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One minute with...John Lovell

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What’s in your in-tray?
I recently spent a lot of time clearing my in-tray in anticipation of the arrival of a baby in June! My main focus has been responding to proposal requests from companies and referrals from accountants.
You run an independent capital allowances specialist firm. How did this come about?
I initially qualified as a chartered quantity surveyor and, like most surveyors, had some basic knowledge of capital allowances. It was an area I was keen to learn more about and I responded to a job advert with Arthur Andersen in 1993. At that time, they were the first of the large accounting firms to establish a specialist capital allowances team, employing and tax training surveyors both in-house and externally with tax qualifications.
After five years, I set up Lovell Consulting as a firm purely specialising in capital allowances. At that time, there were few surveyors experienced and qualified in tax. It was possible in nearly all companies to set up more efficient methods of claiming allowances and to increase the quantum of allowances.
How has the market changed?
Capital allowances is now a more mature tax service line and many larger clients will routinely use specialist capital allowances advisers. Another aspect that has changed is the quality of the advisers. Previously, most advisers were highly technical and more recently some of the advisors are marketing based.
What caught your eye in the Finance Bill?
The main aspect was likely restrictions on interest deductions from April 2017, as a result of OECD recommendations based on the base erosion and profit sharing (BEPS) project. This will potentially mean that capital allowances are more important to larger entities.
The restrictions on tax relief for brought forwards tax losses will also make claiming allowances more valuable. These were the main aspects of interest, along with the scrapping of wear and tear allowances, which will make it more important to segregate repairs expenditure for residential property.
If you could make one change to UK tax law or practice what would it be?
Have a permanent annual investment allowance of £500k but exclude large companies.
Aside from your immediate colleagues, who in tax do you most admire?
I was recruited by David Sproul and he had an inspiring work ethic and a great knowledge of property tax. It is no surprise that he now heads Deloitte UK.
What is one of the most difficult areas for claiming capital allowances?
The capital allowances legislation does not work well when buying from a receiver. Despite lobbying by advisers during consultation, HMRC expects that a receiver will fully cooperate to supply historical claim details. It also expects that they will pool and claim allowances and enter into tax elections. In nearly all cases, receivers provide nil cooperation and as a result most buyers are denied full allowances.
Finally, you might not know this about me but …
I collect and restore buildings.  
Issue: 1316
Categories: One minute with