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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Seasons Greetings from Bettertax

At this time of year it's traditional to extend our thanks and good wishes to all of you who were already clients, who have become new clients and will hopefully continue to have us help you with your tax refunds for future years.

We not only thrive on obtaining the very maximum tax rebate possible for tradesmen, CIS or PAYE, but we also provide the very best customer experience and service in our industry that we can.

We've gone to great lengths to make ourselves as accessable to you by having an easy to navigate website, welcoming our client and new client friends to interact with us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, enjoying community life on trades forums,  and now writing, what we hope, are useful and understandable blogs!

Thanks to you all for a great year, we hope yours has been good too and our very best wishes to you all for a successful 2012!

Bettertax - Tradesman's Tax Refund Specialists

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Friday, 16 December 2011

How Long Does A CIS Tax Refund Take

 We thought it may be helpful to set out a typical timeframe for processing a tradesman's CIS Tax Refund. Although we also complete the tax return process for PAYE tradesmen, this article is typical for CIS tradesmen.

As soon as we are contacted, either by phone or our "Request a Callback" facility, we organise a pack to be sent out. The pack contains everything needed to get the tax rebate process started.

In the majority of cases in order to proceed a UTR number will be required. The returned application form is forwarded to HMRC as soon as we receive it. It can take between 4 - 8 weeks for HMRC to issue the UTR number.

Being CIS, the claimant should have details of their earnings and this information undoubtedly speeds up the process. As soon as we receive the UTR number and the client knows earnings details, we can arrange an appointment to take relevant expense details.

It takes Bettertax 24 - 48 hours to collate the information, complete the tax return and make the submission to HMRC.

From the time the tax return is submitted to the tax refund being put into our bank by HMRC can take 8 - 12 weeks. During this time HMRC sometimes write to the claimant to say how much the tax refund is going to be. However, it's worth pointing out at this stage that the money can sometimes take another 4 weeks to come through to us.

Bettertax never hold tax refund money - as soon as the tax refund hits our bank, we send it on to you!

These timings are an indication of what a new client can expect. If the claim is for more than one year, the tax refund may take a little longer to come through, and we can claim back tax for 4 years.

As an existing client, the tax rebate process takes considerably less time, already having a UTR number and being registered with us.

We hope this blog explains the procedure and also highlights that delays are never on Bettertax's side!

Bettertax - Tradesman's Tax Refund Specialist

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Offshore Rig Workers and Sea-farers Tax – dispelling the myths

We recently were made aware of a warning pamphlet/ poster produced by the O.I.L.C,  the Offshore Energy Branch of the RMT.

The “URGENT  -  ATTENTION ALL OFFSHORE WORKERS” poster can be found here.

We fully agree with everything stated by the O.I.L.C.  We've read it and it is specifically in relation to sea-farers tax.

This is in no way related to what Bettertax do, and does not describe our work, less than 1% of all clients that come to us for tax advice actually qualify for it and we have never claimed it on behalf of a client only to see it clawed back by HMRC.

Anyone who comes to Bettertax is made very aware that we're very clear about the rules regarding this tax relief. For those in any doubt, here are the rules for claiming sea-farers tax & If you don’t tick ALL of these boxes, you
DO NOT qualify.

1. You must be located a minimum of 12 miles from the British coastline (i.e. on the Continental shelf)

2. You must be directly involved with a) the exploration or the transportation of a mineral or oil (basically, working directly with the drill head).

3. You must be offshore for a minimum of 183 days ‘consecutively’ (Unite are currently disputing this in European Court but as yet NO decision has been made).

Unfortunately, O.I.L.C do not name the tax adviser they are warning their members about and whilst we agree with it we do feel their final warning paragraphs are a little ambiguous if the whole article has not been read thoroughly, and much confusion aboard the rigs has ensued.


To put things in perspective, over 45% of Bettertax’s clients are offshore workers who work for Salamis, Palmers, Cape Industrial, RBG and Pyeroy to name but a few. The range of trades includes Scaffolders, Blasters, Roustabouts etc, and what we do is absolutely nothing to do with Seafarer Tax – these guys all incur expenses ranging from offshore survival course’s, medicals, MIST courses,  travelling to and from Aberdeen, Tools,Protective equipment – what we do is help them claim relevant expenses on these purchases.  

