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Changes to Paying Class 2 National Insurance Contributions

If you are self-employed you will find that from April 2011, payment of your Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs) will be due on 31 January and 31 July. This of course is the same as for your income tax bill, and indeed for Class 4 NICs.

If you make payment by internet/telephone banking, CHAPS, Bank Giro, Post Office or post you will receive just two payment requests from HMRC in the year - instead of the current four bills.

Telephone Skills

Whether you are the CEO, the receptionist or a customer service representative, you will have to deal directly with customers, suppliers or even the press at some stage during your career. Having good telephone skills is essential to everyone who works in a modern business. It’s all about the basics

Setting your Targets for Success in 2011

The success of your business in 2011 may very well depend upon your ability to set and achieve small and large goals during the year. In order to be a true success you need to be able to do more than simply set goals. You must also be able to create goals that are achievable, actionable, inspiring, and that the people who work for and with you will be proud to adopt as their own. Setting realistic business goals may seem like another challenge but if you want to create and maintain a business that is destined for growth is it a necessary challenge nonetheless.

Plant and Machinery Used in a Dwelling-House

This is specifically debarred from entitlement to capital allowances, unless the property is within the furnished holiday lettings regime. A dwelling-house is not defined under tax legislation, and HMRC accepts that university halls of residence and similar facilities are not dwelling-houses for this purpose.

Another Planning Idea on Entrepeneurs' Relief

If you make a profit on a business asset which qualifies you for capital gains tax (CGT) entrepreneurs’ relief, you will only pay CGT at a rate of 10% subject to the new lifetime limit of £5 million of gains. If on the other hand the asset does not qualify you are likely to pay CGT at 28%. Some difference! Clearly any realistic planning moves which could ensure tax at 10% have got to be seriously considered. A number of ideas are now coming to the surface, one of which is explained here:

Pension Scheme Contributions

We’ve now been told exactly what the new rules are to be for contributions from 6 April 2011 – in place of the previously announced rules from the old government where in particular there were to be restrictions in the rate of tax relief available if your income exceeded £150,000. Simplicity is the name of the game here (that’s refreshing for a start), and tax relief will be available at your top tax rate subject to restrictions in what you can contribute as follows:

VAT Rate Increase

As you will be aware the VAT rate will increase from its current rate of 17.5% to 20% on 4 January 2011.

In addition the rates applicable to the Flat Rate Scheme will also increase. See below for more details.

For any sales of standard-rated goods or services that you make on or after 4 January 2011 you must charge VAT at the 20% rate.

If you have a cash business and calculate your VAT using the VAT fraction you must use the VAT fraction of 1/6 on your standard-rated VAT inclusive sales from 4 January 2011.

Cash Collection

It is vital in this current economic climate that you don’t allow late payers to disrupt your cash flow and harm the success of your business.

Effective debt collection policy requires a system that should not be overridden other than by exceptional circumstances – discipline is the key.  Not allowing late payments will avoid disrupting your cash flow.  However in the current climate businesses may have to accept payment by instalments.  This should be over as shorter period as possible.

How long should you keep books and Records?

There is no simple answer to this question because different types of record are covered by different types of legislation. A brief summary of the position is as follows:

General Accounting Records:
Normally, records maintained for the purpose of completing VAT returns and agreeing tax liabilities should be retained for six years. H M Revenue & Customs may allow a shorter period for VAT records but will require a full explanation of why it is considered impractical to keep the records.

The Power of Business Surveys

Business surveys are a fantastic way of keeping your finger on the pulse in your target market. With powerful online survey tools now available at very little cost, it is easier than ever to conduct a survey that will provide meaningful insights for your firm.

Perhaps you want to ask existing clients for their opinion on your services in order to help you improve your service offering and attract new clients. Another angle would be to ask potential clients what they expect from you and use the results to create a targeted business development plan.