In December 2011, extra-statutory concession B47 (AKA the “renewals allowance”) was abolished,  but it was unclear as to whether this change only related to furnished property.

property taxes icon Allowable expenses against rental income: Are you entitled to a 10% tax deduction?After being pressed for clarification, HMRC published guidance in May 2014.

Previously….

Up to 5th April 2013, anyone letting a qualifying property had the option of either taking a deduction against rental income for the actual cost of replacing furniture and appliances (but not the initial purchase of either category) within the property; or making a claim for the 10% wear and tear allowance against rental income if it was furnished.

 

Now….

1355743123 065652c3e8 m Allowable expenses against rental income: Are you entitled to a 10% tax deduction?How your expenditure is treated will depend on whether it is in respect of

i.   Plant: items that are relatively large and durable;

ii.  Tools of the trade:  such as crockery and cutlery, bed linen and cushions but not carpets, sofas, beds and free-standing cookers and fridges;

iii. Repairs: of the asset in its entirety.

This change has caused a lot of confusion and many have argued that there is still too much ambiguity.

Time for a change of strategy?

Landlords may now decide that it is worth investing in a few white goods and some beds to make the let furnished so that the 10% allowance is available to them.  This would certainly be beneficial where rent yield is high such as city centre locations and a no brainer where HMOs/student lets are concerned.

GH logo notag 150x114 Allowable expenses against rental income: Are you entitled to a 10% tax deduction?More information…

MLRL Allowable expenses against rental income: Are you entitled to a 10% tax deduction?

If you are unsure about what you can claim for, or would like to know more about how your property can qualify for a deduction equal to 10% of rents received, George Hay are teaming up with local lettings experts, Maxine Lester Residential Lettings to deliver a free seminar in the Autumn.  This event will be by invitation only and with limited places; if you want to be certain of an invite, contact Tania Fullalove on 01480 494939 to register for regular lettings news.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Risks and Rewards

SocMed icons A quick guide to creating a social media policy for your business

Social media can be a massive asset to business.

Not just in the obvious ways for marketing your brand or for connecting with your customers, but in unexpected ways; in how it creates a sense of collegiate identity for your staff even a “personality” for your business.

 

Under control?

But nothing is free or without risk. Social media means that publishing a document or making a post on a site is not the end of the conversation, as it would be with more traditional forms of media. Instead it is the beginning of the conversation and what’s really worrying its not in your control. At all. Also it is everywhere. For businesses to control what happened on a PC’s was easy. But social media is everywhere, on all sorts of devices.

10 years ago you might have sat in a meeting that was tedious, but your correspondence afterwards would be professional and action orientated. Now we can know the location, have an update in the meeting or even a dreaded selfie. LOL! innocentface#

Drafting your policy

So when your considering drafting a policy to protect your business here are some key considerations.

Do:

  • Your policy should encourage appropriate use of social media.
  • It should ensure that individuals understand they are responsible for what they publish on social media
  • Prohibit employees from using social media in ways that may damage the company.
  • Provide training on the appropriate use of social media and advise them that you will monitor for compliance.

drunk selfie A quick guide to creating a social media policy for your businessDo not:

  • Allow employees to disclose or misuse confidential or company information.
  • Permit employees to use social media to harass colleagues.
  • Impose unnecessary restrictions on employee use of social media.

Narrative of a Social Media Policy

Communicate clearly on the company expectations for employee use of social media.

Detail in either a stand-alone social media policy or through a section in your employee handbook. Use the statement to remind employees that social media activity is not necessarily private and that the employer can discipline employees or conduct that breaches in the social media arena, just as in other arenas.

Also that online conduct that is harmful to the company can amount to misconduct or even gross misconduct.

The policy statement should consider the following areas:

  • Use of company IT resources;
  • Disclosure of company intellectual property or confidential information;
  • Protection of third-party intellectual property;
  • Protection from harassment, discrimination or bullying of other employees;
  • Negative comments about the company, its employees, business contacts or competitors.

Management considerations for effective implementation

  1. Train employees. HR or line management should detail there is employee monitoring and enforcement of the various company policies, restrictions, guidelines and contract provisions relating to social media. All action taken by the company is done in compliance with employees’ privacy rights.
  2. Avoid imposing unnecessary restrictions. Disproportionate restrictions can undermine employee morale and invite non-compliance, without real benefit to the company in terms of protecting its property, reputation or employees.

