Technical and Insight
Tax – ethics and standards
Technical Factsheet 166 Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) has been updated.

Technical Factsheet 166 Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) has been updated and re-issued.  

It replaces the factsheet of the same name issued in February 2014. 

As stated in the factsheet, the guidance applies to all members undertaking any tax work, whether on an employed, self-employed, personal or voluntary basis. Paragraph 1.11 states: ‘Whilst the content of this guidance is primarily applicable to members in professional practice, the principles apply to all members who practise in tax including: 

  • employees attending to the tax affairs of their employer or of a client
  • those dealing with the tax affairs of themselves or others such as family, friends, charities etc whether or not for payment
  • those working in HMRC or other public sector bodies or government departments.

It has new material on electronic filing, decisions of courts and tribunals, DOTAS, POTAS, accelerated payments and follower notices, as well as an expanded chapter on tax planning. 

The factsheet includes further commentary to reflect the ongoing developments and the public concern about aggressive tax avoidance and evasion. This update does not include any specific changes following the paper published by HM Treasury and HMRC on 19 March 2015 Tackling tax evasion and avoidance. This paper asked ‘the regulatory bodies who police professional standards to take on a greater lead and responsibility in setting and enforcing clear professional standards around the facilitation and promotion of avoidance’. 

ACCA, along with other professional bodies, has stated that ‘the professional bodies will hold further discussions with HM Treasury and HMRC about how this challenge should be progressed. This [factsheet] is being issued in the meantime as it contains extensive new material of practical benefit to members.’ 

The section dealing with tax errors entitled ‘irregularity’ in part 3 section 5 takes members through the steps to take. It uses a flowchart with paragraph references and contains guidance as to appropriateness of continuing to act. As stated this applies to all members and the section contains references to anti-money laundering requirements, some of which apply to members with businesses falling under these regulations. 

Part 3 section 6 ‘Access to data by HMRC’ takes members through the options. It starts with informal requests, where the advice states that ‘disclosure in response to informal requests not made under any statutory power to demand data can only be made with the client’s permission’, then discusses commonly issued notices under Schedule 36 FA 2008 and concludes with statutory requests made on a member. It also considers legal professional privilege. 

View Technical Factsheet 166 now 

Benefits in kind of loans to directors and employees
How do I calculate the benefit arising on a director or employee loan? What are the exemptions?

How do I calculate the benefit arising on a director or employee loan? What are the exemptions? 

Normal method is to take the average for the year:

  1. Take the average of the loan outstanding at 5 April at beginning of the year and 5 April at the end of the year (or at the date the loan was made or discharged or the employee died if in that tax year).
  2. Multiply that figure by the number of whole months (a month begins on sixth day of each calendar month) during which the loan was outstanding in that year and divide by twelve.
  3. Multiply the result by the official rate of interest in force or, if the rate changed, the average rate (on a daily basis), for the period during which the loan was outstanding during the year.
  4. Deduct the interest paid, if any, by the employee/director to the company.

An alternative method may be imposed by HMRC or may be elected by the employee. Notice of imposition by HMRC or election by employee must be given within twelve months after 31 January following the relevant tax year. This alternative method uses the daily value of the loan and the official rate of interest for those dates. 

Having calculated the interest on the loan at the official rate any interest actually paid by the employee to the employer is deducted to give the amount chargeable to tax. 

From 6 April 2010 the ‘official rate’ of interest has been 4%. From 6 April 2014 this rate dropped to 3.5% and from 6 April 2015 it dropped again to 3%.

Lower-paid employees are not subject to this charge. These are employees (not directors) who earn at a rate of less than £8,500 a year. 

A full time working director with no material interest in the company who earns at a rate of less than £8,500 a year. 

A director of a charity or non-profit making concern who earns at a rate of less than £8,500 a year. 

No amount is treated as earnings in respect of a loan which at no time in the tax year exceeded £10,000 for the year ended 5 April 2015 (increased from £5,000 for the year ended April 2014). 

No benefit in kind arises to a loan on ‘ordinary commercial terms’ (a loan made in the ordinary course of business by a lender whose business includes either the lending of money or the supply of goods or services on credit, and certain other conditions) (ITEPA 2003 s176).

Alternative dispute resolution
ACCA and its members are required to comply with new alternative dispute resolution regulations by 9 July. Are you ready?

ACCA and its members are required to comply with new alternative dispute resolution regulations by 9 July. Are you ready? 

The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 were laid before Parliament in March. Changes will affect consumers, providers of goods and services, and providers of ADR services (such as ACCA). 

The purpose of the Regulations is to ensure that alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is available for all contractual disputes arising out of complaints by consumers, and ACCA has produced technical factsheet 192 providing guidance to practitioners. 

While ACCA already provides ADR, by way of its Conciliation Service, the factsheet explains the impact of the recent legislation on ACCA’s policies and procedures, and how ACCA delivers conciliation. It also highlights a number of resources available to members in order to assist them with compliance. 

