500 property schemes in one year

Taxpayers have disclosed more than 500 stamp duty land tax schemes to the
taxman since the introduction of rules requiring them to own up to them.

Disclosure rules relating to Stamp Duty Land Tax have applied since August of
2005, just over a year, and in that time promoters of schemes – largely in-house
and legal teams – have revealed 506 of them to the taxman.

The figures are revealed in Freedom of Information requests recently put by
Private Eye magazine.

Releasing figures on disclosures of direct tax schemes from the outset of the
rules (in 2004 in cases other than SDLT), HMRC said there had been 198
employment schemes, 443 financial schemes, and 506 SDLT schemes.

Accounting firms and other advisers had disclosed 168 of the employment
schemes and 391 of the financial schemes, but only 81 of the SDLT schemes.

An HMRC spokesman said that the high number of SDLT schemes was a result of
the nature of the tax and how it had to be disclosed: ‘For SDLT the…return is
transaction based and successful avoidance may mean there is no return at all.
So the rules went wider and asked for disclosure not only of new and innovative
schemes, but also established schemes (apart from an exceptions list of well
known schemes) in order to provide a full picture. The SDLT approach inevitably
led to a larger number (compared to income tax etc) of disclosures in the first
months of operation. And that number includes a higher proportion of schemes
that are not avoidance.’

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