Steven Mugglestone

The more I learn, the less I know

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THANK-YOU!

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This is a very easy article to write.  THANK-YOU, thank-you and thank-you!!

When we decided to adopt Rainbows as our charity, we set ourselves a target of £10,000 for 2013.  Well we did that and passed it, thanks to our clients, our contacts, our staff and our friends, THANK-YOU.

We did this by taking on The Three Peaks in September, where, together with our friends at Woods Coaches and through sheer stupidity, exhaustion and redefining being cold and wet, we raised around £8,000 through the Just Giving Site THANK-YOU for all who sponsored us.

Earlier in the year, we completed the 15 mile RainbowsWalk of Life, we tested our team’s commercial skills through a Business Challenge and we also hosted a summer choir concert and An Evening of Songs from Movies and MusicalsTHANK-YOU for all of you who bought a ticket, attended a quiz, bought something from our market stall or who attended our Indian summer feast and networking event.

We have beaten our £10,000 target and have passed the £14,000 already and we still have a few months of the year left.

We have enjoyed ourselves and have tested our minds, our entrepreneurial spirit, our cardiovascular systems and our knees and we have helped Rainbows along the way.

THANK-YOU to Rainbows for allowing us to be able to do all of this and be part of their support.

We need to think about what is next and what things we can do next year, but without the help of our clients and friends, we would not have been able to do this at all.

So really a VERY BIG THANK YOU

Written by Steven Mugglestone

October 7, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Why Rainbows & The Three Peaks Challenge?

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Our approach to our clients and our business is to always ask, Tell Us Your Story, but on this occasion and for charitable purposes, we are telling you ours.

Coming up with the idea of supporting a charity and “doing something” seemed to be such a logical thing to do.  As accountants and business advisers, we like reasons and checklists and this seems to tick a number of boxes:

·         It brings everyone together, with the aim of everyone up and everyone down the mountains

·         It gives a focus of organisation for our team and stops me taking control of things

·         It gives an opportunity to do something with a client, Woods Coaches

·         It raises money for such an incredible charity cause

·         It makes you realise that Rainbows should not need to be a charity, but really needs  financial support

·         It does give us positive PR

·         It stops us sitting around too much and helps our fitness

Given that we wanted to do something physical, The Three Peaks Challenge, seemed the obvious choice.  Yes, we know that it is not Everest, but for a bunch of largely unfit office workers, the highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland, covering 25 miles of walking in under a day and a half (we are doing it backwards Snowdon and Scafell on Saturday and Ben Nevis on Sunday morning) seemed to be enough of a challenge to hurt.  So, we are nearly there and what have we learnt:

Bringing people together

I have not been involved in all of the training walks, as I have family as well and started to drag them out walking, but I joined a group for the 15 mile Leicester City walk for Rainbows in May.  Others in the firm, however, have walked various hills in Leicestershire and Edale, as well as completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks in August.  Everyone recognises that sharing the stories of each-others blisters and bruises does a great deal to bring everyone together.  We have tracked our trials and tribulation on our charity blog site, mgchaylescharity Spending hours alone walking through hillsides and fields also ensures that you find out far more about your colleagues than days in the offices.

On a personal front, my seventeen your old son is joining us to tackle the challenge and I have been out training with him on a regular basis, both in a gym and throughout the countryside.  This has allowed us to spend more time alone to discuss a whole variety of matters and issues.  Perhaps without this focus on the three peaks, we would not have done this, because of work and college, so personally for me; this has been a great time.

Mental and physical challenge

Some say that you should do something that scares you on a regular basis, to keep you alive.  I think that this challenge is similar, but combines both a physical and mental test.  It is on a bucket list, so it is a great thing to do.  We have all said that we are doing it and all trying to get fit in relevant training, but when it comes to it, come what may it will be a mental test to finish.  We have all been tackling boot and shoe issues, with blisters and bruises as we break-in either new boots or problems with our old boots that stopped us walking before.  For me, a new pair of boots were required, when I tried to replace the laces on my old boots and through rust and mud, they proved impossible to re-lace.  Walking 15 miles in brand new boots in May, was not, however, the cleverest thing that I have ever done and the cuts, bruises and blisters did take a couple of weeks to heal fully.  When it comes to it, though, it is will power and determination that will ensure that we complete the challenge, even if our feet and ankles are covered in plasters.

For me, as well, a knee operation will mean that I will have my knee strapped up, but with a walking stick this is not going to stop me.  I would hope that an air ambulance is not required as that would be embarrassing.

The key driver, however, is not just the challenge for us, but also that we are doing it for such a great organisation and cause in Rainbows.  Some of the firm have visited the hospice and met their team, people with a fantastic positive attitude, which shines through.  So, given that, how can we fail?

