All About Poole

I recently saw a blog from a follower giving 40 reasons to move to Toronto, so I thought I would take inspiration from this and compile a list of things about Poole. Now Poole is a lot smaller than Toronto and our Mayor is not known internationally for taking crack and using inappropriate language, in fact, I have no idea who our Mayor is but let’s see what we can come up with.

    • We have one of the largest natural harbours in the world.
    • We have Blue Flag beaches

      • A Chain Ferry
      • Not one but two lifting bridges.
      • 4 Tides per day
      • It’s where the Scouts were founded by Lord Baden Powell – dib dib dib
      • The home of Sunseeker Yachts

      • The home of Lush – they make our industrial estates smell lovely

        • Head Quarters for the RNLI – they have a fancy new college building where you can even get married.

          • The Sandbanks Pennisular has the 4th highest land value in the world – you need serious millions for even a scrap of land.
          • Poole Quay – where several of the pubs date back to the 1600’s
          • The Dolphin Shopping Centre – an incredibly ugly 1960s concrete monstrosity, how did they ever think that looked good.
          • We have cross channel ferries.
          • Rainfall is well below the UK average.
          • Population (at the last census in 2011) is 147,600 with 22% under 19 and 20.5% over 65.
          • In 2006 a National Housing Federation study claimed Poole was the most unaffordable town to live in, in the UK.
          • The castle on Brownsea Island was originally a fortification built by Henry VIII in 1549 – now its owned by the National Trust who lease it to John Lewis for their staff holidays.

            • Ryvitas are made here – you can smell it when they burn them.
            • The heathland at Canford Heath is an 850 acre site of special scientific interest.
            • We have ‘Bikers Night’ on Poole Quay every Tuesday.
            • Polo on the beach.

            • It’s home to Diane Hudson Accountancy Ltd.

 

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New Annual Tax Statements

So October is just a handful of days away, and this October not only allows us to throw our car tax discs away but for some of you lucky folk October also brings you the New Annual Tax Statement.

One of the Coalitions promises back in 2010 was that every tax payer would be sent a statement of their tax position, including National Insurance and where the money is spent. Four years on and they are nearly here – but not for everyone.

Initially the statements will only cover your tax position for 2012/13 and will only go out to those paying tax under self assessment and are registered for HMRCs online services; or if you pay PAYE and receive a P2 Notice of Coding or a P800 tax calculation.

If you do receive one of these you don’t need to do anything with it, as it’s just for information purposes but it would be good to check through it.

One very handy use for this statement will be to check your NI contributions. There are new State Pension rules coming into effect in April 2016 and to receive the full State Pension you need to have paid the correct amount of NI contributions for 35 years. You will be able to check that you have paid enough with these statements.

We await their arrival!!

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Funny Tax Laws from around the world

A collection of amusing tax laws, past and present.

Peter the Great introduced a beard tax. Any Russian wanting to remain beardy had to pay an annual amount and was issued with a beard token which he had to carry with him in public to prove he had paid.

Roman Emperor Nero introduced a tax on the collection of urine. Back then it was used to prepare animal skins – and you thought today’s taxman was taking the piss!

In Canada children’s breakfast cereal is tax exempt if it includes a free toy. The free toy must not be beer, liquor or wine – yes, they actually thought they needed to clarify that, imagine Coco Pops with a free beer toy!!

In Sweden there is a tax for naming your baby something that is not already in use. It is also applied to the misspelling of names and names like ‘Apple’ regardless of income, status and tax bracket.

Scaredy-cat tax was introduced by Henry I for English knights that didn’t want to go to war. It was originally very low and meant as a deterrent but King John later raised it by 300% and even collected it when not at war. This led to the formation of the Magna Carter.

In 1988 a stripper in the US called ‘Chesty Love’ successfully claimed her boob job as a business expense. This paved the way for anyone in the adult entertainment industry to claim cosmetic surgery expenses if it would lead to more work.

In UK tax law biscuits and cakes are deemed necessities and are exempt VAT but cover biscuits jaffacakein chocolate and they are luxuries that have 20% vat added to them. So Jaffa Cakes – are they biscuits or cakes? McVities invented them and they make biscuits so they were forced to go a tribunal and prove they are cakes – they won so they are non vatable chocolate covered cakes.

In the Netherlands tax deductions are allowed on training in magic and witchcraft after an actress claimed £1500 tax relief for a year long course in potion making, spell casting & crystal ball reading.

