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Sutton Wakes Up to Spring

As we cast off the dark days of winter and emerge blinking in to the sunlight, what’s going on in Sutton Coldfield to make ending our hibernation worthwhile?
Time Travel in Sutton Park
First stop, as spring is asserting itself, is Sutton Park. A great way to explore the park is to take one of the Friends of Sutton Park Association (FOSPA) archaeology walks. Would you have known that the park (long before King Henry Viii gifted it to the town) was inhabited by our bronze-age ancestors? Or that over 800 years ago it was a prestigious deer park, owned by the earl of Warwick. Pick up the FOSPA leaflet which contains 3 different walks and charmingly weaves in these stories of old.sutton park
Springtime Arts
What to do in the evening after a bracing day out in the fresh spring air? How about a dip into a Turkish bath? At Sutton Arts Theatre, Neil Dunn’s ribald classic Steaming is running from 20th to 29th March.
The Royal opera House comes to the Empire cinema with an “as live” screening of A Winter’s Tale on 28th April and there is a great line up of other London productions following. It’s as near to the real thing as you can get, without the expense of trekking to London.
Also not to be missed, and with more of a local feel, is Swinging on a Star, a big band music night with the fabulous Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra at Sutton Town Hall on 21st March.
Made in Sutton
If your winter hibernation has left you more in a shopping frame of mind, choose Saturday 15th March to make your trip into the town centre. That’s when local arts promoters Made in Sutton take over the shopping centre, presenting a day of arts, music and dance activities to accompany your retail therapy.
This spring it’s all about getting out there and enjoying all that Sutton Coldfield has to offer, from the natural oasis of Sutton Park to the vibrant arts and culture of our Royal town. Enjoy!

This article appears in Recommended magazine, delivered free to 40,000 homes and businesses in the Sutton Coldfield and surrounding areas.

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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.


Gardening Time for a Clear Out

Without wishing to sound too blasphemous I often thank my god (Percy Thrower if you really must ask…..) that the British summer is normally so short and sweet – an Englishman can only eat so many Mr Whippy’s and absorb so much coconut oil! Plus, I have to admit I am now ever so slightly bored with all things herbaceous (apart from the chrysanths and the asters of course). Even keen gardeners can get too much of a good thing. So now that autumn has finally arrived it’s time to pull on some warm clothes and get down and dirty!

The exceptionally hot summer has meant that there has been little opportunity to do any ‘serious’ gardening for a few months now. Apart from grass cutting, staking and tidying things up, oh and don’t forget all that clipping back of rampant hedges and shrubs, the borders are relatively untouched. For a gardener that’s not a problem but you can’t beat hauling your spade out of the shed and really getting stuck in to some serious digging. If you’ve got a veg plot then now’s a great time to lose a few pounds from all that over-indulgence on Mr Whippy’s and, if you can incorporate some good quality manure at the same time, then next year’s salads will taste that much better.

Tackling the rest of the garden tends to be a bit more tricky at this time of year as an unguided spade can do some serious damage, particularly where you’ve got beds full of mixed planting with bulbs or other spring plants that are now dormant. It is, however, the very best time to do any planting of hardy garden plants, shrubs or trees before the serious winter weather hits. Anything planted now will have time to get some roots out into the ground before the frosts subdue them into hibernation – meaning they get a great start when the weather warms up in spring. Another good reason to do your planting now is so you can safely dig up any existing plants, divide them if you want to create more for next year, and have another look at the all planting combinations available to you. I’m just about to re-jig a couple of very large mixed borders as I’m not entirely happy with the way they look at the moment. This will probably entail lots of happy hours toiling away with a trusty spade, my battered wheelbarrow and a basic design showing me where to re-plant everything, not to mention where to put any new additions that may have come to mind. Doing it at this time of the year, you also have the added advantage of putting in a few spring bulbs at the same time – this all helps to bring another level of interest to the mix.

