Back from the summer break to a handwritten Post-It from HMRC, banks cancel their Brexit recession forecasts, and more

Tax

HMRC takes £3bn through APN rules – HMRC has used Accelerated Payment Notices (APN), which allow it to force those under investigation to pay disputed tax in advance, to take billions in receipts. Since APN rules were introduced in 2014, HMRC has issued 60,000 such notices to bring in £3bn earlier than could have otherwise been hoped. “We’re determined to change the economics of tax avoidance by making it harder for the dishonest minority to cheat the system, collecting disputed tax upfront and tough new sanctions for enablers of tax avoidance will mean people will think twice,” said Jane Ellison, financial secretary to the Treasury. Jennie Granger, director general for enforcement and compliance at HMRC, added: “We want to encourage as many avoidance users as possible to come forward and settle their schemes with us”.

Inheritance tax payments to hit record high – Inheritance tax payments are set to hit a record high this year as more property sales are affected, according to Saga Investment Services’ study of 105 postcode areas in England and Wales, which showed 24% of houses sold last year exceeded the £325,000 threshold. In central London, 82% of properties sold so far this year exceeded that figure, up from 76% in 2015, while outside the capital, St Albans saw a jump from 62.7% last year to 70.8% so far this year. Those paying over £325,000 in Oxford also jumped from 42.1% to 47.7% from 2015 to 2016.

R&D tax break boost to British business – A survey by Forrest-Brown has found that R&D tax credits have proven a major boost to British business. The study of 247 business leaders found 39% had spent more as a result of the tax break and 47% said the credits had led to them taking on staff. However, Forrest-Brown also found many businesses were unaware they could claim the credits to help fund R&D.

Irish cabinet to appeal against EU ruling – The Republic of Ireland’s cabinet has agreed to appeal against the European Commission’s ruling that Ireland granted undue tax benefits of up to €13bn (£11bn) to Apple. Michael Noonan, Ireland’s finance minister, said Europe had overstepped the mark in attempting to dictate tax laws and enforce today’s rules on a tax deal with Apple that had been struck 25 years ago. Speaking after Friday’s cabinet meeting, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “This is about Ireland, it is about our people, it’s about us as a sovereign nation, actually setting out what we consider our appropriate policies”.

Buy-to-let landlords reassured over sales tax – Buy-to-let landlords have been reassured that proposed amendments to this year’s budget legislation should not change the way rental properties are taxed when they are sold. One of the key tests to decide whether someone falls foul of the new rules is whether “the main purpose, or one of the main purposes, of acquiring land is to realise a profit or gain from disposing of the land”. However, Sue Moore, of the ICAEW, says she is confident that buy-to-let gains will not be taxed as income. She argues: “In most cases buy-to-let landlords aim to rent out their properties for the long term and they benefit from the regular monthly rental income. They might hope, in addition, to make a capital gain when they eventually sell their property, but they are not generally in the business of buying a property and then selling it on immediately.”

Tax demands with the personal touch — a handwritten Post-it note! – HMRC’s latest attempt to nudge taxpayers into settling bills involves attaching handwritten post-it notes to letters urging taxpayers to get in touch.

Small business and enterprise

Invest in start-ups to tackle the great pension tax squeeze – Forthcoming changes to pension rules mean demand for this season’s Venture Capital Trust (VCT) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) offers is expected to be at a record level.

Third of start-up scheme loans written off – The Government-backed Start Up Loans scheme has seen £72.4m of loans written off or fall into default since launching in September 2012, according to figures provided by the British Business Bank. The amount is equivalent to 31% of the £231.8m loaned under the programme, and is higher than the £69.7m recouped in loan repayments. Some 35%, or 13,719, of the 39,566 loans issued under the scheme are in default or have been written off by the BBB. A Department for Business spokesman responded: “A quarter of a billion pounds has gone to entrepreneurs through the programme, creating thousands of jobs and generating a return on investment to the economy of £3 for every £1 spent.”

UK economy, investment and markets

Low interest rates doing more harm than good – The Times’ Philip Aldrick argues that low interest rates and “super-lax monetary policy” is responsible for driving up the UK’s pension fund deficit to £710bn. He notes that as gilts have risen, other assets including shares and house prices have been lifted to junk debt levels. At the same time, he says, interest rates have been cut so low that central banks are locked into subsidising lenders. If permanently low rates are the new normal, warns Mr Aldrick, pension trustees have no choice but to fill the gap.
Elsewhere, PwC’s Andrew Sentance says low interest rates mean that from the perspective of long-term investors like pension funds and insurance companies, “we are already in a world of negative returns.” He says there needs to be a total rethink of monetary policy, both in the UK and worldwide.

Property or pensions? – David Prosser in the Times looks at which offers the best returns in retirement, property or pensions. This comes after Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist, was asked which he thought the better option and replied: “It ought to be pension, but it’s almost certainly property.”

Two banks cancel Brexit recession forecasts – Both Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley lifted growth predictions for 2016 and 2017 after the three main purchasing managers’ surveys revealed positive results for August, cancelling their predictions of an EU referendum recession.

London retains top global city crown – London has been ranked the most business friendly city in the world for the second year running, with its closest rival Singapore well behind. PwC’s research into the top 30 capital cities said London’s status as an economic powerhouse and magnet for innovation had helped it to “pull away” from global rivals this year. The study was conducted well before UK’s decision to leave the EU, but PwC said London’s dynamism meant it would remain “agile and resilient” in the face of the Brexit vote and that the prospects for London remained bright. The report said: “We cannot predict what Brexit may mean to the future of London as a pre-eminent world city, we do know it is today one of the world’s most cosmopolitan and well balanced cities, as shown by our research. Any effects Brexit may have on London will take place in a process that will evolve over time and not overnight.”

Other

Discount store owner is north-west’s richest man – Tom Morris, the owner of Liverpool-based retail chain Home Bargains, is the richest person in the north-west, with a fortune of £2.5bn. Second on the list, compiled by Insider Media, is the Peel Group property tycoon John Whittaker (£2.06bn).

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 establish Enterprise in 2011.

Over the last ten years, Christian has been responsible for developing a number of tax efficient products, particularly Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS). 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, Ruth & Robinson Ltd, Camm & Hooper Ltd and Darwin & Wallace Ltd.

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