But from April 6 this year, a flat rate of 18% will be introduced. Private equity-owned businesses and owner managers, including independent fashion chains looking to sell, are likely to be affected by the new rules.
In December Linda Bennett, founder of womenswear and footwear chain LK Bennett, blamed the new tax rate for her decision to sell the business now.
Chris Sanger, head of tax policy for accountancy firm Ernst & Young, said: "Individuals in private equity firms often hold their own stakes in the businesses that their funds have invested in, so the new rules have a direct effect on them."
He said the changes created a "very real incentive" for owners to get deals done by April 6. He added: "If the Chancellor fails to introduce any new tax concession, the change is likely to create a buyers' market on deals looking to complete in the first quarter of the year."