What do you expect from a story about tax? Taxes are rising. Legislation is getting more complicated. Compliance more burdensome. HMRC have launched their latest crackdown (currently plumbers). The end is nigh.
But here is some good news.
Stamp duty on property (SDLT) has to be one of the most hated taxes out there. It is a tax on mobility and, like VAT, is imposed on cash which in most cases has already been taxed. Not only that but it makes moving house a lot more expensive. Hence the spread of stamp duty planning in recent years, even to transactions which in the past would never have been considered for this.
So a ray of sunshine in the doom and gloom is welcome.
An SDLT case was heard in the Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal towards the end of last year. Deputy Judge Charles Hellier heard arguments over a scheme used to avoid SDLT on the £65.1m purchase of a property in London’s Regent Street in October 2006. The SDLT scheme in question involved a subsale of the property to a partnership resulting in no SDLT being payable.
This was the first occasion a court or tribunal has considered an SDLT scheme and its importance lies in the attitude of tribunal to the technical arguments SDLT schemes rely on.
And the winner was…..the taxpayer.
The judgement has not yet been published but watch this space as this article will be followed by an examination of the tribunal’s approach and a consideration of how this will impact on future schemes.