Investors in government sponsored Business Premises Renovation Allowances (BPRA) schemes face unexpected demands to repay large sums of tax relief, the Financial Times reports.
BPRA was introduced by the government to attract tax-deductible investment into the renovation of disused commercial properties in deprived areas. The scheme offered tax relief on up to 100 per cent of the investment and proved popular among higher-rate taxpayers seeking to mitigate their liability.
Following claims that the scheme was being exploited, tax inspectors began looking closely at BPRA and have found that a number of arrangements “exhibit some features that have been part of avoidance schemes that HMRC has challenged in the past.”
Now investors in at least three BPRA partnerships have been issued with accelerated payment demands which, in some cases, run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Michael Avient, a personal tax partner at UHY Hacker Young, told the FT that the tax bills will come as a shock to investors.
“People went into these investments in good faith,” he said. “It is a government scheme and they are now having their tax reliefs removed without warning.
However, a spokesperson for Ingenious, one of the BPRA schemes reportedly targeted in the HMRC action, maintains that the demands will eventually be shown to have been issued in error.
“There appears to be a separate APN team operating independently from the HMRC inspector charged with assessing our partnership and others.
“This team seems to be applying a blanket 30 per cent clawback based on what they have observed elsewhere in the market. This episode again illustrates the grotesque unfairness of the new system.”
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