For any small business owner the start of a new year is always full of promise. Exciting new opportunities abound, and fresh from a relaxing Christmas you feel ready to take on the world!

An important part of making the most of the new year is preparing for any incoming changes – and luckily we’re here to tell you all about them! Next year promises to be one of the most tumultuous periods for business finance and tax in recent memory, with a whole slew of new legislation coming into force.

It’s vital your business is prepared for these changes, or you could end up on the receiving end of a weighty fine from the authorities. Below we’ve rounded up the biggest changes that our clients – and all business owners – need to be aware of.

January – Child Benefit Changes

From 7th January those earning over £60,000 will lose their entitlement to Child Benefit, while those earning over £50,000 will see their Child Benefit payments reduced. If you operate your own limited company there are several ways to mitigate the impact of these changes, but you must act now!

What our clients can do: Plan now!

January – Self Assessment

All freelancers, contractors and directors of limited companies must submit a Self Assessment, so if you were trading in the tax year 2011-12 you only have a few weeks to prepare for the January 31st submission deadline. If you delay, HMRC’s updated penalty regime is waiting!

What our clients can do: Sign up for our Self Assessment service and send details by January 11th!

April – Real Time Information

Real Time Information (or RTI) is a new scheme designed to streamline the flow of payroll information between employers and HMRC. You may have received a leaflet from HMRC recently detailing the changes, which come into force in April. RTI is a complete overhaul of the way payroll operates and most desktop accounting software is unable to handle the changes – meaning costly upgrades! Luckily for Crunch users, our RTI upgrade will be seamless and free of charge!

What our clients can do: No action needed, everything will be handled on our end.

April – Rate and threshold changes

At the beginning of the new tax year of 6th April there will be a number of rate changes. The highlights include a 1% drop in the Main Rate of Corporation Tax to 23%, a rise in the Personal Allowance to £9,440, a drop in the Higher Rate threshold to £32,010, and a lowering of the Additional Rate from 50% to 45%. It is crucial you and your business are aware of any changes that are relevant to you.

What our clients can do: Contact your account manager if you’re not clear on which changes affect you!

October – Universal Credit

If you receive Income Support, Working Tax Credits or Child Tax Credits, your payments will be changing with the introduction of the Universal Credit.

What our clients can do: No action required yet.

Get started now – Pension Auto-Enrolment

This new scheme is designed to ensure all employees are paying into a pension whenever they are in salaried employment. All businesses with 500 employees or more must be operating Auto-Enrolment by the end of 2013, however there is a large amount of preparation required, so smaller firms should start the groundwork soon!

What our clients can do: No action required yet.

Our accountants and development team are working hard to make sure we’re prepared for all the changes coming up in 2013, and we’ll be supporting our clients throughout the year as they come into force.

Photo by Inpivic