Sean Randall, Head of Stamp Taxes at KPMG, comments on the measures introduced by the Chancellor to discourage sales of residential property bought via “corporate envelopes”, which will now apply to all dwellings worth £500,000 or more. The measures include a super rate of stamp duty land tax of 15% on the purchase of a dwelling by a company and an annual charge on the ownership of a dwelling by a company.
“The extent to which corporate envelopes are used for stamp duty land tax avoidance is unclear. But extending these measures sends a strong message that perceived stamp duty avoidance is not tolerated. The rate of tax for dwellings worth between £500,001 and £1 million will rise by almost 400% where a company is the purchaser. Put another way, a company owning a dwelling worth £500,001 will need to be sold four times before the tactic of purchasing the dwelling using a company to avoid tax becomes cost effective."
“The measures are controversial. They are designed to discourage the act of individuals putting high value residential property intended for personal use into corporate vehicles for tax avoidance. But they are indiscriminate in nature, failing to distinguish between ‘good’ enveloping and ‘bad’ enveloping, for example recognising that there are genuine reasons why companies are used to hold residential property that are unconnected with stamp duty avoidance, like privacy."
“Moreover, these measures penalise the potential for avoidance. No tax is avoided when a dwelling is purchased by a company or whilst the dwelling is owned by the company. The tax could only properly be said to be avoided if the company owning the dwelling is sold. There is no repayment of tax if the dwelling is sold by the company, so the correct amount of tax has been paid."
“The extension of the measures will increase the compliance burden for businesses investing in or developing residential property: while they are exempt they will need to file a return for the annual charge. It will also encourage individuals owning dwellings through a company to seek advice on de-enveloping.”
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Chancellor’s Budget 2014
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