Connected party loans are a problem area especially if the loan is impaired (ie the borrower may not be able to repay the debt)
Individual Loans written-off
If an individual makes a loan to a company and this is subsequently written-off, the company will have a non-trading loan relationship credit equal to the amount written off.
If the loan was made to an unquoted trading company, the individual will crystalise a capital loss equal to the amount of the loan written off. This will be available to set off against capital gains arising in the year of write-off or in subsequent years.ACCA
The situation, however, becomes more complicated where the parties are connected. The general rule is that where the debtor and creditor in a loan relationship are connected in any part of an accounting period and the whole or part of a loan is written off, then this is effectively a ‘tax nothing’, ie the creditor company cannot claim relief for the amount of the loan written off and the debtor company does not incur a taxable loan relationship credit.
There is, however, an exception to the above when the creditor company is in insolvent liquidation; a creditor company may claim an impairment loss in these circumstances.
Loans swapped for Shares
Often Loans are swapped for equity and then subsequently a claim for negligible value is made.
A negligible value claim enables you to set a capital loss against your income (or against other capital gains if you have them) for earlier years and claim a tax refund.
Many negligible value claims are made by shareholder directors whose company has failed. Their claim is to offset the loss on the shares in their company against their directors’ wages for earlier tax years.
When a taxpayer owns shares which become of negligible value the taxpayer may make a claim under s24 TCGA 1992, resulting in a deemed disposal and reacquisition, which crystallises a capital loss.
Accounting standards require companies to assess their assets at the end of each period to ascertain whether there is objective evidence that particular assets are impaired. So if a loan can’t be repaid it would be impaired and may require a provision for bad or doubtful debts at the year-end which may well lead to the eventual release of the loans in question.
The problem is that for connected businesses this can create a double whammy on tax! tax relief is denied in respect of the debit to the creditor company’s profit and loss account. The credit recognised in the debtor company’s accounts can be taxable.
Where the creditor and debtor are connected companies, the connected party rules will apply to the release. This means that the release debit in the creditor’s accounts will not be allowable, because of CTA09/S354. Similarly, the credit in the debtor company’s accounts will not be taxable, since CTA09/S358 applies, unless the release is a ‘deemed release’ as defined in CTA09/S358(3) (CFM35440) or a ‘release of relevant rights’ under CTA09/S358(4) (CFM35510).
Since the release is, for both parties, dealt with under loan relationships, the priority rule in CTA09/S464 means that the creditor’s loss cannot be claimed, nor the debtor’s profit taxed, under the normal provisions for trading income. Nor can the credit in the debtor’s accounts be taxed under CTA09/S94 (debts incurred and later released).
Trade debts or loans between companies within a group may not uncommonly be released when either the debtor or the creditor company (or both) is dormant, as part of a ‘tidying-up’ exercise to enable dormant companies to be struck off. If this is all that happens, HMRC would take the view that the recording of an accounts profit – which is not taxed – in a dormant debtor company does not result in that company starting to carry on a business, and therefore does not start an accounting period under CTA09/S9. HMRC CFM41070
Two companies are connected for an accounting period if one controls the other or both are under the control of the same person (s 466) and companies are connected for the whole of their respective accounting periods if the control test is met at any time during those periods.
One possible solution could be a Deed of Release or Waiver executed in the accounting period in which the loan is released, but this would need to be properly drafted. The credit to the debtor company’s profit and loss account will then be able to be treated as non-taxable and as such avoid the double tax treatment.