Auto-Enrolment Pension Changes. Listed Buildings and VAT. Changes to Payroll. Corporate Partner Structure When You ve Already Incorporated

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1 Armstrong Watson s specialist publication for the legal profession Autumn 2012 Listed Buildings and VAT Could changes from the Budget spell disaster for repairs? Changes to Payroll Measurable benefits for every member of staff Corporate Partner Structure When You ve Already Incorporated This flexible structure can be extremely efficient for tax planning even if you ve already become a limited company Auto-Enrolment Pension Changes Think it s just more admin? Think again!

2 Welcome to the third edition of The LAW, the specialist publication for the legal profession from the legal sector team at Armstrong Watson. Specialists are available from all 14 of our offices to provide pro-active support and advice to lawyers in compliance and business improvement matters. This publication is designed to allow us to share our collective experience in acting for lawyers throughout the UK. We welcome any thoughts, feedback or suggestions that you may have on this publication, or on our legal sector services and team. If you would like any further information on the issues raised within The LAW, or if you would like to work with us, please contact me on or me at I also keep our law firm clients up to date with more immediate developments in the legal profession via Twitter. If you would like to follow me, I One recent development is that Google Ventures backed US venture Rocket Lawyer is now recruiting UK law firms contact me for the details! In this edition: One Year On Andy Poole, Legal Sector Director, has now been with Armstrong Watson for over a year, and celebrates with a recap on some of the work we ve done in the legal sector in the last 12 months Pensions - Auto Enrolment Changes Nathan Glaister, Financial Planning Consultant, has a rude awakening for those expecting auto-enrolment to be simply additional administration Listed Buildings and VAT Val Vince, VAT Consultant, covers how changes in this year s Budget could affect those wishing to alter or repair listed buildings Andy Poole Legal Sector Director How We Help Law Firms Strategy Planning Workshops Business Plans Benchmarking Trading Structure Reviews Mergers & Acquisitions of Law Firms Law Firm Valuations Forecasts Raising Finance Lock-up Reviews Partnership Disputes Pro-active Tax Planning Tax Compliance Audits Accounts Rules Reporting Accounts Rules Training Call to be connected to your local office, or visit The Corporate Partner Structure When You ve Already Incorporated Helen Thornley, Tax Consultant, presents a case for considering the Corporate Partner Structure even if you ve already become a limited company Forthcoming Payroll Changes Brian Stenhouse, Director, Group Payroll Services, explains how modern HR software can deliver tangible benefits for every member of staff Armstrong Watson is registered to carry on audit work by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Registerd office: 15 Victoria Place, Carlisle CA1 1EW This newsletter is a general guide to issues facing the legal sector. It is not a substitute for professional advice which takes account of your specific circumstances. Subjects covered change constantly and develop. No responsibility can be accepted by the firm or the authors for any loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from acting on the basis of this publication.

3 One Year On By Andy Poole, Legal Sector Director It is now just a little over a year since I joined Armstrong Watson to head our national specialism in the legal sector. What a year that has been for lawyers; I don t think there could ever have been a period of greater change in any industry. I thought it would be useful to have a recap on some of the things that we ve done to support lawyers during that period: 140 lawyers attending two seminars in Leeds and Sheffield in November 2011 where I presented alongside Stephen Mayson and Stuart Bushell on the impact of the Legal Services Act Full day compliance masterclass events in Leeds and Carlisle in September 2011 on Outcomes Focused Regulation and changes to the SRA Accounts Rules Breakfast briefings for lawyers in Leeds in March and June 2012 entitled Increasing Fee Income Through Service and The Commercial Benefits of Maintaining a Risk Aware Culture Breakfast briefings for lawyers in Carlisle in March and June 2012 called It s A Brand New Brand, You Digital Legal World and From Market-Taker to Market-Maker Legal sector update event in Dumfries in May 2012 covering specific developments in the profession and responses to the Legal Services Act that we are seeing in practice Numerous training courses on the new SRA Accounts Rules and appropriate trading structures for lawyers Webinar on law firms preparing business plans This is, of course, in addition to helping to improve individual law firm businesses directly. Please do let me know if you would like to benefit from our support we re always looking to assist law firms wherever we can.

