George Osborne lands the LibDems right in it as he ensures everybody knows they were in on the act – even if they weren’t, which is more likely to be the case
This week’s budget will contain aggressive measures against those avoiding stamp duty, the chancellor said this morning. The comment comes amid reports that up to £1 billion is being lost due to individuals registering their exclusive properties in offshore corporations, a move George Osborne described as “completely unacceptable”. He added: “We are going to come down on that practice like a ton of bricks.”
“People are going to face a very punitive charge. We are going to have new measures in the Budget on this. People have had their warning. They’ve got to pay stamp duty on the homes they live in.” The chancellor said he was intent on preventing high earners avoiding tax. “People should pay their fair contribution,” he said. “It’s not just the tax rate but whether they are actually paying the rate.”
Speaking on the Andrew Marr programme, Mr Osborne stressed the budget was aimed at low to middle income working families. He also stressed the Liberal Democrats’ role in the budget and defended figures in the minority party who had voiced demands for further penalties on the rich.
“This is a Coalition budget, this is not a Conservative budget or a Liberal Democrat budget,” he said. “I sit down with Liberal Democrats to make sure they’re happy with it. It’s perfectly reasonable in coalitions of two parties that you get supporters in those parties stressing the things they want to stress. Because it’s a Coalition budget it will satisfy a broader range of public opinion.”
Recent Land Registry figures showed 94,760 properties have been placed offshore – many of them town houses, mansions and country estates. Buyers avoid tax by transferring ownership of a property to an offshore company and then purchasing the company as a whole when selling. This classifies the deal as a corporate transaction as opposed to a property sale.