HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Family Money

Personal Directions

The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Recipes from Rattana

Family Money: UK CGT & IHT

By Leslie Wright,
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.

I hope that non-British readers will forgive my once again addressing certain important UK tax issues - but my defence is, first, that there are a significant number of British expats in Pattaya, and second, that many expat Brits are not aware of their tax breaks or liabilities - and with regard to US tax avoidance there’s not much I can say, since essentially Americans can’t legally avoid US tax, which is levied on their worldwide income, howsoever derived. (I shall be addressing Australian tax in a future article).

But Brits living overseas are afforded certain tax breaks. The principal advantage of non-resident status for British expats is that you are no longer liable for UK income tax or, for long-term expats, UK capital gains tax.

An exemption to capital gains tax (‘CGT’) may apply to those assets sold whilst an expat, even if those assets were originally bought at a time when you resided in the UK - provided that you remain non-resident for at least five years.

Property & Income Tax

Even if you’re retired out here and are blithely unconcerned about UK income tax, I have to remind you that you’re still liable to UK tax on any income derived in UK, such as interest from onshore bank accounts, dividends from investments, income received from most corporate, private or State pensions, not to mention the most common one: rents from property. You are, however, allowed to claim your full tax allowances against this income, so you may actually have no liability - but a tax return should nonetheless be filed each year to keep things neat and tidy and avoid problems down the road.

The Inland Revenue provides information on its non-resident landlords’ scheme which, for expatriate UK property owners, is essential research.

Non-resident expats will find it is possible to sell a home in the UK (provided it qualifies as their main private residence) and not be charged capital gains tax. However, certain issues to do with occupancy and letting to tenants should be clarified before taking any action.

For instance, letting dependents live rent free in your UK home may make you popular with your relatives, but may create a tax liability for you, as the IRD may take the view that this home is available for your residency with your dependents staying as your guests, rather than you occasionally visiting paying tenants - even if the rent they pay you under a properly drawn-up tenancy agreement is only nominal. Ensuring the paperwork is complete - including receipts or bank deposit slips for the rent - will stop potentially awkward questions from the tax man down the road.

Expats should certainly aim to obtain an offshore mortgage on their UK property as there are distinct tax advantages to this course of action. Any letting income earned from a UK property whilst living and working abroad can be offset against mortgage interest payments. Furthermore, Section 81 of the UK’s 1994 Finance Act permits British expats to keep all their financial accounts offshore.

IHT & Domicile

I’ve written at length before about the question of residence versus domicile, but many expats are still confused on this issue. While the question of domicile determines your liability to inheritance tax or estate duty, it is the most difficult to determine. Basically, your domicile is the country where your roots are. For many British expats - even those who have been away for decades - this will still be the UK, in which case the Inland Revenue has the right to demand inheritance tax on your entire worldwide estate.

You may consider that having cut off all your cultural identifying links with the UK, and since you have no intention of ever returning to the UK, then you have changed your domicile-of-choice. But receiving a UK pension, or maintaining a UK bank account will be deemed to continue your link to UK, and therefore your UK domicile.

As domicile is a question determined by the probate court, not by some clear-cut IRD rule, the IRD in most cases will only declare its perception of domicile status after the death of the individual concerned. There have been many who have claimed a foreign domicile only to have revealed a request that they be buried in some quiet corner of the English countryside. That wish alone entitled the tax man to a share of the inheritance, and it can be a big one.

The current amount you may bequeath to heirs and beneficiaries tax-exempt is ฃ250,000; your estate is liable to pay 40% UK inheritance tax on the rest - unless your UK-domiciled spouse is your sole beneficiary - when she may inherit everything tax-free. (Or if she’s not the sole beneficiary, she can inherit the principal residence tax exempt, even if it’s worth more than the nil-rate band.) Proper estate planning with the help of a professional is important, as failing to do so could result in delays and prove expensive.

Similarly, every British expat should be aware of what you can get away with legally and what constitutes tax evasion.

