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UK VAT Flat Rate Scheme Changes Too Far-reaching, Warn Tax Experts

Friday, February 17, 2017

HM Revenue and Customs's (HMRC's) new measure to crackdown on abuse of a VAT simplification scheme for small businesses may be ineffective and have unwelcome consequences for tax-compliant businesses, the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has said.

The change concerns the VAT Flat Rate Scheme (FRS), a simplification measure for small businesses, which enables them to pay to HMRC a fixed rate of VAT, that is determined by their type of business, rather than keep detailed records of input and output VAT. It removes the ability of firms to deduct input tax.

At the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced changes to the FRS which mean that a business that falls into a new definition of a "limited cost trader" during an accounting period will pay a higher 16.5 percent rate, as opposed to the headline 20 percent rate. HMRC's stated intention is to tackle "widespread abuse" of the scheme by some employment agencies and similar businesses.

The CIOT said that while the Government must tackle abuse of the scheme, changes to the proposed measure are needed to avoid excessive collateral damage to compliant small traders.

Peter Dylewski, Chairman of the CIOT's Indirect Taxes Sub-committee, said "Targeted action against abuse of the FRS, which is masterminded by a relatively small number of businesses, is preferable to such wholesale changes. We are concerned that HMRC has significantly underestimated the collateral impact of these changes, both in terms of the number of businesses affected, and the financial impact."

The CIOT said it believes that far more than the 4,000 businesses estimated by HMRC will move back into standard VAT accounting, so as not to be affected by the new 16.5 percent rate, and that the costs for businesses of doing this could be significantly higher than the GBP180 per year suggested by HMRC. The proposed changes are also complicated, and could negate the simplification aims of the FRS, it said.

"HMRC will face difficulties building in effective anti-tax avoidance measures, to prevent traders side-stepping the new measure, for instance by buying and selling small amounts of goods to take them over the limited cost trader thresholds. We strongly suspect gaps will remain in the legislation and will be exploited, and we are also concerned that some users might simply ignore the changes, and just liquidate any businesses subsequently assessed by HMRC," Dylewski said.

He added: "The proposed changes add a significant level of complexity on small business owners who will need considerable guidance from HMRC. Many will have to pay for additional accounting advice. One of the main challenges will be for businesses to understand whether they have acquired goods or services, which is often unclear for expenses such as computer software, electricity and gas and professional subscriptions."

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The Report

Offshore Trusts Guide: Introduction

The History of Offshore Trusts
Development of Professional Competence in the Jurisdictions
What Future for the Trust?
The New Age of Transparency
The Swiss Association of Trust Companies
The Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners

Offshore Trusts Guide: Jurisdictions

Bahamas

Bahamas: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Bahamas: 2006 Private Trust Companies Legislation

Barbados

Barbados: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Barbados: Supervisory and Licensing Regime and Fees

Bermuda

Bermuda: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Bermuda: Supervisory and Licensing Regime and Fees

British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
British Virgin Islands: Special Trusts Act 2003
British Virgin Islands: The Trustee Act 2003
British Virgin Islands: :Supervisory and Licensing Regime and Fees
British Virgin Islands: New Laws on Private Trust Companies
British Virgin Islands: New Private Trust Company Regulations

Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Cayman Islands: Supervisory and Licensing Regime and Fees

Cook Islands

Cook Islands: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Cook Islands: Supervisory and Licensing Regime and Fees

Cyprus

Cyprus: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Cyprus: Supervision, Licensing and Tax

Gibraltar

Gibraltar: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Gibraltar: Legislation, Regulation and Supervision

Guernsey

Guernsey: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Guernsey: Trusts Law 2007

Isle of Man

Isle of Man: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Isle of Man: Supervisory and Licensing Regime
Isle of Man: Uses Clients and Tax Treatment

Jersey

Jersey: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Jersey: Supervisory and Licensing Regime
Jersey: Trusts Amendment Act 2006
Jersey: Foundations

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Liechtenstein: Regulation Supervision and Transparency
Liechtenstein: Characteristics of Liechtenstein Trusts
Liechtenstein: Foundations

Madeira

Madeira: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees

Malta

Malta: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Malta: The Trust and Trustees Act 2004

Mauritius

Mauritius: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Mauritius: Characteristics of the 2001 Trusts Act
Mauritius: Additional Provisions of the 2001 Trusts Act
Mauritius: Tax Treatment

Monaco

Monaco: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees

Nevis

Nevis: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees

Panama

Panama: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Panama: Requirements for Acting as Trust Company in Panama

Seychelles

Seychelles: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees

Turks & Caicos

Turks & Caicos: Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees
Turks & Caicos: The Voidable Dispositions Ordinance

Vanuatu

Vanuatu Legal Framework and Formation Rules and Fees




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