This podcast was recorded before the announcement made on 3 October regarding the 45% tax rate, but has been edited to reflect this change.
Cetin: Hi, I’m Cetin Suleyman, I’m joined today by Reena Bhudia, Richard Verge, and Graeme Blair and I would like for each of you just to introduce yourself and give an idea of what you do, what your title is and how you help people?
Reena: Hello, I’m Reena Bhudia. I’m a senior tax manager at Goodman Jones, and I specialise in IHTs and trusts.
Richard: Hi, I’m Richard Verge. I’m the head of our personal tax department. And I deal mainly with personal tax issues.
Graeme: Hi, Graeme Blair. I’m a tax partner here at Goodman Jones. And as you’ll work out from the matters I’ll be discussing, I tend to deal with corporate tax and transactions and inward investments.
Cetin: Excellent. I’ll kick off with the first question, if that’s alright. And that is: I am finding finance harder to obtain and interest rates are rising. Did the budget announcements offer any solutions for raising finance?
Graeme: I’ll pick up on that one because it’s a corporate matter. The answer is yes. The treasury identified that midsize businesses struggle to raise finance. At the very small end, families and friends tend to be the financiers, at the very large end it’s banks or the capital markets and the mid-tier struggle. The real source of finances is the banking sector and depending on the industry and the mood of the sector, that can be a challenge to raise finance. Because of that, many years ago, the Enterprise Investment Scheme and its baby sister the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, legislation was generated. This effectively gives tax breaks for investors in unquoted trading companies. And the budget expanded the ability for businesses to raise finance through the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, the amount that can be raised has been doubled. The amount that an individual can invest in a business per year has doubled. And some of the restrictions on qualifying companies have been relaxed. So all in all that’s good news, it was interesting that it was only really the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme that has been changed. Enterprise investment scheme doesn’t really seem to have had any amendments to it. Although the government did actually say that they support the Enterprise Investment Scheme. And they’re committed to maintaining this legislation, these tax breaks for investors in unquoted trading companies. The original legislation was designed to expire in, I recall, 2025, and the government have indicated that they’re committed to extending that deadline. So all in all good news for the smaller business.
Cetin: Yeah, that is indeed good news because, coming through the pandemic, a lot of businesses will have debt already on their balance sheets, and that needs to be serviced. Whereas equity funding is another source that has a different end game. One of the big things that was written in legislation for quite some years was the corporation tax increase that was proposed for 2023 – I don’t think there was any secret about that within Liz Truss’s campaign messaging. What are the practical impacts of that announcement? And I’m guessing that’s you, again, Graeme.
Graeme: It certainly is. The practical point is, of course, companies pay less tax. So therefore, in terms of cash flow modelling, it might require some revisions on some cash flow forecasting. Some companies had been thinking about their loss planning in a way that they didn’t necessarily use losses against the 19% bracket, but they’re actually going to carry them forward and use them against the higher corporation tax rates. So they were paying more now, but less over a longer period of time. Of course, all of that has gone out the window. So I can see an instance where groups in particular might be revising corporation tax computations that have already gone in to use losses that they weren’t going to use previously. And then without sounding too dull and “accountant”, there is the impact on deferred tax. Now obviously deferred tax they say, “It’s just an accountants toy” because it’s not tax you pay but it’s a tax that you report in your accounts. If deferred tax impacts you, then there’s probably some good news here, because the elimination of deferred tax liabilities will lead to accounting profits. And obviously, if you’ve got banking covenants that, for example, require a certain amount of reserves, it will actually generate more accounting reserves. And if you’re a business that historically pays out high dividends as well, actually, you’ve got more reserves to pay dividends and so on. So cash flow: good news, accounting: good news, I think is the summary.
Cetin: Yeah. And sticking to those changes. I think it might have been you that introduced me to the term the devil is in the detail. Were there any other adjustments to those changes that were coming in next year? Because I think there was something about how quarterly instalments are paid, or is that also being shelved?
Graeme: Yeah. So I think what you’re indicating is, with the proposed 25% rate from April 2023, there was some changes to the definition of connected companies. And that was important because when one works out the date of payment of tax, one needs to know one’s number of connected companies, they relate. That relationship only applies if there is more than one corporation tax rate, which there was going to be from April 2023. But back to the flat 19% rate, that associated company’s change definition, in theory shouldn’t be needed. But I can’t help but notice it’s still on the statute book. So we really need to understand whether that’s still on the statute book and will be removed before April, or it is something that actually is going to remain on the statute book. Because what it will do, even at a flat 19% rate, it may lead for a technical reason for some companies paying tax earlier than they would otherwise do at the present and… Yeah, back to cash flow.
