Sitting at a desk all week can play havoc with your fitness levels.

This is why Esther & Natasha look for different and interesting challenges to train for.  There have been a few running events (inlucing the London Marathon) and many mud & obstacle challenges along the way but on Saturday 4th August we attempted THE challenge that almost broke us!

Here’s our write up of the day:

Saturday 4th August 2018

Today was the inaugural TSFE Fan Dance Hunted event and Natasha and Esther bravely volunteered ourselves as wolf bait.

The Fan Dance is a route well-known within military circles as part of the selection process for the Special Forces.  It’s a 24km route across the Brecon Beacons, which encompasses a climb to the top of the Pen Y Fan mountain, the highest peak in South Wales.

The Fan Dance Hunted event follows the traditional Fan Dance route but competitors are given an arm band and a fifteen-minute head start before a pack of wolves (super fit military personnel in yellow) are released with the sole purpose of catching entrants and reclaiming the arm band.  Add to this the anxiety of a halfway cut-off time, where those failing to meet this are removed from the hills, and you’ve got yourself an adrenalin pumping event like no other…

The usual pre-race nerves kicked in as we arrived for the 7.30am registration, not helped by a delayed start .

We each weighed our back packs (14lbs for Esther & Natasha) and checked our mandatory kit – 3 litres of fluids, food, spare clothes, waterproofs, first aid kit, emergency blanket, torch, compass, map, phone & watch. The briefing took place and we shuffled to the start…


Standby, Standby, GO!

The first mile, from a standing start, is UP.  A very steep, relentless, exposed path takes you to the top of Corn Du.  We both later admitted having serious doubts about our ability to complete the challenge, due to the toughness of this first mile.   Esther was caught by her wolf before reaching the summit, although to be fair almost everyone in her category got caught by him, he was fast and very hungry!  (His finishing time was confirmed as under 2.5 hours – we stood no chance!)

As we approached the top of Pen Y Fan clouds descended and visibility was pretty poor.

We stumbled our way across the peak heading for the TSFE flag and Directing Staff.


Peering over the edge we realise the route continues via a very steep descent that literally involves jumping off boulders to rocky ground below, known as Jacobs Ladder.  Gradually the boulders turn into rocks and then become uneven steps and so we hobble down as quickly as is possible without breaking ankles in the process.

Towards the bottom of Jacobs Ladder the weather clears and we have an uninterrupted view of the route ahead.  At this point we’ve completed just over 2 miles in one hour and have another five miles to go until the halfway point.

The cut off time is 2hrs 45mins and we’re having doubts once again.

We set off along the Roman Road trotting where possible but mostly fast walking as we negotiate unstable stones, ditches and gravel.  Now the miles start flying and we’re soon through the next few checkpoints and heading into the forest for the final charge to halfway.


We make the cut off at just over two hours – don’t know what we were worried about!

A quick bite to eat and drink and we’re off to do the whole course again in reverse.

This direction feels easier, probably because we know what’s to come.  We pass a few casualties with cramp and crippling blisters and offer our words of encouragement and a dextrosol tablet or two.

We’re chatting as we trot which means before we know it we’re half way up Jacob’s Ladder.

Chatting noticeably slows as we gasp for breath and struggle to cope with the burning muscles.  Before we know it we’re at the top and ready to embrace the final mile down to the finish.

Sadly, it wasn’t an enjoyable down as by this point we’ve got aching hips, sore knees and bruised toes and the steep decline does nothing to help these ailments.

Still we both finish smiling in around five hours.  Amazingly Natasha also still has her armband as her category’s wolf was having a shocking day with cramps and therefore she completed the course evading capture!

A quick photo, medal collection, presentation of Natasha’s prize and its back onto the M4 for our journey home.

All the way home we agree never again but we said that about the London Marathon and both re-entered the ballot this year!

Until next time?

Overall this was an amazing and well organised event by TSFE and we extend our sincere thanks to Jason Bowen, his admin team and of course the wolves!

All entry fees were donated to the charity Scotty’s Little Soilders, which is a charity with royal approval that helps children of military personnel killed in action.

