UK Budget 2023 – Key Tax Measures Impacting Real Estate – JD Supra

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP
The Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered the United Kingdom (“UK”) Budget for 2023 on 15 March 2023.
The Budget was delivered against a backdrop of some familiar political headwinds, caused by the lengthy shockwaves of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and high interest rates. The stated intention of the Chancellor was to restore economic stability, support UK public services, and lay the foundation for long-term growth. The tax developments announced in the Budget reinforce these objectives. Some of the technical taxation proposals in the Budget were published in draft legislative form by the UK Government in July 2022 but bear the signs of extensive consultation and development since their original announcement.
In this article we have outlined the key tax measures that we expect to be of interest to Cadwalader’s real estate clients. A more detailed analysis can be found in our Clients & Friends Alert.
Qualifying Asset Holding Companies
Since its introduction in April 2022, the UK’s qualifying asset holding company (“QAHC”) has been successful in terms of take-up and investor interest. The purpose of the regime is to deliver a proportionate and internationally competitive tax regime for asset holding companies which are resident in the UK, by means of a simplified set of tax rules applicable to QAHCs that are intended to tax investors as if they had invested directly in the QAHC’s underlying assets.
One of the focus points of the QAHC regime has been facilitating investment by funds. In this context, the QAHC regime contains certain limitations on how an asset holding company owned by a private fund can qualify as a QAHC. One key condition is that the asset holding company must be owned as to at least 70 per cent. by “category A investors” which (relevantly for a private fund) includes a “qualifying fund.” A “qualifying fund” is a collective investment scheme which meets a “genuine diversity of ownership” threshold.
Proposals were made by the UK Government in July 2022 for amendments to the QAHC regime, and those proposals have largely been confirmed in the Budget. Some additional provisions have also been announced.
The changes to the QAHC regime include the following provisions:
Most of the changes will have effect on and after the date of Royal Assent of Finance (No 2) Bill 2023 (“Finance Bill”). However, (i) the clarification that a securitisation company cannot also be a QAHC has effect from 15 March 2023 (the date of the Budget); (ii) the extension of the anti-fragmentation rule has effect from 20 July 2022 (when draft provisions were published); and (iii) the amendment to the definition of a collective investment scheme, and certain other changes, have effect from 1 April 2022 (the commencement of the QAHC regime).
UK Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”)
As part of a speech announcing the Edinburgh Reforms in December 2022, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that changes would be made to the UK REIT regime in the Finance Bill. These changes are motivated by the UK Government’s intention to further increase the attractiveness of the REIT regime.
The changes will remove the requirement for a REIT to own at least three properties in its property rental business if the REIT holds a single commercial property worth at least £20 million.
The UK Government will also amend the rule that deems a disposal of property within three years of being significantly developed as being outside the property rental business of the UK REIT, so that the valuation used when calculating what constitutes a significant development better reflects increases in property values and is not distorted by inflation.
Changes will also be made to amend the rules for deduction of tax from property income distributions paid to partnerships to allow a property income distribution to be paid partly gross and partly with tax withheld. The distribution will be permitted to be paid gross to the extent that it is the income of partners that would be entitled to gross payment if they held an interest in the REIT directly.
These changes were welcomed by the UK property investment sector when announced in December 2022, and broaden the scope and flexibility of the UK REIT sector. The changes announced to the disposal of property will be introduced on 1 April 2023. The UK Government appears to intend that the other changes mentioned above related to REITs will be made with effect from Royal Asset to the Finance Bill (although there is a slight conflict in the Budget documentation in respect of confirming that date as being the relevant one, as opposed to 1 April 2023).
Amendments to the Genuine Diversity of Ownership (“GDO”) Condition
The GDO condition is used as a condition in the QAHC, UK REIT and Non-Resident Capital Gains (“NRCG”) rules. Under current law, the GDO condition must be applied to each entity within a fund structure in isolation. Therefore, a particular entity can fail to satisfy the GDO condition, even though it forms part of a wider arrangement which, when taken as a whole, would meet the relevant requirements.
As noted above in the context of QAHCs, to address this problem, an amendment will be made to the GDO condition for the purposes of the QAHC regime, and comparable changes will be made to the REIT and NRCG rules. The legislative amendments will ensure that where an entity forms part of “multi-vehicle arrangements,” the GDO condition can be treated as satisfied by the entity if the GDO condition is met in relation to “multi-vehicle arrangements.”
The definition of “multi-vehicle arrangements” encompasses a group of entities which form part of a wider fund structure where an investor would reasonably regard their investment to be in the structure as a whole.
This measure will have effect on and after the date of Royal Asset to the Finance Bill.
Carried Interest – Elective Accruals Basis
Whilst the taxation of carried interest is often mooted as a possible target of Budget announcements, the Budget has proposed only a minor (albeit meaningful) change. The UK Government has announced that changes will be made to ensure that effective double taxation relief can be claimed by UK tax resident individuals in receipt of carried interest.
At present, carried interest that is taxable under the capital gains tax regime is taxable when the carried interest arises to the individual. This position is not necessarily consistent with the taxation of carried interest in other jurisdictions and thus relief under a double taxation treaty may be precluded owing to timing differences in the recognition of such amounts. This has recently been a friction point between the respective UK and United States timing of the taxation of carried interest.
As such, the changes will permit an individual who expects to receive carried interest to make a voluntary but irrevocable election for that carried interest to be taxed on an accruals basis. This is intended to remedy the situation in which individuals cannot claim double taxation relief from other countries, owing to such amounts being taxed at different times in two jurisdictions.
This measure will take effect from the date on which the Finance Bill receives Royal Assent.
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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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