Getting the Most Out of Your Work Experience

During  the summer we had a couple of students, who got in contact with us looking the opportunity to gain some work experience. We were very keen to give them the opportunity to gain an insight in to the world of accountancy, however, whilst our offices are currently being completed we decided to take on just one and settled on Kirsten, who we found to be incredibly enthusiastic. I then had this idea to write an article on gaining the most out of your work experience. I tried (desperately) to recall my days spent in work experience and realised all to quickly how much time had passed by!! I then decided to ask Kirsten if she would like to contribute to this instead. I want to share with you all her thoughts, because, to be totally honest she has summed it up better than I could……..

 

Getting the Most Out of Your Work Experience

By Kirsten Doran

“Like the average seventeen year-old, work experience was a concept I avoided, worried that I would be set menial tasks such as photocopying and making coffee. However, my time spent at JSR Chartered Accountants proved this was not always the case. If you’re really lucky (like me!) you might even enjoy it and be sad to leave! In order to get the most out of your work experience I’m going to give you a few tips.

Tip 1: Build a relationship with your mentors

A chat over cup of coffee and biscuits helps to break the awkwardness when you’re in an unfamiliar environment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Being able to talk comfortably with Jonathan and Stacie enabled me to find out the pros and cons of the job I was interested in, from those who know best. I honestly felt as if I was wanted in their office as they made me feel so welcome. It also helped me to work at ease and enjoy every second of it!

Tip 2: Be prepared to learn

Your short time at work experience flies by, especially if you’re having fun, so cherish every minute you get. It’s a good idea to bring a notebook with you to jot down the things you’ve learnt for future reference, such as during a university interview. I genuinely feel as if I learnt a huge amount at JSR Chartered Accountants and went from knowing little or nothing about the profession to gaining a great insight. At the end of it I felt like a real accountant!

Tip 3: Reflection

At the end of the day, it’s important to ask yourself “Is this the job you want to commit to?” And even if the answer is no, at least you know! In my case, I was previously uncertain if this was the job for me because its extremely hard to tell on paper. However, once I was thrown into the working environment I was pleasantly surprised and since then, I’ve firmly decided that accountancy is the career path I wish to take.

My time at JSR Chartered Accountants was so valuable and I’d like to thank Jonathan and Stacie Ross for inviting me into their business and giving me much needed experience.”

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RTI for PAYE – What is it all about?

 

HMRC’s new system of reporting PAYE and what it means for you and your business.

 

From 6 April 2013 you will have to start reporting PAYE information in real time. You may see this referred to as Real Time Information – or RTI. HMRC have introduced this new system for reporting PAYE for large and small business including Limited Companies with the main objective to enable more accurate PAYE reporting. The more accurate the information the better the chance that employees will be on the correct tax code and thus ideally, less mistakes from HMRC will be made.

What this really means is that HMRC will receive information on employers PAYE per pay period, rather than receiving it all at once at the end of the tax year. By receiving Pay As You Earn information in real time, HMRC have the opportunity to pick up on and amend any errors as they occur, rather than trying to reconcile a backlog of errors and inconsistencies at the end of the tax year. This decreases the likelihood of you being lumped with an unexpected penalty.

RTI is only relevant to employers, so if you operate as a sole trader, with no employee’s, the changes do not apply to you. As the director of a Limited Company however, you do have to report your PAYE salary, if you take one, when it is paid to you as an employee of your Company.

What do you have to do?

 

As an employer, each time you pay an employee, you already keep payroll information. After 6 April 2013 you will still operate PAYE in the same way but you must submit the payroll information you already keep to HMRC on or before the day you pay your employees. Your payroll software will generate the new reports you need and submit payroll information online, (please check with your current payroll software provider now to ensure all is in order). These will include details of:

  • the amount you paid your employee(s)
  • deductions, such as Income Tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs)
  • starter and leaver dates if applicable

You need to include the details of all employees you pay, including those who earn below the NICs Lower Earnings Limit (LEL), for example students.

 

You no longer submit end-of-year forms P35 and P14 and the starter and leaver process is simplified. You continue to give your employee a form P45 (employee parts) when they leave but you no longer send forms P45 (part 1) or P46 to HMRC. Instead you must report all starter and leaver information via your payroll software each time you pay someone. When you run payroll, your software gathers the PAYE information you send to HMRC, based on the payroll entries you make.

You can use any RTI-enabled commercial payroll software (there are some free packages available) or HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools package which is designed for employers with nine employees or fewer. You submit your PAYE information online to HMRC using commercial payroll software or HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools, if it’s suitable for you. You do this via the Government Gateway, the online entry point to government services. You cannot use HMRC’s PAYE Online Returns and Forms direct from the HMRC website to send this PAYE information.