As a result of the new Regulations, once a firm’s internal complaints procedure has been exhausted, it is required to communicate certain matters to a client, including that ACCA is competent to deal with the complaint, and whether the practice would be prepared to submit to ACCA’s conciliation process should ACCA consider that the complaint is suitable for conciliation. Although a member of ACCA would be required to cooperate in the investigation of a complaint, a member is not obliged to submit to the conciliation process. 

ACCA and its members are required to be compliant by 9 July 2015. Technical factsheet 192 is available to help your firm prepare, and there is also a guidance note to assist members in implementing internal complaints-handling procedures.

Making the move to the cloud
New Guides To… from ACCA and Xero explain how your practice can maximise the benefits of moving to the cloud.

New Guides To… from ACCA and Xero explain how your practice can maximise the benefits of moving to the cloud. 

With an estimated 100,000 UK businesses now using online or cloud-based accounting software, new technology is again revolutionising the accounting sector. Cloud-based accounting solutions now offer mobile, always-on, instant-access financial tools, creating new ways to work with your clients. They open new opportunities for improving practice efficiencies, as well as offering clients additional valuable services – allowing you to become a virtual finance director and a trusted adviser. 

ACCA has collaborated with Xero – one of the UK's leading online accounting software providers – to produce a series of three Guides To… which will help your practice really understand the benefits of operating in the cloud – and how to make the move. Each Guide To… is outlined below: 

Managing a cloud-based practice: six steps to a better business
Once your practice has made the initial move to the cloud, how do you then manage and review the new systems and tools you have in place? How do you make sure that they’re efficient and truly paying for themselves? 

Follow our six-point guide to get the most out of your cloud-based practice: 

  • Step 1 – make the right choices
  • Step 2 – think about your processes
  • Step 3 – evaluate and update your systems
  • Step 4 – fix what bothers you
  • Step 5 – create a positive feeling of engagement
  • Step 6 – be smart about technology.

Moving your practice to the cloud
This guide lays out some easy steps to follow for moving to the cloud, including: 

  • Step 1 – Start using cloud solutions
    Lead by example. Start using cloud solutions for your own accounts. Become a true advocate for working in the cloud. 
  • Step 2 – Identify the right clients to move first
    Choose the right clients. Focus on younger, tech-savvy and smaller-sized companies. Focus on businesses with simple structures. 
  • Step 3 – Set up, convert and learn
    Set up your chosen clients. Get them up and running with cloud accounting. Apply the knowledge you’ve learnt from your own experience with cloud solutions. Add additional value for your clients and become a trusted business adviser. 

Grow your practice using an entrepreneurial mindset
Online accounting platforms make it easier than ever to set up a business and to start working with a broad range of clients – making the most of the mobile, instant-access benefits of advising and collaborating with small and medium-sized businesses. 

The concept of adapting to change is central to the entrepreneurial mindset. This guide outlines how a highly ambitious, innovative, adaptable mindset can drive your accountancy business forward. 

Access the Guides To…
Simply follow the links above to download each Guide To… or visit ACCA’s Technical Advisory webpages to view and download our full range of Guides To… and technical factsheets.


VAT – understanding the flat rate scheme
A summary of eligibility and how to implement and manage the flat rate scheme.

A summary of eligibility and how to implement and manage the flat rate scheme. 
The flat rate scheme is designed to help small businesses by applying a single percentage rate to the turnover in a VAT period. 

The main benefit of the scheme is the time saved recording VAT on sales and purchases. This can also take some of the stress out of completing VAT returns at the quarter end. 

Eligibility to join the scheme
The scheme is for businesses with a turnover of no more than £150,000 a year. A business may stay in the scheme provided the total income (including VAT) for the year has not risen above £230,000. If turnover exceeds the £230,000 limit but is expected to fall below £191,500 in the following year, the business may be able to remain in the scheme with HMRC’s agreement. 

Turnover represents all the supplies the business makes, including VAT. This includes all of the following: 

  • the VAT inclusive sales and takings for standard rate, zero rate and reduced rate supplies
  • the value of exempt income, such as any rent or lottery commission – these examples are not exhaustive
  • supplies of capital expenditure goods, unless they are supplies on which VAT has to be calculated outside the Flat Rate Scheme
  • the value of any despatches to other Member States of the EC if the business is making intra EC supplies.

Excluded from turnover are private income, bank interest, the proceeds from the sale of goods not used in the business, non-business income and any supplies outside the scope of UK VAT. 

A business cannot join the scheme if it: 

  • is not registered for VAT
  • uses the second-hand margin scheme or the auctioneers’ scheme
  • is required to use the tour operator’s margin scheme
  • is required to operate the Capital Goods Scheme for certain capital items
  • has stopped using the Flat Rate Scheme in the 12 months before the date of a new application
  • is closely linked with another business.

