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UK MICRO-BUSINESS OWNERS STILL REQUIRE MORE DETAIL ON DIGITAL TAX

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UK MICRO-BUSINESS OWNERS STILL REQUIRE MORE DETAIL ON DIGITAL TAX
  • New research finds that 84% of UK freelancers and micro-business owners still think they have not been provided with enough information about the government’s tax digitisation proposals
  • One in five people surveyed has not heard about Making Tax Digital
  • However, 41% of respondents said they felt positive about digital tax
  • The findings come despite the government launching an official consultation on its Making Tax Digital plans last year

The majority of UK freelancers and micro-business owners do not think they have been given enough information about the government’s digital tax plans, according to new research from cloud accounting software company FreeAgent.

In a survey carried out by FreeAgent – who provide award-winning cloud accounting software for freelancers, micro-businesses and their accountants – 84% of respondents said they didn’t think that the government has provided enough information about Making Tax Digital or how the legislation would affect UK business owners.

Despite HMRC launching a public consultation over the proposals last year, many micro-business owners also said they had no knowledge of the plans – which would see small businesses having to keep digital financial records and provide quarterly updates about their tax to HMRC by 2020. A fifth of (20%) respondents in the FreeAgent survey said that they did not know what Making Tax Digital actually was.

However, FreeAgent also found that businesses who knew about tax digitisation were generally positive about it, with 41% saying that they felt positive about the plans and more than a quarter (27%) of respondents saying that they thought the legislation would make running their business easier.

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, said: “Making Tax Digital will be one of the biggest changes made to the UK tax system for generations and will potentially start to impact businesses from as early as 2018. But although many micro-business owners appear to be positive about the proposals, it’s clear from our research that many others still require more information about what tax digitisation actually is and how it will potentially impact them.”

“We believe that Making Tax Digital is a great opportunity for business owners to have proper clarity over their business finances and be better equipped to calculate and pay their tax bills. But it is also a major piece of legislation that will have a significant impact on the UK’s micro-business sector.”

“The good news is that, when micro-businesses are well-informed about the changes, they are actually quite positive about them- with only a small minority of people we polled saying that they felt Making Tax Digital would make their life harder. Therefore, we urge the government to  keep these business owners fully up to speed with the changes and make sure they clearly explain how and when the proposals will be implemented.”

Business

ByteDance names head of China news unit as global TikTok R&D chief – sources

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ByteDance names head of China news unit as global TikTok R&D chief - sources 1

By Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh

BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing-based ByteDance plans to move the chief of its Chinese news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, Zhu Wenjia, to Singapore to head global research and development for its hit short video app TikTok, two people familiar with the matter said. The role is newly created and would be the first senior R&D position for TikTok. Zhu will be in charge of the app’s product and technologies including its recommendation algorithms, the people said. His position will be parallel to TikTok’s interim head, Vanessa Pappas, and will report directly to ByteDance founder and Chief Executive Zhang Yiming, they said.

ByteDance declined to comment. The sources declined to be named as the information is not public.

TikTok had come under pressure from the Trump administration in the United States to divest the app’s U.S. operations over concerns that user data could be passed on to China, which TikTok has repeatedly denied.

Reuters reported last year that TikTok had moved its key research capabilities outside China and had approached employees from tech giants like Google for a senior engineering role.

U.S. investors, including Oracle Corp and Walmart Inc, have discussed with ByteDance taking a majority stake in TikTok’s American operations.

The White House under Biden has said it is keeping risks TikTok may present to U.S. data under review, but stressed it has taken no new “proactive step” relating to the pending TikTok deal, Reuters reported earlier this month.

“With Trump now out of office, and the new Biden administration focused on urgent matters like the pandemic and the economy, I think TikTok has more leeway to make strategic, rather than reactive, decisions,” said Mark Natkin, managing director of technology consulting firm Marbridge Consulting.

Kevin Chen, a former Didi Chuxing executive who recently joined ByteDance, will replace Zhu as Toutiao’s new CEO, the sources said, adding that the personnel changes have not been internally announced and are still subject to change.

Zhu, now based in Beijing, joined ByteDance in 2015 and became Toutiao’s CEO in 2019. Prior to ByteDance, he worked as an architect at China’s search engine giant Baidu.

In September, Reuters reported that ByteDance planned to invest billions of dollars and recruit hundreds of employees for its new Southeast Asia regional headquarters in Singapore.

