Spring 2021 Newsletter

by Michael Blaken

Published on 26th April 2021

Spring is proving busy for Optimum, with the opening of our Cheltenham office and the takeover of a Stroud tax business. Our expansion into Gloucestershire is a natural move for the business, as three of our management team have all worked in the county previously and have many clients there.

We continue to be busy helping clients navigate the many and varied government Covid funding schemes, including the SEISS for the self-employed. The housing market remains buoyant, partly thanks to the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday, which is keeping the property law team occupied. In fact, we have been recruiting for both our accountancy and legal divisions, as we continue to grow the business and strengthen the support we offer to business owners, individuals and their families.

Claiming the next self-employed grant

The announcement of a fourth and fifth round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is good news for the self-employed and those in partnerships, who may be eligible to claim.

These fourth and fifth tranches also draw in a further estimated 600,000 who became self-employed during the 2019/20 tax year, as long as they completed their 2019/20 self assessment tax return and returned it by 2 March 2021, at the latest.
However, the claims process, relatively straightforward for the first three SEISS grants, has been tightened up and self-employed people who started a business during 2019/20 need to provide evidence of this.
HMRC has brought in a verification process because of concerns of potential fraud, but the unintended consequence is likely to mean legitimate claimants are left out.
The process starts with a letter, followed by a phone call, followed by evidence of ID and trading being uploaded via Dropbox. Only by overcoming these hurdles will traders be allowed to claim the grant.
It is clear this verification process is fraught with dangers, because we are all encouraged to be suspicious of what seem to be bogus phone calls and emails. It also creates a real issue for those who are digitally excluded.
You can read more about this here

Legal and accountancy teams working together

It’s always pleasing when our legal and accountancy divisions join forces and this is just what happened when one of our clients started to think about succession planning.

We had been supporting the client, a construction company, with a host of accountancy services, including accounts, tax and payroll.
When one of the directors decided to retire, and the co-director didn’t want to remain solely in charge, we looked at solutions to satisfy them both and help the business move forward.
The company was taken over, with one director staying on in a consultancy role, which suited his interests in retaining a foot in the construction sector, and the other director happy to take a settlement and leave the business.
Our legal team were able to support the takeover by drawing up the share sale agreement which, whilst containing the important details, was user friendly for both parties.
This is yet another example of the legal and accountancy teams within Optimum working seamlessly together in the best interests of our clients.
You can read more here

New office marks expansion into Gloucestershire

We’re delighted to announce our expansion into Gloucestershire, with the opening of a Cheltenham office.

We already have many clients in the area so this will allow us to provide them with an even better service, with easier access for face-to-face meetings now Covid restrictions are lifting.

Three of our team – Rob Stokes, Hannah Matthews and Michael Blaken – have all previously worked in Gloucestershire and have extensive numbers of clients and connections in the county, so this is a chance to reestablish our presence.

The new office is at The Site, a recently opened, flexible office space. The developer has brought together construction, property and design professionals, along with our team who will provide commercial legal services alongside the accounts and tax services.
This combination of advisory services allows us to add great value to our clients and an opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals.
Read more here about the new office

Stamp Duty Land Tax: is the holiday all it seems?

When the Government announced an extension to the holiday on Stamp Duty Land Tax, this seemed a generous offer.

Introduced as temporary nil rating of SDLT for property sales under £500,000, the holiday has been extended until 30 June. Then from 1 July to 30 September the nil rate band drops to £250,000 and from 1 October returns to the standard rate of £125,000.
Dig a little deeper, though, and it’s clear that once the nil rate drops to £250,000 on 1 July, the saving may not be so impressive.
Under the standard SDLT rating scheme – which we revert to on 1 October – the nil rate band is £125,000, followed by a £125,000 band at 2 per cent, and then from £250,000 up to £925,000 it is 5 per cent.
However, from 30 June the nil rate band is £250,000 but then from there to £925,000 it is 5 per cent. The 2 per cent band is swallowed up by the nil rate band. This means, there is a disproportionate increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax levied after 1 July.
The national average house price is around £249,000, so many will still squeeze into the nil rate band. But anyone buying a property costing more than £250,000 should be aware the saving is less attractive.
You can read a more detailed explanation of this here

Optimum takes over Stroud tax business

Our expansion into Gloucestershire has been cemented by the acquisition of Stroud-based Chris Mattos Tax.

Founder, Chris Mattos, who has stepped back to pursue other interests, said: “We didn’t want to find just a safe pair of hands for clients to move to, we wanted accountants who listen to the issues our clients need help with in their business life, personal life and family life and to match their services to suit clients’ needs. In Optimum we believe we have found this fit.”
We are delighted that Chris chose to entrust Optimum with the business he has grown so successfully. We felt it was a very good fit for us, as we share a similar ethos and values, and the added bonus for Chris’s clients is that they will now have easy access to our legal division, as we strive to provide a seamless service.
We would like to wish Chris all the best with his plans for the future.
You can read a little more about the takeover here

For more information about Optimum’s services please email info@nulloptps.co.uk or visit www.optps.co.uk.
To talk to the team, call our Swindon office on 01793 538 198 or our Cheltenham office on 01242 384 936. Our offices are at Vicarage Court, 160 Ermin Street, Stratton, Swindon, SN3 4NE and The Site, 24 Chosen View Road, Cheltenham GL51 9LT.

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