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Google’s Recent Algorithm Changes

October 8th, 2012

I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed with the impact of Google’s Penguin update on one of my sites: www.computernostalgia.net. This is an old site (2005), and for many years had enjoyed a healthy amount of traffic from Google, and had in fact been on page 1 of the SERPs for the search term ‘history of computer’ for years. Now it’s no where to be seen. What is the point in that I ask myself. All that this means is that a useful resource for people searching for articles about the history of computers is no longer available. Google is always blabbering on about presenting the best set of results for a particular search term - well, Mr Google I can tell you that you’ve got it wrong on this occasion.

Looking around the web it seems to be that this is a common problem that webmasters are coming up against.  As a webmaster trying to develop sites that perform well in search engines, life is becoming more uncertain than ever before. The reliance on Google traffic, which many webmasters have done for years is a very risky one. It’s no surprise therefore that people like me are putting more and more effort marketing our sites to social networking sites like StumbleUpon. I predict that within a few years a bigger percentage of traffic for a lot of sites will be coming from social networking sites rather than search engines.

Earnings Tracker Version 8.0

January 25th, 2012

We have a new version of Earnings Tracker scheduled to be released some time in February or perhaps early March. It’s really just a maintenance update because we haven’t released anything since June 2010 (Version 7.0)

Notice Board Pro 1.0

May 23rd, 2011

April 2011 saw the release of Notice Board Pro 1.0 - a free online notice / bulletin board that lets users post notices in the same way as on a physical notice board. For example, someone could advertise a room to rent, a car for sale, a holiday apartment, a service, and so on. Non-registered users are able to browse through the list of active items, either through all of the items that exist, or through a subset based on the selection of one or more item categories (for example, vehicles, accommodation, gardening, and so on).

As well as being able to browse through existing items, registered users can post their own items. Items can be set to expire on a particular date, they can be temporarily hidden, and they can be deleted. They can be also very easily edited. The application also supports the use of JPEG images.The web-based user interface is very easy to use, either when creating items or simply browsing through them, with screen-level context-sensitive help always available.Users can update their profiles at any time. If a user forgets his or her log-on details, new details can be emailed to them.

The application is written in PHP and MySQL, and is available as a free download. This enables users to not only install the application (on a web server), but to customize it to suit their own needs if they so wish. The supporting website for the application provides user documentation, access to a fully functioning demo version, a detailed guided tour of the application, access to the download version, and support information. Notice Board Pro is free software and is provided under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). This enables people to download, modify and redistribute the software if they so wish.

For more information go to http://www.noticeboardpro.com

My Bookkeeping Manager

March 4th, 2011

January 2011 saw the release of version 1 of MyBookkeepingManager - a bookkeeping application aimed at UK-based contractors, freelancers, and other very small (micro) businesses, typically those having less than five employees.

The application concentrates on the main bookkeeping activities performed by many such businesses, providing a simple, easy-to-use, software application. It can be either used online, or it can be downloaded and installed on a web server of your choice. MyBookkeepingManager enables monthly sales, loans, salaries, income tax, national insurance (both employees and employers), pension contributions, bank interest, bank charges, office or desk rental, and plenty of other expense amounts to be entered. The software then automatically calculates the amount of VAT owed (if you are using the VAT Flat Rate Scheme), and estimates the size of dividends that can be distributed to shareholders and the amount of corporation (business) tax due.

Figures are presented in a straight forward spreadsheet format, making it very easy to see, at a glance, how your business is doing.

For more information, go to http://www.MyBookkeepingManager.com

MyBookkeepingManager

February 4th, 2011

MyBookkeepingManager is a bookkeeping application aimed at UK-based contractors, freelancers, and other very small (micro) businesses, typically those having less than five employees.

The application concentrates on the main bookkeeping activities performed by many such businesses, providing a simple, easy-to-use, software application. The software can be either used online, or it can be downloaded and installed on a web server of your choice.

What does it do?

MyBookkeepingManager enables monthly sales, loans, salaries, income tax, national insurance (both employees and employers), pension contributions, bank interest, bank charges, office or desk rental, and plenty of other expense amounts to be entered.

The software then automatically calculates the amount of VAT owed (if you are using the VAT Flat Rate Scheme), and estimates the size of dividends that can be distributed to shareholders and the amount of corporation (business) tax due.

Figures are presented in a straight forward spreadsheet format, making it very easy to see at a glance how your business is doing.

How much does it cost?

MyBookkeepingManager is produced by JDT, and we have endeavoured to make the product as cheap as possible. At a price of only 99p + VAT, which gives you access to both an online version and a downloadable version, we believe that the product offers excellent value for money.

For more information, visit www.MyBookkeepingManager.com

Government Clamps Down on Employee Benefit Trust (EBTs) Schemes

December 21st, 2010

As part of the recently published Finance Bill 2011, the Government has moved to close a loophole that allows contractors to use Employee Benefit Trust (EBTs) schemes to reduce their tax bill.

Rob Crossland, chief executive of umbrella company Parasol, had this to say.

“It was no surprise that the Government has taken a hard-line with EBTs and other forms of tax avoidance as this has been discussed for some time.”
 
