The OTS proposes far-reaching tax changes

I received a number of emails from the Gov.uk website earlier this month outlining proposals for far-reaching changes to various aspects of UK tax by the Office for Tax Simplification (OTS).
I have summarised these changes with links to the support documentation. They make for interesting, and in parts, chilling reading. Where relevant I have flagged opportunities that I feel the OTS comments open up for practitioners.

And let’s not forget that the OTS are not a legislative body – changes proposed will need the approval of ministers and the Treasury before we would need to grapple with their impact.

Simplification of the corporation tax (CT) computation.

In their report the OTS conclude:

The conclusion the OTS has been drawn to is that for all but the very largest companies, and particularly for smaller ones, the simplest solution is surely that tax should follow the accounts, without adjustments being required.

The changes we can expect

  1. The OTS aim for CT – easier to understand and engage with and reduce the cost of compliance.
  2. Principles – tax follows accounts and commercial reality.
  3. Micro companies – simple accounts equals simple tax.
  4. All companies: a roadmap for Corporation Tax reform to align with Making Tax Digital, enhanced stability and certainty for complex businesses, relief for capital expenditure closer to accounts, potentially using depreciation, capital/revenue definitions aligned with accounting, deductions aligned across income streams, leading to Scheduler reform.
  5. Outcome – CT is simpler, compliance is easier and cheaper.

My observations

There are a few stand out points raised:

  1. The aim is to simplify and reduce the cost of CT compliance.
  2. CT to be based more on the accounts with fewer adjustments in the computation.
  3. For the smallest companies, the OTS seems to imply that CT will be based on the accounts, depreciation no CAs?
  4. When MTD rolls out to the collection of accounts data, it makes sense to base CT on accounting profits with as few add back and hybrid deductions as is possible.

Firms that rely on compliance activity to generate fees will not be enamoured of these proposals. If the OTC’s outcome is to make CT compliance “easier and cheaper” this translates to lower CT compliance fees.

Time to reposition ourselves as tax tacticians rather than tax technicians?

The formal OTS report can be downloaded here (123 pages).

Accounting depreciation or capital allowances?

The OTS summary includes the following quote:

If we were devising a system from scratch, depreciation could work perfectly well and would make eminent sense. However, our analysis has shown that the undoubted potential benefits are not worth the upheaval involved. Such an extension of the scope of relief would come with a big price tag, require lengthy transition periods, and involve all businesses in process change even though only around 30,000 businesses claim capital allowances in amounts exceeding the present Annual Investment Allowance of £200,000. That said, we consider there are important improvements to capital allowances which should be considered, alongside those we recommended in last year’s report, in particular that the scope of the Annual Investment Allowance be widened.

This is underlined on page 11 of the report:

This report also includes new recommendations on the simplification of CAs, which could be delivered in a cost neutral way:

  • the scope of the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) should be widened
  • the scope of CAs generally should be widened
  • a more radical reform of the structure of CAs should be considered if the scope of CAs cannot be widened, leveraging information used in accounts but not based on depreciation.

What can we expect?

It seems likely that the scope of the AIA will be widened, perhaps to make it easier for taxpayers to identify what is covered by the relief and what is not covered.

There may be future changes to the structure of CAs. It will be interesting to see if the OTS can devise a way to do this without replacing one complex set of rules with another equally complex arrangement.

The full report and conclusions can be downloaded here. (88 pages)

Lookthrough taxation

For practitioners unfamiliar with the term “lookthrough” the opening paragraph of the OTS report says:

As noted above the basic premise of lookthrough taxation for a small company is that direct profits taxes are not levied on the company; rather one looks through the company and levies taxes directly on the shareholders on their allocated share of the profits. Shareholders would be subject to income tax and class 4 NICs; however, all other requirements of the company will remain. This includes VAT compliance (if the company is registered) and accounting requirements.

If implemented, this would require a complete rethink of tax planning for smaller companies presently benefitting from the low salary, high dividend approach to avoid NIC.

How would lookthrough work in practice?

The OTS conclusion as to how profits would be allocated to proprietors is:

The working assumption that we have tested is that all profits – including trading income, investment income and capital gains – would be allocated according to shareholdings. There would be nothing left in the company to tax. Some prior items that we identified in our discussion paper, such as preference share dividends, would stand, but all remaining profits would be allocated. This implies some form of additional return being required, presumably a schedule along the lines of a partnership allocation which would be centrally generated by the company or its advisers and given to each shareholder to help with their tax return.

Thankfully sanity is likely to prevail

In their conclusion the OTS say (and in bold):

Our conclusion is that lookthrough does not offer sufficient simplification to justify its introduction. On balance we feel that it would actually be more complicated than the current corporation tax system, given the additional rules that would be needed.

