Category Archives: Hints and Tips

How to ride the investment rollercoaster

 

An investment can often be compared to a rollercoaster ride – ups and downs are expected, with an element of risk.

Watching the market in the run up to Brexit, I am sure that even the most courageous investor is feel slightly uneasy.

As someone with an inherent dislike of rollercoasters, I can absolutely understand this feeling of trepidation, and the cure for this is similar to what I do when I go on a rollercoaster – I make sure I fully understand what I am getting on and remember to think of the feeling of accomplishment when the ride finally finishes.

I think the problem some people face when investing is that they don’t recognise the process as like a rollercoaster ride, so when the experience becomes uncomfortable or frightening, they want to jump off straight away.

Recent research has shown that had you invested in the UK Stock Market over the last 15 years, your annualised return would have been 7.7%.

However, missing the best 10 days during that period would have reduced your return to 3.4% and missing the best 20 days to 0.8%!

The golden rule to investing is allowing your investments plenty of time to achieve their full potential. Be patient – when stock markets become volatile it is usually best to resist changes to your long term strategy.  

‘Time, not timing’ remains key to investing.

You wouldn’t jump off a rollercoaster mid-way through, so jumping off where your investments are concerned is equally as bad a move.

Just think of the end result, enjoy the ride and reap the long-term rewards.

If you have any questions regarding investments or financial planning, get in touch with Antony Keen by emailing antony.keen@pmm.co.uk or call 01254 679131.

PM+M Wealth Management is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Jill Morris, director of PM+M’s Run My Business division, cuts through the confusion of Making Tax Digital for VAT.

What is Making Tax Digital?

Making Tax Digital (‘MTD’) is an attempt to do exactly what its name suggests. Businesses will have to keep electronic records of their accounts (using HMRC MTD approved software) and file their tax information digitally.HMRC claims it wants to make tax administration more effective, more efficient and simpler.  In practice, it means that business and taxpayers will need to start using accounting software to digitally submit the returns instead of completing their VAT returns by typing numbers into the existing online HMRC portal.

When does MTD for VAT come into force?

Officially on 1st April. There is a stagger depending on the business quarter end date. This is when affected businesses will no longer be able to keep manual records. After that date, digital records must be maintained in software or spreadsheets which can connect to HMRC via an Application Programming Interface (API).

Who will be affected?

All VAT-registered businesses and organisations with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold of £85,000 per annum.

Are there any exemptions?

In the main, no. HMRC’s online VAT return will remain available only to businesses and organisations that are not within the scope of MTD for VAT. So, just those which complete a VAT return but have taxable turnover below £85,000.00 per year. However, the only exception to this is a small minority of VAT-registered businesses and organisations with more complex requirements. These include trusts, ‘not for profit’ organisations that are not set up as a company, VAT groups, VAT divisions, traders who are based overseas, annual accounting scheme users and any organisation that makes payments on account. Those which fall into any of these categories have a six month deferral until October 2019.

What do businesses need to do to be ready for MTD for VAT?

Firstly, take time to understand the facts and what MTD actually means for you. It’s a huge change and one that can’t be avoided. On a more practical level, speak to your accountant or carefully research the types of compatible software products that use HMRC’s API platform. There are a lot on the market – some better than others.  It will also take time to learn how to use so don’t leave it until the last minute.

What are the implications of not being compliant?

If your business is affected by MTD for VAT and you don’t use compatible software then you simply won’t be able to submit your returns and pay what is owed. If that happens, HMRC will consider your business to have defaulted on its VAT bill. When a   business fails to pay its VAT, it enters into a 12-month period called a ‘surcharge period’. During which time, it will be charged an additional fee on top of its VAT bill based on its annual turnover and past default history. If it still fails to pay VAT, its account will go into arrears and HMRC will take steps to recoup the monies – often through the courts.

PM+M can offer a wide range of services and support to help you become MTD compliant (including reviewing your current VAT procedures, guiding you towards a suitable solution, assisting with quarterly submissions to HMRC and even providing training for your team). Get in touch with our specialist MTD team to find out more by emailing MTD@pmm.co.uk or by calling 01254 679131.

24/7 work culture – are you complying with minimum wage?

The advent of new technology has transformed the way we work and live. This dramatic change has wiped-out the 9-5 office culture, creating endless possibilities and making it far easier to work outside of the workplace. The average working week in the UK has risen to 42.7 hours for full time employees* so, how does this impact on your team and their salary?

 

What does this mean for employers?

Recently, a case was highlighted in Ireland where an executive was rewarded €7,500 after arguing that she was required to deal with out-of-hours work emails. This led to the individual working more than the maximum 48 hours a week set out in Ireland’s Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

Obviously, enhanced communication can make our lives easier, but we can equally fall victim to constantly being tied to our job. In National Payroll Week our payroll team are encouraging employers to address the necessary policies to ensure that their employees can switch-off entirely.

