The Taxman Cometh!

How many seasons are there in a year in the UK? Four, right? Wrong! There are five for people who consider themselves self-employed.

There is one season that lurks around in the background and comes to scare those of us who work freelance: TAX SEASON.

Two scary words that can see you start to stress out over the tiniest of details. That window between January and April to get all your things in order doesn’t need to be (pardon the pun) taxing. There are ways and means to get all your records in order, so your tax submission is absolutely perfect. In this short post, we’re going to look at some ways you can get everything sorted without having to spend nights huddled over the kitchen table with a box of receipts and a calculator.

Look To The App Store

Shoeboxes full of receipts and invoices stuffed in the back of drawers are so 20th century. You can make the painful journey to completing tax forms all that much easier by finding an app which works best for you.

Some of the best rated you should take a look at include:

  • The official HMRC app
  • Sage

  • TaxCalc
  • Anna

Some are free, while others have a membership charge. It’s best to download a few to see which interface you prefer and work from there.

Let Someone Else Do The Heavy Lifting

Avoid ever getting into a fight with the taxman by having someone in your corner. Hiring a digital tax advisor means all the bookkeeping and pernickety accounting problems are handled by someone who knows what they’re doing.

It’s a small fee to pay to give yourself back all the time you’d otherwise be wasting trying to figure out your deductions.

Know Your Terminology

“I consider myself a freelancer, so I’m not self-employed, right?” Wrong!

The government groups several terms under the self-employed banner, which includes the following:

  • Freelancer

  • Contractor

  • Subcontractor

  • Anyone in the “Gig Economy”

Zero hours contract, when you’re not on PAYE with the employer

Confusing, isn’t it? You’ll need to know what vague areas you fall under so your tax codes are valid.

Know Your Allowances

Always remember that any self-employed person is guaranteed the same allowances as someone under full time employment. In the 2019/20 tax year, the standard personal allowance is £12,500. That’s the golden number before anything after can count towards tax.

If you do work freelance, it’s best to read up and get in touch with HMRC. You’ll be surprised to learn that they genuinely want to help you with saving on your taxes rather than taking all they can get. It can get you out of a pickle when you’re trying to figure out things like what your personal allowance is when your freelance career is a part-time job and you have another job with a company, or when you don’t need to declare anything to the taxman (this usually happens when you earn less than £1000).

Know your rates too

0, 20, 40, 45.

There are the magic numbers when it comes to knowing the rate of tax that comes as standard when you’re self-employed. I’ve just mentioned that £12,500 is the flat allowance (the 0), and the other rates fall as follows:

  • 20% if you earn between £12,501-£50,000
  • 40% if you earn between £50,001-£150,000
  • 45% if you earn over £150,000

Bear in mind, these are the minimum percentages in each threshold and may go up a bit the more you make in each bracket.

Get Ready to Pay

Finally, it’s important to remember that when your forms are all done and sent off to HMRC, you will have to pay. January 31st and July 31st are the dates to pay, so always keep those in mind. And if you’re just after your first year working self-employed, your tax bill will be 150% as you’ll have to pay for that year plus the first half of your second year in advance.

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How to prepare for your CPA Exam

As an aspiring licensed certified public accountant (CPA) one of the most important hurdles you must face is the Uniform CPA Examination. The CPA Exam is comprised of four, four-hour sections including Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Regulation (REG). You must pass all four sections within an 18-month period and earn a minimum score of 75 on each part.

Although everyone prepares for exams in their own unique way, there are some tried and tested methods that can help you to feel ready for your CPA exam. Let’s discover some simple preparation tips that can ensure you give the CPA exam your best shot.

Start revising for your CPA Exam as soon as possible

The adage of not putting off until tomorrow what you should do today rings especially true where revising for your CPA exam is concerned. Although there is no ideal time to take the CPA exam, the longer you wait to book your exam and start revision, the harder it will be to pass. Assuming you meet your state specific education, residency, age and citizenship requirements, you might even want to start studying right after reading this post.