Personal Directions: Imagine ...

By Christina Dodd,
founder and managing director of Asia Training Associates

Imagine for a moment that you are squeezing a plump, soft, fresh lime. You taste the juice and it is really sour, so sour that it makes you screw your face up and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Shivers go down your spine and you shake your head at the refreshing but zesty and sharp bite of the limejuice - oooph! You grimace and squint your eyes. Okay. Now, think about what you have in your mouth. What’s there? Is it saliva? And where’s the lime you’ve been squeezing? Where did you say?

For most of you reading this your imaginations would have produced saliva - that’s how powerful the imagination is! Nurture it, feed it and let it loose and it will produce the most vivid pictures in your mind or produce the most surprising physical results.

Imagination is an element of our minds that we are still exploring and have only just touched upon its ability and where it can actually take us.

The power of your imagination is so tremendous that it may take you weeks to realize it. But it is a catalyst that can trigger off your positive, success-driven thinking that can lead to positive results. It can also trigger of the negative aspects as well. What you put in - you get back. Positive input means positive results and likewise, negative input means negative results.

An activity that we do in our goal setting programs is about mental picturing, or in other words, visualization. Once goals have been set, acknowledged as the individual’s own goals (this is very important) and written down with the pertinent details surrounding them, we then dedicate time to visualizing them. You may ask why we do this. Well it is an extremely essential part of the process which, although takes a certain amount of application, fires the desire and drives the individual forward, towards achievement. It helps the individual sculpt their goal and to give it shape and form. It brings the goal in touch with reality and puts the individual into the picture as well. When we can see ourselves in the picture - we begin to “own” the goal and commit ourselves even more to reaching it.

Another aspect to this, should you find it at first a little difficult to get inside your thoughts and use your imagination, is to find pictures that resemble the goal you wish to reach. Make sure they are clear, bright, detailed and easy to recognize. And then find a photo of yourself - try to use one that shows you in a positive and appealing sense. Place them on a poster or in a book or somewhere close to the details and plans you have written about your goal. To ensure that this has impact, look at the picture as much as you can, not only to remind you of your goal, and that it is your goal that you are going to achieve but more importantly, to trigger your imagination that will drive you towards it and make it reality.

Place the images somewhere that you can see them and use them in conjunction with your own mental picturing to visualize what you wish to achieve. Don’t put them in a drawer. Don’t put them in a cupboard. This is tantamount to saying that you are not going to do anything about your goals and that you expect them to come to you. This in itself is an admission that you really don’t have any thing to strive for . You think you do, but you really don’t.

Why do you think every travel agent’s office has glorious, larger-than-life, glossy and inviting scenes of places you’d like to go? It’s all to do with sparking your imagination, getting you into “being there!”

Imagination is as elusive as joy or sorrow. You can’t put it in a bottle or get it out of one. It has no shape and yet it gives you shape. It enters into our every act. It is imagination that gives us the goal for which we head. We act, or fail to act; our acts are accelerated or frozen because of our imaginations.

“Imagination is the eye of the soul.” - Joubert

Apart from using mental picturing or “imagination” to give greater focus to our goals, it can also be used to help each of us build upon our own self-image. If we can see ourselves as we would like to be - imagine ourselves in situations we would like to be in - this can have a very solid impact on how we begin to change ourselves, our attitudes and behavior.

Take for example the art or skill of acting. Actors imagine themselves as the character they are to play. Some imagine themselves so intimately, that they appear “to be” the character they are portraying. They become real as we watch them take on the emotions, characteristics, mannerisms, movements and even what seems to be the physical appearance of the character (apart from the aid of make-up and costumes).

Do this as an exercise for yourself if you are not convinced of the power of imagination. Quite often I present this idea to different groups as an alternative activity and they are overwhelmed at the ability they have to imagine themselves into roles and into situations. At first they are inhibited, and unsure of how to behave because the activity is a little unusual. But if taken through this in a relaxed and unthreatening way, each individual has the strength and the quiet confidence to draw upon their unique and sometimes outrageously wild imaginations. The results can be extraordinary.

