Category: Lifestyle

What is the Seafarer’s Earnings Deduction Tax Exemption?

Stop paying income tax on offshore earnings to the HMRC

If you happen to be a citizen of the United Kingdom and employed as a Seafarer you may actually be entitled to an amazing tax exemption that came into effect as of the 2012 Finance Act. We shall enlighten you with the terms and details of this amazing piece of legislation that entitles offshore workers the opportunity to keep 100% of their earnings made outside of the UK in foreign waters.

Will this tax exemption apply to you?

Do you understand the legalities of the exemption to take full advantage of it? Many people will, unfortunately, miss out on this unique opportunity because it is not very well known and the rules and details surrounding this tax exemption are very vague when you read the HMRC help sheets regarding the Seafarers Earnings Deduction.

At first, the Seafarers Earnings Deduction came into being as of the 1988 Finance Act. It was not as beneficial as it is now. Thankfully unions that represented seafaring employed UK citizens went to battle with the HMRC and actually changed the laws as of 2012. If you qualify as a seafarer then you are entitled to a 100% earnings tax exemption. This tax law came into effect because of the industry demand and competition among workers for positions in the seafaring trade. Also, this tax exemption came into effect as a precautionary measure to further serve defence needs of the United Kingdom by having its citizens in different foreign locations.

Yacht crew enjoy tax free income if they use the seafarers earnings deduction exemption through HMRC. Image credit: Boat International

Although defence needs were an initial reason for this tax exemption, it does not include people who are employed in the armed forces. Because of the highly competitive labor market, the HMRC created this tax exemption. There are a few regulations you must follow to be eligible for the Seafarers Earnings Deduction and we will discuss these rules below.

While taking a look at Helpsheet 205 from the HMRC it clearly states that a person must work on a ship that leaves or ports in foreign waters and a UK seafaring employee must spend no longer than 183 days in the United Kingdom per year. Now what is considered as a ship is not really listed in the help sheet however what is not a ship is listed as flotels, floating and fixed production drilling platforms as well as mobile offshore drilling units. If you are employed on one of these units then you will not be able to use the Seafarers Earnings Deduction. As we also stated briefly you are only allowed a certain period of time within the United Kingdom to benefit from this tax exemption.

What is listed is that a seafaring employee may spend only 183 days ashore in the United Kingdom per given year to qualify for the tax exemption. When you spend time ashore in the UK you will need to keep all documentation and paperwork that states your given time ashore. A day is determined as being in the country as of midnight on the given day counts as a day in the United Kingdom. You will need to keep your paperwork available for tax reasons so also keep ahold of stubs.

Another factor that must be considered to benefit from the tax break is what actually qualifies as a period at sea according to the HMRC and Helpsheet 205. These rules consist of the fact that you must embark and disembark from a foreign port. This means that you cannot embark or disembark within the United Kingdom. If you do then you will not qualify for the Seafarers Earnings Deduction. Your ability to take advantage of the exemption will also be determined by how many days you have spent at sea outside of the UK. You can use a spreadsheet available at the HMRC website to calculate how many days you have spent outside of the UK and whether or not you qualify.

When it comes to tax returns it is absolutely essential that you get it done. Some people will try to declare no earnings and they end up only hurting themselves. Other people employed as Seafarers may choose to set up a company for tax purposes or set up a company in a foreign country.

Evading taxes is never a good idea and the HMRC has a policy that allows them to find out everything about your financial records. Ultimately if you chose to not declare your income you really could not do anything with it. Most bank lenders and mortgage brokers require a SA302 letter which means you will need to complete your annual taxes.

External Resources

This article was authored with the help of the following amazing third party websites:

Do I Need Planning Permission for an American Barn?

All You Need to Know Before Building an American Barn

Within this article, we will aim to answer the question on whether you need planning permission to build an American Barn on your property. We will examine the different rules and regulations and give you the most information you can digest that will help you with deciding whether you are able to build an American barn. Keep on reading below for the answers. American barns have become a lot more popular in the UK and they are becoming more visible. They offer your animals protection from the elements and give a sense of added convenience with your horses needs being able to be addressed all in one covered area. The rules and laws are different and have many different variables as we will discuss below.

What are your permitted development rights?

These are actually your right to build, develop, excavate, extend and carry out engineering work on certain properties without having to go through the whole planning permission process. These individual rights are in detail in a statutory instrument (No 418,1995) known as the Town and Country Planning General Permitted Development Order of 1995.

