shaw gibbs - accountants and business advisers
accountants & business advisers
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FAQs

  • Accounts

      + You offer a Company Secretarial service, what does this include?

      Our Company Secretarial service includes the electronic maintenance of the Company's statutory records and PSC register, completion and filing of the confirmation statement (including payment of the filing fee), the use of our office address as the Company's registered office and Director's service address (which keeps your home address off public record and helps combat identity theft), updating Companies House of any changes to the Director's details and change of accounting reference date, as well as other factors.

      + My turnover will be below the VAT registration threshold at the start, should I register?

      If you are undertaking solely exempt supplies, then you will not be able to register. If you are undertaking taxable supplies, but are initially below the registration threshold, then you may want to register. This may be an administrative burden to you, but this will enable you to reclaim the VAT that you have been charged by your suppliers. The question comes down to who your customers are: if your customers are VAT registered businesses, then VAT is not a cost to them and as they can reclaim the VAT charged to them, you might as well register; if your customers are not VAT registered, then this will mean that this additional cost will either make you uncompetitive in the market place, or cause your margins to suffer. The amount of VAT paid over to HMRC is simply that charged to your customers, less that charged by your suppliers. To assist with cash-flow, you may want to consider the cash-accounting scheme; this allows you to only pay the VAT over to HMRC when received from your customers (but you can only reclaim the VAT charged by your suppliers when their invoice has been paid). To simplify matters, you may want to consider the VAT flat-rate scheme; you still charge VAT at the normal rates, but when it comes to working out what you have to pay over to HMRC, you apply a sector specific percentage to your quarterly turnover.

      + What are the annual compliance requirements of running a company?

      The annual compliance requirements can vary from company to company, depending upon what they do. Speaking generally:

      • the company prepares accounts, usually for a period of 12 months to its accounting reference date and an abbreviated set of these accounts have to be filed with Companies House within 9 months of the year-end date;
      • the company has to pay its corporation tax liability within 9 months and 1 year of the end of corporation tax accounting period, which is usually the same as the accounting reference date;
      • the company has to file its corporation tax return within 12 months of the end of the corporation tax accounting period;
      • the company has to file an annual return, usually made up to it's birthday, which details the officers and shareholders;
      • the company has to file payroll returns P14 and P35 by 19 May, forms P11D and P11D(b) by 6 July (supplying copies to employees) and supply forms P60 to employees by 31 May after the end of the tax year.
      • If VAT registered, the company will have to file VAT returns on a quarterly basis and pay the VAT due (although there are annual accounting schemes available);
      • there may, in addition, be forms in relation to share issues that also need completing. We can assist you with all of the above.

      + What are the costs associated with these annual compliance requirements?

      Obviously the cost of undertaking this work will vary from client to client, dependent upon the number of transactions, quality of records, complexity, etc. To ensure cost transparency, we have a pricing matrix which we can use to provide you with a bespoke quote that is tailored to your needs.

      + What bookkeeping records should I keep?

      The directors of the company are obliged under the Companies Act to keep adequate accounting records. We will be able to advise you on the sorts of records that you should keep. These may range from a basic set of spreadsheets for a simple one-man-band company to advice on the wide variety of accounting software packages that we have experience of. We are Sage Accounts, Xero and Quickbooks specialists and can recommend the most relevant package for the client's needs.

      + Why don't I just set up a company over the internet?

      Whilst you can set up the company fairly cheaply using a formation agent over the internet, it is likely that you will miss several tax-planning opportunities; the savings that would result will more than pay for the incorporation cost in full and leave you with a tidy sum on top. Our formation costs also include other matters such as VAT registration, notification of corporation tax and other details to HMRC, electronic write up of statutory records, completion of share certificates and minutes, Company Secretarial, taxation and general business advice.

  • Accounts software & management information

      + Can I buy my Sage directly from Shaw Gibbs?

      We are accredited partners and as such are authorised to resell Sage products including Account, Payroll and ACT. We will also be able to beat any price offered by Sage Direct.

      + Can I produce invoices on Sage instant?

      Yes. It is possible to produce invoices in all versions of Sage.

      + Can you help with tailoring my invoices to fit my headed paper?

      Yes. We can tailor all invoice, statements, sales orders, purchase orders and GDN’s. We can change the colour of the templates and add the company logo.

      + Can you recommend any cloud based accounting software?

      We specialise in two main cloud based packages. These are Sage One and Xero. Sage One is an entry level accounting system and Xero offers a more advanced solution. It is possible to host a desktop copy of Sage also.

      + Does Sage deal with foreign currency transactions?

      In order to use multi-currency settings in Sage you have to be running Sage Accounts professional. As long as you have this version, Sage will deal with all multi currency requests.

      + I currently manually transfer my Sage Trial balance into Excel to create management reports. Is there a quicker way to do this?

      We can create an automated link between Sage and Excel that will save huge amounts of time and work duplication. It also reduced the risk of input error. We will write a report in Excel based on the format you wish to see your management information in and get Excel to interrogate Sage for the data. This means your management reports will be as up to date in Excel as the data in Sage.

      + Is it possible to link my Sage payroll package to my Sage Accounts package?

      Yes. We set up the nominal link between the two pieces of software and the monthly journal will be posted from the payroll data into the accounts package.

      + Is it possible to pay my suppliers through Sage?

      We can set up the e-banking function in Sage allowing you to make e-payments and download your bank statement and do electronic bank reconciliations.

      + I have been using Sage for a while but feel I could use it better. Can you help?

      Yes. We offer a Sage review and recommendation service. We will spend 2 hours looking over your system and discussing your current procedures. You will then be presented with a personalised recommendation report on areas of the program you could use more efficiently.

  • Audit

      + Can I insure my business against a HMRC enquiry/investigation?

      Yes. We are able to supply insurance cover to you (we act as a broker) but only when we are currently engaged to handle your tax affairs.

      + Can you do my corporation tax computation for me?

      Yes, Shaw Gibbs can prepare the corporation tax computations and file the tax return online with HMRC on your behalf. A separate partner from the audit partner will review this work, partly to add specialist experience and partly to satisfy certain ethical requirements.

      + Can you help me tidy my accounts before my year end?

      Yes we can. And sometimes this is beneficial prior to VAT returns being completed or to help with accurate management accounts during the year. The more shipshape the file, the more smoothly the audit will run.

      + Can you help me to transfer my manual records onto financial reporting software, such as Sage?

