Technical and Insight
Support with self assessment
As the self-assessment deadline nears, catch up on some topical points.

As the self-assessment deadline nears, catch up on some topical points.

The December issue of In Practice included articles on topical self-assessment matters; catch up on these here:

Investors’ relief
How and when to use IR, including worked examples.

How and when to use IR, including worked examples. 

In the Finance Act 2016 the Chancellor extended the 10% entrepreneurs’ relief tax rate to investors who are not employees and so would not normally qualify for entrepreneurs' relief. 

Similarly to entrepreneurs’ relief, the investors’ relief reduces the capital gains tax rate to 10% and applies to the first £10m of gains, which is separate from and does not affect the £10m cap of entrepreneurs’ relief. Like entrepreneurs’ relief, there is a minimum time for which the shares need to be held (three years) although that differs from the requirement of entrepreneurs’ relief (one year).

Unlike the entrepreneurs’ relief there is no minimum investment shareholding requirement, but the investor cannot be an officer of the company (subject to limited exceptions).

The relief applies when specific conditions are met with regards to the shares, the investor and the period of investment.

Conditions in relation to shares
The relief applies to shares which are: 

  • ordinary shares at issue and immediately before disposal
  • unquoted at the time of issue (AIM shares are considered unquoted)
  • in a trading company or holding company of a trading group throughout ownership by the investor, where trading activities can include preparatory activities in anticipation of trade and to acquire trade
  • subscribed wholly for cash and fully paid at the time of issue
  • held continuously from acquisition to disposal
  • issued for commercial reasons and not solely to secure a tax advantage.

Conditions in relation to investor
The relief applies as long as the investor or a person connected with the investor (the investor’s spouse, civil partner, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild, or other lineal relative, including brothers or sisters) has not been an officer or employee of the issuing company or a connected company in the relevant period (see below).

There are specific concessions available to unremunerated directors and investors who become employees following the share issue:

Unremunerated director
Unremunerated director is not considered a relevant employee and may qualify for the relief if neither he nor any person connected with him had been involved in carrying out a trade or business of the issuing company or company connected with it, before the relevant period (before the shares were subscribed for). This would apply when an unconnected person subscribes for shares in a company, and subsequently happens to become its unremunerated director. 

For this purpose, remuneration includes any payment to the director or a person connected with them other than:

  • reimbursement of expenses incurred exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the director's duties
  • interest on a loan granted by the director to the company at a reasonable commercial rate
  • dividend at no more than a normal return on investment
  • payment for the supply of goods not exceeding market value
  • payment of rent for any property occupied by the issuing company or a related person not exceeding a reasonable and commercial rent
  • payment for qualifying services provided  to the company such as those which are relevant to its UK or partly UK trade, but not of managerial or secretarial nature usually associated with directors. For example, payment for engineering consultancy services provided by a director who is also an engineer would not count as remuneration.

Investor who became employed following the subscription
Usually individuals who became employed after 180 days from subscription will not be considered relevant employees and so can benefit from the relief.

The investment period
The relief applies only to shares: 

  • issued and subscribed for on or after 17 March 2016
  • held for at least three years from 6 April 2016.

The relief will therefore apply for disposals from 2019/20.

Operation of the relief
At time of disposal, all or part of the stake disposed may qualify for relief. At time of the disposal there may be three classes of shares being disposed of: 

  • qualifying shares, which have been held for three years and entitle the investor to IR
  • potentially qualifying shares, which have been held for less than three years, which do not qualify for IR now, but may qualify in future
  • excluded shares, which do not and will not qualify for IR, for example due to change of trading status of the shares, a receipt of excess return of value, or a corporate reorganisation.

IR is to be claimed in such a way so as to maximise tax relief.

If an individual has had previous disposals, the way to achieve maximum relief in the current year will depend on which shares are treated as having been disposed of in the previous disposals (and therefore which are left to still be disposed of in the current year). How the previous disposal is assumed to have been structured depends on whether or not at the time of the previous disposal the investor claimed IR.

Scenario 1 – IR is claimed at the previous disposal
At time of disposal, an investor had 10,000 excluded, qualifying and potentially qualifying shares each (30,000 shares in total). The investor disposes of 25,000 shares and claims IR. Three years later, the investor makes another disposal, selling the remaining 5,000 shares.

As a result of the claim made with the first disposal, the pot of the disposed shares at that time is assumed to be made of shares in the following order: 

  • 10,000 of qualifying shares – these will qualify for the reduced 10% tax rate
  • 10,000 of excluded shares – these will attract the normal CGT rates
  • 5,000 of potentially qualifying shares - these will attract the normal CGT rates.

The next disposal three years later is assumed to be out of the remaining shares, which at the first disposal were potentially qualifying shares, so are likely to be qualifying shares at the time of the future disposal. 

The investor benefited from IR claimed on 15,000 shares (10k with the first disposal and 5k with the second disposal)

Scenario 2 – as above, but the investor does not claim IR with on the first disposal 
At the second disposal the investor claims IR for the first time. In order to maximise relief, it is assumed that at the previous disposal the pot of the disposed shares was made of shares in the following order: 

  • 10,000 of excluded shares
  • 10,000 of potentially qualifying shares
  • 5,000 of qualifying shares.

When the subsequent disposal is made, the shares sold are assumed to be shares which at the previous disposal were qualifying shares. The investors will claim IR on 5,000 shares.

When shares become ‘excluded shares’
Return of value
Anti-avoidance provisions, which disqualify shares from qualifying for IR, apply to any payment by the issuing company to the investor, made one year before share issue and three years after the share issue, excluding: 

  • payment of £1000 or less with no prior arrangements in place
  • rent, interest, payment for assets at commercial rates
  • dividend at commercial levels.

Impact of reconstructions on IR
There are special rules applying to new shares issued on reconstructions and takeovers. Whether or not IR will apply to the new shares depends on whether or not there was consideration for the old shares (which includes share consideration). The rules are as follows: 

Sale for no consideration
If no consideration is given for the new shares, they are treated as if they were old shares, in that: 

  • proportion of qualifying, potentially qualifying and excluded shares is the same as the original holding
  • the subscription price and date is deemed to be the same as the old shares (they are assumed to have been held for the same period as the original shares).

for a consideration
If consideration is given, shares are treated as a new issue with the actual price and subscription date issued.  This will deny IR for the new shares for three years if consideration was in cash.