Development that is approved and permitted on property that is 12 acres or more of agricultural land is known as class A development. This gives you the rights to build, extend or alter a building including excavating or engineering operations that may be needed for the purpose of agriculture within the building.

A Typical American Barn Timber Frame Structure. Image credit: Off Grid News

The American barn building has to be below 5000 square feet. Since you will want to be keeping your horses in the barn it will have to be at least 400 meters away from the nearest non-agricultural building. But permitted development doesn’t include stabling, so you will have to apply for planning permissions to change the usage for your equestrian needs.

When it comes to planning an American barn it can be a grey area and will depend upon where you are located and what the rules and regulations are. Above all else, it is advised that you visit and talk to your local borough councillor who can give you advice that may help you in your quest for planning permissions to build your American barn. Also be careful when you pick your parish council meeting because you do not want to fall short of your goal in being able to get the rights to build the barn.

The main element from our experience suggests that the key to arguing that a barn should be allowed to be built will fall under the permitted development rights. Being able to build a strong planning and architectural case is essential. It must be that it leads the planning officers through the complex aspects of the legislation. Your building must meet the clear criteria that must be met. If your American barns do not meet all of the criteria, then it will be less then likely to get a secured permitted development permission.

The Interior of an American Barn is Warm, Dry & Comfortable. Image credit: Decorating Decor & More

Some of the major aspects that will affect your ability to get planning permissions for an American barn include such things as whether it will affect the environment, whether it will change the natural beauty of the landscape, whether it will interfere or be a nuisance to roads or highways among other things. Being able to be in harmony with the environment will be a factor on whether you can get permissions for building an American barn.

Another key factor about the issues related to the American barn is the stables that will hold your horses. If you did not have stables you would not have the problems associated with having to apply for planning permissions. You may or may not be allowed and given permissions. It really depends on where you live and what area of the UK that you are situated in. Living on agricultural land will give you more rights and freedoms when it comes to building but you will have to follow the rules and recommendations of your local government agencies.

Whatever you do, don’t build without the proper planning permissions. If you were too they would be allowed to tear down your barn. Above all else approach the process of applying for permissions with as much detail about your plans and make sure you do your research to appease the council so that they rule in your favor. Ultimately American barns are a great way to store and house your horses. The rights and permissions are different depending on where you live. You will have to follow the rules above all else.

Credits & Acknowledgements

The following websites were referenced in the authorship of the blog post:

How to modernise an old kitchen by changing the hardware & handles

A Budget Friendly & Effective Kitchen Upgrade

How many times did you open and close that kitchen cupboard to get out plates and dishes?

And what about that drawer where you store your utensils and cutlery

There is no doubt that certain doors and drawers are opened and closed more than others and chances are the hardware may need to be replaced after a certain number of years.

Likewise, the knobs or handles may have lost their original appeal, become loose or discoloured and aged with continual use.

It’s time for a change!

There’s Dozens of Kitchen Handle Options to Choose From. Image credit: DKB

So before you despair and come to a rash decision to call the house movers, have you ever considered modernising your kitchen by installing new hardware, handles and knobs?

These seemingly small accessories are actually very important for your kitchen’s finished look as well as its ease of use.

Besides, you will be amazed at the considerable difference new handles and knobs could have on your kitchen’s look and style.

And the best thing about it is that it is not going to cost you a lot, and neither take you a lot of time.

It is important to remove the old handles and knobs carefully so as not to scratch the door or drawer.

Count how many you will need, and add some extra ones to keep as replacements just in case.

Make sure to take one of each with you to the store where you will be buying the new ones.

This is because ideally you retain the same size for ease of installation.

Remember that there are the holes on the doors and drawers, and as much as possible you should use match them up to the new handles as well to prevent unnecessary drilling and filling.

In such a way you would be making your life much easier as otherwise you might have to fill up the holes and apply wood filler of a similar colour, in the hope that it is not visible.

Obviously this is easier said than done, especially for some materials.

During shopping for new hardware, it’s a good idea to take a photo of your kitchen with you so as to try to complement the style of the handles with the colour of the units.

You are going to find countless styles of handles and knobs to choose from, and so it is normal to end up a bit confused.

Just try to focus on the most important aspects, namely, the size, the material and the colour.

Handles and knobs need to be durable as they are going to be grabbed and pulled countless times.

So you need to look for a proper size, a comfortable grip and a durable material.

Ideally stay away from styles which comprise a lot of intricate carvings as this will end up rather unhygienic since in a kitchen dirt and grime is normal.

When installing them, you will need to be careful.

The screw will need to be long enough for the thickness of the door or drawer.

Also, make sure that they fit well and sit flush with the backside of the door or drawer.

Twist tightly so as to avoid wiggly results after a while.

Soft Closing Mechanisms Can Be Added to Doors & Drawers. Image credit: Alibaba

Replacing the door hardware goes hand in hand with replacing the handles.

The hinges especially will need to be replaced after some time and there are some awesome soft closing mechanisms on the market that will give you that added luxurious soft closing feature as well.

With new hardware, handles and knobs, the room will get a a much needed breath of fresh air and the finished look will be a transformed kitchen to be proud of!

What To Consider When Buying Running Shoes For Knee Pain

Minimise joint discomfort with appropriate running footwear

Knee pain is common to most people who run and most athletes have knee problems at least once every year. When you have a knee pain it will prevent you from not only running but also performing your daily activities. The severity and location of the knee pain depend on the involved structure and the signs include stiffness and swelling of the knee, popping sounds, instability, fever and impossibility to straighten the leg. There are different causes of knee pain such as poor alignment of the lower proximity, an over pronated foot, torn ligaments or arthritis.

Medication and rehabilitation of the knee are some of the best ways to help do away with the pain but you need to have the right choice of running shoes to solve this problem. Whatever shoe you wear while running has a great impact on the load you put on the knee joints, hence making the knee pain better or worse. When buying running shoes for knee pain you should consider the following:

Take a Gait Analysis

First have your gait assessment done so that you get to know your foot pronation, i.e. over pronation, supination or neutral. For over pronation, where the foot rolls inward as you run there is excess pressure on the knee joints so you will need to buy motion control or stability running shoes. These kinds of shoes have a hard thick material at the arch point which acts as a support and provides great amount stability hence the foot will not roll inwards. This is most popular with many athletes.

A Simple Wet Test Using Water & Paper. Image credit: Cork Orthotics

Supination is where the foot rolls outwards when running so the best shoes are those that offer flexibility and cushioning the foot. Don’t get stability shoes as they can exaggerate the rolling outward motion which could cause excess knee pain and other problems. For people with neutral pronation, buy stability shoes, but not motion control shoes. If you will be running on an uneven ground, you may need to buy a shoe that has extra cushioning

Get the Correct Cushioning

Buy a well-cushioned shoe which will help prevent shock to the knee as they absorb the impact of your foot on the ground. Mizuno running shoes are a very popular brand with runners who experience knee pain.

When you wear a well-cushioned shoe you will feel as if you are walking on air or on a pillow which is the best for your knee as the shoes give a great padding, support stability, and comfort. Some shoes have extra padding on the tongue and collar for additional comfort.

The soles should be well constructed. The midsoles should be firm enough so that they reduce over pronation, where people have low arches. It should be designed in a way it gives you a soft underfoot feeling as you run. The outer soles are made of rubber which is long lasting and it offers great traction and grip which will prevent you from slipping as you run. The grooves in the soles allow your foot to naturally move through the gait cycle. Having a stable heel and midsole will reduce the foot arch which will help prevent over pronation.

Mizuno Wave Inspire are great running shoes to lessen knee pain. Image credit: Wiggle

If the special shoe doesn’t help then you will need to have supportive orthotics which will help get your foot maintain alignment well. See a podiatrist orthopedist and they will help you know which position brings about knee pain by taking your feet models in different positions. They will then create for you custom insoles which will help align the ankle and foot hence reduce the pain.

The upper shoe part should made of a mesh material which allows your feet to breathe as you run and the inner lining should be able to keep the feet dry and cool.

Talk to an Expert

No one shoe is meant for all runners so buy your shoes in a running specialty store and get to try various brands and types of shoes so as to get which works for you.

Make sure you replace your running shoes after 300 miles so that you avoid poor alignment, which is caused by broken down shoes.

If you get proper footwear then you will not have a problem going about your daily activities and you will not be slowed down by knee pain.

How to waterproof plywood sheets

Protect your plywood from dreaded delaminating

Plywood is a very commonly used material for both residential as well as commercial projects. Many DIY woodworkers prefer to use plywood because it is easy to build and to assemble with, apart from the fact that it is really affordable when compared to other materials. Plywood is also used for underlayment purposes, for siding, and even for subfloor installations.

Considering all these applications, it is important to appreciate the longevity of plywood. Unfortunately it is a known fact that plywood is susceptible to moisture. Should it come into contact with water or moisture over time, it could easily start to deteriorate and the laminations with split. This is because it will start to rot, develop mould and destroy the adhesives that hold it together. Therefore it’s important to waterproof plywood sheets so as to avoid this from happening, while also increasing their life expectancy considerably.