And so, thanks but no thanks…

The full report and conclusions can be downloaded here. (88 pages)

The closer alignment of income tax and national insurance – a further report

This further report on the old chestnut of income tax and NIC alignment is best summarised by quoting the OTS summary at the beginning of their report:

Our March report concluded that alignment was both possible and desirable and set out a 7-stage programme to achieve it:

  • move to an annual, cumulative and aggregated (ACA) assessment period for employees’ NICs on employment income, similar to PAYE IT
  • base employers’ NICs on whole payroll costs to make it easier to understand and reduce distortions created by the current system,
  • more closely align the NICs position for the UK’s 4.8 million, and rising, self-employed with that of employees
  • to help make closer alignment possible, NICs needs to be a more transparent system, better understood by taxpayers
  • align the legislation for IT (relating to employment income) and NICs so that the scopes of the charges are the same, and taxpayers benefit from identical reliefs for IT and NICs purposes
  • bring taxable benefits in kind (BiKs) into Class 1 NICs and abolish Class 1A NICs
  • a fully joined up approach to the two taxes across policy and administration with alignment of legislation and procedures, and where possible the matrix of rates and thresholds.

Given the scale of this programme, which we have always been clear would be a long term project, there were many aspects that would require further investigation. We were asked to do more work on the first two of them by the Chancellor, under formal terms of reference (see Annex E), and this report now sets out our findings on those two areas:

  • moving employees’ NICs to an annual, cumulative and aggregate basis (ACA)
  • changing employers’ NICs to a payroll levy.

We have been particularly focussed on analysing in fuller detail the impacts of such reforms. For ACA this has meant a great deal of digging into the numbers affected and the monetary impacts. On employers’ NICs we have developed further options beyond the simple flat-rate payroll levy we showed in the March report. For both aspects we have been probing the administrative implications: what costs and savings could result?

What changes can we expect?

The OTS recent report underscores the recommendations in their previous March report on this topic, that the time is ripe for change. Considering all the other changes our government needs to attend to, and in the case of Brexit with some urgency, don’t hold your breath on this one being adopted any time soon.

The full report and conclusions can be downloaded here. (94 pages)

Sole Enterprise with protected assets (SEPA)

The principle behind SEPA is that it will allow an individual to continue to trade as a sole trader whilst offering protection for their primary residence against claims arising from the business. The primary residence will not be protected from personal claims nor will any other asset be protected.

In essence, SEPA offers a limited, limited liability vehicle for sole traders.

In conclusion the OTS report says:

The case for SEPA’s introduction is not by any means cast iron. But our work indicates that SEPA has the potential to be a useful simplification for those that would otherwise consider incorporation. Furthermore, it could provide a boost to enterprise.

Accordingly, we recommend that it should be developed into a formal proposal. While doing so, one would have to address some of the issues that we have raised in this report as well as fully assessing any impact on the creditor and debt collection markets.

Will we see a change in the law?

Maybe is perhaps the most appropriate response. Oddly, this OTS report is not a commentary on tax change. No doubt, if enacted, the ability to ring-fence your home from creditor claims would tend to encourage the risk-averse to give their business ideas a go. We shall see.

The full report and conclusions can be downloaded here. (30 pages)

My conclusions summarised

If the OTS recommendations eventually impact legislation, the drive towards simplification of tax compliance – especially as the impact of MTD develops – are likely to continue. In which case tax compliance as a realistic and significant income stream for practitioners will be diminished.

As quoted in the body of this piece, we need to become tax tacticians (tax planners) rather than tax technicians.

Should accountants embrace change?

Image highlighting change as an opportunity

A good place to start is to consider which side of the fence you sit. Do you treat change with despair or does it trigger the itch to connect the change with opportunity?

Accountants, especially those of us in practice, are constantly dealing with the consequences of change. Examples are legion: changes to the UK tax code, to company law, to data protection regulation, to accounting standards and keeping up with evolving software and hardware issues.

Could these changes offer practitioners opportunities?

For example:

  • Could Making Tax Digital open up the possibility of digitising clients’ record keeping that might otherwise stay in the dark ages of plastic bags and paper. This should offer opportunities to provide these clients with accessible data to help them grow their businesses?
  • Could the advent of GDPR – we assume your practice is compliant (?) – mean that you could use your newly acquired skills to help your new and existing business clients become compliant?

And there must be numerous occasions when a change in tax legislation opens up new tax saving opportunities for clients?

As part of my Taxing Times service I provide a 7,000 word booklet that includes fifteen ideas for making the most of recent changes in legislation to offer one-off consultancy or ongoing, recurring support activity with clients. Topics covered include recurring audits to comply with the NMW and NLW regulations, compliance with the Criminal Finances Act and regional opportunities.

Are there downsides to change?

And there are downsides to change. Services that we have considered sacred to our patch, accounts preparation, filing tax returns, can now be accommodated by less qualified service providers who simply follow software instructions. Even here, opportunity raises its head, to morph these repetitive services into something altogether more useful: periodic business development reviews, tracking progress towards the exit sign, benchmarking, out-performing or acquiring competitors, the list is virtually endless.

Why not add new income streams to your fee base?

Perhaps the next time you spot a change that affects the advice you provide clients, you could pause for a second and contemplate the opportunity this might offer to improve client service, and as a consequence, add new income streams to your fee base? What have you got to lose?

