James Coney  

Restore faith in the investment sector

James Coney

James Coney

Fund managers need to start talking today about the value they have achieved – that only comes through openness and transparency. If they do not start doing it in the good times then when the tide turns against the markets, we will have another generation of investment cynics on our hands.

Identifying tax avoidance

You can always spot tax avoiders a mile off. Whenever they are caught using a scheme, their standard response to the media is: “I have paid all tax owed.” 

Of course, it is true. They have.

What is more, every time I write about tax avoidance there is some smart alec who says that paying into a pension or an Isa is tax evasion. It is among the most petty and unimaginative arguments there is.

The tax system is full of restrictions and allowances designed to encourage spending, saving, and (my most used word) prudence, such as tax bands, and the personal allowance. Pensions, Isas, venture capital trusts, the Enterprise Investment Scheme – all of these are designed to fit within this remit.

It is the artificiality of tax avoidance schemes that makes them so sinister, the way cash is funnelled through different channels, and the use of loans and dividends to create payments – such as film partnerships were.

As we roll in to April it is time we had a proper conversation about tax in the UK, so that we can establish what is right and wrong. Then maybe we might be able to fund our NHS and get enough police on the streets.

Home cheap home

A friend calls. His house has been on the market for £500,000 for months. Lots of viewings, no offers.

Now he has an offer at £460,000. My advice: try to get £470,000 and if you do, say yes now.

This is the reality of the market now – what once seemed a very gettable price is now a long way from what you can expect.

What is a house worth? Only what someone will pay for it.

James Coney is money editor of the Sunday Times