Government changes will affect non-UK property owners

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Two changes by the government will affect overseas investors that own property in the UK.

In the UK Autumn 2017 Budget, the chancellor proposed that capital gains tax on property should extend to non-UK residents. This is the subject of a consultation paper. The government is expected to respond to the consultation by introducing new laws to charge non-UK residents capital gains tax starting in April 2019.

In January 2018, the government announced that it intends to publish a UK register of overseas individuals, partnerships and companies that own UK property. This is expected to go live by 2021. It is not clear whether this will include offshore trusts set up by either UK or non-UK residents as trusts are not considered a separate legal entity. A consultation document about the register does suggest that the beneficial owners of trustee companies will be added to the register.

Before purchasing property for the first time in the UK, an overseas organisation will need to register at Companies House and provide details of beneficial ownership. Investors already owning property will have one year from the launch of the register to provide their details. The government is considering whether to make it a criminal offense for failure to register.

The effect of the register means that investors in UK property will have their personal information publicly available. New property transactions or commercial mortgages applications from non-UK resident investors could be delayed if takes a while to register and obtain a compulsory ID from Companies House.

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