Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Housing market cooling

Leading banks say that the cooling of the property market has continued in recent weeks.

The number of mortgages approved for house buyers was down 16% in October compared with last year, at just over 37,000, according to the British Bankers Association.

High house prices and tougher rules on mortgage applications appear to be holding buyers back.

Matthew Pointon of Capital Economics commented that the figures reflect a "sharp slowdown in housing demand", though a flurry of cheaper mortgage deals could revive interest.

The Halifax predicted that overall growth in house prices would slip to between 3 and 5 per cent next year, after peaking at 10 per cent in July.

However, the number of house sales is still on the up according to data from HM Revenue & Customs, which takes into account purchases for cash as well as mortgages.

HMRC reported on Friday that there were 114,000 transactions in October, a rise from 102,000 in the same month last year.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Your rights to stop tax officers grabbing cash from your account

This how HM Revenue & Customs explain ways you now be able to challenge their planned power to grab cash directly from bank accounts. 

Its what they call Direct Recovery of Debt and it only applies to people who they say have ignored 4 demands by letter or phone.

Direct Recovery of Debts – routes of appeal and opportunities to object to HMRC

Debtors will have several ways to challenge the use of DRD:

- Taxpayers already have appeal rights if they do not agree that the tax or tax credit debt due is correct. The exact process differs depending on the type of tax, but usually involves first requesting an internal review by HMRC. If the taxpayer does not agree with HMRC’s decision, they can appeal to an independent Tribunal. DRD will not affect these existing rights.

- Debtors who are considered for DRD will receive a guaranteed face-to-face visit from HMRC’s agents. Even those who have failed to respond to the numerous attempts to contact them  – by letter, telephone or SMS message – will again be made aware of their debt and have a further opportunity to discuss their case. This will confirm beyond doubt the identity of the taxpayer and that the debt is owed.

- Once DRD has been applied, debtors will have as a minimum 30 days before any money is transferred to HMRC. During this window, in which money is held in their account, the debtor can get in touch with HMRC directly and object to the use of DRD if they believe HMRC has made a mistake, or that removing the funds will cause undue hardship. HMRC will promptly carry out an internal review of their case. If there is clear evidence that DRD action will cause undue hardship, it will instruct the debtor’s bank to release an appropriate amount to the debtor.

- If the debtor still does not agree with HMRC’s decision, they will have a further right to appeal to a County Court on HMRC’s use of DRD or on the grounds of hardship. 

Tax grabbing powers watered down

The government has watered down its plans to given tax officers the power to take money directly out of the bank accounts of people who don't pay their tax.

Those targeted will have the right to appeal to the county court and each will receive a face to face visit.

The proposals from the the Budget in March were designed to deal with about 17,000 persistent non-payers of tax, people owing more than £1,000 who have ignored a minimum of 4 letters and telephone calls.

But campaigners objected, saying that the power was excessive, enabled HM Revenue and Customs to get around the need for a court order and didn't allow for the likelihood that it would make mistakes.

So the government has backed down to an extent.

While still planning to let tax officers take money from bank accounts, it will bring in 30 day notice period and lay down that those targeted will receive visits designed to check they understand the process and can pay.

And crucially, they will have the right to appeal to a County Court.

The Treasury expects to gain £100m a year from the measure, but some accountants believe that the numbers affected will be cut drastically as a result of today's change.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Wonga off kids' kit

Wonga has announced that it has agreed with Newcastle United to remove its logo from children's kit and training wear.

It said the logo will be removed from all children's replica shirts and training wear from the earliest possible opportunity which, due to kit production schedules, will be from the commencement of the 2016/17 season.

Wonga said the change follows Chairman Andy Haste's commitment, on his appointment in July, to review all the company's marketing to ensure that none of it could inadvertently appeal to the very young or vulnerable.

Wonga has already ended its puppets advertising campaign in the UK.

Newcastle United Managing Director Lee Charnley commented: "We understand and respect Wonga's position and are happy to support their decision."