We also extend our thanks to the AllGirlsUK group that supported our training with organised hikes around Box Hill and endless words of encouragement.

Watch this space for our next adventure…

HMRC has published the Making Tax Digital (MTD) rules. What do you need to know?

The rules

These were published in the VAT Notice 700/22.

Which business do the rules apply to?

From 1 April 2019, all business with a taxable turnover that exceeds the VAT registration threshold (currently £85,000) are required to store their VAT records digitally and submit VAT returns via an interface with HMRC software.

If the turnover subsequently falls below the threshold the business will still be required to comply with the rules unless you deregister. The rules apply from the first VAT period starting on or after 1 April 2019.

Only businesses with taxable turnover that has never exceeded the VAT registration threshold will be exempt from Making Tax Digital in 2019. You will therefore need to keep an eye on your taxable turnover, especially if you think it is close to the VAT registration threshold.

Which records need to be recorded digitally?

  • the business name
  • the address of the principal place of business
  • the VAT registration number
  • any VAT accounting schemes that the business uses


For each supply the business makes you must record the:

  • time of supply (tax point)
  • value of the supply (net value excluding VAT)
  • rate of VAT charged


For each supply the business receives you must record the:

  • time of supply (tax point)
  • value of the supply
  • amount of input tax that will be claimed


How will the VAT return be submitted?

From April 2019 submissions must be made using MTD compliant software.

Digital record keeping

All VAT registered businesses must keep and preserve certain records and accounts. Under MTD records must be kept digitally within functional compatible software.

Paperless businesses?

Sadly not, there are some records that by law must be kept and preserved in their original form either for VAT purposes or other tax purposes. With this in mind you will need a software solution with well organised supporting paper records.

Soft landing

HMRC has announced that there will be a soft landing of MTD, allowing a period of time for businesses to adjust.

Software options

At a4c we are Xero Silver Partners and as an approved MTD software option we will continue to promote this to our clients.

More information

You can read the full VAT Notice here: VAT 700/22

If you are a VAT registered business and don’t have MTD compliant software in place then now is the time to take action.

Speak to a member of the a4c team for more information on how Xero could help you to comply, whilst affording lots of other worthwhile benefits too!



Is this tax scheme too good to be true?

Without hearing the details of the scheme, you know as well as we do that the answer is ‘Probably’!

Nobody likes paying tax, and of course you never want to pay a penny more than you have to. However there are hundreds of creative tax schemes out there looking to entice you on the promise of a minimised tax bill.

How can you protect yourself?

If you don’t have a detailed understanding of tax law it’s difficult to know whether the scheme you’re considering is compliant.

At A4C we are often asked for our advice on various schemes and have therefore created a list of the mechanisms used by many avoidance schemes, which we hope will help you identify the things you should be wary of:

  • The arrangements in place sound a little too artificial
  • It all seems very complex and overcomplicated
  • There appears to be no risk, yet you are promised guaranteed returns
  • There are secrecy or confidentiality agreements
  • The scheme claims to have the backing of a top accountancy firm or lawyer
  • The scheme is said to be approved by HMRC
  • Offshore companies or trusts are involved
  • There are exit arrangements in place to avoid tax consequences
  • The scheme requires you to take out insurance against its failure to deliver the tax benefits.

Basically, if any tax scheme sounds too good to be true, the chances are, it probably is!

If you’d like a free and friendly chat about the way you have your business finances arranged then reply to this email or call Esther or Natasha at A4C today on:

01737 652 852

Contact Us:

A4C Group
Accounting4contractors Ltd,
Surrey’s fastest growing

cloud accounting practice
Phone: 01737 652 852

Numbers UP – FREE eBook

  • Find out the 7 most frustrating pain points in business.
  • Learn how the three legged stool could help you see things differently.
  • Take control today!


I’m a sole trader and business is going well, is it worth me becoming a limited company?

This is a question we get asked all the time and in most instances incorporating a limited company is a tax efficient option.


A sole trader with profits of £25,000 in 2018/19 will only save approximately £700 in Tax and NI by incorporating – assuming they are extracting all of the profits in the most efficient way possible. However the additional cost of compliance, company accounts etc. would probably wipe out the saving at this level.


