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Stamp Duty Surcharge – your questions answered

The 2016 Budget confirmed that the proposed 3% stamp duty surcharge will be going ahead. We've had lots of questions from concerned members about the new policy. Here are some answers.

March 18, 2016

What is the stamp duty surcharge?

It’s an additional 3% charge on existing rates, which can be seen in the table below


stamp duty surcharge

When does it start?

The policy was announced in the Autumn Statement 2015 and was under consultation until February 2016. The surcharge will take effect on 1st April 2016.

If you’re in the process of buying and want to avoid the extra charges, you must complete (not just exchange) before midnight on 31st March 2016.

If contracts were exchanged on or before 25 November 2015 and the purchase completes on or after 1 April 2016, the higher rates will not apply.

Will I have to pay it?

If you’re buying an additional property to your main residence (a holiday home or buy-to-let investment, for example), you will have to pay the additional stamp duty.  See what to consider for buy-to-let purchases and buy-to-let mortgages.

It will also apply if the property you already own is overseas – even if you regard it as a holiday home.

How much will it be?

The additional 3% stamp duty will apply to the entire purchase of the property, in addition to the regular stamp duty bill. So you need to add an extra 3% on top of the stamp duty you may already have had to pay.

Use our free stamp duty calculator to find out how much you would usually pay.  You will then need to add 3% of the purchase price to the figure to see how much you will need to pay.

What if the home I’m buying is my main residence or I don’t sell my previous home straight away?

If the home you are buying is replacing your main residence, then the additional 3% stamp duty will not apply.

However, if you move out of your main residence but keep it and buy another main residence, you will have to pay the 3% stamp duty surcharge initially.

If you sell the first home within 3 years of completing on the purchase of the new home, HMRC will make a full refund.  But you need to pay the 3% surcharge upfront and on completion.

What if I’m buying with a partner who already owns a home but I don’t?

Unfortunately, even if only one of you owns a home, you will still need to pay the extra 3% on a second property.

What if my partner and I are separated?

The government will consider married couples who are separated and living in circumstances that are likely to become permanent, as divorced for the purposes of applying the higher rates.

What if I inherit my home?

Stamp duty does not apply to inherited homes. However, if you then go on to buy a second property without selling the inherited property first, you will have to pay the additional stamp duty.

Is there any way I can avoid the surcharge?

Omitting information about the property you own to your solicitor is fraud and could result in penalties a lot worse than the additional stamp duty charges.

All major property investors will be liable to pay the surcharge, too.

You won’t have to pay the additional stamp duty on homes worth less than £40,000, or on caravans, mobile homes or houseboats.

Our view

Doing away with the exemption for investors with larger property portfolios is fairer and should raise more money which can be ploughed back into housing to help struggling families and the next generation.

The stamp duty surcharge should be a great lever to help those wanting to buy a home to live in. But the government hasn’t listened to the concerns of both existing and aspiring home owners and are pushing ahead with introducing an overly complicated system that could harm the very homeowners they are trying to help.

Homeowners will have now 3 years instead of 18 months in the initial proposal to claim back the surcharge if they sell their original home. But it is crazy for the government to insist that the 3% extra is paid upfront. This will hit those thinking of downsizing as they will need to find additional thousands of pounds to complete their move.

We don’t understand why the government is making a hash of implementing these changes for what is otherwise a popular policy. Buying and selling property is messy, costly and can take ages – the way the government is introducing this stamp duty reform will just make things worse.


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