CHANCELLOR George Osborne has delivered his Autumn Statement in the House of Commons – his last before next year’s general election.
Chancellors, at this time, have a habit of making give-away changes to woo voters while the opposition ‘cry foul’. However, they are all as guilty as each other, which prompts the question: where do their best interests really lie?
As for Osbourne’s message itself, the biggest surprise lies in the changes to Stamp Duty and Land Tax – implemented with effect from midnight on December 3.
The only flexibility was for people who had exchanged contracts on the sale of their house but were not due to complete before December 4 – they can opt for either the old rate or the new rate.
The changes boil down to this – property sales under £937,500 will have a lower SDLT bill, whereas sales in excess of this amount attract a higher rate.
In political terms, this means that 98% of house sales will have a lower tax, with only the top 2% paying more. A hit back against the proposed “Mansion Tax” perhaps?
The UK economy in general looks to be in better shape and while progress solving the deficit may have fallen short in this term of government, progress has been made. Growth forecasts look encouraging, although there is still some pain to come.
Capital Gains Tax is the other key area with implications for non-UK-resident expats with property at home. From April 2015, the tax will be extended to non-residents selling residential property in the UK.
The actual rate of tax will be either 18% or 28%, the same rates that apply to residents. The rate payable will be determined by the overall tax position of the individual. There is some good news if this change affects you – the gain to be assessed will be the increase in value from April 2015 and not before.
Just before the euphoria sets in however, don’t forget that if you are tax resident in Spain, you will still need to declare the gain for tax purposes, but you should be able to offset any tax paid in the UK against the Spanish liability.
There are also some areas of the Statutory Residence Test that are being tightened up, with some of these rules best described as tortuous!
If you travel a lot and wish to claim that you are non-UK resident, the best advice is to keep a diary of all your travel and retain travel documents and boarding passes, as the onus is on the individual to prove their claim and not HMRC.