 

Richard Hughes 240x300 A quick guide to creating a social media policy for your businessThis straight forward, but important guidance was kindly provided by Richard Hughes.  His company, Click HR Limited advises, coaches and provides training through professional pragmatic HR advice.  You can contact him to discuss your social media policy challenges by email or by calling 01604 289650.

ClickHR Logo sm2 A quick guide to creating a social media policy for your business

 

 

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

The introduction of compulsory registration of all churches regardless of the excepted status has been delayed once again.

Compulsory Registration

The Charities Act 2006 (and now s.30 of the 2011 Act) stated that Churches would no longer be able to avoid registering with the Charities Commission and publishing their accounts in the public domain; but implementation of the new ruling seems to be a moveable feast.

The already extended deadline of 31st March 2014 is in the dim and distant past and a recent amendment to the Charities (Exception from Registration) Regulations 1996 suggests that the Commission will suggest giving further grace until at least 2021.

5511559120 f1d017c615 m Churches avoid additional regulation for a little longerWhat is an Excepted Church?

A charitable church is required to register with the Charity Commission unless it is exempt or excepted, with most being excepted.

This excepted status is achieved by proving that the charitable church is

  • used wholly or mainly for public religious worship,
  • has annual income of less than £100,000
  • already supervised by an oversight body (listed by the commission) that has clear guidance about the management and financial operations of the Church, and
  • not using the new CIO structure

Examples include most Baptist Churches, PCC (Parochial Church Council) and the FIEC (Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches) members.

The Commission has always had the power to demand that a church registers with them if they have reason to believe that further supervision is needed.

What will this change mean?

The short answer, additional compliance burden.

In a similar way to charitable companies being answerable to the demands of the Charities Commission/Charities Act and Companies House/Companies Act, previously excepted churches will have to report to their current oversight body and the Commission.

This will involve submitting accounts that consider the guidance of both their oversight body and the Charities SORP to both bodies.  They will also need to complete the Commission’s Annual Return.

In his 2012 review, Lord Hodgson recommended that the compulsory registration be phased over 3 years, by gradually reducing the £100,000 exception limit, but that suggestion has yet to be included in any Commission guidance.

Fortunately for me, the excepted Churches I act for are governed by the PCC whose accounting guidance closely reflects the SORP, so it should be a simple matter of filing the accounts and annual return with the commission.  Fingers crossed!

Further Guidance

If your charity or church needs guidance about it’s reporting responsibilities, please do not hesitate to give me a call on 01480 426500.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

52873351bc40c The Naughty Step Childrens Wall Sticker 300x232 Charities put on the naughty stepThe Charity Commission has recently sent final warnings to over 70  charities, who have failed to submit annual reports or accounts for at least two of the last five years.

Previous warnings ignored

According to reports, each of the charities has an annual income exceeding £250,000; and have been contacted previously by the Charity Commission and were told that they will be tarnished with the “double defaulters” black mark if the continue to fail to meet reporting deadlines.

Charity status at stake

Those with this indelible black mark will with out doubt be top of the list when it comes to selecting organisations for inspection and could easily jeopardise their charity status if they fail to satisfy the Commissions inquiries.

Support is at hand

8755031604 4c7381ce2f t Charities put on the naughty stepAs the holder of an ICAEW issued Diploma in Charity Accounting, I can help these forlorn organisations to get back on track, develop robust systems and to publish accounts that demonstrate public benefit and inspire stakeholders to continue their support.

Make sure your organisation’s charitable status is never in doubt. 

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Another quality business development tip from by Caroline Robinson of Sandler Training in Cambridge.

Hate asking for introductions so avoid doing it?

10772137703 bc1df2e195 m Do you avoid asking for referrals?Do you hate asking for introductions as much as I do, so much so that you never do it, or “forget” to ask?  You know it’s the best way to grow your business so why procrastinate? How can we ensure we do it systematically and effectively?

Firstly commit to doing it and be clear about what is a good referral for you.

Then, at the beginning of your meeting, lay your cards on the table, own up to your issue and get them to help you solve it.

An example

‘Being completely honest with you I have a problem. I hate asking for introductions but as I’ve committed myself to growing my business I’ve made a promise that I can’t leave without having asked you.  Can you help me with this? 

When we get to the end of this meeting please can you remind me to ask you if there are any other business owners you know who may be interested in X, Y, Z? ‘

What have you got to lose?