“There must be a distinction made between umbrella companies who work closely and openly with HMRC in order to protect contractors, and companies that exploit loopholes and make bold or unrealistic claims about take home pay. Correctly structured and compliant umbrella companies have nothing to fear from the Finance Act, and the reality is that this provides an opportunity to demonstrate that compliance and transparency to Government, contractors and the agencies that place them.”

“In the past, this industry has been tarnished by unscrupulous providers making unrealistic claims about the amount of take home pay a contractor can expect, by offshore providers not fully explaining the risks involved in using an EBT scheme or operating with a lack of transparency to a level that even the contractors involved in the schemes cannot fully explain how they work. Thousands of contractors have also been persuaded to join these schemes without being informed of HMRC investigations into them.”

“This had to stop and therefore the Finance Act 2011 should be welcomed by umbrella companies. It now remains the duty of leading umbrella companies like Parasol, and organisations such as the FCSA, to support and educate contractors and the agencies that place them, encourage further transparency, open discussion and compliance throughout the industry, and ensure that the bad practice of a few does not bring down the industry and prevent professional contractors from running their business and making a valuable contribution to the UK economy.”

MyBookkeepingManager - Bookkeeping Software for Freelancers, Contractors, and other Micro Businesses

New Standard Rate of VAT and the VAT Flat Rate Scheme (FRS)

December 7th, 2010

With effect from 4th January 2011, the standard rate of VAT increases from 17.5% to 20%. The VAT Flat Rate Scheme (FRS) percentages will also change. For Computer & IT Consultancy, the rate will change from its current 13% to 14.5%.

The normal tax point rules will apply: date of invoice or date of payment, whichever comes first. So if the invoice or payment is made before 4th January, VAT will be at the rate of 17.5%; anything after that date will be at 20%.

More information is available on the HMRC website:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/forms-rates/rates/rate-increase.htm

IR35 and The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS)

November 22nd, 2010

At the weekend I received my copy of the PCG’s quaterly magazine, Freelancing Matters. Flicking through the pages, it is very easy to see that a large industry has grown up around IR35 and the uncertainty it brings for IT contractors - contract reviews, tax insurance - it’s all there.

I pay around £500 per year between tax investigation insurance and my PCG membership. This is money I didn’t have to spend pre-IR35, and which I wouldn’t have to pay if IR35 was scrapped. If I’m a typical contractor, ie there are loads of other contractors out there paying a similar amount, it’s not difficult to see that IR35 is not bad news for everyone.

If the people making a living out of IR35 are also the same people with whom the OTS is consulting over the future of IR35, it seems pretty obvious to me that the ’son of IR35′ will still somehow ensure that contractors need tax insurance and contract reviews.

Free Accounting Software for Contractors

PCG Chairman Joins Office of Tax Simplification’s (OTS) Consultative Committee

November 4th, 2010

PCG Chairman, Chris Bryce, has been invited to join the Coalition Government’s Office of Tax Simplification’s (OTS) Consultative Committee that will review small business taxation, including IR35. Since its inception in 1999, PCG has campaigned against IR35.

Accepting the invitation to join the OTS committee, Mr Bryce expressed his delight that the UK’s 1.4m freelance workers would be represented:

PCG worked tirelessly with the Conservatives in opposition to ensure that a review of IR35 would be carried out following the expected change of Government at this year’s General Election. We produced a paper for senior members of the Party which put forward compelling arguments as to why IR35 was unfair and unworkable.  We also worked closely with the Liberal Democrats at this time.

Our paper has been seen by John Whiting, the Director of the OTS, with whom we have maintained a good relationship over many years. We are delighted that he recognised the importance of having PCG, the Voice of Freelancing, on this vital committee.”

Mr. Bryce added: “This is a crucial time for freelancers.  PCG will continue to offer the OTS every resource available to us and we will be advised by leading tax expert, Chris Sanger, from Ernst and Young. It is our objective that this process will produce a fair and effective solution for all small businesses.”

John Brazier, PCG Managing Director echoed those sentiments saying:

PCG is a not-for-profit association and as such our views will not be influenced by commercial gain. We are on this committee to represent the needs of our members and we will strive to do this fairly and accurately.”

The OTS will be holding consultation events in locations around the country.  At least two of these, currently planned for Edinburgh and Manchester, will be exclusively for PCG members.  In addition PCG will organise their own regional meetings to ensure that the widest possible input is gathered from its membership.

Mr Brazier added: “By harnessing the views of our members we can deliver the true voice of the freelancer directly to the heart of the decision making process.”

For further information contact:

Jim Cassidy
Prima Communication & Media Limited
Phone: 0141 530 8144 or 0777 595 3990
Website: www.prima-media.co.uk

Earnings Tracker - Single User Version

November 3rd, 2010

The majority of people who use Earnings Tracker download it and install it on their own computer. They will, therefore, almsot certainly be the only person who uses their version of the application. For these people, it doesn’t make much sense to have to register with the application.

The next version of Earnings Tracker to be released will be a single user version, which will simplify the application by removing any code that is used to identify individual users.

I expect this new version to be released early next year.