4 Pensions - Auto-Enrolment Changes By Nathan Glaister, Financial Planning Consultant From October 2012 the process commences whereby employees start to be automatically enrolled in a pension scheme by their employer. Ultimately this is likely to affect up to 10 million employees and every employer, no matter how small, will have to implement a staff pension scheme or face tough penalties for non-compliance. Auto-enrolment will see many law firms provide a pension scheme to all their employees for the first time. Every employer, no matter how small, will have to implement a staff pension scheme or face tough penalties According to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, less than one-third of small businesses know their Staging Date. This is the date (between 2012 and 2014) by which employers must have an appropriate scheme in place and after which hefty penalties may be applied for failure to do so. An immediate fixed penalty of 400 is followed by escalating sanctions, ranging from fines of 10,000 a day for firms with over 500 staff, to 50 a day for those with four staff or fewer. The penalty for persistent non-compliance can be up to two years in prison, while prohibited recruitment conduct, such as trying to persuade staff to opt out, will also carry fixed penalties. Those employers who expect auto-enrolment to involve nothing more than additional administration are in for a rude awakening, as the legislation is somewhat complex and has wide ranging implications. Some fundamental points are: Auto-enrolment covers all employees aged 22 or over or, if younger, those earning more than 8,105 a year who are not already enrolled in a qualifying scheme. After some initial phasing-in of contributions, from October 2018 onwards minimum contributions will be 8% of banded earnings, comprising 5% from the employee (4% plus 1% from the Government in tax relief) plus 3% from the employer. This change will not only affect employers setting up pension schemes for the first time, but potentially the contributions employers make to existing pension schemes, as these may have to be increased once the new earnings limits are factored in. Establishing what counts as salary for the purposes of auto-enrolment is also complex. Qualifying earnings include not just basic salary, but a number of variable payments, such as bonuses, overtime, commission, shift allowances and some statutory payments, including maternity pay. Employers may also decide to choose a different definition of what is constituted as salary, as different minimum percentages are payable by employers depending on which definition is chosen. The method by which staff are remunerated may subsequently need to be reviewed and this may also have implications as far as existing contracts of employment are concerned. This change will not only affect employers setting up pension schemes for the first time, but potentially the contributions employers make to existing pension schemes

5 In addition to the financial implications, employers also need to consider the administrative burden of auto-enrolment and should consider what tools their chosen pension provider offers to help them not only manage their employee pensions, but to comply with the reporting requirements. The significance of this should not be underestimated, as every new employee triggers a new enrolment. In addition, any employees who opt out must be offered re-enrolment every three years. To avoid problems in this regard, providers are engineering their administration systems to ensure that this critical data is captured and to inform the employer when relevant employees need to be re-enrolled. Those employers who expect auto-enrolment to involve nothing more than additional administration are in for a rude awakening The introduction of this complex new legislation and then figuring out how to comply with it is likely to be a big challenge for many employers, especially those smaller organisations without in-house HR expertise. The good news is that all of the major pension providers and employee benefits consultancies, as well as the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), the Government s default scheme, have created modelling tools which will help employers work out what the impacts of the legislation will be, along with ongoing requirements. Employers who already offer a pension to some of their staff will need to consider if it should be rolled out to all employees, or whether an alternative option, such as NEST, will be more appropriate. The UK s largest pension providers are aggressively competing in an effort to attract employers on the back of auto-enrolment. This means there are numerous propositions on the market offering ever more extensive fund choices and functionality. NEST itself offers a low cost arrangement, but is (currently) restricted to just five fund options. Offering a decent pension is proven to be a sound business move Offering a decent pension is proven to be a sound business move. There are considerable advantages to firms in terms of staff retention and motivation in providing a good pension scheme, which research consistently shows to be the most valued employee benefit, a finding confirmed most recently in surveys by Aegon/Edinburgh Business School. I strongly recommend that employers start thinking carefully about their strategy Auto-enrolment will bring compulsion to pension contributions which did not previously exist along with a number of potential headaches for employers. I strongly recommend that employers start thinking carefully about their strategy well in advance of their staging date, details of which can be found via The Pensions Regulator website Armstrong Watson is well placed to assist businesses of all sizes with their transition to auto-enrolment. Armstrong Watson Financial Planning Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Firm reference number Registered as a limited company in England and Wales No Registered office: 15 Victoria Place, Carlisle CA1 1EW Investment values can fall as well as rise and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. Listed Buildings and VAT By Val Vince, VAT Consultant Changes announced in this year s budget mean that any contracts entered into from 1 October 2012 in respect of alterations of, or repairs to, listed buildings will be standard rated for the purposes of VAT. Previously alterations which both required and received planning consent could be zero rated. Services provided on contracts in existence at 21 March 2012 can continue to be zero rated Services provided on contracts in existence at 21 March 2012 can continue to be zero rated until 20 March Any contracts entered into between 21 March 2012 and 30 September 2012 can be zero rated up to 30 September 2012 after which standard rating applies, so contracts may need to be apportioned. Anti forestalling provisions have been put into place to prevent contracts being entered into prior to 30 September 2012 for which services will not be provided until after that date.