Cow Flatulence Tax – This is a new tax being introduced in EU countries. Cow farts cause 18% of global warming. Large clouds of methane hang in the air over slaughter houses where they store thousands of cows causing negative effects on air quality. Ireland tax $18 per cow while Denmark charges $110.

HMRCs Home Office Policies

How much can you claim, for using a room in your home for business purposes?

HMRCs guidance uses typically vague words such as ‘fair & reasonable’ and ‘modest or excessive’. The trouble is someone earning mega money will think one figure is fair and reasonable but to most of us the same figure would seem excessive.

HMRC believes just £4 per week is all that should be claimed for the use of a home office. This measly amount is deemed as a ‘significant’ expenses and any claim over this amount must be justified by providing records or demonstrating your calculations.

How to can claim over the £4 per week

One way to prove your claim is reasonable is to calculate your monthly outgoings for gas, electric, rent, water etc then divide this by the number of rooms in the property (excluding kitchens & bathrooms).  For example if you have 5 rooms (Lounge, Dining Room, 3 Bedrooms) and one is used as an office take 1/5th of these bills.

If this amount seems too substantial for your business use you could divide it down further by the number of hours you spend in it working each day eg, 8/24 hrs or by the number of days per week that you work or by square meterage if known.

Beware

Be careful if claiming for more than one room as you will need more justification but it is possible ie a photographer could have an office and a darkroom (days before digital).

You should never claim the room is ‘solely’ for business purposes as this could lead to a business rates claim by the local council for part of your home or even Capital Gains Tax when you sell your property. Most people’s home office also doubles as a spare bedroom or is home to the unused exercise bike or the kids use it for doing their homework.

If you run your business through a Limited Company you can draw up a lease agreement so your company is reimbursing you for the costs of the room thus reducing your Corporation Tax but again, to be exempt from Capital Gains Tax when you sell the property make sure the agreement doesn’t state that it is solely and exclusively for business purposes.

Canford Heath

Want to see whats beyond the little path at the front of our place?

 

Canford Heath is an 850 acre heathland of special scientific interest.

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It’s very pretty in the evening sun

 

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Late summer is the prettiest time of year 

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There are nine cows – 2 big black Shetlands & 7 British Whites

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Full moon rising at the top of the path to Wallisdown

Clean up your Finances

Tips for sorting out your personal finances.

There is a philosophy that says you should ‘spend a third, save a third, invest a third’. For most people this is unattainable but it is something to aspire to!

The last thing I want to do is tell people how to spend their money but if you are interested in spending a bit less or saving a little bit more or paying off debts here are some tips. Mostly common sense things that we’ve all heard before but sometimes we can all do with a reminder to get a grip on the situation.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here goes:-

Change your attitude towards spending your hard earned cash. Aim to consume less and cut unnecessary expenses. Place less value on material things and more on experiences.

If you’ve ever done a car boot sale you’ll know what an awful experience it is, standing in a damp field at 5am on a Sunday morning with people refusing to pay 50p for something that cost you £20 only a few months ago. A good thing to come of this awful experience is that it makes you look at things differently. When you go to purchase something, think ‘will this go in the car boot pile in a year’s time?’ If the answer is yes then you really don’t need it. It’s usually impulse buy decorative ornamental nick nacky cheap plasticky kids gimmicky toy type things that fall into this category.

Set financial goals for motivation – what are your priorities and what dreams do you want to turn into reality? Create a plan and make it happen.

Try to save something each month then aim to increase the amount every so often.

Track your spending, including the little things like Costa’s and newspapers as they really add up. Create a budget, then stick to it.

Go through every item of your expenses and try to reduce them where/when possible. For example never just renew insurances, always shop around. Change your mobile phone contract as soon as you are able, I changed mine from £37 per month to £11 per month for better usage allowance with the same provider. Our AA contract had gone up year on year, when it got to £230 (including our ‘valued customer discount’) we looked online to see they were offering the same deal to new customers for just £99. When we queried this with them they told us you should phone and cancel every year and then renew online to get the best deal.

Again, look at the little things, Costa’s – buy a flask, newspapers – get the Sky or BBC News apps and read the important stuff for free, everything else is pure trash (although I also have the ‘OK’ app to keep up to date with the trash/gossip). I don’t think I’ve ever bought a newspaper. I could go on and on with things like this and it depends on how much disposable income you have or how much you want to save. If you are seriously strapped for cash you can save loads on the little things.

Move your credit card balances to get better deals.

