Tax Tips For The Self-Employed

Britain has seen a large increase in the number of people becoming self-employed recently, with many people taking advantage of the opportunity to become their own boss. The transition from employment to self-employment can be daunting, particularly when it comes to the wages aspect. There is a mountain of paperwork that comes with tax returns and trying to understand the rules surrounding self-employment can be confusing. Here are a few tips on how to keep on top of your self-employment tax affairs:

Keep financial records

Self-employed people have a tendency to late their paperwork mount up and push their tax return to the back of their mind. If your tax return is turned in late, you could incur a penalty. Keeping your receipts, statements and other data in an orderly fashion from the commencement of your self-employment will help you greatly when it comes to tax return time.

Self-assessmentSelf-employed helpline

Filing an annual self-assessment is compulsory as the information is used by HMRC to assess how much tax is due from you. You must return it by October 31 if its a paper return or January 31st the following year if you choose to submit it online.

Help with your return

There are alternatives to filing your return yourself. An accountant is one option, you will need to provide them with all of your income and outgoing information and they will do your tax return for you, for a fee. You can also use a free online tax return service.

National Insurance Contributions

The responsibility falls to you to pay your own National Insurance Contributions when you become self-employed, they are mandatory payments made by anyone earning an income. The amount you contribute depends on how much you earn.

If you need any further advice about any of these aspects of the tax process, do not hesitate to call the Self Employed Helpline.

 

 

 

 

Police Make Five Arrests In a Crackdown On Copycat Websites

Police have raided four addresses around the UK, making several arrests in a nationally co-ordinated probe into ‘copycat websites’ which imitate online services that are provided by the Government such as filing a Tax Return or renewing a passport. The raids were carried out as a result of an investigation by the National Trading Standards eCrime team into the sites, which dupe users into parting with their money for services which can be obtained for cheaper or free through official Government channels.Tax Return

A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police, where one of the arrests was within their jurisdiction said:

[quote] “Police supported trading standards carrying out a warrant. A 43 year old man was arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation. The operation was carried out by the eCrime team with police support.” [/quote]

Police in Hampshire also assisted with the raids in which a total of five people were arrested. The National Trading Standards Board said that four search warrants were issued on properties in England, which could see the operation of 25 copycat websites derailed.

More than 5000 complaints were made to Citizens Advice last year and 700 were made to the Advertising Standards Agency. The most common complaints related to drivers licences, tax returns, EHICs and passports.

Lord Toby Harris, chair of the National Trading Standards Board said that:

[quote] “Our eCrime team is clamping down on the cyber fraudsters behind these websites and we are making it as difficult as possible for these online hoaxers to operate. We have been working with search engines such as Google and Bing to remove adverts from online search results and we continue to gather intelligence across the country to help tackle this issue. The misleading websites often use URLS that include fragments such as ‘govuk’ and ‘directgov’ or use names that make them appear as official providers of certain services. Design features are also incorporated to replicate the look of official websites.” [/quote]

 

 

Millions of Pensioners Fall £4,500 Short Of Meeting Basic Bills, Heating and Food Needs

Millions of elderly people face a shortfall of up to £4500 a year between the state pension and their outgoings according to new research. The average pensioner household spends just over £10,000 each year on bills but the full basic state pension is just £5,881 annually, or £113.10 a month.

Pensioners who are lucky enough to have savings or a private pension can make up the difference but others risk having to cut back on food or heating in a desperate attempt to balance the books. Figures out this week reveal that 1.6 million of 10.8 million pensioners in the UK live in poverty. Of this number, around 900,000 are classed as being in severe poverty, having less than half the average household income. Pension CreditFigures from the Office for National Statistics shows that food is the largest bill for pensioners at £1,563 a year for the average household. Other large outgoings include rent and energy. In the South East, pensioners spend the most on basic essentials at £11,945 per year. In Wales, the average pensioner household is £8,829. A new flat-rate pension is also being introduced at a rate of £148.20 per week. However, there is still a £2,700 a year gap between the pension and the outgoings.

Dean Mirfin, group director at Key Retirement Solutions said:

[quote] “This analysis shows how many pensioners will have to make harsh spending decisions unless they have other provisions such as savings or a private pension. [/quote]

One former mill worker said that he had seen the price of everything go up, whilst the money to pay for it did not increase.

Age UK pointed out that help is available in the form of Pension Credit. Pension Credit is vital in helping pensioners on low incomes as it provides a top-up to their basic pension, however it is estimated that one in three pensioners who are entitled to financial support do not know that they are.

 

Sentenced Mother Of Two Invented Six Kids To Claim Extra Benefits

childbenefitsA mother of two has been sentenced to 12 months in prison after it was discovered that she had invented six children in order to claim £43,000 in Child Benefits.

