Clause 15 - Real Estate Investment Trusts

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 14 December 2021.

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Photo of James Murray James Murray Shadow Financial Secretary (Treasury) 10:15, 14 December 2021

As we have heard, clause 15 and schedule 3 concern real estate investment trusts. The clause and schedule amend the REIT rules and, as the Government have said, seek to remove superfluous restraints and administrative burdens. That includes the removal of the requirement for REIT shares to be admitted to trading in certain circumstances; the amendment of the definition of an overseas equivalent of a UK REIT; the amendment of the “holder of excessive rights” charge to corporation tax; and changes to the rules which ensure that a REIT’s business is primarily focused on its property rental business. The changes take effect from 1 April 2022.

A REIT is a company through which investors can invest in real estate directly. Specific tax rules for UK REITs were introduced in the Finance Act 2006. The regime has proved popular, and the number of UK REITs steadily increased to 92, as of June 2021. Subject to meeting certain relevant conditions, the company may notify Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs that it is to be treated as a UK REIT. Its property rental profits and gains are then, in broad terms, treated as exempt from corporation tax, subject to ongoing conditions such as the requirement to distribute 90% of its exempt profits as property income distributions, which are in turn treated as property rental income in investors’ hands.

At Budget 2020, the Treasury launched a consultation on the tax treatment of asset holding companies, which included questions about investments in real estate. Responses to the consultation led to the inclusion of proposals for changes to the REIT regime in a second consultation on asset holding companies, which was launched in December 2020. The schedule introduces those changes, which are intended to remove restrictions and administrative burdens where they are no longer necessary. For that reason, we do not oppose the clause or schedule.