How to make the most of tax losses

There are a number of tax reliefs available for self-employed taxpayers that make a loss carrying on their trade, profession or vocation (collectively referred to as a ‘trade’) and for their share of partnership losses.

For the 2016-17 tax year, trade losses can be relieved in a number of ways. These include:

  • By using the loss to reduce income for the year ended 5 April 2017 and / or 5 April 2016. If there are still some further trade losses remaining (after income has been reduced to nil), then it may be possible to set-off some or all of the remaining loss against chargeable gains.
  • A claim can also be made for losses made in the first 4 years of trade known as early trade losses relief. Taxpayers need to look at the earliest year first (i.e. 2013-14) and use any remaining loss in 2014-15 and then in 2015-16. This relief is not available if you started your trade before 6 April 2013. The time limit for making claims for 2016 to 2017 losses is 31 January 2019.
  • Taxpayers can also carry forward any loss against future profits of the same trade or income from the company (where you transfer your trade to a company in exchange for shares in that company), or post cessation receipts
  • Terminal loss relief is available for businesses that suffer a loss in the last 12 months of trade of a business.  Terminal loss relief allows for the carry back of any trading losses that occur in the final 12 months of trading to be set off against profits made during the businesses final tax year or any or all of the previous three tax years.

Planning note

There are many restrictions on claiming certain types of relief and it is important to take tax advice to ensure that any losses are treated in the optimum way for your circumstances. For example:

  • There is an overall cap on certain income tax reliefs. The cap, which includes tax losses, is set at 25% of income or £50,000, whichever is the greater, and
  • Care needs to be taken when utilising tax losses to avoid any loss of other personal tax allowances.

Finally, it can be advantageous to set losses against the taxed profits of previous years as this will generally result in a tax refund. We can help with the calculations and determine the best use of loss reliefs available.

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Case Studies

The Tax Man

Minimise the stress of an investigation and make use of our extensive experience in securing best outcome for our clients

Business Valuation in Distress

Take advantage of our impartial and rigorous due diligence procedures

FD in The Cupboard

Our innovative ideas are here to improve your business performance and secure appropriate and cost effective funding

The Tax Man

The Tax Man

A new client was introduced to us via a recommendation with whom we arranged to meet on a regular basis in order to determine a number of changes that we felt were needed to their business structure. The client was at the time operating as a husband and wife partnership. The business was flourishing and had a number of large contracts with big organisations.

At the start of the process they were still heavily immersed in their day to day operations so we can get a full flavour for their ambitions, aspirations and growth plans. We quickly recognised there were sufficient tax savings which can be achieved by changing the structure from a partnership to a corporate entity. We carried out a business valuation and disposed of the goodwill from the old to the new business. Unfortunately, as often is the case with efficient tax planning, HMRC got involved and disputed our valuation.

An HMRC investigation can be a very stressful time for any client, even for those best prepared. However, our client had minimal input in the HMRC communication as we dealt with this professionally behind the scene. As an added benefit, our client could rest on the security that all work was covered by insurance and therefore all costs and time in dealing with this enquiry were covered by the fee protection policy we had put in place.

The initial approach taken by HMRC was very aggressive and they tried to present an argument that there was no goodwill in the business. We challenged HMRC’s view that the goodwill was worthless. After lengthy correspondence and numerous telephone calls, HMRC agreed 100% with our original valuation, which preserved our original tax saving plan for the client. Tax savings on this case where in the region of £75K at the outset, with ongoing savings of £6,000 per annum. We are pleased to add another happy client to our portfolio.

Business Valuation in Distress

Business Valuation in Distress

Selling a business is never an easy process, but when disputes arise, the need for a reliable third party due diligence process is even greater.

Tearle & Carver have extensive understanding of the requirements for remaining objective when managing a potentially difficult company buyout. In one such case, we were approached by the courts to act as independent accountant for an acrimonious business sale in which one partner was exiting the business and selling shares to the other. Given the circumstances, both sides had totally polar views of what their business was worth.

After arranging an initial meeting with the company, we were thorough in ensuring we completed due diligence, validating the figures in the accounting records, carrying out adjustments where appropriate, and drafting a set of reliable management figures within the framework required by the court.

A draft version of the report detailing our findings and conclusions was submitted to both parties, giving them the opportunity to voice any queries or concerns and ensure all relevant factors had been taken into account.

Through this process, we were able to submit a final report to the courts that was both binding and acceptable to both parties, effectively resolving what could otherwise have been a time consuming and costly process for all sides.

FD in The Cupboard

FD in The Cupboard

For smaller companies, it is often not possible or cost effective to pay for a full-time Financial Director.
Many of our clients therefore make use of Tearle & Carver’s extensive expertise to provide the services of an FD as and when required.

In this case, we were approached by the management team of an organisation looking to acquire the existing business via an MBO (Management buy out). Their business plan had proved ineffective for securing funding, and what they needed was financial expertise from someone with a developed understanding of the company’s internal workings.

Tearle & Carver helped deliver the solution our clients were looking through utilising our bank contacts in order to make the MBO viable, while also building a robust business plan and preparing our client for the rigorous vetting process. To help with cash flow issues, we introduced factoring which led to improved cash flow management.

We advised on the appropriate business valuation and structure, and continued to prepare monthly accounts to track profgress once the management were fully in command of all the information they needed to move their business forward.

In order to best assist these clients through the crucial first year of ownership, we attended board meetings on a regular basis, a service that we continue to provide to date.

With our continually developing understanding of their business, this client is able to remain confident that Tearle & Carver can provide any financial support they may need, now and in the future.