Tax

Tax

While Finance Bill 2019 may have seemed to cater to SMEs, Peter Vale highlights where it includes significant measures for international businesses. The headlines surrounding Budget 2020 and Finance Bill 2019 may have left the impression that most of the legislative changes have been focused on domestic small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME), with less focus on foreign direct investment (FDI) and Irish companies with international operations (which may, of course, include SMEs). The reality is that the Finance Bill was packed with provisions of interest for groups with international operations, either inbound or outbound, albeit many of these were expected and hence didn’t attract the same headlines. Here are some of the key Finance Bill measures for international businesses, some of which were expected, and others which came as a surprise. Mandatory reporting As expected, the Finance Bill saw the introduction of  Council Directive 2011/16/EU (DAC6), which covers the mandatory reporting of certain cross-border transactions to home country tax authorities, to be subsequently exchanged between EU Member States. The DAC6 provisions reflect the ever changing global tax environment and follows on from the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), which was a game-changer in terms of providing for a new level of reporting and transparency. Irish taxpayers might feel relaxed about the new provisions on the basis that Ireland already has domestic mandatory reporting rules, although these haven’t had much bite in practice.  The new DAC6 provisions, however, are much wider in reach, covering not just tax-motivated transactions, but also transactions that may have a “potential tax effect”, but aren’t themselves driven by tax avoidance motives. While the new rules only require reporting from August 2020, they apply retrospectively to transactions from 25 June 2018. Intermediaries and taxpayers need to be aware of the scope of the new rules and have measures in place to track and report such arrangements. Anti-hybrid rules The Finance Bill also saw the expected introduction of anti-hybrid rules, effective for payments made after 1 January 2020, and follow on foot of the binding EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD1). It is worth noting that the anti-hybrid rules apply to payments made post-1 January 2020 – the actual accounting period of a company is not relevant. So, who needs to be concerned about anti-hybrids? Minority sport? The first thing to note is that there is not a de minimis threshold, therefore all companies irrespective of size are potentially within the scope of the new provisions. The rules target a number of arrangements, in particular where there is a “deduction without inclusion” or a “double deduction” as a result of hybrid mismatches, such as a payment being treated as tax deductible interest by the payor country but as a tax-exempt dividend in the recipient country. It is worth noting that just because a country does not tax a payment does not mean that there is a hybrid mismatch. Thus, the payment of interest by an Irish company to a jurisdiction that does not tax interest income will not be a hybrid mismatch, although interest withholding tax may need to be considered. The anti-hybrid rules are complex. While Revenue guidance (due to be published in 2020) is critical, equally critical is that this guidance is drafted in consultation with relevant industry stakeholders so Ireland’s attractiveness is not adversely impacted vis-a-vis other EU countries. Transfer pricing As expected, the Finance Bill introduced 2017 OECD transfer pricing guidelines into Irish legislation. Other important provisions were also introduced, including the introduction of transfer pricing to non-trading transactions (with limited exceptions), the abolition of pre-2010 grandfathering arrangements and the extension of transfer pricing rules to both capital transactions and to SMEs. The extension to SMEs is significant as it will, at a minimum, add an administrative burden to smaller companies. It is, however, subject to a Ministerial Order. The Minister was reluctant to add to the administrative burden of the SME sector with Brexit looming. Bringing Irish transfer pricing requirements in line with 2017 OECD guidelines will introduce some additional reporting requirements for many companies, with master file and local file requirements now in place.   