(Reporting by Yingzhi Yang in Beijing and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Jan Harvey and Stephen Coates)

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SE Asia’s biggest travel app plans regional fintech expansion before 2021 listing

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SE Asia's biggest travel app plans regional fintech expansion before 2021 listing 2

By Fanny Potkin and Anshuman Daga

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Traveloka, Southeast Asia’s largest online travel startup, plans to launch financial services in Thailand and Vietnam as it eyes a U.S. listing through a blank-cheque company, its president said.

The 9-year-old Indonesian company, which counts Expedia and China’s JD.com among its backers, is seeing a strong rebound in its business after the COVID-19 pandemic pummelled demand. The company’s president, Caesar Indra, told Reuters in an interview that Traveloka’s Vietnam business had surpassed pre-COVID-19 levels, is nearly back to normal levels in Thailand, and is at half of pre-COVID level in Indonesia. “The worst has happened and now we’re well prepared for 2021. Domestic travel is driving recovery,” he said.

“The plan is to invest in fintech in a big way to allow more consumers to travel in the region,” Indra said, adding that the travel business had returned to profitability in late 2020. Traveloka, which says it has 40 million active monthly users, is developing “buy now, pay later” services for Thailand and Vietnam markets.

“We recently formed a joint venture with one of the largest banks in Thailand to collaborate in the fintech space,” Indra said. Traveloka, which has smaller local rivals, is also talking to potential partners in Vietnam, but Indra declined to name the parties. Traveloka’s two-year old equivalent service in Indonesia, launched after the firm realised that customers would wait until their paydays to book travel, has already facilitated more than 6 million loans, Indra said. Last year, Traveloka launched “Paylater” credit cards with some Indonesian lenders. It also offers insurance and wealth management services.

Indra said the business potential was huge in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, where only 6% of the population of 270 million has credit cards. When asked whether Traveloka might buy a bank in Indonesia, like other start-ups, to expand its financial services, Indra said, “all options were on the table.” Traveloka, also backed by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and Indonesian venture firm East Ventures, has grown its local lifestyle services in Indonesia, where it offers restaurant vouchers and a food delivery service, as well as a popular rapid COVID-19 testing.

Indra said the company is Indonesia’s largest restaurant review app. Traveloka, which has been preparing for a listing, is holding discussions with special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, for a U.S. listing.

“U.S. markets have become more appealing because there’s more and more appreciation of Southeast Asia as a flourishing region, and by listing in the U.S, we can also provide an opportunity for U.S investors to become part of Southeast Asia’s growth story,” Indra said. Many SPACs, exchange-listed shell companies that raise money through IPOs and merge with firms by enticing them with shorter listing timelines, have approached Southeast Asian startups.

Bridgetown Holdings, backed by Asian tycoon Richard Li, Provident Acquisition and Cova Acquisition are contenders for Traveloka, with a potential valuation of up to $5 billion for the startup, a source said. The firms did not immediately respond to requests for comment made outside normal U.S. business hours.Indra declined to comment but said an Indonesian listing remained an option.

(Reporting by Fanny Potkin and Anshuman Daga in Singapore. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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United 777 plane flew fewer than half the flights allowed between checks – sources

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United 777 plane flew fewer than half the flights allowed between checks - sources 3

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A United Airlines plane with a Pratt & Whitney engine that failed on Saturday had flown fewer than half the flights allowed by U.S. regulators between fan blade inspections, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The Boeing Co 777 plane had flown nearly 3,000 cycles, equivalent to one take-off and landing, which compares to the checks every 6,500 cycles mandated after a separate United engine incident in 2018, said the sources.

They sought anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly. United declined to comment.

Pratt, the maker of the PW4000 engines, advised airlines on Monday to step up checks to every 1,000 cycles, in a bulletin seen by Reuters. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it was ordering immediate inspections of 777 planes with PW4000 engines before they could return to flight, going further than Pratt.

Japan and South Korea have also grounded the planes for fan blade checks.

On Monday, the FAA acknowledged that after a Japan Airlines PW4000 engine incident in December it had been considering stepping up blade inspections.

A risk-assessment meeting was held last week to discuss the issue before the United engine failed on Saturday, one of the sources said, confirming an earlier report by CNN. No decision had been imminent ahead of the United incident, the source added.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; writing by Jamie Freed. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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