Derivative contracts

Produced by Tolley
Derivative contracts

The following Corporation Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Derivative contracts
  • What is a derivative?
  • Relevant contract
  • The accounting conditions
  • Excluded underlying subject matter
  • Basis of taxation
  • General rules
  • Anti-avoidance
  • Corporate interest restriction rules
  • Capitalised expenditure
  • More...

A derivative contract is a financial instrument, or security, whose price is dependent on, or derived from, one or more underlying assets or indices. It is simply a contract between two or more parties whose value is determined by fluctuations in the underlying asset or index.

The taxation of derivative contracts tends to make tax practitioners nervous unless they are experienced in the financial markets. However, the tax rules governing the basic derivative contracts used in day-to-day treasury transactions (eg forward currency contracts and interest rate swaps) are relatively straightforward. Many companies will have these types of basic derivative contracts without realising they fall within the derivatives rules, so it is worth discussing specific types of arrangement rather than derivatives generally when initially advising on derivatives.

This guidance note steers readers through the rules and provides an overview of the main provisions and their practical application. It includes comments on the main definitions, the basis of taxation and the core anti-avoidance rules.

The rules governing the taxation of derivative contracts generally follow the same principles as the loan relationship regime. It is an accounts based income regime, ie unless there is an express provision to the contrary, the amounts recognised in the statutory accounts of the company are taxed as income rather than capital.

The starting point for tax purposes for a derivative contract is to bring into account the credits or debits recognised in the P&L for the period in question in accordance with generally accepted accounting practice (GAAP). This is discussed in more detail below.

The gains and losses on contracts relating to land and certain tangible moveable property are taxable on a chargeable gains basis. These are discussed separately towards the end of this guidance note.

Embedded derivatives, particularly convertible securities, are more complex and are briefly discussed below.

Special reliefs and exemptions, notably where derivative contracts form part of a company’s hedging arrangements, are also covered in a separate note. See the Derivative contracts and hedging

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