Accounting and Taxation advice in Hexham, Northumberland


Thoughts Friday 22nd December 2020

Hi folks,
I did tempt fate by saying I would only send my ‘Thoughts’ if something extreme happened before we close down and guess what, it did - twice over it seems.
Now not only is everyone faced with reorganising their Christmases BUT we’re isolated from the rest of the World - it feels more and more like 1939 as time progresses. So, like our Grandparents or Great Grandparents as the case may be, we need to:


Remember there are more lorries queueing at Dover when the French go on strike (which they do seem to do a lot) than there are now.
The supermarkets are saying they have all the food we need and anyway many people will have too much food in the house preparing for the family to arrive so perhaps we need to offer some of it to the next-door neighbours who are suddenly unexpectedly at home? All you need to do is find the person with the electric carving knife or meat cleaver so you can cut the turkey in two! Let the spirit prevail

In no time at all the Rest of the World will realise they already have this Covid variant as well - they just don’t have the epidemiologists who can recognise it!

The rational reason for the ‘Thoughts’ this week is to let you know that we will still be closing the office today, Tuesday 22nd December. I think my team have done an absolutely fantastic job in keeping the office operational throughout the whole of this crisis, albeit in a reduced manner, and that they really need that extra couple of days to make the Christmas break a really decent one. I felt that Boris’s news last Saturday was disappointing enough without cancelling the extra leave as well!  So, I hope you will all bear with us when you can’t get hold of us after 5pm on the 22nd.

The technical bit!

The self-assessment tax returns for 2019/20 are still due to be filed on 31st January 2021.  The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), and other professional bodies, wrote to HMRC to request that the date that late filing penalties apply should be moved back.  HMRC have now replied and said that the returns should be completed on time, but “no one will have to pay a penalty if they cannot file on time because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.  So, penalties will be raised if the return is filed late, but you can appeal this penalty if you have a pandemic-related personal or business disruption as a reasonable excuse and the penalty will be cancelled.  The penalty appeal process will be extended to three months, instead of the usual 30 days.  So if you haven’t already passed us your tax information, maybe Christmas would be a good opportunity to get organised!

Back to Christmas

Have you seen the star of Bethlehem? Apparently it’s actually Jupiter and Saturn aligned in a way that’s not been visible since 1623. I have to confess that I actually thought the star of Bethlehem was Halley’s comet which some of you will remember we could see towards the end of the last century. But apparently not, this is it. I advise you to put your warm coats on and go out and look at it - it’s visible not long after complete darkness. We saw it at 5:30pm and it is in the South West. In the North as we are, it’s only just above the horizon but it probably would’ve been mid-sky when the three wise men were looking at it 2,000 odd years ago.

When family Christmases were possible, I often spent my Christmas Eve trying to find my lovely illustrated version of The Night Before Christmas that I read to the grandchildren (and once upon a time ago - the children) and somehow I always put it “Somewhere Safe” so that there is a major flurry while I try and work out where that might be. These days we often have to resort to the Internet and I usually find it on Boxing Day! Below is an alternative version - a variation of what you’ve probably already seen on ‘the net’ and hopefully for this year only:
The Night Before Christmas 2020

T'was the day before Christmas,
And all through the town,
People wore masks,
That covered their frown.
The frown had begun
Way back in the Spring,
When a global pandemic
Changed everything.
They called it corona,
But unlike the beer,
It didn’t bring good times,
It didn’t bring cheer.
Airplanes were grounded,
Travel was banned.
Borders were closed
Across air, sea and land.
As the world entered lockdown
To flatten the curve,
The economy halted,
And folks lost their nerve.
From March to July
We rode the first wave,
People stayed home,
They tried to behave.
When summer emerged
The lock down was lifted.
But away from caution,
Many folks drifted.
Now it’s December
And cases are spiking,
Wave three has arrived,
Much to our disliking.
It’s true that this year
Has had sadness a plenty,
We’ll never forget
The year 2020.
And just ‘round the corner -
The holiday season,
But why be merry?
Is there even one reason?
To decorate the house
And put up the tree,
Who will see it,
No one but me.
But outside my window
The snow gently falls,
And I think to myself,
Let’s deck the halls!
So, I gather the ribbon,
The garland and bows,
As I play those old carols,
My happiness grows.
So we still will have Santa ?and hear him exclaim come Dasher come Dancer - the reindeers by name.
And If we happen to see him in the midst of his flight. 
We’ll still hear him calling
A Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
The original one that I spent my Christmas Eves searching for is by Clement Clark Moore (1779-1863). You can find this version by googling Shawna Hickling, it’s good to think that people around the world are trying to put a positive spin on all of this!
More seriously I’m sure we’re in the right place. We still have the bubbles in place for people with very small children and those who are in need of care or who are very ill. I’m sure had it been announced earlier many people would’ve felt the need to flout the rules whereas now I believe this probably has large-scale public support which is what we need – so KEEP CALM AND DON’T STOCK PILE THE LOO ROLLS and let’s hope it works and that we get our economy back in more ways than one in the spring.
Very Happy Christmas to you and yours and very best wishes for 2021 and the JOY of having a vaccination!


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