Welcome to my first Bite Sized of 2018, and I would like to wish everyone a belated Happy New Year. For those of us who have gone through the madness of tax return deadline season, I thought I would start the first Bite Sized of the year off on a more light-hearted note.

According to HMRC, tax return excuses submitted by taxpayers who failed to submit their returns in on time include some classics, such as:

  • I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house
  • I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one man show
  • My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.

In addition to excuses for non-submission of tax returns, HMRC has received some rather odd claims for tax deductible expenses. These include:

  • A sofa for my partner to sit on while I do my accounts
  • Birthday drinks in a nightclub
  • Vets fees… in relation to a rabbit (perhaps he was a magician?)
  • £4.50 for sausage and chips… ordered for 250 consecutive days!

HMRC has also listed its top 10 tax fraud cases of the year, including:

  • The millionaire businessman who failed to pay £1.3m in tax because he ‘was not a paperwork person
  • A man who told his family he was a spy travelling overseas but in fact he was visiting holiday homes bought with the proceeds of a £1.6m VAT fraud
  • A man who hijacked the details of a BVI company to commit £640,000 of tax fraud.

EU Blacklist update

On a slightly more serious note, the EU has recommended removing 8 jurisdictions from the tax haven blacklist. The countries are:

  • Panama
  • South Korea
  • The UAE
  • Barbados
  • Grenada
  • Macao
  • Mongolia
  • Tunisia

Register to Reveal Foreign Owners of UK property

A register which will reveal the owners of foreign companies who buy property in the UK will go live from 2021 onwards. The register will require foreign companies that own or buy UK property to provide details of the ultimate owners. The move will require the Government to publish a draft Bill and their hope is to introduce it in Parliament by next summer.

Unexplained Wealth Orders come in to existence

From 31st January 2018 powers to issue ‘unexplained wealth orders’ against people who cannot account for their assets will come in to force. The new procedure allows the authorities to issue bank account freezing and forfeiture notices without a court order. Any Tottenham Hotspur footballers who got paid for the 1-1 draw with Newport County had better watch out…there is no explanation for any wealth they might have generated for that 90 minutes…!

Best wishes for the month and see you again in February.

Kind regards

Frank Strachan
Partner | Head of Tax
For Edwin Coe LLP

d: +44 (0)20 7691 4136 | e: frank.strachan@edwincoe.com

Edwin Coe LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership, registered in England & Wales (No.OC326366). The Firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A list of members of the LLP is available for inspection at our registered office address: 2 Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn, London, WC2A 3TH. “Partner” denotes a member of the LLP or an employee or consultant with the equivalent standing. This guide concerns the law in England and Wales and is intended for general guidance purposes only. It is essential to take specific legal advice before taking any action.

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