Once profits get to the £50,000 mark, the tax savings are more significant at approximately £2,000, making incorporation more attractive. The savings continue to increase at profits above this level, but not indefinitely.


At profits of £70,000, the tax saving is £2,380 but above this, the savings contract.


Where the profits are in excess of £145,000 it is now actually more tax efficient to be a sole trader!  But remember that saving tax isn’t the only reason to incorporate a limited company…


Incorporating a company has other benefits including the protection of assets owned personally, the ability to contribute into a pension scheme & relevant life cover as well as the option to split income with others.

The downside is that you have more compliance responsibility and it becomes vitally important to maintain good accounting records (with our help of course).

Free Consultation

It is important to remember that there’s no longer one size fits all so what’s right for someone else may not be right for you.

Call today and book a free meeting with one of our lovely team to discuss whether this is a beneficial option for you.

01737 652 852


January may be long behind us but it is never too late to revisit those resolutions.  With the new tax year on the horizon why not use this milestone to get your business affairs on track for a healthier future?

  • Give up bad habits; plan salary payments in advance for tax efficient withdrawals (see our guide for more info)
  • Speed up your accounts; perform tasks on the go from your smart phone, ipad or laptop
  • Slim down your paperwork; switch to an accountancy package that does everything in one place
  • Find time to relax; through collaboration with your accountant meeting deadlines in good time
  • Save money; by avoiding penalties and switching to a fixed fee accounting solution


There are many accountancy software packages available to help streamline your day-to-day business activities.  As an example, at a4c clients are given access to Xero online software, which can be used anywhere and on any device with Internet access.  Clients need no training and can generate invoices, record expenses, set up automated bank statement feeds and lots more in a few simple steps, safe in the knowledge that a team of professionals waits in the background to carry out the accountancy tasks for you at month end.

Plain English Pledge

At a4c we know that “accounting” speak is not everyone’s cup of tea and that understanding the rules of business can be a daunting prospect, especially when new legislation frequently comes into force.  With this in mind we provide an accountancy service that gives unlimited support and that answers all questions honestly and accurately, no matter how large or small.

Other elements of our service include:

  • Payroll, CIS, VAT, statutory accounts, corporation tax returns, self assessment returns, confirmation statements and all the bits in between!
  • Delivery of quarterly management reports, providing key performance indicators
  • Xero accounting software
  • Unlimited and informal telephone / email support without the usual accounting stuffiness
  • Relieving clients from the stress and confusion that comes with being the director of a limited company.

Say Hello today!

If your resolution is to put your business on track for a healthier 2018/19 tax year then pick up the phone for a no obligation informal chat today and we can say hello to collaboration (and the new you!).

What is your Tax Efficient Strategy for Salary & Dividends in 2018/19?

From April of 2018, the most tax efficient remuneration strategy for a director, wishing to remain within the basic rate tax band, will be to keep your monthly withdrawals from the limited company below £3,862 per month, and to save £203 per month of that amount to cover your personal tax bill.

The breakdown is as follows:

1. Monthly Salary

  • £702.00

  • No tax or NI on this amount but high enough that you will still qualify for state pension & benefits

2. Dividends

  • £3,160.00*

  • This assumes you have sufficient company profits available after Corporation Tax (approx. £47k profits needed to take £37k dividends).

3. Save

  • £203.00

  • To cover the tax on dividends, which will be payable 31/01/2020!  Or you may want to save more to also cover your payments on account for 2019/20.


If you follow the above, you avoid going into the higher rate tax bracket.

Note these figures are purely based on earnings from your business and do not consider other personal income you may receive.

*We don’t advise declaring dividends monthly, as these may be challenged as salary, so the above have been provided purely to help you budget.  (Read more on the Salary Trap here)

Higher Earnings

If you need to declare larger dividends then just remember that for every £1,000 that you pay yourself in dividends, over and above the £3,160 per month, you will be liable for £325 in tax (as you fall into the higher rate bracket where income is taxed at 32.5%).

Grab your free Salary Guide

Want more information? We’ve created a Salary Guide with Dividend Tax Illustrations for the year ahead.  To get your hands on a copy simply make contact with us via the chat box above.



