Martin Aitken & Co Ltd News & Developments

Martin Aitken & Co: news and comment

2021: Investment wrap-up

The world’s share markets generally produced solid returns in 2021, but UK stocks and fixed-interest investments suffered. Maintaining an international outlook in your portfolio can help underpin its value.

2021 was a good year for most investors in share-based funds, particularly those who had holdings linked to the US market.

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Focus on tax year-end planning

With Christmas and New Year behind us, tax year-end planning should now be on your radar.

The 2021/22 tax year will end on Tuesday 5th April. This year there is no Spring Budget and Easter arrives on 15th April, so no obstacles stand in the way of year-end tax planning. Nevertheless, the sooner you start the better, as some decisions cannot be made quickly. Among the areas to consider on this occasion are:

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Lessons from rising inflation & interest rates

As 2021 drew to a close, inflation finally forced the Bank of England’s hand. What will higher rates mean for you?

The November inflation figures, released in mid-December, once again exceeded the Bank of England’s expectations. At the start of November, the BoE had said that CPI inflation was “expected to peak at around 5% in April 2022”. Six weeks later, and the tune has changed: “Bank staff expect inflation to remain around 5% through the majority of the winter period, and to peak at around 6% in April 2022”.

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The global dividend recovery

Research shows that in Q3 2021, dividend payments increased sharply in all major markets and are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels before the year’s end.

In 2020, global dividends fell by 11.9% yoy in USD terms according to an index calculated by the investment manager Janus Henderson. In the UK, dividends suffered a much greater drop, with a decline of 42.9% recorded by Link Group, a leading corporate services provider. The UK’s significant underperformance had much to do with the Bank of England forcing UK banks to suspend dividend payments.

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Government sets out changes to R&D relief

The Chancellor has announced the expansion of the R&D tax relief to include cloud and data costs, which have been in demand from companies for a while.

Following consultation on research and development (R&D) relief, the Treasury has set out several changes, some of which Chancellor Rishi Sunak first introduced in his Autumn Budget speech back in October.

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Autumn Budget 2021 - Key Points

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled the contents of his Budget in the House of Commons.

With the government's tax and spending plans set out for the year ahead, here is a quick summary of the key points:

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Are young adults missing out on their Child Trust Fund?

HMRC says many teenagers are missing out on their Child Trust Funds (CTFs), urging parents to check for hidden cash and forgotten accounts.

The first CTFs matured just over a year ago, at the start of September 2020. CTFs will continue to mature until January 2029 as their owners reach the magic age of 18. At present, about 55,000 CTFs mature each month.

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IHT receipts reach £6 billion record

The amount of inheritance tax (IHT) collected by HMRC over the past year reached a record £6 billion, some £1 billion more than the previous 12 months.

This increase comes as no surprise given booming property values and frozen nil rate tax bands. It seems the tax is no longer the preserve of the super-rich.

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New Tipping Rules Come Into Force Within Months

Five years after carrying out a consultation, the government is going to make it illegal for employers to withhold tips from workers.

The change to legislation, due to take effect over the next 12 months, is not just for staff in restaurants, hotels and bars, but also anyone employed in industries such as hairdressing, casinos and private car hire.

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New VAT penalties regime on the horizon

The existing penalty regime for VAT returns has the advantage of simplicity, but it’s something of a blunt instrument.

The new system coming in for return periods beginning on or after 1st April 2022 will be fairer, but some businesses will find themselves caught up in a complex web of escalating penalties.

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Capital gains tax receipts underline tempting target for Chancellor

New HMRC data shows that in 2019/20, £9.9b of capital gains tax (CGT) liabilities were created.

In July last year, the Chancellor unexpectedly asked the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) to “review capital gains tax and aspects of the taxation of chargeable gains in relation to individuals and smaller businesses”. The top tax rate currently sits at 28% (limited to residential property and carried interest) with 20% liability for other assets.

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'No Jab, No Job' & Workplace Challenges

Now that more employees have been returning to the workplace, employers face several potentially challenging issues.

Vaccination is one of the most problematic – businesses may wish to insist on employees being vaccinated, but there is growing concern that such policies could leave employers open to a legal claim of unfair dismissal or discrimination.

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Managing the end of Furlough

After playing a crucial part in managing the impact of Covid-19, the Covid Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is set to end on the 30th of September.

Although some business sectors, especially hospitality, are currently seeing severe staff shortages, other employers may struggle when furlough is phased out.

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Payment deadline approaching for deferred VAT

Last year, HMRC offered businesses the opportunity to defer VAT payments falling due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, until 30 June 2021 (originally 31 March 2021, but subsequently extended). 

As this deadline is now approaching, businesses who took advantage of the deferral scheme should act now by selecting one of the three available options below:

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Spring Budget 2021

Despite the many rumours beforehand, the Chancellor still managed to produce some surprises on Budget Day. He chose to spend big initially, with major investment incentives for companies in the next two years.

However, the widely anticipated corporation tax rise then kicks in with a vengeance – a one-off jump from 19% to 25%. Individual taxpayers did not escape either, with Mr Sunak reaching for the old stealth tax favourite of freezing tax bands, thresholds and allowances.

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VAT Reverse Charge for Construction Services

From 1 March 2021, the way that VAT is accounted for on some subcontracted construction supplies will change.

Under the historic rules (pre-1 March), a VAT Registered subcontractor would invoice their customer for work carried out and apply VAT to this, which the customer would pay to the subcontractor in full.

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Update to our business operations - January Lockdown 2021

Happy New Year! We hope you had an enjoyable festive break.

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BREXIT Planning for 1 January: make sure you are ready.

It certainly has been overshadowed this year, but yes Brexit negotiations are still ongoing and with only less than a month to go, what can we expect?

The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, UK Chief negotiator David Frost and EU negotiator Michel Barnier continue to offer differing messages to the public about Brexit, some are positive, some ambivalent and occasionally negative remarks about the negotiations.

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COVID-19 update: Spending Review - what does it mean for businesses?

In his spending review on 25th November Rishi Sunak said the “economic emergency” caused by COVID-19 has only just begun, as he warned the virus would mean lasting damage to growth and jobs.

Official forecasts now predict the biggest economic decline in 300 years.

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Government extends Furlough to March and increases self-employment support scheme

As the lockdown has now started for England and continues elsewhere, the Government has changed its mind again about business supports and decided to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) across all regions of the UK.

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