Yellow and pink zig zag

Can anyone get a tax enquiry?

Each year HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) undertake an enormous number of tax enquiries into individuals and businesses to check they have paid the right amount of tax. Since 2010 HMRC have strengthened their approach to enquiry work by using wider powers and sophisticated software and consequently a record £36.9 billion of additional tax revenue in 2019/20 up £2.4 billion on the previous year.

Moving forwards we expect to see an even greater increase in the number of tax enquiries as HMRC look to revoke the enormous £350bn government spend through the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as ensuring that measures put in place to support the economy through this period have been utilised correctly by taxpayers.

Tax enquiries can last for months, even years and defending you against HMRC’s detailed questions requires specific expertise and can be time consuming and costly. Indeed the cost of dealing with an enquiry can amount to thousands of pounds, even if no extra tax is payable.

But no need to panic…. 

All of our 1 Accounts monthly fixed fee services cover the additional professional costs of handling tax enquiries and compliance checks this is through our Tax Fee Protection Service. This is so our clients never have to worry that they will get a huge unexpected bill if HMRC decide to investigate.

As an additional benefit this protection also provides our clients with complementary telephone access to employment, health & safety and general legal advisors, including support from employers with any adjustments made in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

VAT reverse charge

What is the VAT reverse charge?

From the 1st March, the VAT reverse charge scheme now applies to construction. If you work in the construction industry and are VAT registered, this applies to you, your suppliers and your customers.

If you are not VAT registered or do not work in the construction sector you can ignore this blog but feel free to share with someone that you know who is. 

This new scheme has been brought in to reduce VAT fraud in the construction sector. For businesses which fall under this scheme, it will mean significant changes for how you charge and recover VAT.

Click here for the published guidance that has been released by HMRC so far.  

Build UK have also prepared a guide which includes a checklist to assist with the changes. Click here to view the checklist. 

It is also useful to look at and understand the published guidance on the CIS scheme itself which can be found at

But let’s start with WHO this scheme DOESN’T apply to: 

  • When you are not VAT registered as a business
  • You are not in the construction industry
  • If you are VAT registered and supplying:
  1. A non-VAT registered customer
  2. The ‘end users’, i.e. a VAT registered customer who is not intending to make further on-going supplies of construction
  3. Intermediary suppliers who are connected, e.g. a landlord and his tenant or 2 companies in the same group.

Now let’s look at WHO this scheme DOES apply to – and ALL the conditions need to be met: 

  • Where the customer and supplier are both registered for CIS
  • The customer and supplier are not connected
  • The customer is intending to make an ongoing supply of construction services to another party
  • Standard or reduced rate VAT applies to the services or product being supplied
  • The supplier AND customer are both VAT registered.

It’s probably easier to consider different scenarios and what would happen under both the old and new schemes:

Scenario 1:  

Simon the plumber, who is VAT registered, supplies the materials and labour to plumb a new house for Mr Developer (also VAT registered). Mr Developer (also VAT registered) then sells the house to Mrs End User.

Under the old scheme:

Simon would have invoiced Mr Developer £10,000 + VAT, i.e. £12,000

Simon would have accounted for the £2000 of VAT he owes HMRC on his system

Mr Developer would have paid Simon £12,000.

Mr Developer would have accounted for the £2000 of VAT he can possibly reclaim against VAT he owes HMRC.

Under the new scheme:

Simon invoices Mr Contractor £10,000, and marks his invoice as “the CIS reverse charge applies and the applicable rate is 20%”.

Mr Contractor now pays Simon £10,000. But then accounts for £2000 of VAT (i.e. the VAT on Simon’s invoice) that he owes HMRC on his accounting system.

Scenario 2: 

Simon the plumber, who is VAT registered, supplies the materials and labour to plumb a bathroom for Mrs End User.

As Mrs End User is the End User, and a customer who is not VAT registered, Simon under both the new and old scheme, invoices her for £10,000 + VAT, i.e. £12,000.

Simon accounts for the £2000 of VAT he now owes HMRC.

