Other Matters

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT)

The Chancellor announced in the Autumn Statement that new rates of SDLT on purchases of additional residential properties would apply from 1 April 2016. Similar legislation was introduced in the Scottish Parliament for LBTT which applies to property transactions in Scotland. The LBTT legislation has now been enacted.

The new rates will be three percentage points above the current SDLT and LBTT rates. The higher rates will potentially apply if, at the end of the day of the purchase transaction, the individual owns two or more residential properties.

The SDLT proposals were subject to a consultation. The government has now announced:

  • purchasers will have 36 months rather than 18 months to claim a refund of the higher rates if they buy a new main residence before disposing of their previous main residence
  • purchasers will also have 36 months between selling a main residence and replacing it with another main residence without having to pay the higher rates
  • a small share in a property which has been inherited within the 36 months prior to a transaction will not be considered as an additional property when applying the higher rates
  • there will be no exemption from the higher rates for significant investors.
Comment
The main target of the higher rates is purchases of buy to let properties or second homes. However, there will be some purchasers who will have to pay the additional charge even though the property purchased will not be a buy to let or a second home. The proposed 36 month rules above will help to remove some transactions from the additional rates (or allow a refund). Care will be needed if an individual already owns, or partly owns, a property and transacts to purchase another property without having disposed of the first property.

LBTT has been enacted with the 18 month periods rather than 36 months.

SDLT on non-residential property

The government will change the calculation of SDLT on freehold and leasehold premium non-residential transactions, on and after 17 March 2016, so the rates apply to the portion of the purchase price within each band. The SDLT rates and thresholds for non-residential freehold and leasehold premiums will also change from the same date.

For new leasehold transactions, SDLT is already charged at each rate on the portion of the net present value (NPV) of the rent which falls within each band. On and after 17 March 2016 a new 2% rate for rent paid under a non-residential lease will be introduced where the NPV of the rent is above £5 million.

Comment
The LBTT on non-residential properties in Scotland is already based on a similar system to that proposed for SDLT.

VAT: overseas businesses and online marketplaces

Changes will be made to the existing rules which allow HMRC to direct an overseas business to appoint a VAT representative with joint and several liability. A new provision will then enable HMRC to hold an online marketplace jointly and severally liable for the unpaid VAT of an overseas business that sells goods in the UK via that online marketplace.

The measure will have effect from Royal Assent to Finance Bill 2016.

Comment
The objective of this measure is to give HMRC strengthened operational powers to tackle the non-compliance from some overseas businesses that avoid paying UK VAT on sales of goods made to UK consumers via online marketplaces. It is directed at getting overseas businesses, that are or should be VAT registered in the UK, paying VAT due either directly or through a VAT representative.

Business rates

Business rates have been devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The Chancellor has announced cuts on business rates for half of all properties in England from 1 April 2017. In particular the government proposes to:

  • Permanently double Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) from 50% to 100% and increase the thresholds to benefit a greater number of businesses. Businesses with a property with a rateable value of £12,000 and below will receive 100% relief.
  • Increase the threshold for the standard business rates multiplier to a rateable value of £51,000, taking 250,000 smaller properties out of the higher rate.

Insurance Premium Tax

The standard rate of IPT will be increased from 9.5% to 10% with effect from 1 October 2016.

General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR)

The government will legislate to introduce a new penalty of 60% of tax due to be charged in all cases successfully tackled by the GAAR. Small changes to the GAAR procedure will be made to improve its ability to tackle marketed avoidance schemes.

New soft drinks industry levy

The government will introduce a new soft drinks industry levy to be paid by producers and importers of soft drinks that contain added sugar. The levy will be charged on volumes according to total sugar content, with a main rate charge for drink above 5 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres and a higher rate for drinks with more than 8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres. There will be an exclusion for small operators.

It is proposed to introduce the measure from April 2018.

Please contact us for further details if this is an area of interest to you.