Determining the flat rate percentage
The flat rate percentage depends on the business sector; the correct sector is the one that most closely describes what the business will be doing in the coming year. 

HMRC will not normally check the choice of sector when it processes the application. Some business activities can reasonably fit into more than one sector. As long as the initial choice was reasonable, HMRC is not likely to request to change it. 

If the business includes supplies in two or more sectors, the percentage used must be appropriate to the main business activity as measured by turnover. That is the sector for which the business gets the greater part of its turnover. The business cannot split the turnover, or apply more than one percentage.

If the balance changes but the business continues to do all the same activities, it should carry on using the percentage that was appropriate at the start of the year until the anniversary of joining the scheme. If on anniversary date the balance has changed, or is expected to change over the year ahead, the rate should switch to the trade sector which forms the larger portion of the business’ expected turnover.

If the business changes the nature of its trade but remains eligible to use the Flat Rate Scheme, it should apply the flat rate percentage appropriate to the trade sector for the new type of business from the date of the change. HMRC must be informed about the change within 30 days of the date of the change.

Reduction of 1% for new VAT registrations
If the business is in its first year of VAT registration, it is entitled to a 1% reduction in flat rate. Note that the entitlement to apply the reduction runs for the 12 months following the date of registration for VAT and not the date that the business joins the flat rate scheme.

Output VAT and sales invoices
The business should record VAT on sales invoices using the normal rate for the supply (standard, reduced or zero rate or exempt) and not the flat rate percentage assigned. 

At the end of the VAT period, the business should add up the VAT inclusive total of all supplies and apply the flat rate percentage to this gross total to give the amount of VAT due on those supplies. 

Sales invoices should be issued to VAT registered customers. The customers will treat these as normal VAT invoices. The business must keep copies of all sales invoices issued to its VAT registered customers.

Input VAT
Businesses on the flat rate scheme are unable to claim back any VAT on purchased goods and expenses used for the purposes of their trade. However, a business can reclaim the VAT it has been charged on a single purchase of capital expenditure goods where the amount of the purchase, including VAT, is £2,000 or more. If all the items are from one supplier at one time, then they count as one purchase of capital expenditure goods. If they are from three different suppliers or at three different times then they will be three purchases and each must be £2,000 or more (including VAT) to qualify for a reclaim of VAT. 

Accounts preparation for businesses using the flat rate scheme
Accounts for businesses using the scheme will be prepared using gross receipts, less the flat rate VAT percentage, for turnover and expenses will include the irrecoverable input VAT. 

For both VAT and income tax purposes, there is a requirement to keep a record of sales and purchases. But, for businesses using the scheme, that record does not have to analyse gross, VAT and net separately. The records need only be complete, orderly and easy to follow.

Appealing against CIS late-filing penalties online
How to appeal online against a Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) late-filing penalty using the Penalty and Appeals Service (PAS).

How to appeal online against a Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) late-filing penalty using the Penalty and Appeals Service (PAS). 

What is the change?
From 16 June 2015 contractors and their authorised representatives will be able to use HMRC’s Online Penalty Appeal Service (PAS) to make an electronic appeal against CIS late-filing penalties. PAS will display the penalty details. 

HMRC recommends that contractors and representatives (using options in PAYE/CIS Online) sign up for this service online, because it will be the quickest, easiest and most straightforward way to make an appeal. It promises to deal with the appeal online promptly and provide contractors or their representatives with an immediate acknowledgement. Only if the appeal is not accepted will it be referred for further review to an HMRC officer. 

How to make an appeal
To make an online appeal, contractors or their agents should

  • Go into the PAYE/CIS Online section of Online Services
  • Select ‘Appeal a Penalty’.  Agents will find their clients’ details under 'your current clients'
  • ‘Appeal a Penalty’ will list all the penalties that can be appealed, showing the:
    - Unique ID (shown on the penalty notice)
    - Type of penalty
    - Issue date (shown on the penalty notice)
    - Tax (Return) period end date
    - Amount of penalty
  • Select the Unique ID as shown on the penalty notice for the penalty that you wish to appeal.

What will be displayed if there are no penalties to appeal?
It will tell you if there are no penalties that can be appealed, by stating either ‘You do not currently have any penalties that can be appealed’ or if you are a representative, ‘Your client does not currently have any penalties that can be appealed’. 

How am I told if the appeal is successful?
Once the appeal has been processed a generic notice will be issued; check the generic notice for the result of the appeal.  These notices can be accessed through the ‘generic notices’ which is the option below the ‘appeal a penalty’ option. 

To avoid receiving a CIS late-filing penalty please ensure contractor monthly returns are submitted by the 19th of every month.

Charities' audit and examination limits
Certain charities may now benefit from recent changes to audit limits.

Certain charities may now benefit from recent changes to audit limits. 

