One minute with... Neela Chauhan
18 May 2017
One minute with Neela Chauhan, head of tax at Wilson Wright.
What’s keeping you busy at work?
Unfortunately, the job that immediately springs to mind is one of an individual leaving the UK for Ireland, due to becoming deemed domicile in the UK for income tax and capital gains tax purposes (subject to the new Finance Bill!). Like the UK, Ireland offers a favourable tax treatment for non-domiciled individuals, as well as attractive income tax and corporate tax rates. In addition, it offers EU freedom of movement benefits, close proximity to the UK, and a great lifestyle. Ireland may usurp the UK as the country of choice for individuals who are internationally mobile.
Can you comment on a point to watch in the Finance Bill?
The Finance Bill has just taken a most unexpected and unusual turn! Much of the Finance Bill was dedicated to BEPS changes, anti-avoidance and simplification, and it is expected that these provisions will all be implemented in due course largely unchanged.
However, I am much less certain about the non-dom changes. I think there is a real possibility that the new deemed domicile rules for income tax and capital gains tax will either be reintroduced with significant changes or even postponed. At present, advising those that may or may not be deemed domiciled is extremely difficult.
If you could make one change to a tax law or practice what would it be?
The abolition of national insurance! It is an unnecessary complexity to the tax system. In my opinion, national insurance has essentially become another form of income tax and it seems that its only purpose is to keep the headline rates of tax artificially low.
Name a trend in the marketplace that is currently impacting your clients.
The series of changes to the taxation of buy to let landlords has a huge impact on our clients with property portfolios. We really had to prepare our clients for the potential increase in their tax liabilities as a result.
The increase in SDLT, changes to tax relief on mortgage interest, changes to allowable expenses and the abolition of the wear and tear allowance, and changes to CGT have all led to clients wanting to review the way in which they currently hold buy to let property.
You are known for your work in the film and television industry. What are the key challenges facing this sector?
This is an incredibly tough business. For an artiste to realise their vision it is unbelievably hard work in itself, and then comes the really tough part: making money! The financial and moral support of family and friends is essential as fund raising for films is now harder than ever. This is partly due to the perceived reputational and financial risk that has been created by schemes that were set up to exploit the generous tax reliefs which were introduced to encourage, support and incentivise investment into UK productions. Unfortunately, in some respects this has had the opposite effect. ‘Investment in film’ has become a synonym for ‘film scheme’ or ‘tax avoidance scheme’.
I would really like to see increased financial backing and much more support for independent film makers. I would also like the educational institutions to increase their focus on the practical and commercial aspects of film making, as well as the creative side.
What advice would you give to someone at the start of their career?
I would encourage any young tax professionals to concentrate on their interpersonal skills as much as their tax knowledge. As my career has progressed, my ability to communicate effectively with clients and colleagues has become as much a part of my success as my technical knowledge. The strength of the tax offering at Wilson Wright is as much about the closeness of our team as it is about our expertise.