Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

National Minimum Wage Increase

Friday, March 16th, 2018

As you may be aware as from 1st April 2018 the National Minimum Wage will increase as follows:

– 25 and over will increase to £7.83 per hour

– 21 – 24 will increase to £7.38 per hour

– 18 – 20 will increase to £5.90 per hour

– Under 18 will increase to £4.20 per hour

– Apprentice rate will increase to £3.70 per hour

There are those who are exempt from the entitlement to the National Minimum Wage.

They are as follows:

– self-employed people running their own business

– company directors

– volunteers or voluntary workers

– workers on a government employment programme, such as the Work Programme

– members of the armed forces

– family members of the employer living in the employer’s home

– non-family members living in the employer’s home who share in the work and leisure activities, are treated as one of the family and aren’t charged for meals or accommodation, for example au pairs

– workers younger than school leaving age (usually 16)

– higher and further education students on a work placement up to 1 year

– workers on government pre-apprenticeships schemes

– people on the following European Union programmes: Leonardo da Vinci, Youth in Action, Erasmus, Comenius

– people working on a Jobcentre Plus Work trial for 6 weeks

– share fishermen

– prisoners

– people living and working in a religious community

If you would like further information on the above please contact Rob Farrell via or fill in the Contact Us form on our website.

Tax saving in the run-up to the tax year-end

Monday, February 19th, 2018

The end of the tax year on 5th April marks your last chance to take advantage of some major tax savings.  It provides a huge ‘use it or lose it’ opportunity for year-end tax planning for individuals and businesses and has become more important than ever.  Take a look at Tree Accountancy’s Year End Tax Review guide to see how you can secure your financial future and pay less tax now, and on any inheritance you leave to loved ones.

Remember to take into consideration:  pension contributions and the lifetime allowance, Individual Savings Accounts (ISA’s) including Junior ISA’s, Capital Gains Tax, and of course, Inheritance Tax.  Click the link below for full details and if you need any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact Rob Farrell via or fill in the Contact Us form on our website.

Planning for the end of the tax year

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

The run up to the end of the tax year fills many with a sense of dread.  But when you join forces with an expert accountancy practice, it can be a tremendous opportunity to review tax opportunities and make smart adjustments to your financial plans. 

The old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ definitely applies to many of today’s tax allowances, and the right advice is key to helping you secure your financial future and pay less tax on the inheritance you leave loved ones.

The best way to achieve your financial goals is to focus on what you can control.

You can control how much money you invest.  And where you invest it, the size of your retirement fund and how much of your estate passes to your family free of IHT (Inheritance tax).  You can even control how much tax you pay.

Nik Hynes, managing director of Manchester-based Tree Accountancy said: “Effective financial planning should be a year-round activity.  But we’re only human.  So, the months of January, February and March provide an ideal opportunity to use tax reliefs and allowances which would otherwise be lost. These valuable tax breaks can help to create long term financial security for ourselves and our families.”

So, if you’re not already taking advantage of the basics, start today.


ISAs have become one of the most popular ways to save because they are simple to understand and readily accessible.

The substantial increase in the ISA allowance to £20,000 this tax year was very welcome. However, with UK interest rates remaining at record lows, the money held in ISAs is failing to achieve the very basic task of keeping pace with inflation.

But those who are investing their ISA allowance for the long term – in assets offering scope for attractive levels of income and capital growth, such as property – are giving themselves a better chance of maximising the tax-saving opportunities on offer.


Saving into a pension scheme is very attractive now.  For every 80p you contribute to a pension, the government automatically adds 20p in tax relief.  High earners can claim extra tax relief through their annual tax return, meaning that a £1 pension contribution can effectively cost you just 60p.  Unused tax allowances can be carried forward.  But only from the three previous tax years.  This year is the final chance for pension savers to use the allowance that was in place in 2014/15.  If you don’t use it by the 5th April 2018, it will be lost forever.

Inheritance Tax

There are few more confusing or unpopular taxes than IHT.  But (usually) inertia means that over the next five years, HMRC can expect to see a 25% increase in their IHT revenues.  So, don’t waste your gifting opportunities – £3,000 this year, tax free, and if you haven’t already used last year’s, you can add another £3,000 and perhaps top up a child’s Junior ISA or start a pension for them.

“All this usually requires the help of an expert tax advisor,” said Nik Hynes, “and reflecting on your financial goals for the tax year end is one of the best times to sit down with your accountancy practice and discuss where you would like your finances to be in 5 years.”

For an informal chat, please email or complete the Contact Us form here on our website. Don’t get left behind.  Maximise your tax allowances before it’s too late.

Tree are a Manchester-based accountancy practice specialising in tax, business growth, auditing, self-assessments, and strategic and corporate finance.  Once you have accumulated your wealth, we work to ensure you keep it.

