Approaching 100 invited delegates received an insightful update on a range of issues at an autumn tax conference, hosted by leading law firm DQ Advocates.
Tax law developments, compliance and the economic substance regime were among the topics firmly on the agenda at the Claremont Hotel in Douglas.
A total of five speakers from the Douglas-based practice addressed a range of measures at the event, designed to provide practical and commercially relevant guidance to senior figures in financial services businesses, including compliance and risk professionals.
The briefing was opened by a respected figure in the taxation and business network, DQ Head of Tax Greg Jones, who provided some humorous anecdotes before welcoming senior associate Adam Killip to highlight some of the practical aspects of the Isle of Man substance regime.
He outlined a number of practical issues arising from Covid-19, advised how certain sectors could interpret requirements of economic substance and compliance regulations and provided guidance on completing corporate tax returns in an ever-changing landscape.
DQ Head of Private Client, Trusts and Pensions, Annemarie Hughes, urged guests to think outside the box in her presentation, focusing on how to respond to information requests under trust law, TIEAs (tax information exchange agreements) and from tax authorities.
Annemarie encouraged business employees to consider the wider context of why information is requested and how to reply and comply, protecting both yourself and your client, whilst also complying with the law.
Another experienced consultant, Barry Smith, then switched attention to tax warranties and indemnities in SPAs (share purchase agreements) and preference shares as delegates were reminded of best practice for bringing a claim for breach of warranty, as well as guidelines to follow for agreeing a tax covenant.
He also explained the best options for issuing preference shares and what dividend holders are entitled to.
With tax and compliance intrinsically linked, the impact of risk management provoked a thoughtful discussion from DQs Head of Regulatory and Compliance.
Sinead O’Connor detailed the obstacles facing tax professionals, such as FATCA, beneficial ownership, issues arising from the Panama and Paradise Papers, and ensuring company risk management frameworks offer suitable protection.
She outlined what risks firms need to consider, taking into account the level of due diligence and how tax authorities will react to certain scenarios, highlighting the benefits of internal tax training to help staff understand the risks and potential pitfalls.
Tax consultant Greg concluded the briefing with a specific look at the tainting of non-UK tax protected trusts, what to consider when setting up trusts, the role of preference shares, loans to participators and the implications of the UK/IoM double tax treaty.
He said: ‘A big thank you to all those who attended and my colleagues for their insightful and thought-provoking presentations.
‘It is imperative companies in the industry are ready to meet the challenges ahead in relation to tax transparency initiatives and the increased appetite for enforcement. Equally, where the tax rules offer planning opportunities, it pays to be aware of them and take action on a timely basis.
‘Conferences like this allow professionals to discuss and share experiences with their peers into the main business issues of the day; something we strive to do on a regular basis. It was encouraging to receive such positive feedback.’