Clause 30

Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 14 December 2021.

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Deductions allowance in connection with onerous or impaired leases

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Clause 30 makes technical amendments to the corporate loss relief rules introduced in 2017. They ensure that the rules continue to operate as originally intended and that eligible companies can claim the relief to which they are entitled. When a company makes a loss, it can carry forward that loss and use it to offset its taxable profits in the future.

The Finance (No. 2) Act 2017 reformed the UK’s loss relief regime. The corporation tax loss rules restrict set-off for carried-forward losses for large companies. In general, this means that only 50% of the current-year profits above the deductions allowance of £5 million can be covered by carried-forward losses. The restriction does not apply to accounting profits stemming from lease renegotiations that are aimed at preserving a company’s ability to continue trading. The impact of covid and the associated restrictions on businesses has resulted in an increase in the restructuring and renegotiation of leases. The introduction of a new accounting standard has meant that the legislation needs amending to cover the change in accounting treatment for leases, as without that, the lease renegotiations providing companies with the opportunity to remain in business will result in a prohibitive tax charge, which may instead force them into insolvency.

The changes made by clause 30 will ensure that companies in financial distress continue to benefit from full relief for carried-forward losses that offset accounting profits arising from lease negotiations, regardless of the accounting standard they adopt. The clause introduces a technical amendment to ensure that corporation tax loss relief rules work as intended, ensuring that companies in financial distress can access relief for their carried-forward losses.

Photo of Abena Oppong-Asare Abena Oppong-Asare Shadow Exchequer Secretary (Treasury) 2:30, 14 December 2021

Clause 30 concerns deductions allowance in connection with onerous or impaired leases. The clause amends sections of the Corporation Tax Act 2010 to ensure that the legislation continues to work as intended. It does so by continuing to provide an exemption from the loss reform rules for companies in connection with onerous or impaired leases in specific circumstances. As the Minister said, the measure enables such companies to obtain full relief for carried-forward losses that offset profits arising from lease renegotiations where they adopt international financial reporting standard 16.

Loss reform was introduced in section 18 of schedule 4 to the Finance Act 2017, and had effect from 1 April 2017. The reform made two main changes. It increased a company’s flexibility to offset carried-forward losses either against the company’s own total profits in latter periods or in form of a group relief in a later period. Additionally, it limited the amount of profit against which carried-forward losses can be set. Each group or a company that is not part of a group has an annual deductions allowance of £5 million in profit. Carried-forward losses can be set against that amount, which is restricted to a maximum of 50% of a company’s total profits for the period. The restriction to carried-forward losses was extended to include corporate capital losses with effect from 1 April 2020. Having reviewed the clause, the Opposition do not oppose it.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

I am grateful for the fact that the Opposition do not intend to oppose the clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 30 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.