STEP UK News Digest wrap-up – February’s top stories


Welcome to the wrap-up of the top ten most popular stories in STEP’s online UK Digests throughout January 2015 as clicked by our readers.

Film partnership investors force HMRC to suspend up-front payment notices: The England and Wales High Court has granted permission to UK film investors to challenge accelerated payment notices requiring them to pay disputed tax before any tribunal has made a ruling. The notices are now suspended until a judicial review hearing this summer, which will turn on whether HM Revenue and Customs’ new powers breach human rights law.

Film partnership loses at Appeal Court: The England and Wales Court of Appeal (EWCA) has unanimously rejected the Eclipse Film Partners No 35 tax-planning scheme. The partners claimed to be engaged in the trade of exploiting film rights and thus entitled to tax relief on their borrowings, but the EWCA decided that Eclipse was not trading.

New penalties for ‘serial avoiders’ and GAAR targets: HM Revenue and Customs is demanding even more powerful sanctions against tax avoidance. The new set of proposed measures is aimed especially at serial users of tax avoidance schemes, and creates specific penalties for schemes disallowed by the general anti-abuse rule

Use of GAAR against salary sacrifice schemes: HM Revenue and Customs has published a five-part guide on the application of the general anti-abuse rule (GAAR) to national insurance contributions. The GAAR has applied to NICs avoidance, such as salary sacrifice schemes, since March 2014.

MPs call for regulation of tax advisors: The House of Commons’ influential Public Accounts Committee has heavily criticised tax accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers for its promotion of tax avoidance schemes to large companies. The committee is calling for tighter regulation of tax advisors.

Tax relief gone wrong: Amanda Edwards TEP explains how a claim for loss on sale of land relief following a death can sometimes result in a larger tax bill.

Spousal maintenance should cease at husband’s retirement: A woman has lost her attempt to have her GBP33,200 annual maintenance award extended indefinitely into her ex-husband’s retirement. Upholding an earlier application by Ian Wright to have the sum reduced, the England and Wales Court of Appeal noted there was no good reason for his ex-wife not to support herself once her children reached the age of seven.

Law firm not liable for unfavourable distribution of clients’ funds: The England and Wales High Court has rejected a claim by two clients of Mishcon de Reya that the London law firm committed a breach of trust by releasing GBP2.5 million of their funds to a third party described by the judge as a ‘plausible chancer’. The clients hoped to hold Mishcon de Reya vicariously liable for the actions of one of its partners, whom they accused of conspiring with the third party.

Government plans to promote LPAs and will-making: The government is to hold a ‘life planning day’ next year to raise awareness of lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) and other life planning mechanisms including will-making and advance decisions.

Controversy over tax-saving deed of variation: Deeds of variation to minimise inheritance tax may come under scrutiny after the election. Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said during a TV interview he would ‘look at every area’ of tax planning if the Labour party wins the general election in May. He was being challenged over party leader Ed Miliband’s reported use of a deed of variation to amend his late father’s will in 1994 for tax mitigation reasons. This matter and tax-efficient party donations have come under heavy scrutiny.

The STEP Industry News Digests provide a round-up of relevant industry news for trust and estate practitioners and other professionals in the wealth management sector. They provide brief summaries of topical news stories gathered from news providers internationally, providing a quick reference for busy practitioners to all the relevant news and issues. The News Digests also feature job listings from our recruitment site and list local STEP branch events and conferences. STEP’s digest services include twice weekly UK and Wealth Structuring (international) editions as well as a bi-weekly North America Digest focusing on the US, Canada and Mexico, and a Latin America Digest.

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