Did you know? Contact lenses are tax deductible

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Did you know that the provision of contact lenses is not taxable if your employer has to provide them for monitor or screen work.  The NIC legislation states that where an eye test result finds a general need for glasses, as well as a special prescription for VDU use, the employer should pay or reimburse the employee for the whole liability, including Class 1 NIC’s which arises on the amount which exceeds the VDU-related prescription.

If you regularly use a computer in your line of work, then you are able to claim the cost of the eye test as an allowable business expenses.

See links below for further information, or contact for expert tax help in Manchester:

A guide to Inheritance Tax

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

The ‘residence nil rate band’ can result in an Inheritance Tax saving even if, due to the size of your estate, the prospects for meeting its conditions appear unpromising at first glance. 

Families are paying more in Inheritance Tax (IHT) than ever before. Official figures show that the amount collected last year exceeded £5 billion for the first time.

But if you enlist the advice of an expert accountancy practice like Manchester-based Tree Accountancy, you can start to secure your family’s financial future.

On the whole, property, asset and investment values have continued to rise.  It follows that so too have IHT liabilities.

“That’s not surprising,” said Nik Hynes, managing director of Tree Accountancy, “when you consider that the IHT nil rate band has remained at £325,000 per person since 2009 and will be fixed at this level until at least 2021.”

“Had the nil rate band been linked to the consumer prices index, it would be £385,000 today,” he says, “which would be a much better reflection of market forces.”

IHT revenues are expected to keep rising despite the new ‘residence nil rate band’ (RNRB) being introduced, initially at the level of £100,000 per person, increasing over the next three years to £175,000. This works on top of the standard £325,000 nil rate band and is an allowance for people who pass on a property to their children, grandchildren or other lineal descendants. But while the RNRB can ease an IHT burden, it is only useful to those who can satisfy its conditions.

Aside from having to leave the interest in the qualifying residence to a lineal descendant, it is also important to note that the RNRB is cut back by £1 for every £2 by which an individual’s overall estate exceeds £2 million. Thus, currently there is no RNRB at all if the deceased holds assets of more than £2.2 million – and remember that business and agricultural assets count towards that threshold even if they qualify for 100% tax relief.

However, with some thoughtful tax planning, there are potential opportunities for estates to benefit from the full RNRB.

First things first?

Many couples choose not to make use of the standard nil rate band on first death, on the basis that, if unused, it can be transferred to their surviving spouse or registered civil partner and claimed on second death. However, leaving assets worth £325,000 to someone other than the surviving spouse on the first death can be beneficial if it keeps the survivor’s estate below the £2 million trigger point for reducing the RNRB on second.

“If you’ve left everything to your spouse,” said Nik Hynes, “and this causes their estate to exceed £2 million, it may be worth using the £325,000 nil rate band on the first death to leave assets in a trust, so that they don’t consolidate with the estate of the surviving spouse, but remain accessible to them,” says Nik Hynes.

“It’s also worth noting that in determining the value of a deceased’s estate for the purpose of the £2 million trigger point, it’s not necessary to add back gifts made within seven years of death, as you do when calculating the Inheritance Tax liability on the deceased’s estate. This means that making a gift in excess of the £3,000 annual exemption could produce a substantial IHT saving even if the donor fails to survive for seven years, as recently applied to one of our Manchester-based clients.”

In circumstances where the IHT liability cannot be eliminated, it can be worth giving thought to tax efficiently providing for it through appropriate life assurance held in trust. In addition, it’s important to remember that Wills should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they meet your current needs.”

The tax plan you end up with should be one that is aligned with your objectives in relation to who should benefit on your death and when; and, subject to this, for it all to be done as tax efficiently as possible. In seeking the best result for your family, it’s vital to obtain professional tax advice.

For an informal chat or to set up an appointment, please contact

Tree are a Manchester-based accountancy practice specialising in tax, business growth, auditing, self-assessments, and strategic and corporate finance.  Once you have accumulated your wealth, we work to ensure you keep it

High Street vouchers still tax free

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

As many of you are in the middle of completing your self-assessment tax return, you might be pleased to know that if you were fortunate enough to receive high street gift vouchers as part of your Christmas bonus, they could be a tax free bonus.

This is because they are defined by HMRC as non-cash vouchers and from April 2016, they fell into the ‘trivial benefits’ regime (not taxable subject to certain conditions).  These conditions include:

– The cost to the employers must be less than £50

– It isn’t cash or a cash voucher

– It isn’t a reward for their work or performance

– It isn’t in the terms of their contract

– A director of a close company can not receive trivial benefits worth more than £300 in any tax year.

Click on this link below for further information, or contact for expert tax help in Manchester:

HMRC no longer accepting tax bills paid by credit cards

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

The introduction of new EU rules means that you can no longer pay your tax bills to HMRC by credit card.

Each year, almost half a million people spread the cost of their annual tax bill over several months by paying it on a credit card.  But from 13th January 2018, just 2 weeks before this year’s self-assessment tax return deadline – HMRC will now decline all personal credit card payments.

New EU rules now make it illegal for HMRC to pass on the 1.5% ‘processing fees’ which banks charge for transactions made by credit card.  And the new ruling doesn’t just apply to HMRC, but also to all businesses.

