Self Assessment – Help!

Help! What must I do to complete my online Self-Assessment form on time?

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If you’re not organised you’re in danger of being ill-prepared, missing out key documents and processing an incorrect submission or missing the deadline of midnight, 31st of January.

HMRC takes a dim view of inaccuracies or missed deadlines and you’ll be automatically fined £100 on 1st of February.  Any further delays and you’ll quickly see the penalties mounting up.

So how can this be avoided?

Getting Started

Often the hardest part is taking the first step. The first step is preparation.

If you’re fully prepared and have all relevant documentation handy an online submission will be easier than you think.

If you’re not organised you’re in danger of missing out important documentation and inevitably processing an inaccurate submission.

HMRC treats an incorrect submission the same way as they treat a missed deadline: fines, penalties and interest on any unpaid tax.

First question to ask yourself is: ’Am I organised?’

Getting Organised

So what do you need in front of you?

  • P60
  • Details of any pay and taxable expenses and benefits received from your employer
  • Bank and building society statements
  • Cheque and paying-in stubs
  • Dividend vouchers
  • Self-employment accounts
  • Documentation about any capital gains made
  • Information on other income: investments, savings, pensions, property or benefits received
  • Paperwork on anything you can claim for, like self-employed expenses or charitable donations.


What must I pay?

By midnight, on 31st of January 2015, HMRC expects you to complete your payment for the outstanding amount of tax you owe for tax year 2013-2014 and your first Payment on Account for tax year 2015-2016.

What are Payments on Account?

‘Payments on Account’ are advance payments towards your self-assessment tax bill and are paid in instalments, twice a year, helping you to spread the final cost.

Who is expected to complete a Payment on Account?

The Payments on account are based on the previous year’s earnings if your tax bill for that year was higher than £1,000.

It’s worth noting a payment isn’t expected if your bill was less than £1,000 or unless more than 80% of it has already been deducted at source.

How do I know how much to pay?

You may already have an accountant that has set up a budgeting plan for you. You may be highly organised and spend time each month budgeting for your next tax payment.

You may not have either! Don’t despair.

The major benefit of submitting your Self- Assessment tax return online is that the amount you owe is automatically calculated based on the data you submit.

Remember the onus is on you to input the data correctly, otherwise the calculation could be wrong and HMRC will still eventually come after you with hefty fines.

Don’t be caught out.

One last word of warning. Remember to press SUBMIT when you complete the form.

Too many people have been caught out believing they’ve completed the form, shut down the computer only to discover – when it’s too late – they’ve wasted hours submitting every detail and then failed to complete the crucial last step and press SUBMIT.

Are you looking for help with your Self-Assessment tax return and HMRC?

At Murrison & Wilson we make it as simple as possible for you. Watch our video about how we’re helping clients deal with HMRC.

Call us now on 0141 290 0262

If you’re worrying you can’t meet your Self-Assessment deadline or you’re worrying about finding the funds to pay your tax bill call us now on 0141 290 0262 or email me at 

Remember January is the busiest time of year for Accountants so the sooner you call the better.


Best regards

Bruce Wilson


Deadline : Midnight 31 January 2015

Deadline: Midnight 31 January 2015.

Ready or not?


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Whether you’re ready or not you can’t hide from HMRC.

Sometimes we miss deadlines, it can’t be helped and it’s not the end of the world. Nothing that a well-crafted apology or excuse about snow on the train line can’t sort out. Yes?

Well… not always. Not when you’re dealing with HMRC and your Tax Return Deadlines.

If you’ve registered as Self Employed or you fit the Self-Assessment Tax Return criteria detailed below HMRC will be expecting you to complete,submit and pay in full any tax due by midnight 31st of January 2015.

The world won’t end if you miss the deadline but the financial consequences for you and you’re business can be long lasting.

What happens if you miss a deadline?

No excuses accepted. No apologies tolerated. No deadlines extended.

