Boris slams plans for property tax as stamp duty hits market

Ben Southwood
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BORIS JOHNSON yesterday slammed Liberal Democrat politicians who are calling for property tax hikes, while urging Google and other companies criticised for tax avoidance to do more to benefit the UK.

“It is absurd to be suddenly whacking up taxes on cash-poor people who happen to inhabit expensive houses in London when firms like Google are paying zero,” he told the audience at the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference.

“Neither arrangement strikes me as being fair, and so Google and co face a very clear choice: they can either change their tax arrangements, or do much more work to serve our society.”

The Mayor of London’s comments come after devastating statistics released yesterday showed the effect that higher taxes have already had on London’s property market.

Across Greater London, sales of properties worth between £2m and £5m collapsed 53 per cent in the year leading to the third quarter this year, London Central Portfolio said yesterday. In this year’s Budget, the government slapped expensive properties with a welter of tax hikes and new charges. Homeowners selling properties for over £2m now face stamp duty at seven per cent if the transaction is in their own name, rising to 15 per cent for firms.

Since 77 per cent of properties worth more than £2m are located in the capital, London has already begun to feel the impact of the tax barrage.

And plans are in the pipeline to impose a further yearly charge of up to £140,000 on companies using these properties, as well as hitting the businesses with a further capital gains liability.

The Mayor used much of the rest of his speech to wax lyrical over the benefits of doing business in London, calling on oligarchs to make use of London’s courts – sending the money trickling down through the city.

“I have no shame in saying to the injured spouses of the world’s billionaires: if you want to take him to the cleaners, take him to the cleaners in London,” he said. “Because London cleaners will be grateful for your business.”