However, if consideration was for shares (share exchange or scheme of reconstruction), the new holding may qualify for IR if an election is made for those to qualify if the old shares met the qualifying conditions. The effect of the election is that it will crystallise the gain and the relevant IR at that point.

How to claim
The relief is claimed on the capital gains tax pages of your self-assessment tax return. A claim can be made up until the first anniversary of the 31 January following the tax year in which the disposal is made. 

The introduction of IR was meant to further enhance a strong entrepreneurial culture in the UK, allowing easier access to financing and business expansion. It will attract investors who to date had to forego any tax breaks unless they qualified for entrepreneurs’, EIS or SEIS relief. The relief is currently available only to incorporated companies (limited liability partnerships are excluded). 

However, since its first announcement the relief has been extended to include jointly held shares and trustees; it is possible a further re-write of the qualifying conditions might be seen in future.

New tax-free childcare for employed and self-employed parents
Tax-free childcare is a new government initiative which is due to be rolled out from early 2017.

Tax-free childcare is a new government initiative which is due to be rolled out from early 2017. 

Tax-free childcare is a new government initiative which will replace the existing childcare voucher scheme in April 2018. 

How does it work?
For every 80p you or someone else pays in, the government will top up an extra 20p. This is equivalent of the basic rate tax most people pay - 20% - which gives the scheme its name, ‘tax-free’. 

The government will top up the account with 20% of childcare costs up to a total of £10,000 – the equivalent of up to £2,000 support per child per year (£4,000 for a disabled child).

How to register?
You will need to provide HMRC with an email address, and then HMRC will email you when tax-free childcare and 30 hours’ free childcare is available for your family. That link highlights that 30 hours' free childcare is only available in England but the first question asked is “Where do you live?” which gives options of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and allows all applicants to provide email addresses. 

Once you have signed up, you will appear on a digital tool. This tool will also let parents search for childcare providers on the tax-free childcare scheme. Each account requires eligibility validation every three months. 

When does it start?
The scheme will be rolled out gradually, with parents of the youngest children able to apply first. 

Who qualifies?
In order to qualify both parents (and single parents) in the household must work a minimum of 16 hours per week and not be receiving more than £100,000 each. The scheme is not available if one parent is not working.

The parent is not already getting support through the existing childcare voucher scheme.

The scheme is available for children up to the age of 12 (or 17 for children with disabilities).

The scheme is available to the self-employed. To support newly self-employed parents, the government is introducing a ‘start-up’ period. During this, self-employed parents won’t have to earn the minimum income level.

Parents and others can pay money into their childcare account as and when they like.

What about current employer-supported childcare?
The current Employer-Supported Childcare scheme will remain open to new entrants until April 2018. Parents already registered by this date will be able to continue using it for as long as their employer offers it. 

Employers’ workplace nurseries won’t be affected by the introduction of tax-free childcare.

Employees do not have to switch to tax-free childcare if they do not wish to. If you are two working parents (basic rate taxpayers) you will be better off with the new scheme only if you spend at least £9,500 per year on registered childcare. Families with part time childcare costs (particularly those with school age children) will generally be better off with the existing childcare voucher scheme.

Can you withdraw money from the account if you want to?
If circumstances change, then you’ll be able to withdraw the money you have built up. If you do, the government will withdraw its corresponding contribution.

Making Tax Digital – the latest key points
A summary of the points that matter most to practitioners in the recent Treasury Committee MTD report.

A summary of the points that matter most to practitioners in the recent Treasury Committee MTD report. 

The House of Commons Treasury Committee took the unusual step of publishing its report on Making Tax Digital ahead of the expected government draft legislation, and comments on the replies to the consultation it received this month. 

The concerns that the Committee raised echo those that you have shared with ACCA and that ACCA shared with the Committee. 

The Committee said that it ‘expects the government to consider this report before it publishes its response to the Making Tax Digital consultations and the provisions to implement the changes, expected in January 2017. The report makes a number of suggestions to mitigate the widespread concerns over MTD. If these suggestions are unacceptable to the government, it is likely that pressure will increase for the government to introduce MTD as a voluntary scheme.’ 

The findings and recommendations were broadly that the time frame for implementation is too short, that the cost to business is too high, that there is significant uncertainty regarding all areas of software and that HMRC has not evidenced the benefit to business of this change. This is what it said in the summary: 

‘… the Committee supports the idea of the digitisation of the reporting of tax. However, it considers that mandating the digitising of record keeping and quarterly reporting, as currently envisaged, has not yet had its overall benefits proven. Just over a year is too short a lead time for such a fundamental change in any event. There should be a comprehensive set of pilots of the end-to-end system before it is made mandatory for all businesses. The Committee is very concerned about the costs to businesses of introducing MTD, as well as the continuing costs of maintaining digital records and submitting quarterly updates. There is not yet enough information about the free software that will be available, but even if it remains free in perpetuity, businesses will face costs in terms of time and accountants’ fees. In aggregate, these costs may well exceed the benefits to the exchequer in terms of tax gap reduction as a result of fewer taxpayer errors and the overall impact of MTD could even be negative. This requires further investigation.’ 

ACCA has welcomed the report in its press release

You can send in your views and comments on the report with a heading MTD to 

While you can read the full report now, below we have extracted some of the key paragraphs that we feel you may find of interest: 

Support for the principle
29.  Digitisation will provide many opportunities for increasing efficiency of tax collection. This needs to be done not just in a way that may better secure the yield, but also taking into account the reasonable needs of millions of taxpayers. This will require a great deal of care and sensitivity on the part of HMRC. A large proportion of the UK’s businesses, particularly the millions of small businesses, are not currently well equipped to move over to digital record keeping and reporting. Nor may they be so for several years. 

Implementation should be deferred
39. The government has been invited, in a series of letters, to explain its position. But the government has not yet had the opportunity to give detailed oral evidence to this Committee in support of its proposed timetable. The Committee will take further evidence from the government after it has published its proposals in the light of the consultations that it has undertaken. On the evidence that the Committee has seen, the government appears intent on keeping to its original schedule. This now leaves little over a year to complete the work. This looks over-ambitious. The government has yet to publish draft legislation to address crucial concerns raised by this Committee, among others, at early stages of their consultation. Among these concerns are: the need for adequate, free software; the overall costs and benefits of the project; the proposed speed of implementation and the fact that it will be mandatory for the vast majority of businesses within little over two years.

