It is quite common to invoice a customer with terms of “30 days or nett monthly account”. Small customers will be expected to pay within 30 days, while large customers will be expected to pay at the end of the month following the month of the invoice, so an invoice sent in March 2019 would be settled by Tuesday 30 April 2019.
Large companies do it this way because they may receive several invoices from a supplier, and will want to settle all of them with a single payment when they do their computerised cheque run. It would therefore be a good idea for the supplier to have sent a statement at the start of April listing all outstanding invoices. Typically the cheque run would be about the 25th of the month, which is a Thursday this month. If you give credit and have debts to collect, then you might like to have a discussion with us. Most accountants are also general business advisors as well.
The “nett” in “nett monthly account” has “net” as an alternative spelling.
Value Added Tax returns for the quarter ended 31 March 2019 should be submitted by 7 May 2019, and any payment which is due should be made electronically by the same date.
Every employee should receive a P60 every year giving details of their total pay and tax deducted for the income tax year ended 5 April this month. The deadline for issuing P60s is the 31 May, but it would make for good relations with employees to issue them much earlier than that. The earliest date would be 6 April, but employers are expected to have done all their returns to the Revenue by 19 April, which is today. Once your payroll is finalised, there is no reason why you should not issue the P60s at once. Employees may need them to complete a tax return, for a student loan application for a child, for a mortgage application or for some other purpose which is important to them.
Sensible employees will keep both the P60 and their last payslip before 5 April. Payslips where we act as as the payroll bureau have running totals to check to the P60, and also summaries of auto-enrollment pension contributions. If an employee wants to track down a pension pot, then the information is all on our pay slip, but not necessarily on the P60.
We are keen on the use of optical character recognition, so we are now making our outgoing mail OCR-friendly. The standard font which we will use for addresses is 12 point Lucida Sans, which is based upon reading the Royal Mail User Guide for Machine Readable Letters. We will increase the spacing by 20% in the vertical direction to make it easier for humans to read the address as well.
Lucida Sans comes in two versions. Where outgoing mails are critical, we will use Lucida Sans Typewriter which is a monospace font which OCR scanners find easier to deal with. Letters to Companies House and the Revenue will use this font. We keep a small stock of pre-addressed C5 envelopes for all the main departments. Where letters are sent to vague “Somewhere in Cumbernauld” postcodes like BX9 1AS, we want to be sure that the postcode is processed correctly.
Where outgoing mails are not critical, we will use Lucida Sans in its proportionally-spaced version. This is more pleasing to the human eye but ever so slightly less OCR-friendly. Direct mailings will use this font.
Small private companies with a year end of 31 July 2018 and into their second or later year of existence should submit their accounts to Companies House by Thursday 30 April 2019 in order to avoid a Late Filing Penalty.
We are often posting out letters in various sizes and also small packages. We have a letter scale to weigh the letters, and a sizing guide as well, both of which were bought on Amazon. Local post offices don’t sell them. We might complain here that if you post a letter, then the Royal Mail has three ways to discover that it is understamped. They can find that it is heavier than anticipated, or bigger than anticipated, or thicker than anticipated. This is contrary to the spirit of Rowland Hill, the postmaster who introduced the penny post in 1840. It is probably the principal reason why not so much is posted these days when any competent business would have exploited the Internet to increase the volume of physical postage in tandem.
When mail arrives at the Sorting Office, one of the first operations is to separate it between small letters (postcard, DL and up to C5 sizes) and large letters (C4, foolscap and gusset envelopes). This is done in a large rotating drum and you can watch examples on YouTube if you wish.
If you post a small letter, where the envelope is DL size or C5 size, and it weighs less than 100 grams, and it is thinner than 5 millimetres (watch this one), then a single standard stamp will do the job. The letter is processed automatically. One machine can read the stamp in ultraviolet light, and another machine can read the address using optical character recognition and print a UV-readable code on the letter. If OCR fails to work, which is about 10% of the time, then a picture of the letter is sent to a human operator who types in the postcode.
If you post a small letter first class, and you catch the evening collection (5 pm in our nearest supermarket post box), then first class mail will be processed and on its way that very night. Second class mail will be left for processing the next day, and presumably the Sorting Office adjusts staffing levels to ensure this. Here there is a real difference between first and second class mail.
If you post a small letter for the morning collection (9 am in our nearest street post box) then again the first class mail will be processed first, but the second class mail could also be processed the same day. The critical operation is getting a human to read 10% of the mail, where first class gets priority. After that everything is automatic and first and second class mail travel together. You might find it pointless to pay extra for first class post in a morning collection. Just think about exactly what you are expecting to happen when you pay extra.
As we say, processing is fully automatic for small letters and the stamp itself is readable in UV and tells the system what class of mail is intended. There is no point in putting a sticker saying “First Class” on the letter. It is best just to know your local post boxes and choose the one with the next collection to do your posting. We call this the “Night Mail” system because something useful is always happening at night if we choose the right box, even if we miss the 5 pm collection, and combining this with first class stamps gives the next best thing to e-mail.
Larger and heavier letters get separate handling. A4-size letters with things like bound accounts in them are called “flats” by the Post Office, presumably because they resemble flat parcels. There are such things as flat-sorting machines, but we can guess by processing times that they are not always used. You should therefore assume that large letters are processed manually. If you post something large and a bit heavier with several stamps on it, then these can be scanned and added up in UV light, but it might be useful to put a FIRST CLASS sticker on the envelope next to the stamps. These can be bought on Amazon, but we print our own. Ours will say things like FIRST CLASS NIGHT MAIL in winter, which is a cue to ourself to post it in the best local post box for speedy collection, and a cue to the sorter to pick it out and send it on its way.
Like the Post Office, we also use OCR, but to scan bank statements, and this gives us a Unique Selling Proposition. Not every client of ours can have a USP, but we also advocate having a distinctive product. The competition should find it impossible to copy the USP, and practically difficult to copy the distinctive product. The way we use both e-mail and the post is part of our distinctive product and puts us in a better position as business advisers.
Deduction rates for Auto-Enrolment pensions increase to 5% for employees and 3% for employers. This applies to any pay day on or after April 6th 2019.
The combined total must be at least 8%. The employee’s contribution must be at most 5%. It is possible for the employer to pay the entire 8%, which is what I am doing for myself at the end of this month – DP.
If you are running a payroll scheme, then you must submit the final Employer Payment Summary by Friday 19 April 2019. This applies whether or not you have actually been paying anybody.
Employers must make Fourth Quarter payments of PAYE and NICs by Friday 19 April 2019 if settled by cheque. If you pay electronically, then you have until Monday 22 April to make the payment. Tax retained under the Construction Industry Scheme must also be paid by the same date.
Construction Industry Scheme returns for the month from 6 March to 5 April 2019 should be submitted online by Friday 19 April. This includes NIL returns.
It is only too easy to get caught out by the need to submit a NIL return when no payments to subcontractors have been made. If you engage a local accountant to do your CIS returns, then this will be taken care of. In our case we keep a diary and do a batch of work at about the same time each month. We aim to be the Carlisle accountants that businesses will turn to for a range of advice and services. Our payroll files are bright yellow so they are hard to overlook, and CIS files also have a green line around them so they are easy to pick out.