who like many of our clients works in the financial sector, performed on Stars in their Eyes in 2000.
He remembers: “It was a fantastic experience.
“I portrayed a guy called Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers (singing What A Fool Believes). One of the guys I worked with on my first contract happen to let slip that I had been on Stars In Their Eyes. I came into work the next day, everyone in the office had been watching the clip!”
Being a contractor has long had its benefits for Paul’s singing career, he added.
“There have been several times when it has led to singing bookings – and long may it continue! I've also had many colleagues come to see me when I've been gigging locally, which is really great. We’ve had some great team nights out.”
Like many contractors, Paul has no immediate intention to give up his contracting work to concentrate full time on his “other” career.
He added: “Singing came first and always will! I’ve been at it for more than 25 years now and I still love every minute. I would love to give up the contracting eventually but what puts me off is an experience I had early on in my career."
“I was full time, getting plenty of bookings – enough to sustain a living. Then I ended up with laryngitis and didn’t sing a note for nearly two months, which of course meant I didn't earn for that time either.”
Paul’s next gig is at Blundell Street restaurant in Liverpool on February 25. Find out more on his website at www.pjstokes.com.
You can watch his Stars in their Eyes appearance here: https://youtu.be/kO_XBsOaEvk
As ever, if you’ve got any accountancy-related questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email Jo (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ben (email@example.com) or Peter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Spring Budget has been around forever. Well, maybe not forever, but so long that it’s virtually impossible to get a definitive date on the first one. According to one website*, the phrase “seems to have been first applied to a statement of government revenue and expenditure in 1733”.
If that’s right, then for 284 years now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been standing up in Parliament in March and delivering his budget statement for the next financial year.
Not anymore. Next month’s budget, which will take place on Wednesday, March 8, will be the last one to take place in Spring.
Chancellor Philip Hammond says that “no other major economy makes hundreds of tax changes twice a year” so there’s no reason we should either, and has opted to change the main budget day from March to sometime in the Autumn.
If that’s not confusing enough, then after Autumn’s second full budget of 2017, March 2018 will see the first Spring Statement, in which the government “retains the option to make changes to fiscal policy if the economic circumstances require it”.
Whatever your thoughts on changing a centuries-old British tradition, you can be sure of one thing: we will be right on top of any changes that affect you directly.
There’s a possibility that Mr Hammond will announce some changes to flat rate VAT on March 8, and if so, you can be sure that we will be in touch with all our VAT-registered clients whom it might affect.
If you’d like to raise any issues with us before then, or if there’s anything else we can help you with, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email Jo (email@example.com), Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter (email@example.com) and we’ll get back to you.
To say that January 31 is a red letter day for accountants may be the understatement of the century. As any small business owner knows, the last day in January is also the last day for submitting completed tax returns, and therefore quite an important one for us at CEJ.
After getting all of our clients’ returns in on time, we felt some kind of celebration was in order. So what did we do? Obvious. We went into Liverpool and locked ourselves in a room. No, really. We actually did go into Liverpool and we actually did get locked in a room.
It was, however, far more exciting than you might imagine. Breakout Liverpool – the venue for our February 1 celebration – bills itself as the city’s “number one live escape room game” and, we can report, it’s a whole heap of fun.
After being locked in a smallish room (we’d steer clear if you’re claustrophobic), we were challenged to solve a succession of puzzles and clues in the space of an hour, all presented in a hugely imaginative way by the Breakout team.
We got out with two and half minutes to spare, which we were feeling rather smug about until a member of staff told Jo it was “about average”.
There’s a website here if you fancy giving it a go or finding out why it’s become the number one activity on TripAdvisor.
As ever, if you have any questions about any accountancy matters (much as we’d love to talk about Breakout, you might be better contacting them for that), then don’t hesitate to get in touch: email Jo (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ben (email@example.com) or Peter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Fancy getting involved in the film industry? Travelling to Cannes and signing international deals with global multi-nationals? Read on.
It sounds like the stuff of childhood fantasy, the kind of dreams that school careers officers hear on a regular basis, advising those expressing them that they would be better off sticking with something more reliable like working in the financial sector.
CEJ client Simon Denton, though, is managing to combine both the jobs – living the dream of producing films for a living while also paying the bills and funding the big screen dream with a day job as a financial services contractor.
And after travelling to the Cannes Film Festival with his first full length feature film, horror movie Seizure, he’s currently on the lookout for an investor in his next movie.
