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Stamp Duty - No changes in Budgets despite demands

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Kevin Denny, a Senior Residential Conveyancing Partner at Martin Tolhurst Solicitors confirms that there had been no Stamp Duty changes to property in the recent budget.

He commented “Spreadsheet Phil decided that there have been enough changes to Stamp Duty in recent budgets and left this property tax unchanged”  There had been a number of calls within the property industry for changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax including the following:-

The Yorkshire Building Society felt that first time buyers were struggling to get on the property ladder due to high rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax.  The Yorkshire Building Society suggested that Stamp Duty Land Tax should become a tax for people selling properties rather than for people buying properties.  Kevin Denny rejected this -  “I feel that it would be unfair that people, having paid Stamp Duty when they purchased the property, would then have to pay a second lot of Stamp Duty when they come to sell that same property.” 

Kevin also felt that the Yorkshire Building Society numbers did not stack up.  He said, “The percentage of first time buyer loans in higher thresholds of Stamp Duty have actually increased over the past 12 months and therefore the data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders does not support the contention of the Yorkshire Building Society that it is Stamp Duty that is preventing first time buyers buying properties.  Overall the greatest difficulty that first time buyers have is trying to raise the 10-20% deposit that mortgage lenders require in order to lend a reasonable mortgage at a reasonable rate”.

Kevin also commented on the recent publicity given to Celia Sawyer who called for decreases in Stamp Duty rates.  Celia is a presenter on the Channel 4 programme “Four Rooms” and she argued that the increases in Stamp Duty rates on high value properties meant that the treasury was now receiving less in Stamp Duty Land Tax as the number of people who can afford high rates of Stamp Duty (4% or 5%) were limited and it had helped depress the high value property market.  Kevin Denny commented, “I think the higher end property market, properties selling for £750,000 or more, has had a more difficult 12-month period.  However this is as much due to a lack of stock, a lack of buyers and affordability, as any Stamp Duty issue.  It cannot solely be blamed on higher rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax”.

Kevin Denny continued “Stamp Duty has become an increasingly important tax for the government.  It is easy to collect as solicitors collect the payment on behalf of the Inland Revenue at the time of completion of purchase.  There is little for the Revenue to do other than just receive the money."

Stamp Duty now contributes around £11 billion a year to Treasury coffers. At a time when property prices are relatively high, many see that it is fair that those owning property should contribute towards government income to fund the deficit and government spending.