As part of the Practice Hub, the Practice Support team bring you a round up of news and issues that affect you and your Practice.
Have your say - AML Survey
Last October, as part of its Cutting Red Tape programme, the government launched a review with the aim of improving the effectiveness of the rules designed to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. The original article can be found here.
They are now keen to get information on the costs associated with the regime. It would therefore be good if as many members in practice as possible could complete this survey.
If you prefer, you can send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will forward them on.
HMRC Online Service Complaints Scam
ICAS has become aware of a scam email purporting to come from HMRC Complaints (email@example.com) as shown below.
The email includes a zip file attachment which you are asked to download. The download clearly will contain a virus and the email should be immediately deleted.
Information on scam HMRC emails and security generally can be found on the GOV.UK website.
AOSS private beta service
In June HMRC asked for volunteers to test their Agent Online Self-Serve (AOSS) private beta service. Following the feedback and suggestions for improvements made by agents, they have now launched an enhanced private beta service which provides a monthly breakdown of employers' PAYE liabilities, and payments for each period.
If you are an agent with less than 500 employer PAYE clients, have not already volunteered, and are interested in taking part in further testing, please complete this questionnaire which is open until the end of October 2015.
If you are unable to be involved in testing, you can still let HMRC have your views on the recently updated prototype screens by completing the short feedback form on the final screen.
Longer term, in addition to PAYE liabilities & payments, the service will provide views of other tax accounts and an improved process for agent authorisation. We will provide updates when they move to the next stage of development.
Connecting to HMRC online services
A change in HMRC's IT system means that people with older internet browsers will be unable to connect to their online services after 30 September 2015. Browsers using SSLv3 protocol are affected, so unless your browser (or other software) supports 'Transport Layer Security' (TLS) 1.0 or above, you will not be able to connect to HMRC online services. If you use a current browser you should not have an issue. Check whether your browser is affected.
Users of third party software that do not use a browser to connect to HMRC online services should contact their vendor if they are unsure whether their product supports TLS.
Consent request guidance released by Law Society
The Law Society has released consent request guidance which would be applicable to chartered accountants requesting consent. This is an area that has been flagged up by the National Crime Agency as needing more attention by practitioners who frequently misunderstand the concept of consent. More information here.
Tax codes and cumulative basis
Agents should be aware that HMRC no longer advise taxpayers of whether a tax code has been calculated on a cumulative basis or not. HMRC are now issuing 2 versions of the notice, one which is sent to the employer which shows whether it is based on a month 1 figure or not, and a further one which is sent to the agent without this information. Therefore, for any in year tax codes that are issued, agents are advised to contact HMRC to confirm what basis is being used.
Agent Online Self-Service - feedback and volunteers wanted
Agent Online Self-Serve is now at the "private beta" testing phase and HMRC are keen to get more views from agents. If you are interesting in volunteering to test the new agents' service, complete the questionnaire at by 20 March. In addition, feedback is being sought on the overall look and feel of the new service and a selection of screenshots have been put together for agents' views.
Follower Notices and Accelerated Payment Notices - What should the tax adviser do?
Finance Act 2014 has wide ranging powers that enable HMRC to bring forward the payment of disputed tax. ICAS has prepared a list of actions that the tax adviser may wish to consider in relation to follower notices and advance payment notices that are, or may be, received by their clients. More on our blog here.
The Agricultural wages order - raising awareness
The Agricultural wages order (The Order) came into effect on 1 October 2014 and sets out a number of conditions and minimum rates of pay for agriculture workers in Scotland. The key features of the order are:
- A minimum hourly rate of £6.50 for all workers in the first 26 weeks of employment (£9.75 for overtime), increasing to £7.14 for all workers employed for more than 26 weeks (£10.71 for overtime) by the same employer
- A minimum hourly rate of £3.96 per hour for workers who undertake a level 2 Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture
- A dog allowance of £5.41 per week for each dog up to a maximum of 4
- An additional sum payable to workers with appropriate qualifications of £1.08 per hour.
- A daily rate of accommodation off-set for accommodation other than a house of £5.01.
Further details of the order can be accessed at www.gov.scot/Publications/2014/10/2636
Support for businesses wanting to make use of cloud platforms
A useful resource is now available for small businesses wishing to embrace cloud technology. The resource, Clouding SMEs, has information for all levels of business owners from those who are just starting out on their cloud journey, to those who are well informed and wish to compare cloud providers, for example regarding their security scoring or in relation to possible add-on applications (apps).Access the information here.
Funding issues and high growth SME's
ICAS has released its research paper focusing on how to ensure that companies with the potential to grow are allowed to do so. The paper, which could be of interest to practitioners with fast-growing SME clients, can be accessed here.
"Starting a business" guide
ICAS would encourage its firms to raise awareness of the "starting a business" guide, which is a step-by-step guide to financing and starting a new business. For more information and to download the guide visit the ICAS Business start-up guide (firms are welcome to link from their website to the guide).
We would also be keen to hear from firms who would be interested in "white-labelling" the guide for their own business development purposes. Interested parties should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Consumer credit - new alert
The IAASB has issued a survey on quality control, which focuses on issues with Small and Medium Practices complying with the requirements of ISQC 1 and ISA 220. We would encourage firms to complete the anonomous survey Access the information here.
Cyber security resources beefed up by UK Government
The UK Government has made available a number of cyber security resources aimed at helping small businesses. The resources include a useful guide from GCHQ which outlines the common types of cyber-attacks and how firms can go about minimising the impact of such attacks, and a "Ten steps to cyber security" which shows businesses how to address cyber threats. Access the information here.
IFAC global knowledge gateway resource
The International Federation of Accountants' global knowledge gateway is a great resource for practising accountants. To access the gateway click here. Alternatively, a short video, which provides an overview of the gateway, can be viewed here.
General Practice Procedures Manual updates
The GPPM has been updated with various amendments to engagement letters to cover auto enrolment. An overview of the changes can be accessed by logging into the online GPPM here.
The International Federation of Accountants has launched a global survey with the objective of giving IFAC, regulators, and policy-makers invaluable insights on how regulation impacts you and your organisation, and how regulation might improve. Input from small and medium practices is invaluable and we encourage firms to participate. The survey is very short and will take less than two minutes to complete. Complete the survey >