Fittingly, now is also the time for yours truly to announce that this will be my last monthly garden rumination. I can’t help thinking that it’s a good time for someone else to have the pleasure of your company within this fine publication. It seems like a lifetime ago now since a couple of friends who published a local magazine asked me to put pen to paper and bring you the first of an epic series of 100 gardening columns. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and made some great friends along the way. I hope I will still find time to make the odd guest appearance in the future and, to whoever takes up the reins, good luck – and don’t forget the dreaded deadlines!

However and wherever you do it, enjoy your garden!       

Jonathan Wild

Ex Garden Columnist seeking New Opportunities!

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


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.

 


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.


Tax Tips Starting a Business – What Do You Need To Do?

Welcome to the Hill Lillis & Company  Tax Tips.

One of the most challenging things you may do is to set up a new business, our primary advice is “Do what you love, love what you do”. Your business is going to be your        livelihood – you should have a good time doing it, but make sure you get the ground work sorted from the outset; it helps to prevent a whole load of future problems!

Firstly you need to decide how you are going to trade; the main choices are as a sole trader; as a partnership, through a LLP or through an incorporated structure. Each has different tax and accounting consequences and needs to be registered in a different way. Once you have set up the business you will need to notify HM Revenue & Customs:

 

  • A limited company needs to be register for Corporation tax
  • A sole trader or partnership needs to register as self-employed and this will also         include registration for class 2 self-employed national insurance.
  • CIS registration is necessary if you intend to work within the construction industry
  • If you have employees then you will need to set up a payroll system and operate PAYE, advising HMRC as you make payments to your staff.
  • VAT registration is also necessary if your turnover exceeds the relevant thresholds. For certain B2B trades you might wish to consider registering for VAT even if you do not expect to reach these thresholds, particularly if there is a flat rate VAT scheme that can be used to simplify your VAT computations.

 

As well as notifying HMRC there are many other factors you will have to consider for your new business:

 

A Business plan is very useful; it enables you to set out your goals and plan how you will achieve them, particularly how your cash flow will cope.

Your business will probably need a business bank account and you may need to obtain additional start-up funding.

You will probably need to arrange business insurance, this could include public     liability, employee liability, trade insurance, professional indemnity, premises or vehicle insurance.

You will need to ensure you are keeping proper business records.

 

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, delivered free to homes in Sutton Coldfield, postcode B76

 


Snowflakes and Sore Losers

Sometimes February seems the longest darkest month of the year, even though we all know that it is the shortest. It is also the hardest for our native fauna to survive. Please remember the wildings outside your window and put out some feed and water for them. If at all possible feed little and often, keep feeding stations clean and provide fresh water. It`s only chicken feed but it`s always going cheep.

 

It seems that our battle to change the Boundary Commission proposals to merge us with Erdington was won. However, it appears that the spoilt kindergarten inmates that we elect to parliament to represent us had a fit of the sulks and will not even get to debate or discuss the proposals. All because the LibDems feel slighted over Lords reform, which WAS debated but rejected. This used to be called democracy. Can someone explain to me why we bothered. What a waste of emotion, mobilisation and demonstration of community in action, all for nothing. Baulked by a party with just 8-10 percent of the vote. They should all be ashamed.( I needed to say that !)

 

Imagine the cold stygian darkness of a January morning replaced by sparkly clear light. Waking to a quiet and cold morning after it snowed even I rose earlier than norm. The grim grey world became a wonderland to be enjoyed by families and friends who seemed not to mind being cold and wet but were rosy cheeked and happy out playing together. Even the publisher of this modest booklet was out with sledge and kids (yes, I saw you , Richard). Whatever the weather, get outside and enjoy our green or white world. eing cold and wet but were rosy cheeked and happy out playing together. Even the publisher of this modest booklet was out with sledge and kids (yes, I saw you , Richard). Whatever the weather, get outside and enjoy our green or white world.

This article appears in the February edition of  Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered free each month to homes in the B76 postcode in Sutton Coldfield.

Article written by Jeff Gilbert or Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield.