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Wealth Management & Protection
Asset Protection is essential for protecting and preserving company and family assets from third party claims, divorce, bankruptcy, spendthrift spouses, and youthful improvidence.
Taking the most appropriate action for the protection of your own personal assets is a very complex undertaking, requiring specialist taxation and legal assistance. Asset protection must be commercially driven and cannot be used to avoid paying creditors.
Whilst asset protection is fundamental in considering estate planning, the principle can be extended to other circumstances as well. Two common areas in brief:
PROTECTING AN INDIVIDUAL’S ASSETS
Generally, one of the most efficient ways you can protect assets is by transferring them into a relevant and properly constituted trust. The asset should then be protected against the bankruptcy or divorce of the beneficiaries.
Firstly, setting up a trust for asset protection will in itself not afford any protection under insolvency or matrimonial laws for beneficiaries if the wrong type of trust is used. We have seen many trusts set up for this purpose that have failed. If one tries to rely on an improperly constituted trust for asset protection the courts may look through it and seek to set it aside.
Secondly, a point which regularly tends to be overlooked (particularly regarding property) on transfer is the mortgage against the property. If the mortgage is more than the original “base” cost of the property (perhaps due to remortgaging) then Capital Gains Tax may be liable if the mortgage is transferred into the trust. Furthermore, such transfer may potentially trigger a Stamp Duty Land Tax charge.
Many think that an outright gift of assets directly to children, siblings, etc will automatically afford protection against divorce or bankruptcy. This may not be the case and is a potentially dangerous presumption to rely on, specialist professional advice should be sought to achieve the desired results. Also such transfers tend to trigger a Capital Gains Tax charge under the deemed disposal rules and again this is often overlooked with significant tax consequences.
Businesses may wish to protect vulnerable property and assets against commercial and business risks. Broadly speaking, one way this could be achieved would be by creating a group of companies and transferring the property into this group. The effect of this would be to “ring-fence” the vulnerable asset against any claims of the individual trade in the group.
It is essential that any asset transfers is done correctly to avoid the property being “linked” to the original business, as this will afford no protection. Of equal importance is that any debts between the group companies would need to be dealt with correctly to provide any real protection.
In all cases there needs to be a legitimate business, commercial or investment driver for the transaction. Furthermore, it is crucial that any such restructuring does not fall foul of insolvency legislation, namely the defrauding of creditors.
Asset protection is an invaluable planning tool which can be used to protect, preserve and devolve family wealth in the right circumstances.
For further information on how you can effectively safeguard you assets and wealth please contact us.
Latest news & blogs…
What with cyber-snooping being all the rage these days it seems the taxman is getting in on the act too.
HM Revenue & Customs has now fully unleashed its super-computer, costing over £100m and many years to make, to identify those who may have paid too little tax.
The powerful system, benignly dubbed “Connect”, now automatically gathers information from a myriad of government and corporate sources to create a detailed profile of each taxpayer’s financial position. Where this differs from the information provided by the taxpayer, the account is flagged up and subject to further possible investigation.
Connect now automatically collects information from over 30 databases, covering details of taxpayers’ salaries, bank accounts, loans, property and car ownership..
The system’s data-hoarding does not just stop at the income people have received from work and investment. It also amasses data from the digital footprint left by taxpayers online.
It collates data from diverse sources such as Airbnb and eBay, as well as obtaining anonymised information on all Visa and Mastercard transactions, enabling it to identify areas of likely underpayments which it can then target further.
HMRC also has powers to request one-off bulk data from third parties where there may be particular cause for concern. Insurance companies, hospitals and dentists supplied information to assist with the Tax Health Plan, for instance.
For those with investment properties, it can also access Land Registry records to see houses purchased/sold to check against information on a tax return. In addition, further sources enable it to determine if properties are being rented out and whether that income has been declared. Crucially, it can also determine if someone is likely to be able to afford such properties, or whether they are suspected of having used previously undeclared income or savings.
Particularly striking is the gathering of information from social media. HMRC are now monitoring online posts about holidays, parties and purchases. They may wish to ask questions where they do not feel lifestyle fits with an individual’s reported income.
The tax profession has raised concerns that HMRCs growing reliance on automated systems could mean an increasing number of innocent taxpayers facing investigation. Whilst many of the leads generated by Connect’s data collection maybe worth following up, a proportion will be unfounded causing unnecessary stress and anxiety to those targeted. A surface analysis of data or online information could quite easily lead to misinterpretation. An exaggeration over twitter or Facebook, for example, could paint a highly inaccurate picture resulting in false leads.
Shipleys Tax has many years of protecting taxpayers and succeeding in tax investigations with HMRC, if you need help please contact us 0114 275 6292 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What HMRC can find out about you
- UK & overseas bank accounts, pensions: From 2017 HMRC will receive information from banks in more than 60 countries.
- Web browsing and email records: Under the ‘Snoopers Charter’ HMRC will be able to access individual’s digital information
- Property sites -adverts on the internet e.g. Rightmove and Zoopla
- Land Registry records: To determine properties purchased, stamp duty paid and capital gains tax
- Earnings: From any employer, including those you have worked for casually, or on an ad-hoc basis. This includes any company benefits received. It can also access child benefit and maintenance payments through the child support agency
- Internal tax documents: Systems show council tax paid, relevant VAT registration, previous tax investigations, last year’s tax return (or absence of one)
- Visa and Mastercard transactions: Anonymised information on all payments
- DVLA: Details of cars purchased and owned by individuals
- Online marketplaces: Websites such as eBay and Gumtree can be accessed to weed out regular traders
- Social media: The Connect system can also look at public social media account information, including from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Connect cross-references information from many other UK government databases, including:
- Council tax
- Companies House
- DWP (former Benefits Agency)
- The electoral roll
- Gas Safe Register
- Insurance companies
HMRC also independently looks at Google Earth.
If your child is under 12 and you’re not working or don’t earn enough to pay National Insurance contributions, Child Benefit can help you qualify for National Insurance credits.These credits count towards your State Pension. They protect it by making sure you don’t have gaps in your National Insurance record.
Retirement may be the last thing on your mind when you’re looking after a new baby, but what you do now could have a big impact on your future finances.
Despite what you might think, no one automatically gets the full amount of State Pension when they retire. You’ll only get the full amount if you’ve paid, or been credited with, National Insurance contributions for 35 years.
The key word here is ‘credited’. Even if you’re not working while looking after your baby, you’ll get National Insurance credits when you claim Child Benefit until your youngest child is 12. The credits are automatically added to your National Insurance account when you claim Child Benefit, so you don’t need to do anything.
For more information please contact us on 0114 275 6292 or email@example.com.
The Finance Bill 2016 finally received Royal Assent on 15 September, enacting proposals announced in the 2016 Budget, Autumn Statement 2015 and Summer Budget 2015. Amongst other things, Finance Act 2016 includes provisions relating to income tax rates and allowances; restrictions on tax reliefs for travel and subsistence expenses (in effect since April 2016), the reduction of the lifetime allowance on pension contributions from £1.25m to £1m (again, effective from 6 April 2016); and the reduction in the main rate of corporation tax to 17% for financial year 2020.
The Act is based on George Osbourne’s final Budget. The annual Finance Bill usually receives Royal Assent in early to mid-July. This year’s extensive delay has been largely blamed on the Brexit referendum followed by the summer parliamentary recess.
The Finance Act 2016 can be found online here or alternatively you contact us for more information.