In a failing business – what if you change a dividend to a salary?

Steve Bicknell, Business Advisor examines what could happen when faced with a failing company and an unethical accountant - he looks at the case of Richard and Julie Jones v HMRC [2014] UKFTT 1082 (5 December 2014).

They took a small salary and regular dividends from their recruitment company which was absolutely fine until the company got into financial trouble!

Their accountant (unethically but in an attempt to help their client) suggested they should re-write history and change the dividends to salary so that the liquidator couldn’t recall the dividends.

HMRC then decided to demand PAYE and NI and pursued Richard and Julie personally.

HMRC was refused the right to collect PAYE tax and NI due on the salary, not because the law didn’t allow it, but because it wasn’t possible for Richard & Julie to reclassify the dividends. They had been properly paid and the correct procedure followed. History
couldn’t be rewritten and the dividends should have been changed to loans if the dividends were illegal.

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