Cetin: Thanks, Graeme. I’ve got another question here, which I’m not sure if it’s for you. So as an employer, we’re under considerable cost pressure at a time that staff are seeking wage rises, did the mini-budget give us any assistance?
Graeme: From the employers’ perspective, there’s one obvious takeaway: a reduction in employers’ National Insurance or not an increase in National Insurance. So the increase that came in relatively recently is going to be reversed pretty quickly and that allows a save of a percentage point or two of salary. So that’s good news. But in terms of staff seeking wage rises, there’s not a lot one can do in the budget, or there’s not a lot that’s come out of the budget that assists. However, what we’re finding in our SME market, we’ve been finding this for many years, is the desire to incentivise people by way of equity in the business. The logic, of course, being if you’ve got a finger in the pie, you’re more interested in the pie than a pure employee. And CSOP – Company Share Ownership Plan is a tool in that armoury. It’s always been slightly criticised, because some of the limits on amounts that one can give to employees in a tax efficient way have stuck for many, many, many years. In fact, I’ve got more grey hairs than I care to mention, and even when I was a student of tax, so before I ever became qualified, the limit was what it was until relatively recently. But last week, the chancellor doubled that limit. So it means there’s more capacity to give people equity in a business in a tax efficient way than there was last week. As I say about the comment about grey hairs, I suspect if one looks at inflation, it’s probably just taking it back up to a level that it was many years ago before inflation had eroded that level but hey, let’s not criticise some good news.
Cetin: Absolutely. And if people can feel more engaged and really benefit from the success of their businesses, and the businesses in which they work, that’s got to be a good thing. And of course, that then leads into productivity, right? And we have got another question about that. And we are in this country behind our European peers in productivity – did the chancellor make any announcements which might assist with productivity of UK business?
Graeme: Yes, there was one, it was well trailed. The annual investment allowance, i.e., the amount of capital expenditure one can incur and get an immediate tax relief on, was increased temporarily to a million pounds as a way of generating productivity coming out of the pandemic, and that temporary increase is going to become a permanent increase. So if you look at the stats, all of a sudden, a massive percentage, somewhere in around 90% of all British businesses will get immediate tax relief on the capital spending should they incur on their plant and machinery, i.e., the kit that will increase productivity.
Cetin: And does that extend to energy saving and ways in which we might overcome or insulate ourselves from future energy rises? Does it extend to software?
Graeme: Yeah, there’s some planning one can do to bring in software, whether it’s internally developed or externally purchased into this regime. But don’t forget that what the chancellor didn’t do was revoke the 130% allowance that is available for some expenditure up to April 2023. So if you’re spending a large amount, then it’s possible that you could get 130% on some. And if it’s not qualifying for the 130%, actually get 100% through the one-million-pound annual investment allowance. You have to spend a fair go not to actually get a good bit of tax relief straight up front. But, the boring accountant in me says, “Don’t forget that will lead to deferred tax liabilities.” And so cash is king, great for cash flow, but not necessarily equally as beneficial for accounting reporting.
Cetin: Commercial decision making, obviously is primary. And the tax consequence comes after.
Graeme: As it always should be.
Cetin: A big issue facing businesses is the resource crisis. What can I do to attract best talent in this environment?
Graeme: It’s a question that we’re asked quite frequently. Obviously, share options have their part to play there. What hasn’t been revoked, although it not been widely used to date is the Employee Ownership Trust legislation (EOT). That’s the mechanism that an entrepreneur can sell more than half of their business to a trust, which is for the benefit of the employees. And the employees can receive about £4000 of tax free income out of the trust each year. As you can imagine, with a tax break that’s that good, there’s a lot of hoops to jump through. And they are quite heavily regulated and marshalled by the Revenue. But in the right circumstances, it’s been proven that employee ownership generates higher returns and reward. And I guess, we all talk about the John Lewis model. There’s the classic example of employee ownership.
Cetin: And from what I understand there’s benefit for the person selling as well.
Graeme: Yes, the person selling can actually sell at a 0% rate of capital gains tax, which is highly attractive for the vendor.
Cetin: Thank you. Moving on to a slightly different angle of questions, that still affects companies, but I’m looking at Richard here, because I think, Richard, this is probably your area. We’ve spent a lot of time making sure we are compliant with the off payroll working rules, but understand these are to be abolished. Can we just ignore them all going forward, and go back to how we used to pay our consultants?
