Cottons Daventry Secure Client Finance in Record Time

Cottons Chartered Accountants are proud to announce that in 2017 we have assisted a client in achieving an important round of funding in record time.

Our client, a household name in the manufacturing industry with a turnover over £1.5m, came to us for advice as the company began to go through a change in ownership.

Business Development

In recent years the founding directors, who had been building and controlling the company for more than 20 years, had been winding down their responsibilities, reducing their hours and creating more responsibility for their new MD with view to an eventual takeover.

However, as the time drew closer to what should naturally have been the MD’s time to buy the other directors out a new cash buyer made an offer meaning the MD had to move quickly to ensure he secured what he had been working towards.

After relieving ourselves of service responsibilities to the seller, thus avoiding a conflict of interest, we were able to act on behalf of the incumbent MD as a buyer.

Working closely with the MD we were able to identify that invoice financing was the most efficient finance solution and following that decision we were able to prepare the business and the application in such a way that when it arrived with Close Brothers they were able to process the funding in less than two and a half weeks thus ensuring the buyer was able to secure his new business and take his role forward.

Cottons Services and Corporate Finance

Close Brothers themselves have heralded the funding application prepared by us on behalf of the client so much so that the news has been published on their website. The story of the application which enabled them to act so quickly in releasing funding to the client has been distributed to their audience of tens of thousands.

If you are looking for funding for your business then talk to us about your options and how we can help you.

Our dedicated corporate finance team can assist you with all things funding while our partners, accountants and tax advisors can work with your business before and after to ensure that your business is operating in an organised, effective and tax efficient manner.

To discuss business planning and finance or our tax and accounting services then contact us today.

Cottons Chartered Accountants are tax advisors and accountants in LondonNorthampton, Daventry and Rugby.

Research and Development Tax Relief

4 in 5 businesses that could be claiming R&D Tax Credits are not. This could be attributed to a lack of understanding among the small business community of which businesses are actually eligible for the relief.

Contrary to popular belief the HMRC Research and Development Tax Credit scheme, one of the most lucrative tax relief systems available to small business and is in place to encourage innovation here in the UK, is not just for technology-driven enterprises. In fact, relief is open to any business investing in innovation regardless of industry.

From catering to construction, small and large business alike can apply for and receive a credit if their relative project is eligible.

How the R&D tax credit claim works

In short, Research and Development Tax Credits work by allowing you to increase the amount of money you record as spent on your project by a certain percentage, thus reducing your profit (in some cases increasing a loss if your company has not made any profit). This action will reduce the amount of tax a business pays hence the relief.

The amount subject to increase (the amount of money you will record as higher) is referred to as qualifying expenditure. Currently, the rate at which qualifying expenditure is enhanced for small businesses is 230%.

Of course, the qualifying expenditure is only recorded as such when tax computations are being made. The amount is recorded as so that it does not affect your company’s performance records (balance sheet) e.g. the qualifying expenditure is only enhanced by the 230% when you come to do the company tax return to give an enhanced tax-deductible cost.

The result, as mentioned, will reduce the company corporation tax bill if the company is profitable, however, if the company has made a loss in that year it can elect to receive a cash credit. In that case HMRC pays cash into your account at a current rate of 14.5%.

Example of R&D Tax Relief Calculation

Here is a simple example of the R&D Tax Credit system in action using £100 of qualifying expenditure for a loss-making company:

  • Cost in your accounts:                                                                                     £100.00
  • Cost in your Corporation Tax return (£100 x 230%):                                  £230.00

Tax credit:

  • Company making a trading loss (£230 x 14.5%):                                        £33.35

This means for every £100 spent on R&D a company which has made a loss can receive £33.35 back in cash.

A profit-making company who’ve spent £100 on research and development will simply record the cost as £230 on their Corporation Tax return and receive a reduction in their owed tax liability as a result.

 Is your business eligible for R&D tax credits?

The department of HMRC responsible for R&D Tax Credits provides the following information about eligibility:

“Your company can only claim for R&D tax relief if an R&D project seeks to achieve an advance in overall knowledge or capability in a field of science or technology through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty – and not simply an advance in its own state of knowledge or capability.”

Put simply, if a business is taking a risk [spending money] attempting to create or develop an idea, product or service through its own research into something that is not simply to advance a method or product currently in place and used by them, then the business may be carrying out a qualifying activity thus eligible for R&D Tax Credits. 

