Budget preview – Osborne “coming after” Stamp Duty avoidance

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne yesterday spoke on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show of his plans to target Stamp Duty avoidance in his next Budget.  He confirmed that he will close the loophole and said there would be large fines for failure to comply.  
In the Budget on Wednesday Osborne has promised to stop those people who try to buy properties through offshore companies to avoid paying stamp duty.  The HMRC last year was chasing 1200 people suspected of having underpaid stamp duty by £35 million.  
He commented that:  "On this specific issue of stamp duty avoidance, rich people – often foreigners who come to this country but also people here in Britain – who put homes into companies to avoid stamp duty, that is completely unacceptable and we are going to come down on that practice like a tonne of bricks.”
He added: "We are going to be extremely aggressive in dealing with it and people are going to face a very punitive charge.  People have had their warning: they have got to pay stamp duty on the homes they live in."
Schemes to avoid stamp duty on lower value properties are also likely to be targeted by the Government.  The Sunday Times has reported that schemes which exploit ‘sub scale relief’ have been targeted at up to half of those purchasing properties between £300,000 and £1 million.  The paper reports that these schemes are likely to be banned in the new Budget, with retrospective action taken on purchases.  
Osborne also talked about changes to planning laws, saying that he was determined that the rules should be shaken up.  He argued that new planning rules would “make it a lot easier for things to get built in this country while protecting our precious environment."
George Osborne will deliver the Budget Speech on Wednesday.  It is then that we shall see how far his measures regarding stamp duty and planning will go.  
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