UK: Deloitte’s Emergency Budget Report Commentary - If It Counts, it’s Covered

Last Updated: 23 June 2010
Article by Deloitte Tax Group

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

Experts' opinions

Corporation tax reforms and the UK's international competitiveness

Bill Dodwell

The Chancellor outlined a five-year plan to reform the corporation tax system, with lower rates, promising simpler rules and an objective of greater certainty for taxpayers. The tone suggests, as has long been promoted by business, that a move to competitiveness is essential to underpin the economic recovery, and the longevity of the plan is intended to be part of the introduction of stability. The stated intention is to 'help companies invest, attract foreign investment and boost growth.'

The announcements promote 'a broad tax base, a low rate and a more territorial approach' as a means of increasing competitiveness. The Government will set out a more detailed programme for reform in early autumn and will discuss further with business ways in which the UK's competitiveness could be enhanced.

The key announcements include:

  • A phased reduction in the corporation tax rate from 28% to 24%, partly funded by reductions to capital allowances (a timing deferral only).
  • Full reform of the controlled foreign company ('CFC') rules to be completed in spring 2012. The stated intention is to make the current rules more competitive, to enhance long term stability and provide adequate protection of the UK tax base. Consultation will take place over summer 2010 on interim improvements to be introduced in spring 2011. These will make some changes in advance of full reform – designed to make the rules easier to operate and enhance UK competitiveness where possible.
  • There is an intention to move towards a more territorial basis for taxing profits of foreign branches and there will be a consultation, again in summer 2010, on possibilities for reform. This will include the scope for a branch exemption alongside options for retaining branch loss relief. Legislation will be introduced in spring 2011.
  • A consultation is also promised for autumn 2010 to review the taxation of intellectual property, the support research and development tax credits provide for innovation and the proposals of the review by Sir James Dyson. It is anticipated that this will look to re-focus research and development tax credits for the benefit of the high-tech sector (as well as small and medium sized enterprises in all sectors).

The Budget announcements are a positive step in terms of the UK's competitiveness. In particular, the reduction in the main rate of corporation tax over the next four years to 24% is a key move – this is the lowest that the main rate of UK corporation tax has ever been, and compares favourably with the rest of the G20. The key question now is whether this, together with future changes, is sufficient to encourage businesses to set themselves up in the UK.

Tough but tender

Roger Bootle

Key measures of interest to everyone

  • This was a Budget with two faces. The total discretionary tightening will build up to 8% of GDP per annum by 2015-16, larger than Canada's in the 1990s, but smaller than Sweden's and Finland's.
  • But the tightening announced over and above that embodied in the Labour Government's plans, although somewhat larger than many outside commentators expected, was in fact fairly modest, building up to about 2% of GDP per annum. So much of the pain announced by this government would have been inflicted under Labour.
  • This Budget still hides some of the pain that will be felt because it has not yet laid out the detailed plans for public spending. That has to wait until the Spending Review due in October. All we know is that outside the protected departments, departmental spending will be cut by 25% in real terms, compared with implied cuts of 20% under Labour.
  • The deferral of the VAT rise until January 2011 was a deft move, not least because it will help to keep inflation down this year. But beyond this year the danger is not inflation but deflation. Freezes which appear to be both painful for the victims and generative of lower borrowing for the Exchequer would be neither if prices were falling. Similarly, the "triple-lock" deal on pensions would turn out to be inordinately expensive.
  • Although the Budget delivered a tightening over and above what was built into the OBR's pre-budget forecast of 1% of GDP in 2011/12, the growth of the economy has only been revised down by 0.3% of GDP. This assumes a significant crowding-in effect on private expenditure. Interest rates may go up by less than would have happened under the old fiscal policy, but there is not much scope for them to go down. Any monetary response, therefore, would have to rely on more quantitative easing. Yet this has not seemed to be very effective so far.
  • Accordingly, the great danger is that the economy turns out to be weaker than anticipated, both because of the budget and for other reasons, causing government borrowing to be correspondingly higher. The budget gives no clue as to how the government might respond.
  • This downside economic risk reinforces my view that interest rates are set to remain at or near current levels for the duration of this parliament, and that on inflation the main risk is to the downside. With many countries now competing in the austerity stakes, deflation is a serious risk.

