Professionals – claim tax back on your membership fees

With the cost of professional membership fees rising each year its worth knowing that you can claim back the tax.

Prof feesThis applies:

  • If you need to be a member of a professional body – or sometimes several – in order to do your job, or if it’s helpful for your work. In this case you can legitimately reclaim tax on fees or subscriptions.
  • If you paid the fees or subscription yourself (rather than your company paying)
  • If your membership is not a life membership subscription.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) operate a list of approved professional organisations.
Check whether your professional body, association or institute is amongst them.

For support or advice on personal taxation email or call +44(0)1438 869 644.

Do you have the right capabilities for growth? Survey uncovers gaps.

Do you have the right capabilities for growth?Growth is a sign of a healthy company. Whether its growth in turnover, market share or profits. An improvement in these key performance indicators reflects a business that is moving in the right direction.

Yet despite around half of small and medium businesses predicting growth, there are noticeable gaps in the business capabilities required to create this growth. If you are one of many SMEs that require expert support in specific areas of tax, finance, accounting systems or litigation support, please make contact with our senior partner, Tarrant Green.

The recently published UK Small Business Survey was conducted for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills amongst 5,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with fewer than 250 employees. It revealed that 51% of business leaders predict growth in turnover in the next year, while only 8 per cent forecast lower growth.

Over 2 to 3 years the expectation of growth is yet stronger with 74% of SME firms aiming to grow their businesses.

Firms in some sectors have above average growth ambitions:

  • 81% manufacturing
  • 86% information and communications
  • 78% business services
  • 83% administrative services

Yet despite this commitment to growth, when employers were asked about their capability in essential business areas, the percentage believing they are strong on these tasks falls below 100%:

  • 78% people management
  • 73% decisions on tax and regulation issues
  • 61% business strategy
  • 61% operational improvement
  • 44% introducing new products and services
  • 28% entering new markets
  • 27% accessing external finance

This begs the question, if a significant proportion of companies lack essential capabilities, then how will they optimise their firm’s performance and achieve its growth goals?

As well as revealing gaps in business capabilities the survey also showed that there are issues for SMEs that need to access finance. Almost 20% had looked for finance in the previous year and of these 39% experienced some problems in securing the funds they wanted from their first choice source, including 30% who were refused outright.

Of course, it has always been difficult for SMEs to cover all the bases in terms of business capabilities. Unlike huge corporations, large teams of specialists in tax, strategy and finance would represent an unwarranted overhead.

Tarrant Green and Company supports SMEs when they need help, for as long as they need it, to bolster their capability, including:

  • providing advice and training on appropriate accounts systems and software
  • assisting in raising finance
  • taxation investigations and litigation support services
  • forensic accounting
  • advising on the most efficient approach to taxation.

In order to support emerging new businesses and SMEs, we are proud participants in the Business Advice Service of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

You can email or call +44(0)1438 869 644 for details.


Postmasters back forensic accounting – do you?

foresensicIn recent years, we’ve seen surprising reports about local postmasters being taken to court by the Post Office over theft, fraud and false accounting. The Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance was formed as over 100 sub-postmasters claim they were wrongly prosecuted due to issues with the computer software system. Now following their complaints, a forensic accounting investigation for the Post office has shed some light on the matter. Whilst the Post Office refutes the findings, reporter Nick Wallis has published extracts, which tend to support the subpostmasters concerns.

At Tarrant Green & Company our work in forensic accounting tends to be undertaken out of the media spotlight, in contrast to the current Post Office situation. Our investigations simply provide our clients with certainty and recommended next steps.

For example, we have:

  • Identified the extent of employee misappropriation of funds
  • Uncovered a £3.5 million inventory shortfall missed by Big 4 auditors
  • Found evidence to reduce an HMRC tax bill from £600,000 to £14,000.

The forensic accounting support we provide is a combination of accounting, auditing and investigative work. This provides you with the evidence base you need to resolve financial issues and can be used in legal proceedings.

For confidential support, email or call +44(0)1438 869 644.

Leaders of British SMEs work 15 months a year

15The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) conducted a survey of leaders of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with between 10 and 249 staff work. The research has revealed that they work 3 extra months in a year, over and above a 40 hour working week. On average SME leaders work 10 hours extra hours a week and this rises to 13.4 hours a week for those in the larger SMEs with 100 to 249 staff. The survey showed that back office tasks account for much of this additional workload.

  •  90 minutes per week is spent on marketing
  • 77 minutes on HR related activities
  • 73 minutes per week is spent handling insurance
  • 62 minutes is required to manage IT
  • 37 minutes is taken by dealing with office supplies

“It is concerning to think that SMEs work an extra quarter of a year, effectively doing a full year’s work by October. Much of this time is spent on tasks that have nothing to do with their core business goals,” commented Steve White, Chief Executive of BIBA

This situation is the reason why specialist firms like Tarrant Green & Company exist to provide financial and management consultancy services, and even advice and training on IT systems for accounting. The support provided by our senior partner, Tarrant, can help reduce your workload as a business leader and increase the profitability of your business.

