Payment on Account

Why do I have to pay an amount of tax for next year now?

Why is my bill so high?

This 90 second video hopefully explains the payment on account situation and why/how it comes about.

Essentials of transcript:

HMRC would like every person to be employed and paying tax on a monthly basis. The self-employed don’t get the opportunity to do that and they pay their taxes on the 31st of January, which means HMRC can wait mainly up to 18 months to get their money. The decision was made many years ago that, for the self employed, if they owe HMRC more than a £1000 of income tax & class 4 National Insurance, then they have to pay a further  50% as a payment on account at the same time paying the main tax bill. On the 31st of January, not only are you settling the in year tax bill, you’re also paying 50% of the same amount as a payment on account for the following year.

However, it doesn’t end there. What you also need to do is pay a further 50% of your in year tax bill on the 31st of July. So therefore effectively you’ve paid 100% of your potential tax bill ahead of when you actually have to file it. The good news is though, if you file following year your tax return early you will discover whether you have to make the July payment on account and potentially you could get the money back. When you do pay the following years tax bill, you need to remember to offset the payment on account already made, as HMRC won’t remind you of this.

Struggling with bookkeeping?

The previous post was all about what your bookkeeping records are (you can view it >>> here <<<  ). But what if you are struggling with it? What do you need to do? Here are a few hints & tips.  Watch out for the blooper part way through.

If you are a UK based performer, why not join our facebook group for your tax & accounts questions answered, or to find more useful hints & tips. You can join in >>> HERE <<<


Transcription: Well, what should have been the script, but you know what Actors are like – we do ad-lib sometimes.

You didn’t become a musician or an actor or a freelance performer to be able to sit there and do paperwork, but unfortunately, as with all self-employed businesses, paperwork is a key aspect. Accounts, tax, more tax, and even more tax tends to run your lives at certain times of the year, and a lot of people struggle with the amount of paperwork you end up having to do.

What do you do if you are struggling? Well, there is the option of shove it in a box and deal with it later, but quite often that later doesn’t come, and then you start incurring fines, or you’ll just do your tax return in such a hurry that you don’t actually consider what you’re doing. Here’s my suggestion. All you need is potentially an hour or half an hour a week say on a Sunday to, I don’t know, empty your music bag, empty your pockets, your jacket, your handbag, and find all the receipts that relate to whatever business you have done that week. Note it down in a spreadsheet. Shove the data into an Excel spreadsheet, and then just mark on top of that receipt that it’s done and you don’t have to worry about it. We provide templates for our clients that are fairly easy to use if you use Excel.

What do you do with those receipts? Well, you could get something very simple like an expanding January to December file, and just put them in a plastic wallet inside those expanding files, label it up for that tax year, and there are your accounting records.

Obviously, you have to deal with income. Now, have you been billing your students? Do you get remittance advice from your agent so you don’t actually raise invoices? Is money just being dumped into your account, bank account? What you have to do is put all that together in a different spreadsheet that’s labelled up as income. If you raise invoices, a big tick from me, then what you need to do is also note opposite that invoice, when it’s been paid. That way you can chase up in order to collect payment.

There are also things like mileage. If you use your car for business, you can claim a mileage allowance. As soon as I sit in my car, I write down, in an exercise book, the date, where I’m going, the start mileage and the end mileage, and work out what my business miles were.  At the end of the week, I transfer that onto an Excel file, and then I know I’m charging my business 45p a mile or 25p a mile, depending on how many miles I’ve done that year. It doesn’t take much each week, if you are disciplined to do it. What would you rather do? Sit there and struggle for days on end at the end of the tax year knowing the 31st of January deadline is coming up, or just do something simple like this?