What the Capital Gains Tax changes mean for individuals

Nigel Barker

The Chancellor has sought to address the tax avoidance opportunity provided by a wide differential in income and capital gains tax (CGT) rates by increasing CGT from midnight tonight:

  • A new rate of 28% will apply to gains made from tomorrow by higher rate taxpayers and any non-domiciled individual who pays the 30,000 remittance basis charge.
  • For individuals wanting, for example, to trade shares to take advantage of the 18% rate, the Chancellor left little time to do so with the changes effective so soon after the announcement.
  • The calls for tapering or indexation did not convince the Chancellor, and the exemptions for entrepreneurial assets translated into an increase of the entrepreneur's relief from the current 2million lifetime allowance to 5million. An additional 3million of gain taxed at 10% rather than 28% gives such entrepreneurs an additional 540,000 tax shelter from the new regime.
  • An entrepreneur with a 10million gain would pay tax today of approximately 1.64million. Tomorrow their tax liability would be approximately 1.9million.
  • There is no change in the Annual Exempt Allowance despite speculation that this would be reduced. This seems sensible, as any material reduction would have resulted in a significant increase in the number of taxpayers brought into CGT reporting.
  • It is also worth noting that for offshore trusts, from tomorrow, the maximum CGT rate will go up to 44.8% (the current maximum is 28.8%).

The new rate has been pitched at a level which might be regarded as acceptable given the earlier indications that the rate might be equalised with income tax rates:

  • The rate of 28% is lower than many commentators expected, but any relief was tempered by the Chancellor breaking with tradition and introducing the rate change part way through the tax year.
  • Gains realised after today will fall into the new regime.
  • The simple flat-rate regime has been replaced by a three-rate regime (10%, 18% and 28%) with disposals of identical assets being taxed at different rates during the year depending on when they were sold. The Chancellor has sacrificed some tax simplicity to help deliver his 'tough but fair' Budget.
  • The HMRC-published 'Questions & Answers' on CGT leave open the possibility of the CGT rate moving still higher in the next Budget. Whilst we would not expect the Chancellor to pre-announce future rates, the fact that this question was published at all suggests that the debate over increased CGT rates may not be over just yet. That said, the Chancellor did strongly suggest that any further increase would result in a net reduction in the CGT take.

In summary, many people will conclude that it was not as bad as it could have been and some entrepreneurs will be glad of the valuable additional tax relief.

Daniel Lyons gives his round-up on the VAT rate rise

Daniel Lyons

As had been widely expected, the Chancellor announced an increase in the standard rate of VAT from 17.5% to 20%. The change will take effect from 4 January 2011 (the first working day of the year). The timing of the increase allows businesses time to plan for it, and slightly mitigates the problems around implementing the change over the busy Christmas period. However, the most significant impact of the delay in introducing the increase is the possibility of a short-term boost to retail sales leading up to Christmas. The reduced rate of 5% for, among other things, domestic fuel and power, remains unchanged.

As happened last year, when the rate returned from 15% to 17.5%, anti-forestalling provisions will be introduced to prevent the 17.5% rate applying to certain supplies of goods and services between connected parties that take place after the 20% rate comes into force.

The Government estimates that the VAT rate increase will raise a significant extra 12.1 billion of revenue in the first full year. We estimate that it will cost the average income family something like 200 per year. Rather more worryingly, analysis provided by the Office for Budget Responsibility suggests that, 'in the short run' the increase will reduce GDP by approximately 4 billion per year. Businesses

Bank levy

The measure

The levy will apply to:

  • the consolidated balance sheet of UK banking groups and building societies;
  • the aggregated subsidiary and branch balance sheets of foreign banks and banking groups operating in the UK; and
  • the balance sheets of UK banks in non-banking groups.

These entities will only be liable for the levy where their relevant aggregate liabilities (see below), amount to 20billion or more. The levy will be based on total liabilities (ie both short and long term liabilities) excluding:

  • Tier 1 capital; " insured retail deposits (i.e. those covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme);
  • repos secured on sovereign debt; and
  • policyholder liabilities of retail insurance businesses within banking groups.

For UK branches of foreign banks, the Government proposes to use the principles applied to the capital attribution methodology used for corporation tax purposes in determining branch liabilities and Tier 1 capital.

It is proposed that derivative liabilities will only be taken into account where they are net derivative liability positions.

It is proposed that the levy will be set at 0.07% which is expected to raise over 2billion annually. However, there will be a lower rate of 0.04% in 2011. There will also be a reduced rate for longer-maturity wholesale funding (ie greater than one year remaining to maturity) to be set at 0.02% rising to 0.035% (half the main rate).

There will be anti-avoidance provisions to prevent avoidance of the levy.

The levy will not be deductible for corporation tax.

The Government will consult with industry over the summer, including over the technical details of the levy design. Final details of the levy will be published later this year following this consultation.

