Corporate Tax

Our Corporate Tax Services

Our Corporate Tax team provides tax compliance and advisory services in a proactive, timely and friendly manner.  We work closely with our clients, helping them navigate the ever changing complex tax landscapes, and providing proactive, effective solutions in the process.

Our clients operate across a wide range of sectors and we have the technical expertise and knowledge to help them through every stage of their business from commencement and expansion to planning a sale.

We have the benefit of being able to work with our colleagues in other services within the firm and that of the wider HLB network for any international matters, in order to provide a comprehensive overall service.

Our tax team’s enviable reputation is based on trust that has been fostered, in some cases, over a period of decades. It is our willingness to go that extra mile, to seek to put ourselves in our clients shoes and our in-depth understanding of the commercial aspects of their business that forms the foundation of our enduring client relationships.

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We are currently doing a lot of work on R&D Tax Credit claims, to support cash flow during the Coronavirus period. You can find further information on this by clicking here.

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How we can help you

The corporate tax landscape is constantly evolving and unfortunately becoming more complex.  Our objective is to work with our clients to ensure that they meet all relevant filing requirements and deadlines in an efficient and timely manner.  By leveraging our knowledge of the ever changing tax legislation we proactively seek to identify applicable tax reliefs and mitigate our clients corporation tax liabilities wherever possible.

We also use the compliance process as a means of identifying suitable tax planning opportunities for the business and its owners.

We provide our clients with a full range of tax compliance and reporting services including:

  • Provisional calculations and tax reporting for accounting purposes
  • Timely communication of corporation tax liabilities to allow for forecasting
  • Preparation and submission of tax returns and computations

We also offer additional related compliance services including:

  • Pre-year end planning meetings to discuss opportunities to mitigate potential corporation tax liabilities
  • Corporation tax forecasting for cash flow forecasting purposes
  • Corporation tax forecasting for Quarterly Installment Payments purposes
  • Management of HMRC enquiries and compliance checks

Click here to find out about our Capital Allowances experience and to download our brochure.

This relief is available for companies that incur R&D costs to improve its trading results; while the R&D has to be innovative, relief is available where science or technology is used to solve a scientific or technological problem in a commercial environment.  Many businesses do not realise the full extent and potential of R&D Tax credits available.

Our tax team has particular industry experience on R&D tax credit claims and our support and advice has delivered substantial tax reclaims for a growing number of clients.

For information related to COVID-19 R&D Tax Credit claims to support cash flow, please click here.

The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) reliefs were introduced to provide incentives to investors to invest in small unquoted companies, which are generally perceived to be higher-risk investments.

Investors can benefit from the significant tax reliefs associated with EIS and SEIS investments, however, there are numerous conditions to be met by both the issuing company and the investor in order to qualify. These conditions differ between EIS and SEIS and as such professional advice should always be taken when determining if the company and the investor qualify

There are several parts to the overall EIS/SEIS service offering that we can provide for clients. These are:

1. How to qualify where a new start-up company is being formed.
2. Review of an existing company to determine whether it qualifies for EIS/SEIS.
3. Completion of the advance assurance application to HMRC. This allows the company to show potential investors that the company qualifies, and if they meet the relevant requirements as individuals, they will benefit from the relevant income tax and capital gains tax reliefs.
4. Completion of the relevant compliance statements (EIS1 and SEIS1) and submission to HMRC.
5. Where HMRC are satisfied with the EIS1 application they will then issue EIS3/SEIS3 forms to the company for completion. Once signed and completed the company will issue the EIS3/SEIS3 forms to the investors who will now be able to claim the relevant tax reliefs.

If you would like to discuss any of the above please do not hesitate to contact us.

The Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) exit route provides a tax effective way for owners to pass their business on to their employees. The EOT buys the shares from the shareholders and holds these shares in a Trust on behalf of the employees. Where specific conditions are met the sale will be exempt from capital gains tax (CGT).

In our experience we have found that the main reason business owners sell to an EOT are:

  • It is important to the owners that the employees have a level of security following the sale and they also do not want to see the business they built change significantly.
  • There are no suitable buyers available. For example, if this is a niche business, there may not be a buyer at the time that the owners choose to exit.