40. The imposition of a requirement to move to digital record keeping and reporting is a fundamental change to the system of tax administration in the UK which requires much wider debate and consultation. Even after the concessions announced to date, it is still likely to affect two and a half million taxpayers and possibly as many as five million. It is extremely unlikely that the vast majority of businesses will be capable of adapting to that start date at reasonable cost. Nor should they be expected to do so. The Committee therefore recommends a delay of the full implementation of MTD until at least 2019/20.

41. In the view of the Committee, a start date of April 2018 for mandatory MTD is wholly unrealistic. Whether a start date of 2019, for the 2019/20 tax year, would be possible will depend on the exact shape of the government’s proposals. These have yet to be published. But on the evidence that the Committee has seen so far, this also looks unlikely.

46. Any decisions about VAT and the EU are relevant for the timing of MTD.  This is because each could cause disruption and costs to businesses.  Whether these can be mitigated, or would be aggregated, by implementing MTD and post Brexit related VAT changes simultaneously will depend on the government’s decision for each.  Neither of these is currently known in enough detail to form a view.  In the absence of clarity about the Brexit-relevant changes, it would be imprudent to press ahead with MTD.  To do so could – depending on the shape of the final decisions – leave firms vulnerable to considerable and unacceptable disruption to the VAT reporting.  The Committee will expect the government to provide detailed evidence on this point.

The end to end process should be adequately piloted
54. It is also important that such pilots reflect the role of agents in tax. The majority of tax returns are currently submitted by accountants and tax advisers and the system being piloted has yet to include this. The government needs to explain the pilot process that it envisages for agents.

There should be no mandation, even for larger businesses
62. The government has argued that businesses may benefit from a requirement to keep records and submit information digitally. But the Committee has yet to see the evidence to support the view that the benefits to business would outweigh the costs. Were digital record keeping as beneficial to business as HMRC claimed, it is plausible to suppose that most businesses would be doing it now. 

65. The government should draw on the experience gained at the beginning of this century from introducing online filing for income tax self-assessment over a period of many years. This suggests that there is merit, both for the customer and for HMRC, in moving gradually. To rush it might imperil the yield.

Making Tax Digital will bring extra costs for businesses
88. The average cost to business of implementing MTD cannot be substantiated until there is more detail of the requirements and more examples of the software. However, the cost is likely to be significant for a small business. There will be both implementation costs and continuing costs. Evidence given to the Committee suggests that under the current timetable, the total cost to business (including software, hardware, training, agent fees and, above all, time) might exceed the total benefits in improved tax yield. In other words, even if the yield were to rise, the return to the whole economy could be negative. The government’s estimate of the yield may therefore neglect the effect of overall behavioural changes.

The revenue from reduced errors is unlikely to materialise
94. A detailed explanation of how it has arrived at its conclusions on the potential revenue yield will form a crucial part of the government’s response to the consultations. Even if the total economic return were shown to be modestly positive, the government must convince Parliament that it is worth the candle.

95. A core part of the government’s case for MTD is that, by sharply reducing the net value of errors, an important part of the tax gap will be closed. This may or may not turn out to be the case.

96. It is plausible to suppose that, in so far as MTD results in fewer customer errors, those errors will have been as much in the exchequer’s favour (such as forgetting to record deductible expenses) as they have been in favour of the individual taxpayers. It is also plausible to suggest that errors will increase as taxpayers become accustomed to a new type of record keeping. Furthermore, some businesses might cease trading as a result of the additional costs that they face, and others might elect to move into the hidden economy rather than comply with their new MTD obligations.

97. The tax gap for 'errors' and 'failure to take reasonable care' form a relatively small part of the overall tax gap. Some parts of the tax gap, such as 'criminal attacks' and 'non-payment' will never be completely removed, so the elements of the UK tax gap that can credibly be reduced are relatively small. The UK compares favourably with other economies. The relatively low tax gap in the UK is in part due to a widely understood culture of mutual trust between HMRC and the vast majority of taxpayers. Unlike some countries, most UK taxpayers try to pay the right amount. Trust is built upon respect for taxpayers’ confidentiality and a feeling that taxpayers are being treated fairly, even if they do not like having to pay tax. That trust could be eroded if HMRC rushes into dealing with individuals in a faceless and automated way before they are ready for it, and with what some taxpayers may perceive to be risks to confidentiality.

98. Before proceeding, the government needs to provide further evidence that real time reporting does indeed provide the large yield claimed by them for it. This is the sort of information with which the evaluation of a pilot could considerably assist. HMRC also needs to reflect on the exchequer consequences of the reduced business profits which might well arise from the costs of implementing MTD.

Software issues
114. The government has stated that some free software will be provided. This is welcome. In order to honour this commitment, the government needs first to define what it means by free software and to whom this will be available. Second, it should ensure that there is a functioning market to produce free software without disruptive marketing material in it. Third, it should ensure that access would remain free. 

123. The Committee notes the potential benefit of 'prompts and nudges'. But HMRC will have to accept that they cannot hold taxpayers accountable for errors made in good faith in response to a prompt or a nudge and that given the complexity of the system, these exhortations could cause confusion and more cost.

126. Spreadsheets are a valuable tool for record keeping and should be accepted for MTD. However difficult it might be in software terms, HMRC needs to ensure that tools are available to convert information from spreadsheets into information that can be submitted as part of the quarterly digital update.

Cybersecurity – make sure that you are not the weakest link!
Cyber fraud is a significant business risk. Apply this practical guidance to minimise the threat.

Cyber fraud is a significant business risk. Apply this practical guidance to minimise the threat. 

HMRC’s recent announcement that it will have stopped half a billion phishing emails a year from ever reaching taxpayers highlights the scale of the threat to large and smaller businesses and that practitioners need to be alert for their clients and their own business. 

HMRC went on to explain that it has put in place security measures to stop emails from criminals pretending to be from an email address. It is using Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) to stop ‘almost all of these [emails] from ever reaching our customers’ inboxes’. 

It has also said that ‘our dedicated customer protection team, part of HMRC’s cybersecurity team, continues to utilise innovative approaches to combat these threats. In the first six months of this year, they have responded to over 300,000 phishing referrals from customers. They’ve also instigated the takedown of over 14,000 fraudulent websites that were attempting to harvest customer data.’ 