Property Capital Allowances – help with your HMRC enquiry

Property capital allowances banner image

HMRC enquires can be time-consuming and costly

Here we share how our property capital allowance claim helped our client draw their enquiry to a close!

An individual or a company may experience many or few HMRC enquiry’s during their working life cycle. It’s an experience very few (if any) would welcome and once an enquiry has started, it very rarely has a swift or stress-less conclusion.  Capital Allowance Review Service continues to build its clients numbers and technical prowess when working with clients and completing their Property Capital Allowance claims.

About the Enquiry

Our client based in the Midlands had been subject to a lengthy HMRC Enquiry into routine compliance issues.  Naturally, the enquiry had been a slow, drawn-out process showing no sign of conclusion.  There was a Property Embedded Capital Allowances audit being carried out on the group properties which produced a figure of £984,000 in unclaimed Capital Allowances.  The inspector was informed that the claim was going to be submitted and it was felt the correct course of action was to inform the enquiry team at an early date so they could include it in their deliberations.

As a result, a meeting was arranged with HMRC.  The inspector perused the working papers of the claim and immediately offered to agree to two-thirds of the claim.  The offer was rejected and it was explained how the numbers had been compiled and that they were quite welcome to scrutinize the due diligence applied when putting the claim together.  Following a conversation as to what HMRC hoped to achieve through the enquiry, it appeared that the tax they had in mind was a large number but would easily be ‘blown out of the water’ by the Property Capital Allowance claim.

Result!

It was agreed there would be a payment to HMRC of outstanding tax which was to be recovered by the taxpayer the following year. The Property Capital Allowance claim was agreed in full and the enquiry was closed.

Conclusion

If an enquiry or investigation is ongoing and the individual, partnership or company has commercial property interests, there is a distinct chance the conclusion of HMRC can be mitigated and the time-scales reduced.

PLEASE NOTE THAT IF THE ENQUIRY HAS BEEN COMPLETED WITH A SUCCESS TO HMRC, A CAPITAL ALLOWANCE AUDIT COULD RECOVER SOME OR ALL OF THE COSTS & PENALTIES.

Contact Us

If you need help with any current investigation, or property related capital allowance issue please contact Chris Roberts, 01782 749842.

This article has been reproduced with the permission of the Capital Allowance Review Service, who are featured on the Landmark Partner page

The original article is available here

GDPR compliance for accountants

GDPR compliance for accountants

The dust has settled, the 25th May 2018 has passed… All businesses, including accountancy practices, in the UK are now compliant with the new “all bells and whistles” data protection legislation: the General Data Protection Regulation, otherwise known as GDPR. Or are they?

GDPR compliance for accountants in 12 steps

This article details the steps I have taken, as a professional accountant, towards GDPR compliance for my own practice. It follows the 12 steps from our workbook solution but, whether you chose to use our workbook or not, I hope the article will give you a good overview of the key steps to follow to achieve GDPR compliance for your own accountancy firm.

In the lead up to the May 2018 deadline the ACCA backed a workbook solution to GDPR compliance for accountants that I co-authored with GDPR Auditing Ltd. The version we produced is written specifically for accountants. Demand for the workbook was significant and as an aid to subscriber firms I wrote a log of my progress, completing the twelve sections of the workbook for my small practice. A copy of these notes are reproduced below.

My experience of completing the 12 steps to GDPR compliance for accountants is documented below:

STEP 1 – Assigning responsibility for GDPR Compliance

Our Workbook (Tab one) is described as “Data Security Owner” (DSO). Under the GDPR someone needs to take responsibility for steering a business through the compliance process.

On the face of it, this is a simple decision for me as I am a sole trader and I have no staff. My choices are:

  • Take on the role myself, or
  • Delegate the role to a qualified 3rd party

I considered approaching my IT support company, but now I know more about GDPR, I have a sneaking suspicion that I know more about the process than they do.

I could also ask my colleagues at GDPR Auditing to do the work for me, but this quite rightly, would involve additional costs and it would defeat the object of this present exercise, which is to path-find the whole process for practitioners.

Most sole practitioners will find themselves in a similar position to me, larger practices may have a number of individuals who are suitable to take on the role. Before making a decision make sure you read through the three checklists on sheet one of the Workbook, as these will guide you on the duties, qualities and responsibilities that a DSO will need to embrace.

I have minuted that I will be the Swan Partnership Data Security Owner and I have applied myself to changing the “No” entries on my DSO checklists where appropriate.  The checklists are split into three sections:

  • Duties on the DSO
  • Qualities of the DSO
  • Organisations responsibilities

Some of the first section can only be completed when other parts of the process are completed, but I have managed to select “Yes” or “n/a” to most of the sections and this is a checklist that I will return to in due course.

STEP 2 GDPR Workbook – completing Record of Processing

The second step in my progress towards GDPR compliance is to complete the next page in my GDPR Workbook, the Record of Processing.

What is the Record of Processing?