To be clear, If you are working for any of those firms or others similar, and NOT claiming sea-farers tax, you ARE indeed legally entitled to claim back expenses on the purchases you have made for work.

Bettertax - Tradesman's Tax Refund Specialists

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Christmas is coming and so is the tax return deadline!

Following on from our blog dated 1st November, we thought it might be a good idea to just remind all those who have not yet completed their online self assessment tax return, that the final deadline is 31st January 2012.

Now that may seem ages away, but let's not forget a few other important dates in between!

 We have the Bettertax christmas "do", next week actually!

Our MD will be celebrating another year on this planet!

Oh then of course, there's Christmas and New Year - who does anything worklike then and certainly not during the preceding weeks?!

So, back to it 3rd January. That first week back always takes awhile to get going, doesn't it.

Before you know it, it's almost 31st and you haven't got all your receipts, invoices, paperwork together, let alone applied to HMRC to do an online tax return!!

We can take care of all those self assessment tax returns for you - get in touch today!! 01280 821020

Bettertax - Tradesman's Tax Refund Specialist

Friday, 11 November 2011

CIS (Construction Industry Scheme) or PAYE Tradesmen [infographic]

Sometimes a tradesman's employment status can be confusing. Many PAYE tradesmen are not aware that they could well be entitled to claim tax back, usually against travel costs incurred to do the job.

We created this simple diagram that hopefully explains a little more about what we can do.

We'll happily give free tax advice if you're not sure about whether you'd be due a tax refund.

Bettertax - Tradesman's Tax Refund Specialist 01280 821020

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Self Assessment Penalties at highest rate ever

If you file Self Assessment tax returns (or your tax agent does it for you), you should be aware that the deadlines are 31st October for paper returns or 31st January for online. At Bettertax, we file all returns online and on time, unless we are claiming tax back from previous years.

However, worrying stats are emerging from HMRC that 1.5m individuals were subject to late filing charges following the 31st January 2011 deadline. 

With 1.5m people having to pay the starting penalty of £100, that’s £150m in the government coffers! Scarily, the penalty system is being changed.  Daily fines after the return is outstanding for 3 months , fines for inaccuracies, carelessness, concealment and other matters, which could mean individuals having to pay anything up to £1500 + the tax due. Conversely, HMRC are able to make all these mistakes and seem answerable to no one.

The following are extracts from Accounting Web

Self Assessment
  • Introduction of £100 late filing penalty for those who file a paper SA return late (more details here)
  • Daily penalties of £10 per day for returns that are more than three months late, running for a maximum of 90 days
  • Penalties of 5% of tax due for the return period (or £300 if greater) for prolonged failures (over 6 months and again at 12 months)
  • Elimination of the cap based on tax due; so even if the outstanding amount has been settled by 31 January 2012, a late filing penalty will still apply
  • End of the Steeden v Carver interpretation that allowed returns to be filed without a penalty on 1 February
  • Offshore penalties apply to all tax regimes from 6 April 2011
  • Insufficiency of funds and reliance on a third party will no longer be accepted as a reasonable excuse (Finance Act 2011, Sch 24, part 4)
  • Higher “culpable” penalties: 70% of the tax due where a person fails to submit a return for over 12 months and has deliberately withheld information necessary for HMRC to assess the tax due; 100% penalty if deliberate with concealment (introduced April 2010 and applicable to all tax types - see HMRC elearning pages).
Construction Industry Scheme
The CIS penalty regime is already in force and retains many similar features to Self Assessment and PAYE penalties. But since it was a monthly regime, it started at £100 for the first late month, and then racheted up by £100 each month. In some instances where firms had neglected to register in the first place, they were being hit with notices for £20,000 and more. The highest reported at RebeccaBennyworth’s lectures so far was £80,000 for a firm that had built up over 12 months for a contractor that had failed to register. Thankfully, CIS penalties arising as a result of late registration have been capped at £3,000 from 1 October 2011.