Of note is that the thresholds for master file and local file introduced in the Bill, €250m and €50m respectively, are much lower than in many other countries. This could trigger additional documentation requirements for some large groups. Many Irish groups will also have intra group financing arrangements in place that may not be arm’s length compliant, and these will now need to be reviewed in light of the Finance Bill changes, which come into effect for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2020. Financial Services/property fund changes There were several changes in the Bill to provisions governing the taxation of Irish real estate funds and section 110 securitisation vehicles. The changes for property funds as initially drafted were unexpected. They were wide-ranging and impacted on funds that only had third party debt. At the time of writing, Committee Stage amendments were expected to correct this anomaly and other provisions that could have inadvertently created a double tax charge for some funds. Additional anti-avoidance provisions have been added for section 110 companies, including the broadening of the control test used in determining whether certain profit participating interest payments are tax deductible, and placing the bona fide commercial purposes test on an objective basis, thereby giving Irish Revenue more scope to challenge aggressive securitisation arrangements.   Interest deductibility limitations Under ATAD1, Ireland is obliged to introduce new rules which broadly restrict interest deductions to 30% of earnings before interest taxes and amortization (EBITA). The Finance Bill did not contain any provisions in respect of these new rules, which are now likely to apply from 1 January 2021 onwards.   In summary, Finance Bill 2019 was one of the most significant in recent years, with new anti-hybrid and transfer pricing provisions, and the introduction of DAC6 reporting requirements. These fulfil Ireland’s commitment to being at the forefront in the adoption of international tax changes and bring our tax regime into compliance with international best practice and relevant EU Tax Directives. Undoubtedly, however, these will add further complexity to the lives of tax professionals and in-house tax teams.  Peter Vale FCA is Tax Partner at Grant Thornton.

Dec 06, 2019
Tax

Kimberley Rowan highlights the key elements of Finance Bill 2019.  Most of the measures contained in Finance Bill 2019 (the Bill) were expected. It consisted mainly of legislative provisions for the tax changes announced by the Minister for Finance as part of Budget 2020. But some measures were not expected. The change to the general rule on tax deduction for any taxes on income, for example, was not expected by most tax practitioners. A handful of other measures contained in the Bill were also surprising. In this article, I will explore the unexpected measures and provide an overview of the key anticipated measures, focusing on those that affect the domestic taxpayer. Peter Vales write about the key Finance Bill measures for international businesses in his article on page 68. Tax-deductible expenditure The Finance Bill includes two changes to the general rules applying to tax-deductible expenditure. First, a tax deduction is not available for “any taxes on income”. This matter has been before the Tax Appeals Commission in a number of cases and now puts Revenue’s view on a legislative footing. This will be relevant in the context of Irish companies that suffer foreign withholding tax on their business profits. The second amendment aligns the tax deduction for doubtful debts with impairment losses under the relevant accounting standards. KEEP The Bill confirms the welcome enhancements to the Key Employee Engagement Programme, as announced on Budget Day. However, new complex conditions seem likely to limit the practical application of the enhancements. For example, the definition of a qualifying group includes only a qualifying holding company, its qualifying subsidiary/subsidiaries and its relevant subsidiary/subsidiaries. The qualifying group (excluding the holding company) must be wholly or mainly carrying on a qualifying trade, must have at least one qualifying subsidiary and all the companies in the group must be unquoted. It seems that the definition does not extend to scenarios where the parent company in a group is a trading company with multiple subsidiaries or where a holding company holds cash or undertakes certain activities. Income tax payments The Bill introduces exemptions for certain income tax payments. The exemptions introduced cover: The reimbursement of expenses by the HSE to an individual for the donation of a kidney for transplantation (under conditions defined by the Minister for Health); Certain foster care-related payments made by TUSLA; Certain training allowances paid by, or on behalf of, the Minister for Education and Skills; and Certain student support payments awarded by SUSI, education and training boards, or local authorities. The Bill also introduces an amendment to clarify the availability of the income tax exemption on a range of payments made by the Minister for Employment and Social Protection, including payments made under the Magdalen Laundry ex-gratia scheme. The amendment is to clarify that a qualifying person for the relief must, in all circumstances, have received a payment under the Magdalen Restorative Justice Ex-Gratia Scheme. Food supplements  The change in the VAT treatment of