He said: “We have an international sales agent based in Los Angeles and have signed a distribution deal for North America and Canada. “That should see us on Netflix, Red Box and with DVDs on sale in Walmart in the next six months. We are looking for investment funding for our next film, a horror comedy, working title of ‘Bite Me’. So if anyone wants to get involved in film, be an extra and meet the cast etc, give me a call!”
Many of his contracting colleagues are somewhat dubious when they hear about his “other” career, Simon admits. He revealed: “I think generally they think I’m mad. I had a few raised eyebrows when I first mentioned making a full length feature film whilst still contracting. That is until I went to Cannes!”
Film-making isn’t the only string to Simon’s bow. He added: “Making films is pretty new to me. I was the Conference Director of a music festival before contracting, working in Liverpool, and we also staged a festival in Dubai. I’ve also been involved in major music festivals, including Glastonbury, Leeds Festival, Parklife and Latitude on a project basis.”
“Creative projects are really intense and great fun and when they are successful they are extremely rewarding. The good thing about contracting is the flexibility and being able to take a contract for a fixed period that will enable you to work on other things in between.”
“I’ve been with CEJ for about five years now. I wanted a bona fide company to look after my company finances, and Bryan and the team at CEJ take all the hassle away from running your own company. The best thing by far though is the jelly beans!”
If you are interested in being an investor in Simon’s next film and would like to get in touch, let us know and we’ll pass on your details. Email Jo (email@example.com), Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter (email@example.com).
In 2016 we gave away 1250 business cards. That would be more than 300 each, if new boy Pete hadn’t handed approximately 1173 of them out to unsuspecting young ladies on New Year’s Eve.
We also gave away 22.2kg of jelly beans, 120 selection boxes, 103 ice creams and 60 coffees. The coffee figure would be closer to 60,000 if you include how many were consumed in our Albert House offices, or more like six if you only counted the ones made by Ben (only kidding Ben!) The ice creams were intended for prospective clients, even if one of them ended up in the clutches of a cheeky white van man, while chocaholic Jo is refusing to put a figure on how many selection boxes she got through during a particularly busy couple of weeks in December. And yes, that really is 22.2kg of jelly beans. Suffice to say we hope our dentists aren’t reading this but if they are, we didn’t eat any, honest.
We made two trips to Ellesmere Port and turned our office into one grotto.
We’re pretty sure that there aren’t many accountants who could say that. We’re particularly proud of the grotto part, which helped raise £1408.59 for charity Wirral Kids.
We ordered 1750 pens, 2500 letterheads and 3000 flyers.
The letterheads are kind of important, the flyers make sure as many contractors as possible have heard of us and people just seem to like our lovely shiny pens. Despite all that old-school promotional material, though, we are ecologically sound; any actual paperwork in our genuinely paperless office is instantly scanned and paper copies shredded before heading for the recycling centre.
We sent out 19,552 emails, completed 498 VAT returns and 211 annual confirmation statements.
That’s not bad going for four people, we hope you’ll agree. All in all, it’s been quite a year.
We’re hoping to do even better in 2017 – Pete has given away two dozen business cards this week alone – and although we’ve said it before, it bears repeating: we couldn’t have done any of it without our fantastic clients.
As ever, if you have any questions about anything at all, get in touch. Email Jo (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ben (email@example.com) or Pete (firstname.lastname@example.org).
IN the aftermath of Christmas, many of us are counting the cost of eating way too much chocolate, cheese, turkey and other indulgent delights.
So it’s either highly appropriate or just plain mean that we should be introducing you to a CEJ client for whom food isn’t just a pleasure but a way of life!
Gareth Kyle, the 2011 winner of BBC’s Masterchef Live and a world record holder – he broke the world record for a non-stop cookathon with a 41-hour outdoor stint in Gateshead in summer 2014 – is also a CEJ client, having worked in financial services since 2011.
We don’t have any gourmet chefs in the CEJ office but we feel confident that if we did, angling for a dinner invite wouldn’t ever be far from our minds. Unsurprisingly, Gareth says many of his contracting colleagues have had similar thoughts on finding out he’s a bit of a dab hand in the kitchen!
He reveals: “My colleagues are largely supportive and are forever asking me to cook for them!"
“I haven't yet as I usually travel for work which makes it hard as I don't have ingredients and equipment with me - I’m looking to get my own place close to the office soon so once I have my kitchen kitted out I will be able to indulge them!”
The good news for his banking colleagues is that that shouldn’t be too far away. Gareth’s story is as good an example of following your dreams as you’re likely to find and the killer combination of hard work and talent has meant success has never been too far away.
