Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.
In the midst of the disaster that has befallen much of the East Coast, we can be forgiven for overlooking the impending US Presidential Election. The impact of Superstorm Sandy has taken attention from the campaign trail to the more immediate plight of many Americans. Unlike Mitt Romney, Barack Obama has something else much more important that he has to do. He is both President and Candidate, while his Republican counterpart can only look on.
It may just be that President Obama’s return to the White House is achieved, not through an eye-wateringly expensive election campaign, but by leadership and direction shown in the face of adversity. City veteran David Buik commented earlier in the week on the tragic loss of many lives but, instead of concentrating on the estimated $20billion cost, saw the benefit that will be brought to many through the employment that the remedial work will create. From adversity comes opportunity.
While on the topic of Sandy, we have our own Super Sandy this coming weekend when the Springfords’ sponsored event sees Alexander McCall Smith discussing his latest novel ‘Trains & Lovers’ at the Lennoxlove Book Festival. No great election relevance really, just an unadulterated plug for what will be a hugely enjoyable weekend at Lennoxlove House for booklovers of all descriptions.
Back on the election trail, it’s not just on the other side of the Pond that there are elections coming up. Our Government is also promoting elections … but elections of a rather different kind. These elections allow families who are subject to HICBC (another of these meaningless acronyms) to elect not to receive the child benefit they currently claim. Why on earth would they want to do that, do I hear you say? The High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC to those of us now in the know!) is designed to claw-back child benefit paid to the families of high earners – those earning over £60,000 a year will lose it all. But for once this is a tax that the Government doesn’t want anyone to actually pay.
Hence the election not to receive child benefit. And electing not to receive it in the first place is maybe not so daft. It will avoid many thousands of individuals having to join the Tax Return Club just to account for the HICBC. There’s a cost to preparing and processing those extra tax returns which you and the Government may quite like to avoid (we’d be happy to help though, if you insist). But what if your income falls below the annual £60,000 level so that you would still get some net child benefit? You can simply make another election to re-start payment up to two years after the end of the tax year for which the child benefit is claimed.
Simples. Or at least it will be once HMRC get their act together to allow tax advisers to make these elections on behalf of their clients. At Springfords, we will be keeping a watchful eye on our clients’ affairs to get the best result, and using elections to best advantage for them.