Business in Focus? Out of focus, more like!

Well. I went on an introductory course last week for people thinking of starting their own business. Funded by the Welsh Government and provided by a private company, Business in Focus, I came home fired up as a result of the advice I’d been given. Turns out most of it was misleading at best and total bollocks at worst.

So I thought I’d write this as a little warning to other startups to triple check any advice they get on similar schemes. ESPECIALLY advice relating to tax and the HMRC, as this is where they got it spectacularly wrong.

I was told quite specifically that I could claim 45p a mile for the first 10,000 miles of any business mileage and they would actually give me money up to the full £4500 limit. This is BOLLOCKS. You can claim 45p a mile as relief on the income tax you’d be paying.

The bloke said if you work from home you can claim 20% of your household utility bills back from HMRC. Guess what. All BOLLOCKS. If you don’t have a dedicated room set aside for your business, there are very complicated calculations based on the hours you work and how many rooms you have, or you can just claim four quid a week. As relief.

They also told us that if you don’t take any income from your business, and leave the money within it, the profits aren’t taxable. Big, fat, HAIRY BOLLOCKS.

So following a very interesting chat with a lovely if slightly scary lady from HMRC this morning, I just thought I’d share my experiences with you. Two things are certain in this life: death and taxes. These courses are all very well, but check, check and check again that the advice they give you is accurate. I made a point of clarifying everything that the tutor said with him afterwards regarding my particular circumstances, and he firmly said that I could basically claim several thousand pounds a year back from the Inland Revenue even if I wasn’t making enough to pay tax. That HMRC would pay me to sit in my shed and play with my toys.

So if something seems to good to be true, is invariably is. I wonder if they are giving people false information so that they go ahead and start a business to make the economy look better than it really is? New business startups mean we’re turning the corner out of recession; and then there’s the people pressured into starting up by the Job Centre, which reduces the unemployment figures.

Or maybe I’m just being cynical.

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