      Yes. We have an in house expert whose sole responsibility is to assist clients with their accounting software.

      + Do HMRC check all submitted accounts?

      Yes they do, electronically. Then if any "flags" are raised then a further review may occur which may lead to a query being raised by HMRC.

      + Do I need an Audit?

      If you are a medium or large company then you will require an audit. However, small firms are exempt from the need of an Audit. For the avoidance of doubt, any company with a turnover of more than £6.5m or gross assets more than £3.26m must be audited. Some specialist organisations, such a solicitors and charities, have different rules from those stated above.

      + Do I need to meet with you before my year end?

      Some elements of the audit have to be considered prior to the year end, for example the attendance of a stock take.

      There is an element of planning involved in order to complete an Audit. Shaw Gibbs always prefer to meet with you before the year end to discuss matters such as your forecasts, management accounts and to discuss any events that have happened in the year.

      + How long does an audit take?

      It depends! Our clients never see the full amount of the audit work because we do our planning and completion in our office (to minimise disruption) leaving only the fieldwork to be done on site. Fieldwork can take as little as 1 day for the smallest businesses. Many audited companies with turnover between £5 - £10m ought to expect us to be on site for about 5 days. Larger companies will frequently have the pleasure of our company for 2 weeks or even longer.

      + I have an overseas subsidiary, does that need to be audited?

      If the total sales of the main UK company aggregated with the subsidiary do not exceed £6.5m (excluding inter company sales) AND the total of both companies' assets do not exceed £3.26m (excluding inter company balances) then an audit is not legally required. (You would always need to check the overseas regulations that relate to the individual subsidiary to determine the subsidiary's requirements in its own jurisdiction). If the UK company is audited and consolidated accounts are prepared then it may be necessary to audit the overseas subsidiary under UK regulations.

      + I have a subsidiary, must I now prepare consolidated accounts?

      This is determined by reference to the "small" company criteria and regulations as part of the Companies Act 2006. The whole group will qualify as small if 2 of the following 3 criteria are met:

      • the group turnover does not exceed £6.5m
      • the group total assets do not exceed £3.26m
      • the number of group employees does not exceed 50

      Generally, as long as 2 of the 3 criteria for the group are met, the group will qualify as small and consolidated accounts will not be needed.

      + I use manual records, can you still help me?

      Of course, Shaw Gibbs is pleased to aid companies who keep manual records. For some companies manual records remain entirely appropriate. However, if we think that you would be better served with a computerised system we will advise you accordingly and can also supply and set up appropriate systems for you.

      + My company is growing, do I require an audit?

      Your company may still qualify as "small" under the Companies Act 2006 definitions but will nevertheless have to be audited if the turnover exceeds £6.5m or the total of assets on the balance sheet exceeds £3.26m.

      + What happens if I file my accounts late?

      There are fines, the size of which depends on how late the accounts are submitted. These can be found at the Companies House website: http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/about/pdf/gp5.pdf

      + What records will you look at?

      We will ask you for access to all records which form part of the accounting system or that may support our understanding of the accounting transactions and statutory disclosures generally.

      + When do I need to file my accounts?

      The deadline for filing accounts with Companies House is within 9 months of the year end if you are a private company and 6 months for a public company. The Charity Commission operates similar guidelines. Pension accounts should be filed within 7 months.

      + Will it cause much disruption for my staff?

      We aim to work with you to keep the disruption to a minimum. The more information that is provided in advance of our audit work then fewer disturbances will occur. We also aim to provide staff continuity as much as possible, for which many of our clients are very grateful.

  • Business consultancy

      + Can you help me develop strategies for growing my business?

      Once the objectives have been agreed for the business we can assist you to formulate strategies to achieve them. It is important that the strategies are well thought out, achievable and realistic. We will challenge assumptions of both the business and the market to explore any opportunities and capitalise on both existing and new revenue streams and opportunities.

      + Can you help me to grow my business and be more profitable?

      We will assist you to explore growth strategies and all other options available to you. If you chose to grow organically we can help you formulate and implement internal systems that improve both the efficiency of your business and profitability. We can help you to identify new opportunities and develop existing markets whilst continually looking at ways to improve profitability. Should you wish to grow via acquisition we can identify target companies and negotiate on your behalf therefore enabling you to remain focussed on your day to day operations.

      + Can you help me with my business plan and objectives?

      Setting objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time managed are the crucial foundations of any business plan. We will work with you to determine the objectives of the business and then articulate these into a clearly defined business plan.

      + Can you provide regular support and input to assist me with my business?

      We will provide you with as much support as you require. We will work on a retained basis, hourly rate or a fixed fee per project. Quite often we are asked to attend monthly client Board meetings to facilitate and inject a fresh perspective as well as offering ongoing support to maintain focus. We build lasting relationships with our clients because we pride ourselves on contributing towards their success. We work with clients of all sizes across multiple sectors. We share our wealth of experience and knowledge with clients, helping them to save time and avoid many common pitfalls.

      + When should I start thinking about my retirement and what I should do with the business?

      The day you start a business is when you should be considering your exit! Seriously, the earlier you begin to plan your exit the better shape your business will be in for either sale or succession. If you run your business from conception with an exit strategy in mind, it will ensure that you build the business with a sound management structure and with systems and procedures in place that will remain largely unaffected by any changes in ownership.

  • Corporate and business tax

      + Can you help me to get profits out of the business in a tax efficient manner?

      Our team has the expertise to advise you and your business on your overall tax exposure and in particular to work with you to maximise profit extraction.

      + Can you help me with my Corporation tax return?

      We assist businesses across multiple sectors with their Corporation tax returns. Our highly trained tax specialists will ensure that you remain on top of your company’s obligations whilst ensuring that you don’t pay any more tax than is necessary whatever your circumstances.

      + Can you help me to reduce my Corporation tax liability?

      The way a business is structured can have huge implications regarding tax liability and business owners and their advisers often overlook this. Our specialist team helps reduce the tax burden for every business from small companies to multi- branch larger companies Our clients are often surprised by the simple and readily available opportunities available to reduce their corporation tax liabilities.

      + Can you help me to structure my business in a tax efficient manner?

      Our advisers can assist with business restructuring in a tax efficient manner, while also balancing the commercial needs of the business.

      + I am importing/exporting can you help me with international tax implications?

      Our team can assist you when considering transfer pricing and other potential taxation issues when trading overseas.

