Osborne targets £4bn from tax avoidance clampdown

TAX avoiders skipping stamp duty on property purchases and tax on trusts funded by employers were targeted yesterday as the chancellor aims to recover £4bn in lost tax revenue.

The chancellor is clamping down on house buyers’ use of sub-sale relief, alternative financing schemes and exchange of land rules to avoid paying stamp duty of up to four per cent.

And new rules on disguised remuneration – where companies pay staff extra benefits such as retirement provision and deferred bonuses that sit in trusts for years – will ensure more people pay tax on these rewards.

Experts said his decision eased the burden on companies that have struggled to juggle new rules pushing for them to defer bonuses with HMRC’s demands that they pay tax immediately. “The original rules left employers between a rock and a hard place,” said PwC partner Carol Dempsey. “Employees could end up paying 52 per cent tax and NIC before a bonus is paid, even if it is eventually never actually received.”

The move on stamp duty follows widespread use of non-mortgage financing schemes such as Sharia-compliant lending structures to avoid tax on expensive commercial property developments. Osborne said on very high value property, “some of the wealthiest are not paying their fair share.”