Changes to the audit requirement for charities in England and Wales have been introduced. The government highlighted that the ‘proposals become 'live' to 31 March 2015, meaning that charities who fall below the thresholds and whose accounting years end on or after 31 March can benefit immediately.’ 

The requirement for an audit for a charity is now where the charity has: 

  • an income of more than £1m; or
  • assets worth more than £3.26m and an income of more than £250,000.

You can find the Statutory Instrument and further details on ACCA’s technical advisory webpages  

If a charity’s income is below the limits highlighted above – and assuming they do not opt for an audit report – charities are required to have an independent examination. The exceptions are in England and Wales where income does not exceed £25,000. If this is the case they are not required to have an independent examination. 

Charities operating in Scotland must register with OSCR. This includes bodies that are established and/or registered as charities in other legal jurisdictions, such as England and Wales. 

The audit requirements of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 and The Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 apply to Scottish registered charities. The limits are: 

  • gross income over £500,000
  • where the gross assets are over £3,260,000.
How to win clients and influence people
Have you taken advantage of comprehensive, and free, guidance on how you can give your practice an edge through green accounting?

Have you taken advantage of comprehensive, and free, guidance on how you can give your practice an edge through green accounting? 

An authoritative global survey of the views of smaller accountancy practices was published in March 2015 by the International Federation of Accountants. The survey concluded that the biggest challenge faced by firms was attracting new clients and half of those surveyed said they were concerned about differentiating their firm from the competition. 

One UK firm that has cracked this problem is Green Accountancy. If you call yourselves Green Accountancy the differentiation from competitors is about as obvious as it can get. But what lies behind this is an innovative service that any firm can add to its own service lines to give an edge in attracting new clients. In this case, clients that benefit from it may also get a 'green advantage' with their own customers. 

ACCA has worked with Green Accountancy to promote this service. We issued detailed guidance in the form of Technical Factsheet 190, which is available as a free download on the ACCA website and crucially it is issued copyright free, to encourage firms, other accountancy bodies, or indeed anyone, to tailor it to their own needs: translate it, change UK to local figures, or include it in their own materials. The service is all about helping smaller businesses measure and reduce their main environmental impacts, so the more accountants that get involved in this the better. 

To quote ACCA past president, Brendan Murtagh: 'ACCA believes that our members’ accounting and financial reporting skills have a key role to play in the transition to and management of the low carbon economy. By providing additional green accounting skills . . .  professional accountants will have a pivotal position measuring and managing carbon emissions.’ 

Recently we have released a video to introduce the service in detail and have put a transcript and the slide deck online. There are also short articles that provide an overview: on the IFAC Global Knowledge Gateway as well as elsewhere on ACCA's website

Wanted: your feedback
The guidance was initially issued as 'interim guidance' because we wanted to improve it by responding to feedback from users. It is now (June 2015) due to be updated for 2015 year end reporting and so, in addition to a feedback request in the factsheet itself (many thanks to those who have already provided their views) we have launched an online survey. The survey is not just for those who have introduced this service; anyone who has read the factsheet can comment. Please do so.

HMRC issues statement on 31 May FATCA deadline
HMRC issued the following to agents yesterday (28 May) on the FATCA deadline and reasonable excuse.

HMRC issued the following to agents yesterday (28 May) on the FATCA deadline and reasonable excuse. 

HMRC issued the following to agents yesterday highlighting that it will look favourably on late registration where ‘validation’ has been an issue: 

HMRC wants you to be aware that some people are experiencing difficulties in validating FATCA registrations in advance of the 31 May 2015 deadline. HMRC’s advice is that you should continue to file your return as soon as possible. HMRC will not seek to apply a late FATCA filing penalty while these online delays continue – accepting that there was a reasonable excuse for the late filing. Returns filed after the 31 May deadline, and at a time when the delays have been addressed, will be subject to penalty. HMRC’s published guidance is being updated to include a specific reference to reasonable excuse.

Information on submitting a return under The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) on behalf of a financial institution can be found here

The pitfalls of seeing senior staff poached
Insurance broker granted interim injunctive relief preventing a competitor from taking steps to poach its remaining staff.

Insurance broker granted interim injunctive relief preventing a competitor from taking steps to poach its remaining staff.

(1) Willis Limited (2) Willis Group Limited v (1) Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group plc (2) JLT Speciality Limited (3) David Gordon [2015] AC 9301548
English Court of Appeal, 22 April 2015 

The Court of Appeal was asked to review a refusal to grant interim injunctive relief to a broker who had lost a large number of senior employees to a competitor. 

The proceedings arose following the departure of almost all of Willis' senior management team within its fine art, jewellery and special risk division London, who had all left to join JLT Speciality Limited (referred to collectively as ‘JLT’ in this article). Willis considered JLT to be a direct competitor in the sector, and lost 30 of its senior employees over a short period to JLT, including its former divisional global manager. 

