Clause 34 - Corporate interest restriction

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 16 May 2023.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 11:00, 16 May 2023

Clause 34 and schedule 3 make changes to the corporate interest restriction and connected rules in order to protect Exchequer revenue, remove unfair outcomes and reduce administrative burdens for businesses. Clause 35 and schedule 4 amend tax rules for real estate investment trusts, qualifying asset-holding companies, and overseas collective investment vehicles that invest in UK property.

On clause 34, the UK’s corporate interest restriction rules prevent groups from using financing expenses to erode their UK tax base, where those expenses are not aligned with a group’s UK taxable activities. The Government estimate that the rules have increased corporation tax receipts by over £1 billion per annum since they were introduced in April 2017. The rules can be complex because they operate at both worldwide group and individual entity level. Therefore, on their introduction, the Government committed to keeping the rules under review, and in July last year HMRC set up an external working group to consult on proposed amendments to address issues raised by businesses and their advisers.

Following that consultation, we are introducing clause 34 and schedule 3 to make a total of 21 amendments to the corporate interest restriction and related rules limiting deductions for finance costs. There are five changes that protect the Exchequer’s position. I will not go through all five, but they include ensuring that groups cannot reallocate amounts of disallowed financing costs to reduce or eliminate a corporation tax inaccuracy penalty for careless or deliberate errors, and confirming that groups containing charities cannot benefit from tax relief for financing costs incurred in respect of tax-exempt activities. In most cases, the changes implemented by the Bill will take effect for periods of account starting on or after 1 April 2023.

The Government have also tabled amendment 5, which concerns the definition of an insurance company for the purpose of the corporate interest restriction rules. The amendment ensures that the legislation has the desired effect, and I am told that it is supported by the Association of British Insurers.

At Budget 2020, we launched a review of UK investment funds’ taxation and regulatory rules. That led to the introduction of a new tax regime for qualifying asset-holding companies in April last year. Clause 35 and schedule 4 make targeted changes to that regime, to address issues raised by industry. They also make reforms to other tax regimes for investment vehicles that invest in UK property.

There are many changes, including, first, to amend the “genuine diversity of ownership” condition in the tax regimes for qualifying asset-holding companies and real estate investment trusts, as well as the non-resident capital gains tax rules that apply to overseas collective investment vehicles. The second group of changes make targeted amendments to the REIT rules, to address issues raised by industry following a call for input in April 2021. They remove unnecessary constraints and administrative burdens. The third group of changes make amendments to the qualifying asset-holding companies regime, making it more widely available to investment fund structures that fall within its intended scope.

It is right that, after six years, the Government review the corporate interest restriction rules and address issues brought to our attention. That is what these clauses and schedules serve to deliver.