Trends within tax practices in the UK
To hear about tax practices in the UK, this month we spoke with Rebecca Potton – a Chartered Tax Advisor with 15 years’ experience and Head of the Private Client department at Myers Clark, Chartered Accountants.
Established in 1912, Myers Clark is one of the largest independent firms of chartered accountants in Watford, UK. Myers Clark offers a broad range of services for thousands of businesses and individuals, as well as national and local organisations in the Not-For-Profit sector.
Can you tell FM a little about the services you provide and the kind of clients you deal with?
We are able to provide a full range of services including accounts, tax returns, tax planning, trustee and executorship. I also act as an expert witness often in cases of matrimonial disputes.
Myers Clark is very fortunate to have a varied client base, comprising sole-traders and partnerships to high net-worth individuals and top executives.
What are the most common tax planning solutions that you offer to your clients?
Assuming the role of a trusted advisor and professional friend, our clients seek our guidance on trusts, inheritance tax and estate planning, together with the routine compliance matters such as self-assessment tax returns. Many clients utilise the expertise of our department to arrange their affairs tax efficiently whilst also maintaining their current standard of living.
We frequently act on behalf of a director both in an individual and business capacity, which affords us a unique perspective from which to advise. Such cases require us to consider a mutually beneficial tax solution for the business and the individual without incurring increased tax liability to either party.
What would you say are the specific challenges of assisting clients with tax-related matters?
Many of our clients seek tax planning because they wish to pass their wealth to their families, however in most cases they wish to do so without comprising their current standard of living. Similarly, there are a number of clients who prepare their finances to facilitate a comfortable retirement whilst achieving the greatest tax efficiency. We ensure that tax is not the sole motivation behind our advice, it needs to be the most effective solution for that client’s individual needs.
Do you have any examples?
A client, let’s call her Alison, was widowed in her early sixties and was worried about her inheritance tax liability because she was still earning a significant salary. Not unlike many people in the South East, Alison’s home fully utilised the inheritance tax reliefs available. Alison also had a stock market portfolio and an investment property, which was becoming cumbersome to manage. When organising her affairs, Alison was clear that she did not want to distribute her assets to her children immediately, but wanted to prepare effectively.
As a result of the planning, Alison was able to sell her rental property and decided to invest in products which gave her sufficient income to maintain her lifestyle, retained her capital and reduced her exposure to inheritance tax.
Another example is Bill, who sought advice on an exit strategy from his trading company to minimise this tax liability and whilst enabling him to access sufficient funds to spend his retirement sailing. Like many individuals, Bill had not worried about inheritance tax nor had he made sufficient provisions for his retirement. An issue for Bill, which is also faced by many other clients, is that the value of his shares in his company were exempt from inheritance tax by virtue of business property relief. However, as soon as he retired and sold his shares, Bill would have a cash asset liable to inheritance tax, in his case generating a tax liability of approximately £300,000.
Our priority for Bill was to ensure he would have enough capital to buy his boat and built this into the planning, which when completed saw Bill with a pension providing him with income for his retirement and an inheritance tax saving of £60,000.
As a thought leader, how are you ensuring that clients are engaged and informed about the development of new tax regulations or permissible strategies in the UK?
We pride ourselves on being the go-to accountants for many businesses and individuals in Watford, and have established a reputation of excellence, integrity and innovation. Our specialists are trusted by clients to provide accurate information about tax regulations. We provide our clients with the opportunity to actively engage with this information through a calendar of seminars and events, as well as targeted communications.
Can you tell FM about your involvement in the community?
Myers Clark has a CSR policy which includes charity fundraising events, being involved in corporate charity partner networks and establishing partnerships with local schools. This year we are introducing a new programme of work experience and summer job placements to local students in Year 10, Sixth Form and University Students.
In terms of market competition, where does Myers Clark stand nationally and what are its goals moving forward?
Myers Clark is one of the largest independent firms of Chartered Accountants in Watford with a well-established reputation for highly skilled specialists. Our goal moving forward is to continue to provide support to individuals and businesses navigating the complex maze of tax and facilitating tax planning to ensure a profitable future.