Richard: Thank you, Cetin. This is all to do with the drive towards simplification, which is absolutely a worthy cause. But this really did take me by surprise. And the reason for that is that these rules are an anti-avoidance measure. And what they’re designed to do is to prevent people who, the HMRC at least would think are ordinary employees, avoiding their National Insurance obligations by operating their businesses through personal service companies. We’ve had rules in place to deal with this for a long time now. But what the Revenue are finding is that it was very labour intensive to work the rules where previously the onus was on the personal service company to self-assess their status. And what changed in 2017, first with the public sector, and then in 2021, with the private sector for all medium or large businesses, the onus was shifted, so it was up to the client, the person engaging the personal service company to assess the status of their workers. And if they were considered workers, rather than legitimate external businesses, then they were treat them as workers, and apply ordinary PAYE and National Insurance. So to repeal these rules completely, it came as a surprise, the Revenue was certainly dead set on these, and I’m sure there’ll be a bit upset that they’ve gone. We’re back to the position now, where we were before where it’s the onus is back on the personal service company, and the revenue has found those rules, essentially unworkable. And certainly, given the problems they’ve got at the moment with their staffing levels, just providing a decent compliance service, whether they’re just going to simply sort of forget about it, we have yet to see, but they really must do something to shore up this area.
Cetin: Yeah. But for my benefit, the IR 35 rules haven’t been repealed?
Richard: That’s correct.
Cetin: This is really just whose responsibility it is to make the decision on it.
Richard: That’s absolutely correct. But because they’re being repealed in April next year, that leaves us in this sort of period of uncertainty. What happens between now and then? And really this is down to the Revenue; are they going to take this as an opportunity to have a last chance to check on the compliance of the larger companies? Which is what they want to do. Or are they going to say, well, this is just too much difficulty, the government is no longer committed to this, let’s just abandon them and go back to the old rules, and effectively go back to the old system straightaway. So I can’t really give a positive answer. But my view is that the Revenue has probably lost interest in this now, because they don’t have any kind of support from the government.
Cetin: That’s good point. Were there any changes to capital gains tax, or the other personal taxes?
Reena: Again, from a capital gains tax and inheritance tax point of view, there weren’t any specific announcements. But based on the announcements that were made, it did actually get me thinking about IHT planning. So for instance, Bank of Mum and Dad, they’re your ninth largest mortgage provider for children. And with the increase in the SDLT thresholds, that gift could go even further. Obviously, again, you have to factor in the increase in mortgage interest rates, but children may not need to borrow as much from banks. So potentially, you could see that they could borrow from banks at a lower rate. I know that’s stretching it but it is a possibility and its worth exploring.
Cetin: Yeah. That’s an interesting point about inheritance tax, Reena. Obviously, there’s a lot of people looking at their businesses and maybe our families in business and looking at succession – obviously, there’s no changes there. I’m assuming that none of the advantages that helped family businesses with succession have been removed or anything like that.
Reena: No, there haven’t been any announcements. I mean, there’s always been talking about business property relief, which is obviously a very generous relief that’s available in terms of succession planning. And there haven’t been any announcements on that to date. But there’s only been sort of speculation over the years, whether the autumn budget brings in anything, that’s yet to be seen.
Cetin: Yeah. And I guess the same with entrepreneurs relief, Richard and Graeme, whether that…
Richard: Entrepreneurs relief was much more generous than it is at the moment. Whether that changes, it will be an easy legislative thing to do, to shift the limit again, we’ve yet to see.
Cetin: Yeah for me, it’s not necessarily about the tax being paid. It’s about the length of time over which the business owners’ perspective is set. If you’re looking at succession, and you’re looking at a tax efficient way of passing a business down generations, your length of perspective, is much better. And for business and for the stability of a business. That’s excellent. And similarly for entrepreneurs’ relief. If you have an incentive to grow a business that is more successful over a longer term, and more sustainable…
Richard: One of the reasons that using a company for a family business is attractive is that it enables you to build up that wealth within a relatively low tax regime. If you leave your money within the company, and you build up that company, you’re paying corporate rates of tax, which because they’re now staying at 19% rate instead of the 25% rate that was planned, it continues to make them attractive.
Cetin: And as many business reinvest their profits to grow, you’re reinvesting more of your hard earned profits. I mean, that’s got to be good in terms of compound growth. That’s got to be good.
Graeme: And from a corporate perspective, there’s always this question, is it better to have a family investment company or a trust? Will a family investment companies pay tax at 19% interest and trusts on certain income pay at 45%? I think the shift may well be towards family investment companies.
Cetin: And then I’ve actually got a lot of clients who are house builders. The government has always been focused on building homes for people and I saw there were some changes to SDLT, Richard, that’s one of your areas. What are the real differences these SDLT changes will make?
