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If the American dream is the rags to riches story, where anyone can achieve their dreams and aspirations, maybe the British dream is simply to own a property. After all, it’s your castle and where your heart is and that’s a complex mix of both wealth and emotion for us Brits to balance.

Considering our obsession with property it comes as no surprise that in 2014 it was estimated one in five homes are now owned by landlords. This is a jump from the mid-eighties estimate of one in ten. No doubt spurred on by the property boom of the turn of the millennium through to 2008.

HMRC have slowly realised that people are making money from property and they’d like it to stop!

It’s great when life gives you a little extra. Whether it’s the unexpected sale at your favourite shop or the five-pound note hidden in an old coat; sometimes it’s the simple things that bring that tiny but precious bit of joy.

HMRC isn’t often linked with joy, but for many smaller service businesses, the flat rate VAT scheme was their little bit extra.

For those not familiar with the flat rate VAT scheme, this was set up by HMRC to reduce the admin burden for businesses with a turnover below £150,000. Instead of completing a VAT Return by adding up the VAT on sales and deducting the VAT on purchases you simply multiplied your gross sales by a percentage set by HMRC for your industry.

It’s that time of year again and this year I thought I’d consider the dos and don’ts of Secret Santa.  Not to pour cold water on it - I happen to love Secret Santa. I love all things Christmas!

“When you say artificial intelligence, people think of Terminator. Of Robots” said Gary Turner, the UK’s managing director of Xero at last week’s roadshow.

I would like to start by telling you a little about my background, this time last year I was a full time waitress not knowing exactly where I wanted to go in life. I had a HND in web development which I did not enjoy enough to see it as a career. I applied for the position at EST just hoping for a change and for someone to believe in me and give me a chance to start something new. Danielle saw the potential in me, thankfully. After being at EST for a couple of months I was given the opportunity to start studying AAT Level 2, never in a million years would I have thought I’d be good at accounting (but apparently I’m not bad).

Here at EST we like table tennis. So much in fact, that we have a full size table tennis table in our office. It’s a chance for the team to loosen up and let off a little steam. For most of us, it’s just a bit of fun. Occasionally it does become competitive and we even keep score and have our own EST League leader board.

One of the thrills of being in business is finding that new customer. The joy and excitement that comes with finding someone who wants to work with you; who loves your product or your service and who is willing to pay you for it. You roll into action, you do everything perfectly. The client is happy, you send them an invoice and then wait… nothing happens. Silence. Your heart breaks.

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act has received another update recently - here’s what you need to know.

George and his briefcase prompted our first Budget and Bubbly event recently which was a raging success if we do say so ourselves. If you were there, you rock, and if you weren’t, this blog will tell you the important points you need to know for right now and for upcoming years.

I have a three-year-old and for some unknown reason my not so little ball of destruction, has an affinity for receipts. Even to the extent that he has two money boxes; one for treasure, and the other for receipts. My wife became rather concerned at the thought she’d have to put up with another version of me!
Luckily for her, it turns out that he isn’t diligently keeping them in case HMRC ever want to know how much we’ve spent in Tesco’s this week (or how much I’ve spent in McDonalds!). He thinks of them as treasure maps! A slightly more exciting perspective on receipts, however, I’m not sure that every person in business has the same view!

Do you supply digital services- broadcasting, telecommunication or e-services? Do you supply your service to other EU member states? Do I hear yes and yes? Then listen in.

If you supply your digital services to EU non-business customers and do not only sell your e-services through a third party platform or marketplace, then VAT MOSS is going to aid you. It’s business to consumer supplies that are affected, selling purely to other businesses will not affect your VAT.

*New rules alert*. These new rules relate to dividends - more specifically, dividend tax allowance. Sound mind-boggling? Fret not, we’re going to break it all down for you.

Back to school! Well, not quite back to school but yes, back to studying!!

Since joining EST nearly two years ago as a Personal Assistant (I think), my role within the Company has been diverse and ever-changing. Barry spotted my potential and encouraged me to gain a qualification in something I love to do… Social Media. My administrative role soon developed into Chief “Twitterer”, social media correspondent and generally taking on more of a marketing focus. I was excited to go beyond the basics of marketing and become a fully-fledged “Marketing Coordinator”.

Mr Spam has been a very busy man indeed! Recently, our clients have been experiencing a high level of bogus H.M Revenue and Customs (HMRC) related emails, also known as “phishing emails”. So this blog is designed to help identify and reduce the risk of your computer picking up an unwanted virus.

Xero have released a nice little product update this month!

Xero seem to be on a bit of a mission at the moment of trying to help speed up your processes. Last month they introduced the global search function, making it easier for you to find contacts and transactions. This month they’ve introduced a shortcut feature.

Towards the top-right hand side, there is now a ‘+’ symbol. By clicking this, it gives you the availability to jump straight into various data import methods.

