Clause 14 - Qualifying Asset Holding Companies

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 14 December 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 10:00, 14 December 2021

Clause 14 and schedule 2 introduce a new regime for the taxation of certain asset-holding companies being used by funds and institutional investors to make their investments. Asset management firms manage the savings and pensions of millions of UK citizens. The majority of UK households use an asset manager’s services, either directly or indirectly, for example through their workplace pensions. The reforms have been developed following extensive consultation as part of the wider review of the UK funds regime announced at Budget 2020. A key objective of the review is to consider reforms to enhance the UK’s competitiveness as a location for asset management and investment funds. It is a well-established principle that investors in funds should be taxed broadly as if they had invested directly in the underlying assets.

The new qualifying asset holding companies regime seeks to ensure that, where intermediate holding companies are used to facilitate the flow of capital, income and gains between investments and investors, the tax they pay is proportionate to the limited activities that they perform. With that policy objective in mind, the regime comprises a number of features, including a gains exemption for the disposal of certain shares and overseas property; specific rules where investment returns are passed to investors; withholding tax removed from payments of interest; and exempting repurchases of share and loan capital from stamp tax charges.

The new regime also contains safeguards. For example, the existing taxation of profits from trading activities, UK land and intangibles will not be affected. Furthermore, the new regime will be available only in certain circumstances—to prescribe investment arrangements involving diversified investment funds, charities, long-term insurance business, sovereign immune entities, certain pension schemes and public bodies.

Government amendments 1 to 6 seek to address three technical points better to reflect the original policy intention of the new regime and to ensure consistency with wider tax rules. Those include refinements to the eligibility criteria and ensuring that they are applied consistently. They follow engagement with the industry on the legislation since the introduction of the Finance Bill.

The clause introduces a new regime for qualifying asset holding companies from April 2022 that will build on the UK’s strengths as an asset management hub by enhancing the attractiveness of the UK as a location for the establishment of asset holding companies. I recommend that the clause and schedule 2 form part of the Bill.