Here are some examples of activities which have been successful in R&D Tax Credit applications: 

  • A new flavour in the snack industry
  • Changing the fermentation process in the brewing industry
  • Modifying the internal production process in the health and beauty industry
  • Modifying a car engine; this was undertaken by a construction company hence eligible as it was not deemed to simply be enhancing their own capability

Qualifying Expenditure: What costs can be claimed?  

The main examples of costs that can be listed as qualifying expenditure for R&D enhancement are:

  • Staff costs, including salaries, employer’s national insurance and pension contributions
  • Freelancers and subcontractors engaged in R&D projects
  • Relevant software used
  • Materials and consumables used in the R&D process. Namely heat, light and power

Because R&D claims often result in refunds, the claim should be as detailed as possible to avoid HMRC investigations. Each expenditure should ultimately be wholly and exclusively for use of the project if the entire amount is being claimed.

Assistance with Research and Development Tax Credits 

If you are embarking on a project to research and develop a product then you should always consult an experienced tax advisor to find out if you are eligible. If you are eligible you will need a knowledgeable accountant to ensure that your records are detailed enough to provide information on qualifying enhancement.

You should note that, if you have only recently come across the relief but have been working on an eligible project for a while, you are able to claim R&D tax relief for your last two completed accounting periods.

Cottons Chartered Accountants are experienced accountants and tax advisors. Our experienced partners lead teams capable of ensuring that our clients are always operating in the most tax efficient manner.

If you would like to know more about R&D Tax Credits and if your project is eligible then talk to us today. We have offices in LondonNorthampton, Daventry and Rugby and offer a full range of tax and accounting solutions for small businesses. We are also audit certified and can provide businesses with standard and specialist audit reports if required.

Cottons, Chartered Accountants in London

Hot on the heels of our move to a new, larger home in Northampton, Cottons Chartered Accountants are pleased to announce, we have further expanded to London.

In a move which sees the introduction of new Associate Partner, Oliver Warne ACA, the brand will now be focusing on growing a presence in The Capital, extending our tax, accounting and audit services to businesses in the city.

Small Business Accountants in London

Our new London branch is situated in East London between trendy business hub Shoreditch, Old Street and the financial district.

Like our other branches, Cottons Chartered Accountants London will offer support to a variety of industries and companies of all sizes. From freelance designers to high growth fintech companies, we are able to provide robust accountancy services and expert tax advice suited to each business individually.

We are also audit certified and can provide businesses with both statutory and specialist reports depending on their needs.

Corporate Finance for Businesses in London

Furthermore, not only will our new London branch provide small business in London with tax and accountancy services, we will also be extending our corporate finance services there too.

Our corporate finance department works with small businesses to help them achieve the funding they require to start-up or grow their businesses.


At Cottons our partners are experienced accountants and business people who can offer you support beyond annual compliance.

If you are starting or running a business in The Capital then talk to our exciting new team of London accountants to find out how we can work with you on your journey assisting you in organising and growing your enterprise in a profitable way.

Our team will be hosting regular events throughout the city for you to come along to so keep an eye on our social platforms to find out when and where they will be.

And don’t forget, if you aren’t in London we have four other locations for you to choose from.

Cottons Chartered Accountants have been established in the UK for almost three decades. Our partners and accountants deliver a comprehensive range of accounting and tax services for small businesses from payroll and bookkeeping to corporation tax and VATContact us today to get a quote for the services your business needs.

What is the “Gig Economy”?

The way businesses operate in the digital age is changing. Companies are offering workers fluid options like remote working and flexi-time and, in this fast changing economy, businesses who have recognised this already are proving most ductile as the millennial workforce become core.

As an extension of this workers are furthermore opting to offer their talents to companies in a different way, providing their skills to businesses on a freelance or consultancy basis. This is called the Gig Economy.

Benefits of the “Gig Economy”

The Gig Economy gives companies a way to operate, in some instances, without the traditionally employed workforce; attracting talent to projects without keeping them for subsequent projects which may not be as suitable. In addition, it gives workers a way to vary their work life and experiences.