It is an editable list of the variables that are used to create the various reports and tables throughout the Workbook. In effect, its a record of information about your practice and a description of certain data that describes the types of personal data you manage and other standard statements required by the GDPR.

Much of the work is already done for you

You will need to read and edit the information in column D of the Workbook sheet, it’s highlighted in blue. In my case, I changed the practice information and made minor changes to the pre-filled standard statements.

STEP 3 – Editing the Data Retention Schedule

The third step is a review and edit of the entries in the Data Retention Schedule.

What is the Data Retention Schedule?

The Data Retention Schedule is the place where you record various information about ALL sources of personal data you hold; whether this be of clients, prospects, staff or other business contacts.

In a nutshell it lists a variety of record types that cover the data, who looks after it, any basis for retention and other considerations required under the GDPR.

Again, much of the work is done for you

Before you panic, I pre-populated the first twenty lines of the Schedule with a generic description of most of the data records an accountancy practice will create. Accordingly, all you will need to do, as I have just done for the Swan Partnership, is edit, add or delete to mirror your practice data retention routines. In particular you should list the names of third-parties in column M of the worksheet, who are sent your personal data records.

STEP 4 – create a Privacy Notice for your online resources

This week my GDPR chore was to edit the Privacy Notice in the Workbook and send it to my website developer.

What is a Privacy Notice?

The Privacy Notice is required to be accessible from any online resources that you use to collect personal data. Your website is the prime example, but it could be Facebook, Twitter or other social media platform that your practice uses. The Notice explains how you respect, protect, collect and otherwise manage the personal data collected from your online platforms.

Do I have to create this document from scratch?

No… The Workbook creates the basic document based on the information you have already entered in steps 1 to 3. However, you will need to edit the copy. I suggest you follow the process I completed today. It was:

Edit the Workbook page for Step 4, you can edit the text where necessary (The key section is columns D and E). Don’t worry too much at this stage about layout, fonts etc.
When you have completed your basic edit highlight the range D4 to E125, right click and Copy, and paste into a new Word document. From here you can tidy up formatting and use this document to send to your web developer(s).

STEP 5 – create a privacy notice for your employee contracts

This part of the process was to edit the Privacy Notice in the Workbook and incorporate the finished document into my employee contracts. I need to confess that I have no employees, but I did edit the worksheet so that I could report on what is involved. Sheet 5 builds a privacy notice that communicates the way in which you manage the personal data of your staff.

Do I have to create this document from scratch?

No… The Workbook creates the basic document based on the information you have already entered in steps 1 to 4 and the standard copy we have added. However, you may need to edit the text. I suggest you follow the process I completed today. It was:

Edit the Workbook page for Step 5, you can edit the text where necessary (the key section is columns D and E). Don’t worry too much at this stage about layout, fonts etc. The blue text cannot be edited on this page, it is drawn from sheet 2, The Record of Processing, you will need to access sheet 2 if you want to edit this part of the text. The black text can be edited.

When you have completed your basic edit highlight the range D4 to E173, right click and Copy, and paste into a new Word document. From here you can tidy up formatting and use this document to incorporate into your employee contracts.

STEP 6 – create Client Agreement Notice

The GDPR requires that we are conscious of the terms we agree with persons who share their personal data with us. For accountants this is normally covered in terms and conditions that accompany client engagement letters.

Step 6 of our GDPR Workbook draws out the issues that need to be covered. Most of the information on Step 6 is drawn from the Record of Processing. Basically, the black copy can be edited.

No short cuts, just need to read the copy and change as necessary.

Changes to your letters of engagement?

The final section is important, the example contractual terms. You should already have something similar in your existing engagement letters. Edit the text on your workbook and then copy and paste into your present documents. This may cause complications if your professional overseers determine what goes in your T & Cs and engagement letters. If the two are at variance you should take up the differences with your professional body.

STEP 7 – Marketing Consent

Sheet 7 of the GDPR Workbook covers the gritty subject of consent. It is a checklist recording that you have considered, acted on and reviewed your obligation to seek, obtain and record consent where this is required by the GDPR. For each item listed on the checklist you need to change the status of the Check column to read “Yes” or “n/a”.

This section of the workbook is targeted, for accountants, at their business prospects, those individuals who in the past have informally consented to receive your newsletter or other marketing communications.

However unnecessary the process may seem. To comply with the GDPR your continuing consent to send marketing information needs to be evidenced from 25 May 2018.

How do we obtain consent?

I recommend that you login to your user portal, goto the 12-Steps(L) link and open and read the Consent PDF. Basically, there is no quick fix to this part of the process.

Consult with your marketing advisors

Most practices use a third party process to send marketing information. I suggest that you contact them and ask for a written assurance that the processes set out in the GDPR, and enshrined in your Workbook checklist, are observed. If not, you will need to re-think the way that your practice gathers and evidences consent and contact your existing marketing lists to seek adequate consent.

Do I have to seek separate consent to email clients with marketing material?

