Snippets - November

Sneezing colleagues

Modern workplaces are increasingly open plan, so sneezing colleagues are hard to miss during the flu and hay fever seasons. Many would be able to name one or two people with particularly loud or interesting sounding sneezes, but funnily enough research has found that the sounds made when people sneeze are all for show.

The usual ‘achoo’ sound so many of us make when sneezing is specific to English speakers. The Japanese sneeze is a “hakashun”, with Filipino’s a “ha-ching”, and the French making a “atchoum”. 

You might then wonder what sound a deaf person makes when they sneeze. Interestingly, their common sound is simply one of air escaping from their lungs. No achoo’s, hakashun’s or atchoum’s - just a quick exhalation.

Researchers from University College London found that the sound and volume of a sneeze is modified depending on social acceptability. As deaf people have never heard the sneezing sounds of people around them, they sneeze how nature intended.

So next time the sneezing season comes round, listen in to how your colleagues sneeze – you might learn something interesting about their background.

Holding gold

Can an investment in gold bullion create a tax liability? Inland Revenue (IRD) has recently released a statement on this specific point.

IRD consider that gold bullion purchased as an investment has been acquired with the purpose of eventual disposal, i.e. a purpose or intention of resale exists. Consequently, any gain that arises on its future sale is income and taxable. In IRD’s view, a commodity such as gold does not provide any annual return or income for the period of ownership, so it is hard to argue that the investment was for any purposes other than eventual disposal. 

The IRD considers the ‘reason’ for acquiring gold is irrelevant. Whether it has been purchased as an investment, or a hedge, this does not counter the underlying purpose of a future disposal. In comparison with other investments such as shares in a company, which may be held on capital account for the purpose of a deriving a dividend stream, gold has none of these features.