Working Abroad: Is It For You?

There has been a significant rise in the number of self-employed or remote workers that are choosing to pack their bags and work abroad. What might be startling for some, is that more employers than ever are accepting or even actively encouraging this new style of working. This means that there is a significant part of the workforce that can be more flexible with their schedule , living and working from the comfort of their own home. For many remote workers, this gives them the opportunity to spend more time at home with their family, reduce the time spent commuting to work, or indeed,  travel while they work.

If you have considered taking a more nomadic approach to your work life, then you should understand what this might mean for you. Of course, there will be many personal factors to consider before you make the decision to pack your laptop into a carry-on and board a plane, but  there are also significant arguments that should be considered before you make this move. 

Packing up and jetting off to an exotic location for an unspecified amount of time sounds like the stuff of fantasy for most of us, but in reality there are many feasible ways to achieve this and reap the rewards of working remotely. Nonetheless, as well as being incredibly organised and self-motivated, you will also need to have realistic expectations and a pragmatic approach to the new environment you find yourself in. Below we have listed several of the main benefits of working abroad, as well as some of the things you will need to consider and watch out for.

 

Benefits of Working Abroad:

 

 

You can explore wonderful destinations

The thrill of  exploring new places is one of the biggest reasons people choose to travel while working remotely. You can decide to work from wherever you like (taking into consideration the time zones), and with the world more connected than ever before, moving around and staying in touch with people is so much easier than even ten years ago. Working abroad or even in a different city gives you the opportunity to get a feel for a place which you wouldn’t be able to do if it was a holiday. 

 

Saving on your travels

Working when you are travelling means that you can have some of the benefits of a holiday or sabbatical, but you don’t have to feel the same economic pressure.. Unlike many travellers who use their savings to get around the globe, you will not have to worry about a diminishing bank balance as you can pay your way through various cities or countries. Indeed, you may even find you save money, particularly if you spend time in countries with a lower cost of life. The money you spend on commuting, lunch, coffee etc, is likely to be much less if you are living in, say,  South East Asia, for example. Another bonus, and money saving hack, is choosing to wear whatever you are most comfortable in, or dressing appropriately when conferencing.

 

Better balance between work life and personal life

This is true if you can switch off from your work. Giving yourself a plan that you stick to will help you to structure your work/life balance. The good thing about working while you travel is that, if you stick to a good working routine, you will be able to spend more time doing the things you like and visiting the places you want to go to. Getting to decide where you will work from is a huge plus, and means you can work around your own interests and hobbies.

 

You will learn so much as you travel

Immersing yourself in another culture is a hugely enriching experience which will provide you with an understanding of humans and sociability that no other experience could give to you. You will meet people from all kinds of backgrounds who will be able to impart some of their world-views to you, and you will hopefully be able to do the same for them. Learning about other people is one benefit of travelling, and you will also find yourself becoming more resourceful and capable of dealing with stressful situations, probably from sheer necessity! Becoming independent and able to communicate with people from a wide range of backgrounds will be skills that you will be able to carry with you throughout your life.

 

You may fall in love with a place you visit 

Where we are born is not always where we will end up living, and the more you expose yourself to other places the more you can find the perfect place to live. When you travel, you get to see so many cultures and ways of life that can help you shape the way you want to live your life and the place or places you want to do so. Many people who travel experience a better sense of satisfaction and sense of control of their life. You may choose to remain in a new environment as a result of travelling, which you may not have even considered before embarking on this adventure.

 

 

 

Things to Consider:

 

You will have to be very independent

Not everyone is comfortable being on the move and adapting to life in a new city. You will have to find a routine that works for you regardless of where you are in the world and which. If you are someone who gets homesick or needs to be surrounded by familiar faces, be that at home or even by your colleagues in an office environment then remote working and travelling may not be for you. You will have to adapt to a different culture and may well experience a language barrier, as you acclimatize to your new environment. Getting used to change is something that you will no doubt have to deal with, and you will either sink or swim very quickly.

