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One minute with… Trevor James

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What’s keeping you busy at work?

As a result of Covid-19, we are seeing a fair amount of refinancing and debt modification transactions and a growing number of cross-border insolvency/restructuring matters. I anticipate that this trend will continue, which will give rise to interesting and complex tax issues. I am also seeing an uptick in M&A in recent weeks, which is a great development.

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

The plethora of changes we have seen in the last five years as a result of the OECD BEPS report is proving to be a challenge, and it has made a number of tax provisions overly complicated and uncertain, which is not good for business and global planning.

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

The importance of building long-term lasting relationships, which results in trust and collaboration over time and clients viewing you as a member of their in-house tax/finance function.

Is there a proposed change to UK tax law that has caught your eye?

In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting damage it will have on the UK economy, the proposed change (which admittedly was announced in 2018) to reintroduce a statutory preference for certain debts of insolvent companies is untimely. This will be a return to the position pre-2003, prior to the changes made in the Enterprise Act 2002, so it may be viewed by some as a backward step and it puts the UK out of step with the insolvency laws of other countries. This change has been the subject of criticism from a number of professional bodies, including the Law Society. There may be some merit in the chancellor looking at this and perhaps delaying its implementation. The new provisions to stop the use of the insolvency of companies to avoid paying taxes is less controversial, but the draft legislation is very broad and may catch insolvencies where there is in fact no arrangement to avoid or evade tax. Once again, in the light of Covid-19, this provision should perhaps be reviewed.

Are there any other new rules that are a cause for concern?

I think I speak for most tax advisors when I say DAC 6. Ignoring the retrospective aspect of these new rules, it appears to be ten years too late as it is targeted at the aggressive tax avoidance schemes of old. The rules are uncertain, the guidance is unclear and it will result in an increased compliance burden for business.

What should we be looking out for later this year?

One hopes that the chancellor will use the tax system to help stimulate the economy and fuel economic activity with tax-favourable provisions to encourage business to invest and innovate.

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

I am a mad Liverpool fan, so I’m looking forward the resumption of the English Premier season and when we go on to claim our first title in 30 years!

Issue: 1492
Categories: One minute with