If you don’t pay up, then after midnight, you’re automatically liable for a £100 fine. Further delays in payment result in more fines on a daily basis and 3% interest on late fines. Finally, you could be facing an intensive HMRC investigation.

Does Self-Assessment apply to me?

If you fit one of the criteria detailed below then yes you will definitely need to complete a Self-Assessment tax return.

Self-Assessment Tax Return criteria:


If you’re self-employed it’s more than likely you’ve already registered with HMRC and are fully aware of your legal obligations to keep records for nearly six years. You’ll also understand that the onus is on you to complete and submit your form accurately and on time.

Here’s some other Self-Assessment categories that you may fall into:

Other categories include:

  • company director (except Not for Profit)
  • minister of faith


Or if you receive income from:

  • letting any property or land you own
  • significant capital gains
  • other income earned and the tax due on it can’t be collected through a PAYE tax code
  • member of Lloyd’s of London insurance and reinsurance market
  • annual income from a trust or settlement
  • any income from the estate of a deceased person, and further tax is due on that income
  • taxable foreign income (even if you’re claiming that you are not normally resident in the UK)
  • child benefit if you’re in higher tax bracket


There’s no escape. Ignoring piles of paperwork or hiding in a cupboard won’t work. HMRC will still seek you out.

Are you looking for help with your Self-Assessment tax return and HMRC?

At Murrison & Wilson we’ll make it as simple as possible for you. Watch our video about how we’re helping clients deal with HMRC

Call us now on 0141 290 0262

If you’re struggling to get started one phone call may be all that’s needed. If your circumstances are more complex arrange an appointment as soon as possible.

Remember January is the busiest time of year for Accountants and HMRC helpline. Avoid stressful delays and call Bruce Wilson now on 0141 290 0262 or email me at

Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year

Bruce Wilson




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Are you ready for the HMRC to come at you with sticks and clubs?

Maybe a slight exaggeration but sticks and clubs emphasises the pressure employers are feeling having to continually provide the steady stream of accurate payroll information expected by HMRC.

In the past there was a substantial time lag between PAYE paperwork being completed and revenue paid, this is not the case today.

Due to rapidly advancing technology things have speeded up and HMRC has become heavily automated.

HMRC expects you the employer to supply Real Time Information (RTI) related to your employees’ Payroll and Pension each and every month and no excuses tolerated.

Are you up to speed with RTI PAYE?

When the dreaded brown envelope arrives on your desk or worse still there’s a knock at your office door from an HMRC representative it’s not the time to start turning your office upside down for staff PAYE info and looking in every desk drawer for any stray fuel receipts or expenses sheets.

Preparation in advance is key. If you’re ready to supply RTI payroll data today you will be ready for that knock at the door tomorrow.

HMRC investigations

Failing to comply with RTI payroll rules will result in a full blown HMRC investigation. Inevitably revealing cracks in your processes, resulting in hefty fines and penalties that will damage your business and leave you exposed to relentless scrutiny from HMRC.

Maybe its that time of year and I’m watching too many reruns of films but when I think about an HMRC Investigation a few intimidating words uttered by Glen Close’s character in Fatal Attraction spring to mind– ‘I’m not gonna be ignored’ and ‘Guess you thought you’d get away with it but you can’t.’

These words drive home the full blown intensity of an investigation. A situation no employer wants to find themselves in.

So what can you do to stay on top of your Payroll?

The simple answer is work with an expert with specialist knowledge and compliant Payroll software.

Here’s how Murrison and Wilson Chartered Accountants are helping clients

Latest Technology

  • We invested heavily in the latest PAYE RTI compliant payroll software
  • We deal with the payroll and Auto Enrolment in a single transaction.That way our clients aren’t juggling data and deadlines
  • Streamline processes, avoid mixing up data and never missing deadlines.

