Thank you to all our volunteers on International Volunteer Day

Mark Walley

The UN organises International Volunteer Day on 5 December every year to recognise and promote the tireless work of volunteers across the globe. The theme this year is ‘Volunteer now for our common future’.

I am delighted that we are taking this opportunity to recognise the work of our volunteers here at STEP. Quite simply, STEP would not exist but for the efforts of our volunteers across the 30 years we have been around. The precious gift of time that volunteers give makes volunteering a superpower that energises the organisation.

From those first meetings back in 1991 through to an organisation today of around 22,000 members worldwide, our volunteers have generously given their time and expertise to help advance and grow STEP. It is truly something remarkable when you reflect on the growth and reach of STEP, with members in over 100 countries and branches or chapters in more than 50 of those.

The community that has been created through collaboration over the years, united by a shared focus on promoting integrity and continuous learning, is what makes STEP unique.

At any given time we have somewhere over 1,000 active volunteers contributing at local branch committee level through to Council, Board and its committees. While there is an organisational hierarchy of governance and reporting, the value and contribution of every volunteer is noteworthy – we simply wouldn’t have the impact that we do without everyone that is actively involved.

So I want to say a huge THANK YOU to every volunteer at STEP – both present and past. You have made us the organisation we are and bring huge diversity of thinking to what we do.

This year’s International Volunteers Day theme of ‘Volunteer now for our common future’ also feels particularly pertinent to STEP as we progress our strategic priorities. We are keen that everyone in our diverse membership feels welcome and able to contribute as we want to be a truly inclusive organisation.

We know from our member survey that membership and volunteering bring benefits, with 75 per cent believing that being part of this global network has helped progress their career. We also know that this means many of you would actively recommend STEP to others (leading to an enviable net promoter score of +54).

If you are not currently involved as a volunteer then now is the perfect time to attend a branch meeting (whether virtual or in person) and find out more.

Thank you again to all our volunteers – I salute you.

Mark Walley, CEO

Capital gains tax: changes are welcome but a full system overhaul is needed

The UK government announced five key technical and administrative changes to capital gains tax (CGT) on 30 November, also known as Tax Administration and Maintenance Day. The changes offer taxpayers some practical simplifications for taxpayers.

STEP is pleased to note that the government has addressed some of our recommendations but is disappointed that the existing system will not be overhauled, which is complex and difficult to navigate, often resulting in unintended consequences.

Context to these changes

STEP submitted a response to the UK Office of Tax Simplification’s second report call for evidence in relation to its CGT review, which was published on 14 July 2020.

The UK government announced on 30 November that it has accepted five recommendations from this report, which will offer some practical simplifications for taxpayers. This will make the system simpler and more efficient in the short term. The government has confirmed that the following administrative issues will be dealt with:

Five key changes:

1. HMRC should integrate the different ways of reporting and paying CGT into the Single Customer Account (SCA), making it a central hub for reporting and storing CGT data.

The government understands the case made to improve CGT and related services for customers. It will consider this recommendation as part of the delivery of the SCA. SCA service development is a long-term strategy for HMRC.

2. The government should consider extending the reporting and payment deadline for the UK property return to 60 days, or mandate estate agents or conveyancers to ensure that their clients are informed about these requirements.

The government announced at the Autumn Budget that the time limit for making a CGT return and associated payments on account when disposing of UK land and property has been extended from 30 to 60 days.

3. The government should extend the ‘no gain no loss’ window on separation to the later of: i) the end of the tax year at least two years after the separation event; or (ii) any reasonable time set for the transfer of assets in accordance with a financial agreement approved by a court or equivalent processes in Scotland.

The government agrees that the ‘no gain no loss’ window on separation and divorce should be extended and will consult on the detail over the course of the next year.

4. The government should expand the specific rollover relief rules which apply where land and buildings are acquired under compulsory purchase orders.

The government agrees that expanding rollover relief to cover reinvestment in the form of enhancing land already owned meets the spirit of the initial rationale of the relief and will consult on the detail in due course.

5. HMRC should improve their guidance in the following specific areas.

  • The UK property tax return
  • Lodgers and people working from home
  • When a debt is a debt on a security
  • When a loan to a business becomes irrecoverable
  • When business asset disposal relief could apply to farmers or others looking to retire over a period of time
  • Enterprise investment schemes
  • Land assembly arrangements
  • Flat management companies.

The government agrees with this recommendation. HMRC has already completed its review and expansion of the guidance on the UK property tax return, which will be published shortly and will proceed to the other areas of guidance listed in due course.

STEP will keep members apprised of any further developments in due course.

Emily Deane TEP, STEP Technical Counsel