JLT denied any wrongdoing and claimed that it had individually recruited all of Willis' senior employees without inducing anyone else to breach any obligations owed to Willis. 

Following the departure of Willis' senior employees, Willis was left with 30 junior employees in its fine art, jewellery and special risk division. Given the sudden departure of a significant proportion of its staff, Willis considered that there was serious risk that it would also lose its junior employees to JLT. Willis applied to the court for an interim injunction preventing JLT taking steps to recruit any more of its staff. 

Refusal to grant interim injunction at first instance
At first instance, it was held that there was a serious issue to be tried (based on prima facie evidence) as to whether there had been a relevant breach of contract. However, the first instance court concluded that, pending full determination of the issues at trial, there was no point in granting an interim injunction in the meantime. The judge's reasoning centred on the fact that he had concluded that ‘the heart had been torn out of [Willis'] business’, or, in other words, the damage had already been done and an interim injunction could not remedy this. 

It was also considered that there was no obvious attraction of the remaining junior employees to JLT. Finally, as Willis' US employees were employed by other subsidiaries of Willis (rather than the Willis UK companies involved in the proceedings) that those subsidiaries would have to seek protection in their own right.

It is notable that the judge does not appear to have considered the balance of convenience in determining the initial application. The balance of convenience test is relevant to all restrictive covenants cases in which interim injunctive relief is sought. The balance of convenience test involves the court considering which party would be most prejudiced if the court decided to grant an interim injunction order (or decided not to grant one) pending the determination of the issues at trial, having regard to all the circumstances of the case. 

This generally involves weighing the potential damage to the party who considers there has been a breach of contract of such alleged breaches being permitted to continue until trial (ie the potential damage to Willis of JLT taking steps to seek to recruit its remaining employees) against the prejudice to the other party who claims there has been no unlawful action being prevented from taking certain actions pending outcome of the trial (ie the prejudice to JLT of not being able to recruit Willis employees in the meantime). 

Court of Appeal
A judge determining an interim injunction application at first instance has a generous ambit of discretion in deciding whether or not to grant the application and successful appeals against the decision are therefore relatively unusual, as the Court of Appeal should only interfere where the judge has exceeded the wide ambit of this discretion. 

However, in this case the Court of Appeal concluded that the inference that had been drawn by the judge that there was no real risk to Willis of not granting the injunction was incorrect. As Willis had argued, it was important from its viewpoint that it retained its remaining staff in order to allow it an opportunity to repair its business, given the damage and destruction caused by the departure of its senior staff. There had in fact been a pattern of some of its remaining junior staff leaving to follow the senior employees and that there was therefore a realistic risk of this happening again. 

The first instance judge had also been incorrect to conclude that Willis' US employees were not of interest to JLT, as there was evidence that both employees in London and in the US were of interest to JLT and should be protected. The court had also failed to deal with the question of whether or not JLT would continue to receive a benefit from any alleged wrongdoing pending the final outcome at trial (ie whether or not, if they were allowed to continue to recruit Willis' employees, they would continue to receive a commercial advantage from their alleged wrongdoing in the meantime). 

The Court of Appeal agreed with JLT's position that there should generally be evidence of serious wrongdoing to justify imposing an interim injunction which could have a prejudicial impact on a respondent party who maintained that there had been no breach of any obligation. However, this would be a more crucial point for a respondent party if a long period of injunction had been requested, whereas in this case the period of injunction was relatively short and would only be in place until the return date for the next stage of proceedings. 

Overall, the Court of Appeal was satisfied that the balance of convenience decisively favoured Willis and that an interim injunction should be granted. The case is a useful example of the protection that may be available to former employers who have been the victim of team moves, even prior to final determination as to whether there has been any wrongdoing on the part of the new employer. 

Taylor WessingSusannah Wakefield and Anna McCaffrey on behalf of Lockton

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

Tax safety net
It is not widely known that the tax profession has a safety net available to people who critically need tax advice but are unable to pay for it. 

It is not widely known that the tax profession has a safety net available to people who critically need tax advice but are unable to pay for it.  

There are millions of unrepresented taxpayers who struggle with a wide range of tax problems, and for some their tax difficulty creates very significant problems that can affect their livelihood, their health and their families. But they can’t afford to pay for the professional advice they so badly need. 

How do the problems arise? Many don’t understand HMRC correspondence or how to fill in a tax return; and they don’t understand the multiple tax codes on their small pensions. Some are unnecessarily caught in Self-Assessment and suffer inappropriate penalties. Some have abusive employers causing inappropriate self-employment or under declarations and some have been subject to HMRC reviews or investigations. In extreme situations, some have suffered from abusive ‘accountants’, contractors or repayment factories. 

Mick was a self-employed HGV driver in an umbrella company type arrangement; he had already ceased working for them due to their unsatisfactory employment status. Tax was deducted from his pay but the company had not paid the deducted tax to HMRC or helped with his tax return as promised. 

