Before we look at the many exciting updates to come out of this year’s Xerocon, we are delighted to announce that Taylorcocks won the 2017 Xero Emerging Partner of the Year Award! This award recognises the emerging Xero accounting or bookkeeping partner who demonstrates the potential to deliver increasing value-added services to their clients in 2018.
Xero Expenses One of the biggest complaints we received from clients was that its Staff Expenses system was clunky and inherently time-consuming. Well, we have some fantastic news for you. Xero has entirely re-written the Expenses module, and designed it to be not only user-friendly but also to save a lot of time. We will be reviewing this feature in detail in the next edition, but for now here are the highlights.
The new system will enable staff to snap photos on their phones/tablets and have them automatically read, and the data entered into Xero. You can then either Accept or Decline each one or in bulk. The app will have Geo-location, the ability to add labels, the ability to override manually and there will be a built-in mileage tracker! You will also be able to invite staff to just the Expenses App without them needing to have access to your Xero accounts. Now for the downside – this feature within Xero will no longer be free of charge and will have a small monthly fee per user.
Xero Projects is another pay per user feature that Xero has recently introduced. Projects lets you create and manage projects that can work with other parts of Xero, like invoicing and contacts. Add tasks and expenses, record time, and track the progress and profitability of your projects. It’s a fantastic project management tool for service type businesses.
CIS (Construction Industry Scheme) It’s arrived!! Over two years in the making, the CIS module has finally been released for Beta testing. It can handle both Contractor/Subcontractor roles and deducts the CIS from both Sales/Purchase invoices. The module also keeps track of how much you owe to, or are owed by HMRC. At present, it does not link to HMRC for either verifying subcontractors or filing the CIS returns. However, Xero assures us that by the time it goes on public release – expected within 120 days – the HMRC links will be live for both.
User Roles The user roles within Xero are getting a significant makeover. While this is going to improve the user interface substantially, initially there is not going to be a vast amount of change in the user levels available. However, Xero has promised some exciting changes in this area over the coming 12 months.
Credit Card Payments Would you like to accept credit card payments from your customers? After the eWay payment gateway sold out, the options available significantly reduced and the ability to add a credit card processing fee disappeared. The great news is that Xero will soon be re-introducing this functionality with the ‘Stripe’ payment gateway.
Xero Touch App The Xero app (available on both iOS and Android) is continually changing, and Xero’s latest change will allow you to create and send quotes from your phone or tablet.Find & RecodeOne of the most significant problems with the Find & Recode feature was that you could only search source documents. This was a real stumbling block if you used a lot of Manual Journals. Xero will soon be upgrading the feature to enable bulk recoding of manual journals, thus solving the issue.
Bank Rules The long-awaited Bank Transfer Rules have arrived! Within Bank Rules you will now see the option to select Transfer Rule. Once set up Xero will automatically select the correct Bank Account within Transfer and you will just need to click OK.
Xero Discuss enables us to communicate with you directly from within Xero, removing the need for lengthy email chains or potential miscommunication about data – linking to specific pages and invoices.
Business Performance Ratios One of the least used features in Xero is its Business Performance Ratios. You can use this feature to display up to eight of the most commonly used ratios. To access this feature just go to Reports/All Reports expand the financial section by clicking on the three dots, then select Business Performance. From here you simply need to put a blue star against the ratios you wish to appear on the Dashboard.
VAT Flat Rate Remembering to enter the Flat Rate Adjustment journal on Xero has always been a challenge for some of our clients. The great news is that Xero now does this for you! All you need to do is click on Settings/General Settings/Financial Settings and set the Flat Rate Adjustment Account to code ‘290 – Flat rate scheme – Gain/Loss’.
Sales Invoice Improvement Monthly client billing can take a long time. We already know that Xero can produce ‘Repeating Invoices’ where the invoice remains static every month. However, what about those customers where they are billed by the number of hours or the number of telephone calls? Previously you’d end up searching for the previous month’s invoice to find out the wording you used and the rates charged. Some of you will have realised that you can ‘Copy’ an invoice, but it still takes time.
Xero has now taken that pain away! Once you have typed in the customer’s name, you will see the words ‘Add Last Items’ appear just under the ‘To’ box. When you click on these words, Xero will automatically populate your invoice with the line items from the previous invoice. These line items can then be edited or tailored for your new invoice. No more searching, or copying invoices!
