Banner

Devolution and property taxes

Devolution may be grabbing the headlines amid a background of Brexit uncertainty, but in reality it's been going on a lot closer to home for decades.

Back in September 1997, Scotland and Wales held referendums to transfer certain tax powers from central government to the regions, while Northern Ireland followed suit a year later.

While these devolution deals saw the creation of various parliaments and assemblies, stamp duty land tax is one of the latest significant tax powers to be fully devolved from Westminster.

Scotland

Despite the Scottish electorate rejecting full independence from the UK in 2014, the debate prior to the referendum was dominated by what powers Scotland should be able to decide for itself.

One of the earliest tax powers to be devolved from Westminster to Holyrood was stamp duty land tax, which was replaced by land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) on 1 April 2015.

Exactly a year later the LBTT additional dwellings supplement came into force, which charges an extra 3% on purchases of second homes above £40,000.

The Scottish government has proposed that first-time buyers will be able to buy a property for £175,000 without being liable for LBTT. This is due to come into effect during the next tax year.

Other existing LBTT thresholds remain unchanged for 2018/19.

Wales

Wales is in line to collect its first national tax in almost 800 years from April 2018 when it replaces stamp duty land tax with its own devolved land transaction tax (LTT).

The current tax-free stamp duty threshold on most residential transactions in Wales stands at £125,000 until 31 March 2018.

LTT will replace stamp duty in Wales from 1 April 2018, with the tax-free threshold initially being £150,000. An extra 3% is charged on the purchase of all additional residential properties in Wales.

That decision was made before chancellor Philip Hammond abolished stamp duty for first-time buyers on properties worth up to £300,000 in Autumn Budget 2017.

This meant first-time buyers in Wales could only take advantage of the Westminster policy for around 3 months (or another 6 weeks) before the devolved LTT takes effect.

However, in response to Hammond's Budget measure, the Welsh Assembly's finance secretary Mark Drakeford raised the LTT threshold to £180,000 for all homebuyers - not just first-time buyers.

From 1 April 2018, homebuyers in Wales will only pay various rates of LTT if they fall into the following thresholds:

  • £180,000 to £250,000 - 3.5%
  • £250,001 to £400,000 - 5% 
  • £400,001 to £750,000 - 7.5%
  • £750,001 to £1 million - 10%
  • above £1 million - 12%.

England & Northern Ireland

If you buy a property worth more than £125,000 in England, Northern Ireland and (until 1 April 2018 at least) Wales, you will usually pay stamp duty on increasing portions of the price.

No tax is charged on properties worth less than £125,000, while a 2% charge is levied on the next £125,000 - so homes worth between £125,001 and £250,000.

You will pay 5% stamp duty on homes worth from £250,001 to £925,000, and 10% on any value above this up to £1.5 million.

Any house worth more than £1.5 million will attract a stamp duty charge of 12%.

Different rules apply to first-time buyers, who've been able to buy their first home since 22 November 2017 without paying tax on purchases worth less than £300,000.

5% stamp duty will be charged on homes worth more than this, and no relief will be available for first-time buyers paying more than £500,000.

We're happy to talk through any tax issue.