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Finance Act 2014

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77.In addition to corporation tax (CT), oil and gas companies are also subject to an additional tax, the supplementary charge (SC), on adjusted ring fence profits arising from oil-related activities. For the oil and gas industry, CT is set at 30 per cent for profits of more than £1.5m and 19 per cent (the small profits rate) for profits of more than £300k. The SC is set at 32 per cent.

78.Companies are allowed to set qualifying expenditure against profits for CT purposes. For companies engaged in a trade where it may take some years to show a profit, the value of the expenditure will be reduced by the time they come to be utilised.

79.The oil and gas trade is subject to high start-up costs and a relatively lengthy period of likely unprofitability. RFES currently allows companies inside the oil and gas ring fence to uplift their ring fence losses or, in the period before they are trading, their “qualifying pre-commencement expenditure”, by 10 per cent for up to 6 accounting periods to maintain their time value until they can be offset against future profits.

80.The early development of projects for shale gas and other onshore hydrocarbons is expected to have longer payback periods than offshore hydrocarbon projects and to be dominated by companies which do not have existing ring fence profits against which to set their expenditure. Extending the number of accounting periods for which these companies can claim RFES allows them to maintain the value of their expenditure for longer to recognise the extended period before they are able to utilise those amounts.

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