DMARC highlight that its policies are published in the public Domain Name System (DNS), and they are available to everyone. It states that ‘because the specification is available with no licensing or similar restriction, any interested party is free to implement it.’ 

There are also a number of telephone and email scams targeting individuals. One highlighted by HMRC is where a recorded message threatening legal action is left, which states that HMRC is bringing a lawsuit against the individual and intends to sue them. The recipient is asked to phone 0161 850 8494 and press ‘1’ to speak to the officer dealing with the case. 

What is clear is that this is an on-going battle for HMRC, taxpayers and practitioners.

What can you do?
ACCA’s Internal Audit Members’ Network – working with Falanx Cyber Defence – developed a simple set of principles that applies equally to accountants in internal audit and practitioners. These are: 

Prioritise cyber expenditure
The first principle is that your business must formally prioritise cyber expenditure. You cannot spend enough to prevent all cyber-attacks. Any increase in expenditure will reduce risk, but risk can never be eliminated. So, some companies give up. They take the view that it is cheaper to pay the regulatory fines and reimburse customers as required. Others will simply outsource everything to ‘the cloud’ – but it’s important to understand that the cloud is just a timeshare on someone else’s computer – a computer that also needs security checks. Neither of these abdication strategies is guaranteed to minimise shareholder risk.  

The recommended approach is to understand the criminal threat specifically to you in detail, review your technology and controls, assess what risks lie in your data and processes, look at reputational risk and then prioritise expenditure and counter measures accordingly. An example – most mergers and acquisitions are highly sensitive and managed in conjunction with external lawyers and investment organisations. But most communication between management and professional advisers is by unencrypted email and can be easily intercepted.  

The weakest link
The second principle is encapsulated in the famous joke about the bear. When two hunters see a bear approaching, one hunter puts on his running shoes. The other reminds him he cannot outrun the bear. ‘I don’t have to outrun the bear,’ says the first, ‘I just need to outrun you’.  

You don’t want to be the weakest link. When everyone is vulnerable, your only safety lies in not being the weakest. Understand the norm for your sector, keep abreast of the risks in real time, make it hard for the hackers and they will quickly move on - there is after all a world of easy pickings out there.  

The role of humans
The third principle is that cyber is not just a technical problem. Most hacks are simple – tricking someone out of a password, or conning an employee to click on a bad link – these are known as phishing. A common scam is the CEO fraud – where a well-researched and presented email arrives, supposedly from senior management, asking for critical business data or instructing supplier payment. 

And then there is the inside threat, the employee gone bad. A good security system looks for changes in people’s behaviour, for when the HR employee suddenly becomes interested in accounts payable. Humans are often the weakest link and cyber awareness training, prompt exclusion of leavers and good password hygiene are basic but important security measures.  

Generally accepted security principles
The fourth principle is that, while cyber is still evolving quickly, there is a set of ‘generally accepted security principles’, and each organisation should assess, tailor and implement these to meet their specific needs. From a technical perspective, the top five things to check are that the company has procedures for managing:  

  • boundary firewalls and internet gateways
  • secure configuration
  • access control
  • malware protection
  • patch management.

One area to protect where a risk of loss could occur is access to your government gateway. When looking at government gateway check that:  

  • passwords have not been shared
  • any default passwords (including any 3rd party software) is changed to one chosen by you and the same password is never used over multiple systems
  • you use a strong password that is not easy to guess, such as three random words or a combination of letters and numbers. Those of you who have listened to Graeme Brand highlighting the top threats will remember the importance of this simple security measure
  • you have regular changes of passwords and do not use a variation of your old passwords when changing it
  • your antivirus protection installed on your computer is current
  • your computer has the latest software updates and most recent version of your internet browser
  • you are up-to-date with areas such as HMRC’s Phishing emails and bogus contact updates  

Firms who have security procedures can also apply for cyber essentials certification. The site also contains guidance for businesses.

There is also simple guidance from get safe online 

The CIS Critical Security Controls Framework, contains recommended controls and behaviours to look out for.  

Manage data
The fifth principle is to manage data. You want to see that your organisation has reviewed its data assets, allocated owners, ensured they are backed up, determined what is valuable and decided what should be protected – encrypted – either in its databases or whenever data is transmitted. 

Does different data have different access control – or is everything open once you are in? Does your company review outgoing traffic to ensure that sensitive data is not included (ie managing data exfiltration)? While some of the technology here is complex, it is easy for an internal auditor to check if these things have been considered.  

Prepare to be hacked
And the final principle is that you will be hacked anyway and you should prepare accordingly. Often the losses and reputational damage of a cyber breach are determined more by how quickly and competently the company responds. Your organisation should have a cyber-incident response plan that specifies how an attack will be recognised, who will lead the response, how forensics and investigation will be carried out and – importantly – how you will communicate with clients and regulators. The plan should involve senior management and it should be rehearsed. 

Cyber fraud is a significant business risk and potential losses and the cost of defence are rising quickly. Do not be put off by technical jargon: standard checklists and having a recovery plan are essential.

The FRSSE is dead – long live FRS 105?
A summary of the main arguments for/against FRS 105.

A summary of the main arguments for/against FRS 105. 

The deadline for filing accounts with a 31 March 2016 year-end has passed and for those with 31 March 2016 year ends it also sees the demise of the FRSSE. Its last version (effective 2015) can no longer be used for accounting periods commencing on or after 1 January 2016. So for many practitioners all of their clients with that popular March 2017 accounting reference date will now come under ‘new’ GAAP. 

Although there are a number of options for UK limited companies, for most small entities the choice of accounting standard will boil down to two options:  

  • FRS 102 section 1a – the ‘small entity’ section of the full FRS 102.  ACCA has produced a full guide and model accounts. If you would like to request a copy please email 
  • FRS 105 – a specific standard for ‘micro’ entities.

A company is a micro-entity if it does not exceed at least two of the following three thresholds in relation to a financial year:  

  • turnover does not exceed £632,000 (adjusted for periods longer or shorter than 12 months)
  • the balance sheet total does not exceed £316,000
  • the average number of employees does not exceed ten.

