Finding the right people, processes and technology to manage record-to-report risks is no easy task. To consider how, see our survey’s leading practices.
Managing operational tax risk: survey highlights
Building a tax manifesto for manufacturing
Tax Insights (previously T Magazine): future of tax
2014 tax risk and controversy survey highlights
Managing indirect tax in the digital age
OECD provides update on the BEPS Action Plan
Tax Policy and Controversy Briefing goes online
We’ll help you navigate the global tax landscape
The business and tax landscapes have changed dramatically, and the pace and complexity of change continues to increase. Governments are tempering the need for revenue with increased competition for labor and capital. Tax authorities are adapting their enforcement strategies, focus and policies in response to the changing dynamics of business. Companies are balancing competing priorities, ensuring they maintain compliance while adding value.
We can assist you with these critical issues in today's tax environment, including:
Building a tax manifesto for manufacturing 658K, August 2014
- Midweek Tax News
A weekly update on tax matters to 14 October 2014
Midweek Tax News provides you with a succinct overview of the key tax developments that have occurred each week, to allow you to stay up-to-date on tax issues that may have an impact on your business. If you would like to discuss an article in more detail, please do speak to the relevant contact listed at the end of this issue or to your usual EY contact.
Scottish Budget 2015-16: Devolved tax rates
On 9 October 2014, John Swinney MSP, Scottish Finance Secretary, delivered the Scottish draft Budget 2015-16. He provided an update to the Scotland Act 2012 which included the new land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) rates and bands for both residential and commercial property effectively replacing stamp duty land tax (SDLT) for transactions over land in Scotland. He also announced that disposals of waste via landfill, in Scotland, will be charged to Scottish landfill tax at a standard rate of £82.60 per tonne, with a lower rate of £2.60 per tonne for specifically identified qualifying materials. Both tax changes will be implemented from 1 April 2015.
For most house buyers the news was good with a lower LBTT charge to be payable on the purchase price of residential property up to a value of £325,000. With average property prices in Scotland at around £162,000, it is estimated, based on historical data, that approximately 90% of residential property purchases in Scotland should incur a lower charge, or no greater charge, under LBTT. Revenue neutrality for the public purse is to be maintained as the LBTT liability will be higher for properties costing more than £325,000.
There seems to have been a slowdown in higher value commercial property transactions in Scotland in the lead up to the 18 September referendum vote. Following the ‘No’ vote, and despite the continued UK wide political uncertainty (2015 general election/possible referendum on EU membership), there is an expectation that the Scottish commercial property market should now pick-up. However, the rates and bands announced by the Scottish Government, whilst designed to be revenue neutral overall, will lead to significantly higher tax charges at the higher value end of the market.
No announcement was made in relation to the Scottish rate of income tax. This will take effect from April 2016, when 10p in each UK income tax rate band will be disapplied for Scotland. Scottish Ministers will be able to replace that with a Scottish rate of an equal or differing amount, though it will continue to be collected by HMRC (rather than Revenue Scotland).
Further detail on these developments is set out in our tax alert.
Separately, the Government has proposed a number of amendments to the Wales Bill, which is currently being debated in Committee stage of the House of Lords.
Included in the amendments is a proposal to allow the Welsh Assembly to vary the rate of income tax by setting a Welsh rate of income tax for each of the income tax bands. Previously the proposal (as with the Scottish rate of income tax) was that one rate could be set which would apply to all bands. Under the amendments, the Welsh rate of income tax for the Welsh basic rate could, for example, reduce the income tax burden on Welsh taxpayers but the Welsh rate for higher rate or additional tax rate could be set so as to increase the tax burden.
This flexibility has been welcomed by parties in the Welsh Assembly. It will be interesting to see if such flexibility forms part of the Smith Commission's proposals for Scotland.
The introduction of a Welsh rate of income tax is subject to a referendum to be held in Wales as to whether the income tax provisions should come into force.
Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) review of competitiveness of UK tax administration
The OTS has published its final report in connection with its Review of the competitiveness of the UK tax administration for businesses. The aim of the review was to support the Government's ambition for the UK to rank within the top five in the World Bank's Doing Business report within three years. The ‘Doing Business’ report looks at a number of sub-indicators which represent administrative processes that a typical business will face over its life cycle, including two relevant to the administration of the tax system – starting a business and paying taxes.