No emails out of working hours or during holidays, no staying at the office outside normal hours, unless necessary and no calls to mobiles outside of the employees normal working hours, are just a few suggestions. Other measures include work-sharing and ensuring employees have a healthy and productive work-life balance.

Our digital mobility and capacity to work for longer periods of time and at differing hours can be very productive but also counter-productive for employee’s well-being and ultimately affect the salary. It is important that organisations work with individuals to produce guidance that is effective for all.

Julie Mason, who heads up the PM+M payroll team said: “Individual requirements for flexibility can make ‘a one for all policy’ difficult, but what is most imperative is to ensure that everyone can benefit and that a supportive culture is developed which focuses on the well-being of all team members. This in turn will mitigate any risk to the employer on dropping below the minimum wage.”.

If you would like to discuss any payroll issues with Julie Mason or any member of the payroll team, please contact our Payroll Services Manager, Julie Mason, on 01254 679131 or via email at julie.mason@pmm.co.uk.

Introducing new Xero Expenses

Expense claims are a part of running any business, from fuel to office supplies and everything in between. However, a what should be simple task of reimbursing employees can quickly turn into a laborious, paper work nightmare.

Well, not anymore. Recently Xero launched their new Xero Expenses to tackle several issues within Xero. The new function will run along aside the existing and gives accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses all the tools needed to process expense claim simply and efficiently.

What’s new?

  • Faster expense capture – Reduces the need to keep paper receipts, a quick picture taken on a smart phone can be automatically scanned in.
  • Push notifications – To keep businesses, employees and advisors up to date with claims from anywhere.
  • More flexible user permissions –  Giving complete control of who can view, submit, and approve an expense claim for or on behalf of someone else.
  • Simple and intuitive workflows – Making it easy to monitor, review and approve any unpaid expenses.
  • Greater insights and powerful analytics – Helping businesses to understand their spending habits and patterns with a detailed and real-time understanding.

If you have been using classic expense claims in the six months prior 10 July 2018, you can continue using it for the foreseeable future. However, you’ll also be able to try out Xero Expenses for free until 28 September 2018.

For any further information, help or advice with Xero, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01254 679131 or email cloudaccounting@pmm.co.uk.

HMRC Inheritance Tax receipts at a record high


Inheritance tax paid by British families has hit a record high of £5.1bn in the year to May 2017.

This is largely caused by the fiscal drag of continuing house price inflation compared to the frozen inheritance tax nil rate band of £325,000.

The new residence nil rate band which came into effect on 6 April this year may start to reduce the inheritance tax take figures, but the complexity of the new rules and the relatively narrow band of people for whom it will be of benefit mean it is unlikely to have a dramatic effect.

Inheritance Tax by the numbers

  • Inheritance tax is charged at 40% on the portion of a deceased person’s estate over and above the nil rate band of £325,000.
  • Anything left to a spouse is exempt (providing they are UK domiciled).
  • If the deceased person is a widow or widower, they may also have inherited their former spouse’s nil rate band if they didn’t use it, meaning they can have £650,000 of exemption.
  • The residence nil rate band adds another £100,000 of exemption per person – but with a complex set of conditions surrounding it. This allowance increases by £25,000 per year until it reaches £175,000 per person in April 2020.
  • You can also inherit your deceased spouse’s residence nil rate band if they didn’t use it.
  • Adding all those nil rate and residence nil rate bands together means that couples can get up to £1million of inheritance tax exemption if they plan properly.

Inheritance tax is complex and thinking about what you want to happen after your death can be daunting.  However, if you don’t want your family to be contributing to the Government’s tax receipts, you need to face it.  Our job is to make that as clear and painless as possible for you, helping you understand the options available to you and making sure that your estate and pension planning are aligned.

We draw on our strong blend of tax and financial planning expertise, coupled with our personal touch, to help our clients build the right solution for their families.

For more information, talk to us and we’d be more than happy to help.

Jane Parry – Tax Partner
jane.parry@pmm.co.uk
01254 679131

Looking forward to ATED

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If you own residential property in a company and its worth more than £500,000, then you may need to comply with the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) rules.

The rules require an annual tax return to be submitted by 30 April covering the forthcoming year.  The ATED charge for the forthcoming year must also be paid on that date.

Who needs to file an ATED return?

ATED returns must be filed and an ATED charge paid every year by non-natural owners of residential properties located in the UK, where the property is worth more than £500,000, and one of the reliefs or exemptions has not been claimed for the property.