Manage HMRC communications

  • Actively provide HMRC with employees’ payroll and pension information in RTI ready format
  • Fully understand the jargon and intricacies of the associated compliance regulations
  • Advising and clarifying the complexities of employer’s tax law and employee benefits
  • Advising on employment tax planning to maximise opportunities and ensure no mistakes or misunderstandings take place
  • Making recommendations to improve clients’ internal financial processes

Expert advice & recommendations


  • Audit employee data to ensure completely accurate, spot errors and omissions


  • Guarantee information sent in real time and guarantee no late PAYE submissions.

If you or your bookkeeper is struggling to manage the complexities of payroll and auto enrolment and looking for an expert that fully understands RTI PAYE and Auto enrolment call Bruce Wilson on 0141 290 0262 or email

Discover more about Auto Enrolment and how it affects businesses by reading our series of blogs starting with:  What every business owner ought to know about Auto Enrolment rules

I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas from Murrison & Wilson.


Follow me on Twitter @brucewilsontax for tax tips and updates.



Is there something to be said for the traditional shoe box book keeping system? Keeping everything in a box, rolled up tightly in an elastic band for safe keeping.

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Yes, but only as a metaphor for good book keeping practice.

We tell all our clients ‘keep everything’. Keep bank statements, keep credit card slips and bills, keep invoices and keep payment receipts. We don’t, however, recommend relying on an old shoe box. One thing, a dusty old shoe box isn’t fire proof!

In this digital age book keeping has advanced quickly but the process of keeping track of everything and storing it safely isn’t lost on us accountants.

The fundamental difference is how information is stored and used. Instead of relying on scraps of paper and endless spreadsheets, today thousands of businesses are choosing Cloud book keeping accounting software.

Why Cloud book keeping software?

Rather than worrying about spilling a cup of tea and ruining a pile of receipts, now if you spill your tall, double latte on your keyboard it doesn’t matter.

You’re safe in the knowledge every financial transaction related to your business is stored securely in the Cloud.

You can log in from any machine, anytime and at a glance you know the exact financial position of your business.

You’ll know:

  • How much profit you’re making
  • Who still owes you money
  • Who you still owe money to
  • How much VAT you should pay

Here’s 10 ways your book keeping becomes easier

  • Tracking down and correcting errors quickly and easily.
  • Tracking overdue payments (both in and out)
  • Easy reporting: plot graphs of profit and loss or income and expenditure,
  • Helping you save and budget for the next tax bill (up to 21 month in advance)
  • Storing your data securely off site
  • Storing your transactions (legal requirement for 6 years)
  • Monitoring and managing seasonal peaks and troughs for cash flow
  • Automating repetitive tasks to save you time and money
  • You make informed decisions about your businesses future.
  • Keeps HMRC happy as the system is compatible and automates form submissions.

Book keeping and tax returns.

It’s worth elaborating on the benefits of robust systems and the relationship your business has with the tax man.

HMRC doesn’t want to make life difficult for business owners, doesn’t keep changing the rules and doesn’t change the information it wants from you. Therefore keeping track and recording every business transaction your business will withstand any scrutiny, avoid fines, penalties or even full blown investigations.

You’re not only saving yourself time and worry you’re keeping yourself out of trouble with the tax man.

What’s the next step

At Murrison & Wilson we’re firm believers that if you understand the numbers behind your business, you’re fully in control of your business and recommend Kashflow software to all of our clients seeking book keeping support.

Watch this video as Stephen Fry talks eloquently about Kashflow and discover why it’s the favourite book keeping accounting software for thousands of other businesses just like yours.

If you would like to chat more about our Book Keeping Services you can arrange a Free Book Keeping Consultation by calling Simon Murrison on 0141 290 0262 or email

I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas from Murrison & Wilson.


Follow me on Twitter @simonmurrison for handy business tips and updates.



New State Pension: are you a winner or a loser

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Changes to the State Pension: are you a winner or a loser?

The State Pension is a universal benefit introduced in 1909 to prevent poverty in old age. In 2016 the State Pension will be radically overhauled.

Currently, anyone reaching retirement is eligible for the state pension of £113.10 a week and can top up a second State Pension with extra National Insurance contributions. This about to change.