A focus for my colleagues

It was easy to come up with the idea and the charity and apart from the training and walk itself, I have not been required to do a great deal more, as my colleagues have taken up the organisation and planning of the task.  You cannot see a better way to improve organisation and management than this really.  All planned, with itineries and equipment lists and timings and briefings, drivers and minibus transfers all sorted and agreed with Woods Coaches.  Nothing less expected from trained and qualified accountants and business advisers.

The selfish gene

Yes, we get PR out of what we are doing.  We do not see this as selfish really.  It is positive PR, for us, for all of the team, for Rainbows, our adopted charity.  For those that may find this tasteless, and actually we do not see many, we are still doing something positive.  Rainbows are a positive bunch of people and they really want other involved to publicise what they do with them as it is great PR for them as well.  They need to keep in the public eye, as they need to continually to raise money to keep operating and doing such a great job.  They do not get anywhere near enough government support to operate and they rely on continuous fund raising.

If all of this is selfish, I certainly have a clear conscience.

Please help us support Rainbows

The final countdown begins as we tackle the three peaks on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd of September.  Through other events and initiatives throughout the year, we are well on course to raising £10,000 for Rainbows and we want to make sure that we do that.

If you would like to help, you can make a donation through our Just Giving site at http://www.justgiving.com/company/mgchayles and as a final word from accountants, we would like to say that it is tax deductible, so ever more of a reason to make a donation, oh and time to consider what we should do next.

Written by Steven Mugglestone

September 9, 2013 at 8:34 am

A view from the accountants closest to Richard III

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Well, it seems that that the “War of the Roses II, This Time It’s Tourism” has well and truly commenced, but it is Leicestershire, rather than the usual Lancashire that the State of Yorkshire has declared war on, yes we know that they won more Olympic Gold medals than Australia.

As MGC Hayles and having an office in Castle Street, Leicester, which is only a few hundred yards away from the Richard III grave site and current exhibition, we see ourselves as the closest accountants and business advisers to Richard III and feel that we should be allowed to comment

Richard III has been part of Leicester for over 500 Years
For those who have lived in Leicester, Richard III has been part of the very fabric and history of the county for over 500 Years. He is such a part of the county that we live in that we just accept that Richard III is Leicester history and actually part of the county itself.
From the Bosworth Battlefield and visitor centre and the annual re-enactment of the battle, through the names of the roads, bridges and even schools, Richard III is all over the place.

As a partner in MGC Hayles in Leicester, I live relatively close the office and, when not required to go elsewhere, I leave the car at home and walk to the office. Walking past King Richards Road (the route to the Bosworth Battlefield) and a sign for the Richard III Infants School, you cross the bridge where, supposedly, an old woman cursed him before the battle and on return from the battle, his head was dragged on the bridge. A plaque on a bridge, stating that near the site lie the remains of Richard III, proved nearly to be correct. As you approach the centre of Leicester, you also pass Castle Park, the site of the original medieval castle, where there is a statue of Richard III holding aloft a crown in the famous Shakespearian pose. Pubs near the site of the dig and Leicester Cathedral have names such as Richard III and The Last Plantagenet. When you look, you see that Richard III and Leicestershire are absolutely linked.

It is not until the discovery the king’s remains and the potential argument about where the remains should be returned that you actually realise and see how much the life and story of Richard III is linked with Leicester and how much of Leicester today carries references to Richard III.

Who are the Last Plantagenets (or the Plantagenet Alliance)
Michael Ibsen was the direct descendant of Richard III who provided the sample DNA that confirmed that the skeleton was the remains of the former king. (Leicester University also discovered and developed the use of DNA in the 1980s as well, for those who did not know). You could argue that without Leicester University, Richard III would not only have not been found but also he would not have been scientifically confirmed as the king either.

The group claiming the rights to the remains and a judicial review to decide the matter are known as the Plantagenet Alliance and have a website http://kingrichardcampaign.org.uk/ and a Limited company called Plantagenet Alliance Limited. This company was incorporated in March 2013. They claim that as descendants, the lifetime wish of Richard III was to be buried in York. This seems to be all very rushed and new and not really reflecting the 500 years of history that Leicestershire has had with Richard.

Leicester University seemed to have to have worked quiet hard to trace a DNA line to Michael Ibsen, who himself, supports the remains of the king being kept in Leicester. He is the only DNA tested link, but according to others, http://www.robeastaway.com/blog/great-uncle-richard there could be as many as 17 million descendants of the former king. Is this, therefore, relevant at all, as we are hardly talking about close relatives?