Imagination is something you can control. Start each day by using your imagination. Imagine the tasks you have set for the day in a positive and winning light and see the results.

Imagination is an incredible tool but most people do not cultivate it!

“The great instrument of moral good is the imagination,” wrote Shelly.

Make your imagination a friend to be treasured, instead of a storehouse of fears. Have a great week!

For more information I can be contacted by email - chris [email protected] - or at Asia Training Associates in Bangkok.

The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness: The Diabetic/Dental Diet!

As we get older, many exciting events are waiting for us. Unfortunately these include being told that you have late onset Diabetes (“Sugar”) and that your teeth have Dental Caries. Last week I dedicated the column to those who had a problem with fats - so this week I am dedicating it to anyone with Diabetes, and to all those people who would like to have kept their own teeth by the time they are 60.

Once again, it is a case of looking at your diet and reducing the amount of sugar that you take in, and that means you have to look a lot further than your morning coffee with “one lump or two?”

Let’s begin with sugar itself. From your body’s point of view, it makes no damn difference whether it is white, brown or raw. It’s sugar, end of story, and it is the big NO-NO. If you must have the sweet taste, then use the tablet, liquid or powdered artificial sweeteners.

Other sugary sweet No-No’s are jams, marmalades, syrups and the lovely Nutella. If you really must have something to put on your toast or bread, then look at the low-joule jams and marmalades or Promite, Vegemite, Marmite, meat or fish pastes.

You are also going to have a real good look at what you drink - beverages are loaded with sugar and waiting to trap you. Here we go, the ‘not to be drunk’ list includes cordials, soft drinks, tonic water, fruit juice drinks or flavoured milk. And it doesn’t end there - you also have to look at alcoholic drinks that are high in sugars like sweet wine, port, liqueurs and beer. In their place you have to look at using low-joule cordials and soft drinks, plain mineral water and soda water, low fat milk and dry wines or spirits and even then limited to a maximum of two alcoholic drinks a day. And that’s the good news!

For breakfast, you again have to be very careful and choosy when at the supermarket. The sweet cereals like Sugar Frosties are out, as is Nutrigrain. These should be replaced with the high fibre cereals like porridge, Vitabrits, Weetbix, All Bran and Wheaties. But don’t sprinkle sugar on top!

Fortunately the redoubtable Ms. Hillary is not diabetic, as chocolates are high on the prohibited list, as are the so-called ‘diabetic’ chocolates or the chocolate substitute carob. Diabetic sweets which are sweetened with sorbitol or mannitol are also not wanted on voyage as are muesli bars or the incorrectly named “health” bars. If you have to have lollies to suck then look for sugar-free lollies sweetened with “Splenda” or acesulfamane K, which are marketed as sugar free Kaiser, Double D, Ricci drops or Lido glace drops. Biscuits are not quite as difficult in finding substitutions, but all the sweet biscuits should be forgotten and wheatmeal or Milk Arrowroot biscuits be taken instead.

Desserts are another loaded sugar bomb, where ice cream, fruit in sugar syrup, jelly, fruit pies, cheesecake and puddings are all on the black list, even yoghurt. There are low-joule desserts available, and fruits which have been steamed and tinned. Light ice cream (one scoop) is fine, or the commercial “Vitari” (of which you can have two scoops).

While this list of do’s and don’ts looks daunting, it should not be. Most of the sugary foods are ones you don’t really need - they are indulgences only.

