A new survey from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has drawn attention to the growing importance of the internet among those looking to stay on top of the finances.
Filling in tax returns, in particular, has become heavily reliant on internet usage for many and 77 per cent of internet users now use HMRC's website to meet this obligation.
The most recent records suggest that there are now more than nine million people in the UK who need to fill in a tax return. These can be split into the following five categories:
- Self-employed - Pensioners with an income - Company directors - People with complex tax affairs - Higher rate taxpayers
The internet is perhaps more important for those in self-employment than any others, largely because it offers a seemingly endless source of information and advice. According to the HMRC study, researching is the most common reason for using the internet and there is little doubt that investigating the market and examining product possibilities is of utmost importance to entrepreneurs setting up in business.
Entrepreneurs typically find the internet especially useful when applying for finance and weighing up the respective benefits of grants, corporate venturing, bank loans or a lease, for example.Leasing, in particular, can be a complex area and entrepreneurs should initially investigate which of the following two strategies is most appropriate:
- Direct lease - where the leasing company buys a specified asset and allows the entrepreneur or business to rent it. - Sale and leaseback - where the entrepreneur or small business is able to sell an existing asset despite retaining access to it in the short-term.
Asset finance has numerous benefits, not least the fact that it is legally classified as an expense. It also allows a business to spread out its costs, thus avoiding a potentially crippling lump sum payout. Many will also be drawn to the tax benefits of lease payments, which are made with pre-tax money.
With 77 per cent of internet users filing tax returns online, 86 per cent banking online and most people admitting that the internet is central to the research that they conduct, it seems clear that the world wide web has now cemented its position as an absolute prerequisite for modern businesses.