Plywood showing early signs of water penetration. Image credit: Angie’s List

Since plywood is a laminated material, it accepts waterproofing easily. Plywood is basically made by gluing layers of wood together and then it is finished by applying veneer. Plywood is in fact comprised of several different layers of veneers which are glued together at right angles. As there are several layers, this leads plywood to end up being more vulnerable to water and moisture damage. Should plywood be exposed to water, the glues will end up disintegrating. As the wood will begin to rot, the layers will peel away from each other over time. Thus, waterproofing plywood is critical.

Waterproofing with latex & oil based sealants

There are various types of waterproofing that can protect plywood. The most common type is the paint or spray-on liquid latex. Another form of plywood sheets waterproofing is by using penetrating oils and sealers.

Before applying the waterproofing material it is best to wipe the sheets and sand them. When wetting the plywood sheets, its grain will raise slightly. Then when the surface dries, it is important to sand the sheets lightly using a 100 or 200 grit sandpaper, in order to sand that grain back down and get a smoother surface for the waterproofing material to be applied on more effectively.

There’s many plywood waterproofing products on the market. Image credit: homedit

Flip the plywood panel over so as to apply the waterproofing material onto the other side. It is also very important to apply the waterproofing to all of the edges of the plywood sheet as the aim to create an impermeable surface. In fact the edges tend to be more exposed and they may naturally end up wicking up water. As a general rule of thumb it would be best to apply several coats of the waterproofing material, until it seems that they can take no more. Allow the solvents to evaporate between one coat and another. Generally three coatings tend to be enough.

As soon as the liquid latex dries up it will look and feel just like plastic. This is the protective layer which will safeguard the plywood sheets from moisture, water and other elements as well.

When the paint is used, it can be applied quite easily by using a roller. In fact rollers facilitate the process considerably. One can also use a brush too. In case of the spray-on option, it is best to use an electric sprayer that is used for paint in order to facilitate the application process, as well as ensure an even application. If you will be using a waterproofing material such as linseed oil, this can be applied using a brush or even a rag. With an oil-based waterproofing material, brushes tend to offer the best possible coverage.

It is best to use sawhorses so as to keep the plywood sheets at a reachable level. It is also best to carry out this waterproofing process outdoors since there will be fumes present. When one is outdoors the fumes will evaporate quickly.

Plywood is a very good building material, and it is also a very cost effective option if you were to compare it with other materials. However it is really important to waterproof it. Even though there are different grades of plywood, with different glues that hold the veneers together, they all tend to be susceptible to moisture. They will have varying degrees of water resistance, but it is still highly advisable to have them undergo the waterproofing process as this will greatly help in increasing the lifetime of the plywood. This will significantly prolong the useful life of what you will be building with the plywood sheets, especially if you are aware that these will be placed in a place where water is present. Plywood can even be used outdoors if it has been properly waterproofed. Speak to your local plywood supplier who can help advise you on the best grade and thickness of plywood for your next project.

Top Tips On Getting Your Bespoke Kitchen Designed & Fitted

There are many people who still don’t understand the importance of setting up the kitchen appropriately when moving or building a new home – until they actually start using the kitchen on a daily basis and realise their mistake!

This makes a lot of people decide to give their kitchens a luxury refurbishment after a few years. However, with all the time and money lost, they keep wondering why they did not pay more attention to the kitchen and its fittings when it was time for it. Hence, the chances of repeating such renovation more than twice or thrice in one’s lifetime are slim – mostly because redoing a kitchen is a costly affair.

Considering The Costs Of Bespoke Kitchens And Fittings

The present economic situation puts a lot of people’s budget on a constraint. However, bespoke kitchens in London can be found without spending thousands of dollars on high maintenance kitchen appliances. All you need to do is to look for simple, bold and valuable appliances that will save you the time. You can stick to lamination on your kitchen cabinets and counters with water resistant and heat proof materials and still ensure that your kitchen fittings are bespoke.

Utilising Your Space: Things You Need To Know

Knowing how to utilise your kitchen space is important while fitting your appliances. Ideally, a spacious kitchen is the only answer to fitting all the appliances. However, there are practical solutions you can consider – and in general, accommodate your basic appliances such as a refrigerator, a microwave and a sink.