Richard III has already been buried at a church
For those who have followed the developments and the history, Richard III was not originally buried in a car park. He was buried in a church. The church of Greyfriars was a friary under the Franciscan order (started by Francis of Assisi for those who care) and Richard was buried in the choir area in the church. Given the order of monks at the time, it was likely that this was a funeral service as well. The church was demolished following the dissolution of monasteries, at the time of Henry VIII. The name Grey Friars and Friar Lane remain.
The point being is that Richard III has already been buried in Leicester at a church service. I am not sure that anyone has the rights or inclination to ask that their long passed relatives should be dug up and buried nearer to them, just because you find out that they were quite famous.

What about the car park fees?
Leicester City Council now own the site and car park where the remains of Richard II were found, in a car park and ironically under a space marked “R”. You could say that this clearly was a space reserved for a Richard and a King.

Now according to the Bank of England, average inflation rates from 1793, when records began, to date have been around 2%, and for those interest they peaked in the periods between 1793 and 1815 at 36%, when Britain was at war with France.

Now I think that a penny or so a day for the early years would be a fair car park fee and with inflation, assuming a similar rate going back to 1485. Given compound interest at the 2% rate, then over the last 527 years, this would probably amount to about £8.5million. Now given the administration involved and the obvious penalties for non-payment and collection fees, I think that this easily could be double that, so the obvious question is, who is going to pay the £17million!!

Also, as many would argue, given that possession is said to be nine tenths of the law and that the whole of Leicestershire’s history and tourism in respect of the connection with Richard III, the Bosworth Battlefield, King Richards Road, King Richard’s bridge, the statue, the place where he has been buried for 527 years, then one can see an argument for significant future loss of revenue. £17million could easily become £30million plus.

Why, as accountants and business advisers, do we care so much about long past history and the remains of someone who lived over 500 years ago. Well, we are part of the economy and business community in Leicestershire and we see Richard III as being part and parcel of the fabric of the county, the same as Nottinghamshire and Robin Hood or Warwickshire and Shakespeare. It has been recognised that Richard III was always buried somewhere in Leicester and this has been proved correct. There is a feeling that the history should remain with Leicester and that any other claims are only somewhat opportunist and are not recognising the historic bond that Leicestershire has had with Richard III for all of those years.

We, therefore, are supporting Leicester University, Leicester Cathedral and the Mayor of Leicester in the campaign to keep the remains of Richard III in Leicester shire and within Leicester Cathedral. He has lay in the shadow of Leicester cathedral for over 500 years and really this should continue. The only difference is that we now know for sure that Richard III is buried in Leicester.

The story of Leicester and Richard III

Sign the e-petition to keep Richard III in Leicester

Richard III and Leicester Cathedral

 

 

Written by Steven Mugglestone

August 27, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Business Challenges that raised over £5,000 for Rainbows Hospice for children and young people

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MGC Hayles, the independent firm of Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers with an office in Leicester, are partnering Rainbows Hospice for children and young people as their chosen charity and are carrying out a number of fund raising initiatives throughout the year.

As the business has recently merged, Leicester based director, Steven Mugglestone, split the business into seven groups and to help with both business skills and team-working, similar to challenges in The Apprentice, gave each team £100 as a business start-up loan, with a time limit of seven weeks to create one or more businesses to make money, legally and report back in a presentation to all of the company at the end of June.

All of the teams at least doubled their money, with selling initiatives from ice creams, plants to books through to winning two bets on football matches.  One team hosted a quiz night, obtaining prizes from businesses throughout Leicestershire.  Another team went about selling breakfasts, renting out car park spaces and running a stall on Leicester market and perhaps the most ambitious of all the teams hosted a networking Indian banquet for 120 guests, including the Leicester Asian Business Association, the chair of Leicestershire county council, the Leicester Riders and representatives from Air India, all of this done within six weeks, whilst the staff also carried out their day jobs.

In total the challenges raised over £5,300, which is all to be donated to Rainbows.

Leicester director, Steven Mugglestone, commented.  “I think that is fair to say that this proved not only to be a great success for Rainbows, but also for our team and the lessons they have learnt, not only in teamwork, but how quite a lot of the time, you have to ask for help from so many others to make business work.  The only negative though, is that this was started by me asking for seven volunteers, who were to become the team leaders, which I got within 10 minutes.  I doubt if I will get such a quick response to the same request again.

 

Written by Steven Mugglestone

July 8, 2013 at 7:37 am

Help us raise over £2,500 for Rainbows on 4 July and enjoy yourself doing it:

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We understand that times are still tough for many businesses and individuals, but we know that things are far tougher for many others, which is why we have chosen Rainbows Hospice as our charity partner and we have made a commitment to them to continue to raise funds.

Rainbows are helping our business by being a focus of team work and business ideas as our team prepare for a Three Peaks Challenge, as well as developing business ideas through our business challenges.

In return, we are raising funds throughout the year and our next fund-raising event is the promotion of a concert for Rainbows on Thursday 4th July at 7.30pm at the Fraser Noble Concert Hall, Leicester University.

Performed by the Tudor Choir, who are one of Leicestershire’s leading working choirs, joined by children from the Pastures Primary School in Leicester and hosted with the help of BBC Radio Leicester, the evening includes popular songs from some of the best known musicals and movies, performed by an award winning and very popular choir.

We are well on the way for ticket sales, but we are asking our clients, contacts and friends for their support to join us for the evening of songs, refreshments and a prize draw supported by the 2013 BBL Champions, the Leicester Riders Basket Ball team and Woods Coaches theatre trips.

Tickets are available from MGC Hayles on 0116 233 8500 and Woods Coaches on 0116 278 6374 and are available on the door, but we aim to sell out before then so please call and book your tickets now and help us raise over £2,500 for one evening and enjoy yourself doing so.

Have a great evening and help raise the much needed funds for Rainbows.

RainbowsConcert

Find out how social media can help build more sales for your business at our free breakfast seminar on 27th June at Leicester Tigers. For more details click HERE.

Written by Steven Mugglestone

June 17, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Help, changes to childcare voucher scheme

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 Leicester-based chartered accountancy firm, MGC Hayles is advising that the existing tax-free employer childcare voucher scheme is to be scrapped, with a more generous system set to take its place.

The new tax-free childcare scheme (TFC) will be introduced in autumn 2015 and will be available to households where both parents (or the single parent) are working and paying tax, and neither parent earns more than £150,000 a year. 

Under the scheme, which is expected to see parents able to open an online voucher account, the Government will top up any payments made by parents. This means that for every 80p paid in by parents, the Government will top this up by 20p, up to an annual maximum of £1,200 per child.

Under the current system, employers can offer vouchers for staff with children to redeem with Ofsted-regulated childcare providers. Although these can be of any value, the amount qualifying for tax and National Insurance (NI) exemption is capped at £933 for employees and £402 NI for employers.

Steven Mugglestone, partner at MGC Hayles, said: “At present, childcare vouchers are typically offered by employers on a ‘salary sacrifice’ basis, where the employee gives up a percentage of their pay in exchange for the vouchers. Under the new system, this will stop, with employers having to pay the equivalent amount of salary which was previously being sacrificed for the vouchers. Because the salary will be subject to tax and NI, employers will lose their £402 per employee NI saving, which means some employers may wish to think about other NI-free benefits they can offer employees instead.

 “The new scheme will not affect employers who provide free onsite childcare, as this will still count as a benefit in kind, free of tax and NI.”

 For further information, please contact MGC Hayles in Leicester on 0116 333 8500, Nottingham on 0115 941 5193 and Birmingham on 0121 236 3317.

Steven Mugglestone is a partner in MGC Hayles, Chartered Accountants, members of UK200Group with offices throughout the UK and Associates overseas.

Join us in supporting Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People:RainbowsConcert

Written by Steven Mugglestone

June 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Tax schemes, a ticking time bomb and the safe and sound alternatives

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Tax Schemes, a time bomb with a short fuse

William Pitt (The Younger) is commonly regarded as the British Prime Minister (and Chancellor at the same time) who in 1799 introduced income tax to the UK.  The tax rate then was 0.8% for annual incomes over £60 and 10% for annual incomes over £200.  At the same time, tax planning, tax avoidance and tax evasion became common place and since that day individuals, businesses, accountants and lawyers have been working to structure their affairs to be able to pay the least amount of tax whilst adhering to the law of the land.

Aggressive Tax Planning

Aggressive tax planning has hit the headlines over the last twelve months as the government and HMRC have sort to adopt a new and different approach to increasing the tax take, name and shame.  From well-known comedians to international coffee chains there has been a campaign to highlight those who have chosen to adopt strategies that, whilst legal, some would note as aggressive tax planning.  There appears to have been some success with this as the government and HMRC play the morals card.

The Key Issues of Aggressive Tax Planning

It appears to be the greatest unspoken secret of personal and business wealth management, but despite what the press has reported over the last 12 months, most people in business know someone who has taken advantage of a “tax strategy” that in some way could be seen as aggressive.

Over the last 15-20 years, and starting with film industry partnerships, a whole industry has evolved from tax planning and in particular huge sums of money have gone into various schemes and plans, which initially was the domain of bankers’ bonuses.