The Gig Economy has been dubbed so due to the nature of how work is undertaken. Much like a band performing one off concerts or “gigs”, in a “Gig Economy” consultants and freelancers work in numerous locations and for different audiences. Some “gigs” are longer than others with rolling contracts and some are short, one off, if you will, performances.

The Gig Economy allows freelancers and consultants to offer their services to a number of businesses at any one time. This might be much more appealing to, and sustainable for, a worker who enjoys project work as opposed to the long terms roles offered through fixed employment.

Furthermore, they may also benefit from a potentially higher income, fewer working hours and even more flexibility. The median income for consultants and freelancers in the UK is £43k and average working hours only 38.5 per week.

But the Gig Economy not only benefits workers. Employers contracting consultants or freelancers can expect more productivity and need not consider the burden of payroll and employers National Insurance Contributions as contractors manage their own tax and accounting liabilities.

Tax and Accounting Solutions for the Gig Economy

Both employers and Contractors should be aware of the IR35 rule, also known as, the disguised employee rule, which restricts companies employing workers on a contractor basis while they should be employees simply to avoid tax.

If contracts offered and services provided are within the rules of IR35 then the Gig Economy can be effective for both employers and contractors, however, efficient admin, tax and accounting solutions, such as cloud based bookkeeping and invoicing software, to manage the subsequent obligations of those choosing to operate in this way will have to be utilised by both.

Payment arrangements between company and contractor are not the same as those between employee and employer. While an employer will pay an employee at a set frequency, provide them with a payslip and manage their tax liabilities a company will pay a contractor when they receive an invoice from the contractor who will be operating under their own business entity be that a sole trader or a Ltd Company. The contractor is then responsible for paying tax on the amounts earned.

Accountants in London and The Midlands for Contractors

By utilising cloud based bookkeeping software and offering a knowledgeable, dedicated accountant to each consultant, freelancer and small business operating in the gig economy Cottons Chartered Accountants able to provide cost effective solutions and sound tax advice.

If you are a contractor and would like to understand the differences between operating as Sole Trader, how to set up a Ltd Company or what the tax liabilities are for Limited Companies, or perhaps you need information about VAT or would like us to explain IR35 then get in touch. Equally, if you’re a small business owner and would like to know more about working with contractors, then call us today.

Talk to us about our accounting packages for freelancers and consultants and small business too. Cottons Chartered Accountants are experienced accountants with offices in LondonNorthampton, Daventry and Rugby. Contact your local team today for a free consultation.

Effective Pensions Contributions for Consultants and Freelancers

Over the last couple of years, the amount of tax free dividends available to small business owners and freelancers with Ltd Companies has reduced significantly.

The reduction, which has seen the amount of dividends which can be extracted from a company without tax free go from £30k to just £2k (starting April 2018), has left some business owners switching how they extract cash from their business; one of those ways is pensions.

Not only are pensions now handy for extracting cash efficiently from a business, of course they are also there to serve their purpose in later life too.

In this article we look at how pension contributions can be tax-efficient, how to make them and how much you should be looking to pay in from your company.

Tax saving on pension contributions

You may or may not know that extracting money from a Ltd Company to pay straight into a pension comes with no tax liability.

In comparison, if a freelancer in a one man company or a small business owner, decided to extract cash from their business as a dividend they would accrue taxes charged at 0% (first £2,000), 7.5% (basic rate) or 32.5% (higher rate).

Therefore, if you do not need to use the money you would like to extract from the company you may wish to take it out and put it straight into a pension pot where it will only be taxed on extraction.

The benefits of doing this are that your pension fund will grow and you will be reducing the amount of corporation tax your business will pay as pension contributions are taken before tax is calculated; like salaries, pensions are a tax deductible expense.

The only down side to this approach is that you cannot take advantage of the governments matched contributions that are available if you make contributions to your pension pot from the salary you pay yourself from your company.

Government Contributions

When you make contributions to a pension from your salary the government will contribute an additional 20% of what you put in. This applies to up to 100% of your salary or £40,000, whichever is less.

For example, someone on a £25,000 salary who contributes £30,000 into a pension in one year would receive a top up from the government of 20% of £25,000 but nothing on the additional £5,000 they have contributed as that is more than their salary.

Another example which illustrates where the limit impacts is someone earning £60,000 who wanted to contribute £50,000. In this scenario government contributions would only be input up to £40,000 leaving £10,000 that wouldn’t be subject to a benefit.