If your terms and conditions and letters of engagement include a statement that you send out “marketing” information to clients from time to time – and clients were able to opt in or out of this at the time you signed them up – then this should be considered sufficient consent. In which case further consent should not be required. However, this consent should not be bundled with the contract. i.e. you would be hard put to argue that receiving marketing and newsletters was a precondition of the accounting services.

Won’t I lose most of my marketing contacts?

When I first considered this issue of consent for my own businesses I realised that my existing records of consent were non-existent, and that I would need to start again, sending out requests for a formal (double opted-in) consent from contacts to cover the GDPR requirements. I will undertake this work before 25 May. Although this may result in the loss of 90% of my marketing contacts (and there are thousands) realistically only 10 or 15% open my marketing emails. So having a “willing to participate” list, all-be-it much reduced, is perhaps a worthwhile housekeeping process.

In summary

Time to bite the bullet on this issue. Read the Consent PDF, speak with your newsletter/marketing managers, if necessary, re-enrol your marketing lists in accordance with the GDPR and then complete your check list on sheet 7 of the Workbook.

STEP 8 – Security Awareness Log

This part of our workbook records that your staff have read and acknowledged their responsibilities under the GDPR by reading your practice Information Security Policy.

What is an Information Security Policy?

We have published a guide “Information Security Policy” on our support portal, the Supporting Documents section. The introduction to this document says:

This Information Security Policy is designed to provide your organisation with detailed guidance on common IT processes and procedures, and some good practice. It is intended to cover the Information Technology required for the GDPR.

In other words, it informs staff how they need to behave when using IT and data in your practice.

What do staff need to do?

To complete this section you will need to direct your staff to read our detailed Information Security Policy Review. This is a supporting document you can access on your GDPR support portal.

Record individual compliance with this obligation on the Workbook log, section 8. For completeness, you should ensure that you download the draft Security Awareness Training acknowledgement and each staff member should sign as appropriate.

Is this a one-off exercise?

You will need to repeat the process annually, for existing staff, and as part of your induction processes for new staff. If the rules change we will update the various guides and templates.

STEP 9 – 3rd party contracts

This section of the Workbook deals with issues arising from the placement of personal data under your control with 3rd parties. For example, subcontractors and software vendors where your data is held in the cloud.

No short cuts here

Without confirmation that these 3rd parties are GDPR compliant it would appear that lapses in their security arrangements then become your problem.

The last three sections of this page provide details of the sorts of terms that should be included in contracts, whether you are the Controller or Processor in the arrangement.

Resources in the support portal

You should also read the guide (step 9) set out in the “12-Steps” section of the support portal. You can also download a “Draft request to send to 3rd parties” that you can adapt (see the Templates and Downloads section of the support portal).

Practical issues

For me, the major issue is chasing up software vendors. Once you are confident of the terms you need to agree with 3rd parties, you will need to be persistent to secure their confirmation that contracts in place confirm GDPR compliance.

STEP 10 – requests from data subjects

Action is only required here when you receive a formal request from a data subject for details of the personal data you hold.

The Workbook log includes statutory deadlines and maps the way you have dealt with requests.

For background on your responsibilities in this area read the Step 10 support notes.

Pleased to say there are no entries thus far in my log…

STEP 11a and 11b record of data breaches

From a GDPR perspective, data breaches are our worst nightmare. By accessing our systems, hackers and the like gain access to personal data placed in our care; and the consequences can be dire.

Read the support notes

The two pages in your workbook, 11a and 11b, provide the means to log these breaches, if they ever occur, and the action you have taken thereafter.

Read the relevant support notes. All of the work you have done in completing your GDPR Workbook is aimed at minimising data breach and its consequences.

Pleased to say that thus far I have no breaches to report.

STEP 12 – the Technical and Organisation Security Measures (TOSM)

For me, this is the most daunting part of the compliance process. Definitely outside my comfort zone.

Still work to do here

I have to confess that I am unlikely to have this completed for the 25th deadline. I am in conversation with IT support contractors I use and everyone seems to have a different appreciation of what is required.

What is the TOSM?

The TOSM is a comprehensive check list of the data and organisational issues you need to deal with in order to be compliant with the GDPR.

Read the support documentation

Again, you will find supporting documentation in the support portal. Where necessary you will need to consult with the staff or outside
contractors who look after your IT and other related matters.

Job done – these 12 steps form the basic structure of our workbook to enable GDPR compliance for accountants

If you’d like more detail about our ready-made solution to achieve GDPR compliance for your own practice, take a look at the ACCA promoted accountant’s GDPR workbook we have created here.

Or you can call me to discuss your concerns regarding GDPR compliance – Bob Edwards 07879 896073

Advertise services to accountants – become a Landmark partner firm

Accountants meeting

An introduction to the Landmark Partner opportunity written by Bob Edwards FCCA.

No person is an island and in much the same vein, no advisor – or at least none that I have met – has all the skills required to meet every possible problem presented by clients. At some time in our careers, we will all need the help of a specialist firm. There are chat forums where ideas can be exchanged. Most practitioners will be familiar with the Accounting Web for example. The problem with these, in my experience, is that most contributors are cloaked behind pseudonyms and it is sometimes difficult to sort good from bad advice.