Change has come about because there is a pension crisis in Britain.

The current State Pension doesn’t reflect life expectancy rising, the cost of living increasing and people having little to spare to top up savings for retirement. Today, many pensioners relying solely on the State Pension are struggling to make ends meet.

In light of the current pension crisis and increase in pensioner poverty the Government reviewed the State Pension and opted for a single tiered State Pension that is intended to be simpler and fairer.

How do you qualify for the new state pension?

Your new State Pension is based on your National Insurance record and all contributions and credits made before and after 6 April 2016.

What are the changes to the State Pension starting in 2016?

If you reach State Pension age in 2016 or after with a minimum of 35 years National Insurance contributions you’ll receive a flat rate, weekly payment of £145.40, at today’s prices.

If you’ve missed some annual payments don’t despair you can top up any you have missed to complete the 35 years.

Further changes include:

  • Increase to 35 years of NI contributions: To qualify you will need 35 years’ of National Insurance contributions increased from 30 years.
  • Means testing ends:  The current enquiry into benefits and savings is complex and deters pensioners from making claims.
  • State Second Pension (S2P or SERPS) abolished for new pensioners: Second pension’ and other top-up arrangements will be swept away under the reforms.

Any contributions you’ve made to your Second State Pension are safe but you’re not allowed any additional contributions beyond 2016.

  • State Pension Entitlement is increased to 10 years. To build up your entitlement a minimum of 10 years NI contributions is now essential. Payments will be on a pro-rata basis.
  • Contracting out ends: Phasing out has already started and it will end entirely in 2016.
  • New retirement ages and gender differences phased out: 66 for both sexes in 2020 and 67 by 2028.
  • Self-employed currently can only claim a maximum state pension of £113.10 a week but this will rise to around £144 from 2016 for those who have paid NI for 35 or more years.
  • The lowest earners will see their basic entitlement rise.
  • Married couples will each qualify as individuals rather than sharing the lower joint rate.
  • Parents taking career breaks for the years spent looking after the family will be counted towards the 35 years of NI contributions.
  • Some women and public sector workers – currently only entitled to the basic state pension or less.
  • High earners: Abolishing the second state pension (S2P) and other top ups reduces the ability to maximise the State Pension from £250 per week to no more than the flat rate of £144 (in today’s money).
  • Some married people relying on spouse’s income and their years of National Insurance contributions.
  • Widows and divorcees will no longer be entitled to inherit the spouse’s state pension.
  • Final salary scheme members will face higher NI contributions, around an extra 1.4%, or even see their scheme ending as employers will no longer receive an NI rebate.
  • Anyone retired before April 2017: If you retire before April 2017 you receive a pension under the existing system.
  • The young: Ineligible until aged over 70 and worse off because they’re unable to top up a second state pension.

Are you a winner or a loser?

The winners: gaining extra income in retirement

The Losers: losing income in retirement

The changes in the state pension will be a welcome bonus for those receiving less than £144 per week but others will see their retirement income start dropping and will be worse over the longer term.


If you are worrying about your future retirement income falling call me on 0141 290 0262 or contact me at to arrange our Free Consultation.


Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook or follow me on Twitter @simonmurrison

Best wishes



Do’s and Don’ts of Auto Enrolment

The Employers Do’s and Don’ts of Auto Enrolment – put simply!

Let’s get straight to the point. Auto Enrolment is complex but the Pension Regulators do’s and don’ts for employer’s obligations are not.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Auto Enrolment

Do’s Don’t
Arrange a suitable Employee Pension Scheme for workers choosing to opt in or join. Influence employees to opt out
Categorise and continually monitor your employees’ enrolment status (age & earnings) Hand the opt-out form to employees
Auto enrol all employees that fit criteria and periodically re-enrol every 3 years. Encourage opt outs with incentives:

  • extend or renew a contract
  • one off extra payment
  • higher salary
  • offer a promotion
Process opt outs, opt ins and manage refunds Discriminate against employees seeking a pension
Provide written communications to eligible & non-eligible employees Give any pensions advice to employees
Provide information to scheme provider Offer incentives to employees during recruitment
Keep and store compliant records for pension scheme and each eligible employee Use recruitment process:

  • to screen employees
  • imply employment is guaranteed if they opt-out
Ongoing written communications with employees Dismiss an employee because they stay in their workplace pension
Deduct pension contributions and pay the chosen Pension Provider  

What happens if you ‘don’t’ follow the rules?

