Conveyancers could be in for more stamp duty shocks after chancellor George Osborne (pictured) pledged to continue taking ‘bold action’ on home ownership.

The government will confirm its final policy design to increase stamp duty land tax on the purchase of additional properties at the Budget on 16 March.

Yesterday the Treasury announced that more than 780,000 housebuyers had saved an estimated £657m on stamp duty since the tax was reformed in December 2014.

Under the old ‘slab’ system, homebuyers paid stamp duty at a single rate on the entire property price. In the new ‘slice’ system, homebuyers pay the rate of tax on the part of the property price within each tax band.

Osborne said: ‘The overwhelming number of homebuyers - 98% - are saving money thanks to our reform, which has done away with the unfair old system that means increases being imposed on those paying just a pound over the threshold.

‘I am determined that this government will continue to take bold action to support a home-owning democracy.’

Transaction levels at the ‘top end’ of the market remained ‘constant’ under the new regime and stamp duty receipts from homes costing more than £1m went up by 15% across the year, the Treasury said.

In last year’s autumn statement and spending review, the government announced higher rates of stamp duty on the purchase of additional residential properties as part of a ‘five-point plan’ to refocus support for housing towards low-cost home ownership for first-time buyers.

The proposed surcharge ran in to opposition from solicitors. Responding to a Treasury consultation on the change, the Law Society said that calculating liability for the duty could pose problems for conveyancers. 

The higher rates will be three percentage points above current SDLT rates and will come into force from 1 April.

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