ACCA published full details of the regulations relating to FRS 105 in this article in a previous issue of In Practice and FRS 105 model accounts are available from ACCA when you email

FRS 105 – for and against?
There are many arguments for/against each option but FRS 105 may well be side-lined by practitioners as it does not follow some of the broad principles of FRS 102 and so might be seen as a ‘slow lane’ option. But FRS 105 can provide a simple and effective method of accounting for micro-entities. This article focuses on the major advantages/disadvantages of FRS 105 to help members give the correct advice to their clients.




Decision on which option to take

The decision to apply the micro-company provision is for the directors to make, and does not require shareholders’ approval or other formalities

Shareholders have to authorise the preparation of abridged accounts under FRS 102 section 1a so it is possible (if the shareholders are not directors) that disagreement on accounts option may arise

Format of accounts

Both the statement of financial position and the income statement format are clearly laid out in the standard and easy to follow.  This lends itself to software very well, making accounts preparation much easier

Micro company formats are highly prescriptive. You cannot use a different description or change the order of the items; however, the addition of further lines is permitted


There are no ‘notes to the accounts’ required apart from certain information required by legislation rather than FRS 105 (see below for a list of these).  This saves time and could be seen to disclose less information

Possibly third party users of the accounts might want to see further information

True and fair view

The financial statements of a micro-entity that comply with this FRS are presumed in law to give a true and fair view of the financial position and profit or loss of the micro-entity in accordance with the micro-entities regime.  Therefore if the format is followed nothing else is required.  Note also that a micro-entity is permitted, but not required, to present information additional to that required


Micro-entity limits

Allows very small entities to ignore FRS 102

The ‘learning curve’ and different accounting treatment required by FRS 102 may only be delayed if the entity breaches the limits in subsequent years

Income statement

A micro-entity is required to prepare an income statement (profit and loss account) to its members but there is no requirement to file it at Companies House

This is the same option as available to small entities using abridged accounts

Directors report

A micro company is not required to prepare a director’s report. Many clients have always questioned the point of this report



Revaluations are not allowed under FRS 105 as only the historic cost convention is allowed.  This makes reporting very simple with no need for costly valuations

Potentially has a huge effect on the net assets of a company and therefore the view of lenders and credit rating agencies might be adversely affected

Loans received at below market value

The complicated treatment in FRS 102 with regard to loans such as from a director or connected party at zero or low interest with no fixed repayment date is ignored.  The treatment is very similar to the existing one under FRSSE


Deferred tax

FRS 105 does not require a provision for deferred tax and any existing balances would be reversed


Other information required by FRS 105
The disclosures required by CA and Small Accounting Registration Regulation (Reg) should be included at the foot of the balance sheet rather than a note. These are: 

  1. Details of any advances, credit and guarantees with directors (s413 CA2006)
  2. Particulars of any charge of the assets to secure a liability (Reg Sch 1.57(1))
  3. Information about contingent liability not provided for (Reg Sch 1.57(2))
  4. The aggregate amount of contracts for capital expenditure not provided (Reg Sch 1.57(3))
  5. Pension commitments (Reg Sch 1.57(4))
  6. Any other financial commitment (Reg Sch 1.57(5)).

There are advantages and disadvantages to using FRS 105 and now is an ideal opportunity to discuss the options with your clients. Whichever one is chosen, they need to be aware of a new format and some new terminology which will be used.

Increases to small company thresholds
A recap on changes that came into force in 2015.

A recap on changes that came into force in 2015.

Statutory Instrument 2015 number 980 came into force on 6 April 2015. This increased the small company thresholds as follows:

Companies Act 2006 section 382 changesNew limitsPrevious limits
Turnover not more than £10.2m  £6.5m
Balance sheet total not more than   £5.1m  £3.26m
Number of employees not more than 50    50

CA 2006 section 383 changes (parent companies)
Aggregate turnover not more than £10.2m (net)   £6.5m (net)
Or £12.2m (gross)Or £7.8m (gross)
Balance sheet total not more than£5.1m (net)  £3.26m (net)
Or £6.1m (gross)Or £3.9m (gross)
Number of employees   50     50

The amendments made by this statutory instrument have effect in relation to:

(a)  financial years beginning on or after 1 January 2016, and
(b)  a financial year of a company beginning on or after 1 January 2015, but before 1 January 2016, if the directors of the company so decide.

Early adoption of FRS102 1a is:

(a)     permitted for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2015 provided that The Companies, Partnerships and Groups (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/980) are applied from the same date; and
( b)     required if an entity applies The Companies, Partnerships and Groups (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/980) to a reporting period beginning before 1 January 2016.

However, the increases in company size were not available for audit exemption purposes for financial years beginning before 1 January 2016.

Transitional provisions
There are transitional rules which effectively allow a company to use the new limits when using the ‘two year rule’ to determine the size of the company in the previous year. As paragraph 2(4) of SI 2015/980 states ‘In determining whether a company or group qualifies as small or medium-sized under section 382(2)(c), 383(3)(d), 465(2) or 466(3) of the Act (qualification in relation to subsequent financial year by reference to circumstances in preceding financial years) in relation to a financial year in relation to which the amendments made by these Regulations have effect, the company or group is to be treated as having qualified as small or medium-sized (as the case may be) in any previous year in which it would have so qualified if amendments to the same effect as the amendments made by these Regulations had effect in relation to that previous year.’

A company prepares accounts to 31 December each year and the results for the previous six years have been as follows:

Year ended 31 December  201620152014201320122011
Turnover (millions)
Balance sheet total (millions)282726242321
Number of employees  484544424037
Category using ‘old’ rules mmmmmm
Category using ‘new’ rules ssssss

Where ‘m’ refers to ‘medium in size’ and ‘s’ refers to ‘small in size’.

If the directors so decide they can produce ‘small company accounts’ for the year ended 31 December 2015 and for the year ended 31 December 2016. However, an audit would be required for the year ended 31 December 2015 whereas the company would be audit exempt for the year ended 31 December 2016.

Abridged accounts
Statutory Instrument 2015/980 allows small companies to prepare and file abridged accounts for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2016. Early adoption is permitted for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2015 but before 1 January 2016.

Further details about abridged accounts can be found in this ACCA Technical Factsheet

Abbreviated accounts have been abolished for accounting periods commencing on or after 1 January 2016. 