Before the ruling came into effect, there was some discussion on whether HMRC would cover the 1.5% cost itself, but this won’t now happen and many people will be taken by surprise at the speed of this decision – leaving them very little time to plan another way to cover their tax bill.

HMRC have sent out written warnings with annual tax bills recently, but the very short notice and timing of the ban is likely to cause those aiming to complete their tax return by the 31 January deadline many problems – especially with cash-flow.

Fortunately, for some, debit cards and corporate credit cards continue to be accepted.

If you need expert advice on completing your tax return self-assessment, by the 31st January deadline, please contact, or use the contact form here on our website.

HMRC self-assessment tax return deadline – are you risking £100 fine?

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

The deadline for online self-assessment tax returns is 31st January 2018.  If you miss it, you could be fined £100 by HMRC.

Who needs to fill in a tax return?

You need to file a tax return if you are:

– self-employed or work as a sole trader

– a company director

– employed and self-employed at the same time

– a partner in a business

– renting out a property to anyone

The tax return applies to the tax year April 2016 to April 2017 and you must submit one even if you don’t have to pay tax.  If you’re self-employed, you will be able to deduct allowable expenses such as:

– any office, property and equipment you use to run your business

– car or van and travel expenses

– some clothing expenses if essential for your work

– marketing costs including professional subscriptions

– some legal and financial costs of running your business

– any staff expenses incurred

And remember, you can earn £11,000 before you start paying any tax.  It’s called your Personal Allowance.  For the 2016-17 tax year, everyone gets the same personal allowance.  Your personal allowance can be even higher if you claim Marriage Allowance or Blind Person’s Allowance.

If you earn between £11,001 to £43,000 you will have to pay tax at the basic rate of 20%.

If you earn between £43,001 to £150,000 you will have to pay tax at the higher rate of 40%.

And it’s always worth checking if you are paying too much tax –  as thousands of people across the UK are paying more tax than they owe because it’s such a complicated topic.

Don’t let HMRC catch you out.  If you would like more help, please talk to one of our tax advisors at Tree Accountancy or email for further information.

Merry Christmas!

What could a cyberattack do to your business?

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Fact: Cyberattacks on SME’s often result in substantial financial loss.  Some attacks can even close a business for good.

This can include:

– theft of corporate information

– theft of bank details and payment cards

– theft of money

– loss of business or contracts

– disruption to trading

– loss of reputation as a secure business partner

– erosion of trust with trading partners

Furthermore, a study by Hiscox Insurers recently showed that less than half the businesses in the UK have protected themselves or made ‘crisis’ plans to deal with cyberattacks.  And clever criminals have realised that not only does a business’s data have a value, but so too does threatening a company’s ability to function.  They often encrypt your own data, and then charge you to get that same data back, and hackers can now use sophisticated software to disrupt company systems while demanding hefty ransom payments.

Government figures show that cyberattacks in the UK doubled in 2015, and the UK now accounts for one in every eight known cyberattacks across Europe.

So, the question becomes not ‘do you need advice and insurance against cyberattacks’? But which insurance package best suits your business?

For the vast majority of SME’s, this means protecting against data breaches and ransomware. If the company holds personal data, it is likely that the hackers will use that data to defraud and extort money, and costs to investigate a data breach are very expensive, even before factoring in third party claims.  It very quickly becomes a waking nightmare for the SME.

There is now another motivation for businesses to protect themselves – the General Data Protection Regulation.  The act comes in to force in 2018, and gives clients and customers the right to ask for their personal data to be erased, and increases the expectations placed on the businesses themselves.

“Under GDPR, businesses must understand what personal data they hold and where,” said director Nik Hynes, “and whether they have collected and processed that data properly, who they are sharing it with and who they are processing it for.  In the event of a cyberattack, they must establish the extent of the data breach and report it within 72 hours.

Could your business do this?

If not, talk to one of our experts at Tree Accountancy or email for further information.  Don’t get caught out.  Merry Christmas!

Small Gesture, Big Impact

Friday, December 1st, 2017

To round off a successful year in business, and as Christmas is just around the corner, wouldn’t it be good if you could boost staff morale, reduce your Corporate Tax bill and even offer incentives to join your business?

All in one small gesture.

Well you can.

Employers can now give their employees store vouchers up to the value of £50 each without paying any tax because the gift is covered by HMRC’s trivial gift exemption.

As long as the gift isn’t part of a reward for their work or performance – and it isn’t in the terms of their contract of employment, you won’t pay tax.

Perhaps, for example, you would like to buy all your staff a bottle of champagne as a festive thank you.  You might spend £45 on each bottle.  But what about the staff who don’t drink?  Well, the easy solution is to buy them gift vouchers to the same value.

Both gifts will be free of tax.

But you need to keep to the limit of £50 per member of staff.

If you’re unsure which tax exemptions you can take advantage of right now, please contact for an informal chat.  Merry Christmas!