  • Corporate finance

      + Can you find overseas buyers for my business?

      The firm has extensive resources in helping identify overseas buyers. As part of our research into indentifying potential buyers we focus this search on overseas buyers as much as we do on national buyers for a business.  In addition over the years we have built up extensive overseas contacts that can help us in securing an overseas purchaser.

      + Can you help me sell my business to my employees?

      The process of selling your business to your employees is largely the same as selling it to any other external buyers. There are however a number of other considerations that need to be taken in to account. These include considerations such as how much you will be able to sell the business for. Management teams often do not have the resources that external buyers have to acquire the business so it is often the way that businesses are sold to management at a discount on what can be achieved on the external market.

      Careful consideration should also be given to contingency planning and what should be done in the event that a potential sale to management falls through. Often this could leave the business with a de-motivated management team and a risk of resignations. This can have significant longer term impacts on the business which need to be carefully planned for.

      + Can you value our business in a divorce situation?

      There are two ways typically in which we have carried out valuations for divorce purposes in the past. The first is where we have been appointed by the court to act as an independent joint expert under Part 35 of the Civil Proceeding Rules to advise on the value of the business. The second is where we have been appointed to act as an expert for one party in arguing a valuation.

      Under both scenarios we carefully assess through extensive research the market values that are being achieved in the sectors and use this together with accepted valuation techniques in arriving at a valuation.

      + Do I need to stay with the business after the sale?

      In almost all situations a buyer will want a vendor to remain with a business for a period after completion. This usually is for a minimum of 3 months, however we typically see these for a period of 6 – 12 months. In considering your timing for selling and exiting your business you should build this in to your plans.

      + Do you offer a free initial consultation?

      We always sit down with prospective clients and have an initial free meeting to discuss their plans and aspirations and the options that are available to them to achieve their objectives. The ultimate aim of this is to help develop a corporate finance strategy that is specific to client needs.

      Our experience is that this is an essential part of the process in developing the appropriate plan for the corporate finance activity. This approach help us specify the work required and to set appropriate fees.

      + How can you assist me to sell my business?

      The business sale process is a complicated and needs to be carefully planned. We will start by carrying out some due diligence (a robust fact finding process) with you on your business to ensure your business is ready to be marketed for sale. We will also discuss price and price expectations with you to ensure that they are aligned with what we believe can be achieved in the market at the current time.

      Once we are satisfied with the above we will then prepare sales documentation and start a process of advertising the business for sale. The sale documentation has to be sufficiently comprehensive to act as a prospectus to sell your business and it will be important to identify any competitive advantage that the company has. It is essential that it contains all the necessary information to enable a potential buyer to make informed decisions about whether they would like to proceed to the offer stage.

      The marketing and promotional programme we use to advertise your business for sale will be tailored to reflect the characteristics of the business in relation to prospective buyers. It will also be determined by external factors such as the sector in which the business operates, as well as the considerations such as confidentiality etc. Very often, it will involve targeted approaches to selected businesses that we identify as potential purchasers. In addition, we will advertise in trade publications, national press and make use of dedicated electronic platforms to advertise businesses for sale.

      + How do I maximise my proceeds in selling my business?

      To ensure the maxim proceeds are received for the sale of the business you should undertake a careful process of grooming and preparing the business for sale for a minimum of 12 months prior to the sale.

      Often the tasks undertaken in grooming the business for sale are simple tasks such as ensuring all employees have up to date contracts of employment and there are contracts in place with your customers as appropriate. In addition an essential part of the grooming process is managing the profitability of the company to ensure it is maximised while ensuring that minimising costs will have no long term implications on the profitability of the business.

      + How do I maximise the price for which I can sell my business?

      To ensure the maxim proceeds are received for the sale of the business you should undertake a careful process of grooming and preparing the business for sale for a minimum of 12 months prior to marketing the business for sale. The development of some form of competitive advantage can be very rewarding. Often the tasks undertaken in grooming the business for sale are simple tasks such as ensuring all employees have up to date contracts of employment and there are contracts in place with your customers where appropriate. An essential part of the grooming process is managing the profitability of the company to ensure it is maximised while ensuring that minimising costs will have no long-term implications on the profitability of the business.

      + How do we go about raising funds to finance the acquisition?

      The first part of any fundraising is to prepare a business plan and a minimum 3 year forecast. This will show the viability of the finance raising and the ability of the company to service any debt. From this information you can then assess the required capital structure of the company and the mix of debt and equity.

      Once this information has been agreed you will then be able to approach banks for debt finance, venture capital / private equity companies for equity capital and business angel investors for equity capital.

      Each type of finance, i.e. debt and equity has different advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost, involvement of the provider on the board and other decisions, and the security that will be offered.

      It is therefore necessary that you ensure you understand all of these factors in approaching any funders for acquisitions

      + How do we structure the transaction commercially and tax efficiently?

      There can be a significant difference on how to structure a transaction from a commercial point of view and from a tax point of view. The most important factor in making any acquisition is to try and minimise the risk to the buyer and where there is an existing business to minimise the risk to the existing business. Once these factors have been considered and taken in to consideration the tax considerations can then be taken in to account.

      The actual structure being used will vary greatly depending on the nature of the transaction and can involve the use of new companies to make acquisitions, the use of holding companies and the various other options in terms of special purpose vehicles.

      To ensure that the best structure is used it is first essential that you understand the nature of what you are buying and on what terms the acquisition is being made, but additionally on what you future plans are for the business as that can also have an impact on the structure.

      + How do you identify acquisition targets?

      The first part of an acquisition strategy is to develop your business plan and to clearly define the parameters of the business you are looking to acquire. We can then use this information to search the extensive databases we have of businesses for sale. In addition to this our research team can identity businesses that are not currently being sold. We have often found in the past that making direct approaches to businesses has resulted in them entering in to negotiations and selling their business.

      + How do you sell my business?

      The business sale process is a complicated process that needs to be carefully planned. We will initially start by carrying out some due diligence with you on your business to ensure it is best positioned to be sold. We will also discuss price and price expectations with you to ensure that your price expectations are aligned with what we believe can be achieved in the market at the current time.

      Once we are satisfied with the above we will then start putting the sales documentation together and start a process of advertising the business for sale. The sale documentation largely revolves around an information memo which is a marketing document intended to act as a prospectus to sell your business. It is essential that this contains the necessary information to enable a user to make an offer for the business as well as enticing the user to make that offer. 