Promote your services to our network of accountants

Landmark has a contact network of approaching 4,000 accountancy firms. From time to time I have been asked to recommend specialist advisors to accountancy practitioners which I have been pleased to do. This activity has encouraged me to believe that a one-stop facility, where accountants can track down the skills or second opinions they need, would be welcomed. The launch of the Landmark Partner page on our website is my attempt to provide this. To be clear, this facility will promote your specialist services to accountancy practitioners, and not to the wider business community.

Benefits and features of the Landmark Partner Program

  • Landmark’s 4,000 strong contact list of accountancy practitioners will be advised periodically of firms featured on the Partner page.
  • Featured firms can contribute articles to the Landmark Blog. I recommend that these articles focus on a specific area of advice that is offered.
  • Articles by partner firms will include link-backs to the writer’s website and other contact details.
  • Partner firms can pre-select the areas of expertise that they offer professional colleagues when they sign up.
  • As well as the advertising block on the Partner page, subscribing firms also have a linked page which has more information about your firm and the services you offer. This could include testimonials from accountants who have used your services in the past.
  • We will publish monthly global stats regarding web traffic to the Partner page taken from our Google Analytics’ data.

Does your practice fit the Landmark Partner profile?

Ideally your practice should specialise in one of the key areas listed below. Accountancy firms who need advice will be looking for evidence that you have a proven track record and the easiest way to demonstrate this is to include one or two testimonials from practitioners who have received and appreciated your advice in the recent past.

Categories you could advertise services to accountants on our Partner page

  • Business tax planning
  • Personal tax planning
  • VAT
  • GDPR
  • Money Laundering Regulations
  • Practice Marketing
  • Property tax planning
  • Estate planning
  • R&D tax credits
  • Capital Allowances
  • HMRC investigations
  • Insolvency

Frequently asked questions about advertising your services the Landmark partner programme

What sort of articles should you write for the Landmark blog

The articles that we publish and accredit to your firm on the Landmark blog and newsletters should demonstrate a measure of excellence in the services you want to offer to other accountancy firms. They should impress fellow practitioners and inspire confidence that you can deliver what they need without necessarily spelling out how you would achieve the expected result. For example, a simple way to achieve this would be to outline actual case studies (without disclosing any personal information). Ideally, the copy should be no more than 500 words.

How much does it cost to feature on the Landmark Partner page?

Initially, and in order to encourage participation and develop gravitas for the page, I am only charging a nominal fee to participate: £150 plus VAT per quarter or an annual fee of £480 plus VAT.
I will review these costs autumn 2019 when we have evidence that the idea has legs and partner firms are winning new business as a direct result of their participation. If you need further information, please call me any time (M) 07879 896073 (E) bob@landmarkpd.co.uk or visit the Partner Page on our website.

Act now to advertise services to our network of accountancy firms

Your firm’s position on the Partner page will depend on the date of your registration.
Basically, the advertising blocks will rank from top left to bottom right.
Accordingly, early bird subscribers will remain towards the top of the webpage as long as they maintain their subscription.

Visit the Partner Page on our website

Do you offer specialist services?

specialist accountancy services

I am receiving more and more requests from practitioners for help with specialist services: R&D relief, capital allowances, CGT, IHT planning, insolvency and so on.

Accordingly, when I launch a new website for Landmark next month, one of the new features will be a partners’ page where firms offering specialist services to other practitioners will be able to showcase their services.

Listed firms will also be able to contribute to this Weekly Insights blog.

How much will this cost?

There will be a hosting fee. I am still considering options but the costs will be posted before launch.

Would you like to get involved?

If you are interested in promoting your firm’s services to other professionals would you please email me, bob@landmarkpd.co.uk, declaring your interest and giving me an idea of the service areas you would cover. I will call you early July to discuss terms and show you how your firm would be represented on the site. At this stage there is no obligation I am trying to gauge interest in the idea.

Best regards,

Bob

Life after the 25th

man typing on laptop

Comments made recently by the ICO seem to suggest a light touch approach to enforcement of the GDPR following the 25th May deadline. Speculation that is not that helpful, as legally we need to get the work done.

Hopefully, being in-process – heading towards compliance – is better than a head-in-the-sand approach. And I am sure many of us will find ourselves in-progress as the deadline passes.

Ground rush

Personally speaking, the weeks have flown by since I started this GDPR journey, and I am grateful for the support of the directors of GDPR Auditing, Vakis and Phil, as they have provided the technical support and experience that is reflected in our joint venture Workbook and support material.

Continuing process

Unfortunately, the GDPR demands that we maintain compliance, it is a dynamic process. Once we are satisfied that we are compliant we will need to maintain that by a process of structured review.

Phone calls

I have spoken to more than one hundred practitioners in the last few weeks and many of these have elected to use our Workbook to record their steps towards compliance. Let’s hope there are no more “regulatory” issues in the pipeline.

