The effect of the draft legislation proposed is that where a distribution that has been made from a business represents 'shifted income', the individual who has forgone that income should include it on their self-assessment return at the end of the relevant year, for income tax purposes.
This 'arm's length' approach has led to concerns that it will be difficult to apply in practice as it requires taxpayers to access whether income has been 'shifted' and how much income has been 'foregone'. (See: New income shifting proposals are a 'nightmare' - Shout99, Dec 2007)
The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) says that it has long been of the view that fundamental reform to the structure of small business taxation is necessary if small businesses are to be able to plan their tax affairs with any degree of certainty.
Andrew Hubbard, CIOT Vice-President, said: “The CIOT accepts that what it prefers to regard as 'income sharing' within members of the family unit is an issue which would need to be considered as part of that reform, but regards it as wholly wrong for the Government to deal with this one issue in isolation."
“The legislation imposes an arm's length test and requires taxpayers to work out how much income they have 'foregone' by making a comparison with how the business would have operated had everything been done by independent third parties operating on a fully commercial basis. In theory this might seem fair, but the reality is that family businesses do not and cannot possibly operate on a fully arm's length basis.
"One spouse might be the main income generator but he/she may well be totally unable to run the business without the full support of the other. Measured purely in hours that spouse’s input may not appear to be significant, but that is not the reality of the situation. The support of the spouse may well be the difference between the business succeeding and failing.”
Shout99 has followed the events relating to Section 660. You can also read more about the background to this case and the issues at stake in Shout99's Section 660 resource centre.
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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2007