SDLT higher rate: land purchased for commercial use

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:30 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 clauses 119 and 120 and 123 to 125 stand part.

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

Clause 118 to 120 and clauses 123 to 124 extend the reliefs available from the annual tax on enveloped dwellings—ATED—and the 15% higher rate of stamp duty land tax. Clause 125 corrects a minor technical amendment. ATED and the 15% rate of SDLT were introduced as part of a package of measures to tackle tax avoidance. They will ensure that individuals who envelope residential properties by owning or purchasing them through corporate structures without a commercial purpose pay a fair share of tax. The intention is to discourage future enveloping and encourage those who have enveloped to take the properties they own out of those structures. The 15% higher rate is charged on the enveloping of the property, and ATED is charged annually for as long as the property remains within the envelope.

There are a series of reliefs from ATED and the 15% rate, aimed at genuine commercial use of the property. If the conditions for any particular relief are met, the 15% rate is reduced to the rate of SDLT that would ordinarily apply, and the ATED charge can be reduced to nil. Initially, when these taxes were introduced, they applied to properties valued at more than £2 million. However, legislative changes introduced in the Finance Act 2014 reduced that threshold to £500,000 from 1 April 2016. Following that reduction in the threshold, certain legitimate business activities have been identified where these taxes can apply. The clauses intend to provide relief for those cases.

Clause 118 resolves a problem that arose only in relation to the 15% rate of SDLT. Currently, where a residential property is acquired with the intention of using it for business premises—for example, as offices from which to run the trade or business—or for conversion or demolition or use for one or more relievable purposes, the 15% rate applies. The clause will relieve those types of business activity from the 15% rate to guard against abuse. If, within a three-year period, the property is no longer held exclusively for a relievable purpose, relief is withdrawn.

Clauses 119 and 123 provide relief from both the 15% rate and ATED in situations where a residential property is acquired or held exclusively for the purposes of an equity release scheme, referred to as a regulated home reversion plan. Those plans are typically offered by insurance companies to older people. The company buys all or part of their property in exchange for an annuity and a lifetime tenancy. The result of that can be that by having an interest in a residential property, the insurance company can become liable to the 15% rate and ATED where the value exceeds £500,000. Clauses 119 and 123 relieve home reversion plans from the charges. However, in order to protect against abuse, where the conditions are no longer met, relief will not be available.

In relation to clauses 120 and 124, relief is currently given where a property is made available to an employee of a trade, or where a property is rented out. However, no relief is available where a property is used by an employee of a property rental business or where a tenant-run flat management company permits one of the flats to be occupied by a caretaker. These clauses extend the current reliefs to remove those gaps. Similarly, where the conditions are no longer met, relief will no longer be available. For the 15% rate, it will be withdrawn if the property is no longer held exclusively for a relievable purpose. Those changes came into effect on 1 April 2016.

Clause 125 ensures that the ATED regime continues to function effectively following the introduction of the land buildings transaction tax in Scotland.

Photo of Roger Mullin Roger Mullin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury)

Very briefly, I want to commend the Minister. We fully support clause 125.

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

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for putting that on the record.

These reliefs ensure that the 15% rate of SDLT and ATED work together effectively as intended to tackle avoidance, while supporting genuine businesses. I hope that these clauses can stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 118 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 119 to 121 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 122