      The advertising programme that we use will be tailored to the individual business and will revolve around external factors such as the sector in which the business operates, as well as the considerations such as confidentiality etc. Very often it will involve target approaches to selected businesses that we identify as part of our extensive research to find potential buyers. To support this it can include advertising in trade publications, national press as well as the use of dedicated electronic platforms used to advertise businesses for sale.

      + How do you value the target business?

      There is no defined valuation for any specific business other than a business is worth what a person is willing to pay and a person is willing to sell for. There are however a number of accepted practices in defining the value of a business and as a result of this an approximate value can be identified for a specific business.

      There are a number of factors which affect value which will need to be taken into consideration. These can include factors such as the quality of the customers and to what extent they are contracted to the business. The element of reliance of the business on the vendors and thus the value attributed to them as individuals and not the business.

      There are always a number of transactions taking place at any time in different sectors and our researches can also use this information to identify market values for businesses in those sectors.

      + How long is the typical project?

      The length of time spent working on a corporate finance project can vary and is dependent on its scope and complexity.

      Projects such as due diligence investigations and business valuations can be completed in a matter of days or weeks. Bigger projects, such as acquisitions, disposals, and MBO’s, can take three to six months: and longer if complications arise.

      Although this can seem a long time, care has to be taken to ensure that the nature and complexity of the project are fully understood and potential problems anticipated and dealt with. This ensures that it has no detrimental effect on the business.

      + How long is the typical transaction?

      The length of time spent working on a corporate finance transaction can vary extensively. 

      Transaction based work such as due diligence and business valuations can be completed in a matter of days or weeks, however larger transactions such as acquisitions, disposals, MBO’s can take three to six months and longer if there are any complications to the transaction. 

      Although this can seem a long time, due to the nature and complexity of the transaction it is always necessary to ensure that due care and attention is given to the transaction while ensuring it has no ongoing affect on the business.

      + How will a buyer pay me for my business?

      There are a variety of ways in which a purchaser may offer to pay for your business. These include the following: -

      • Cash – This is where a purchaser will pay you cash on completion. 
      • Shares – This is where the consideration is satisfied by means of issuing shares in a company, typically the company acquiring your business. This option is often used where the acquiring business is listed on a stock exchange and the shares can be traded but we have seen instances of it being offered by private companies
      • Deferred consideration / Loan notes – This is where the buyer agrees to pay a sum of money in the future. Typically deferred consideration is for a fixed sum to be paid at a fixed date in the future. 
      • Earn out – An earn out is where the consideration is based on the future performance of the Company. For example the buyer may agree to pay a percentage of the profits made in future years for a specified number of years.

      Clearly each of the above has its own advantages and disadvantages and we work closely with our clients to ensure that they understand these and any potential pit falls with accepting the different options available.

      + The shareholders are in dispute; can you act as an independent and value our business?

      Where two shareholders are in dispute and it is agreed that one shareholder will acquire the other shareholders interest then an independent can be appointed to value the business. Shaw Gibbs has acted in this capacity in many situations in the past. It is important at the outset that the terms of the valuation are agreed, including the basis of valuation (e.g. fair market value), if discounts for minority holdings are to be applied etc. It is important to work with a person who understands these situations to ensure that you are advised on all considerations.

      + Should acquisitions form a part of my growth strategy?

      Acquisitions have been successful used by companies in the past as part of their growth strategy. They can help give a business quick growth, increased market share and new products. Care should always be taken in developing an acquisition strategy, as with any strategies being employed by a business. For example where an acquisition has taken place and consideration has not been given to the post acquisition integration of the two businesses this can result in potential not being exploited or in value being destroyed.

      + We are buying a business, should we do due diligence?

      Due diligence is an essential part of an acquisition process. A decision to proceed without undertaking due diligence would expose a purchaser to unknown and unidentified risks without suitable protection through warranties.

      + What are the implications of going bankrupt?

      The object of bankruptcy, going back to Victorian times, is to help both creditors and to assist in the rehabilitation process of the bankrupt. With regard to creditors, the effect of the bankruptcy order is that all assets, with a few exceptions that include basic household possessions, tools of the trade and a motor vehicle, must be made available for creditors. After being declared bankrupt the first official that an individual will become involved with is the “Official Receiver” whose job it is to conduct an initial investigation into the bankrupt’s affairs and to decide whether to convene a meeting of creditors to appoint a Trustee in Bankruptcy.

      If a Trustee is appointed, control of the case passes to him to take steps to realise the assets (convert them into cash). Technically on the day of the bankruptcy order, all assets of the bankrupt vest in the Trustee whose job is to convert those assets into cash and distribute it to creditors after payment of fees, costs and expenses. If a Trustee is not appointed then the Official Receiver retains those duties. A bankrupt is subject to certain restrictions with regard to the manner in which he operates his commercial life until he receives his “discharge from bankruptcy”. 

      In most cases, discharge is granted automatically within 12 months of the date of the bankruptcy order and there are numerous restrictions on a bankrupt in this period. The main ones are that a bankrupt before his discharge cannot act as a director of a limited company, cannot take credit of more than £500 without declaring his status, and that any assets that he acquires in that period must be made available to the Trustee/Official Receiver.

      After discharge the bankrupt, although still a bankrupt, is not subject to such restrictions but may find that people are unwilling to give credit given his past debt history. In some jobs bankruptcy is seen as “gross misconduct” and may lead to loss of employment. Similarly for certain professions bankruptcy may lead to either the loss of ability to generate an income or restrictions being placed on trading activities. Notwithstanding the implications of bankruptcy it can still, on occasions, be the correct course of action for an individual to adopt when under financial pressures. An Insolvency Practitioner will be able to give the appropriate advice.

      For a period of 3 years immediately following the making of a bankruptcy order a debtor may be required to make payments from income which are calculated as a percentage of surplus income after taking into account the necessary costs of living for the bankrupt and his family or immediate dependants.

      + What are your fees?

      Our fees vary and are dependent on the nature of the assignment. Prior to any work being undertaken, we discuss our level of involvement, expectations and we will quote for all work to be undertaken. We work with our clients at the beginning of each assignment to ensure that our fees are clearly defined and understood so there is no confusion at a later stage in the process.

      Our fees can be a mix of fixed fees, contingent fees, or based on time costs.

      + What areas should the due diligence focus on?

