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One minute with... Emma Suchland

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What’s keeping you busy at work?

I’m lucky to have a wide variety of clients, operating in different sectors and at different stages, from start ups through to long established multigenerational businesses, so no two days are the same. Lots of clients are preparing for and going through transactions, others are looking at succession and bringing through the next generation, whilst others are divesting to reshape their businesses for a post-covid era. More operationally, many clients are focused on their ESG agenda, particularly the E (environmental) and G (governance), which is leading to discussions across areas such as supply chains, manufacturing methods, workforce and reward structures – all of which have tax implications. Safe to say, it remains a really interesting time to be in tax!

What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

There’s no point having a perfect technical answer if it doesn’t achieve a client’s wider objectives. Clients look first for people they trust and who listen to and understand their objectives, so advisers should apply not just a tax technical lens but also a commercial lens to their advice. So you should get involved in as much direct client interaction as early as possible to build up that knowledge and experience. Linked to which, there’s no such thing as a daft question in your first few years – so make sure you ask plenty of them before people start expecting you to know things.

Are there any rules that are of particular interest to you?

The recently enacted uncertain tax treatment (UTT) notification rules demonstrate HMRC’s ongoing commitment to reduce the part of the tax gap that relates to legal interpretation. They also show HMRC’s preference for taxpayers to discuss matters with them on a real time basis over making a UTT disclosure, as illustrated by the specific exemption in the rules which applies where a taxpayer has already had a discussion with their CCM.

Within my particular client base, these rules will only be relevant to larger private businesses; but even those business not subject to the rules need to be aware of HMRC’s change in approach, especially when considering their strategy for engaging with HMRC as part of their overall approach to tax governance and compliance. Such strategies could include a more cooperative compliance approach with HMRC, potentially leading to less uncertainty and more efficient agreement of any issues.

Businesses need to be comfortable that their practices and processes enable them to identify any UTTs – and if not, this is something they should address quickly.

What should we look out for later this year?

The expected significant reform of the R&D tax regime which has been, and continues to be, consulted on, is a development which is keenly anticipated. The changes are likely to involve HMRC refocusing the regime on UK based investment and activities and the expansion of the regime to include data/cloud expenditure which are key costs across many sectors including pharmaceuticals, technology and financial services – as well as potentially more fundamental changes to improve capital investment in the UK to drive productivity.

Finally, you might not know this about me but...

Maths was far from my strongest subject at school. When I went back several years later, my maths teacher’s words were ‘you were the last in the class I’d have put a bet on turning out to be a chartered accountant!’ 

Issue: 1569
Categories: One minute with