With the stamp duty holiday due to end on 31 March 2021, the government has reacted to calls for an extension. What it means if you’re planning to buy or sell a home next year.

The government has responded to calls for an extension to the stamp duty holiday by stating it has no intention to extend the tax relief.

The stamp duty holiday is due to come to an end on 31 March 2021, despite repeated industry calls for an extension and a petition to parliament with more than 28,000 signatories.

Responding to the petition, the government said: “As the relief was to provide an immediate stimulus to the property market, the government does not plan to extend this relief.

“Stamp duty is an important source of government revenue, raising several billion pounds each year to help pay for the essential services the government provides.”

What’s the background?

The stamp duty holiday was introduced in July 2020 by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in a bid to boost the housing market in England and Northern Ireland during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Under normal circumstances, buyers pay stamp duty land tax when buying a property worth £125,000 or more, although first-time buyers only have to pay it on homes above £300,000.

The introduction of the stamp duty holiday raised the threshold at which the tax kicks in to £500,000 for all buyers, amounting to a potential saving of up to £15,000. 

Can I still buy before the stamp duty holiday ends?

Yes, but you’ll need to move fast. The time it takes between agreeing a sale and completing is normally just under 100 days. 

Our research shows that only 54% of sales agreed in January will complete in time, with that figure dropping to 17% in February.

From getting your paperwork lined up in advance, to smoothing out any wrinkles that may disrupt your property chain, here are our top tips to help you beat the deadline.

What happens when the stamp duty holiday ends?

Once the stamp duty holiday ends on 31 March next year, the former stamp duty rules will apply.

This means buyers can be charged between 2% and 12% tax (or up to 17% if they are a foreign investor) on their property purchase, depending on the value of the home they are buying and if they own more than one property.

“The government is committed to supporting home ownership and helping people get on and move up the housing ladder,” it said.

“When the stamp duty holiday ends, the government will maintain a stamp duty relief for first-time buyers which increases the starting threshold of residential stamp duty to £300,000 for first-time buyers that purchase a property below £500,000."

How much stamp duty will I pay after 31 March 2021?

Stamp duty is calculated as a percentage of the property you are buying. It applies to freehold and leasehold properties, whether you’re buying outright or with a mortgage.

For existing homeowners, the rates are:

  • 0% up to £125,000

  • 2% on £125,001-£250,000

  • 5% on £250,001-£925,000

  • 10% on £925,001-£1.5m

  • 12% on any value above £1.5m.

For example, if you buy a flat for £275,000, the stamp duty you owe would be:

  • 0% on the first £125,000 = £0

  • 2% on the next £125,000 = £2,500

  • 5% on the final £25,000 = £1,250

Total stamp duty = £3,750

First-time buyers after 31 March 2021

Stamp duty relief was introduced in November 2017 for first-time buyers to help people step onto the property ladder. 

First-time buyers are exempt from stamp duty on properties costing up to £300,000 and pay 5% on the value of a property between £300,000 and £500,000.

A first-time buyer will pay:

  • 0% on the first £300,000

  • 5% on the remainder up to £500,000

So a first-time buyer purchasing a £275,000 flat would pay no stamp duty.

For a house costing £475,000, a first-time buyer would pay:

  • 0% on the first £300,000 = £0

  • 5% on the final £175,000 = £8,750

Total stamp duty = £8,750

However, if the purchase price is more than £500,000, first-time buyers cannot claim the relief and must pay the standard rates.

For example, a property purchased at £700,000 would result in a stamp duty bill totalling £25,000 even for a first-time buyer. 

Landlords and second-home owners

For owners of more than one property, a surcharge of 3% on top of the standard stamp duty rates apply.

However, if you sell a home within three years of purchasing a second property, you can apply for a refund of that 3%.

It is also possible under some circumstances to claim multiple dwellings relief.

What about non-UK residents?

From April 2021, an additional 2% stamp duty levy will be imposed on non-UK residents who buy property in England and Northern Ireland. 

It means that international buyers of second homes could pay up to 17% tax on expensive properties.

The 2% is on top of standard rates and in addition to the 3% surcharge for any investors who own property elsewhere.

What other government support is available?

During the second lockdown, the government extended its offer of mortgage payment holidays. Those who need help paying their mortgages can still request a holiday of up to six months until 31 March 2021.

To help first-time buyers get on the property ladder, the government's Help to Buy scheme offers an equity loan of up to 20% of the property value (40% in London). As long as you can raise a 5% deposit, you can then apply for a standard mortgage to pay the remaining amount.

At the Conservative party conference in October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to “turn generation rent into generation buy” and announced plans for a new scheme to give more people the chance to take out long-term fixed rate mortgages for up to 95% of their home’s value - although details have not yet been released.

What about stamp duty in Scotland and Wales?

Housing is a devolved issue in Britain so stamp duty only applies in England and Northern Ireland.

Scotland and Wales have equivalent taxes:

Scotland

From April 2015, Stamp Duty was replaced by Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in Scotland.

In Scotland, the LBTT rates are:

  • 0% up to £145,000

  • 2% on £145,001-£250,000

  • 5% on £250,001-£325,000

  • 10% on £325,001-£750,000 

  • 12% on any value above £750,000

First-time buyers pay no LBTT up to £175,000.

Wales

Property owners in Wales have paid Land Transaction Tax (LTT) since April 2018.

LTT rates are:

  • 0% up to £180,000

  • 3.5% on £180,001-£250,000

  • 5% on £250,001-£400,000

  • 7.5% on £400,001-£750,000

  • 10% on £750,001-£1.5 million

  • 12% on any value above £1.5 million

In December, the Welsh government introduced an additional charge for second-home owners.

Second home-owners will now pay a 4% levy when they buy homes up to £180,000, rising to 16% for homes worth £1.6m or above.

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