Salary vs Dividends

Small businesses tend to pay their directors a low salary (to take advantage of the tax free personal allowance) and then pay the balance of their allocated payment from the company as dividends. While this makes sense for income tax purposes it does mean that directors/shareholders miss out on Government added pension contributions which are limited to the salary amount which is paid.

This is because dividends are not factored into your income figure when being considered for pensions.

We should always remember that you can effectively contribute as much as you like in to a pension but as Ltd Company owners are able to do so in different ways they should ensure they take advantage of the all ways of contributing available. Consideration should be given to those which are suitable for what they would like to achieve; that may be reducing your corporation tax and saving for the future, receiving the government top up, or both.

Government Contributions vs Income Tax

You could up your salary to gain more contributions from the government but this would mean that you have to pay income tax on the salary, however, your limited company could step in and make the contribution on your behalf.

You can talk to your accountant about how your limited company can make pension contributions for you. You can also discuss your Limited Company tax and compliance obligations too if you’re unsure of those.

How make Contributions

As a small business owner you can either make pension contributions from personal bank account (the balance in which may predominately be made up of your income from your limited company) or directly from your limited company bank account.

As discussed, contribution from personal funds (your own bank account) will attract a government top up of 20% but remember this is only available up to 100% of your income or £40,000.

Contributions made straight from your limited company’s income are invested before-tax, the contribution is a tax deductible business expense and so reduces the amount of corporation tax your company pays but the contribution will be limited to the amount itself; there are no Government top ups this way.

Does “Auto-Enrolment” impact on this?

Auto-enrolment makes it compulsory for employers to enrol their employees into a pension scheme and to make additional pension contributions for them. However, if you are the only employee in your business you can opt to be exempt from the scheme by contacting the Pension Regulator.

Tax and Accounting for Pension Contributions

Every individual’s pension contribution is unique to their circumstance and while these are the rules, your method will be dependent on your income, business structure and your own pension aspirations.

If you would like to discuss your pension contributions or auto-enrolment for your employees then talk to us. Cottons Chartered Accountant’s experienced partners, knowledgeable accountants and tax advisors are best placed to guide you through pensions and ensure you are investing your money to be maximised in a tax efficient manner.

We offer a comprehensive range of tax and small business accounting services; we are also audit specialists. We have offices in Northampton, Rugby, Daventry and in London too. We are here for your business journey.

Cottons Chartered Accountants Get New Home In Northampton

After starting out in Daventry, Cottons Chartered Accountants moved to Northampton in 1991.

The Northampton branch is now our brand flagship with three out of seven of our partners and more than twenty staff working there.

Unsurprisingly our growth in the area has meant that we have had to move premises over the years and last month saw us move to our biggest space yet.

Accountants in Northampton

Cottons Chartered Accountants offer both standard and specialist taxaccounting and audit services to businesses of all sizes.

As an established accountancy firm in Northampton, we understand the local economy and what it takes for businesses to not only survive in the area but also to prosper.

So it might be our knowledge and experience or maybe it’s our personal approach to assisting the clients we are involved with in growing their businesses but whatever it is our client retention and new client attraction has meant that since coming to the town almost three decades ago we have grown out of three premises.

Our Space

Our new, standalone office is located in central Northampton on Billing Road.

The space is situated over four floors and features everything you would expect and more. We not only have stunning offices which maintain some of the buildings original features but we also have a truly terrific board room which can be utilised by both us and our clients.

Become a Client

If we sound like the type of robust and experienced accountants and tax advisors you would like assisting and guiding your business then talk to us.

We offer all of the tax and accountancy services your business could need from statutory accounts and bookkeeping to payroll and helpful management accounts.

We even offer business planning and corporate finance services for businesses of all sizes and stages.

As well as our office in Northampton we also have accountants in Rugby and Daventry and, of course, we’ve opened a fifth in London now too.

Taxes and Compliance for Ltd Companies

Incorporating a Limited Company and operating the new legal entity can bring with it many advantages, however, there are compliance obligations that you must be aware of to ensure you that your business is organised and stays on the right side of HMRC and Companies House.

New companies who are not compliant run a risk of being fined by HMRC and being struck off or dissolved by Companies House. Being unaware or disorganised could also mean that your business operations are at risk of falling into disarray while you are playing catch up thus hindering your progress and likelihood of success.