10797722765 1cf2c9b607 m Do you avoid asking for referrals?Try it.  You may be surprised at the results you get and very soon it becomes a lot easier to ask for referrals.

 

To find out more about how to get these things right more often in your business come to the next Business Leaders seminar. Click here for more details,  or here to sign up to the Sandler monthly newsletter with practical sales and prospecting tips.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

HMRC has had much success in collecting large amounts of tax from property related tax investigations recently, giving them more impetus to continue to challenge investors.

In particular, the widely used claim for PPR (Principal Private Residence) relief which significantly reduces exposure to Capital Gains Tax has been making headlines following a high profile debate about MP’s expenses.

Making a house a home

There+s+no+place+like+home 9d95e3 4741424 300x217 Property Investors Beware : You are HMRCs latest target!In order to be eligible for PPR relief, you must be able to demonstrate that the investment property was your home at some point during your ownership.

The term “home” is key here, merely paying council tax and redirecting some of your post simply is not enough.  HMRC may require evidence that your personal artefacts were present enabling you to reside in the property with “home” comforts, but of course what makes a house a home is a very subjective matter.

Evidence

Perhaps the current trend of sharing your personal life on Social Media, will become useful after all?

Flipping and switching

If you are what’s known as a “property flipper” (regularly buying, refurbishing and selling on) or have elected to change your principal residence from one property to another, which you are perfectly entitled to, be warned that you may be putting your head above the proverbial parapet.

Protect your eligibility

If you need advice on how to ensure you get the very valuable PPR relief, then please feel free to get in touch.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

In today’s digital age, information is accessible to many via the web, but the validity of the data published online is always difficult to establish.  With search engines offering entries from Wikipedia and blogs set up freely and authored by anyone who is inclined to share their opinions as if they were facts, the internet really is a minefield for those searching for clear, coherent and up to date advice.

laptop frustration Tax advice: Is the internet really the answer?However, it is reasonable to assume that major websites of core government organisations are up to date and free from misleading information, isn’t it?

Take the website of H M Revenue & Customs for example.  Full of guidance, help sheets and forms to download it is a useful source of information that goes some way to replace the much depleted staff numbers manning the ‘phone lines and tax offices.  But can it be relied upon?

In the next two weeks, we have the Self-assessment Tax Return filing deadline. If you were in any doubt as to whether this regime applies to you, it would be reasonable to visit www.hmrc.gov.uk and find the following as part of a list of circumstances in which a Return is necessary.

Quote “If you are an employee or a pensioner and already pay tax through a PAYE code, you can sometimes ask for tax that you owe on income, such as savings and property, to be collected through your code number. You’ll need to complete a tax return instead if the income you receive is:

  • £10,000 or more from taxed savings and investments
  • £2,500 or more from untaxed savings and investments
  • £10,000 or more from property (before deducting allowable expenses)
  • £2,500 or more from property (after deducting allowable expenses)”

5856616883 2e08acfeb6 m Tax advice: Is the internet really the answer?The words “you’ll need to” are certainly not ambiguous, however if receiving £10,000 or more of dividends does not create a charge to tax, perhaps because your employment earnings are minimal, this fact alone is not enough to require a Tax Return from you.

It is important to note that the list published by HMRC is intended as guidance, the need to file a return will depend on each taxpayer’s circumstances.  As it the taxpayer’s responsibility to notify HMRC of the need to file a Return, I am sure an “it depends” answer isn’t really what you were looking for.

Whilst the internet serves many needs, it must be used with caution when seeking advice regarding even the simplest taxation and accounting queries.  For the foreseeable future, there really is no replacement for trustworthy, personal advice from a team of trusted professionals!

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

3078856253 aa1e08579c m Sales Tip: Do prospects ever use the you are far more expensive than competitors line with you?When this happens it’s hard not to start justifying our price or getting outraged and walking away.

So, how else could you handle it?

 

 

Example one:

two people talking 300x225 Sales Tip: Do prospects ever use the you are far more expensive than competitors line with you?Buyer: You are more than twice the price of the other company we are talking too.

Salesperson: Of course I’m disappointed, but I appreciate your courtesy in telling us that you’re going with them

Buyer: I didn’t say that

Salesperson: I’m surprised. If they do the same things we can do for half our price it would seem like the logical conclusion that you would go with them?