A non-natural person can be defined as one of the following:

–       Any company wherever it is registered;
–       A partnership where one or more of the partners is a company;
–       A collective investment scheme.

There are exemptions from the charge, for example for properties which are commercially let, but there is still a requirement to submit the annual ATED return and claim the exemption, even if you have nothing to pay.

The rates

The new rates have recently been revealed for the chargeable year beginning 1 April 2017. The charge for the period will need to be paid by 30 April 2017.

Property value £ 2016/17 £ 2017/18 £
500,001 – 1,000,000 3,500 3,500
1,000,001 – 2,000,000 7,000 7,050
2,000,001 – 5,000,000 23,350 23,550
5,000,001 – 10,000,000 54,450 54,950
10,000,001 – 20,000,000 109,050 110,100
Over 20,000,000 218,200 220,350

The valuation band is determined by the properties’ market value as at 1 April 2012. If the owner acquired the property since that date, the value to use is the open market value at the date of acquisition.

If the property falls within 10% of a valuation band, the owner can apply to HMRC for a pre-return banding check. These checks can take at least 30 days to process, so it is best to apply as soon as possible.

For more information on ATED or if you’re worried about the above rates, please get in touch with our tax team by emailing tax@pmm.co.uk or by calling 01254 679131.

 

Salary Sacrifice Changes From April 2017

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New rules are coming in on 6 April 2017 for certain benefits in kind where they are provided by salary sacrifice.

If you provide benefits to your employees in exchange for salary sacrifice or have a flexible benefits package where your employee can choose a benefit or cash, or where you provide benefits but offer your employee a cash alternative then you need to know about these changes.

Benefits impacted are those which are currently taxable, like cars and white goods, and those currently tax exempt, like mobile phones and workplace parking.

You don’t need to do anything if your employees are only sacrificing salary for:

  • Pensions or pensions advice,
  • childcare vouchers,
  • workplace nurseries,
  • directly employer contracted childcare,
  • cycle to work or
  • ultra-low emission company cars (emissions of or under 75 g CO2 / km).

The new rules start on 6 April 2017. Salary sacrifice contracts entered on or before 5 April 2017 will be protected up until the contract hits a trigger point. From 6 April 2017, the normal trigger point is when the salary sacrifice contract renews, auto-renews, starts, ends or is modified or changed. At this point you must use the new rules. This should align with your normal contractual arrangements.

If an employee starts a contract on or after 6 April 2017, then you will need to immediately use the new rules for that employee. This will apply to any new recruits who adopt the arrangements.

For a better understanding of what is changing and what you need to do next, please click the button below to view our help sheet.

HELPSHEET

Buy-to-let – the new rules are coming

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If you cast your mind back to the 2015 summer budget, you may remember the significant changes that will impact all landlords. The implementation date of these changes is drawing ever closer and it will eat into landlords’ profits and, in some cases, may wipe them out completely.

With the slashed tax relief and added stamp duty, you may feel that someone has got it in for buy-to-let landlords. The question is what can you do about it?

What does the loss of tax relief mean?

This is one of the biggest changes to buy-to-let and now means that people buying to let residential property will no longer be able to claim tax relief on their mortgage interest payments at their marginal rate of tax. Before the changes this meant that basic rate taxpayers would get 20% tax relief, but those at a higher rate would receive 40% or 45% in tax relief.

What’s changing?

The changes mean that the tax relief will be a flat rate of 20%. Basic rate taxpayers, in most cases, will not see any changes, but those on higher incomes will find themselves losing much more in mortgage interest payments.   Also, more landlords may find themselves unexpectedly moving up into the higher rate tax bracket because of the way the new rules work.

To provide some perspective, here’s an example:

A landlord with a £150,000 buy-to-let mortgage on a property worth £200,000, with a monthly rent of £800, would currently have a net profit after tax of around £2,160 a year. With the lower tax relief, the net after-tax profit would be reduced £960.

Overall, the higher the interest you pay, the more you will feel the changes.

However, the full impact of the new rules is not felt immediately, as these changes will be gradually phased in from 6 April 2017, with transitional rules in place until April 2020. During the transition, the amount of interest directly deductible from rents will reduce and the proportion deducted as a fixed 20% credit will increase. This means in the transitional period landlords will be able to claim:

Tax year Interest deductible from profits Interest at fixed basic rate credit
2017/18 75% 25%
2018/19 50% 50%
2019/20 25% 75%

Income tax on property gains!

New rules announced last year, designed to target non-resident companies and individuals from escaping UK tax on profits made from the sale of UK properties, could inadvertently impact UK landlords. The new rules seek to charge the profits on selling UK property to UK income tax rather than CGT when the ownership of the property is more in the nature of a trade than a fixed investment.