 

It’s very important you use accurate employee details, such as full name, home address, date of birth, National Insurance number and gender before the new PAYE real time is introduced within your business. By doing this you will:

  •  ensure employees pay the correct Income Tax and NICs
  • make it easier to match the information you send with HMRC’s record of your employee
  • reduce the number of employee queries you receive from HMRC

 

The best way to check these details are correct is to verify them against a birth certificate, passport, driving licence or official document from HMRC or the Department for Work and Pensions.

 

 

RTI will be beneficial for you because your remittance advice will be accurate and the information held by HMRC will all be correct meaning no nasty surprises, no confusion and hopefully faster processing from the HMRC.

 

For further information on RTI payroll please feel free to contact us on info@jsrcharteredaccountants.co.uk,

See also http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/payerti/getting-started/index.htm

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Possibly a little more “something for nothing” -Enhanced Capital Allowances on Energy Saving Equipment

Previously I pointed out the potential savings that can be made and the finance available from The Carbon Trust for replacing current lighting, heating, cooling equipment etc with an energy efficient equivalent. In that article I mentioned that the cash flow savings delivered through reduced payments to your utility supplier can finance the loan repayments. This is not the whole picture. There is still a little more meat to add to the bones on this topic.

HRMC have in recent years attempted to encourage business to invest in green technology/ equipment. This has primarily been delivered through the Capital Allowance scheme.

The ‘incentive’ as provided by HMRC is the availability of Enhanced Capital Allowances to achieve tax relief on the acquisition and installation of certain certified energy saving equipment.

Check the following link to confirm that any potential equipment acquisition qualifies for Enhanced Capital Allowances before you buy http://etl.decc.gov.uk/etl/find/

The application of these Enhanced Capital Allowances effectively allow the business to claim tax relief on the full cost of acquisition and installation of this equipment in year one.

Example – assume the business spends £10,000 on energy efficient equipment and its subsequent installation. The business can then claim a reduction in its taxable profits to the extent of £10,000. This is applicable to either limited company, sole trader, or partnership businesses.

There is a further aspect to the Enhanced Capital Allowances for limited companies that we will look at next time.

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The Husband & wife business partnership and a healthy work life balance. Can we have both??

 

When we got married we were both studying our professional exams and training to become accountants. We were attending university together on a Saturday, studying together and living and breathing the same text books for three solid years. It seemed to work OK, however there was one fundamental difference, we were not working in the same firm. Perhaps this is why it seemed to work so well.

Given that we were ‘heading in the same direction’ it seemed inevitable that one day we would go into business together and here we are.

When we first made the decision to work together, I thought this will be great, we had just started our family and it seemed, to me, to be the perfect situation. I could work and still be flexible for my young children and not miss out on them growing up. I was going to be super woman!! However, when I actually started to think about it seriously I thought, what if we ‘kill’ each other, or even worse what if I turn into my husband!! However, we decided to risk it and in January 2010 we decided to just ‘go for it.’ I have to say, if I am honest, there have been arguements, but we have never looked back!!

Husband and wife business partnerships are on the rise, we can see this in our client list, through colleagues and friends, and when it works it seems to be working very well.

When a husband and wife go into business together they have the same end goal and dedication. This type of dedication can help young companies get off the ground. When married couples work together, their business can become like their own baby. Their emotional involvement with each other spills over into an attachment with the company, driving people to be more dedicated than they would other-wise be.

Don’t get me wrong the constant interaction, the strain of juggling work and personal life, and the trials of entrepreneurship—especially in a difficult economy—can take a toll. The key however is getting the work life balance right.

I am not a marriage guidance counsellor but I thought I would share a few of our secrets and experiences that have helped make it work for us:

Figure out how you will physically work together. This will be different for every couple. Some couples can work well in the same office space however others may need to be physically separated if they’re going to work well together. If a separate space is necessary for you to make it work, then I suggest you find a separate space.

Make clear your roles. Going into business with your spouse or partner is exciting because you are building something and you will have the same dream. However, how you visualise you get there will most likely be different. Identify each others responsibilities, you will both have different strengths so use them. That way you’ll avoid stepping on each other’s toes and hopefully minimise any arguments.

Understand your working styles. This is another one that often gets forgotten when a couple works together. When we were both training we worked for different companies and naturally developed very different working styles, you need to understand how the other person likes to work, how you each deal with stress, and go into it with similar, or at least clear, expectations about sharing the work. We clashed at the very start on our very different working styles. I am ‘hyper’ organised, like things in a certain way, and especially like a nice tidy desk. My husband however, does not share my enthusiasm for a clear desk, but we got round it, by simply buying separate trays, and once a week we go through these trays and clear it all away. That way I didn’t have to look at lots of loose paper and my husband didn’t feel he had to file everything every two minutes. It is about finding the compromise and using it.

