Rush to beat Stamp Duty rise, retailers still pocketing customers’ VAT, the fear of failure, and accountants worst drivers on the road!

Tax

Buyers rush to beat stamp duty change – Conveyancing solicitors have been swamped with clients demanding they complete house purchases ahead of the imposition of a stamp duty surcharge. From Friday, higher rates of stamp duty applying to buy-to-let will mean the bill on a £250,000 home will rise from £2,500 to £10,000. Estate agency Haart said activity in London had increased by 35% this week, with staff organising viewings at irregular hours and hand-delivering documents to push through last-minute transactions. Separately, the FT reports that prices for properties in London’s wealthiest areas have dropped 6.7% since their 2014 peak.

Landlords rush to incorporate ahead of tax changes  – A study of Companies House and Office for National Statistics data by the Telegraph shows 4,560 property companies have been incorporated in the past three months, allowing buy-to-let property investors to avoid new taxes on rental income. The number is just over a 50% rise on the same period a year ago. Investors in the higher rate tax bracket will face new limits on their ability to offset mortgage interest against their rental income from next week. However, the rule does do not apply to corporate investors who will also benefit from a lower rate of corporation tax, which is due to be cut to 17% in the tax year 2020-2021, as well as reduced CGT charges. Due to other costs though, incorporating only makes sense for investors with more than 10 properties, says Gary Heynes at RSM

Retailers in airports still pocketing customers’ VAT savings  – A survey of five airports by the Mail found that retailers in airport terminals are still not passing on VAT savings to customers who are flying to destinations outside the EU. The paper found that WHSmith and Dixons Travel continued to ask for travel documents and charge the same prices, while Boots has stopped asking to see boarding passes but has not lowered prices and is not passing on discounts. A spokesman for HMRC told the Mail: “The review into airside VAT-free shopping is on-going.”

Pension freedoms 12 months on – Telegraph reported on who took advantage of pensions freedoms one year on and what they did with their money. The latest data from the Financial Conduct Authority shows that 383,571 pensions were accessed in the UK in the first six months after 6 April, with one in five using money to pay off debts. The most popular method of accessing cash is a facility called uncrystallised funds pension lump sum (UFPLS), chosen by 34% of retirees overall, followed by flexi-access drawdown, chosen by 30%. Annuities were chosen by just 13% of savers. A similar assessment is undertaken by the Guardian’s Patrick Collinson, who points out that property was the most popular destination for people’s savings, but considering the 7.33m people in the 55-64 age bracket, most did nothing at all.

Small business and enterprise

Fear of failure holding back entrepreneurs – Research by NatWest has found would-be entrepreneurs in Yorkshire are being held back by fear of failure. The study shows 23% of people across the region would like to start their own business, but 57% are deterred by the prospect of failure.

UK economy and markets

Prices fall as average hits £190,275 – Latest Land Registry figures show that house prices in February fell by 0.2% month-on-month, a small correction after January’s 2% rise. This small drop took the average property value down to £190,275. This is 6.1% higher than a year earlier, but down slightly on the January figure of £191,812. The figures showed that annual price growth in London is running at 13.5%, more than double the national average, with the typical price of a property in the capital now £530,368.

Meanwhile Average house price lower than previously thought – An overhaul of how the Office for National Statistics calculates house price figures is expected to show the average price of buying a house in the UK is lower than is currently believed. Early estimates have revealed that the difference could be as great as £37,000. The discrepancy has emerged following the ONS’ use of a new mathematical formula to calculate the nation’s average house price which gives less weighting to very high value properties. It suggests the average cost of a home in the period might have been £185,000 in England and Wales, compared with earlier estimates of £222,000.

Other

Accountants worst on the road – Insurer First Central has found that accountants are the most accident-prone drivers in Britain, responsible for more than 16,000 claims a year. They are followed by solicitors on 15,000. Roofers were linked to just 3,850 last year, putting them ahead of farm workers and builders in the top three most reliable motorists by trade.

Christian Elmes, Partner

Christian Elmes trained at PwC and qualified as a chartered accountant in 1999, before moving to Morgan Stanley (2000-2002) as Associate in the Investment Banking Division (IBD).

He was appointed Director of Finance, Teather & Greenwood Investment Management in 2002 and moved with the Tax Efficient Solutions team to Smith & Williamson in 2004, becoming Deputy head of the department. He left to co-found Enterprise in 2011.

Over the last ten years, Christian has been responsible for developing a number of tax efficient products, particularly Enterprise Investment Schemes. He is able to lead on tax efficient product development from inception through to completion, because of his financial and tax background and commercial experience.

Christian is competent across a broad range of sectors including, leisure and hospitality, media, property and renewable energy.

Christian is a non-executive board member to a number of leisure and hospitality companies, Casper & Cole Ltd, Wright & Bell Ltd, Albion & East Ltd, Camm & Hooper Ltd and Darwin & Wallace Ltd.

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