BUDGET MEETING, December 7 2018, with IAN BINGHAM FCA senior tax partner of BDO Manchester


It seems like an age since the Budget, at the end of October; normally we would discuss it a fortnight later, but this year it was a month early. And, as our regular guru Ian Bingham of BDO Manchester pointed out, it may not last a year; if Brexit is a bit lively then there could well be another within months.

After outlining changes (mostly already announced) in the UK tax regime for business, Ian put up a screen entitled “Preparing for Brexit.” “Lot of head-scratching on this,” he mused. However, anyone involved in shipping goods to and from the EU should register for Authorised Economic Operator Status – a sort of Trusted Trader list – to ensure customs procedures are easier. “There’s an assumption about, that “No Deal” means No Rules. No it doesn’t…” he warned.

Then he turned to those who would avoid tax altogether and outlined new enforcement powers, warning that following the current Finance Bill, directors and others involved in any kind of company tax avoidance or evasion will be held liable for the unpaid tax liabilities. That could cost the unwary a great deal. “There are always schemes,” Ian said, “but HMRC has a lot more information these days, and much more power concerning off-shore accounts. They will be coming after you!” Nobody dared breathe the word “footballers…..”

Ian looked carefully at VAT, a bugbear for many small and medium-sized businesses. Making tax digital may require businesses to change their systems; it’s a mistake to think that, despite some delays, the government has changed its mind.  “This is the thin end of the wedge, as pretty soon everything will be digital. You have to be ready.” The government is however trying to get VAT paid direct to HMRC rather than to suppliers; the implications for SMEs are enormous. However, in most other EU countries, the threshold for paying VAT is 0% – in other words, every business has to do VAT accounts – whereas here it’s frozen at £85,000, so perhaps we should be thankful.

Ian’s lively and informative presentation closed a full 2018 for the Club, which has seen speakers from ITV, Ward’s Waste Management, Together Finance, the video games industry, TESLA, care homes, Fantastic Fireworks and Timpsons.