The Pensions Regulator is policing the opting in and opting out process closely to safeguard employees.

If any breaches in policy or unfair treatment (or bribery) of your employees are identified it will result in eye-watering fines and a gruelling employee tribunal.

What can you do to keep right?

Most of the Auto Enrolment do’s are process driven.  A successful outcome is dependent on you following the rules, implementing a robust Auto Enrolment process, installing a compatible payroll system and software.

Correct tools and processes ensure you’re safeguarding your business and avoiding eye watering penalties.

Find out more about Auto Enrolment and safeguarding your business by reading our earlier blog: How following 8 simple steps can make Auto Enrolment easier for businesses. 

Avoid making costly mistakes or the temptation to cut corners.

When time is ticking on, the burden of compliance is overwhelming and with costs spiralling out of control it’s tempting for employers to cut corners.

Remember. The Pensions Regulator views mistakes or incorrect implementation as serious breaches in policy.

The penalties associated with unfair treatment of employees are not only financially crippling but affect employee relationships and can be damaging to your business’s reputation.

The solution – seek help as soon as possible.

At least 12-18 months before your Staging Date, we strongly recommend you speak to a business and tax adviser, like ourselves, to manage planning and the impact of Auto Enrolment.

If you don’t want to deal with the administrative burden of auto-enrolment. We are more than happy to deal with the process on your behalf.

You must also talk to an IFA specialising in pensions to select a suitable Pension scheme for your company. We can point you in the right direction.

Free Auto Enrolment Consultation

If you’ve received your Staging Date don’t ignore it. Call us now on 0141 290 0262 or contact us at arrange our free Auto Enrolment consultation.

Connect on LinkedIn, Facebookor follow me on Twitter @brucewilsontax

Until our next blog



Auto Enrolment Payroll Systems

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Staging dates for Auto Enrolment are getting close – is your payroll ready?

Talking about Auto Enrolment is one thing but having a robust Auto Enrolment Payroll system and software in place to cope with the burden is another.

I’m in no doubt that some smaller businesses won’t be able to cope with the deluge of Auto Enrolment admin that will be a significant drain on resources.

Businesses lack compatible payroll systems, software and the processes required to manage their legal duties.  Many also have no clarity about the real costs of Auto Enrolment for each employee on their books

Instead many businesses are still relying on individual spreadsheets, calendar reminders and paper-based admin trails leading to costly mistakes that the unforgiving Pensions Regulator isn’t tolerating.

Experience tells us the answer for every kind of business is a centrally managed payroll system. We’ve invested in such a system. It works with our payroll to provide everything for you.

All you have to do is pick the Pension provider and we’ll do the rest.

Preparation is paramount

The Pensions Regulator is not trying to catch anyone out and has been working closely with Payroll Systems and Software developers to ensure they’re Auto Enrolment compatible.

As part of the process the Regulator is strongly recommending employers prepare systems at least 12-18 months before your Staging Date.

How to choose the right system/software

When you’re stressed out and facing the tightest deadlines reliable technology can be a lifesaver. It’s essential to have the appropriate systems and support in place that won’t let you down during your business critical periods.

