EBTs (Employee Benefit Trusts) are schemes which have been marketed as genuine tax saving plans whereby the client receives a non-repayable loan or a loan on favourable terms, gifts or shares from the provider. The scheme providers are usually trust organisations. They are mainly used by high earners who do not want to pay higher tax on their high incomes and have been around for quite a number of years now. HMRC, however, will argue that the majority of those “legitimate tax arrangements” are false and class as tax evasion, which is why since December 2010, they were made officially ineffective as a tax planning scheme.
As one can expect, HMRC have opened a number of enquiries into EBTs and will continue to do so. Even if you have used one in the past, you could still be at risk. Not only are enquiries stressful for the contractor being investigated but the size of the tax payments which would have be paid if the contractor lost, plus interest and penalties and not to mention legal fees could be colossal.
Schemes have been hot in the media with high profile cases making the headlines and most of the participants have entered into the arrangements genuinely believing that they are operating legitimately after being lured in by glossy marketing campaigns. It is expected that these schemes will make a comeback so protect yourself, as you will be the one footing any bills, by avoiding them. If it sounds too good to be true…talk to your accountant.
Should you feel that you are experiencing cash flow problems, speak with your account manager. We are trained to help you find the most tax efficient and legal way of doing your accounts.
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