Did you know, businesses most likely to succeed are those who are organised in terms of administration? Here’s everything you need to know to make your company year run smoothly…

Limited Company Taxes

The tax advantages of Limited Companies are often regarded as the most attractive benefit.

Limited Companies pay Corporation Tax presently at a flat rate of 19%. This is in comparison to taxes for a sole trader which are presently 20% for PAYE at the basic level with incremental rises to 40% then 50% of all income. Sole traders must also account for class 4 National Insurance of 9%.

Taxes for Directors and Shareholders of Limited Companies

Following the tax treatment of a Limited Company, directors and shareholders will need to extract from the company. As individuals they are treated similarly to sole traders, however, the flexibility of profit extraction from a Ltd Company is better.

Sole traders are taxed based on the profit made in their financial year. If they turnover £100k and have £20k of costs they will pay tax rates of 20%, 40% and national insurance on the £80k profit. If a Ltd Company has the same year it would pay 19% tax on the entire profit.

However, a Ltd Company can further reduce the level of profit subject to tax by paying directors and shareholders a salary up to the tax-free allowance. As this is counted as a cost the profit can be reduced by up to £11,500 for each director or shareholder registered as an employee of the company therefore eligible to receive a salary.

As an example, if a Ltd Company has a turnover of £100k and one director/shareholder and it incurs costs of £20k (including other employee’s salaries) and furthers the salary of the director/shareholder of up to £11,500 it would be subject to tax at 19% on £68,500.

Furthermore, the after-tax remainder can be left in the company until directors and shareholders wish to extract it as dividends, however, they need not take the entire amount therefore only paying tax on the amount they wish to receive unlike a Sole Trader who needs to pay tax on the entire amount left whether they wish to use it or not. Dividends carry a tax-free allowance of £2k and have a much lower rate of income tax for amount after £2k.

Limited Company Compliance

All businesses have administrative responsibilities in terms of accounting for and declaring the amount of money they brought in, spent and owe tax upon. Failure to file this information with the relevant bodies will result in fines and could see directors struck off and the company dissolved.

Limited Companies must be aware of the following:

  • Statutory Accounts: Accurate accounts must be submitted to Companies House each year. You have 9 months after the company’s financial year to file these accounts before you are subject to penalties. For smaller companies (under the Audit Threshold) you may submit abbreviated accounts; these will be unpublished.
  • Tax Returns: A Corporation Tax return and iXBRL accounts must be submitted to HMRC annually. You must return these within 12 months of the company’s financial year ending.
  • Confirmation Statement: Also known as an annual return you must submit an annual confirmation statement to Companies House on each anniversary of incorporation.
  • All directors and shareholders must file self-assessment tax returns to declare income extracted as dividends. As an individual you need only file one self-assessment no matter how many companies you are extracting cash from; all income is announced on one document.
  • You will also be responsible for PAYE taxes and payroll administration for any employees and should consider P11D’s for taxable benefits.
  • If you have multiple shareholders you should have a shareholder agreement

Limited Company Tax and Compliance Assistance

To ensure your company is accounted for and that you are extracting cash in the most tax efficient way you may want to ask for assistance.

Cottons are chartered small business accountants we offer affordable packages for Limited Companies from start-up to audit level so wherever you are we can assist you.

Our experienced team of accountants and bookkeepers offer a full range of services from Limited Companies from corporation tax returns and VAT services to payroll and bookkeeping.

If you would like our assistance keeping your Limited Company compliant then talk to us today.

How to Set Up A UK Ltd Company: The Definitive Checklist

Once you have decided a Limited Company is the way forward for your business you need to incorporate the new entity at Companies House.

Naming Your Company

Your business will need a name. Ideally this will be the same as that you trade under but does not have to be. Be careful not to trade under a protected name as this can cause issues.

Company Structure and Shares

Choosing the company structure is important, especially for those with multiple owners. The allocation of shares to a shareholder needs to reflect their value to the company. The person with the ownership over 50% effectively controls the company.

Setting the nominal value of a share is important. Most new limited companies will keep this simple at set the book value of 1 shares as £1 but it is possible to have a share worth £0.0001.

Companies mistakenly set up shares with very high nominal value thinking this is the value of the company but this can have ramifications, for example, if a company is unable to pay its debts the owners of the business are legally required to pay for any unpaid shares immediately.

