Weekly tax brief - 17 February 2016

In this edition of RSM’s weekly round-up of the most important tax news, we cover the latest developments…

Spare a thought for the self-employed

17 February 2016

A recent report proposes benefits for the self-employed which may make it easier for HMRC to tax them as employees.

Tax advisers should not be agents of the state

17 February 2016

Tax advisers are now going to be required by law to inform their clients about the dangers of not declaring offshore income using wording specified by HMRC. No harm in that, you might think, but where does it end? Agents are not creatures of the state: neither are they neutral intermediaries between the client and HMRC. Their role is to act in the best interests of their clients.

HMRC powers under microscope in Gold Nuts case

17 February 2016

Rather than criminally investigate everyone it suspects of tax evasion, HMRC often offers taxpayers the Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF) which provides an opportunity to come clean and admit to all tax irregularities in return for a guarantee of criminal immunity. But a recent Tribunal case – Gold Nuts and Others v. HMRC - in which an appellant unequivocally denied involvement in tax fraud has raised some interesting issues around the interaction between HMRC’s civil and criminal investigations.

An exemption that's far from trivial

17 February 2016

After a false start last year, we expect the new exemption for trivial benefits to finally come into force on 6 April 2016. The new exemption covers benefits in kind provided to employees where the cost of providing the benefit is no more than £50. In theory, employers should benefit from the simplification but with thirteen pages of new guidance now released, there are fears that unnecessary complexity may erode the anticipated administrative savings.

HMRC rests its case on Wikipedia

17 February 2016

A Tribunal hearing last week revealed that HMRC relied on a Wikipedia entry to file its Statement of Case regarding the tariff classification of electromagnetic switches. If ever there was a case that highlights the need for the Office of Tax Simplification to review the tax code, it must surely be this!