Company Tax planning

Company

Reorganisation

Company A Limited owned an asset worth a substantial amount. The asset was in a company in which the owners were involved in entrepreneurial ventures. The directors were looking to continue with their speculative business ventures yet wanted to protect the asset from the commercial risk.

Comment: Shipleys Tax undertook a group reconstruction which resulted in the asset being transferred to another entity without any immediate tax liability to the company or its shareholders.

Partial Sale

Company X Group Limited was looking to sell off two subsidiaries to a buyer in exchange for shares. With the structure the client had in place, the sale of the two companies would have resulted in a tax liability of around £1.8 million on a paper gain and also caused the shareholders to lose favoured tax status.

Comment: Shipleys devised a group reorganisation which resulted in the two companies being sold with no immediate tax liability to the group or its shareholders.

Share schemes

Company Y Limited wished to reward and tie in employees. Bonus schemes were expensive and arbitrary and caused cash constraints.

Comment: Shipleys implemented a tax efficient share scheme arrangement. This achieved the client’s objectives and also gave the founder shareholders the opportunity to establish an alternative exit strategy.

Parallel companies

Company A Limited had a very complex company structure comprising of a number of non-trading intermediate holding and parallel companies which served no particular purpose and was not a tax efficient structure. The structure had arisen as a result of a piecemeal acquisitions and shareholder changes which was administratively difficult to manage. The parallel companies were related and had numerous inter company loans which the directors wanted to make tax efficient.

Comment: Shipleys implemented a tax efficient group reorganisation and put measures into place which would enable them to take full control of their inter company loans with minimal tax consequences.

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Loans to company directors – is it tax free?

Company Shipleys Tax Advisors

IN THESE tough times company profits maybe severely affected but what if your family company is lucky to have cash in the bank? Is there a tax-efficient way to make a short term loan to directors to meet personal bills with a view to clearing the loan with a dividend payment when the business picks up? This can be a tax-efficient strategy, but there are tax pitfalls – in today’s Shipleys Tax note we briefly look at the options.

Tax implications of making loans to directors

Where a family company has cash in the bank but profits have been adversely affected by the pandemic, directors of a family company may wish to take a short term loan to enable them to meet personal bills, with a view to clearing the loan with a dividend payment when business picks up. This can be a tax-efficient strategy, although there are tax implications to be aware of if the loan balance exceeds £10,000, or if the loan is not repaid by the corporation tax due date.

A tax-free loan?

It is possible to enjoy a loan of up to £10,000 tax-free for up to 21 months. To enjoy the maximum tax –free period, the loan must be taken out on the first day of the accounting period. Where the loan is taken out during the accounting period, as long as it is does not exceed £10,000, it can be enjoyed tax-free until nine months and one day after the end of the accounting period.

Provided the loan is for £10,000 or less, there is no benefit in kind tax to pay. But if the outstanding loan balance exceeds £10,000 at any point, the director is taxed on the benefit of the loan.

The dreaded tax charge

To avoid a tax charge, the loan must be repaid within nine months and one day of the end of the accounting period. This is the day by which corporation tax for the period must be due. A section 455 tax charge (named after the legislative provision imposing it) is a charge on the company set at 32.5% of the outstanding loan balance. The charge is aligned with the higher dividend tax rate.

If the loan is cleared by the corporation tax date, there is no section 455 tax to pay. There are various ways in which the loan could be cleared, for example, by declaring a dividend (assuming that the company has sufficient retained profits) or by paying a bonus. However, there will be tax implications of these too. Unless the director can use funds from outside the company to clear the loan or will pay tax on the dividend or bonus being used to clear it at a rate which is less than 32.5%, it may be better to pay the section 455 charge instead.

The section 455 charge is a temporary charge which is repaid if the loan is repaid. The repayment is made nine months and one day from the end of the accounting period in which the loan was repaid, usually be setting it against the corporation tax liability for that period.

However, it should be noted that anti-avoidance provisions apply to prevent a director from trying to clear the loan shortly before the corporation tax due date and re-borrowing the funds shortly afterwards. What mechanisms would work to circumnavigate these provisions are beyond the scope of this tax brief.

Benefit in kind charge

Note that a tax charge will also arise on the director under the benefit in kind legislation if the loan balance exceeds £10,000 at any point in the tax year. The amount charged to tax is the difference between interest due on the loan at the official rate (currently set at 2.25% since 6 April 2020) and the interest, if any, paid by the director. The company must also pay Class 1A National Insurance (at 13.8%) on the taxable amount.

If you are affected by any of the issues above and would like more information, please call 0114 272 4984 or email info@shipleystax.com.

Please note that we do not give free advice by email or telephone.

