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Finance Act 2012

Background Note

134.The EU Solvency II Directive, which is expected to have effect from 2014, will fundamentally change the regulatory reporting framework on which life insurance company taxation is currently based. As a result of the changes which will be introduced by the Directive, regulatory returns made by insurance companies to the Financial Services Authority will no longer provide the information on which the current basis of taxation relies.

135.A new regime for the taxation of life insurance companies is therefore being introduced, which will apply from 1 January 2013. It aims to simplify the unique and complex rules currently governing life company taxation by bringing them more in line with those which apply to companies generally, and aligning them more closely with the commercial realities of life insurance business. The changes being introduced are extensive; the main points are summarised below.

  • Trading profits will be calculated on the basis of life companies' financial statements, in line with general corporation tax rules, rather than being derived from regulatory returns made to the Financial Services Authority, as now.

  • Life companies are subject to the "Income minus Expenses" (I minus E) tax basis, which aims to tax (at different rates) profits made by shareholders and the investment return arising for the benefit of certain policyholders. I minus E will continue to apply but, unlike now, only to the type of business where it is appropriate to tax both shareholder profit and policyholder investment return. Life protection business, which does not attract significant investment return, will be excluded from I minus E.

  • Three categories of insurance business are currently recognised for tax purposes, all subject to different tax rules. Two of the three existing categories will be amalgamated, reducing their total number to two.

  • At present life insurance companies’ investment income, gains and losses are apportioned between categories of business by way of a series of formulae set out in legislation. Under the new regime, the allocation will instead be determined by reference to the actual commercial activities of individual companies.

  • Life companies will be brought within the rules on loan relationships and intangible fixed assets which apply to the computation of taxable trading profits for companies generally.

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