Find out about Controlled Foreign Companies and tax avoidance

Information on rules to stop companies from reducing UK tax by diverting profits to tax shelters and preferential regimes, and the exemptions.

This guidance relates to Controlled Foreign Companies (CFC) with accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2013.

A foreign company is a CFC if it’s a non-resident UK company that’s controlled by a UK resident person or persons.

Control is decided by referring to:

  • legal control
  • economic control
  • a joint venture test
  • accounting standards

The HMRC International manual has the definition and guidance relating to CFCs with accounting periods beginning before 1 January 2013.

Rules and exemptions

The CFC rules are anti-avoidance provisions designed to prevent diversion of UK profits to low tax territories.

If UK profits are diverted to a CFC, those profits are apportioned and charged on a UK corporate interest-holder that holds at least a 25% interest in the CFC.

The regime operates by applying a series of charge gateways to different types of profits to identify any profits diverted from the UK that will then be apportioned and charged on the relevant UK corporate interest-holders.

There are also a number of entity level exemptions to reflect the fact that it’s considered that the majority of CFCs are set up for genuine commercial reasons and to reduce the compliance burden in applying the rules.

Contact HMRC

If you need further guidance on a particular CFC case, you can write to:

HM Revenue and Customs
Business Assets and International
Base Protection Policy Team
S1715, Floor 9, Mail Point 3
Central Mail Unit
NE98 1ZZ

Send any queries on a particular CFC case by email to:

HMRC will not give you guidance if it’s going to be used to facilitate tax avoidance.

Published 13 April 2013
Last updated 10 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. The address to request further guidance on a particular Controlled Foreign Companies case has been updated.

  2. Address for advice on Controlled Foreign Companies cases updated and contact email address added.

  3. Updated to reflect legislative changes.

  4. First published.