Being registered HMRC tax agents, Bettertax are authorised to file clients’ tax returns online and we ensure that it’s done on time. Too often, tax payers who don’t enlist an agent’s help, find the tax system so overwhelming to deal with, they take on ostrich tendencies hoping the whole thing will disappear. However, HMRC don’t go away and if a self assessment return is ignored, you will be pursued until it is dealt with. 

We're happy to give free tax advice and also offer a "Guaranteed Refund or NO fee", so you have nothing to lose in contacting us for help on your tax situation.

Monday, 31 October 2011

31st October - Not Just Hallow'een but HMRC Tax Return deadline day!

Samhain, Halloween, All Hallows Eve - what ever you want to call it, it's a time to be scared if you haven't filed your paper tax return!

The tax return has to be on HMRC's desk by today and due to new penalties for this year, there will be a £100 fine for those filing late, even if there is no tax due to be paid or the tax you do owe is paid on time. The longer you delay, the more you’ll have to pay, as there are further late-filing penalties after three, six and twelve months.

The following is an extract from HMRC's website:

What happens if you miss the tax return deadline?

If you miss the deadline for sending in your paper tax return, you should send it online instead. If you don't, you will have to pay a penalty. You must send your return online by midnight on 31 January 2012.
If you do still send a paper tax return and it reaches HMRC after the 31 October deadline, you'll have to pay a penalty. The penalty is £100. You'll still have to pay this even if:

• your return is just a day late
• you have no tax to pay
• you pay all the tax you owe before 31 January 2012 

The longer you delay, the more you'll have to pay. If your tax return is three months late, you'll have to pay a penalty for each additional day it is late. If it is six months late, you'll have to pay a further penalty and another final penalty if it is 12 months late. Together these could add up to a penalty of £1,600 or more.
So make sure you get your tax return in on time. Remember, if you've missed the paper tax return deadline, don’t send a paper tax return, send it online. If you don't, you will have to pay a penalty.

Bettertax are registered HMRC tax agents and file our clients' tax returns online, and on time! Many of our clients had been too worried or not aware that tax returns should have been completed and had therefore not been claiming the tax refunds due to them.

It's a daunting prospect dealing with HMRC when you are in a tax mess but we can look at past years tax claims for you and liaise with HMRC on your behalf to get you up to date.

If you are at all worried about your tax situation, if you know you are behind with your tax returns or you just need some advice, we're happy to help.

Bettertax - Tradesman's Tax Refund Specialists

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Self Assessment is NOT Self Employment

If you're one of our clients, you will have been set up for self assessment.

You will receive a letter from HMRC stating this.

DON'T PANIC! Because you’re incurring expenses in excess of £2500 a year, this is what we do fo you, and how it has to be set up.

Nothing changes for you, you remain exactly as you are. Millions of people up & down the country have been registered and completing self assessments for years without ever working a day self employed in their life.

Signing with Bettertax simply gives you the opportunity to claim back tax overpaid on expenses incurred as part of your job.

You need to take no action... we do everything for you. If you have any questions or simply want to put your mind at rest, please pick up the phone and call us. 01280 821020 We’re happy to help.

Your tax code may have changed so please, if you haven't already, read this post too.

The Bettertax Higher Vision Competition

We’ve received alot of interest in our stylish hi-vis vests – well, we would! So, we’ve decided to broaden our hi-vis horizons with a photo competition.

What we want is pictures of you and/or the Bettertax vest in significant places of interest around the country or indeed the world. Perhaps you’ll be on a rig, atop The Shard, the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty, next to the Sphinx, the Taj Mahal or even reclining with the Buddha.

Don’t worry if like us, you don’t get out much, creativity and imagination will carry as much weight as simply being somewhere exotic (no, not erotic – this isn’t Readers’ Wives goes Hi Vis) so don’t be put off sending pics of you and your pals doing a hi-vis human pyramid at your local. 

 Not quite a pyramid, but you get the idea! Thanks to early entrant Chris Lee.
Remember we want to be able to publish your pix of the vest, so don’t send anything that would make your Nan drop her shopping and of course we want to be sending prizes out, not flowers to funerals, so please ensure that all other PPE and necessary safety equipment is applied before trying anything stupid, ha-ha.

