Fury as major buy-to-let tax amendments are ‘slipped in’ by stealth

Major amendments to the Finance Bill have been “slipped in” at committee stage.

According to the Law Society, they set a disturbing and undemocratic precedent of avoiding proper consultation and scrutiny.

The changes could result in property investors paying income tax rather than Capital Gains Tax on profits when they sell.

The apparently covert changes would mean that the Government would rake vastly more into its coffers – and it would undoubtedly act as a further deterrent to buy-to-let investors.

Capital Gains Tax was significantly cut in the 2016 Budget and is currently charged at 20% for higher rate taxpayers (10% for basic rate payers).

By contrast, Income Tax is currently charged at 20% basic rate, 40% higher rate and 45% additional rate.

The specific clauses in the Finance Bill that are of concern to the Law Society are 75-78.

In its representations to the Government, the Law Society’s corporation tax sub-committee says: “The government has included new clauses in the Finance Bill 2016 on how profits from trading and investing in UK land is taxed. The clauses were introduced at the report stage in the House of Commons without consulting on the draft legislation.

“The Law Society has made written representations to HMRC voicing concerns about the failure to consult on the wording of the legislation. The Law Society also flags substantive issues that exist, particularly the possible unintended effect on buy-to-lets where profits will be taxed as income rather than as capital gains.”

The Society says that the “average buy-to-let investor will have assumed” that they will be taxed at CGT rates on the ultimate disposal of the property.

If the Government now wants to change this, it should have consulted on it, say the lawyers.

Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon said: “By introducing a significant change in this way, the Government is denying the public the chance to consider and comment on these proposals.

“The way these changes were introduced, in particular without consultation on the draft legislation before they were added to the Bill at such a late stage, starts to feel like legislation by stealth.

“No matter what the policy proposals, proper consultation and process is vital to maintain public confidence in our democratic institutions.”

The Law Society has made representations to the Government, prepared by its corporation tax sub-committee.

These representations set out how the amendments will materially change some investors’ tax obligations.

Dixon said: “If the Government did not intend to make a material change, they need to clarify the language in the bill before it is passed.

“If they are intent on these changes, they should submit them for proper public consultation and legislative scrutiny.”

A spokesperson for the Law Society today clarified that the changes may affect all landlords in the UK adding that the important word is “may”, as it is unclear.

He said: “David Gauke [Treasury minister] has said that the measure was not intended to affect property investors but is targeted at those who have a property building trade (which we have referred to in our representations to Government). However, there is a concern that the wording could affect a section of BTL landlords.

“We understand that HMRC may be intending to deal with this issue in its guidance.”

 

Sprift 3 end of article
x

Email the story to a friend

8 Comments

  1. JWVW

    We have a left wing Comservative Government, hell bent on smashing the housing market in every sense. My own local MP is now Chancellor, who has one chance to redressed the imbalance that his predecessor presided over.

    Report
  2. Will

    They certainly know how to put the “CON” into Conservative.  The whole world and Government in particular seem to be scammers. Shame there is no integrity any more.

    Report
  3. Gloslet

    I’m not an accountant but isn’t CGT on residential property sales already taxed at 28% for higher and additional rate taxpayers ?

    Report
  4. greg

    Am I reading this correctly? Are they suggestiong that you should now pay your top rate of income tax ie  40% or 45% on the Capital Gain from resi?

    Report
  5. Woodentop

    There has been an under lying trend for many years now that civil servants are responsible for these ideas and pushing them though, it all started with Blair. Politicians come and go but the civil servants remain. I can’t help think we have a bunch of inept politicians on all sides being pushed around by civil servants who have the control at local and national level.

    Report
    1. Eamonn

      your so correct.  The business of government is always run by the hierarchy of the Civil service, namely the cabinet office.    Its like the MPs we elect only drive the train.   The direction of the tracks is laid by the civil service.

      Good job the judiciary has picked up on this.

      Report
  6. Vanessa Warwick

    My research suggests that this is aimed at non-U.K. residents and does not affect U.K. based landlords.  More details on Property Tribes as to the sources referenced for this.

    Report
  7. Eamonn

    I understand that income tax applies to  landlords who dispose of a buy to let inside 6 months. .  After 6 months its CGT.

    Report
X

You must be logged in to report this comment!

Leave a reply

If you want to create a user account so you can log in, click here

More top news stories

Thank you for signing up to our newsletter, we have sent you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Additionally if you would like to create a free EYE account which allows you to comment on news stories and manage your email subscriptions please enter a password below.