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Archive for October, 2012

whitevan

From the 2012 /13 tax year, the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) has been reduced to £25,000 and the writing down allowance reduced to 18%.

Should you purchase a van for £25,000 then you are able to offset the whole £25,000 against profits to reduce your tax bill in the first year of purchase.

Of course, you must have profits of at least £25,000 in the current year order to offset this.

Should you purchase vans and equipment in excess of £25,000, then the writing down allowance of 18% applies.

For further advice, contact a suitably qualified accountant.

Brentwood Accountant Transform AccountingEssex Accountants

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Huge Mansion

UK Business secretary Vince Cable has announced that the UK government is considering reducing the 50% highest tax rate but is also thinking about the introduction of a “mansion tax” to target the wealthiest citizens.

The Liberal Democrats have suggested that the definition of a mansion be houses that are valued at over £2 million and it has also been suggested that either an additional council tax band could be created or stamp duty be increased for multi million pound properties.

Vince Cable said “ It needs to be a change which is fair overall and does take account of the fact that the wealthy have got to pay their share. And the emphasis may well have to shift from high marginal rates of tax on income which are undesirable to taxation of wealth, including property”

Romford AccountantTransform AccountingEssex Accountants

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5 a side football pitch

There are over 150 all weather five a side football pitches across the country that offer local teams the chance to train and compete in leagues all year round. Many of these are floodlit and and are used every day for local amateur sport.

Until recently, the charges for using these pitches would have been exempt from VAT, on the basis that they were providing a social good by encouraging more people to get involved in exercise.

But the treasury has now proposed that this exemption from VAT be ended on the grounds that the pitches are often block booked by local football leagues which are deemed commercial enterprises rather than individuals and thus should be liable to VAT.

This would add about a £1 to the usual £5 fees paid by each team member per session.

This proposal has not gone down at all well with those who run local football leagues, especially in the year of the Olympics, and the olympic legacy of encouraging more Britons to take up sport.

Many are now starting to challenge the HMRC proposal and there are now even campaigns being supported by national newspapers. Like all tax challenges, we shall wait and see the outcome.

Accountant Brentwood Transform AccountingAccountant Essex

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cookies

There are two types of cookie rules in place today.

The first is a local set of rules involving the kids in my house and their repeated attempts to eat every biscuit that is within their reach and not locked away.

The second was introduced to the UK on May 26th 2012 relating to website cookies. Web site owners that used cookies had been given a years notice of these changes that required their web sites being amended to give users the option of consenting or not to the use of cookies on their site.

A cookie is a simple ‘text file’ used to store small bits of information which is generally used to track events or actions within a website and enhance or customise the site to your preferences.

The concern around cookies is that some people believe using cookies is a sneaky way of using your computer to store personal bit of information which could be used to build up a picture of your browsing habits. This information could then be used to target marketing campaigns at your preferences.

The UK information office has now written to more than 50 organisations running some of the most popular websites , asking if they have achieved compliance with the new regulations.  These letters are asking the web site owners who have not achieved this compliance, just why not and what are their timescales for achieving this compliance.

It also goes on to point out that fines of up to £ ½ million can be levied for non compliance.

Organisations that have received the letter have included Apple, the BBC, John Lewis, Network Rail, Microsoft, eBay and BskyB.

Chelmsford AccountantTransform AccountingEssex Accountant

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chest of coins

Reward Staff for Brilliant Ideas – But don’t pay too much tax     

For small business owners lucky enough to employ staff who come up with great ideas for saving your business money through a staff suggestion scheme, they may wish to reward their staff member.

But, there are ways to do this in the most tax efficient way, and these are making sure that you meet the rules for “Financial Benefit Awards”.

These rules allow staff to be paid an award, but without having to deduct tax or National Insurance.

The first choice is to pay the member of staff 50% of the value of the expected savings for the business in the first year as a result of the suggestion.

The second choice is to pay the member of staff 10% of the value of expected savings for the business over the next 5 years as a result of the suggestion.

In both cases, the amount that can be paid without attracting tax and NI is capped at £5,000, after which, normal tax and NI must be deducted.

Bookkeeper LoughtonTransform AccountingEssex Bookkeeper

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Liars Poker

We all love a top 10 list.

When it comes to finance, books come in three distinct categories.

Accounting Text books – avoid like the plague!

Firstly the long often dry and tedious text books that sometimes have to be studied to gain professional qualifications – I would advise steering well clear of these and leaving them to the accountants and lawyers who have to study them!

Personal Finance Self Help Books

Secondly, there are the personal finance self-help type books that try to teach you something as quickly as possible – there are many of these but if in doubt, the dummies books are always a good place to start.

