Gold bullion disguised remuneration still marketed despite HMRC clampdown

A year on from a concerted clampdown by HMRC, disguised remuneration schemes involving gold bullion are still being marketed to clients

In May 2016, HMRC announced a curb on disguised remuneration schemes using gold bullion as an asset, saying in its view they constitute tax avoidance and warning that it plans to crack down on individuals who continue to use them.

But despite those warnings, some boutique firms continue to promote them.

One scheme aimed at people working through personal service companies promises to ‘do the necessary paperwork for you and your company’.

‘One option is for your company to pay your net of tax wages in “money’s worth”, which means other than cash, for instance, we discussed the examples that you could ask your company to pay you in gold sovereigns,’ a proposal seen by CCH Daily states.

Gold has proven a popular investment asset with prices on the rise and is especially attractive for those looking to essentially minimise tax liability since gains are non-taxable.

‘Your company could buy a coin and use it as part payment of your wages, the value would be its cost, and the balance of wages would be paid from the bank account. You could then sell your coin if you wanted to add to the money received from the company,’ the pitch adds.

CCH Daily's source, themselves an accountant, said: ‘Any benefit you get out of this is still taxable income. It’s clearly a scheme to stop you falling into the service company category, rather than tax minimisation within your bracket.’

Watt Busfield co-founder and partner Rebecca Busfield said: 'Gold bullion schemes have already been included on HMRC’s “Spotlights” list of artificial tax avoidance schemes, therefore they are likely to take a very dim view of anyone who attempts to use tax planning based on these arrangements. Legislation was introduced to combat these disguised remuneration schemes. Taxpayers are likely to receive an accelerated payment notice' (APN) and enquiries will be opened. HMRC will pursue these types of cases to the courts. There is also a risk that the taxpayer will be placed in the serial tax avoidance regime.'

HMRC said in a statement: 'Tax avoidance doesn’t pay. Most schemes simply do not work so if it looks too good to be true then it almost certainly is.’

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