Archive for November, 2013

UK signs tax agreement with Cayman Islands

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Chancellor George Osborne made the following announcement to MPs on 5 November 2013.

"Today, I can […] announce another step in the fight against tax evasion. We will be signing this afternoon a tax information sharing agreement with the Cayman Islands – the first ever with an overseas territory.

"And as a result, information of UK taxpayers held in the Cayman Islands will be automatically provided to HMRC, who will use it to collect the tax that is due," Mr Osborne said.

The Cayman Islands and other British overseas territories have become major international financial centres thanks to low taxation, light-touch regulation and limited requirements for those who invest to make any formal disclosure to the UK tax authorities.

This, it would appear, is about to change.

A Government press release confirms:

An important step towards the new global standard to be agreed early next year, financial information on UK taxpayers with accounts in the Cayman Islands will now be automatically provided to HM Revenue & Customs.

This will help HMRC to ensure that the correct amount of tax is being paid by those with money in Cayman Islands accounts and increase HMRC’s ability to clamp down on tax evasion.

The announcement follows the agreements signed between the UK and the Crown Dependencies of the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey in October.

The Cayman Islands have also agreed to be part of the G5 multi-lateral information sharing pilot. Initially agreed between the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the Cayman Islands will join these countries in automatically exchanging information about bank accounts held by taxpayers from their jurisdictions.

In total, 31 jurisdictions have now joined the initiative.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said:

“The UK has led the way in creating a new global standard for tax transparency and automatic tax information sharing. This was at the heart of our G8 agenda this year and today’s agreement builds on the progress we have already made.

We welcome this signing with the Cayman Islands, the first Overseas Territory to sign this type of agreement with the UK. This demonstrates our shared commitment to tackling tax evasion.

Alongside the significant investment that the government has made in HMRC’s anti-avoidance and evasion work, these agreements will help them to clamp down further on those individuals who seek to hide their assets offshore.

Our message is very clear: it is only fair that people pay the tax they owe. If you are trying to evade tax, we are coming after you.”

Prudential wins important tax case

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

 The High Court has ruled that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) had unfairly taxed ‘several thousand dividends’ between 1990 and 2009. As a direct result thousands of Prudential with-profits investors could receive a share of approximately £150m. The case could benefit other providers who have similar with-profits funds. For example: Aviva, Royal Sun Alliance, Standard Life and Legal & General.

The case centred on the taxation of overseas dividends. Following a change in legislation, 2009, most dividends received from overseas companies are now exempt from tax. Prior to that date the Prudential was obliged to pay corporation tax on the funds in question.

At the end of October Mr Justice Henderson ruled that HMRC had unfairly taxed the funds in question and should reimburse Prudential policyholders the tax paid with compound interest. The High Court judgement read: ‘The Revenue remains unjustly enriched until the date of actual repayment… the interest forms part of the restitutionary claim itself. I would reject the Revenue’s submission that the claimants’ only entitlement is to simple interest…compound interest forms part of the principal sum that needs to be awarded in order to achieve full restitution.’

The ruling is open to appeal by HMRC and it is likely to be a number of years before policy holders affected receive any refunds.

A spokesman for Prudential said: ‘We have taken the action involved, and at this stage it would not be appropriate to comment further as there may be an appeal by HMRC.’

An HMRC spokesman said: 'HMRC is considering this long judgement carefully, before deciding whether to appeal. The uncertainty created by this litigation is largely historic. The key legislation which was the subject of this litigation was changed in 2009.'

Pension liberation

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

HMRC have made the following comments on their website to counter so-called “pension liberation” activity. Here’s what they have to say on the subject:

“HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is committed to combating pension liberation activity. HMRC has been working closely with other government departments/agencies and the pension industry to take action to prevent pension liberation and preserve pension savings.

Increasing numbers of pension savers are being targeted by unscrupulous companies encouraging them to access their pension savings early. This is commonly known as 'pension liberation' and has significant tax consequences.

HMRC has made a number of changes to strengthen existing processes to deter pension liberation and safeguard pension savings. These changes will take effect from 21 October 2013.”

As you can imagine the tax consequences of attempts to move funds out of pension savings can be significant. If you are tempted by such an arrangement you may be advised to seek tax advice.

HMRC’s last word?

“HMRC is continuing to take firm action to detect and pursue those who deliberately bend or break the rules by offering schemes to liberate pension savings. These changes are part of a continuing strategy to combat pension liberation, as is the ongoing review of the pension tax legislation and HMRC will not hesitate to make further changes if necessary.”

UK pushing for transparency

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

David Cameron made the following statement to the members of the Open Government Partnership annual summit last week.

“We need to know who really owns and controls our companies. Not just who owns them legally, but who really benefits financially from their existence.

This summer at the G8 we committed to do just that – to establish a central register of company beneficial ownership. And today I’m delighted to announce that not only is that register going to go ahead – but that it’s also going to be open to the public.

As well as securing stretching new commitments from participating countries, the UK is using the summit to help drive forward the transparency agenda at home, especially on open data and corporate accountability.”

Other announcements include commitments to:

• implement and champion internationally a global standard of financial transparency and accountability in the extractive industries (oil, gas and mining) on the part of governments and companies, in line with the principles in the G8 Open Data Charter

• publish information on official development assistance (ODA) in line with the International Aid Transparency Standard (IATI), so that UK assistance can be tracked through the delivery chain

• ensure a strong legislative framework to encourage workers to speak up about wrongdoing, risk or malpractice without fear of reprisal

• demonstrate the potential of open policymaking by running at least 5 “test and demonstrate projects” across different policy areas

• a pilot study giving parents access to their own children’s data on the National Pupil Database, with a view to developing tools that give them a better understanding of their child’s educational performance

• for NHS England to improve the quality and breadth of information available to citizens, helping them participate more fully in both their own healthcare and in determining the design and quality of health services

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said:

“Transparency is an idea whose time has come – and the clock cannot be turned back. The unstoppable momentum building behind open government at home and abroad is accelerating the pace of change, and we are using it to drive innovation and growth, improvements in public services and greater accountability in public and corporate organisations.

The best way to demonstrate the power of transparency is by making it real for everyone. That is why we are announcing a range of open data and transparency commitments at the OGP summit and opening up data in areas from business to education, health and aid that will have a direct and beneficial impact on the way we live and work, on the quality of the public services we use, and on the choices we make as citizens.”
 

Tax Diary November/December 2013

Monday, November 4th, 2013

 1 November 2013 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 January 2013.

 19 November 2013 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 November 2013. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 November 2013.)

 19 November 2013 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 November 2013.

 19 November 2013 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 November 2013 is payable by today.

 1 December 2013 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 28 February 2013.

 19 December 2013 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 December 2013. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 December 2013.)

 19 December 2013 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 December 2013.

 19 December 2013 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 December 2013 is payable by today.

 30 December 2013 – Deadline for filing 2012-13 Self Assessment online to include a claim for under payments (under £3,000) be collected via tax code in 2014-15.

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