Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine came in for some criticism in the weekend press for arranging for shares in his personal service company to be held by his 10-year-old daughter Martha. It is asserted that “He is obviously using the company to reduce his tax bill”. Others in a similar position who read the reports might therefore reasonably wonder why they have not also been advised to undertake such planning.
The short answer is, of course, that as Income Tax planning it doesn’t work. Or, to be strictly accurate, it won’t work in the case of Martha for another 8 years. This is because until she turns 18, dividends paid on Martha’s shares will almost certainly be treated as her father’s income and as taxable on him under the “settlements” legislation. This would be the case even if (as may well be the case here) the shares have been acquired with Martha’s own money or given to her by someone other than her parents. The point is that it appears that any dividends she receives will be substantially attributable to her father’s munificence (or, as the courts put it, “bounty”) bringing them within the scope of the legislation.
No such difficulties arise once a child reaches the age of 18, which opens the door to some fairly simple planning for awarding shares in the family company to students, though even then there are one or two pitfalls to be negotiated.
For more on tax planning for the family, please get in touch with your usual BKL contact or use our enquiry form.