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Blame the accountants - they admit lobbying PM demanding foreign buyer tax

An accountancy trade body has revealed that last year it briefed MPs - including the Prime Minister and Housing Minister of the time - calling for measures to be taken against overseas residents buying property in Britain.

The Association of Accounting Technicians which boasts 140,000 members, says it has long called for action to be taken against overseas residential property investors.

On the basis of a 2017 survey of its members - which saw 78 per cent of respondents back extra tax on foreign buyers and just 14 per cent oppose - the organisation subsequently briefed all MPs, including the Prime Minister and Housing Minister.


It also admits to contacting all MPs over recent months “setting out the case for reform.”

Following the campaign, May this week confirmed an additional stamp duty surcharge on overseas residential investors of one to three per cent - the exact amount will be agreed following a formal consultation period.

Phil Hall, AAT’s head of public affairs and public policy, says the surcharge is not going to solve the housing supply shortage but is what he describes as “a sensible and measured response to an increasing problem that will also raise £40m to £120m and add a degree of previously absent fairness to the system.”

He continues: “Put simply, it doesn’t matter how many houses are built in the UK, there will never be enough to meet demand because demand is not simply coming from the 65m currently resident in the UK but from across, Europe, Asia and America.”

A statement from the AAT speaks of “Years of London property purchases by the super-rich from Russia, China, America and various other countries” who are now also buying in “Liverpool, Manchester and other parts of the UK.”

It goes on to claim that “middle income earners from across the world, especially China, Malaysia and Singapore, are finding UK property an increasingly attractive proposition – even more so since the weakness of sterling following Brexit.”

The association says other EU nations already impose restrictions on overseas property investors  - it cites Poland, Denmark and Hungary - while it says non-EU nations including Iceland, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore prevent, restrict or tax overseas property investment.

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    "Blame the accountants"?

    Shouldn't this be "thank the accountants"?

    Doesn't matter what nationality you are, if you live, work and pay taxes in the UK you shouldn't have to compete for limited housing with overseas spivs looking to make a quick buck. The extra 1% is pretty minimal and as it doesn't apply to anyone living in the UK what's the problem?!

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    Ted, i see your point, but shall we raise VAT on all Accountants charges to 25% and see how they like it? These overseas buyers, not all spivs and some are just wealthy individuals, may now just take their money and spend it in another country.
    We keep hearing of the need for more homes, so this extra tax on their products, (Homes) will really incentivise builders and developers to take risks and build more, i don't think so. Taxation stifles enterprise and SDLT is now out of control. It seems to me, every time the Govt messes with something it does not understand we have a calamity. And this Govt certainly does not understand the housing market. Mind you who does apart from those who work in it and they won't talk to us.

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    Lets hope they do take their money and spend it elsewhere, this is one of the main objectives after all.

    For housing to return to its original purpose as a place to live rather than as an investment, an additional tax will discourage some (not all). Those it doesn't discourage will have to pay some more tax which in turn is ring fenced to spend on the homeless. That doesn't seem like such a terrible policy to me.

    Continued high growth in house prices is not in anybody's interests and the more enlightened agents can see this. Those at the top end are unhappy as their enormous commissions may be dented but for the rest of us this could be a small help - more affordable housing means more sales after all!


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