French Duncan can advise you on whether a sale to an EOT is the right exit route for you and the tax implications of this. We’ll support you in deciding on the structure of EOT transaction which best fits you and your business, and will guide you through this process. This will help to ensure you achieve the best outcome for you as a seller, and for the company going forward under its new ownership.

As part of the EOT process a company valuation report should be prepared which will then be used as the basis for determining the purchase price for the EOT. The purchase price will create the debt owed by the EOT to the vendor and it is therefore important that an accurate valuation is used. We can complete this for you.

Where the EOT exit route is chosen we will write to HMRC for advance clearance to give you peace of mind that the transaction is not caught by the transactions in securities legislation and thus protect you from any unforeseen income tax liabilities.

Employment Related Securities (ERS) are share or securities that are received by reason of employment. This covers the gift or acquisition as well as the granting of unapproved options and options in the various tax advantaged share schemes.

As well as providing tax advice on the various share schemes available we will also prepare a valuation report for the company. It is recommended that a valuation is carried out to validate the value being used at the time of the ERS transaction. Where Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) options are being granted we will then apply to HMRC for clearance for this valuation. This is an essential exercise to obtain HMRC agreement for the valuation as by doing so it protects the employer and employee from potential future tax liabilities.

Since April 2015 employers must submit all end of year returns via the ERS online service, which many employers are still not aware of.

At French Duncan, we offer an ERS compliance service at a fixed annual fee, which includes the following:

  • Advice on registering for HMRC’s PAYE for Employers online system.
  • Advice on setting up the ERS service through your PAYE for Employers online system.
  • Advice on registering the share scheme through HMRC’s online service.
  • In year notifications following the grant of options, exercise of the grant or sale of the shares.
  • Completion of the annual returns.
  • Discussions with yourself and HMRC regarding any aspects of annual submissions.

Failure to comply with the new system and its deadlines can result in penalties or in worst cases, loss of the tax advantaged status of the scheme.

We regularly provide advice to individuals and companies both acquiring and disposing of their shares and/ or businesses.

Tax due diligence investigations are a recommended element of any business acquisition and we regularly provide advice in relation to both share and business purchases.

Due diligence should be proportionate and as such we will work with you in ensuring that the engagement is correctly focused and delivered in an efficient and cost effective manner. We offer both a tax-only due diligence service or a combined finance and due-diligence service with our colleagues in Corporate Advisory.

Our team of corporate tax, employment tax and VAT specialists have a great deal of practical transactional experience, we are well qualified to provide a comprehensive, insightful and commercial diligence service.

Our due diligence will form the basis for any non-standard tax warranties that should be included in the business purchase agreement. We regularly work with our clients solicitors in the review of legal documentation to ensure that these agreements robustly protect our clients’ rights in relation to all tax matters.

Our team can also provide related tax advice in relation to corporate structuring, deal financing, transactional elections and capital allowances.

In respect of share or business sales, our advice is aimed at ensuring our clients minimise their tax liabilities and maximise their net proceeds within commercial parameters.

This typically involves considering the structure of the disposal, including such elements as shareholdings, available tax reliefs, pre-disposal restructuring steps and the timing and nature of proceeds receivable.

Our team have a great deal of experience in working with the solicitors of our clients in order to ensure that the disposal agreements reasonably mitigate any potential future claims from the purchasers.

Find out more about our Corporate Advisory team's Due Diligence and Purchase and Sale of Businesses services.

The Patent Box is an optional regime offering companies an effective 10% rate of corporation tax on income from the exploitation of patents.

Qualifying companies are those which own or licence patents granted by either the UK Intellectual Property Office, the European Patent Office or specified EEA countries. The company must also have undertaken the development of the patent or product incorporating it.

Our tax team understands the importance of this regime and the benefits it can offer. We can advise on how the Patent Box can achieve maximum tax savings for you and assist you in the process from application to corporation tax computation.

A tax investigation or HMRC enquiry into an individual's or company's affairs can be a very stressful and costly time for those involved.

Tax officials can open a variety of enquiries into a taxpayer’s affairs, ranging from general tax enquiries to in-depth fraud investigations.  We assist our clients in navigating the HMRC enquiry process, however simple or complex, ensuring that they feel comfortable that they are being best represented.  Typically we will manage this on their behalf, seeking to deal direct with HMRC and minimise disruption to our clients.