Scenario 3: 

Simon the plumber, who is VAT registered, supplies the materials and labour to plumb a house for Mr Builder. Mr Builder is NOT VAT registered.

As Mr Builder, is a customer who is not VAT registered, Simon under both the new and old scheme, invoices him for £10,000 + VAT, i.e. £12,000.

Simon accounts for the £2000 of VAT he now owes HMRC.

What you need to do now: 

If you are VAT registered, inform all your VAT registered subcontractors that from 1st March 2021:

  • you will no longer accept invoices with VAT paid on it
  • Their invoices which contain products or services which VAT needs to be paid on are clearly marked as ‘the CIS reverse charge applies’ and the VAT rate which needs to be applied to the items.

If you are regularly buying materials which have VAT added, you may like to consider moving to do a monthly VAT return. This will allow you to quickly reclaim any VAT which is owed to you. With the introduction of the reverse charge scheme in construction, most VAT registered construction businesses who do a large proportion of their work as a contractor rather than direct to the end user, would be better off by doing a monthly VAT return


The guys and girls at Xero have been working hard to deal with this for you and here is a link to how to set up VAT Reverse charge on your Xero software

Click here for instructions on how to set up your Xero 

See video below for more instructions on how to set up your Xero

United Kingdom flag

Whats happening with Brexit?

The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, UK Chief negotiator David Frost and EU negotiator Michel Barnier continue to offer differing messages to the public about Brexit, some are positive, some ambivalent and occasionally negative remarks about the negotiations. It is hard to see through the comments made and whether we can take them at face value as, after all, there is a negotiation going on.

Whatever the outcome there are significant changes ahead for travel and trade.


If you are traveling to the EU from the UK after the 1 January 2021 then check out the Government website “Visit Europe from 1 January 2021”. This page tells you how to prepare if you’re planning on traveling to Europe from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.



.Gov website

If you haven’t made your business preparations, check out the Brexit transition website:

If you trade with the EU and have not yet made preparations then here is a summary of actions to take:

We must all be prepared for changes in the way we travel and trade with Europe. Even if there is a free trade deal the key thing to remember is that there will be a UK border which will mean paperwork and border checks.

Businesses that trade with the EU must get familiar with customs declarations as these will be essential for accounting for VAT.

Depending on what contracts a business has with its customers in Europe, it may have to factor in that goods could take longer to get there, meaning extra costs and administration.

In the short term, there will probably be delays at the border, so it is important businesses map out supply chains and think about how to do things as efficiently as practicable post-transition.

Overall with still no deal on the table, specifics are still very up in the air. We will make sure to keep you updated once we know more information.




The government made an announcement on 8 July 2020 allowing VAT registered businesses to apply a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT to certain supplies relating to:

  • hospitality
  • hotel and holiday accommodation
  • admissions to certain attractions

The temporary reduced rate will apply to supplies that are made between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021.

clinking beer glasses


If you supply food and non-alcoholic beverages for consumption on your premises, for example, a restaurant, café or pub, you’re currently required to charge VAT at the standard rate of 20%. However, when you make these supplies between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021 you will only need to charge 5%.

You will also be able to charge the reduced rate of VAT on your supplies of hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic drinks.

More information about how these changes apply to your business can be found in Catering, takeaway food (VAT Notice 709/1). See:

Hotel bed

Hotel and holiday accommodation

You will also benefit from the temporary reduced rate if you:

  • supply sleeping accommodation in a hotel or similar establishment
  • make certain supplies of holiday accommodation
  • charge fees for caravan pitches and associated facilities
  • charge fees for tent pitches or camping facilities

More information about how these changes apply to your business can be found in Hotels and holiday accommodation (VAT Notice 709/3). See:

VAT on admission charges to attractions

If you charge a fee for admission to certain attractions where the supplies are currently standard rated, you will only need to charge the reduced rate of VAT between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021.

However, if the fee you charge for admission is currently exempt that will take precedence and your supplies will not qualify for the reduced rate.

