The General Election 2017: private client measures on hold

Following Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement that there would be a snap general election, the government withdrew a substantial number of provisions from the Finance Bill 2017, which received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017. The Finance Bill needed to be enacted before Parliament was dissolved so that the government continued to have authority to collect taxes. The various provisions were withdrawn as it was felt that their complexity meant that Parliament needed an opportunity to consider the measures properly.

The unexpected announcement that there would be a general election on 8 June 2017 has resulted in uncertainty for all taxpayers, but non-domiciled individuals in particular. The tabled amendments include the significant and long-expected changes to the taxation of non-domiciled individuals and offshore structures, further details of which can be found in our October 2016 GD Online article.

In contrast, the Residence Nil Rate Band provisions came into effect as expected for deaths which take place after 6 April 2017. However, both the Labour and Liberal Democrats’ Manifestos indicate that they would make changes to this recent inheritance tax legislation.

The Conservative government has said that it intends to re-introduce the deferred provisions in a new Finance Bill as soon as possible after the election, should it be re-elected. Therefore it is likely that the withdrawal of these measures is only temporary.

Nevertheless, there is still huge uncertainty as to when the provisions in the re-introduced Bill would have effect, especially as some of the proposed provisions had already come into provisional effect.

If you think you may be affected by these deferred provisions and you did not undertake appropriate tax planning ahead of 6 April 2017 then taking advice as soon as possible regarding your overall tax position would be worthwhile in case there is time to restructure your affairs now.

Another proposal which has been put on hold, as a result of the snap general election, is the hike on probate fees which was set to drop the flat fee of £215 (£155 for a solicitor’s application) in favour of a sliding scale of fees based on the value of the estate passing under the Grant. For some estates this would have resulted in representatives paying a £20,000 probate fee (as reported in our March 2017 GD Online article).

Although, the probate fees proposal had attracted extensive criticism from numerous groups including the Parliament’s Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, it remains unclear whether the proposal has been suspended or scrapped completely.

So, along with the rest of the country, we eagerly await the results of next week’s election and hope that, regardless of the result, clarity on these provisions will be forthcoming.

This guide is for general information and interest only and should not be relied upon as providing specific legal advice.  If you require any further information about the issues raised in this article please contact the author or call 0207 404 0606 and ask to speak to your usual Goodman Derrick contact.