The OTS report suggests that the UK should compare itself to countries with similar economies and finds that the UK will never be able to ‘beat’ countries whose tax systems are bolstered by huge inflows from energy deposits. The OTS review concludes that it will be difficult for the UK to achieve an improvement in the ‘paying taxes’ ranking without a material reduction in the time taken for a business to comply with its tax obligations, and to achieve this, it would be necessary to make some significant changes to the tax system.
The report sets out nearly 50 recommendations which, if implemented, could provide substantial simplification. Many of these recommendations go beyond the initial remit of a focus on the ‘UK tax administration’ and are recommendations for fundamental changes in policy. They include a review of the rules for the basic corporation tax/income tax computation to more closely align accounting and tax measures of profits as well as to eliminate many sundry adjustments; to consider replacing capital allowances with allowable depreciation; and to test whether corporate capital gains can be largely abolished.
It will be interesting to see the Government's response to this report.
Remittance basis for non-UK domiciles: Using unremitted foreign income or gains as collateral for a loan enjoyed in the UK
Various professional bodies have met with HMRC to discuss the recent change to its guidance regarding remittances to non-UK domiciled individuals and the use of foreign income and gains as security for loans. The note of meeting published by the professional bodies has not yet been agreed by HMRC.
We understand that any new loans brought to the UK, with effect from 4 August will be regarded by HMRC as triggering a remittance of any remittance basis overseas income or gains used as security. However, HMRC's change in approach will also affect existing loans. There are transitional rules in respect of these loans provided action is taken by December 2015.
In the meeting, HMRC clarified some additional details in relation to the transitional notification ‘requirements’ for unwinding existing arrangements. HMRC also confirmed that individuals who have entered into certain contracts of purchase prior to 4 August but did not complete the purchase until 4 August or later would be regarded as within scope of the transitional rules even though the loan was not in fact brought to or used in the UK prior to 4 August. However, it has stated that each case will depend on individual circumstances.
HMRC has also commented on some of the technical problems arising from this change of practice, including its view of the position with regard to closed returns and disclosure. Affected individuals may wish to begin considering their options with regard to any UK loans now, although they may wish to defer any definite action until further guidance has been released.
VAT treatment of cross-border intra-company transactions within a VAT group
On 13 October, HMRC issued Revenue & Customs Brief 37/14 which sets out its interim position following judgment at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the Swedish case of Skandia America Corporation.
Skandia, a US company, supplied services to its Swedish branch, which was a member of a VAT group in Sweden. The CJEU held that the US establishment of Skandia should be treated as supplying its services to the Swedish VAT group. As the VAT group was a separate taxable person from its constituent members, it was required to account for VAT on those services under the reverse charge procedure. Our tax alert has further details regarding the case.
HMRC is currently considering whether the judgment has any application to the UK VAT grouping rules (which differ from those in Sweden), and whether any changes to UK legislation are required. A further update will be provided in due course. In the meantime, HMRC advise that businesses should continue to follow existing guidance.
This case will be of interest to any global businesses which operate a branch structure, particularly those in the finance and insurance sectors, as well as other partly exempt or VAT averse businesses where the imposition of VAT will create an additional VAT cost. Depending on how the judgment is interpreted by the UK and other EU Member States, it could have a significant impact on the VAT treatment of cross-border intra-company (branch-to-branch) transactions where one or both establishments are members of a VAT group.
Update on Scottish devolution
In the light of the Scottish referendum result, the Smith Commission, chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin, has been established. It aims to get agreement by 30 November between the Scottish National Party, Scottish Labour, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Greens on the way forward for delivering more devolved powers to Scotland. The first meeting of a Cabinet committee, considering the devolution of taxing powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was held on 25 September 2014 and a ‘command paper’, setting out the issues, is due to be published by 31 October. The deliberations of that committee are not the subject of public comment by the Government.