      The key areas for due diligence include: -

      • Confirmation of past financial performance
      • Assessment of robustness of the financial forecasts and assumptions used
      • Confirmation of the existence of assets
      • Confirmation of the identification of liabilities
      • Assessment of customers including ongoing trading and viability
      • Assessment of products including ownership and lifecycle
      • Assessment of production facilities including capabilities
      • Assessment of employees
      • Assessment of taxation position including corporation tax, PAYE and VAT

      It may also be appropriate given any particular company or sector to concentrate on other critical success factors.

      + What is the buy out process?

      The buy out process is much the same as any business acquisition and the same factors will be present in terms of valuation, financing the transaction and structure. Answers to many of these questions can be found under the FAQ in the Acquisition section.

      + What deals have you completed in the past?

      The corporate finance team at Shaw Gibbs is made up of experienced individuals who have completed a range of transactions in a number of sectors. Our tombstone section contains an example of some of the transactions that we have been involved with.

      + What is the difference between a MBO / MBI and a BIMBO?

      MBO – This is the most basic form of a buy out and involves the incumbent management team agreeing a deal for the acquisition of the business. To achieve this the team need to ensure that they have a balanced team with all key management functions in place. 

      MBI – This is where a management team (typically well balanced) come together and look for a business to acquire where they then insert themselves as the new management team post acquisition. 

      BIMBO – This is a combination of both an MBO and MBI where the existing management team take on board new members of the team to complete the tractions. A classic example of this would be where a management team would like to complete an MBO but identify they are week on finance and therefore identify a finance director to join the team to complete the buy out.

      + What is due diligence?

      Due diligence is an essential part of the acquisition process and involves a detailed review being carried out to make sure that the decisions being made on proceeding with the proposed transaction are informed decisions taking in to account all the factors. 

      There is a detailed section dealing with the FAQ’s surrounding due diligence.

      + What due diligence will the bank require?

      The corporate finance team at Shaw Gibbs is made up of experienced individuals who have completed a range of transactions in a number of sectors. Our tombstone section contains an example of some of the transactions that we have been involved with.

      + What is the main purpose of due diligence?

      The main purpose of carrying out due diligence is to ensure that a decision to proceed with an acquisition or disposal is an informed decision where you understand all the facts about the business. The due diligence will concentrate on examining key drivers of the business and will confirm that the business has the assets and liabilities that you were anticipating. 

      Once these facts are understood the due diligence investigation will help support the price that is being paid for the business. If any areas of concern are identified, then the price can be adjusted or more appropriately warranties and indemnities can be set from the information that has been found to afford better protection to the buyers.

      + What is my business worth?

      There is no defined valuation for any specific business other than a business is worth what a person is willing to pay and a person is willing to sell for.  There are however a number of accepted practices in defining the value of a business and as a result of this an approximate value can be identified for a specific business.

      There are however a number of factors which affect value which will need to be taken in to consideration.  These can include factors such as the quality of the customers and to what extent they are contracted to the business.  The element of reliance of the business on the vendors and thus the value attributed to them as individuals and not the business.

      There are always a number of transactions taking place at any time in different sectors and our researches can also use this information to identify market values for businesses in those sectors.

      + Who will carry out the work?

      Each assignment is led by a partner with the assistance of a manager who will be working on your assignment on a day-to-day basis. You will have direct access to the partner and manager with direct dial numbers, email addresses and partner’s mobile numbers.

      In order to make the work on your case more efficient in terms of cost and timings, some of the more basic work will be undertaken by a junior member of the team where we consider that appropriate. This work will of course be carefully reviewed and agreed by a manager / partner to ensure it is of the highest quality.

      + Will you value my business as part of the disposal process?

      An important part of the disposal process is matching shareholder expectations of value against what we consider to be a realistic figure shareholders could expect to achieve. We will therefore discuss valuations in outline terms.

      When it comes to advertising the business and discussing it with potential purchasers we do not set out or provide an estimate of valuation of the business. Instead we invite potential interested parties to make an offer for the business. In an ideal situation we will engage multiple purchasers and create a bidding war for the business thus increasing the price paid to the shareholders. Additionally there is the possibility that strategic buyers will pay a premium for the business which would not be identified as part of valuation works and thus not included in any stated price if we were to state one.

  • Debt advice

      + I can’t afford to pay all my bills, what should I do?

      As soon as an individual or a director of a company becomes aware that they cannot pay their debts as and when they fall due in the immediate or foreseeable future, they should obtain professional advice from an Insolvency Practitioner. Insolvency Practitioners are trained to deal with a number of situations, scenarios and potential outcomes and are the best people to give advice on those options.

      Facing the situation head on is very important when you become aware debts cannot be paid. The sooner action is taken the more likely it is that creditors will cooperate and the greater are the number of options available to deal with the situation. Insolvency Practitioners will give impartial advice on the options available.

      + What are the implications of going bankrupt?

      The object of bankruptcy, going back to Victorian times, is to help both creditors and to assist in the rehabilitation process of the bankrupt. With regard to creditors, the effect of the bankruptcy order is that all assets, with a few exceptions that include basic household possessions, tools of the trade and a motor vehicle, must be made available for creditors. After being declared bankrupt the first official that an individual will become involved with is the “Official Receiver” whose job it is to conduct an initial investigation into the bankrupt’s affairs and to decide whether to convene a meeting of creditors to appoint a Trustee in Bankruptcy.

      If a Trustee is appointed, control of the case passes to him to take steps to realise the assets (convert them into cash). Technically on the day of the bankruptcy order, all assets of the bankrupt vest in the Trustee whose job is to convert those assets into cash and distribute it to creditors after payment of fees, costs and expenses. If a Trustee is not appointed then the Official Receiver retains those duties. A bankrupt is subject to certain restrictions with regard to the manner in which he operates his commercial life until he receives his “discharge from bankruptcy”.

      In most cases, discharge is granted automatically within 12 months of the date of the bankruptcy order and there are numerous restrictions on a bankrupt in this period. The main ones are that a bankrupt before his discharge cannot act as a director of a limited company, cannot take credit of more than £500 without declaring his status, and that any assets that he acquires in that period must be made available to the Trustee/Official Receiver. 