Now, obviously, there are accounting & other tools out there on the internet. We do provide some of these tools ourselves. Yes, they do cost money, but, again, what you can do with some of them is take a photo of your receipt, it wings its way off into a system on the internet, and then it comes back, and you can either download it all as a spreadsheet, or you can get it downloaded into an accounting system. The joy of an accounting system is that if it’s learned it once, you very rarely have to keep typing things in. With making tax digital coming on the horizon, then you will need to be getting some kind of accounting system anyway like this. What I advise clients is bite the bullet & start to do it early. Then you’re getting in the swing of it, so you know you will be completely compliant.

Really, all you need for your accounting records, and if you’re struggling with paperwork, are plastic wallets, one per month for purchases, one per month for sales invoices, one for your bank statements, and make sure you have a separate bank account for your self-employed business, and just an expanding folder, January to December. Yes, I know the tax year starts in April, so you’ll start in April, go to December, and then you’ll fill up January, February, March at the beginning of the folder. It might look a bit odd, but it’s safe and secure to hold paperwork. Load it into Excel or other spreadsheets on an accounting system, and that’s it’s done.

An hour a week is not a lot, a couple of hours a month, depending on how much you do. It saves a lot of time and a lot of grief, or, of course, you can give it all to your accountant or your bookkeeper, and they can charge you for it. It’s up to you.





Bookkeeping records

Accountants always ask for clients bookkeeping records, but what exactly are these bookkeeping records we ask for.

Hopefully this will put you in the picture (well , in the know as I am in the picture!).

Transcript below:

Whenever I take on a new client I always ask about their bookkeeping. Are they doing the bookkeeping or do they want us to do the bookkeeping? But sometimes there’s a misunderstanding about what bookkeeping actually is.

In its simplest form it is a list of your self-employed income be it remittances from your agent for any work, student money if you’re a teacher and people pay you, and also your expenditure. Technically you should be raising invoices but I know a lot of people don’t, so it will be a log of cash received or checks received for your students, and any other type of performance income you might have had be it from a profit share, etc., so all those should have some backing paperwork to equal what you have hopefully paid into a separate bank account for your self-employed business.

The actual record is a simple case of keeping a list ideally in Excel of all those income types and the amount and the date, and for the tax year which will be the 6th of April to the 5th of April that is the listing we need for income. You can actually do your accounts to the 31st of March, it doesn’t make any difference.

With expenses or costs you have incurred it is exactly the same thing. You’ll have receipts or purchases you have made, hopefully made out to you, hopefully with values on it and not just a credit card receipt. You need to list those down, again ideally in Excel, categorise what the spend is and then you can file the receipt away.

So in the simplest form it’s two spreadsheets effectively. You can also add in a mileage log for if you are doing any miles on a bicycle or on a motorbike or a car, so if you are using that for your self-employed business that is also part of your bookkeeping records.

In theory, your working from home allowance needs to have some back up. You will need to know how many hours you have worked each month from your home if you’re going to be claiming any costs for home allowance. You’ll also need to keep copies of your utility bills, your rent, your mortgage interest, if you want to claim an actual cost of working from home. The working from home allowance is only available to freelancers on a self-employed basis and not for directors of your own limited company so just be aware of that difference if you do operate through a limited company.

Really they are your bookkeeping records. You should have a record of any capital items you’ve purchased so it could be a new piano, a new instrument. I know a piano is an instrument. It could be ball gowns or clothing for performances that might cost quite a bit of money and you used them over a number of years. You’ll have capital costs listing that you can claim a capital allowance on. That’s subject to a different blog post.

The simplest method of bookkeeping is and excel file showing  a list of all your expenses categorised into what it is, a list of all your income, a mileage log and ideally some kind of form of recording of the amount of time you spend in your home on your self-employed business.

A different blog post talks about how you keep these records and we do actually provide a Excel template for people to use when they come on board as clients and if they’re not sure of what they’re keeping.

I do stress having things electronically in Excel. You can keep it in a physical cash book. They still exist.  It does increase the cost of your bill from us because we end up having to manually key all that information into Excel in order to be able to work with it.




Mileage for a bike

We know about car mileage rules for the self employed, but did you know you can get mileage for bicycle usage? Listen up.

