Beware the tax pitfalls of the buy-to-let world

BUY-TO-LET landlords could be dealt a blow by the tax man. Buying a property to rent is no longer the domain of just professional investors or the very wealthy. Many people have made the most out of the property boom by getting involved in buy-to-let.

And some parents have got into this market after buying a flat for their son or daughter while they are at university.

But this has not gone unnoticed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

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Reports this week suggested landlords are not always submitting tax returns on time and accurately.

While the HMRC said it is not planning a tax "crackdown", it is looking closely at the returns being submitted by landlords.

It said it wants to help them to make accurate returns that don't require further work.

Whatever the situation, if you're a landlord you should avoid getting into trouble with HMRC at all costs.

Make sure you're paying the required taxes and filling forms in correctly.

A good starting point is the free tax guide available for download from HMRC's website. If you're in any doubt consult your financial adviser or accountant.

THIS week the Financial Services Authority (FSA) announced a big shake-up as part of its move to "principles-based" regulation.

It published a policy statement that it promises will "lead to a radical simplification of the rules firms need to follow in carrying out investment business with their customers".

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As part of this it is scrapping two documents - the "menu" and "initial disclosure document".

If such changes make the whole process of financial advice more straightforward for everyone - then good.

But the danger is the absence of these documents could mean less consumer protection.

If you do visit an adviser, make sure you are clear on what they are recommending and what products you choose.

FINALLY - if you don't want to get off to a bad start on your summer holiday, check the small print when booking your flights.

I should know. Last week I was flying on Easyjet and only found out at check-in that I'd have to pay 10 for a second item of luggage.

I know Ryanair have been adopting this practice - which to me is just another sneaky way of making money - for some time. I hadn't realised their fellow budget airline had joined in.

Another bug-bear of mine is the fact you have to "opt-out" of taking the airline's travel insurance.

So if you're booking a budget airline, beware hidden costs.

Free children's insurance

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IF YOU'RE going on holiday with your children it's worth checking out Nationwide Building Society. It is offering its "Kids Go Free" on single trip travel insurance policies - including up to four of children on the policy at no extra cost.