      After discharge the bankrupt, although still a bankrupt, is not subject to such restrictions but may find that people are unwilling to give credit given his past debt history. In some jobs bankruptcy is seen as “gross misconduct” and may lead to loss of employment. Similarly for certain professions bankruptcy may lead to either the loss of ability to generate an income or restrictions being placed on trading activities. Notwithstanding the implications of bankruptcy it can still, on occasions, be the correct course of action for an individual to adopt when under financial pressures. An Insolvency Practitioner will be able to give the appropriate advice. 

      For a period of 3 years immediately following the making of a bankruptcy order a debtor may be required to make payments from income which are calculated as a percentage of surplus income after taking into account the necessary costs of living for the bankrupt and his family or immediate dependants.

      + What is a voluntary arrangement?

      A Voluntary Arrangement is a private contract entered into by an individual, a company, or a partnership (“the debtor”) with their creditors. Voluntary Arrangements were introduced under the Insolvency Act 1986 as a device to be used by “the honest debtor” and to avoid bankruptcy. Simply, a voluntary arrangement will involve either the realisation of assets and / or payments from income over a period and “a Supervisor” of the arrangement holds such funds. 

      The Supervisor is responsible for liaising with the creditors and making distributions of the funds held by him to them. To enter into a Voluntary Arrangement a “proposal” must be put before the creditors by the debtor setting out how the debts are to be dealt with. An Insolvency Practitioner must prepare a report on the proposal put forward which must cover a number of issues, the most important of which are that the proposal is a full and true document regarding the debtors assets and liabilities, that the outcome of the proposal will result in a better payment to creditors than they would receive if the individual was made bankrupt, and that the proposal is capable of being implemented in the manner outlined by the debtor. The Insolvency Practitioner will then hold a meeting of creditors at which the proposal and his report will be considered by the creditors.

      Creditors are entitled to make suggestions on how the voluntary arrangement may be improved and these suggestions, if accepted by the debtor, can become part of the proposal. If the final proposal is accepted by 75% in value of the creditors voting on it, it becomes a binding contract on all creditors. The Supervisor then acts to ensure that the debtor complies with the terms of the arrangement. If the debtor does not comply the Supervisor has the responsibility of taking either enforcement proceedings against the debtor or petitioning for his bankruptcy. In the right circumstances a Voluntary Arrangement can be extremely beneficial for an individual with financial difficulties and their creditors.

      + What will happen to my pension if I go bankrupt?

      The general rule is that a pension fund is not part of the assets of a debtor that becomes available for creditors when that individual is made bankrupt. If however the bankrupt has already converted the pension into an annuity the annuity will be taken into account in determining whether a debtor should make payments from income after the making of a bankruptcy order.

      The Official Receiver / Trustee will also review the contributions that have been made into a pension scheme in the years immediately preceding the making of a bankruptcy order and if the contributions are excessive, action can be taken to recover the excessive element of the contributions for the benefit of creditors.

      If a bankrupt’s pension is raised as an issue by his Trustee / Official Receiver he should seek independent advice from another Insolvency Practitioner to ensure that he does not give up more than is absolutely necessary.

  • Financial services

      + How should I plan for the cost of my children’s education?

      As we're all aware the cost of University education is set to rocket next year. This will undoubtedly lead to some people deciding that it's not worth the cost.

      However, if you are determined that your children will go to University, or indeed receive private education prior to this, unless you intend to fund it entirely from student loans, it is critical that you have a financial plan in place to take some of the pain away.

      A structured financial plan will help ensure you have the right funding available at the right time and in a tax efficient way.

      + Should I invest in a pension?

      This will depend upon your personal circumstances but the vast majority of people should be saving towards retirement in some way, whether this is with a specific pension fund or with a different type of investment.

      The State Pension is a reasonable foundation for your retirement income but for most people it won't pay for all of the basics let alone the 'nice to haves' and the occasional luxury item.

      Having your own retirement fund, can give you the flexibility to retire when you want to rather than not being able to until State Retirement Age, which of course is getting later and later.

      + What is equity release?

      Equity Release is designed particularly for the 'asset rich, cash poor'. It is a method by which a homeowner can release tax free capital and / or income from the equity built up in their property.

  • Financial services business

      + We are a small business with only 4 employees. Will we need to set up and contribute towards a pension scheme for them from 2012, or will we be exempt as we are such a small business?

      Yes, all employers will be required to provide access to a qualifying pension. However, as a very small employer, you have until at least August 2014 to do so. You should speak to your company's financial adviser to find out the precise rules including exactly when you need to take action.

      + My business bank account doesn’t pay me any interest on my deposits. Are there any banks that pay interest on business accounts or are there any other alternative accounts?

      There are indeed a number of accounts that pay competitive rates of interest on business bank/savings accounts. Most financial advisers won't be interested in helping on this subject. Shaw Gibbs Financial Services offer a Deposit Administration Service which helps with this.

      + I have heard about salary sacrifice schemes, is this something I should be offering to my employees?

      It is certainly something you should consider, although it's not necessarily right for every company/employee. Significant tax and National Insurance savings could be made. You should seek professional independent advice as to whether it is right for you and your company.

      + I am in business with 3 other Shareholding Directors, should I have a Shareholders' agreement?

      Definitely and you should seek legal advice immediately. At the same time, you should seek advice as to whether or not Shareholder Protection is required. After all, you may not want the spouse of a deceased director to inherit his/her shares.

  • Insolvency & Recovery

      + I am in debt, can you help me?

      Shaw Gibbs has a specialist Insolvency and Corporate Recovery department with 3 insolvency practitioners, 2 of whom hold licenses and can hold office as Liquidator, Administrator or Administrative Receiver of companies, Trustees in Bankruptcy or Supervisor’s of Voluntary Arrangements. We also have 2 very experienced senior case administrators and 2 case administrators. Clive Everitt, who has now been with the firm for 20 years, formed our department and he and his staff have dealt with a variety of insolvencies from complex property companies to consumer debt cases. It is therefore extremely likely that whatever your financial situation, we should be able to give you assistance.

      The important issue is to make contact as soon as possible with creditors. The earlier contact has been made, the greater are the number of options available. We believe in giving impartial advice on all of your options and then if you decide to instruct us, provide you with a pro-active service to achieve the desired outcome.

      + If I go bankrupt will I lose my home?

      In a bankruptcy all assets, with a few exceptions, that an individual owns when they are made bankrupt vest in (become the property of) the Trustee. This includes any interest that an individual may have in either freehold or leasehold property, including their home. A Trustee’s job, in simple terms, is to convert the assets into cash and once creditor claims are agreed, to distribute the available funds to the creditors.