March 2018

Years ago you used a popular disguised remuneration scheme to reduce the tax on your income. It appeared to work, but you’ve now read that you should tell HMRC about it by 31 May 2018…

Tax schemes

In the early 2000s tax-saving schemes involving what HMRC refers to as disguised remuneration were marketed as a safe way to reduce or avoid tax altogether. The schemes took various forms, but typically involved your business passing money to an employee benefit trust (EBT) or similar arrangement, instead of paying it to you as salary etc. The EBT then lent you money for an indefinite period, or invested it on your behalf. It was thought that this avoided income tax and NI.

If you used a disguised remuneration scheme, anti-avoidance rules now mean that a tax charge may be triggered in 2018/19.

Anti-avoidance rules

HMRC’s view has always been that the schemes didn’t work and that the disguised remuneration was taxable. In reality the law was less clear, so in 2012 anti-avoidance rules were introduced to block any tax advantage, but not for payments into schemes before 2011. Therefore, further anti-avoidance rules in 2016 created a special tax charge for all disguised remuneration past and present. The charge will apply on 5 April 2019 to all schemes where the disguised remuneration hasn’t yet been taxed.

HMRC attack

Regardless of any promises made about the legality and effectiveness of schemes, the courts have sided with HMRC. HMRC is not aware of every business which has used a scheme, but it actively enforces anti-avoidance rules when the opportunity arises.

Cumulative remuneration

The terms of the catch-all anti-avoidance rules introduced in 2016 mean that any disguised remuneration which hasn’t been taxed by 5 April 2019 will count as income on that day. Therefore, income which relates to more than one year will be taxed as income for 2018/19 alone. This might result in a higher rate of tax being paid than if the income were taxed in the years it arose. However, HMRC is offering an alternative.

There’s a small window to disclose to HMRC if you used a disguised remuneration scheme and avoid the April 2019 tax charge. You have until 31 May 2018 to notify and then until 30 September to provide full details.

What to expect

Disclosing that you’ve used a scheme doesn’t mean you’ll escape scot-free, but at least any income will be taxed for the years to which it applies (instead of all for 2018/19) and penalties will be lower than if you wait for HMRC to come to you.


For more information visit the HMRC’s pages on this topic:

Can you believe it’s March already?!

This means you’ve less than three weeks to take advantage of any last minute tax saving opportunities.

Tax Saving at Year End for ContractorsIf you are a limited company director then you should find time to review your income levels so far this year.  You can then establish if there are any remaining tax rates and allowances available to use, before they change on 6th April 2018.

Once again we’ve composed a quick year-end tax planning 2017/18 guide to help you.

Firstly list your earnings in the 2017/18 tax year.

Remember to include:

  • Salary
  • Dividends
  • Property rental income
  • Pension income
  • Self employed earnings
  • Capital gains
  • Interest received
  • Foreign earnings

Next, work through the tax bands below to see where your income level sits:

Tax Band

Tax Rate

Basic rate



Higher rate

£33,501 – £150,000


Additional rate

Over £150,000


Dividend ordinary rate



Dividend upper rate

£33,501– £150,000


Dividend additional rate

Over £150,000


(Most people’s Personal Allowance in 2017/18 is £11,500)

Finally, using our tips below, decide what action you want to take and do it quickly, before it’s too late!


End Of Year Tax Planning

£11,500 Personal Allowance

This is the amount most people can earn tax free, between 6th April 2017 and 5th April 2018.

For most limited company directors this tax free allowance will have been used up by your monthly salary payments.  If not then consider paying yourself an end of year bonus.

Remember however that this may trigger a National Insurance bill, email if you’re unsure of your salary payments so far this year and Tom will be happy to give you a quick update.

Any unpaid expenses?

Your limited company should reimburse you for any legitimate business expenses that you have paid for personally (such as mileage, professional subscriptions, home working allowance start up costs etc).

Therefore if you haven’t repaid yourself these costs throughout the year, you can extract this money from your company now, free from tax.