Company Taxes and Compliance

Once the company is incorporated you will receive a unique tax reference within a few weeks to the registered office you select. It is important to keep this number as this is required to submit the company tax return.

Ensure you have read up on Limited Company obligations.

Limited Company Bank Account

You need a separate bank account for your Ltd Company from which to make and receive payments.

Once you have your company incorporation documents you will be able to have a limited company bank account put in place which will be an asset of your new company.

Approaching the branch you bank with personally can help you keep everything in one place but you should shop around for the best rates. Santander offers excellent business banking rates and Barclays offer brilliant support for small businesses.

Director and Shareholder Obligations

As a shareholder of the company if you have not been in self-assessment, this the processing of announcing and calculating tax on income which has not been taxed at source, aka PAYE.

By registering for self-assessment you will receive a personal unique tax reference number. You have the responsibility to report to HMRC the income you extract from your Limited Company via salary and dividends.

Bookkeeping and Administration

Once the company is formed, the bank is in place you are ready to start invoicing clients, remember you will need to quote the limited company registered number and registered office within the invoices.

Using accounting software such as XERO means that you can keep your invoicing, income and expenditure in one place. This means that you know how your company is performing, what’s outstanding and how much your spending whenever you need to know. Being organised in terms of admin is the key to success.

Finding an Accountant

If you have managed to make your way through company formation and initial administration you may want to hire an accountant to manage your ongoing tax and accounting obligations.

Each year your profit will be subject to tax treatment. An accountant will ensure you are paying the correct rate of tax on the correct amount of profit whilst managing your costs as well as keeping you organised and supporting you as you grow.

We are small business accountants. If you would like to talk to us at Cottons Chartered Accountants about working with you then call us today, we have offices in Northampton, Rugby, Daventry and in London too. We offer a full range of affordable tax and accounting services for businesses of all sizes. It is our business to ensure that your business continues to function once it’s up and running.

What is the tax-free personal allowance

Every individual in the UK who is eligible to receive a salary can earn a certain amount of money before they start paying tax. This is called the Personal Allowance, eligibility is normally subject to an individual having a National Insurance Number.

The Basics

Whether your income is from employment, self-employment or property you will receive a personal tax free allowance if you’re a UK tax resident. As an individual you have one personal allowance, it is not renewed per revenue stream.

In the current tax year, 6th April 2017 and 5th April 2018, the personal allowance is £11,500; that is why those in employment will see 1150L on your payslip. The personal allowance tends to change year on year as part of the budget set by the incumbent governing party.

If you are lucky enough to earn over £100,000 you will start losing your tax free personal allowance as it will decrease by £1 for every £2 you earn, until it reaches £0 so those earning over £123,000 will not have a personal allowance.

Personal Allowance and National Insurance

 The Personal Allowance relates to the amount you can earn before you start paying income tax, however, individuals are not only subject to income tax they must consider National Insurance Contributions too.

Like the income tax, National Insurance Contributions do not start as soon as you earn money, however, the threshold at which you start paying is lower than the Personal Allowance set for income tax.

The National Insurance tax free thresholds start lower. Class 2 national insurance is paid by the self-employed if earnings are over £6,025 and £8,164 for Class 1, for the self-employed and Class 4 for employees. You must make sure you understand National Insurance for the self-employed if you are a Sole Trader.

Who is Eligible for the Personal Allowance?

The Personal Allowance is not restricted to those living and earning in the UK as British citizens abroad can often retain their UK personal allowance. A prime example being someone who was born in the UK but has since moved abroad will receive a UK personal allowance if they were to rent out their property.

You will also receive a UK personal allowance for UK income if you’re a citizen of the European Economic Area or the income in question is part of a double-taxation agreement between the country you live and the UK.

Still Need Help?

The Personal Allowance affects personal tax returns for owners of Limited Companies, tax for additional income and payroll for employees.

If you need help the Personal Allowance our accountants and tax advisors can guide you. We can offer operational support in terms of payroll services or tax guidance for individuals.

With offices in London, Northampton, Rugby and Daventry we work with the self-employed and small businesses across the UK. Talk to us today.

At Cottons, we offer a free consultation with our team -

No obligation, no pressure and no industry jargon.

We are here to help!

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