The secret to dealing with the complexities of Auto Enrolment is a payroll system or software update that ticks all the boxes detailed below:



Functionality checklist

ü  Easy to use, training and support 24/7 ü  Recording opt-outs, opt-ins and re opt-in previous opt-outs
ü  Simplifying complex Auto Enrolment tasks ü  Storing accurate records (6 yrs compliance & 4 yrs opt outs)
ü  Maintaining accurate & compliant records ü  Reports, record keeping, audit trail & online reminders keeping you on track 
ü  Managing ongoing communications with staff and pension provider ü  Generating & issuing Pro forma compliant letters
ü  Exchanging data easily between payroll and pension provider ü  Allowing use of postponement
ü  Monitoring the ages and earnings of each staff member ü  Employee access payslips, P60, Pension updates online
ü  Calculating Pension Contributions for budgeting ü  Managing refunds

My advice is to update your staff data accurately, choose a system carefully, select the right software and before your staging date … test it!

Each factor is critical for a successful long term outcome and stress free Auto Enrolment.

Long term implications of poor implementation

Without careful preparation and forward planning cracks will appear and your Enrolment processes will start falling apart and could result in:

  • staff enrolled at the wrong time
  • fines for poor record keeping
  • wrong information held or sent to staff and pension’s provider
  • wrong amounts paid to staff at retirement.

Discover the real cost of Auto Enrolment for employers.

Employers are talking about the cost implications of Auto Enrolment but not fully grasping the real cost to the business of each employee, particularly smaller businesses.

We believe our clients shouldn’t be penalised for running a smaller business with fewer employees.

From our perspective, at Murrison & Wilson, we’re not only managing payroll for our clients but we use our business and tax planning expertise to identity the real cost of Auto Enrolment for each employee. That is how much each employee costs today and in the future.

If you are looking for an Auto Enrolment payroll solution or requiring help managing employee costs get in touch now on 0141 290 0262 or

Until next time.


Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook or Follow me on Twitter @simonmurrison


How the following 8 simple steps can make Auto Enrolment easier for businesses.

How following 8 simple steps can make Auto Enrolment easier for businesses.

For all business owners it can be hard running a business at times – balancing the books, paying employees a fair wage and still making a profit.

Employers are now facing the extra worry of Auto Enrolment and taking care of employees’ pension pots together with the added burden of compliance and administration associated with the new pension legislation.

In a previous Murrison & Wilson blog  Bruce Wilson talked about why Auto Enrolment legislation is coming into force, explained the rules, criteria and tiered rates and how it’s affecting smaller businesses.

Time is pressing on and we’re still spreading the word and stressing the importance that robust planning for Auto Enrolment is vital for all businesses.

A number of the clients I’ve approached about Auto Enrolment had heard about it but were finding the new rules confusing, fearing the costs and starting to panic. Walking them through a few simple steps, discussing employer tax relief and then putting an Auto Enrolment strategy in place well in advance has greatly simplified the process.

Whether you’re a business owner or managing payroll and staff taking these 8 simple steps promises to ease the responsibilities of auto enrolment for you.

8 Simple Steps

  1. Finding out your staging date.

The most important detail in the planning process. Keep your PAYE reference to hand and click on to find out your date.

  1. Identifying eligible employees.

Assessing the eligibility early on of your UK staff based on age and salary will help with your planning and issuing relevant communications.

  1. Checking your payroll software is Auto Enrolment ready.

Compatible payroll software will save you administration time by triggering an automated process and generating pro forma letters when an employee’s age, status or salary changes and fits the eligibility criteria.

4. Updating your employee records.

Allowing time for updating and maintaining records ensures auto enrolment will run smoothly for you so check employees:

  • Date of Birth
  • National Insurance details
  • Contact details.

5. Reviewing or selecting a pension scheme early on.

The onus is on you, the employer, to provide a good quality employee pension scheme that is approved by the Pensions Regulator 6 months ahead of your staging date.

Acting now ensures you can pick and choose the pension provider that’s best for your business those leaving it too late are facing disastrous consequences. Without a doubt Pension providers are going to be overwhelmed by last minute applications and unable to process them in time and it’ll be employer that’ll be fined not the Pension provider.

If you haven’t already got Pension Scheme in place seek advice from a good Independent Financial Adviser as soon as possible. You can visit to find an IFA in your area or we can recommend someone to help you.

