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We've scoured the web to get you the most up-to-date advice which includes the most useful tools on offer from the officials themselves.

Effective tax planning is essential if you are to minimise your tax bills. Simple tax planning can significantly reduce your tax liabilities.

The self-assessment tax return is an unavoidable burden if you are liable for self-employed tax or have complicated income tax affairs.

Corporation tax is charged on a company's profits. If you trade as a limited company, ensure that paying this tax is as painless as possible.

National Insurance Contributions (NICs) are payable whether you are self-employed or employed by your own company, although different rates apply.

As well as your legal obligations, you’ll want to ensure that payroll is painless and that you use any opportunities to improve your tax-efficiency.

VAT

Effective VAT planning aims to ensure that VAT is relatively painless, and that you are reclaiming as much as possible of the VAT you pay.

Capital gains are made when you sell something for more money than you paid for it. As a result, you can be subject to tax. Take professional advice.

Business property taxes apply to businesses with commercial premises.There are two commercial property taxes: business rates and stamp duty land tax.

If you have tax problems or face a tax investigation, it pays to seek professional advice and you must act rather than just hoping for the best.

Action needed to safeguard apprenticeships for small firms

4 February 2020

As National Apprenticeship Week gets underway, the Federation of Small Businesses is calling on the government to secure the long-term future of apprenticeships.

Research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that over a quarter of small business apprentice employers in England feel that the 2017 reforms have had a negative impact. Government data shows that apprenticeship starts across England have decreased to 125,800 from 132,000 in Q1 of 2018/19 compared to the same period a year before.

As National Apprenticeship Week gets underway across England, the FSB is calling on the government to secure the long-term future of apprenticeships. It has warned that SMEs using the apprenticeship system are facing a crisis as the apprenticeship levy funding on which they depend is about to become exhausted.

"Urgent action is needed to ensure sufficient funding for small businesses in order to be able to continue offering apprenticeships," said FSB national chair Mike Cherry. "Whilst we welcome the manifesto commitment of a £3 billion national skills fund for the next five years, if this is used to top up apprenticeship funding for SMEs, there will be little remaining for the equally important priority of adult retraining."

In addition to an injection of cash for SMEs, the FSB is calling for a reduction in co-investment costs for training from 10% to 5%. It says more than a third of small business employers of apprentices say costs related to the recruitment and training of apprentices have increased since the 2017 reforms were implemented.

Mike Cherry added: "Small firms have long been champions of apprentices and the benefits they can bring, but if we are to address the persistent skills shortages and gaps that are damaging growth and productivity we must prevent apprenticeships becoming an opportunity which is only open to those who can afford it."

Other business groups have expressed similar concerns. Jane Gratton, head of people policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "Businesses support the drive for more and better apprenticeships, but the system needs urgent reform if they are to help our workforce reach its potential. We need to give employers more flexibility in how they can use the Apprenticeship Levy, alongside help for smaller firms to access quality training more easily at the local level. This will help close the productivity gap and retain local talent in communities across the country."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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