There has been an extraordinary increase in reports concerning HMRC calls. These types of calls are known as a HMRC scam. Have a listen to an actual fraudulent voicemail received by one of our clients...
How do I know if it’s a scam?
The scam mostly consists of an automated phone call with a prerecorded voice letting you know that you are under investigation from HMRC. The message threatens people of taking serious legal actions against them, even claiming that their house is under surveillance. Much like our example, the target is asked to contact urgently a phone number, otherwise serious legal consequences will occur.
When calling back the phone number given, the person can be particularly threatening. They always follow the same long script regarding the target’s alleged debt. The worried victims are then persuaded into settling the debt immediately by disclosing their bank details.
More recently, this scam has taken a new turn with the increase of fake text messages claiming to be HMRC and offering cash rebates. A link to a dangerous website is often attached to the text. Accessing the website can result in the spread of malware and the leak of the victim’s personal information.
Persistent and ruthless, the scammers appear to be harassing more and more people. Although the messages appears to be sent randomly, vulnerable people such as the elderly are the obvious targets of this scam. HMRC have asked people to warn their elderly relatives about this scam.
How can I spot and protect myself from HMRC scams?
Use HMRC anti-fraud tools. You can consult HMRC official Help page to help you identify and prevent phishing phone calls and emails. If you think that you may be a potential victim of this scam, you can find examples or scamming emails and text messages that you can check against. If you are owed money they will let you know by letter or on their website portalthrough your login.
Learn how to recognise a scam call or text from a genuine contact. Text messages are NEVER used to contact people who are due a tax refund. Automated messages are sometimes used by HMRC about outstanding tax bills, however the Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) will always be mentioned. HMRC will never ask you out personal information out of the blue, such as PIN, password or banking details. Settling of debts can never be processed through such a method.
You can also download a CallBlocker app for Iphone and Android and they will block these calls for you. You can also help others by reporting your experience with these type of phone numbers.
HMRC is actively battling against these threats and urging people to report such incidents. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and texts to 60599.
What if I think it’s happened to me?
Have you had a call or email that you suspect to be a scam? If you receive a suspicious message of this kind, never give out your personal details. Tell the caller you will report the incident to the authorities and immediately end the call. It is advised to block the number to prevent further contact.
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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 email@example.com or give us a call 01858 289189
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We’re fairly certain you didn’t start your business to become a business, marketing or financial expert. We suspect most of you started your business to do what ever you are passionate about or just really good at! What you probably found very quickly is that what your business actually does consumes most of your day. But maybe you’ve come to find that general information, tips and advice from others has been essential to the survival and growth of your business. Well, if that’s the case, you’re not alone.
Since The Business Hut began in 2014 we have taken on so much advice from friends, family and clients. This has helped us to not only to continue to grow but to also really enjoy what we are doing. So we thought we would share some of the golden nuggets of information from other successful business owners – that could just help you too. We particularly like the advice from William Chase – what advice do you think will help you?
Cloud storage is becoming an essential part of running a business, and we know those late to the party are feeling a bit left behind. Today I’m going to run down some of the best options out there to help narrow your search and encourage you to take your business to the cloud.
Instead of being stored locally on your machine, data stored on the cloud is stored on the provider’s server and is accessed through the internet. There are three main motivations behind storing files in this way, and sometimes they seem at odds with one another. The first is security, as businesses need a safe place to store important documents and need control over access permissions. The second is collaboration, as files need to be shared easily around the office. The third is remote access, so you can get to your data when working from home or edit that presentation while on the train.
As you do more research, remember to look at costs in depth; many offer a number of different plans so you risk paying for services you don’t use.
The best known and most popular, Dropbox is the cloud storage benchmark. If something is going to link to a cloud provider, Dropbox will be first on the list making it the best option for combining with different apps and plug ins. It has also got some useful features of its own; the local folder on your computer can be accessed offline and will sync when online, plus it backs up changed files so older versions and deleted files can be accessed and restored. Real time online collaboration will be used all the time in offices that require multiple people to work on the same project.
Zoolz takes a unique approach by storing rarely used files separately. These ‘cold’ files are kept in inactive storage and require 3 to 5 hours before they can be accessed, using less space and ultimately saving you money as your plan is customisable based on how much data you want to store. Zoolz is ideal for companies with lots of documents that need storing but don’t often need accessing.
JustCloud is a great option for bigger companies with lots of files to store, or companies still growing. Business plans start at 100GB but go up to unlimited storage space which is not strictly necessary for most businesses, but does allow for a lot of room for expansion. We really like the administrator’s panel, from which you can control user access and how much storage each user is allowed. Administrators can also monitor the changes made to documents. JustCloud can be difficult at first as it cannot handle large amounts of data being shipped to it at once; this shouldn’t be a problem later, but can be a pain when setting up.
Box has less of an emphasis on personal use than the others on this list, and has been specifically designed businesses in mind. It’s well designed, easy to customise and is supported by lots of extra plug ins and apps. For example, there is one for linking directly to Office so all files are automatically backed up in Box. The amount of features means that this one is confusing to new users or non-business users but once you get used to it, you will find that this system can support your every business need.
This one links so well to other Google services, that it is the no-brainer option for people that use Gmail already. There is a downside with this: as you share storage space with your email account an overflowing inbox will give less cloud space. The GoogleDrive emphasis is on personal use, but some features are perfect for businesses. For example, with the selective sync feature you can choose which folders sync on each device. Like Dropbox, real time collaboration is supported and the interface is very simple to use as a file tree shows where all files are stored.
Let’s finish with something a little bit different. Spideroak is all about privacy: with the other cloud systems, the companies technically have access to your files, but here files are encrypted by your local folder meaning that the data is readable only by you. This may make it sound as if accessing files from other machines would be a problem but a control centre app that operates on different machines can work around it. This service isn’t really about collaboration or integration but is excellent for security, and proves that businesses must work out their needs before choosing a storage system.
If you want to talk to us about your bookkeeping or accountancy requirements, we offer completely free of charge business consultations so we can get to know each other and see if The Business Hut is a good fit for your business.
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