 

Prepare for the worst 

Having poor wifi or a stolen laptop will make working that day very difficult indeed! Get good insurance and an understanding employer! If you work for yourself, you will probably have more flexibility, but there may be other people relying on you or deadlines that you have given yourself. Additionally, making sure you are aware of your tax requirements and deadlines, and are keeping on top of this with the help of an accountant at home, will make things so much easier for you. Even if you are an incredibly organised and resourceful individual, you are likely to find yourself in a situation that puts a stop to your work. If your work requires you to meet deadlines or be online at certain times during the day, then you may have to consider only travelling to places that have reliable internet access and carry a smaller electronic device such as an I-Pad.

 

Adjusting may be hard

When you don’t have to go in and out of an office setting it can be difficult to set yourself clear boundaries when it comes to your working hours and your hours. If you are a workaholic, it can be all too easy for you to work long or unsociable hours when your desk is wherever you want it to be. This may mean that you will not enjoy your travels as much as if you had a better routine with clear cut working hours or if you simply took a holiday from work where you could better engage with the travelling experience. Only you know what works for you.

 

Accommodation drama

When travelling from place to place, you will have to go through the process of finding a new home each time or staying in a hostel or a hotel. This can often be quite stressful and may make it difficult for you to properly settle or feel comfortable in this new environment, which in turn may impact your work. Renting a property is an excellent way to avoid the repetitiveness of hotel rooms, particularly if you are staying in a city or country for a longer period. Fortunately, It is easier than ever to find accommodation wherever you are in the world, using property rental websites.

 

Keeping yourself safe

There are a lot of potential dangers to watch out for when you are travelling, particularly when you are taking electronic devices with sensitive information on them. You need to consider if your job is suitable for work on the road and if you or your employer can risk having things lost or stolen. Certain countries are more dangerous than others, and if you are a solo traveller, you need to be aware of potential risks and take suitable preventive measures to keep yourself safe. Always let someone know where you will be travelling to, and providing them with an address of the accommodation your will be staying in for your personal safety, and ensure that your laptop or electronic device you carry with you is password protected and cannot easily be  hacked or stolen.


Why Bristol Is The Perfect Place To Set Up A Business

Apart from being one of the UK’s top cities of culture, Bristol is also a thriving hub for startups and burgeoning businesses.  As a university city, with a strong music and art scene that sees it stand alongside other creative cities such as Brighton, or even London, Bristol also leads the way in terms of technological innovation which makes it particularly appealing to young entrepreneurs.

In 2016 Bristol topped the list of the top ten cities for entrepreneurs following a study by University College London’s School of Management which has as a criteria the broadband speed, cost of central office space, along with the number and value of start-up loans made available. 

There are many examples of businesses that have flourished in Bristol, with some of the city’s best known start-ups including Wallace and Gromit, Ribena, and Dyson.

But what is it about Bristol that makes it so appealing to entrepreneurs?

If you are starting a new business in Bristol you have access to a wide range of new business support services including The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills website, Outset Bristol - a free programme that helps you set up and grow your business, and  BRAVE Enterprise - an independent not-for-profit company that offers training and consultancy services.

Getting access to the help and support you need is key to setting up your business and ensuring that once it gets set up, it stays up. Having decent access to grants and funding will certainly help with a new business, but even more important to the longevity of a business is having the right support and systems in place to grow and stay relevant. Having an accountant to assist with your bookkeeping and help you save tax is one way you can stay afloat. Along with the support that Bristol offers to new start-ups, Bristol also happens to be a leading tech hub.

Bristol’s economic landscape has moved on and kept relevant and up-to-date, in part, because of its expansion and innovation in technology, but also because of the diverse talent pool it houses. With a strong tech community and social scene, Bristol attracts young innovators and businesses that positively impact each other. With two universities in Bristol, and two nearby in bath, there is a rich diversity in Bristol that drives it forward.

With the UK as the leading European tech hub, Bristol’s influence in technology is significant, and growing. Bristol Temple Quarter, also known as The Enterprise Zone, is a hub for many Bristol startups, housing many tech, digital, and professional services sectors and has a close proximity to Temple Meads train station. And with London less than two hours away, it is a realistic prospect for commuters.

While creative media, tech and aerospace are some of the cities thriving industries, the potential number and range of startups is almost limitless. With an ambitious and qualified workforce that knows how to network, innovate and grow, Bristol will continue to nurture start-ups and see many of them through to success.

 


The Tax Deadlines You Need To Be Aware Of

The Tax Deadlines You Need To Be Aware Of

 

REPORTING DEADLINES:

Sole Trader 31/01 following end of trading year 5th April
Limited Company Statutory Accounts: 9 months after the end of the first trading year.

