• JOHN H.F. KING

    CHARTERED CERTIFIED ACCOUNTANTS

    We are a small firm specialising in giving advice to small to medium sized owner managed businesses.

    We aim to ensure that all clients receive a friendly personalised service relevant to their needs.

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09-01-2019
Automatic enrolment for the self-employed?

The government has confirmed that they are to examine a number of different approaches to help encourage the self-employed to save for their retirement. The success of automatic enrolment for pension savings for the employed has helped highlight that pension savings for the self-employed are lagging behind those achieved for the employed. In fact, government research has shown that only around 14% of self-employed people were saving into a pension in 2016-17.

The government has now decided that it is high time to encourage some of the 4.8 million self-employed people across the country to save for various short, medium and long-term financial goals (including retirement). The number of self-employed continues to grow and now makes up around 15% of the UK workforce. These measures are especially important for the many self-employed people that have made no provisions for the future and face reaching old age without the ability to properly support themselves.

Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, said:

'We want to see effective, long-lasting solutions that boost the future prospects of millions of hard-working self-employed people, and will work with the financial services sector, professional trade bodies, unions and others to achieve that.'

The government has said that new trials will be launched early this year and will include:

  • encouraging employees who become self-employed to keep making regular, affordable, contributions to a pension or other long-term savings product
  • better use of financial technology to help the self-employed overcome barriers to saving
  • making the most of communication points of contact used by self-employed people - such as online accounting systems - to promote saving for retirement in an easily understood way.

Extending automatic enrolment to the self-employed is not on the current legislative list although it was an election manifesto commitment by the government. Only time will tell if this will be introduced although it is thought a roll-out of automatic enrolment for the self-employed would be a complicated move and may not be an ideal solution.

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09-01-2019
New 'global' pound coin

HM Treasury has confirmed that the £1 coin will be going global. This announcement means that the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies will be able to design and mint their own versions of the 12-sided £1 coin replacing the older coins. The coins are expected to feature images celebrating the heritage of these territories, with their history and culture pictured on the reverse side.

The new £1 coin was introduced in 2017. The coin was introduced partly to help combat the problem of counterfeit coins. The features of the new £1 coin include: hidden high security features to combat counterfeiting in the future as well as a hologram-like image that changes from a ‘£’ symbol to the number ‘1’ when the coin is seen from different angles. The Royal Mint will work to ensure that the new coins in these territories meat the same security standards as in the UK.

Robert Jenrick, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

'The Great British pound is internationally recognised and as we extend the new £1 coin to our territories and dependencies, we will see new designs emerge that together symbolise our shared history. In the same way that the rose, leek, thistle and shamrock are used on our coin to represent the four nations of the UK, these new designs will reflect the rich and varying British communities across the world. From the Falklands to Gibraltar, this move sends a clear message of our unshakeable commitment to our territories around the globe.'

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09-01-2019
Check if your Holiday let property is qualifying

The Furnished Holiday Let (FHL) rules, allow holiday lettings of properties that meet certain conditions to be treated as a trade for some specific tax purposes.

In order to qualify as a furnished holiday letting, the following criteria need to be met:

  • The property must be let on a commercial basis with a view to the realisation of profits. Second homes or properties that are only let occasionally or to family and friends do not qualify.
  • The property must be located in the UK, or in a country within the EEA.
  • The property must be available for commercial letting at commercial rates for at least 30 weeks (210 days) per year.
  • The property must be let for at least 15 weeks (105 days) per year and home owners should be able to demonstrate the income from these lettings. 
  • The property must not be used for more than 155 days for longer term occupation (i.e. a continuous period of more than 31 days).
  • Where there are a number of furnished holiday lettings properties in a business, it is possible to average the days of lettings for the purposes of qualifying for the 15 weeks threshold. This is called an averaging election.

There is a special period of grace election which allows homeowners to treat a year as a qualifying year for the purposes of the furnished holiday let rules, where they genuinely intended to meet the occupancy threshold but were unable to do so subject to a number of qualifying conditions.

In any other cases, where the qualifying conditions are not met the normal property income rules apply. Trading losses from a furnished holiday lettings business can only be set off against qualifying future FHL profits.

Planning note

This is a good time to review your actual occupancy in the current tax year and if necessary, look for further bookings before the end of the current tax year. This should be done to ensure that you have met the minimum qualifying requirements and to benefit from the special FHL tax rules. If you need help crunching the numbers, please call.

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