6 The Corporate Partner Structure When You ve Already Incorporated By Helen Thornley, Tax Consultant Are you practising as a limited company? Do you have clients that trade as a limited company, perhaps with property held outside the company? If so, this article may be of interest to you or your clients. We have in the past written about a tax efficient structure for partnerships where a company is introduced into the partnership the Corporate Partner Structure. This is a flexible structure that, like incorporation, can be extremely efficient for Income Tax and National Insurance. However, it is also very efficient for Inheritance Tax. This is because property used by a trading partnership and owned by the partnership should be eligible for 100% Business Property Relief (BPR) after two years of ownership. By contrast, limited companies are not as flexible for changes in partners or changes in profit sharing ratios. Also, where a business is incorporated and the main trading premises are outside the company then, at best, only 50% BPR would be available to the owners estates. This is assuming that the property owners also hold a controlling interest in the company. If they don t have control of the company, they will receive no BPR at all. By transferring the trade to a new partnership and introducing the premises as a partnership asset, the property should qualify for 100% BPR The solution to this IHT and inflexibility problem is to restructure into a partnership or LLP, with the existing company used as a corporate partner. By transferring the trade to a new partnership and introducing the premises as a partnership asset, the property should qualify for 100% BPR after two years (and potentially sooner). The inflexibility issues are reduced and the original company can be retained and used as a corporate partner in the new partnership, so that the individual partners can still take advantage of the lower rate of Corporation Tax compared to Income Tax and National Insurance. The end result is the same as for the Corporate Partner Structure a partnership with a company in it as a partner. The difference is that instead of taking a partnership and adding a company, we start with a company and form a partnership. For those with concerns over limited liability, the planning can be carried out using a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) so that partners liabilities can be restricted. In a recent case the property was a 2m pub/hotel held outside the trading company...following a restructure they should both qualify for 100% BPR We have implemented this restructuring for a number of clients. In a recent case the property was a 2m pub/hotel held outside the trading company. Held jointly in equal shares by separate owners neither would have received any BPR in their estate on the building as neither had overall control of the company operating from the premises. Following a restructure they should both qualify for 100% BPR after two years. The alternative would have been to transfer the property into the company simple planning that would have come with a very large and unappealing Stamp Duty Land Tax bill. The planning works equally well for professional practices.