Filing obligations of small companies
The filing obligations are explained in the Companies Act 2006 section 444. Small companies are required to file a balance sheet as at the end of the accounting period. The company may also file (but is not obliged to) a copy of the profit and loss account for that year. The company may also file (but is not obliged to) a copy of the directors’ report for that year.

The balance sheet and/or the profit and loss account can be abridged. Where the balance sheet or profit and loss account is abridged pursuant to paragraph 1A of schedule 1 to the Small Companies and Group (Accounts and Directors’ Report) Regulations (SI 2008/409), the directors must also deliver to the registrar a statement by the company that all the members of the company have consented to the abridgement.

Definition of ‘ineligible group’ has changed
The Companies Act 2006 section 384 (companies excluded from the small companies regime), section 467 (companies excluded from being treated as medium-sized) and section 479B (companies excluded from the subsidiary companies audit exemption) have been changed by SI 2015/980. 

Previously these sections said that an ineligible group included any group in which any of its members is ‘a public company’. The term ‘a public company’ was replaced by ‘a traded company’: 

(a)  in relation to financial years beginning on or after 1 January 2016, and
(b)  a financial year of a company beginning on or after 1 January 2015, but before 1 January 2016, if the directors of the company so decide.

Dismiss health and safety regulations at your peril
Every firm must comply with health and safety laws – no matter how small. Read our tips.

Health and safety laws apply to all employers – no matter how small the entity. Ensure your office complies with these tips. 

Health and safety laws apply to all businesses. As an employer, or a self-employed person, you are responsible for health and safety in your business. The law is designed to protect you, your employees and the public from workplace dangers. This sounds scary, but in reality where a business takes reasonable steps to prevent accidents or harm to employees (and the injury or illness was caused after 1 October 2013), it shouldn’t have to pay compensation. 

These ‘reasonable’ steps are straightforward and easy to administer so read on for a summary guide on what you should consider.

Simple steps to compliance
1. As an employer (large or small), you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.  However, if you run a low-risk business, health and safety is something you can manage without needing to buy in expert help. Here you could appoint yourself as a competent person or one or more of your workers. 

2. You must decide on your health and safety policy. This should be clear on who does what, when and how. There are templates available to download from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to help with recording your policy /risk assessments and also an example health & safety policy to crib from. The simplification for businesses with fewer than five employees is that they do not have to write down their health and safety policy. They will need to have a policy. The key to compliance is that your staff must follow it and you should review it regularly. 

3. Complete a risk assessment. Don't panic! This does not have to mean volumes of paperwork. It just means identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. Keeps the assessment simple, focusing on significant findings, and there is no need to record minor everyday risks. The law does not expect you to remove all risks. Your risk assessment need only include what you could reasonably be expected to know – you are not expected to anticipate unforeseeable risks.

Again the HSE has created some features to help. There are a number of online risk assessment tools available, including this one specifically for low risk office environments. 

Many of the risks that the HSE specifically mention are in high risk industries which are not relevant to this article. However, HSE suggests the following very simple measures to carry out in the assessment of a small office: 

  • simply walk around your workplace and look for any hazards (things that may cause harm)
  • think about how accidents could happen and who might be harmed. Consult with your employees and discuss what they think the hazards are, as they may notice things that are not obvious to you and may have some good ideas on how to control the risks
  • concentrate on the real risks – those that are most likely to cause harm 
  • once you have identified the risks and what you need to do to control them, you should put the appropriate measures in place 
  • record your significant findings. For most people this does not need to be a big exercise – just note the main points down about the significant risks and what you concluded.

As above, the simplification for small businesses is that if there are fewer than five employees there is no need to actually write down the assessment.

Two major areas to remember: 

  • You might have disabled staff or newly joined staff. They will have particular requirements.
  • Many accountants and their staff work from home. This can cause problems so it’s worth looking at the HSE guide to homeworking to ensure that everything is covered.

4. Provide simple training. A low-risk business would not need lengthy technical training. Providing simple information or instructions is likely to be sufficient.

5. Provide the correct working facilities. Again pretty straightforward for a small office based employer. This covers obvious things like: 

  • availability of toilets, wash basins, drinking water
  • appropriate working temperatures (for instance an office would generally be at least 16°C)
  • basic cleanliness.

6. Make sure your first aid provisions are adequate and that your employees are aware of these. As a minimum, provide a properly stocked first aid box and appoint a designated ‘first aider’. For more guidance on this, HSE has provided a copy of usual FAQs.

7. Keep a record of any issues – under health and safety law, you must report and keep a record of certain injuries, incidents and cases of work-related disease. An ‘accident book’ can be purchased from HSE here or you can keep the record in your own system. 

8. Finally – the famous health and safety poster. We all remember these but how many smaller offices actually have one displayed? You must display the poster where your workers can easily read it or provide each worker with a copy of the equivalent pocket card. These are available from HSE publications along with full guidance on workplace laws.

HMRC clarify rules on claiming pre-trading VAT inputs
Brush up on Regulation 111, which can often be a particular benefit for new businesses.

Brush up on Regulation 111, which can often be a particular benefit for new businesses. 

UK law allows a business registering for VAT to recover tax it has incurred on goods and services before their effective date of registration (EDR). This allows the recovery of VAT against goods and services as long as they’re used by the taxable person to make taxable supplies once registered. This is known as Regulation 111. 

A claim under these regulations is often a valuable means of funds in the early period of trading for a business. However, it is important the return is made properly as some of the provisions are not as straightforward as they seem and HMRC has recently highlighted this fact. 

What has changed?
In Revenue and Customs brief 16 (2016) HMRC stressed that its policy has not changed but ‘this brief has been issued because VAT on assets held prior to EDR hasn’t always been treated consistently’. It does not specify what aspects of the law VAT registered entities have been getting wrong but in the brief it makes the following points: 

  • VAT on services received within six months of EDR and used in the business at EDR is recoverable in full
  • VAT on stock is deductible to the extent that the goods are still on hand at EDR (for example apportionment may be required)
  • VAT on fixed assets purchased within four years of EDR is recoverable in full, providing the assets are still in use by the business at EDR.

HMRC also emphasises that the normal rules on VAT deduction should be observed and that full recovery only applies if your business is fully-taxable.

