Now the Chancellor has his beady eye on the commercial property sector...

Commenting on the changes introduced in the Budget, Howard Freedman, RSM’s Head of Real Estate, said:

‘Changes to commercial stamp duty are clearly yet another attack on the real estate sector, and the general consensus is that this will result in prices taking a downward dip – as is evident in listed real estate companies being downgraded. Those buying at the top end of the property scale will suffer the most, for instance on a £50m non-residential property, the SDLT would have been £2m compared to £2.49m post-Budget – a substantial increase of almost £500,000. The Chancellor anticipates that this move will raise around £2.5bn in five years.

‘The government is also pressing ahead with the introduction of legislation to ensure that offshore structures cannot be used to avoid UK tax on profits generated from dealing or developing UK property, and will be creating a 'taskforce' to look into this. The measure is aimed at Isle of Man and Channel Island companies which currently benefit from Tax Treaty relief.

‘The government continues to implement its proposal to restrict relief for finance costs, such as mortgage interest, to 30 per cent of earnings before interest or based on interest to earnings ratio of the worldwide group. The measures are with reference to internal and external borrowing, and further disclosure of non-resident structures will be required if claims are above the 30 per cent ratio, although there is a £2m interest expense de minimis, which will be helpful to some. However this will have a significant financial impact on the property sector, and will almost certainly put greater pressure on cashflow.

‘By far the biggest surprise was the cut in capital gains tax, which has been reduced from 28 per cent to 20 per cent. Second home owners and landlords are the real losers here, as the Chancellor has announced that an eight per cent surcharge would be levied on capital gains on residential property. This will come as a blow so quickly after the stamp duty rise on second homes in last year’s Autumn Statement, and sends a clear message that the government’s focus has now shifted to raise taxes from commercial property.’