HomeOwners Alliance is calling for an urgent review of stamp duty following new research that found almost a third more first-time buyers are having to pay stamp duty, despite the government's first-time buyer exemption.
House prices have soared by around £100,000 between 2014 and 2022, but stamp duty bands have not changed, meaning more people are penalised by the tax than the government intended.
According to the data, 30% more first-time buyers are paying stamp duty than when first-time buyer relief was first introduced 5 years ago. On top of this, soaring house prices now mean almost 1 in 5 more homebuyers have been pushed into paying higher stamp duty bands. 44% of transactions now fall in bands above £250K; up from 38% two years ago. An additional 31,500 transactions are now subject to stamp duty, compared to 2 years ago.
1 in 4 properties liable for stamp duty are now in bands above £500K; up from 1 in 6 two years ago (16%). These properties are subject to stamp duty rates of between 5 - 12%. Almost half of the stamp duty is paid by the surcharge levied at investors and those buying second homes. The additional properties' stamp duty surcharge now makes up 46% of total receipts.
Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, said: “It’s clear that the stamp duty tax needs to be reviewed to ensure it’s facilitating rather than fettering first-time buyers.
“Against a backdrop of soaring house prices, cost of living crisis and increased tax burden, first-time buyers of a home worth £400,000 are being hit with stamp duty bills of £5,000.
“Alongside announcing new initiatives to increase homeownership, the government needs to increase the existing first-time buyer relief threshold. The relief was introduced in 2017 to reduce the upfront costs for first-time buyers. Fast forward five years and there is a real risk first-time buyers become a taxation cash cow, which can’t be right.”
But the data reveals it's not just first-time buyers paying more tax. More homebuyers are being pushed into higher stamp duty bands as house prices soar.
Paula continued: “We campaigned for the surcharge and continue to agree with the government that those buying a home to live in should be treated differently to those looking to make money out of property or buying a second home.”
The HomeOwners Alliance calls on the government to be bold and scrap stamp duty entirely for those buying a home to live in. But falling short of that, they ask the government to:
Raise the exempt threshold and bands by 100k, in line with house price growth. These bands have not changed in 8 years. The average UK house price has risen approximately £100K in that eight-year period; from £180K in 2014 to just under £280K in 2022.
Similarly, FTB relief has not been reviewed since 2017. The average UK house price has risen by approximately 60K or 29% over this period. The first-time buyer relief should be raised from £300k to £350k as a minimum.
Commit to raising thresholds annually in line with house prices. This will reduce stamp duty costs for those downsizing and those buying an averagely priced home
Simplify the stamp duty surcharge. Homebuyers buying a home to live in (ie their primary residence) should not have to pay the surcharge. The current system means that those who have inherited a property, who are going through a separation, or who own a rental property have to pay the surcharge on the main property they intend to live in. The change would align stamp duty with capital gains tax, which does not apply gains on primary residences.