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Christmas and New Year is the time for giving – but what are the tax implications?

As this is the ‘Season of Goodwill’ in this month’s tax tips we are focusing on the tax implications of Giving.

Charity Donations

Firstly let’s consider the donations you make to Charities. Many people are aware that if you make a donation to a charity via the gift aid scheme, then the charity will receive an additional payment of basic rate tax from HMRC. But what many people paying higher rates of tax may not realise is that they can also benefit from tax relief on donations.  By declaring their charitable Gift Aid donations, they can claim relief equal to the difference between the higher rate of tax and the basic rate of tax at 20% on the total value of the donation.  So if you donate £100 to a charity, and you are currently paying tax at 40% you can claim additional tax relief which saves £24 tax!

‘Small’ gifts

What about the gifts to family and friends? Well you can make small gifts up to the value of £250 to as many individuals as you like in any one tax year and they will all be exempt from Inheritance Tax when you die.

Annual exemption

You can give away additional gifts worth up to £3,000 in total in each tax year and these gifts will also be exempt from IHT. There is also provision to carry forward the unused part of the £3,000 exemption from last tax year.

Wedding gifts/civil partnership ceremony gifts

If you give cash or gifts or because of a Wedding or civil partnership, then this will be exempt from IHT if it is below the following limits:

Parents –  each up to £5,000

grandparents and great grandparents – each up to £2,500

anyone else – up to £1,000

Regular gifts or payments that are part of your normal expenditure

If you make regular gifts out of your after-tax income, these can also be exempt from Inheritance Tax. These gifts will only qualify if you have enough income left over to maintain your normal lifestyle.

Any other gifts

Gifts in excess of the above exemptions, but which were made more than seven years before the donor dies are free of IHT. However, if you reserve any benefit from a gift – such as continuing to live in a house you have given away- “gift with reservation” rules may apply tax as though your gift had never happened…

 We offer a free 30 minute consultation, so if you would like any additional information regarding the above or any other tax issues concerning you, then please contact us or visit us in our offices in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local magazine delivered to homes and businesses in Sutton Coldfield, Walmley, Minworth and surrounding area’s.

Property Has the nation rekindled its love affair with property?

After a five year drought, the television schedules are awash with property programmes once again. Grand Designs is enjoying its annual run of programmes, but these are all brand new projects rather than updates on programmes that were first run a few years ago. Kevin McCloud can also be seen in Man Made Home, a quirky series about building a beach hut from recycled materials. Sarah Beeny, who made her name showing amateurs how to make money out of property development, is now telling them how to achieve their dream house for half the cost of upsizing.

Caroline Quentin has recently finished her latest series of Restoration Home, a programme about people who spend hundreds of thousands of pounds restoring historic properties that should probably have been left to crumble to dust. Meanwhile, a brace of architects are showing self builders how to create a perfect home for a pittance in The House that £100k Built. Recently, I saw the first episode of Location, Location, Location, that wasn’t a rerun from six years ago, in a long time. In case you’ve forgotten the concept, this is a house hunting show fronted by Kirsty Allsopp and Phil Spencer. All this and I haven’t even started on the numerous property shows that litter the daytime television listings.

Sutton Coldfield hasn’t returned to the days of 2006 when this kind of programme was at its height. The money no object, fortunes to be made exuberance of the mid noughties is long gone and may never return. Instead, the focus is more on getting the absolute maximum of bangs for your buck. For instance, the concept of Sarah Beeny’s show is that people who have run out of space can extend and renovate their current property for half the cost of selling up and buying a bigger house. But we can still take heart from this; people are passionate about property again and that can only be good news for the housing market.

Craig Brown

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local magazine delivered free to homes in Walmey, Minworth and Sutton Coldield

Puffed up and Puffed out – from Walmley Pages Magazin

Did you remember to change your clocks? Autumn is a time to curl up and let the world pass me by. All I seem to think of is how long it will be until spring! However that feeling soon gives way to appreciating the smells and colours of the great outdoors that surround us here in Walmley. Just a walk in the Valley country park is enough to freshen even the most jaded of psyches. Jaded is how I feel after another round of the talking head hot air that are the annual party conferences. I cannot even get heated about the guff that flows from these self congratulatory and self flagellatory talking shops. What I can do instead, and I urge you to join me, is to laugh at `em. Just as they are being laughed at by the unions, by the BBC, by the illegal immigrants, by the feckless underclass, by the bankers and by the industry that surrounds political correctness and Health and Safety.