Angela Callaghan, 42 and from Liverpool, claimed she was looking after eight children, including two twins of her sister’s and one for her teenage daughter’s. However, six did not exist. She also failed to declare that her daughter had left education. She managed to fool HMRC for three years until being caught.

Callaghan, who was unable to get a job, also helped other mothers in her area to commit the same act and received a cut of around £700 from each. Three other mothers who took part in the fraud — illegally claiming between £2500 and £4000 — were given suspended sentences. Angela Callaghan received 12 months prison time.

Conservative MP Priti Patel said:

[quote]This is an appalling example of flagrant abuse of the benefits system. Hard-pressed taxpayers are sick and tired of hearing of such abuse and this case shows exactly why we need sanctions and tough sentences for individuals who break the system.[/quote]

Priti Patel has, however, been a controversial figure in the party because of her pro-capital punishment stance. Her party has also yet to punish many of the British bankers involved in alleged criminality that caused the financial collapse, which has caused far more impact on the UK economy than benefit fraud which comes to over £500 million a year.

Neighbours of Angela Callaghan, who had already once been given a community sentence for benefit fraud in 2008, said she had spent a lot of money on her home. They said that her property in Bootle had been refurbished with a new patio and iron gates.

Callaghan pleaded not to be imprisoned because she has a four year old son. However, the judge handed her a 12 month sentence regardless. The custody will now pass to her 21 year old daughter.

Kevin Slack, prosecuting, said:

[quote]The process of reporting changes of circumstances is designed to be simple for the customer and the system relies very much on the honesty of the person notifying the change.[/quote]

HM Revenue And Customs claims the case demonstrates the department’s ability to prevent fraud when it occurs. A spokesperson for them said:

[quote]We check all the information provided for a tax credits claim and constantly evolve these checks to ensure they remain effective. As this case shows, we do detect fraud and we do stop it.[/quote]

Benefit Fraud Helpline Phone Number

0843 596 3096

Benefit fraud cost the Department for Work and Pensions £2.1 billion from 2016 to 2017. The amount of money lost to benefit fraud is rising. Help the government to recover this lost money which could go towards funding public services by finding the people who falsely claim benefits. Find out more about how you can report benefit fraud and what it is by reading this page. If you have had a report made against you, contact Citizens Advice for help with what you need to do.

What Is Benefit Fraud?

Committing benefit fraud involves claiming benefits your circumstances don’t entitle you to have. For example, purposely providing false information or failing to report a change in circumstances to continue receiving benefit payments. One of the most common types of benefit fraud is when people don’t report entering paid work. Another is when people claim to live alone when they actually have a partner who supports them financially. You can find out more about benefit fraud on the gov.uk website. Please don’t call the hotline for information about benefit fraud. The phone number exists for members of the public to report benefit fraud suspects only.

When Do I Report It?

Up to 85% of benefit fraud allegations turn out to be false. Investigating a large number of false reports puts more strain on government resources. For this reason, you should only call the hotline if you have sufficient evidence of benefit fraud. Malicious reporting wastes additional time and money, so do not intentionally make a false benefit fraud allegation. To report benefit fraud, you will need to have enough knowledge of the person’s circumstances to confirm they are in receipt of benefits they aren’t eligible for. If you know that someone receives benefits but they are obviously living above those means, you can report them for this suspicious activity.

What Happens Next?

The DWP or HMRC will contact the benefit fraud suspect to let them know about the allegation. Either Fraud Investigation Officers will visit the suspect, or they will have to attend an interview under caution. These formal interviews can become evidence if the suspect goes to court for benefit fraud. After gathering the facts, the Fraud Investigation Officers will decide whether to take further action or not. During an investigation, the person’s benefits may be withheld from them. In the event of a conviction, the benefit fraudster will have to pay back the money. Future benefit payments may stop, and if they go to court they may also have to pay a penalty fine.

National Benefit Fraud Hotline

Call the hotline to report any fraudulent benefit claims during the opening hours shown below.

Department
Phone Number
Opening Times
Benefit Fraud
0843 596 3096
(Mon-Fri) 8am – 6pm
Benefit Fraud
0843 596 3096
(Sat) Closed
Benefit Fraud
0843 596 3096
(Sun) Closed

Other Ways to Report Benefit Fraud

If you don’t want to speak on the phone, you can report benefit fraud online using this form. You can also report someone by post if you suspect them of claiming benefits they shouldn’t receive. Send your letters to either of the following addresses so that the DWP and HMRC can investigate.

Department
Address
National Benefit Fraud Hotline
National Benefit Fraud Hotline
Mail Handling Site A
Wolverhampton
WV98 2BP
National Benefit Fraud PO Box
NBFH
PO Box 224
Preston
PR1 1GP