Where are we going taxwise?

Some weeks ago (well it was when I started writing this!) I attended the Tolley’s taxation live conference.

The speakers ranged from the CEO of HMRC across various luminaries within the taxation world many who write for taxation perhaps the leading tax magazine for practitioners in the country.

It was in my opinion a very interesting and successful conference.

There was one interesting theme to my mind that resonated throughout the various presentations. Where are we going in terms of tax?

Very few people could not be aware of the tremendous interest shown by the media over the last year regarding what have been alleged to be abuses of the tax system in terms of large international corporates not having to pay any UK corporation tax or individuals benefiting from outlandish tax planning schemes.

Prior to the general public and particularly Parliament taking a great interest in this a working party was set up to look at various aspects of tax abuse and the Revenue published the general anti-abuse rule which is seen in theory as being the answer to many of the problems regarding tax avoidance.

There was a very interesting divergences of opinion between the speakers as to their thought concerning how effective the GAAR will be and what we can expect regarding tax planning in the future. There are thoughts in certain quarters that changes could involve practices that are presently accepted by all as being quite in order having to be changed one of the most common ones would be the remuneration of directors of SME’s where they receive a salary and dividends. For many years there has been a bogeyman put out of National Insurance will be charged on dividends whilst that might logically not sound correct there could be a situation whereby it would be made unattractive for dividends to be paid.

I came away with the feeling that not only should there be some public discussion of the issues that the media and Parliament have brought to light so that generally there is actually a better understanding of what goes on – though that might not be of interest to the layman!

Even the professionals who are involved with those retained to draft the law have got different views of what will happen and I think that we shall see no easy solution.

I suspect that we will simply see the amount of legislation having to increase in order to deal with many of the changes that are wanted. Those in tax planning are in for an interesting period.