A professional body for accountants has reiterated its call for Stamp Duty Land Tax to become the responsibility of property sellers following comments from former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that the tax is “absurdly high”.
The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) had already submitted a proposal on that suggestion to Chancellor Philip Hammond before the 2017 Budget. In that Budget, Mr Hammond introduced first-time buyer exemptions to the duty.
In a recent column for the Telegraph, Mr Johnson said stamp duty was “absurdly high” and described housing as “the single biggest and most urgent crisis we face”.
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Plan is a ‘no-brainer’
Phil Hall, head of public affairs and public policy at the AAT, said: “AAT has long recommended switching Stamp Duty liability from the buyer to the seller, which would lead to a Stamp Duty reduction for every house buyer in the country.
“It would also eliminate Stamp Duty for all first-time buyers without having to waste £670 million a year on the latest subsidy scheme, which came into force for first-time buyers last November.
“Given this would help address the concerns Boris Johnson and many others have expressed, while simultaneously protecting the £9.3 billion of tax receipts that residential Stamp Duty generates, switching liability to the seller seems like a no-brainer.”
Current regime a block on mobility
In its submission last autumn, the AAT said scrapping stamp duty was not an option because of the hole that would leave in public finances but said the regime stopped mobility and had a negative impact on employment and productivity.
It added: “However, AAT does recognise that the current Stamp Duty regime adds a significant burden to both homeowners seeking to move and to first-time buyers trying to get on the housing ladder.
“In most instances these prospective homebuyers must pay a deposit, solicitors fees, surveyors fees and the tax as immediate, upfront costs.
Contributes to affordability crisis
“The current Stamp Duty regime stunts mobility, impacting on employment and productivity. It is also likely reducing the supply of new homes – adding to Britain’s housing affordability crisis.
“AAT believes that switching liability for Stamp Duty will help more people get on the property ladder, help those moving up the property ladder, increase the amount of house purchases whilst maintaining the substantial multi-billion-pound revenue for the exchequer.
“Switching liability to the seller will have a positive impact on the ability to pay because it will mean that people moving up the ladder would be paying duty on the lower-priced house that they are selling, not the higher-price one they are buying.”
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