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One minute with... Tom Moore

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What’s keeping you busy at work?

We’re a relatively new tax advisory boutique, so business matters of all shapes and sizes are keeping us busy. Perhaps the most pressing priority for us at the moment is recruitment and integration of new team members. There are some very talented and bright individuals coming through the tax profession, and it has been my privilege to welcome several such people to our firm in recent months. Focusing on the day job, we see a large number of business structuring and corporate reconstruction cases. In addition, IHT advice continues to be a staple and we see a constant flow of investigations work. We are also seeing an increasing number of jobs involving duel resident and non-UK domiciled individuals.

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

Tax incentives for personal investment (in particular, EIS and SEIS) are particularly powerful economic tools and have yielded significant economic benefit for UK PLC dating all the way back to the business expansion scheme in the early 1980s. Successive governments deserve plaudits for the maintenance and operation of these reliefs over the decades. While the rules are necessarily strict, HMRC officers are generally helpful in offering guidance in marginal cases. I would like to see access to these reliefs made easier and the scope of the reliefs expanded. In particular, I think there is a case for further incentivising investment from overseas. I would also like to see a change in the drafting of some anti-avoidance provisions. The current strength of some of these rules is justifiable in view of the recent history of avoidance. However, many of the rules are very broadly drawn and exclusion can only be inferred from the wording of HMRC guidance, rather than statute. There is a case for better targeting of some of these rules and the inclusion of a motive test in ITEPA 2003 Part 7A would be one example.

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

I wish I had understood, in my twenties, that what the politicians and newspapers say about up-coming tax changes rarely match the eventual legislative change. Wait at least until the Finance Bill before jumping to any conclusion concerning advice to clients – or career choice.

Are any new rules causing a particular problem in practice?

Although the extra SDLT charge for second properties was a simple change with a clear policy objective and has been around for a couple of years, it continues to produce a disproportionately large number of thorny queries. The same is true of other SDLT rules. The days are long gone when stamp tax queries were the lawyers’ problem and never made it as far as my desk.

What should we look out for in 2019?

The 2019 loan charge rules have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The need to have measures that strongly target abusive avoidance arrangements is understandable and acceptable to all in the tax community. There are aspects, however, of the loan charge rules that have crossed boundaries for many. The retrospective nature of the charge and its broad application – even to arrangements where participation was a commercial obligation on some individuals – has caused alarm. The report of the All Party Parliamentary Group set up to review the working of the charge was highly critical of the approach of ministers and HMRC. The loan charge is now to be reviewed. The response to this by Treasury ministers and HMRC will be a strong indication of the likely future thrust and direction of anti-avoidance policy.

And finally, you might not know this about me but…

In my spare time, I sing in a choir (the Fosse Singers), and in 2017 I won a charity singing competition that meant I was given a recording contract. You won’t find anything on iTunes, unfortunately!

Issue: 1457
Categories: One minute with