food supplements was widely expected. The Bill introduces a provision that, with effect from 1 January 2020, food supplements will be subject to VAT at 13.5%. A concessionary zero rating had applied to these products. The change from zero to 13.5% VAT rate follows a comprehensive review by Revenue of the VAT treatment of food supplements, engagement with the Department of Finance in 2018 concerning policy options, the publication of Revenue guidance in December 2018 and a public consultation in May of this year. Revenue will not, as previously announced, apply a 23% VAT rate to these products. There was no change to the rate in last year’s Finance Bill, but Revenue did issue guidance in December 2018 which removed the concessionary zero-rating of various food supplement products with effect from 1 March 2019. However, the withdrawal of Revenue’s concessionary zero-rating of food supplement products was delayed until 1 November 2019 to allow time for the Department of Finance’s public consultation on the taxation of food supplement products in summer 2019. The zero rate continues until 31 December 2019. From 1 January 2020, the 13.5% rate will apply. The change introduced in Finance Bill 2019 will not impact certain products. These are: Well-established and defined categories of food that are essential for vulnerable groups of the population such as infant formula, baby food, food for special medical purposes and total diet replacement for weight control; Human oral medicines that are licensed or authorised by the HPRA are zero-rated for VAT purposes under a different provision. This includes certain folic acid and other vitamin and mineral products for oral use. Once such products are licensed/authorised by the HPRA as medicines, they are zero-rated for VAT purposes; and Fortified foods (i.e. foods enriched with vitamins and/or minerals). Dwelling house exemption  An exemption from Capital Acquisitions Tax may be available in respect of inheritances of certain dwelling houses. One of the conditions to avail of the dwelling house exemption is that the person receiving the inheritance doesn’t have a beneficial interest in any other residential property at the date of the inheritance. Any dwelling house that is subject to a discretionary trust where the taxpayer is the settlor and a potential beneficiary must also be considered. The Bill amends the exemption following the High Court decision in the Deane case in 2018. The conditions of the relief are amended such that all properties inherited from the same estate are to be considered. A clawback is provided for where a beneficiary subsequently inherits an interest in any other dwelling house from the same disponer. R&D tax credit The Bill details the measures announced as part of Budget 2020 while also introducing several new measures. A summary of the key legislative amendments is as follows: Grants funded by any state and/or by the European Union must be deducted when calculating the amount of qualifying research and development (R&D) expenditure; A company that outsources to third parties must now notify in advance of, or on the day of, payment if that company intends to claim the R&D tax credit. Revenue has said that the purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the sub-contractors do not receive such notifications after their R&D claims have been filed. How this notification by the company will work in practice needs further consideration and guidance from Revenue; The application of a penalty for an over-claim of the R&D tax credit has been aligned with the procedure for over-claims of other credits; Where a payable amount or amount surrendered to a key employee is later withdrawn, any offset of losses or credits cannot be used to shelter the clawback on this amount; and Amendment to capital expenditure on scientific research to ensure that relief for capital expenditure on buildings or structures cannot be claimed in respect of the same expenditure. Pension deduction The Bill provides for tax relief for pension contributions made by a company to occupational pension schemes set up for employees of another company in certain defined circumstances. This amendment is to accommodate cases of a merger, division, joint venture, reconstruction or amalgamation where an issue could arise as to whether contributions are being made in respect of an employer’s employees. Specific conditions apply. A few words on the expected The Bill confirms the Minister’s announcement as part of Budget 2020 that there will be no significant income tax cuts for 2020. The Bill provides the legislation for the tax measures announced in Budget 2020 and the ones worth noting are: Extension of both the Special Assignee Relief Programme and Foreign Earnings Deduction to 31 December 2022; Enhancement of the operation of the Employment and Investment Incentive (EII), although a few technical points were not expected; Minor increases in the Home Carers Credit and the Earned Income