Some of the more “exotic” strategies are, however, not only legal, but quite robust in their commercial structures and approach.  There are common issues and pitfalls, however, surrounding a lot of the more aggressive schemes:

  • Some fail a number of years after introduction as HMRC challenge and successfully expose errors in the structures, leaving the tax payer and their advisers to negotiate a settlement.
  • Many come with Tax Counsel/Barrister opinion, which are sold as reasonable guarantees of their legal robustness.  If you care to fully read these opinions, many do not fully support the structures, as they only address a number of key areas.  Many of the opinions do, however include significant health warnings.
  • Typically providers of the schemes are a sales organisation.  The fine print will note the warnings and point to either some limited help or no responsibility, when things go wrong.  The key point to note is that this may not be for the long haul and such help will fall on your accountant and adviser.
  • Some of the providers have chosen closure and insolvency before HMRC could expose their potentially flawed structures.

Many of the largest accountancy businesses, which have built their business on the sales of such schemes have either closed the schemes, as well as seeking to ring-fence their business units which have provided the schemes.  This does not say much about how they are supporting their clients, but the clients will find out when they try and get support or when they try and make a claim against them.  We always stick by our clients as well as helping and supporting new clients who find themselves in this position.

The Safe And Sound Tax Planning Solution ©

We do not say that such tax structures and strategies are wrong or illegal and some do form part of certain solutions.  Some are both commercial and can offer users and tax payers other commercial opportunities, such as potential returns from development properties and new technologies.  Our role, however is always to make clients aware of what can be done and what is available and outline the legality and risks involved.

Our starting point, however, is always to discuss and offer SAFE tax planning ©, which is bespoke to each and every client and forms what even Mr Cameron has said to be sensible tax management.  Here are some of the legal, safe and sound tax saving approaches that we use to save our clients significant amounts of money, whilst ensuring that they also win the legal argument, the commercial argument and the moral argument, if they ever get challenged by HMRC over their affairs.  We see it as safe and morally sound tax planning:

EIS and Seed EIS for new start-up limited companies

The newly introduced Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) is an attractive source of funding for early stage trading companies and an exciting tax advantaged investment opportunity for business angel investors.  Key facts relevant to SEIS are as follows:

  • SEIS is available for business angel investors and early stage companies seeking seed funding
  • Investors can receive 50% income tax relief on investments up to £100,000 per year.
  • SEIS investors will pay no capital gains tax on ultimate disposal of their shares
    • Companies are limited to raising a cumulative maximum of £150,000 under SEIS – after this, they may be eligible for SEIS’s Big Brother, EIS, provided 70% of the SEIS cash has been spent.
    • An investor cannot control the investee company with share subscriptions limited to 30%. Investors can be directors but not employees.
    • Companies can obtain advance assurance on whether the company is a qualifying SEIS company from HMRC.

Incorporation of unincorporated businesses

There are many unincorporated businesses trading in the UK.  Sole traders, simple partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships, which are still an excellent and sensible way to start a business.

There is still an excellent opportunity to reduce a tax cost to 10% and less, by seeking to transfer an unincorporated business to a limited company.  This can be done with approval from HMRC and can potentially save tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands in tax.  This route often gets missed as many small businesses believe that the costs of running a limited company outweigh the savings, which is far from the reality.

Research and Development

Currently claims for research and development costs attract tax relief at 200%.  This equates to HMRC potentially providing 25% of the cash required to develop new areas with your business.

Another statistic widely quoted is that 85% of German businesses claim a similar relief, yet only 15% of UK claim R&D relief.  The chances are that your business could be eligible to make this claim and yet many businesses are failing to look at this valuable area.

Growth with LLPs

Most businesses are building new business areas, products, services and customer location.  Yet most are also missing an opportunity to reducing their tax costs in these areas to below 10%, as well as taking advantage of £10,000 annual tax free reliefs.

With some thought as to how you can structure your new business ventures using limited liability partnerships, LLPs, there are significant savings to be obtained and this can be maximised over a 3 – 5 year period.

Try Safe and Sound Tax Planning ©

Many accountants and tax advisers have sold tax schemes and plans, which whilst are legal, they do not fit the government and HMRC’s definitions of appropriate and moral tax management.

We, however, believe that before such structures are discussed and offered, many small and medium sized businesses would benefit from a number of safe and sound tax planning routes, that will save significant sums of money, but will also ensure that any moral, legal, commercial or other such disputes with HMRC are avoided.

You could call it tax avoidance avoidance!!!

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Written by Steven Mugglestone

March 18, 2013 at 8:53 am