Welcome to the News & Blog

Here at ClearSky, we want to keep you up-to-date with all the latest hot topics that may affect you and your business. This could be anything from IR35 to new legislations.

Please feel free to browse the various categories, individual posts and make your comments known to the author.

Snooping taxman celebrates windfall

HMRC is spying on individuals’ social media accounts as part of its crackdown on the wealthy, a new investigation has claimed.

Insurance firm PFP reveals that the Revenue is using taxpayers’ Facebook and Twitter accounts to build up a more detailed picture of their lifestyle. The taxman will then launch an investigation in any case where a person’s boasting does not match their reported income.

Holiday snaps, online purchase records and information from local councils can also be used as evidence. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Taxman warned over staff exodus

HMRC could suffer a max exodus of staff if it fails to halt declining morale, its latest satisfaction survey suggests.

The report reveals a growing sense that pay packets do not adequately reflect performance, with more than a fifth of the workforce planning to leave the Revenue in the next 12 months. Some 45% of staff feel they are overworked – an increase of 10% compared to last year.

Overall satisfaction among workers stands at just 43%, a slide of 2% against the previous survey. This has led to fears that taxpayers could suffer a drop in service, with disillusioned staff less likely to focus on quality and accuracy. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Regional tech surge sparks assignment rate boom

The rise of tech clusters has triggered a jump in contractor assignment rates, with regional growth far outpacing that seen in London.

Figures from the IT Jobs Board survey reveal that contractors in the North East have enjoyed a 21% increase in pay packets over the last two years – compared to just 2% in the capital.

Scottish freelancers witnessed a surge of 14%, while earnings in the North West rose by 10%. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

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Could contractors benefit from Whitehall skills drive?

The civil service must carry out an “honest appraisal” of the skills it lacks if failures such as the West Coast mainline franchise cancellation are to be avoided in future.

A report by the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) has criticised the government’s Capability Plan for being “too narrow and one-dimensional”.

The group said more work needed to be done to strengthen the “complementary and supportive skills” civil servants need to do their job. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

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IT contractors ‘sitting pretty’ as demand soars

Contractors specialising in technology and computing can expect a bumper year for assignments, as companies seek to preserve a “vital talent pipeline”.

This is according to David Geary, policy advisor at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC). He states that the perfect storm of a skills shortage and capacity crunch means freelancers will continue to be in high demand.

Skills such as business intelligence, development, business analysis and e-commerce were said to be particularly sought-after – making contractors who possess these talents “well placed to make competitive moves in 2015.” … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

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Silver generation drives UK self-employment train

A jump in the number of over 65s choosing to snub retirement in favour of contracting is fuelling the UK’s self-employment revolution, a new study has claimed.

Research from the Bank of England reveals that 39% of over 65s have chosen to work for themselves in the final quarter of 2013, compared to just 10.5% of those aged between 25 and 34.

The study showed that an ageing workforce is responsible for half of the increase in self-employment since 2004. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

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Can the taxman avoid another computing calamity?

George Osborne beamed with pride as he announced he was to kill off the annual tax return and replace it with a gleaming new digital system.

However, no sooner had the dust settled on last week’s Budget, than concerns were raised about whether HMRC can cope with such an ambitious change. After all, the Revenue has had its fair share of IT disasters of late.

Earlier this month it was revealed that the taxman wasted millions paying staff who were unable to work following a computer glitch. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

Posted under: Tax issues | Leave a comment:

Tax bodies slam Treasury evasion crackdown plan

Government plans to press ahead with strict liability offences for offshore tax evasion could penalise individuals for innocent mistakes, tax bodies have warned.

The measures, announced by Danny Alexander yesterday, are designed to make it impossible to plead ignorance in the hope of avoiding a criminal prosecution. The chief secretary to the Treasury claimed the measures would end the “I know nothing, it was my accountant” defence.

Tax bodies have criticised the plans, claiming it is possible for some individuals to make a mistake in their financial affairs without intending to break the rules. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

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Budget lowdown: what’s in it for you?

George Osborne delivered his final Budget of this Parliament yesterday, triumphantly claiming that Britain was the “comeback country” after years of austerity.

The chancellor announced a raft of new measures that would not only make the UK the most successful economy in the world – while pledging to support savers, the self-employed and small businesses. He claimed the Budget would take a “big step on the road from austerity to prosperity.”

So what rabbits did Mr Osborne pull out of his hat? Here’s a rundown of some of the main points: … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Taxman goes digital: Osborne to scrap paper returns

The days of paper tax returns could soon be numbered as HMRC moves to bring its operations into the 21st century.

George Osborne is expected to use this afternoon’s Budget to announce plans that will see the Revenue automatically collate the tax affairs of millions of Britons into a single digital tax account that can be checked at any time. It is hoped the move will slash the amount of time it takes to deal with HMRC from 40 minutes each year to just 10 minutes.

Taxpayers will be able to submit their accounts via computer, tablets or smartphones – potentially alleviating the annual rush to file a return. The system will allow individuals to settle up with the Revenue at any point throughout the year or spread the cost in instalments. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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