Paper tax return deadline reminder
The deadline to submit your self-assessment paper tax return for the 2016/17 tax year is 31 October 2017. All income received during the tax year running from 6 April to 5 April must be accounted for in your tax return. To report your income, claim tax reliefs or any outstanding repayments, you need to complete the SA100 form.
You might need to fill in more sections, known as ‘supplementary pages’, if you’re reporting other types of income. These include:
If sending a tax return for a business partnership, trustee or non-resident company there are additional forms to complete. These are available on the HMRC website. What you need
In order to complete your paper tax return, you will need:
Calculating your bill Once you’ve submitted your paper tax return by the deadline, HMRC will calculate the amount of tax you need to pay, as well as a payment on account for the 2017/18 tax year. If you owe less than £3,000 tax for the 2016/17 tax year, HMRC can try to collect the remaining tax from your wages or pension from 6 April via your PAYE tax code, but only if the paper tax return is submitted by 31 October 2017.We can help you with self-assessment.
Buy-to-let regulations fuel rent rises
Landlords are increasing rent prices due to the recent introduction of buy-to-let tax regulations, according to a study.
Estate agent Your Move analysed rental prices on around 20,000 properties and found the average rent in England and Wales rose by 3.1% in the past year to £874.
The rise in rental prices can be attributed to the recent tax changes affecting landlords, such as the mortgage interest relief and 3% stamp duty land tax surcharge.
Tax changes have also restricted the supply of new properties on the market, with a fall in housing stock levels pushing up rent prices.
Every region apart from the South West saw rental prices increase in the year to July 2017, with rents in the South West down 2.2% to an average of £667 per month.
Wales saw the biggest rise in rent over the same period, with prices up 4.3% to £595 per month.Other areas to experience average monthly rental increases of more than 3% in the past 12 months include:
Richard Waind, director of Your Move, said:
“We are now starting to see the real impact of the stamp duty revision, plus the additional tax changes which have hit landlords hard.
“The outcome has seen a decline in the number of rental properties on the market and this has had the effect of pushing up prices for tenants.”
Sole traders exposed to cash crises
Nearly half (41%) of self-employed people struggle to save any money each month, leaving them exposed to financial problems. Insurer LV= surveyed 9,495 self-employed workers and found one in three could not survive for more than three months if they lost their income. Nearly two thirds (62%) of respondents said monthly bills eat up the majority of their wages.
Furthermore, sole traders are more likely to be hit by unexpected costs (33%), such as home maintenance and repairs, compared to the national average of 28%.
Justin Harper, head of protection policy at LV=, said:
“It’s often the case that self-employed people lack the safety net of an employer’s benefits, such as sick pay.
“This means they risk having to rely instead on state benefits, which can involve a lengthy application and wait with no guarantee of any support.”
28% of sole traders were concerned about not being able to work due to an accident and 29% were worried about becoming unwell.
In circumstances where you are unable to work, there are protection policies available to help cover your costs.
Income protection pays out a tax-free percentage of your earnings, usually between 50% and 70%, until retirement, death or your return to work.
If diagnosed with a long-term illness or disability, critical illness cover can pay you a tax-free lump sum to cover your expenses.
Finance Bill 2017-19 round-up
The government has published Finance Bill 2017-19, containing a number of changes that will affect both savers and investors.
Many of the measures in the Bill were expected in April 2017 but were withdrawn due to the snap general election, which took place on 8 June 2017.
Most of them have now been reinstated with immediate effect, such as: • the reduction of the money purchase annual allowance from £10,000 to £4,000 • abolishing permanent non-dom status so those living in the UK for years pay tax on the same basis as UK residents.Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: “These motions now pick up where we left off and legislate for the provisions that were introduced and withdrawn due to time constraints [caused by the decision to call a snap general election].”Further measures
There were other measures confirmed in the Bill, such as the annual dividend allowance being reduced from £5,000 to £2,000 from April 2018.
The pensions advice allowance will enable savers to access £500 from their pension savings tax-free for regulated financial advice. This can be done up to three times before the age of 55.
In relation to Making Tax Digital, businesses with turnover below the VAT registration threshold no longer have to keep digital records until at least April 2020.
Regulations on digital record keeping for VAT purposes will not take effect before 1 April 2019.