PROPERTY owners who bought high value homes under the names of their businesses could face a major tax hike.

A North-East law firm has warned buyers who purchased homes through a business, partnership or collective investment to avoid stamp duty may be hit with a £300,000 bill.

BHP Law, which has offices in Darlington, Durham, Newton Aycliffe and Stockton, said the government had announced plans to stop tax avoidance by placing a 15 per cent rise on stamp duty for properties bought for more than £2m.

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Emma Gaudern, a partner at the law firm, warned of further changes in April, including an Annual Residential Property Tax (ARTP), which could mean people having to pay £140,000 a year on properties bought in the name of businesses.

She said: “The government has been looking for a while at how it can close down the stamp duty loophole that is offered by buying a property within a corporate structure.

“This new stamp duty land tax charge, especially when combined with the ARTP, is really going to put people off using companies as planning tools.

“Anyone who owns a residential property worth over £2m within a corporate vehicle must seek advice as soon as possible so they can implement any changes they need to make before the April 2013 cutoff.”