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,

You are a rat fink who should be tarred and feathered and ridden on a pole to the Burmese border for your defence of that annual abomination known as the Christmas card (Chiangmai Mail Vol I, No 10). The fact that this garbage beggars up everybody’s postal service for weeks to come is but the physical consequence of this fraud. The sociological implications are much worse. After fifty years of television and consumerism, the fact is that most people no longer give a damn about each other. The celebrity system has totally consumed them. Why waste time on the average slob who lives next door or happens to be an in-law or even one’s own child when it is possible to sit down at the box and have a super person like Jerry Springer all to yourself. Yet every Xmas the politically correct thing to do is to buy idiotic cards with the message already printed on them to be sent to a wide list of slobs the sender has neither seen nor thought about since the last time he looked at the list. But he who sends not receives not, and it is a great loss of face not to have half a million cards on display over the fireplace. My favourite incoming card is from my crooked garage mechanic who has the nuts to hope I will have a ‘prosperous’ New Year. It would be a whole lot more prosperous if he stopped gouging me and the rest of his captive clients. I do intend to send one package out next Christmas. It will contain a Baby Cham bottle of Guatamalan (sic) champagne and a box of chocolates spiked with castor oil. You can guess who will receive it.

Cyril H.B. Dilling

PS. I learned from a reliable source, on the condition that he remain anonymous, that Hillary you are an undercover, plainclothes agent of the Hallmark corporation. Is there no justice?

Dear Cyril H.B. Dilling,

Oh my poor Petal, my heart goes out to someone such as yourself, caught in the cleft stick of society, with your legs dangling down each side. It is so painful for you men, I am told. However, I must take you to task over a few items from your impassioned letter. Firstly, it is “Guatemalan” to get the spelling correct and it is not champagne (reserved for bubbly from the correct region of France), but “methode champenoise” and “Baby Cham” is the trade name for an awful sugary British concoction. Do not let passion over-rule your basic ability to spell. Secondly, it really is time you took stock of your position, if all the people on your Xmas card list are from a “wide list of slobs” - where are you hanging out these days, Cyril? Nakhon Slobisima? Your attempt to put the blame for the celebrity system on to consumerism and TV is a fine example of the Colander Theory of Modern Society. It just does not hold water! Now then, you refer to “time wasted” on Jerry Springer or “one’s own child”? Were you rejected by your mother, my precious Poppet? I am sorry. But it is good that you can let the pain out through these pages, that’s why Hillary is here. Your car problems worry me a little too. Have you thought about unchaining the drawer on the cash register and buying a new car, complete with warranty? It sounds like a much better idea for you. Finally, Hillary as a plainclothes agent for Hallmark? Really, Cyril! Hillary does not have one stick of “plainclothes” in her wardrobe, nothing but the best Thai silk and made to measure, as well. However, I do hear you, and I promise to remove your name from my personal Xmas card list at the end of the year.

Dear Hillary,

I am on a long stay holiday here in Thailand, and I must say that I have been made very welcome by everyone. After getting more than slightly tipsy the other evening, I wonder of you could advise me on the alcohol content of some of the local brews? During the night in question which began at 6.30 p.m. I only had four pints of Carlsberg Draught, followed by a couple of Heinekens and two Singha Gold’s. I shared in a bottle of some white wine with my father and my stepmother and followed that up with another two Singha Gold’s. This was over six hours but I suddenly began to feel ill and my ability on the pool table decreased so much that my father beat me. My question is, should I have stuck to one brand, or should I only go by the percent alcohol? As I write this, the following morning, I have a large headache, so I need to know the answer as soon as possible please.

Carl S. Berg

Dear Carl,

I think the headache probably came from banging your head during the resuscitation efforts after you were pulled from the bottom of the beer mug. You weren’t drinking the alcohol, you were drowning in it! Tell your father to look after you a little better next time you go out. Or was there a wager on the outcome of the pool tournament? As they say, “Age, experience and animal cunning beats youth and enthusiasm any day!”

Camera Class: The 1,677 baht photography course

by Snapshot

Would you be prepared to pay 1,677 baht to improve your photography, to have an unlimited resource for ideas and be guided by one of the world masters? My photographic friend Ernie Kuehnelt was prepared to. I am sure you would be prepared to as well after reading this article. That being the case, write down this book title, John Hedgecoe’s New Introductory Photography Course (ISBN 9-780-240-80346-9).

