Wednesday 19 March 2014 9:19 pm

Stamp duty clampdown on people buying houses through companies

GEORGE Osborne yesterday stepped up his assault on investors who buy homes through company structures to avoid tax, by lowering the stamp duty threshold to homes worth more than £500,000. In his annual Budget speech Osborne said that Britain would expand the 15 per cent stamp duty on homes bought through corporate envelopes to those worth more than £500,000. “Many of these are empty properties and are held in corporate envelopes to avoid stamp duty. This abuse will end,” he said. This comes after the government last year introduced the 15 per cent tax for homes above £2m and bought via a company. Investors buying homes to be rented out will not be included. The Treasury said it will be staggered over the next two years to avoid burdening genuine rental companies, hitting properties worth over £1m from April 2015 and those worth over £500,000 from 2016. Accountants Kingston Smith said that while the move was likely to deter foreign and UK buyers from using offshore companies to buy property, it could also increase their exposure to inheritance tax. “Overseas buyers in particular should be aware of their increased vulnerability,” Martin Muir, head of property said.