Introduced as a law in 2012 to encourage more people to consider a pension or saving for retirement, auto-enrolment is a phased scheme that affects every organisation with a PAYE plan. As of late 2016, all employers will have to auto-enrol eligible employees into a qualifying pension scheme. It is the employer’s responsibility to have a pension scheme in place and this can be administered through the Government-backed NEST (National Employment Savings Trust) scheme, or one of a number of other reputable programmes, some of which specifically cater for small and medium sized businesses.

Whilst 2016 seems a long way off, and your actual start date varies depending on a number of factors, it would be wise to start thinking now about how you will manage this new legal requirement. Will your in-house payroll team process the applications or will you outsource? What and how will you communicate to employees? Who will deal with the ongoing administration?

Howell & Co urges you to take the time now to prepare and ensure you avoid the substantial penalties for non-compliance.

Pension changes – are you prepared?

With the last budget announcing positive changes for pensioners and savers, do you know how this will affect you? As of 6th April 2015, anyone wishing to access funds from their pension will only have to pay their marginal rate of income tax, as opposed to the previous rate of 55%. Accessing the first 25% of your pension remains tax free.

With the amount you can now draw down as one lump sum, or small pot, also increasing from £2,000 to £10,000, it is becoming even more important to seek professional financial advice. At Howell & Co, we can offer impartial guidance on what’s best for you; whether that’s purchasing an annuity; drawing down funds as and when or in one lump sum.

Personal tax returns – act now!

If you are self-employed, a company director or have property income or capital gains then you must submit a personal tax return and the deadlines are imminent! Paper returns are due by 31st October this year and online returns are due by 31st January 2015.

With the 31st October paper deadline looming, it’s really important to register with HMRC for online filing if you need more time to complete your return. Any online returns filed after the 31st January 2015 deadline will be subject to a late filing penalty, which can be easily avoided if you plan ahead. Howell & Co can offer advice and guidance on your personal tax liability, all relevant deadlines, as well as ensuring you are registered with HMRC.

Please note, if you want any tax due to be collected through the 2015 tax code, then your tax return has to be submitted online earlier, by 31st December 2014.