“I have been interested in cooking since I was five. I started as a keen amateur cook; my interest developed into an obsession and now I get to work on a variety of different cooking and food related project, including pop-up restaurants, cooking demonstrations at food festivals, event catering, private dining experiences as well as TV and radio work. Things are going really well – I'm currently working on a TV series for our local TV channel in the North East as well as planning some pop-up restaurant events for 2017.”
Gareth’s enthusiasm shines through even when he’s asked about the less glamorous of his twin roles. He adds: “The best thing about contracting is the flexibility and autonomy I have in terms of my location and working pattern. It hasn't necessarily led to any jobs but it has certainly led me to meeting numerous people who have been able to help or introduce me to other opportunities, such as suppliers, event spaces and prospective customers!"
“I really enjoy the way things are at the moment and have a great balance - you never know what's around the corner but I feel fortunate to be in a position that should I leave contracting, I am well placed to take on more work on the cooking side.”
Like many of our clients, Gareth’s a passionate advocate of the CEJ app (if you haven’t started using it yet, there’s all the information you need here) and says: “I enjoy being a CEJ client as everything is straightforward and designed with the client in mind – and I'm a big fan of using the app to update my bookeeping spreadsheet!”
As ever, if you have any questions just email Jo (email@example.com), Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter (email@example.com).
IT’S had lots of different names and times over the years but the Chancellor’s annual Statement That Isn’t The Budget is always something to keep a close eye on.
This year, as it has been since 2010, it was an Autumn Statement. New Chancellor Philip Hammond’s first and last, in fact, with the Budget itself being moved to autumn next year and the “other” statement coming in spring. We’d love to be able to report that Mr H abolished some of the contractor-related changes brought in by his predecessor George Osborne but unfortunately we can’t.
On the positive side, though, apart from going over the changes we’ve already covered affecting contractors working in the public sector for government bodies, he didn’t introduce anything major to affect mainstream contractors. There were a few minor alterations (you soon won’t be able to put down gym membership or school fees as salary sacrifice expenses) but he did drop a few hints that more big IR35 changes may be afoot next year.
There’s also, surprisingly, a possible new higher flat rate VAT percentage for some companies, but we won’t know who that will affect and how – or even if it will be introduced at all – until next year, so watch this space.
The bottom line is this: if you’re a CEJ client, don’t worry. We will keep you informed of any changes once they are actually confirmed and, more importantly, we will make sure that you are covered. We’ve got your back.
As ever, if you have any questions just email Jo (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter (email@example.com).
As long as you avoid the office photocopier after a few too many glasses of Egg Nog, work Christmas parties can be wonderful things. Especially when HMRC is being uncharacteristically generous and helping with the cost.Yes, you did read that right – HMRC will chip in to the cost of your festive night out.
As seasoned contractors almost certainly already know – but any newcomers may not – the normally Scrooge-like tax office provides a certain amount of tax relief for holding a company Christmas party (it doesn’t have to be a Christmas party, in fact, but more of that later).
The way it works is this. Providing certain conditions are met, you are entitled to provide an annual event for yourself, any staff you employ, and your partner, and reclaim the costs against the company, as long as the cost per head does not exceed £150.
That cost per head doesn’t have to be just for a meal or a few drinks – it could also include transport and accommodation too.
The conditions are fairly straightforward: Make sure you actually have an event (you can’t just make a £150 cash claim), make sure all company staff are invited (in most contractors’ case, that will just be you) and don’t exceed the £150 threshold, not even by a penny. HMRC rules are that to arrive at the cost per head you should “divide the total cost of each function by the total number of people (including non-employees) who attend”.
As we said earlier, if you don’t want a Christmas party but don’t want to miss out on some unexpected HMRC largesse, that’s fine too. You could have an event at a different time and still claim. You could even have a Christmas event and another one later in the year – as long as the total claim for all events doesn’t exceed the £150 per person threshold.
As ever, if you have any questions just email Jo (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ben (email@example.com) or Peter (firstname.lastname@example.org) and they’ll get back to you forthwith.
Now go out there and enjoy yourselves – and have a good Christmas!
Here at CEJ we love our music. The office is constantly filled with the sound of (mostly) guitar-fuelled modern rock, from Oasis to the Arctic Monkeys and calling at Kasabian and The Killers en route. Some of us (naming no names) still remember posing with a tennis racket in front of our bedroom mirrors and dreaming of the day we would earn our living by creating monster riffs in front of thousands. Although our dreams were destined to remain just that, it has recently come to our attention that one of our clients is currently living the dream for us all as a member of an internationally established rock group! Jealous, us?
