Disguised remuneration typically involves an individual’s salary being paid in the form of loans, often routed through offshore tax havens, and unlikely ever to be paid back. In one example, a scheme user who earned £77,000 over two years had a declared income of just £26,000 – and paid £11,000 less tax than someone in the same job who wasn’t involved in an avoidance scheme.
HMRC has always been of the view that these schemes do not achieve the tax advantages they say they do, a view confirmed by the Supreme Court.
In 2017 Parliament passed legislation that required scheme users to declare their outstanding loan balance as income on their 2018-19 tax returns, known as the ‘Loan Charge’.
Changes following the Independent Loan Charge Review
The Government agreed a series of changes to the Loan Charge following an independent review into the policy and its implementation in 2019. The amendments went before Parliament in July 2020 and entered law on Royal Assent of Finance Bill 2020.
As a result of the recommendations in the Independent Loan Charge Review, certain voluntary payments (‘voluntary restitution’) made as part of a disguised remuneration settlement with HMRC can be refunded.
If any individuals have disguised remuneration loans that are subject to the Loan Charge, the deadline to report the details of their loans is approaching. These loans must be reported to HMRC by 30 September 2020 using the online form on GOV.UK. Anyone who wants to spread their disguised remuneration loan balances evenly across the 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 tax years also needs to do so by 30 September 2020. They can do this using the same online form on GOV.UK.
Disguised remuneration settlement terms 2020
To provide customers with more support, HMRC has recently set out a guide as to how it will implement the Loan Charge:
HMRC issue briefing: disguised remuneration charge on loans
We have also published further details on the debt management process for those customers with concerns about their ability to pay: