Government clamps down on SDLT tax avoidance

The government has tabled an amendment to Finance Bill 2013 to put beyond doubt that two types of stamp duty land tax (SDLT) avoidance schemes are ineffective.

This follows the Chancellor's warning at Budget 2012 that he would not hesitate to use retrospective legislation to close down future SDLT avoidance schemes because of repeated avoidance in this area.

Since then, two specific SDLT avoidance schemes, which abuse the transfer of rights (or 'subsale') rules, and are used particularly, but not exclusively, for residential properties, have been growing increasingly popular.

As a result, at Budget 2013 the Chancellor announced that retrospective legislation would be introduced to close down these schemes which would apply to schemes set up since 21 March 2012.

The first scheme involves an onward ('sub') sale (or 'transfer or rights') which is not to be completed for a number of years. The second scheme, a variation of the scheme closed down at Budget 2012, involves an agreement to grant or assign an option. The intended result of the arrangements is that the immediate purchaser is left in possession of the property but bears no SDLT liability, while the transfer of rights, although in principle subject to SDLT, falls below the SDLT threshold.

The guidance notes are available from HMRC

Diane Tan |Content manager - current awareness, CCH

Diane Tan is content manager, current awareness at CCH, Wolters Kluwer UK

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