Some tax enquiry cases…
Tax Enquiry Investigation
Client A had been in a 4 year running battle with HMRC. The client was keen to finalise matters but at a reasonable compromise based on the facts and circumstances. HMRC were asking for approximately £200,000 and the previous accountant and insurers were not able to reduce this figure.
Shipleys were then appointed at this late stage and discovered flaws in HMRC’s argument. We supplied irrefutable evidence and successfully negotiated tax down to £30,000.
Comment: This is unfortunately a typical case where HMRC officers tend to hastily take a defensive position and refuse to move. Our tax expertise was invaluable in dealing with these type of enquiries.
Serious Tax Fraud
Client B had a 15 year back duty case, the tax assessed was approximately £300,000. Shipleys managed this stressful process from start to finish and achieved a good result both on time and reduced overall duty payable and secured a sensible time to pay plan.
Comment: HMRC are much more aggressive now with collecting tax with these kind of formal tax cases on the increase; it is thus essential that the client has proper representation by experienced advisers in order to achieve the desired outcome.
Latest news & blogs…
AS THE RESIDENTIAL property market spikes due the lockdown easing and the stamp duty threshold increase, many property buyers are missing a simple trick which can save them tax in the right circumstances. If you’re buying a property with a friend or partner you should know the difference between two types of joint ownership.
In today’s Shipleys Tax brief we look at the the basic tax implications of jointly owning residential property and how using a few simple methods at the outset can potentially save you tax.
Under English law, there are basically two ways in which property can be owned jointly: tenants in common or as joint tenants. The way in which the property is owned can affect the overall tax position.
Tenants in common
Where a property is purchased as “tenants in common”, each owner owns a specified share of the property. There is no requirement that the ownership shares are equal. Each person’s share will normally reflect their contribution to the purchase price of the property. As tenants in common own a specified share of a property, they can sell their share independently. On death, their share passes to their estate to be distributed in accordance with the terms of their will.
Where property is owned jointly by unrelated persons, it is often owned as tenants in common. However, it may also be beneficial for married couples and civil partners to hold property in this way, particularly if the property is let.
Where a property is owned as “joint tenants”, the owners together own all of the property equally. Any transfer of ownership needs to be signed by all parties, and as all parties have an equal interest in the property. Any sale proceeds are split equally. Under the survivorship rules, should one joint tenant die, the property passes automatically to the surviving tenant(s), and becomes wholly owned by them.
Basic Tax considerations
If the property is let out, the income split for tax purposes depends on whether the joint owners are married or in a civil partnership or not. Where they are not, the income is usually split in accordance with their underlying shares, but the joint owners have the option to agree any income split among themselves.
However, where the property is owned by spouses or civil partners, each is taxed on 50% of the income, regardless of how it is owned. If this is not beneficial and the property is owned as tenants in common in unequal shares, the couple can make an HMRC election for the income to be taxed in accordance with their actual ownership shares. These can be changed by taking advantage of the no gain/no loss capital gains tax rules to effect a more beneficial income split, for example to a lower tax paying spouse. However, where the property is owned as joint tenants, the only permissible income split is 50:50. Thus, where a 50:50 split does not give the best result, you would look to consider owning the property as tenants in common.
For capital gains tax purposes, where the property is owned as joint tenants, the gain will be split equally between the joint tenants. However, any gain arising on a property owned as tenants in common will be allocated and taxed in accordance with each owner’s share. Each tenant in common can also sell their share independently of a sale of the property as a whole.
On death, where a joint tenant dies, the property automatically passes to the surviving tenant(s). However, where a property is owned as tenants in common, each owner can pass on their own share – it does not go to the other automatically. Their share forms part of their estate.
So when buying a property, it is worthwhile considering the tax implications when deciding whether to own a property as joint tenants or tenants in common. In some circumstances, transferring part ownership to a low tax paying partner could result in a lower tax bill overall.
Please note that Shipleys Tax do not give free advice by email or telephone.
AS LOCKDOWN eases with small business owners looking to re-open and beginning to trade again, companies have to be very careful about making sure their dividends are legal.
The Companies Act 2006 requires that a dividend, amongst other things, can only be paid only if there are sufficient distributable profits. In todays Shipleys Tax brief we go through the basics of what you need to know.
Changed business conditions in light of the Coronavirus pandemic have caused many companies to review their dividend policies not least because the company’s financial position may have deteriorated significantly from that shown in its last annual accounts.
The Companies Act 2006 requires that a dividend be paid only if there are “sufficient distributable profits”. Even if the bank account is in credit the company will need to have sufficient retained profits (reserves) to cover the dividend at the date of payment. ‘Profit’ in this instance is defined as being ‘accumulated realised profits’.
What is an “illegal dividend”?
If a dividend is paid that proves to be more than sufficient profits, or is made out of capital or even made when there are losses that exceed the accumulated profits, then this is termed ‘ultra vires’ and is, potentially, ‘illegal.’
