Questions of Cash: October 2015

Q. We were due to fly with easyJet from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport at 16:20 on Thursday 14 May. We arrived at the airport at approximately 13.30 to be informed that the flight had been transferred to Rome Ciampino and that a shuttle bus would leave from Terminal 1. This was not the case and at the third time of returning to easyJet’s check-in desk it was established that the shuttle had already left. We had to use a taxi, which cost us €70 [£52], in addition to the €20 [£15] more it cost us by taxi to get to Fiumicino compared to Ciampino. We were therefore €90 [£66] out of pocket. Afterwards we found that easyJet had sent us emails notifying the change of airport on the morning of the flight, when we did not have access to our emails. EasyJet had my mobile phone number, so it could have sent me a text. The staff at check-in did not appear to know about the arrangements put to transfer customers between airports and the easyJet information desk was closed. Some other passengers were similarly affected. EasyJet has refused to refund the taxi fares. CP, by email.

A. A spokeswoman for easyJet explains: “easyJet, like other airlines, had to make changes to a number of flights to and from Rome Fiumicino airport following a fire on 7 May which resulted in the temporary closure of the airport. Some flights were rerouted to Rome Ciampino airport. As soon as we were aware of the need to reroute [the reader’s] flight from Rome Fiumicino airport to Rome Ciampino airport on 14 May, we communicated with affected customers directly via text message and email. easyJet can confirm that these text messages and emails were sent to the contact details [the reader] provided to us informing him of the airport change.” A shuttle bus was provided, but it had already left when you arrived at the airport. EasyJet has now refunded the €70 cost of your taxi to Ciampino.

Q. My daughter has divorced.  During her marriage she and her husband jointly owned a second property in equal shares, in addition to their principal private residence (PPR).  The second property was never their PPR, nor used for business or rental purposes. As part of the divorce settlement, the husband transferred his half share of the second property – and paid his half of the Capital Gains Tax due on the transfer – to my daughter. This is now her PPR. Can you tell me how my daughter’s Capital Gains Tax liability for the period before the property became her PPR is assessed when she comes to sell the property? EN, by email.

 A. Gill Smith, head of private client services at Moore Stephens accountants, responds: The gain when your daughter disposes of the property will be the proceeds less (i) her half of the acquisition cost and (ii) the market value of her husband’s share when it was transferred to her. (The calculation of the gain would be different if she and her husband were still married at the time of the transfer and were living together at some time in the tax year in which that transfer fell, but in that case her husband would not have paid CGT as you mention that he has done). Where a property has been the owner’s PPR for only part of the period of ownership, only the corresponding fraction of the gain is exempt (with the last 18 months of ownership counting as if the property was the PPR then, irrespective of whether it in fact was). This is the case even though your daughter only had a half-interest for part of her period of ownership. Thus, if she owned it jointly for five years and then by herself (as her PPR) for 10 years, this would mean that she would be taxable on a third of the gain.”

Q. I recently undertook a course in English language teaching at the Intensive School of English in Brighton and Hove. I paid £900 for a full time two week course.  The course was a big disappointment with poor quality tutors, sessions poorly delivered and often starting late. I complained to the school and requested a refund, but without success. AR, Harrow.

A. We raised your complaint with Lawrence Eke, its managing director. He explained that the Intensive School of English is regulated by UCLES, which operates and manages the three University of Cambridge examination boards. Under the arrangements agreed with UCLES, participants in the School’s courses must complete the mandatory elements of the course to the satisfaction of the course tutors, or the external assessor. Mr Eke says you failed to do this. He alleges that you only complained about the quality of the course after you were advised that you were unlikely to pass the course – and that your feedback reports had been positive. You dispute this, saying that your feedback notes showed your concern about teaching quality. Mr Eke adds: “After my investigation I concluded that the items complained about were not shared by any other trainee on the programme and not supported by the evidence I had found….. Our ISE YL programme is a specialist qualification delivered by leading tutors for the teaching of English to Young Learners. We attract teachers and tutors from all over the world to come to ISE do the YL extension course and this is the first ever complaint I have received about the YL extension in 15 years of operation. We are a family-owned English school in Hove and our academic reputation is the only reason we have grown and continue to compete against the larger chain schools. I am saddened that [the reader] did not pass the programme, but after investigating his complaint I have not been able to find any evidence to support it.” You are unhappy with this response, so we suggest you lodge a complaint with UCLES, which has been informed by the School of your grievance.

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