Ben Curtis, when he’s not spending his time contracting for a bank, is bassist with The Moons, alongside Andy Crofts and Ben Gordelier – who also play in rock legend Paul Weller’s live band – and Chris Watson on guitar. The band are currently recording their fourth studio album - a successor to 2014’s Mindwaves – and are in the middle of a series of Christmas shows, having only just returned from a week of gigs in Italy.
Contracting isn’t the only thing Ben has done en route to becoming a full time musician. He admits: “I’ve always done any job which allowed me to do music. “I’ve been a roadie, pizza delivery driver, worked in HMV, done office jobs…when I delivered pizza I’d rehearse in the day then work at night then gig at the weekend. I’ve also had jobs where I work in the day then go and practice a few nights a week.”
So why work as a contractor?
“The best thing about contracting is the flexibility. “It means I can take time off when I need it for gigs or recording. It can be hard to balance at times but I make it work because it’s what I love to do. It also keeps life interesting as I’ve been lucky enough to do some great things.
“I’d hate to miss out on anything because I’d used up all my holidays for the year if I was in a permanent job.
“CEJ were recommended by a colleague and Bryan and Jo have always been really helpful with any queries I’ve had.”
Ben’s story shows one of the great sides to contracting. It means having far more control over when you work than you would as a “normal” employee, and being able to raise as much money as possible during certain times of the year to fund other activities – whether that’s touring or travelling around the world – during the rest of the time.
For more information about contracting and about how CEJ can help, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about The Moons, visit www.themoons.co.uk or like their Facebook page at facebook.com/themoonsofficial/ you can also listen to them on spotify by clicking here
THERE’S a perfect opportunity for anybody wanting an early heads up on whether they’ve been naughty or nice this year when Santa himself comes to Albert House on Thursday.
With December looming large, visiting the office CEJ shares with GRC Accountants is the best way to get into the Christmas spirit and raise some money for a worthy cause into the bargain.
Just like last year, when we used 120m of wadding, 30m of pipe, a handmade sleigh, four elves, three reindeer, two inflatables and one Father Christmas, we’ll be transforming the place into a fully fledged grotto.
Entrance is just £3 entry for adults (children go free) and all the money raised will go to Wirral Kids, a local charity which supports local children in crisis in need and those who suffer from neglect.
Last year, with more than 130 children meeting the big man from the North, we managed to raise £1,139.07 for the Meningitis Research Foundation and we’re hoping to do even better this year.
There’ll be a free gift for every child and our doors are open between 3.30pm and 8.30pm. Don’t miss it!
IR35. The government’s way (in our humble opinion) of trying to stop contractors earning as much money as they should. Contracting can pay well but this reflects the risk, lack of holiday pay, low job security, lack of employment rights and everything else that you take on the chin.
It would be great if this blog was all about how IR35 has been stripped of much of its power and that you don’t need to worry about it anymore. Unfortunately it’s not. Just the opposite, in fact.
From April 2017 (just six months away), the government is almost certainly unleashing new legislation which means that if you’re a contractor in the public sector, it’s no longer just your responsibility to declare your IR35 status – it’s the recruitment agency or other third party nearest to your limited company in the food chain.
The end-clients you work with are likely to be more nervous about being caught by HMRC than your take-home pay, which ultimately means more people are likely to be declared as being “inside IR35” (caught by the new legislation) than before.
Clearly, being inside IR35 means a lower income than outside, but before you make the decision to declare yourself outside, don’t forget that if you are investigated by HMRC, the penalties, PAYE and NI bills can mount up quite quickly.
As ever, the advice is the same: if you are a CEJ client, you’re in the hands of experts. If you feel you might be affected by the new legislation we are here to help. Email Jo (email@example.com) or Peter (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll take it from there.
Completing a self-assessment tax return, we can all agree, is one of the least agreeable aspects of becoming a contractor.
Of course, if you’re a CEJ client then worrying about tax returns is something other people do. If you’re on our books and HMRC have written to you requesting one, you just need to let us know about it as soon as possible. That way you’ll be on our radar and can rest easy knowing we’ve got it in hand.
If you haven’t received a letter from HMRC and we haven’t been in touch, worry not – you may not have to complete the dreaded tax return at all. It is a common misconception that all directors have to complete one by 31st January each year.