Communicate. It is so easy to forget that communication in a work environment is different from asking if the dishwasher is emptied or agreeing about who’s going to pick up the kids from school. Make sure you’re communicating about the day-to-day stuff as well as the big picture stuff. And if you have other people working for or with you, communicate with them too. Remember you are running a business together not separately!!

Leave work at work. You don’t want to be talking shop over dinner. It’s bound to happen and lets face it, it does, but try and minimise this where possible so as not to have your lives be all work all the time.

Leave home at home. This is the other side of that coin, but it can be less visible on your radar. If you’re working together it will help if you can maintain a professional relationship that’s focused on the business. Making your grocery list while you’re balancing the books can make everything feel smashed together, which is no fun – and not productive – for anyone.

Respect each other. You respect each other in your marriage (hopefully). If your spouse is your business partner you should treat that person the same way you’d treat any other colleague, whether a boss or a peer.

If you can manage all that, you might just be able to live – and work – happily ever after.

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The Modern Accountant ????

But Accountants DO NOT blog……

 

This may well be true, yet here we are, accountants, and we are trying our hand at blogging!!

 

It has become a general consensus that accountants are not known for trying out new ideas, and as for social media and blogging well, they simply ‘do not have the time’, it is ‘not necessary’, it ‘will not increase our profits’, it ‘will not add to the quality of service for our clients’ and it is ‘not an efficient use of our time.’

 

While this is all true, and ok, it probably won’t help us understand our clients better, it is most likely not very proactive, and lets be honest, who NEEDS an accountant that blogs?? However, despite all this, and in a bold NEW approach, I have pondered over the last few months that maybe our clients would like to understand US a bit better!!!!

 

I personally have always felt, even way back in my training years, (which feels like a million years ago now but really is not!!!) that it is important to show our clients that there is an ordinary human being behind all the ‘serious’ chat, tax regulations and number crunching. Maybe even someone that dare I say it has a ‘personality of sorts’!!!

 

So based on all this and with a gentle push and encouragement from some of our twitter friends Helen Cousins (@xcelbusiness), Sian Phillips (@_sians) and Sage Ireland (@sageireland) we are going to attempt this blogging thing!!!

 

This is my first ‘introductory’ blog and I hope you will all bear with me as I try to ‘master’ this over the coming weeks.

 

For now i have listed below some of our earlier posts that we included previously. A couple of them were in response to a few past client queries, which actually did end up being ‘a proactive use of our time!’

 

In the mean time if you have any interest in a specific topic you would like to see more information on please feel free to get in touch with us!!

 

and we have social networks too……

 

Follow us on twitter:  @stacielross

Like us on facebook: JSR Chartered Accountants

connect with us on linkedIn: JSR Chartered Accountants

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Budget 2012: Key Points

George Osborne says his 2012 Budget will “reward work”, support working families and ‘unashamedly backs business’ but warns of need to continue his austerity drive in face of sluggish growth.

Budget 2012 Key Points:

Automatic review of state pension age to ensure it keeps pace with increasing lifespans. New single-tier state pension for future pensioners to be set at about £140 and based on contributions

Duty on all tobacco products to rise by 5% above inflation from 18:00 today – the equivalent of 37p on a packet of cigarettes. No change to alcohol duty. New duty on gaming machines at a standard rate of 20% and a lower rate for low-prize machines of 5% of net takings. No change to existing plans on fuel duty (however, please note that plans to increase Fuel by 3p from August still stand). Vehicle excise duty to rise by inflation, but frozen for road hauliers

Good news for young entrepreneurs Government considering enterprise loans for young people to start their own business.

Corporation tax cut to 24% from next month. By 2014 it will fall to 22%

From midnight, new stamp duty level of 7% for homes worth more than £2m. Any such homes bought through companies will pay 15%. Extra funding to help construction firms building new homes

CHILD BENEFIT Will be phased out when someone in a houshold has an income of more than £50,000. It will fall by 1% for every £100 earned over £50,000. Only those earning more than £60,000 will lose the entirety of the benefit

From April 2013, the 50p top rate of tax will be cut to 45p. Personal income tax allowance will be raised to £9,205 from April 2013, making people £220 a year better off. However, those aged 65 and over will no longer be entitled to the higher rate of personal allowance leaving these individuals paying around £260 more in tax per year.

It should also be noted that around 300,000 workers woll be pulled into the 40% tax bracket. Currently workers can earn £42.475 before paing tax at 40%, this limit is now to be reduced to £41,450 – This was not announced in Mr Osborne’s speech but was included in the budget document.

 

 

 

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