6. Timetabling key dates in your calendar.

Planning well in advance guarantees you’re never missing important dates, guarantees you’re fulfilling your compliance obligations and avoids hefty fines.

7. Implementing and maintaining compliant processes

Compliance processes will always be demanding but with the right support it can be made much simpler. Your ongoing duties and responsibilities as the employer are to provide and maintain detailed records (for 6 years) for the Pensions Regulator including:

  • The Pension Scheme selected
  • Numbers of eligible employees enrolled
  • Arrange enrolment for employees that request to opt in
  • Employees that opt out (records can be held for 4 years)
  • Evidence you’re managing the opt in /opt out process
  • All communications in writing
  • Evidence of pension contributions meeting  minimum tiered rates
  • Periodically re-enrol employees that opt out (every 3 years)
  • Contributions are paid by the 22nd (electronic payments) or 19th (cheque/cash) of the following month


  • Provide details of the nominated contact responsible for Auto Enrolment – this can be your Accountant.

8. Communicating with your staff is an ongoing obligation

If you’re administration systems are Auto Enrolment compatible you’ll easily be able to keep staff fully informed in writing of:

  • their rights to opt in and opt out
  • type of pension scheme they’re enrolled in
  • date added to the scheme
  • contribution amount
  • opt out procedures.

Auto Enrolment needn’t be a headachewith forward planning and the right support.

We can help you with:

ü  Acting as representative to carry out Auto Enrolment activity nominated on your behalf

ü  Managing Tax Relief

ü  Assessing Work Force

ü  Payroll Software

ü  Identifying Cost efficiency

ü  Managing Compliance Processes

ü  Administration

ü  Reporting to Pensions Regulator and Pensions Provider

ü  Communications with your staff.

If you’ve already received your Staging Date letter from the Pensions Regulator don’t leave it any longer call us now on 0141 290 0262 or contact us at

I would be keen to hear your comments on Auto Enrolment and how it’s affecting your business.

Connect on LinkedInor follow me on Twitter @SimonMurrison

Until next time



What every business owner ought to know about the Auto Enrolment rules of Opting In or Opting Out

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“Government now expects only 15% of workers to opt-out of automatic pensions after early success.”*

*Source: This is Money Published 11 April 2014

You can’t predict exactly which of your employees will opt in or out but you can plan and budget well in advance to safeguard your business from unexpected costs.

Should I Opt In or should I Opt Out? – That’s all that matters to your employees.

Your employees that are eligible may decide to opt out and those not fitting the criteria may exercise their right to opt in. To further complicate matters, eligible employees that choose to opt out can change their mind and choose to re-enrol againat a later date.

The reality is it’s the employees’ personal finances and how much spare income they have that determines who chooses to opt in or opt out of your pension scheme.

Your obligations as an employer, however, won’t change. You can read more about employer’s duties in a previous Auto Enrolment blog.

Here’s a quick guide to Opting In and Opting Out.

Eligibility Criteria for Opting In or Opting Out:

EmployeesMonthly Earnings Age
From 16-21 From 22 to State Pension Age From State Pension Age to 74
£481 and below Has right to join pension scheme
Over £481 up to £833 Has right to opt in
Over £833 Has right to opt in Automatically enrol Has right to opt in

Opting In

You can see from the table above that even if an employee isn’t automatically eligible to opt in to your pension scheme they can still choose to join and could be eligible from contributions from you.

Opting Out

Employees can choose to opt out of the pension scheme anytime but must complete an ‘opt-out notice’.

