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Spring Budget ’17: Hammond closes net on tax avoidance scheme facilitators

  • 08/03/2017
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Spring Budget ’17: Hammond closes net on tax avoidance scheme facilitators
The Chancellor increased the government’s clampdown on tax avoidance by going after the individuals who set up schemes enabling people or businesses to shield assets from the tax man.

In his Spring Budget announcement, Philip Hammond said if a tax scheme was later overturned by HMRC, the person who set it up would be penalised. The government’s intention to close the net on tax dodging individuals and companies was announced in the Autumn Statement, and has since been subjected to “extensive consultation and input from stakeholders”.

Hammond said the government will also remove the defence of having relied upon non-independent advice, as evidence of having taken reasonable care, for those found using schemes when it considers its penalties.

Ian Gray, senior partner, Kinnison, said: “This Budget is continuing the previous government’s desire to stop wealthy property owners avoiding paying Stamp Duty and Inheritance Tax. There is a significant cottage industry in the UK and the Channel Islands of people making money creating structures to avoid tax. The government is going after the lawyers, tax and property professionals which propagate those schemes.”

Elsewhere in the Budget, the Chancellor announced a £435m package of measures to ease the burden of increasing business rates on smaller firms.

The three measures the Chancellor announced to assist smaller businesses were:

  • Any firm coming out of Small Business Rate Relief will receive an additional cap next year on increases of no more than £50 a month. Subsequent increases will be capped at either the transitional relief cap or £50 a month, whichever is higher;
  • Local authorities will be given a £300m fund to deliver discretionary relief to target individual hard cases in their local areas;
  • Pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 will receive a £1,000 discount on business rate bills in 2017.

See the full policy background paper to today’s speech.

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