Remember that all expenses must be “wholly, exclusively and necessarily” incurred in the performance of your duties, check out our Expenses Guide for more info.

Tax Free Dividends

A new Dividend Allowance was introduced from April 2016, meaning that the first £5,000 of dividends taken from your company are tax free.  Over this you’ll need to pay Dividend Tax, as outlined above.

Remember that dividends are the distribution of profits from your limited company – after Corporation Tax.  So your company needs to be making a profit or have retained earnings for dividends to be declared.

Dividend Timings

Dividends are considered part of your income for personal tax purposes either when they are paid or when they are declared (the earliest date applies).

This means that you can declare dividends in the 2017/18 tax year to fully utilise your allowances, but you could actually take the money out of your business bank account in a later tax year.

£100k Personal Allowance Reduction

If your income exceeds £100,000 during the tax year your personal allowance will reduce by £1 for every £2 earned, until £123,000 which in most cases is when it’s removed altogether.

Therefore if your income levels are close to this and you would normally take dividends with your salary at the end of March, you might want to consider delaying the payment until 6th April, thereby making the dividend payment fall into the next tax year.

Of course if your earnings are expected to remain the same or even increase in the 2018/19 tax year then you push the problem forward, but this is wise tax planning if it looks like you might have some downtime!

Pump up your pension…

If your personal income is likely to push you into the higher tax band then pension contributions are a great way of reducing your liability, as well as saving for your future.  If paid from the limited company they also reduce it’s Corporation Tax bill so win : win!

If you don’t yet have a pension in place and need some advice then get in touch as we work with a number of Independent Financial Advisers who would be happy to help.

Profits don’t have to be taken!

Don’t feel that you always have to remove available profits from your limited company.

If the money is not a necessity to fund your living requirements then you can leave the profits in the business and declare dividends in later months or years.

Remember if you work as a contractor then you may need to keep reserves in the business to support you in between contracts, known in the sector as a war chest for time on the bench!

How and when is personal tax paid?

If, based on the above, you have personal tax to pay then you will need to declare this in your 2017/18 self assessment tax return.  This needs to be filed with HMRC, with your tax paid, by 31st January 2019.

Further reading…

For more information on self assessment tax returns visit the HMRC guidelines at

Top five errors to avoid

The minimum wage a worker should get depends on their age and if they’re an apprentice.

The National Minimum Wage is the minimum pay per hour almost all workers are entitled to. The National Living Wage is higher than the National Minimum Wage – workers get it if they’re over 25.

It doesn’t matter how small an employer, you still have to pay the correct minimum wage.

Here are some things to look out for to make sure your employees receive the correct rate of pay:


Are you paying the right rate? If not you run the risk of underpaying workers.

This can happen when employers fail to implement the annual rate increases, miss workers key birthdays as they move from one age band to another, or fail to apply the apprentice rates correctly.


Are you making deductions from pay that take a worker’s pay below NMW/NLW rates?

This can happen when you make deductions for items connected with the job such as uniforms, deductions for services provided by the employer such as meals or transport, or deductions for accommodation beyond the permitted accommodation off-set amount.

Additional pay

Are you including top ups to pay that do not count as pay for NMW/NLW purposes?

This can happen when you include payments such as shift allowances under certain circumstances or customer tips or bonuses when calculating a worker’s pay for NMW/NLW purposes.

Status of the worker

Are you engaging people who should be classed as workers?

This can happen when employers mistakenly treat workers as volunteers, interns or self-employed. Please see – Who gets the minimum wage – to help you decide if an employee should be classed as a worker and therefore is entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

Use the Employment Status Indicator tool to check if a worker is self-employed.

Working time

Are you including all the time a worker is working?

If not you run the risk of unpaid working time, additional hours worked but not paid. These could be short but regular periods of time, for example time spent helping to shut up shop or clear security after a worker’s shift has ended, or could be longer periods of time spent training or ‘down time’ waiting. Other working time errors can occur with travelling time if it’s in connection with the worker’s job, such as between assignments, and sleeping time.

For detailed guidance to help you calculate the correct rate of pay for your employees see – Calculating the minimum wage.

Further information

For full details of the current rates for National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage visit