In this version of our Q&As we ask Lucy Eve, our Client Manager at our Totton branch, 10 questions about Vantage, her career as an accountant, and what she believes the future holds for small business owners.

Q1 – As an accountant, what’s the best piece of advice you’d give to a small business owner?

Even after your business has taken off it is still beneficial to budget and be aware of cash flow, ensuring that you always have enough capital to pay for any forecasted expenses, and regularly updating to allow for any adjustments to your business plan. I was once told that most businesses fail in their first year of trade, but this is not necessarily because of the business itself, it would be down to managing cash flow.  Also, always check if anything has changed and to keep updated with any requirements specific to your business, such as insurances or specific software and equipment that would need to help grow the business.

Q2 – What’s the most common topic you’re quizzed about by your clients?

It has to be dividends! With the end of the tax year in sight a lot of our clients are wondering what the tax rates currently are, if they have any unused allowance, and if the rates are changing in the new tax year. Here’s a little background information about dividends, in case you’re wondering what the answers are:

Dividend tax changes – rates will increase from 6 April 2022. The below points highlight the current % you pay based on which tax band you fall into, and what you can expect to pay from April onwards:

  • If you’re a basic rate taxpayer – increase from 7.5% to 8.75%
  • If you’re a higher rate taxpayer – increase from 32.5% to 33.75%
  • If you’re an additional rate taxpayer (for those earning over £150,000) – increase to 39.35%

Self Employed

  • If you’re a basic rate taxpayer – increase from 9% to 10.25%
  • If you’re a higher rate/additional rate taxpayer – increase from 2% to 3.25%

Employees

  • If you’re a basic rate taxpayer – increase from 12% to 13.25%
  • If you’re a higher rate/additional rate taxpayer – increase from 2% to 3.25%

The £2,000 dividend allowance isn’t set to change, so you’re able to continue to enjoy the first £2,000 at 0%.

If you have unused allowance then speak to your Vantage Accountant, who will be able to advise the maximum dividend you’re able to take whilst remaining in the lower tax band. Our blog on dividends has a deeper look at the facts and figures behind the upcoming changes should you want to take a more in-depth look at dividends, or alternatively speak to your accountant.

Q3 – The Spring Statement is due March 23rd. What would you like to see announced that would really help small business owners?

In an ideal world after the last few years that everyone has been through, it would be great to hear that decreases to rates would be announced in the Statement, but unfortunately HMRC will be trying to make up for the grants they have helped some businesses with during this time. As inflation has increased it would be handy if lower VAT rates were introduced to entice businesses and individuals to keep spending, along with maybe an increase in the VAT registration threshold to help small businesses trade for a little longer before they are required to register. Many of these things are the same points that come up year after year, but one can always hope.

Q4 – If a small business is just starting out, what’s the first thing they should do (other than sourcing a reliable accountant!)?

It is not uncommon to make a loss in your first year of trade, as you are starting out you will have a lot of expenses or capital assets that you may need to consider whilst your business kicks off. It would be within your interest to get up to speed and set reminders for when your accounts and tax will be due, alongside the tax rates for your business so you know how much to keep aside for your tax liability at the end of the year so it isn’t a surprise – HMRC don’t wait to send out penalties for any late filings. These are all things we can help with so please feel free to get in touch if you have any queries. Also, from the moment you start trading it is ideal to keep ahead of the game and stay organised with your accounting records. Make sure all receipts are kept and recorded in a spreadsheet or software to keep an eye on your costs throughout the year.

Q5 – What piece of advice would you give to your clients who have been in business for a while?

One thing is certain with what we have learned with Covid, the world can change suddenly, so you should make sure that your business is diverse enough for future change. It is always a good idea to budget and plan throughout the year and not just at the end when your accounts are complete, allowing for any variances that could happen as and when they arise, such as a regular customer not paying you. Alternatively, if you have been in business for a while and have built up some spare funds, utilising them in the best way can help benefit you in the long run. It is always a good idea to keep some cash aside for anything that can come up, but it may be beneficial to check if there are any specific allowances that you can take advantage from to use some of the surplus cash, such as the temporary super allowance with 130% tax relief on qualifying assets, or maybe contributing into a pension might suit you as another way of getting some tax relief.

Q6 – For seasoned small business owners, is there any tax legislation they should particularly be focusing on this year to help maximise their take home pay?

Understanding your tax thresholds and what you’re entitled to is the best way to make the most from what’s available to you, and therefore make the most from your take home pay. We’ve recently written a blog that details what you can do before 5 April 2022 to make the most from your tax allowances, and another blog that looks ahead to the new tax year, and what you can be doing to get a head start. Your Vantage Accountant will also be able to advise you further, based on your personal and professional goals.

Q7 – What’s your favourite part about being a Vantage accountant?

I like being able to help people wherever I can, whether it be with something simple like advising their forecasted tax to plan at the end of the year for, or something in a bit more detail like intercompany loans. It is also great to build relationships with clients and learning about the different varied businesses they have and what they do, enabling me to help advise for each client individually.

Q8 – Tell us something about you personally that your clients won’t know

I like to be as eco-friendly as possible and have tried to increase my recycling over the last few years, finding places outside of my local council collection to venture to. I was amazed to find that there are all sorts of recycle schemes, ranging from toothpaste tubes and make up brushes to a variety of all sorts of plastics.

Q9 – What do you enjoy doing when you’re not helping Vantage clients

I like the natural world so when I am outside the flat I like to explore new places, whether it be off path deep in the forest or far down a coastline somewhere, half the fun is finding your way back home before it gets too dark. On a rainy day I like to look after and propagate my plants, its great watching them grow from seed and watching them flourish.

Q10 – What made you decide to become an accountant?

When I was at school, numbers were one of the things that always made sense to me. When it came to number puzzles and problems, mathematics felt like second nature to me. As an added bonus I always enjoyed any challenge and love my spreadsheets outside of work too, so who wouldn’t want a job they enjoy! I have also never really liked the fact that HMRC like to take as much tax as they can, so I thought it looked like a perfect opportunity to try and put the two together, helping business owners run their business in the most tax efficient way.