In the meantime, 9 October will see the publication of the Scottish Government's budget, including details of the rates to be used in the new Scottish land and buildings transaction tax and Scottish landfill tax. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss how the proposals might affect you. Both taxes are due to come into effect from 1 April 2015 and the Revenue Scotland Tax Powers Bill, which provides for the formal creation of Revenue Scotland to collect these (and any further) Scottish taxes has now received Royal Assent.
Other UK developments
Travel and subsistence review update
In response to the OTS's January 2014 report on the tax treatment of employee benefits and expenses, the Government announced in Budget 2014 that it intended to review the rules underlying the taxation of travel and subsistence expenses. The review includes a two stage consultation process. Stage 1, which was to run from 31 July 2014 to 23 October 2014, would enable the Government to improve its understanding of the commercial realities of travel and subsistence payments. The Stage 1 consultation will now be extended to 31 January 2015. In Stage 2, which runs from winter 2014 to spring 2015, the Government intends to establish a working group to assist in producing a new set of principles to underpin an updated travel and subsistence tax regime.
PAYE ‘coding out’
The PAYE Regulations 2003 have been amended by statutory instrument to increase the coding out limit in respect of debts that HMRC can recover from PAYE income. The amendments introduce a graduated scale by reference to a person's income which increases the coding out limit from £3,000, where PAYE income is less than £30,000, to £17,000, where PAYE income exceeds £90,000.
ECOFIN meeting: Automatic exchange of information
The EU Council of Economic and Finance (ECOFIN) Ministers took place yesterday (14 October). The Member States reached political agreement on the expansion of the scope of automatic exchange of information under the Administrative Cooperation Directive. This is intended to ensure that the EU has a legislative base to apply the OECD Model Competent Authority Agreements for a Common Reporting Standard which was approved by the G20 as the Global Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information. The European Commission will initiate negotiations with third countries to revise the EU Agreement on Savings in order to align it with the automatic exchange of information provisions.
Taxation of Pensions Bill
On 14 October, the Government published the Taxation of Pensions Bill, which will change the tax rules in respect of the access by individuals aged 55 and above to their defined contribution pension from April 2015. Draft legislation was published at the beginning of August and was followed by the separate announcement on 29 September of the abolition, from April 2015, of the 55% tax charge which currently applies to pensions passed on at death.
In publishing the Bill, the Government also provided details on its proposal to change the rules on taking pensions as a lump sum by giving individuals the flexibility of taking a series of lump sums from their pension fund, with 25% of each payment tax free and 75% taxed at their marginal rate, and without having to enter into a drawdown policy.
US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA): HMRC online service available
HMRC has launched its online service for UK financial institutions to register and report financial information on behalf of their US customers in accordance with the US/UK intergovernmental agreement which implemented FATCA in the UK. This service includes a guide which explains what to do in order to submit a FATCA return on behalf of a financial institution, when to submit it, and links to more detailed guidance.
Upper Tribunal considers whether VAT mitigation scheme constituted an abusive practice
In the case of University of Huddersfield Higher Education Corporation, the Upper Tribunal considered whether a tax mitigation scheme entered into by the taxpayer (a partially exempt university) constituted an abusive practice for VAT purposes. The scheme, which was intended to secure the recovery of VAT on costs incurred in connection with the refurbishment of a derelict property, involved a lease and leaseback arrangement with a non-connected discretionary trust. HMRC sought to disallow all of the input tax deducted by the taxpayer on the refurbishment costs.
The taxpayer accepted that the essential aim of the arrangements was to obtain a tax advantage. The issue of whether the scheme constituted an abusive practice turned on whether that tax advantage was contrary to the purposes of EU law. The First-tier Tribunal held that it was not and accordingly allowed the taxpayer's appeal. However, in reversing this decision, the Upper Tribunal held that the scheme constituted an abusive practice in so far as it entitled the taxpayer to claim a greater deduction of input tax paid on the refurbishment work than it would have been entitled to if that work had been regarded as linked to its general (largely exempt) supplies. The Upper Tribunal redefined the tax position by disregarding the lease arrangements between the taxpayer and the trust (ie, the taxpayer was entitled to deduct the amount of input tax that it would have deducted if it had not entered into the scheme).
