We have responded to the consultation on the Reform of the Substantial Shareholding Exemption (SSE).
We support a widening of the scope of the SSE, ideally to a comprehensive exemption as this would increase the UK’s competiveness and could also increase the simplicity and coherence of the SSE. However, we recognise that for smaller UK based, trading groups the inherent complexities within the SSE cause fewer practical difficulties. We say, therefore, that whilst there are aspects of the current rules which can be improved it would be detrimental to this group of taxpayers if the result of this consultation was, for example, a comprehensive exemption that is shrouded by complex and uncertain anti-avoidance provisions which make its application uncertain.
Our recommendation to the Government is that if a sensible, simple comprehensive exemption is not possible, then we suggest the current regime is reformed to (a) eliminate the investor trading requirement and (b) expand the investee requirement to either include all businesses or, at a minimum, to extend the definition of qualifying activities to include real estate investment. These steps would reduce much of the complexity and uncertainty which currently exists around the availability of the SSE.