There is mileage for a motorbike – just so you know they are not left out.

Of course, neither of these are good methods of transporting a piano or a harp.

Feel free to give us a call to find out more.


Employed v Self Employed

What is the difference between employed and self employed?

An employed job tends to be the way most people earn money; they head out each day to a place of work to carry out specific roles, often under supervision, and, at the end of the week, or month, get paid for the work they do.  Their employer is responsible for deducting income tax, National Insurance, deductions such as child support, and now auto enrolment pension if the employee is in the scheme.  It is up to your employer to find you work to do.  At the end of employment you receive a P45 and at end of tax year a P60.


For those who are Self-Employed, you are working for yourself.  It is up to you to find work, obtain new contracts or clients, perform the work when you need to, decide how it’s done and you usually use your own equipment to carry out the work.


Now often in the arts, entertainment and media industry, this gets a bit muddled.  A clarinettist can be playing in an orchestra as an employed person, but sitting next to somebody on a 50% contract, employed on a freelance basis.  To all intents and purposes, they are doing the same job but one has an element of job security and the other not.


A freelancer would normally raise invoices for their work, but it can be based just on a contract and money deposited in their bank and a pay slip issued.  Pay slips tend to say ‘employed’ but the giveaway is that there is often an ‘NT’ tax code, no National Insurance deducted or holiday pay given as it is inclusive in the hourly / daily rate and finally no pension deductions given.  There is no P60 at the end of the tax year, no P45 when you leave and probably no party either!


During the tax year, you can be employed and self employed so it is vital you keep documents for them both separately.  As an employed person, you cannot claim any employment costs such as travel to work as it is assumed to be covered by your salary.  However, as a freelancer, you may be able to claim these costs subject to temporary verses permanent work place rules.  I won’t go into that now.


Try to keep 2 different bank accounts; one for everyday life including PAYE work and one for self employed work.  The only transactions that go through the self employed account are income and expenses related to freelancing and the freelance business.  It will make life so much easier if you do this.


What you must ensure you do is declared your employed income and self employed profit on your tax return.  You only get one personal allowance per tax year spread over all income.  Your tax return shows gross salary, profit from self employment as well as other income such as rental profit.  Add all that up, deduct the personal allowance and that is the amount you get taxed on.  Multiply out by the income tax rates (ignoring National Insurance for the self employed) and that gives you your tax liability.  If you have had employed income, then any PAYE taken is deducted from the total liability, so you are not being taxed twice.


Hope that helps.


Flat Rate VAT changes (2017)

You need to be aware of this if you are on the flat rate VAT scheme, as it will affect you. Please check out the video and we can then have a chat about what you need/want to do .


The rules for the flat rate VAT scheme have changed recently. From April 2017, you can still be on the flat rate scheme, but if you are something called a limited cost trader, then you may not be able to claim your normal VAT rate of, say, 14.5% or 12.5%. What is a limited cost trader? If you are spending less than £1000 or 2% of your turnover on goods, then you are called a limited cost trader. What are those goods? Well there’s something called relevant goods. These are things that you would use in your business to help you run your business. What it is not, is services, so your accountant’s bill is a service and not a relevant good; the gas & electricity you might buy; consulting fees; the printing you’ve just done; people to go out and deliver leaflets for you; advertising & marketing spend. These are all services. They are not goods.

A typical good for you might be books, audio books, your music scores, note pads. They cannot be a downloadable book, CD, dvd, music score and it is actually something physical, then it is a relevant good. Great examples of goods to use in your business are things like stationary, printer ink/toner, micro cards/USB sticks.

However, there is a little caveat. If you buy goods in order to sell those goods on, that’s secondary goods trading and it’s not permitted under the definition for relevant goods unless your business is to do with buying and selling these items.  It actually is items you use in your business. If you’ve gone off and you’ve bought some materials to run a training course, let’s say, then those materials you’re using in that training course would be an allowable item.