7 Forthcoming Payroll Changes By Brian Stenhouse, Director, Group Payroll Services From April 2013, the biggest shake up of the PAYE system since its initial introduction will take place, when almost every business operating a PAYE scheme will be expected to submit payroll information to HMRC under the new Real Time Information system (RTI). This will require a data file containing full payment, year to date, leaver and starter details to HMRC on or immediately before each pay date for all employees. Failure to comply will result in non-compliance and will incur penalties. As Nathan Glaister explains in his article, pension changes will be taking place in the coming years with the introduction of Auto-Enrolment. In relation to pensions, it may be worth considering a Salary Exchange to Pension facility, which, depending on the number of employees and the salaries involved, can provide the employee with an increase in net pay and National Insurance savings to the employer. Given the forthcoming changes, now is the time to review your payroll processing requirements, and consider the time spent on payroll processing, ensuring that the payroll is fully compliant, and having to meet not only the pay date schedule, but also the RTI deadlines and PAYE payment deadlines. It is worth noting here that under RTI, HMRC will know exactly how much PAYE is due for each pay period so it will be important to pay the correct amount on time if you are to avoid penalties. While solicitors have been effectively using case management software for many years...few have yet to realise and exploit the advantages similar software can offer law firms for their internal HR requirements With the electronic age of payroll processing, the efficiency of the payroll software used is paramount to reducing the amount of time you spend on the payroll and its accuracy. The time spent by you translates into a cost to your business. There is a wide range of options available to you, from in-house packages, internet solutions, and fully outsourced options. Here at Armstrong Watson, we have put together a full range of options under our Flow service. This includes in-house, internet and outsourced options tailored to individual requirements. All services are designed to be as efficient as possible, and in addition there are options for electronic payslips and reports, all of which help to considerably reduce the time that you spend on your payroll administration. Qualified Payroll Administrators are also on hand to provide advice and guidance on all aspects of the payroll process. Bridging the HR information gap the real benefits of modern HR software lies in the ability to deliver tangible and measurable time saving benefits...for each and every member of staff continued overleaf

8 Continued from overleaf While solicitors have been effectively using case management software for many years and fully understand its benefits, few have yet to realise and exploit the advantages similar software can offer law firms for their internal Human Resources (HR) requirements. While such systems can be important in terms of better compliance with the latest standards and legislation, the real benefits of modern HR software lies in the ability to deliver tangible and measurable time saving benefits, not just for HR personnel, but for each and every member of staff. Time is money and this statement has always been true for those working in the legal profession. The divide that once existed between solicitor and client has all but disappeared and, these days, clients are ever more demanding on time; so applying the tried and tested case management system logic to HR procedures makes a lot of sense. HR software can deliver a competitive edge by freeing up time for quality client or new business development efforts Clients are much better educated and savvy when purchasing legal services and while this is great news, it does make the environment in which solicitors must work more challenging than ever and this is where HR software can deliver a competitive edge by freeing up time for quality client or new business development efforts. HR tasks performed the old fashioned way can be unproductive and time consuming; from authorising a holiday to organising and performing return to work interviews after staff absences all of these can be speeded up considerably with the help of HR staff management software that puts the practice in control of HR matters, rather than reacting to what is happening with particular employees on a day-to-day basis. Taking advantage of management software is...right for clients and it s the right thing for law firms too Technology has progressed in leaps and bounds and few could now imagine life without , the internet and the many software systems we already take for granted. By automating some of the most mundane and common tasks in HR, time savings of up to an incredible 75% can be easily achieved, allowing staff at all levels the time to concentrate on more fruitful and profitable tasks. Taking advantage of management software is a must for most people. It s right for clients and it s the right thing for law firms too. Some have already taken advantage of what such HR management software can do for their firm s efficiency, development and competitive edge and it will not be long before these types of technology become as widely used as say . Armstrong Watson has teamed up with leading Cloud software provider Chorus HR to provide the latest HR technology for our clients and to develop integration with their payroll software solutions in an extremely cost effective way. Andrew Sherwin of Chorus HR, comments: Everything from staff management, development, reporting, holidays, overtime and even expenses can all be tracked and integrated within the most innovative HR systems, making previously disparate manual and time consuming tasks become quicker and easier, enabling you to compile all of this information at the press of a button. What this means in practice is reduced paperwork, more control of your HR systems and procedures, reduced stress and reduced opportunities for error and HR non-compliance. Such systems are perfect for the growing legal practice as they are the more established firms, and can be a key ingredient in managing costs, reducing risk and driving company growth Armstrong Watson continues to develop Payroll and HR services to meet ever changing legislation and to provide clients with the best cost effective solutions, tailor made to meet individual client requirements.

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