Still wondering what approach to take re GDPR?

If you are still in limbo, trying to decide what action to take, call me and I’ll happily share my experiences to date, 07879 896073.

ACCA to promote our GDPR workbook

I submitted details of our GDPR workbook, guides and other documentation to the ACCA earlier in the year and I am pleased to report that they have formally agreed to promote the service to ACCA members in practice.

Members discount now available

If you are an ACCA member, and have not yet registered to use our workbook, please email me, bob@landmarkpd.co.uk, as I can now offer members of the ACCA a discount from our listed price. I will need to advise you of a discount code to add to your order form.

You can view details of the Workbook here.

ACCA logo

 

One month to go, are you compliant?

GDPR assessment for accountants

Seems appropriate to post a reminder to my lists today. For those practitioners who have not yet bitten the bullet, and frankly are not sure what they need to do, take a look at the GDPR Workbook and online guides that I have created with GDPR Auditing Ltd.

I have prepopulated much of the detail required as a good deal of the data we collect is common to most practices.

Isn’t this more red-tape?

Perhaps, but it is a legal obligation. And fairly soon, we will all be receiving emails from clients that are GDPR savvy asking us to confirm that we are compliant – if you cannot confirm, clients may well be obliged to find an adviser who is…

 

GDPR – the real threat to professional firms

GDPR assessment for accountants

This is an article I wrote for ACCA’s In Practice publication, (to be included in the April 2018 edition).

The real threat of GDPR non-compliance is loss of business

With just under two months to the 25 May 2018, the GDPR compliance deadline, I suggest that practitioners who have not yet tackled the thorny issues raised by the new regulations make a start.

Much has been written in summary format about the practical steps required to achieve compliance; having applied myself to the task for my own small practice, I can report that this is not a process for the faint-hearted.

But this article is not about the detailed work you will need to complete, it is about the real threat to your practice if you don’t become GDPR compliant.

The GDPR aims to protect the rights of individuals to manage the way that third parties acquire, retain and disseminate their personal data. All businesses in the UK are required to comply. Publicity regarding the GDPR has tended to stress the financial penalties if organisation abuse these new regulations and rights. It occurs to me that there is a much bigger threat for practices, and their clients, to consider.

Your clients will also be affected by these changes, as will your suppliers and the numerous connections we all have in our supply chains. We will all need to become compliant. And when we share our personal data, or personal data under our direct management, we will need to know that the person or organisation that we are sharing the data with is also GDPR compliant.

If practitioners have not yet received a direct request from clients to confirm that the practice is GDPR compliant, they will do… And if you cannot provide assurance that you are compliant, clients will have no choice but to seek an alternative advisor who is…

How do you become compliant?

Bob Edwards has formed a joint venture with GDPR Auditing Ltd and they have created a GDPR Workbook and guides that will see practitioners through the labyrinth of tasks that need to be completed. You can see what they have created here or you can contact Bob by email at: bob@landmarkpd.co.uk.

Much of the detail has already been pre-filled for you…

Complimentary access to our 2018-19 planning video

Taxes

I have just produced the April 2018 video in our TaxBox series. The title is Taxing Times and it highlights a number of tax and associated changes that will affect clients during 2018-19.

Do you have video content on your website?

An increasing number of progressive firms are starting to use video content on their websites. According to those in the know, visitors are much more likely to stay on your site if you provide something relevant they can watch and listen to, rather than having to read acres of text.

Can I see the video?

Yes you can… The generic version, without your logo and contact details on the opening and closing stills can be viewed here. Just click the play button. Don’t forget to turn the sound on…

 

What other topics will you be covering this year?

Our video topics for 2018-19 are:

  • Taxing Times 2018-19 published April 2018.
  • Extracting funds from your company (July 2018)
  • Setting up a new business (October 2018)
  • Are you ready for Making Tax Digital? (January 2019)

How much does it cost?

TaxBox is a subscription service. Each quarterly video is available in two formats:

  • A generic version for £195 plus VAT per quarter, and
  • A branded version for £260 plus VAT per quarter

TaxBox is a quarterly contract, so no long-term tie-ins.

Extended free access to the Taxing Times video for 2018-19

I have extended the offer to provide you with a free copy of the April 2018 video to 10 April 2018, the publication date is 15 April 2018.  I will produce a branded version of the Taxing Times video for your practice at no charge. All you have to do is take out a subscription and you will not be required to make a payment until the July 2018 video is released.

Place your order here.

Best regards,

 

Bob

Bob Edwards FCCA

3 April 2018

 

 

2018-19 video content for your website

Taxes

I have just produced the April 2018 video in our TaxBox series. The title is Taxing Times and it highlights a number of tax and associated changes that will affect clients during 2018-19.

Do you have video content on your website?

An increasing number of progressive firms are starting to use video content on their websites. According to those in the know, visitors are much more likely to stay on your site if you provide something relevant they can watch and listen to, rather than having to read acres of text.

Can I see the video?