CT600 (Corporation Tax Return): Filing 1year after first trading year. Payment due 9 months after the end of the first trading year.

Confirmation Statement: Due on the anniversary of incorporation. Annually. 

VAT 1 month and 7 days after the end of the VAT quarter.
PAYE 22nd of the following month.

One of the biggest decisions you will have made when setting up your company is determining the correct business structure. Depending on your business structure, you will need to be aware of a differing range of tax deadlines you need to meet throughout the year. 

For all accountants in Bristol and across the UK, these dates a hugely important.

Below we have put together the most important deadlines for sole traders, limited companies and VAT/PAYE registered entities. 

Sole Trader

Operating as a sole trader, or registering as self-employed,  when you first set up your business is inexpensive, avoids a lot of red tape and is quick to set up. Once you have registered however, it is important to know that as a sole trader, you and your business will be taxed as one single entity.  As a sole trader your profits are taxed the same way as any other income by HMRC, which also means that any debt is accountable to you personally.

The tax payable as a sole trader is based on accounts made up to the 5th April and is due on the 31st January. The importance of getting your reporting in before the deadline cannot be overemphasized, as the penalties faced for missing this deadline can be severe.

Time after 31 January deadline Penalty

 

1 day £100 penalty
3 months £10 daily penalty for up to 90 days (maximum £900)
6 months 5% of tax due or £300 (whichever is greater)
12 months and later 5% of tax due or £300 (whichever is greater)

Source: Crunch

The maximum penalty you may face can reach up to £1,600 per year.

VAT Registered

If your business entity is turning over more than £85,000 annually you will need to register for VAT. If, for whatever reason, you have exceeded the £85,000 and have not registered for VAT, HMRC may back charge you for the amount over £85,000. 

The VAT return is a quarterly tax return that, while crucial, is often time consuming, complicated and can cost the company dearly if submitted late. When you register, you’ll be sent a VAT registration certificate. As well as confirming your VAT number, this will also let you know you when you need to submit your first VAT return and payment along with your effective date of registration. The deadline for online filing will normally be one month and seven days after the end of your VAT accounting period.

You will need to make a VAT return every quarter depending on when you first registered. So, for example, if you registered on the 1st January the first return will be made up to the 31st March and will need to be submitted and paid by the 7th May (exactly one month and seven days after regardless of when you have registered).

There will be subsequent VAT returns up to the 30th June, 30th September, and the 31st December.

Most VAT registered businesses will also need to follow the rules for ‘Making Tax Digital’.

In order to make this as time efficient and painless a process as possible, we recommend getting a good accountant to keep you on top of your books and help you to stay on top of your financial obligations.

 

PAYE

If you register as an employer, you will need to make PAYE and national insurance contributions. This return can be done monthly, or quarterly if you pay less than £1,500 per month and must be submitted and paid by the 22nd of the next tax month.

Late monthly and quarterly payments will result in daily interest that will continue to build up on all unpaid accounts from the due date to the date of payment.

Limited Company

Choosing to run your business as a Limited Company has many advantages to it, particularly In terms of its tax efficiency and limited liability, ensuring the security of your personal assets should your business go through hard times.

One of the key components of registering as a limited company is that your business is classed as a separate entity to you. Corporation tax needs to be paid on profits.

As the director of a Limited Company, you will have certain legal responsibilities including taking care of various forms and returns. Filing your confirmation statement (annual return) is a way for Companies House to confirm your company’s data and is not to be confused with your annual accounts. You must file a confirmation statement at least once per year and it can be done either online or by post.

Additionally, your limited company will need to file annual accounts with a deadline of 9 months after your company’s financial year ends.

The Corporation Tax Return (CT600) is a return filed with HMRC once a year, that includes details about your company’s income and is due 12 months after your first year end. This, paradoxically, needs to be paid 9 months before the years end.

Again, as with other business structures, the penalties for late returns or missed deadlines can be significant. Here at Lite Tax, we always err on the side of caution, and whether its helping you with your VAT returns, managing your payroll, or completing your bookkeeping, we aim to provide the best service for you and the financial health of your business.


Accountant

What is Making Tax Digital and What Does It Mean For My Business?

What is Making Tax Digital and What Does It Mean For My Business?