You’ve probably now established that you might be a limited cost trader. Now that £1000 or 2% of your turnover is for the whole year. Your VAT return is done on a quarterly basis, so you divide that £1000 by four and providing you go over that £250 per quarter, then you can apply your normal VAT rate margin scheme percentage. If your turnover is over £12,500 for the quarter, then the relevant goods spend must be at least 2% of the quarters turnover.  If for the quarter you have not spent the required amount on relevant goods, you have to apply the 16.5%. Therefore, there’s virtually no saving to make on the flat rate scheme. It really is not worth it.

If you are a limited cost trader, you’re not able to reach that threshold of £1000 a year or 2% of your turnover, whichever is greater, then seriously consider coming off the flat rate scheme and going onto a normal accrual accounting scheme at the full 20%. You might find you spend more in things like services, printing, marketing, advertising, accountant’s fees, external people that might deliver because you’re subcontracting like deps, you might find that by the time you’ve added up all the input VAT you’re going to claim more back than what you’d have to pay over.

HMRC have put out a little tool to see if you are a limited cost trader and that can be found here >> <<


This comes into play from the 1st April 2017, so if your VAT period straddles the date, then you need to work out the levels post 1st April to see if you are a limited cost trader and if not, then apply your normal flat rate percentage. If you are a limited cost trader post 1st April, then you effectively run two VAT returns (pre and post) and add the numbers together. Don’t worry – this is the worst case (unless of course they change the rules again.

If you decide to come off the flat rate scheme, you need to notify HMRC of your decision either by email to [email protected]  or you could write to them here:

HM Revenue & Customs

VAT Registration Services

Imperial House

77 Victoria Street


DN31 1DB

I do have a facebook group set up specifically for musicians, singers, dancers, actors, voiceovers and others in the performing starts were weekly posts will be put that are geared to accounts and tax. Also it’s a place to ask general questions on UK tax & accounts that affect our industry. Please request to join, and don’t be worried about asking what you need to know. The link is here >>>

Have a chat to your accountant. I’m sure they know the rules. If they’re not too sure, then quote them VAT notice 733, section 4.5 and 4.6, and they should be able to advise you what to do. Alternatively, you could contact us. Have a great day.





Tax Free Childcare Accounts are round the corner

This is a new scheme being set up by the government in order to replace childcare vouchers offered by employers. To be able to get tax free childcare, an account needs to be set up by the parents of a child in order that what ever money is paid into the account, the government will top it up by 20% to a maximum of £2000 per qualifying child (£4000 for a disabled child), so that means a maximum of £8000 can be placed into the account and £2000 by the government per child per tax year. (There is a maximum of £500 per quarter for the government payments into the account). This is not an employer scheme so comes out of tax pay, and is open to the self employed to start up, and other people can pay into the account – such as grandparents.

Of course, there are conditions:
– Both parents must have earnings of at least 16 hours a week at the national minimum, and a maximum earnings per parent of £100,000;
– If a parent is in employment and they decide to opt for the scheme, they need to come out of the employers childcare voucher system;
– The scheme only covers children up to the age of 12 compared to 15 under the childcare vouchers;
– The childcare provider must be registered with the new scheme;
– The parent needs to log into the online account and make payments directly to that account. They cannot pay the provider and then take the money out personally.
– Should money be taken out that is used for non-registered providers or for other use, HMRC will penalise the account and take back 20%, but that clawback is actually worth more than the money put in initially – so beware.

The launch date is supposed to be April 2017 for the youngest child and a full roll out by April 2018, but this scheme has been stalled for a couple of years, so keep your eyes open for this.

How to Change Accountants

Why Change Accountants?

Change Same Switch Showing That We Should Do Things Differently Sometimes

This can be an emotive topic depending on the relationship you have with your accountant and the number of years you have been together. People say it can be like a marriage; sometimes in harmony, sometimes a few ructions are felt, while both of you are needing to head towards the same goal of developing & growing your business. The accountant becomes fully versed in what your business does, where you are going and what you want to do to get there.