When the changes were announced, there was widespread concern that UK landlords could be affected.

HMRC have now addressed this by releasing a 64-page guidance document to help clarify how they will seek to operate the rules.  In the guidance, they state that the new rules will not apply to businesses which buy properties in order to generate rental income, even if these businesses also enjoy an uplift in market value of the property. So the average UK buy-to-let landlord should not be subject to income tax on the gains he makes when he sells properties which were acquired for letting.

Whilst this is good news, it is only HMRC guidance and not law. For those particularly concerned about this new legislation, the position can be clarified with HMRC under their non-statutory clearance application process.

 

 

Inheritance Tax And The New Residence Nil Rate Band

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Much of my time is spent advising clients on inheritance tax, both the current liability on their estates, and what can be done to address it. It’s an emotive subject, with many clients feeling aggrieved that the wealth they have created over their lifetime is being taxed again on death.

In response to this, the former Chancellor, George Osborne introduced additional measures to potentially reduce the tax take for the treasury, and allow people to pass on more of their money to their families on death.

On death, if you leave assets to anyone other than your spouse, inheritance tax is paid at a rate of 40% on any assets you hold above the nil rate band; this currently stands at £325,000 each (£650,000 for couples).

It has long been the objective of the Conservative Party, to increase the point at which inheritance tax becomes payable by couples to above £1 million. The simplest way to address this would have been to increase the nil rate band to £500,000 each. However, for political and financial reasons this was not the solution George Osborne devised.

An additional nil rate band was created of up to £175,000 each, relating to the family home.  This will be phased in over 4 years from 6 April 2017, starting at £100,000 each and increasing by £25,000 per year over 3 years. This is in addition to the existing nil rate band. Thus, if you as a couple have a home worth £350,000, you may eventually be able to pass on a joint estate of £1 million without being subject to inheritance tax.

This all sounds good news but it should be noted that not everyone will qualify.  Here are a few key points:

  • If your estate is worth more than £2m your entitlement to the residence nil rate band starts to disappear;
  • The rules stipulate that homes must be passed on to direct descendants, by which it means children and grandchildren;
  • I’ve had to inform clients who are leaving all their assets to nephews and nieces that they won’t get this additional relief;
  • Step-children and adopted children are counted in the definition as children so that is welcome;
  • If leaving the property into a trust, it must be one that creates a fixed entitlement to the property to a direct descendant, it can’t be wholly discretionary;
  • If one spouse doesn’t use their residence nil rate band, it can be passed on to the other spouse to use on the second death in the same way as the ‘normal’ nil rate band;
  • It can only be claimed against one property so two properties totalling £350,000 may require you to claim this relief against the higher value property only; and
  • There are also a myriad of rules relating to downsizing, which will probably require further revision by the Government to ensure they work in the way intended.

Inheritance tax is an area where many people will require advice. If you wish to receive advice on the Residence Nil Rate Band or any other inheritance tax matter, please get in touch.

Written by Richard Hesketh
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Richard Hesketh 
Client Manager
Email: richard.hesketh@pmm.co.uk
Direct: 01254 604340

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Jane Parry 
Managing Partner & Head of Tax
Email: jane.parry@pmm.co.uk 
Direct: 01254 604329

 
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PM+M Wealth Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Trumping the market!

shutterstock_353116961The vote is in and Donald Trump has been voted President, words perhaps few people expected to read this morning and a deja vu feeling of Brexit!

Whilst investors and markets would undoubtedly have preferred the more stable influence of Hilary Clinton, Trump as President might not be a disaster. It is worth noting that the power of the President’s Office is limited by the Constitution, through the chambers of Congress and the Supreme Court. The Federal Reserve also remains independent.

So what does Trump mean for investors?  Initially, as we saw with Brexit, markets are likely to be volatile and we have already seen falls in the Asian markets overnight; the FTSE is currently down 1.2%. During volatile markets, and especially when you may be showing some short-term losses on investments, it is tempting to sell and wait for the markets to improve before reinvesting.

It is perhaps useful to look at market patterns and history before making the decision to sell.  According to Fidelity International, an investor who invested in the FTSE All Share Index for the last fifteen years, but missed the best ten days would have achieved an annualised return of 1.46%, against 5.69% by those investors that remained invested. Missing the best forty days reduced your annualised return to -5.62!

Often the largest returns are achieved shortly after these falls, so the message is simple. Provided you have a clear investment strategy and review process in place, you should hold your nerve and investments, and over the medium and longer term you will be rewarded.

Like a game of Top Trumps, if you hold the quality cards you win over the longer term.

For a review of your pension and investments, please contact Antony Keen by emailing antony.keen@pmm.co.uk or by calling 01254 679131.