What steps can you take to avoid this?
Essentially, the financial status of the company needs to be considered each time a dividend payment is made. In practice without management accounts this can prove difficult with the payment of interim dividends unless the company is VAT registered and the accountant does the VAT return calculations. However, the test must be satisfied “immediately before the dividend is declared” and this is generally interpreted to mean that the ‘net assets’ test must be satisfied immediately before the company’s directors decide to pay the dividend. If the directors correctly prepare basic interim accounts and a dividend is paid based on those accounts then that will be deemed lawful, even if, when the final annual accounts, prepared at a later date, show that there was an insufficient amount for distributable profits.
For private companies there is no need for full accounts to be prepared to prove sufficient profits in the calculation for an interim dividend but they will be needed for the declaration of a final dividend. HMRC’s guidance states that the accounts need only to be sufficiently detailed enough to enable ‘a reasonable judgement to be made as to the amount of the distributable profits’ as at the payment date.
If regular amounts have been withdrawn then the amounts are deemed ‘illegal’ if at the date of each payment the management accounts or other accounts information show a trading loss or the profit cannot support the payment. HMRC will argue in the majority of such cases that the director/shareholder of a small company will be aware (or had reasonable grounds to believe) that such a payment as dividend was not out of profits and therefore ‘illegal’.
Consequence of illegal dividends
A significant consequence of paying an ‘illegal’ dividend could arise if the company goes into liquidation when the liquidator or administrator routinely reviews the director’s conduct over the three years before insolvency. If it is found that a dividend has been paid ‘illegally’ then under the Companies Act 2006 rules the shareholders will be expected to repay the amount withdrawn (or the ‘unlawful part’). HMRC will actively pursue this route being as they are often the largest unsecured creditor. Furthermore, under the Insolvency Act a director can be held personally liable for any breach of his or her fiduciary duty to the company.
However, it is not only in liquidation that HMRC could open an enquiry into the treatment of a dividend. HMRC treats a dividend that it perceives to be illegal as being equivalent to a loan and, for a small company, this means being a loan to a participator and as such it must be declared on the company tax return. If such a ‘loan’ is not so declared and the financial statements filed online show that the company’s reserves are in deficit at the end of the relevant period then HMRC may raise enquiries. Likewise where the opening balance next year is in deficit but dividends are still paid.
HMRC have also been known to argue that the repayable amount is an interest-free loan and for a director employee could result in a taxable benefit-in-kind should the loan be less than £10,000 triggering income tax and NIC complications.
If you are affected by any of the issues above and would like more information, please call 0114 272 4984 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that Shipleys Tax do not give free advice by email or telephone.
THE GOVERNMENT’S ‘Super-deduction’ tax relief hopes to boost business investment and productivity.
In today’s Shipleys Tax brief we look at the basics of this new temporary deduction regime and why timing and good record-keeping are essential for businesses to take full advantage.
What is the 130% super-deduction?
From 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2023 expenditure on qualifying on “new and unused” plant and machinery will get an enhanced temporary 130% “first-year allowance” for main rate assets, and a 50% first-year allowance for special rate assets. This means for the 130% tax deduction every £1 spend on qualifying items will get you 25p off your corporation tax bill.
What are the conditions?
- Only plant and machinery qualifying as “main pool” expenditure will be eligible for the 130% super-deduction. Other plant and machinery qualifying as special rate pool expenditure will be eligible for the 50% “Special Rate” allowance.
- These new allowances are only available to companies subject to corporation tax (not individuals, partnerships or LLPs) and only where the contract for the plant and machinery (including fixtures installed under a construction contract) was entered into after 3 March 2021.
- These allowances are uncapped and are in addition to the Annual Investment Allowance (‘AIA’) which is still also available to businesses and groups until 31 December 2021.
- Second-hand assets, even if expenditure is incurred after 1 April 2021, will be excluded.
- Plant and machinery expenditure which is incurred under a Hire Purchase or similar contract must meet additional conditions to qualify for the super-deduction and special rate relief.
- These new allowances do not apply to expenditure on long life assets, cars or for plant and machinery acquired for leasing, including plant and machinery leased with property.
- Companies using finance/hire-purchase type arrangements to invest in plant and machinery would be able to access the super-deduction, provided payments are being made to acquire the asset and there is an expectation that legal ownership will pass at some point to the lessee on it exercising an option or another event occurring.
- Software developed in-house that has been treated as an intangible fixed asset in the accounts could potentially qualify.
What should you do?
The new allowances could provide a big cash flow incentive for investment, if claimed correctly. Given the limited lifespan of the tax break and the timings involved in decisions on expenditure on plant and machinery, businesses should start planning now. If you’re thinking of making any investments in plant and machinery, think about bringing it forward or delaying until after 1 April 2021 to take advantage of this regime.
Please note that Shipleys Tax do not give free advice by email or telephone.