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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.

Eight in ten small firms struggling to grow

25 June 2019

Business uncertainty, red tape and the tax burden are all key issues that are holding back UK small firms with ambitions to grow.

The latest Business Barometer from Hitachi Capital asked 1,184 small business owners which external factors were holding their business back. Eight in ten small business owners (79%) say they are struggling with a range of factors and the UK's most established businesses (those trading for more than 35 years) are struggling the most to adapt in uncertain times (83%).

Compared to this time last year, the issue of dealing with barriers to growth is on the rise for small businesses (up from 73% to 79%). Market uncertainty is the single biggest barrier to growth for small business owners (up from 25% to 31% in a year), followed by uncertainty over the future of their own business (up from 15% to 17%).

Other perceived barriers include:

  • Red tape (16%);
  • The tax burden and business rates (16%);
  • Competing on price with larger rivals (13%).

Small business owners in the retail sector (89%) are most likely to be struggling to grow. Just under half blame market uncertainty (47%) as a key obstacle to growth, whilst a quarter cite rising rents on the high street (24%).

The legal sector has seen the sharpest rise in the percentage of small business owners that identify barriers to growth (up from 61% to 79% in a year), with market uncertainty (26%) and red tape (21%) cited as the biggest challenges.

Small businesses in the construction sector are most likely to say that the cost of skilled labour is holding their business back (20%). In manufacturing, volatile cash flow is a significant issue for 22% of manufacturers (compared to a national average of 13%).

"Many small business owners have to keep one close eye on their business and the other firmly set on the wider market picture if they want their business to succeed in this volatile climate," said Gavin Wraith-Carter, managing director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance. "In the current climate, market uncertainty is a challenge and older businesses in particular are struggling to adapt.

"The key issue for businesses to address is whether market uncertainty is a risk or an opportunity. For many small businesses, now is a time to reforecast plans, to invest in new equipment, to diversify and look to launch into new markets."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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