International shipping adviser Moore Stephens said the UK budget for 2012 contains some encouraging signs for the shipping industry.
The government has stated that it will consult later this year on whether to introduce a rule allowing companies with a non-sterling functional currency to compute their capital gains and losses in such functional currency, rather than in sterling, as is currently the case.
“This is of particular relevance for UK companies, which own vessels outside the UK tonnage tax regime, either because the company did not elect into tonnage tax, or because the ship does not qualify for tonnage tax - for example, because it is chartered out on a long-term bareboat charter, or is a type of vessel excluded from tonnage tax, such as a fishing vessel,” said Moore Stephens tax partner Sue Bill. “As all capital gains are currently calculated in sterling, where a company has a different functional currency, its capital gains and losses will include an exchange gain or loss. This possible change in the rules would minimize taxable capital gains arising due to (or being reduced by) exchange rate movements.”
Another change introduced by the budget is a reduction in corporation tax rate by an additional one per cent in April, 2012. This means that the rate will be 24 per cent in April, 2012, reducing to 23 per cent in April, 2013, and 22 per cent in April, 2014. The government has said that it expects this measure to increase the level of business investment in the UK by approximately one per cent.
The government has also announced an internal review to examine the role of employee ownership in supporting growth and to look at options to remove barriers, including tax barriers, to its wider take-up. However, the likely outcome of any such review remains unclear at present.
“Generally, the budget has emphasized the importance which the government attaches to ensuring that the UK is a competitive regime for industry, and of ‘rebalancing’ the economy,” said Bill. “This is an encouraging sign for the shipping industry, which is awaiting consultation on the UK tonnage tax regime and the forthcoming EU review of the State Aid Guidelines to Maritime Transport.”
Moore Stephens LLP is widely acknowledged as a leading shipping and insurance adviser.