Now John Hedgecoe seems to have been around for years, and in fact his career spans four decades ending up as the Professor of Photography at the Royal College of Art in London. He wrote over 30 photography books, many of which are used as course texts for photography classes all over the world.

What makes Hedgecoe’s book stand out, in my opinion, is the standard of the photographs. They are clear and do show the point that is being elaborated in the text. In fact, the photographs take up about three quarters of the book. You could even purchase this book just to look at the pictures. I actually have in my possession a photo book, written by a famous name photographer, who uses artist’s drawings to explain the text. Drawings! What happened to photographs?

While the book proclaims itself to be an introductory course, and some of it is devoted to the basics and groundwork, there is nobody who will not benefit in some way, even if it is just to stimulate your imagination. The basics on just how to hold a camera will smarten up 50% of the photographs that seem to go through my local photo-processors shop, all rejects because of camera shake, she tells me.

It begins with advice on how to use the camera and gives the differences between point and shooters and SLR’s. Film types and exposure metering and then the differences between shutter speeds and apertures, light and flash lighting. In itself, these first chapters are everything that a new photographer needs, all explained with devastating simplicity.

The majority of the remainder of the book (around 170 pages out of 200) comes under the heading of “projects” and there are about 65 of them. For my money, they are not all strictly projects, but are lessons in how to use your photographic skills to produce various outcomes, or put another way, how to acquire various photographic skills to produce a known outcome.

Amongst the “projects” are many items that we have touched on in these newspaper columns, but are so well illustrated in colour that it is hard to beat them. The section on Time of Day has 12 shots taken from the identical location and shows the differences that occur over 12 hours much better than any words could do. It requires colour printing to show the colour shifts that occur in that time.

According to John Hedgecoe, “Of all the elements of a photograph, it is colour that draws the greatest emotional response from the viewer. It is for this reason that it must be used with great care.” He then goes on to show (in colour by use of appropriate photographs) the differences between complementary colours, muted colours, contrasting colours and the colours produced by man and by nature.

The last 20 pages encompass darkroom techniques and then setting up a small studio. Not enough to really do the job, but enough to point you in the right direction and give you a push! Harry here began with a roll of paper on the back wall of the garage too! Right at the very end there are a few pages of technical information that will help, followed by a glossary and an index. What all good reference books should have.

Ernie bought his copy in Bangkok, but if you ask at the local large bookstores and quote the ISBN number, they should be able to get a copy in for you. I do recommend this one for anyone who is interested in photography as an “art” and who would like to improve their own picture taking.

Recipes from Rattana: Sri Lankan Crab Omelette

This dish is like most Thai omelettes, with the addition of red chilli and dill, but is a quick recipe that can use tinned or even frozen crabmeat, rather than the fresh item. I personally find the job of extracting crabmeat too fussy and am quite happy to pay the premium for having someone else extract and tin for me beforehand! The egg mixture for the omelette always tastes that little bit better with the pinch of salt and a fair sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper added before cooking.

Ingredients Serves 4

Crabmeat 225 gm

Lemon juice 1 tbspn

Eggs 6

Butter 2 tbspns

Spring onions chopped 3

Red chilli, small, seeded, sliced 1

Dill chopped 1 tbspn

Sunflower oil 1/2 tbspn

Salt 1 pinch

Black pepper freshly ground to taste

Cooking Method

Break up the crabmeat into small pieces and sprinkle with lemon juice. Beat the eggs and add salt and the freshly ground black pepper. In the frying pan, heat the butter and stir quickly stir fry the spring onions and then add the red chilli. Lower the heat and add the egg mixture, sprinkling the dill on top. Cover and cook till the top is beginning to set.

In another pan, add the sunflower oil and cook the crabmeat for 3-5 minutes and then add this evenly all over the egg mixture.

Cook for another minute then gently fold the omelette over and serve.