  • Right to opt-out: You can see from the table above who’s eligible and who has the right to opt in.It’s the employer’s duty to communicate, in writing, all relevant employee enrolment information.
  • Opt-out period: employees have one month to decide and provide a valid opt-out notice from the date of auto enrolment. They can change their mind anytime and re-enrol.
  • Opt-out notice: requested directly by the employee from the Pension Scheme Administrator to ensure the employer hasn’t ‘incentivised’ the employee to opt out.
  • Refunds:  givenif an employee opts out within the month of enrolment and employer receives a refund of contributions. Otherwise the money is held in a pension pot until employee retires.
  • Ending active membership: employees can chose to leave their contributions invested within the scheme or take a transfer value.
  • Choosing to pay contributions below minimum level – the employee has to opt out first, they can re-enrol and reduce their payments below minimum contribution but only if the scheme’s particulars allow it.
  • Record keeping – employers must document all communications in writing between you and the employee, pension regulator and pension provider andyou mustkeep records of opt-out notices for four years.

Just as you think you’ve completed the process for an individual you’re obliged to automatically enrol employees back into the pension scheme every three years. The thinking behind this is to give your employee a chance to reconsider their options.

Of course they can chose to opt out again.

Always seek professional advice as pension scheme variations and employee contracts affect rules of opting in and out.

For many employers this is becoming costly and an administrative ticking time bomb but talking to experienced business advisers and tax experts like ourselves will help you with:

  • Better understanding and robust planning for Auto Enrolment
  • Budgeting for pension contributions and avoiding cutbacks elsewhere
  • Easily maintaining compliant records
  • Looking at ways to save tax as an employer
  • Implementing Auto Enrolment ready payroll software


Call 0141 290 0262 now for a Free Auto Enrolment Assessment to find out how ready your business is for Auto Enrolment.

Until next time


Follow me on Twitter @brucewilsontax or Connect on Facebook


Your Staging date clashes with your busiest time of year, so what can you do?

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Since early 2012 the Pensions Regulator and business commentators have been talking about the new Auto Enrolment pension legislation and raising employer awareness almost on a daily basis.

By the time your Staging date strikes the Regulator will have heard every excuse in the book from employers looking to delay Auto Enrolment. Missing your date and failing to arrange Auto Enrolment for your employees risks not only the Regulator throwing the book at you but also:

  • Fines of £500 per day (£10,000 per day for large businesses)
  • Pension bill you can’t afford
  • Penalties if you encourage employee opt outs

Is it possible to bring the Staging date forward?

Yes. If your Staging date clashes with the company’s busiest time of year and you’re worrying about the extra burden of paperwork for yourself and busy employees it’s worth considering.

To avoid any misunderstandings always keep your communication lines open and in writing between you, the Pensions Regulator and your Pension Scheme provider.

Before changing your Staging date it’s essential you’re planning and preparing well in advance to secure the best time for your business and you must:

  • Agree your chosen Pension scheme can fulfil its duties from new Staging date
  • Notify the Regulator in writing one calendar month in advance of new Staging date.

Can you ask to postpone the staging date?

Short answer is yes for up to 3 months but you must make it clear to the Pensions Regulator why and give a written Postponement notice to your employees.

How can postponement help you the employer?

As employees come and go the grace period of one month for opting in or out for a broad range of employees is making the payroll process more and more complicated.

Here’s how Postponement can smooth the Auto Enrolment process:

  • Aligning Automatic Enrolment with your payroll process
  • Avoid manual calculations by aligning with start of your pay period
  • Not having to enrol a worker just before they leave your employment
  • Short-term workers or seasonal workers with a one-off spike in earnings not enrolled
  • Postponement can also be used to avoid refunds of deductions made in a previous tax year
  • If part-period calculation is required, an employer may use postponement to avoid this.

Talking to experienced business advisers and tax experts, like ourselves, will help you identify the best time for your company to Auto Enrol.

Discuss with tax and business experts, like us, ways to budgeting for a pension bill, looking at ways of saving tax as an employer and establishing processes that will save you admin time and the burden of compliance.

Call 0141 290 0262 now for a Free Auto Enrolment Assessment to find out how ready your business is for Auto Enrolment.

Look out for my next Auto Enrolment blog ‘What every business owner ought to know about the Auto Enrolment rules of Opting In or Opting Out.’

Best Wishes


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