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Welcome to our fourth edition of the SME tax corner.

In this month’s SME tax corner we look at what’s changed in the world of tax for small businesses.

Good: R&D claims made easier for SMEs

The recently published government plan to improve access to R&D highlights the need for more SME companies to understand what relief is available and how the process of claiming tax relief works. Recent changes to R&D scheme rates have increased the relief available so a clear understanding is needed to ensure that companies are aware of how the tax rules work.

This announcement comes after R&D tax claims from SMEs increased by 23%. Since the introduction of this generous tax relief over 120,000 claims have now been made (from SMEs and large businesses), amounting to over £11.4bn in tax relief claimed.

Following consultation, the government has announced that a voluntary Advanced Assurance scheme for small businesses making their first claim is being introduced from November 2015. Successful applicants will receive assurance that HMRC will allow their first three years of R&D tax relief claims without further enquiry. In addition, there will be new bespoke guidance aimed at smaller companies and more direct communication between HMRC and companies that are already claiming, or thinking about claiming, R&D tax relief.

There are a number of areas in this briefing where you may need specific advice depending on the circumstances of R&D activities and expenditure so please do not hesitate to contact us.

Bad: Is it time to say bye to buy-to-lets?

Following a summer Budget which brought big tax changes for buy-to-let landlords, in the shape of a restriction in the amount of income tax relief landlords can claim on residential property mortgage interest costs and the removal of the wear and tear allowance, landlords were concerned about what year’s Autumn Statement might bring.

Landlords may have been expecting further changes, but the new measures announced by the Chancellor will come as a big shock and could eat away at already falling buy-to-let profits. The introduction of a new 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge on new buy-to-let profits could see a landlord’s stamp duty tax bill rise by as much as 1000%.

In this article we look at the big buy-to-let tax changes, including more details on the changes from the summer Budget and last week’s Autumn Statement, and what they could be for landlords and investors.

Autumn Statement: A good Autumn Statement for SMEs?

Last week the Chancellor delivered his latest Autumn Statement. In a year which has already seen big changes to the small businesses– including, most notably, the introduction of the new National Living Wage – small business owners concerned about what this year’s Autumn Statement might bring.

However, the Chancellor announced some good news for small business owners, including the extension of the small business rate relief scheme for another year and no further changes to Entrepreneurs’ Relief. We have prepared a summary article of the key things small businesses need to consider following this year’s Autumn Statement in which Scott Sanderson, Partner at Hawsons, comments: “On first look the 2015 Autumn Statement had very little to shout about for small businesses; however, looking more closely, there is scope for optimism following some of the announcements.”

More from our tax experts

You can find all of our latest tax articles and tax resources here.

If you are looking for advice in a particular area, please get in touch with your usual Hawsons contact.

Alternatively, we offer all new clients a free initial meeting to have a discussion about their own personal circumstances – find out more or book your free initial meeting here. We have offices in Sheffield, Doncaster and Northampton.

Scott Sanderson began his career with Hawsons and trained as a Chartered Accountant, becoming a partner in 2015, specialising in the healthcare sector and small businesses. For more details and advice, please contact Scott on [email protected] or 0114 266 7141.

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