Here’s the test. If you answer yes to any of these questions, then HMRC will be expecting a tax return from you. If you answer NO to all of them, then you can rest easy in the knowledge that they won’t. Ready?
Have HMRC specifically requested one from me?
Do I still need to pay off my student loan?
Do I have another income, aside from my Limited Company, that isn’t taxed at source? (These could include rent from a property, owning another self-employed business, having an investment in another business, having a second job)
Do I take more than £3,200 per month from my Limited Company?
So if you have received a recent letter from HMRC, don’t forget to send it to us, preferably using the “send a document" function on our app, so that we’re aware of it too. And don’t forget that although the completed tax return has to be with HMRC by 31st January 2017, it covers the income from the financial year which ended on 5th April 2016. That also means that all the changes brought in earlier this year won’t have any effect until the tax return which goes in on 31st January 2018.
We hope that’s cleared some things up, but if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Jo (email@example.com) or Peter (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’re here to help.
Chances are, if you’re reading this you’re a) already a contractor and b) the director of your own limited company. In which case, good work fella/madam! CEJ is proud of you. Feel free to get back to whatever you were doing before you started reading this post.
If you’ve not taken the plunge, though, or you would like to be reminded of the advantages of going limited (as we call it), we thought it might be time to do a quick recap.
Why should I go limited?
Going limited saves you money. If you’re a contractor, then your options are pretty much black and white. You either work for an umbrella company, who will take your annual gross salary, sort out your income tax and national insurance contributions for you and then give you a net income. It’s almost like working as a standard contracted employee and you don’t have to worry about filling in tax returns and the like.
The other option is going limited, in which case the gross salary is all yours but so is the paperwork. It might seem like the best option for an easy life is to work for an umbrella company. But that’s not the case. We’ll say it again: forming your own limited company saves you money.
Even with the dividend tax, which came into effect in April, you can earn significantly more by going limited AND not have to worry about all the ghastly paperwork. If you sign up with CEJ, we will take all the hassle out of going limited and, even when our fees are taken into consideration, you will be left with a lot more than you would be by working for an umbrella company.
Let’s look at the numbers:
If your gross (pre-tax) salary per year is £43,000, then by working for an umbrella company your take-home pay will work out at £32,307.
If you set yourself up as a limited company, then even with CEJ’s fees taken into consideration, that take-home pay goes up by £1,460 – enough to pay for a 10-day all inclusive holiday to Barbados (we’ve checked).
On top of that there are additional potential gains of £2,408 to be had from being VAT registered, leaving you with a potential annual income of £36,175 – £3,868 more than you would be earning in an umbrella company.
What are you waiting for? Go limited today – and don’t forget to stock up on suntan lotion before that holiday to Barbados…
It’s the middle of October (we know, how did that happen? Wasn’t it the middle of summer about a week ago?) That can mean only one thing: it’s time to plan the CEJ Christmas Party.
Last year’s effort was a particularly memorable one, taking in cocktail making, getting very cold in an ice bar, singing karaoke in a ski hut, eating pukka tucker at Jamie Oliver’s and even indulging in some light gambling.
This year, with our numbers swollen by the addition of New Boy Pete – which is how he will be known until another new arrival rocks up at Albert House – we are looking for suggestions for our annual festive bash.
Despite being based in West Kirby, the beating heart of Wirral’s social quarter, we’re happy to branch out into Liverpool, Chester or even other parts of the peninsula itself.
Where are the best places to eat? Best bars to visit? Best venues for after-hours dancing? (There will be ladies present, remember, so keep it clean!)
Let us know and we’ll keep you updated with our final selections. Cheers!
While we’re on the subject of Christmas parties, don’t forget that you can take up to £150 per employee and director from your Limited Company to pay for an annual event like a Christmas party with no tax implication – effectively meaning you and your partner can go out and spend £300 on a slap-up meal and claim it as a company expense, which will mean you will only pay 80% of the overall cost. Result!
If you’re a contractor then you may have received a letter or email from Companies House recently. Informing you that your Annual Returns are now your Annual Confirmation Statement, it’s quite a sternly and potentially scary missive.
Apart from the name change, then there’s only one notable difference between the two, with a new section on Persons of Significant Control.
As ever, if you’re a CEJ client then you have precisely nothing to worry about.
If you have received a letter through the post, then send it to us using the “Send a Document” function on the CEJ app (available for iOS and Android) and we’ll do the rest.
If you haven’t received a letter – and most of you won’t have – then we’ve got you covered too and you don’t need to give it another moment’s thought.
It really is as easy as that.