 

The way small business owners deal with their taxes is going to change, and here at LiteTax we’re here to tell you that this doesn’t have to be a difficult or time-consuming process. With the right information and hands-on help, the transition to the digital future of tax can be handled smoothly and efficiently, reducing the amount of time, effort and stress it can currently take to handle your tax accounts.

With that in mind, here are five important facts about Making Tax Digital that your business needs to know about.

1- What is Making Tax Digital?

Making Tax Digital is a government initiative that affects all businesses and some individuals. Essentially, it’s exactly what is says on the tin. If you are VAT registered you will now need to record this online. It is important to know that this is now compulsory, and as of the 1st of April 2019, you, or your accountant, will have to comply with this new regulation and supply this information to HMRC electronically.

2 – Why is HMRC introducing it?

There are several key reasons HMRC have implemented Making Tax Digital, but the most important factor behind the initiative is that it will simply make tracking the tax you owe, or are owed back, a great deal more efficient. In a similar way to online banking, taxpayers will be able to keep track of their taxes in a secure, easy to understand way.

3 – Can Making Tax Digital benefit my business?

Absolutely. While moving to a new online system can seem quite daunting, or simply bothersome, there are some major benefits to filing your taxes electronically.  First and foremost, you will be bypassing a lot of the stress and effort associated with physical bookkeeping, and with paper-based book-keeping a thing of the past, human error will also be left behind, resulting in a highly accurate and time-efficient system for your business. Reducing the paper usage of your business is also an added bonus for the environment!

4 – Is there a specific time-frame for my business?

HMRC’s vision to digitalise the UK tax system was initially designed to be staggered over a period of two years. When Making Tax Digital was first designed, the proposed timelines were as follows:

April 2018 – Income Tax and NICs reporting for unincorporated businesses and landlords with turnover above the VAT threshold

April 2019 –  Income Tax and NICs reporting for unincorporated businesses and landlords with turnover below the VAT threshold. VAT Reporting for all businesses registered for VAT

Apri 2020 –  Corporation Tax submissions for all relevant businesses.

This proposed timeline is still being rolled out, and is likely to go into 2021. So do please be aware that the above dates could change – and it is important to keep up to date with the latest news about Making Tax Digital, please click here to follow our facebook page.

5 – Who can help me make the move to digital?

While we have outlined the benefits of Making Tax Digital, we appreciate that moving into the digital era can be challenging for some people, particularly if you are unsure of the software or tools you may need to get this done. HMRC will not be offering software to help small businesses report quarterly, so in order to help manage your accounting it is a good idea to get some help and advice from a qualified accountancy practice to help you through these changes and move your business into the digital age.


Making Things Easier for You – Digital Accounting

Making Things Easier for You – Digital Accounting

Think of the scenario, your statutory accounts are due in two weeks. Your accountant has been bugging you for the last 6 months to give you invoices and bank statements, half of which the dog has eaten, and you are suffering with the flu as it is January.

The bugbear of all of our business lives is storing information and being able to retrieve it when needed. 

What if your accountant had the information before you even realised, he had it and was able to keep you posted on exactly what your financial position was?  Welcome to digital accounting.

 

Information is automatically downloaded from your bank account to your accounting software.

Invoicing can be done anywhere, using your mobile phone whilst at the same time those receipts are captured automatically using the same phone. Point and snap.

Collecting the information that easily allows your accountant to produce real time accounts after the payroll has been completed. 

Our packages for simple Limited companies start from a little over £120 per month plus VAT (including simple versions of the software). If you are interested in finding out how this works phone Lite Tax on 01275 217370 or e-mail us on info@litetax.co.uk.


Are we leaving the EU?

Are we leaving the EU?

What can your firm do before 29 March 2019?

As the clock continues to tick down to the 29 March 2019, when the UK is scheduled to officially leave the EU at 11pm, there is still much uncertainty around what Brexit will mean for UK business.

What is certain is that it will bring change for businesses of every size and sector, but planning for it seems almost impossible.

For businesses that buy and sell to the EU it is important to have contingency plans in place which are flexible enough to cope with a variety of outcomes.

Preparing for the worst will give your business the best chance of moving through the transition regardless of the outcome of negotiations.

The Government has previously said it is unlikely that no deal will be reached over the UK’s future relationship with the EU, and with the stakes high for both sides it is in everyone’s interests that some form of agreement is reached soon.