It is also important to have a good ventilation system nowadays to save your home from the smoke and smell that may result from cooking. A properly fitted vent in your kitchen is therefore not a privilege, but something you definitely need.

The best way to utilize your kitchen space and make most of your fittings is to always leave the ground free of things. That way, you will make your kitchen space easier to move around and design it for easy cleaning – with no things piled up on your floor.

The most practical advice you can use when utilising your kitchen space is to use as many shelves as you can – therefore leveraging your wall space as much as you can. Cabinets can be fitted at an appropriate height – but you must make sure that they stay away from the heat and grime.

Kitchens & Fittings: Styles And Designs

You can find the perfect fitted kitchen for your home by consulting with an experienced and knowledgeable interior designer. Instead of doing things of your own and risking this job, an interior design contractor can help you choose the best style for your kitchen and fit all the appliances so that you use the space in the most economic way.

For example, the L-shaped kitchen appliances are known to save the maximum volume of space in your kitchen, while the gutter kitchen has the opposite effect. Tips and tricks like these can save you – however, they are very related to the availability of space in your kitchen.

Choosing Suitable Lighting For Home

Aside from utilising the space in the right way and making sure that you go for a great kitchen design, your kitchen can fail to deliver the ‘wow’ effect if there is no lighting that accents your kitchen’s best features accordingly. The truth is, even if your kitchen holds many fittings and appliances – without proper lighting, it is definitely not worth your money.

Therefore, choosing a number of small and top-quality lights spaced evenly in your kitchen achieves the expensive look you are aiming at. However, making sure that these lights are practical for cooking, cleaning and searching for things ‘in the dark’ is a consideration you must have in mind.

The Final Word

Ash kitchens, oak kitchens, knotty pine kitchens, in-frame kitchens, painted kitchens and a lot more… these are among the most popular choices for kitchens and fittings you can consider.

However, making sure to work with a professional interior designer or decorator should be on top of your list. That way, you will get professional advice that transforms in the best treatment and the greatest return on your investment.

Sunreaders: There’s a Whole World of Styles Out There

Sunreaders are the latest types of sunglasses. As the name suggests these are reading glasses that are used outside. Sunglasses are precursors of sunreaders. Therefore, many of the qualities that were already present in sunglasses are now present in sun readers as well. The major difference is of course the presence of prescription glasses in sun readers.

Advantages of sunreaders

Major advantages of sun readers include:

  1. They save your eyes from the sun’s UVB and UVA rays provided they are certified to do so;
  2. Allow users to enjoy the warmth that sunlight offers after harsh winters or even in winters where it is possible to enjoy sunlight in the day time;
  3. A user can now spend more time at the beach or by the pool or in the countryside, without feeling discomfort in his or her eyes;
  4. Prevent eye damage, fatigue, wrinkles around the eyes as well as any strain on the eyes thanks to the inclusion of prescription lenses;
  5. Leaves both hands free to hold the tablet, e-reader or book as the case may be;
  6. Easy to carry around;
  7. Looks stylish and will complement any outfit.

But buying sun readers is not easy. It is necessary to:

  1. Select the right tint;
  2. Select the right size;
  3. Select the right type;
  4. Select the right material from which the lens is made;

The tint or the lens color is usually quite dark. However, some of the colors can distort colors more than other tints. Green and gray are safer bets. Obviously sunreaders will be larger than your conventional eye glasses. But how large should it be? You need to see comfort first, and then take a call on how it looks on your face too.

When it comes to selecting the right type of sunreaders, many questions come to mind such as should I opt for bifocal or essentially sunglasses that are meant only for reading? Much depends upon how much time you intend to spend basking in the sun, reading books, using your tablet or Kindle or other devices. You also need to choose between standard sunreaders or polarized sunreaders. The latter is more effective against glares.

You might also be moving in and out from home, several times, if you are going to be near your swimming pool or in the garden or lawn. That strains the eye muscles because they would have to adjust to sharp variations in light, very fast. With the self-tinting variety, the adjustment to light is facilitated by the sunreader rather than your eye muscles.

New technologies prevent smudges, scratches, and stains on the glasses as well. While picking any sunreader it would be better to include such technologies as well. The last consideration for choosing any sunreader would be the material that is used to make it. Formerly, sunglasses were essentially made from thin glass, and these are expensive as well as fragile. Nowadays, cheaper alternatives are available, which include lenses made from high quality plastics that are skin friendly as well. While selecting the material, it would also be necessary to confirm whether the sunreader would offer your eyes the desired level of protection from the sun’s harmful rays as in these cases quality is what matters most.