HMRC targets professional footballers

Following the success of its High Net Worth Unit, HMRC has put together a 100-member "affluence team" to scrutinise the tax affairs of a third of a million people whose wealth exceeds £2.5million.

In particular, the team intends to crack down on professional footballers, especially those that appear to be making use of certain tax loopholes.  One particular loophole was allegedly used byJoey Barton's agent in the footballer's reported £80,000-a-week move from Newcastle United to Queens Park Rangers.

Surprisingly, HMRC has also announced that it will turn its attention to tax-dodging by private tutors (including music and language teachers, horse riding instructors and fitness coaches), even if their income appears relatively modest.  The recent campaign against plumbers resulted in 600 investigations and five arrests so far.

Three month wait to register Lasting Powers of Attorney

It currently takes 12 weeks to register a Lasting Power of Attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian, which is the Government office that supports and promotes decision-making for those who lack mental capacity or would like to plan for their future.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (or LPAs) are legal documents that enable a person to appoint a trusted family member or carer to act on their behalf or make decisions for them, should they lose mental capacity in the future.

There are two types of LPA - one for dealing with financial decisions and one for dealing with health and welfare decisions. LPAs cannot be used until they are registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

Although the LPA registration process always includes a six week waiting period to enable the person who made the LPA (and anyone concerned about his or her welfare) to raise objections about the registration, the additional six weeks' delay causes immense worry and practical problems at an already difficult time.

For this reason, we always advise our clients to make and register their LPAs while they are in good health and when the LPAs are not needed urgently. The registered documents can then be placed in our strong room (and hopefully never needed!). If they are needed in the future, then the documents can be used immediately, without any delay.

If you or a relative would like advice about making LPAs, then please contact us for a free initial consultation.

HMRC cracks down on the the 5,000 richest

HMRC is now collecting more than six times the amount of tax from the ultra-rich than previously.

In 2009 HMRC created a new High Net Worth Unit to deal with the personal tax affairs of about 5,000 of HMRC’s wealthiest individual customers - typically those with at least £20 million in wealth.

Previously, HMRC received approximately £25 million of tax from this taxpayer group.  In 2009-10, this figure increased to £85 million and in 2010-11 it rose to a staggering £162 million!

Now that HMRC have cracked down on the wealthiest taxpayers, they are likely to switch their focus to less wealthy individuals, so if you are concerned about your own Inheritance Tax or Capital Gains Tax position, then please let us know.

Government shelves plans to give extra rights to Cohabitants

The Government has announced that it will not be taking forward plans to give extra rights to unmarried cohabitating couples during the current Parliament (

In 2007, the Law Commission advised the Government that the current law caused hardship and injustice to unmarried couples that separate and suggested that reform was needed to bring cohabitants' rights in line with the rights of married couples and civil partners.

It is not clear whether the plans are to be shelved indefinitely.  Hopefully the issue will be raised again once other planned changes in the family law system have been made.

If you would like more information about this issue, or if you are not married or in a registered civil partnership with your long term spouse and would like advice about protecting his or her rights should something happen to you, then please let us know.

Armstrong Private Client is supporting Remember a Charity Week 2011

Gifts in wills form the foundation of donations to charities in the UK.  Many charities depend on legacies and without them would not exist.  Unfortuneately, while 74% of the UK population support charities during their lifetime, only 7% currently leave a legacy to them in their Will.

Remember A Charity was formed in 2000 to encourage more people to consider leaving a charitable gift in their Will, after they’ve looked after their family and friends.  It now works with over 150 of the UK’s favourite charities to do what no single charity can do alone - to make legacy giving in Wills a social norm.

Legacy income is currently worth almost £2 billion a year. If Remember a Charity can grow the sector by just 4%, it could raise an extra £1 billion for UK charities.

So, if you are making a new Will, please consider leaving a legacy to your favourite charity so that they can continue their good work in the future.