R&D Tax Credit Boost for SMEs

Company Shipleys Tax Advisors

LEGISLATION introduced to tackle the abuse of Research and Development (R&D) tax relief claims, which inadvertently affected genuine claims from small businesses, is being amended.

In today’s tax brief, Shipleys Tax looks at the new proposed changes to R&D rules and suggests why it’s good news for SME’s looking to get tax relief on research expenditure.

For a general overview of R&D and its abuse see: https://www.shipleystax.com/2020/09/beware-of-unscrupulous-rd-tax-relief-claim-companies/

Under the UK R&D tax credit relief rules, R&D costs incurred for work done anywhere in the world can potentially qualify for R&D tax relief. This is a very generous aspect of the tax relief but one that was open to widespread abuse.

For example, companies outside the UK with no real business interests in the UK, would set up UK companies and run foreign R&D costs through the company only to obtain the refundable/payable R&D tax credit from HMRC. HMRC state they have identified approximately £300M in fraudulent claims.

In order to prevent this abuse, draft legislation was introduced whereby any payable R&D tax credit would be capped at three times the PAYE costs incurred (thereby limiting the claim).

Under the UK R&D tax credit relief rules, R&D costs incurred for work done anywhere in the world can potentially qualify for R&D tax relief.

One of the major problems with this cap was an unintended result to deny or substantially reduce the R&D tax credit payable for certain SMEs; in particular start-ups. In many cases, start-ups tend to engage staff on a contract basis as opposed to employee/PAYE basis for various reasons. This would mean a low PAYE base cost.

As such, you could have the situation where a start-up has one employee on a reduced salary (because the company is “bootstrapping”) and hiring R&D staff on a contract basis. For example, if the PAYE were £5,000, the payroll cap would be £15,000 and hence any payable tax credit over this amount would be denied even if the qualifying expenditure was much higher. With the average SME receiving over £55K in tax credits, this could result in a substantial reduction, or denial, of R&D tax credit relief.

Under new draft legislation however, these restrictions have been lifted and there are now two exceptions to the rule above.

Firstly, any payable R&D tax credit below £20K is not affected by the cap. Secondly, and more importantly, any SME will not be subject to the cap if:

  • its employees created the intellectual property behind the R&D work and
  • its expenditure on externally provided workers (and work subcontracted to a related party) is less than 15% of its overall R&D spend.

Currently the legislation is draft and, if passed, is welcome news to SMEs in the UK. In particular it would benefit those startups with very low PAYE costs and hand them a cash boost when it’s needed most.

The new legislation is expected to apply to accounting periods on or after 1 April 2021.

To talk through your potential R&D claim and how our team of experts might be able to help, please call 0114 272 4984 or email info@shipleystax.com.

Tis the season to be scammed

Company Shipleys Tax Advisors

Tips on avoiding tax scams

AS THE FESTIVE SEASON draws nearer, HMRC is warning millions of Self Assessment customers to be aware of fraudsters in the run up to the 31 January tax deadline. Cyber criminals are taking advantage of “reminder” SMS messages and bogus emails during the festive season to trick taxpayers out of their money.

Just in the last year, HMRC received nearly 900,000 reports from the public about suspicious HMRC contact – phone calls, texts or emails. More than 100,000 of these were phone scams, while over 620,000 reports from the public were about bogus tax rebates.

Cyber criminals are taking advantage of “reminder” SMS messages and bogus emails during the festive season to trick taxpayers out of their money.

At Shipleys Tax we look at some of the most common techniques fraudsters use to entrap taxpayers and what you should do if you suspect foul play.

Faking it

Probably the most common methods we come across that fraudsters use includes:

  • Phoning taxpayers offering them a fake tax refund
  • Leaving a voicemail message threatening enforcement action or imprisonment if a bogus tax bill is not paid immediately
  • Pretending to be HMRC by texting
  • Emailing a link which will take customers to a false page, where their bank details and money will be stolen.

…taxpayers should never give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in texts or emails, even if it looks like a message from HMRC…

Taxpayers need to recognise the signs to avoid becoming victims themselves. HMRC, like other genuine organisations and banks, will never contact customers asking for their PIN, password or bank details. HMRC also do not email taxpayers direct.

Needless to say, but taxpayers should never give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in texts or emails which they are not expecting, even if it looks like a message from HMRC complete with logo and branding.

What should you do if you suspect a scam?

  • Number one rule: do not respond. Always check with your professional adviser (or HMRC direct) regarding the status of your tax affairs.
  • HMRC operates an inbox for people to report suspicious emails to, at phishing@hmrc.gov, while SMS messages should be forwarded to 60599.
  • If you have suffered financial contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

As always, if in doubt check and check again before taking any action.

If you are affected by any of the issues above and would like more information, please call 0114 272 4984 or email info@shipleystax.com.

Please note that we do not give free advice by email or telephone.

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