A professional accounting license is an excellent foot in the door for careers in private or governmental accounting positions, business management or even becoming a professor, so remind yourself of exactly why you are pursuing this qualification in the first place to motivate your progress. Starting preparations early allows you to take your time, work at your own pace and avoid any infamous all-nighters in the run up to your exam.

Complete a CPA Exam Review Course

It is no secret that sourcing the best CPA study materials could be the difference between passing and failing your exams. Consequently, completing a CPA review course is an excellent way to guide your studies. Not sure where to begin? If you are contemplating utilising a CPA Exam Review Course, your study materials will be a constant resource and companion throughout your learning journey, so it is important that you make the right choice.

Although there is no one size fits all course, it is important to find a program that matches your individual learning style and preferences. Surgent and Roger are two of the big names when it comes to CPA Review courses. Depending on how much time you want to devote to studying and your own learning efficiencies, there are a number of benefits of both the Surgent and Roger CPA Review courses, so it is important to do some research before you commit to either option.

Commitment is Key

Passing the CPA exam requires an incredible amount of preparation, dedication and focus. As with any exam, being mentally prepared is essential here. You must be willing to sacrifice free time, time with family and friends as well as hobbies while in the depths of your studies. Furthermore, accepting that there will be instances when you will fail to find a correct answer can also be difficult to come to terms with at first, but it is crucial to remember that learning from your mistakes brings you one step closer to passing and getting your license.

If possible, rely on your family and friends to hold you accountable to a strict study schedule. A grand total of 350-800 hours study time depending on your own abilities and any CPA Exam Review courses is to be expected, so some drastic lifestyle changes might have to take place in order for you to have ample time to cover the material and feel ready to take the final tests. Remember however to make regular check ins with your mental health. Preparing for exams can be draining, but if you experience trouble eating and sleeping or difficulty focusing it might be helpful to take a night off or a weekend away from your studies to recenter and recharge.

Ultimately, implementing study tactics that work for you and your unique learning style is the only way to get ahead with your studies and pass the CPA Exam. The CPA Exam is notoriously challenging, but do not feel disheartened if you feel overwhelmed during your revision process. Focusing on your final goal and eventual career progression can help you to put things into perspective. Accounting is just one example of a job that busy parents can do from home. For more ideas on getting your own side hustle, check out this blog post filled with ways to boost your income.

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Deal With Your Finances The Right Way

Money British Finance Pound Pound Coin New

One of the hardest parts of growing up, is dealing with all the money going in and out of your account – the worst part being when it comes out of course. Once you hit adult life, you realise just how financially demanding it all is and you will soon wish you could be a child again. There are so many bills to pay, as well as insurance, tax, groceries, clothes, and the luxuries that we often crave. It’s hard to live a lifestyle that you can’t afford, especially when you like the finer things in life, but the last thing you want is to fall in a never ending spiral of loans that begin to consume your life. – It’s a slippery slope that feels so good in the beginning, but can all go pear-shaped within the blink of an eye.

There are so many responsibilities that are asked of us, and that’s not to mention trying to juggle work on top of that, family life, and still managing to have a social life too. A lot of people who begin to struggle will start to close themselves away, sometimes without even realising they’re doing it. But this can begin to get unhealthy. Sure, you may realise that you can’t afford all the outings on the weekends, but that doesn’t mean that you have to shut people away. Nothing good comes from sitting inside of four walls trying to deal with all of your problems on your own. – It’s okay to ask for help. In fact, it’s encouraged. So if you really feel as though things are getting a little too out of hand, then always know that you can talk about it. Don’t let it consume you.

Unfortunately you can’t run away from money problems. You can certainly try, but they will soon catch up with you and will be twice as bad. There will come a time where you have finally had enough and you’re ready to take charge and control what’s going on, the proper way. Whether you’re in debt, struggle with overspending, aren’t making enough money, or don’t have any savings, know that there are always options and solutions no matter how bad you think your problem is.

