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 James Murray James Murray Shadow Financial Secretary (Treasury) 10:00, 14 December 2021

As we have heard, the clause concerns qualifying asset holding companies, and sits alongside schedule 2. The aim of the clause, we understand, is to recognise certain circumstances where intermediate holding companies are used only to facilitate the flow of capital, income and gains between investors and underlying investments to tax investors, broadly as if they had invested in the underlying assets, and to enable the intermediate holding companies to pay tax that is proportionate to the activities they perform.

At Budget 2020, the Government announced that they would carry out a review of the UK funds regime, covering tax and relevant areas of regulation. The review started with a consultation on the tax treatment of asset holding companies in alternative fund structures, also published at Budget 2020. The Government responded to that consultation in December 2020, launching a second-stage consultation on the detailed design features of a new regime for asset holding companies. The Government’s response to that consultation was published on 20 July 2021.

The clause and schedule 2 introduce the new regime. We understand that the purpose of the measures is to deliver a proportionate and internationally competitive tax regime for qualifying asset holding companies that will remove barriers to the establishment of such companies in the UK. The Government have said that the new regime will include the following key features: eligibility criteria to limit access to the intended users; tax rules to limit the qualifying asset holding company’s tax liability to an amount that is commensurate with its role; and rules for UK investors to ensure that they are taxed so far as possible as if they had invested in the underlying assets directly.

We understand that the eligibility criteria will ensure that the asset holding companies may only be used as part of investment structures where funds are managed for the benefit of a broad pool of investors or beneficiaries. An asset holding company cannot carry out other activities, including trading, to any substantial extent. The tax benefits arising from asset holding company status apply only in relation to qualifying investment activity. The tax treatment of any limited trading activity or any non-qualifying investment activity that is carried on by an asset holding company will not be affected by the company’s status as an asset holding company.

We note that the Government have tabled six amendments to schedule 2, which accompanies the clause. Amendments 1 and 2 seek to pin down the definition of investment management profit-sharing arrangements. According to the explanatory statement, that is to ensure that the legislation is capable of encompassing arrangements in which an entitlement to profits arising in connection with the provision of investment management services by an investment manager arises to another person, such as a company or a trust.

Amendments 3 and 6 provide that a fund that is 70% controlled by category A investors meets the diversity of ownership condition. Amendment 4 seeks to allow existing funds marketed before the commencement of the qualifying asset holding company regime to be treated as meeting regulation 75(2) of the Offshore Funds (Tax) Regulations 2009 if certain information has been produced by the fund and has been made available to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Amendment 5 modifies the way in which the interests of creditors are accounted for in determining whether a fund is closed. We will not be opposing clause 14 or the Government’s amendments to it.