There are many different kinds of eaters in the work place:

  • The Takeaway King – The one who constantly eats out and eats what they want, but doesn’t get any bigger.
  • The Extreme Dieter – The one who only drinks milkshakes to help them shift those Christmas pounds.
  • The All Year Round Healthy one – The one who always eats healthy no matter what as it’s all they like.
  • The Moderator – The one who eats everything in moderation, doesn’t believe in cutting everything out.
  • The Veggie – Every office has a Veggie (I think).
  • The Yo-Yo Dieter – The one who is healthy for a week, then thinks that one take away won’t harm, then two, then three. You catch my drift.
  • The Picker – The one that picks at everything in the communal area, then moans that they haven’t lost any weight this week and does not know why.

The best thing about Christmas?… Christmas Parties! Well, we think so anyway. Some people dread them, but it’s a great excuse to get dressed up, have some good food and drink cocktails. All of us here at EST are a super friendly close knit team so we were all very much looking forward to our Christmas party. As everyone has similar interests it was very easy to find something that we would all enjoy (everyone likes alcohol, don’t they?)

Yes, Christmas is nearly upon us again and the EST offices are starting to look fabulous… Now all we need is for Chelsea and Danielle to find us the perfect real Christmas tree!

Now that we have organised our Christmas party (and more importantly, decided on our food choices!) I thought that it would be a great time to remind everyone on the (not so exciting) tax consequences of Christmas Parties.

What are payments on account and who needs to make them?

“Payments on account” are advanced payments made twice a year by self-employed individuals on account of tax due in the next tax year. Payments on account are only payable if your last self-assessment tax bill was more than £1,000 or if less than 80% of your total tax owed is collected at source, i.e. through employment.

View Richards video on Xero, tips and much more

After years of attempting to explain the “ins and outs” of a Directors Loan Account, I thought that it would be a great subject to write a blog on seeing as it confuses so many Directors.

1. Tea!
Always have a cuppa on hand no one is sad when they have a constant cup of tea at their desk, unless you're Barry with a coffee!
 
2. Taking the Mick out of your Boss!
Nothing is more amusing than making everyone laugh with a joke about your boss, but when he’s there of course!
 

A common question asked by clients is, “Is it better to buy or lease a vehicle?”. The answer to this question can depend on a number of factors and also the financial circumstances of the individual or company acquiring the vehicle. The advantages and disadvantages for each are as follows:

My incredible Journey

"Jambo my kili campers..."

At 5,895 metres (or 19,341 feet) above sea level, it’s the highest mountain in Tanzania, the highest mountain in Africa, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world, the great thing about the climb is that it is non-technical.  It is suitable for any fit and able bodied person, and you can choose to climb with tour groups of varying fitness levels.

We have noticed that our clients have been asking about “VAT and disbursements”, and how to account for them.
Lots of service suppliers add "disbursements" to their invoices - solicitors and accountants are an example, but what is a disbursement?

Trainee accountants can look forward to finding out that no two companies are the same. It is one thing having technical knowledge from studying for accountancy exams, but putting them in to practice is the test. Many exams I have sat have had questions about “incomplete records” when if a client’s records really were like an exam question… It would be a dream! They need to learn that every set of records needs to be approached differently and that clients need to be educated on their record keeping as this is more than likely not their forte.

Here goes Blog number two! My motivation, my wife!

The understanding of the word mobile, in mobile phone, is lost to her, let alone the use of app integrations to her cloud accountancy software!

Now that we have got over the shock of George Osborne’s budget a fortnight ago, I thought that I’d summarise the main points that we at EST took away from it, and how it may affect you.

We've had an exciting month here at EST, beginning with our second birthday bash on a warm summer day in early June. Barry decided to do something fun with the whole team to make the day special.


So we took the Friday off and all went to Angela Grey’s Cookery School at Llanerch Vineyard. We took off our accountancy hats and donned aprons for a day of cooking with chef Angela Gray at her team.

That time has come again when your Annual Reconciliation Report (ARR) for the year-ending 31st March 2015 needs to be submitted by 30th June 2015.

Both providers and performers are required by law to confirm their net earnings for the 2014/15 financial year and failure to do so will set your superannuation contribution to zero. It’s important because your net earnings are used to calculate your entitlement to statutory payments, such as sickness, as well as to keep accurate pension records.

Cardiff accountancy firm EST Accountants and Tax Advisers has introduced an unlimited holiday policy for its employees. Unlimited holiday is a relatively new concept with some large companies announcing that the employees will be able to take as much holiday as they want, whenever they want.
Whilst offering unlimited holidays is not a current trend, flexibility in holidays is something that is on the increase.

Now that we have all eased our way out of the Manic January period and things are starting to get back to some sort of normality I thought it would be good to refresh minds with the latest news within the world of accountancy.  This month it happens to be a refresher on how the construction industry operates.

Yes, there still needs to be clarification about what classifies a contractor and a subcontractor.

The image of a cloud holding information is a hard one to forget and a bank of data storage units is nowhere near as entertaining. In this day and age, a cloud serves many purposes, one of which is holding of all of your financial information. At the click of a button, tap of a screen or just asking Siri to do it for you, you are able access all of your finances