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Brexit, Air Berlin and the 1.5% stamp duty charge: reasons to be cheerful

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It has been settled HMRC practice for some time now that the 1.5% stamp charge set out in FA 1986 in relation to the issue and transfer of UK shares to clearance services and depositaries was restricted by EU law, such that it should arise only on the transfer of shares which were not integral to the raising of capital for the company in question. However, there has been growing uncertainty as to the future of the charge after Brexit. Two recent developments have changed matters here. Firstly, the Air Berlin case (Case C-573/16) has broadened even further the scope of the derogation from the charge; and secondly, the UK government has confirmed that it does not intend to reintroduce the charge following the UK’s exit from the EU. While both of these developments should give potentially affected taxpayers a reason to be cheerful, they must be approached with caution.

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