Corporate tax director
Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA)
Before I was an accountant (mini CV)
My career background before entering the world of personal and corporate taxation is a relatively untraditional one. At the age of 11, I got my first job as a newspaper boy and had achieved my very own round by the age of 13!
Other jobs in my teenage years included working as a marshal at a go-karting track (watching people go round and doing my best to prevent any crashes, which sometimes went spectacularly wrong), packaging stationery products during the summer holidays and working at a local garden centre.
After leaving university, where I studied maths and computer science, I spent six months in a logistics warehouse, distributing ceramic ware to plumbers across the UK. Needless to say, I quickly became tired of cycling 10 miles across town at the crack of dawn to do the 10 hour shift and jumped at the opportunity to join a graduate tax entry programme within a national accountancy firm! I now work within the tax team at Menzies’ London office, and have notched up 15 years’ experience.
Business or Personal tax or both
If I had an alternative title, it would probably be ‘entrepreneurial tax director’. While I advise both businesses and individuals, my ideal clients are international business people who are aiming to establish a company in the UK. Advising such clients involves providing guidance on a range of areas, from domicile and residency issues, to how to structure a business in a tax-efficient way and any other challenges an individual might face in establishing a UK company. Working within an international arena has also exposed me to lots of interesting people, with a diverse range of perspectives and cultures.
Some of my particular areas of expertise include advising start-ups, Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) reliefs, property transactions and international issues.
I’m also experienced in helping clients to prepare their business for sale, including providing guidance on due diligence and the steps that should be taken to support the business in achieving a healthy valuation. At the start of June, Menzies LLP will be launching its new ‘Pre-Sale Tax Health Check’ service, to guide businesses in getting their companies ready to sell.
Advice to a client seeking an accountant
The best advice I can give is not to be led solely by price – choosing someone you genuinely enjoy working with will give you the best chance of achieving your personal and/or business objectives. You need to find someone who will go on your business journey with you. For private clients, you have to feel comfortable discussing your family and finances so it’s important that you trust the adviser in front of you.
As part of the decision-making process, it’s also important to consider carefully what kind of advice you are seeking and what you hope to achieve. This will enable you to make an informed decision about whether a particular firm has the right expertise to help you.
My final tip is not to be swayed by promises of huge tax savings. A good rule to apply is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Top tax tip
Always speak to your tax adviser before entering into a significant transaction or investment, rather than trying to handle matters alone. It’s likely that they’ll be able to use their experience to suggest a more efficient way of doing things. Making sure deals are handled efficiently in the early stages is usually far easier than trying to put them right further along the line.
The tax I would abolish and why
It may be controversial, as some people have a soft spot for one of the oldest taxes still in the legislation, but I would like to see the demise of Stamp Duty. Stamp Duty was introduced as long ago as 1694 and no longer reflects the needs of the market! This tax is only payable when an individual transfers unlisted shares, charged at 0.5%, and HMRC never pursue payment.
The only tool at HMRC’s disposal to enforce collection is if you need to produce a document that is liable to Stamp Duty at Court. This is only admissible as evidence if it’s been stamped! Stamp Duty is not very widely known about and people nearly always confuse it with Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on properties. It also still relies on an expensive and outdated paper-based system. As it collects about 0.1 per cent of the total taxes paid in the UK, the expense of collecting it almost outweighs the amount received!
My favourite tax
I’d have to say inheritance tax because it’s a tax you should never have to pay yourself – it falls to your family instead! It is also an area where some simple tax advice can make a significant difference to an individual’s legacy. There are some tricky areas to navigate and it is always advisable to seek expert advice.
How do you relax
Like anyone else, I enjoy nothing more than indulging in a weekend box set binge – some I’ve enjoyed recently include Line of Duty and Bodyguard. When I’m feeling active I like to go jogging and have been known to take part in local parkruns and obstacle courses. I’m also a rugby fan and regularly return home to support my childhood team – the Bedford Blues.
Further reading: TAX ADVISER OF THE MONTH: Jonathan Amponsah