Talking of politicians (and indeed I was) I wonder whether the much heralded and derided HS2 railroad has been junked yet ?

I have no wish to pay for the construction of this folly of the future. If it such a good idea and guaranteed success why is  private investment not being sought ? Has not history shown us that these grand government vanity projects don`t work , always overrun on cost and time, whereas private projects with shareholders and profits to worry about ,invariably work or don`t get built.

Last thoughts for November, enjoy a safe Bonfire Night on the 5th.

Try to make it to the War Memorial, Walmley Village on Sunday 10th for the annual Remembrance day service. Always well attended and very moving.

                                                                                                                                                                                              

Jeff Gilbert – Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, distributed free of charge to residents and businesses in the Walmley and Sutton Coldfield area.

 

Cheers and Cheeps – Article from Walmley Pages Magazine

Do we in Walmley realise how lucky we are to have a number of unpaid and unsung heroes who quietly enhance all our lives with no thought of recompense or reward. This attitude goes straight to the real heart of that elusive ideal, “community “. People like the group of pensioners who weekly tidy round the church and church hall, the early morning duo who tidy around the Select n Save area, THANKS to you all.

The magical appearance of our hanging baskets, Christmas tree and lights, they all have silent arrangers behind the scenes as do the annual Remembrance service at the memorial, ditto the carols round the tree each December. THANKS to you all .Too many to mention who help out in our Country Park, those who pick up other folks litter , those who help to cut back overgrowth , those who always answer the call for workdays. THANKS to you all, Chrissy , David, Chris, Jenny, Paul, Bill…….The list is extensive and covers many ages and both genders. All of these hardy souls do not sit back and whine “something must be done”, they get out there and do it !

I know that through August and September your garden birds have been quiet and less in evidence . This is perfectly normal and is as a result of their annual moult when they feel vunerable , so don’t sing and tend to skulk. By now they will be coming back and this is a good time to establish a feeding station in your garden to ensure plenty of winter entertainment from a convenient window.

Provide clean water and a variety of foods in your chosen spot and enjoy.  Remember keep it clean and regular. Small quantities at first to avoid attracting vermin. Just one reason to look forward to winter. Lastly, a date for your diary…

 

Saturday October 12th    Crocus planting in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield

All welcome, just bring your trowel, and dig it ! 

 

Jeff Gilbert – Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local free magazine delivering to homes in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield and surrounding areas.

 

Lichfield – the city of the summer

Lichfield, it seems, is on the map and we’re attracting famous people. Maybe Princess Anne started it with her visit to Beacon Park back in the spring. Or perhaps Bob Geldof, sighted wondering around the city last year, or our very own Tony Christie.

The truth is that Lichfield has a vibrant arts and social scene, and this summer we’re set to play host to many more famous and talented people. People like comedians Alan Davies and Chris Addison, Tracey Beaker author Jacqueline Wilson and celebrated singers Elkie Brooks and Laura Mvula. There’s even an audience with Sir David Frost at the Garrick on 13th June.

Festival fever

The line-up of events is just as impressive. The Lichfield Festival bursts into life on 4th July for 10 days of music, dance, comedy and more, at venues all around the city. This jewel in the crown of our city’s cultural life draws performers and visitors from around the world, such is its reputation as one of the premier festivals of the summer season. Grab a programme from the Festival Office in Cathedral Close and pray that there are still some tickets left.

The other big summer event in Lichfield is Fuse – the free music and arts “event in a tent” at Beacon Park from 12th to 14th July. This year’s theme is “Keep it Local”, so pack your picnic bag, slap on the sunscreen (nothing wrong with a little optimism), and wander down to your local festival, which just happens to be one of the biggest free community events in the Midlands.

Activity overdrive

The summer holidays brings a host of activities and events which could keep you and the kids going every day for 6 weeks. Three of the best are Beacon Park fun days, the Staffordshire Regiment Museum Discovery Days and Erasmus Darwin House Wacky Wednesdays.

So there you have it; Lichfield, our lovely, lively, little city of the summer. Famous faces, world-renowned events, and a summer calendar packed with exciting activities. Enjoy!

This article appears in Recommended Lichfield Magazine, delivered free

to homes and businesses in Lichfield and surrounding area’s.

A Gem of a Jewellers

Tucked away in Blewitt Court on Bore Street there’s a rare gem of a jewellers that’s worth discovering. esjewellery came to Lichfield almost 10 years ago and have established a firm following with their friendly and unpretentious style.

Jewellery Repairs

In the shop you will be dazzled by Pandora, Thomas Sabo and other contemporary designer names. But there’s more to this story than the glitter of famous brands. The ES stands for Emma and Steve, the husband and wife team who cut their teeth in Birmingham’s famous jewellery quarter and who are both accomplished designers in their own right. Both went to the School of Jewellery in Birmingham and Steve has been repairing and making jewellery for almost 30 years.

“We sometimes worry that people don’t realise we repair jewellery, and also that we design and remodel jewellery. Almost everything is done by us here on the premises in Lichfield so there is no risk or delay.”

Renew your Jewellery

esjewellery specialise in bringing old jewellery to life with new designs. Perhaps you’ve inherited a bracelet or a ring with precious stones but time has taken its toll and it is either damaged or dated. “We can reset the stones into something more contemporary, giving it a new lease of life but honouring its past and the special place it has in your heart,” says Steve.

Fit for a Princess

Emma’s talent lies in the rare art of designing and making wedding rings that fit exactly with your engagement ring. The process involves making a wax model of your wedding ring. This allows you to see how it looks and to make design adjustments before the actual ring is cast in gold or platinum. Emma says, “A wedding ring is so personal and you can be part of the design process to get it absolutely right. We can also do ring sizing and polishing while you wait.”

Pandora Summer Event!

On Saturday 15th June esjewellery are showcasing the new Pandora collection for summer 2013. A free Pandora spacer is yours when you spend over £50, and there are goodies and a glass of Pimms for everyone. It’s the ideal time to discover this gem of a jewellers.

This article appears in Lichfield Recommended Magazine, delivered free to homes and business in

Lichfield and surrounding area’s.

It’s Carnival Time in Sutton Coldfield again!

After fears that there would be no carnival at all in Sutton Coldfield this year, now there’s a bigger one than ever. It takes place over two days at the end of June, proving that this 50 year old event has a special place in the life of the community.

The fun starts on Saturday 29th June at Meadow Platt in Sutton Park with a giant children’s picnic. The will be food, fun and games for up to 200 local children and their families.

The Carnival is the following day, Sunday 30th June, and it looks set to be a vintage year with all the usual favourite stalls and activities, including the final of the WOW Factor singing competition and the Sunday Afternoon Laze acoustic sessions; plus the addition this year of a beach!

August Antics in Sutton Park

It’s a fantastic line up but we’re the first to admit that one carnival does not a summer make. So what else is happening this summer in Sutton Coldfield?

Look no further than Sutton Park. We sometimes forget how lucky we are to have this oasis in our midst; an historic landscape covering an area of over 2,000 acres and attracting more than two million visits every year. Special activities this year include the Sutton 6 Pack and August Antics – ranger organised events which will keep the whole family happy. Pop into the Visitor Centre at Town Gate to find out more.

Whatever the Weather

There may be the odd rainy day, not too many we hope; so what’s happening away from the weather? A trip to the newly re-opened library is a good start, where you’ll find a brand new children’s section and an exciting “Once upon a time” story area.

There’s a family festival at the town Hall on 16th June from 12pm to 4pm, called Mum’s the Word, celebrating family life. Also, check out the summer’s blockbusters at the Empire, Sutton’s wonderful art deco cinema.

There’s plenty going on, so enjoy your Sutton summer, 2013.

This article appears in Sutton Coldfield Recommended Magazine, delivered free to 40,000 homes

and businesses in Sutton Coldfield and surrounding area’s. 

Property – Are there sunny skies ahead for the property market?

Figures recently released show that the number of residential properties sold rose by 5% in 2012 to 932,000, the highest since 2007. No one should get too over-excited by this; that figure is almost exactly half the number of properties sold in the 2006-07 financial year and is a drop in the ocean compared to the 2.2 million that changed hands in 1988. However, one encouraging sign is that almost all this increase took place in the final quarter of the year as the funding for lending scheme (FLS) began to take effect.

 

More money is being pumped into the FLS and the Council for Mortgage Lenders (CML) is predicting that the number of properties sold in 2013 should rise significantly once again. Both the Halifax and Nationwide are predicting that house prices will remain flat this year, but they could be wrong. Even if they are right, that is not the end of the world; rapidly rising prices can create just as many problems as rapidly falling ones. The important thing is that volumes are increasing and there is growing evidence that the mortgage rationing that has suppressed demand for the last four years is beginning to ease. I would think that increasing demand should feed through into at least modest price rises, particularly when you look at what is happening to rental costs.