VAT liability of ‘snowballs’
In the cases of Lees of Scotland Ltd and Thomas Tunnock Ltd, the First-tier Tribunal held that snowballs – a food product comprising a marshmallow dome coated in chocolate (similar to teacakes) and covered with desiccated coconut – were zero-rated cakes for VAT purposes. HMRC has now confirmed that it accepts the decision and is changing its policy on the VAT treatment of this type of confectionery. Any taxpayers who have supplied similar products are invited to make a retrospective claim for any overpaid VAT, subject to the normal unjust enrichment and capping rules.
This case serves as further evidence of the complexities associated with the domestic VAT legislation relating to food, and the issue of which foods are zero-rated despite being ‘convenience foods’.
Irish Budget 2015
The Irish Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, delivered the Irish Budget 2015, yesterday afternoon (14 October).
Key announcements include the elimination of the so called ‘double Irish’ tax planning scheme where Mr Noonan stated that the structure, “… is one of many such [aggressive tax planning] schemes. I am abolishing the ability of companies to use the ‘Double Irish’ by changing our residency rules to require all companies registered in Ireland to also be tax resident. This legal change will take effect from the 1st of January 2015 for new companies. For existing companies, there will be provision for a transition period until the end of 2020”. We understand these residence provisions will be subject to any applicable double tax treaty.
Mr Noonan also introduced the ‘Knowledge Development Box’ “… along the lines of patent and innovation boxes which have existed for many years in countries that compete with us for foreign direct investment. I am launching a public consultation process to gather views on how the Knowledge Development Box should operate and I plan to legislate for it in next year's Finance Bill or as soon as EU and OECD discussions conclude. My intention is that the Knowledge Development Box will be best in class and at a low competitive and sustainable tax rate. This intellectual property offering will be a key element in attracting future foreign direct investment to Ireland.”
A detailed alert with an analysis of all the measures announced yesterday will be available in next week's edition of Midweek Tax News.
US Treasury to issue regulations aimed at inversion transactions
In Midweek Tax News to 23 September 2014 we reported that the US Treasury Department and IRS have announced their intention to use existing powers to issue regulations aimed at preventing some of the tax benefits that are associated with certain corporate inversions. Whilst the relevant regulations have not yet been issued, the intention is that they would apply to inversion transactions undertaken on or after 22 September 2014. Any group considering an inversion transaction should carefully consider these developments.
An international tax alert is now available which takes a more in depth look at the US Treasury Department and IRS notice.
European Commission appoints the new members of the VAT Expert Group
The European Commission has appointed the members of the VAT Expert Group, which includes a representative of EY, for a new mandate of two years starting on 1 October 2014. The remit of the VAT Expert Group is to assist and advise the European Commission on VAT matters, specifically to advise on the preparation of EU legislative acts and other policy initiatives in the field of VAT and to provide insight concerning their practical implementation.
Other international tax alerts
Please see links to a selection of our international tax alerts in respect of the following developments. Additional articles are available in our Global tax alert library.
Kenya: Capital gains tax has been reintroduced for both companies and individuals for gains on or after 1 January 2015 on property situated in Kenya. The tax had been suspended in Kenya since 1985 to encourage investment in the real estate sector and growth in the stock market.
Brazil: The National Monetary Council has issued new rules to encourage more investment by non-residents in the Brazilian securities and financial markets, by reducing bureaucracy and costs.
Chile: Recently enacted tax reform includes two new alternative taxation regimes for taxpayers subject to corporate tax, changes to the thin capitalisation rules and new controlled foreign company rules.
Colombia: Proposed tax reform includes the introduction of a wealth tax for individuals, companies and other legal entities.
The latest edition of our quarterly Global Tax Controversy and Policy Briefing (5.5mb) covers the publication of the September 2014 BEPS deliverables and includes an exclusive interview with Pascal Saint-Amans, the Director of the Center for Tax Policy and Administration at the OECD. It also includes an interview with Miguel Ferre, Spain's Secretary of State for Finance, a discussion on technology use by tax administrators with members of the Australian Taxation Office, and country insights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK and US.