Yes you can… The generic version, without your logo and contact details on the opening and closing stills can be viewed here. Just click the play button. Don’t forget to turn the sound on…

 

What other topics will you be covering this year?

Our video topics for 2018-19 are:

  • Taxing Times 2018-19 published next month April 2018.
  • Extracting funds from your company (July 2018)
  • Setting up a new business (October 2018)
  • Are you ready for Making Tax Digital? (January 2019)

How much does it cost?

TaxBox is a subscription service. Each quarterly video is available in two formats:

  • A generic version for £195 plus VAT per quarter, and
  • A branded version for £260 plus VAT per quarter

TaxBox is a quarterly contract, so no long-term tie-ins.

Like free access to the Taxing Times video?

If you sign up to a TaxBox subscription before 1 April 2018, in the next three days, I will produce a branded version of the Taxing Times video for your practice at no charge. All you have to do is take out a subscription and you will not be required to make a payment until the July 2018 video is released.

Place your order here.

This offer is only open open for three days.

 

 

See ourselves…

video content for accountant websites

I believe that the ability to see ourselves as others see us, is wishful thinking as we are condemned to our subjective viewpoint.

Why is this of interest?

If accountants are not viewed by non-accountants in quite the same way as we view ourselves, how can this realisation be of value?

When I first produced video content for accountants I was keen to shape the video presentation based on the comments I received from professionals as part of my market research. I realise now that the videos are intended to anchor visitors to your website and so the opinion of non-professionals is probably of more interest.

What do your website visitors want?

Accountants are driven to look professional and appear to be well informed. Accordingly, I shaped my initial video offerings based on those criteria.

When I later approached non-accountants for an opinion, they were much more interested in bullet points (lack of informed detail) and the entertainment value of the presentation (how did it look). In other words, your site visitors, when accessing video content, want to be visually entertained.

TaxBox has been restyled

I discussed my findings with our video techies and they were very happy to restyle. The video embedded in this post shows you the new look applied to our January 2018 tax planning reminder video for 2017-18.

 

 

Like to add similar videos to your website?

Take a look at our TaxBox service

We create quarterly videos, on topical issues, at a reasonable price, and with the new styling, will provide an entertaining counterpoint to the endless pages of script and static images.

I am confident that video content is the way to go, and so I am prepared to offer new subscribers, those that sign up before the end of March 2018, free access to the next video “Taxing Times 2018-19” a visual presentation of key issues for this coming tax year including:

  • Salary sacrifice
  • Regional variations in taxation
  • Company profit withdrawal options
  • GDPR, and
  • Making Tax Digital

Complete our standard subscriber signup form and you will not be billed for your first video to be released in the first week of April.

We offer two levels of subscription:

  • TaxBox BASIC – generic versions with no practice branding, or
  • TaxBox PLUS – opening stills have your logo and closing stills have your logo and contact details.

Be sure to tick the appropriate box on the order form.

Taxing Times – stay ahead of tax code changes

Taxes

I think I can safely assume that you are keeping abreast of changes in the tax code, so I don’t need to labour these changes in great detail on this blog or in the various publications that I offer on the Landmark site.

What I have decided to do for 2018-19, is to focus on how you can take advantage of tax developments to create new “tax products” for your practice, and hopefully, increase your income.

What is Taxing Times?

Taxing Times is my working brand for this new service. I am going to write a booklet that covers a number of key areas of tax advice that I feel offer opportunities to further develop existing tax advice, and create new tax service income streams. It will also bundle in all my regular support documentation – fact sheets, draft client email/letters etc. I am particularly keen to explore ways to create recurring tax services to replace more conventional compliance work that is gradually drifting away from our firms.

I need your help

At present, I am aiming to cover the following topics:

  • Salary sacrifice and BiKs
  • Company extraction strategies – salary v dividends v interest on loans v Biks v pension funding etc.
  • Incorporation v self employment
  • MTD
  • GDPR
  • Criminal Finances Act 2017
  • VAT status review
  • IHT planning reviews
  • Buy-to-let planning options
  • Capital Allowances
  • Furnished Holiday Lets annual review

Before I settle down to write this are there any more topics you would like me to cover? Just email your requests to bob@landmarkpd.co.uk

Please talk to me

contact by phone

I have had a number of conversations with practitioners during the past week and there does seem to be an awful lot of confusion about the GDPR, and more particularly, how it applies to accountants.

Still think the GDPR is something you can ignore?

If you have been following my blog the last few weeks you may have noticed that I have created a GDPR Workbook with specialist advisor GDPR Auditing Ltd. What we have produced is a road-map, it’s almost GDPR compliance by the numbers. I have pre-populated large sections of the workbook for you, all you will need to do is check to ensure that what I have added is relevant for your practice rather than research the detail from scratch.

Call me today 07879 896073

So, if you have misgivings about GDPR, or would like to discuss your options with me, I have cleared my desk to take your calls today. I will keep my mobile with me (and switched on) give me a call: 07879 896073. If you can’t get through leave a message or email bob@landmarkpd.co.uk and I will call you back.