Here are some tips and advice to get you onto the right track.

Cater to your own personal needs.

It’s important to know that every single person out there is different, so your friends may have some great money hacks that work for them, but that by no means means that they’ll work for you. Believe it or not, the kind of credit card you own can have a huge impact on the way you spend your money. For example, if you have a card that allows you to keep spending even you don’t have the money in your account, this can make it very easy to impulse buy because nobody is telling you no, but this is how you end up owing people money, and that’s not something you want to experience as it will cause you an awful lot of stress. So it’s all about finding the right credit card for you. There are sites out there that give you a whole bunch of information on what’s available, so if you’re not sure what direction to go in, have a read and then you can make a decision that is catered to you.

Speak to a professional financial advisor.

Trying to manage your money properly can be very difficult, especially if you’re not quite sure what it all means. You shouldn’t be embarrassed to admit this because a lot of people aren’t really sure how to keep their money safe. A financial advisor is a professional that specialises in all things finance, and they are able to give you their expert opinion on the best direction for you. In order for this to work well, you will need to be as honest as possible. This means telling them exactly how you tend to spend your money every month, including all the bills, as well as any other routines you have, like going to the hair salon or going to the gym, as these all cost money. They also need to know how much you earn too. With all of this information at hand, they can then evaluate exactly how your months pan out and what your lifestyle is like. By doing this, they will be able to advise you on things that you can do to not only save money, but also how to spend it more wisely that benefits you.

Always plan for your future.

No matter how old you are, it is so important to think about your future when it comes to your finances. No one knows what the future holds, and that is why managing what you have early on is so vital. Now of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be having fun and living your life – it just means you should do this while being responsible and realistic. Every time you get paid monthly, rather than keeping everything where it is and regularly tapping into it whenever you please – break it up into separate categories. For example, open another account that’s purely for bills, and set up an automatic transfer from there with enough money inside every month to cover all of your bills, like the electric, water, tax, insurance, etc. Then keep your usual account for any personal spending, like clothes, food, and anything else you like. It’s also a good idea to open a savings account too, and whenever you can, transfer money into it. Then one day when you need money and aren’t sure what to do, you can remind yourself of your savings.

Now that you have a few ideas, think about your current circumstances and what areas you need to make a priority. As soon as you start taking control of your finances, you will feel as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, and you can begin to enjoy living all over again.

Image – MaxPixel

Expenses 101: Are You Recording Yours?

Budgeting and financial planning are some of the most significant issues for small business owners just starting out. The situation is made even worse by the fact that many new entrepreneurs have no idea what they can list as an expense on their tax bill. That means new companies stand to pay too much tax if they make mistakes, and that can result in a lack of funds for things like marketing and promotion. Considering that, this post will list some of the most common expenses you can record on your tax return. Hopefully, the info will help to make sure you never pay too much tax, and you stand the best chance of success.


Legal and financial costs

According to HMRC, small business owners are entitled to claim for legal and financial costs when submitting their tax returns. That includes the cost of hiring accountants, solicitors, or surveyors for business reasons. It also includes the premiums you will have to pay for professional indemnity insurance. Listing that spending will help you to keep more cash in your accounts in the long run. If you have any concerns about legal or financial costs; your accountant should manage to point you in the right direction and provide accurate information. If you can’t afford to employ a professional bookkeeper during the early stages of your venture, there are plenty of expert business advisors who can help.

Tools, property, and equipment

Depending on the nature of your operation, there is a chance that you will want to claim for tools, property, and equipment. Let’s presume you’re a plumber who uses 8mm stainless steel tube when fitting showers and other items in the bathrooms of your customers. While you can claim for the cost of the shower itself; you can also place any items you needed to purchase to complete the job on your expenses list. The same goes for people in any other industry. If you run an office and you need to buy new computers; you can knock their price off your tax bill.