We will judge all pictures we receive, via Facebook, Scaffs forum, ElectricalForum, Twitter & email. Our decisions will be final. The prizes will of course be generous & pleasing. Our one criteria is that the Bettertax logo is visible in the picture and you are in construction.

Competitions will run from October to December 2011, from January to March 2012, from April to June 2012 and from July to September 2012. Given that a lot of people go abroad during the Summer July to September months, we’ve decided that we’ll announce two winners for this period.  

We would love this competition to be an ongoing event, so your participation and enthusiasm is essential. Obviously having a vest in the winning shot is the objective, so if you don’t already have one, get in touch and we’ll send one out!

Bettertax are Tradesmen's Tax Refund Specialists, CIS or PAYE.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Have they changed your Tax Code?

Many of our clients have been calling, confused by these letters. Whether you've had a letter or not, we recommend you read the following as it could affect you later.

If you are at all concerned, call us.

Many tradesmen (to our knowledge predominantly scaffolders although no doubt other tradesmen will be affected) have received letters from HMRC informing them that their tax code has changed to reflect the expenses they incur. Clearly this sounds great initially as your pay packet will suddenly increase , however it is fraught with problems further down the road (explained in more detail below) – it can be stopped and if done quickly enough it will not end up in a debt situation for you (and most interestingly if the debt is £300 or less, the guidance for HMRC internally is that they write it off), please read the following in order to understand why this new move from HMRC is not good for you.

This change in PAYE tax code is supposed to reflect the fact that expenses have and are continuosly being incurred in your profession.
However the massive oversight is that HMRC have decided that this level of expense will remain a constant, and yet you all know that it will not.
Now I’m not casting aspersions, I’d like to think that HMRC may well have done this for all the right reasons and had not at all envisaged that it will create major problems and probably much hardship for you and your family further down the road, however their debt collection, fines and interest charging regime is quite draconian and un-bending, and call me cynical but it looks like a way to punish those working men that had the audacity to claim their rightful expenses and whose future potential problems (due to this measure) will act as a deterrent to any others thinking that they had at least equal rights as men to the expense loving MP’s, the heavily pensioned Public Servants and the expense claiming, lavish lifestyle representatives we have working for “us” in Europe all paid for and expensed by our tax pounds.

Here are the constants
and effectively why this new change can never be accurate let alone work in your favour: -
The classic record of a scaffolder over a 3 year period is that
• he will work for at least two employers and as many as six,
• he will be based at a minimum of two sites and as many as 15
• the expenses he will incur can and almost always will differ greatly
• He will sometimes be able to take advantage of a company vehicle or the wagon and yet other times may/will be required to use his own vehicle
• the distances involved will vary dramatically and ultimately again the expenses associated will also differ greatly from year to year.

Ultimately this means that It is highly likely that there will be the wrong amount of tax paid come year end!

With this policy that HMRC are adopting (mainly down to a new piece of software they have acquired) the odds will now favour that there will be an underpayment by you... this means that HMRC will either adjust your tax code again to reflect the underpaid tax (thereby clawing it back in lumps every month and obviously reducing your pay packet ) or if it is over £2000, their own rules will dictate that they demand the debt to be paid straightaway.
It is worth noting that if it is not paid then under the HMRC system you will be marked down as a ‘Wont Pay’ and automatic fines will be charged, to add insult to injury HMRC will then charge interest on the total. They then hand the debt into the hands of the HMRC appointed debt collectors who have the power to turn up between “sunrise & sunset” demand immediate payment or they can distrain any and all your possessions (including your vehicle) the only thing they cannot seize are the tools of your trade.

If you are a client of ours, we can stop HMRC doing this if you want us to, but we need instruction from you i.e. a phone call 01280 821020, email or a PM.

At the end of the year we will help you calculate your correct expenses and claim your overpaid tax for you, thereby ensuring that you are not trundling unknowingly towards a debt that is wholly the making of HMRC and it’s ‘cute’ practice.