The impact of capital taxation on UK unquoted companies
Authors: Jennings, P. and Allen, C.
Journal: Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy
The authors present findings from the initial phase of an ongoing externally funded research project into senior executive perceptions of the impact of capital taxation upon unquoted companies incorporated in the United Kingdom. Open-ended interviews were conducted with the senior executives of six unquoted companies which are also multigenerational family businesses. The interviews guided the executives to explore the history of their company; the values and aspirations of the founding or owning family(ies); the impact of capital taxation regimes, previous and current, both on ownership and on management succession; and strategies being pursued. Using content analysis to identify key themes, the authors suggest that their findings indicate that capital taxation may have a major impact both on ownership and on management succession as well as on succession planning. However, the current capital tax regime in the United Kingdom is perceived to be more favourable than that of previous regimes and vis-aé-vis the regimes currently operating in most European countries. Capital taxation is not thought to influence strategic or operational decisions either positively or negatively. Companies use taxation-planning devices, frequently involving trusts, in order to reduce the actual burden of capital taxation falling upon individual shareholders at ownership succession. The present capital taxation regime, which includes gift relief and business asset taper relief within capital gains tax, and 100% business property relief within inheritance tax, eases succession planning. Business asset taper relief also facilitates shareholder exit strategies.