The Exposé

And finally there are my favourite category – the exposé – a book that relies on research and investigative journalism to give you the inside story.
This is where the crime, corruption and incompetence comes in, with a little greed thrown in for good measure. And here is our Number 1 favourite finance book.

No 1 – Liars Poker – Mike Lewis

Liars Poker is the autobiographical tale of a young Michael Lewis, a graduate trainee for Salomon Brothers merchant bank in Wall Street and London in the mid 1980’s.
Lewis takes us through his training programme at Salomon and eventually onto the Bond trading desks in London, giving us insight into the corporate culture of get rich at all costs and the now infamous characters that dominated life at Salomon.

The title “Liars Poker” comes from a game of bluff that the traders  used to play with each other with stakes raised higher as you went through the ranks, culminating in a legendary game played for $10m between John Gutfreund (chairman of Salomon Brothers) and John Meriwether (bond trader).

When Gutfreund challenged Meriwether to “One million dollars. No tears”,  Meriwether famously replied replied,  “No, I’d rather play for real money. Ten million dollars. No Tears!”

A truly fascinating rollercoaster read of life in the city in the mid 80’s and a clear winner for our number 1 best financial expose.

“From mere trainee to lowly geek, to triumphal Big Swinging Dick.
That was Michael Lewis’ pell-mell progress through the dealing rooms of Salomon Brothers in New York and London during the heady mid-1980s when they were probably the world’s most powerful and profitable merchant bank.
A true-life Bonfire of the Vanities, funny, frightening, breathless and heartless, his is a tale of hysterical greed and ambition set in an obsessed, enclosed world.”

Bookkeeper HarlowTransform AccountingEssex Accountants

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apple imac

Apple Mac and Viruses – Should you be worried?

For those of us used to working on personal computers running any of the windows operating systems, anti-virus software has been a normal part of our computing experience.

I’m a PC … I’m a MAC

A trip to PC World or similar to purchase a new PC will always involve the discussion about which antivirus software you are going to employ – be in Norton, Symantec or Kapersky.
Once you have the software installed, there are the regular updates to the software and routine scans to make sure all is as it should be and to protect you from the hundreds of thousands of potential viruses out there.

But for those of us who have made the switch to Macs, viruses for the last 10 years have seemed like a thing of the past, that are only relevant for windows users.

You may have seen the “I’m a PC”, “I’m a Mac” television adverts where the PC is portrayed as suffering from a flu like virus, whilst the Mac is a picture of health – giving us the impression of invulnerability for Apple.

 

Why are there more viruses for PC than Mac?

There has been much debate regarding why there have been so few viruses for Macs whilst there have been so many for PC and these reasons can be grouped into three main areas.

Efficiency

The OSX Apple operating system is inherently much more efficient and has fewer weaknesses that can be exploited by computer viruses when compared to the windows operating systems.
However, the introduction of Windows 7 has resulted in a Microsoft operating system that is enormously improved from the previous versions and far harder to exploit.

Numbers

The number of machines – It is only recently that Apple have gained approx. 10% of the market share for PC’s and laptops.
In the past, this share has been much smaller.
For the writers of viruses, if you are writing a virus to attempt to make financial gain, then there is much more sense to write if for the machines that most people are using rather than that used by a minority..

Malicious

Many of the most malicious computer hackers and authors of computer viruses have always carried on a vendetta against the big dominant companies in the computer world.
Number one in their list has always been Microsoft whilst Apple was the “cool” alternative company. Now that Apple has overtaken Microsoft to be the dominant computer and electronics manufacturer, they could be targeted equally.

You can get a virus on your Mac

In recent times, the first few successful viruses for Apple Macs have started to increase in scale and impact. 
A vulnerability in Java was exploited in 2012 to infect 650,000 Apple Mac computers with a virus called “Trojan”.
Apple were quick to plug the flaw in their OSX operating system but this was a wake up call to users of Apple computers.

The future looks like it will involve Apple Mac users requiring the use of anti-virus software in the same way as for PC.

To put this into perspective, the risk of virus infection for Apple Mac users is considerably less than that for PC users ( not running anti-virus software ), but the risk is not zero as many believe.


How can I protect my Mac?

If the contents of your Apple Mac is precious to you, or you store personal or sensitive business data on your Mac, then now may be the time to invest in anti-virus software for you Mac.

Transform Accounting recommend Kapersky for either PC or Mac. Here is the link to their Mac anti-virus software.

http://www.kaspersky.co.uk/kaspersky-anti-virus-for-mac/

Brentwood AccountantsTransform AccountingEssex Accountants

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