How to avoid errors
The interpretation of this brief and of the relevant law can therefore be summed up fairly easily and it appears that the following actions will avoid ‘inconsistencies’ as HMRC put it:  

  1. A claim to deduct input tax must be supported by appropriate documentary evidence. Full details of HMRC guidance can be found here.
  2. Full recovery only applies if the business is fully-taxable. If it's partly-exempt, has non-business activities, or needs to restrict VAT deduction for any other reason, it will need to take that into account when calculating the deductible VAT.
  3. Ensure that the above six month rule for services is observed.
  4. Where stock for the business was bought and sold before the EDR then no input VAT can normally be reclaimed.
  5. For assets purchased within four years of the EDR, input VAT is only claimable where the asset is still held and also is in use at date of registration. Note that a business may not use regulation 111 to recover VAT on supplies that were purchased for non-business or private purposes. HMRC gives the following example to illustrate this: 
  • an individual buys a van to use for wholly private purposes. Three years later the individual registers for VAT and uses the van exclusively within their business. The VAT paid on the van is permanently outside of the VAT system because there were no business activities at the time the van was bought. The VAT paid on the van can never be brought back in under the terms of regulation 111.

Pre-incorporation input VAT
One other question that is thrown up is whether the same rules apply before registration and before incorporation.

The basic rule is that a limited company cannot register for VAT until it is formally incorporated. Goods or services may have been supplied to the employees setting up the company before then. The above rules will generally then apply apart from one exception which is that the partial exemption de-minimis limit does not apply to VAT incurred pre-registration.

What the rise in IPT means for you and your clients
Standard insurance premium tax (IPT) rate will increase from 10% to 12%.

Standard insurance premium tax (IPT) rate will increase from 10% to 12%. 

In his Autumn Statement the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the insurance premium tax (IPT) rate will increase from 10% to 12% on 1 June 2017. This increase means the UK’s IPT rate will have doubled since summer 2015, and will be the sixth highest rate in Europe. Unlike the previous increase from 9.5% to 10%, the additional tax will not be hypothecated to help fund flood defences. 

The new rate will apply to policies starting from 1 June 2017. To prevent the use of artificial arrangements to avoid the IPT increase HMRC has anti-avoidance rules in place that you need to be aware of. 

Speak to your usual Lockton contact to discuss the implications for your business. 

How the rate rise will work
A longer-than-normal transitional arrangement of 12 months will apply for this change in IPT, due to lobbying by insurers and brokers. 

Almost all insurers use the special accounting scheme where there is a ‘transitional period’, which this time starts on 1 June 2017 and ends on 1 June 2018. In practice, this is expected to mean that all policies starting before 1 June 2017 will be at the current 10% rate.

During this period, 10% tax will still apply to taxable premiums received under contracts in which the insurance began before 1 June 2017, provided that the premium is written in the insurers’ books before 1 June 2018.

The new 12% IPT rate will apply to all taxable premiums received under contracts with an inception date on or after 1 June 2017. All taxable premiums, regardless of the inception date, that are written by insurers after 1 June 2018 will be subject to the new 12% rate. 

Additional premiums
If there is an additional premium added to an existing policy, IPT will be due at the old rate of 10% provided the policy starts before 1 June 2017 and is reported to the insurer by 1 June 2018. 

This will only apply where the additional premium is not considered a ‘new risk’ that would normally be the subject of a new policy. In such cases, IPT will be due at the new rate regardless of whether the additional premium is reported before 1 June 2018. 

Anti-forestalling/anti-avoidance provisions
Anti-avoidance measures are in place to limit opportunities to avoid paying tax at the new rates. These include pre-payments in circumstances where it is not ‘normal practice’ for the insurer to create a tax point before the contract cover begins. 

For example, they prevent: 

  • new risks, that would normally be the subject of a new policy, being added to existing contracts in order to benefit from the old IPT rate rather than the new one
  • policies that are longer than 12 months being subject to the old 10% rate even 12 months after the rate change, unless it is normal practice for such policies to be longer than 12 months.

efunds of premiums
If any adjustment to a taxable insurance policy results in a refund, a refund of IPT will also be due and the insurer should repay the overpaid tax at the original rate charged to the customer and accounted for to HMRC, not at the new rate of tax.

Premium paid on a monthly basis
If the premium is written by the insurer as an amount at the start of the contract then tax is due at the original rate even if the option of payment by instalments is offered. Where monthly premiums are treated as separate contracts then the new 12% rate will be due on payments after 1 June 2018. 

Lockton Companies LLP. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. A Lloyd’s broker. 

Lockton Companies LLP is ACCA’s recommended broker for Professional Indemnity insurance. For information, please contact Lockton on 0117 906 5057.

ACCA in the UK
Join this webinar and get an insight into our priorities for supporting you during 2017.

Join us on Tuesday 7 February (14:00-14.30) when John Williams, the new Head of ACCA UK, will share an insight into ACCA’s plans to support our members in the UK, including:

  • upcoming initiatives for ACCA in the UK
  • ACCA and Brexit
  • A forward look at the 2017 CPD programme
  • ACCA’s vision and priorities as we head into 2017.

There will be plenty of time for questions – on these or any other aspect of being an ACCA member.

Register for this webinar now. If you are unable to join us live, you will automatically receive a message with details of how you can watch the webinar on demand afterwards.

VAT and property development webinars
Register now for a series of three webinars on VAT and Property Development next month.

ACCA UK's Practitioners’ Network is running a series of three webinars on VAT and Property Development next month. 

Robert Warne – Head of VAT at Crowe Clark Whitehill – will present all three webinars in the series. Robert is a partner in the specialist VAT Group of Crowe Clark Whitehill. He has been with the firm since 1988, joining directly from HMRC where he was a VAT inspector. His professional VAT qualifications include ATII and IIT. He is responsible for coordinating the firm's VAT training seminars, both externally as well as in-house, and he is a regular speaker on the VAT charity circuit. 

The series will cover:

Introduction to VAT and property development
Tuesday 7 February 2017, 12:30
In this webinar, Robert will provide an introduction to the different VAT implications when building privately or commercially. He will also provide an overview of the other two webinars in the series which will cover commercial development (with an emphasis on the need for VAT planning and guidance), the rules governing VAT refunds for DIY house builders on self-build new homes or non-residential conversions, and conversions of buildings.

