Budget 2003 - Stamp Duty Changes


The Government announced yesterday a number of stamp duty anti-avoidance measures and also signalled their intentions on future reform.

Disadvantaged areas

As expected the complete exemption for commercial property in disadvantaged areas will apply to transfers executed on or after 10 April 2003 even if pursuant to a prior contact. The position on agreements for long leases is unclear. The Revenue has also today issued Statement of Practice 1/2003 which gives useful guidance on the Revenue's views on the detailed application of the relief. Importantly it makes clear the relief will also apply to rent payable under leases.

Group relief - new anti-avoidance measures

The loophole allowing the section 42 group relief anti-avoidance legislation introduced last year to be avoided by a second hivedown will be blocked. In addition the claw-back will be extended to apply for three years. The new rules will apply to transfers executed after 14 April (unless pursuant to a pre-10 April contract).

New lease duty

From 1 December 2003 the existing regime governing the stamping of rent under leases will be replaced. Under the new regime tenants will pay duty at 1% on the Net Present Value of the rent due. The rate of discount for future rent will be 3.5% a year. VAT will be excluded from the calculation.

For example on a ten year lease at £10,000 a year the NPV of £100,000 rent is £83,166 producing a duty liability of £835. Under the current regime the duty liability would only be £200, a four-fold increase.

The regime is subject to consultation but clearly there will be winners and losers.

New thresholds

From 1 December 2003 the threshold for non-residential property will be increased to £150,000. This will apply to leases where the Net Present Value is no more than £150,000.

Modernised stamp duty regime

The new modernised regime for stamp duty will commence on 1 December 2003 and will apply to transfers and leases executed on or after that date unless the contract pre-dates Royal Assent. Transactions deriving from options executed after 16 April may also...

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