Richard: Well, we were expecting a reduction in Stamp Duty Land Tax, and we got one. The rate at which SDLT comes in from residential property was shifted from 125,000 to 250,000. So that’s a saving of up to £2,500 pounds on the purchase of a property. It was only that change that was made, so it’s not massive, but it will affect some people. Interesting to note that the change was only in connection with the residential rates of SDLT and not the commercial rates, which causes a slight flip in which is best. Previous to this budget, it was always that you’re better off with commercial rates. But now actually up to £925,000, you’re slightly better off with the residential rates. So that’s a slight change. There was also some good news for first time buyers, the nil band for first time buyers is up to 425,000. And there’s always been a cap on the maximum property price for first time buyers to benefit from that higher nil band, that’s been shifted up to 625,000. So that’s good news for your first time buyers.
Cetin: Bank of Mum and Dad might get raided a little bit.
Richard: The other thing to note here is previously when we’ve had some help with SDLT, particularly, for example, during the pandemic, where there was a temporary change, it affected people’s behaviour because they were either rushing to buy or rushing to sell to take advantage of the temporary change. Because this has been implemented as a permanent change and it’s happened immediately last Friday, that sort of bunching effect won’t happen. So you won’t have that sort of distortion of the market. And the other thing to note here that, of course, Stamp Duty Land Tax is a tax in England and Northern Ireland only. Scotland and Wales have their own regimes for taxing land transactions. And we’ve yet to see whether they’re going to respond to this in any way, shape or form.
Cetin: And we’ve spoken about home purchases, but it obviously makes it easier for, for example, my clients to sell their properties. Is there any advantage to them when on the buying side? Is there any change there?
Richard: No, it hasn’t. Because if you’re buying just pure land, then that’s a commercial purchase. So the rates won’t affect there. Also, whilst this is a welcome change, in the context of where we are in the markets now with problems with interest rates, I kind of anticipate that this is probably one of the lower priority things that builders are thinking about at the moment, really it’s about affordability and whether people can actually get on the housing market now, whether that’s been made more difficult just because of how the economy is shifting at the moment.
Cetin: And in terms of, let’s say, overseas, businesses or companies investing in the UK, do you think these changes might make any difference to them?
Graeme: Certainly on the corporate side, the UK has always been an attractive destination for inward investment. It’s a stable economy. The pound is cheap at the moment so businesses are cheaper to set up. When first comes to the UK, one always considers do you have a branch or a subsidiary. A branch will always pay the overseas rate of tax and the UK tends to be a lower tax regime than most countries. So that suggests that if one wants to harness the 19% rate, one has a subsidiary in the UK rather than setting up as a branch of an overseas company. A lot of our inward investment clients are actually surprised at how easy it is to set up subsidiaries in the UK. Because some of the rigmarole one has to go through in terms of notarising documents, etc, in foreign countries don’t necessarily apply here. So yeah, I can see a sort of a shift towards a subsidiary but remember, the tax tail shouldn’t be wagging the commercial dog, you’ve always got to do what’s right for the business.
Cetin: But in terms of the investment allowances and the capital allowances that you spoke about earlier, are they all available to all businesses, whether they’re UK businesses set up as subsidiaries or international branches? Does that work for them as well?
Graeme: Yeah, the answer is yes. But just remember the statement that you will always pay the overseas rate of tax. So you have a situation where economic profits are made in the UK at the 19% rate. But actually, because of the allowances, you don’t pay any tax in the UK. And yet, those same economic profits are subject to a foreign country’s taxes where they don’t get the one-million-pound allowance. So what that naturally leads to is some modelling, there are two alternatives. And the modelling will allow one to determine which is optimal from a tax perspective. But again, you’ve got to do what’s right for the business.
Cetin: Yeah, absolutely.
Richard: On the personal side of things, obviously, the removal of the cap on bankers bonuses was clearly designed to attract people to the UK.
Graeme: And just following on from that, actually, you mentioned bankers bonuses, Richard, I’ve heard some commentary already that the cap remains in the EU, the cap has been removed from the UK and there are already financial institutions, UK based thinking about re-positioning their senior staff into London, because they can then pay them without a bonus cap, and that attracts the best talent from around the world. And then nicely with the 130% super deduction and the million-pound investment allowance. Those offices can be kitted out at a low tax cost. So I can actually see a net emigration in a certain sector because of these announcements. One area that hasn’t had any announcements is R&D tax credits, the UK tends to be quite generous in the tax credits that are offered. And the benefit of the credit compared to the added benefits of the annual investment allowance could really make the UK a very attractive place for R&D work to be done.
Cetin: Thanks everyone for your time. It’s been really interesting.
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