Buyer: Well they don’t do exactly the same thing

Salesperson: But for your purposes, is it fair to assume they do what you need?

Buyer: Yes I think they do, but it’s a one-man band and I’m not sure how long they will be around

Salesperson: You know we want to work with you but you should do what’s in your best interest

Buyer: Well David has told me good things about you and if I go with them it means more risk if its doesn’t work out

 

Example Two:

yellow triangle Sales Tip: Do prospects ever use the you are far more expensive than competitors line with you?Draw a triangle with one of these words on each corner: Effective, Easy to use, Cheapest.

Explain to your buyer that most people want something that’s easy to use, very effective and cheap.
There are people who will tell you that they can do all three but that’s not true.  You can pick two but in reality no-one does all three.  So, which two are most important?

 

This tip was offered to you by Caroline Robinson of Sandler Training in Cambridge.

To find out more about how to get these things right more often in your business come to the next free Business Leaders seminar. Click here for more details,  or here to sign up to the Sandler monthly newsletter with practical sales and prospecting tips.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Now, I’m not particularly interested in politics, but the state of the economy and the property market is something that I just can not ignore.

Is it just me, or does George Osbourne’s grasp of economics worry you too?

In this Telegraph article  he is quoted as saying that 95% mortgages are not “weapons of mass destruction” despite warnings from RICS that they could create another housing bubble and he believes that large home loans are part of a “healthy market” and “aspiration society.”

2246559455 3d805f96a9 m British property ownership : aspiration society or loan default culture?How does he think the 2007/8 crash happened?

When Maggie gave us the opportunity to be home owners, do you think she envisaged British people being up to their eyeballs in debt?

Simple?

There are two very obvious problems with big mortgages

  1. If you stretch yourself to the maximum to afford a loan at a time when interest rates are at historically low levels what do you do when interest rates rise, as rise they must, sooner or later?
  2.  What do you do when the house in which you have 5% equity drops in value by 10%?

The answer in each case is default on the loan and hand the keys back, and we all know who will end up paying the costs of these bad bank debts!

Responsibility?

So who should take responsibility for promoting  this “so what” attitude to debt?

The first time buyers who are being allowed to take on such a huge financial burden?  The lenders? The Government?

Personally

Frankly as the owner of several buy-to-let properties I am revelling in the shortage of properties caused by the recession, profiting from the low interest rates and the chance of another “bubble” is very exciting!

But I am sure I am in the minority with this rather selfish outlook.  What’s your view?  Has the Chancellor got it all wrong? Will his strategy help the country to recover from its economic crisis?

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

 

The legislation enabling charities to use the “new” Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) structure was laid before Parliament last October and is being slowly implemented during 2013.

The journey

8411052360 32bc41e7eb m CIO’s: 20 years in the making, but are they worth the wait?The concept of a “simple” corporate structure was identified and debated when the Charities Act 1992 was first published and the CIO proposal developed during the late 1990’s.

The Home Office submitted a white paper entitled “Charities and Not-for-Profits: A Modern Legal Framework” in 2003 and the CIO structure finally became law as part of the Charities Act 2006, but it wasn’t until Lord Hodgson published his five year review of the Charities Act 2006 in 2012 and the Charities Act 2011 was issued that Parliament passed the CIO regulations for England & Wales and the Charity Commission could begin registering CIOs.

Still relevant?

The length of time taken to get to the current “implementation phase” has however dampened the initial enthusiasm for this new structure that enables Trustees to manage the activities and assets of the charity as a separate legal entity and benefit from limited liability, in the same way as a corporate entity, but without the need to comply with Company law.  I can see that this may be a reasonable option for a new organisation, but for existing charitable organisations (registered or not) I have yet to be convinced that the benefits outweigh the hassle, and if any form of finance is required, I don’t see it as an option at all.

172506278 203e72117f m CIO’s: 20 years in the making, but are they worth the wait?So far…

During January to May 2013 a mere 200 CIO’s have been registered, which I believe is partly due to the rather extended phased implementation, set out to assist the Charity Commission in dealing with the anticipated workload, but more likely the confusion over the tangible benefits of the new structure.

The future…

In 2014, Charitable Companies and Community Interest Companies (CICs) will be able to apply for CIO status, but considering the painful conversion process and the lack of understanding, particularly for those with debt finance, I doubt that the Commission will be dealing with a huge rush.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.