Mick struggled in presenting his situation to HMRC as it conflicted with information sent from the company: to add to the confusion he had sent all his documentation to HMRC which could no longer be located. At this stage he was being sent determinations for the estimated tax due and consequently was very distressed when he first approached us. 

With his consent we used our ‘fast track’ phone line to HMRC to allow us access to the background information and helped him complete his outstanding tax returns, including the final, thus enabling the case to be closed. 

The tax profession’s safety net is provided by our two tax advice charities: TaxAid (which focuses on people of working age) and Tax Help for Older People (which looks after the over 60s). Our role is to give tax advice to people who urgently need it but can’t afford to pay – sometimes we also act for the client in their dealings with HMRC. 

Our two charities work closely together, for example handing cases to the other organisation when they are better supported there. Together our resources enable us to assist about 25,000 people a year. 

In addition to having a serious tax problem, the people they serve are often suffering significant personal distress. Most of them are vulnerable and many are in crisis: a recent study of 7,000 of our clients showed that over 1,500 had mental illness, 1,500 lived with a disability or were terminally ill, 800 had severe learning disability and 700 needed help due to bereavement; and half of our clients are on incomes or pensions below the personal allowance. 

Despite being illiterate, Neil had been encouraged to set up as a self-employed handyman by his adviser at the Job Centre and came to us as he had not paid tax in three years. Job Centre advisers had taught him how to note down his takings over the years, but he encountered difficulty in completing his tax returns and had had them rejected each year, so he was at a loss to know what to do. He had also incurred significant late filing penalties. 

Using his recorded figures, we helped him fill out his outstanding returns and successfully appealed against the penalties. Neil is one of a growing number of low-income self-employed people who will never be capable of completing tax returns without a professional adviser. 

Our aim is to deal with the immediate problem our clients face, get them back on their feet and provide education so that they can handle their tax affairs in future. Resolving the problem may be achieved by giving them the advice and tools for self-help but for a small and growing proportion we act for the client, usually in their dealings with HMRC. 

As well as resolving the tax problem, our work dramatically improves the well-being of our clients and for some, it is life changing. 

Our charities, both founded by tax professionals, have helped vulnerable people for over 20 years. The need for our services has never been higher and it is increasing. 

So, we have come together in the Bridge the Gap Campaign to raise awareness and support for our work; and to raise additional income so that we can meet the unfulfilled demand for our services from vulnerable people. 

We will present a further article on our work and the people we help in the July issue of In Practice

If you would like to know more please visit Bridge the Gap for more information and details of how to support more low income taxpayers like Mick and Neil with your donation. 

Rosina Pullman and Graham Sherburn, CEOs of TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People, the two tax advice charities

Overcoming the challenges of delivering revenue earning business advice
Join ACCA and Exact for a live 60-minute webinar on 2 June (10.00am) as we discuss access to (and interpretation of) the client information which can help to produce the best revenue opportunities for accountants in practice.
Join ACCA and Exact for a live 60-minute webinar on 2 June (10.00am) as we discuss access to (and interpretation of) the client information which can help to produce the best revenue opportunities for accountants in practice.
Be confident and compliant
From year-end accounts to tax returns, you can always be confident that you remain compliant. The Sage Small Practice Bundle offers compliance, flexibility and choice for your practice requirements at only £60 per month.
From year-end accounts to tax returns, you can always be confident that you remain compliant. The Sage Small Practice Bundle offers compliance, flexibility and choice for your practice requirements at only £60 per month.
Survey: the UK and the EU
ACCA wants to understand members’ views on the EU.

ACCA wants to understand members’ views on the EU. 

The outcome of the EU referendum will have an impact on every single business in the UK. 

As a membership organisation, it is important that we reflect the view of our members; we are therefore asking you to complete this short survey to help us understand our members’ views on the EU.

Accounting and Business magazine now available on the move
ACCA's global members' magazine becomes smart device-friendly with launch of new app. 
Accounting and Business, ACCA's global members' magazine, becomes smart device-friendly with launch of new app. 

Readers can go app-tastic as the six regional editions of Accounting and Business magazine have now become available on all smart devices. 

Previously they could access the magazine in print or on iPad. New, redesigned magazine apps can now also now be accessed on iPhone or Android devices, and as web apps through any browser. 

The new apps feature video and podcast content, picture galleries and live links. These include videos about topical issues affecting the accountancy profession and ‘how to’ videos, including a series on strategy and management.

In Malaysia’s May edition, viewers can watch a video interview with ACCA’s deputy president Datuk Alexandra Chin JP, a national of the country. 

Chris Quick, head of ACCA Media, the team which devised the app, said: ‘The Malaysia edition of the magazine is becoming completely digital, and offering app versions across all our editions allows our readers to enjoy the magazine on a device of their choosing.

