UK: Taxing Reverse Premiums - U Turn by Inland Revenue?

Last Updated: 5 May 1999
Taxing Reverse Premiums - U Turn by Inland Revenue?

"The recipient of a reverse premium will often contend that the receipt is not chargeable to tax. This contention is often correct." (Para 70833 Capital Gains Manual)

"Such sums were often considered taxable before a recent adverse decision of the Privy Council" (Budget Press Release IR 32)

Whether the decision in Wattie [1998] STC 1160 was the real reason for changing the tax treatment of reverse premiums may be open to doubt. But, whatever the motivation, long standing practices in the property industry must now be reviewed as landlords and tenants adjust to the new regime.

Before the Budget, it was accepted that most reverse premiums were tax free in the hands of the recipient. This was the case even if the person making the payment could obtain immediate tax relief - for example, a property developer who treated the payment as an expense of his trade.

All reverse premiums are now taxable as income of the recipient. This is the case even if the person making the payment obtains no tax relief - for example, a property investor who would at best treat the payment as an addition to his CGT base cost (or who may be a tax exempt institution). An effective tax subsidy has been withdrawn and replaced with a tax charge.

What is a reverse premium? The Finance Bill defines it as a payment or benefit by way of inducement in connection with a transaction under which the recipient becomes entitled to an interest in land. Payments may be made for a number of reasons:

  • As in Wattie, the landlord wants to set a headline rental higher than current market rents. He pays the tenant an inducement to compensate for the high rent. If paid as a regular rent subsidy, the payments are (and always were) taxable. If paid as a lump sum, the payment will now be taxed in full.
  • A developer has budgeted to complete his building to a minimum standard of internal finish. The prospective tenant wants a higher standard of fit out which would involve replacing work done by the landlord. It makes sense therefore for the tenant to be responsible for all fitting out work, with the landlord contributing to the tenant's expenditure up to the amount the landlord would have spent. Such a contribution is now presumably taxable in full, even where it limits the tenant's ability to claim capital allowances - the Finance Bill is silent on the interaction between the new rules and section 154 Capital Allowances Act 1990.
  • The prospective tenant is vital to the success of the development (for example, a key store in a retail development). The developer is prepared to pay to get the tenant into the building and offers an inducement. Such a payment was often tax free in the hands of the tenant but will now be taxed.

Reverse premiums can be paid by someone selling an existing interest in land, perhaps a lease which has onerous terms. These are also caught by the new rules. Less clear is whether payments by a tenant to his landlord to induce acceptance of a surrender of the lease are caught - the landlord does not become entitled to an interest in land as a result of the surrender.

The new rules extend beyond cash payments to "other benefits". Does this catch rent free periods which are, after all, equivalent to a rent subsidy? It is not clear if the value of a rent free period is now to be treated as a taxable benefit in the hands of the tenant. Since the tenant is, by definition, not paying rent, he will have no corresponding deductible expense to offset any taxable receipt. Other non-cash benefits might include the value of works undertaken to the building by the landlord at the landlord's expense - as where the landlord incurs additional fitting out costs at the request of the tenant.

Some other points to note include:

  • There is an express saving for sale and leaseback deals - the payment for the sale will not be treated as a reverse premium for the lease (so clearly the Inland Revenue want the new rules to have a very wide application).
  • The Budget press release stated that the timing of the tax charge would be in accordance with accounting practice under which the receipt is recognised over a period of years. This is not provided for expressly in the Finance Bill - it presumably follows from taxing reverse premiums as Schedule DI or Schedule A receipts. However, it underlies an anti-avoidance rule that accelerates the tax charge where the reverse premium is paid between connected persons on non-arm's length terms.

The proposal to tax reverse premiums was a further blow to the property industry, coming on top of the recent substantial increases in stamp duty rates. The position is not helped by ongoing uncertainty over the correct VAT treatment of these payments. The Finance Bill leaves many questions unanswered and we are seeking clarification from the Inland Revenue. If you would like to hear what the Inland Revenue have to say, please contact us.

For further information please contact Mark Simpson, e-mail: Click Contact Link , 2 Park Lane, Leeds, LS3 IES, UK, Tel: + 44 113 284 7000

This article was first published in the Tax News - Special Finance Bill Edition issue of Hammond Suddards Tax News updates

The information and opinions contained in this article are provided by Hammond Suddards. They should not be applied to any particular set of facts without appropriate legal or other professional advice.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.