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Loans to Directors of Close Companies

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New rules announced in Budget 2013 discourage participators in close companies from taking loans from their own companies, previously legislated under s.419 ICTA 1988, currently s.455 CTA 2010.

The basis of s.455 CTA 2010 is that, where a close company makes a loan to a participator (or associate of a participator) then it is required to pay to HMRC a tax equal to 25% of the value of the loan. The tax is due for payment 9 months and 1 day after the end of the accounting period in which the loan was made. However, if the participator repays the loan before that date, then the requirement to account for the ‘s.455 tax’ is cancelled, by virtue of s.458 CTA 2010. Where the loan is repaid after that date then HMRC repay the ‘s.455 tax’ 9 months and 1 day after the end of the accounting period in which the loan is repaid.

This brings us to one of the measures brought in by budget 2013. With effect from budget day (20th March 2013) ‘bed and breakfasting’ is no longer possible. ‘Bed and breakfasting’ is a commonly used loophole where the loan is repaid to the company before the day 9 months and one day after the year end to prevent the ‘s.455 tax’ charge becoming due, then soon after the trigger date has passed, the participator re-loans the money from the company. Or indeed, where loans are repaid after the ‘s.455 tax’ has been paid to HMRC, but again the participator soon afterwards re-loans the money from the company and reclaims the ‘s.455 tax’ from HMRC.

HMRC have long tried to challenge these cases. Their manual instructs inspectors to “obtain as much factual evidence of the transactions and the accompanying arrangements as possible” where they think they have found a case of ‘bed and breakfasting’ for referral to the Corporation Tax International and Anti-Avoidance technical team.

However, the new rules now give HMRC a statutory basis to deny relief in circumstances where s.455 tax has been paid if, within a 30 day period, repayments of more than £5,000 are paid to the close company in respect of amounts which have given rise to a charge which are then redrawn either via a loan, advance or ‘extraction of value’ – something else new to watch out for!

In addition, where the 30 day rule does not apply, relief will also be denied if there are amounts outstanding of at least £15,000 and, at the time of the repayment, there are arrangements or there is an intention to redraw an amount again through a loan, advance or an extraction of value.

There has been some discussion amongst tax commentators over whether there is a possibility that ‘s455 tax’ may never be repaid in the circumstances where a participator makes regular withdrawals from their company which are treated as debits to the director’s loan account and then are cleared via a payment of salary or a dividend before the nine-month cut off because there is an intention to continue withdrawing funds in this way in future; a common practice in many owner-managed companies. However our view is that s464C(5) will, in almost all cases, overcome this problem, as it is clear from the draft legislation that the restriction on repayment of ‘s455 tax’ will not apply in relation to a repayment which gives rise to a charge to income tax on the participator (or associate) by reference to whom the loan, advance or benefit was a chargeable payment i.e. where they are charged to income tax on the dividend or salary used to clear the outstanding loan account balance. Without the inclusion of s464C(5) this new legislation could have caused an awful lot of headaches for accountants, tax advisers and owner-managed companies the length and breadth of the UK, so this sensible, well thought through paragraph is really a saving grace in what could have been an extremely burdensome piece of legislation.

Watch out for the references to “extractions of value” in the revised s455 rules. This is an extension of the rules to cover less traditional arrangements where, instead of providing loans the close company seeks to extract and transfer value to a participator in some other way which would have been neither chargeable to tax nor within the s.455 charge before the introduction of this new wording.

Finally, there is a further new rule which puts beyond doubt that fact that loans made via a partnership, LLP or trustees of a settlement are caught by the s.455 tax charge!

For further advice – see your local CIMA qualified accountant.

Ref CCH

martin.pope@theaccountingfactory.co.uk


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