We’ve recently heard from several of our clients telling us that they’ve received calls and emails from scammers pretending to be HMRC. Thankfully, our clients get straight in touch with us to check the authenticity of this communication and we’ve been able to advise them. However, for many small businesses cyber security simply isn’t a priority and it’s a big misconception that hackers only target larger businesses.
Unfortunately, very few cyberattacks are targeted – hackers tend to throw a wide net and see what they can capture. And they see small businesses as low hanging fruit because they’re less likely to have security as strong as bigger companies.
For this reason, small businesses are often the worst hit by cyber attacks and are vulnerable to losing valuable data, suffering both financial and reputational damage.
Each year, thousands of taxpayers are targeted by criminals who send not only emails, but texts and even messages over social media pretending to be HMRC. While these may seem genuine at first glance, there are a number of ways to tell the real ones from the fakes. Here are five things you should look out for:
1. Fake email addresses
These can be tricky to spot, as fraudsters often use addresses that look official at first glance, containing words like Revenue, HMRC and gov. The trick to spotting whether the address is real or not is to hover over the ‘from’ address. The actual link the text leads to will not end in @hmrc.gov.uk (which all official emails from HMRC will). If you’re unsure about the email, forward it to HMRC’s phishing team at email@example.com and they’ll be able to provide you with guidance.
2. Offering a tax rebate
If you get an email from HMRC offering you a tax rebate or repayment, it’s almost certainly a scam. Emails from HMRC will never offer you any repayment, tell you about a tax rebate or ask you to send personal information (such as an address or bank details).
3. Demanding immediate action
If the promise of large tax rebates are the carrot, demands for urgent action are the stick. Fraudsters will often try to scare you into complying by telling you that you need to do as they ask quickly, or face the consequences. Emails that use phrases like ‘you only have three days to respond’ or ‘urgent action required’ are likely to be scams, so don’t fall for the scare tactics and contact HMRC if you’re unsure.
4. Bogus links and dodgy attachments
Any emails that contain links to a web page or have an attachment should be treated suspiciously. The links may go to a site that looks like the real HMRC homepage, but will ask you to input personal information so they can steal it. Similarly, don’t open any attachments that you aren’t expecting. These could contain viruses that will give scammers a backdoor into your computer and allow them to make off with personal information on you, as well as your clients or customers.
5. Generic greetings
Be wary of emails that start ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, ‘Dear customer’ or simply ‘Hello’, rather than your name, as they’re highly likely to be fraudulant. Emails from HMRC will address you by your name – and they’ll include information on how to report scam emails further down.
If you need further help or have questions about HMRC, accounts or bookkeeping, we’d be happy to help. Perhaps we can help organise your accounts with a free month of Xero?
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Philip Hammond has delivered his second Budget as chancellor. The chancellor has announced plans on tax, housing and travel, alongside an update on the UK’s economic position. We have wrapped up the main summary of today’s budget.
Navigating the world of mileage claims, fuel receipts and vehicle maintenance can seem complicated. We often get asked about how to claim, what can be claimed for and how it needs recording. So, we have put together some useful information and tips to explain it all.
If you are required to use your own vehicle or company vehicle for work, you may be able to claim Mileage Allowance Relief from HMRC based on the number of business miles you travel. This tax relief could be worth up to 45p for every mile you have travelled since April 2011!
eBay recently wrote to business sellers to remind them of the upcoming changes to how VAT will be charged on fees. Effective from the 1st of August VAT will be applied to all fees. For the first time sellers will be able to reclaim the VAT on their VAT returns.
Historically sellers were unable to reclaim VAT but if they gave eBay their VAT number eBay would deduct the VAT at source. Then for the past 18 months eBay had special dispensation to not charge VAT for any business seller (even if they weren’t VAT registered).
This follows on from last year’s package of measures introduced by the Chancellor, aimed at tackling the rapidly growing VAT evasion by overseas traders that sell goods in the UK via online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon and others. As a result, HMRC was given the power to force online marketplaces to ensure that their overseas customers were registered and accounting for VAT or risk being liable for the VAT themselves.
The change to how eBay charge VAT
Now, from the 1st of August eBay UK will bill from a UK entity and charge VAT on fees and only those who are VAT registered and able to claim input tax credits will be able to recoup the VAT paid to eBay.
Many sellers have welcomed the move – eBay will be charging VAT as a UK entity and the VAT will be passed to the exchequer. Sellers, especially those who have been suspected of dodging VAT will find the VAT added to their eBay invoice and if they’re not registered for VAT with HMRC won’t be able to claim it back!
For sellers who can reclaim VAT it’s effectively just a cash flow and accounting change with no financial impact to their bottom line.
Those it will negatively impact
There are a few sellers who will be negatively impacted – sellers registered as businesses whose turnover is too small to compulsorily register for VAT will either start paying VAT at 20% or take the decision to voluntarily register. Also sellers on certain VAT schemes who are unable to reclaim input VAT will also see their costs rise. It’s important to realise that this isn’t eBay’s fault however (net fees are not changing). VAT is a government mandated charge and for the past 18 months sellers have had a free ride and it’s just that this added Brucie bonus is coming to an end.
What if you’re billed mid month?
If you’re a business seller billed on the 15th of the month, your invoice dated the 15th of August 2017 will show VAT on all your fees. However, you’ll also see a credit for any VAT applied to your fees between the 16th and 31st of July.
If you need further help or have questions on VAT, we’d be happy to help. Perhaps we can help organise your accounts with a free month of Xero? Get in touch to organise a free of charge consultation. Drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call 01858 289189
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