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November Question and Answer Section

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Newsletter issue - November 2013

Q. After purchasing a residential property to let, I spent a considerable amount on kitchen refurbishments and a new central-heating boiler, before letting it for the first time. Can I claim those costs against the rents for tax purposes?

A. It depends on whether the property was capable of being let before you carried out those refurbishments. If it was legally safe to let it - then the expenditure was probably 'repairs' and is allowable. If the property was in such a bad state that it could not be let to anyone, even on a tiny rent, the costs are likely to count as improvements and will not be allowable. We need to look at the detail of what work was done, and the context of your entire lettings business before we give you a final answer.

Q. The Taxman has written to me saying I missed a small pension worth about £800 a year from my last tax return. He hasn't noticed that I also missed it off the last four tax returns. What should I do?

A. Best advice is to come clean immediately and tell the Taxman about all the missing amounts of pension income for all tax years. There may not be more tax to pay if the pension provider has already deducted tax at your marginal tax rate. However, if there is higher rate tax to pay there will also be interest due at 3% and possibly a penalty. By confessing all without delay you can qualify for a reduced penalty, down to say 15% of the tax due. We can help you with those penalty negotiations and may be able to get it suspended for up to two years.

Q. I've just won a sports car! The snag is the prize is only available from the company's headquarters in Seattle, USA, although there is a cash alternative. Are there any tax implications of accepting the prize in the form of the car or as cash?

A. Most states in the USA impose a tax on competition prizes, but the awarding company may allow for that. There is no similar tax in the UK. If you take the car and ship it back to the UK there will be import duties and VAT to pay, so the cash alternative may be more tax efficient.