Credit (up €100 and €150 respectively); The reduced Universal Social Charge (USC) rate for medical cardholders is extended; Extension of the 0% benefit-in-kind (BIK) rate on electric vehicles; Changes to the overall BIK treatment of employer-provided cars (not vans) from 2023; Capital Acquisitions Tax threshold increase from €320,000 to €335,000. The Bill confirms that the increase applies to gifts or inheritances taken from 9 October 2019; Increase in the rate of Dividend Withholding Tax from 20% to 25% with effect from 1 January 2020. Additional information gathering requirements are proposed at Committee Stage on the ultimate payer of a dividend before the payment of a dividend; Increase in the rate of stamp duty on non-residential property from 6% to 7.5% with effect from 9 October 2019; The ‘Help to Buy’ scheme and the living city centre initiative are extended for a further two years; and The R&D tax credit rate for small and micro companies has been increased from 25% to 30%. What’s next? The Bill is scheduled to move to Report Stage at the end of November and after that, as is the customary legislative process, to the Seanad. Under the requirements of the European Union’s two-pack budgetary schedule, a common budgetary timeline applies to all EU member states. As a result, the Bill will complete passage through the Oireachtas and be enacted as Finance Act 2019 by 31 December. More unexpected measures are unlikely at this stage of the Finance Act process. As this is likely to be the last Finance Act before Brexit, and the last before a general election in the Republic of Ireland, any legislative changes to the tax legislation will have to wait until the new government is formed and the next Finance Act.   Kimberley Rowan ACA AITI Chartered Tax Advisor, is a Tax Manager at Chartered Accountants Ireland.

Dec 05, 2019
Tax

Gareth Morgan appraises the mandatory framework for charity accounting in Northern Ireland, which represents a significant change for charities and practitioners alike. Charities in Northern Ireland are still getting to grips with a mandatory framework for charity accounting, including a requirement to file accounts in specified formats with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI). Although CCNI has required charity accounts for several years, the statutory accounting framework under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 only took effect for financial years starting on 1 January 2016 or later. Northern Ireland-registered charities have therefore had to file accounts under the new rules since late 2017. A review of some of the documents filed with CCNI shows major variations in terms of compliance, especially among small- to medium-sized charities. Some are excellent, but others seem to show virtually no awareness of the rules despite plenty of guidance from CCNI. Charity accounting regulations took effect in England and Wales in 1996 (originally under Charities Act 1993, now under Charities Act 2011). English and Welsh charities now have more than 20 years’ experience of preparing accounts under a statutory framework and filing them with the Charity Commission for England & Wales (CCEW). Scotland has had charity accounting regulations since 1992 but, without a charity regulator, compliance in the early years was highly variable. However, following devolution and the establishment of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) with statutory powers under the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, new regulations took effect in 2006. Effective means of reporting In all UK jurisdictions, including Northern Ireland, smaller charities with income of up to £250,000 (if not constituted as companies) have the option to prepare a receipts and payments (R&P) account together with a statement of assets and liabilities (SOAL). Above this, accruals accounts are required arising from Charities SORP with a statement of financial activities, balance sheet and extensive notes. In my experience, and from my research findings, the R&P regime – if followed properly – is a very effective means of reporting for funders and others who use charity accounts at this level. But it is not uncommon to find the SOAL missing or to find something labelled as an “income and expenditure account”, which is not appropriate either under the R&P regime or under the SORP. A further complication in Northern Ireland is that, because the new structure of charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs) has not yet been implemented, many smaller charities are still being formed as charitable companies, which rules out the R&P approach. (In England and Wales, most new charities are now formed as CIOs and in Scotland as SCIOs. Many existing charities have converted to the CIO forms.) From further training to good governance Separate thresholds apply in each jurisdiction regarding the external review process. In Northern Ireland, registered charities with over £500,000 in income are subject to audit regardless of their legal form. Below this, a charity must have an independent examination (IE) of its accounts, but this is much more than an informal process – even in the case of R&P accounts the examiner must, by law, follow the directions of CCNI and must consider seven separate issues of negative assurance before completing his or her report. Moreover, like Scotland, Northern Ireland has no lower limit for IE so there is a great need for training more people to undertake IEs. In the £250,000 to £500,000 income band, the examiner must be professionally qualified. Fortunately, the Association of Charity Independent Examiners now has a specific committee focused on training and supporting IEs in Northern Ireland with good links to Chartered Accountants Ireland. Reforming the Charities SORP However, for charities subject to the SORP regime (which includes all Northern Ireland-registered charities with over £250,000 in income, and charitable companies whatever their income), further changes may be on the horizon. In the last year, I was invited by the four charity regulators of the UK and Ireland (CCEW, OSCR, CCNI and the Charities Regulator of Ireland) to chair a Charities SORP Governance Review. This was concerned not with the detailed content of the SORP, but with how the processes in developing the SORP could be improved. The panel recommended several changes including a reduction in the size of the SORP committee, but with a clear representation of at least two persons from each jurisdiction – one of whom would have specific experience of smaller charities (under £500,000 in income). Hopefully, Northern Ireland will soon have two specific members on the committee, including someone to make the case for smaller charities applying the SORP. The benefits of more informed trustees Both the English and Scottish jurisdictions can now be considered as ‘mature’ in the sense that charities have over 10 years’ experience in applying a mandatory accounting regime. It has been exciting to see trustees increasing their understanding of finances, including the appreciation of restricted funds, reserves policies and public benefit reporting, which has in turn led to more effective charities. I am confident that similar benefits will soon become apparent in Northern Ireland, especially as Chartered Accountants and others gain experience as independent examiners. New accounting regulations are also due to be implemented soon in the Republic of Ireland under Charities Act 2009, which will hopefully bring similar benefits.   Gareth Morgan is Emeritus Professor of Charity Studies at Sheffield Hallam University and now works with charity consultants, The Kubernesis Partnership LLP, based in Dunbar, Scotland. Gareth is the author of numerous publications on charity regulation and accounting, including The Charity Treasurer’s Handbook (the fifth edition includes the new requirements for Northern Ireland) and Charitable Incorporated Organisations. In 2018/19, Gareth served as independent chair of the Charities SORP Governance Review.

Dec 02, 2019
Tax

With Budget 2020 fast approaching, what – if anything – could be on the table from a tax perspective? By Peter Vale & Oliver O'Connor At the time of writing, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, had already flagged that we can expect little by way of tax cuts in the upcoming Budget. So, from a tax perspective, are we looking at a damp squib or could there be a mix of tax cuts and increases that net to zero? And if so, who are the winners and losers likely to be? Income tax In the authors’ view, we will see some modest tax cuts next month benefiting primarily lower and middle income earners, with higher earners likely to see some of this cut back – perhaps via a restriction in tax credits. Depending on the scale of the adjustment for higher earners, this could mean they see a net decrease in take-home pay with all other taxpayers seeing a modest increase. So, in summary, we don’t expect to see much either way in terms of income tax adjustments, with lower and middle income earners likely to be the main beneficiaries of any cuts. We also don’t expect to see any longer term statement committing to a reduction in our high marginal tax rates of 52% and 55% for employees and self-employed respectively. Nor should we expect to see a broadening of the tax base; indeed, successive budgets have taken more and more people out of the tax net. The concept of broadening the tax base was a recommendation of the Commission on Taxation report almost 10 years ago, but it has not been embraced by governments since. While the idea of more people paying a little has merits, it is unlikely to be a vote winner. Pensions and investments On the investment side, we are all aware that deposit rates are derisory at present and unlikely to increase any time soon. We are also very keenly aware (as is the Government) that there is a potential pensions time-bomb in the coming decades. The auto-enrolment regime, planned for the early 2020s, is a step towards ensuring that people are more sufficiently funded from a pension perspective and thus, not as dependant on State support in their later years. To this end, it is crucial that the current pension rules are not adjusted (downwards) but rather, that all are maintained at a minimum. A possible concession, which would be of long-term benefit to all, would be to increase the net relevant earnings from the current €115,000 to even €125,000. Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurs would ideally like to be given an increase in the Entrepreneur Relief from €1,000,000 to a more substantial figure. As importantly, they would like to know that there is a roadmap over the coming three to five years to bring this relief more in line with our near neighbours, which is 10 times greater than our current level. We pride ourselves in being the best small country in which to do business, enabling this crucial economic grouping to thrive and create yet more economic prosperity for the country as a whole. Corporate tax We know for certain that new transfer pricing legislation will be introduced in October. The new provisions will implement 2017 OECD guidelines into Irish law and also make certain other changes. While the nature of the other changes is still uncertain, it is very likely that transfer pricing will be extended to non-trading transactions, in particular where tax is being avoided. Certain grandfathering provisions for arrangements in place in 2010 will be removed while it is also possible that transfer pricing will be extended in some form to SMEs. Ireland is also obliged under EU law to bring in anti-hybrid legislation on 1 January 2020, which broadly prevents deductions for payments that are not taxed elsewhere. A further change required under EU law is to restrict tax relief for interest to 30% of a company’s EBITA. At the time of writing, it is still unclear whether this legislation will be in place at 1 January 2020. It should be noted that there will be a de minimis limit (expected to be roughly €3 million), group provisions and certain other carve-outs from the scope of the new legislation. Other changes We don’t expect to see significant changes in the VAT space. There isn’t the fiscal space to provide a VAT reduction to a specific sector (similar to the lower rate previously provided to the hospitality sector), while our headline rate is already relatively high and hence not likely to be used as a revenue-raising measure. It would be positive to see some targeted tax reliefs introduced in the Budget, despite the negative press that some of these reliefs have received in the past. However, sensible tailored reliefs have a role. Improvements to some of the existing reliefs should also be considered. Overall, it is possible that this Budget will be seen as a damp squib. But the devil will be in the detail and there is an opportunity to make changes that will bolster key sectors of our economy. Peter Vale FCA is Tax Partner at Grant Thornton. Oliver O’Connor FCA is Partner, Private Client and Wealth Management at Grant Thornton.

Oct 01, 2019
Tax

David Duffy highlights the latest VAT cases and discusses recent VAT developments. Two-tier VAT registration In eBrief 114/19, Revenue announced the introduction of a “two-tier” VAT registration process which took effect from 15 June 2019. The purpose of this change is to help speed up VAT registration applications for most businesses while also protecting against fraudulent traders obtaining VAT numbers that would allow them to buy-in goods or services from abroad VAT-free. Under the new system, applicants must specify whether they are applying for a ‘domestic-only’ or ‘intra-EU’ VAT registration number. Businesses that trade in goods or services with counterparties in other EU member states should apply for intra-EU registration. Other businesses should apply for domestic-only status. It is our understanding that domestic-only and intra-EU numbers will follow the same format. However, only intra-EU numbers will be valid on the EU’s VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) website. The VIES website is intended to allow suppliers to validate their customers’ VAT numbers for the purpose of intra-EU trade. Domestic-only VAT registration numbers will not be valid on the VIES website. For new applicants to obtain an ‘intra-EU’ VAT registration, additional information will be required, including details of due diligence undertaken to establish whether their suppliers are genuine traders and the arrangements for the cross-border transport of goods (if applicable). Less information will be required for domestic-only applicants, but these applicants may at a later time apply for intra-EU status, at which time they will be required to provide additional information on their intra-EU activities. All VAT registrations in effect prior to the introduction