Tax avoidance: Why didn’t you tell me about that?

August 3, 2012

We were doing a number of group interviews this week since we are recruiting for a number of new positions in the new company.  Part of the group interview process is for me to present about what we do in the firm.  Its pretty simple, we do 3 things – compliance, business support and tax minimisation.

As head of the firm and head of tax minimisation, the one thing that keeps me awake at night is a client saying to me ‘why didn’t you tell me about that way to save tax?’

There is a couple of ways that we have up our sleeve that means this doesn’t happen:

Firstly, we tell our clients about EVERY way to save tax.  From the very basic (claim your mileage), to the conservative but fiddly (time your dividends correctly) to the semi-agressive (split your shares) to the ultra agressive (film investment schemes, employee benefit trusts).  It doesn’t matter how I feel about tax, I am a chartered accountant and I am programmed to give our clients the full range of tax saving options.

The word on the street is that after the whole Jimmy Carr thing exploded, accountants have reported that they have been inundated from questions from their clients, mostly variations of ‘what is this scheme?’ and ‘why didn’t you tell me about it?’  Thankfully, that didn’t happen to us but we always have to keep on our toes to make sure we are up to date with all recent changes.

Secondly, the tax minimisation service is separate.  Most accountants will say: ‘we’ll do your accounts and save you tax in the process’.  This simply doesn’t happen.  Unless your accountant can list out exactly what they are going to save tax and here is the crucial thing – tell you how much tax they have saved you, then its unlikely they will save the tax.


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