If you have debt you need to decide whether you should still save or put more into paying off the debt. The general rule of thumb is to first save an emergency fund and keep it for real emergencies. Then start paying off debts with the highest interest rates. If you are left with debts with interest rates of less than 5% it may be better to invest rather than pay off. If you debthave several debts it can be motivating to pay off the smallest ones first. As each debt is paid off use the money you are saving each month against the next debt to create a snowball effect. The more you get paid off, the more you have available to pay off the next debt.

Cancel any payments you no longer need – subscriptions, extended warranties, unused gym memberships.

Don’t pay for things twice, e.g., when you bought your freezer did they sell you extra insurance to cover your freezer contents if it breaks down, this is usually covered on your home insurance.

Don’t be afraid to change your current account even if it’s with the same bank, it’s not as difficult to do as you may think. Try to get a better deal for your circumstances, e.g., I pay £2 per month for my account but I get back around £12 per month in cash back (partly because my mortgage is with the same bank and I get cash back on the mortgage payments). But beware if you regularly go overdrawn this type of account can be very expensive.   It has to suit your circumstances.interest-rate

Check your savings accounts interest rates, including ISAs. Banks are forever lowering the rates for existing accounts and then bringing out new accounts with higher rates. It’s usually really easy to stay with the same bank but just switch to their latest offering.

Just one final point, a friend of ours is a mortgage advisor and he is on a crusade against payday loans. We all know they cost a fortune if you don’t repay in time but what you may not know is that even if you repay every penny on time it will seriously dent your credit rating. If you try to apply for a mortgage after you have had one of these loans, most banks will not touch you with a barge pole because you are deemed to be not very good with your finances if you have had to resort to that type of loan. It is stereotyping people and unfair if you did repay on time but that is how it is.

 

For the Love of Lists

Lists – I love them, always have done. There’s something deeply satisfying about ticking off items on your lists. I guess that’s why I took to accountancy, it’s basically just lists of income & lists of expenses.

When you have lots to do or lots to remember and everything is whizzing around in your head itbigstock-The-word-Everything-on-a-To-Do-45656401-300x300 can seem like double the amount of tasks you actually have to accomplish and can seem quite overwhelming. By writing the tasks down in a list it helps to clarify, organise and prioritise the tasks and then when you can see exactly what’s to be done and you know you won’t forget anything, it suddenly all seems less overwhelming.

As humans, we tend to have a natural state of ‘slackness’, lists help to focus the mind. Shopping lists, reminders and ‘to do’ lists are all variations on productivity based lists that we use to help us stop procrastinating. The ‘to do’ list is the one we spend most time on. We don’t seem to struggle to write a shopping list and then buy everything on it but getting tasks on a ‘to do’ list done is a whole different matter.

Tips for your ‘To Do’ list

Don’t make tasks too large, break them down into smaller tasks, you’ll have more to tick off and will feel like you are achieving more.

Prioritise – put the list in order of urgency.

Be realistic with your planning. It will have a negative effect if you are unable to accomplish your tasks in the time you set yourself.

If you can’t get motivated try doing the simplest, quickest tasks on your list first. Ticking off some items will help you get going.

Find methods that work for you. You may need a list of long-term tasks and then make sub lists for smaller more immediate or daily tasks.

My Lists

In my personal life I have lists for everything, shopping (I have an app for that one), packing, camping, finances, birthdays, bucket lists etc, etc but we won’t go into those as some may think it’s a bit sad.

In work, although I have many lists to organise and keep track of things in my business, my ‘to do’ list is the most essential. (That and the list that shows who owes me money.)

I do a monthly to do list so on the first day of each month a new blank list complete with tick boxes is printed off. First I put on everything that was left to do from the last month. I draw a red line under these so I know they were from the previous month and that these items must be done by the end of the new month, that way I am never too far behind with anything. Then in a separate section I write in anything that I know has to be done in the month and the date it has to be done by, items such as PAYE submissions, Companies House annual returns, VAT returns etc. Again a line is drawn under these, then any new work that comes in during the month is listed underneath and whilst I try to get as much completed in the month, I know it’s ok if these have to be carried over to the following month.

Click link to my blankTo do list

Some days when there seems to be a lot of little bits & pieces to do, I will write a sub list just for the day. You need to be flexible, I do not always do the items in order of the list, if you know you only have 20 mins to spare, just chose a quick task to tackle, it’s not always practical to start a task you won’t be able to finish.

Lists can help a lot but don’t be ruled by them, sometimes life just gets in the way of your goals.

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