This applies to:

  • shows
  • theatres
  • circuses
  • fairs
  • amusement parks
  • concerts
  • museums
  • zoos
  • cinemas
  • exhibitions
  • similar cultural events and facilities

Examples of where the reduced rate may apply could be attractions such as:

  • a planetarium
  • botanical gardens
  • studio tours
  • factory tours

More information about how these changes apply can be found in VAT: Admission charges to attractions.


Businesses Need To Reinstate VAT Direct Debits

The deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus comes to an end on 30 June and businesses need to take action to reinstate their direct debit mandates.

The Institute of Chartered accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) Tax Faculty has reminded its members.

The VAT payment deferral means that all UK VAT-registered businesses have the option to defer VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 until 31 March 2021.

However, ICAEW is reminding businesses that they need to take steps to reinstate their direct debit mandates so that they are in place in time for payments due in July 2020 onwards. Any outstanding returns should be filed, and three working days should be allowed to elapse before reinstating the direct debit mandate.

HMRC will issue guidance on the end of the VAT deferral period very soon but, to be effective, direct debit mandates usually need to be set up three working days before a VAT return is filed.

We cannot set up direct debit mandates on behalf of our clients; the business needs to set up the mandate through their business tax account.

HMRC has confirmed that it will not collect the outstanding balance of deferred VAT when the direct debit mandate is reinstated. HMRC has made the necessary systems change to avoid this happening for businesses in MTD for VAT.

Click here to find out more

What is MTD?

What Is Making Tax Digital?

What is MTD?


All of our clients are Making Tax Digital (MTD) compliant because they use the latest online accounting software provided by the market leaders – Sage and Xero.

What is Making Tax Digital (MTD)?

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is a government initiative which aims to transform the administration of tax to create a simpler, more effective and efficient tax regime that makes it easier for taxpayers to get their tax right.  (Let’s not forget to mention the estimated additional revenue of £610 million for HMRC as a result of the reduction in tax errors!)

Businesses that meet the criteria will be required to file their tax online, make online payments and keep digital records.

Quite simply, Making Tax Digital (MTD) is all about managing your accounts online.

Who is affected?

On 1st April 2019, all UK businesses that are VAT registered and operating above the £85,000 VAT threshold will be required to keep their records digitally and to submit VAT returns to HMRC using MTD compliant software.

Other areas of MTD, such as income tax and corporation tax, have been put on hold until 2020, at the earliest.

What do I need to do now?

If you are not VAT registered then you do not need to do anything at the moment. Just keep an eye on your turnover and if you think you are nearing the threshold give us a call on 01440 844 986. You should also be mindful of announcements from HMRC as to when income tax and corporation tax will be covered by MTD.

If you are already using MTD compliant accounting software then you do not need to take any further action.

If you are not using an MTD compliant accounting software, such as Xero or Sage Business Cloud, and you are above the £85,000 VAT threshold it’s time to call 1 Accounts!

Ditch the dinosaurs…

Many “traditional” accountants are panicking because they have not embraced the digital revolution. They have chosen to continue with desktop based systems, time sheets and outdated processes.  With the deadline for MTD looming they are now in danger of extinction!

This is the advice from the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) for their members:-

Preparing your practice for MTD

Agents will need to take steps to prepare both their own practices and their clients for the disruption that Making Tax Digital and digitalisation will cause to the market for accounting and tax services.


Pick the pioneers…

1 Accounts was established in 2013 with the sole focus of moving businesses from the traditional accountancy model to online accounting with all its time and money saving benefits. The team at 1 Accounts are experts in cloud accounting, they did their learning on the “digitalisation of accounting services” years ago and have the accolades to prove it –  Sage UK’s Top Online Accountants, 2020 Innovation Awards 2016 most ‘Innovative Practice’ and a Xero Gold Champion Partner with a Making Tax Digital Ready classification.

The dinosaurs will be charging their clients for the privilege of learning about the “new ways” and converting clients from desk based systems to online systems. Just think – if they are operating time sheets, every hour has to be accounted for! Do you want to pay for them to catch up?