‘We can also offer more video content, podcasts, picture galleries, and other features that a digital format offers. It’s also a more sustainable option.’

Accounting and Business magazine’s six editions every month are centred around the global body for professional accountants’ biggest member markets – China, Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore and UK – along with an international version.

Chris Quick added: ‘This is an exciting development for ACCA as we continue to embrace the ever-changing opportunities offered by the digital age. The way our readers enjoy their media and access information is changing fast, and we are moving with them. Innovation and creativity are key.’

For more information, or to download the app, visit 
ACCA members aspire to lead!
Watch our new ‘aspire to lead’ video as ACCA members talk about how valuable the Qualification has been to them.

Watch our new ‘aspire to lead’ video as ACCA members talk about how valuable the Qualification has been to them and how they believe passionately in supporting both ACCA and the next generation of accountants.

Hear from recently-qualified ‘leaders of tomorrow’ who are carving out a career in accountancy, ACCA Council members and a past President in this 90 second video.


In profile... Kevin Booth
Meet Kevin Booth FCCA – partner, Alexander Sloan

Training to be an accountant during a recession had some advantages.
I trained with a small firm in Scotland during the early 1990s. When the recession bit, I was retained and thrown in at the deep end, which gave me a really good grounding. 

After qualifying with ACCA I joined a mid-tier firm in Glasgow.
I was working with much larger clients which helped me to progress from an audit senior to audit manager and in May 2008 to partner.

Networking is important; it led to my next move.
After discussions with the partner group I joined Alexander Sloan in 2013. I could see the huge potential in a firm with a solid reputation across Scotland’s central belt.

The ACCA Qualification has proved enormously helpful to my career.
It gives you professional credibility and is a badge of technical expertise. Today I couldn’t function without it since my Audit Qualification allows me to sign off audit reports.

Our firm sees real benefits in rotating staff.
We understand the importance of continuity of partners and senior staff to our clients; however, we aim to introduce new members of staff at lower grades to help grow the pool we have available with knowledge of our clients’ procedures, systems, personnel, etc.

I relish working with my diverse client base.
I get a real buzz from the variety of working with small businesses and the advice they require to attending board meetings of large audit clients.  

My first preference is always to go out and visit my clients.
This provides a real window into the business and the key individuals behind it. It’s amazing what you can pick up from talking to people.

Q: You lead Alexander Sloan’s franchising unit. Tell me more about working with these types of businesses and any particular challenges it poses for accountants?
A: Franchising is attractive for people who want to run their own business, but with the support of a larger brand behind them. Affords the opportunities for those who want to run their own business with tried and tested support behind them.

FRS 102 provides clients with the biggest change to accounting rules I have seen in my career.
Clients are not always aware of the impact FRS 102 will have on the accounting framework. We are working closely to help them with the transition process, including the provision of compliance health checks.

Alexander Sloan will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2017.
One client has been with us since 1908 and it will be a delight to see them help celebrate this milestone.

I have been a member of the ACCA Scotland Committee for just over one year.
We are ACCA’s ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground, providing perspectives of the accountancy market in Scotland, as well as tracking the activity of our competitors and other businesses. We also promote ACCA’s regional networks and encourage members across the country to take advantage of the many benefits of membership. 

Away from work I drive my ten year old son across the country to play rugby.
Even then, my skills are put to good use; I am treasurer of his club (Glasgow Accies)!

CPD events for practitioners
Keep up to date with latest developments within the accountancy profession and ensure that you are equipped with the right set of skills and knowledge to best support your practice.

Keep up to date with latest developments within the accountancy profession and ensure that you are equipped with the right set of skills and knowledge to best support your practice. 


Conference Two

Conference Three



Accounting Conference

Taxation Conference 



Residential Conference for Practitioners



Guide to Practical Audit Compliance for Partners and Managers

Practical Guide to ISQC 1 for Partners and Managers

Money Laundering Workshop


Events programme – latest changes
We regularly update our website with news and information about our full programme of Professional Courses events – including the latest additions to our suite of events. Visit the Professional Courses webpages now to find your next event.

Also look out for details of our events in AB.UK magazine every month, or via email. Visit MyACCA to take a few seconds to confirm we hold your current email address on file.








Fraud and financial crime: an introduction for accountants
Two roadshows will help accountants recognise and handle the risk of fraud.

Two roadshows will help accountants recognise and handle the risk of fraud. 

The way that organisations conduct business is changing dramatically: globalisation and advances in technology now make it easier than ever before to travel, communicate, and do business. 

But as these opportunities increase, so do the risks arising from fraud, bribery and corruption, money laundering, identity theft and data security breaches. Individuals, organisations and their professional advisers need to be able to recognise, prevent and respond to these threats. 