      The trustee has a number of options when concerning an individual’s interest in their home. Unfortunately, sometimes this may include the sale of the property but a Trustee in Bankruptcy will always work hard to try to reach an alternative arrangement. The costs involved in obtaining an order of possession and sale and then enforcing an order are extremely high and if an alternative mechanism can be used to release value from a property a Trustee will be interested in pursuing those options. These could include: selling an individual’s interest in a property to a member of their family; taking payments from income over an extended period in lieu of the interest in the property or assisting the individual concerned to obtain a remortgage.

      If an individual is declared bankrupt, the most important step they can take is to talk to the Trustee in Bankruptcy to try to reach an agreement as to how their interest in their home is to be brought to credit for the benefit of the creditors. We often assist bankrupts and their families to negotiate on their behalf with either the Trustee or Official Receiver.

      + My creditors are threatening court action, what should I do?

      The important thing when faced with any financial distress is to get advice at the earliest possible moment. The earlier advice is taken the greater the options that are likely to be available. If action is taken to negotiate with creditors as to how debts are to be paid, creditors are likely to be more amenable to enter into payment plans and to co-operate with a debtor. 

      Creditors do not generally like having to take court proceedings. They are expensive and time consuming, and often mean that the creditor has probably lost any real prospect of recovery of the debt. If an individual or company with debt problems instructs an Insolvency Practitioner, it shows to the creditors that they are taking their situation seriously. An Insolvency Practitioner will give impartial advice, has substantial experience with regard to dealing with debt problems and will often have dealt with similar circumstances in the past that give them knowledge that can be used in reaching a satisfactory settlement on how to deal with creditors.

      + What is an Administrator?

      “Administrator” is the formal title of an Insolvency Practitioner appointed under the administration process of the Insolvency Act 1986 to deal with the assets of a company. An Administrator’s function is to try to save the company over which he is appointed, or if that is not possible, to preserve either all or some of the business by way of a sale of the assets on a going concern basis or to affect a better realisation of the assets than could be achieved in a Liquidation.

      Once appointed an Administrator has complete control over the assets of a company. The role of an Administrator was created because of the Insolvency Act 1986, as part of the “rescue culture” that parliament, at that time, wanted to introduce. The legal situation and framework under which Administrators operate is extremely complex and an Administrator must have wide experience of commercial matters to enable him to execute his job in a fit and proper manner. Only Licensed Insolvency Practitioners can hold office as Administrators.

      + What is a pre-pack?

      A “pre-pack” is the generic title of the sale of assets taking place shortly after the appointment of an Administrator. On many occasions, assets of a company placed in Administration are sold within hours or days of the appointment of an Administrator and a new company is formed to take the business forward. It appears to many that for such a transaction to take place so quickly after the appointment of the Administrator it must mean that the assets have not been properly marketed or dealt with. However, what is often not publicized is the huge amount of work that goes into the planning of the administration prior to the actual moment of appointment of the Administrator.

      Guidelines now exist (Statement of Insolvency Practice No. 16) with regard to the planning and implementation of a pre-pack which includes ensuring that assets have been properly valued and marketed prior to the sale of a business as a pre-pack. Further consultation is currently underway with the Government which is considering introducing a 3 day moratorium under which an Administrator’s intention to sell the assets of the company shortly after his appointment, must be advertised to all creditors and he cannot complete the sale for a 3 day period. There is considerable professional debate as to whether this will help or hinder the recovery process for creditors and the Insolvency Practitioners’ professional associations are involved in serious detailed dialogue with the Government with regard to how this proposal can be taken forward. Pre-packs are, without doubt, a useful tool for Insolvency Practitioners but the profession also recognizes the need for adequate transparency and the need to ensure that sufficient regulation is in place to stop abuses taking place.

      + What is a voluntary arrangement?

      A Voluntary Arrangement is a private contract entered into by an individual, a company, or a partnership (“the debtor”) with their creditors. Voluntary Arrangements were introduced under the Insolvency Act 1986 as a device to be used by “the honest debtor” and to avoid bankruptcy. Simply, a voluntary arrangement will involve either the realisation of assets and / or payments from income over a period and “a Supervisor” of the arrangement holds such funds.

      The Supervisor is responsible for liaising with the creditors and making distributions of the funds held by him to them. To enter into a Voluntary Arrangement a “proposal” must be put before the creditors by the debtor setting out how the debts are to be dealt with and an Insolvency Practitioner must prepare a report on the proposal put forward that must cover a number of issues. The report has to show that the proposal is a full and true document regarding the debtor’s assets and liabilities; that the outcome of the proposal will result in a better payment to creditors than they would receive if the individual were made bankrupt; and that the proposal is capable of being implemented in the manner outlined by the debtor. The Insolvency Practitioner will then hold a meeting of creditors at which the proposal and his report will be considered by the creditors.

      Creditors are entitled to make suggestions on how the voluntary arrangement may be improved and these suggestions, if accepted by the debtor, can become part of the proposal. If the final proposal is accepted by 75% in value of the creditors voting on it, it becomes a binding contract on all creditors. The Supervisor then acts to ensure that the debtor complies with the terms of the arrangement. If the debtor does not comply, the Supervisor has the responsibility of taking either enforcement proceedings against the debtor or petitioning for his bankruptcy. In the right circumstances, a Voluntary Arrangement can be extremely beneficial for an individual with financial difficulties and their creditors.

  • Payroll

      + Are there any additional services you provide?

      • On request we can set your organisation up as an indirect submitter for Bacstel-IP, which will allow us to pay your staff directly into their bank accounts using BACS system.
      • Forward payments to HM Revenue & Customs on your behalf which would also allow us to monitor the correct payments have been made and the deadlines for payments are followed
      • If you are registered as a contractor and use the Construction Industry Scheme, we can produce your monthly reports, sub-contractor statements and monitor filing deadlines especially if nil returns are required
      • Assist with payroll issues of taking on employees seconded from abroad
      • Our dedicated tax team can advise and produce P11d expenses & benefit returns if required

      + Can you offer a payroll health check to see if we are doing things correctly?

      We offer a service where we can visit your premises to look at the way you currently run your payroll check for any errors and maybe offer some advice how you could run the payroll operation more efficiently.

      + If we outsource our payroll to you what will be the process?

