2014 is here already and with it, a brand new financial calendar. For small businesses, it’s vital to keep up with all the latest changes, whether it’s tax rules, business regulations and other legal obligations, or new schemes designed to boost your business. Here’s a quick guide to some of the most important financial dates and topics to remember in the coming twelve months.
January 31st: While you’re already too late to submit paper tax returns for the 2013/14 tax year, you can still submit your Self Assessment return online up until the last day of January. By this date you should also make your first payment on account, as well as any “balancing payments” for the tax year ended 5 April 2013.
February 1st: If you’re a business owner with over 250 employees, you’ll be legally obligated to enroll most or all of your workers into a pension scheme, as well as make employer pension contributions. Auto-enrollment began for the UK’s biggest companies in October 2012 and for medium-sized businesses a month later, but February 1st 2014 represents the final deadline for compliance.
February 1st is also the date on which you’ll be fined £100 by HMRC if you haven’t submitted a requested tax return for 2012/13. Unpaid tax will also start accruing interest from this point.
March 19th: Chancellor George Osborne announces the 2014 Budget, the government’s annual financial statement and taxation review. UK small business owners will be watching carefully to see how the Chancellor’s policy announcements are likely to affect their business in the coming year.
March 27-29th: The Federation of Small Businesses, the UK’s largest group campaigning for the interests of small business owners, celebrates its 40th annual conference in Manchester.
April 1st: Auto-enrollment in a pension scheme will begin for businesses employing between 50-249 workers, with businesses coming under this category having until April 1st, 2015 to comply. If this includes your business and you haven’t yet looked into the type of pension schemes available, or how to assess your workers in terms of eligibility, now would be a good time to start.
April will also usher in new government legislation aimed to support the UK’s small business sector. For example, from the start of April businesses will benefit from an “employment allowance” that will reduce every company’s NIC payments by £2,000. In addition, NI contributions for under-21s will be scrapped altogether. This will help smaller businesses in particular, with almost a third of employers no longer having to pay any Employers National Insurance.
Further measures starting in April to assist small business owners include: extending the small business rate relief scheme for a further year; capping business rate increases at 2%; providing “re-occupation” relief for businesses moving into vacant high street properties; and allowing businesses to pay their rates in 12 monthly installments.
April 6th: The new tax year begins from this date. Sole traders and other self-employed will be issued with Self Assessment Returns by HMRC, and you’ll need to organize financial records from this date on for the following tax year.
April 6th will also see the introduction of a new system of Real Time Information that will affect payroll and business management. Under the new regulations, any company with 10 or more employees, as well as any new businesses, will have to send payment information to HMRC at the same time the paycheck is issued.
May 31st: This is the deadline by which employers must provide their employees with a P60 summarizing their total pay and deductions for the tax year 2013/14.
July 31st: This date marks the deadline for second SA payment on account for tax year ended April 2014.
October 31st: This is the last day that you can submit SA returns on paper.
December: Autumn Statement from the Chancellor, updating the UK’s economic progress as well as the government’s planned policies for 2015.
Knowing your financial calendar and keeping up with the most important dates will ensure your small business meets its annual tax requirements. In addition, it will help you prepare for legislative changes that will impact upon you and your employees.