This participative half-day workshop will provide accountants with a ‘need-to-know’ overview of common forms of fraud and financial crime. It will highlight the key warning signs and fraud ‘hotspots’ within organisations and the practical steps that can be taken to reduce the risk. 

Bristol – Wednesday 3 June (12.30-17.00)
Leeds – Monday 22 June (12.30-17.00) 

Special discounted rate of £60+VAT for members of ICAEW, ACCA, CIPFA, ICAS, Chartered Accountants Ireland, Fraud Advisory Panel. 

Tel: 020 7920 8637

How is your practice changing?
ACCA conducting survey of SMPs. Take part now.

ACCA conducting survey of SMPs. Take part now. 

We are currently conducting a survey among members who work in small and medium sized practices (SMP) around the world, to learn more about the business models being used – and how they are changing. 

We are aware that SMPs can no longer rely just on audits and financial reporting for their business, so we would like to explore what kinds of value-added services and advice you are now offering to your clients. We are keen to learn the impact of the changed economic and regulatory landscape, and how the resulting challenges and opportunities are being met by SMPs. 

The questionnaire should only take up to 15 minutes to complete, and will be open until 3 June

The results of this survey will be published as a global report and promoted at a global and national level, so that the relevant lessons for the SMP community and professional bodies are widely shared. Your responses will also help ACCA and its partner professional bodies improve their services to members in practice by increasing our understanding of the new skills SMPs require.

Searching for the UK’s best practices
The British Accountancy Awards recognise the best firms in public practice. Could your business be a winner?

The British Accountancy Awards recognise the best firms in public practice. Could your business be a winner? 

Entries for the 2015 British Accountancy Awards are now open – has your practice considered entering and registered its details yet? 

By entering these awards, you can make your firm stand out. As a finalist or even better, a winner, your company will receive unrivalled benefits… 

  • receive national press coverage via Accountancy Age
  • increase your customer and client loyalty
  • show prospects you can be trusted and command high levels of service
  • stand out in your area and shine above your competition.

Regional categories will honour the best independent firms across the following regions: 

  • East, England
  • Midlands, England
  • North, England
  • South East, England
  • South West, England
  • Greater London
  • Wales
  • Scotland.

Individual categories will recognise the ‘practitioner of the year’ and ‘new practitioner of the year’, while the ‘training team of the year’ will be of interest to many ACCA members and firms.

Meanwhile, firms within Accountancy Age’s Top 50 firms will be contesting categories recognising the best in the following specialisms: tax; audit; restructuring; corporate finance; advisory; pensions and wealth management. 

How to enter
Open to all accountancy firms in the country including non-ACCA firms, entering the British Accountancy Awards couldn’t be simpler. Log onto the dedicated website, fill in the entry statement and upload any supporting documentation. This can be updated and altered at any time until you choose to submit your entry. 

The experience of previous winners shows it pays to set aside time to fully consider your firm’s entry and to review and revise this prior to submitting the final entry. Take a look now at the detailed criteria and plan ahead – if your firm wins, your efforts now will be well rewarded. 

The deadline for entries – which are free – is Friday 17 July.

What does it mean to win?
ACCA members and firms were amongst the winners in 2014. Here’s what those involved had to say:

  • Anita Brook – managing director, Accounts Assist: ‘I’m thrilled to be named “Practitioner of the Year”. I’m passionate about the benefits of choosing to be in practice and the opportunities this presents for continuous professional growth. Having only qualified at the age of 32, this award shows anything is possible if you put your mind to it.’ 
  • Karen Thompson – training manager, Reeves: ‘We’re delighted to be named “Training Team of the Year” at this year’s British Accountancy Awards. We pride ourselves on supporting and developing our trainees as they study for their professional exams and take a great deal of pride from the fact our efforts have been recognised by our peers.’ 
  • Caroline and Nick Cole – co-directors, Savoir Faire Accounting: ‘Having been short-listed in 2013, we were delighted to go one step further and be crowned winners in the “start up category” this year. In particular, it’s pleasing to see the judges’ recognition of the lengths we go to satisfy our clients, many of whom operate across the English Channel.’
Auto-enrolment videos
The Pensions Regulator has produced a number of short videos which aim to communicate key auto-enrolment messages.

The Pensions Regulator has produced a number of short videos which aim to communicate key auto-enrolment messages. 

They are aimed at business advisers and employers. They are available on the Regulator’s You Tube Channel and include: 

  • Employers: An introduction to automatic enrolment (3 mins) – Charles Counsell talks about what employers need to do to comply with their duties and where to go for information
  • Business advisers: How to plan for automatic enrolment (5 mins) – Heather Prescott talks about how business advisers can help clients plan for automatic enrolment
  • Business advisers: How to assess your client's workforce for automatic enrolment (3 mins) – Toby Christie talks about how business advisers can help their clients with assessing their workers.

You can find guidance and articles from ACCA about auto enrolment on our technical advisory webpages