VAT and commercial property development
Tuesday 14 February 2017, 12:30
In this webinar, Robert will discuss commercial development with emphasis on the need for VAT planning and guidance. Robert will consider situations where a property developer wants to do brownfield rather than greenfield development; the implications for demolishing existing buildings completely versus extending an existing building; and where a developer wants to keep a property rather than sell it on.

VAT and property development – self-builds, residential conversions and non-residential conversions
Tuesday 21 February 2017, 12:30
In this webinar, Robert will discuss the rules governing VAT refunds for DIY house builders on self-build new homes or non-residential conversions. He will also consider conversions of buildings - particularly converting formerly commercial or previously unused buildings into residential properties or into a number of units and where the reduced rate of 5% may apply. 

Each webinar lasts for an hour and constitutes one unit of CPD where the content is relevant to your current or future role. You can register now for any of these webinars and then add them to your calendar.


Apprenticeships key to the future of the profession
ACCA has called for action from UK policymakers to help broaden access to the accounting profession.

ACCA has called for action from UK policymakers to help broaden access to the accounting profession, recommending apprenticeships and work placement schemes. 

In a submission to the Science and Technology Select Committee’s call for evidence in bridging the UK’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills gap, published today, ACCA suggests: 

Accountancy apprenticeships
As ACCA prepares to offer its own Level 4 Accountancy/Taxation Technician Apprenticeship to students aged 16+ in England, it has pledged to also support members in opening up more apprenticeship places. 

However, with recent ACCA research showing that almost a third of British 16-18 year olds have received no career advice on apprenticeships, ACCA has also called on the government to improve careers guidance and the visibility of apprenticeship routes for students.

Secondary education access
Drawing on the success of ACCA Scotland in working with colleges to embed ACCA qualifications within Level 3 Accountancy Foundation Apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds, ACCA has highlighted the benefit of the Level 3 route in improving visibility of the accounting profession during secondary education. 

Closing the STEM skills gap
STEM subjects have historically attracted lower levels of female students and ACCA’s submission highlights the drastic need for initiatives that give women the coaching and learning development they need to enter STEM related professions. On top of this ACCA highlights the need to address perceptions of the profession early on in a student’s career. 

'It is great to see that the government is considering practical solutions to minimising the STEM skills gap at a secondary school level,' said John Williams, head of ACCA UK. 

'The world of work will change beyond all recognition over the next 20 years. We cannot afford to fail our younger generation by not providing advice, guidance and opportunity in developing the skills that the world needs. 

'Vocational courses can be invaluable in giving students early exposure to a profession along with a range of transferable skills. 

'If we can open more access routes to STEM-based careers, such as accountancy, we will see improvements in the social mobility and diversity of the profession.'

Saturday CPD conferences
Booking now open for 2017 conferences across the UK.

Saturday CPD conferences for practitioners 2017

These conferences are the ideal way to keep your professional knowledge up-to-date and get your CPD without disrupting your working week. The conferences consist of four sessions which makes it a cost-effective way of staying informed about the latest technical issues.

These events are always in demand from practitioners; click on the conference titles below to find the location closest to you and book your next conference(s) now.

Saturday CPD conference one

  • Tax pitfalls and how to avoid them
  • Employment taxes
  • Digital tax accounts
  • Pension planning

Saturday CPD conference two

  • Corporate taxes for owner-managed businesses
  • Business and employment law update
  • Finance Bill/Act 2017 
  • VAT update 

Saturday CPD conference three

  • Accounting standards update
  • Autumn tax planning

CPD units

You can gain 7 CPD units per conference, or attend all three to gain a massive 21 units.


1 conference £155
2 conferences £143 per conference/delegate
3 or more conferences £129 per conference/delegate

CPD webinars with 2020 Innovation
High quality webinars - with a 50% saving.

Our partnership with 2020 Innovation allows practitioners to benefit from the suite of CPD webinars listed below at a 50% discount. 

2017 Webinar Programme
2017 CPD webinars 

2017 FCA webinars 

2017 Tax update webinars 

2017 Practice management and development webinars


2016 Webinars (Recordings) 
2016 CPD webinar recordings 

2016 FCA webinar recordings

2016 Tax update webinar recordings

2016 Practice management and development webinar recordings


Dedicated 2020 Innovation/ACCA webpages

ACCA learning pathways

Register before 31 January and receive 15% off.

Planning your CPD for 2017? Our learning pathways can help - book today and receive 15% off registration before 31 January 2017.

Choose from over 30 hours of this unique and diverse learning experience. Offering flexibility, just one hour per week, peer interactions and an opportunity to expand your network, informative webinars, varied online learning including articles and reports. 

Better time management
Need to work on managing your time and priorities?

Need to work on managing your time and priorities?

Work through 11 learning objectives and gain five units of CPD for just £99.

Bespoke BPP packages

Choose from BPP's library of over 150 high-quality courses.

Bespoke CPD packs tailored to your development needs

With a library of over 150 high-quality course BPP also offers carefully selected packs to enhance your learning

HMRC ‘agent talking points’
Details of HMRC's digital meetings for tax agents.

Did you know HMRC hosts regular digital meetings for tax agents? 

Agent Talking Points are online digital meetings aimed at tax agents, usually lasting 45 minutes to an hour. 

The sessions provide agents with the opportunity to ask questions of subject matter experts from HMRC, across a range of different topics.

The next one will take place on 24 January and will focus on basis periods, one of the suite of self assessment updates.

View this complete list of current and past webinars. 

Audit continuity partners
Will your firm join our new register of continuity partners?

As part of ACCA’s monitoring reviews, we are coming across a number of firms that are struggling to find a continuity partner – particularly those firms that are registered auditors. 

To help firms with this process, ACCA intends to create a register of members with audit registration that are willing to act as continuity partners for other ACCA registered auditors.

If you would be willing to be such a continuity partner, please email with your membership number and confirm that you are willing to be on the register.

Any member seeking a continuity partner can also look on ACCA’s online directory of firms for a suitable continuity partner or post on ACCA’s Practice Sector LinkedIn group 

Culture governance tool
New tool could help develop your firm's corporate culture.
Corporate culture encourages behaviours that support or impede the achievement of organisational objectives.

The challenge is understanding how to nurture a culture that promotes behaviours consistent with organisational objectives.

ACCA's new culture-governance tool seeks to support organisations with their culture goals. Take a look now