Like any other service or supply to your business, you should always ask yourself if you are getting good value for money out of your accountant. They can be a necessary evil of expenditure for any business, but developing a relationship with them outside the yearly compliance role can enhance your business. Of course, they will be there if you just need compliance work and tax returns completed too.

You need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I getting value for money – assuming you know the value you want?
  • Does my accountant fully understand my business needs and what the plans are to grow the business in the future?
  • Is the service satisfactory and are returns filed in good order and on time?
  • Could I get better service elsewhere?
  • Why has my bill gone up again?
  • Has my business outgrown my accountant?
  • Is my business treated like just another number to a large firm of accountants?
  • Are they moving with the times? With all the digital technology out there, are there better ways of doing things?
  • Are they OK with technology and the way I want to move with it?
  • Can they offer advice on my systems & processes to make me more efficient?
  • Why do I only hear from them once a year? Surely things happen in the year that I need to be made aware of?


How to Make the Change

Should you decide to change your accountant, then it is a relatively easy process to follow. We chat to you about what you need from your accountant, for example, a self-assessment tax return, full bookkeeping & accounting service plus year-end compliance, a workshop on processes, personal budgeting, etc., and then draw up a quote for services which will be valid for six weeks.

Should you decide that Performance Accountancy is right for you, then a whole process kicks off. The vast majority of accountants are familiar with the process and respond in a reasonable period (2 to 3 weeks), but there are times we may need you to give them a nudge. As long as you are up-to-date with fees, the outgoing accountant will not typically charge for this, although they may levy a small admin fee/postage to collect documents or post them out.change-of-accountants-picture-v2-jpg

  • We have a template which you can use to resign from your out-going account and introduce us to them. That gives your out-going accountant the approval to pass information to us.
  • We will need to obtain various bits of information from you which is mainly via an online registration form.
  • We complete the agent authorisation form on the HMRC website and HMRC post a letter to you with a code that you need to give to us to finish the process.
  • We will write to your old accountants for the professional clearance and deal with any queries.
  • Finally, we will need from you:
    • The agreed quote for actual work;
    • A signed engagement letter;
    • Identity documentation for anti-money laundering requirements
    • Go-cardless details set up for payment


When to Change Accountants?

It’s a question often asked. Just before filing deadlines is not usually the time as you will be stressed, your current accountant may be stressed not knowing if they are coming to you or not, and the new accountant will be fraught trying to get all the admin & agent bits through before they can work on your behalf. But sometimes we can work miracles. The impossible is harder.

Select a changeover date that is going to cause the least disruption to your business. The most obvious change date is the end of the business financial year. If you change mid-year, you may end up having additional catch up fees as your new accountant needs to re-create what your old accountant has already done. This is especially true if your old accountant is also doing the bookkeeping for you.

Ensure all financial responsibilities to your accountant are discharged i.e. all outstanding bills paid.


And then – that’s it – job done. Feel free to talk to us any time of the year if you are thinking of changing your accountant, or maybe getting an accountant, as you never know; new ideas may spark out of that conversation.


Cycle to Work Scheme

The Cycle to Work Scheme


The number of people taking to cycling each year is growing with over two million people taking to their bikes once a week according to British Cycling. In the large cities of the UK, it is seen to be one of the most efficient ways of getting from A to B. According to government statistics, 30% of people get to work on two wheels.  There was even a Cycle to Work Day on the 14th September 2016. (I missed that one). It happened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 – but I missed those as well.

Employers can put in place a cycle to work scheme, so employees listen up. Even a director only company can have one. The scheme is a UK government tax exemption initiative to help promote a healthier lifestyle as well as reduce environmental pollution. Employers can loan bicycles and cyclists safety equipment as a tax-free benefit provided the value is less than £1000*.

