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Wales to switch to Land Transaction Tax

Wales is to replace stamp duty with a land transaction tax as it moves towards devolved tax collection.16 Sep 2016

The new tax on land transactions will be introduced from April 2018 alongside measures to tackle devolved tax avoidance, the Welsh government said.

Land transaction tax is paid on the purchase or lease of a building or land above a certain price. Rates and bands have yet to be announced but will take economic conditions into account, the government said.

A general anti-avoidance rule (GAAR) will be brought in at the same time. This has more similarities to the Scottish GAAR than the UK GAAR, in that it will allow the Welsh Revenue Authority to recover any devolved tax that has been avoided as a result of an ‘artificial’ tax avoidance arrangement. This approach differs to the UK GAAR, which is considered to be narrower as it applies to ‘abusive’ tax arrangements, the Welsh government said.

A targeted anti-avoidance rule (TAAR) will prohibit tax relief from being claimed where the transaction forms part of tax avoidance arrangements.

"This differs from the SDLT (and LBTT) approach which has included only specific rules that target aspects of particular reliefs. Our provision builds on this approach to produce a single clear rule, applicable to all reliefs," the Welsh government said.

The WRA will be responsible for all collection and management of the new tax, with HMRC "providing expertise and knowledge through loans and secondments to develop and enhance the WRA’s compliance expertise", the Welsh government said.

The Land Transaction Tax and Anti-avoidance of Devolved Taxes (Wales) Bill is the third of three bills to establish devolved tax arrangements in Wales. It follows the Tax Collection and Management (Wales) Act 2016, which introduced a legal framework for the collection and management of devolved taxes. A third Bill to set up a landfill disposal tax is expected soon, the government said.

Tax expert Jeremy Webster of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind said: "Wales’ decision to move to its own equivalent of stamp duty land tax is unsurprising given the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax which has been introduced in Scotland. It remains to be seen how many other taxes will be devolved."