Car, van, and travel costs

The government and tax authorities understand that many business owners have to travel extensively to secure success for their ventures. So, it’s handy to know that all travel costs count as expenses when recording your tax information. That means you can include the price of hiring cars, booking taxis, or anything else that gets you from A to B. You just need to make sure you always ask for a receipt and keep it safe until you arrive back at the office.

It’s possible to record lots of other expenses on your tax forms including clothing, staffing costs, and marketing spending. Now you know the basics; you should be in the best position to ensure you don’t make mistakes or get into trouble with HMRC. If you fail to record all your expenses; you will end up paying more than your fair share of tax. That is a terrible idea because you could use that money to help fund growth and expansions into new markets. You could also use it to relocate your company to a more favourable location. So, get it right!

Who Says a Small Business Loan Will Cost You an Arm and a Leg?

For young mothers with an entrepreneurial mind or for those active, go-getters, strongly-motivated moms who may have already invested in some kind of business but may today, find themselves in need of additional funding to expand its operations, hire new people or get a higher-producing equipment … know that a well-planned, well-crafted small business loan is always a big help.

Sure, if you are new to making loans, this could sometimes be intimidating or even cause some anxiety for some businesswomen. It will, after all, mean a strong commitment. But loans are made every day. No need to fret or worry. Just about everybody who’s in business, big or small takes out a loan.

What’s important

The important thing is to plan, map it out well and make sure you do not miss out on any of the crucial elements that will help give you a realistic picture. Tips that should help:

Try to be as specific as you can on what you need, how much you need and what you feel you can afford to pay back monthly. Whether you’re planning on installing new equipment, hiring additional people or moving out to what you feel could be a more productive business location, do a little homework and work out the numbers. Get cost estimates on that new machine. Check out the prevailing wage laws in your locality. Get advanced information on rental costs of that promising site, or project your inventory costs. In other words, much as we hated math and barely made the passing grade in high school, we’ll have to apply a little of it in this project. No big deal. Simple addition and subtraction, a bit of multiplication and division should do the trick.

Once you have gotten the figure on the loan amount, consider adding 5-10% – This is to simply cover those small unforeseen expenses that generally crop up during business start-ups or expansion. No matter how diligent we are, there will be items we might not be aware of or costs might have suddenly increased.

So, how much is this small business loan going to cost you? Check out this useful tool: business loan calculator courtesy of Camino Financial. It will instantly give you the answer. How do you use it? Simple. There are a few blank spaces that you will just need to fill up. It’s easier than changing your baby’s diaper and faster than cooking your favorite Paella Negra.

Here’s how :

Enter your desired loan amount

Click on the number of months you would prefer to pay back the loan (choose from a selection of 24-60 months)

Select the 1% or 2.1% monthly interest rate

Click “Calculate” and Voila! You are in business!

The information that will come out will show you how much your monthly payment will be and the total interest you shall have paid at the end of the loan’s term.

Review this information. Should for one reason or another you feel the numbers are not viable given your present circumstances, you may enter a revised set of data for other options that will best suit your purpose. Simply click Reset Calculator. You can do this till you find the right, figures you would feel comfortable with.

So go with what the management gurus are saying … “Time is money.” Check out this business loan calculator today to help you determine what a small business loan will cost you and rev up your business. What you’re sure to find amazing is that the cost will look like something you would be glad to pay.

Suzanne Llanera

Suzanne Llanera is a writer for Camino Financial, an online lender for small business loans. Suzanne is also a professor of Management, Marketing and Advertising in one of the most prestigious Colleges in the Philippines. She has experience working with top international advertising agencies where she managed the accounts of a multinational bank and a digital, telecommunications company. Suzanne advocates keen creativity in the utilization of marketing and advertising budgets, especially for fledgling businesses.

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