Chancellor George Osborne has announced in the Autumn Statement that stamp duty reserve tax (SDRT) will no longer apply to shares bought by exchange traded funds (ETFs) domiciled in the UK.
The removal of the tax is hoped to encourage more ETFs to domicile in the UK rather than offshore.
Currently an ETF based in the UK pays stamp duty of 0.5 per cent on purchases within the ETF. That charge does not apply to funds that are based in, say, Luxembourg or Dublin.
From April 2014 that charge will no longer apply.
Adam Laird, head of passive investments at Hargreaves Lansdown, thinks it is a very positive move for the UK.
‘The London Stock Exchange is the largest exchange in Europe for trading ETFs but there are very few that are actually based in the UK because they would have incurred stamp duty,’ he explains.
‘When this rule is brought in more will be based here and that is positive for investors because it gives them more options, and many people are more comfortable with holding a product that is based in the UK and therefore regulated by UK law and covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme,’ he adds.
Hector McNeil, chief executive at Boost ETP, says the move sounds ‘a bit cosmetic’.
‘It will make it cheaper for investors to buy and hold, but I don’t think it will encourage fund companies to relocate to the UK because it doesn’t affect them,’ he explains.
‘Dublin and Luxembourg are very friendly environments to set up a fund,’ he adds.
Boost ETP products are domiciled in Dublin ‘because they are geared up for doing that business and from a tax perspective it’s a good place to do business’.
However, McNeil says that overall ‘it is a good move for the product’. From an investors point of view, ‘it should make it cheaper, because 50 basis points is a lot, and should allow it track better’.
Find out more about ETFs in our beginner's guide