Unfurling like a Spring tulip, the year seems to really be taking shape doesn't it?

Three events for bookkeepers this March

I hope you will join me at this week's International Women's Day event (ICB's feel-good event of the year) and no bookkeeper should miss the budget update for bookkeepers webinar on Tuesday 12th with our new tax expert speaker, Amy Chin. I also hope to see you next week at FAB, where ICB is exhibiting and I'll be speaking alongside some of our fabulous members, Penelope Allard, Sarah Douglas, Lara Manton and Rebecca Williams.

Inspire Tour and Bookkeepers Summit are on sale now!

If you like to plan ahead and save money I'd recommend you book now for our two in-person events of the year - The Inspire Tour summer roadshow and the November Bookkeepers Summit. You can even opt to spread the cost accross three interest-free instalments with Klarna*. (*T&Cs apply)
Book your tickets on our dedicated event microsite here
The Inspire Tour is visiting six locations around the UK from 17 June to 11 July and then it repeats online on 16 July. The Bookkeepers Summit takes place on Monday 11 November, returning to the Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster, and then continuing online on Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 November. 
For a limited time only you can save £30 when booking both of the events together. The Super Earlybird Bundle gets you into the in-person and online days of both of these events. You'll select your chosen Inspire Tour location at check out.
If you're not sure you'll make both events in-person, you can still save money by booking a standard Earlybird ticket for the events separately; meaning you can mix and match an in-person Inspire Tour ticket with an online Bookkeepers Summit, or vice versa. You can also opt to attend both events Online Only.
Tickets for the LUCA Awards will go on sale later this year.

The 2024 budget for bookkeepers

As national news events go, I always look forward to listening to the budget live. Delivered to a somewhat skeptical public on Wednesday 6 March, I don't think Jeremy Hunt's budget will have done much to change the party's fortunes at the polls later this year, however, there are as always a few things that you'll need to be aware of.

Further 2% reduction in NICs from 6 April

The further 2% reduction in employee Class 1 NICs and Class 4 NICs for the self-employed comes in almost immediately, on 6 April. Find out more in our article here. Jeremy Hunt says his long term ambition is to reduce the double tax burden to workers of NI and income tax, but there's been no change to the contribution paid by employers. This means Employer’s Class 1 secondary NICs are still at 13.8%, which some, including ICAEW, feel incentivises businesses to treat workers as not employed under the off-payroll working rules. 

VAT threshold increase to £90k from 1 April

Hunt announced that the VAT registration threshold will increase from £85,000 to £90,000 even sooner, from 1 April 2024. This will take around 28,000 small businesses out of VAT.
I'm sure this increase will be welcomed by business groups like the FSB that had campaigned for the threshold to be raised even further. The threshold hasn't been increased in seven years, and was expected to hold until 2026. What with inflation, freezing the threshold effectively meant more businesses were needing to become VAT registered, and you'll probably know of businesses for whom this has the unwelcome effect of putting them off growing. This can particularly be an issue for B2C traders like hairdressers and plumbers who don't want to add 20% on their invoices. VAT is well known for stressing out businesses and it's another great reason to work with an ICB-qualified bookkeeper!

Government consultation on raising tax agent standards

Perhaps even more interesting for ICB members though, was the announcement of a new consultation looking at improving the standard of tax advice. ICB members can do self assessment and corporation tax returns once they've completed our super-tough Level 4 qualifications in these subjects but, somewhat unbelievably, tax itself isn't a statutorily regulated area unlike services such as audit and insolvency.
The consulation sets out three possible methods of improving tax agent standards, the first of which is mandatory membership of a recognised professional body.
HMRC estimates that there are 85,000 tax agents in the UK, 35% of whom are not members of a professional body.
The consulation documents say previous consultations have shown that, 'levels of non-compliance are generally higher among taxpayers represented by an unaffiliated tax practitioner than those represented by a professional body member....The government’s conclusion is that professional body membership improves compliance, but on its own is probably insufficient.'
The consultation will also therefore look at ways to mandate registration with HMRC and how to improve that process.

Get involved

It's unclear at this stage which professional bodies would be included in a new supervisory scheme, but ICB shares the government's ambition to improve and regulate UK tax agents and welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the consultation.
If you have suggestions or comments, can you please get in touch with us ahead of the consultation deadline of 29 May 2024.
We cannot underestimate the potential impact this could have on ICB and the future of our Certified Bookkeepers.