Please speak to your usual EY contact, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to receive a copy of our regular indirect tax newsletter, or information about our other publications.
If you would like to discuss any of the articles in this week's edition of Midweek Tax News, please contact the individuals listed below, Claire Hooper (+ 44 20 7951 2486), or your usual EY contact.
Scottish Budget 2015-16: Devolved tax rates
+ 44 131 777 2822
+ 44 20 7951 0150
Office of Tax Simplification review of competitiveness of UK tax administration
+ 44 20 7951 0150
Remittance basis for non-UK domiciles: Using unremitted foreign income or gains as collateral for a loan enjoyed in the UK
+ 44 20 7951 4968
VAT treatment of cross-border intra-company transactions within a VAT group
+ 44 20 7951 8565
For other queries or comments please email email@example.com.
- Operating in a shifting tax landscape
The global tax landscape continues to change in a dramatic fashion, with near-constant news hitting the headlines regarding shifting tax policy, increasing levels of enforcement and the growing potential of reputational risk.
Multinational companies now have to balance more competing priorities than ever before, ensuring they protect their business by monitoring and responding to changes in policy, legislation and tax enforcement, while at the same time ensuring they not only maintain the highest levels of compliance but also add value from the tax function.
Governments work to secure each tax dollar they're due
From a policy perspective, all governments want their country to be viewed as an attractive place to do business, to attract jobs and capital in an increasingly competitive globalized arena.
At the same time, they want to increase the amount of revenue they bring in. Governments are treading a fine line, constantly assessing how to secure the tax revenues they see as rightly theirs, while at the same time being in direct competition with other nations, making sure they do not scare off mobile capital.
Tax administrations for their part are adapting their enforcement strategies, focus and policies in response to the changing dynamics of business. They are working to ensure that their resources are being applied to the right issues and taxpayers. They share more leading practices and taxpayer information with their foreign counterparts, to help them collect every dollar due.
Disputes are on the rise
The result has been more frequent, complex and higher value disputes between taxpayers and taxing authorities — a trend that is only increasing as countries collaborate together and as emerging markets gain in stature and influence, taking a more sophisticated approach to taxation. Penalties are becoming more stringent and the threat of reputational risk has risen significantly in recent months.
We can help you to navigate a route through this complex landscape.
We can help you monitor and react to quickly-changing tax policy and assess the economic and fiscal impact.
Where tax policies might create an impediment to your business that is unintended by policy makers, we can help you to collaborate – either solely, or as part of a broader grouping of companies who share a common objective – with government to:
- Explain the impediment
- Develop alternative policy choices which are logical and well thought out
- Model the potential outcomes
- Deliver an alternative choice to the government in a form with which policy makers can comfortably work
We also help you address your global tax controversy, enforcement and disclosure needs.
We focus on pre-filing controversy management to help you properly and consistently file your returns and prepare the relevant back-up documentation.
Where a controversy has already occurred, our professionals leverage the network's collective knowledge of how tax authorities operate, and increasingly work together, to help resolve difficult or sensitive tax disputes. To ensure that continuous performance improvements are instigated after a controversy, we work with EY's other tax professionals to ensure that similar events are less likely to occur.
Below you can access our views and analysis of some of the substantial policy and enforcement trends and issues at play today.
- Seizing the opportunity in Global Compliance and Reporting
Global Compliance and Reporting (GCR) is at a tipping point, with risks on the rise. Many companies distribute responsibility for GCR processes throughout their organization, creating a patchwork. Local jurisdictions are rewriting regulations, focusing more intently on the collection of tax revenues and sharing more taxpayer information across borders.
Due to the combination of evolving business models, transforming finance functions and an increasingly complex regulatory landscape, there are new opportunities to better optimize efficiency, control and value, to help mitigate risk and improve performance.
What is Global Compliance and Reporting?
