A tax planning clampdown on aggressive tax schemes have been announced by Theresa May’s new Government. It is estimated that each year Billions of pounds of tax revenue that should be paid is lost due to complicated and aggressive tax planning schemes.
The Government has tightened up on tax evasion over the last few years and a number of “Celebrity Tax evasion” cases have received a lot of press coverage.
The Treasury has invested £1 Billion over the last few years addressing tax evasion, however they felt that this needed to go further.
In an announcement yesterday, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison confirmed that:
“People who peddle tax avoidance schemes deny the country of vital tax revenue and this government is determined to make sure they pay. The vast majority of their schemes don’t work and can land their users in court facing large tax bills and other costs. These tough new sanctions will make would-be enablers think twice and in turn reduce the number of schemes on the market.”
Making Accountants, Tax Planners an Advisers accountable
Up until now businesses promoting this advice have not received any recourse or comeback in relation to this type of tax evasion. High fees and commission were normal on this type of arrangement with the client bearing the cost. The aim of the consultation is to deter Tax advisers, accountants and financial advisers from encouraging clients to invest into complicated and risky schemes that are specifically designed to avoid tax.
Part of the plan is to levy penalties on advisers that recommend such schemes. The penalty could be up to 100% of the tax that should have been paid.
The Government has confirmed that the majority of advisers do not recommend these types of arrangements, but a minority still operate in this area. After the 2015 budget the Government recommended that the regulatory bodies responsible for tax and accountancy should raise standards in this area. Since then the industry has been working hard by strengthening their professional conduct standards in relation to taxation. In addition, a code of practice on taxation for banks was introduced in 2009.
Traditional tax planning still acceptable
The government has confirmed that traditional and proven tax planning methods such as Pensions, Individual savings accounts and trust planning will still be acceptable. This is good news for clients and reassuring, as it gives advisers an outline of the types of planning that is not classed as tax evasion.
Our view and Stance
We have been aware of the HMRC’s concerns over these types of schemes for a number of years. The Revenues disclosure of tax avoidance schemes legislation (DOTAS) has highlighted the issue and an impending tax planning clampdown in the area. We have always believed in the long run that ultimately it would be the clients of these schemes that would suffer financial loss and penalties.
As a consequence, we have never recommended these type of arrangements to our clients.
The government has produced a consultation paper on the proposed penalties for accountants and tax advisers. A copy of the paper can be accessed under the www.gov.uk website under strengthens tax avoidance measures
Over the month weeks and months, we are looking to improve the personal finance portal (PFP) for our clients. The first stage is to introduce a live chat, audio and video service whilst clients are logged into PFP. This is the first level of improvements we will be making over the coming months. The live chat service is safe and secure.
Quite often friends and clients ask me about the best pension plans and I can understand. Pensions are complicated, even more so since Pensions Freedoms came into play.Successive Governments have tinkered with the pension rules and regulations time and time again. I started in the Financial Services Industry in 1984 and I can say each year the government has made some sort of change. Sometimes for the better or worse, but usually it adds another layer of complication. Terms such as Lifetime allowance, Fixed Protection, Capped and Flexi Access Drawdown are technical terms that generally confuse the public.In its simplest form a pension is a savings contract with tax breaks written under pension rules.
“The market hates uncertainty” has been a common enough saying in recent years, but how logical is it? There are many different aspects to uncertainty, some that can be measured and some that cannot. Uncertainty is an unchangeable condition of existence. As individuals, we can feel more or less uncertain, but that is a distinctly human phenomenon.
Rather than ebbing and flowing with investor sentiment, uncertainty is an inherent and ever-present part of investing in markets. Any investment that has an expected return above the prevailing “risk-free rate” (think T-Bills for US investors) involves trading off certainty for a potentially increased return.
Consider this concept through the lens of stock vs. bond investments. Stocks have higher expected returns than bonds largely because there is more uncertainty about the future state of the world for equity investors than bond investors. Bonds, for the most part, have fixed coupon payments and a maturity date at which principal is expected to be repaid. Stocks have neither. Bonds also sit higher in a company’s capital structure. In the event a firm goes bust,
bondholders get paid before stockholders. So, do investors avoid stocks in favor of bonds as a result of this increased uncertainty? Quite the contrary, many investors end up allocating capital to stocks due to their higher expected
return. In the end, many investors are often willing to make the tradeoff of bearing some increased uncertainty for potentially higher returns.