The Government has also announced that it will explore the costs and benefits of a Financial Activities Tax, working with international partners to secure agreement.

When?

The Chancellor announced that the Government will introduce a bank levy from 1 January 2011.

Our view

The introduction of a bank levy has been expected, given the Chancellor's comments both before and since the General Election. The bank levy will provide the Treasury with a useful source of additional revenue. The 2bn annual revenues from the levy, once the full rate applies, looks at the low end of our expectations; but this may be due to the Treasury taking account of expected behavioural changes.

The levy will cost larger banking groups several hundred million pounds pa, at full rates. The levy is just one of several incremental costs imposed on banking groups; Basel III proposals and other regulatory changes will increase capital requirements and liquidity holdings, for example. All these costs will need to be borne between shareholders, employees and customers.

France and Germany have also announced the introduction of a bank levy, although details are yet to be provided. France and Germany intend the proceeds of the levy to be set aside as a separate fund to help manage any future financial crisis; whereas the UK intends any funds raised to be treated in the same way as other tax receipts.

Last year the G20 asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to investigate potential new bank taxes. The IMF published an interim report 'A Fair and Substantial Contribution by the Financial Sector' in April 2010 which discusses both a Financial Stability Contribution (based on bank balance sheets) and a Financial Activities Tax (based on the sum of profits and remuneration). The G20 will consider the possible co-ordinated introduction of bank taxes in Toronto on 24 June. A number of G20 nations, including Canada, Brazil, China and India oppose such taxes, mostly due to the belief that improved regulation (or contingent capital) is the right way to tackle systemic risk. The USA has announced a similar bank levy, initially proposed to be at a rate of 0.15% of liabilities on large financial groups, in order to repay taxpayers for the cost of the TARP funds.

The UK risks losing competitiveness in this vital market, by introducing a tax without a co-ordinated global response. It would be interesting to understand why the Government believes introducing the bank levy without international consensus is appropriate, but it is waiting for such consensus before introducing a Financial Activities Tax.

Smaller banks and non-bank lenders will have a potential competitive advantage. The IMF paper recommends a wide base (potentially including insurers). It should be noted that it was the largely unregulated shadow banking sector that has been identified as a key contributor of the recent financial crisis.

In a similar way to the uncertainty which first existed when the Bank Payroll Tax was introduced in PBR 2009, there may be questions over the definition of a bank or banking group. We would welcome early clarification of this so the scope of the levy is not inadvertently wide.

The Treasury's claim that the levy will 'encourage banks to move to less risky funding profiles' seems a bold position given a maximum rate of 0.07%. Banks have already started the process of improving their liquidity profiles in light of the recent problems. Commercial and regulatory pressures are likely to be much more effective here than the differential tax rates.

There appears to be a significant risk of double taxation for international groups. A UK headquartered bank will be liable to the UK bank levy on its global liabilities, but the bank also appears liable to the French and German bank levies on the liabilities on their French and German balance sheets. This double taxation issue, together with a better understanding of which liabilities are included in the calculation, the treatment of off-balance sheet items, and how often the calculation will need to be performed are some of the issues which will need to be addressed in the consultation this summer.

Corporation tax: rate changes

The measure

The Chancellor announced that:

  • The main rate of corporation tax will fall to 27% for 2011-12, with further 1% cuts in the following three years: to 26% in 2012-13; 25% in 2013-14; and 24% in 2014-15;
  • The small profits rate of corporation tax will fall to 20% for 2011-12, rather than increasing to 22% as previously announced.

These rates apply to the majority of companies. The main rate of corporation tax for oil and gas ring fence profits will remain at 30% and the small profits rate of corporation tax for oil and gas ring fence profits will remain at 19%.

Who will be affected?

Companies with taxable profits of any size.

When?

The main rate of corporation tax will initially fall on 1 April 2011, with further annual reductions in the following three years. The small profits rate of corporation tax will fall on 1 April 2011.

Our view

This is a welcome change, a permanent saving for companies of all sizes. Capital intensive businesses' celebrations will be dampened by simultaneous changes to the capital allowances regime which will reduce the rate at which they receive tax relief for investment in plant and machinery, but the Chancellor is at pains to point out that his estimates suggest that even investmentheavy industries such as Manufacturing should be net winners from these reforms.

The coalition Government is staking a bold claim to competitiveness for the UK's corporation tax regime at a time when tax rises and spending cuts are otherwise widespread. They have identified corporation tax as a key area where they want to invest and are aiming high, with talk of creating the most competitive corporate tax system in the G20, a broad tax base, low rate and more territorial corporation tax system. David Gauke MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, has been delegated the task of consulting with multinational businesses to find ways to do this, with these staggered rate changes his head start.

