Clause 39 - Payments to farmers under the lump sum exit scheme etc

Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 16 May 2023.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Conservative, Tatton

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clause 40 stand part.

Government amendments 6 and 7.

Clause 41 stand part.

Government amendment 8.

Clauses 42 and 43 stand part.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Clause 39 makes changes to clarify that payments from the lump sum exit scheme are treated as capital receipts. It aims to set clear and fair rules regarding the taxation of the scheme. Clause 40 creates a fairer system for assessing capital gains when an asset is disposed of under an unconditional contract. Clause 41 makes the capital gains tax rules fairer for spouses and civil partners in the process of separating or divorcing. Clause 42 makes changes to ensure that individuals who pay tax on carried interest are able to better align the time a tax liability arises in the UK with that of other relevant jurisdictions, and therefore claim double taxation relief where it is due. Clause 43 makes changes to ensure that roll-over relief and private residence relief work as originally intended for members of limited liability partnerships and partners of Scottish partnerships.

I will go through the changes in detail. Clause 39 clarifies the tax treatment for around 2,700 sole trader farmers, farming partnerships and farming companies who have received, or will receive, payments from the lump sum exit scheme. That will give certainty to those receiving such payments and remove the need to consider individual cases.

Clause 40 modifies HMRC’s four-year assessment powers so that, in certain circumstances, they will operate by reference to the tax year or accounting period in which the asset is conveyed or transferred. For capital gains tax, those circumstances are where the conveyance or transfer takes place six months after the end of the tax year in which the contract is entered into. For corporation tax, the date is one year after the end of the accounting period for the contract.

Capital gains tax rules provide that the transfer of assets between spouses and civil partners is made on a “no gain/no loss” basis. When spouses or civil partners separate, no gain/no loss transfers can be made only in the remainder of the tax year in which the separation occurs. Clause 41 extends no gain/no loss treatment until the end of the third tax year after the year the parties ceased to live together, the date on which the parties’ marriage or civil partnership ended, or the date when the parties entered into a divorce or separation agreement. No time limit applies to transfers of assets that form part of a formal divorce or separation agreement. The clause also makes changes to the rules that apply to the sale of the former family home. The other change applies to individuals who have transferred their share in the former family home to their ex-spouse or civil partner and who are entitled to receive a percentage of the proceeds when it is eventually sold.

Amendment 6 corrects an issue with time limits. Where a divorce agreement has not been entered into, spouses and civil partners should have up to three full tax years in which to transfer assets between themselves on a no gain/no loss basis. As it is worded currently, clause 41 provides a day short of that, so we want to correct that. Amendment 7 clarifies that the new rules also apply to divorce agreements entered into after spouses and civil partners have ceased to be married or have ended their civil partnership.

The changes made by clause 42 will introduce a new elective basis of taxation for carried interest, a type of reward for asset managers. For those who opt to use the elective basis, it will tax carried interest in the UK at an earlier time than under the current rules. That will mean that individuals receiving carried interest may be able to claim double tax relief in other jurisdictions more easily, avoiding disproportionate tax outcomes. That will help to remove barriers to international trade and support the health of the asset management sector while accelerating, but not reducing, UK tax.

Amendment 8 seeks to refine the calculation of carried interest for the purposes of clause 42. It modifies the calculation methodology so that it works in circumstances where managers are entitled to more carried interest if investors receive fund profits earlier. That means that the measure will better deliver in practice the opportunity to claim relief from double taxation on carried interest, as intended.

Clause 43 will ensure that roll-over relief and private residence relief work as originally intended for members of limited liability partnerships and partners of Scottish partnerships, by clarifying that the reliefs are available to them when an exchange of interest in land or private residences takes place, in the same way as they are when the land is held by the individual members or partners.

This group of clauses will provide greater certainty, consistency and fairness in the taxation of chargeable gains. I therefore commend them to the Committee.

Photo of James Murray James Murray Shadow Financial Secretary (Treasury)

Clause 39 clarifies the tax treatment of payments received under the lump sum exit scheme, saying they will be treated as capital receipts rather than income, provided that the eligibility criteria are met. As we know, the lump sum exit scheme was designed to make it easier for farmers who wish to retire or to leave the industry. The basis for the scheme was considered in 2021 by a consultation that we understand received 654 responses.

We will not oppose the clause, which is specifically designed to provide clarity on the tax treatment of payments made under the scheme, but I wish to use this opportunity to ask the Minister for more context around the clause and, in particular, for details on the operation of the scheme and what comes next.

I understand that a total of 2,706 farmers made an initial application to the lump sum exit scheme by the deadline of 30 September 2022. Of those claims, 511 were withdrawn or rejected. Will the Minister tell us what analysis there has been of why those 511 claims were withdrawn or rejected?

I am conscious that when the draft Agriculture (Lump Sum Payment) (England) Regulations 2022, which relate to this matter, were debated in March last year, concerns were raised, on behalf of organisations including Sustain, that the scheme could be open to instances of fraud. Will the Minister confirm whether any of the 511 claims that were withdrawn or rejected were in fact rejected on the basis of fraud? If she does not have that information, perhaps she can at least provide us with the detail about what anti-fraud efforts have been made in relation to the scheme and how successful they have been.

I understand that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is conducting five pilots aimed at supporting new entrants into farming, and I would be grateful if the Minister updated us on how those pilots are going and any early lessons that she may be able to share with us.

Clause 40 modifies the operation of the period in which a person must notify HMRC that they are chargeable to capital gains tax or corporation tax, and the time limits for assessing chargeable gains and claiming allowable losses, when an asset is disposed of under an unconditional contract.

When an asset is disposed of in that way, its date of disposal for capital gains purposes is treated as being the date on which the contract is made and not the date on which the asset is conveyed or transferred, if this is different. HMRC subsequently has four years from the end of the tax year or accounting period in which the disposal is treated as taking place in which to assess any tax that is due. Similarly, there is a four-year time limit for making loss claims. If there is a long gap between the disposal contract being entered into and it being performed, that can result in HMRC and taxpayers having little or no time in which to make a tax assessment or a claim.

We recognise that the measure removes potential avoidance opportunities by ensuring that HMRC can assess tax due in circumstances in which more than four years pass between an unconditional contract being entered into and an asset being conveyed or transferred. It also provides the taxpayer with a safeguard by allowing a corresponding period to claim allowable losses. We will therefore not oppose the clause.

As we heard, clause 41 makes changes to the rules that apply to transfers of assets between spouses and civil partners who are in the process of separating. It provides that they be given up to three years in which to make a no gain, no loss transfer of assets between themselves when they cease to live together, and unlimited time if the assets are the subject of a formal divorce agreement. It also introduces special rules that apply to individuals who have maintained a financial interest in their former family home following separation and that apply when that home is eventually sold.

Essentially, the clause seeks to make fairer the capital gains tax rules that apply to spouses and civil partners who are in the process of separating. It gives them more time to transfer assets between themselves without incurring a potential charge to capital gains tax. No gain, no loss treatment is currently available only in relation to disposals made in the remainder of the tax year in which the spouses or civil partners cease to live together. After that, transfers are treated as normal disposals for capital gains tax purposes. The measure extends the time available to give separating couples at least three years to make no gain, no loss transfers between themselves for capital gains tax purposes.

It is worth noting that the “Background to the measure” section of the Government’s policy paper on this matter refers to the Office of Tax Simplification and its consideration of how the capital gains tax rules apply to individuals who separate and divorce. The Government responded to the Office of Tax Simplification recommendations by agreeing that the no gain, no loss window on separation and divorce should be extended, and that is what the clause implements.

There is at the very least something ironic about a Government who use one clause of a Finance Bill to implement a recommendation of the Office of Tax Simplification and another clause of the same Bill to abolish that institution. As the Chartered Institute of Taxation has pointed out, the changes to be made by the clause are a result of an Office of Tax Simplification report. In fact, they are the third recommendation from that report to be implemented: it also recommended an increase in the notification period for the disposal of residential properties from 30 days to 60, and the incorporation of capital gains tax into a single customer account.

Will the Minister offer her views on that when she responds, and set out how the Government reconcile the apparent worth they seem to attribute to the Office of Tax Simplification, as evidenced by their decision to implement its recommendation in clause 41, with their decision to scrap it later in the Bill?

We understand that clause 42 will introduce a new elective basis of taxation for carried interest that will tax it earlier than under the current rules. In the UK, carried interest is that charged to capital gains tax, and is taxable at the time it arises to an individual. Some individuals may be liable for tax in more than one country on the same income or gain. To avoid double taxation in such situations, the UK has negotiated treaties with more than 100 countries.

UK resident individuals who pay tax on carried interest are sometimes unable to claim double taxation relief from other countries because carried interest is recognised and charged to tax at a different time between the two jurisdictions. That is the issue the clause seeks to address. We will not oppose the clause, although it does not address the change we believe is needed, which is for carried interest to be taxed as income rather than a capital gain. Will the Minister consider that change?

I also want to ask the Minister for more information on how the Exchequer impact of the clause has been calculated. The documentation on the clause shows a positive impact of £80 million this year followed by £10 million in each of the remaining years in the forecast period. The Budget policy costings document explains that:

“The costing accounts for a behavioural response, reflecting those taxpayers who choose to take up the elective accruals basis.”

Will the Minister set out the detail of that behavioural response so that we can better understand how the predicted Exchequer impact of the clause has been calculated?

Finally on clause 42, the Minister will forgive me if I missed this, but I am not sure that she addressed Government amendment 8 and the changes it makes. I would be grateful if she would set out the detail of its impact on the clause, given that the details of the amendment were circulated to the Committee only in the past 24 hours or so. In addition, I would be grateful if she could explain whether, assuming it passes, it will have any effect on the Exchequer impact.

Clause 43 makes changes to the legislation on capital gains tax roll-over relief and private residence relief to ensure that limited liability partnerships and Scottish partnerships that hold title to land are included. The measure provides consistency for different types of partnership in different parts of the UK on capital gains tax roll-over relief and private residence relief and will have effect for claims for relief made on or after 15 March this year. We will not oppose the clause.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 2:45, 16 May 2023

On amendment 8, I had read out that it seeks to refine the calculations of carried interest for the purposes of clause 42. It modifies the calculation methodology so that it also works in circumstances where managers are entitled to more carried interest if investors receive fund profits earlier. That will mean that the measure will better deliver in practice the opportunity to claim relief from double taxation on carried interest, as intended.

Photo of James Murray James Murray Shadow Financial Secretary (Treasury)

I apologise to the Minister for missing her comments about Government amendment 8 and remind her that I would like to know whether the amendment, if it is passed, will have any effect on the overall Exchequer impact of the measure.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

I will come to that later.

The hon. Gentleman should send his questions about the farmer scheme to DEFRA, which is responsible for the Rural Payments Agency, which operates the scheme. He will know that we are confining ourselves to the tax implications of the scheme, so he ought to direct his questions there.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the Office of Tax Simplification, and that debate awaits us in our next day of consideration in Committee. I will not trespass on those deliberations, but we are in fact going further than the OTS’s recommendation, as we consider that that will give a fairer outcome to the parties involved in complex separation and divorce proceedings. We received representations that the OTS’s recommendations did not go far enough and we wanted to address the issues about the former family home that, for many divorcing and separating couples, is their main asset. We want to try to relieve the pressure during what can be a very upsetting and emotional time for the people involved and to try to ensure that they have time to resolve important family disputes.

In relation to carried interest being taxed as income, depending on the circumstances carried interest can be subject either to income tax rates or to the higher capital gains tax rate of 28% for higher and additional rate taxpayers. This is a balanced approach and one that is followed by comparable jurisdictions. We are supportive of the wider role and importance of the asset management sector. Amendment 8 has no impact on clause 42; it is designed to make the measure work as intended.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 39 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 40 ordered to stand part of the Bill.