Our clients benefit from access to both a breadth and depth of tax technical knowledge and practical experience as a result of our multidisciplinary team containing experts in accounting, corporation tax, VAT, employment taxes, income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax.

We work closely with our clients to determine the key facts pertinent to the events under enquiry and help them to present their case clearly and concisely but with the utmost robustness.  We will continually be considering our clients communications in order to mitigate penalties as best possible.

Our experience includes successfully taking enquiries through the Alternative Dispute Resolution process to First Tier Tribunal, where agreement with the enquiring inspector is not possible.

It is not unusual for us to act on behalf other accountants where the incumbent advisor may be at an impasse with HMRC or may lack the depth of expertise we have on hand.

French Duncan offer a Tax Investigations Service, which will cover you for our fees that result from you or your business being investigated by HMRC. Find out more here.

Corporate structures are often restructured and/ or reorganised in order to help in achieving a commercial objective.  This may include reasons such as:

  • the protection of assets;
  • the separation or amalgamation of business activities;
  • alignment of business reporting lines; or
  • structuring in advance of a possible sale, acquisition or refinance etc.

There are many potential tax pitfalls when restructuring or reorganising a business however our team have both the technical knowledge and practical experience to advise on such matters and mitigate this risk, including liaising direct with HMRC to obtain advance assurance where advisable.  Typical transactions could include:

  • inserting a holding company;
  • transfers of companies and/ or trade and assets within a corporate group; or
  • transfers of companies and/ or trade and assets outwith a corporate group (demergers).

As a consequence of these transactions there are often financial considerations to take into account, such as connected party or impaired debts.  We have the expertise to advise on the related accounting and tax treatment of such debt in order to achieve the optimal commercial outcome.

We have many clients who are either UK based with international operations or non-UK based with UK operations.  Such clients require careful consideration of both their UK and international tax exposure and may ultimately benefit from advice in relation to the tax implications of their commercial activities.

We have experience of advising on:

  • The structure of international business arrangements and how double taxation may be mitigated;
  • Transfer pricing studies documenting the value of connected party transactions;
  • Determining the country of tax residency and the resultant tax consequences;
  • Interpretation and application of double taxation agreements and reliefs;
  • Taxation of UK and international permanent establishments;
  • Foreign branch tax exemptions;
  • Withholding tax requirements; and
  • Certificates of residency.

French Duncan are a member firm of the HLB global network of independent advisory and accounting firms, providing us with access to local tax expertise in 159 countries worldwide.

Case Studies & Testimonials


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Meet some our Corporate Tax specialists

Barry  Laurie

Barry Laurie
0131 225 6366

Barry  Laurie

Barry Laurie



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0131 225 6366

Specialisms include...

Throughout his extensive career, Barry has worked for HMRC, Arthur Andersen, Coopers and Lybrand and McCabes. He has been a Tax Partner with French Duncan since its merger with McCabes in 2008.

Barry has a wealth of experience in all aspects of tax matters, from corporate to personal and has a particular specialism in maximising capital allowances for clients. Whilst Barry can advise any business on its tax matters, he has particular expertise in the hospitality and property sectors.

He can also advise on tax incentives for investment.

Barry prides himself on taking the initiative to understand his clients’ needs to deliver results.

He enjoys building strong relationships with his clients and continually seeks opportunities which he believes will be to their benefit.

Robert Barrie

Robert Barrie
Corporate Tax Director
0141 221 2984

Robert Barrie

Robert Barrie

Corporate Tax Director

BAcc(Hons) CA

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0141 221 2984

Specialisms include...

Robert started his career at a top 15 accountancy firm, working in both personal and corporate tax, before qualifying as a chartered accountant in 2008.

Robert believes in proactive client engagement and delivering both commercial and tax efficient planning solutions.

In 2012 Robert joined a top 10 accountancy firm, specialising in the provision of business tax advice to SME’s, owner managed businesses and high net worth individuals.

Robert then joined French Duncan in 2014 and has helped to oversee the growth and development of our corporate tax department.

His current role includes advising on a range of projects including corporate restructuring, capital allowance planning, Research and Development claims, due diligence and international tax issues.

Robert also oversees the corporation tax compliance process for a number of our firms largest and most complex clients.

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