Based on comparisons today, a 24% corporation tax rate would be the lowest in the G7 and the fifth lowest rate in the G20 but it is worth remembering that it will be 2014-15 before the rate reduces to that level. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the G7 and G20 respond in the meantime.

CFC and foreign branch reform

The measure

The Budget announcements confirm the Government's intention to reform the UK controlled foreign companies ('CFC') regime. This regime potentially imposes additional UK tax in relation to the profits of low-taxed foreign subsidiaries. This is a continuation of the long-running consultation undertaken by the previous Government, the most recent instalment of which was the release of a detailed discussion document by HM Treasury in January 2010 and subsequent collation of responses.

The Budget also confirms the intention to move towards a more territorial basis for taxing the profits of foreign branches of UK companies. Again this had been previously announced. It is stated that there will be consultation this summer on options for reform, including scope for a branch exemption and the possibility of retaining foreign branch loss relief as part of a revised basis.

The Budget announcements do not include further detail as to what reforms will be made.

Who will be affected?

All corporate groups that have foreign subsidiaries owned from the UK, or operate through branches in non-UK territories.

When?

It had been previously announced that the Government's aim was to legislate on CFC reform in 2011. Today's Budget indicates that whilst interim improvements will be legislated in spring 2011, wider reform is delayed until 2012.

There is no detail on precise effective dates or transitional measures. In particular there is no indication as to whether the delay to reform will mean that the current transitional reliefs in relation to certain non-UK holding companies will continue until the implementation of the eventual reform.

HM Treasury will establish two working groups of representatives from business to discuss the interim improvements to the CFC regime and the taxation of foreign branches. Nominations for these working groups need to be made by Tuesday 6th July to HM Treasury.

The stated intention in relation to branch profits is for legislation to be introduced in 2011. Again there is no detail on precise effective dates.

Our view

We welcome the continued commitment to reform the CFC and branch profit rules to deal with today's multinational businesses and enhance the UK's competitiveness. The success of this will of course depend on the design of the updated regime, and details of this are still awaited.

It is disappointing that full CFC reform appears to have been further delayed but we hope that the additional time will be used to ensure that the resulting regime is well designed and carefully targeted.

Change in corporation tax rates: impact on Deferred Tax

The measure

Legislation will be introduced to bring in a phased decrease in the rate of corporation tax commencing with a reduction to 27% on 1 April 2011 and further reducing by 1% per annum until it reaches 24% on 1 April 2014. This will have an effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities included in the accounts. There will be a similar effect arising from the reduction in the small companies' rate.

Who will be affected?

Companies reporting deferred taxes for UK taxable entities in their financial statements under most accounting systems including UK Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ('UK GAAP'), US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ('US GAAP') and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

When?

Under both UK GAAP and IFRS, the changes will arise for balance sheet dates falling on or after substantive enactment of the Finance Bill 2010 which is generally understood to be following the third reading in the House of Commons. For US GAAP filers, the changes will apply to balance sheets falling on or after the date of Royal Assent.

Our view

Under IFRS, International Accounting Standard 12 'Income Taxes', states that deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured at the tax rates that are expected to apply to the period when the asset is realised or the liability is settled, based on tax rates (and tax laws) that have been enacted or substantively enacted by the end of the reporting period. Similar rules exist within UK GAAP.

Therefore to the extent that the phased rates are included in the Finance Bill 2010, deferred tax calculations will require detailed scheduling of reversals of deferred tax assets and liabilities to enable the appropriate tax rate to be applied.

The rate changes will reduce the value of deferred tax assets and liabilities held on the balance sheet and impact the effective tax rate for the period in which the first balance sheet falls following the substantive enactment (or enactment for US GAAP purposes) but will also considerably increase the complexity of the calculation.

Abolition of the IP requirements from SME R&D regime

The measure

The requirement in the SME R&D regime for the Intellectual Property (IP) derived from the R&D expenditure to be owned either by the claimant company alone or with other persons was abolished in PBR 2009 and this change will be included in the Finance Bill to be introduced after the Summer recess.

Who will be affected?

The removal of the IP requirement means that SME companies undertaking their own R&D work are able to claim under the SME regime without considering their IP ownership. In addition those SMEs carrying out subsidised R&D, who have been prevented from making R&D claims under the Large company regime by the IP requirements in the SME regime, are now be able to claim the Large company R&D benefit.

When?

The change is already effective for any expenditure incurred by SMEs on R&D in accounting periods ending on or after 9 December 2009.

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