Clients who run a family business may be affected under controversial child benefit cuts set to be outlined in next week's Budget, according to accountants Baker Tilly.
The Chancellor, George Osborne, has been criticised after announcing that, from 2013, child benefit will be withdrawn from families in which one or both parents are higher-rate taxpayers.
The measure will affect people earning more than £42,475 a year, encompassing those in the 40% income tax bracket.
But the change, under its current guise, means that as long as both parents separately earn less than £42,475, they will keep the benefit, whereas families with one main earner on, for example, £43,000, will see their benefit stopped.
Baker Tilly said the change may also affect family-run businesses.
Gary Heynes, head of the group's private client division, said the Treasury may consider the husband's and wife's salaries as a single income which, if it was more than the higher-rate threshold of £34,370, would rule them out of receiving child benefit.
"Family-run companies can have the husband and wife as equal shareholders to split the salary," he said. "But if the profit is more than £35,000, it may be seen as a single income [by the Treasury]."
Household income in these situations is hard to define, he said, because of the confusion whether dividends and profits would be included.
Couples may even register themselves at separate addresses if possible, he said.
Advisers should also encourage higher-rate paying clients to make any large pension contributions before next week's Budget, he added.
Despite saying it would be "a bad idea" to remove the 50% relief for top-rate taxpayers, or to reduce the annual contribution cap from £50,000, consumers should take advantage of the current situation.
"For the government to discourage saving for retirement may just lead to costs in the future," he said.
Slow progress in improving diversity
Share purchase deal with assets of £28m
Came into effect in January
Three examples of compensation rule issues
Buying in baskets