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.

Key differences between online and traditional accountancy

Traditionally, contractors were happy to visit their high street accountants to sort out their tax affairs. While this seemed convenient, these local firms could sometimes struggle with self-employment specific legislation such as IR35.

Nowadays, the rise of online accountancy firms has given contractors a more flexible approach to getting their books in order. Although there are many benefits to this new-age approach, those used to the traditional pen and paper way of working can still find it difficult to adjust.

… Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Taxman makes “spectacular” penalty bungle

HMRC’s controversial Accelerated Payment Notices (APNs) have once again hit the headlines, with critics questioning the taxman’s competence to wield such power.

Law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner said that the Revenue has issued “scores” of incorrect penalties for much larger sums than expected. The study warned that the error could be extremely costly for taxpayers, given that the amounts in question often run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Introduced last August, the legislation allows the taxman to take funds from individuals’ bank accounts ‘up front’ – before a case reaches a tribunal. The system has led to accusations of HMRC acting like “a law unto itself” and is also the subject of a legal challenge. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Taxman’s web widens as digital drive booms

HMRC’s groundbreaking software application has allowed the Revenue to collate more evidence than ever before as part of its war on avoidance.

According to accountancy firm BDO, the taxman’s Connect system can access around 30 different databases and collate information about an individual’s properties, cars, bank accounts and loans. The data is then pored over by a team of 150 analysts, whose job it is to weed out behaviours that suggest tax anomalies.

BDO reveals that the system has generated over £3 billion in additional tax revenue to date, while preventing the loss of a further £4.1 billion. HMRC also wants Connect to play clairvoyant and use its findings to prevent evasion, rather than detecting it after the event. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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ClearSky’s contractor invoice masterclass

Learning how to invoice clients correctly is the number one task contractors should master. Failing to get your paperwork out on time or including incorrect information could cause serious delays in being paid.

While this is obviously bad for the cash flow of your business, it also creates the impression that you might not be as professional as you claim to be. This could seriously damage your chances of securing further assignments with the client.

To help, we’ve created this handy guide on how to efficiently manage your invoice system and make sure you get paid accurately and on time. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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What advertising expenses can I claim as a Limited company?

One of the many ways Limited company contractors can boost their income is by claiming legitimate business expenses. This allows self-employed professionals the opportunity to top up their take-home pay and keep more of their hard-earned cash.

As an independent business, one of the most important, and potentially expensive, challenges is to advertise your company and your expertise. But did you know that you could claim back some of these costs?

We’ve created this handy guide outlining the charges that contractors can be reimbursed for. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Taxman finally fixing inadequate customer service?

HMRC has announced a £45 million investment to revamp its customer service, after reports showed an unacceptable call handling performance.

Latest statistics show just 73% of calls were answered last year. Customers were left frustrated when contacting helpline facilities, with one in five hearing a busy tone and unable to join the phone queue.

These figures are consistent with previous reports on HMRC’s shortcomings in its customer services department. As we reported last year, Which? found that callers were experiencing delays of up to 45 minutes.

… Continue reading

By Beth Bramhall,

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4 top tips for building your contractor brand

Setting up a Limited company affords contractors many benefits. From increased earning power to enhanced tax efficiency, independent professionals could almost be forgiven for thinking they have it all.

However, going it alone is not without its unique challenges. One such obstacle is the need to build a brand for your business. Succeed, and you’ll be able to market your skills to potential clients with ease.

Although this may seem like a daunting prospect, the goal can be achieved with the right approach. To help, we’ve come up with four top tips to help boost your branding. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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3 factors affecting contractors’ assignment rates

Alongside a greater work/life balance and enhanced tax efficiency, the ability to earn more money is often one of the main motivations for those thinking about becoming a contractor.

Despite this enhanced earning power, there are a number of factors that can affect the amount of money independent professionals can walk away with. To help, we’ve created this handy guide, detailing three important influencers to look out for and how to make sure you get the maximum reward for your services.

… Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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ClearSky welcomes commitment to tackle IR35 ‘grey areas’

The controversial IR35 employment legislation could soon be overhauled to provide contractors with greater clarity and understanding.

David Morris, the government’s self-employment ambassador, made the announcement following his re-appointment to the position. He said the rules were something he would “especially like to tackle”, due to their “unnecessarily complicated” nature.

Mr Morris added: “As a self-employed businessman for many years before being elected to Parliament I know only too well how complicated legislation can burden businesses. Over the last 6-8 months in the post I have enjoyed speaking to businesses both in my own constituency and nationwide about how the government can help them thrive.” … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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3 telltale signs of contractor burnout

It’s often said that contractors and self-employed professionals are able to enjoy the best of both worlds. From an enhanced work-life balance to increased earning power, they could be forgiven for thinking they have it all.

When running your own business, however, it is easy to lose focus on the long-term strategy and instead concentrate on the ‘here and now’. This is especially true at the early stages of a contracting career.

New contractors can easily be caught in the mindset that it is better to take on more work, as this would provide more clients and more revenue. However, overstretching yourself can lead to an increase in stress and pressure, potentially undermining the very reasons you decided to go it alone in the first place. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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