GCR comprises the key elements of a company's finance and tax processes that prepare statutory financial and tax filings as required in countries around the world. These duties include:
- Statutory accounting and reporting
- Tax accounting and provisions
- Income tax compliance
- Indirect tax compliance
- Governance and control of the above processes
GCR activities reside in the middle of a broader set of record-to-report (R2R) processes. R2R is the intersection between any company's finance and tax departments and is used to capture, process and store information that is essential to statutory accounting, tax compliance and reporting. Any change to R2R processes, information, finance systems, roles and responsibilities will have a direct impact on GCR processes.
Helping you meet the new GCR demands
Fast changing compliance and reporting requirements are more demanding on tax and finance functions today than ever before. So how do you improve control and quality, manage risk, create efficiency and drive value?
Our market-leading approach combines standard and efficient processes, highly effective tools and an extensive network of local tax and accounting subject matter professionals.
- Building effective supply chains
As multinational companies seek to reach new markets and compete more effectively in mature markets, they are adapting and differentiating their supply chains. Companies’ operating models need to cater for efficiency and scale in mature markets, while having the flexibility and local ability to support growth in emerging markets. Consequently, driving true shareholder value requires an operating model that combines global and regionally differentiated processes, and integrates these with local striking power and operational excellence.
Leading companies recognize the need for integrating tax in their business planning and decision processes
Whether companies seek to enter new markets or drive efficiencies in mature markets, leading companies understand the complexities of the international tax systems. The impact of both direct taxes and indirect taxes needs to be carefully considered and integrated to drive the effectiveness of the operating model while complying with all applicable local and international tax laws and effectively manage all tax risks. Operating model effectiveness is becoming one of the cornerstones of successful competition and differentiation.
The EY TESCM offering helps ensure you do just that. Our advisory and tax professionals operate as one team to assist our clients with developing and implementing operating model optimization where business needs and requirements are the driver while making sure that tax is an integrated part of the design of the operating model architecture.
- Managing mobile workforce risk
In today's globally integrated, tightly regulated and increasingly competitive business environment, one critical success factor stands out: people. It’s no wonder that leading companies are focusing their efforts on:
- Attracting and retaining the right people
- Global talent deployment and mobility
- HR and payroll effectiveness
- Risk, governance and compliance
Managing the risks of mobile employees
While optimizing the competitive advantage of your people has long been a core objective, a more recent set of trends in the tax landscape means that large companies with an internationally mobile workforce are at a higher risk of tax noncompliance and resulting controversy than ever before.
Fortunately, an increasing number of organizations are currently either planning or embracing a wider process of change for their mobility teams.
Unintended tax compliance obligations
These travelers are increasingly creating unintended tax compliance obligations, and the resulting risks are not just personal. They are felt at the corporate level, with the corporate tax function often unaware of the extent of the spreading problem. Tax administrations are becoming increasingly aware of the issue, however, and are very effectively using new technology to identify where a tax obligation has arisen. In a rising tax enforcement landscape, this issue has significant potential to grow.
Managing these risks should be a burning platform issue for multinational companies.
Will your tax risks prompt a tax audit?
What may start as a relatively simple personal income tax compliance issue can quickly create a ripple effect, with risks such as the creation of a permanent establishment, an employment tax audit or the payment of a significant related penalty all occurring at the corporate level.
Companies, recognizing the spectrum of reputational, personal and financial risks related to tax, are making strong efforts to be compliant. There is an increasing acceptance that such issues are becoming increasingly urgent from both a reputational and a financial perspective.
How we are helping companies
Our Human Capital network embeds processes and technology that will help companies to identify and manage short-term business traveler-related risks before they occur. Where controversy has already arisen, our global Tax Controversy network can use our insights into the culture and processes and relationships with each key tax administration to remediate issues. With prior year issues being rapidly unearthed, and with tax administrations focusing on this issue more than ever before, the time to act is now.
Connect with us
Stay connected with us through social media, email alerts or webcasts. Or download our EY Insights app for mobile devices.
Watch our Finance Act webcasts for insight and interpretation around the impact of this year's UK Finance Act from some of our leading tax professionals.
What’s next for BEPS?
Tax alerts: knowledge when you need it
Building a tax manifesto for manufacturing
The global re-shoring trend is creating new opportunities for the UK, but our report shows it has limited time to set itself up for future high quality manufacturing (658K, August 2014).