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Proposed New Stamp Duty Rules

Wed 13 Jan 2016

With the consultation set to close on 1st February, the changes are likely to come into force in April2016 and will give more support to first-time buyers. Some of the important changes to consider are:

  1. Married Couples
    In line with other tax rules for private residences, the government will treat married couples and civil partners as one unit – relief on one residence between them.
  2. Buying With Children
    If a parent who already owns a home joins their children on the deeds of a new property then the purchase will be subject to the higher rate of tax. Where the parent provides money towards a deposit the 3% levy will not apply. Similarly, acting as a guarantor will not attract the surcharge.
  3. Changes to the Stamp Duty Return Form
    Buyers are required to take responsibility for the accuracy of the return form and guidance will be provided by HMRC.  Obviously, filing in the form incorrectly could lead to charges of tax evasion. The government is considering how it can support conveyancers during the process.
  4. Large & Corporate Investors
    There may be exemptions for those making significant investments in residential housing – whether that is for investors that have a large portfolio already or those who execute bulk transactions is as yet unclear; however it has been proposed that where six or more residential properties are bought together, the purchaser may chose either residential or non-residential rates of Stamp Duty with Multiple Dwellings Relief applied.
  5. Tax Avoidance
    The government has stated that it will look closely at potential loop-holes to limit the potential for tax avoidance opportunities – so, for example, an individual could purchase a property through a company specifically set up to hold just that one property and avoid the higher rates of Stamp Duty. Consequently it is likely that the first purchases made by a company or collective investment vehicles will be subject to the 3% surcharge to guard against tax avoidance risks.
  6. Land Should Be Exempt
    Land without housing on it has always been considered “non-residential”, even if planning permission for residential housing is in the works. Since the government isn’t planning to change the definitions of residential and non-residential property in any way this means that land should be unaffected.
  7. Short Term Additional Property Ownership
    It looks as though there will be a maximum period where you can transition from one main residence to another of about 18-months where it is possible to only pay the lower rate, however it seems that you will have to pay the surcharge and then apply via a refund mechanism.
  8. Exchanging Contracts
    The deadline is the 1st of April – complete your additional property purchase after and you will be paying the 3% levy. However, if  you exchanged contracts before the 25th November 2015 but are completing on or after the 1st April, then you will be exempt.

The final policy design will be announced at the Budget on the 16th March 2016. Relevant parties have until the 1st February to respond to the consultation.

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