The equipment that can be included in the scheme:

  • A bike (handy) but the amazing thing is that it also includes those new ones that have a battery to assist peddling (I do like the sound of one of those);
  • Cycle helmets that conform to European standard EN1078 (don’t know what happens to these standards after Brittan leaves the EU but that is another post);
  • Bells and horns;
  • Luggage carriers and the straps to allow bags to be safely carried;
  • Child safety seats
  • Lights
  • Mirrors & mudguards so cyclist can see safely;
  • Locks & security chains;
  • Pumps & repair kits;
  • Protective clothing with those reflective strips build in;
  • Cycle clips & dress guards.

With all that kit, you probably need to have a car to put it in!


How does it work?

The two methods are via a loan scheme, or via a salary sacrifice arrangement and the employer reduces the salary of the employee.  There must be a salary sacrifice letter in the employee’s file to show this has been agreed. It needed to be noted that the sacrifice cannot take the employee below the national living wage or the minimum wage dependant on the age of the employee.

The employees enter into a hire agreement with the employer for the bikes, so the employee must be over 18 as they need to sign a legal agreement. The scheme must be available for all employees, but there can be different levels of bike to different levels of staff. I can picture the old Chopper bike versus a Felt Z6 bike.

The hire agreement or salary sacrifice letters must be in place before the commencement of the scheme for the employee. We can provide a template for the salary sacrifice letter.


Ownership of the Equipment

It is important to note that the title of the bike belongs to the company and does not pass to the employee. The bike should mainly be used for travelling back & forth to work and work related journeys need to account for at least 50% of its usage. There is no requirement to keep mileage logs, but the advice would be to keep one to prove the 50% use. Many people take the train city to city and then use the bike to get from the station to the office. You just need to be careful about which train journeys the bikes cannot be taken on.

The joyful news for tax is that there is no benefit in kind payable by the employee so it will not appear on the P11D for the employee, and therefore no payment of national insurance on the cost.


Get peddling.







*The value is to do with the consumer credit act and hire agreements.

How is my tax calculated? Why is it so high?

I’m a self-employed singer/musician – how is my tax calculated?

ReceiptsIt is a common misconception that tax is calculated on your income/revenue/billings, and that the costs incurred for your business as a singer/musician are then deducted from that tax calculation. I wish it were true but sadly not.

This blog post assumes your only income is from self-employment and you have no PAYE income, interest, dividends or pension.

At the end of your accounting or tax year (this may change from April 2018), you work out what your income is whether from teaching, concerts, adjudication, publishing, royalties etc. You then work out your allowable costs that can be offset against this income. Typical allowable costs can be found on my blog post site or you can sign up at the bottom of my webpage for a full document at

Having got those two figures, you have a profit (or loss). From here, you can deduct capital allowances for any major purchase you may have made e.g. a new piano, computer etc.

You are then left with your taxable profit. As an individual, you get a personal allowance of £11,000 for the tax year 2016/2017 and that is deducted from your taxable profit.

Income tax is then calculated on that figure if it is greater than zero. Tax is at 20% but goes up to 40% at £33,500 (after the £11,000 allowance).

That is only the first lot of tax to pay on your taxable profit. If your pre allowance taxable profit is greater than £8060, you then have to pay 9% Class 4 National Insurance over that amount. To top it off, if your taxable profit is over £5956, you have to pay £145.60 for class 2 national insurance if you are over 16 and under pensionable age. woman_puzzled_7863

As an example, Sandra earns:

Private teaching               £16,500

Concerts                              £4,200

Allowable Costs                 £3,600

iMac Purchase                   £1,200


Therefore her profit is £17,100 and her taxable profit is £15,900.

Her tax calculation is:

Taxable Profit                    £15,900

Personal Allowance          £11,000

Total                                      £4,900

Tax @20% on £4,900       £980

Class 2 National Ins          £145.60

Class 4 National Ins          £765.60

Bill for current year        £1831.20


Sadly for Sandra, it does not end there as she owes more than £1,000, she will have to make a payment on account for next year – more on that in a later post.


Hopefully that clears up how tax is currently calculated for the self employed.