Tax security deposits to be extended

Continuing the theme from last week’s blog post, we have listed details of a forthcoming change to the taxation of companies that were disclosed in the draft clauses published last week for the forthcoming budget. The change outlined expands the rights of HMRC to demand a security deposit from “at risk” tax payers.

In their draft notes HMRC say:

HMRC can require some businesses to provide a security, in the form of cash or a performance bond, where this is considered necessary to protect the revenue. Securities may be required where a taxpayer has a poor compliance record and in “phoenix” type cases where a business accrues a tax debt, goes into liquidation or administration and the person responsible for the operation of the business sets up again, with the risk of running up further tax debts. 

HMRC already has powers to require security in relation to some areas of business tax, including VAT and PAYE. However, there is no similar provision in respect of corporation tax liabilities or deductions made by contractors on account of their subcontractors’ income tax under the construction industry scheme. The government intends to extend the existing securities regime to these areas to address these gaps in the coverage of the regime and strengthen HMRC’s ability to deal effectively with potential defaulters

Security deposits are normally requested when a company is liquidated owing monies to HMRC, and the directors then re-establish the trade in a new company, perhaps using assets purchased from the old firm’s liquidator – a so-called “phoenix arrangement”.

From Newco’s point of view, being required to lodge a hefty deposit with HMRC could be terminal if funding is not available. However, recent First Tier Tribunal cases have supported appeals from taxpayers when they can demonstrate that the owners of Newco were not directly responsible for any mis-management of Oldco. If you receive a request for a security deposit an appeal may be appropriate.  

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