EXPERT LEGAL INSIGHTS / Private Client

On 28 March HM Treasury and HMRC published a consultation document setting out their proposals for charging non-UK residents capital gains tax (CGT) on disposals of UK residential property from 6 April 2015. Following the announcements in the Autumn Statement there was an expectation that the new CGT charge would only apply to properties worth more than £2m that were held by individuals and trustees. The consultation document proposals are much wider than expected.

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A relatively quiet Budget on the tax front. The main announcements relevant to private clients were:
- a significant (and this time positive) overhaul of pensions to give pensioners more choice about how they use their savings on retirement;
- merging of stocks and shares, and cash ISAs into a single system with a £15k annual limit;
- abolition of the 10% starting rate of income tax on savings income;
- extension of the 15% SDLT rate on residential property, the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) and the related capital gains tax (CGT) charge on homes subject to the ATED;
- confirmation that users of tax planning disclosed under the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) regime or counteracted by the General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) will have to pay any disputed tax upfront before taking their dispute with HMRC to court.

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In the Budget today, the Chancellor extended the application of the annual tax on residential properties held by corporate vehicles, and the related Capital Gains Tax (CGT) charge, so that they will apply from April 2015 to properties worth over £1m and from April 2016 to properties worth over £500,000. In addition, the punitive 15% Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) rate for purchases by corporate vehicles will apply to acquisitions of properties worth more than £500,000 from 20 March 2014.

For the ATED period 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015 the ATED return and payment are due by 30 April. An ATED return must be filed, by this date, for any UK residential property valued at over £2m on 1 April 2012 (or acquired for more than £2m since then) which is beneficially owned by a company, a partnership (with a corporate member) or a collective investment scheme, even where a relief from the ATED applies.

Changes have been recommended to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa, including:
- increasing the minimum £1 million investment threshold to £2 million;
- removing the ability to borrow the funds that the applicant is required to invest in the UK; and
- introducing a premium route which would offer a successful applicant indefinite leave to remain in the UK after 2 years.

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