Anna’s Accountancy Alerts – Week 35 (28th November – 3rd December 2021)

Mature Small Business Owner

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Sole traders left struggling by the pandemic

A survey by small business lender iwoca has found that 58% of sole traders (defined as those who are the exclusive owners of their businesses) are trading less than pre-Covid, compared to 43% of limited companies.

Worryingly, the results show that sole traders are twice as likely not to be trading at all, with 14% in this position compared to 7% of limited companies.

Other key findings of the poll show that:

  • 32% of sole traders said they were making fewer sales due to Covid-secure workplace measures, compared with 24% of limited companies
  • 39% say they have fewer customers, compared with 29% of limited companies.

The research has also revealed that nearly half of business owners with sole trader status (46%) were concerned they’d struggle to afford their own wages in the next six months, compared to 37% of other small firms.

Paying tax without a reference number

HMRC’s administration is suffering significant backlogs, including the issuing of new unique taxpayer reference (UTR) numbers. As the payment deadline for 2021/22 is fast approaching, how can a payment be made if the UTR hasn’t been issued?

The pandemic meant that many of HMRC’s staff were reallocated, which has had a knock-on effect on various departments. One area that has been affected is the processing of the SA1 form, meaning that many taxpayers are struggling to obtain a unique taxpayer reference (UTR) number, which is required to submit the tax return and to make the payment of tax. The UTR is used as the reference for the payment of the tax liability and is used by HMRC to match the payment to the correct taxpayer.

However, it seems inevitable that some taxpayers will not receive their UTR by 31 January 2022. If that includes you, to avoid any problems you should generate a payslip online using your NI number instead of a UTR. You will then need to send this by post with a cheque payment. The cheque should also have the NI number on the reverse. This will allow HMRC to match the payment to the account and negate any possible late payment penalty.

Amazon and Visa payments

Amazon says UK customers will not be able to pay for goods using a UK issued Visa credit card from January, blaming a “high cost of payments”.

Customers were emailed to confirm the move would take effect from 19 January and clarified that no other credit cards, or Visa debit cards, would be included in the ban.

Stay Up-To-Date With Coronavirus & Brexit News

Coronavirus has affected us all. Whether you’re a sole trader, employer or employee. Stay up to date with the latest news – including government support, tax implications, and more.