Could you win a share of the £1 million investment Pitch to Rich?

coinsVirgin Media’s, Richard Branson and LinkedIn have launched the ‘Pitch to Rich’ campaign to back British entrepreneurs.

You could win support to get your idea off the ground. There are three different categories:

  1. Start-up: new business concept with huge potential
  2. New things: big new ideas with the capacity to disrupt
  3. Grow: for existing businesses that are ready to scale up.

Find out more about the financial and mentoring support available through this campaign, and what you need to do to pitch your business idea.

Economic wellbeing – it’s all about cars.


When it comes to new car sales McKinsey reports that the “global automotive industry is in better shape than it was five years ago”. It seems that the US has made a remarkable recovery, as has the United Kingdom, particularly if you hear president Obama’s State of the Union Address, which was broadcast on 20th January 2015.

New UK car sales hit a 10-year high in 2014, boosted by confidence in the economic recovery, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has said. In total, 2.47 million new cars were registered last year, up 9% on 2013 and the best annual performance since 2004.Sales rose each month last year, with December’s rise representing the 34th consecutive monthly jump.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its forecast for global economic growth for this year and next. The IMF now expects growth of 3.5% this year, compared with the previous estimate of 3.8% which it made in October 2014.

There are challenges being faced by the various member states of the Eurozone. While the Eurozone did continue to grow, it failed to gain momentum. Now there are some concerns that even Germany may have been afflicted by the Eurozone economic malaise. Certainly, Europe’s traditional powerhouse suffered a setback with economic activity falling back in the second quarter of 2014.

As if to underline the Euro crisis on 15th January 2015 The Swiss National Bank shocked the world when it announced it would remove the cap it had in place to prevent the Swiss franc from rising too high against the euro, and the bank gave the following explanation:-

“The minimum exchange rate was introduced during a period of exceptional overvaluation of the Swiss franc and an extremely high level of uncertainty on the financial markets. This exceptional and temporary measure protected the Swiss economy from serious harm. While the Swiss franc is still high, the overvaluation has decreased as a whole since the introduction of the minimum exchange rate. The economy was able to take advantage of this phase to adjust to the new situation. Recently, divergences between the monetary policies of the major currency areas have increased significantly – a trend that is likely to become even more pronounced. The euro has depreciated considerably against the US dollar and this, in turn, has caused the Swiss franc to weaken against the US dollar. In these circumstances, the SNB concluded that enforcing and maintaining the minimum exchange rate for the Swiss franc against the euro is no longer justified.”

Growth in China has slowed, as reported in the following extract of commentary from Reuters:- China’s economy grew at its slowest pace in 24 years in 2014 as property prices cooled and companies and local governments struggled under heavy debt burdens, keeping pressure on Beijing to take aggressive steps to avoid a sharper downturn. The world’s second-largest economy grew 7.4 per cent in 2014, official data showed on Tuesday, barely missing its official 7.5 per cent target but still the slowest since 1990, when it was hit by sanctions in the wake of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. It expanded 7.7 per cent in 2013.

While new car sales are a barometer of a nation’s economic situation, vintage motors are all about an individual’s wellbeing. Driving an Aston Martin DB5 or Jaguar Roadster can make you feel every inch the motoring maestro. This is my Alvis Speed 20. Even thinking about it makes me smile. And to drive? It’s different!

Sign the petition to stop Government tax-raids

OK “tax raids” sound a little alarmist but you really should be aware of a proposed change to the law. It means that when HM Recovery and Customs believe that tax is owed, they will have the power to automatically seize funds directly from your bank account. Until now the process would have involved a court order which in my view provided a much needed safeguard.

Despite huge efforts by the professional accounting body, the ICAEW, to raise awareness of the issue, I am absolutely staggered that only 4,580 people have signed the petition so far.

Protect your future and the civil liberties of others. Read the short petition and sign now.


Was Sherlock Holmes an accountant?

Sherlock HolmesWith the question marks over the veracity of corporate accounts reported in the media, forensic accounting is once more in the spotlight. Sherlock Holmes may not have been an accountant but today’s specialist accountants are certainly financial sleuths.

I’m involved in this niche field, and get to conduct illuminating investigations in the search for the financial truth. The evidence and detailed reports Tarrant Green & Company provide satisfy the professional standards of regulators, lawyers, insurance companies and clients. Whilst our work is confidential we can let you know that we have helped a substantial firm of lawyers to resolve a longstanding dispute with HMRC which had been running for several years, and which was initially of the order of £600,000. This was reduced to £14,000.

Going for growth

We’ve signed up to the ICAEW’s Business Advice Service. The ICAEW is a world leader of the accountancy and finance profession, and the advice service is an initiative which recognises the role that small business has to play in driving economic growth. The scheme gives small businesses access to fully qualified Chartered Accountants.

It’s been our pleasure to support a wide range of businesses over the years, including a firm of West End tailors which held the Royal Warrant; a health club; an academic consultancy; solicitors; a nationwide plant hire company; young talented people just starting up businesses.