 

Although output in construction continues to fall, a lot of that is linked to cuts in government spending. Most large house builders are in rude health and laying out plans for major developments, helped by the relaxation of planning laws.

 

If you feel the time has come to upsize or you are looking to take your first step on the property ladder, 2013 could be the year to do it. Mortgages are cheap and becoming more plentiful and there is an increase in the number of properties coming on the market. Why not give your friendly local estate agent (or better still 3 or 4 of them) a call and ask them for a valuation?

This article recently appeared in Walmley Pages,

a local magazine delivered free to homes in the B76 postcode

including Walmley, Sutton Coldfield and Minworth

Craig Brown

Should you be completing a Tax Return?

Under the self-assessment system, certain taxpayers are liable to complete a Return; if they are a Director of a company, if they are self-employed, have income over £100,000, if their expenses claim exceeds £2,500, or if there is untaxed income in excess of £2,500 or capital gains.  This year there is also a new category of taxpayer required to complete a return – those who are required to pay the High Income Child Benefit charge. This new tax charge is anticipated to affect approximately 1.2 million families where one or both of the couple earns more than £50,000.

If you fall into one of the above criteria, you do need to ensure that you obtain a tax reference and file a tax return for the year ended 5 April 2013 by 31 January 2014.  Failure to file a return on time does create huge penalty issues; a return three months late could result in penalties in excess of £900 even if the person owes no tax!

If you have received a 2012/13 Tax Return, then you have until 31 October 2013 if you want to complete a paper version; after that date you are obliged to file electronically by 31 January 2014.

Common areas where you might need some advice regarding the entries on your Tax Return:-

·         You are self-employed or a director of a limited company.

·         You want to claim for expenditure incurred personally in respect of your employment. This could include your professional subscriptions or for business mileage undertaken in your own car

·         You receive income from property. This could be from a ‘buy-to-let’ property, a holiday home that you let or even a lodger in your own home.

·         You have a variety of investment income sources, such as a managed investment portfolio, and differing rates of tax have been deducted at source.

·         You are a higher rate taxpayer and you regularly make Gift Aid donations or personal pension contributions so wish to claim additional tax relief.

We offer a free 30 minute consultation, so if you would like any additional information regarding the above or any other tax issues concerning you, then please contact us or visit us in our offices in Walmley Village

This article appears in Walmley Pages, a local magazine delivered free to homes in the B76 postcode.

Top 10 keyboard shortcuts everyone should know

CG Computing Tips –   Top 10 keyboard shortcuts everyone should know

1. Ctrl + C or Ctrl + Insert Copy the highlighted text or selected item.

2. Ctrl + V or Shift + Insert Paste the text or object that’s in the clipboard.

3. Ctrl + Z and Ctrl + Y Undo any change. For example, if you cut text, pressing this will undo it. This can also often be pressed multiple times to undo multiple changes. Pressing Ctrl + Y would redo the undo.

4. Ctrl + F Open the Find in any program. This includes your Internet browser to find text on the current page.

5. Alt + Tab or Alt + Esc Quickly switch between open programs moving forward. Tip: Press Ctrl + Tab to switch between tabs in a program. Tip: Windows Vista and 7 users can also press the Windows Key + Tab to switch through open programs in a full screenshot of the Window.

6. Ctrl + Back space and Ctrl + Left or Right arrow Pressing Ctrl + Backspace will delete a full word at a time instead of a single character.

Holding down the Ctrl key while pressing the left or right arrow will move the cursor one word at a time instead of one character at a time. If you wanted to highlight one word at a time you can hold down Ctrl + Shift and then press the left or right arrow key to move one word at a time in that direction while highlighting each word.

7. Ctrl + S While working on a document or other file in almost every program pressing Ctrl + S will save that file. This shortcut key should be used frequently anytime you’re working on anything important.

8. Ctrl + Home or Ctrl + End Move the cursor to the beginning or end of a document.

9. Ctrl + P Print the page being viewed. For example, the document in Microsoft Word or the web page in your Internet browser.

10. Page Up, Space bar, and Page Down Pressing either the page up or page down key will move that page one page at a time in that direction. When browsing the Internet pressing the space bar will also move the page down one page at a time. If you press Shift and the Space bar the page will go up a page at a time.

Article supplied by C G Computing based in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local publication delivered free to homes in Sutton Coldfield post code B76