The s660 rules (or settlements legislation) have been around since the 1930s.
The rules stop you passing income to someone else in the family, or giving income or assets to someone else in an effort to reduce your overall tax bill. This is called a “settlement”, and the aim of the legislation is to stop people settling their income on another person who pays tax at a lower rate. (Contractor UK)
There are some interesting cases where business owners have tried to pass shares to their children unsuccessfully
Copeman v Coleman  22 TC 594
A company had been formed to take over the taxpayer’s business. He held the shares equally with his wife. Later the company created a class of preference shares of £200 each carrying a fixed preferential dividend, the right to vote if such dividend were in arrear for three years or more and the right in a winding up to a return of capital paid up. Some of the shares were taken up by his children on which they paid £10 per share. Dividends substantially in excess of the amounts paid up were then declared and the taxpayer, on behalf of his children claimed repayment of the tax paid in respect of the dividend to the extent of that child’s personal allowance. (http://swarb.co.uk/copeman-v-coleman-1939/)
Crossland v Hawkins  39 TC 493
The taxpayer, a well known film actor, agreed to work through a company for three years being paid £50 per week. The shares were transferred to his wife and accountant. His father in law set up a £100 settlement for the benefit of his children of which his wife and accountant were the trustees. The fund was used to subscribe for the remaining 98 shares. He appeared in a film for which the company was paid £25,000. The company paid a dividend which was applied by the trustees for the benefit of the children. Jack Hawkins then applied on behalf of his children for a repayment of tax to give effect to their personal allowances. The repayment claim was rejected on the grounds that the whole arrangement was a settlement of which Jack Hawkins was a settlor because he had provided the funds for it. (http://swarb.co.uk/crossland-v-hawkins-ca-1961/)
Butler v. Wildin  STC 22
A company was formed by two brothers who acted as unpaid directors. Shares in the company were initially held by their infant children, which were paid out of gifts from their grandparents. The company acquired a development site using a bank loan, which was guaranteed by the brothers. The company subsequently became profitable, and dividends were subsequently paid to the infant shareholders. The High Court held that the children’s investment of ‘trifling sums’ in the shares and the parent’s provision of services to the company constituted an arrangement. An element of bounty was given by the parents in the free provision of their skill and services, and by adopting any financial risk in the company’s venture. Dividends paid to those children born before the arrangements were made (but not dividends in respect of shares transferred to children born afterwards, as there was no apparent arrangement to benefit future children) were taxable on the parents, under what is now section 660B.(http://www.taxationweb.co.uk/tax-articles/business-tax/is-that-settled-then.html)
Which brings us to the new case of Jeremy Vine
Mr Vine appears to have been using his ten-year-old daughter Martha to avoid tax payments.
The presenter of the Jeremy Vine Show and the TV quiz Eggheads, has been funnelling cash through a limited company, Jelly Vine Productions, of which she is a shareholder.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2983593/Jeremy-Vine-daughter-10-shareholder-lower-tax-bill.html#ixzz3Z09xqmtO
3 thoughts on “Can my children own shares in my company?”
I was reading in this link, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/11456428/How-Jeremy-Vines-10-year-old-daughter-helps-him-avoid-tax-payments.html , that Jeremy’s structure was perfectly legal… but now reading your post it seems that it might not be legal and it might fall within the settlement legislation?
Do you know what they meant by the explanation that it was perfectly legal?
You would need to ask them
Of course it is “legal” ….the question is “what are the tax consequences?” Dividend to the daughter extremely likely to be taxable on Jeremy V, and if I was a betting man I suspect he and his advisers know this.