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One minute with... Peter Rayney

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What do you hope to achieve during your term as CIOT president?

Covid created a seismic upheaval in almost every aspect of the CIOT’s activities. However, everyone involved at the CIOT – the presidential team, the CIOT CEO and executive team, CIOT Council, the staff and all our volunteers –rose to the challenges quite superbly. Our immediate past president, Glyn Fullelove, and CEO, Helen Whiteman, deserve special praise for steering the ship so calmly in the early covid ‘choppy-waters’.

As president, my aim is to build on the CIOT’s fantastic work and continue to ensure we deliver on our three key strategic areas: education, promoting high standards and technical excellence and voice (bringing our expertise to the tax policy debate).

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

That passing all the relevant exams did not make me a tax expert. There was so much more to learn, including how to complete tax returns! As someone once said to me, ‘the more I learnt, the more I realised I did not know’. You can never know everything about tax, so being able to spot when to bring in specialist help is one of the lessons you learn.

Equally, I think it is important to keep learning and always challenge your comfort zones. I have been very fortunate to have enjoyed practical experience in almost every area of tax, and this rounded practical experience appears to be highly valued by my OMB clients.

Has a recent tax case caught your eye?

In my practice, I receive many queries relating to a company’s ‘trading’ status, particularly for the purposes of business asset disposal relief (BADR) and the substantial shareholding exemption (SSE). I therefore studied the First-tier Tribunal decision in J and N Potter v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 554 – the first case to deal directly with this area – with some interest. The ruling demonstrates that carrying surplus cash or owning passive investments may not necessarily prejudice a company’s trading status for entrepreneurs’ relief, BADR or SSE purposes. It is what the company is actually doing that matters.

If you could make one change to tax, what would it be?

I am passionate about stamping out egregious avoidance. While the government has made great strides in this area, I firmly believe that anyone or any firm offering tax services or advice should be regulated by a professional body. This will offer greater protection for clients and the UK tax base.

What should we look out for in 2021?

There is a lot of noise from tax and economic pundits about future tax rises and new wealth taxes. My personal view is that the government should not make any rash tax changes since this may impede economic growth. We need to create a business environment that supports business and economic activity, which in turn, will generate much needed tax revenues.

Based on discussions with my accountancy firm clients in these last months, I believe that we will see many structural changes about how offices are used. The covid disruption has increased the appetite for home-working. This, of course, brings its own challenges which will need to be addressed.

You may not know this about me but…

I am a lifelong West Ham United fan and an avid collector of memorabilia from the US Apollo Moon landing space programme. I am also a proud owner of an original Rockola 1953 juke box, which contains the best ‘45s’ of my musically formative years!

Issue: 1514
Categories: One minute with