News Roundup Thursday 8th August 2019

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS

Taxman targets crypto for CGT

Bitcoin investors could be set to see a tax crackdown, with HMRC writing to a number of major brokers to request details about their customers. The Telegraph says that while profit made on the coins’ increase in value since purchase should incur capital gains tax (CGT), their anonymous nature makes it hard for any tax liabilities to be tracked. It adds that the letters sent to exchanges such a Coinbase and Etoro are similar to measures taken by US tax authorities looking to tax gains made through the acquisition of digital coins. Iqbal Gandham, UK managing director of Etoro, said the request was “no surprise”, with taxing crypto “the first step to bringing it in line with other investments, solidifying its position as an emerging asset class.” He added that he expects regulation will follow, saying this would be good for “the industry and for mass adoption.”

The Daily Telegraph Daily Mail, Page: 65

Record CGT take as HMRC pulls in £8.8bn

HMRC figures show that the tax office saw a record capital gains tax take of £8.8bn in the 2017/18 tax year, a total that marks a 14% increase and exceeds the £5.2bn pulled in through inheritance tax. With the analysis showing that the average CGT bill was £31,317 last year, Harvey Jones in the Express looks at ways people can cut their bills with “some basic financial planning.” Mark Giddens of UHY Hacker Young advises that CGT planning is easier for married couples and civil partners, who can make tax-free gifts to each other.

Daily Express, Page: 29

PENSIONS NEWS

Tax rate sees pension overpayments

Tax overpayments by people dipping into their pension pots have hit record levels, with around 17,000 people clawing back nearly £47m between April and June – up from the £29m claimed by 14,000 savers in the same period for 2018. Analysis shows that over-55s have reclaimed almost £500m since pension freedoms were introduced in 2015. Much of the overpayment comes from HMRC charging the savers an emergency rate of tax on their initial withdrawal, with the average overpayment of £2,355 the first time these people dip into their pot. Figures from the Financial Conduct Authority suggest more than 200,000 people a year risk being overtaxed on their first pension withdrawals.

Daily Mail, Page: 44

Bid to end NHS pensions tax row

Ministers have designed new proposals to end the row with doctors over pensions. Doctors had started refusing to do overtime shifts because they were being landed with bills after changes to the amount that can be accrued tax-free. The dispute has been linked to a rise in waiting times caused by medics refusing to work beyond their planned hours. The Government said it would now be putting forward a plan to allow doctors complete flexibility when it comes to scaling down their pension contributions to avoid breaching the annual tax-free allowance. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the move “will give doctors the pension flexibilities they called for.”

The Times, Page: 4 Daily Mail, Page: 2 Financial Times, Page: 1 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1 The Guardian, Page: 14 The Sun, Page: 2

Fraud fears for pension pots

A Financial Conduct Authority poll has found that two-fifths of pension savers would be likely to fall for common tactics used by fraudsters. Nearly 45% of the 45 – to 65-year-olds surveyed said they would discuss their pension with a cold caller, while one in six aged 45 to 54 would be interested in speaking to companies that could help them take money from their pension early, despite withdrawals below the age of 55 not being permitted and drawing a 55% tax penalty from HMRC. Figures from Action Fraud show that fraudsters took around £15m from pension savers last year, with victims losing an average of £82,000 each.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 29

CORPORATE NEWS

Boohoo buys Karen Millen and Coast

Boohoo.com has bought the online business and intellectual property of Karen Millen and Coast in a £18.2m pre-pack administration, with more than 200 stores set to close. Administrators at Deloitte said stores would only stay open for “a short time” while stock was sold off. Rob Harding, joint administrator at Deloitte, said Karen Millen had tried and failed to find a buyer for the whole business, adding that the Boohoo deal will enable “the survival of these iconic British brands through an online platform”. He added that “the retail trading environment in the UK remains extremely challenging”.

The Times, Page: 36 Financial Times, Page: 13 Financial Times, Page: 17 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 29 The Guardian, Page: 27-28 The Independent, Page: 58 The I, Page: 38 The Scotsman, Page: 2 Daily Express, Page: 51 Daily Mail, Page: 62 The Sun, Page: 42 Daily Mirror, Page: 38

SMEs NEWS

SMEs voice Brexit concerns

Ian Rand, chief executive of Barclays Business Banking, has revealed the concerns he most often hears from small business owners in regard to Brexit. These include worries about staff levels once the UK exits the EU, the finance options available to SMEs to see them through any turbulence, the impact currency movements will have on costs, and the potential disruption to supply chains.

Daily Mirror, Page: 37

REGULATION NEWS

Belgian prosecutors settle with HSBC

A Swiss private banking branch of HSBC has reportedly agreed a settlement worth almost €300m with Belgian prosecutors in a fraud and tax dodging case.

The Independent, Page: 61

ECONOMY NEWS

M&A deals decline in H1

Analysis by EY shows that the value of merger and acquisition deals in Europe fell by £15bn to £23.8bn year-on-year in the first half of 2019, with the number of deals down from 251 to 238. H1 2019 saw UK investors complete 97 deals totalling £6.3bn, marking a decline on the 103 deals – which were worth £13.5bn – completed in H1 2018. EY said global tensions such as Brexit and the trade dispute between China and the US have contributed to the dip in enthusiasm for M&A deals. The firm’s Tom Groom commented: “While the drop in deals in volume terms is not that significant, in value terms it is.”

City AM, Page: 4

Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward