Countdown to the Autumn Statement

George Osborne will deliver his 2013 Autumn Statement on 5 December. The Autumn Statement is an important update of government finances and includes forecasts by the Office of Budget Responsibility. The Autumn Statement is not meant to be a Budget. It replaced the previous practice of the Chancellor giving a Pre Budget Report. It is not, however, unprecedented for new legislation to be announced in the Autumn Statement and immediately put into effect.

There has already been plenty of press speculation about what is likely to come up in this year’s statement. There is talk of the Chancellor imposing a new tax on foreigners who own property in the UK which might be targeted at wealthy foreign buyers who have caused a property bubble at the high-end of the London residential market. It remains to be seen if this could also impact on non–resident expatriates who are currently able to escape UK capital gains tax on UK property as long as their non-residency period spans at least five complete tax years.

Trusts have also come under significant scrutiny recently following the HMRC consultation document on simplifying inheritance tax charges for trusts. As ever, HMRC “simplification” is likely to mean extra tax liabilities arising. There is speculation that the Autumn Statement may include measures to increase the overall inheritance tax burden for trusts, particularly where an individual has set up more than one trust.