      Once you contact us and let us know you want to proceed (having agreed our written quotation), we will run you through the next stages with you for example:-

      If you are a new employer we will advise you of the correct procedure for taking on a new employee

      If you are an existing employer we will advise you of the information we require to proceed or should you use an alternative outsourcing company and wish to change for any reason we will liaise with them directly

      We will discuss in detail your requirements and the best way to inform us of payroll changes like overtime and bonuses and the deadlines for producing information

      + We are just starting a business; what are the services you will be able to provide to us with?

      • If you are a new employer we can open a PAYE scheme on your behalf
      • Produce pay slips, reports and will inform you of the exact amount of PAYE which will need to be paid to HM Revenue & Customs
      • Liaise with HM Revenues & Customs on your behalf in all matters regarding your PAYE scheme
      • File your end of year P35 return online and produce P60s for your staff
      • Process the necessary forms, for example P45 and P46 as appropriate, for someone starting or leaving your employment.
      • Monitor and advise on statutory sick pay, maternity and adoption payments
      • Process additional payments to staff, for example expenses calculations
      • Handle any attachment of earnings/court ordered garnishing of earnings levied against a member of your staff and insure legal guidelines are followed
      • Ensure the correct calculation of pension deductions

      + We are thinking of outsourcing our payroll, what are the benefits to my business?

      Most business owners find managing their payroll both time consuming and a real burden on their resources due to its complex nature. Outsourcing your payroll will free up valuable time which you can dedicate to other areas of your business.

      + We currently run the payroll weekly; would this be a problem?

      We can process payrolls on a weekly, two weekly, four weekly, monthly, quarterly or even an annual basis.

      + What information will I need to provide you with so you are able to give me a quotation?

      • How often your employees get paid i.e. monthly/weekly
      • The number of current staff members you have
      • An idea of staff turnover i.e. the number of starters and leavers you have had in the last year
      • Whether you wish us to initiate the payment of staff direct by BACS
      • Whether you require us to forward on your PAYE payments on your behalf

      + Whom will I be working with?

      You will have access to a dedicated payroll team with the technical knowledge to navigate the ever increasing changes in payroll legislation and keep you up to date with your responsibilities as an employer.

      + Will it be expensive?

      No, it is a cost effective way of managing your payroll as it removes the need to recruit additional staff or invest in expensive IT software. We also produces reports with the information you require to monitor costs and produce budgets.

  • Personal tax

      + Can you advise me on inheritance tax?

      We are able to advise individuals and trustees on both inheritance tax planning and compliance matters. With careful planning, a number of reliefs and exemptions available can be claimed to reduce or eliminate the exposure of your assets to inheritance tax.

      + Can you help me with Capital Gains Tax and Entrepreneurs' relief?

      We have experience of both claiming this very valuable relief and in ensuring that businesses are structured in such a way, that the owners or shareholders who qualify for Entrepreneurs' Relief, can enjoy the low rate of capital gains tax.

      + Can you help me with my personal tax return?

      We can help you file your Tax Return via secure Revenue internet connection. Our tax team has vast experience of dealing with all types of personal, trust and estate tax returns, together with associated elections and claims, using sophisticated software and quality control procedures to ensure accuracy every time.

      + Can you help me to structure my personal wealth in a tax efficient manner?

      The tax regime in the UK allows taxpayers to order their financial and business affairs in any legal, commercial way that will result in the smallest legitimate tax liability. The Government even encourages such behaviour, by offering tax free individual savings accounts, tax deductible pension contributions, tax efficient EIS investments etc.

      + I am looking to set up a family trust, can you help me?

      We are able to advise on the tax efficient structuring of trusts for the benefit of family members. Trusts have been used for centuries to protect family assets for use by future generations. They can be very simple in operation and do not need to be costly to set up and run.

      + I need to write a will, can you help me?

      Writing a suitable Will is a vital part of inheritance tax planning and we therefore become involved to ensure that the legal drafter creates a Will that is in accordance with your wishes and that is tax efficient. A Will is vital to the efficient allocation of your net assets to your chosen beneficiaries after your death. If you have assets and/or dependents, you should have a Will. They do not need to be costly or complex. You should also consider a Lasting Power of Attorney for your property and financial affairs, should you become incapacitated.

      + What happens if I am late filing my return?

      If you are late filing a tax return you will be subject to a penalty. The later the return is filed, the higher the penalty is. Paying the tax due before the due date will no longer avoid a penalty. If you have a reasonable excuse HMRC may consider waiving the penalty.

      + What happens if I am late paying any outstanding tax?

      Interest will be charged from due date to date of payment at commercial rates. A 5% surcharge will also be levied on tax that is due more than 10 months and more than 15 months after the tax year end. Interest runs on the surcharge as well as the tax if the surcharge is not paid within one month.

      Ultimately HMRC's debt management unit will become involved and take various legal measures to recover the debt. The ultimate sanction is bankruptcy.

      + When do I need to file my personal tax return?

      The basic rule is that all individuals, partnerships, estates and trusts have until 31st January following the end of the tax year to submit a return of income and capital gains. Where it is possible to file a paper tax return the deadline is 31st October following the tax year-end. A Tax Return must be filed where taxable income and/or capital gains have been received, whether or not HMRC has issued you with a return.

  • VAT consultancy

      + Can you help me with my VAT return?

      Yes, we have a team of staff who can prepare your monthly, quarterly or annual return for you.

      + Can you review my systems and VAT returns to ensure I am fully compliant?

      Yes. We offer a VAT Healthcheck service where we visit your premises, review your VAT systems and provide advice.

      + Does the standard rate of 20% apply to all goods and services?

      No, certain goods and services attract VAT at the reduced rate of 5% and some are zero-rated. Although you do not need to charge VAT you can reclaim input VAT on your costs.

      + I have a VAT inspection, can you help me?

      Yes. VAT Inspections can be scary things. One of our VAT consultants can attend the visit and assist you with answering the Officer's queries.

      + I am importing/exporting can you help me with international VAT considerations?

      Yes. Our clients often struggle with international VAT. We have trained consultants who can advise on both the VAT and Customs implications of international trade.

      + When do I need to register for VAT?

      The current registration limit is £83,000 of taxable turnover. Once your annual turnover exceeds this on any rolling 12 month basis you will need to notify HMRC.

      If you are in the lucky position that you know that your taxable turnover in the next month alone will exceed £79,000 you must also notify HMRC in advance.

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