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Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Big Short

In the competitive world of kitchen hardware a high precision German engineered tap would surely be a winner. Not in our household.

A humble wine bottle cork is keeping the antediluvian flood at bay: not the super silicone tap washer by Franke. This is the second time German know how has let us down.

A few months ago the cold water washer unit failed. Increasingly brutal methods were employed to hold back the waters: initially with some success, but as the weeks passed by rubber bands, string, tree supports and sellotape failed. What started as a drip, drip, drip became a torrent.

Since the tap was less than 2 years old Franke replaced the unit free of charge and we were blessed once again with hot and cold properly on and off running water.

Just after Christmas the tap began to drip, drip, drip ominously. This time it was the hot water washer that was beginning to fail. This time it took no time before we had a full emergency on our hands. A sheath of elastic bands kept back the waters for a while, but it was a cork from a particularly fine Chilian CabSav that saved the day.

I texted our plumber: "We need a new tap!" She replied that she'd call in on Saturday morning which she did. She had anticipated the problem. She ordered a hot water Franke washer before she arrived. We'd have to wait a few days for it to arrive but the tap would be sorted. In the meantime the cork is just bobbing along nicely keeping us afloat.

I've finally sent off the annual tax returns for 2014-15. I do three, one for my wife's business, her tax return and that of her business partner. I do them not because I enjoy having to read acres of tax guidance and panicing over how I will ever manage to make sense of the numerous invoices, bank statements, P60s and share dividend strips. I do it because if I didn't we'd have to pay an accountant a few thousand or so pounds: wiping out any profit the business might have made.

Initially, doing the tax returns were fairly straight forward. My wife's business partner had a full time teaching job, and she and my wife taught at the V&A and the WI, as well as running courses at the workshop in Walthamstow and doing fashion work. The fees for the work for the V&A and other institutes would be paid directly to the business and it was easy accounting for that and filing the tax returns. The partner's tax return was slightly more complicated as she had a full time job and other income.

Now, however, if they do any work for the the V&A or the London College of Fashion etc. they have to be registered as employees of those august bodies: even if they only work one or two days in a year. It's a pain having to prove who you are in the first place. Then monies for any work is paid to my wife and her partner individually with tax already deducted.This means for each "employer" I have to track down each P60 and match them against their bank statements. The work they do for the WI means they are paid gross into their individual bank accounts.

Each tax return has to include a separate return for the share of the profit/loss of the partnership, a return for each separate employment and including a return for the other income from the WI work.

I find that the Solar Accounting software I use fine for managing the partnership income and expenses, and in providing reports in a form that are easily translated into tax return material. However, my wife's partner has other costs which don't go through the business's books and which I have to include as expenses on the tax return for the partnership. Deciding what's tax deductible and what is not keeps me awake at night. I might be found out by the tax man!!! or I'm being overcautious and not offsetting as much as I should do. It's too much of a does Google manage!

Having electronically transmitted the tax forms: a trauma in itself - since invariably my first attempts usually end in failure, I treated us to some artisan chocolate from a new chocolatiere in Walthamstow. I'm keen to support her business.After all I have some idea of the effort that goes into running your own enterprise.

I'm still waiting for our Italian deli to get in supplies of fig salami. They've tracked it down, but finding a supplier is a bit of a problem. If you can track it down it's well worth giving it a try.

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