of the two-tier system will be automatically treated as having intra-EU status and there is no requirement to contact Revenue in this regard. Further changes are expected to be introduced in September 2019 to accelerate the processing times of VAT registration applications. EU VAT updates Recovery of VAT incorrectly charged In the case of PORR Építési Kft (C-691/17), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) confirmed that the Hungarian tax authorities were entitled to disallow a claim by the taxpayer, PORR, in respect of VAT incorrectly charged to PORR by the supplier of motorway construction services. This was on the basis that PORR should instead have self-accounted for VAT under the reverse charge procedure. The CJEU confirmed that in such circumstances, the customer must pursue the supplier for a reimbursement of the VAT incorrectly charged in the first instance. It is only if reimbursement from the supplier is impossible or excessively difficult (e.g. if the supplier is insolvent) that the customer can address their application to the relevant tax authority. However, the CJEU confirmed that the tax authority is not required to ascertain whether the relevant supplier can adjust the VAT before rejecting a claim by the customer for a deduction of VAT incorrectly charged. This case highlights the importance of adopting the correct VAT accounting mechanism in order to claim recovery of the VAT arising on the supply. VAT bad debt relief In A-PACK CZ case (C-127/18), the CJEU held that a tax authority cannot deny a supplier’s claim for a VAT adjustment on bad debts, simply as a result of the debtor ceasing to be VAT registered. The VAT legislation in the Czech Republic appears to have included a condition that a VAT bad debt adjustment could not be made in these circumstances. In addition to confirming that this condition was incompatible with EU VAT law, the CJEU went on to say that the fact that the customer is no longer VAT registered because of insolvency proceedings is, in fact, supportive of the position that it is a bad debt and that the supplier should, therefore, be entitled to an adjustment for the VAT previously remitted on those supplies. There is no equivalent condition in Irish VAT law, but confirming the principle of an entitlement to claim VAT bad debt relief when it is clear that the debt will almost certainly not be collected is helpful. VAT exemption for granting of credit Vega International Car Transport and Logistic (C-235/18) was an Austrian company which had a number of subsidiaries throughout the EU. Vega provided fuel cards to drivers employed by its subsidiaries to allow them to purchase fuel for the purpose of providing transport services. Vega paid for the fuel purchased with the fuel card and at a later date, on a monthly basis, passed on the cost of the fuel to its subsidiaries plus a surcharge. Accordingly, Vega allowed its subsidiaries to obtain the use of the fuel but only pay for that fuel at a later date, in return for an additional charge.  Vega sought to argue that this should be considered a VAT-exempt service to its Polish subsidiary of the provision of credit. The CJEU agreed with this analysis as it concluded that Vega had not bought and resold the fuel, but had instead provided it subsidiaries’ employees with an instrument to allow them to purchase fuel. The judgment reconfirmed a principle established in other cases that the VAT exemption for the granting of credit is not limited to loans or similar products granted by banks and financial institutions, but can in principle apply to other circumstances where an additional charge is levied for deferred payment. VAT recovery on investment activities The University of Cambridge case (Case C 316/18) asked whether there is any entitlement to recover VAT connected with activities that are outside the scope of VAT, if those activities could help generate funds for other VATable activities.  The University in this case provides VAT-exempt educational services as well as VATable services, such as commercial research, and therefore has a partial VAT recovery position on its general overhead costs. However, the University also received donations and endowments, which it invested through a fund. It was accepted that this investment activity was non-economic activity, i.e. outside the scope of VAT. The CJEU was asked whether the University could recover VAT on the management costs of the fund at its general overhead recovery rate.  The CJEU concluded that, based on the facts of the case, there was not the necessary direct and immediate link between the fund management costs and VATable output activities, and therefore the costs did not form part of the University’s overheads. Consequently, as the fund management costs instead related to an activity that was outside the scope of VAT, there was no entitlement to recover VAT on the fund management costs. David Duffy FCA, Chartered Tax Advisor, is a VAT Partner at KPMG.

Aug 01, 2019
Tax

The new rules provide an opportunity  to review your client’s overall inheritance tax position, the terms of their will, and relevant estate planning opportunities. By Fiona Hall The Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) was introduced on 6 April 2017, so many of us are just starting to appreciate the intricacies of the complex legislation. This article will summarise the key points regarding the RNRB, including when it does and does not apply, what property can qualify, factors affecting the amount of the allowance, and some planning points. References to spouses are to include civil partners. The RNRB is an additional inheritance tax-free allowance where a home passes on death on or after 6 April 2017 to direct descendants. The legislation is found in the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 Section 8D-8M, with HMRC’s helpful guidance contained in its Inheritance Tax Manual. The RNRB applies whether the home passes on death via the will, under the intestacy rules or by survivorship. It generally does not apply to a lifetime gift of the home (subject to the downsizing rules, highlighted later) unless the gift with reservation rules apply. Then, for the purposes of the RNRB, the home is treated as passing on death and the allowance can apply. The legislation refers to a “qualifying residential interest”, which is an interest in a dwelling house that was the person’s residence at a time when the person’s estate included that property. A person may own multiple properties on death. In this scenario, the personal representatives may nominate which is to be taken into account for the RNRB and it can be a property let out at the time of death, so long as it has been the deceased’s home at some stage during ownership (i.e. not a buy-to-let). There is no minimum period of occupation or ownership of the property and no garden/grounds limitation applies. It can be a home outside the UK so long as it is within the charge to inheritance tax. The RNRB is being phased-in over four years starting at £100,000 in the 2017/18 tax year and increasing by £25,000 each year until 2020/21 when it will be £175,000. The RNRB is not aimed at the very wealthy and it is tapered where the net value of an estate exceeds £2 million. The “net value” is the market value of the assets less liabilities at death, but before any reliefs or exemptions are deducted. It does not include the value of any gifts made in the seven years prior to death. Where taper does apply, the RNRB is reduced by £1 for every £2 above the threshold. For clients whose estates are above the taper threshold, lifetime gifts may be considered. Married couples should consider alternative options if leaving their entire estate to the survivor on first death will lead to tapering. The allowance due on a particular estate is the lower of the RNRB and the property value (after deduction of any secured liabilities and any reliefs, such as agricultural property relief). As with the nil rate band, the legislation provides that should one spouse not utilise their RNRB, on making the appropriate claim, the surviving spouse’s RNRB is increased by the unused amount (using rates on the second death). A transfer of unused RNRB is available regardless of: When the first death took place, including deaths before 6 April 2017; How much the first estate was worth (however, this may result in tapering where the first estate exceeds the taper threshold); and Whether or not the first estate included a residence. A point of practical importance when calculating the inheritance tax liability is that the RNRB applies in priority to the nil rate band. This is relevant in determining whether there is a claim for a transferable nil rate band and/or transferable RNRB by the surviving spouse. To qualify for the RNRB, the home must be “closely inherited” (i.e. generally that the property passes to direct descendants such as a child/grandchild of the deceased, including step-children and foster children). However, the legislation also extends to spouses of direct descendants, including their widows/widowers, provided remarriage is not a factor. The RNRB does not apply if the home passes to others, including parents, siblings, nephews and so on. Should the home pass into a trust for direct descendants, eligibility to the RNRB will depend on the trust terms. Trusts under which a direct descendant has a qualifying interest in possession will qualify, as will a bereaved minor or 18–25 trust. However, a discretionary trust will not. The home does not have to be a specific legacy in the will; it can pass through the residue. However, where residue passes to qualifying and non-qualifying beneficiaries, HMRC treats each as inheriting a proportion of the home and this may lead to a restriction to the available allowance. A deed of variation could be considered in such circumstances. If the maximum RNRB is not being utilised, you should consider whether the downsizing provisions apply. These complex provisions are designed to replace the RNRB lost due to a disposal of the original home. To qualify for a “downsizing addition”, the deceased must have disposed of a home on or after 8 July 2015 and either moved to a less valuable property or ceased to own a home, and some of the estate must be closely inherited. In conclusion, these relatively new rules provide an opportunity to review a client’s overall inheritance tax position, the terms of their will, and any relevant estate planning opportunities.   Fiona Hall is Principal, Private Client Tax Team, at BDO Northern Ireland.

Aug 01, 2019