Almost half (43%) of the UK’s exports are to the EU and generate £235 billion in export revenue. With the EU being the UK’s largest trading partner, it paints a clear picture that the EU will continue to play a key role for UK businesses in the future.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) believes that all firms, not just those directly and immediately affected, should be undertaking a Brexit ‘health check’ along with a broader review of existing business plans.

A recent BCC survey suggests that a significant number of businesses are either watching and waiting or taking no action at all to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Despite the uncertainty ahead, and the short timeframe, there are still a number of steps that businesses of all sizes can take to ensure they are as ready as they can be.

Though the volume of guidance issued by the Government and various business bodies seems daunting, time invested now in thinking through the changes that Brexit could bring to your business could really pay dividends in the future.

Much will depend on the type of business and industry involved, with some industries facing very complex issues. But for all businesses there are some common areas which can be addressed.

Changing trade rules

If the UK should leave the EU without a deal, the two-year transition period will be lost and the expectation is that trade will immediately revert to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

Currently, goods moving between the EU and UK do not need to be checked at borders and have no tariffs imposed. Under WTO rules goods would be subject to customs checks and tariffs, increasing costs for businesses and leading to slower processing times on the borders.

The additional red tape is expected to cost UK firms up to £27bn although the actual impact of these tariffs will vary between industries, with British farmers expected to be the worst hit with charges estimated to be as high as up to 40%.

The Government has said these custom checks would be relaxed for businesses importing goods to UK in the event of a no-deal, but this does not guarantee the same for those exporting to the EU.

The new guidance from HMRC claims importers will file a simplified online form up to two hours before a lorry is due to cross the English Channel by ferry, or one hour if arriving by Eurostar.

Importers will have to update the online entry within 24 hours to notify HMRC of the goods’ arrival, with the duty payable up to a month later.

You can help mitigate the impact this could cause by reviewing your current pricing structure and ensuring your operations are as cost effective as possible to help your business absorb at least some of the potential increased costs. We can help you with this process.

Manage your supply chain

The short-term impact of a no-deal Brexit is likely to be chaotic, but planning for logistical difficulties ahead of time will help your business to be as prepared as possible.

With longer delays at borders predicted and reduced capacity through UK ports, businesses which rely on EU imports – particularly those that operate on a just-in-time stock system – will need to plan ahead to minimise the disruption to their supply chain.

Sourcing an alternative supplier within the UK could help eliminate this issue, but this may not be an option for your business.

Instead you might need to look at alternative planning arrangements which might include building up stock lines that you know will be in demand and are imported from the EU.

Three in five UK businesses with suppliers in the EU are already reporting that currency fluctuations have increased their costs.

Protecting against currency volatility will help safeguard your business against the impact of Brexit.

Sourcing within the UK will help protect your profitability as payments and invoices would be paid in one currency, reducing the risk of uncertainty.

If sourcing within the UK is not an option, strengthening your relationships with existing suppliers could help you negotiate better trading terms in the future.

Paying your suppliers in their local currency could also reduce the uncertainty around currency volatility, while forward exchange contracts allow you to lock in favourable exchange rates for a future date.

We can help you develop a currency strategy to help you plan international payments in advance, and budget accordingly.

Although the EU will remain an important trading partner for the UK, taking some time to focus on your marketing strategy both in your home market and in markets outside the EU could help boost sales and reduce the impact of any potential short-term effect a no-deal Brexit could have on sales.

The UK is home to the third largest e-commerce market in the world and online giants, such as Amazon and Alibaba, are an easy way to reach new international customers.

The Office for National Statistics published its annual report into e-commerce and ICT use among UK firms just before Christmas 2018.

It revealed that in 2017 a startling 54% of businesses in the UK had no website, and even among those with 10 or more employees the number remained as high as 18%.

Getting online is something any business could and should immediately take advantage of.

There is also a growing appetite for ‘Brand Britain’ in markets such as China, US, Australia and Canada, which means there is a great deal of opportunity for UK businesses to trade on their ‘Britishness’ overseas for those that can develop a marketing strategy to take advantage of this.

Whatever the final outcome will be on whether a deal can be reached prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, be reassured that you do not have to navigate Brexit alone.

Contact us for business support and advice.