SDLT: calculating tax on non-residential and mixed transactions

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:15 pm ar 7 Gorffennaf 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

With this it will be convenient to discuss clause 121 stand part.

Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (House of Lords)

On a point of order, Sir Roger. We were sent a list of various territories to which these provisions apply. Some are for Scotland only, some are for Scotland and Northern Ireland, and some are for England and Wales. I am unsure how we proceed to consider this in terms of English votes for English laws. Any guidance you can give us, Sir Roger, would be hugely appreciated.

I am advised that English votes for English laws does not apply in Committee. If such issues arise, they will be addressed on the Floor of the House. I hope that is satisfactory.

Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Clauses 116 and 121 introduce changes to the way stamp duty land tax is calculated for non-residential property transactions and transactions involving a mixture of residential and non-residential properties. I do not plan to go into a lot of detail, but there are a few questions that I want to ask the Minister. According to the policy paper, the change is expected to increase Exchequer revenue by £385 million in this financial year, rising to £590 million by 2020-21. The paper states:

“There are approximately 100,000 non-residential and mixed property transactions per year… As a result of these changes over 90% of non-residential property transactions will pay the same or less in SDLT.”

It also says:

“All non-residential freehold and lease premium transactions worth less than £1.05 million will pay the same SDLT or less compared to the current system. For leasehold…transactions, those with a NPV of up to £5 million will pay the same in SDLT as under the current system.”

Will the Minister confirm what the Government expect the impact to be on the remaining 10% who pay more in SDLT? What assessments have been carried out?

Clause 121 makes minor consequential amendments and we are quite happy to accept clauses 116 and 121. However, the Chartered Institute of Taxation has highlighted that the changes made by the clauses were introduced without consultation. I understand that the measures are transitional provision, but perhaps the Minister will take the opportunity to ease stakeholders’ concerns and identify what the consultative process entailed.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Clause 116 makes changes to the non-residential rates of stamp duty land tax. In the 2014 autumn statement the Government announced a radical reform of residential SDLT, which improved the efficiency of the tax by removing the distortive slab structure that led to large increases in SDLT when homeowners pay just £1 over a tax threshold. The changes to non-residential SDLT follow on from those successful reforms and also form part of the business tax roadmap, which sets out the Government’s plans for business taxes over the Parliament and will give businesses the clarity they need to invest with confidence. Tackling the deficit is essential for businesses, which can only grow and thrive if we have economic security.

The UK’s commercial property market was worth £787 billion in 2014, having experienced 15% growth in that year alone. As that market develops, the Government must ensure that non-residential SDLT is modern, efficient and helps the commercial property market to continue to grow. The clause improves the economic efficiency of SDLT and will provide a tax cut for the large majority of businesses purchasing commercial property. SDLT on non-residential property transactions contains two elements, depending on whether property is purchased or leased with payment upfront, or whether payment is via rental payments over time. The clause makes changes to both aspects and changes will raise just over £2.5 billion over the scorecard period.

Since 17 March, SDLT on freehold and lease premium non-residential transactions has been payable on the portion of the transaction value that falls within each tax band, rather than the tax being due at one rate on the entire value. The new structure has a nil-rate band up to £150,000; a 2% rate between £150,001 and £250,000; and a top rate of 5% above £250,000. SDLT on leasehold rent transactions has also changed to include the new 2% rate for transactions in which the NPV—net present value—of the rental payments is above £5 million. The new structure will have a nil-rate band of up to £150,000; a 1% band between £150,001 and £5 million; and a top rate of 2% for those high-value leasings with an NPV above £5 million.

As a result of the changes, over 90% of non-residential property transactions will pay the same or less in SDLT, as the hon. Lady has said. Businesses purchasing the most expensive properties have a contribution to make and the purchasers of the most expensive properties will pay more tax. However, the increase in SDLT at the top of the market is modest. The maximum tax increase from the reforms for a very expensive property is a tax rise of a single percentage point. In the context of the wider public finances and the performance of the commercial property market in recent years, I think that is reasonable.

With regard to consultation, the reforms to SDLT came into force from midnight following the Budget. That early introduction was needed to minimise any distortions in the commercial property market, including the impact on construction and development projects, that may have resulted from early announcement or consultation of a future change to non-residential SDLT. Recognising that some purchasers will have entered into legal agreements to purchase property, and to further minimise any potential market distortion, the Government are putting into place transitional rules for purchasers who have exchanged contracts but not completed their purchase before 17 March in order to ensure they do not lose out. The legislation for those changes is receiving scrutiny today. I hope that the Committee will support the clause, which will improve the economic efficiency of non-residential rates and builds on the successful changes that the Government have previously made to residential rates of SDLT.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 116 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 117